Israelpolitik, the Neocons and the Long Shadow of the Iraq War—A Review of Muhammad Idrees Ahmad’s book ‘The Road to Iraq: The Making of a Neoconservative War’

This essay first appeared in The Drouth (‘The Thirst’), a quarterly magazine published in Glasgow (Issue 50, Winter 2014/2015). I wrote it in December 2014.

The Road to Iraq book coverThe Road to Iraq: The Making of a Neoconservative War
By Muhammad Idrees Ahmad
Edinburgh University Press
£19.99

Reviewed by Danny Postel

I was reluctant to review this book. With all the dramatic developments in the Middle East today—the ISIS crisis, the siege of Kobanê, the deepening nightmare in Syria, the escalating repression in Egypt, the fate of Tunisia’s democratic transition, the sectarianization of regional conflicts driven by the Saudi-Iranian rivalry—delving back into the 2003 invasion of Iraq seemed rather less than urgent. It’s hard enough just to keep up with the events unfolding day-to-day in the region. Reading—let alone reviewing—a detailed study of the internal processes that led to the United States toppling Saddam Hussein over a decade ago seemed remote, if not indeed a distraction.

But I’m glad I set these reservations aside and took the assignment. This forcefully argued and meticulously researched (with no fewer than 1,152 footnotes, many of which are full-blown paragraphs) book turns out to be enormously relevant to the present moment, on at least three fronts:

  • ISIS emerged from the ashes of al Qaeda in Iraq, which formed in the immediate aftermath of the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq. Without the 2003 invasion, there would be no ISIS as we know it—and the region’s political landscape would look very different.
  • The US Senate report on CIA torture has brought back into focus the rogues gallery of the Bush-Cheney administration—the same cast of characters who engineered the 2003 Iraq invasion. This book shines a heat lamp on that dark chapter and many of its protagonists.
  • There is talk of a neoconservative comeback in Washington. This thoroughly discredited but zombie-like group are now angling for the ear of Hillary Clinton, who might be the next US president. Ahmad’s book provides a marvelously illuminating anatomy of the neocons, which has lessons that apply directly to this movement’s potentially ominous next chapter.

The central question Ahmad attempts to answer is: Why did the 2003 Iraq War happen? In one of the book’s most valuable sections, felicitously titled ‘Black Gold and Red Herrings’, he goes through several prevalent explanations/theories and takes them apart one by one: Continue reading “Israelpolitik, the Neocons and the Long Shadow of the Iraq War—A Review of Muhammad Idrees Ahmad’s book ‘The Road to Iraq: The Making of a Neoconservative War’”

Janine Wedel: Shadow Elites

Janine R. Wedel writes about power, influence, and governing through the unique lens of a social anthropologist. A professor in the School of Public Policy at George Mason University and senior research fellow at the New America Foundation, Wedel is the first anthropologist to win the Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order.

Her book Shadow Elite: How the World’s New Power Brokers Undermine Democracy, Government, and the Free Market (Basic Books 2009) was named Book of the Month by The Huffington Post in January 2010.

Almost 200 Hollywood Celebrities Sign on to Israel’s Genocide of the Palestinian People

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Today, [Creative Community for Peace] say, there is not a single musical act, from Justin Timberlake to the Rolling Stones to Alicia Keys, that they have not approached and coached in advance of their performance in Israel. ~Times of Israel

It’s no surprise that the genocidal Times of Israel is so eager to push anti-BDS initiatives. It’s also no surprise that one of Israel’s most well connected, elite whitewashing team, Creative Community for Peace [CCfP], is doing exactly what it vowed to do- whitewash genocide. However one might wonder about some of the names on the below statement that CCfP has published:Crceative Community For Peace Genocide

Continue reading “Almost 200 Hollywood Celebrities Sign on to Israel’s Genocide of the Palestinian People”

Iran: The Neocons Are At It Again

by Ralph Nader

The same neocons who persuaded George W. Bush and crew to, in Ron Paul’s inimitable words, “lie their way into invading Iraq” in 2003, are beating the drums of war more loudly these days to attack Iran. It is remarkable how many of these war-mongers are former draft dodgers who wanted other Americans to fight the war in Vietnam.

With the exception of Ron Paul, who actually knows the history of U.S.-Iranian relations, the Republican presidential contenders have declared their belligerency toward Iranian officials who they accuse of moving toward nuclear weapons.

The Iranian regime disputes that charge, claiming they are developing the technology for nuclear power and nuclear medicine.

The inspection teams of the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA) that monitor compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to which Iran belongs, have entered Iran numerous times and, while remaining suspicious, have not been able to find that country on the direct road to the Bomb.

While many western and some Arab countries in the Gulf region have condemned Iran’s alleged nuclear arms quest, Israel maintains some 200 ready nuclear weapons and has refused to sign the non-proliferation treaty, thereby avoiding the IAEA inspectors.

