Pssst, Maureen Dowd– Colin Powell said neoconservative ‘ideologues’ pushed Iraq war out of concern for Israel

Israel/Palestine
on 16 Comments

The accusation that Maureen Dowd is an anti-Semite for saying that the slithering neocons dragged us into a terrible war reminded me of a piece of largely-suppressed recent history, the assault on the neocons in the biography of Colin Powell, former Secretary of State, by Karen DeYoung.

In this long excerpt from Soldier, DeYoung, a veteran Washington Post reporter, describes Powell’s sense of futility in pushing the peace process in Israel/Palestine after 9/11, because he wanted to address a central source of Muslims’ anger toward the U.S. Powell was opposed by the neoconservatives– whom he describes in terms of their support for Israel.

In his new ‘with us or against us’ view of the world, Powell thought Bush tended to see the Israeli-Palestinian situation in black-and-white terms — ‘Sharon good, Arafat bad.” Powell felt the need to constantly remind the president of the stakes involved for U.S. security and international alliances. Cheney and Rumsfeld, neither of whom seemed to have a visceral feeling about the issue beyond the domestic political price of involvement, now argued that Bush might appear irresolute in the war on terrorism if he didn’t stand firm against the Palestinians. For many top Defense Department ideologues– Wolfowitz, Undersecretary of Planning Douglas Feith and Feith’s deputy, William J. Luti, along with Richard Perle–the conflict fell squarely within the parameters of the worldwide antiterrorist crusade Bush had launched. Any pressure on Israel to negotiate with Arafat amounted to appeasement of terrorists and a betrayal of a leading U.S. ally. In their view, whatever sustenance Palestinian militants drew from dictatorships such as Syria, Iran and Iraq made it all the more important to go after these regimes. Once they were replaced with democratic governments, the Mideast swamp would dry up.

Powell referred to Rumsfeld’s team as the “JINSA crowd.” JINSA, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affaris, was a Washington-based organization that equated U.S. national security with strong backing for Israel’s needs. Feith, a Washington lawyer who had actively opposed Mideast peace talks for most of his career, had served on its board, as had Perle and Cheney.

To Mideast experts at the State Department… those views reflected an upside-down and dangerous reading of the situation. Justifiably or not, the plight of the Palestinians was a rallying cry throughout the Muslim world….

[F]or Powell, it became an exercise in futility… by the time of Bush’s June 2002 speech, plans for an invasion of Iraq were well under way, drowning out any argument about the importance of making real progress on the peace process before invading an Arab country.

Instead, Bush came to subscribe to the belief long espoused by neoconservatives that Baghdad was a first and necessary stop on the road to peace in Jerusalem. in a combination of ideological conviction and economic realpolitik, they posited that the replacement of one Arab dictatorship with a democracy would break the region’s autocratic tradition and serve asa transforming example for the rest… As Richard Perle explained…

The neoconservative thesis reinforced Bush’s own post-September 11 belief that his administration has a singular ‘calling,’ as the president often describe it, to rid the world of terrorists and replace dictators with democrats, by force if necessary. “I think the JINSA crowd had a lot to say about it,” Powell later reflected on the White House’s attitude toward the peace process. Bush “saw Sharon fighting terrorism, he saw bombs going off in Israel. That affected him deeply. Israel was a democracy! Freedom! And he saw all of these Arab states that were not democracies.”

Yes let’s not forget Bush’s messianism. This passage of course also supports Chris Matthews’s belief that the neocons “pushed” Bush into an “idiotic” war. And Walt and Mearsheimer’s contention that the neocons were a component of the Israel lobby.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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16 Responses

  1. seanmcbride
    September 20, 2012, 11:26 am

    What would Colin Powell know about the players who pushed the United States into the Iraq War? After all, he was only secretary of state with a seat near the head of the table. (sarcasm)

    Some terms that have been used by informed observers to describe “the JINSA crowd” (neoconservatives):

