Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


Neocons vs. the ‘Arab Spring’: Back on the Warpath

Neocons vs. the ‘Arab Spring’: Back on the Warpath

By Ramzy Baroud
August 10, 2012

The neoconservatives are back with a vengeance. While popular uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and other Arab countries had briefly rendered them irrelevant in the region, Western intervention in Libya signaled a new opportunity. Now Syria promises to usher a full return of neoconservatives into the Middle East fray.

“Washington must stop subcontracting Syria policy to the Turks, Saudis and Qataris. They are clearly part of the anti-Assad effort, but the United States cannot tolerate Syria becoming a proxy state for yet another regional power,” wrote Danielle Pletka, vice president of foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute (Washington Post, July 20).

Pletka, like many of her peers from neoconservative, pro-Israeli ‘think tanks’, should be a familiar name among Arab reporters, who are also well aware of the level of destruction brought to the Middle East as a result of neoconservative wisdom and policies. Rarely though are such infamous names evoked when the ongoing conflict in Syria is reported - as if the main powers responsible for redrawing the geopolitical maps of the region are suddenly insignificant.

Pletka was the biggest supporter of Ahmad Chalabi, the once exiled Iraqi, who she once described as “a trusted associate of the Central Intelligence Agency (and) the key player in a unsuccessful coup to overthrow Saddam Hussein” in the 1990s (LA Times, June 4, 2004). Chalabi led the Iraqi National Congress, which was falsely slated as an authentic Iraqi national initiative. Eventually, members of the council, composed mostly of Iraqi exiles with links to the CIA and other Western intelligences, managed to sway the pendulum their way, and Iraq was destroyed.

Although the destruction of an Arab country is not a moral issue as far as the neocons are concerned, the chaos and subsequent violence that followed the US war in 2003 made it impossible for warring ‘intellectuals’ to promote their ideas with the same language of old. Some reinvention was now necessary. Discredited organizations were shut down and new ones were hastily founded. One such platform was the Foreign Policy Initiative, which was founded by neoconservatives who cleverly reworded old slogans. Matt Duss, wrote in ThinkProgress.org about the Foreign Policy Initiative inaugural conference on Afghanistan in March 2009: “I was struck by how very little that was said was controversial,” he wrote. “And that’s really the point — in the wake of Iraq debacle, for which the neocons are widely and rightly held responsible, it simply won’t do to bang the drum for American military maximalism. One has to be a bit slicker than that. And these guys are nothing if not slick.”

Slick, indeed, as neoconservatives are now trying to weasel in their version of an endgame in Syria. Their efforts are extremely focused and well-coordinated, making impressive use of their direct ties with the Israeli lobby, major US media and Syrian leaders in exile. They are being referred to as ‘foreign policy experts’, although their ‘expertise’ is merely confined to their ability to destroy and remake countries to their own liking – and even these are unmitigated failures.

Writing in CNN online, Elise Labott reported on a recent neoconservative push to upgrade American involvement in Syria: “Foreign policy experts on Wednesday (August 1) urged the Obama administration to increase its support of the armed opposition.” The ‘experts’ included Andrew Tabler of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), another pro-Israel conduit in Washington. It was established in 1985 as a research department for the influential Israeli lobby group, AIPAC, yet since then it managed to rebrand itself as an American organization concerned with advancing “a balanced and realistic understanding of American interests in the Middle East.”

Obama, of course, obliged under pressure from the ‘experts’. According to CNN, he signed a secret order “referred to as an intelligence ‘finding,’ allow[ing] for clandestine support by the CIA and other agencies.”

Still, the neocons want much more. The bloodbath in Syria has devastated not only Syrian society, it also brought to a halt the collective campaigns in Arab societies which called for democracy on their own terms. The protracted conflict in Syria, and the involvement of various regional players made it unbearable for the neoconservatives to hide behind their new brand and slowly plot a comeback. For them, it was now or never.

