Donate to my Legal Fund

Friday, March 20, 2009

R.I.P: The 1.3 million casualties of Neo-Conservatism

Today is the sixth anniversary of the start of the Iraq war.

Let’s spare a moment to think of the 1.3 million people to have lost their lives since the invasion-Iraqi civilians, Iraqi soldiers, US and British soldiers.

And then let’s spare a moment to remember the lies we were told in order to justify this illegal war of aggression.

We are told by our masters today that we must ‘move on’ from Iraq.

But we must never do so until those who planned this supreme international crime are brought to justice.


Anonymous said...

Funny you forget that the Labor party supported the war as well.

Neil Clark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Neil Clark said...

Hi Neal, good to hear from you.

I'm afraid the neocons successfully infiltrated the upper echelons of both our main parties, including the party (Labour) I was once a member of.

Anonymous said...


I have a very different theory. My theory is that the war was supported by people of a variety of points of view.

I know for a fact that what I stated above is true in the US, where, notwithstanding what you seem to think, the main supporters of the war were people like Rumsfeld and and Cheney, neither of whom is a neoconservative. And, there were non-neoconservatives in the Democratic party who supported the war (e.g. Mr. and Mrs. Clinton).

Moreover, there was at least one prominent and likely quite a number of other neoconservatives who opposed the Iraq war. And, most rank and file conservatives - included well educated conservatives - supported the war. Many still do. And, few of them are neoconservatives.

So, again, your assertions do not, at least to me, make much sense. And, I say this as one who is not a Republican and not a neo-conservative and not a supporter of the Iraq war.

Now, if you want to claim that the Iraq adventure is a moral disaster that has killed, with nothing good likely to come out of it, large numbers of people - although your 1.3 million people dead could be a real exaggeration -, that is fine by me.

It is best to address the world as it is and not fall for fashionable assertions that a political philosophy held by quite a number of second tier, but not first tier, players in the Bush administration pulled the strings - as if the likes of Rumsfeld and Cheney were or even could be pushed into doing things they opposed. They, by the way, are among the most strong willed people you could ever meet, so the theory that it was the neoconservatives runs into the little difficulty that they merely were bit players, not decision makers. Such a theory amounts, as I see it, to a conspiracy theory.

I am not a believer in conspiracy theories. And, in this case, it is a conspiracy theory about Jews. And, historically, theories about Jewish conspiracies have all, so far as I know, proven to be fantasies. So, think about it some more.

Anonymous said...

Bloggers are leading the way in uncovering why Iraq was attacked since MSM is strangely cowed on the subject. More and more one time critics concede Walt and Mearsheimer were right, the Israel lobby successfully pushed us (and America) into war. Isn't this the reason that the Israel Lobby blocked Chas Freeman - Coz it's next stop is Iran.

The Lobby Falters John Mearsheimer
"Many people in Washington were surprised when the Obama administration tapped Charles Freeman to chair the National Intelligence Council, the body that oversees the production of National Intelligence Estimates: Freeman had a distinguished 30-year career as a diplomat and Defense Department official, but he has publicly criticised Israeli policy and America’s special relationship with Israel, saying, for example, in a speech in 2005, that ‘as long as the United States continues unconditionally to provide the subsidies and political protection that make the Israeli occupation and the high-handed and self-defeating policies it engenders possible, there is little, if any, reason to hope that anything resembling the former peace process can be resurrected.’ Words like these are rarely spoken in public in Washington, and anyone who does use them is almost certain not to get a high-level government position. But Admiral Dennis Blair, the new director of national intelligence, greatly admires Freeman: just the sort of person, he thought, to revitalise the intelligence community, which had been very politicised in the Bush years.

Predictably alarmed, the Israel lobby launched a smear campaign against Freeman, hoping that he would either quit or be fired by Obama. The opening salvo came in a blog posting by Steven Rosen, a former official of Aipac, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, now under indictment for passing secrets to Israel. Freeman’s views of the Middle East, he said, ‘are what you would expect in the Saudi Foreign Ministry, with which he maintains an extremely close relationship’. Prominent pro-Israel journalists such as Jonathan Chait and Martin Peretz of the New Republic, and Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic, quickly joined the fray and Freeman was hammered in publications that consistently defend Israel, such as the National Review, the Wall Street Journal and the Weekly Standard.

The real heat, however, came from Congress, where Aipac (which describes itself as ‘America’s Pro-Israel Lobby’) wields enormous power. All the Republican members of the Senate Intelligence Committee came out against Freeman, as did key Senate Democrats such as Joseph Lieberman and Charles Schumer. ‘I repeatedly urged the White House to reject him,’ Schumer said, ‘and I am glad they did the right thing.’ It was the same story in the House, where the charge was led by Republican Mark Kirk and Democrat Steve Israel, who pushed Blair to initiate a formal investigation of Freeman’s finances. In the end, the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, declared the Freeman appointment ‘beyond the pale’. Freeman might have survived this onslaught had the White House stood by him. But Barack Obama’s pandering to the Israel lobby during the campaign and his silence during the Gaza War show that this is one opponent he is not willing to challenge. True to form, he remained silent and Freeman had little choice but to withdraw.