    1. 9/11 exploiters
    2. Afghanistan War ringleaders
    3. Afpak War ringleaders
    4. anti-American
    5. authoritarian
    6. Clash of Civilizations ringleaders
    7. fifth column
    8. Global War on Terror ringleaders
    9. Greater Israelists
    10. Iran War ringleaders
    11. Iraq War ringleaders
    12. Islamophobes
    13. Israel Firsters
    14. Israeli ops
    15. Jabotinskyites
    16. liars and deceivers
    17. Likud Zionists
    18. Likudniks
    19. oligarchic
    20. plutocratic
    21. primarily Jewish Zionists
    22. pro-Israel militants
    23. Stalinists
    24. Straussians
    25. the Commentary crowd
    26. the JINSA crowd
    27. torture ringleaders
    28. Trotskyites
    29. un-American

    And then, of course, there is “first-class f*ckups” and “the stupidest people in the world.”

    It is incredible that, after engineering the worst foreign policy disaster in American history, neoconservatives haven’t been kicked out of all major policy forums in the United States and Europe. They may yet be facing war crimes trials down the road.

    Having learned absolutely nothing from their failures in Iraq and Afghanistan, neoconservatives are now cattle prodding Americans to go to war against Iran on behalf of Greater Israel.

    • Citizen
      September 21, 2012, 6:08 pm

      The neocons took a lesson from the Reichstag Fire, no matter, or in matter of, who and what caused 9/11, and the returns look endless.

  2. Krauss
    September 20, 2012, 11:34 am

    The most important and interesting thing for me here is not what Powell actually says.

    It’s that all this information is out there, in the open, yet so rarely touched/drawn upon. That is the real question here.

    So when Goldberg and the gang deny that the lobby exists and set out to crush any dissent, I mean, you can do serious and scholarly work on this issue and come up with credible source after credible source – Powell being just one of many.

    So why haven’t people done this?

    Well, the reason why nobody (in the mainstream) did this in a systematic way – before Walt/Mearsheimer – was precisely because you weren’t supposed to connect to dots lest you be branded an anti-Semite, like Dowd has now been.

    So when Walt/Mearsheimer did their well-sourced book, the lobby attacked them in a way that, as Mearsheimer later put it, “was meant to be a signal to others, not to cross the line”.

    It also raises all sorts of question how easy it is to manipulate the media if you have a strong enough mechanism to do it. I mean, Powell isn’t exactly a lunatic fringe kind of character.

    It’s actually, and I know this is a off-the-mark comparison, but it makes me think of the documentaries about how easy it was for military soldiers during WWII to control vast prison populations, like the Japanese soldiers and the mass of British POWs. Logically, if all the British overwhelmed the Japanese, sure, they’d be a few casualties, but the Japanese wouldn’t have a faint chance in hell.

    Yet nobody did it out of fear, nobody wanted to take the first step. And that’s the exact same process here. You can have the drip, drip of information, even very solid information, but as soon as someone connects the dots, it becomes very threatening for the lobby and they must destroy you.

    I don’t think most people understand even now how important Walt/Mearsheimer’s book was, and how critical it was that they survived the initial onslaught(which lasted several years to begin with).

    Both the book and their later debating prowess is actually nothing short of amazing.
    And thanks to them, Dowd today still has a job today, as well as being able to post her Op-Ed in the first place.

    Each of the prisoners is slowly, slowly starting to revolt.

    • ColinWright
      September 20, 2012, 3:25 pm

      Krauss says: ‘Yet nobody did it out of fear, nobody wanted to take the first step. And that’s the exact same process here.’

      The Lobby derives much of its power from its ability to focus on those few individuals who dare to step out of line at any one time. If you’re a congressman who’s vulnerable, or a candidate who’s jockeying for a seat that is actually up for grabs, you’d best toe the line or AIPAC will get you. AIPAC makes that very clear, too — they check.

      But like the one prison guard with a hundred prisoners, that only works if only one or two at a time are stepping out of line.

      And now more and more prisoners are drifting towards the treeline — or even circling around behind the guard himself. AIPAC can’t shoot them all down — and so one gets a vicious circle where rebellion becomes less and less dangerous to any one individual, and so more tempting to all of them, and so more and more join in.

