The war on Iraq:
Conceived in Israel
Conceived in Israel
By STEPHEN J. SNIEGOSKI
© 2003 Stephen J. Sniegoski
All rights reserved.
© 2003 Stephen J. Sniegoski
All rights reserved.
In a lengthy article in The American Conservative criticizing the rationale for the projected U.S. attack on Iraq, the veteran diplomatic historian Paul W. Schroeder noted (only in passing) "what is possibly the unacknowledged real reason and motive behind the policy — security for Israel." If Israel's security were indeed the real American motive for war, Schroeder wrote,
It would represent something to my knowledge unique in history. It is common for great powers to try to fight wars by proxy, getting smaller powers to fight for their interests. This would be the first instance I know where a great power (in fact, a superpower) would do the fighting as the proxy of a small client state. 
Is there any evidence that Israel and her supporters have managed to get the United States to fight for their interests?
To unearth the real motives for the projected war on Iraq, one must ask the critical question: How did the 9/11 terrorist attack lead to the planned war on Iraq, even though there is no real evidence that Iraq was involved in 9/11? From the time of the 9/11 attack, neoconservatives, of primarily (though not exclusively) Jewish ethnicity and right-wing Zionist persuasion, have tried to make use of 9/11 to foment a broad war against Islamic terrorism, the targets of which would coincide with the enemies of Israel.
Although the term neoconservative is in common usage, a brief description of the group might be helpful. Many of the first-generation neocons originally were liberal Democrats, or even socialists and Marxists, often Trotskyites. They drifted to the right in the 1960s and 1970s as the Democratic Party moved to the antiwar McGovernite left. And concern for Israel loomed large in that rightward drift. As political scientist Benjamin Ginsberg puts it:
One major factor that drew them inexorably to the right was their attachment to Israel and their growing frustration during the 1960s with a Democratic party that was becoming increasingly opposed to American military preparedness and increasingly enamored of Third World causes [e.g., Palestinian rights]. In the Reaganite right's hard-line anti-communism, commitment to American military strength, and willingness to intervene politically and militarily in the affairs of other nations to promote democratic values (and American interests), neocons found a political movement that would guarantee Israel's security. 
For some time prior to September 11, 2001, neoconservatives had publicly advocated an American war on Iraq. The 9/11 atrocities provided the pretext. The idea that neocons are the motivating force behind the U.S. movement for war has been broached by a number of commentators. For instance, Joshua Micah Marshall authored an article in The Washington Monthly titled: "Bomb Saddam?: How the obsession of a few neocon hawks became the central goal of U.S. foreign policy." And in the leftist e-journal CounterPunch, Kathleen and Bill Christison wrote:
The suggestion that the war with Iraq is being planned at Israel's behest, or at the instigation of policymakers whose main motivation is trying to create a secure environment for Israel, is strong. Many Israeli analysts believe this. The Israeli commentator Akiva Eldar recently observed frankly in a Ha'aretz column that [Richard] Perle, [Douglas] Feith, and their fellow strategists "are walking a fine line between their loyalty to American governments and Israeli interests." The suggestion of dual loyalties is not a verboten subject in the Israeli press, as it is in the United States. Peace activist Uri Avnery, who knows Israeli Prime Minister Sharon well, has written that Sharon has long planned grandiose schemes for restructuring the Middle East and that "the winds blowing now in Washington remind me of Sharon. I have absolutely no proof that the Bushies got their ideas from him. But the style is the same." 
In the following essay I attempt to flesh out that thesis and show the link between the war position of the neoconservatives and the long-time strategy of the Israeli Right, if not of the Israeli mainstream itself. In brief, the idea of a Middle East war has been bandied about in Israel for many years as a means of enhancing Israeli security, which revolves around an ultimate solution to the Palestinian problem.
War and expulsion
To understand why Israeli leaders would want a Middle East war, it is first necessary to take a brief look at the history of the Zionist movement and its goals. Despite public rhetoric to the contrary, the idea of expelling (or, in the accepted euphemism, "transferring") the indigenous Palestinian population was an integral part of the Zionist effort to found a Jewish national state in Palestine. Historian Tom Segev writes:
The idea of transfer had accompanied the Zionist movement from its very beginnings, first appearing in Theodore Herzl's diary. In practice, the Zionists began executing a mini-transfer from the time they began purchasing the land and evacuating the Arab tenants.... "Disappearing" the Arabs lay at the heart of the Zionist dream, and was also a necessary condition of its existence.... With few exceptions, none of the Zionists disputed the desirability of forced transfer — or its morality.
However, Segev continues, the Zionist leaders learned not to publicly proclaim their plan of mass expulsion because "this would cause the Zionists to lose the world's sympathy." 
The key was to find an opportune time to initiate the expulsion so it would not incur the world's condemnation. In the late 1930s, David Ben-Gurion wrote: "What is inconceivable in normal times is possible in revolutionary times; and if at this time the opportunity is missed and what is possible in such great hours is not carried out — a whole world is lost."  The "revolutionary times" would come with the first Arab-Israeli war in 1948, when the Zionists were able to expel 750,000 Palestinians (more than 80 percent of the indigenous population), and thus achieve an overwhelmingly Jewish state, though its area did not include the entirety of Palestine, or the "Land of Israel," which Zionist leaders thought necessary for a viable state.
The opportunity to grab additional land occurred as a result of the 1967 war; however, that occupation brought with it the problem of a large Palestinian population. By that time world opinion was totally opposed to forced population transfers, equating such a policy with the unspeakable horror of Nazism. The landmark Fourth Geneva Convention, ratified in 1949, had "unequivocally prohibited deportation" of civilians under occupation.  Since the 1967 war, the major question in Israeli politics has been: What to do with that territory and its Palestinian population?
It was during the 1980s, with the coming to power of the right-wing Likud government, that the idea of expulsion resurfaced publicly. And this time it was directly tied to a larger war, with destabilization of the Middle East seen as a precondition for Palestinian expulsion. Such a proposal, including removal of the Palestinian population, was outlined in an article by Oded Yinon, titled "A Strategy for Israel in the 1980s," appearing in the World Zionist Organization's periodical Kivunim in February 1982. Yinon had been attached to the Israeli Foreign Ministry and his article undoubtedly reflected high-level thinking in the Israeli military and intelligence establishment. The article called for Israel to bring about the dissolution and fragmentation of the Arab states into a mosaic of ethnic groupings. Thinking along those lines, Ariel Sharon stated on March 24, 1988, that if the Palestinian uprising continued, Israel would have to make war on her Arab neighbors. The war, he stated, would provide "the circumstances" for the removal of the entire Palestinian population from the West Bank and Gaza and even from inside Israel proper. 