On July 31, AIPAC wrote all members of Congress urging them to sign on a bill introduced by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Howard Berman. Entitled ‘The Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act (H.R.1905)’, the bill, if passed, “will establish virtual state of war with Iran,” according to the Council for the National Interest. The old neoconservative wisdom arguing for an unavoidable link between Syria, Iran and their allies in the region is now being exploited to the maximum.

A few days earlier, on July 27, fifty-six leading 'conservative foreign-policy experts' had urged Obama to intervene directly in Syria. “Unless the United States takes the lead and acts, either individually or in concert with like-minded nations, thousands of additional Syrian civilians will likely die, and the emerging civil war in Syria will likely ignite wider instability in the Middle East.”

The timing of the letter, partly organized by the Foreign Policy Initiative, was hardly random. It was published one day before the first ‘Friends of Syria’ contact-group meeting in Tunisia, which suggests that it was aimed to help define the American agenda regarding Syria. Signatories included familiar names associated with the Iraq war narrative - Paul Bremer, Elizabeth Cheney, Eric Edelman, William Kristol, and, of course, Danielle Pletka.

With the absence of a clear US strategy regarding Syria, the ever-organized neoconservatives seem to be the only ones with a clear plan, however damaging. In her Washington Post piece, Pletka’s argument for intervention, bridging countries, peoples, sects and groups of all kinds - as if the Middle East is but a chess game governed by delusional but persistent ambitions. In one single paragraph, she made mention of Iran, Hezbollah, Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, terrorists aimed at destabilizing Iraq, “puppet governments in Beirut” and “Palestinian terror groups dedicated to Israel’s destruction.”

Yet, it is this sort of ‘political expertise’ that governed US foreign policy in the Middle East for nearly two decades. Now that the short respite is over, the neoconservatives are back with their bizarre maps, bleak visions, and a fail-proof recipe for perpetual conflict.

*************

Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold Story (Pluto Press, London.)

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

New HiveMind Project: What Should We Do About Sugar?

While most people agree that increased sugar consumption is a major cause of too many New Zealanders being overweight and obese, what we should do about this remains a matter of debate and argument. More>>

ALSO:


Gordon Campbell: On Vladimir Putin’s Wonderful, Fabulous, Very Good Year

Safe to say that no-one, but no-one has had a better 2016 than Vladimir Putin. What an annus mirabilis it has been for him. Somehow, Russia got away with directly interfering in the US election process, such that a friendly oligarch is about to take up residence in the White House, rather than a genuine rival. More>>

ALSO:


Gordon Campbell: On The Media Normalisation Of Trump

We all supposedly agree that the media is going to hell in a tabloid handbasket, but the trends to the contrary can be a bit harder to spot. In his 1970s book The Right Stuff, Tom Wolfe had mocked the way the media instinctively acts as what he called The Victorian Gentleman. More>>

ALSO:

Binoy Kampmark: The Reality Of Fake News

Fake news as reality; the inability to navigate the waters in which it swims; a weakness in succumbing to material best treated with a huge pinch of salt. That, we are told, is the new condition of the global information environment. More>>

Alastair Thompson: Helen Kelly And The Compassionless People
I wasn't a close friend of Helen Kelly's. But her passing has moved me to tears more than once in the past two weeks. I feel honoured to be one of the many who worked with her and was helped by her. More>>

Postnatal Depression: 'The Thief That Steals Motherhood' - Alison McCulloch

Post-natal depression is a sly and cruel illness, described by one expert as ‘the thief that steals motherhood’, it creeps up on its victims, hiding behind the stress and exhaustion of being a new parent, catching many women unaware and unprepared. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On News From The US Election Eve

Here’s a somewhat scary headline from October 30 on Nate Silver’s 538 site, which summed up the statistical factors in play at that point: “The Cubs Have A Smaller Chance Of Winning Than Trump Does” More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news