Trending Topics:

The neocon machine

US Politics
on 23 Comments

At the American Conservative, Scott McConnell reports on Steve Walt’s talk to the Palestine Center.  Iraq was a war dreamed up by the neocons, he writes, and–

Washington is setting up the same path all over again.  As if nothing has been learned. The neocon propaganda organs are very much in place. The war talk is similar, especially the depiction of Iran’s leaders as irrational zealots, impervious to reason. Many of the key players are the same: Bill Kristol, the Wall Street Journal editorial page, “mainstream” Jeffrey Goldberg, Elliott Abrams. AIPAC drafting congressional resolutions designed to tie the administration’s hands,  which Congress rubber stamps with all the careful debate one would expect from an assembly in  Pyongyang. To an extent which seems even greater than 2002, the bulk of the Republican Party seems to have fallen in line.

Some important differences remain,  however. The entire Israel lobby is not on board for an Iran war, and there are major national security figures  in Israel itself saying it would be a bad error. The U.S. military seems more vocally opposed. The Obama administration, despite rhetorical hedging, seems to recognize that war is neither necessary nor wise.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

Other posts by .

Posted In:

23 Responses

  1. pabelmont
    May 14, 2012, 10:12 am

    Yes? Surprise? Neocons conning the USA once again? But, dears, that’s how the system works: and despite 2008, Chase has once again lost — at least — $2B on crazy investments in (normal term, now) “investment vehicles” that were as unreal as a certificate of sale for the Brooklyn Bridge. Insurance policies where there was no insurable interest issued by an insurer without funds to back up those policies. Collateralized swaps without collateral. Oh, life is so nice for bankers — until it isn’t.

    If you want to know how the USA decides to do things, follow the money. If you want to have a seat at the table of USA “democracy”, pony up $1B or so and buy yourself a seat (sort of like buying a seat on the stock exchange used to work).

    The BIGs buy politicians more or less as you or I buy postage stamps. As we read in “Nize Baby”, “Is dees a system?” to answer “Nize Baby”, yes, it is the American way and, for the BIGs, it is the “American dream”.

  2. talknic
    May 14, 2012, 10:13 am

    PNAC 1998 Letter to Clinton.

    Nothing has changed and with the US withdrawing from both Iraq and Afghanistan one can only wonder if it is preparation for the next step. The Military–industrial complex is a hungry beast

  3. Kathleen
    May 14, 2012, 10:32 am

    “Washington is setting up the same path all over again.” And anyone paying attention to the MSM and congress would know that this go get Iran stage has been being set since soon after the invasion of Iraq. Kristol, Lieberman, Cheney, Bolton, Reul Marc Gerecht, Rice , Hillary Clinton etc were all over the place repeating the unsubstantiated claims about Iran.

    Phil this morning the Mayor of Jerusalem was on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. Mika and Joe were kissing his butt. No mention of the illegal housing being built in the Palestinians E Jerusalem. Not a whisper. But later on during the show they were all over the human rights issues in China. Huge and disastrous double standards prevail on MSNBC’s Morning Joe

  4. American
    May 14, 2012, 10:44 am

    “The Obama administration, despite rhetorical hedging, seems to recognize that war is neither necessary nor wise.”

    I hope this holds.
    When Walts say the ‘entire’ Israel lobby isn’t behind it I assume he is referring to that “loose collection of Pro Israel” not just AIPAC because AIPAC has been behind all the resolutions and bills congress has pushed on this. On the AIPAC site and in their alert mails they are always urging members to call their reps and tell them to vote for those bills and resolutions.

  5. seanmcbride
    May 14, 2012, 11:30 am

    Let’s be clear about some of the “neocon propaganda organs” under discussion:

