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“The influence of the Likud and of its friends in Washington could be detected across the entire spectrum of American policy towards the Middle East,” writes Shlaim.

By Stephen Sniegoski

A friend, Phil Collier, an avid student of and sometime writer on Middle East affairs (and  a National Master in chess), recently  informed  me that Avi Shlaim, in his recent book, Israel and Palestine: Reappraisals, Revisions, Refutations, had one chapter, “Palestine and Iraq,” that presents a thesis almost identical to what I have written in The Transparent Cabal. This naturally encouraged me to obtain the book, and Collier’s description turns out to be correct.

THE CABAL: William Kristol, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Elliot Abrams, Douglas Feith

Now this similarity is quite significant since what I have written on the neocons regarding their strong influence on U. S. Middle East policy and their connection to Israel is taboo in the American mainstream, with even numerous antiwar individuals (especially those with higher status) and publications shying away from my work. But unlike me, Shlaim, a professor of international relations at Oxford, is a recognized scholar, with such notable books on Israel and its neighbors as The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World (2001).  And he is also Jewish and an Israeli citizen, who served in the Israeli Defense Forces (possessing dual British and Israeli citizenship), which shelters him from charges of anti-Semitism.   Undoubtedly because of his credentials, his works cannot be ignored, and this book was honored as a Kirkus Best Book for 2009.

Now, in his ten-page  chapter on this subject, Shlaim could only present a much-abbreviated version of the major themes that I elaborate on at length in my 447 page book.   The following are some poignant examples from Shlaim’s work, with my commentary drawing comparisons to The Transparent Cabal.

“The basic premise behind George W. Bush’s policy towards the Middle East reflected this strong pro-Israeli bias,” Shlaim opines. “The premise was that the key issue in Middle East politics was not Palestine, but Iraq.” (p. 297)    This is the essence of my thesis, but it is something many establishment people, including those who have been antiwar, ardently deny when they claim that the elimination of Saddam not only harmed  Israeli interests by empowering Iran, but that this result  was clearly foreseen by  Israelis and supporters of Israel prior to the attack on Iraq and that the government of Israel thus allegedly opposed the war.  The Transparent Cabal, of course, shows that the entire neocon war agenda in the Middle East was directed to advancing Israel’s security by weakening its enemies and that Israeli leaders did, in fact, promote the war on Iraq.   Of course, in the United States, any claim that American Jews promote Israeli interests, no matter how well adduced, invariably elicits accusations of anti-Semitism.

“American proponents of the war on Iraq promised that action against Iraq would form part of a broader engagement with the problems of the Middle East,” Shlaim notes.  “The road to Jerusalem, they argued, went through Baghdad.  Cutting off Saddam Hussein’s support for Palestinian terrorism was, according to them, an essential first step in the quest for a settlement.” (p. 297)  Later he observes:  “One of the main arguments for regime change in Baghdad was to put an end to Iraqi support for Palestinian militants and for what was seen as Palestinian intransigence in the peace process with Israel.” (p. 300)

As I point out in The Transparent Cabal, the neocons maintained that it was the removal of not only Saddam, but most “non-democratic” regimes in the Middle East, which was necessary to bring about a peaceful settlement of the Palestinian issue.  However, the “peace” the neocons had in mind was one dictated by Israel. Elimination of the Middle Eastern “non-democratic” regimes would facilitate this development because it was just these regimes  that provided moral and material support to the Palestinian resistance, portrayed by the neocons as “Palestinian intransigence.”  Without outside support, the isolated and dispirited Palestinians would ultimately be forced to accede to whatever type of peaceful solution Israel offered, which would create nothing like a viable, Palestinian state, but which would serve to remove Israel’s Palestinian problem and thus help to secure the Jewish nature of the state of Israel.

“The influence of the Likud and of its friends in Washington could be detected across the entire spectrum of American policy towards the Middle East,” writes Shlaim.  “Particularly striking was the ideological convergence between some of the leading neoconservatives in the Bush Administration – such as Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith—and the hardliners in Ariel Sharon’s inner circle.” (p. 298)

I go to great lengths in The Transparent Cabal to highlight the link between the neocons and the hardline Likudniks. In fact, I show that the neocons’ very plan to reconfigure the Middle East paralleled the Likudnik goal of destabilizing and fragmenting Israel’s enemies, which was best articulated by Oded Yinon in the early 1980s.

