Neocon Foreign Policy

Neocon Foreign Policy

Posted By Philip Giraldi On March 23, 2011 @ 11:00 pm In Uncategorized | 24 Comments

One of the enduring mysteries is why neoconservative foreign policy continues to dominate the Republican Party and also large parts of the Democratic Party even though that policy has been disastrous for the United States.  No one – not even Secretary of Defense Robert Gates – is willing to call the two land wars currently underway in Asia successful and the hemorrhage of more than $12 billion a month to support the conflicts does nothing whatsoever for a struggling US economy unless one is a defense contractor.  Yet the view that the United States must use its waning power to remake much of the globe prevails.  The policy is in some circles underwritten by the myth that the United States is a special nation that makes it somehow immune to the history of the decline and fall of past empires.  The catch phrase “American exceptionalism” persists in the minds of presidential wannabes like Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin, both of whom conflate the country’s genuinely unique national qualities with a divine right to intervene militarily anywhere and at any time, a continuation in perpetuity of the nearly forgotten Bush Doctrine.

The neocon wordspinners are always ready with a glib turn of phrase to mask reality.  America is not poised to intervene or invade in their minds.  It is instead pursuing a “freedom agenda” and who can criticize freedom?  Tunisia, Egypt, and now even Libya are being welcomed as democracies in the making, though with the usual caveats lest democracy proceed too fast and in the wrong direction.  Hillary Clinton has made it clear that the Obama administration wants to see the proper kind of democratic development even as she privately moves to reassure remaining friendly despots in the Persian Gulf that the United States is not eager to embrace any more regime changes after Gadhafi goes.

As the situation in the Middle East stabilizes, the new enemy that is surfacing is the same old enemy: Iran.  Iran has not helped its own case by cracking down hard on protesters at a time when the region might be moving towards what amounts to a populist revolt against authoritarian governments.  But Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Yemen have also opted for the iron fist, indicating that at least some rulers in the region will not hesitate to shoot their own subjects in order to survive.  Iran is, of course, a special case in the neocon mind because it potentially poses a threat to Israel, which is not the case in Manama, Riyadh, and Sanaa. 

Republican presidential hopefuls have been making the rounds to polish their foreign policy credentials and there is no promise of peace in our times.  Mike Huckabee, Haley Barbour, and Mitt Romney were all recently in Israel where they pledged undying affection for Bibi Netanyahu and all his political progeny while Sarah Palin is doing the same this week.  Comments about facing down the Iranian nuclear threat are obligatory. Netanyahu himself recently upped the ante regarding Iran by declaring that military action will have to be taken against the country if sanctions do not end its nuclear program.  As sanctions are unlikely to accomplish that, it amounted to a demand that war should be the next phase.  Netanyahu even expressed a preference for who should do the attacking:  the United States.  He also stated his belief that Iran has enough nuclear material to make three bombs and expressed concern that Tehran is seeking to assume control over the oil fields in Saudi Arabia through a takeover of Bahrain, which has a Shi’ite majority. 

So, per the Israeli government, Iran is not only seeking a nuclear weapon, it is also out to take control of a large chunk of the world’s oil supplies.  Of course, both assumptions could be challenged and there is considerable evidence, including the most recent US National Intelligence Estimate or NIE on Iran, that indicates that there continues to be no solid evidence that Tehran is seeking a nuclear weapon and is in no position economically or militarily to establish any kind of dominance over the Persian Gulf region.  But the problem is that the narrative being promoted by the mainstream media emphasizes the threat posed by Iran and does not attempt to provide information to the contrary so the American public unfortunately believes what it hears and sees.