      • seafoid
        September 20, 2012, 3:54 pm

        “But like the one prison guard with a hundred prisoners, that only works if only one or two at a time are stepping out of line”

        Even Treblinka had a prisoner revolt.

    • dbroncos
      September 20, 2012, 11:30 pm

      Bush’s re election was a tragedy for many reasons, one of them being that it bought the neocons time to stitch up the open wound of Iraq, mop up their mess and regroup for round two in Iran.

      • Citizen
        September 21, 2012, 6:14 pm

        @ dbroncos

        Why didn’t Bush Jr green light Iran–Israel and his fellow neocons were pushing for it near the end of his second term, weren’t they?

    • Erasmus
      September 21, 2012, 6:27 am

      The CROSSBAR LOGIC
      Re Krauss September 20, 2012 at 11:34 am
      ……but as soon as someone connects the dots, it becomes very threatening for the lobby and they must destroy you…..
      Yes.
      It is a battle for the supreme authority / power of interpretation / definition (Deutungshoheit).
      Finally, the decade old dam is not only leaking, but breached with all the obvious facts, whether it is the process that led up to the Iraq war and the USA reserving its “privilege” to make war even without any UN mandate or the unmasking the I-P peace process as a gimmick and farce, hiding the true Zionist intentions to grab it all, the whole lot of the God-given lands of Palestine, irrespective of the costs in terms of HR violations or international law and condemnation by virtually the entire civilised international world.
      The Lobby’s easy game of the past decades is over now to nib any Israel criticism in the bud – thanks also to the Internet which deserves here a special mentioning (and of course Blogs like MW and still courageous journalists here and there to “speak” up.)
      As the flood is coming in, raising up to the lower lips, the Israel Firsters are getting increasingly jittery and desperate. Only such a high degree of desperation can explain their indiscriminate verbal abuse and spraying their AS-labels over each and everyone who dares to challenge their AIPAC and NEOCON untruthful narratives.
      Maureen Dow’s recent NYT op-ed and the Lobby’s reflexive raw reaction is one example of the many. No decent counter-argumentation can help here, therefore – leaving all civilized behaviour aside – the times of the savage have a hayday again. The unsayable “discourse” of the Central Council of Jews in Germany in connection with the Adorno Prize laureate Judith Butler being another ignominious example….
      No arguments, but only crude AS-Crossbar beating and the usual self-hating Jew accusations. Their battle is lost, and they know it. Therefore, the AS crossbar is levelled now with increased frequency and more and more indiscriminately. They can not win in the long-run against truth and all evidence.
      But victory does not come by itself. All the more, now that the dam of hiding and deceit has broken, it becomes imperative that all the so far cowardice-ridden taboos wrt deceitful MSM-narratives concerning recent NE+ME-wars and (hi)stories flung around the establishment of the State of Israel and their post-1967 colonization policies are thrown overboard.
      Its time for a paradigm change and finally robustly thrust open the door to enable a genuine peace arrangement between Palestinians and Israelis.

    • Erasmus
      September 21, 2012, 8:46 am

      AS Crossbar Logic – paradigm change – NPJ -MWcomment21Sept12
      http://mondoweiss.net/2012/09/pssst-maureen-dowd-colin-powell-said-neoconservative-ideologues-pushed-iraq-war-out-of-concern-for-israel.html/comment-page-1#comment-500370

      The CROSSBAR LOGIC
      Re Krauss September 20, 2012 at 11:34 am
      …… “was meant to be a signal to others, not to cross the line”……but as soon as someone connects the dots, it becomes very threatening for the lobby and they must destroy you…..

