Here's a great piece
by Stephen Walt on Tony Blair's recent admission that Israelis played a role -- not the
decisive role, but a
role -- in the decision to invade Iraq. First, Blair's admission:
"As I recall that discussion, it was less to do with specifics about what we were going to do on Iraq or, indeed, the Middle East, because the Israel issue was a big, big issue at the time. I think, in fact, I remember, actually, there may have been conversations that we had even with Israelis, the two of us, whilst we were there. So that was a major part of all this."
Blair's comments fit neatly with the argument we make about the lobby and Iraq. Specifically, Professor Mearsheimer and I made it clear in our article and especially in our book that the idea of invading Iraq originated in the United States with the neoconservatives, and not with the Israeli government. But as the neoconservative pundit Max Boot once put it, steadfast support for Israel is "a key tenet of neoconservatism." Prominent neo-conservatives occupied important positions in the Bush administration, and in the aftermath of 9/11, they played a major role in persuading Bush and Cheney to back a war against Iraq, which they had been advocating since the late 1990s. We also pointed out that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and other Israeli officials were initially skeptical of this scheme, because they wanted the U.S. to focus on Iran, not Iraq. However, they became enthusiastic supporters of the idea of invading Iraq once the Bush administration made it clear to them that Iraq was just the first step in a broader campaign of "regional transformation" that would eventually include Iran.
I'll add this. The presumptive GOP front-runner at this point is Sarah Palin, who kept an Israeli flag -- and no other flag
-- in her office. And she is proud of that
"The only flag at my office is an Israeli flag," she was quoted as saying, "and I want you to know and I want Israelis to know that I am a friend."
She has also been careful to wear an Israeli flag pin while making appearances as the newly-crowned Queen of the Tea Partiers.
What does this tell us? Not that Sarah Palin is part of some mythical ominpotent Jewish conspiracy. But it does tell us that she is a neocon
Her takeover of the Tea Party movement indicates that the populist strain within that movement (a strain which does not have a knee-jerk pro-Israel attitude) has given way to the neocon strain. The spirit of Dick Cheney has animated a new body.
As Walt points out, what the neocons really
want is Iran. They supported the Iraq invasion only because they thought it would lead to an Iran invasion. When they belatedly understood that the Iraq fiasco actually impeded
their planned attack on Iran, some of the neocons tried to re-write their personal history.
They may try to change the past, but they never will change their goal for the future. Iran is the prize. If a neocon wins in 2012, prepare for World War III.