Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

A Religious Movtive for Iraq War Deceptions?


Shockwaves from what more and more critics are saying was a Bush administration program to entangle the United States ever deeper into Middle East politics by deceiving the country into the Iraq war continue to reverberate through American society.

Testimony in the recent court-martial of Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, who has been charged with refusing to join his brigade’s deployment to Iraq, speaking contemptuously of the president and committing acts unbecoming an officer, has shone yet another spotlight on the possibly illegal means by which the administration secured the introduction of thousands of American troops into the Mideast under the pretext of eliminating Iraqi weapons of mass destruction from the hands of terrorists.

‘Most of the hearing was consumed by defense testimony, with three witnesses attacking the Bush administration’s approach to the war and asserting that an officer could justifiably refuse to participate,’ said a Seattle Times account of the court-martial.

“There was no authorization from the U.N. Security Council … and that made it a crime against the peace,” said Francis Boyle, a University of Illinois professor of international law, who said the Army’s own field manual required such authorization for an offensive war.

Boyle, an outspoken critic of the administration policy in Iraq, went into considerable detail about the rules for war as detailed in the Army Field Manual. He accused the administration of using fraudulent means to persuade Congress to authorize the war, twice-failing to get U.N. Security Council authorization for the war and then allowing war crimes to occur.’

Watada’s case may be bolstered by a new book by Thomas E. Ricks, a military reporter for the Washington Post. Titled ‘Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq,’ Ricks’ book says the Bush administration deceived the American public about the existence Iraqi weapons of mass destruction that the administration claimed could one day be used against America–weapons that an exhaustive post-invasion search failed to turn up.

‘It already is abundantly apparent in mid-2006 that the U.S. government went to war with Iraq with scant solid international support and on the basis of incorrect information – about weapons of mass destruction and a supposed nexus between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda’s terrorism – and then occupied the country negligently,’ Ricks writes.

In a review of ‘Fiasco’ for the Seattle Times, Bruce Ramsey takes note of Ricks’ venture into fleshing out the psychological motives that might have animated Bush and his Iraq war policy makers: ‘Ricks profiles Defense Undersecretary Paul Wolfowitz, an early champion of belligerency, and reveals how Wolfowitz’s family’s losses in the Holocaust shaped the way he thinksRicks argues that Bush and his senior advisers wanted a fight, and deceived themselves as well as the public about Iraq’s ‘weapons of mass destruction.’ ‘

This isn’t the first time Wolfowitz’s name has come up in relation to the allegedly deceitful use of his government employment on behalf of the pursuit of a personal vendetta or agenda. According to a 2004 report in Asia Times by Jim Lobe, ‘Wolfowitz was investigated in 1978 for providing a classified document on the proposed sale of a US weapons system to an Arab government to an Israeli official via an [Israel lobby] AIPAC staffer.

‘In 1992, when he was serving as under secretary of defense for policy, Pentagon officials looking into the unauthorized export of classified technology to China found that Wolfowitz’s office was promoting Israel’s export of advanced air-to-air missiles to Beijing in violation of a written agreement with Washington on arms re-sales.’

Douglas Feith, who served under Wolfowitz in the run up to the Iraq war, also has a checkered past of covert dealings on behalf of Israel. He was removed from his position as a Middle East analyst in the National Security Council in 1982 when he came under suspicion by the FBI for passing classified material to Israeli embassy officials, reports say.

In 2004 respected scholar James Petras took critical note of the large number of committed Jewish nationalists working in the Pentagon under Wolfowitz and elsewhere within the Bush administration and found that they were the driving force behind the Iraq war:

‘Wolfowitz, Feith, [Elliot] Abrams, [Richard] Perle, [Michael] Rubin et al were the most zealous promoters of the war against Iraq. They worked closely with other Zionist ideologues like Bush speechwriter David Frum to promote the notion of ‘axes of evil,’ to engage in a sequence of wars against Muslim regimes hostile to Israeli colonial policy in Palestine and beyond. Wolfowitz, Feith set up the parallel ‘intelligence’ agency (the Office of Special Planning) run by fellow Zionist Abram Shulsky using [Ahmed] Chalabi to provide phony data on Iraq to precipitate that war. An army of ‘Israel First’ academic and journalist ideologues wrote, spoke and acted to justify the US attack on Iraq as the first part of a regional war to destroy any and all regimes critical of Israeli expansionism.’

