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Warren Cohen on the Rise (and Fall) of the Neocons

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Posted on Mar 6, 2008
book cover

By Warren I. Cohen

      A dozen years ago, in a review of John Ehrman’s “The Rise of Neoconservatism,” I dismissed the neocons as a spent force, hardly distinguishable from the Republican right to which writers such as Norman Podhoretz and his wife, Midge Decter, and Irving Kristol and his son William had attached themselves. Many of those to whom I had referred were so-called Reagan Democrats, one-time liberals who had despaired of what they perceived as the unwillingness of Democratic leaders, specifically George McGovern and Jimmy Carter, to appreciate the Soviet threat and act appropriately in defense of Israel. But they were no more satisfied with efforts of Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger and Gerald Ford to achieve and maintain détente with the Soviets. They helped elect Ronald Reagan in 1980, and a few of them, notably Jeane Kirkpatrick, served visibly in his administration. For the most part they served as a claque, extolling his tough anti-communist rhetoric. They had far less influence on Reagan’s policies than they imagined, as evidenced by their outrage when he worked with Mikhail Gorbachev to end the Cold War. Nonetheless, it’s clear that I buried them prematurely. Old writers never die—at least not all at once—and sometimes they beget offspring who carry on the family traditions.


book cover


They Knew They Were Right


By Jacob Heilbrunn


Doubleday, 336 pages


Buy the book


Who were—or are—the neocons? Some analysts have traced the older ones back to a Trotskyite cell at the City College of New York in the 1930s. Those most prominent today are alleged to be connected in some way to Leo Strauss, a German-born political philosopher who taught at the University of Chicago. Some of these—and others—are perceived as disciples of Albert Wohlstetter, a defense intellectual who also taught at Chicago but did his most important work as a consultant to the RAND Corp. In “They Knew They Were Right: The Rise of the Neocons,” Jacob Heilbrunn follows all of these trails but declares Max Shachtman, a prominent American socialist who veered right in the 1960s, to be the “founding father of neoconservatism.” Shachtman urged his followers to support the Democrats in the 1950s in hope of pushing the party left but turned against the Democrats—and the New Left—in the late 1960s in response to their opposition to the war in Vietnam. 

Heilbrunn has trouble defining neoconservatism and concludes that it is not an ideology but rather a mind-set, one shaped by the Jewish immigrant experience (social resentments and status anxiety), memories of the Holocaust and the 20th century battle against totalitarianism. Obviously, he perceives most neocons to be Jews, echoing the conservative icon Russell Kirk’s classic crack that neocons too often thought the capital of the United States was Tel Aviv. Heilbrunn concedes that not all neocons are Jews but neglects to note that most Jews are not neocons.

Heilbrunn is eminently qualified to write on the subject. He is himself Jewish, his family experienced the Holocaust, and much of his early career was spent in the company of leading neoconservatives at The National Interest in the days when Irving Kristol was the publisher and alongside Charles Krauthammer at The New Republic. He readily concedes his own youthful attraction to the movement, but is less forthcoming about when and how he turned away. Indeed, the book is peppered with statements that could easily have come from Norman Podhoretz or David Frum. He claims that the foreign policy establishment “loathed the idea of Israel.” He offers a gratuitous put-down of the late Edward Said, “a smooth, urbane purveyor of much nonsense about the Middle East.” He accepts the charge that American liberalism was “hostile” to Israel in the 1960s and 1970s when another analyst—certainly this one—would suggest that many liberals became critical of Israel as the occupation of the West Bank unfolded.  Finally, when he suggests that if funds had gone to Ahmed Chalabi as intended by the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, the chaos that followed the overthrow of Saddam Hussein might have been avoided, he’s certainly sounding a neocon theme.

Although Heilbrunn sees the neoconservative movement as beginning in the 1950s, it’s really not until the late 1960s that the New Left and the Black Nationalists were perceived by the generation of Irving Kristol and Norman Podhoretz and younger men such as Martin Peretz, later publisher of The New Republic, as a threat to Western civilization. Like most other American Jews, they were exhilarated by Israel’s victory in the Six Day War of 1967—and appalled when young American leftists and blacks denounced Israeli imperialism. The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) anticipated the 1974 U.N. resolution in 1967 by equating Zionism with racism. Black anti-Semitism directed at Jewish shopkeepers and teachers in the United States astonished and frightened many Jews, some of whom had been in the forefront of the fight against racism. The liberal demand for affirmative action to compensate blacks for centuries of oppression was profoundly troubling to men and women who had fought against quotas for Jews and found comfort as members of a meritocracy. The radical disruptions of universities and the efforts of black families to take control of New York public schools away from Jewish teachers were frightening indications of what might happen in the United States. Heilbrunn provides a useful insight, suggesting that some of the men who became leaders of the neoconservative movement had memories of the collapse of the Weimar Republic—and were determined not to let it happen in America.

Lyndon Johnson once complained that many Jewish intellectuals, although delighted by his use of American power in support of Israel, led the opposition to his use of that power in Vietnam. Kristol, Podhoretz, Shachtman and others among the older men and women who became neoconservatives chose to support the war in Vietnam. It was part of the struggle against communist totalitarianism. Eugene McCarthy and George McGovern, both of whom imagined a less assertive American foreign policy, held no attraction for them. Nor did Nixon or Kissinger, whose quest for détente with both the Soviets and the Chinese they viewed as immoral. They looked instead to Sen. Henry Jackson of Washington, a hawkish Democrat, who, guided by Dorothy Fosdick and Richard Perle, understood the Soviet threat and would support Israel. By the 1970s, these Jewish upstarts were engaged, Heilbrunn contends, in a civil war against a foreign policy establishment that had gone soft after the war in Vietnam.

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By JNagarya, March 26, 2008 at 10:54 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“. . . .who had after all attempted to assassinate his father.”

Those who sling this allegation, again and again, as often present evidence to support it as often as Bushit provided evidence of Hussein’s WMDs: NONE, ZERO, NADA.

And the Pentegon, within the last week, released a report concluding, about this allegation, that ther is no evidence for it. 

In other wrds: all this horseshit emotional-appealism is exactly that: below-the-belt bullshit.

As for Krauthammer being “brilliant”: only if one confuses stupidity- and bigotry-based anti-intellectualism and hatred for something respectworthy instead of something properly loathed.

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By cyrena, March 24, 2008 at 2:13 pm Link to this comment

Greetings Nabih,

And thanks for the holiday greeting. I hope yours was good. Or as good as we can conscientiously appreciate under these circumstances.

Yes indeed, as for the little pack of thugs who signed the PNAC, you’re right. I think less than a dozen, and keep in mind that Jeb Bush, (the chief-thugs’ brother) was one of them. That has to be the most ominous document ever produced, in the history of the nation, to destroy an entire world.

Thanks too, for the encouragement. It is an ENORMOUS challenge to try to understand that which CANNOT be understood, based on ANY known reason or logic. That’s why this whole horrific mess can probably best be understood (at least for me) by comparison to other totalitarian regimes of the past. (and I thank a brilliant professor/advisor for bringing this to my/our attention.

Hitler and Stalin most easily, (for comparison purposes) though it shares characteristics with Pinochet, and others of the Latin American countries, like Fujimori’s Peru. The major difference there though, (as opposed to Germany and Russia) is that they didn’t appear to have an ideology that was intended to be GLOBAL, like Hitler with his Nazism, and the Stalin with his Communism.