Israeli foreign policy expert Yehoshafat Harkabi critiqued the war/expulsion scenario — referring to "Israeli intentions to impose a Pax Israelica on the Middle East, to dominate the Arab countries and treat them harshly" — in his very significant work, Israel's Fateful Hour, published in 1988. Writing from a realist perspective, Harkabi concluded that Israel did not have the power to achieve that goal, given the strength of the Arab states, the large Palestinian population involved, and the vehement opposition of world opinion. He hoped that "the failed Israeli attempt to impose a new order in the weakest Arab state — Lebanon — will disabuse people of similar ambitions in other territories."  Left unconsidered by Harkabi was the possibility that the United States would act as Israel's proxy to achieve the overall goal.
In the 1970s and 1980s, U.S. Middle Eastern policy, although sympathetic to Israel, was not identical to that of Israel. The fundamental goal of U.S. policy was to promote stable governments in the Middle East that would allow oil to flow reliably to the Western industrial nations. It was not necessary for the Muslim countries to befriend Israel — in fact they could openly oppose the Jewish state. The United States worked for peace between Israel and the Muslim states in the region, but it was to be a peace that would accommodate the demands of the Muslim nations — most crucially their demands involving the Palestinians.
Pursuing its policy of ensuring the security of Middle East oil supplies, by the mid 1980s Washington was heavily supporting Iraq in her war against Iran, although for a while the United States had also provided some aid to Iran (viz. the Iran-contra scandal). Ironically, Donald Rumsfeld was the U.S. envoy who in 1983 paved the way for the restoration of relations with Iraq, relations which had been severed in 1967. The United States along with other Western nations looked upon Iraq as a bulwark against the radical Islamism of the Ayatollah's Iran, which threatened Western oil interests. U.S. support for Iraq included intelligence information, military equipment, and agricultural credits. And the United States deployed the largest naval force since the Vietnam War in the Persian Gulf. Ostensibly sent for the purpose of protecting oil tankers, it ended up engaging in serious attacks on Iran's navy.
It was during this period of U.S. support that Iraq used poison gas against the Iranians and the Kurds, a tactic that the U.S. government and its media supporters now describe as so horrendous. In fact, U.S. intelligence facilitated the Iraqi use of gas against the Iranians. In addition, Washington eased up on its own technology export restrictions to Iraq, which allowed the Iraqis to import supercomputers, machine tools, poisonous chemicals, and even strains of anthrax and bubonic plague. In short, the United States helped arm Iraq with the very weaponry of horror that administration officials are now trumpeting as justification for forcibly removing Saddam from power. 
When the Iran/Iraq war ended in 1988, the United States continued its support for Iraq, showering her with military hardware, advanced technology, and agricultural credits. The United States apparently looked to Saddam to maintain stability in the Gulf. But American policy swiftly changed when Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990. Neoconservatives were hawkish in generating support for a U.S. war against Iraq. The Committee for Peace and Security in the Gulf, headed by Richard Perle, was set up to promote the war.  And neoconservative war hawks such as Perle, Frank Gaffney, Jr., A.M. Rosenthal, William Safire, and The Wall Street Journal held that America's war objective should be not simply to drive Iraq out of Kuwait but also to destroy Iraq's military potential, especially her capacity to develop nuclear weapons. The first Bush administration embraced that position. 
But beyond that, the neocons hoped that the war would lead to the removal of Saddam Hussein and the American occupation of Iraq. However, despite the urgings of then-Defense Secretary Richard Cheney and Undersecretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, the full conquest of Iraq was never accomplished because of the opposition of General Colin Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and General Norman Schwarzkopf, the field commander.  Moreover, the United States had a UN mandate only to liberate Kuwait, not to remove Saddam. To attempt the latter would have caused the U.S.-led coalition to fall apart. America's coalition partners in the region, especially Turkey and Saudi Arabia, feared that the elimination of Saddam's government would cause Iraq to fragment into warring ethnic and religious groups. That could have involved a Kurdish rebellion in Iraq that would have spread to Turkey's own restive Kurdish population. Furthermore, Iraq's Shiites might have fallen under the influence of Iran, increasing the threat of Islamic radicalism in the region.
Not only did the Bush administration dash neoconservative hopes by leaving Saddam in place, but its proposed "New World Order," as implemented by Secretary of State James Baker, conflicted with neoconservative/Israeli goals, being oriented toward placating the Arab coalition that supported the war. That entailed an effort to curb Israeli control of her occupied territories. The Bush administration demanded that Israel halt the construction of new settlements in the occupied territories as a condition for receiving $10 billion in U.S. loan guarantees for Israel's resettlement of hundreds of thousands of immigrants from the former Soviet Union. Although Bush would cave in to American pro-Zionist pressure just prior to the November 1992 election, his resistance disaffected many neocons, causing some, such as Safire, to back Bill Clinton in the 1992 election. 
During the Clinton administration, neoconservatives promoted their views from a strong interlocking network of think tanks — the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), Middle East Media Research Institute (Memri), Hudson Institute, Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Middle East Forum, Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), Center for Security Policy (CSP) — which have had great influence in the media and which have helped to staff Republican administrations. Some of the organizations were originally set up by mainline conservatives and only later taken over by neoconservatives;  others were established by neocons, with some of the groups having a direct Israeli connection. For example, Colonel Yigal Carmon, formerly of Israeli military intelligence, was a co-founder of the Middle East Media Research Institute (Memri). And the various organizations have been closely interconnected. For example, the other co-founder of Memri, Meyrav Wurmser, was a member of the Hudson Institute, while her husband, David Wurmser, headed the Middle East studies department of AEI. And Perle was both a "resident fellow" at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and a trustee of the Hudson Institute. 
In a recent article in the The Nation, Jason Vest discusses the immense influence in the current Bush administration of people from two major neocon research organizations, JINSA and CSP. Vest details the close links among the two organizations, right-wing politicians, arms merchants, military men, Jewish billionaires, and Republican administrations. 
Regarding JINSA, Vest writes:
Founded in 1976 by neoconservatives concerned that the United States might not be able to provide Israel with adequate military supplies in the event of another Arab-Israeli war, over the past twenty-five years JINSA has gone from a loose-knit proto-group to a $1.4-million-a-year operation with a formidable array of Washington power players on its rolls. Until the beginning of the current Bush administration, JINSA's board of advisors included such heavy hitters as Cheney, John Bolton (now Under Secretary of State for Arms Control) and Douglas J. Feith, the third-highest-ranking executive in the Pentagon. Both Perle and former Director of Central Intelligence James Woolsey, two of the loudest voices in the attack-Iraq chorus, are still on the board, as are such Reagan-era relics as Jeane Kirkpatrick, Eugene Rostow, and [Michael] Ledeen — Oliver North's Iran/contra liaison with the Israelis. 
Vest notes that "dozens" of JINSA and CSP "members have ascended to powerful government posts, where their advocacy in support of the same agenda continues, abetted by the out-of-government adjuncts from which they came. Industrious and persistent, they've managed to weave a number of issues — support for national missile defense, opposition to arms control treaties, championing of wasteful weapons systems, arms aid to Turkey and American unilateralism in general — into a hard line, with support for the Israeli right at its core." And Vest continues: "On no issue is the JINSA/CSP hard line more evident than in its relentless campaign for war — not just with Iraq, but 'total war,' as Michael Ledeen, one of the most influential JINSAns in Washington, put it last year. For this crew, 'regime change' by any means necessary in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian Authority is an urgent imperative." 
