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Chris Matthews calls out neocons for endlessly pushing Middle East wars

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Concern over Romney’s neocon advisers went mainstream Thursday night when Chris Matthews put them front and center on Hardball. In a segment titled Return of the Neo-cons? he interviews author and journalist Tom Ricks and former Colin Powell aide Col. Lawrence Wilkerson. Matthews launched off a clip of Powell‘s endorsement of Obama on CBS in which Powell cited Romney’s “strong neoconservative views.”

Matthews opens by juxtaposing “far right..hawkish.. neocon” views against “the moderate,” and the conversation quickly morphs into a one about war. By the end of the segment he asks Wilkerson, ‘Do they want war with Iran? Just period, do they want war with Iran no matter what Iran does henceforth, Colonel? The Neocons?


Matthews: What do you think he was saying about the Neocons?

Tom Ricks: I think he was saying —

Matthews: I’m talking to Tom Ricks now.

Tom Ricks: I think he was saying if you want to know where Romney is going to be going with foreign policy, look to the people around him. What you see is a lot of people who are the neoconservatives who did advise going into Iraq. So he’s saying effectively if you like the war in Iraq, Romney is your guy.

Matthews: It just seems — without being in any way comical about, because it’s nothing to laugh about, people die in wars, and you ruin things forever with these wars ..there’s always a war that the neocons are looking forward to. They’re always pushing — they never settle down and say ‘let’s take time out for a decade without a war’ and now it’s Iran. We all know that neither party can go to war but the way they go to war, what conditions they set and how they deal with the consequences are really critical and it seems to me the President is more to be trusted for understanding the consequences.

Check out of Wilkerson’s pluralizing and Matthews’s “deal breaker” reference to Israel.


Charlie Rose: Are you concerned about the people that are advising Governor Romney?

Powell: I think there’s some very, very strong neoconservative views that are presented by the Governor that I have some trouble with.

Matthews: Colonel Wilkerson, let’s talk about that. Secretary Powell, when he looks back at the Iraq war and his role in justifying it before the United Nations, what do you think he’s thinking right now?

Wilkerson: Well, Powell and I have seen these people before, the John Boltons, the Doug Feiths, even the Donald Rumsfelds and the Dick Cheneys. And we’ve seen them with an inexperienced President and we’ve seen what they can do, lead the nation to a war that was unnecessary as Richard Haass characterized it. I’m very worried as I think Powell was saying and I’ll say it even more candidly and frankly than he did. I’m very worried about these people with the new, that’s what it is, inexperienced, fresh President, and their experience at bureaucratic inplay and so forth and leading this President down to war most likely with Iran. and that’s why I’m going to vote — I’m a Republican just like Powell, and I was looking for a good, solid Republican candidate so I could vote for him. I will not vote for Romney. I’m voting for Obama.

Matthews: I watched Romney the other night in that debate, the third one on foreign policy, and I heard strange words coming out of his mouth. Now he’s a business guy, obviously he’s a successful businessman, made a quarter billion dollars. He doesn’t have any interest in the world, never shown any interest in the world beyond that.

My question, where did he get that thing about how we’re going to charge Ahmadinejad, the President of Iran, with genocide for the words he’s spoken, not what he’s done, but the words he’s spoken about Israel. His attitude towards Israel that would seem to be a deal breaker. You start charging the guy with genocide, you’re not going to cut a deal with the guy. Do they want war with Iran? Just period, do they want war with Iran no matter what Iran does henceforth, Colonel? The Neocons?

Wilkerson: I think the question you ask has to be answered yes. There are gradations between the different neocons but i think ultimately they want to paint the president, whoever it is, into a corner to say all options are on the table, including the military option, and then milk out all the other options,

Matthews: Yes

Wilkerson: No diplomacy, No solution, and then have to use the military. I can see it, it’s the same sheet of music, the same sheet of music.

Matthews: I know. they didn’t tell Saddam he had a way out they wanted that war anyway.

Matthews kicks it with his straightforwardness in this interview.