In the case of the Neocons, and for global ideology purposes, it has certainly been the ideology of capitalism, that they are determined to make global. I don’t believe for an instant, that they’ve ever been into ‘spreading democracy’ not even by warship. Rather it’s been an exercise in neo-colonialism.

As for GW Bush, he’s really had little (in my opinion) if anything, to do with it, aside from them allowing him to pretend like he’s really in charge of anything. Because, while he’s about as evil as they come, he’s also very stupid. Stupid and greedy. Stupid and greedy people with NO moral core can be easily fooled.

Anyway, here is the link to an article that I thought was excellent, or at least one opinion as to WHY they’ve done this, and it has much to do with the motivations of the guy who really has directed the destruction machine. Dick Cheney. He’s far more dangerous than GW, because he’s just as evil, but far smarter. I can’t remember if I posted this to this specific thread before, (I have posted it elsewhere) but I think it’s worth a read for all of us.

Not sure I’m ENTIRELY in agreement with it, but it does shed light on the most important aspects of the mindset.

  By William Rivers Pitt
  t r u t h o u t | Columnist
  Wednesday 19 March 2008

Politics is the art of controlling your environment.
- Hunter S. Thompson

Best regards,

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By Nabih Ammari, March 22, 2008 at 3:06 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Re:Re March 21

Dear cyrena,

When I was making the statement you have contention
with,I was thinking only of those individuals who
signed “The Project For The Twenty First Century”.As
you know,their number does not exceed 30 Neocons who
signed and submitted it to Former President Bill Clinton who managed to ignore it.As they submitted it
again to GWB,he incompetently embrace it.They offered
to him a bottle of “SNAKE OIL” and he bought it.He
seems to like all kind of oils even if it comes from

However, your views make a lot of sense.They were
well said and well accepted by me, because they did make a lot of sense.

Thank you for calling my attention to something did
not occur to me at the time I wrote the post referred
to above.Please keep-up the splendid work you have
been relentlessly doing.It is always good to hear
from you.By the way,Happy Easter to you.
Best Regards,

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By cyrena, March 21, 2008 at 7:46 pm Link to this comment

Greetings Nabih!

I was just thinking over this very issue, and wanted to share a different view of it…

•  “….“Neocons Movement” is so ridicules beyond measure,sir.When the word"movement” is used in the political frame of mind,it implies masses of people involved…”

I too am likely to think of a ‘movement’ in political terms, as involving masses of people.

However, having just poured over so much of the theory related to Authoritarianism in its many forms, (like plain fascism versus totalitarianism) I’ve discovered that at least SOME academics DO refer to ideologies as ‘movements’.

For instance, in Hannah Arndt’s thorough discussion included in “The Origins of Totalitarianism” she describes both Nazism and Communism as “Movements” because one of the elements of each, is that they are intended to be GLOBAL, and to result in GLOBAL domination, based on the ideologies of each.

So in THAT respect, one might see Neoconservatism as a ‘movement’. In the case of Nazism and Communism, it was this character of ‘movement’ that made it so dangerous. In other words, it wasn’t something that could be physically ‘pinned down’ or otherwise attached or attacked easily. So in more existential terms, I suspect that it could be called a ‘movement’ of sorts. At the least, it could be considered in the same vein as Nazism, or the radical side of Communism, since we know that in those ‘movements’ (if we were to call them that) only a few (like the Neocons) benefitted from the misery and grief of the masses.

And, I see many, many, similarities between the insanities of Nazism, and the same of the Neoconservative plague. Not enough space to address them all here, and I’m still putting it together anyway.

But, having considered the fundamentals upon with all of these ideologies were based, they are very much least in theory.

Meantime, just as the Nazis were eventually required to face war crimes, so too, should the neocons.

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By Daniel Barker, March 19, 2008 at 9:45 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

You are right - the conservatives in America do not support capitalism and instead support Fascism.

Consider the bible of conservatism, Ayn Rand and Atlas Shrugged.  She writes about a steel magnate that opposes lobbyists…and federal subsidies for corporations.  Does that sound like a modern conservative?  The steel magnate opposed unions in his steel plant…and had the safest plant and paid the highest wages.  Does that sound like a modern conservative?

Ayn Rand opposed the Enron scandal - a railroad tycoon made money be stealing retirement funds.  Also in Atlas Shrugged it clearly shows how she opposed manipulation of the free market system to artificially raise prices.

I live in a retirement community, and competition works for us.  My sister lives in Toronto, and cable would run her about ninety five dollars a month.  Here in central Florida we just had a bidding, and the low bid of about twenty four dollars a month won.

Look at the fight over the telecommnications industry.  Unless you are a Buddhist monk, you are aware that the phone companies, the satellite companies, the cable industry and the cell phones are fighting for market control of telephones, Internet and television.  This fierce battle is driving prices down.

You are right - Fascism is wrong.

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By JEP, March 19, 2008 at 8:44 am Link to this comment

“The Neocon movement was and is a legitimate school of intellectual thought…”

“Was” fits, but “Is” might be very questionable…

Neoconism would be “a legitimate school of intellectual thought” only if it had remained an academic discussion. 

But it has become the nom-de-plume for power-hungry, greedy and hypocritically decadent, filthy rich (never has that term been better exemplified than it is today) wannabe royals. This new “ruling class” gains its power through billionaire status, not bloodlines.

Every day our U.S. middle-eastern diplomatic policies revolve around these neocon posers, the danger to Israel (as a physical nation) grows.

These “Jews” aren’t Jews, in terms of loyalty and allegiance, they are nothing more than the progenitors of a money-hungry war-for-profit machine, and they are infinitely more concerned with their profit motives than the well being of Israel.

For anyone who might want to read it, there is a passage in The Bible, Revelations chapter 2 verse 9, where Jesus talks about these money-lovers, “I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.”

Since the love of money IS the synagogue of Satan, (it’s where “trickle-down” starts) I would guess that explains a lot of this neocon confusion. They aren’t really in it for Israel, they are in it for money, and they use Israel as their front.

It all becomes much more clear when on realizes they while claim to protect Israel, all they really want to protect is their burgeoning war profits. 

“Israel” means nothing to them, it is just an incendiary word they use conveniently to foment fear and prejudice.

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By Nabih Ammari, March 18, 2008 at 5:13 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Re:Re March 13

You have made a small number of individuals,having a talent for writing “Project” after “Project” and
another talent in signing letters and submitting them
to incompetent presidents as a “Neocons Movement” is
so ridicules beyond measure,sir.When the word"movement” is used in the political frame of mind,it implies masses of people involved.Your Neocon Movement?” certainly fell short of that.

Furthermore,when the Neocons succeed in high-jacking
the U.S foreign policy,and as a result; thousands upon thousands of human beings are murdered,your claim of legitimacy for your Neocons “Movement?”
becomes at once void,invalid and indeed illegitimate.
In fact,if one follows the legal patterns that were
conducted against the Nazi war criminals,immediately
after World War Two,all the Neocons who pushed hard and fast for the war against Iraq should ,and rather
must, be held accountable.In short,they must be charged with war crimes and face justice.Period.

If what the Neocons have done to Iraq and the people
of Iraq is not considered war crimes,I just wonder what is?????
Nabih Ammari
An Independent in Ohio.

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By SteveL, March 18, 2008 at 3:44 pm Link to this comment

Fall?  These neo-cons don’t think they make mistakes.  They hence have no learning curve.  Joe Scarborough and Larry Kudlow both stated the cure to the current economic crisis is more de-regulation.  Like the same stupidity that got us into this mess will get us out.

