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PETRAS ESSAYS IN ENGLISH 

August 10, 2003

Who fabricated the Iraq war threat: An inside view

James Petras
Rebelión

There is growing debate and criticism in the US Congress and media of the Bush Administration's fabricated evidence of Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction. Even more serious the investigation and testimony of top US military and civilian officials in the Pentagon and State Department reveals profound differences and divisions between themselves and the "political appointees". The testimony and evidence of the professionals' revelations are crucial to understanding the structure of real power in the Bush Administration. It is in times of crises and divisions in the governing class that we the public are given insights into who governs for whom. The debate, criticism and division in Washington today is just such an instance.

After years of UN inspections, and almost five months of thousands of searches and interviews by close to ten thousand US military, intelligence and scientific inspectors it has been definitively demonstrated that Iraq did not possess weapons of mass destruction (or even of useful national defense), a point now practically conceded by some members of the Bush Administration. This raised the next key question - Who in the Bush regime provided the fabricated evidence and for what purpose.

The initial response of the Bush apologists was to attribute the fabrications to "bureaucratic errors" and "communication failures" or as Wolfowitz cynically claimed to "secure a consensus for the war policy". CIA Director Tenet became the self- confessed scapegoat for the "mistakes". As the investigations progressed however, testimony from a multiplicity of high level sources in the regime revealed that there were two channels of policy making and advisers, the formal structure made up of career professional military and civilians in the Pentagon and State Department and a parallel structure made up of political appointees. From all available evidence it was the "unofficial" political advisers organized by Wolfowitz, Feith and Rumsfeld in the Office of Special Planning (OSP) who were the source of the fabricated evidence, which was used to "justify" the invasion and occupation of Iraq. The OSP is headed by Abram Shulsky and included other neo-conservatives, who have virtually no professional knowledge or qualification in intelligence and military affairs. Douglas Feith, Undersecretary of Defense, and Paul Wolfowitz set up the OSP. Shulsky is an avid follower and protégé of Richard Perle, the well-known militarist and long time supporter of military attacks on Arab regimes in the Middle East.

According to the testimony of a Pentagon insider, Lieutenant Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski who worked in the office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, Near East and South Asia Division and Special Plans in the Pentagon, the "civil service and active duty military professionals were noticeably uninvolved in key areas" of interest to Feith, Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld, namely Israel, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Lieutenant Colonel Kwiatkowski goes on to specify that "in terms of Israel and Iraq all primary staff work was conducted by political appointees, in the case of Israel a desk officer appointee from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and in the case of Iraq, Abe Shusky." Equally important, the ex-Pentagon official describes the existence of "cross-agency cliques". She describes how the members of a variety of neo-conservative and pro-Israel organizations, (Project for a New American Century, the Center for Security Policy and the American Enterprise Institute), who are now in the Bush regime only interact among themselves across the various agencies. She points out that major decisions result from "groupthink" - the uncritical acceptance of prevailing points of view and the uncritical acceptance of extremely narrow and isolated views". She was forced to resign by her chief after she told him that "some folks (the cliques and networks) in the Pentagon may be sitting beside Hussein in the war crimes tribunal" for their destructive war and occupation policies.

What is very clear is that the OSP and its directors Feith and Wolfowitz were specifically responsible for the fabricated evidence of the "Weapons of Mass Destruction" that justified the war.

The OSP and the other members of the networks that operated throughout key US agencies shared a right-wing pro-militarist ideology and were fanatically pro-Israel. Feith and Perle authored an infamous policy paper in 1996 for Likud Party extremist, Benjamin Netanyahu, entitled "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm", which called for the destruction of Saddam Hussein and his replacement by a Hashemite monarch. Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Iran would then have to be overthrown or destabilized for Israel to be secure in a kind of 'Greater US-Israel Co-Prosperity Sphere.' Today the OSP is an arm of the Wolfowitz-Feith policy of furthering the policies of the most extremist groups of the Sharon regime, forging close ties with a parallel ad hoc intelligence operation in the Israeli regime according to a report from the British newspaper, The Guardian.

The finger clearly points to Zionist zealots who directed the OSP, like Abram Shusky and Feith, as the source for the "phony intelligence" which led to the war that Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld were seeking. The manner in which the Zionist zealots organized and acted - as a clique of arrogant like-minded fanatics hostile to any contrary viewpoints from the professional intelligence, civilian and military officials suggest that their loyalties and links were elsewhere, most evidently with the Sharon regime in Israel. It is interesting to note that the influential rightwing Zionists in the Bush Administration provided "reports" on Iraq which were at variance with reports from the Israeli Mossad, which did not believe that Iraq represented any "threat" to the US or Israel.

To understand the central role of the Zionist ideologues in shaping US foreign policy in the Middle East and elsewhere it is important to frame it in the context of US-Israel relations and the powerful influence of the pro-Israel lobby inside of the US. As Patrick Seal describes in the liberal US weekly The Nation , "The Friends of Ariel Sharon (among the Jewish pro-Israel zealots) loath Arabs and Muslims… What they wished for was an improvement in Israel's military and strategic environment". The US invasion of Iraq and its aggressive military posture toward most Arab regimes in the Middle East has made the names of these Zionist policymakers known to the world. Wolfowitz and Feith are second and third in command of the Pentagon. Their protégés in the OPS include Abram Shusky, Richard Perle of the Defense Policy Board, and Elliot Abrams (a defender of the Guatemalan genocide of the 1980's) senior director for Middle East affairs for the National Security Council. Washington's most influential pro-Israel zealots include William Kristol and Robert Kagan of the The National Standard, the Pipes family and a large number of pro-Israel institutes which work closely with and share the outlook of the rightwing Zionists in the Pentagon. The growing consensus among US critics of the Bush Administration is that "9/11 provided the right-wing Zionists zealots with a unique chance to harness US Middle East policy and military power in Israel's interest and succeeded in getting the United States to apply the doctrine of pre-emptive war to Israel's enemies" (Seale, Nation, July 21, 2003). The evidence implicating the US Zionists to the war policy is so overwhelming that even the mainstream Zionist organizations have refrained from crying 'anti-Semitism'.

Concerned more with Israeli supremacy than US military losses, the zealous Zionists plan new wars - Perle, Feith and Wolfowitz are now targeting Iran, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, raising a whole new series of "intelligence reports" accusing the Arab countries of funding, protecting and promoting terrorism. And the pre-fabricated intelligence continues to flow from the members in the OPS and their cliques and networks so well described by Lieutenant Colonel Kwiatkowski.

As US military casualties mount daily in Iraq, with unofficial estimated of 4,000 wounded and over 60 deaths by August 1, 2003, as the military costs of the war undermine the US economy, the US public is becoming disenchanted with the Bush Administration. As the public investigations proceed they will likely lead to exposés regarding the real source of the fabricated evidence for going to war. If and when the identity and political loyalties of the architects and propagandists of the US war against Iraq and for Israel's supremacy are made public, there is likely to be a harsh and righteous backlash by the general public against the neo-conservative Zionist ideologues and their networks in and out of the government. Up to now their role has been the worst kept secret in Washington but, with elections pending it is just possible that Washington's dirty little secret will become part of the public domain and their will be a public demand for greater transparency in pursuit of US interests and greater concern with relying on professional career officials and less on political appointees with divided loyalties.

Fortunately many progressive Jews are raising serious questions about the uncritical support of Israel by mainstream Jewish organizations and are sharply critical of the Zionist zealots in the Pentagon.

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