Neoconservatives and their Influence on U.S.
Foreign Policy in the Middle East, 2000-2010

Damian Lataan


Copyright © Damian Lataan 2014

The right of Damian Lataan to be identified as the author of this
work has been asserted by him under the Copyright Amendment
(Moral Rights) Act, 2000.

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The neoconservatives’ loudly-proclaimed belief that American
exceptionalism together with America’s sole ‘super-power’ status and
its military and economic might can and should be used to bring
democracy and human rights to other countries in order to advance the
interests of the United States and Israel is the core belief of
neoconservatives and it is this belief that has been the driving force
behind the tumultuous events that have defined much of the first decade
of the twenty-first century. This work will examine the crucial role that
the predominantly Israeli-centric neoconservatives have played in the
evolution and enactment of American foreign policy during the George
W. Bush and early Obama administrations in relation to events in the
Middle East and elsewhere during the first decade of the twenty-first
This work will show how the controversial election of George
W. Bush to the presidency in 2000
signalled the opening of the door to
the ready and anxiously waiting US neoconservatives and the
implementation of many of their ideological and think-tank driven ideas
for US foreign policy. Many of those who had spent years during the
Clinton era formulating ideas about how US foreign policy should
proceed, particularly in the Middle East, were given senior positions in
the Bush administration. The work will demonstrate how the
neoconservatives’ ideas were then gradually brought into fruition by
taking full advantage of a combination of three essential factors: the
election of a right-wing conservative Republican President who was
entirely receptive to their ideas; America’s position as the world’s only

Several works have provided explanations covering the controversy. For a
comprehensive narrative see: Leonard Downie, Steve Coll and Bill Hamilton, (eds.)
Deadlock: The Inside Story of America’s Closest Election, (New York: Public Affairs,
2001). See also: Howard Gillman, The Votes That Counted: How the Court Decided the
2000 Presidential Election, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001). For an
alternative perspective of the election, see: Garvin Karunaratne, The Administrative
Bungling That Hijacked the 2000 US Presidential Election, (Lanham, MD: University
Press of America, 2004).

active super-power; and, most importantly, the attacks of 11 September
2001 that served as the catalyst that activated many of the
neoconservatives’ well prepared foreign policy ideas. The work will
also show how Israel, more than any other nation, benefited from the
actions of the neoconservatives during this period and will show how
Israel would have benefited further had the neoconservative plans for
the restructuring of the Middle East materialised after the invasion of
Afghanistan and Iraq.

What should be made clear from the outset is that there is no fully
comprehensible definition for neoconservatism.
However, the
narrative that follows will highlight many of the characteristics that
identify neoconservatives.
The neoconservatives that dominated the George W. Bush
administration and, indeed, neoconservatives generally can be
described as individuals that, above all, have a profound belief in
Western exceptionalism, particularly American exceptionalism,
together with a boundless belief in the righteousness of the Zionist
cause in Israel and its inseparability from American exceptionalism.
While there are no set parameters to accurately define exactly what
neoconservatism is, there are a number of starting points which can be
used to begin building a definition of the term ‘neoconservativism’.
One useful starting point is to examine typical well-known
neoconservative organisations that have well-known and established
neoconservative intellectuals and political figures within their ranks.
One example of such an organisation is the now defunct ‘The Project
for the New American Century’ (PNAC), or its successor organisation,
‘The Foreign Policy Initiative’ (FPI). An examination of the myriad of
other think-tank style organisations who, as shall be shown, share some
of the same boards of directors, academics, scholars and staffers as each
other, also serves to describe the neoconservative character.

Seymour Martin Lipset, “Neoconservatism: Myth and Reality”, Society, Vol. 25, No.
5, July/August 1988, p. 29.

Initially, neoconservatives were, as shall be discussed in
Chapter One, those who found themselves to the right of politics after
having been on the left – hence neo (new) conservative – new to the
conservative body of politics, usually after having been liberal or even
socialist or Marxist; something other than conservative. In today’s
modern parlance, however, the term neoconservative has taken on a
new meaning which the term itself no longer describes. Instead, it refers
to those who are not just ‘new’ conservatives per se, but those who are
far more to the right of political conservatism, particularly with regards
to foreign policy, and in many cases to the extreme right, but who have
also worked with and supported the neoconservative cause which all
but dominated the Bush administration. Because intellectual
neoconservatives – those brought up on the writings of the likes of
Norman Podhoretz, William Kristol, et al – had taken a leading role in
the Bush administration, other right wing more traditional conservatives
who have played a major role in the Bush administration have now also
been labelled neoconservatives, and this has led to another more
portentous interpretation of the neoconservative label. Paul Gottfried,
Professor of Humanities at Elizabethtown College, Pasadena, observes,
“the term ‘neoconservative’ is now too closely identified with the
personal and ethnic concerns of its Jewish celebrities.”
In saying ‘is
now too closely identified’ Gottfried implies that this is a recent
phenomenon. In reality this is not the case, though it would be true to
say that such identification has recently become a far more widespread
view. Weighing in to this argument, Kenneth R. Weinstein of the
Hudson Institute has been quoted as saying that the view that the
modern US neoconservative movement is part of some Jewish
conspiracy or Zionist cabal is ‘Hogwash’ and that “There are four
major players now running American policy – President Bush, number
one; number two, Dick Cheney, number three is Don Rumsfeld and

Paul Gottfried, “What’s in a Name? The Curious Case of the ‘Neoconservative’”,
VDARE.COM, April 2003.
Accessed 2 November 2003.

number four is Colin Powell. The whole notion that there is some cabal
of people pulling the strings is ludicrous.”

Kevin McDonald, Professor of Psychology at California State
University, Long Beach, disputes this and argues,

A common argument is that neoconservatism is not Jewish
because of the presence of various non-Jews amongst their
ranks. But in fact, the ability to recruit prominent non-Jews,
while nevertheless maintaining a Jewish core and a
commitment to Jewish interests, has been a hallmark —
perhaps the key hallmark — of influential Jewish intellectual
and political movements throughout the 20

Where Weinstein’s argument fails – apart from the fact that Colin
Powell could never really be counted among the administrations list of
senior neoconservatives – is in the inference that as Bush, Cheney and
Rumsfeld are not Jewish they cannot be part of an exclusively Jewish
neoconservative conspiratorial cabal if, indeed, there is one, which
Weinstein denies. All three of these leaders have always been
conventional conservatives, but now find that many of their views
converge or run parallel with neoconservatism. It is this that makes
McDonald’s argument compelling. The fact is, George W. Bush, Dick
Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld are all strong supporters of the Zionist
cause and, at least to some extent, possess neoconservative values.
By mid 2003, the discussion over the extent of Israeli and
Jewish politics being enmeshed in the politics of US neoconservatism
had taken on renewed enthusiasm for debate among the wider
community. Prior to this, most debate in this regard had been confined

Amy Keller, “Who’s really steering US foreign policy?” Detroit Jewish News.
Accessed 4 November 2003.
Kevin McDonald, “Thinking About Neoconservatism”, VDARE.COM, 18 September
2003. Accessed 4 November

to intellectuals and commentators. The reason for the renewed
enthusiasm is the increasingly noticeable alignment of Western
governments, not just the US, with the policies of Israel in their fight
with the Palestinians. Since it was the neoconservatives who, in the
propaganda lead-up to the invasion of Iraq, had campaigned the hardest
to effect ‘regime change’ in Iraq using Iraq’s alleged association with
‘terrorists’ generally, and the ‘terrorists’ of 11 September particularly,
and, in turn, Saddam Hussein’s known support for the Palestinian
cause, the connection between the right wing of Israel’s government
and the US neoconservatives became plainly visible. By March 2006,
the influence of Israeli politics via neoconservatism had come to a head
with the publication of the controversial Mearsheimer and Walt paper
on the Israeli lobby.