    # Neocon propaganda organs
    1. 700 Club
    2. ACT! for America
    3. AEI (American Enterprise Institute)
    4. AFDI (American Freedom Defense Initiative)
    5. AFSI (Americans for a Safe Israel)
    6. AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee)
    7. AJC (American Jewish Committee)
    8. American Thinker
    9. Atlas Shrugs
    10. CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America)
    11. CBN (Christian Broadcasting Network)
    12. Chabad-Lubavitch
    13. Christian Coalition
    14. CNN
    15. CNP (Council for National Policy)
    16. Commentary
    17. Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
    18. CSP (Center for Security Policy)
    19. CUFI (Christians United for Israel)
    20. David Horowitz Freedom Center
    21. David Project
    22. ECI (Emergency Committee for Israel)
    23. FDD (Foundation for the Defense of Democracies)
    24. FIDF (Friends of the IDF)
    25. Fox News
    26. FPI (Foreign Policy Initiative)
    27. Free Republic
    28. Frontpage Magazine
    29. Henry Jackson Society
    30. Heritage Foundation
    31. Hoover Institution
    32. House Republican Israel Caucus
    33. Hudson Institute
    34. Israel Allies Caucus
    35. Israel National News
    36. Israel Project
    37. ISW (Institute for the Study of War)
    38. Jeffrey Goldberg
    39. Jersusalem Post
    40. Jewish Press
    41. Jewish World Review
    42. JIDF (Jewish Internet Defense Force)
    43. Jihad Watch
    44. JINSA (Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs)
    45. Keep America Safe
    46. Manhattan Institute
    47. MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute)
    48. Middle East Forum
    49. National Post
    50. National Review
    51. New Republic
    52. New York Daily News
    53. New York Post
    54. New York Times
    55. News Corp.
    56. Newsmax
    57. One Jerusalem
    58. Pajamas Media
    59. RJC (Republican Jewish Coalition)
    60. Saban Center for Middle East Policy
    61. SANE (Society of Americans for National Existence)
    62. Shalem Center
    63. SIOA (Stop Islamization of America)
    64. SITE Intelligence Group
    65. Stand With Us
    66. Tablet Magazine
    67. The Fellowship
    69. U.S. News & World Report
    70. UANI (United Against Nuclear Iran)
    71. Wall Street Journal
    72. Washington Post
    73. Washington Times
    74. Weekly Standard
    75. WINEP (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
    76. Worldnetdaily
    77. ZOA (Zionist Organization of America)

    In combination, they constitute a formidable pro-war propaganda organ on behalf of Likud Zionism indeed.

    (Informed and thoughtful challenges to this list, including additions and deletions, are welcome.)

  6. CloakAndDagger
    May 14, 2012, 12:47 pm

    There is no distinguishable difference between Obama and Romney. Anyone who think Obama will do anything different in his second term is guilty of wishful thinking.

    Help elect Ron Paul. Stop the wars. Stop aid to Israel and everyone else.

    Anyone remember the Symington Amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961?

    The Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 was amended by the Symington Amendment (Section 669 of the FAA) in 1976. It banned U.S. economic, and military assistance, and export credits to countries that deliver or receive, acquire or transfer nuclear enrichment technology when they do not comply with IAEA regulations and inspections. This provision, as amended, is now contained in Section 101 of the Arms Export Control Act (AECA).

    The Glenn Amendment (Section 670) was later adopted in 1977, and provided the same sanctions against countries that acquire or transfer nuclear reprocessing technology or explode or transfer a nuclear device. This provision, as amended, is now contained in Section 102 of the Arms Export Control Act (AECA).

    Fits Israel.

  7. Dan Crowther
    Dan Crowther
    May 14, 2012, 2:32 pm

    The only thing I take umbrage with here is the line:

    The Obama administration, despite rhetorical hedging, seems to recognize that war is neither necessary nor wise.

    I’m getting pretty tired of the mind reading. “seems” is a word Walt would do well to forget. Ronald Reagan “seemed” like a nice guy. Obama “seems” like a nice guy. The former killed nuns and priests, the latter kills US citizens with no due process. I cant take anymore of this “the obama adminstration doesnt want war” nonsense. Its utter nonsense.

    Enough with the mind reading – lets look at the facts. (1) Iran is completely surrounded by the US military, thanks in part to Obama (2) Obama has sent additional troops, aircraft carrier groups to the Gulf in the last year (3) Obama has increased all sorts of clandestine operations in and around Iran (we know this, because drones and people have been caught) (4) The US has been building hospitals and other facilities in Georgia, in Azerbaijian and sent hundreds of bunker busters to Diego Garcia (5) Obama has sold the same bunker busters to Israel, sold new missile defense technology to Israel and sold them long range fighter jets, as well as re-fueling tanker aircraft, while the Israeli government shouts from the mountaintops that it wants Iran destroyed, and may attack on its own. (6) Obama has greatly expanded W’s wars – Libya, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia – now onto Syria and perhaps Lebanon or maybe Nigeria? (7) Obama has propped up the (sunni) Gulf Monarchies, and made them full members of the Anti-Iran, Anti-Syria coalition, while selling them new fighter jets and tanks (8) Egypt. the obama administrations actions toward post Mubarak Egypt speak for themselves (9) Obama has already succeeded in selling the harsh, brutal sanctions on Iran to the Europeans and has moved China and Russia in the same direction (10) maybe most importantly, barry has been able to almost completely castrate any domestic opposition by making himself out to be the “reluctant warrior” through leaks, sympathetic journalists and a general – though totally undeserved- perception that democrats favor peace.

