The Neocons Today
Between June 5 - 6, 2007, an international gathering called the Democracy & Security Conference took place in Prague, the Czech Republic. Sponsored, in part, by the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies in Jerusalem, its List of Participants included Sheldon Adelson, the casino and hotel magnate, worth an estimated $21.5 billion, who, with his wife Miriam, recently gave $22 million to Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign, a campaign in which the former speaker referred to Palestinians as “an invented people.”
Other participants included: Natan Sharansky, a member of the Likud party who, in 2006, formed the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies and who, in 2009, became chair of the Jewish Agency for Israel, the organization in charge of immigration and absorption of Jews worldwide into the Jewish state; Richard Perle, former chair of the Bush administration’s Defense Policy Board during the invasion of Iraq in 2003; Jose Maria Aznar, former prime minister of Spain, who actively encouraged and supported the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq; and U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman, also an outspoken supporter of the Iraq invasion.
There, too, was Reza Pahlavi, identified on the List of Participants as “Opposition Leader to Clerical Regime of Iran.” He is Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi, son of the deposed Iranian dictator Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlavi and heir to the Peacock throne, who now lives in Maryland, from where he calls for regime change in Iran. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the major pro-Israel lobby in the U.S., and the conservative Washington D.C. think tank, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), have both come out for regime change in Iran, and AIPAC has indicated its support for the return of Reza Pahlavi to the throne.
Once again the drums of war are beating to topple yet another Middle East leader. In our Sept.-Oct. 2004 Link “Timeline for War,” we traced the buildup to President Bush’s 2003 invasion of Iraq. Now, in this issue, we go back to look at the protagonists of that war—often referred to as neoconservatives or neocons—and we ask what are they up to now?
Richard N. Perle
Our 2004 Link traced Richard Perle’s pivotal role among the neocons in launching President Bush’s invasion of Iraq. Dubbed “The Prince of Darkness,” he was chair of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board (DPB), which provided the rationale for war and coordinated public opinion both inside and outside the administration.
In 2006, Perle traveled to Libya twice to meet with Col. Qadhafi. He went as a paid senior adviser to the Monitor Group, a Boston-based consulting firm, whose project was to enhance the profile of Libya and Muammar Qadhafi. Other prominent figures the Monitor recruited to travel to Libya were Princeton Middle East scholar Bernard Lewis and Nicholas Negroponte, the brother of John Negroponte, former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq and first ever director of national intelligence. The Monitor group charged the government of Libya $250,000 per month ($3-million per year), plus expenses that were not to exceed $2.5 million.
Also in 2006, Perle received a phone call from an Iranian prisoner, a 30-year-old “student” by the name of Amir-Abbas Fakhravar. From his cell in the notorious Evin prison in Iran, Fakhravar had been phoning the pro-monarchist satellite station in Los Angeles. How he came by a phone in prison is unknown. Equally astonishing is his explanation that the prison authorities, after torturing him, let him out of prison to take a university exam, expecting him to return voluntarily. Instead, he went on the lam for 10 months before showing up in Dubai, where Perle was there waiting for him.
From Dubai, Perle arranged Fakhravar’s entry into the United States, and commenced his public relations tour with a private lunch at the American Enterprise Institute, where the “opposition leader” met State Department and Pentagon officials, as well as the neoconservative hawk, Michael Ledeen.
The celebrated dissident was interviewed by Perle in a 2007 documentary, “The Case for War: In Defense of Freedom,” part of a PBS series “America at the Crossroads.” In it, Fakhravar called upon Americans to send the Marines into his country to stop the Hitler-like dictators from making nuclear bombs.
In a Jan. 20, 2007 interview with Ynet, Fakhravar predicted that, if the West did launch a military attack on Iran, “the top brass will flee immediately … many of the mid-level officials will shave off their beards, don ties, and join the (civilians) in the street.”
And in meetings with members of the U.S.-Iranian community, Fakhravar said that he respected Reza Pahlavi and would support the people of Iran if they voted for a constitutional monarchy.
Likewise, in a visit to Israel, he assured his television audience that the Iranians loved Jews.