Continue reading “Iran: The Neocons Are At It Again”

Walid Shoebat and the ‘ex-extremist’ Industry

During the Cold War extremists like James Burnham, who declared themselves reformed Communists, pushed extremely hawkish policies which historians agree merely prolonged the Cold War by at least two decades. In a similar vein, a gaggle of self-styled ‘ex-extremists’ is today shaping security policy in both domestic and international spheres through alliances with the neoconservative right. In an excellent piece of reportage, Anderson Cooper, Kathleen Johnson and Drew Griffin of CNN recently exposed Walid Shoebat, one stalwart of this industry. Richard Silverstein who runs the excellent Tikun Olam began exposing Shoebat in 2007. Meanwhile in the UK, ex-extremist Maajid Nawaz of the controversial Quilliam Foundation, is being feted by forums like TED! A disgrace, indeed.

Continue reading “Walid Shoebat and the ‘ex-extremist’ Industry”

On multiculturalism — Mehdi Hasan demolishes a neocon

The BBC recently gave Douglas Murray of the neoconservative Center for Social Cohesion a platform to spew his xenophobic bile, but to its dismay, Murray’s lies were quickly demolished by News Statesmen editor Mehdi Hasan in the subsequent debate.

A thrilling excerpt from the new Tom Clancy novel

PULSE is proud to present this excerpt from Brain-Dead or Alive, the new novel created by Tom Clancy’s Op-Center, written in collaboration with Gen. Tony Zinni (Ret.), Gen. Charles Horner (Ret.), Gen. Fred Franks (Ret.), and Chase Madar.

Neocon Poet Laureate Tom Clancy

It was a dark and stormy night in McLean, Virginia.

Former CIA director and ex-president Vernon Manley Babbitt sat at his dining-room table flanked by his most trusted compadres, who in many adventures past had defended the American way of life against nuclear terrorists, Islamic fanatics, and unarmed folk singers. Their next mission might be the most dangerous yet.

V. Manley Babbitt and his secret team called themselves the BFD, and their existence was so classified no one knew what the initials stood for. The BFD was licensed to do anything, from waterboarding the president’s mother to parking in handicapped spots, and with the safety of millions at stake, they often did. Babbitt surveyed his companions, tried and true, around the table.

First there was X, a man without an identity. Nobody knew X’s real name. Was it maybe just X? That kind of head-fake would have been vintage X! No one even knew what X looked like, not even X’s wife, because he always wore a brown paper bag on his head. He had ex-Special Ops written all over him, but not on the paper bag, which usually bore the logo of the retail chain where his wife had done the previous day’s shopping.

Continue reading “A thrilling excerpt from the new Tom Clancy novel”

Philip Weiss on the Arab Revolt

This is as good as talk radio gets. Our friend, the great Phil Weiss on Radio Open Source with Chris Lydon to discuss the implications of the Arab revolt and the changing discourse in the American Jewish community.

People Power in the Middle East

M. Shahid Alam

From his weekly perch at CNN, Fareed Zakaria, speculated last Sunday (or the Sunday before) whether George Bush could take credit for the events that were unfolding in Tunisia, whether this was the late fruit of the neoconservative project to bring ‘democracy’ to the Middle East.

It is quite extraordinary watching Zakaria – a Muslim born and raised in India, and scion of a leading political family – mimic with such facility the language of America’s ruling classes, and show scarce a trace of empathy for the world’s oppressed, despite his propinquity to them by reason of history and geography. He does have a bias for India, but here too he only shows a concern for India’s strategic interests, not the interests of its subjugated classes, minorities and ethnicities. This I offer only as an aside about how easy it is for members of the upper classes in countries like India, Pakistan or Egypt to slip into an American skin whenever that dissimulation offers greater personal advantages.

As a cover for deepening US control over the Middle East – here is the latest civilizing mission for you – the neoconservatives in the Bush administration argued that the Islamic world produces ‘terrorists’ because it lives under autocracies. To solve the ‘terrorist’ problem, therefore, the US would have to bring democracy to the Middle East. This demagoguery only reveals the bankruptcy of America’s political class. It is a shame when the President of the United States and his neoconservative puppet-masters peddle such absurdities without being greeted by squeals of laughter – and shouted down as hypocritical, as farcical.

Who has been the leading ally and sponsor these past decades of nearly all the despotisms in the Middle East – those of royal pedigree and others seeking to become royalties?

Regardless, the real plan of United States failed miserably. It was dispatched to its grave by a people’s resistance in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Continue reading “People Power in the Middle East”

Neocons holding up START treaty

The neoconservatives represent the Likud wing of the Israel lobby. In the 1970s, when the United States was reeling from the defeat in Vietnam, and reconsidering its imperial stance, the neocons joined the military-industrial complex and unreconstructed Cold Warriors to derail the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT) and Nixon’s detente. The Cold War is over, but the neocons still have an interest in maintaining a state of conflict. Once again, therefore, they are derailing a worthy arms control initiative. Here are some wise words from Ivan Eland as to why the neocons are so afraid of New START.

The START treaty, which would reduce the United States and Russia’s nuclear arsenals by 30%, has been held up in Congress for months by neoconservatives. Will the treaty gain any traction before more conservatives join Congress in January? RT’s Dina Gusovsky is joined by Jacob Hornberger from The Future of Freedom Foundation and Ivan Eland from the Independent Institute to discuss the START treaty.