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By msgmi, March 18, 2008 at 3:43 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The neo-CON shakers and movers emerged in the Ford Administration and they politically entrenched themselves in the Reagan years when they pushed the envelope with the Iran-Contra scandal unscathed. With GW they became a power force of unproportionate dimension in U.S. history and a threat to democracy and the Constitution. Their power has its claws in a national policy for a new world order. Their dominance in Beltway-politics, the Pentagon, the intel community, and their media manipulation gives out an odor of the early 1930’ Germany which built its powerbase on a proven theory ‘the bigger the lie, the more it is believable.’

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By Marshall, March 18, 2008 at 11:48 am Link to this comment

Reasonable reply - I appreciate that.

1) No - we should not invade every unfriendly country in the ME.  My reference was to our abandoning past ME countries after establishing them.

2) Germany had a similar record of state genocide against an ideologically distinct domestic minority, as well as an educated population acclimated to life under a draconian imperialistic dictatorship much in common with Iraq.  I think you’ve cited distinctions, not differences.

3) Do I think intervention in Afghanistan prior to 9/11 would have prevented it?  Absolutely.  It was the Taliban’s funding and support of AQ that allowed it to plan and execute such a complex operation.  But of course, 9/11 wasn’t the first large scale AQ attack on the U.S..  Had we been more vigilant and taken their threat more seriously, we likely would have avoided some of the previous ones as well, much like the known attempts we’ve prevented since 9/11.

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By Marshall, March 18, 2008 at 11:25 am Link to this comment

So the upshot of your post is that heterogeneous societies can’t be Democracies?  I don’t know what your definition of “heterogeneous” is, but the U.S. is a heterogeneous society as well.

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By Marshall, March 18, 2008 at 11:12 am Link to this comment

By Leefeller, March 18 at 5:04 am #
(887 comments total)

“your support of wars is explained.”

I support military action when it’s called for, but certainly as a last resort.  My personal perception of Neocon doctrine would call for our military to be used as a tool when appropriate; “appropriate” being a difficult to define term, but definitely not “indiscriminately”.

Of course, I mistyped when I said my goals “aren’t benevolent” - they are. 

Your criticism that people don’t fit in my equations is just wrong; people are the driving force behind my equations.  Their concerns are the greater good for which the US can use its vast global influence.

And can you point to another country that’s more of a Democracy than the US?

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By Leefeller, March 18, 2008 at 6:04 am Link to this comment

Now, I had my suspicions, but thanks for being honest, your support of wars is explained.

Your said “my goals aren’t imperialistic or benevolent”, first person? 

Of course the underlying fact that the people do not fit in your equations is what it is all about. How do the neocons fit into the Plutocracy or visa versa?

Must admit I am becoming more enlightened about how little we really know about what is really going on.

We are touted that we are a democracy, which we are not, I find this very annoying.

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By Marshall, March 17, 2008 at 4:47 pm Link to this comment

It’s people like you that give the left its reputation for hypocracy; with the one hand preaching tolerance and with the other, dismissing and demonizing those who disagree with your opinions.

The Neocon movement was and is a legitimate school of intellectual thought which, at its core, makes honest attempts at dealing with global problems for the betterment of mankind.  Yeah - it’s true.  I know this because I agree with the underlying concepts, even if we are learning the ropes on implementation.  And my goals aren’t imperialistic or benevolent.

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By weather, March 17, 2008 at 6:30 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

about Israel, was to have asked Rabin’s widow.

See Israel for exactly what it is:
A political state by day, a religious state for tax purposes, an extradition-free refuge for its citizens who commit crimes elsewhere, but always, the exhausting, manipulating and misunderstood victim that demands to be treated as the exception and always at the expense of others. Very lovely.

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By Mark David, March 16, 2008 at 9:16 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mr Cohen
Thank you for your review of Heilbrun’s book. While I agree with much of your analysis I find a central point to be naive. The NeoCons did not care one iota about the oppressive tenets of communism. What they cared about was destroying the world of Soviet Hegemony that allowed for states to have some kind of protection from the US if they wanted to challenge Israeli hegemony.  Another critical issue that drove them to work towards the demise of the Soviet Union was the opening of the pipeline that would allow Soviet Jews (IE Natan Sharansky and his ilk)to migrate to Israel and virtually seal the settlement occupation of the West Bank once and for all. These guys have no interest in anything that concerns the US other than how it pertains to Israel. They could care less how much American blood is spilled so long as Israels interest is concerned.It is time to stop this analysis of the neo cons as if they had some distinct intellectual contribution to the world of political thought. These guys are simply clever israeli ideologue thugs.

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By Joe (extended comments), March 16, 2008 at 1:12 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The conservative philosophy of previous times is today embodied in such organizations as the Cato Institute. Within this circle, there is plenty of room allowed for debate, analysis and criticism. Contrast this with the recent incarnation of the Republican Party, say since the latter Reagan years. Nixon, Ford and (at the beginning of his term) Reagan, were certainly not “neocons.” But Nixon and Reagan were just as certainly not conservatives in the reliable Cato mold. These individuals believed in top-heavy government where anything goes. In my judgement, they did not hold to any particular political philosophy of any kind. They acted on expediency, overwhelming challengers to their policies for coldly practical reasons, not reasoned conviction. Of the two, Nixon was the far better President, surrounding himself with mostly reasonable, competent advisors, with the exception of the mad and murderous Henry Kissinger, butcher of Cambodia and Laos.

Today’s neocons stand opposed to both progressive and truly conservative values. They actively seek to escalate the widening rift between the rich and the
rest of us. They promote attacks on personal liberties, insane overspending by borrowing from China and military adventures abroad; all anti-conservative approaches to federal rule. The primacy of the States in determining most law is undercut.  Normally, I would give examples for each of these assertions but this is probably not the place for an essay.

Lastly, in the matter of Carter, inaccuracies abound. The terrible gas-lines occurred in 1973 under a Republican Whitehouse. Militarily, Carter established the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the Rapid Deployment Force, both the Los Angeles-Class Attack subs and the Ohio ballistic missile submarine programs. He gave the go-ahead also to the stealth aircraft program(s) and killed worthless military systems while approving better options. The F-15 Eagle fighter-bomber, initially approved (I think)under Pres. Ford, was given full-production status, along with a new class of missile cruisers for the Navy. Just some trivia: the F-15 was, as I recall, the first operational fighter to be capable of acceleration during a full vertical climb. I mention these strategic initiatives simply to remind Reagan worshippers that Pres. Reagan took credit for all of the programs initiated by Carter, labelling Carter (to this day) as “weak on defense.”

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By A Khokar, March 16, 2008 at 4:11 am Link to this comment

In order to contemplate US hegemonic ambitions of ‘American Empire’ dreams; NeoCons very skilfully evolved a special policy to mark 21st century the ‘New American Century’. After due deliberations, a ‘Global war against terrorism’ was launched. Its scope is so vast and far stretched that any one or any organisation or a country on this planet earth can be declared a suspect terrorist, an enemy of humanity… and be exterminated. We have also witnessed that any untoward incident of violence happening in the selected theatre of US operations… are simply linked to Al-Qaeda. The hollow and phoney myth of Al-Qaeda rhetoric has since been hyped up so much that this stark lie is now seen and termed as true and real. Credit goes to the policy makers and its successful executioners.