The argument over the extent of Zionist interests in modern US
neoconservatism is ongoing. Undoubtedly, many, but by no means all,
of the established US neoconservatives are, indeed, Jewish Americans.
The question is, have they become neoconservatives because they are
Jewish American intellectuals or is the fact that they are mostly Jewish
incidental? Certainly the established history of modern
neoconservatism would suggest that their evolution towards the right
was influenced to a large extent by the anti-Semitism of the
communism of the Eastern European Bloc nations and the Soviet Union
which led to the emerging neoconservatives’ fervent anti-communism
during the Reagan era.
Their connections to Israel have grown and
evolved ever since and because of this, the non-Jewish who have joined
the neoconservatives’ ranks now give their wholehearted support to
Israeli interests.
As has been pointed out, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Powell
are not Jewish. However, their journey to neoconservatism has allowed
them to become aligned with those other neoconservatives who

John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, “The Israel Lobby”, London Review of Books,
Vol. 28, No. 6, 23 March 2006, pp. 3-12.
Peter Steinfels, Neoconservatives: The Men Who Are Changing America’s Politics,
(New York: Simon & Schuster, 1979), pp. 277-279.

represent Israeli interests and who do so with as much, if not greater,
fervour as they support US interests. The result has been a synergy that
has evolved out of their relationship with each other; for Bush, Cheney,
Rumsfeld and Powell, the key to US hegemony in the Middle East is
support of Israeli interests. For the neoconservatives, the key to Israeli
interests is support for US hegemony. It would, therefore, not be
incorrect to say that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Powell did all
become neoconservatives at some stage during this period.
Many neoconservatives view themselves as neoconservatives,
an observation that requires some qualification. Some neoconservatives
are at ease with this self-description. For example, Irving Kristol,
regarded as one of the founding fathers of neoconservatism, has said,
“Is neoconservatism the right label? I don’t mind it – but then, if the
political spectrum moved rightward, and we should become ‘neo-
liberal’ tomorrow, I would accept that too.”
Eight months later, Kristol
wrote, “The more I think about the term, the more I like it.”
That was
in 1976. Other neoconservatives do not accept the title at all. Seymour
Martin Lipset, for example, a twentieth-century social critic and one of
the original modern neoconservatives, famously wrote that the term
“was invented as an invidious label to undermine political opponents,
most of whom have been unhappy with being so described.”
That was
in 1988.
By late 2002, as the war against Iraq loomed, the term ‘neocon’
or ‘neocons’, was increasingly being used not just simply as an
abbreviation of the word ‘neoconservative’ but in a derogatory sense,
made so by its use predominantly in left-wing commentary. Renowned
neoconservative writer, Max Boot, wrote that the term ‘neocon’ had
“become an all-purpose term of abuse for anyone deemed to be
At around the same time, the right-wing and mainstream

Irving Kristol, “What Is a Neo-conservative?” Newsweek, 19 January 1976, p. 87.
Irving Kristol, “What Is a Liberal – Who Is a Conservative? A Symposium”,
Commentary, September 1976, p. 74.
Lipset, “Neoconservatism: Myth and Reality”, pp. 29-37.
Max Boot, “Myths About Neoconservatism”, in Irwin Stelzer, (ed.), The Neocon
Reader, (New York: Grove Press, 2004), p. 47.

media press began to drop the use of the word ‘neoconservative’ in
their commentary, preferring instead to use actual names coupled with
terms like ‘a prominent hawk in the Bush administration’
or ‘a
leading hawk in the US administration’.
By the beginning of 2004,
most people familiar with the events that were going on in the world as
a result of US foreign policy were aware of who some of the
neoconservatives were, what they stood for and what their positions
were in the Bush administration. Toward the end of the first decade of
the twenty-first century and as the George W. Bush administration
passed into history, the word ‘neocon’ reverted into non-derogatory
everyday usage, often being used by neocons themselves.
By February 2004, the core argument for the war against Iraq
had collapsed. As shall be shown, the weapons of mass destruction
(WMDs) that were the stated casus belli for the war were revealed to be
a myth. No such weapons were found. While the leaders of the nations
that went to war with Iraq knew that these weapons did not exist at the
time war was being planned, they continued to use highly contentious
circumstantial and historical evidence in an unprecedented effort to
convince both world opinion and the United Nations (UN) that Iraq was
a danger to the world because of its WMDs. This work will point out
how and, perhaps more importantly, why this was achieved and will
also show the extent of the neoconservatives’ influence in all of these
matters. In doing so, it will further demonstrate the neoconservative
It is not the intention of this work to discuss the detailed history
or evolution of neoconservatism, nor to delve into deep philosophical
arguments as to the ethics or morals associated with intellectual

Toby Harnden, “Syria now top US target for ‘regime change’”, UK Telegraph, 8
April 2003. This article refers to John Bolton, who is described as “a prominent hawk
in the Bush administration”. Accessed
20 January 2004.
“US hawk seeks Turkish support”. BBC News, UK, 3 December 2002 This article
refers to Paul Wolfowitz, who is described as “a leading hawk in the US
administration”. Accessed 20 January

neoconservatism. Nor is it the intention of this work to analyse or
examine the economic ideas of neoconservatism.
There is already
much scholarly literature that deals with all of these aspects of
neoconservatism, many of which shall be referred to throughout this
dissertation and discussed generally in the section below. Therefore, the
purpose of any discussion of some general aspects of neoconservatism
in this dissertation is solely for the purpose of identifying
neoconservatives so that they may be properly placed within the
framework of the dissertation’s argument. Having established who the
neoconservatives are, then the next step will be to analyse their roles
and the extent of their influence on US foreign policy leading up to and
during the George W. Bush era and beyond.

Since the neoconservative agenda has relied significantly on the written
word, as has the debate about neoconservatism and its aims, it is
necessary to describe the nature of the resources used in this research.
Material supporting this work originates from a number of
sources. Much of the literature can be grouped into four distinct
categories: academic books and articles; books, commentaries and
opinion pieces by journalists; books and articles by neoconservative
commentators and intellectuals, which can usefully be described as
primary sources, since the work is essentially about neoconservatism;
and finally, books and articles by officials and former officials of the
various administrations, many of which can also be described as
primary sources. However, because of the complex cross-over nature of
the resources, (for example, many neoconservatives are themselves
academics and/or were players within the Bush administration) the

Except inasmuch that neoconservatives generally are instinctively conservative in
their economic views, they otherwise are far more interested in foreign policy. For most
neoconservatives, economic policies are a means to an end that might realise their ideas
about foreign policy which takes precedence over economic policy. For a brief
discussion on neoconservative economic ideas see: Irwin Stelzer, “Neoconservative
Economic Policy: Virtues and Vices”, in Stelzer, The Neocon Reader, pp. 195-198.

discussion of resources will not necessarily be in any particular order as
grouped above.
Apart from the literature outlined above, a critically important
resource is government documents, which are generally available via
the Internet. The US archival network maintains a full record of
speeches, interviews, press releases, etc., of all of the senior members
of the administrations hierarchy including those of George W. Bush,
Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice and Donald Rumsfeld.
Similarly, the government archives of the various leaders of the nations
that became part of the ‘Coalition of the Willing’ that supported Bush’s
war on Iraq are also a valuable online resource that will be used
throughout this work.

While newspaper and other media resources can also be of
significant importance, the credibility of many newspaper articles and,
therefore, their authors, needs to be carefully considered in the light of
the misleading way the mainstream media handled the run up to the
Iraq war.
While the misleading of the public by the media leads to
questions about their credibility as a reliable resource of factual
evidence to support various statements, the fact that the mainstream
media did seriously mislead during this period further demonstrates the
influence of the neoconservatives during this period, an issue that will
be discussed further in Chapter Three of this work.
Despite a plethora of books, articles and other works, many of
which will be cited and referred to in this work, much of the scholarly
literature on the history of neoconservatism and its influence on US
foreign policy in the Middle East and Central Asia in the twenty-first
century is still yet to come. However, of the works that have been
completed, one of the most outstanding is Stephan Halper and Jonathan

Refer to the bibliography of this work for a full list of such resources used and
referred to.
While the role of the media will be discussed in Chapter 3, it should be noted that
The New York Times published what amounted to an apology to its readers for having
published stories which had not been thoroughly checked prior to publication during the
lead up to the war against Iraq. See: Editors, “The Times and Iraq”, The New York
Times, 26 May 2004.

Clarke’s America Alone: The Neo-conservatives and the Global Order,
published in 2004.
Published after the allied invasion of Iraq and the
downfall of the Saddam Hussein regime, the book became a benchmark
work that effectively created a template by which neoconservatives
generally could be identified. The authors’ analyses of neoconservatism
and neoconservatives and their role in the Bush administration remains
as valid now as when it was written as the neoconservatives’ war
against Iraq was underway and as the insurgency against the allied
presence in Iraq was getting started.
America Alone: The Neoconservatives and the Global Order
remains one of the pre-eminent scholarly works on the subject, both for
its prescient analysis of the neoconservative polity and for the scholarly
use of resources. Its bibliography alone is a resource in itself, since it is
clear that the authors exhausted virtually all of the works available at
the time.
While it is not usual for a review of a scholarly work to be
quoted within a work, it is done so here in order to demonstrate the
response of neoconservatives, which, in turn, portrays the
neoconservative character. In a review of America Alone, writer and
editor Stanley I. Kutler adequately describes the thrust of the book.

America Alone levels a broad indictment against the Bush
administration, which in the name of the war on terror has
launched the Iraq war, mounted an assault on personal liberties
at home, engaged in a purposeful deceit of the media and the
public (both of which suspended any critical judgment) and,
above all, has inflicted terrible damage on U.S. moral authority
and international legitimacy. The chief culprits for the authors
are the neocons, who are depicted as conspirators who hijacked
American foreign policy.