The lobby has since gone to great lengths to deny its role in Freeman’s resignation. The Aipac spokesman Josh Block said his organisation ‘took no position on this matter and did not lobby the Hill on it’. The Washington Post, whose editorial page is run by Fred Hiatt, a man staunchly committed to the special relationship, ran an editorial which claimed that blaming the lobby for Freeman’s resignation was something dreamed up by ‘Mr Freeman and like-minded conspiracy theorists’.

In fact, there is abundant evidence that Aipac and other hardline supporters of Israel were deeply involved in the campaign. Block admitted that he had spoken to reporters and bloggers about Freeman and provided them with information, always on the understanding that his comments would not be attributed to him or to Aipac. Jonathan Chait, who denied that Israel was at the root of the controversy before Freeman was toppled, wrote afterwards: ‘Of course I recognise that the Israel lobby is powerful and was a key element in the pushback against Freeman, and that it is not always a force for good.’ Daniel Pipes, who runs the Middle East Forum, where Steven Rosen now works, quickly sent out an email newsletter boasting about Rosen’s role in bringing Freeman down.

On 12 March, the day the Washington Post ran its editorial railing against anyone who suggested that the Israel lobby had helped topple Freeman, the paper also published a front-page story describing the central role that the lobby had played in the affair. There was also a comment piece by the veteran journalist David Broder, which opened with the words: ‘The Obama administration has just suffered an embarrassing defeat at the hands of the lobbyists the president vowed to keep in their place.’

Freeman’s critics maintain that his views on Israel were not his only problem. He is said to have especially close – maybe even improper – ties to Saudi Arabia, where he previously served as American ambassador. The charge hasn’t stuck, however, because there is no evidence for it. Israel’s supporters also said that he had made insensitive remarks about what happened to the Chinese protesters at Tiananmen Square, but that charge, which his defenders contest, only came up because Freeman’s pro-Israel critics were looking for any argument they could muster to damage his reputation.

Why does the lobby care so much about one appointment to an important, but not top leadership position? Here’s one reason: Freeman would have been responsible for the production of National Intelligence Estimates. Israel and its American supporters were outraged when the National Intelligence Council concluded in November 2007 that Iran was not building nuclear weapons, and they have worked assiduously to undermine that report ever since. The lobby wants to make sure that the next estimate of Iran’s nuclear capabilities reaches the opposite conclusion, and that would have been much less likely to happen with Freeman in charge. Better to have someone vetted by Aipac running the show.

An even more important reason for the lobby to drive Freeman out of his job is the weakness of the case for America’s present policy towards Israel, which makes it imperative to silence or marginalise anyone who criticises the special relationship. If Freeman hadn’t been punished, others would see that one could talk critically about Israel and still have a successful career in Washington. And once you get an open and free-wheeling discussion about Israel, the special relationship will be in serious trouble.

One of the most remarkable aspects of the Freeman affair was that the mainstream media paid it little attention – the New York Times, for example, did not run a single story dealing with Freeman until the day after he stepped down – while a fierce battle over the appointment took place in the blogosphere. Freeman’s opponents used the internet to their advantage; that is where Rosen launched the campaign. But something happened there that would never have happened in the mainstream media: the lobby faced real opposition. Indeed, a vigorous, well-informed and highly regarded array of bloggers defended Freeman at every turn and would probably have carried the day had Congress not tipped the scales against them. In short, the internet enabled a serious debate in the United States about an issue involving Israel. The lobby has never had much trouble keeping the New York Times and the Washington Post in line, but it has few ways to silence critics on the internet.

When pro-Israel forces clashed with a major political figure in the past, that person usually backed off. Jimmy Carter, who was smeared by the lobby after he published Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, was the first prominent American to stand his ground and fight back. The lobby has been unable to silence him, and it is not for lack of trying. Freeman is following in Carter’s footsteps, but with sharper elbows. After stepping down, he issued a blistering denunciation of ‘unscrupulous people with a passionate attachment to the views of a political faction in a foreign country’ whose aim is ‘to prevent any view other than its own from being aired’. ‘There is,’ he continued, ‘a special irony in having been accused of improper regard for the opinions of foreign governments and societies by a group so clearly intent on enforcing adherence to the policies of a foreign government.’

Freeman’s remarkable statement has shot all around the world and been read by countless individuals. This isn’t good for the lobby, which would have preferred to kill Freeman’s appointment without leaving any fingerprints. But Freeman will continue to speak out about Israel and the lobby, and maybe some of his natural allies inside the Beltway will eventually join him. Slowly but steadily, space is being opened up in the United States to talk honestly about Israel."


Anonymous said...

Can anyone think of a word that describes Rice for what she said on the link below?

Not chutzpah, but F*****g chutzfa probably won't even do....

she makes me want to threw my shows at the computer screen and shout I HEARED CHENEY ON MEET THE PRESS ....

Anonymous said...

Hello everyone;

Please take a minute to sign the following petition for Galloway

Neil please comment on this.

KNaylor said...