In illustrating the neocons’ identification with Israeli interests, Shlaim underscores the significance of the neocons’ “A Clean Break” paper, writing: “In 1996, a group of six Jewish Americans, led by Richard Perle and Douglas Feith, wrote a paper for incoming Israeli prime minister, Benyamin Netanyahu.  Entitled ‘A Clean Break’, the paper proposed, in essence, an abrupt reversal of the foreign policies of the Clinton Administration towards the Middle East.” (p. 298)  After mentioning the major goals  of the plan, including the removal of Saddam’s regime, Shlaim declares: “Thus, five years before the attack on the twin towers, the idea of regime change in Baghdad was already on the agenda of some of Israel’s most fervent Republican supporters in Washington.” (p. 299)  Regarding the connection of that policy to actual American interests,  Shlaim opines that “While the authors’ devotion to Israel’s interests was crystal-clear, their implicit identification of those interests with American interests was much more open to question.” (p. 299) Shlaim accepts the obvious  fact that the neocons were influential in shaping Bush policy: “The Bush Administration’s entire policy towards the Middle East was similarly supportive of Israel’s short-term strategic interests.” (p. 299)

It should be noted here that Shlaim, in accord with what I write in  The Transparent Cabal,  makes three taboo points that often lead to charges of anti-Semitism when he observes that the neocons are Jewish, that they are devoted to Israel, and that they were influential enough to shape U. S. Middle East  policy in the interests of Israel.

Shlaim correctly points out  that the neocons’ Middle East war  agenda transcended Iraq: “While Iraq was the main target, the neocons also advocated that America exert relentless pressure on Syria and on Iran.” (p. 300)  In The Transparent Cabal, I show that the neocons only regarded Iraq as the momentary “main target”—it was to be the first step in their plan to reconfigure the Middle East.

Shlaim refers to  Israeli support for the broader neocon Middle East war agenda, which would also primarily benefit that country, not the United States:   “Washington’s policy of confrontation and regime change was fervently supported in Tel Aviv.  Here too the benefit to Israel is much more evident than the benefit to America.   And here too, the US agenda towards the region appears to incorporate a right-wing Likud agenda.” (p. 300)

While fundamentally similar, Shlaim’s analysis does differ with The Transparent Cabal in a few respects.   For example, he depicts the noted Middle East scholar Bernard Lewis as a crucial influence on the neocons, maintaining that he provided “the intellectual underpinning for this policy [the neocon plan of democratizing the Middle East by war].” (P. 299)  While aware that Lewis expressed this Middle East democratization argument, I am not aware that the neocons actually derived this view from him.  To obtain expert opinion on this issue, I contacted Paul Gottfried, probably the foremost historian of neoconservatism, and he also was not aware of any evidence for Shlaim’s claim. Since Lewis is a well-known scholar, some neocons undoubtedly believed that publicizing their connection to him would enhance the credibility of their democratization argument, but whether they actually derived this view from him needs to be proven.

A more significant difference between Shlaim’s argument and that of The Transparent Cabal revolves around an assessment of the results of the neocon policy. While Shlaim holds that the  neocons were attuned to the views of the hardline Likudniks and sought to advance what they considered to be Israel’s security interests,  he seems to drift away from this position in looking at the policy’s results.  Instead, he seems to take the neocon rhetoric on democracy at face value and judges the results by both this standard and how the results affected Israel’s security, as he (a left-wing Zionist, not a hardline Likudnik) sees  it.  “The war on Iraq has not gone according to plan,” Shlaim asserts. “Saddam Hussein and his henchman have been removed from power but the goals of democracy, security and stability have proved persistently elusive. Today the shadow of civil war hangs over Iraq.” (p. 305)

In contrast to Shlaim’s view of Israel’s security, the neocons explicitly sought regional instability to allegedly achieve democracy, as I show in The Transparent Cabal.  And the hardline Likudnik position was to destabilize and fragment Israel’s enemies to enhance Israeli security.  The neocons similarly advocated such an approach in their “Clean Break” agenda, which did not emphasize  democratization.  In short, from the perspective of the neocons and the hardline Likudniks, the instability and the “shadow of civil war” resulting from the US invasion of Iraq were neither surprising nor unwelcome.  Thus the neocons’ plans failed only to the extent that the US has not, or at least not yet, moved on to attack and destabilize Iran and other enemies of Israel.