Stefan Halper and Jonathan Clarke, America Alone: The Neo-conservatives and the
Global Order, (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004).
Stanley I. Kutler, “The Vision Thing”, Washington Post, 15 August 2004.

Unsurprisingly, neoconservatives were less inclined to agree with
Kutler’s summation. While conceding that both Halper and Clarke were
themselves “fine Reaganites, American loving optimists and tough
Cold Warriors”, Jon Kyl, the neoconservative Republican Senator from
Arizona, wrote in the Wall Street Journal,

Downgrading the neoconservatives, however, isn't supportable
on the basis of their book. It is full of oversimplifications,
convenient shifts in argument and outright inaccuracies…
People of good will can debate which counterterrorism
measures are wisest in a post-9/11 world. But to press their
case, Messrs. Halper and Clarke flail wildly against the
"militarist" neocons, even making the preposterous suggestion
that they would rather see U.S. troops occupy certain countries
than take non-lethal steps to encourage a democratic

In 2007, Halper and Clarke wrote what some critics suggested
was a
follow-up to America Alone called The Silence of the Rational Center:
Why American Foreign Policy is Failing.
It was only a ‘follow-up’
inasmuch that it was written after America Alone and deals with the
aftermath of the Bush administration’s and the neoconservatives’
venture into Iraq. However, it has little of the resourcefully presented
character and quality that made America Alone so compelling.
One of the earliest comprehensive studies of the phenomenon
of neoconservatism was Peters Steinfels’ The Neoconservatives: The
Men Who are Changing America’s Politics. Published in 1979, the
book offers the first extended serious analysis, history and critique of

Jon Kyl, “As Some States See Red, Others Feel Blue”, Wall Street Journal, 30 June
2004. Accessed 15 June
Michiko Kakutani, “The Silence of the Rational Center”, The New York Times, 20
February 2007.
Stefan Halper and Jonathon Clarke, The Silence of the Rational Center: Why
American Foreign Policy is Failing, (New York: Basic Books, 2007).

the emerging neoconservative movement. Building on the profiles of
leading neoconservatives, Steinfels presents an inclusive picture of
neoconservative thinking and hints at the end of his book, albeit
vaguely but quite presciently, where neoconservative thinking may

The great danger posed by and to neoconservatism is that it will
become nothing more than the legitimising and lubricating
ideology of the oligarchic America where essential decisions
are made by corporate elites, where great inequalities are
rationalised by straitened circumstances and a system of
meritocratic hierarchy, and where democracy becomes an
occasional, ritualistic gesture. Whether neoconservatism will
end by playing this sinister and unhappy role, or whether it will
end as a permanent, creative, and constructive element in
American politics, is only partially in the hands of
neoconservatives themselves. It will also be determined by the
vigor, intelligence, and dedication of their critics and

By the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century, the answer is
not quite conclusive but there is little doubt that the neoconservatives’
role has indeed been ‘sinister’ and the consequences rather ‘unhappy’.
Since Steinfels’ book was published, neoconservatism has
rapidly progressed, particularly in terms of its influence. A new
generation of neoconservative players have appeared. A few are the
sons and daughters of those that can be considered the founding fathers
(and mothers) of neoconservatism. Neoconservatives themselves
documented much of this progress, sometimes from a personal
viewpoint as in Irving Kristol’s well-known Neoconservatism: The
Autobiography of an Idea
and sometimes from a more objective

Steinfels, The Neoconservatives, p. 294.
Irving Kristol, Neoconservatism: The Autobiography of an Idea, (New York: Free
Press, 1995).

viewpoint such as Mark Gerson’s The Neoconservative Vision: From
the Cold war to the Culture Wars.
There have also been a number of
other books about the development and history of neoconservatism, but
by far the most informative of them are John Ehrman’s
Neoconservatism: Intellectuals and Foreign Affairs, 1945-1994
published in 1995 and, bringing neoconservative history and evolution
right up to date, Jacob Heilbrunn’s They Knew They Were Right: The
Rise of the Neocons
, published in 2008.
To date, there have been a number of works by the major
players involved in the era of the neoconservatives of the twenty-first
century. One would have hoped that those that have so far emerged
would have thrown some much needed light on the events in which
their authors were involved. These revelations, however, have been
disappointing and have tended to be more of a defence of their actions
during their period of office rather than an objective record and analysis
of events from their point of view.
Douglas Feith’s record of his role in the US Department of
Defense under Donald Rumsfeld, War and Decision: Inside the
Pentagon at the Dawn of the War on Terrorism
, is little more than a
frantic attempt to justify the role he and his fellow neoconservatives
played in the invasion and occupation of Iraq. As Michael Scheuer,
former CIA operative and anonymous author of Imperial Hubris: Why
the West is Losing the War on Terror
wrote in his review of Feith’s
book, it “is an old fashioned morality tale written by a man with little

Mark Gerson, The Neoconservative Vision: From the Cold War to the Culture wars,
(Lanham, MD: Madison Books, 1997).
John Ehrman, Neoconservatism: Intellectuals and foreign Affairs, 1945-1994, (New
Haven: Yale University Press, 1995).
Jacob Heilbrunn, They Knew They Were Right: The Rise of the Neocons, (New York:
Doubleday, 2008).
Douglas Feith, War and Decision: Inside the Pentagon at the Dawn of the War
Terrorism, (New York: Harper Collins, 2008).
Michael Scheuer, Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror,
(Dulles, VA: Brassey’s Inc., 2004).

discernible moral sense or any real concern for the truth”.
similar words were used by Feith to describe George Tenet
director during the George W. Bush presidency, who also wrote his
memoirs of the period.
At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA
is a
somewhat naïve account of Tenet’s efforts to thwart Osama bin
Laden’s efforts to attack America prior to 9/11. Tenet expends some
three-quarters of the narrative giving what seems to be a simplistic
blow by blow account of his time in the CIA up to 9/11, while the
remainder of the book is essentially an account of the events covered by
Feith in War and Decision. Apportioning culpability dominates the
narrative of both books, with each blaming the other for the various
failures of the Iraq war and the lead up to it. Tenet desperately attempts
to distance himself from the neoconservatives in the Department of
Defense with regard to the question of Saddam’s connections to, and
role in, the events of 9/11.

For Bob Woodward, however, At the Center of the Storm is a
“remarkable, important and often unintentionally damning memoir”.
Woodward praises some elements of Tenet’s book, particularly for its
revelations about al Qaeda’s alleged efforts to gain nuclear weapons,
but elsewhere he criticises Tenet for the lack of evidence supporting
some of his claims and criticises him over errors of detail.
In They
Knew They Were Right, Jacob Heilbrunn claims that Tenet’s book was
a “self-exculpatory memoir” but offers no specific explanation.

Michael Scheuer, “Douglas Feith’s War and Decision: Life in a Neocon’s Parallel
Universe”,, 2 May 2008. Accessed 6 May 2009.
In a review of George Tenet’s book At the Center of the Storm, Douglas Feith wrote
in the Wall Street Journal: “Anyone can make an honest mistake. But the problem with
George Tenet is that he doesn't seem to care to get his facts straight. He is not
meticulous. He is willing to make up stories that suit his purposes and to suppress
information that does not.” “Inside the Inside Story”, Wall Street Journal, 4 May 2007.
George Tenet, At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA, (New York: Harper
Collins, 2007).
Tenet, At the Center of the Storm, pp. 305-311.
Bob Woodward, “Reaping the Whirlwind”, Washington Post, 6 May 2007.
Heilbrunn, They Knew They Were Right, p. 285.

Heilbrunn may have had in mind the whole chapter in At the Center of
the Storm in which Tenet finds it necessary to explain fully his version
of the events and the context of his famous claim to President George
W. Bush on 21 December 2002, just months before the invasion of Iraq,
that the evidence against Saddam Hussein was a “slam dunk”.
important is this incident in Tenet’s life that he suggests that, had he not
said those words, he might not have written the book.

Press Secretary, Scott McClellan, successor to Ari Fleischer,
has also written his memoirs of the period. The title, What Happened:
Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception
provides a clue to McClellan’s perspective of events of the period.
“History appears poised to confirm what most Americans today have
decided – that the decision to invade Iraq was a serious blunder”, he
writes. “No one, including me, can know with absolute certainty how
the war will be viewed decades from now when we can more fully
understand its impact. What I do know is that war should only be
waged when necessary, and the Iraq war was not necessary”.