Let's recapitulate Vest's major points. The JINSA/CSP network has "support for the Israeli right at its core." In line with the views of the Israeli right, it has advocated a Middle Eastern war to eliminate the enemies of Israel. And members of the JINSA/CSP network have gained influential foreign policy positions in Republican administrations, most especially in the current administration of George W. Bush.
"Securing the realm"
A clear illustration of the neoconservative thinking on war on Iraq is a 1996 paper developed by Perle, Feith, David Wurmser, and others published by an Israeli think tank, the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies, titled "A clean break: a new strategy for securing the realm." It was intended as a political blueprint for the incoming government of Benjamin Netanyahu. The paper stated that Netanyahu should "make a clean break" with the Oslo peace process and reassert Israel's claim to the West Bank and Gaza. It presented a plan whereby Israel would "shape its strategic environment," beginning with the removal of Saddam Hussein and the installation of a Hashemite monarchy in Baghdad, to serve as a first step toward eliminating the anti-Israeli governments of Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Iran. 
Note that these Americans — Perle, Feith, and Wurmser — were advising a foreign government and that they currently are connected to the George W. Bush administration: Perle is head of the Defense Policy Board; Feith is Assistant Secretary of Defense for Policy; and Wurmser is special assistant to State Department chief arms control negotiator John Bolton. It is also remarkable that while in 1996 Israel was to "shape its strategic environment" by removing her enemies, the same individuals are now proposing that the United States shape the Middle East environment by removing Israel's enemies. That is to say, the United States is to serve as Israel's proxy to advance Israeli interests.
On February 19, 1998, in an "Open Letter to the President," the neoconservative Committee for Peace and Security in the Gulf proposed "a comprehensive political and military strategy for bringing down Saddam and his regime." The letter continued: "It will not be easy — and the course of action we favor is not without its problems and perils. But we believe the vital national interests of our country require the United States to [adopt such a strategy]." Among the letter's signers were the following current Bush administration officials: Elliott Abrams (National Security Council), Richard Armitage (State Department), Bolton (State Department), Feith (Defense Department), Fred Ikle (Defense Policy Board), Zalmay Khalilzad (White House), Peter Rodman (Defense Department), Wolfowitz (Defense Department), David Wurmser (State Department), Dov Zakheim (Defense Department), Perle (Defense Policy Board), and Rumsfeld (Secretary of Defense).  In 1998 Donald Rumsfeld was part of the neocon network and already demanding war with Iraq. 
Signers of the letter also included such pro-Zionist and neoconservative luminaries as Robert Kagan, William Kristol, Gaffney (Director, Center for Security Policy), Joshua Muravchik (American Enterprise Institute), Martin Peretz (editor-in-chief, The New Republic), Leon Wieseltier (The New Republic), and former Rep. Stephen Solarz (D-N.Y.).  President Clinton would only go so far as to support the Iraq Liberation Act, which allocated $97 million dollars for training and military equipment for the Iraqi opposition. 
In September 2000, the neocon think tank Project for the New American Century (PNAC)  issued a report, "Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century," that envisioned an expanded global posture for the United States. In regard to the Middle East, the report called for an increased American military presence in the Gulf, whether Saddam was in power or not., maintaining that "the United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein."  The project's participants included individuals who would play leading roles in the second Bush administration: Cheney (Vice President), Rumsfeld (secretary of defense), Wolfowitz (deputy secretary of defense), and Lewis Libby (Cheney's chief of staff). Weekly Standard editor William Kristol was also a co-author.
In order to directly influence White House policy, Wolfowitz and Perle managed to obtain leading roles on the Bush foreign policy/national security advisory team for the 2000 campaign. Headed by Soviet specialist Condoleezza Rice, the team was referred to as "the Vulcans." Having no direct experience in foreign policy and little knowledge of the world, as illustrated by his notorious gaffes — confusing Slovakia with Slovenia, referring to Greeks as "Grecians," and failing a pop quiz on the names of four foreign leaders — George W. Bush would have to rely heavily on his advisors.
"His foreign policy team," Kagan observed, "will be critically important to determining what his policies are." And columnist Robert Novak noted: "Since Rice lacks a clear track record on Middle East matters, Wolfowitz and Perle will probably weigh in most on Middle East policy."  In short, Wolfowitz and Perle would provide the know-nothing Bush with a ready-made foreign policy for the Middle East. And certainly such right-wing Zionist views would be reinforced by Cheney and Rumsfeld and the multitude of other neocons who would inundate Bush's administration.
Neocons would fill the key positions involving defense and foreign policy. On Rumsfeld's staff are Wolfowitz and Feith. On Cheney's staff, the principal neoconservatives include Libby, Eric Edelman, and John Hannah. And Cheney himself, with his long-time neocon connections and views, has played a significant role in shaping "Bush" foreign policy. 
A Perle among men
Perle is often described as the most influential foreign-policy neoconservative, their eminence grise. He gained notice in the 1970s as a top aide to Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson (D-Wash.), who was one of the Senate's most anti-Communist and pro-Israeli members. During the 1980s, Perle served as deputy secretary of defense under Ronald Reagan, where his hard-line anti-Soviet positions, especially his opposition to any form of arms control, earned him the moniker "Prince of Darkness" from his enemies. However, his friends considered him, as one put it, "one of the most wonderful people in Washington." That Perle is known as a man of great intellect, a gracious and generous host, a witty companion, and a loyal ally helps to explain his prestige in neoconservative circles. 
Perle isn't just an exponent of pro-Zionist views; he has also had close connections with Israel, being a personal friend of Sharon's, a board member of the Jerusalem Post, and an ex-employee of the Israeli weapons manufacturer Soltam. According to author Seymour M. Hersh, while Perle was a congressional aide for Jackson, FBI wiretaps picked up Perle providing classified information from the National Security Council to the Israeli embassy. 
Although not technically part of the Bush administration, Perle holds the unpaid chairmanship of the Defense Policy Board. In that position, Perle has access to classified documents and close contacts with the administration leadership. As an article in Salon puts it: "Formerly an obscure civilian board designed to provide the secretary of defense with non-binding advice on a whole range of military issues, the Defense Policy Board, now stacked with unabashed Iraq hawks, has become a quasi-lobbying organization whose primary objective appears to be waging war with Iraq." 
"Actions inconceivable at present"
As Bush and his people came into office in January 2001, press reports in Israel quoted government officials and politicians speaking openly of mass expulsion of the Palestinians. Ariel Sharon was elected prime minister of Israel in February 2001; noted for his ruthlessness, he had said in the past that Jordan should become the Palestinian state where Palestinians removed from Israeli territory would be relocated.  Public concern was mounting in Israel over demographic changes that threatened the Jewish nature of the Israeli state. Haifa University professor Arnon Sofer released the study, "Demography of Eretz Israel," which predicted that by 2020 non-Jews would be a majority of 58 percent in Israel and the occupied territories.  Moreover, it was recognized that the overall increase in population would exceed what the land, with its limited supply of water, could support. 