    Barry was sold as “The Competent Manager” – the anti-W. Well, this is what competent management of empire looks like, Obama is getting his ducks in a row, so he can tell the world and the kool-aid drinkers at home that “he tried his best for a peacful resolution” He isnt trying to stop war, hes preparing the noose. and if we paid attention to his ACTIONS rather than the mind reading of the steve walts and gareth porters of the world, all this would be self evident

    • seanmcbride
      May 14, 2012, 3:27 pm

      Dan Crowther,

      You nailed it. Barack Obama has been a more effective and sinister neocon tool than George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. Most Democrats don’t have a clue.

      But despite all that, I will be forced to vote for him in November over Mitt Romney. Damn. We’ve been completely backed into a no-win corner by Likud Zionists in American politics.

      • lysias
        May 14, 2012, 5:42 pm

        Fortunately for me, I happen to live in Maryland, which Obama is going to carry whatever I do or do not do. So I am quite free to register a protest vote, either for a third-party or write-in candidate.

    • Keith
      May 14, 2012, 6:02 pm

      DAN CROWTHER- You are a welcome voice of sanity on this. I don’t know why so many folks put so much stock in what these liars say. When the statements conflict with the facts on the ground, go with the facts on the ground.

    • Denis
      May 15, 2012, 2:50 am

      @DC: sold them long range fighter jets, as well as re-fueling tanker aircraft

      Could you source this, please.

      My understanding is that Israel doesn’t have in-flight refueling capability, which is why a shot at Iran is so difficult tactically. Recall all that rubbish recently about Israel buying an airbase in Azerbaijan? Recall all that rubbish about Obama promising to sell the refueling aircraft if Bibi waited until after the elections? I think you’ve got some wires crossed here.

      Obama has withheld re-fueling aircraft to keep Bibi on a leash . . . or to keep him from striking the US, neither of which constitutes being a neocon.

      @DC:Obama has sold the same bunker busters to Israel. Uh. . .what bunker busters are you talking about? Obama sold Bibi GBU-55’s in 2009 after it was too late — Iran was already too deep for them to reach.

      Obama has refused to sell them the Big Blu.

      As I say, you might be thinking about the garbage Israeli msm reports about Obama agreeing to sell the Big Blu and refueling aircraft if Bibi waited until after the US elections to bomb Iran — total BS.

      @DC: Obama has greatly expanded wars in Sudan, Somalia, and Syria —
      Another fact-check, please. I don’t recall greatly expanded wars in any of these places.

      Your logic is circular. You claim Obama has done all of these things (many of which claims seem to be factually dubious) that make Obama a neocon, and the proof of that is (10) that Obama hasn’t taken any overt acts in order to make himself look like a “reluctant warrior.”

      The fact that Obama is determined that Iran will not get a nuke does not make Obama a neocon. All of the facts you cite (at least the ones that are valid) are consistent with Obama’s very, very clear goal. They are not necessarily consistent with him being a neocon unless one plays that silly “reluctant warrior” reverse psychology game. You want neocons? The Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Feith/Wolfowitz dogs would have bombed the blue gesys out of Iran by now.

      • Denis
        May 15, 2012, 12:00 pm

        So compare Iran today with Iran of 2009:

        They have not been bombed. They have multiplied their ultra-speed centrifuges many-fold. They now have uranium enriched to 20%. They are dug deeper into the mountains. They have imported sea-skimming cruise missiles from China and Russia.

        All of this because Obama has been able to keep the muzzle on Bibi.

        So how is it you see Obama as a neocon? Maybe Obama is out-foxing the American Zionists and winning re-election, too. If so, he will be the first president in 60 years to do that.

      • Dan Crowther
        Dan Crowther
        May 15, 2012, 1:16 pm

        @DC: sold them long range fighter jets, as well as re-fueling tanker aircraft

        Could you source this, please.

