Kenneth Pollack Misrepresents His Support for Peace Process Prior to Iraq War

US Politics
on 12 Comments

Michael Massing (a friend of mine) has a great piece in the Columbia Journalism Review called "The War Expert," marvelling at the fact that Brookings Institution scholar Kenneth M. Pollack still gets called up to opine in editorial pages about what we should be doing in the Middle East after he was so wrong about Iraq.

Massing interviewed Pollack and asked him about his track record as a belligerent.

As for his position on the invasion itself, Pollack maintained that he
had not been a strong advocate for the war but rather a “tortured” one.
“I know I wrote a number of pieces that were very helpful to the Bush
administration in making its case,” he said. “But that’s not why I
wrote them.” In The Threatening Storm, he told me, “I said
that this wasn’t a war we needed to fight right away, that there were
other things we needed to do first, like work on the Middle East peace
process…and run down al Qaeda….I don’t like to characterize myself as a
supporter of the invasion.” Yet his book contains a whole chapter
titled “The Case for an Invasion.” In it, he states flatly that “the
only prudent and realistic course of action left to the United States
is to mount a full-scale invasion of Iraq to smash the Iraqi armed
forces, depose Saddam’s regime, and rid the country of weapons of mass

I leafed through the book today and Massing is right. There is nothing tortured about
a book that compares Saddam to Hitler and says that the "conservative" course is to "invade as soon as possible."

I am chiefly irritated by Pollack’s claim that "work on the Middle East peace process" had a higher priority to him in that book than invading Iraq. Pardon my Arabic, this is bullsh-t.

It is true that Pollack called for the U.S. to take a more active role in Israel/Palestine issues prior to invading Iraq. But he did so almost reluctantly, stating that in the fervid mind of "the Arab street," there was alas "linkage" between the U.S. role in Israel/Palestine and its activities elsewhere in the region. And so it was necessary to reduce "bedlam" or "violence" in Israel/Palestine before the U.S. invades Iraq. This policy objective doesn’t have a high priority to Pollack. In his "Conclusions," where he bangs the war drum over and over, I see only one line mentioning the peace process, when he states, "it is reasonable for them [Arab states and Turkey] to expect us to take a more active role in attempting to mollify the problems of the region, particularly the Israeli-Palestinian violence."

Let’s be clear. This is never Pollack’s concern; it is always the strange concern of Arab states. Thus Emirates citizens "would have a more favorable view of the United States if it were to apply pressure to ensure the creation of an independent Palestinian state." Similarly, the Saudis would cooperate with the war only if there were "negotiations and a sense of progress" in Israel/Palestine. Though here Pollack reassures us that "a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace" is not necessary before we invade. He emphasizes that we should invade "only during a period of relative calm between Israelis and Palestinians" lest natives elsewhere grow restless.

Months ago in this blog I noted that Pollack never used the word "occupation" in his book, never described the hateful treatment of the Palestinians, which as Mohamed ElBaradei has said is a "red flag" of injustice across the Arab world. I have suggested that he was blinded by the fact that he is supported by Haim Saban, an Israeli-American who supports the center at which Pollack works. In that sense, Pollack was like many other war-drum-bangers: he completely overlooked the Israel/Palestine issue, and deluded himself about how much the Arab world hates us for that injustice, even as he said that the Arab world would come to love us for building a democratic Iraq.

Being wrong is one thing, misrepresenting your record another. His book is full of moral assertions about the necessity of toppling Saddam. There is no moral imperative at all to his statements about working on peace in Israel/Palestine. No, doing so is merely an instrument of making war in Iraq. Now he claims that this had moral priority for him.

Pollack’s misrepresentation is, happily, a reflection of the turn in the conventional wisdom in this country. Now that Condi Rice is putting all her efforts into the peace process with the blessing of President Bush (and godspeed their efforts), Pollack wants to say that he was for this a long time ago. Next he’ll be telling us he  wrote The Israel Lobby.

12 Responses

  1. Klaus Bloemker, Frankfurt
    March 30, 2008, 6:12 pm

    This is a great piece of Phil Weiss about reversing the rank-order
    1. solve the Israel-Palestine conflict.
    2. confront Iraq/the Arab world about democracy.

  2. Charles Keating
    March 30, 2008, 6:32 pm

    AH, what is the narrative on this?