It appeared to some that Sharon intended to achieve expulsion through militant means. As one left-wing analyst put it at the time: "One big war with transfer at its end — this is the plan of the hawks who indeed almost reached the moment of its implementation."  In the summer of 2001, the authoritative Jane's Information Group reported that Israel had completed the planning for a massive and bloody invasion of the Occupied Territories, involving "air strikes by F-15 and F-16 fighter bombers, a heavy artillery bombardment, and then an attack by a combined force of 30,000 men ... tank brigades and infantry." Such bold strikes would aim at far more than simply removing Arafat and the PLO leadership. But the United States vetoed the plan, and Europe made its opposition to Sharon's plans equally plain. 
As one close observer of the Israeli-Palestinian scene presciently wrote in August 2001, "It is only in the current political climate that such expulsion plans cannot be put into operation. As hot as the political climate is at the moment, clearly the time is not yet ripe for drastic action. However, if the temperature were raised even higher, actions inconceivable at present might be possible."  Once again, "revolutionary times" were necessary for Israel to achieve its policy goals. And then came the September 11 attacks.
The September 11 atrocities provided the "revolutionary times" in which Israel could undertake radical measures unacceptable during normal conditions. When asked what the attack would do for U.S.-Israeli relations, former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded: "It's very good." Then he edited himself: "Well, not very good, but it will generate immediate sympathy." Netanyahu correctly predicted that the attack would "strengthen the bond between our two peoples, because we've experienced terror over so many decades, but the United States has now experienced a massive hemorrhaging of terror." Sharon placed Israel in the same position as the United States, referring to the attack as an assault on "our common values" and declaring, "I believe together we can defeat these forces of evil." 
In the eyes of Israel's leaders, the September 11 attacks had joined the United States and Israeli together against a common enemy. And that enemy was not in far-off Afghanistan but was geographically close to Israel. Israel's traditional enemies would now become America's as well. And Israel would have a better chance of dealing with the Palestinians under the cover of a "war on terrorism."
Immediately after the 9/11 attacks, the neoconservatives began to publicly push for a wider war on terrorism that would immediately deal with Israel's enemies. For example, Safire held that the real terrorists that America should focus on were not groups of religious fanatics "but Iraqi scientists today working feverishly in hidden biological laboratories and underground nuclear facilities [who] would, if undisturbed, enable the hate-driven, power-crazed Saddam to kill millions. That capability would transform him from a boxed-in bully into a rampant world power." 
Within the administration, Wolfowitz clearly implied a broader war against existing governments when he said: "I think one has to say it's not just simply a matter of capturing people and holding them accountable, but removing the sanctuaries, removing the support systems, ending states who sponsor terrorism. And that's why it has to be a broad and sustained campaign. It's not going to stop if a few criminals are taken care of." 
On September 20, 2001, neocons of the Project for the New American Century sent a letter to President Bush endorsing the war on terrorism and stressing that the removal of Saddam was an essential part of that war. They maintained that "even if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the attack, any strategy aiming at the eradication of terrorism and its sponsors must include a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq. Failure to undertake such an effort will constitute an early and perhaps decisive surrender in the war on international terrorism." Furthermore, the letter-writers opined, if Syria and Iran failed to stop all support for Hezbollah, the United States should "consider appropriate measures against these known sponsors of terrorism." Among the letter's signatories were such neoconservative luminaries as William Kristol, Midge Decter, Eliot Cohen, Francis Fukuyama, Gaffney, Kagan, Kirkpatrick, Charles Krauthammer, Perle, Peretz, Norman Podhoretz, Solarz, and Wieseltier. 
World War IV
In the October 29, 2002, issue of The Weekly Standard, Kagan and Kristol predict a wider Middle Eastern war:
When all is said and done, the conflict in Afghanistan will be to the war on terrorism what the North Africa campaign was to World War II: an essential beginning on the path to victory. But compared with what looms over the horizon — a wide-ranging war in locales from Central Asia to the Middle East and, unfortunately, back again to the United States — Afghanistan will prove but an opening battle.... But this war will not end in Afghanistan. It is going to spread and engulf a number of countries in conflicts of varying intensity. It could well require the use of American military power in multiple places simultaneously. It is going to resemble the clash of civilizations that everyone has hoped to avoid. 
Kagan and Kristol seem to be looking forward to this gigantic conflagration.
In a November 20, 2002, article in The Wall Street Journal, Eliot Cohen dubs the conflict "World War IV," a term picked up by other neocons. Cohen proclaims that "The enemy in this war is not 'terrorism' ... but militant Islam.... Afghanistan constitutes just one front in World War IV, and the battles there just one campaign." Cohen calls not only for a U.S. attack on Iraq but also for the elimination of the Islamic regime in Iran, which "would be no less important a victory in this war than the annihilation of bin Laden." 
Critics of a wider war in the Middle East quickly recognized the neoconservative war-propaganda effort. Analyzing the situation in September 2002, paleoconservative  Scott McConnell wrote: "For the neoconservatives ... bin Laden is but a sideshow.... They hope to use September 11 as pretext for opening a wider war in the Middle East. Their prime, but not only, target is Saddam Hussein's Iraq, even if Iraq has nothing to do with the World Trade Center assault." 
However, McConnell mistakenly considered the neocon stance to be only a minority view within the Bush administration:
The neocon wish list is a recipe for igniting a huge conflagration between the United States and countries throughout the Arab world, with consequences no one could reasonably pretend to calculate. Support for such a war — which could turn quite easily into a global war — is a minority position within the Bush administration (assistant secretary of state Paul Wolfowitz is its main advocate) and the country. But it presently dominates the main organs of conservative journalistic opinion, the Wall Street Journal, National Review, the Weekly Standard, and the Washington Times, as well as Marty Peretz's neoliberal New Republic. In a volatile situation, such organs of opinion could matter. 
Expressing a similar view, veteran columnist Georgie Anne Geyer observed:
The "Get Iraq" campaign ... started within days of the September bombings.... It emerged first and particularly from pro-Israeli hard-liners in the Pentagon such as Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and advisor Richard Perle, but also from hard-line neoconservatives, and some journalists and congressmen.Soon it became clear that many, although not all, were in the group that is commonly called in diplomatic and political circles the "Israeli-firsters," meaning that they would always put Israeli policy, or even their perception of it, above anything else.
Geyer believed that this line of thinking was "being contained by cool heads in the administration, but that could change at any time." 
Lighting up the recesses of Bush
Neoconservatives have presented the September 11 atrocities as a lightning bolt to make President Bush aware of his destiny: destroying the evil of world terrorism. Ironically enough, Podhoretz adopted Christian terminology to describe a changed Bush:
A transformed — or, more precisely, a transfigured — George W. Bush appeared before us. In an earlier article ... I suggested, perhaps presumptuously, that out of the blackness of smoke and fiery death let loose by September 11, a kind of revelation, blazing with a very different fire of its own, lit up the recesses of Bush's mind and heart and soul. Which is to say that, having previously been unsure as to why he should have been chosen to become President of the United States, George W. Bush now knew that the God to whom, as a born-again Christian, he had earlier committed himself had put him in the Oval Office for a purpose. He had put him there to lead a war against the evil of terrorism. 