        WASHINGTON – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu requested the United States approve the sale of advanced refueling aircraft as well as GBU-28 bunker-piercing bombs to Israel during a recent meeting with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, a top U.S. official said on Tuesday.

        The American official said that U.S. President Barack Obama instructed Panetta to work directly with Defense Minister Ehud Barak on the matter, indicating that the U.S. administration was inclined to look favorably upon the request as soon as possible.

        March 6 2012


        “Defense Minister Ehud Barak approved the purchase of 20 F-35 fighter planes for the Israel Air Force on Sunday. ”

        Those come on line in 2015, and they are going to be buying a lot more – theyve already added to their initial buy-

        As for everthing else – there is plenty of stuff out there about obama’s clandestine wars all over the middle east and north/east africa – my point wasnt to say hes a neocon – my point was to say, whatever we want to label him, or think of him as, he is not a guy anyone should be projecting things upon – “seems” and barack obama should never appear in the same sentence. He “seemed” to favor single payer, and then the public option – he “seemed” to want to close guantanamo and reinstate the rule of law and so on.

      • Denis
        May 15, 2012, 2:04 pm

        Thanks for the links.

        Roger you on that last paragraph, and mostly agreed.

        As for the BB’s — there have been a number of “deals” like the one you cite where the msm says the deal was closed but the administration says no way. In one instance Obama was going to sell Bibi bunkbust conversion kits that would increase accuracy, but after Bibi insulted Biden by signing off on 1600 new apartheid housing units while Biden was still in BibiLand, Obama promptly diverted the conversion kits to Diego Garcia while they were enroute to Israel. I don’t know if they are still on the island, or what.

        But my point is, Obama is playing a very difficult, incredibly dangerous game here. Not just with respect to the elections and a possible bloody regional war in the ME, but there are those who make a good case for the theory that Israel took out the Kennedy brothers because they were making trouble for Israel’s (then) clandestine nuke operation. There is a lot of motivation not to show your hand in both poker and politics.

        So I wonder whether “seems” isn’t the best any commentator can do. It’s all smoke and mirrors. Always has been; always will be.

  8. DICKERSON3870
    May 14, 2012, 3:09 pm

    RE: “Washington is setting up the same path all over again. As if nothing has been learned. The neocon propaganda organs are very much in place. The war talk is similar, especially the depiction of Iran’s leaders as irrational zealots, impervious to reason.” ~ Scott McConnell reporting on Steve Walt’s talk

    AS TO “The neocon propaganda organs are very much in place.”,
    SEE: Rush From Reality, By Rick Perlstein, 02/26/09

    (excerpts) I’ve been listening to Rush Limbaugh for going on twenty years now. . .
    . . . And so, yesterday, I visited the funhouse again, to see what the hall of mirrors looked like after President Obama’s triumphant State of the Union address (68% of viewers had a very positive reaction…)—the day after, in other words, conservatism was ground into the dust once again.
    Rush came out of the gate blaring, declaiming the irrelevance of such poll. . .
    . . . He went on, of course. And on, and on, and on, and on. Came the first caller, who made the mistake of pointing to Obama’s actual language in the speech, and got interrupted by El Rushbo— “Pay no attention to what he says. He means the opposite in most cases. What he says is irrelevant.”
    . . . I knew I’d heard this before. This was the doctrine of the “principle of reversal” enunciated by John Birch Society founder Robert Welch. Welch explained that in order to understand what the Communists are saying, you have to translate it into its opposite. Though it was a principle, of course, that Welch frequently honored in the breach. When a Communist said something he thought was embarrassing, Welch hammered home that the Communist meant exactly what he said.
    The sole authority, of course, qualified to decide when a Communist meant the opposite of what he said, and when he meant exactly what he said was Robert Welch. . .