Unsurprisingly, McClellan’s book was severely criticised by his
contemporaries. Peter Wehner, a former deputy assistant to President
George W. Bush, wrote in his review of McClellan’s book, “what
appears to be Scott’s existential journey has led him to make sweeping
and reckless allegations that are at odds with reality… He would have
us believe that the Bush administration was, at bottom, massively and
deeply deceitful and corrupt – but this has only dawned on Scott as he
started writing his book, years after the fact.”
Other detractors have
questioned the value of the book with regards to its historical
significance. “What may, in fact, be most revealing about McClellan’s

Tenet, At the Center of the Storm, pp. 359-367.
Tenet, At the Center of the Storm. p. 362.
Scott McClellan, What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s
Culture of Deception, (New York: Public Affairs, 2008).
McClellan, What Happened, p. xiii.
Peter Wehner, “Scott’s Truth vs Reality: What Happened is an old Washington
game”, National Review Online, 29 May 2008.
zU4OGZkNzA= Accessed 26 May 2009.

book”, Jacob Heilbrunn wrote in The New York Times Sunday Book
Review, “is not what it discloses about the head of state, but what it
says about the continuing devaluation of the political memoir as a
literary form. Paradoxical though it may seem, even as these books
have become more accusatory, they have also become less
Heilbrunn, whose work is generally objective,
nonetheless was self-confessedly close to the brink of being a
neoconservative himself,
so his appraisal of McClellan’s work could
be considered biased to some extent. Certainly, one might go along
with Heilbrunn’s assessment if one read McClellan’s book in isolation
and not as part of an in-depth analysis of the period. When read in
conjunction with the myriad of other related works published,
McClellan’s book, like Feith’s and Tenet’s, has much to offer the
There are a number of books written by less senior participants
who played more specific, but nonetheless important, roles during this
period. Two of these, Michael Scheuer and Richard A. Clarke, worked
closely with George Tenet during his period in office and have written
revealing narratives about the activities of the intelligence community
just prior to 9/11 and during the post 9/11 Bush presidency.
Scheuer has written two books using the nom de plume (or
perhaps that should be nom de guerre) of ‘Anonymous’, that cover his
time working with the CIA. The first, Through Our Enemies’ Eyes:
Osama Bin Laden, Radical Islam and the Future of America,
completed in June 2001 but was still being reviewed by the government
when 9/11 occurred
and the first edition was not published until June
2002. Several updated editions have since been published. Scheuer’s
second book, Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on

Jacob Heilbrunn, “Not My Fault”, The New York Times, 22 June 2008.
Heilbrunn, They Knew They Were Right, p.15.
Michael Scheuer, (‘Anonymous’), Through Our Enemies’ Eyes: Osama Bin Laden,
Radical Islam and the Future of America, (Dulles, VA: Potomac Books Inc., 2002).
Faye Bowers, “America’s greatest enemy keeps no secrets”, Christian Science
Monitor, 29 May 2003.
Accessed 17 June 2009.

Terror, published in 2004 as a follow-up to his first, became a
controversial best seller because of its contradictory assessment of al
Qaeda. It exposed some of the myths perpetuated in the mainstream
media and used as propaganda by the US government and some of its
allies during the lead up to the invasion of Iraq. Essentially, both works
demonstrate that bin Laden, rather than a fanatical Islamic murdering
warrior wildly lashing out at the enemies of Islam, is a quite rational
actor with specific political aims to defend the world of Islam against
Western aggression. From the first paragraph in the introduction to
Imperial Hubris, Scheuer lays out his argument: that by attacking
Islamic fighters in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere, the US and its
allies are succeeding in doing what bin Laden himself has been trying
to achieve for nearly two decades – “the radicalisation of the Islamic
It is odd that, despite having been the CIA analyst who for
years headed up the “bin Laden issue station”, named ‘Alec Station’
after his son,
Scheuer mentions his boss, Tenet, only once in Imperial
Hubris and then only in a passing reference to the ‘Tenet Plan’.

Richard Clarke’s 2004 book, Against All Enemies: Inside
America’s War on Terror, tells a story that is at loggerheads with
Douglas Feith’s version of events regarding the lead up to the invasion
of Iraq. Clarke, who during this period was National Coordinator for
Security, Infrastructure Protection and Counter-terrorism with the
National Security Council (NSC), worked closely with Tenet, yet
accuses the CIA and the FBI of coming “late to realise that there was a
threat to the United States and who were unable to stop it even after
they agreed that the threat was real and significant.”
At the time of its
publication, in an election year, Clarke’s book caused a major stir
because it cut straight to the chase about the Bush administration’s
obsession with Iraq. By 2004, many commentators and writers had

Scheuer, Imperial Hubris, p. xv.
Tenet, At the Center of the Storm, p. 100.
Scheuer, Imperial Hubris, p. 29.
Richard A. Clarke, Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror, (New
York: Free Press, 2004), p. x.

noted this obsession, but Richard A. Clarke was the most

Bush’s obsession with Iraq and his determination to invade and
oust Saddam Hussein revolved mainly around the rhetoric of Iraq’s
Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs). Among the many role players
involved with the saga of Bush’s rhetoric, none were more critical to
Bush’s game plan than those involved in trying to find these weapons
and document their provenance. The existence, or proof of the
existence of WMDs, was crucial to Bush and his allies. Two of these
role players have since written of their experiences in Iraq: head of the
United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission
(UNMOVIC), Hans Blix, and ex-UN weapons inspector and outspoken
critic of the Iraq war, Scott Ritter.
Hans Blix, together with Mohamed El Baradei, Director-
General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Blix’s
successor, were the pivot upon which Bush’s plans to invade Iraq
revolved. Blix’s book, Disarming Iraq, published in 2004,
is a very
diplomatically written narrative of his experience during the critical
period leading up to the invasion of Iraq. Blix is scathing of Vice-
President Dick Cheney for ignoring the facts being presented to him
and, worse, for cherry-picking preconceived ideas of what Cheney
decided were the ‘facts’ and their use in his rhetoric to the American
Later, when giving evidence at the Chilcot inquiry in July
2010, Blix condemned the invasion of Iraq as being illegal in his

James Risen, “‘Against All Enemies’ and ‘Ghost Wars’: Connecting the Dots”, The
New York Times, 29 March 2004.
Hans Blix, Disarming Iraq, (New York: Pantheon Books, 2004).
Blix, Disarming Iraq, pp. 70-71.
The Iraq Inquiry, as it is officially called, but is also referred to as the “Chilcot
Inquiry” after its chairman Sir John Chilcot, was set up in the UK in June 2009 and
began public hearings into the role of the UK in the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Hans Blix
gave evidence to the inquiry on 27 July 2010. He told the enquiry he believed the
invasion was illegal. “Transcript of evidence to the Iraq Inquiry of Hans Blix”, 27 July
2010, p. 114.
Accessed 28 July 2010.

Scott Ritter, who had been a weapons inspector with the United
Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) in Iraq in the post-First Gulf
War period, has written two pertinent books. The first, Iraq
Confidential: The Untold Story of the Intelligence Conspiracy to
Undermine the UN and Overthrow Saddam Hussein,
published in
2005, was followed a year later by a sequel, Target Iran: The Truth
About the White House’s Plan for Regime Change.

In Iraq Confidential, Ritter reinforces a now familiar story that
has been told by so many others about the ways in which Bush, Cheney
and the neoconservatives hyped up the ‘Iraq has WMDs’ meme that
preceded the country’s invasion. Iraq Confidential does need to be read
with care; it is yet another work that needs to be read in conjunction
with others that cover the same territory
In his follow-on book, Target Iran, Ritter presciently argues in
his conclusion that it is Israel that is pushing the US toward war against

Israel has through a combination of ignorance, fear and
paranoia, elevated Iran to a threat status that it finds
unacceptable. Israel has engaged in policies that have further
inflamed the situation. Israel displays an arrogance and rigidity
when it comes to developing any diplomatic solution to the
Iranian issue. And Israel demands that the United States take
the lead in holding Iran to account. Israel threatens military
action against Iran, knowing only too well that in doing so
Israel would be committing America to war as well.

At the time of writing, Ritter’s predictions have yet to be played out
but, as things are as of 2013, such a scenario is still very possible.

Scott Ritter, Iraq Confidential: The Untold Story of the Intelligence Conspiracy to
Undermine the UN and Overthrow Saddam Hussein, (New York: Nation Books, 2006).
Scott Ritter, Target Iran: The Truth About the White House’s Plans for Regime
Change, (New York: Nation Books, 2006).
Ritter, Target Iran, p. 210.