(Hat tip Mondoweiss commenter Kathleen)

Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is a mom, a human rights activist, and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area and likes to garden. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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13 Responses

  1. sciri21 on October 27, 2012, 4:39 pm

    Prosecuting Iran’s leaders for alleged incitement to genocide is listed on AIPAC’s website as part of its legislative agenda. Maybe that’s where Romney got the idea from.

  2. atime forpeace on October 27, 2012, 6:14 pm

    I think JFK was talking directly to Chris Matthews when he said these words. Calling Chris Matthews’ conscience! Grow a pair.

    “And so it is to the printing press–to the recorder of mans deeds, the keeper of his conscience, the courier of his news– that we look for strength and assistance, confident that with your help man will be what he was born to be: free and independent.”

    • annie on October 27, 2012, 6:22 pm

      yeah, he was talking to him:

      Chris, For we are opposed around the world by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that relies on covert means for expanding its sphere of influence–on infiltration instead of invasion, on subversion instead of elections, on intimidation instead of free choice, on guerrillas by night instead of armies by day. It is a system which has conscripted vast human and material resources into the building of a tightly knit, highly efficient machine that combines military, diplomatic, intelligence, economic, scientific and political operations, Chris.

      Its preparations are concealed, not published. Its mistakes are buried not headlined. Its dissenters are silenced, not praised. No expenditure is questioned, no rumor is printed, no secret is revealed.


  3. lobewyper on October 27, 2012, 7:23 pm

    I’d say it was pretty gutsy of Matthews to call the neocons out so boldly.

    • Kathleen on October 28, 2012, 3:42 pm

      CM has definitely been calling out the neocons after the invasion. And it is true that he did to some degree before the invasion. But what CM did not do before the invasion of Iraq was have expert guest on before the invasion (Scott Ritter, Dr. Zbig, Ray McGovern El Baradei etc) to pose counter arguments based on facts to the push to invade.

      Wilkerson and Powell really hit the nail on the head during these interviews. Also wish CM would go so far as having former Bush administration officials Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett on his program to discuss Iran. Really help educate the American public based on facts

      • annie on October 28, 2012, 5:03 pm

        thanks for the tip kathleen. i don’t watch tv and would have missed this had you not posted it in a comment thread here. much appreciated for your diligent observations you sleuth.

      • Kathleen on October 29, 2012, 8:38 am

        You are welcome Annie. Know some folks have turned off to the MSM totally. Not me. Really want to know what they are and are not covering.

        Annie thank you and the Mondo team for all of the work you folks do for peace and JUSTICE

  4. DICKERSON3870 on October 27, 2012, 7:43 pm

    RE: “Well, Powell and I have seen these people before, the
    John Boltons, the Doug Feiths, even the Donald Rumsfelds and the Dick Cheneys. And we’ve seen them with an inexperienced President and we’ve seen what they can do, lead the nation to a war that was unnecessary. . .” ~ Wilkerson

    MY COMMENT: Ah yes, George W. Bush! The neocons’ favorite “useful idiot”. “And boys, they wanna have fu-un. Oh, boys,
    just wanna have fun.”

    Name: George W. Bush Virtual, Alternative Presidential Library
    Category: Common Interest – History
    Description: A group for individuals who seek to commemorate the true legacy (as opposed to the fabricated, ‘official’ legacy) of George W. Bush, “America’s Torture President™”, from 2001 to 2009.
    LINK –

    Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience, 2007 NR 81 minutes
    Veterans who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan recount their war experiences in this Oscar-nominated documentary, which collects the writings of soldiers and their families to give a personal view of American troops’ involvement in these conflicts.
    Cast: Beau Bridges, Robert Duvall, Aaron Eckhart, Christopher Gorham, Justin Kirk, John Krasinski, Josh Lucas, Blair Underwood, Peter O’Meara, Robert MacNeil, Tobias Wolff, Anthony Swofford, James Salter
    Director: Richard E. Robbins
    Netflix format: DVD (and streaming until 10/31/12)
    • Netflix listing –
    • Internet Movie Database –
    • Wikipedia –
    Operation Homecoming TRAILER [VIDEO, 03:12] –
    Operation Homecoming TRAILER [VIDEO, 02:56] –

