The end of the Neo-Cons?

DESPITE its strong relationship with the U.S., Singapore recently joined most of the world in condemning the assassinations of two leaders of the Hamas movement as these killings and suicide bombings perpetuate the cycle of violence in the Middle East.

But as the quagmire in Iraq worsens by the day and the lack of progress on the so-called “Road Map” for peace in the Middle East is evident, many are beginning to wonder whether the U.S. elections in November will not only see a change in the occupant of the White House but also an end to the neo-conservative approach to American foreign policy.

The invasion of Iraq in March 2003 by the Anglo-American forces was one of the worst policy decisions of the Bush Administration. Iraq did not possess weapons of mass destruction, nor was it linked to the Al-Qaida terrorists. The invasion has not produced a better situation, bringing more democracy and peace to the Middle East Indeed, in the view of the many millions of people who opposed the war around the world from the beginning, this was never likely to be its result anyway.

Accordingly, not only is the rationale given by the U.S., British, Australian and Spanish governments for the invasion being questioned, but serious accusations must be leveled at the underlying ideology of the advisers to Bush who pushed so hard for this unnecessary war.

It is now well known that the Bush Administration had been planning an attack on Iraq from its earliest days in office, well before 9/11. This was neatly summarised by Peter Hartcher in the Sydney Morning Herald ‘ based on the publication of many new books such as those by David Frum (ex-Bush speech writer), Paul O’Neill (exBush Treasury Secretary), Dick Clarke (ex-Bush Counter terrorism official), Hans Blix (ex-United Nations weapons inspector chief) and now by the renowned journalist Bob Woodward.

A crucial influence upon the unfolding disaster in Iraq were the neo-conserva ti ves in and around the Bush administration – men such as the Vice President, Dick Cheney; Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld; Pentagon official Paul Wolfowitz; Head of the Office of Special Plans, Douglas Feith; National Security Adviser Elliot Abrams (who devised the recent deal with Ariel Sharon); and the “Prince of Darkness” Richard Perle. It is well documented that they were so biased in favour of Israel that their ideology led them to want to take advantage of the post 9/11 psychosis against Muslims in the United States to attack Iraq even though there was never a shred of evidence that Iraq was in any way responsible for that horrendous event.

Most of the above were involved for over ten years in the publications of the Project for the New American Century which clearly spelt out their agenda based on what they viewed as the “clash of civilizations” between the West and the Islamic world.2 This way of thinking was largely based on Samuel Huntington’s 1996 book which warned of an inevitable clash between the West and the combined Chinese and Islamic civilizations.3

It is surprising that in all the media talk aboul the “failure of intelligence services” on the question of Iraq’s mythical WMDs that there has not been any investigation into the role of the neoconservatives in the Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans in deliberately manipulating intelligence reports in order to justify war. They were leading promoters of Ahmed Chala bi and his Iraqi National Congress, which turned out to be highly misleading sources of information on Iraq.

The self-fulfilling and dangerous nature of the “clash of civilizations” theory must be more than evident now. The harder the Americans attack Muslims in places such as Fallujah and Najaf in Iraq and the Israelis attack and kill the leaders of Hamas in Palestine, in the name of the “war on terrorism”, the more opposition they face and the more some people are willing to fight back and die in trying to overcome foreign occupation and oppression.

It was the neo-conservatives who were responsible for pushing through the doctrine of pre-emption in the U.S. National Security Strategy in 2002, meaning the right of the U.S. to invade any country they think may be dangerous. It is to be hoped that this approach will now be revised and dumped as only being responsible for a much more dangerous world.

The extraordinary recent policy change by President Bush in endorsing Ariel Sharon’s plan to retain and consolidate the larger settlements in the West Bank, to allow the construction of the security wall on Palestinian land and to deny Palestinian refugees the “right of return” to their former homes has already led many in the Muslim world to conclude that this administration will do anything in its power to support Israeli aggression against the Palestinians. Furthermore, many are convinced that the invasion of Iraq was largely initiated for the benefit of Israel: the pro-Israel advisers of Bush decided that 2003 was a unique opportunity to change the fundamental position of those who opposed the thirty-five year illegal occupation of Palestinian land, Iraq of course being one of the most prominent. This was decided despite numerous warnings about the likely repercussions of such an aggressive policy.

The unwillingness of the U.S. to condemn the assassination of Dr Abdel Aziz Rantisi by the Israeli Defense Force following so closely on the similar assassination of the blind, wheelchairbound founder of Hamas, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, suggests to many Muslims that America was complicit ih Sharon’s plan to deliberately incite more violence – especially as Bush seemed to completely endorse all of Sharon’s plans in their recent meeting in Washington.

The level of anger throughout the Muslim world at present is extremely worrying as it is almost certain to manifest itself in more futile and unnecessary violence.

The importance of the need to find a peaceful and just solution to the long running dispute in Palestine cannot be understated for those who seek a genuine end to terrorism and suicide bombers. So too is there a desperate need for the Americans to hand over power in Iraq to the United Nations as soon as possible and not just to “make a show” of it before the American presidential election. The UN can then organize a legitimate democratic election to appoint a new Iraqi government.

The big question now is whether at the election in November, the American people will not only punish the President for this huge mistake in invading and occupying Iraq at great cost in terms of lives and higher budget deficits for many years to come in the U.S., but ensure, by raising their voices loud and clear, that more rational and less ideologically driven advisers will be relied upon in the next Administration.

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    A piece previously published in the print issue of Islamica Magazine between 2003-2009. The following has been an effort to digitize and archive as a free service. Author citations can be found at as we continue to work on improving the digital archives here.

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