There have also been a large number of works written about
some of the other major players, including George W. Bush and Dick
One such work is Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency by
Rhodes Scholar and reporter at The Washington Post, Barton
Gellman’s work, as Jacob Heilbrunn says in his review of
the book, is “engrossing and informative”.
It is engrossing inasmuch
as it tells as much about George W. Bush’s lackadaisical approach to
hierarchical management as it informs us about Cheney and his wily
Again, not unpredictably, the neoconservatives were scathing
in their criticism of Gellman’s book. “Angler is neither well written nor
particularly instructive on the motives and methods of a vice president
who has exercised enormous influence over the last eight years. Much
of the material on Cheney’s reticence with the press – surprise! – and
his conviction that the presidency has been weakened by an
overzealous Congress is deeply familiar”, writes Christopher Willcox in
The Weekly Standard. He sums up his review:

History may well judge this vice president and his boss harshly.
They certainly were dealt a turbulent eight years, and historians
will be sifting the evidence for years to come. But Angler won’t
be a must read for historians. Perhaps some fair-minded
journalism professor will serve it up someday as a case study in
media bias.

Since, to date, the book is only one of two works that covers Cheney’s
role during his vice-Presidency, historians will have little alternative

Barton Gellman, Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency, (New York: Penguin Press,
Jacob Heilbrunn, “The Shadow President”, The New York Times, 12 October 2008.
Christopher Willcox, “Veep-Hunting: Looking for the party line on Cheney? Here it
is”, The Weekly Standard, 29 December 2008.
pg=1 Accessed 15 June 2009.

but to read it. But, again, despite Willcox’s view, it is when the book is
read in conjunction with the other related works that it makes the most
sense and provides some answers.
The other major work on Cheney is Stephen F. Hayes’ Cheney:
The Untold Story of America’s Most Powerful and Controversial Vice
Hayes is a senior writer for the neoconservative Weekly
Standard and the work is a blatant propaganda piece that lacks any
objective historical merit. Notwithstanding Hayes’ bias, the book
demonstrates admirably the neoconservative mindset relating to events
that have forged neoconservative thinking in the first decade of the
twenty-first century. It also shows how neoconservatives have a
tendency to continue with their propaganda and rhetoric long after they
have been revealed to be based on complete falsehoods or even
deliberately staged propaganda events. An example of ignoring the
facts in order to perpetuate the propaganda is shown in the first two
paragraphs of Chapter Fourteen. Hayes writes, “Baghdad fell on April
9, 2003,” then continues,

An enduring image of the war took place that day when jubilant
Iraqis teamed with US Marines to topple a statue of Saddam
Hussein in al Firdos Square, in the heart of the Iraqi capital.
American troops had stormed into Baghdad, meeting
unexpectedly little resistance. In the square, they stopped to
wait for reinforcements, and when the Iraqis there could not
bring down the statue on their own, the Americans used their
heavy equipment to lend a hand. A rope was looped around the
neck of the statue, which was hauled to the ground before a
cheering crowd. It was a moment of triumph and hope. The
Iraqi people – at least the ones captured on camera that day –
were happy.

Stephen F. Hayes, Cheney: The Untold Story of America’s Most Powerful and
Controversial Vice President, (New York: Harper Collins, 2007).
Hayes, Cheney, p. 394.

The fact that, in 2007, when Hayes wrote his biography of Cheney, it
was well known that the event had been staged with very few actual
Iraqi residents present is ignored completely.
Such anomalies have not
gone unnoticed by others that have reviewed Hayes’ work. Karen De
Young, reviewing the book for Washington Post writes,

Hayes, a staff writer for the Weekly Standard, wrote a previous
book attempting to prove a close pre-war connection between
al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. Here he offers highly selective
versions of this and other Bush-era controversies, from
unwarranted wiretapping to Hussein’s alleged nuclear weapons
programs. He makes no energetic effort to get inside the
workings of the Bush administration and leaves out much of
what is already known.

Dead Certain: The Presidency of George W. Bush,
by Robert Draper,
was published in September 2007, so does not cover Bush’s entire
Presidency. Draper’s work gives much personal insight to the
personality of Bush due mainly to Draper’s long series of rarely given
personal interviews with the then President together with interviews
with Laura Bush, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld
and Karl Rove, among many others.
As is so often the case when this
type of book is published, the narrative tells as much about some of the
other players involved as it does about the life, foibles and facts about
the main subject, and Draper’s work on George W. Bush and his
presidency is no exception. It is for this reason that the book was
reasonably well received by the neoconservative establishment,

David Zucchino, “Army Stage-Managed Fall of Hussein Statue”, Los Angeles Times,
3 July 2004. Accessed 24
August 2009.
Karen De Young, “American Enigma: A journalist attempts to plumb the depths of
our secretive vice-president”, Washington Post, 15 July 2007.
Robert Draper, Dead Certain: The Presidency of George W. Bush, (New York: Free
Press, 2007).
Michiko Kakutani, “Bush Profiled: Big Ideas, Tiny Details”, The New York Times, 5
September 2007.

although Draper is by no means a neoconservative himself. For Stephen
Hayes, writing a review in the Weekly Standard, it is as if Bush has
been painted by Draper almost, but not quite, in their image of
themselves. Endorsing Draper’s work, Hayes writes, “It is Draper’s
reporting on Bush and his closest advisors that makes this volume
worth reading”, adding that, “Dead Certain reflects the depth and
breadth of Draper’s understanding and includes fresh detail about the
main players and their often-complicated relationships with Bush and
with each other”.

Many of the players that Draper interviewed for Dead Certain
were also the subjects of a plethora of books that have been published
about the formation and functioning of the administration and the role
of some of its main characters. One of the earliest, and still one of the
most informative, is James Mann’s Rise of the Vulcans: The History of
Bush’s War Cabinet, published in 2004.
The work details how the
core of the Bush administration, comprising Cheney, Rice, Donald
Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Colin Powell and Richard Armitage,
collectively known as the ‘Vulcans’
, came together and how they
developed and functioned during the first term of Bush’s presidency.
About three-quarters of the book, however, is a painstaking account of
how these ‘Vulcans’ came together, with many of the stories of the
players going back to the Vietnam era. While the story of their actual
roles in the George W. Bush administration leading up to the invasion
of Iraq is only scantily told, the detailed narrative of how they were
brought together paints a very useful picture that does give background
to other narratives which do explain their interaction in more detail
during the period from 2000 to 2003.

Stephen F. Hayes, “Defining Dubya: A rough first draft of the Bush administration”,
Weekly Standard, 5 November 2007.
=1 Accessed 24 June 2009.
James Mann, Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush’s War Cabinet, (New York:
Viking Penguin, 2004).
Mann, Rise of the Vulcans, pp. ix-x.

Bob Woodward is by far the most prolific writer of those
covering the era of the Bush presidency. Over a period of some six
years, Woodward wrote four major works. The first, published in late
2002, was Bush at War.
It covered the immediate aftermath of the
events of 11 September 2001 that quickly led up to the invasion of
Afghanistan and the installation of Hamid Karzai as the Afghan
president on 22 December 2001. As Woodward noted, “Regime change
had been accomplished 102 days after the terrorist attacks in the United
They are the same 102 days that Woodward covers in some
great detail in Bush at War, in which he depicts the meetings and
interactions of the Bush cabinet and administration in those formative
days when the administration finally came under the influence of the
neoconservatives that served within. When first published, elements of
it were difficult to confirm. However, with the passing of time, most of
what Woodward claimed has since been verified, which, in turn,
provides confidence in the veracity of claims made in his subsequent
Woodward’s second book, Plan of Attack,
published in April
2004, documents the events from 21 November 2001, when Bush first
asked Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, to prepare a plan to
invade and occupy Iraq, up to the launch of the attack against Iraq in
March 2003.
State of Denial: Bush at War, Part Three
which was
published in 2006, is an interesting work inasmuch that it is not really a
‘Part Three’ in the sense that it follows on chronologically from where
Plan of Attack left off. Rather, it reviews the previous works and the era
in the light of further revelations about the lead up to the wars with
Afghanistan and Iraq, revelations that seem mainly to come, somewhat
surprisingly, from George W. Bush’s Chief of Staff, Andy Card. State
of Denial highlights the incompetence of the Bush administration.

Bob Woodward, Bush at War, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002).
Woodward, Bush at War, p. 315.
Bob Woodward, Plan of Attack, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004).
Bob Woodward, State of Denial: Bush at War, Part Three, (New York: Simon &
Schuster, 2006).