In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, administration heavyweights debated the scope of the "war on terrorism." According to Bob Woodward's Bush at War, as early as September 12 Rumsfeld "raised the question of attacking Iraq. Why shouldn't we go against Iraq, not just al Qaeda? he asked. Rumsfeld was speaking not only for himself when he raised the question. His deputy, Paul D. Wolfowitz, was committed to a policy that would make Iraq a principal target of the first round in the war on terrorism." 
Woodward adds, "The terrorist attacks of September 11 gave the United States a new window to go after Hussein." On September 15, Wolfowitz put forth military arguments to justify a U.S. attack on Iraq rather than Afghanistan. Wolfowitz expressed the view that "attacking Afghanistan would be uncertain," voicing the fear that American troops would be "bogged down in mountain fighting.... In contrast, Iraq was a brittle, oppressive regime that might break easily. It was doable." 
However, the neoconservatives were not able to achieve their goal of a wider war at the outset, in part because of the opposition of Secretary of State Powell, who held that the war should focus on the actual perpetrators of September 11. (That was how most Americans actually envisioned the war.) Perhaps Powell's most telling argument was his declaration that an American attack on Iraq would lack international support. He claimed that a U.S. victory in Afghanistan would enhance the United States's ability to deal militarily with Iraq at a later time, "if we can prove that Iraq had a role" in September 11. 
Powell diverged from the neocon hawks in his emphasis on the need for international support, as opposed to American unilateralism, but an even greater difference lay in his contention that the "war on terror" had to be directly linked to the perpetrators of September 11 — Osama bin Laden's network. Powell publicly repudiated Wolfowitz's call for "ending states" with the response that "we're after ending terrorism. And if there are states and regimes, nations, that support terrorism, we hope to persuade them that it is in their interest to stop doing that. But I think 'ending terrorism' is where I would leave it and let Mr. Wolfowitz speak for himself." 
Very significantly, however, while the "war on terrorism" would not begin with an attack on Iraq, military plans were being made for just such an endeavor. A Top Secret document outlining the war plan for Afghanistan, which Bush signed on September 17, 2001, included, as a minor point, instructions to the Pentagon to also start making plans for an attack on Iraq. 
Bush's public pronouncements evolved rapidly in the direction of expanding the war to Iraq. On November 21, 2001, in a speech at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, he proclaimed that "Afghanistan is just the beginning of the war against terror. There are other terrorists who threaten America and our friends, and there are other nations willing to sponsor them. We will not be secure as a nation until all these threats are defeated. Across the world, and across the years, we will fight these evil ones, and we will win." 
On November 26, in response to a question whether Iraq was one of the terrorist nations that he had in mind, Bush said: "Well, my message is, is that if you harbor a terrorist, you're a terrorist. If you feed a terrorist, you're a terrorist. If you develop weapons of mass destruction that you want to terrorize the world, you'll be held accountable." Note that Bush included possession of weapons of mass destruction as an indicator of "terrorism." And none of that terrorist activity necessarily related to the September 11 attacks. 
The transformation to support of a wider war was complete with Bush's January 29, 2002, State of the Union speech, in which he officially decoupled the "war on terrorism'' from the specific events of 9/11. Bush did not even mention bin Laden or al Qaeda. The danger now was said to come primarily from three countries — Iran, Iraq, and North Korea — which he dubbed "an axis of evil" that allegedly threatened the world with their weapons of mass destruction. According to Bush:
States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States. In any of these cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic. 
The phrase "axis of evil" was coined by Bush's neoconservative speechwriter, David Frum. 
By April 2002, Bush was publicly declaring that American policy was to secure "regime change" in Iraq. And in June, he stated that the United States would launch preemptive strikes on those countries that threatened the United States.  According to what passes as the conventional wisdom, Iraq now posed such a threat. Moreover, by the spring of 2002, General Tommy R. Franks, chief of U.S. Central Command, began giving Bush private briefings every three or four weeks on the planning for a new Iraq war. 
Neoconservatives both within and without the administration sought a unilateral U.S. attack on Iraq that would not be encumbered by the conflicting goals of any coalition partners. That push was countered by Powell's efforts to persuade Bush that UN sanction would be necessary to justify a U.S. attack, which the President ultimately found persuasive. That slowed the rush to war, but it also represented a move by Powell away from his original position that Washington should make war on Iraq only if Baghdad were proven to have been involved in the September 11 terrorism.
The UN Security Council decided that UN inspectors, with sweeping inspection powers, would determine whether Iraq was violating her pledge to destroy all of her weapons of mass destruction. UN Security Council Resolution 1441 (November 8, 2002) places the burden of proof on Iraq to show that she no longer possesses weapons of mass destruction. The resolution states that any false statements or omissions in the Iraqi weapons declaration would constitute a further material breach by Iraq of her obligations. That could set in motion discussions by the Security Council on considering the use of military force against Iraq.
While some have claimed that this might mean that war would be put off,  it also allows the United States to use the new UN resolution as a legal justification for war. In fact, the United States could choose to enforce the resolution through war without additional UN authorization. As British journalist Robert Fisk writes: "The United Nations can debate any Iraqi non-compliance with weapons inspectors, but the United States will decide whether Iraq has breached UN resolutions. In other words, America can declare war without UN permission." 
Neoconservatives not only have determined the foreign policy leading to war against Iraq but have played a role in molding military strategy as well. Top military figures, including members of the Joint Chiefs, initially expressed opposition to the whole idea of such a war.  But Perle and other neoconservatives have for some time insisted that toppling Saddam would require little military effort or risk. They pushed for a war strategy dubbed "inside-out" that would involve attacking Baghdad and a couple of other key cities with a very small number of airborne troops, as few as 5,000 in some estimates. According to the plan's supporters, such strikes would cause Saddam's regime to collapse. American military leaders adamantly opposed that approach as too risky, offering in its stead a plan to use a much larger number of troops — about 250,000 — who would invade Iraq in a more conventional manner, marching from the soil of her neighbors, as was done during the Gulf War of 1991.
Perle and the neoconservatives, for their part, feared that no neighboring country would provide the necessary bases, so that this approach would likely mean that no war would be initiated or that, during the lengthy time needed to assemble this large force, opposition to war would so burgeon as to render the operation politically impossible. Perle angrily responded to the military's demurral by saying that the decision to attack Iraq was "a political judgment that these guys aren't competent to make."  Cheney and Rumsfeld went even further, referring to the generals as "cowards" for being insufficiently gung-ho about an Iraq invasion. 
Now, one might be tempted to attribute Perle and the other neocons' rejection of the military's caution to insane hubris — how could amateurs pretend to know more about military strategy than professional military men? However, Richard Perle may be many things, but insane is not one of them. Nor is he stupid. Undoubtedly he has thought through the implications of his plan. And it is apparent that the "inside-out" option would be a win-win proposition from Perle's perspective.