  5. peeesss on October 28, 2012, 3:54 am

    Yeah, and when the neocons get their war with Iran, Matthews will be out front cheering the USA troops, their “heroism” and the only “Democracy” in the ME as they commit the ultimate aggression,. Please kelp me understand this belief that Matthews somehow is, will, was , wants to be, a conscience for truth and justice. When the cry for war with Iraq was going forward Matthews made a few gestures toward the anti war people protesting the cry for war. As soon as the war started he was out cheering , had guests such as Frum and Pearl{Powell called him the Angel of Death}, the three merchants of death, McCain, Graham and Leiberman on his show “Hardball” , agreeing , fully, with their Imperial/Zionist liturgy. War , always war against Islam.

    • Kathleen on October 29, 2012, 8:51 am

      Watched Hardball almost every day in the run up to the invasion as well as listening to Diane Rehm, Talk of the Nation, on the web, Democracy Now etc before the invasion.

      Chris did question Kristol, Frum, Gaffney other neocons that he and his producers decided to have on. But Chris never had any experts with opposing views based on facts. Former weapons inspector Scott Ritter, Dr. Zbig, former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, head of the UN El Baradei others who were questioning the validity of the pre war WMD intelligence. Nope Chris did not really did not do the logical thing. He is now trying to spin his softball approach in the run up to the invasion as if he really stood out amongst the MSM and really stood up to the WMD lies. He did not. He questioned a bit.

      If he were to really learn the lesson that the MSM should have learned by failing to do their job and inform the public based on substantiated intelligence he would have over the last seven years had on experts like former Bush administration officials Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett etc on to express their fact based views. Nope he is not doing that either.

  6. douglasreed on October 28, 2012, 11:04 am

    Which is the threat, Iran, Pakistan or Israel?

    The right-wing Israeli government of Netanyahu is trying to coerce the US and the UK to attack Iran. The reason he offers is that non-nuclear Iran may soon have the technology and the materials to build a nuclear device. Meanwhile, the Israeli state has itself amassed a secret nuclear arsenal estimated at up to 400 weapons of mass destruction – enough to wipe out half the world, plus a second-strike capability via its nuclear-armed submarines.

    You might think that the above situation is somewhat surreal i.e. Israel, arguably the 4th most powerful nuclear weapons state in the world, endeavouring to coerce the rest of the international community to risk the lives of their young men and their economies for the benefit of his state whose deadly nuclear arsenal is undeclared to, and outside of, the IAEA inspectorate -unlike Iran who is a signatory to the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty and subject to UN inspection.

    The above facts are disturbing because the actual threat to world peace is not from Iran. The potential threat to global peace, if there is one, is from nuclear Pakistan, yet strangely Israel makes no mention of attacking that state, neither does the US or Britain.

    Despite the invective from its current president, the Iranian state has no nuclear weapons and it would take it over 20 years for it to even match the nuclear arsenal already secretly held by Israel.

    President Obama knows this very well, which is why he refuses to be led by the nose by Netanyahu, despite Israeli threats to mount a unilateral attack. Not only would such an attack would be a violation of international law but it would probably set the Middle East alight from end to end within a very short time and which would inevitably escalate to involve Pakistan.

    From that time in, all our lives and livelihoods would be at risk, thanks to an Israeli state that will not be satisfied until it has instigated war and thousands have been killed. That is the real threat, not an impotent, non-nuclear Iran crippled by sanctions at the behest of the Israeli government and an emasculated, supine, AIPAC-controlled US Congress.

  7. Citizen on November 2, 2012, 10:05 am

    CM did speak against the “neocons.” He never hinted at the Zionist influence, never went back to PNAC, “Clean Break.” etc. Where he draws the line on this hardcore problem with US Foreign policy reveals how far anyone can go with a news info show that reaches a mass audience, in this case the left’s.

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