Powell’s Chief of Staff Mentions Role of Neocons and Israel in Iraq War
Secretary of State Colin Powell’s Chief of Staff (2001-2005), Colonel
Lawrence Wilkerson, makes taboo-statements on the role of the neocons and
Israel in bringing about the war on Iraq in the following video.
“Tyranny & Politics of Fear, Loyalty to Israel vs. US.”
Wilkerson’s statements about the neocons and Israel are largely based on his
own direct experience as a member of the Bush administration. Wilkerson has
made similar statements before and I include some of them in my book, “The
For example, “A lot of these guys, including Wurmser, I looked at as card-carrying
members of the Likud party, as I did with Feith. You wouldn’t open their wallet and
find a card, but I often wondered if their primary allegiance was to their own
country or to Israel. That was the thing that troubled me, because there was so much
that they said and did that looked like it was more reflective of Israel’s
interest than our own.” (T.C., p. 120)
In the video, Wilkerson also attributes the US war on Iraq to other
factors-oil, war profiteering corporations, ultra-nationalists (Cheney and
Rumsfeld), and the American people’s fears (“the politics of fear”). I
differ in whole or in part with some of these statements which would require
knowledge that Wilkerson could not obtain directly by his work in the Bush
administration. In some of these cases, Wilkerson merely presents the
conventional wisdom, which greater research would show to be incorrect.
For example, I don’t think he has a firm knowledge of the neocons’
extensive writing on the Middle East, which I document in my book, “The
Transparent Cabal.” He thus neglects to point out that the neocons sought
to reconfigure the entire Middle East for the interest of Israel. And that
this position paralleled the position of the Israeli Likudniks who sought to
destabilize and fragment Israel’s enemies. Obviously, a fragmented Middle
East would enhance Israel’s security. While this does not mean that the
neocons would not have liked a pro-Israel government in Iraq (and other
Middle Eastern countries), they were quite willing to accept the more
probable destabilization, which most Middle East experts realized would be
the result in Iraq if the US invaded. It should be noted that even though
the occupation of Iraq did not bring about a pro-Israel government, no
neocons have said that the outcome in Iraq was a failure, and they are now
Regarding Cheney and Rumsfeld, whom he refers to as “ultra-nationalists,”
Wilkerson is apparently unaware of their close ties to the neocons. Cheney
had numerous pre-2001 personal connections to the neocons. He was a
member of the board of advisors of the Jewish Institute for National
Security Affairs (JINSA), a member of the board of trustees of the American
Enterprise Institute (AEI), and a founding member of the neoconservative
Project for a New American Century (PNAC). It also should be noted that
Cheney’s wife, Lynne Cheney, has been a prestigious member of AEI. So if
Cheney is an ultra-nationalist, he is a special kind of ultra-nationalist
who believes that neocon policies advance American goals-and that the
interests of Israel coincide with those of the United States.
The personal benefits Cheney derives from his association with the neocons
would indicate that his motives for promoting their agenda goes beyond the
ideological. And certainly the neocon outlets have enabled Cheney to stay in
the limelight since he left office.
Rumsfeld also had a connection to the neocons, being associated with PNAC.
More than this, there was a convergence of interest between Rumsfeld and the
neocons. Rumsfeld placed his faith in a in a sleek, mobile, high tech
military. The neocon Iraq policy provided him with the type of war to
demonstrate the merits of his military thinking. Moreover, Rumsfeld’s
unconventional military views and management style meant that he had few
supporters in the Defense Department outside the neocon orbit, making their
support all the more important. In a mutually beneficial symbiotic
relationship, the neocons praised and supported Rumsfeld, while Rumsfeld
enabled the neocons to play a fundamental role in shaping foreign policy.
Of course, when the violence in Iraq dramatically increased, the neocons
blamed Rumsfeld for the problems, and advocated a larger army of occupation.
While Rumsfeld and more so Cheney played roles in implementing the neocon
agenda, it is unlikely that they would have been able to do so without the
neocons themselves in key areas of the government.