Let's assume that it works — that a few American troops can capture some strategic areas and the Iraqi army quickly folds. Perle and the neocons appear as military geniuses and are rewarded with free rein to prepare a series of additional low-cost wars in the Middle East.
On the other hand, let's assume that the mini-invasion is a complete fiasco. The American troops are defeated in the cities. Many are captured and paraded around for all the world to see. Saddam makes bombastic speeches about defeating the American aggressor. All the Arab and Islamic world celebrates the American defeat. American flags are burned in massive anti-American celebrations throughout the Middle East. America is totally humiliated, depicted as a paper tiger, and ordinary Americans watch it all on TV. How do they react?
Such a catastrophe would be another Pearl Harbor in terms of engendering hatred of the enemy. The public would demand that American honor and prestige be avenged. They would accept the idea fed to them by the neoconservative propagandists that the war was one between America and Islam. Washington would unleash total war, which would involve heavy bombing of cities. And the air attacks could easily spread from Iraq to the other neighboring Islamic states. A war of conquest and extermination is the neocons' fondest dream since it would destroy all of Israel's enemies in the Middle East. (It appears that the Pentagon has augmented the magnitude of the Iraq strike force to reduce the risk of the aforementioned scenario.) 
"Our Enemies, the Saudis"
Indications are plentiful that the war will not be limited to Iraq alone. On July 10, 2002, Laurent Murawiec, at Perle's behest, briefed the Defense Policy Board about Saudi Arabia, whose friendly relationship with the United States has been the linchpin of American security strategy in the Middle East for more than 50 years. Murawiec described the kingdom as the principal supporter of anti-American terrorism — "the kernel of evil, the prime mover, the most dangerous opponent." It was necessary, he claimed, for the United States to regard Saudi Arabia as an enemy. Murawiec said Washington should demand that Riyadh stop funding fundamentalist Islamic outlets around the world, prohibit all anti-U.S. and anti-Israeli propaganda in the country, and "prosecute or isolate those involved in the terror chain, including in the Saudi intelligence services." If the Saudis refused to comply with the ultimatum, Murawiec contended that the United States should invade and occupy the country, including the holy sites of Mecca and Medina, seize her oil fields, and confiscate her financial assets. 
Murawiec concluded the briefing with the astounding summary of what he called a "Grand Strategy for the Middle East:" "Iraq is the tactical pivot. Saudi Arabia the strategic pivot. Egypt the prize." In short, the goal of the war on Iraq was the destruction of the United States' closest allies. It would be hard to envision a policy better designed to inflame the entire Middle East against the United States. But that is exactly the result sought by neoconservatives. 
Predictably, the day after the briefing, the Bush administration disavowed Murawiec's scenario as having nothing to do with actual American foreign policy and pronounced Saudi Arabia a loyal ally.  However, the White House did nothing to remove or even discipline Perle for holding a discussion of a plan for attacking a close ally — and individuals have frequently been removed from administrations for much smaller faux pas. We may be certain that the Bush administration's inaction failed to assure the Saudis that Murawiec's war plan was beyond the realm of possibility.
Murawiec's anti-Saudi scenario simultaneously emerged in the neocon press. The July 15, 2002, issue of The Weekly Standard featured an article titled "The Coming Saudi Showdown," by Simon Henderson of the neoconservative Washington Institute for Near East Policy. And the July/August issue of Commentary, published by the American Jewish Committee, contained an article titled, "Our Enemies, the Saudis." 
The leading neoconservative expert on Saudi Arabia, Stephen Schwartz, made his views known, too, though he did pay a price for it. Schwartz has written numerous articles as well as a recent book, The Two Faces of Islam: The House of Sa'ud from Tradition to Terror, in which he posits a Saudi/Wahhabist conspiracy to take over all of Islam and spread terror throughout the world. As a result of his anti-Saudi comments, Schwartz was dismissed from his brief tenure as an editorial writer with the Voice of America at the beginning of July 2002, thus becoming a martyr in neoconservative circles. 
As Thomas F. Ricks points out in the Washington Post, the anti-Saudi bellicosity expressed by Murawiec "represents a point of view that has growing currency within the Bush administration — especially on the staff of Vice President Cheney and in the Pentagon's civilian leadership — and among neoconservative writers and thinkers closely allied with administration policymakers." 
By November 2002, the anti-Saudi theme had reached the mainstream — with an article in Newsweek alleging financial support for the 9/11 terrorists from the Saudi royal family, and commentary on the subject by such leading figures in the Senate as Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Charles Schumer (D-New York), and Richard Shelby (R-Ala.). 
Bush administration policy has come a long way but has still not reached what neocons seek: a war by the United States against all of Islam. According to Podhoretz, doyen of the neoconservatives: "Militant Islam today represents a revival of the expansionism by the sword" of Islam's early years.  In Podhoretz's view, to survive resurgent Islam the United States must not simply stand on the defensive but must stamp out militant Islam at its very source in the Middle East:
The regimes that richly deserve to be overthrown and replaced are not confined to the three singled-out members of the axis of evil. At a minimum, this axis should extend to Syria and Lebanon and Libya, as well as "friends" of America like the Saudi royal family and Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, along with the Palestinian Authority, whether headed by Arafat or one of his henchmen.
After the great conquest, the United States would remake the entire region, which would entail forcibly re-educating its people to fall into line with the thinking of America's leaders. Podhoretz acknowledges that the people of the Middle East might, if given a free democratic choice, pick anti-American and anti-Israeli leaders and policies. But he proclaims that "there is a policy that can head it off" provided "that we then have the stomach to impose a new political culture on the defeated parties. This is what we did directly and unapologetically in Germany and Japan after winning World War II." 
Within Israel herself, however, the Arabs would not be expected to adopt a "new political culture"; they would be expected to vanish.
Expulsion of the Palestinians is inextricably intertwined with a Middle Eastern war — or, in Ben-Gurion's phrase, "revolutionary times." As the post-September 11 "war on terror" has heated up, the talk of forcibly "transferring" the Palestinians has once again moved to the center of Israeli politics. According to Illan Pappe, a Jewish Israeli revisionist historian, "You can see this new assertion talked about in Israel: the discourse of transfer and expulsion which had been employed by the extreme Right, is now the bon ton of the center." 
Even the dean of Israel's revisionist historians, Benny Morris, explicitly endorsed the expulsion of the Palestinians in the event of war. "This land is so small," Morris exclaimed, "that there isn't room for two peoples. In fifty or a hundred years, there will only be one state between the sea and the Jordan. That state must be Israel."
According to a recent poll conducted by Israel's Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, nearly one-half of Israelis support expulsion of West Bank and Gaza Palestinians, and nearly one-third support expulsion of Israeli Arabs. Three-fifths support "encouraging" Israeli Arabs to leave. 