Matter of the fact is that Neocons are in love with this scheme of Al-Qaeda. They are pinning all their hopes on this Myth. A grand American onslaught and forceful US occupation on flimsy pretexts in Middle East has turned the sovereign countries like Iraq, Afghanistan into US mega bases. After due consolidation; these bases are ready to serve the further US advances and its vicious adventurism. A befitting example of Iraq is there, where this country is now developed into a huge self propelled base and its forces are ready to launch further planned attacks against many more sovereign countries…in the Middle East as well as in central Asia lying beyond and north of Iran.

The beauty of this Neocon’s scheme is that many western and other countries are coerced to join US to form a coalition and make it an international war against the purported myth of Global War on Terrorism. Some of the countries like Pakistan are also engaged to act as proxy to operate as front state against Al-Qaeda.  The prime job assigned to Pakistan is to (indirectly) stir the crippled Taliban remnant (of Old Afghan War) along Pak-Afghan border so that Al-Qaeda is seen live and kicking and war against terrorism is justified. Huge sums are pelted at the doors of this front state and her agents.

Al-Qaeda is in fact a tool and a lynch pin of Neocons dream policy. US has the craze to see it as an omnipotent force, an imaginary, invisible enemy; servitude of US, designed to present itself as ‘fore runners’ to act as enemy in order to facilitate the subsequent planned attacks of…US adventurism. 

President Musharraf of Pakistan who accepted US terms after the incident of 9/11 had not realized then that he was betraying his own country men. Although he has been successful in attaining a democratic and economic order for the country but Pakistan is in the grip of chaos and anarchy at the hands of its extremists.

All the proxy and mercenaries have their day; Pakistan may not be an exception to it; Musharraf has already been declared as spent cartridge and has since been dictated by US to hand over the rein of his country to new figures. History shows that no one could be a better US proxy in Arab world than Saddam Hussein in Iraq. But this business of his; cost him his country as well as a show trial and gallows awaited him and his team at the end to silence them for good.

Musharraf may not be the exception?
Love for all, Hatred for none

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By Zhu Bajie, March 16, 2008 at 3:12 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I don’t know about Germany, but Japan is not democratic.  When the same party gets into power after each election for 60 years, that is not democracy.

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By Nabih Ammari, March 14, 2008 at 4:52 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Re:Re March 13

Dear cyrena,

Thank you for your support and kind words.Appreciated.

It is always good to hear from you,besides reading your
your posts wherever I find them.Great posts,informative
and most sensible,indeed.

I love to have you participating in the discussion
on fascism,if your times and circumstances allow you
to do so.If not,I do understand.

Best Regards,

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By Maani, March 13, 2008 at 7:48 pm Link to this comment


The actual dictionary definition of “kleptocracy” is: “government by those who seek chiefly status and personal gain at the expense of the governed.”  So, yes: there is no question we are in a klepto-plutocracy.

“Well Maani, a first, we finally agree on something.”

Will wonders never cease…LOL.  I would even bet that if we met in a bar, and didn’t know who the other was, we might actually like each other…God forbid…LOL


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By Leefeller, March 13, 2008 at 3:06 pm Link to this comment

Well Maani, a first, we finally agree on something. Kleptocrat, a ruler who steels his countries resources, sounds like Bush/Cheney to me. Guess we make it official.

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By Maani, March 13, 2008 at 2:49 pm Link to this comment


“The simple fact is, we do not live in a democracy, instead reality is, we live in a plutocracy, a government run by the wealthy.”

Actually, it is worse.  We live in a “kleptocracy,” since Bush “stole” the election in Florida in 2000 and again in Ohio in 2004.

So would that make it a “klepto-plutocracy?”


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By John Hanks, March 13, 2008 at 1:08 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

They became so full of themselves that they conspired with other right-wing dolts to pull off the 911 stunt.  They are the epitome of arrogance.  They are gangsters just like the crowd around Hitler.

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By GW=MCHammered, March 13, 2008 at 9:37 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Protecting Democracy strengthens Democracy.
It does NOT undermine it.

The American People are the Alpha Group of our Republic. So why do our federal servants and the federal reserve act like our savior? When it is they that will need saving from us.

‘Don’t Tread On Me’

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By Leefeller, March 13, 2008 at 8:15 am Link to this comment

Ignorant masses know nothing, accept the fact that they get to live in what they assume is a democracy.  At least they are lead to believe they do.  Our leaders tell us they are spreading democracy around the world.  The simple fact is,  we do not live in a democracy, instead reality is,  we live in a plutocracy, a government run by the wealthy.  Where does that line converge with the neocons?  I really do not know, except that I and most of us have little say in decisions that affect us for they are controlled by the elite.  They do what they want.

Doubt that this will ever change, our government was established to be this way by the founding fathers. In-order to protect the interests of the wealthy.

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By cyrena, March 13, 2008 at 5:45 am Link to this comment

Greetings Nabih!!

Good to read these words from you, and thank you for the excellent essay.

I was tempted to respond myself to Marshall, to include at least a few of the points that you have. However, your patience is greater than mine, and I’ve read enough posts from Marshall to feel that most of this will not ‘register’ with him. He just doesn’t ‘get it’.

However, that doesn’t make it extremely valuable information (and resources) for those others who might.

I’ll also take the opportunity to make another distinction, (which really was going to be my limited response to his post anyway) between post Hitler Germany, although to a lesser degree post-Imperial Japan. That is simply because I don’t know that much about Japan’s governing history prior to WWII.

In the case of Germany however, neither the US or the International community was required to use ‘gunboat’ diplomacy, or attempt to FORCE a democratic/western form of democracy on the populace, (which seems to be Marshall’s argument…that they ‘accepted’ it) because Germany was already a ‘democracy’ before the Hitler and the Nazis highjacked it!! Actually, as a Western nation, Germany’s democratic system was similar to and as old as the one here.
Hitler had been democratically elected, (at least as much as anyone here has been recently) and so the notion that ‘we’ the US instituted some new and foreign essence of democratic style government onto the populace of Germany after WWII is arrogant at worst, and ignorant at best. (though ignorance is dangerous, and combined with arrogance, it’s downright deadly.)

I mention this because Germany is NOT the first democratically governed nation state to be consumed by a fascist/totalitarian regime, and because the fact of the matter is that it is happening RIGHT HERE!!

When we ask: “Could this happen here?”,  the recognition should be that it already has begun. It troubles me that far too many Americans, unaware of the dynamics and the elements that combine to allow the take-over of ANY democratic society by fascists or dictatorial regimes, will allow for exactly that to take place, and then after it’s too late, claim that they never saw it coming. I’m sure that the Germans of the 1930’s never saw it coming either!

The other thing that Americans of the typical mentality fail to understand, is that legal systems CANNOT BE EXPORTED like so many dozens of eggs or computer parts. It doesn’t suggest that ‘democracy’ cannot be achieved in the Nation states of the Middle East, or anywhere else. It simply means that DEMOCRACY, -by its very nature- can ONLY be established by the people who intend to be governed by it, and from WITHIN that same society. 


Culture, customs, religions, and politics are all part of any democracy, and what works in one set of these dynamics is NOT the same as somewhere else. My very strong sense is that it is the outright determination of the US/Western mentality to do instill its own footprint BY FORCE, everywhere in the world, that will be our ultimate demise.

In short, the mentalities of people like Marshall, not to mention those dictators in the White House, and eventually gonna GET US KILLED!! I don’t mean to ignore the fact that this has already gotten several thousand of us killed and permanently injured, as well as the millions of Iraqi and Afghani lives that have been taken by such an arrogant hubris.

What I AM saying though, is that it can only become worse.

