The Podhoretz Plan: A Shabby and Sinister Case for War
Anyone following the Larry Franklin
Pentagon spy story is keenly aware of the solidarity
neoconservatives, AIPAC, Israel`s rightwing Likud
Party, the US invasion of Iraq, and the war drums
neocons are beating against Iran.
By this time, only the willfully
ignorant could be unaware that top neocon policymakers
in the George W. Bush administration wrote a policy
paper for rightwing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu in 1996 that
called for "removing Saddam Hussein from power in
Iraq—an important Israeli strategic objective in its own
right." The September 11 terror attacks gave the
neocons the opportunity to put their removal strategy in
Among the willfully ignorant is
Norman Podhoretz. He has just published a
30,000-word delusional screed in the September issue of
"WW IV: How It Started, What It Means, and Why We Have
to Win." (In the neocon lexicon,
WWIII was the Cold War.)
Podhoretz begins by alleging that
"the malignant force in radical Islamism" has as
its objective "to conquer our land" and to
destroy "everything good for which America stands."
If Muslims intend to
conquer America, then they are every bit as
delusional as Podhoretz, who intends for America to
conquer the Middle East.
But, of course, Muslims have no
such objective. The objective of Muslim terrorists is to
drive America out of Muslim homelands, not to conquer
Podhoretz`s intention to conquer
the Middle East, however, is real. He has declared it
before, as has Douglas Feith, currently Undersecretary
of Defense in the Bush administration, who wrote in his
"Strategy for Israel" [Commentary,
September 1997] in 1997 that the US and Israel should
conquer Iraq, Syria, and Iran and that Israel should
reoccupy "the areas under Palestinian Authority
Podhoretz wants you to believe that
"the road we have taken since 9/11 is the only safe
course for us to follow."
Safe? This bloody and inhuman road
leads on to American invasions of Iran, Syria, Lebanon
and, if Podhoretz has his way, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
Demurely, Podhoretz has kept Pakistan off his list,
perhaps because Pakistan, like Israel, has nuclear
Podhoretz is worried that mounting
US casualties in Iraq and growing public doubt about the
wisdom of the failed Iraq invasion will derail the
scheme to conquer the Muslim Middle East and to
deracinate Islam. Podhoretz gives his assurances that
"the obstacles to a benevolent transformation of the
Middle East—whether military, political, or
religious—are not insuperable." He writes that
"there can be no question that we possess the power and
The only question is whether we
have "the stomach to do what will be required."
To make sure that we have the
stomach, Podhoretz blames the 9/11 terrorist attack on
American cowardice. He argues that four US presidents
(Carter, Reagan, Bush I, and Clinton) spent 24 years
convincing Muslims that America is a wimp.
Podhoretz lays out his history of
White House wimpery. First, Carter wimped out on
Reagan let Islamic terrorists blow us out of
Lebanon. Bush I followed in Reagan`s wimp footsteps and
refused to finish the job in Iraq. Clinton continued the
wimp tradition for two more terms.
Podhoretz states Clinton would
not even meet with his own CIA director,
neocon James Woolsey, because Clinton was too much
of a wimp to want to
hear from Woolsey that Muslims had declared WW IV on
Podhoretz concludes that the
"sheer audacity" of 9/11 "was unquestionably a
product of his [bin Laden`s] contempt for
American power." American wimpery caused 9/11,
because "bin Laden
wrote off the Americans as cowards."
We will suffer more devastating
attacks, Podhoretz says, unless we find the stomach to
fight WW IV.
Podhoretz overlooks the fact that
al-Qaeda is a nongovernmental organization, not a state
with a standing army. Podhoretz doesn`t examine the
morality of devastating five or six Muslim countries in
retribution for the actions of a few terrorists. He
evades the issue of whether attacking hundreds of
millions of Muslims in an effort to chase down a small
number of terrorists is likely to increase the ranks of
Podhoretz writes that any American
restraint is foolish because it signals weakness.
America was saved from weakness by President George W.