Rumsfeld, in particular, is positively demonised, despite being one of
the few in the inner circle of the administration who was prepared to
submit himself to on-the-record interviews with Woodward for the
In September 2008, Woodward’s fourth book depicting the
Bush presidency was published. The War Within: A Secret White House
History, 2006-2008,
does little more than rake over ground that both
he and, by now, so many others have already covered. The book’s
usefulness rests essentially in the fact that it pulls together the
assumptions and conclusions that so many others have written about,
both in the media and in other books, on Bush’s presidency and the
tumultuous events of his era.
Standing out among those other books is James Bamford’s A
Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the Abuse of America’s Intelligence
in which Bamford highlights the struggle between the
realists in the intelligence community and in the State Department, and
the neoconservative ideologues in the Defense Department and
elsewhere throughout the administration. Bamford shows how the
neoconservatives ultimately prevailed in their quest to invade Iraq via
the use of a combination of propaganda that even Bush was ready to
believe and lies that were too inconvenient for Bush not to believe. It
clearly defines the rhetoric and propaganda used by the administration
and its allies in a desperate bid to gain the support of public opinion, as
opposed to the geo-political reality of the times. Bamford explains how
much of the neoconservatives’ agenda was concealed from public view
and that they manipulated the more conventional conservative members
of the administration and Congress to support that agenda by inventing
one that was more acceptable to public opinion. Bamford also
effectively demonstrates how the neoconservatives were able to take

Bob Woodward, The War Within: A Secret White House History, 2006-2008, (New
York: Simon & Schuster, 2008).
James Bamford, A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the Abuse of America’s
Intelligence Agencies, (New York: Doubleday, 2004).

advantage of Bush’s well known hatred of Saddam Hussein
and how
they used that to carefully steer Bush toward a war that would
ultimately remove Saddam as a threat to Israel.
A book that takes a similar line to Bamford’s is James Risen’s
somewhat lightweight but nonetheless revealing work, State of War:
The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration, published
in early 2006.
Risen’s main claim to fame was his December 2005
exposure of the Bush administration’s authorisation of the National
Security Agency (NSA) to conduct illegal wiretapping of domestic
telephone and email communications within the US.
It is telling that
the Bush administration had actually asked The New York Times not to
publish some of Risen’s reporting, particularly about the wiretapping,
and that for a year The New York Times obliged. It was only when
Risen was about to publish his book that the newspaper’s editors
decided to publish Risen’s wiretapping article.

In State of War, Risen devotes a chapter to the wiretapping
and then takes a deeper look, based mainly on
anonymous sources, at the deeply flawed relationship between the CIA
and the Bush administration and explains how, in Risen’s opinion, “No
other institution failed so completely in its mission during the Bush
years as did the CIA”.
He shows how, during the eighteen months
between 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq, “the political leaders within the
administration with the clearest answers and the greatest certainty and
the most persistence were quickly able to dominate the agenda”,
producing “a perfect environment for Dick Cheney and Don

Bamford, A Pretext for War, pp. 259-260.
James Risen, State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush
Administration, (New York: Free Press, 2006).
James Risen and Eric Lichtblau, “Bush Let U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts”, The
New York Times, 16 December 2005.
Walter Isaacson, “Spies and Spymasters”, The New York Times, 5 February 2006.
Risen, State of War, pp. 39-60.
Risen, State of War, p. 4.
Risen, State of War, p. 65.

In Bush League Diplomacy: How the Neoconservatives are
Putting the World at Risk,
published in 2004, Craig Eisendrath, a
former diplomat, and Melvin Goodman, an ex-CIA officer, offer their
insights as to how the Bush administration developed its foreign policy.
They demonstrate how the neoconservatives exploited the events of
9/11 to propel their militarist foreign policy agenda, which overrode
more conventional diplomatic methods to formulate foreign policy and
deal with foreign policy crises. They successfully trace the evolution
from multilateral diplomacy to a policy of unilateral military pre-
Another standout book that is essential reading is Michael
Isikoff and David Corn’s major work, Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin,
Scandal and the Selling of the Iraq War,
published in 2006. Isikoff
and Corn, experienced investigative journalists and writers, carefully
piece together the highly complex series of events that eventually
became Bush’s casus belli to attack Iraq. Isikoff and Corn describe how
the neoconservatives and the ranking members of the administration
began to believe their own propaganda as different elements of
concocted evidence were fed to each other and to a gullible and, in
many cases, complicit media. In particular, Isikoff and Corn highlight
Cheney’s ability to get Congress on side by personally convincing four
of its top leaders of his arguments and then allowing the trickle down
effect of seniority influence,
together with pressure from the various
neoconservative and Israeli lobby groups, which Cheney was closely
associated with, to do the rest.

Craig R. Eisendrath and Melvin A. Goodman, Bush League Diplomacy: How the
Neoconservatives are Putting the World at Risk, (New York: Prometheus Books, 2004).
Michael Isikoff and David Corn, Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal and the
Selling of the Iraq War, (New York: Crown Publishing, 2006).
Isikoff and Corn, Hubris. pp. 23-25.
Before becoming part of the George W. Bush administration, Cheney had been a
member of the advisory board of the Jewish Institute of National Security Affairs
(JINSA) as well as being a member of the Project for the New American Century, a
pro-Israel lobby group. See: Joel Beinin, “Pro-Israel Hawks and the Second Gulf War”,
Middle East Research and Information Project, 6 April 2003. Accessed 6 June 2012.

In Worse than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W.
Bush, John W. Dean, an ex-Nixon administration lawyer who served a
prison sentence for his part in the Watergate affair, draws strong
parallels between Nixon’s and Bush’s deceitful behaviour. As the title
suggests, Dean considers that the course of action taken by Bush and
his administration to erode the democratic federal government process
by concentrating power within the small circle of White House
intimates was even more disgraceful than Watergate.
Arguably, the most controversial work to date that connects the
interests of American neoconservatives to the interests of right-wing
Israeli Zionists generally and Israel’s Likud party in particular, is John
Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt’s The Israel Lobby and US Foreign
published in 2007. This important book began life as an article
in the London Review of Books
a year earlier. As soon as the article
appeared, it drew outrage from the Jewish right-wing and their
supporters in America and was condemned by pro-Zionists worldwide
as being ‘anti-Semitic’.
Undaunted by the criticism, Mearsheimer and
Walt went on to extend and fully develop their case, in which they
argue that the uncritical support for Israel that was being promoted by
influential Jewish and pro-Israel lobbying organisations such as the
Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the American Israel Public Affairs
Committee (AIPAC)
does harm to both US and Israeli interests.
While the initial impact of the book has since waned,
particularly as we move into the Obama era, its 106 pages of references
remain a rich resource for scholars. Mearsheimer and Walt carefully
noted in detail the source of virtually all of the claims and quotes used
to support their arguments.

John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy,
(New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2007).
Mearsheimer and Walt, “The Israel Lobby”, London Review of Books.
William Grimes, “A Prosecutorial Brief Against Israel and Its Supporters”, The New
York Times, 6 September 2007.
Mearsheimer and Walt, The Israel Lobby, pp. 117-120.
Mearsheimer and Walt, The Israel Lobby, pp. 357-463.

The accusations of anti-Semitism made by Mearsheimer and
Walt’s detractors, most notably Alan Dershowitz, a Harvard law
professor, and Abe Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation
League, were based on the simplistic notion, often favoured by Zionist
propagandists and their supporters, that ‘anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism’.
For most commentators, the accusation of anti-Semitism is seen as a
blatant and transparent attempt to distract from Mearsheimer and
Walt’s argument. Washington Post columnist, Richard Cohen, for
example, noted Dershowitz’s bizarre attempt to cast Mearsheimer and
Walt in the same mould as the likes of well-known anti-Semite David
Duke, former head of the Ku Klux Klan, by exclaiming that some
quotes from Mearsheimer and Walt’s work “appear on hate sites”
when, clearly, neither Mearsheimer or Walt have control over what
appears on ‘hate sites’ or anywhere else. As Richard Cohen says, “To
associate Mearsheimer and Walt with hate groups is rank guilt by
association and does not in any way rebut the argument made in their
paper on the Israel lobby.”

Richard Cohen’s piece, ‘No, It’s Not Anti-Semitism’, was a
response to an article in the Washington Post less than three weeks
earlier written by neoconservative and Johns Hopkins University
professor, Eliot A. Cohen, titled ‘Yes, It’s Anti-Semitism’, in which E.
Cohen repeats Dershowitz’s mantra about Mearsheimer and Walt’s
work having “won David Duke’s endorsement”.
E. Cohen then
launches into a blistering attack on Mearsheimer and Walt’s work that
borders on frenzied and ultimately declares the paper to be anti-

Richard Cohen, “No, It’s Not Anti-Semitic”, Washington Post, 25 April 2006.
Eliot A. Cohen, “Yes, It’s Anti-Semitic”, Washington Post, 5 April 2006.
Eliot Cohen writes, for example: “One of Mearsheimer's University of Chicago
colleagues has characterized this as "piss-poor, monocausal social science." It is indeed
a wretched piece of scholarship. Israeli citizenship rests "on the principle of blood
kinship," it says, and yet the country has a million non-Jewish citizens who vote.
Osama bin Laden's grievance with the United States begins with Israel, it says -- but in
fact his 1998 fatwa declaring war against this country began by denouncing the U.S.
presence in Saudi Arabia and the suffering of the people of Iraq. "Other ethnic lobbies
can only dream of having the political muscle" The Lobby has -- news to anyone

Abe Foxman’s Anti-Defamation League was no less scathing
of Mearsheimer and Walt’s paper. And, again, the bottom line – quite
literally – of the league’s demonising of Mearsheimer and Walt’s work
is that their paper is “a classical conspiratorial anti-Semitic analysis
invoking the canards of Jewish power and control”.
Left wing Jewish support for Mearsheimer and Walt’s work has
now effectively marginalised right-wing Zionist claims that anti-
Zionism is anti-Semitism, which was the knee-jerk reaction of Zionists
and their neoconservative supporters.
Many left-wing academic Jews,
including Norman Finkelstein, Noam Chomsky and Tony Judt, while
not entirely uncritical of Mearsheimer and Walt’s work, have supported
them publicly.

Yet another controversial work was published in September
2008. Dr. Stephen J. Sniegoski’s The Transparent Cabal: The
Neoconservative Agenda, War in the Middle East and the National
Interest of Israel,
like Mearsheimer and Walt’s The Israel Lobby, has
been condemned by neoconservatives and Zionists as being anti-

advocating lifting the embargo on Fidel Castro's Cuba. The Iraq war stemmed from The
Lobby's conception of Israel's interest -- yet, oddly, the war attracted the support of
anti-Israel intellectuals such as Christopher Hitchens and mainstream publications such
as The Economist. America's anti-Iran policy reflects the dictates of The Lobby -- but
how to explain Europe's equally strong opposition to Iranian nuclear ambitions?” And
then: “Inept, even kooky academic work, then, but is it anti-Semitic? If by anti-
Semitism one means obsessive and irrationally hostile beliefs about Jews; if one
accuses them of disloyalty, subversion or treachery, of having occult powers and of
participating in secret combinations that manipulate institutions and governments; if
one systematically selects everything unfair, ugly or wrong about Jews as individuals or
a group and equally systematically suppresses any exculpatory information -- why, yes,
this paper is anti-Semitic.”
“Mearsheimer and Walt’s Anti-Jewish Screed: A Relentless Assault in Scholarly
Guise”, Anti-Defamation League, 24 March 2006. Accessed 7 July 2009.
Ben Harris, “Critics of Israel Lobby Gather on Mearsheimer’s Home Turf”, Jewish
Telegraphic Agency, 17 October 2007.
mearsheimers-home-turf Accessed 13 July 2009.
Stephen J. Sniegoski, The Transparent Cabal: The Neoconservative Agenda, War in
the Middle East, and the National Interest of Israel, (Norfolk, VA: Enigma Editions,

Semitic – albeit subtle, and as one detractor asserts, so subtle “that
many readers won’t see it”;
not just because of its often blatantly
accusatory argument that the wars instigated by the neoconservatives
were for the benefit of Zionist Israelis and their supporters but, one
suspects, simply because Sniegoski actually provides very strong
evidence to support that argument; evidence that is difficult to refute
since much of it originates from the neoconservatives themselves.
Sniegoski is aware of the risk of being labelled an anti-Semite and says
as much early on in his work but, nonetheless, writes determinedly and
relentlessly to support his case.

In his well documented book, American Armageddon: How the
Delusions of the Neoconservatives and the Christian Right Triggered
the Descent of America – and Still Imperil Our Future,
Craig Unger
resourcefully shows how the neoconservatives clandestinely converged
with the American Christian right. In doing so, they became part of an
alliance that ultimately took America to war not just with Iraq but
against Islam itself as part of a grand effort to remake the Middle East
and elsewhere in the image of their idealised version of America
Books by the major players of the era, Tony Blair, George W.
Bush, John Howard and Donald Rumsfeld, did not appear until late
2010 and early 2011. The autobiographical memoirs of these leaders of
the Western alliance all appeared within months of each other between
September 2010 and February 2011. All have been disappointing
inasmuch that they provide few answers to the questions that most
historians are likely to ask. Like Feith’s, Tenet’s and McClellan’s
books discussed above, these seem far more useful to the historian
when read and examined collectively than individually.

Michelle Goldberg, “The Taboo Truths of the Conspiracy Minded”, Public Eye, Vol.
24, No. 2, Summer 2009.
cabal.html Accessed 27 July 2009.
Sniegoski, The Transparent Cabal, p. 11.
Craig Unger, American Armageddon: How the Delusions of the Neoconservatives
and the Christian Right Triggered the Descent of America – and Still Imperil Our
Future, (New York: Scribner, 2007).

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair published his autobiography in
September 2010. A Journey
offers little by way of historical fact that
was not already known. Reviewing the book in The New Yorker, John
Lanchester noted, “It would be naïve to pick up a memoir of a recently
retired politician expecting total candor”, adding that, “Today’s retired
politicians are usually trying to rush out their memoirs before the
window of interest has narrowed, and they are more concerned with
keeping secrets than they are with telling them”.
This is certainly the
case with Blair’s memoirs – and, indeed, the memoirs of Bush, Howard
and Rumsfeld.
The next ex-leader’s book to appear was Bush’s memoir,
Decision Points, which was published in November 2010.
As George
Packer noted in The New Yorker, “Very few of its four hundred and
ninety-three pages are not self-serving”.
In a review for The New
York Times, Michiko Kakutani writes in a similar vein: “It is a book
that is part spin, part mea culpa, part family scrapbook, part self-
conscious effort to (re)shape his political legacy.”

Neoconservative reviewers, understandably, were more
supportive of Bush’s memoir but at least one finished up sitting on the
fence with regard to how Bush’s legacy would withstand the test of
time. Daniel Henninger, a neoconservative penning a review in the
Wall Street Journal writes:

More than most presidents, George W. Bush belongs to history.
History will judge him almost solely by what he did after a

Tony Blair, A Journey, (London: Hutchinson, 2010).
John Lanchester, “The Which Blair Project: A controversial prime minister seeks to
define his legacy”, The New Yorker, 13 September 2010.
r?currentPage=all Accessed 22 September 2010.
George W. Bush, Decision Points, (New York: Crown Publishers, 2010).
George Packer, “Dead Certain: The Presidential Memoirs of George W. Bush”, The
New Yorker, 20 November 2010.
Accessed 11 February 2011.
Michiko Kakutani, “In Bush Memoir, Policy Intersects With Personality”, The New
York Times, 3 November 2010.

single historic day, Sept. 11, 2001—in short, by the war on
terror and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. If in time they
succeed, he was a good president. If they fail, his presidency
falls. For everyone's sake, one should hope that he was a good

Neoconservative writer Michael Barone, writing his review of Bush’s
memoirs for the neoconservative online journal National Review
Online, boldly tells his readers:

Decision Points, as the title suggests, does not purport to be the
full story of Bush’s life or his administration. It “provides data
points for future historians”.

However, Jonathan Yardley, writing for the Washington Post, told it as
it is:

This should come as no surprise. The presidential memoir as it
has evolved, especially in the wake of recent presidencies, is
not a memoir as the term is commonly understood – an attempt
to examine and interpret the writer's life – but an attempt to
write history before the historians get their hands on it.

Bush’s book was closely followed by former Australian Prime Minister
John Howard’s autobiography, Lazarus Rising: A Personal and
Political Autobiography, which was also published in November

Daniel Henninger, “Looking Back: The virtues and hazards of going ‘all in’ at
moments of crisis”, Wall Street Journal, 9 November 2010.
l Accessed 11 February 2011.
Michael Barone, “Bush’s Decision Points”, National Review Online, 15 November
michael-barone Accessed 11 February 2011.
Jonathan Yardley, “George W. Bush’s ‘Decision Points’: Competent, readable and
flat”, Washington Post, 8 November 2010.
dyn/content/article/2010/11/06/AR2010110602835.html Accessed 11 February 2011.

Howard’s book shows clearly how, as a direct result of his
being in Washington on 11 September 2001, he became utterly and
emotionally committed to George W. Bush’s cause and, by extension,
the cause of the neoconservatives.
When he attempts to explain his
consequent actions, Howard lapses into a plodding narrative that, like
the works of the other allied leaders, attempts only to record his version
of his place in history before historians do so.
Donald Rumsfeld’s Known and Unknown: A Memoir was
published in February 2011.
While Rumsfeld also attempts to write
his own history, he has made a better effort of it by accompanying the
narrative with annotations. While the extent of annotation is moderate,
it does include many memos and official documents, all of which are
also presented on a website designed specifically to complement the
hard-copy book. Many of these memos and documents have been
scanned and are presented in a portable document file (pdf) format

All of these players and writers and many others that will be
referred to throughout this work, are able to demonstrate, wittingly or
otherwise, the extent to which the neoconservatives influenced the
Bush administration. Between them they weave a narrative that
demonstrates how deeply the neoconservatives had penetrated the most
inner workings and highest offices of the Bush administration. They
show how neoconservatives were able to wield their influence directly,
by virtue of being officers in the administration, and indirectly through
their intellectual influence via think-tanks and commentary and
ideologically sympathetic lobby groups within a tight-knit yet
informally organised network of fellow travellers.

John Howard, Lazarus Rising: A Personal and Political Autobiography, (Sydney:
HarperCollins, 2010).
Howard, Lazarus Rising, Chapter 31.
Donald Rumsfeld, Known and Unknown: A Memoir, (New York: Sentinel/Penguin,
Donald Rumsfeld, The Rumsfeld Papers. Accessed 14
February 2011.

While neoconservatives will argue that their actions were a
consequence of the actions of ‘terrorists’, this work will show that 9/11
was used merely as an excuse to bring about a war against Islamic
extremists, to destroy the power of Saddam Hussein in Iraq and to bring
about regime change in Iran. Further, it will demonstrate how this was
contrived in order to benefit the cause of Zionism in Israel. It will be
shown how the neoconservatives’ longstanding and close association
with Israel, both directly via Israeli political parties, particularly the
Likud party, and indirectly via lobby groups in the US, has been used to
influence US foreign policy for the express purpose of supporting
Israel’s own foreign policy interests including their interests in the
occupied West Bank, the Gaza Strip and their dealings with the
Palestinians, the Lebanese and the Syrians.
The work will examine the long history of pre-George W. Bush
era neoconservative intellectual support for Israeli Zionism, including
its support for Israeli expansionism and neoconservative notions of
cultural links with the United States and how those links served Israeli
purposes. It will show how the neoconservatives not only exploited the
cultural divide between the Christian-Judaism of the West and the
world of Islam but actively sought to widen it by highlighting the
misdeeds of Islamic extremists to demonise Islam generally. It will
examine the role of those Americans who were not Jewish, yet used the
alliance created by the neoconservatives to further the interests of US
foreign policy in the Middle East as well as the US corporations that
would benefit from such policies.
The work will begin with overviews of neoconservatism and
neoconservatives, although it will not go into the history of
neoconservatism except where it is necessary to provide background or
historical perspective to the era under discussion. Chapter One will also
explore the Zionist roots of neoconservatism and will describe how and
why those who were not Jewish found themselves allied to the
neoconservative cause.

The second chapter will trace the evolution of twenty-first
century neoconservative foreign policy and will demonstrate how
neoconservatives have intrinsically linked Israel’s interests with those
of the US, using shared values and the ideals of democracy as the basis
for an exceptional, bordering on exclusive, relationship. This section
will show how neoconservatives developed paranoia about anti-
Semitism which they used increasingly in their rhetoric and propaganda
to demonise the left and Islamic radicals. It will also discuss the ways
in which the anti-Semite label has been used by neoconservatives and
Zionists in response to the anti-Zionist trend that developed as a result
of the 2006 Lebanon War and the 2008/2009 Israeli war against Hamas
and the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip.
Chapter Two will also discuss how the end of the Cold War
brought about a barely perceptible but definite rift in neoconservative
debate triggered to some extent by Francis Fukuyama’s 1998 essay
“The End of History”.
The rift, as shall be shown in Chapter Three,
was healed as Samuel P. Huntington’s essay “The Clash of
appeared in 1993.
Chapter Three will examine how and why other right-wing
orientated, but diversely motivated organisations and individuals
became allied and subordinate to the neoconservative cause. Some,
such as right-wing religious fundamentalists, were driven by ideology,
while others were motivated by the financial inducements associated
with future wars that they envisaged the neoconservatives seeking.
Chapter Four will examine the events of 9/11 from the
neoconservative point of view and will discuss their controversial role
in the lead up to the invasion of Iraq. It will demonstrate the ways in
which the neoconservatives and their supporters used the events of 9/11
in virtually all of their rhetoric and propaganda to garner both public
and United Nations support for their policies in order to justify the
invasion of Iraq.

Francis Fukuyama, “The End of History?” The National Interest, Summer 1989.
Samuel P. Huntington, “The Clash of Civilizations?” Foreign Affairs, Vol. 72, No.
3, Summer 1993.

Chapter Five will show how the hopes of the neoconservatives
were dashed in the 2008 Presidential Election and how they have
reacted to a Democratic president. It will also show how the hopes of
the neoconservatives were then re-invigorated by the formation of a
right-wing Zionist government under Likud party leader and Israeli
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It will demonstrate how the
neoconservatives have attempted to manipulate and influence the
Obama administration in its dealing with Israel’s arch enemy, Iran, who
the right-wing Zionists see as a hurdle to their aspirations for a Greater
Israel that includes the West Bank, the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip
and, for some, even south Lebanon up to the Litani River, ultimately
being annexed to Israel just as the Golan Heights were after the 1967
Chapter Five will also examine how the Obama administration
has proved to be a thorn in Israel’s side and, as a result, an anathema to
the neoconservatives and their allies. It will examine how the results of
their polices compare with the ideologies and policies that they set out
with and what went wrong with them from their point of view and how
the failure of many of their policies has led to the fracturing of the
neoconservative movement. It will demonstrate how the demise of the
Bush administration and the rise of Netanyahu’s right-wing government
in Israel have exposed the primary motives, and even loyalties, of
neoconservatism, and how the dynamics of Netanyahu-Obama relations
posit the neoconservatives firmly in the Israeli Zionist camp with
regard to US foreign policy in the Middle East particularly with regard
to Israel’s conflict with Iran which runs at odds with Obama’s apparent
policy of diplomacy. It will show how the neoconservatives are using
the rhetoric of Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program to help the
Israelis convince President Obama – and the rest of the world – that
Iran needs to be attacked in order to effect regime change in order to
bring about ‘peace’ in the Middle East. Finally, the chapter will show
how the neoconservatives hope that the fait accompli of an Israeli pre-
emptive strike against Iran will trigger US action to help the Israelis
bring about regime change in Iran.

Finally, Chapter Six will examine how the neoconservatives
have fared thus far in their cause and show to what extent
neoconservative policy and its consequences were contrived and
preconceived. Some details of this policy were formally adjusted
according to prevailing circumstances, while others evolved
spontaneously as events unfolded in the war against Iraq.
One of the criticisms that has been raised by those that attempt
to debunk the view of many writers who argue that neoconservatives
have used their various positions both within and outside of the Bush
administration to support the Israeli Zionist cause, is that the resources
used as evidence to support such argument have not been fully qualified
and comes mostly from work already in the public domain. This
argument, however, is simply an attempt for political purposes to de-
legitimise work that explores this period of history. While it is true that
there is much yet to be revealed for the historian to build an accurate
narrative of events of the times, historians anxious now to begin that
narrative have far more available to them via the use of the Internet and
electronic archives now than ever they have had before.
By far the greatest resource on neoconservatism is from the
neoconservatives themselves, who seem to have a penchant for
recording every detail of neoconservative thinking and philosophy. One
needs to be aware, however, especially when assessing their views on
foreign policy matters, that there is also a propensity to distort the truth
and even lie in their efforts to manipulate public and political opinion.
For neoconservatives, this is a quite legitimate political technique and a
method espoused by academic Leo Strauss, whose notions regarding
the ‘noble lie’ for a ‘noble cause’ influenced many neoconservatives
who went on to influence the course of events examined in this

It is unlikely that the official archives of states will allow
historians access to their files soon; nonetheless, there is already

Jim George, “The Contradictions of Empire: Leo Strauss, Neoconservatism and US
Foreign Policy: Esoteric Nihilism and the Bush Doctrine”, International Politics, Vol.
42, No. 2, June 2005, pp. 174-202.

abundant evidence available for historians to produce a reasonably
accurate narrative of recent history. In modern times, secrets have a
habit of revealing themselves before officialdom has decided such
secrets may be revealed. The ability for individuals to travel and seek
refuge from retribution has given whistleblowers the courage to tell all,
often revealing secrets their home-state would find embarrassing and
even contradictory to official policy. The Internet has enabled them to
widely disperse knowledge and secrets that could not have been so
easily accessed even a decade ago.
Using the comparatively unprecedented abundance of evidence
which the advent of the Internet has made possible, this work will show
how neoconservatives, by mutual agreement with the Christian right-
wing allied with American-led global corporate elitists together with
right-wing Western governments, attempted to control global affairs in
such a way that they would benefit the interests of all of the parties
involved, but especially the interests of the United States and Israeli
Zionism. It will also show how and why the attempt failed and, by
referring to their contemporary writing, ponder the course they may
take in the future. Central to this is the fact that they still consider
affairs relating to the Middle East, particularly Iran, as ‘unfinished
business’, just as they did at the end of the George H.W. Bush
presidency, when they regarded the continuation of Saddam Hussein’s
power in Iraq after the First Gulf War as ‘unfinished business’.