      Yes.
      It is a battle for the supreme authority / power of interpretation / definition (Deutungshoheit).
      Finally, the decade old dam is not only leaking, but breached with all the obvious facts, whether it is the process that led up to the Iraq war and the USA reserving its “privilege” to make war even without any UN mandate or the unmasking the I-P peace process as a gimmick and farce, hiding the true Zionist intentions to grab it all, the whole lot of the God-given lands of Palestine, irrespective of the costs in terms of HR violations or international law and condemnation by virtually the entire civilised international world.
      The Lobby’s easy game of the past decades is over now to nib any Israel criticism in the bud – thanks also to the Internet which deserves here a special mentioning (and of course Blogs like MW and still courageous journalists here and there to “speak” up.)
      As the flood is coming in, raising up to the lower lips, the Israel Firsters are getting increasingly jittery and desperate. Only such a high degree of desperation (one should think) can explain their indiscriminate verbal abuse and spraying their AS-labels over each and everyone who dares to challenge their AIPAC and NEOCON untruthful narratives.
      Maureen Dow’s recent NYT op-ed and the Lobby’s reflexive raw reaction is one example of the many. No decent counter-argumentation can help here, therefore – leaving all civilized behaviour aside – the times of the savage have a hayday again. The unsayable “discourse” of the Central Council of Jews in Germany in connection with the Adorno Prize laureate Judith Butler being another ignominious example….
      No arguments, but only crude AS-Crossbar beating and the usual self-hating Jew accusations. Their battle is lost, and they know it. Therefore, the AS crossbar is levelled now with increased frequency and more and more indiscriminately. They can not win in the long-run against truth and all evidence.
      But victory does not come by itself. All the more, now that the dam of hiding and deceit has broken, it becomes imperative that all the so far cowardice-ridden taboos wrt deceitful MSM-narratives concerning recent NE+ME-wars and (hi)stories flung around the establishment of the State of Israel and their post-1967 colonization policies are thrown overboard.
      Its time for a paradigm change and finally robustly thrust open the door to enable a genuine peace arrangement between Palestinians and Israelis.

  3. gazacalling
    September 20, 2012, 11:45 am

    Wow, great excerpt. I wish Powell had had presidential ambitions. The presidency seems only to be for those who put their ambitions in first place, and the best interests of their country second. The true patriots are not as power-hungry.

    Bush had delusions of grandeur. It’s hard not to when your approval rating is the highest ever recorded. That’s really about the worst thing that can happen to a president.

    Whoever is the next president will be helped to be a better president by the fact that his approval rating will not be in the stratosphere.

  4. American
    September 20, 2012, 12:58 pm

    Kwiatkowski backs up Powell in her series on how the pentagon was taken over. I won’t put those passages in the below quotes, posters can read the entire pieces at the links.
    And there is no point in tiptoeing around about it. The Ziocons for Israel were leading the neocons and doing it for Israel and there’s no denying it.

    Col. Karen Kwiatkowski recently retired from the U.S. Air Force. Her final posting was as an analyst at the Pentagon. Below are three installments describing her experience there. They provide a unique view of the Department of Defense during a period of intense ideological upheaval, as the United States prepared to launch—for the first time in its history—a “preventive” war.

    http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/in-rumsfelds-shop/

    We saw a guy named Doug Feith, a lobbyist for Israel in his law firm who espoused extremely pro-Likud views, be confirmed by the Congress as the Under Secretary for Defense Policy with his like-minded consultants. We watch as Feith then focused his attention on developing a Middle East war/policy. http://www.lewrockwell.com/kwiatkowski/kwiatkowski75.html

    ”I went back to my office and e-mailed a buddy in the Joint Staff. Bob wrote back, “Write down everything you see.” I didn’t do it, but these most wise words from a trusted friend proved the first of three omens I would soon receive.”

    ”My second omen was the super-size bottles of Tums and Tylenol Joe left in his desk. The third occurred as I was chatting with my new office mate, a career civil servant working the Egypt desk. As the conversation moved into Middle East news and politics, she mentioned that if I wanted to be successful here, I shouldn’t say anything positive about the Palestinians. In 19 years of military service, I had never heard such a politically laden warning on such an obscure topic to such an inconsequential player.
    I had the sense of a single click, the sound tectonic plates might make as they shift deep under the earth and lock into a new resting position—or when the trigger is pulled in a game of Russian roulette”

    ”Another civilian replacement about which I was told was that of the long-time Israel/Syria/Lebanon desk, Larry Hanauer. Word was that he was ‘’even-handed’’ with Israel, there had been complaints. David Schenker, fresh from the Washington Institute, would serve as the new Israel/Syria/Lebanon desk.”