    SOURCE –

    • DICKERSON3870
      May 14, 2012, 3:12 pm

      P.S. ALSO AS TO “we know better what they’re thinking than they do”,

      (excerpts) Team B was a competitive analysis exercise commissioned by the Central Intelligence Agency in the 1970s to analyze threats the Soviet Union posed to the security of the United States. . .
      . . . The Team B reports became the intellectual foundation for the idea of “the window of vulnerability” and of the massive arms buildup that began toward the end of the Carter administration and accelerated under President Ronald Reagan.[4]
      Some scholars and policy-makers, such as Anne Cahn of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, later criticized the Team B project’s findings.[5][6] . . .
      . . . According to Fred Kaplan, “In retrospect, the Team B report (which has since been declassified) turns out to have been wrong on nearly every point.[27]. . .
      . . . Team B came to the conclusion in their report[28] that the Soviets had or could develop an entirely new anti-submarine detection system that used a system that did not depend on sound and was, thus, undetectable by contemporary Western technology, even though no evidence existed for it or its deployment, other than money spent on research, and when the Western experts believed that such a system would be impossible. When the CIA argued that the economic chaos in the Soviet Union was hindering their ability to produce an air defense system, Team B countered by arguing that the Soviet Union was trying to deceive the American public and claimed that the Russian air defense system worked perfectly. Some members were even considering promoting a first strike policy against the U.S.S.R.[8][11][29]
      Team B also concluded that the Soviet Union did not adhere to the doctrine of mutual assured destruction, but rather believed it could win a nuclear war outright. Pipes — in his “Commentary” article — argued that CIA suffered from “mirror-imaging” (i.e., from assuming that the other side had to-and did-think and evaluate exactly the same way). . .

      SOURCE –

      • seanmcbride
        May 14, 2012, 3:23 pm


        I appreciate all the high-quality research you post here. Nothing is more powerful than well-documented facts. Bam.

    • DICKERSON3870
      May 14, 2012, 3:16 pm

      P.P.S. ALSO AS TO “The neocon propaganda organs are very much in place.”,
      SEE: The Right’s False Prophet, By Kenneth B. McIntyre, The American Conservative, 5/10/12

      (excerpts) . . . In ‘Leo Strauss and the Conservative Movement in America’ Paul Gottfried, the Horace Raffensperger Professor of Humanities at Elizabethtown College, offers an explanation of the Straussian phenomenon that is concise and compelling. . .
      . . . The second direction from which Gottfried approaches Strauss leads through an examination of the Straussian method and its products. Gottfried provides a critical account of the method and also notes the ahistorical, quasi-legendary, and often hagiographic character of the interpretations that the method produces. The Straussian method consists of two distinct doctrines, neither of which is particularly clear or convincing. First, Strauss asserts that understanding the work of a philosopher involves the reproduction of the author’s intention. Unfortunately, and as Gottfried argues, Strauss never explains what he means by “intention,” nor does he explain how one might reproduce an author’s intention. The second doctrine, however, renders the first irrelevant. Strauss argues that authentic philosophers hide their teaching from the casual reader and only initiates into the true philosophic art can decode the esoteric meaning of such texts. For Strauss and the Straussians, this is not an historical claim but a theoretical one, and it yields an interpretative strategy both naïve and paranoid.
      The results of the Straussian method read like they were written by the intellectual offspring of Madame Blavatsky and Edgar Bergen. It may seem difficult to distinguish between the oracular pronouncements and the intellectual ventriloquism, but that’s because there is no real distinction to be made. As Gottfried notes, there is uncanny similarity between the Straussian reading of texts and the postmodern deconstruction of language. The esoteric claims provide cover for Straussian interpretive preferences and shield against criticism from anyone outside the clique. . .


      • DICKERSON3870
        May 14, 2012, 3:18 pm

        P.P.P.S. “Sticks and stones may break our bones, but facts will never sway us.” ~ Neocon Creed (This creed also works for Team B, Republicans, Fox News, Fundies, etc.)

  9. radii
    May 14, 2012, 5:41 pm

    let us all work to make the Neocon Thirty part of the lexicon of American history the way we use the terms Gang of Four and Chicago Seven … by giving them a name we keep a light upon them which reveals to history their crimes

  10. dbroncos
    May 14, 2012, 10:03 pm

    “Now is the time for all men to come to the aid of their country!”

    Any chance the “coalition of the willing” will include British, Canadian, or Australian troops in an Israeli-American lead attack/war on Iran? NATO?

    • RoHa
      May 15, 2012, 12:54 am

      “Any chance the “coalition of the willing” will include British, Canadian, or Australian troops in an Israeli-American lead attack/war on Iran?”

      I have no doubt our arse-licking politicians will want to send Australian troops. I think the people are getting a bit fed up with Australian troops being sent to fight useless wars, so they might object.

      • Sumud
        May 15, 2012, 7:53 am

        I think the people are getting a bit fed up with Australian troops being sent to fight useless wars, so they might object.

        That, or watch MasterChef.

Leave a Reply