The American people’s fears were certainly essential in bringing about the
war. As I maintain in “The Transparent Cabal,” if it had not been for 9/11,
the neocons would not have been able to implement their war policy.
However, the neocons certainly stoked this fear by their WMD and terrorist
propaganda, which had the stamp of the US government.
Wilkerson also points out that certain corporations benefitted from the war.
He did not show how any people associated with corporations were intimately
involved in pushing for war but, of course, all American wars have had war
profiteers. Since someone always financially benefits from war in any
government that allows private ownership of the means of production, the
war profiteering argument could be used for all US wars-which means it does
not really explain particular motives since it does not indicate why a
particular war is chosen.
Finally, we have the oil argument. Wilkerson states the obvious in pointing
out that Iraq has oil reserves. He does not show how particular individuals
involved in the oil business lobbied for war. As I point out in Chapter
18 of my book, the oil companies, instead of pushing for war, sought to
eliminate sanctions on Iraq in 2001. Moreover, they have not shown much
interest in acquiring leases that the current Iraq government has auctioned
off, which have almost completely gone to non-American oil companies.
American oil companies, American business in general, and the US government
is certainly concerned about Middle Eastern oil, but that does not mean that
they advocate US wars in this region. Actually, the oil factor is often a
reason that peace and stability are sought.
I provide additional information on the oil argument at
See my comments at the end of Tim Wilkinson’s (Tim Wilkinson is no relation
to Larry Wilkerson) review of “The Transparent Cabal.”
Again, Larry Wilkerson had close, personal knowledge of the activities of
the neocons within the administration. His knowledge of the other groups he
cited, however, was either second hand and significant, specific details are
lacking. For example, he did not cite names of members of other groups-oil
or war profiteers-pushing for war. As I pointed out, war profiteers would
have supported all America’s wars, so there would be nothing special about
their support. He is certainly correct about the importance of Cheney and
Rumsfeld, but he seems unaware of their close connection to the neocons.
And certainly popular fears were essential for the war on Iraq, but is also
the case that the neocon propaganda, most of it coming from the neocons in
the Bush administration, heightened those fears.
It should also be emphasized that the neocons are also pushing for war on
Iran. The overall Israel lobby and the government of Israel had been
supportive of the war on Iraq, but stayed largely in the background. Both
these groups are much more openly supporting a war on Iran. That both wars
have been pushed by supporters of Israel and have the support of the
government of Israel should indicate that these factors are the most
important motivation war in the Middle East. It is hard to see how bombing
Iran, which is likely to greatly impede the transport of oil, would help the
US to control oil in the region. Bombing Iran would not involve US
occupation, so it is hard to believe how bombing a country would make its
government or its inhabitants more favorable to American oil interests.
It should also be mentioned that a US war on Iran was part of the overall
neocon Middle East war agenda (war on Iraq simply being the first step),
which was discussed prior to the 2003 attack on Iraq. The strong push for
war on Iran currently does not depend on either Cheney or Rumsfeld (or Bush
the Younger), so it is hard to claim that these two figures are essential
for this policy. This is not to say that if a opponent of war controlled
the office of the presidency the US would go to war because of outside
pressure. However, there were many individuals who identify with the
neocons besides Cheney-John McCain being a leading figure. If McCain and
his neocon advisers filled the executive branch, it is almost a sure thing
that they would have pursued the neocon agenda, probably to a greater extent
than the Bush II administration, almost certainly more so than Obama.
Even with the aforementioned caveats, Wilkerson’s statements are both daring
and revealing, since he was actively involved in the Bush I administration.
There is no evidence that he has made an in depth study of the groups that
he mentioned, so his statements regarding groups with whom he was not
closely involved could very easily be incorrect. Moreover, it is certainly
safer for him to include groups besides the neocons and motives other than
Israel. If he only mentioned the neocons and Israel, he would be branded an
anti-Semite and probably kept out of all mainstream, and many
non-mainstream, media outlets.
Transparent Cabal Website:
Amazon listing of The Transparent Cabal: