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Wilkerson says ‘Israel’s security’ was motive for Iraq war– though not in NYT op-ed

Media Analysis
on 14 Comments

There was an excellent headline in the New York Times two days ago— “I Helped Sell the False Choice of War Once. It’s Happening Again”– on a piece by retired Col. Lawrence Wilkerson.

Wilkerson served as Colin Powell’s chief of staff in the runup to the Iraq disaster, and he wrote that the Secretary of State’s “gravitas” was used by the Bush administration to sell a war that destabilized the Middle East. A similar runup of claims is today being plotted by advocates of war in Iran. In both cases, a Washington braintrust pushes “falsehoods.”

Today, the analysts claiming close ties between Al Qaeda and Iran come from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, which vehemently opposes the Iran nuclear deal and unabashedly calls for regime change in Iran.

It seems not to matter that 15 of the 19 hijackers on Sept. 11 were Saudis and none were Iranians. Or that, according to the United States intelligence community, of the groups listed as actively hostile to the United States, only one is loosely affiliated with Iran, and Hezbollah doesn’t make the cut. More than ever the Foundation for Defense of Democracies seems like the Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans that pushed falsehoods in support of waging war with Iraq.

It’s good that Wilkerson called out FDD in the NYT, but the curious thing about the op-ed is there is no mention of who this gang is, the neoconservative wing of the Israel lobby. FDD is funded by Bernard Marcus and other giant Israel supporters; “FDD’s chief funders have been drawn almost entirely from American Jews who have a long history of funding pro-Israel organizations,” John Judis wrote.

Just as AEI, Bush’s thinktank for the Iran catastrophe, was funded by Bruce Kovner and Roger Hertog and other Israel backers, who gifted that Pentagon office with neoconservatives Richard Perle and Douglas Feith, who had lately advised Netanyahu.

But openly addressing the Israel lobby is obviously a redline in the New York Times. Because when Lawrence Wilkerson went on the Real News yesterday to discuss his op-ed, he brought up neocons and “Israel’s security” right off the bat!

I think what you’re seeing with people like UN Ambassador Nikki Haley a neoconservative par excellence and other people from the wings as it were, as we had during the march to war with Iraq, Richard Perle for example was one of the most effective of those people from the wings. Like, the FDD, who are pushing what was the agenda originally with regard to Iraq and its being the first state to go. In other words, they wanted to do Syria. They’ve tried that, incidentally and they wanted to do Iran. They wanted to sweep the Middle East for various and sundry reasons, not the least of which was Israel’s security, oil and so forth, but they wanted basically to sweep the Middle East.

Wilkerson said that the “principal reason, longterm reason” that the U.S. was confronting Iran was that (in the words of his interviewer) “Iran acts as a deterrent in some ways to US and Israeli aggression in the region, through primarily its support of Hezbollah and also the Assad government in Syria.”

It is a pity that a man of Wilkerson’s experience and wisdom is not allowed by the New York Times to speak of the Israel interest, when it is at the top of his mind. And a sad reflection of how our mainstream discourse has simply failed to deal with an important truth.

More than twelve years ago, the Atlantic killed the landmark article by Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer saying that the Israel lobby had pushed the U.S. to invade Iraq, and the article was then published by the London Review of Books, and many establishment voices sought to banish the news by accusing the distinguished authors of anti-Semitism. At that time, Wilkerson expressed support for Walt and Mearsheimer. The paper contained the “blinding flash of the obvious,” he said, and he had taught the scholars’ ideas at two Washington, D.C. universities. (Though Alan Dershowitz came down on him for doing so.)

But we’re always back to Square one on this question. When President Obama said in 2015 that it would be an “abrogation” of his constitutional duty to listen to Israel and renounce the Iran deal, he was accused of endorsing the dual loyalty canard, etc. When he said that Democratic senators were under fundraising pressure to oppose the deal, there were more such accusations. Though Obama was speaking the truth. Round and round we go, and never move forward.


Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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14 Responses

  1. RoHa on February 7, 2018, 6:32 pm

    Er, yes. We figured that out a while ago.

  2. pabelmont on February 7, 2018, 6:32 pm

    To be complete, Wilkerson (or his interviewer) said that Iran serves as a deterrent to USA and Israeli aggression in the region. Not just Israeli. And presumably NYT supports USA imperialism. As mega capitalism (also) seems always to do. And NYT walks with the biggies on many points.

    But this USA and Israeli aggression idea fits neatly with the suggestion, abhorrent to many decent people but apparently true, that there is no daylight between the foreign policies of the ruling classes of the USA and Israel. Both are aggressive imperialists. Both teach their citizens that the countries and their militaries are special, beyond the reach of international law, exceptional, and ever so moral.

    • Keith on February 8, 2018, 12:32 am

      PABELMONT- “But this USA and Israeli aggression idea fits neatly with the suggestion, abhorrent to many decent people but apparently true, that there is no daylight between the foreign policies of the ruling classes of the USA and Israel.”

      Indeed, with the overwhelming influence of Zionist Jews on US foreign policy, how could it be otherwise?

  3. Kay24 on February 7, 2018, 8:29 pm

    The sellers of American wars show remorse only after millions of Muslims are killed, injured, or become refugees. Where was their conscience before, and how could they watch the bloodbath without feeling any guilt? Americans have to know that fighting a despicable occupier’s war, losing trillions of dollars, and American lives, is simply not worth it. Israel always manipulates, interferes, and prods us to do their dirty work. No wonder we are hated around the world, just like they are.