Meantime, the US has much to learn about what democracy actually is. Maybe it is THAT we should be importing, rather than exporting our perverted and depraved notion of it via military force.

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By Hammo, March 12, 2008 at 11:43 am Link to this comment

Neocons, Bush and Cheney have forced out Adm. William Fallon, whose “retirement” was announced yesterday.

The sudden, and surely forced, retirement of Fallon has sent a chill through those in the know: This could mean that the Bush-Cheney administration plans to attack Iran.

Fallon was a major obstacle to this course of action, and now they have forced him out. Food for thought in the articles …

“Will Bush, Cheney attack Iran? When and why?”
Populist Party of America
Feb. 2, 2007

-  -  -

“Military Draft Needed for War With Iran and Syria?”
Populist Party of America
Sept. 28, 2006

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By Hammo, March 12, 2008 at 11:42 am Link to this comment

Neocons, Bush and Cheney have forced out Adm. William Fallon, whose “retirement” was announced yesterday.

The sudden retirement of Fallon could mean that the Bush-Cheney administration plans to attack Iran.

Fallon was a major obstacle to this course of action. Food for thought in the articles:

“Will Bush, Cheney attack Iran? When and why?”
Populist Party of America
Feb. 2, 2007

-  -  -

“Military Draft Needed for War With Iran and Syria?”
Populist Party of America
Sept. 28, 2006

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By weather, March 12, 2008 at 2:05 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Arrest Silverstein/Bushco and heal or stay stuck in the lie.

Courageous leadership is marginalized and the media likes it that way.

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By republicanSScareme, March 11, 2008 at 9:36 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Just who are the “neocons”, you ask?

This article tales a long and roundabout way to say “Nazis”.

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By liberal white boy, March 11, 2008 at 11:58 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Here is my own research on the subject, Leo Strauss an Elitist Mugged by His Genetic Materials

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By Bill Blackolive, March 11, 2008 at 9:58 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The first step for actually getting at this matter is to understand there is the 9/11 coverup.  See one thousand screams from familiar voices at patriotsquestion9/11.  Or, not see.

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By bozhidar bob balkas, March 11, 2008 at 6:22 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

jews or hebrews; as the light onto the world, the noblest, etc., should h. got’n at least a continent from yahweh instead of a borderless state, tho they be, according to jews, indefensible. of course, jews might say, It’s yahweh’s will. actually it had been the mad priests: moses, aaron, joshua who commanded hebrews to take excanaan by sword. it’s the priests that make people mad and not just for a day but for eons. to sense gods, 1 must h. at least 6 or 7 senses. unfortuanately for me, i only h. 5; but use only 3. so, please, leave me be; i’m truly einer untermesch,  finishing last in my class. thank u.

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By tdbach, March 10, 2008 at 2:52 pm Link to this comment

<“they were largely abandoned to make their own way (with one conspicuous exception - the Shah of Iran, and look how that worked out) and the result is what we have today.”  All of which I see as an argument against abandoning Iraq or Afghanistan.> Really? The Shah was a good thing? Are you suggesting that we invade every country in the ME and install a US-friendly government?  Good heavens, you think we’re experience blow-back now!

<As to establishing Democracy, there is no rule that says it cannot be established at “gun point” (itself a loaded term).  Japan and Germany are democratic allies as a result of U.S. military domination, and I don’t hear anyone complaining that they were coerced. > Ah yes, the old WWII conquests – a favorite example of proponents democratic nation-building. It would help if they had ANYTHING in common with Iraq, but they don’t. Germany had an established democracy before the Nazis took over (the Weimar Republic). Japan was completely cowed by the shocking destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; what’s more, there is not a more homogeneous population on the planet than Japan has. Warring factions died with the Shoguns. The situation in both countries was so ripe for democracy it was almost rotten. And Vietnam? Is it a commercial (if undemocratic) ally because we withdrew?

<9/11 was the work of a well-armed, extremist minority whose threat to the U.S. had been overlooked by non-interventionist complacency.> You know, at some level what you (and the neocons) are saying here makes sense. There’s a certain logic to it. Until you follow it through to reality. Suppose the Neocons got their way with Bush or Clinton without the benefit of “a Pearl Harbor”, and we had “intervened” in Afghanistan BEFORE 9/11 in precisely the way we intervened afterward. Do you think, all things being equal (lax attention and cooperation by FBI and CIA to cells operating in the US), do you think 9/11 would have been stopped? Of course not. The masterminds are STILL on the loose. The cells would still have homed in on their target. 9/11 was a failure of domestic intelligence (legal) and law enforcement, not non-interventionist complacency.

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By republicanSScareme, March 10, 2008 at 12:52 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

From all the evidence available, it appears that Zionism is founded on hatred and deceit. That’s a real tragedy.

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By Purple Girl, March 10, 2008 at 5:35 am Link to this comment

NeoCons doctrine is all about the money, resources and Controlling the masses.They hold NO alleigence to any other Nation or philosophy
They are the purveyors of the Four Horseman
Organized Hierarchal ‘Religion’
Totalitrian Big Gov’t ( The ‘Guido’s for Religion)
Multi antional Conglomerates ( the financing & arm twisters for ‘Religion’)
Mass Media ( the propagandaist, the Hypnotists, the distractors)I’m an athesit and I have seen them riding in charge formation directly at Mankind for yrs- At 44 I’d say consciouly over about the last 35, and are now entering the village.
Neo Cons have nothing really to do with Faith, nor with Restraint. In one form or another they have been with us for Millenia, therefore there is nothing ‘NEO’ about them. SAME Crap Different Millenia. Same Slave/ Master stratedgy

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By msgmi, March 9, 2008 at 4:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The neoCON hawks have entrenched themselves in the media, lobby groups, and in every nook and cranny of government. They are a cancer to our Constitution and a threat to our national security. They perceive themselves to be loyal to the U.S.A. but in actuality they are a power hungry cabal just like the bolsheviks and nazis of the past. They claim be be the protectors of the Constitution and in reality they are the biggest usurpers of our democratic system.

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By Maani, March 9, 2008 at 1:20 pm Link to this comment

Speaking of Cheney, Halliburton and KBR:


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By P. T., March 9, 2008 at 9:33 am Link to this comment

George H. W. Bush wanted a coup, not a popular revolt, that simply replaced Saddam with someone more cooperative—a change at the top.  It was hoped that the Gulf War and the sanctions would cause that, but it didn’t happen.

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By Nabih Ammari, March 9, 2008 at 9:32 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Re:Re:Re:A blessing or a curse March 7

Marshall wrote:
“As to establishing Democracy,there is no rule that says it cannot be established at “gun point”(itself a loaded term).Japan and Germany are democratic allies
as a result of U.S. military domination and I do not hear anyone complaining that they were coerced.”

The first statement is baseless.

There is not only rule against dictating your will and your “Democracy” on others by force of arms and
military conquest and total destruction of a people
and a sovereign nation of Iraq,but there is also the
International Law, which the U.S. is one of the main
original endorsers,prohibits clearly the military
conquest and its resultant crimes ranging from total
destruction of Iraq’s water plants,electricity plants
industrial base(with the exception of the Ministry of
Petroleum which was deliberately saved of the savage
bombing);even the great Baghdad Museum of Antiquity
was hit and looted.The Bush Administration’s crimes
committed at Abu-Ghraib prison would remain totally
unacceptable by every self-respecting American.

