In case you don't already know it, Kristol's father Irving is considered to be the "godfather" of the American neoconservative movement, and Kristol himself was the founding chairman of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), the think tank whose membership has included Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Lewis Libby, John Bolton, Bill Bennett, Jeb Bush and other luminaries of the political right.
As its paper trail reveals, the PNAC began pushing for removal of Saddam Hussein by military force in early 1998. Between then and the 2003 invasion, PNAC's justification for such action ranged from weapons of mass destruction to ensuring the Middle East oil flow to protecting Israel to establishing a larger military footprint in the Gulf region. Its September 2000 publication Rebuilding America's Defenses baldly confessed that Saddam Hussein was in reality a convenient excuse for its ambition of a U.S. occupied Middle East:
"While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein." (Page 14.)
PNAC did not stress terrorism as a supporting argument for its Iraq policy until after 9/11, and even then they stated that Hussein should be removed by force whether any proof surfaced that he was connected to the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks or not.*
This very same Bill Kristol and his neo-confederates are now characterizing the Israel-Lebanon confrontation as Iran's Proxy War, and are urging "pursuit of regime change" in Syria and Iran and "countering this act of Iranian aggression with a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities."
Proof by Lack of Evidence
The Bush administration justified its invasion of Iraq with then CIA director George Tenet's "slam dunk" proof of Saddam Hussein's active weapons of mass destruction program and ambiguous intelligence claims of links between Hussein andal Qaeda. Both allegations proved false.
In the war dance currently being choreographed for military confrontation with Iran, the usual suspect chicken hawks aren't even making a pretense at having a shred of evidence to support their claims of Iranian actions or intentions.
President Bush and leading administration echo chamberlains like PNACer Charles Krauthammer consistently insist that Iran is actively pursuing technology necessary to produce nuclear weapons. Iran has consistently insisted that it only wants to establish a nuclear energy industry for reasons that are obvious to anyone who can read the writing on the wall about the future of fossil fuel as an engine of industrial development.
Who are we to believe?
As Seymour Hersch's recent piece in The New Yorker revealed, Pentagon war planners can't come up with a coherent target set for a contingency air operation on Iran because they can't find any indication of the existence of nuclear weapons production facilities. Hersch wrote:
A former senior intelligence official told me that people in the Pentagon were asking, “What’s the evidence? We’ve got a million tentacles out there, overt and covert, and these guys”—the Iranians—“have been working on this for eighteen years, and we have nothing? We’re coming up with jack shit.”
Evidence that Iran and its strategic partner Syria are behind Hezbollah's recent kidnapping of Israeli soldiers that sparked the Israel-Lebanon conflict is equally jack-less.
More than ample evidence exists to prove the Iran has sponsored and equipped Hezbollah throughout the history of its existence, and has used the organization as a proxy in its struggle with Israel. But crystal clear evidence exists that America created and supported Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. And there's no question at all that America backed Saddam Hussein in the, Iran-Iraq War, or that the U.S. supplied Hussein with chemical weapons to fight that war, or that the United States Navy actively participated in that conflict on the side of Iraq.
Are we then to conclude that senior officials in the Reagan and Bush I administration like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld were responsible for launching Iraq's WMD program, or Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, or of the 9/11 attacks? Is it unreasonable to conclude that the people in charge of the United States government right now are the very ones who created the "axis of evil" and "Islamo-fascism?"
The Sunday political gab fest was positively electric over the Israel-Lebanon conflict. Newt Gingrich thinks we're seeing the beginning of World War III (and here I though we were already engaged in World War IV. Or V. Or VI. I'm losing count.) The blogosphere is swarming with conspiracy theories--Olmert ordered his soldiers to let themselves get kidnapped, Bush secretly promised Olmert the U.S. would let Israel do whatever they want in Lebanon, and somewhere I think I saw mention of the real mastermind behind the whole thing being the man in the moon.
Pundits and politicians on the left and right are pointing fingers at Iran and Syria, but all we really know for sure is that the Middle East appears to be headed for hell in a handbag, and that nobody really knows what the hell's going on or who the hell's really behind it.
And in the middle of this insanity steps good old Bill Kristol saying, "Hey, I know, lets bomb Iran's nuclear reactors."
Yeah, Bill. That will fix everything. Just like your great idea about invading Iraq did.
Young Mister Bush is catching heat from all sides regarding his reaction to the Israel-Lebanon crisis. Some say he's not doing enough to show that America stands behind Israel. Others say he's not doing enough to stay Israel's hand. I say that for once, Bush is doing the right thing by waffling. Not that waffling is a good thing to do, but it's the only real choice he has right now.
He certainly can't come out strongly in favor of Hezbollah. If he speaks out strongly in favor of Israel, he'll further solidify anti-American sentiment in the Muslim world--Arabs, Persians, Sunnis and Shias alike.
And Allah help us all if Bush listens to the likes of Kristol (again) and starts flinging two thousand pound bombs at Iran on the basis of allegations supported by zero intelligence.
As Senator Joe Biden (D Delaware) said on Meet the Press, the Bush administration's Middle East policy has placed America in a very deep hole. The best thing we can do now is to stop digging. We need to change the U.S. political equation in November, but we need to do a lot more than that. We must utterly reject the neoconservative philosophy, and that means turning our backs on Bill Kristol, his PNAC cabal, and their associates in hawkish organizations like the Heritage Foundation, the Hoover Institution and the American Enterprise Institute.
Then we'll need to take a fire hose to the sacred cash cow known as America's military industrial complex.
*For a more comprehensive account of the neoconservatives' long march to the war in Iraq, see The PNAC Paper Trail.
Also see Jeff's Next World Order series.
Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at ePluribus Media and Pen and Sword.