  3. Jim Haygood
    March 30, 2008, 6:35 pm


    Massing's main point is that the Slimes let Pollack write an editorial on behalf of the "surge," in which he falsely posed as a harsh critic of the war. And the Slimes let him get away with it, despite the crystal-clear evidence trail.

    Such deceptions continue to this day. The MSM declared a "quiet period" on Iraq reporting since last September, so as not to inconvenience or embarrass the presidential candidates. They publish short fictional pieces about how swimmingly things are going in Baghdad. Then the next day, they admit that Americans are cowering in bunkers, as the heavily-fortified Green Zone gets rocketed. And the U.S. death toll just passed 4,000. And 30,000 are horribly wounded. But it will all be getting better soon. Really. Trust us.

    The Iraq War was based on media lies. The Surge was based on media lies. Since the stenographic media function as government mouthpieces, I presume that the strutting Hit Parade of Lies will continue until the mountains crumble into the sea, and there is no more you and me.

    The only socially-redeeming passage in the otherwise disgustingly racist screed "The Turner Diaries" is this:


    The [Washington] Post's pressroom is visible through a big plate-glass window from the lobby. So I rigged up a makeshift bomb by taping a hand grenade to a small anti-tank mine. The whole thing weighed about six pounds and was quite awkward, but it could be thrown about 50 feet like an oversized grenade.

    We parked in an alley about 100 yards from the main entrance of the Post. As soon as George had disarmed the guard, Henry blasted a huge hole in the pressroom window with his sawed-off shotgun. Then I pulled the pin on the grenade-mine contraption I had rigged and heaved it into the rollers of the nearest press, which were just being plated up for the night's run.

    We ducked behind the masonry parapet while the bomb exploded, and then Henry and I hurriedly threw half a dozen thermite grenades into the pressroom. We were all back in the alley before anyone had even come out on the sidewalk …"


    YeeHAWWW! Reminds me of that classic gun battle in the Matrix, where a building lobby is pulverized to shambles. Here's to the 'free press;' LOL!

  4. the Sword of Gideon
    March 30, 2008, 7:06 pm

    Haygood, the fact that you evidently have a well read copy of the Turner diaries isn't exactly shocking. Is it leather bound?

  5. liberal white boy
    March 30, 2008, 7:06 pm

    Speaking of the Lobby
    The New York Times and Their AIPAC Espionage Trial Freudian Blip
    link to

  6. Michael Blaine
    March 30, 2008, 9:37 pm

    Pollack is scum.

  7. Michael Blaine
    March 30, 2008, 9:39 pm


    I don't like your blog because you keep up comments that are lunatic/anti-Semitic.

  8. Rowan Berkeley
    March 31, 2008, 1:39 am

    LWB's blog does seem to be bulging with sarcasm and textual transgression, rather.

    On the other hand, mine is so sophisticated and oblique that wordpress can't even be bothered to suspend it (as they did its predecessor, which was a lot more like LWB).

  9. David Seaton
    March 31, 2008, 3:38 am

    In the end the rise of China will take care of all of this.

    The eventual existence of a China-Israel-Public-Action-Committee or "CHIPAC" is doubtful.

    As Roger Cohen says in today's NYT:
    "Everything passes. In the 17th century, China and India accounted for more than half the world’s economic output. After a modest interlude, the pendulum is swinging back to them at a speed the West has not grasped.

    It’s the end of the era of the white man; and, before it even began in earnest, of the white woman, too."

    I think this explains much of the "Liberal Interventionism" philosophy, where the only national sovereignties that are not debatable are those of Israel and the USA.

    I think a lot of Israel's present behavior is explained by the hysteria producing feeling that this is the "last dance". In a few years they simply won't have the levers of power in their hands they do today and they will be forced to make "painful concessions". The only possible interest that the Chinese have is regional stability and a steady flow of oil without political risk. the Chinese aren't antisemites, Israel is just a pain in the ass to them.

  10. Michael Blaine
    March 31, 2008, 7:24 am

    "The only possible interest that the Chinese have is regional stability and a steady flow of oil without political risk."

    Ah! If only it were the same for the US.

  11. liberal white boy
    March 31, 2008, 8:26 am

    Mike next time mention the Protocols that one always stops me in my anti-Semetic tracks. Just a heads up.
    If Israel Doesn't Like Ugly Caricatures They Shouldn't Act Like Them
    link to

  12. Reflexology London
    August 17, 2008, 6:40 am

    The whole idea is to take power in Eurasia. The first focus was Irak but this will shift East and Russia towards 2009.

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