If you are trying to tell me that the real aim of the Bush Administration have been to bring “Democracy” to
Iraq after all what it has done to Iraq and its people,I must say you need very badly to re-examine your position.A starting point to achieve that will certainly be to do some constructive reading of the
following book:

“OVERTHROW”:America’s Century of Regime Change from
Hawaii to Kuwait.
Stephen Kinzer of Northwestern University.

As to your second comment referred to above,I must remind you that you were/are comparing apples with oranges:

*Japan is a homogeneous Society.
*Germany is a homogeneous society also.
*Iraq is a heterogeneous society or rather worse than
that it is a mosaic society in the full meaning of the word.

Therefore,what had been successfully applied on Japan
and Germany could not possibly be applied on a mosaic
society like Iraq which is subjected to passionate
political forces the space does not allow here to go
through describe them to you.However,on the hope that you may change your position,allow me to suggest to you to read Scott Ritter’s last two articles on Iraq
entitled “The Five Iraqs” and “Iraq’s Tragic Future”.
Both articles were published by Truth-Dig.I consider
Mr. Scott Ritter as the most knowledgeable person in
America today about the real Iraqi political forces
which were untainted by either the U.S. or Iran.In
my opinion,the long term victors of the agonized Iraq
will rise from those untainted Iraqi nationalists.I
say this out of direct knowledge of the Iraqi people.
I worked with them for years.I ate simple meals with
them,drank sweetened/minted tea with them and meanwhile I had pleasant,lively,friendly and lengthy
conversations with them.They are proud people with
rich history,rich culture and distinguished Iraqi
heritage.Such kind of a people,there is no power on Earth that can coerce anything on them.No way.
Nabih Ammari
An Independent in Ohio.

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By Maani, March 9, 2008 at 9:13 am Link to this comment


Founders of PNAC were Willam Kristol (Bilderberg, Manhattan Institute), Robert Kagan (CFR), and Gary Schmitt (American Enterprise Institute).  Current Board members also include Bruce Jackson (CFR) and Randy Schuenemann, both of whom are founders of the ultra-right wing Committee for the Liberation of Iraq.

PNAC is funded largely by the ultra-right wing Scaife family (who also funded most of the right-wing attacks against Bill and Hillary Clinton during BC’s second term).

Members of PNAC include Armitage, Cheney, Rumsefeld, Perle, Wolfowitz and Zoellick.  Supporters include Elliot Abrams, Gary Bauer, William Bennett, Jeb Bush, Jeanne Kirkpartick, Charles Krauthammer, Scooter Libby, Norman Podhoretz and Dan Quayle.

Dangerous?  That’s putting it mildly.

Peace.  (in spite of them…)

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By Maani, March 9, 2008 at 8:55 am Link to this comment


“9/11 was the work of a well-armed, extremist minority whose threat to the U.S. had been overlooked by non-interventionist complacency.”

I disagree.  9/11 was the work of individuals and factions within the U.S. government, using former CIA assets, including OBL and Atta.  It was a product of PNAC, implemented by Cheney, Rumsfeld et al to (i) control Iraq’s oil reserves (the second largest in the world) and (ii) implement the radical neocon agenda that gave us the Patriot Act, the Department of Homeland Security, the never-ending “war on terror” (which, along with the propaganda of the government and corporate-controlled media, creates the “climate of fear” necessary to control the masses), centralization of power in the executive branch, the evisceration of habeus corpus and posse comitatus, and an increased law enforcement presence and increased surveillance of American citizens, among other things.

These things could NOT have occurred without 9/11.  Given this, the suggestion that 9/11 was a “happy accident” for the Bush administration, and that ALL it did was “cynically use” it, is absurd.


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By Maani, March 9, 2008 at 8:46 am Link to this comment


Based on your comments above, you might find this of interest:


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By Blackspeare, March 9, 2008 at 7:27 am Link to this comment


It didn’t happen because Bush I and company at first fomented it, then failed to support it because they feared the Kurds would breakaway and cause trouble for Turkey.

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By jackpine savage, March 9, 2008 at 6:34 am Link to this comment

You’re spot on, Expat.  First, our intelligence throughout the Cold War told our leaders that the USSR was not the military threat that it was painted as for US citizens.  Kennedy’s famous “missile gap” in favor of the Soviet Union was actually 163 - 4 in favor of the US.  And we knew this, because the U2 flights proved it.

There was never any indication that the Soviets would attack us.  And your thesis is probably correct in pointing out the not so monolithic makeup of the Red Army and what that would mean.  When Hitler attacked the USSR, the Red Army splintered.  History often paints the Soviet soldiers charging to certain death all for the glory of Stalin.  That’s hookum.  The Red Army began to stand firm when they realized that they were fighting to defend Mother Russia, i.e. when it became a national struggle (after Hitler’s crimes in the West made it clear that he was no better than Stalin).  So in fact, the army that beat back Hitler should be said to be the Russian army, not the Soviet army.

Had we ever attacked the Soviet Union, the Red Army may well of coalesced and defeated us (then again, maybe not…they might have greeted us as liberators).  But their ideology was enforced, not enough to go blindly into offensive battle against the US.

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By cyrena, March 9, 2008 at 5:09 am Link to this comment

Thanks Andy…for the excellent comparison.

I was thinking the much of the same, but you said it far better.

On the last part, about the post WWII bringing us out of a depression, I wanted to add that Germany and Japan actually did relatively well too. They had their countries literally rebuilt, with the help of the Allies, since they had been virtually destroyed. (infrastructure..everything)

So, it was to THEIR advantage as well, to go the democracy path.

Very different with Iraq, which has now been totally destroyed as well, and our own infrastructure steadily declines, (levees don’t hold, bridges collapse, and we dump old ships and their poisons on foreign nations, just to get a few nickels from the scrap, wrecking all sorts of environmental hazards on them and the world at large).

So, no…not the same.

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By M Henri Day, March 9, 2008 at 1:37 am Link to this comment

Professor Cohen’s sympathy for the neo-conservatives portrayed in Mr Heilbrunn’s book is all too obvious. Instead of examining the substance behind such media locutions as «Saddam’s provocations», «Slobodan Milosevic’s brutality», and the «Butchers of Beijing» (I suspect that «Tiananmen massacres» with its superfluous plural, is not a typo, but deliberate), he merely repeats them as accepted givens. Admittedly, in this he differs little from the so-called «liberal» opposition, both in the United States and abroad….


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By P. T., March 8, 2008 at 12:18 pm Link to this comment

I think Dick Cheney and others in the George H. W. Bush administration expected Saddam to be overthrown in a coup after the Gulf War.  A coup didn’t happen.

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By shinypeter, March 8, 2008 at 11:56 am Link to this comment

I was surprised that Kissinger was mentioned in tow to another subject,detente, and not given more attention.
To the list of toppled heads above I do not see how Allende missed the cut.Support for Pinochet was 180 degrees to the christian, democratic, and moral squeakiness that is the alibi of the nation. Once the victim has been publicly labelled a communist, a terrorist or the suchlike his fate is sealed. He has no recourse to exposing the fictitious attack.  There is a lot of erudite wit and intellectual agility throughout the original article and the comments. But what I keep encountering are inculcated blind spots that simply do not do justice to the subject. This is a conference of gatekeepers. I do not perceive any political debate only psychological demands to forge an acceptable raft of illusions on which to blind side the mind control so well implanted from birth by the cultural environment which in its turn is in the hands of education, religion and hollywood moguls hot from central Europe. Being so geographically isolated it is even easier to pull off. Before the hypnosis is neutralized and the scales fall from our collective eye a lot more death is going to be gratuitously wreaked on humanity at the hands of prepared minds that are convinced they are the sole possessors of god’s authority and moral justification. Follow the money and the smoking cannon. The Rothschilds and their downline network of affiliates, otherwise referred to as legmen, are an integral part of understanding the last two centuries. It is amazing that no one mentions them! The banksters hold the tiller, the politicos and ideologists simple gyrate to the beat.