Prominent Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz even outdoes Israel’s prime minister in his assessment of the Iranian threat on a recent Huffington Post submission “Israel Has the Right to Attack Iran’s Nuclear Reactors Now.”  Iran’s alleged attempt to ship weapons “designed to kill Israeli civilians” to Hamas in Gaza is, for Dershowitz, an act of war justifying an armed Israeli response.  Dershowitz also claims, without citing any evidence whatsoever, that Iran might deliberately develop a dirty nuclear weapon that could be sent on a ship into Israeli waters and detonated.  He also cites the recent killing of an Israeli settler family in the illegal settlement of Itamar as evidence of how “weapons are used by Israel’s enemies against civilians in violation of the laws of war.”  He describes the Iranian regime as suicidal, willing to suffer great damage if it is able to enter into a nuclear exchange with Israel that it knows it will survive and Israel will not.  Dershowitz admittedly is completely shameless and will either invent or use any argument no matter how weak to justify any action taken by the Israelis, but as he is advocating military action that would inevitably draw the United States into yet another war, someone should perhaps challenge his scatterbrained assumptions about reasonable grounds for initiating a conflict.

As Dershowitz demonstrates, the sole immutable principle of neocon foreign policy is that it should benefit Israel.  Neoconservatives initially supported Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak because of his peace agreement with Tel Aviv, but they have now shifted away from that position and are urging the Obama Administration to liberate the Arabs.  They have been pressuring the White House to adopt a more aggressive policy in general, particularly vis-à-vis Libya.  They have generally viewed the Libyan situation as mechanism to revive their agenda to remake the Middle East following the model of the Bush “freedom agenda,” which combined the threat of military force with gentler forms of persuasion.  A successful armed intervention in Libya would vindicate the military option and could mean that using force will definitely be on the table for settling other disputes, including the long simmering problem posed by Iran.   President Obama has been understandably reluctant to get on board, but he finally agreed to take the initiative knowing that a successful Libyan action would be attractive, casting him as a successful wartime president and taking the heat off his own misadventures in Afghanistan.  But it would also put him under pressure from the blue dogs in his own party who join with the Republicans in demanding a more robust foreign policy across the board, which would include seriously threatening Iran.

There is also a seldom remarked upon secondary agenda for the neoconservatives as related to freedom for the Arab world.  As in the case of Iraq, many neocons would prefer to see democratic Arab nations that are divided by internal divisions and therefore not strong enough to challenge Israel rather than headed by dictators like Saddam Hussein who are hostile.  Developments in Eastern Europe over the past twenty years have revealed clearly that democracy does not necessarily bring with it unity of purpose or political cohesion, quite the contrary.  Small, weak, divided Arab states encumbered by a number of squabbling political parties work well for Israel and for its neocon friends.

Needless to say, the dominant neocon crafted foreign policy that still drives the Republican Party and that is all too popular elsewhere in Washington should be challenged by every American who believes more armed conflict in the Middle East could bring disaster.  What did not work in 2003 in Iraq will not work in 2011 in Iran and if there are no demands for change there will be another war, one that could easily have catastrophic consequences.  Using military force as the first option to change governments that Washington disapproves of is a concept that must be addressed directly and discredited.  If the notion persists that one more war can be fought and might have a good result, it could be the final straw that breaks the back of the American experiment in republican government.

Read more by Philip Giraldi

13 Responses to “Neocon Foreign Policy”

  • Patriot says:

    Sarkozy and the Revived Neocon War Agenda

    Uncle NED comes calling (neocon NED involved with Arab uprisings):

    Neocons’ goal: Iran by Way of Libya:

    Neoconomics: Conscription and War as Wealth

    Keep in mind that Obama has allowed neocons like Max Boot and Frederick Kagan to advise Petraeus in Afghanistan which is more than likely why we have seen more civilian deaths there then ever before (see as well):

    Neocons Resurfacing under Obama:

    Keep in mind that Obama has allowed neocons like Max Boot and Frederick Kagan to advise Petraeus in Afghanistan which is more than likely why we have seen more civilian deaths there then ever before (see as well).

    The foreign-policy debate is going where Ron Paul already was (neocons mentioned as well):

    The United States of Israel

  • The only quibble I would have with Giraldi’s observation is that the dissolution of the Arab world, as recommended in the 1980s by Israeli strategist Oded Yinon, may in fact be the primary agenda for the neocons. In this respect, it’s worth noting Elliott Abrams’ recent comment that “Libya as a country is a relatively new concept.” And the Libyan rebels, with more than a little help from their Israel-friendly Western protectors, may bring an end to this “relatively new concept” much to the delight of Abrams and his ilk.