In April 2002, leading Israeli military historian Martin van Creveld held that a U.S. attack on Iraq would provide the cover for Prime Minister Sharon to forcibly remove the Palestinians from the West Bank. In Creveld's view, "The expulsion of the Palestinians would require only a few brigades," which would rely on "heavy artillery." Creveld continued: "Israeli military experts estimate that such a war could be over in just eight days. If the Arab states do not intervene, it will end with the Palestinians expelled and Jordan in ruins. If they do intervene, the result will be the same, with the main Arab armies destroyed.... Israel would stand triumphant, as it did in 1948, 1956, 1967, and 1973." 
Although Creveld did not express any opposition to this impending expulsion, in September 2002, a group of Israeli academics did issue a declaration of opposition, stating, "We are deeply worried by indications that the 'fog of war' could be exploited by the Israeli government to commit further crimes against the Palestinian people, up to full-fledged ethnic cleansing." 
The declaration continued:
The Israeli ruling coalition includes parties that promote "transfer" of the Palestinian population as a solution to what they call "the demographic problem." Politicians are regularly quoted in the media as suggesting forcible expulsion, most recently [Knesset members] Michael Kleiner and Benny Elon, as reported on Yediot Ahronot website on September 19, 2002. In a recent interview in Ha'aretz, Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon described the Palestinians as a "cancerous manifestation" and equated the military actions in the Occupied Territories with "chemotherapy," suggesting that more radical "treatment" may be necessary. Prime Minister Sharon has backed this "assessment of reality." Escalating racist demagoguery concerning the Palestinian citizens of Israel may indicate the scope of the crimes that are possibly being contemplated. 
In the fall of 2002, the Jordanian government, fearing that Israel might push the Palestinian population into Jordan during the anticipated U.S. attack on Iraq, asked for public assurances from the Israeli government that it would not make such a move. The Sharon regime, however, has refused to publicly renounce an expulsion policy. 
Simply a pretext
As is now apparent, the "war on terrorism" was never intended to be a war to apprehend and punish the perpetrators of the September 11 atrocities. September 11 simply provided a pretext for government leaders to implement long-term policy plans. As has been pointed out elsewhere, including in my own writing, oil interests and American imperialists looked upon the war as a way to incorporate oil-rich Central Asia within the American imperial orbit. While that has been achieved, the American-sponsored government of Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan is in a perilous situation. Karzai's power seems to be limited to his immediate vicinity, and he must be protected by American bodyguards. The rest of Afghanistan is being fought over by various war lords and even the resurgent Taliban.  Instead of putting forth the effort to help consolidate its position in Central Asia, Washington has shifted its focus to gaining control of the Middle East.
It now appears that the primary policymakers in the Bush administration have been the Likudnik neoconservatives all along. Control of Central Asia is secondary to control of the Middle East. In fact, for the leading neocons, the war on Afghanistan may simply have been an opening gambit, necessary for reaching their ultimate and crucial goal: U.S. control of the Middle East in the interests of Israel. That is analogous to what revisionist historians have presented as Franklin D. Roosevelt's "back door to war" approach to World War II. Roosevelt sought war with Japan in order to be able to fight Germany, and he provoked Japan into attacking U.S. colonial possessions in the Far East. Once the United States got into war through the back door, Roosevelt focused the American military effort on Germany. 
The oil motive
But what about the American desire for controlling Iraqi oil? Iraq possesses the world's second-largest proven oil reserves, next to Saudi Arabia. Moreover, many experts believe that Iraq possesses vast undiscovered oil reserves, making her the near-equal of Saudi Arabia. Most critics of war allege that American oil companies' desire to gain control of Iraqi oil is what motivates U.S. war policy. Some, mostly proponents of war, have also argued that, once in control of Iraqi oil, the United States could inundate the world with cheap oil, thus boosting the American and world economies out of recession. 
Although the arguments have a prima facie plausibility, the oil motive for war has a couple of serious flaws. First, oil industry representatives or big economic moguls do not seem to be clamoring for war. According to oil analyst Anthony Sampson, "oil companies have had little influence on U.S. policy-making. Most big American companies, including oil companies, do not see a war as good for business, as falling share prices indicate." 
Further, it is not apparent that war would be good for the oil industry or the world economy. Why would Big Oil want to risk a war that could ignite a regional conflagration threatening their existing investments in the Gulf? Iraq does indeed have significant oil reserves, but there is no reason to believe that they would have an immediate impact on the oil market. Daniel Yergin, chairman of Cambridge Energy Research Associates, points out:
In terms of production capacity, Iraq represents just 3 percent of the world's total. Its oil exports are on the same level as Nigeria's. Even if Iraq doubled its capacity, that could take more than a decade. In the meantime, growth elsewhere would limit Iraq's eventual share to perhaps 5 percent, significant but still in the second tier of oil nations. 
A war would pose a great risk to the oil industry in the entire Gulf region. As William D. Nordhaus, Sterling Professor of Economics at Yale and a member of the President Carter's Council of Economic Advisers, writes:
War in the Persian Gulf might produce a major upheaval in petroleum markets, either because of physical damage or because political events lead oil producers to restrict production after the war.A particularly worrisome outcome would be a wholesale destruction of oil facilities in Iraq, and possibly in Kuwait, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. In the first Persian Gulf War, Iraq destroyed much of Kuwait's oil wells and other petroleum infrastructure as it withdrew. The sabotage shut down Kuwaiti oil production for close to a year, and prewar levels of oil production were not reached until 1993 — nearly two years after the end of the war in February 1991.
Unless the Iraqi leadership is caught completely off-guard in a new war, Iraq's forces would probably be able to destroy Iraq's oil production facilities. The strategic rationale for such destruction is unclear in peacetime, but such an act of self-immolation cannot be ruled out in wartime. Contamination of oil facilities in the Gulf region by biological or chemical means would pose even greater threats to oil markets. 
Nordhaus's forecasts may be excessively bleak. However, the point is that the experts simply cannot gauge what will happen. War poses tremendous risk. In his evaluation of the possible economic impact of a war on Iraq, economic analyst Robert J. Samuelson concludes: "If it's peace and prosperity, then war makes no sense. But if fighting now prevents a costlier war later, it makes much sense." 
None of this to deny that certain oil companies might benefit from a Middle East war, just as some businesses profit from any war. Particular oil companies could stand to benefit from American control of Iraq, since under a postwar U.S.-sponsored Iraqi government, American companies could be expected to be favored and gain the most lucrative oil deals. However, that particular oil companies could derive some benefits does not undercut the overall argument that war is a great risk for the American oil industry and the American economy as a whole.
An American-imperialist strategic motive might be more plausible than the economic interests of the oil industry and the economy in general. Instead of the current informal influence over the oil producing areas of the Middle East, the United States would move into direct control, either with a puppet government in Iraq providing enough leverage for Washington to dictate to the rest of the Middle East, or actual direct U.S. control of other parts of the Middle East as well as Iraq. Presumably that state of affairs would provide greater security for the oil flow than exists under the current situation, where the client states enjoy some autonomy and face the possibility of being overthrown by anti-American forces. Neoconservative Robert Kagan maintains, "When we have economic problems, it's been caused by disruptions in our oil supply. If we have a force in Iraq, there will be no disruption in oil supplies." 