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By P. T., March 8, 2008 at 10:30 am Link to this comment

The ideological component of neo-conservatives’ thought provides a rationale for U.S. imperialist misadventures that do not pass the realism test.  They use an ideological pretext to advocate U.S. policies they think advance Israel’s interests.

Neo-conservatives also have been big supporters of terrorism in places such as Central America.  They do their best to avoid military service themselves.  They believe that is the job of the lower classes.

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By Andy Harmon, March 8, 2008 at 8:59 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The the reconstruction of Germany and Japan post 1945 does not equate with the occupation of Iraq. The situation in Iraq is far more complicated, politically, religiously and morally.

How is the Suni-Shiite split (and insurgency) equivalent to the situation in Post WWII Germany or Japan? Supporting the occupation over many years was also seen differently by US citizens in both cases. Japan had attacked the US at Pearl Harbor. What NATION attacked the US at the World Trade Center? Clearly not Iraq. Japan and Germany were clear threats to American security. Iraq was not. It made good sense to try to enforce democracy in Japan and Germany post war, not only to us (and our allies) but to the Germans and Japanese themselves. The same cannot be said of Iraq. Neither did we have to fight a post war counter insurgency with either of our WWII enemies.

Lastly we were not seeking to control Germany’s natural resources and turn them over to multinational corporations. Our economic situation was very different in 1945. WWII brought the US out of a depression. From all the signs at the moment it looks like the war in Iraq has lead us into one.

If you are going to justify imposing democracy ‘at the point of a gun’ you have to do better than cite WWII as an example.

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By weather, March 8, 2008 at 6:22 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Alan’the weasel’Dershowitz, the media goto for all things constitutional was a pernicious fraud all along.

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By cyrena, March 7, 2008 at 9:32 pm Link to this comment

It does take hubris to think that we can simply impose a new structure according to our lights. BUT, history teaches us that it might not be as astonishing as it seems. For, that is exactly how the US itself was established.

It’s also a myth to suggest that the US was actually intent upon imposing ‘democracy’ in the Middle East, (Iraq or anywhere else). The US built Saudi Arabia..literally, in so far as making it an oil PRODUCING colony) and when has there ever been a call from the US for ‘democracy’ there?

And contrary to what Marshall is suggesting about Germany and Japan after WW2, it was NOT their first experiment with “Democracy”. Germany had a Constitution, and was a ‘democracy’ before it fell to the totalitarianism of the Hitler regime. The US has fallen victim to the SAME totalitarianism in the past 7 years, so like Germany before WW2, we are a ‘democracy’ in name only, not in principle.

So yes, there is an overwhelming hubris in assuming that this ‘democracy’ can be forced on the Middle East, considering the fact that it, (NOT the US) marks the beginning of civilization, and they are in fact perfectly capable of establishing whatever form of ‘democracy’ they choose. Because, it is the ONLY ‘democracy’ that can be effective. It has to be in line with THEIR cultures, not OURS.

And there has been no more ‘infighting’ among tribes or the civil participants in the Middle East than there has been in the US or the West, in the past 3 centuries at least. The Marshalls of the world overlook this, because they’d rather not see it. They create their own realities in order to give a cover for the atrocities that the US continues to inflict on the rest of the world.

Example, Marshall still holds the created myth that “Afghanistan” was a threat to our national security. Bullshit. He holds the same about Iran, which is also bullshit, since Iran hasn’t threatened or attacked anybody in well over 2 centuries. Even if one believes the official lie of 9/11, there was no ‘one country’ or region that can be blamed for those attacks. The alleged perpetrators came mostly from…SAUDI ARABIA, the US kingdom in the Middle East.  But, they did not and do not belong to a sovereign nation state, and had ZERO connection with Saddam Hussein. (aside from the one time fantasy that OBL had about waging a war against Saddam. They hated each other and Saddam didn’t allow for the existence of AQ in Iraq).

So, suffice to say that it is NOT the ‘national security’ interests of America that have anything to do with the US destruction of the Middle East. At least not if we’re talking about 99% of the US citizens. Nope. Not about our ‘security’ at all.

Here’s how a former CIA agent has described “US Interests”

•  ““But what counter-insurgency really comes down to is the protection of the capitalists back in America, their property and their privileges. US national security, as preached by US leaders, is the security of the capitalist class in the US, not the security of the rest of the people.”

– Philip Agee, CIA Diary

And, here are at least 4 of the MANY – DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED – leaders of sovereign nation states that have been knocked off by the CIA, who answers ONLY to the president.

-Mossadegh – Iran
-Lumumba – Congo
-Sukarno – Indonesia
-Arbenez – Gutamala

More recently,,

Hugo Chavez – Venezuela, (two assassination attempts and a successful coup – orchestrated by the Bush Admin/CIA

Hamas – Gaza

Suffice to say that when we have a history of knocking off DEMOCRATICALLY elected leaders throughout the world, it’s just a tad bit difficult to claim that we’re ‘spreading democracy’.

Neo-colonialism as it is being practiced by the US in the Middle East is NOT spreading democracy. It’s spreading misery and destruction.

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By cyrena, March 7, 2008 at 6:35 pm Link to this comment

Good review, enough that I don’t have to read the book.

I have a thought on this though:

•  “…For reasons that may never be known, Cheney, who had earlier argued that toppling Saddam Hussein was not worth one American life, decided that Saddam’s provocations could no longer be tolerated….”

I think the reasons actually ARE known, for why Cheney had a change of batteries. (in his chest cavity).

Saddam was about to break free of OPEC, and he was gonna start selling Iraq’s nationalized OIL in Euros, just as others have done before and since.

Iran only takes yen or Euros now, and it’s pretty much the same with all of the others. In short, like Castro, and Mossedegh, and other sovereign nation state who refused to allow the West (specifically the US and Britain) to exploit their state’s resources, he had to go, especially after Cheney had developed his self-enriching career with the Energy/OIL industry via Halliburton and the connection with all of the others. So, lots changed with Cheney’s attitude in the years of the Clinton era, when he was basically in exile. Those changes, (especially with Saddam about to start putting all of the Iraqi oil on the market) was really gonna spell disaster, not just for the US Oil barons, but for their colonies in Saudi Arabia, Dubai, and Kuwait as well.  I mean, Saddam was about to start flooding the world with cheap oil, and selling it on the euro not the dollar. China’s re-rise to the top of the heap would have been even more rapid than we’ve seen.

And of course it would have spelled the end to his personal fortunes, and that of his cronies. Given all of that, it was more than worth it for Cheney and Rummy to sacrifice as many American and other lives as it would take.

But the plan backfired, because they still haven’t been able to get to all of the oil, and the US dollar is crashing anyway. Just took a little longer. Still, it bought enough time for Cheney and Rummy to transfer and convert all of their own stolen loot out of the country, and reap billions in the fraud and waste of the taxpayers trillions at the same time.

So, that’s something to keep in mind as well. Long before the first US airstrike of the ‘shock and awe’ adventure, and long before the first boots were on the ground in March, 2003, Halliburton’s KBR was ALREADY THERE, standing by and waiting in the shallow shores of that border Iraq shares with Kuwait, just waiting to move in. Yep…Cheney’s oil stealing team was already for action.

So, the ‘reasons’ are known enough, all of these trillions of dollars and millions of lost lives later.

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By Sol Cohen, March 7, 2008 at 5:44 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Maybe there was something else.  The rise of previously silenced ethnic groups (black, brown, red, yellow) incensed many Jews who felt thatr Jews had a monopoly on suffering and persecution.  When the new left and nmany liberals starting talking about institutional racism, a lot of Jews reacted with anger.  Racism was south of the Mason-Dixon line, not here in the north.  It was an easy step to go from so many of the little autocracies the Trptskyite splinter groups maintained to the right and hostility to these other oppressed minorities who were edging them out of victimhood.  I know one thing.  I was a student at City College in the early 1940s and observed these people with their ideological purity at all costs and their amepbalike splitting into endless Trotskyite factions.  They like power, among other things and power is what they seek at all costs, even intellectual power to move others’ minds.  On top of that, they discovered that starving as Trotskyites couldn’t compare to feasting off the right wing.  The crew that helped get us into Iraq are directly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands—and, in fact, are no different from those we tried and hanged at Nuremburg.

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By Marshall, March 7, 2008 at 4:40 pm Link to this comment

By tdbach, March 7 at 2:17 pm #

Re: Re: A blessing or curse?

“they were largely abandoned to make their own way (with one conspicuous exception - the Shah of Iran, and look how that worked out) and the result is what we have today.”

All of which I see as an argument against abandoning Iraq or Afghanistan.  Abandoning Iraq would most likely result in rampant bloodshed followed by the establishment of a regime dangerous to western interests and security.  This is not something we can allow.

As to establishing Democracy, there is no rule that says it cannot be established at “gun point” (itself a loaded term).  Japan and Germany are democratic allies as a result of U.S. military domination, and I don’t hear anyone complaining that they were coerced.

“Our “participation” as you say in the region over the past hundred years [is] a big, screaming double-bogey to the rank and file in the Middle Eastern desert. And 9/11 is just the most spectacular evidence of that.” 

9/11 was the work of a well-armed, extremist minority whose threat to the U.S. had been overlooked by non-interventionist complacency.

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By tdbach, March 7, 2008 at 3:17 pm Link to this comment

“I think there is a basic contradiction at the heart of your argument.  Much of that region was a construct of the west, including many modern leaders whom we helped put, or stay, in power.” Ah, Marshall! Fancy meeting you here! Well…once again, you have caught me in poor articulation. Yes, some of the borders defining countries in the region were the constructs of the West. However, they were largely abandoned to make their own way (with one conspicuous exception - the Shah of Iran, and look how that worked out) and the result is what we have today. A contentious tribal society with centuries of brutal conflict will not suddenly become a peaceful democracy, no matter how much we might like that. It may come in time, a very long time most likely, but it can’t be imposed successfully from the outside.

Our “participation” as you say in the region over the past hundred years may be par for the course in our history classes but it’s a big, screaming double-bogey to the rank and file in the Middle Eastern desert. And 9/11 is just the most spectacular evidence of that.

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By felicity, March 7, 2008 at 2:40 pm Link to this comment

Years ago when Kirkpatrick served as our representative at the UN, that same body advanced a resolution stating that all people had a right to food.  Kirkpatrick, and one other, voted against it.

Interesting, and news to me, she was tied to the neocons.  Does that say something about the neocon mind set?

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By felicity, March 7, 2008 at 2:01 pm Link to this comment

I expect that the animosity of Russians toward Jews will eventually die out. 

My Russian step-father, born in 1895, flew in the Czar’s airforce, escaped Russia after the revolution - a well-educated, kind, gentle and tolerant man had a deep, out-of-character hatred of Jews.  It was in his gut, and when questioned about it he would merely shake his head and refuse to talk about it.

It’s reasonable to assume that hatred in one direction is reciprocated in the other direction.

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By Donald Lazere, March 7, 2008 at 1:53 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It is a shame that neither Heilbrunn nor any review of him that I have seen, including this one, mentions what I think is by far the best book on the subject (far surpassing Heilbrunn’s), “The Neoconservative Mind,” By Gary Dorrien (Temple University Press, 1993).

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By Marshall, March 7, 2008 at 1:30 pm Link to this comment

I think there is a basic contradiction at the heart of your argument.  Much of that region was a construct of the west, including many modern leaders whom we helped put, or stay, in power.

Given the west’s long history in that region, I’d say we are a fundamental part of those organic principles that underlie governance in that region and our participation as such is par for the course.  Even more justifiably so when our national security is at stake, as it was with Afghanistan and as it was thought to be with Iraq.  This includes our right to support Israel - just as we do any global ally, just as it includes our right to oppose those governments we deem threats, like Iran.  What we DO about them is a matter of policy.

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By tdbach, March 7, 2008 at 12:01 pm Link to this comment

“Saddam was indeed deposed, certainly a blessing…”

This seems to be an almost required qualifier for any critic of the Iraq invasion and occupation, because hardly any commentator on the topic neglects to say what a good thing it is that Saddam is gone.

I find that extremely strange, since the consequences of deposing Saddam have been so horrific. It’s like saying, “No one can deny that it was a good thing that growth was removed from his neck” while presiding over the poor man’s funeral after the surgeon discovered that the growth couldn’t be removed without killing the patient.

I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it was NOT a good thing that Saddam was deposed. Sure, he was a despot – a cruel and heartless authoritarian dictator. But he came to power, and maintained power, by the organic principles that underlie governance in that region of the world. It is not for the faint of the Western heart. Israel is an anomaly – not because of something in the Jewish culture, but because it was an artificially contrived country (despite its biblical antecedent), created and secured by European powers, populated by European- and American-trained exiles, and run by a single “tribe.” Everywhere else in the Middle East, friend and foe alike, is run with an iron fist, not a democratic ballot.

That’s not to say that Israel doesn’t have the right to exist. It has as much right as any other nation on the planet, since we’re all essentially artificial constructs. But most a constructed from within – much as Iraq was before the invasion – and that process needs to be respected, if not the individual whom that process has elevated to rule. The hubris it takes to think we can simply impose a new structure according to our lights is astonishing. And doomed.

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By STORMY7, March 7, 2008 at 10:42 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)


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By Expat, March 7, 2008 at 6:38 am Link to this comment

^ The following statement is confounding:
“Heilbrunn, agreeing that the Democratic leadership underestimated the Soviet threat, portrays the early 1980s, roughly Reagan’s first term, as the era in which the neoconservative movement made its greatest contribution.”

In fact this review is confounding.  Chomsky bemoaned the collapse of the Soviet Union because he feared (correctly) that the U.S., without an equal adversary, would run roughshod over the world.  He felt we would become a bully.  Further; it has been clearly shown and proved that the Soviet Union was far less of a threat than presented by the politicos of the day.  Hell, I read in the 60’s (by experts on the Soviet Union) that their army was a mix of Muslims and Atheists and Christians and was not to be counted on to be unified and reliable if a war were to break out.  Their whole military was intentionally “OVER” estimated to keep us afraid and willing to fund huge defense spending.  I could go on and on but won’t.  Find out for yourselves how we’ve been snookered over the years.  Because of 9/11, Bush was able to play on our fears and ramped it up to overdrive and we succumbed to those fears, shit our pants and here we are.  The book; I have no idea; the review is lacking and muddled.

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