During this time, more than one commentator observed that Richard Perle, who was promoting Amir-Abbas Fakhravar, was the same Richard Perle who had boosted the cause of Ahmed Chalabi, the Iraqi exile who provided much of the misinformation that had led to the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
These days Perle criticizes the Obama administration for not supporting Iranian dissidents in exile and anti-government protesters on the inside. Why? Because it is in America’s interest to do so. And why is that? Because, as he explained in a Feb. 18, 2011, Newsmax interview, “The Iranians are killing Americans at every opportunity in the places we are now fighting. They support terrorism around the world, and they’re headed toward nuclear weapons.”
In a Dec. 15, 2011 interview with Kurt Nimmo of Infowars.com, he put it bluntly: “I do not think there is any question about it, I am willing to accuse Iran of building nuclear weapons.”
And what if we don’t act? The Prince of Darkness offered his own Occam’s choice in a 2004 book, “An End to Evil”: “There is no middle way for Americans,” warned Perle, “it is either victory or holocaust.”
Paul D. Wolfowitz
Four days following the 9/11 attacks, President Bush gathered his national security team at Camp David for a war council. Years later, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld would recall that the first person in the room to bring up going after Iraq was his deputy secretary of defense, Paul Wolfowitz.
Wolfowitz’s determination to topple Saddam was reinforced by an unlikely foreign national by the name of Shaha Riza. Paul and Shaha had met in 1999 and had become romantically involved, even though each at the time was married. A British national and Muslim, with family roots in Libya, Turkey, Syria and Saudi Arabia, Shaha held a degree in International Relations from Oxford University, with a focus on spreading democracy in Middle Eastern countries.
After the 2000 election, Wolfowitz was on the short-list to head the Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A.). That was until his wife of 30 years, Clare Wolfowitz, wrote a letter to president-elect George Bush telling him that her husband’s extra-marital affair with a foreigner posed a national security risk. A mutual friend of the Wolfowitzes, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, tried to dissuade Clare from sending the letter, but she sent it. And it worked. Wolfowitz’s name was removed from consideration. Again, Scooter Libby, at the time Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, intervened to have his boss recommend Wolfowitz for deputy secretary of defense under Donald Rumsfeld.
From this post Wolfowitz would emerge as the most hawkish of the administration’s Iraq policy advocates. Bringing democracy to Saddam’s dictatorship was, he insisted, “doable;” the U.S. would be greeted as liberators; Iraqi oil would pay for the reconstruction costs, and military estimates of needing several hundred thousand troops to do the job were “widely off the mark.”
By March 2005, the “doable war” in Iraq had resulted in the killing of over 1,000 U.S. soldiers and an estimated 12,000 to 15,000 Iraqi civilians. It was at this time that President Bush promoted his deputy secretary of state by nominating him to head the World Bank. On March 31, 2005 Paul Wolfowitz was unanimously approved as the Bank’s president. Two years later, he was forced to resign.
The issue, again, was Shaha Riza. She was already employed by the World Bank when Paul took over, which presented a problem since the Bank’s ethic rules precluded sexual relationships between a manager and a staff member, even if one reports to the other indirectly through a chain of supervision. So Riza was assigned a job at the State Department under Liz Cheney, the daughter of the vice-president, with the task of promoting democracy in the Middle East. To compensate her for any potential disruption in her career prospects, Wolfowitz directed the Bank’s human resources chief to increase her salary from $132,660 to $193,590 per year, tax-exempt.
When news of this broke in the Washington Post on March 28, 2007, it sparked calls for the resignation of the Bank’s president. An investigation was launched at the Bank and Wolfowitz handed in his resignation on April 28, 2007.
Today Paul Wolfowitz works for the American Enterprise Institute, known to Washington insiders as Neocon Central.
And he continues the drumbeat for war. In a June 19, 2009 op-ed piece in the Washington Post, the intellectual godfather of the Iraq war criticized Obama for not imposing democracy in Iran, warning, “It would be a cruel irony if, in an effort to avoid imposing democracy, the United States were to tip the scale towards dictators who impose their will on people struggling for freedom.”
By this time 4,315 U.S. military had been killed in the Iraq war, along with some 1.3 million Iraqis.
Lewis “Scooter” Libby ... Read more>>AMEU - The Neocons... They're Back