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Another look at the people who planned the war in Iraq: "neocons out-Likuding the Likud"

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posted on Apr, 24 2006 @ 06:50 PM
It was never too difficult to see that one of the main components of the US drive to get into Iraq was the pro-Israeli stance of our country. This review of a book by George Packer gives an interesting insight into the motivations of the leadership figures in the US who directed the country onto the war path.

"Why Iraq?" Packer asks. "Why did Iraq become the leading cause of the hawks?" He gives two reasons: Paul Wolfowitz's desire to atone for America's failure to topple Saddam at the end of the first Gulf War, and the neocons' obsession with defending Israel.

In Packer's account, Wolfowitz is a fascinating, fatally flawed figure, an idealist who failed to take actions in support of his ideals. As Dick Cheney's undersecretary of defense for policy, Wolfowitz went along with Bush I's decision not to oust Saddam at the end of the first Gulf War. But he was haunted by that choice, and determined to rectify it. "More than Perle, Feith, and the neoconservatives in his department -- certainly more than Rumsfeld and Cheney -- Wolfowitz cared," Packer writes. "For him Iraq was personal." Packer holds Wolfowitz largely responsible for the Bush administration's failure to put enough troops into Iraq, and to plan for the aftermath.

The leading light of the neoconservatives was Richard Perle, whom Packer describes as the Iraq war's "impresario, with one degree of separation from everyone who mattered." A partisan of Israel's hard-line Likud Party and a protege of neocon Democrat Scoop Jackson, Perle recruited two other staunch advocates of Israel, Douglas Feith and Elliott Abrams, to work for Jackson and hawkish Democrat Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Packer writes, "When I half jokingly suggested that the Iraq War began in Scoop Jackson's office, Perle said, 'There's an element of that.'" In 1985, Perle had met and become friends with an Iraqi exile named Ahmad Chalabi. "By the time of the PNAC letter in January 1998, Perle knew exactly how Saddam could be overthrown: Put Ahmad Chalabi at the head of an army of Iraqi insurgents and back him with American military power and cash."

It's probably one of the more systematic treatises on the subject. A pretty clear exposition of the Office of Special plans supplanting the normal intelligence channels, and disregard for State Department's Future of Iraq Project. Fascinating.

[edit on 24-4-2006 by Aelita]

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[edit on 24-4-2006 by DontTreadOnMe]

posted on Apr, 24 2006 @ 09:01 PM
The book being reviewed is George Packer's Assassin's Gate, which not only is very readable, but should be required for anyone trying to understand the Iraq War, particularly the run-up and the Bremer phase. (Don't just take it from me - Powell's Chief of Staff while he was serving as Secretary of State actually said as much in his now-famous "Cheney-Rumsfeld Cabal" speech of last year.)

Another good book on understanding the neoconservatives is America Alone, by two conservatives, Stefan Halper and Jonathan Clarke. In it they describe some of the fundamental precepts of neoconservativism, which should be understood in order to further grasp why we went into Iraq.

One reason is certainly, as Packer mentions, the Israeli aspect. Neocons are ardent supporters of the Israeli right, and they often blur the line (a line they perhaps do not, or do not wish, to see) between advocating policies that are in the US's interests and Israel's interests, as in the cases of Iraq-war architects Perle and Wurmser, whose records really speak for themselves. But I think Packer may place too much emphasis on this fact.

But the neocons are also a product of American trends of thought, unrelated to Israel. Another neocon precept is the belief in the utility of unilateral force, and they have generally had a desire to see America use force more actively in asserting its interests (often they are responding to what they see as inherent moral weakness in American society, one manifestation of which is the "Vietnam syndrome." In this regard they are similar to Islamic Jihadists, who also are responding to what they see as moral weakness in their own societies, to, ostensibly, be cured by militarism.)

Iraq was supposed to be, as many neocons originally argued it would be, a milk run. US power would be vindicated shortly after the tanks entered Baghdad as troops would be greeted with "sweets and flowers" and Iraq became a shining beacon of democracy in the region, quickly getting others to follow suit. The value of US military force over what they see as the weaknesses of diplomacy and multilateralism would be proven, and the neoconservatives would have gained their ideological victory over both multilaterally-minded liberals and conservative isolationists alike. IMO, this aspect of neoconservativism is as strong as, if not a stronger, reason for the Iraq war as any support of Israel may have been.

[edit on 24-4-2006 by koji_K]

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