Neoconservatism Dies In Gaza
News/Comment; Posted on: 2009-01-10 17:01:30 [ Printer friendly / Instant flyer ]
The recent Israeli offensive has put the final nail in the coffin of the Bush administration's Middle East fantasy.
Gaza War of 2009 is a final and eloquent testimony to the complete
failure of the neoconservative movement in United States foreign
policy. For over a decade, the leading figures in this school of
thought saw the violent overthrow of Saddam Hussein and the institution
of a parliamentary regime in Iraq as the magic solution to all the
problems in the Middle East. They envisioned, in the wake of the fall
of Baghdad, the moderation of Hezbollah in Lebanon, the overthrow of
the Baath Party in Syria and the Khomeinist regime in Iran, the
deepening of the alliance with Turkey, the marginalization of Saudi
Arabia, a new era of cheap petroleum, and a final resolution of the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict on terms favorable to Israel. After eight
years in which they strode the globe like colossi, they have left
behind a devastated moonscape reminiscent of some post-apocalyptic B
movie. As their chief enabler prepares to exit the White House, the
only nation they have strengthened is Iran; the only alliance they have
deepened is that between Iran and two militant Islamist entities to
Israel's north and south, Hezbollah and Hamas.
The neoconservatives first laid out their manifesto in a 1996 paper, "A Clean Break," written for an obscure think tank in Jerusalem and intended for the eyes of far right-wing Israeli politician Binyamin Netanyahu of the Likud Party, who had just been elected prime minister. They advised Israel to renounce the Oslo peace process and reject the principle of trading land for peace, instead dealing with the Palestinians with an iron fist. They urged Israel to uphold the right of hot pursuit of Palestinian guerrillas and to find alternatives to Yasser Arafat's Fatah for the Palestinian leadership. They called forth Israeli airstrikes on targets in Syria and rejection of negotiations with Damascus. They foresaw strengthened ties between Israel and its two regional friends, Turkey and Jordan.
They advocated "removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq," in part as a way of "rolling back" Syria. In place of the secular, republican tyrant, they fantasized about the restoration of the Hashemite monarchy in Iraq, and thought that a Sunni king might help moderate the Shiite Hezbollah in south Lebanon. (Yes.) They barely mentioned Iran, though it appears that their program of expelling Syria from Lebanon and weakening its regime was in part aimed at depriving Iran of its main Arab ally. In a 1999 book called "Tyranny's Ally: America's Failure to Defeat Saddam Hussein," David Wurmser argued that it was false to fear that installing the Iraqi Shiites in power in Baghdad would strengthen Iran regionally.
The signatories to this fantasy of using brute military power to reshape all of West Asia included some figures who would go on to fill key positions in the Bush administration. Richard Perle, a former assistant secretary of defense under Reagan, became chairman of the influential Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee, a civilian oversight body for the Pentagon. Douglas J. Feith became the undersecretary of defense for planning. David Wurmser first served in Feith's propaganda shop, the Office of Special Plans, which manufactured the case for an American war on Iraq, and then went on to serve with "Scooter" Libby in the office of Vice President Dick Cheney.
News Source: salon.com