It is certainly pleasing to see themes that I present emerging  in the mainstream, but I am miffed that my much longer account remains largely ignored.  It would be great if  books such as Shlaim’s would serve to open the door to wider publicity for The Transparent Cabal, which would not simply be of personal benefit but would also provide mainstream readers with the most complete account currently existing of the neoconservative involvement in the war on Iraq and overall U. S. Middle East policy,  and thus serve as a guide to analyzing current U.S.  policy.  However, since Shlaim’s theme is buried among 29 other short chapters, its impact will likely be negligible.  And the overall blackout of these crucial themes will likely continue.

Stephen J. Sniegoski, Ph.D. earned his doctorate in American history,with a focus on American foreign policy, at the University of Maryland. His focus on the neoconservative involvement in American foreign policy antedates September 11,and his first major work on the subject, “The War on Iraq: Conceived in Israel” was published February 10, 2003, more than a month before the American attack. He is the author of “The Transparent Cabal: The Neoconservative Agenda, War in the Middle East, and the National Interest of Israel”. Read more articles by Stephen J. Sniegoski. http://home.comcast.net/~transparentcabal/

An Exclusive Interview with Stephen Sniegoski, author of The Transparent Cabal


“There is no book that better exposes the oft-obscured fact that Israeli interests are primarily driving America’s wars in the Middle East than Stephen J. Sniegoski’s The Transparent Cabal” ~ Maidhc Ó Cathail

5 Comments

  1. Rehmat on the 17. Jan, 2011 remarked #

    “It’s not Palestine but Iraq” – sort of lies by the Zionist warmongers – are based on their original dream of ‘Eretz (Greater) Israel’. Since the oil-rich Iraqi Kurd area (part of Eretz Israel) has already been occupied – now the next slogan is “it’s not Palestine but Lebanon’, for the Litani River. And since Tehran is supporting both Hamas and Hizbullah – “Iran is a great threat to the very existence of Israel”.

    http://www.mediamonitors.net/johnhenshaw1.html

  2. D Costa on the 17. Jan, 2011 remarked #

    “The Transparent Cabal” by Dr Stephen Sniegoski is a must read–it really is an excellent book.

  3. Jay C. on the 20. Jan, 2011 remarked #

    The zionist agenda is a greater israel http://www.NOWARFORISRAEL.com and the TOTAL control of the world! http://www.HOLYWAR.org/116.htm n http://100777.com/node/500 They consist of SINGLE minded tribe http://www.jewishTRIBE.net whose top priority is only to its own. http:/www.jEWISHTRIBALREVIEW.org and will subjugate others in order to acheive this. http://www.GISfilms.org/index.htm

  4. Project Humanbeingsfirst.org on the 21. Jan, 2011 remarked #

    Hi.

    Reality is almost like an onion.

    Comes in layers.

    The outer layer, when peeled, shows the next inner layer.

    And down to the core.

    It is difficult to get to the core of reality, without first unpeeling it, layer by layer.

    The empirical fact however is that it is not mentioned in the mainstream, and by many others in dissentstream, because the conspiracy is to not even acknowledge that the onion exists at all for social engineering of ‘united we stand’ and ‘introducing beneficial cognitive diversity’ to mislead the public.

    That does not in itself, however, make the outer layer of the onion, the enitre onion, when the brave and courageous individuals like the author above, and the one he is citing, depicts aspects of the outer layer!

    These are mere labels, the neocons, neconservatives, neo-cons, they mean nothing by themselves.

    America has been involved in warfare from Wonded Knee to Afghanistan, and before WWII, there were no neo-cons by that name.

    So how does one explain America’s vast military-industrial-academe-media complex which is what actually wages the wars?

    But why do they wage wars?

    For Israel?

    The focus on Israel, and the Jewish Lobby, in my view, can at times be a gigantic red herring.

    The real focus must remain on the oligarchy which funds all sides of wars, and have been doing so for 250 years, and for what eventual purpose?

    The War on Terror, the war on Afghanistan, the war on Iraq, the war on Paksitan, the war on Iran, on whatever mantras and asinine pretexts, by themselves make no sense – and it is easy to pin it upon the most visible harbingers for their most obvious motives! The outer layer of the onion.

    But peel down, and we get World Government, which would not be possible without the transformative abilities of these wars which seed controlled chaos.

    David Ben Gurion aptly described it as “what is inconceivable in normal times is possible in revolutionary times”.

    The unlayering is important to get to the heart of the matter, quickly, before it is too late. And one of the reason it is not unlayered in time, is to seed fait accompli. That is the master political science. Google the string to understand this political science which is time-critical and which is what enables only narrating these matters ex post facto: “Of Ostriches and Rebels on The Hard Road to World Order”.

    That too, by itself, is still not the inner most core of the onion, only the next layer down, but it already demonstrates that focus on the outer layer of the onion of reality, the visible reality, makes for a great red herring.

    No one in Plato’s cave can ever figure out the reality behind the images on the screen, by examining, and in no matter what excruciating a scholarship, the images on the screen before them.

    That is why the outer layer of the onion, whether one sees the onion at all or not, is often pointless garbage.

    Whenever I cook dinner at home, I always throw away the outer layer of the onion, it tastes terrible:-)

    Thank you.

    Zahir Ebrahim
    Project Humanbeingsfirst.org

  5. Project Humanbeingsfirst.org on the 24. Jan, 2011 remarked #

    The following is the Preamble to my earlier comment above.

    It can also be read in its full article context here:

    bloghumanbeingsfirst.wordpress.com/2011/01/23/unlayering-the-middle-east-war-agenda-by-zahirebrahim/

    Preamble

    This is a response to the unforensic focus on the Middle East War Agenda which permeates the alternate media even today, well into the 10th year of the New Pearl Harbor used like the Nazi’s ‘Operation Canned Goods’, to “goosestep the herrenvolk across international frontiers” first into Afghanistan, and next into Iraq. All ostensibly to “birthpang the New Middle East” as the former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had righteously put it. That War Agenda is variously still blamed on the Zionist agenda for Eretz Yisrael, and/or upon the sole superpower’s Primacy and Its Geostrategic Initiatives to preemptively acquire and extract the natural resources in the Middle East and Central Asia before any other nation or group of nations can rise to challenge its dominance. The former Zionist agenda is pitched as the ungodly wars waged by the Jewish neoconservaties who dominate Washington, blueprinted in their PNAC and other Wolfowitz drawn strategy documents for Securing the Jews-only Realm. The latter superpower agenda is pitched as the wars of primacy for America’s sole preeminence, blueprinted in Zbigniew Brzezinski’s The Grand Chessboard and in Pentagon’s many Joint Vision strategy documents. Both premise, while appearing sensible in 2003 when I too employed them in my maiden book Prisoners of the Cave, in the light of today’s empiricism outright lead to absurdities. America is going bankrupt due to these global wars with rising national debt which now stands in the 13 trillion dollar range as officially reported by the US Treasury. What sort of primacy agenda for preeminence is that? The United States hasn’t been able to extract any of the natural resources either from the Middle East and Central Asian soils anymore than she was already extracting previously, as much as it wanted, with its own coddled dictators firmly in power. Why did she need to wage murderous wars to decimate the region to remove its own cultivated dictators? It also sure hasn’t been good for the Anglo-American oil companies – they can’t do business when the region is torn asunder by the cycle of insurgency and counter-insurgency manufactured by the Anglo-American Allies themselves. Same in Afghanistan – no pipelines, only the so called quagmires, as even the mainstream news of the United States puts it. As for Israel, if Eretz Yisrael is the principal reason for decimating Iraq with millions of tons of Depleted Uranium munitions, destroying its fertile top soils and bountiful water tables, not to mention the ancient DNA of its inhabitants, and with only immense hatred and ire of its millions of Arabs now irretrievably implanted to greet the Zionist from Israel if they ever set foot onto its soil for resettlement, then the Jews can’t really occupy that land for themselves now can they? What did the Israelis really gain by brutally removing the servile Iraqi puppet of their own client state, the United States? Only chaos in the region! And perhaps some smaller equally compliant but unstable ethnic principalities carved out of the former equally compliant monolithic and stable Iraq. But wait, NO Eretz Yisrael! Only enormous hatred for Israel, and America. What an agenda for preeminence! Only the keystone cops could have blueprinted it. Hmmm….

    Zahir Ebrahim
    Project Humanbeingsfirst.org

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