Neoconservatives often try to gloss over this projected American colonialism by claiming that the United States would be simply spreading democracy. They imply that "democratic" Middle East governments would support American policies, including support of Israel and an oil policy oriented toward the welfare of the United States. However, given popular anti-Zionist and anti-American opinion in the region, it seems highly unlikely that governments representative of the popular will would ever pursue such policies. Only a non-representative dictatorship could be pro-American and pro-Israeli. Zionist U.S. Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) put it candidly in calming the worries of an Israeli member of the Knesset: "You won't have any problem with Saddam. We'll be rid of the bastard soon enough. And in his place we'll install a pro-Western dictator, who will be good for us and for you." 
A truly foreign imperialism
Control of the Middle East oil supply would certainly augment U.S. domination of the world. However, American imperialists who are in no way linked to the Likudnik position on Israel — e.g., Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft — are cool to such a Middle East war.  If such a war policy would be an obvious boon to American imperialism, why isn't it avidly sought by leading American imperialists?
Direct colonial control of a country's internal affairs would be a significant break with American policy of the past half-century. America might have client states and an informal empire, but the direct imperialism entailed by an occupation of the Middle East would be, as Mark Danner put it in the New York Times, "wholly foreign to the modesty of containment, the ideology of a status-quo power that lay at the heart of American strategy for half a century."
Moreover, a fundamental concern of American global policy has been to maintain peace and stability in the world. Washington preaches probity and restraint to other countries regarding the use of force. Hence, for the United States to launch a preemptive strike on a country would undoubtedly weaken her ability to restrain other countries, which would also see a need to preemptively strike at their foes. In short, the launching of preemptive war would destabilize the very world order that the United States allegedly seeks to preserve in her "war on terrorism." In fact, world stability is often seen as central to the global economic interdependence that is the key to American prosperity. 
Since America already exercises considerable power in the oil-producing Persian Gulf region through her client states — Saudi Arabia and the Gulf emirates — it is difficult to understand why American imperialists would make a radical change from their status-quo policy. Would the benefits to be gained from direct control of the region outweigh the risks involved? War could unleash virulent anti-American forces that could destabilize America's Middle East client states and incite terrorist attacks on the American homeland. Moreover, American military occupation of Iraq, not to mention other Middle Eastern countries, would place a heavy burden on the U.S. government and people. 
Would such a burden be acceptable to the American people? Would they support the brutal policies needed to suppress any opposition? In the 1950s the people of France would not support the brutality necessary to retain the colonial empire in Algeria. Even in the totalitarian Soviet Union, popular opinion forced the abandonment of the imperialistic venture in Afghanistan, which contributed to the break-up of the entire Soviet empire. In short, the move from indirect to direct control of the Middle East would strike men who were simply concerned about enhancing American imperial power as the gravest sort of risk-taking, because it could undermine America's entire imperial project.
Direct American control of the Middle East would not only prove burdensome to the American people but would also undoubtedly provoke a backlash from other countries. That almost seems to be a law of international relations — operating since the time of the balance-of-power politics practiced during the Peloponnesian War. As Christopher Layne points out:
The historical record shows that in the real world, hegemony never has been a winning grand strategy. The reason is simple: The primary aim of states in international politics is to survive and maintain their sovereignty. And when one state becomes too powerful — becomes a hegemon — the imbalance of power in its favor is a menace to the security of all other states. So throughout modern international political history, the rise of a would-be hegemon always has triggered the formation of counter-hegemonic alliances by other states. 
The British Empire, which might seem an exception to the rule of the inevitable failure of hegemons, achieved its success because of its caution. Owen Harries, editor of the National Interest, has pointed out that England's imperial successes stemmed from her rather cautious approach. "England," observed Harries in the Spring 2001 issue, "was the only hegemon that did not attract a hostile coalition against itself. It avoided that fate by showing great restraint, prudence and discrimination in the use of its power in the main political arena by generally standing aloof and restricting itself to the role of balancer of last resort. In doing so it was heeding the warning given it by Edmund Burke, just as its era of supremacy was beginning: 'I dread our own power and our own ambition. I dread being too much dreaded.'" Notes Harries, "I believe the United States is now in dire need of such a warning." 
Obviously, the American takeover of the major oil-producing area of the world would be anything but a cautious move. It would characterize a classic example of what historian Paul Kennedy refers to as "imperial over-stretch." Tied down in the Middle East, the United States would find it more difficult to counter threats to its power in the rest of the world. Even now it is questionable whether the U.S. military has the capability to fight two wars at once, a problem (from the standpoint of the U.S. regime) that has now come to the fore with the bellicosity of North Korea.  In essence, it is not apparent that intelligent American imperialists concerned solely about the power status of the United States, which holds preeminence in the world right now, would want to take the risk of a Middle East war and occupation.
No American motive
The previous analysis leads to the conclusion not only that the neoconservatives are obviously in the forefront of the pro-war bandwagon but also that pro-Israeli Likudnik motives are the most logical, probably the only logical, motives for war. As I have noted, Likudniks have always sought to deal in a radical fashion with the Palestinian problem in the occupied territories — a problem that has gotten worse, from their standpoint, as a result of demographic changes. A U.S. war in the Middle East at the present time provides a window of opportunity to permanently solve that problem and augment Israel's dominance in the region. The existing perilous situation, as Likud thinkers see it, would justify the taking of substantial risks. And a look at history shows that countries whose leaders believed they were faced with grave problems pursued risky policies, such as Japan did in 1941. 
In contrast, no such dire threats face the United States. American imperialists should be relatively satisfied with the status quo and averse to taking any risks that might jeopardize it.
The deductions drawn in this essay seem obvious but are rarely broached in public because Jewish power is a taboo subject. As the intrepid Joseph Sobran puts it: "It's permissible to discuss the power of every other group, from the Black Muslims to the Christian Right, but the much greater power of the Jewish establishment is off-limits." 
So in a check for "hate" or "anti-Semitism," let's recapitulate the major points made in this essay. First, the initiation of a Middle East war to solve Israeli security problems has been a long-standing idea among Israeli rightist Likudniks. Next, Likudnik-oriented neoconservatives argued for American involvement in such a war prior to the atrocities of September 11, 2001. Since September 11, neocons have taken the lead in advocating such a war; and they hold influential foreign policy and national security positions in the Bush administration.
If Israel and Jews were not involved, there would be nothing extraordinary about my thesis. In the history of foreign policy, it has frequently been maintained that various leading figures were motivated by ties to business, an ideology, or a foreign country. In his Farewell Address, George Washington expressed the view that the greatest danger to American foreign relations would be the "passionate attachment" of influential Americans to a foreign power, which would orient U.S. foreign policy for the benefit of that power to the detriment of the United States. It is just such a situation that currently exists.
We can only look with trepidation to the near future, for in the ominous words of Robert Fisk, "There is a firestorm coming." 
February 10, 2003