Iraq: Will the Neocons Get Away With It Again?

The "BS" in CBS is well-earned by this CBS News story speculating on the alleged near certainty of a terrorist attack launched by ISIS – the Islamist group now rampaging across Iraq – against the continental US. Headlined "Will ISIS Plan a 9/11-style Terror Plot Against the US?", it is filled with the opinions of various "experts" and habitual warmongers whose exhalation of hot air is no doubt contributing to global warming.

The usual suspects are cited: Sen. Lindsey Graham, the War Party’s answer to Richard Simmons, shrieks "the seeds of 9/11s are being planted all over Iraq and Syria," while Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Oceania), who is giving up his seat in Congress for the right-wing radio talk show circuit, is honing his demagogy by declaring "I guarantee you: this is a problem that we will have to face, and we’re either going to have to face it in New York City or we’re going to face it here."

This is willful ignorance: ISIS, the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria," has been expelled from Al Qaeda by the central leadership for, among other things, defying the late Osama bin Laden’s directive that the main target must be the "far enemy," i.e. the West. And while Al Qaeda’s "core" leadership, under Ayman Zawahiri, has modified bin Laden’s internationalist strategy since the original leader’s demise, ISIS has completely reversed it. Al Qaeda envisions a global "caliphate," but ISIS has already declared itself to be a state or "caliphate" encompassing both Syria and Iraq.

This may seem like an arcane matter, but in fact the strategic split has led to armed combat between the official Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria and ISIS. It also underscores the fact that ISIS is a menace in the regions it controls, but of little consequence outside it. Yet it is necessary for the War Party to trumpet the alleged "threat" to New York City in order to build support for a renewed effort to pacify Iraq: thus the outcry from the neocon peanut gallery that the "homeland" is in dire danger.

Make no mistake about it: a full-scale campaign to restart the Iraq war is now underway. The effort is all too apparent among the neoconservatives, the original authors of this disastrous adventure, with Bill Kristol & Co. not only demanding air strikes – which the Obama administration is contemplating – but also troops on the ground. They blame the administration for "abandoning" Iraq, and failing to come to an agreement with the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki that would have allowed our soldiers to remain in force after the official withdrawal date. They also blame Maliki for his "sectarian" policies: Max Boot, one of their "theoreticians," has laid out certain conditions for US aid to Maliki, which amount to appeasing the poor persecuted Sunnis, whose tender sensibilities have been grievously injured by Baghdad’s failure to be more "inclusive." This is in accordance with the current neocon line that Iran and the Shi’ites are the main enemy, and that the Sunnis are really our friends. It’s an odd position to take, but fully consistent with the neocons’ Israel-centric worldview. Left-neocon (lite) Nicholas Kristof is peddling the same line, essentially blaming the Iraqis for what we did to their country.

Is it even necessary to state the obvious? Before the invasion and conquest of Iraq, there was no Al Qaeda (or ISIS) presence in that country. Today they are at the gates of Baghdad. As in Afghanistan, where we succored what later became bin Laden’s organization in order to defeat the Soviets, Washington has succeeded in creating a problem which it now feels obligated to "solve" – by taking the same actions that led to the problem in the first place.

The idea that we can "save" Iraq by once again intervening is utter nonsense. As the late Gen. William E. Odom put it to the clueless Katie Couric way back in 2004:

"We have already failed. Staying in longer makes us fail worse. If we were a small power, we might have to worry about our so-called credibility. I don’t think that’s the issue. The issue is how effective we were going to use our power. The longer we st- … if we blindly say we should stick to it, we’re misusing our power and we’re making it worse. Let me put it more bluntly. Let’s suppose you murdered somebody, and you suddenly look and say, `We can’t afford to have murdered this person, so therefore let’s save him.’ I think we’ve passed the chances to not fail. And now we are in a situation where we have to limit the damage. And the issue is just how much we are going to pay before we decide to limit the damage, not rescue ourselves by throwing good money after bad."

Iraq’s fate was sealed from the moment we invaded: it has no future as a unitary state. As I pointed out again and again in the early days of the conflict, Iraq is fated to split apart into at least three separate states: the Shi’ite areas around Baghdad and to the south, the Sunni regions to the northwest, and the Kurdish enclave which was itching for independence since well before the US invasion. This was the War Party’s real if unexpressed goal from the very beginning: the atomization of Iraq, and indeed the entire Middle East. Their goal, in short, was chaos – and that is precisely what we are seeing today.

Our "intentions" were good, or so the neocons and their liberal accomplices would have us believe. But were they? Their story as to their motivations has suspiciously shifted over the years: first they said it was to rid the world of Saddam Hussein’s "weapons of mass destruction." When these turned out to be nonexistent they fell back on the idea of building "democracy": but that didn’t work out too well, either, now did it? As Maliki began to establish what amounted to a Shi’ite dictatorship, they fell silent, for the most part, with the neocons running for cover (has anyone heard from the formerly ubiquitous Richard Perle lately?) and Obama left holding the bag.

So what were their intentions, and just how "good" were they? As I put it years ago:

"[T]he actual purpose was to blow the country to smithereens: to atomize it, and crush it, so that it would never rise again.

"When we invaded and occupied Iraq, we didn’t just militarily defeat Iraq’s armed forces – we dismantled their army, and their police force, along with all the other institutions that held the country together. The educational system was destroyed, and not reconstituted. The infrastructure was pulverized, and never restored. Even the physical hallmarks of a civilized society – roads, bridges, electrical plants, water facilities, museums, schools – were bombed out of existence or else left to fall into disrepair. Along with that, the spiritual and psychological infrastructure that enables a society to function – the bonds of trust, allegiance, and custom – was dissolved, leaving Iraqis to fend for themselves in a war of all against all.

"… What we are witnessing in post-Saddam Iraq is the erasure of an entire country. We can say, with confidence: We came, we saw, we atomized."

Why? This is the question that inevitably arises in the wake of such an analysis: why deliberately destroy an entire country whose people were civilized while our European ancestors were living in trees?

The people who planned, agitated for, and executed this war are the very same people who have advanced Israeli interests – at America’s expense – at every opportunity. In "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm," a 1996 document prepared by a gaggle of neocons – Perle, Douglas Feith, James Colbert, Charles Fairbanks, Jr., Robert Loewenberg, David Wurmser, and Meyrav Wurmser – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was urged to "break out" of Israel’s alleged stagnation and undertake a campaign of "regime change" across the Middle East, targeting Lebanon, Libya, Syria, Iraq, and eventually Iran. With the exception of Iran – and that one’s still cooking on the back burner – this is precisely what has occurred. In 2003, in the immediate wake of our Pyrrhic "victory" in Iraq, then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon declared to a visiting delegation of American members of Congress that these "rogue states" – Iran, Libya, and Syria – would have to be next on the War Party’s target list.

As Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer showed in The Israel Lobby, Tel Aviv’s American amen corner was a major – if not the only – component of the pro-war coalition that mobilized after the 9/11 attacks. Certainly it was the most influential factor in dragging us into war – and Feith, in particular, as deputy secretary of defense for policy, was the principal conduit for the lies – including outright forgery of "intelligence" – that justified what Gen. Odom rightly described as "greatest strategic disaster in United States history."

The question now is: will they get away with it again? They lied us into war – and now they’re back on television, and in the newspapers, hoping for a replay. Their goal: to leave Israel the only state left standing amid the rubble of the Middle East. If they succeed, it will go down in history as the most successful covert operation in history.


You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.

I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).

You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.

Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo passed away on June 27, 2019. He was the co-founder and editorial director of, and was a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He was a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and wrote a monthly column for Chronicles. He was the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].