  4. MeMyself on February 7, 2018, 10:54 pm

    Back in 2007, Wilkerson, and several other former Bush administration officials, went on record as confirming that former Israeli PM Sharon had told Bush NOT to attack Iraq, and that Iran was the real threat. Bush got Sharon to agree to keep his opinions to himself, which was the biggest mistake Sharon ever made politically.

    So now Wilkerson is changing his story? Based on what the NY Times, usually first in line to criticize Israel, is not saying?

    The only reason this is not bad journalism is because it is hardly journalism.

    • biggerjake on February 8, 2018, 10:16 am

      Wilkerson isn’t changing his story. I don’t know how you can say that.

      Sharon pointed out to Bush the obvious: If Saddam was gone the biggest counterweight to Iran would be gone. The implication being, if you take out Saddam, then you must then deal with Iran.

      Wilkerson never denied that Sharon said that. He did say that the Israel lobby in the US supported the invasion of Iraq which is well documented.

      This is a good, well written article, as is the NYT article… It’s your comment that is BS.

      • Citizen on February 8, 2018, 10:38 am

        I guess Wilkerson didn’t think it that immediately important to also point out that the Neocon-Zionists, the founder and think tanks of neocons and zionists, the original PNAC crowd, convinced Israeli operatives that US needed to attack before attacking Iran, both being prime PNAC targets–probably catering to Bush JR’s deep hate for Saddam for hating on his daddy? What’s really disturbing is the likes of an original PNAC guy like Bill Kristol is given a bully pulpit almost daily on cable tv news/infotainments shows, as is Bolton–and they are now striving hard, along with Nikki Haley, to get US to attack Iran, to benefit MIC & Israel, as always.

      • eljay on February 8, 2018, 10:43 am

        || MeMyself: … in 2007 … Sharon told Bush NOT to attack Iraq … ||

        MeMyself  December 25, 2014 at 11:06 pm
        … in 2007 … Sharon told Bush an invasion of Iraq would be a bad thing

        || … So now Wilkerson is changing his story? … ||

        Someone’s story has changed.

    • Keith on February 8, 2018, 11:02 am

      MEMYSELF- “… the NY Times, usually first in line to criticize Israel….”

      You have a very tenuous grasp of reality, at least concerning Israel. Israel uber alles?

      You are, however, correct about the neocons selling the Iraq invasion to initially reluctant Israeli officials with the proviso that Iran would subsequently be attacked. With that provision, Israel and the lobby became enthusiastic supporters of the Iraq invasion.

    • Talkback on February 9, 2018, 3:18 am

      Memyself: “Back in 2007, Wilkerson, and several other former Bush administration officials, went on record as confirming that former Israeli PM Sharon had told Bush NOT to attack Iraq, and that Iran was the real threat.”

      That’s not what Sharon said. He simply wanted to prioritize Iran in the US-Israel terrorist campaign of pro-Israelizing the middle east.

      And in August 2002 Sharon changed hist story:

      Sharon: “Iraq is a great danger. It could be said it is the greatest danger.”

      Israel puts pressure on US to strike Iraq

  5. Ossinev on February 8, 2018, 2:23 pm

    Listened to the interview and as is routine experienced the usual tip toeing round the reality of Israeli/Zionist influence and control of American policy in the region. To be fair to Colonel Wilkerson he does make it clear that in his view any war with Iran would invariably require a ground invasion and occupation of around 10 years with casualties and costs dwarfing those resulting from the invasion and occupation of Iraq. He also points out that unlike with Iraq and the WMD scam the only ally which America would have would be Israel. But what he failed to make clear and what is never made clear is that Israel has no intention whatsoever of acting like the true (if misled) allies in the Iraq war. No israeli contributions in terms of materials , no offer to forego the $4 billion annual bung and very definitely no question of boots on the ground and the spilling of precious Jewish blood to support their wonderful closest ally – despite what would be a massive haemorrhaging of American blood.
    If this scenario does unfold and one can only hope that it doesn`t – not for the sake of Fascist Israel but for the sake of truly democratic and peace loving countries in the region and the West – surely at some point even the dumbest neocon American will be thinking wait a minute these are our allies? WTF are they doing to support us when our young men and women are leaving Iran in body bags ?

  6. Misterioso on February 8, 2018, 3:33 pm

    Perhaps the best argument against the US led invasion\occupation of Iraq in 2003 was made in 1991 by then Secretary of Defense, Dick Cheney, regarding the limited 1990-91 Gulf War: “Once you’ve got Baghdad, it’s not clear what you will do with it. It’s not clear what kind of government you would put in place of the one that’s currently there now. Is it going to be a Shia regime, a Sunni regime or a Kurdish regime? Or one that tilts toward the Ba’athists, or one that tilts toward the Islamic fundamentalists . How much credibility is that government going to have if it’s set up by the United States military when it’s there? How long does the United States military have to stay to protect the people that sign on for the government, and what happens to it once we leave?” (New York Times, 13 April 1991)

  7. James Canning on February 8, 2018, 5:30 pm

    Great piece. The Israel lobby has taken great pains to conceal from the American public the fact that the idiotic US invasion of Iraq in 2003 was a scheme to benefit Israel.

  8. lonely rico on February 9, 2018, 4:12 am

    > Philip Weiss

    Just as AEI, Bush’s thinktank for the Iran catastrophe …

    Shouldn’t that read “Bush’s thinktank for the Iraq catastrophe” ?

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