    Check out
    these latest calls for “liberation”…

  • Patriot says:

    Very interesting point about Oded Yinon, Maidhc. Yinon’s Likudnik (neocon) plan ( to divide and conquer Israel’s enemies is also discussed in detailed in Steven Sniegoski’s ‘The Transparent Cabal’ book (see and was mentioned in Part 4 of the youtubes linked at the following URL:

    James Morris & Ralph Schoenman Discuss Libya War on Press TV

    Neo-Cons Applaud Obama’s War, Call For Occupation Of Libya

  • Paulina says:

    Would anyone care to read the playbook we’ve been witnessing full blown since 9/11? A Strategy for Israel

    A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties

    by Oded Yinon (with a foreword by, and translated by Israel Shahak)


    The following essay represents, in my opinion, the accurate and detailed plan of the present Zionist regime (of Sharon and Eitan) for the Middle East which is based on the division of the whole area into small states, and the dissolution of all the existing Arab states. I will comment on the military aspect of this plan in a concluding note. Here I want to draw the attention of the readers to several important points:

    1. The idea that all the Arab states should be broken down, by Israel, into small units, occurs again and again in Israeli strategic thinking. For example, Ze’ev Schiff, the military correspondent of Ha’aretz (and probably the most knowledgeable in Israel, on this topic) writes about the “best” that can happen for Israeli interests in Iraq: “The dissolution of Iraq into a Shi’ite state, a Sunni state and the separation of the Kurdish part” (Ha’aretz 6/2/1982). Actually, this aspect of the plan is very old.

    2. The strong connection with Neo-Conservative thought in the USA is very prominent, especially in the author’s notes. But, while lip service is paid to the idea of the “defense of the West” from Soviet power, the real aim of the author, and of the present Israeli establishment is clear: To make an Imperial Israel into a world power. In other words, the aim of Sharon is to deceive the Americans after he has deceived all the rest.

    3. It is obvious that much of the relevant data, both in the notes and in the text, is garbled or omitted, such as the financial help of the U.S. to Israel. Much of it is pure fantasy. But, the plan is not to be regarded as not influential, or as not capable of realization for a short time. The plan follows faithfully the geopolitical ideas current in Germany of 1890-1933, which were swallowed whole by Hitler and the Nazi movement, and determined their aims for East Europe. Those aims, especially the division of the existing states, were carried out in 1939-1941, and only an alliance on the global scale prevented their consolidation for a period of time.

    The notes by the author follow the text. To avoid confusion, I did not add any notes of my own, but have put the substance of them into this foreward and the conclusion at the end. I have, however, emphasized some portions of the text.

    Israel Shahak

    June 13, 1982

    A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties

    by Oded Yinon

    This essay originally appeared in Hebrew in KIVUNIM (Directions), A Journal for Judaism and Zionism; Issue No, 14–Winter, 5742, February 1982, Editor: Yoram Beck. Editorial Committee: Eli Eyal, Yoram Beck, Amnon Hadari, Yohanan Manor, Elieser Schweid. Published by the Department of Publicity/The World Zionist Organization, Jerusalem.

    Excerpt from article: Iraq, rich in oil on the one hand and internally torn on the other, is guaranteed as a candidate for Israel’s targets. Its dissolution is even more important for us than that of Syria. Iraq is stronger than Syria. In the short run it is Iraqi power which constitutes the greatest threat to Israel. An Iraqi-Iranian war will tear Iraq apart and cause its downfall at home even before it is able to organize a struggle on a wide front against us. Every kind of inter-Arab confrontation will assist us in the short run and will shorten the way to the more important aim of breaking up Iraq into denominations as in Syria and in Lebanon. In Iraq, a division into provinces along ethnic/religious lines as in Syria during Ottoman times is possible. So, three (or more) states will exist around the three major cities: Basra, Baghdad and Mosul, and Shi’ite areas in the south will separate from the Sunni and Kurdish north. It is possible that the present Iranian-Iraqi confrontation will deepen this polarization.