    ”I came to share with many NESA colleagues a kind of unease, a sense that something was awry. What seemed out of place was the strong and open pro-Israel and anti-Arab orientation in an ostensibly apolitical policy-generation staff within the Pentagon. There was a sense that politics like these might play better at the State Department or the National Security Council, not the Pentagon, where we considered ourselves objective and hard boiled”

    http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/conscientious-objector/

    ”By late August, a large office was located upstairs on the fifth floor. At a staff meeting, we were told that the expanded Iraq desk would become the Office of Special Plans and would move out. We were told not to refer to this office as the Office of Special Plans and, if pressed, we were also not to confirm that it was the expanded Iraq desk. This instruction came across as both surreal and humorous. When someone asked whether we could tell our Joint Staff counterparts, Bill Luti said no, to deny knowledge of the organizational shift. ”

    http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/open-door-policy/

    ”In early winter, an incident occurred that was seared into my memory. A coworker and I were suddenly directed to go down to the Mall entrance to pick up some Israeli generals. Post-9/11 rules required one escort for every three visitors, and there were six or seven of them waiting. The Navy lieutenant commander and I hustled down. Before we could apologize for the delay, the leader of the pack surged ahead, his colleagues in close formation, leaving us to double-time behind the group as they sped to Undersecretary Feith’s office on the fourth floor. Two thoughts crossed our minds: are we following close enough to get credit for escorting them, and do they really know where they are going? We did get credit, and they did know. Once in Feith’s waiting room, the leader continued at speed to Feith’s closed door. An alert secretary saw this coming and had leapt from her desk to block the door. “Mr. Feith has a visitor. It will only be a few more minutes.” The leader craned his neck to look around the secretary’s head as he demanded, “Who is in there with him?”

    ”This minor crisis of curiosity past, I noticed the security sign-in roster. Our habit, up until a few weeks before this incident, was not to sign in senior visitors like ambassadors. But about once a year, the security inspectors send out a warning letter that they were coming to inspect records. As a result, sign-in rosters were laid out, visible and used. I knew this because in the previous two weeks I watched this explanation being awkwardly presented to several North African ambassadors as they signed in for the first time and wondered why and why now. Given all this and seeing the sign-in roster, I asked the secretary, “Do you want these guys to sign in?” She raised her hands, both palms toward me, and waved frantically as she shook her head. “No, no, no, it is not necessary, not at all.” Her body language told me I had committed a faux pas for even asking the question. My fellow escort and I chatted on the way back to our office about how the generals knew where they were going (most foreign visitors to the five-sided asylum don’t) and how the generals didn’t have to sign in.
    I felt a bit dirtied by the whole thing and couldn’t stop comparing that experience to the grace and gentility of the Moroccan, Tunisian, and Algerian ambassadors with whom I worked. ”

    Kwiatkowski was right in putting it as feeling “dirtied” by the Israel generals episode. Israel and the zionist have “dirtied” America and all Americans.

  5. Oklahoma farmer
    September 20, 2012, 2:20 pm

    Gazacalling? You out of your frigging mind?????

    Do you not recall Powell getting up there giving his speech at the UN about trucks loaded with WMDs and germs and poisons, scrambling all over Iraq?

    And you want that nitwit for President? Sing up fellow…you would be about right for his Veep.

  6. Annie Robbins
    September 20, 2012, 2:30 pm

    ‘the JINSA crowd’ sounds a little more toxic than israel firster..i kinda like that name.

    • Citizen
      September 21, 2012, 6:26 pm

      Wonder if Obama and Powell ever chatted on the phone about “the JINSA crowd?”

  7. lareineblanche
    September 20, 2012, 6:50 pm

    There’s also this good article written in 2002 by Jason Vest on the subject:
    The Men From JINSA and CSP
    http://www.thenation.com/article/men-jinsa-and-csp?page=full

    We should be careful about giving 100% credibility to Powell, however, and painting him as some kind of revered, wise elder and statesman, given his rather atrocious record.

  8. dbroncos
    September 20, 2012, 11:52 pm

    Powell’s WMD speech at the UN did him in and he knows it. He’ll never live it down.

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