Most neoconservatives did support the War on Iraq if they are termed that.

But what links neoconservatives and forthright liberal military interventionists is a common view that has its basis in Anglo-American political culture.

Namely a messianic interpretation of America's role as a revolutionary superpower that in the wake of the collapse of the USSR had a historical opportunity to remake and redeem the globe.

That's why many leading neoconservatives and liberal interventionist propagandists were once connected to the Trotskyist left.

For example Christopher Hitchens is a liberal interventionist but not really a neoconservative beyond sharing certain assumptions about foreign policy.

There is no need for a 'conspiracy theory' here.

The chorus of opinion demanding the invasion of Iraq was based partly on arrogant US nationalism and melded with the idea that the USA is an 'exceptional' global power whose ascendency is bound up with the yearning of the whole of humanity to be free from tyrants.

That said, I think some on the anti-war left' are not really 'anti-war' nor against violence.

The very term 'anti-war' carries the assumption that there are those who they oppose must be necessarily 'warmongers'and nobody wants to be seen as exactly 'pro-war'.

Yet some like Galloway, Milne et al quite like the idea of revolutionary violence against what they regard as imperialism unless it happens to be the Afghan mujahadeen after the Soviet invasion of 1979.

Hence they project ideological fantasies on to Iraq that are no more less deranged than the neoconservatives or the liberal interventionists.

Like Milne they laud some'Iraqi resistance'that has never existed, reject the term insurgent as an imperial divide and rule term, then call for

The term resistance, especially the resistance, is connected to those who opposed Nazi invasion and worked upon the basis of the nation state.

In Iraq that has never happened, though Milne keeps calling for them to overide their sectarian differences and unite in order to drive out the USA.

Anyway, the problem we have is that too many people try to rationalise their impotence to influence events by pretending that by trying to influence opinion one way over the prospect of war that real change will come.

Orwell looked at that most famously in his classic essay Inside the Whale in 1940 when he wrote of those 'cocksure partisans' who believe they have some unique insight and control over the world process.

Neoconservative and liberal interventionist politicians and statesmen did and were influenced by ideas in the air at the time and either exploited them or came to really believe in them.

Blair did as he wanted to flatter himself that he was the leader of a global player that could make a difference to the world and make it safe for democracy.

Despite what people think. from Blair's perspective it was not exactly 'all about the oil' but about ensuring a safer world under benign US hegemony.

The scale of the delusion and the messianic proportions it assumed in the years up to 2003 made Blair unfit for office. But then our political system needs changing.

As regards the media, journalists and writers like Christopher Hitchens had there own motives of vanity and being on the right side of history in supporting Iraq.

Hitchens clearly saw himself as another Orwell but he, like so many others, kept thinking in terms of some Allied narrative of World War Two in which there were only heroic defenders of democracy versus totalitarianism and its appeasers.

Oddly, Peter Hitchens had it right when he claimed in a televised debate with his brother that WW" had been elevated to a kind of religion in Britain, with arrogant notions about how we could never do wrong.

They ignored the reality in Iraq For unlike post-war Germany or Japan there was a society divided by rival etnic and sectarian differences and little to hold Iraq together once the state collapsed.

This is a complex subject and baiting journalists only without understanding why they thought like they did becomes a bit futile after a while.

However, Neil has done a sterling job at times in comparing the things journalists who wanted war on Iraq said before the invasion and the calamity it has become and their feeble attempts to exonerate

War is meant to be a last resort when all the alternatives have been exhausted. Not, as in Iraq, as an extension of a foreign policy based on messianic doctrines of 'forcing people to be free' and compelling them to adopt US style market democracies

Anonymous said...

So let me get this straight -you're deploring a particular ideology because it's led to 1.3 million deaths...

...but you're still sympathetic towards Communism?

Perhaps you'd care to remind your readers how many deaths that particular ideology has directly and unambiguously led to? You don't have to be precise - the nearest 50 million will suffice.

Madam Miaow said...

Weren't there something like 100 million deaths under Victoria's Empire?

Neal said...


Well, you, like everyone else on this website, fail to note that the main - as in principal and most important - backers of the war were not neoconservatives. The main backers were ordinary conservatives, starting with the Vice President and the Secretary of Defense. And, of course, Bush himself supported the war and was its main cheerleader (from the very first meetings after 9/11 to the day the war started and thereafter) and he did so for whatever his own reasons were. He, however, is not a neoconservative.

Neoconservatives tended mostly to support the war. There was also some liberal support for the war, such as the Clintons. Christopher Hitchens and other such writers have no influence to speak of in the US so that, while their views may be interesting, they are rather inconsequential.

The reason that one group, neoconservatives, are brought up is that they are mostly all very well spoken and articulate, have a place in academia and are, for the most part, pro-US and pro-Israel - views that are controversial in a number of academic quarters (although not all).

Again, people who assert conspiracy theories that there is a secret group, such as the neoconservatives, which pushed the US into war - as if Bush really had to be pushed when, so far as can be discerned, it was his idea in the first place - are not only barking up the wrong tree, but they are mostly bigots.