    Israel Shahak

    June 17, 1982


    About the Translator

    Israel Shahak is a professor of organic chemistly at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the chairman of the Israeli League for Human and Civil Rights. He published The Shahak Papers, collections of key articles from the Hebrew press, and is the author of numerous articles and books, among them Non-Jew in the Jewish State. His latest book is Israel’s Global Role: Weapons for Repression, published by the AAUG in 1982. Israel Shahak: (1933-2001)

    Example from above strategy: “So, three (or more) states will exist around the three major cities: Basra, Baghdad and Mosul, and Shi’ite areas in the south will separate from the Sunni and Kurdish north.”

    Pentagon right on cue

    Pentagon: Iraq to be split into 3 sectors

    By Pamela Hess

    UPI Pentagon Correspondent

    From the International Desk

    Published 3/7/2003 6:11 PM

    View printer-friendly version

    WASHINGTON, March 7 (UPI) — U.S. Central Command chief Gen. Tommy Franks will be in total charge of Iraq immediately after the war, but will be supported shortly thereafter by three civilian administrators, each in charge of a different geographic sector of the country, Pentagon officials said Friday.

    Iraq would be divided into thirds for administrative purposes — northern, southern and central sectors. The borders of those areas have not been established, according to the Pentagon officials, but the southern sector is expected to be demographically dominated by Shiites and the northern sector by Kurds. Boundary lines would be determined by existing major roads, terrain features and population centers.

    Despite the potential ethnic divisions among the civil sectors, officials insist Iraq would remain a single country.


  • Paulina says:

    The above is the predecessor to PNAC and A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm (commonly known as the “Clean Break” report) is a policy document that was prepared in 1996 by a study group led by Richard Perle for Benjamin Netanyahu, the then Prime Minister of Israel.[1] The report explained a new approach to solving Israel’s security problems in the Middle East with an emphasis on “Western values”. It has since been criticized for advocating an aggressive new policy including the removal of Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq.

    Clean Break discussed in James Bamford’s ‘A Pretext for War’ book:

    Pat Buchanan mentioned the Clean Break in the following ‘Whose War?’ article as well for his American Conservative publication:

    Whose War?:

  • While the neocons certainly support the attack on Libya, I think it is apparent that this is a widely supported “humanitarian” policy pushed by mainstream liberals. Mainstream liberals tend to oscillate between supporting crusading wars for “humanitarian” reasons and being strong opponents of war.

    As has been pointed out, the feminist triumvirate of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, National Security Council director of ‘multilateral affairs’ Samantha Power, and UN ambassador Susan Rice pressured President Obama to launch this attack.
    Obama, of course, identifies with this liberal “humanitarian” position (and portrays himself as something of a liberal messiah of change) but was also restrained by natural caution, the liberal aversion to war (thus he does not refer to the current action as a war), and the opposition to this attack by Secretary of Defense Gates and his military advisers.

    Giraldi is correct to point out that the neocons are looking beyond Libya and believe that this attack will reignite their war agenda and facilitate a US attack on Iran–which is currently Israel’s major enemy. While their ultimate goal is the fragmentation of the Middle East, the neocons’ primary target at this time is Iran, and other goals are being subordinated to this one.

  • Patriot says:


    Take a look at what Alexander Cockburn (of says about the liberal interventionists responsible for the Libya war via the following youtube:

    Cockburn: Israel defines US politics

    General Anthony Zinni is talking about a group of policymakers within the administration known as “the neo-conservatives” who saw the invasion of Iraq as a way to stabilize American interests in the region and strengthen the position of Israel. They include Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz; Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith; Former Defense Policy Board member Richard Perle; National Security Council member Eliot Abrams; and Vice President Cheney’s chief of staff, Lewis “Scooter” Libby.

    Zinni believes they are political ideologues who have hijacked American policy in Iraq (General Zinni is mentioned in James Bamford’s ‘A Pretext for War’ book as well).

    Also take a look at what General Wesley Clark says about PNAC, Richard Perle and company in the following youtube:

    Wes Clark – America’s Foreign Policy “Coup”

    The following about Wesley Clark even made it into the Mearsheimer/Walt ‘The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy’ book (

    D.C. Notes: Wes Clark is Steamed & BORCHGRAVE

    AIPAC is pushing us to war with Iran for Israel (Wesley Clark mentioned)

  • Sarkozy and the Revived Neocon War Agenda

    French President Nicolas Sarkozy not only took the lead in bringing about the military attack on Libya but now has stated that all rulers face Libya-style intervention if they violently suppress anti-government protesters. He focused on Arab rulers but did not exclude others.

