With the grotesque spectacle of the burned and bludgeoned bodies of American civilians hanging from a bridge over the Euphrates, Americans need to start thinking about what the Bush administration has dragged the nation into, how we can get out of it and why it happened at all.
The answers to the last question popped up in a newspaper in Asia last week.
Last year I and a number of other critics of the forthcoming war argued that the fabled “weapons of mass destruction” that were supposed to be the reason for the war were not the real reason at all. Most critics, including me, at that time didn’t know the extent to which the war peddlers had simply fabricated their claims about the weapons, but we did know what the real reason was and who was behind it.
“The Likudniks are really in charge now,” a senior government official in the Bush administration told the Washington Post in a front-page Feb. 9, 2003 story. [Bush and Sharon Nearly Identical On Mideast Policy By Robert G. Kaiser]
The “Likudniks” of course are the partisans of the Likud Party government of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, and the official was speaking not of the Israeli government but our own. The people who pushed hardest for the American war against Iraq were neoconservatives, mainly but not entirely of Jewish background, in both the administration and out of it who put Israel’s interests first.
The “war on terrorism,” 9/11 and weapons of mass destruction had nothing to do with it. Israel has long seen Iraq under Saddam Hussein as its major threat in the Middle East, and some Bush administration officials involved in pushing for war were urging an earlier Likud government in 1996 to work for war against Iraq.
Sept. 11 merely gave them the chance to make it happen. Now it has, at American expense.
I was by no means the only one to point to the Israeli connection. Almost every critic of the war, left and right, also knew what was going on—Pat Buchanan, Joseph Sobran, Paul Craig Roberts, Charley Reese, the Rockford Institute’s Chronicles, the American Conservative, Justin Raimondo of Antiwar.com and others. So did left-wing critics at The Nation, the Guardian and any number of newspapers and magazines in this country and Europe. Most of them—especially those on the right—were immediately denounced as “unpatriotic,” “conspiracy freaks”and, most of all, “anti-Semites.”
Now, on the heels of the latest evidence of the continuing disaster into which the administration and Mr. Sharon’s agents of influence within it have dragged us, comes fresh confirmation of their role in instigating the war for the interests of a foreign state.
The Asia Times reported last week that a gentleman named Philip Zelikow, a member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board in 2001, said in a speech months before the war that “the real threat” of Iraq was not to the United States but “against Israel.”
Speaking to an audience at the University of Virginia, where he teaches military history, Mr. Zelikow said, “And this is the threat that dare not speak its name, because the Europeans don’t care deeply about that threat, I will tell you frankly. And the American government doesn’t want to lean too hard on it rhetorically, because it is not a popular sell”—which is why the real reasons had to be masked with what now appear to have been just plain lies about “weapons of mass destruction,” “links” between Saddam and Al Qaeda and other concoctions.
The administration has slammed other former members like Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill and counter-terrorism expert Richard Clarke, who have pointed to much the same connections, but it would be hard to slam Mr. Zelikow.
He had no political or personal ax to grind against the administration and in fact supports both it and the war. He worked for the Bush administration’s transition team in 2001, drafting a plan for reorganizing the National Security Council. He also happens to be Jewish, so it’s hard to say he’s an “anti-Semite.”
The war the Likudniks planned has come but not gone. Despite their stupid predictions about being a “cakewalk,” it’s now cost us the lives of 600 Americans who didn’t have to die and billions of dollars. There’s no sign Iraq is being “pacified” or that democracy is blossoming, and the terrorists who murdered 3,000 Americans on 9/11 just slaughtered more than 200 in Madrid.
Mr. Bush’s wars have brought nothing about; his promises were all untrue.
Americans have a chance this year to stop the madness the Likudnik cabal has started before it engulfs us in a war we can’t walk away from.
If we don’t take that chance, the cabal will stay with us, along with the wars it wants us to fight for someone else’s country.