Monday, July 17, 2006


Neocons Resurrect Plans For Regional War In The Middle East

In 1996, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith and David Wurmser (all later senior officials in the Bush administration) had a plan for how to destroy Hezbollah: Invade Iraq. They wrote a report to the newly elected Likud government in Israel calling for “a clean break” with the policies of negotiating with the Palestinians and trading land for peace.

The problem could be solved “if Israel seized the strategic initiative along it northern borders by engaging Hizballah (sic), Syria, and Iran, as the principal agents of aggression in Lebanon.” The key, they said, was to “focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq — an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right — as a means of foiling Syria’s regional ambitions.” They called for “reestablishing the principle of preemption.” They promised that the successes of these wars could be used to launch campaigns against Iran, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, reshaping “the strategic balance in the Middle East profoundly.”

Now, with the U.S. bogged down in Iraq, with Bush losing control of world events, and with the threats to national security growing worse, no one could possibly still believe this plan, could they? Think again.

William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, is still pushing this radical vision. He now uses the excuse of Hezbollah terrorist attacks — what he calls “Iran’s Proxy War” — to push the United States deeper into a regional war against Iran and Syria:

We might consider countering this act of Iranian aggression with a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities. Why wait? Does anyone think a nuclear Iran can be contained? That the current regime will negotiate in good faith? It would be easier to act sooner rather than later. Yes, there would be repercussions — and they would be healthy ones, showing a strong America that has rejected further appeasement.

Perle has already weighed in in a June 25 Washington Post editorial decrying Bush’s “ignominious retreat” on Iran. He, too, wants war. Newt Gingrich on Meet the Press this Sunday said we were already in World War III and that the US needed to take direct action against North Korea and Iran. Less well known pundits have flooded cable news and talk radio this weekend beating the war drums. Meanwhile, David Wurmser is ensconced in Vice-President Cheney’s office, and his neoconservative colleague Elliot Abrams (the convicted Iran-Contra felon who urged war with Iraq in a 1998 letter to President Bill Clinton) directs Middle East policy on the National Security Council staff.

The neoconservatives are now hoping to use the Israeli-Lebanon conflict as the trigger to launch a U.S. war against Syria, Iran or both. These profoundly dangerous policies have to be exposed and stopped before they do even more harm to U.S. national security then they already have.

Joseph Cirincione

(For more, see “Origins of Regime Change in Iraq“)

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