Bush (Bush II), who like Harry Truman unexpectedly
turned up with a vision.
Bush II`s vision is—you guessed
it—the same as that of the Likud Party and the neocons
who mold Bush`s mind and write Bush`s speeches.
The "vision" is to knock off
Iraq, Iran and Syria, the countries that could get in
the way of Israel expelling the Palestinians to Jordan
and grabbing Lebanon as well. This is what World War IV
is all about.
Unlike Undersecretary Feith, David
Wurmser (VP Cheney`s staff) and Richard Perle (Defense
Review Board), Podhoretz doesn`t describe the overthrow
of countries which might be obstacles to Israeli
ambition as "an important Israeli strategic
Podhoretz dresses up his policy of
naked aggression as America`s duty to bring truth,
light, democracy and American virtue to the Middle East.
Trouble is, there are distinguished
thinkers who cannot be smeared as anti-Semites for
disagreeing with Podhoretz, such as Professor Samuel
Huntington and Brent Scowcroft who was National Security
Adviser to Bush I.
Podhoretz deals with Scowcroft by
accusing him of giving aid and comfort to anti-Semites
by mentioning "the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,"
asserting that only anti-Semites think that Israel`s
treatment of Palestinians has anything to do with 9/11.
Podhoretz assures us that bin Laden
himself couldn`t care less about the Palestinians and
attacked America simply because wimpy US presidents
convinced him that we are cowards.
Really, I am not making this up.
Next Podhoretz goes after
"realists." Realists are almost as bad as
anti-Semites. But, then, so is anyone who doesn`t buy
the neocon`s ideology of imposing America`s virtue on
the world—especially the Muslim part—by force of arms.
Did you know that the American
leftwing is also anti-Semitic? Podhoretz is outraged
Susan Sontag actually said that 9/11 was an attack
"undertaken as a consequence of specific American
alliances and actions." Podhoretz tries to tar
Mickey Kaus for agreeing with Pat Buchanan that
mistreatment of the Palestinians is part of the problem.
He is aghast that
Michael Kinsley agrees with Buchanan that it is an
affront to the Constitution to fight undeclared wars.
The weakness of Podhoretz`s case
for turning the Middle East into an American-Israeli
colony, causes him to resort to the anti-Semite smear.
However, the publication last year of
The Politics of Anti-Semitism, a powerful
collection of essays, many written by Jews, has taken
the sting from the charge by showing that it is a tactic
used to prevent debate. Many "anti-Semites" are Israel`s
friends who are concerned that Israel`s colonization of
Palestine will unify Muslims in war against Israel.
Perhaps sensing that
"anti-Semite" is a worn out ploy, Podhoretz invents
for anyone who questions Bush`s policy of "bringing
democracy to the Middle East."
We should be scared more by
Podhoretz than by terrorists. In Podhoretz`s
"vision," America is totally good. Muslims are
totally evil, because they use terrorism to resist the
high-minded intentions of America`s virtuous aggression.
Podhoretz`s vision has no room for
diplomacy, compromise, and agreements. These are the
tools of wimps and will cause "a relapse into
appeasement and diplomatic evasion." There is only
room for war.
To pursue the insane agenda of
conquering and occupying the Middle East not only
requires the stomach for inhumane acts, but also demands
millions of Americans taking up arms. Here comes the
draft and a generation of casualties.
Podhoretz does not understand the
difference between defeating standing armies and
successfully occupying hostile populations that conduct
fourth generation warfare against us.
Instead, he sees an America armed
with a "new patriotic mood," which is "a sign
of greater intellectual sanity and moral health."
Only skeptics can prevent our triumph in the Middle East
by undermining our confidence like they did in
Thus, winning WW IV requires
silencing those who disagree with Podhoretz`s case for
Podhoretz required 30,000 words, but he has made it
crystal clear that the case for American aggression in
the Middle East is shabby and sinister.
Paul Craig Roberts is the author with Lawrence M.
The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and
Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name