    This is in line with neoconservative view that the war on Libya will reignite their Middle East War agenda—with their fundamental target being Iran, Israel’s primary target at this time.

    It should be added that Sarkozy, who is of partially Jewish ancestry, is the most Israel-friendly president of France since the founding of the Fifth Republic in 1958. Moreover, he is close to the influential French intellectual Bernard-Henri Lévy (known as BHL), who happens to be Jewish, very pro-Zionist, and an ardent “humanitarian” interventionist. Levy visited Benghazi and then advised Sarkozy to take a strong interventionist stance.

    In Levy’s pro-Zionist view: “Israel is a miracle because since its inception it has been in a constant state of war, yet it never gave up on the democratic values at its core.” Moreover, despite his alleged secularist universalism, Levy views the Talmud as the basis for democracy. He states: “The Talmud is democracy in practice. The Jewish nation invented the notion that the truth lies in the most heated argument.”,7340,L-3896375,00.html

    Sarkozy could also spark military intervention in Iran. With France advocating such intervention, which could also attract some of Iran’s enemies in the Arab League, it might be difficult for Obama to resist, given the precedent set in Libya, and especially since the neocons and some liberal interventionists will be pushing him in that direction.

  • James J. David says:

    Great Letter to the Editor in today’s Atlanta-Journal Constitution. It is short and sweet and expresses the feelings of me and many other like me.
    Jim David


    It’s not right to support U.S. entering Libya

    How can Sarah Palin and my fellow Republicans defend (indeed, advocate) going into Libya? Just a few months ago, tea party conservatives like Palin advocated limited government and deficit reduction. The adventure into Libya does exactly the opposite. We are informally declaring war without a congressional declaration. We were not attacked, and our national interests were not at stake.

    Further, we are again expending more American treasure in yet another unnecessary foreign excursion just to show that we are the policemen of the world. Let Europe take this one on, if they wish. If we truly want to balance the budget, let’s address this issue — not make it worse by entering into another Middle Eastern civil war.

    Jack Bernard,
    Monticello, GA

  • Patriot says:

    Excellent letter by Jack Bernard which I very much agree with as well, Jim. Just saw the following one as well which is spot on too:

    Letter to President Obama Regarding Libya | Tom McClintock for Congress

    Ron Paul was spot on as usual in the video linked via following URL:

    And lastly we have our straight talking Congressman, and soon to be Presidential candidate, Ron Paul telling the truth about our latest affront to the constitution and asking the pertinent question of why are we spending over one trillion dollars a year to maintain a fading empire which still relies on military force versus cooperation to impose its will and values? Five minute video ~

    The foreign-policy debate is going where Ron Paul already was (neocons mentioned as well):

    Take a look at the following URL about Palin (she seems to have more Israeli flags than American ones!):

    The United States of Israel

  • James J. David says:

    An excellent Opinion piece by former Congressman Bob Barr in today’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

    Obama’s “Military-First” Libya strategy another costly mistake
    5:00 am March 28, 2011, by Bob Barr

    In 1849 French journalist Alphonse Karr first penned the words well-known to 21st-Century Americans – “The more things change, the more they are the same.” This adage likely has crossed the minds of many voters who supported Barack Obama in 2008 in the hope he would chart a course different from the bellicose national security policies pursued by George W. Bush. In its Arabic translation, Karr’s words may very well have come to the mind of Libyan Col. Muammar Qaddafi earlier this month, as U.S. warplanes and cruise missiles laid waste to much of his country’s military infrastructure.

    It appears President Obama has resigned himself to supporting the same, “military-first” foreign policy as pursued by his three predecessors. The on-going military operation in Libya illustrates clearly the dramatic shift in how the United States chooses to respond to events in countries far from our shores or interests.

