There’s nothing new in this, except that it comes from scholars at Harvard, not cranks at Counterpunch. It’s publication shows that the worm may be turning in the US against the supposedly privileged Jews. It greatly emphasizes “the Lobby” (guess which one) in the Iraq debacle, and poo-poos the notion of a war for oil. John Mearsheimer, University of Chicago professor and author of The Tragedy of Great Power Politics, and Stephen Walt, of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and author of Taming American Power: The Global Response to US Primacy, write for London Review of Books March 10:
Pressure from Israel and the Lobby was not the only factor behind the decision to attack Iraq in March 2003, but it was critical. Some Americans believe that this was a war for oil, but there is hardly any direct evidence to support this claim. Instead, the war was motivated in good part by a desire to make Israel more secure. According to Philip Zelikow, a former member of the president’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, the executive director of the 9/11 Commission, and now a counsellor to Condoleezza Rice, the ‘real threat’ from Iraq was not a threat to the United States. The ‘unstated threat’ was the ‘threat against Israel’, Zelikow told an audience at the University of Virginia in September 2002. ‘The American government,’ he added, ‘doesn’t want to lean too hard on it rhetorically, because it is not a popular sell.’
On 16 August 2002, 11 days before Dick Cheney kicked off the campaign for war with a hardline speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Washington Post reported that ‘Israel is urging US officials not to delay a military strike against Iraq’s Saddam Hussein.’ By this point, according to Sharon, strategic co-ordination between Israel and the US had reached ‘unprecedented dimensions’, and Israeli intelligence officials had given Washington a variety of alarming reports about Iraq’s WMD programmes. As one retired Israeli general later put it, ‘Israeli intelligence was a full partner to the picture presented by American and British intelligence regarding Iraq’s non-conventional capabilities.’
A war for oil? How naive! (Sarcasm intended, for you irony-impaired types.) The purportedly powerful Jews are the favorite whipping boys of the petro-oligarchs who are really running the planet. The famous anti-Semite Frank Baum got it just right: “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!” Alas, drunk with their own delusion of power, AIPAC and their ilk are increasingly happy to be the public face of official war-mongering, while the petro-oligarchs happily rake in mega-profits in the shadows. However, you don’t have to probe too deeply to find evidence galore that the Iraq adventure is “critically” a war for strategic global control of oil, and only secondarily (at best) a war for Israel.
As we noted in the immediate prelude to the 2003 invasion, UK Foreign Secretary Jack Staw acknowledged in an address to British diplomats that the Foreign Office had established a series of strategic policy objectives, including “to bolster the security of British and global energy supplies.”
The point was made with greater accuracy in “Rebuilding America’s Defences: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century,” the 2000 blueprint for the creation of a “global Pax Americana” drawn up by none other than the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) for Dick Cheney (now vice- president), Donald Rumsfeld (now defense secretary), Paul Wolfowitz (Rumsfeld’s ex-deputy), George W Bush’s younger brother Jeb and Lewis Libby (Cheney’s ex-chief of staff). As we noted in October 2002, when the document briefly made headlines, it stated: “The United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.” Control of the strategic Persian Gulf oil resources was seen as key to “maintaining global US pre-eminence, precluding the rise of a great power rival, and shaping the international security order in line with American principles and interests.”
As some commentators recalled at the time, the PNAC blueprint echoed an earlier document drawn up by Wolfowitz and Libby for the Pentagon in 1992 that said the US must “discourage advanced industrial nations from challenging our leadership or even aspiring to a larger regional or global role.” The 1992 “Defense Planning Guide” stated: “In the Middle East and Southwest Asia, our overall objective is to remain the predominant outside power in the region and preserve U.S. and Western access to the region’s oil.” (Washington Post, March 11, 1992)
And as one of our readers commented when we noted the Zelikow comments that Mearsheimer and Walt quote: “How convenient: the Bush administration is under attack because of its war on Iraq, and it blames the war on the Jews! And its own mole on the 9-11 Commission, who should not be there because he is one of the suspicious persons that the Commission should be INVESTIGATING, makes the charges. This smells like disinformation to me, and a very dangerous version.”
The question is whether Mearsheimer and Walt believe their own propaganda. The cranks at Counterpunch assuredly do. The wonks at Harvard may be merely having a good laugh at our expense.