    For half a century after WWII, and especially since the creation of the CIA in 1947, presidents of both major political parties turned to covert actions as the option of choice to achieve political goals in and through other countries. With a few notable exceptions — such as the Cuban Bay of Pigs fiasco in 1961 and Vietnam later that same tumultuous decade — this was the course pursued whenever Washington decided to effect a “regime change” (or less lofty goals) somewhere in the world.

    Using the covert capabilities of our government offered presidents flexibility, defined goals, cost-effective options, and, most important, “plausible deniability.” This strategy was designed also to minimize possible confrontation with the Soviet Union. There was no need to secure permission from other governments (unless we wanted to and there was an important strategic or tactical reason to do so); or from some international bureaucracy such as the United Nations.

    Peaceniks and so-called foreign-policy “doves,” of course, took great exception to the manner in which various presidents employed this covert strategy. But the success of such a strategy – as measured by goals achieved – is hard to criticize legitimately. From Iran and Guatemala in the early 1950s to Nicaragua in the 1980s, carefully planned and secretly executed operations resulted in decisive foreign policy objectives being achieved, at relatively small cost and without long-term American involvement. No longer.

    Since the tragic events of September 11, 2001, Washington appears to have permanently foresworn use of covert, paramilitary capabilities as a desired means of achieving foreign policy objectives. The first option has now become the military option — action not undertaken for clearly defined goals designed explicitly to achieve something of clear benefit to the United States; but goals fashioned to meet the broad, vague desires of many nations and governments. These are operations doomed to be extremely expensive, almost always longer-term than planned, and which rarely accomplish something of tangible and articulable value to the American people.

    This military-first strategy has taken hold of America’s foreign policy establishment since 9-11, but its roots go back to the post-Vietnam era, when Dick Cheney and other so-called “Neo-cons” determined that never again would the United States suffer an experience as humiliating as Vietnam. Its initial advocate was the first President Bush, who dramatically altered President Reagan’s policy pitting Iraq and Iran against each other, and opted instead to employ the “shock and awe” of U.S. military might to oust Saddam Hussein. We’re still heavily involved inside Iraq 20 years later.

    For all his campaign criticism of the Bush Administration’s foreign policy, Obama is seamlessly continuing the goals of neo-conservatives to permanently reshape the American definition of “national security.” He may take comfort in the fact his actions are based on lofty goals shared by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and other “coalition” members. However, this strategy constitutes a disservice to American taxpayers and to our military, whose resources and manpower are being squandered on ill-defined and costly adventures.

  • Did Alec Ross and Jared Cohen attempt to sow the seeds of Bashar al-Assad’s downfall during last year’s State Department-led technology delegation to Syria? Perhaps they’re not such “silly Jewish boys,” as Marty Peretz would have us believe. Check out this report from Reuters:

    The trade mission was led by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s top technology adviser, Alec Ross, and Jared Cohen, a member of her Policy Planning Staff.

    U.S. tech companies expect Syria’s population to double in the next 17 years and they want to tap into the youth to promote U.S. businesses and Washington’s human rights agenda.

    The talks last week represent a new stage in U.S. diplomatic efforts in which the issue of Internet censorship is increasingly placed on the agenda during direct talks with other governments.

    Sheldon Himelfarb, an expert on technology and diplomacy at the U.S. Institute of Peace, said U.S. officials need to become smarter about relationships between sanctions and the impact on citizen activists in closed societies.

    “We need more trips like this,” Himelfarb said.

    The trip also follows an issue of waivers by Washington in March to allow U.S. technology companies to export chat and social media software to Iran, Sudan and Cuba, with the hope the move will help their citizens communicate with the outside world.

    The Internet was an important communication channel for Iranian protesters disputing election results last year.

    “If the next generation of Syrians are able to get access to these tools of technology, then they’re going to have connections to the outside world,” another delegation member said.

    Jay Solomon, writing in the Wall Street Journal, interpreted the trade mission’s objective differently, however:

    The State Department has dispatched a high-level diplomatic and trade mission to Syria, according to senior U.S. officials, marking the latest bid by the Obama administration to woo President Bashar al-Assad away from his strategic alliance with Iran.

    Please see The Passionate Attachment website for more information on the “pro-democracy” crowd behind these uprisings in the Middle East.

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