Certainly President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld were well-aware of the record of shady dealings on behalf of Israel by Wolfowitz, Feith and other Jewish nationalists eventually hired by the administration. Federal agencies perform exhaustive security clearance checks on all recruits to national security-sensitive areas of the government prior to their employment, which means that the administration knew exactly what it was getting when it brought them into service–and likely waived any national security concerns raised.

In fact, given Bush’s apparent Christian Zionists religious beliefs (a recent Nation magazine report says that the White House holds secret Middle East policy meetings with dispensationalist Christians who believe that “supporting Israel’s expansionist policies is ‘a biblical imperative'”), Wolfowitz and Feith’s staunch Jewish nationalist credentials and their reported history of attempting to advance that country’s interests through the co-opting of U.S. government resources on behalf of the Israeli agenda may well have been the exact characteristics the administration was looking for in those to whom it planned to entrust the formulation of America’s foreign policy.

In his testimony before the court-martial hearing, Lt. Watada’s expert witness Francis Boyle didn’t go into details about the motives of the Bush administration’s deceitful Iraq war initiative, only that the administration used fraudulent means to persuade Congress to authorize the war. To be fully effective, future critics may need to establish the administration’s motives as well. The Christian Zionist/Jewish nationalist religious/ethnic loyalties to Israel held by top administration officials may well be a good place to start.

CHRIS MOORE writes for



More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


Weekend Edition
October 28, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Inside the Invisible Government: War, Propaganda, Clinton & Trump
Andrew Levine
The Hillary Era is Coming: Worry!
Gary Leupp
Seven World-Historical Achievements of the Iraq Invasion of 2003
Paul Street
Standing Rock Water-Protectors Waterboarded While the Cleveland Indians Romped
Stanley L. Cohen
Israel: 1984 Everlasting
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Comfortably Dumb
Michael Brenner
American Foreign Policy in the Post-Trump Era
Luciana Bohne
Crossing the Acheron: Back to Vietnam
Robert Hunziker
The Political Era of Climate Refugees
Stephen Cooper
Alabama’s Last Execution was an Atrocity
Michael Munk
Getting Away With Terrorism in Oregon
T.J. Coles
Confronting China: an Interview with John Pilger
Pete Dolack
Work Harder So Speculators Can Get More
Joyce Nelson
Canadians Launch Constitutional Challenge Against CETA
John Laforge
US Uranium Weapons Have Been Used in Syria
Paul Edwards
The Vision Thing ’16
Arshad Khan
Hillary, Trump and Sartre: How Existentialism Disrobes the Major Presidential Candidates
Peter Lee
It’s ON! Between Duterte and America
Chris Zinda
The Bundy Acquittal: Tazing of #oregonstandoff
Norman Pollack
America at the Crossroads: Abrogation of Democracy
Bill Quigley
Six Gulf Protectors Arrested Challenging Gulf Oil Drilling
Joseph Grosso
Starchitects in the City: Vanity Fair and Gentrification
Patrick Carr
Economic Racial Disparity in North Carolina
David Swanson
Public vs. Media on War
Chris Gilbert
Demo Derby in Venezuela: The Left’s New Freewheeling Politics
Ira Helfand
Nukes and the UN: a Historic Treaty to Ban Nuclear Weapons
Brian Cloughley
The US, NATO and the Pope
Binoy Kampmark
Nobel Confusion: Ramos-Horta, Trump and World Disorder
Sam Albert
Kids on Their Own in Calais: the Tip of an Iceberg-Cold World
Russell Mokhiber
Lucifer’s Banker: Bradley Birkenfeld on Corporate Crime in America
Ron Jacobs
Death to the Fascist Insect! The SLA and the Cops
Cesar Chelala
Embargo on Cuba is an Embarrassment for the United States
Jack Smith
And the Winner Is….
Ken Knabb
Beyond Voting: the Limits of Electoral Politics
Matt Peppe
An Alternate Narrative on Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump
Uri Avnery
The Israeli Trumpess
James Rothenberg
Water Under the Bridge
Louis Yako
Remembering Rasul Gamzatov: The Poet of the People
Dave Reilly
Complete the Sentence: an Exploration of Orin Langelle’s “If Voting Changed Things…”
Jonathan Woodrow Martin
When Nobody Returns: Palestinians Show They are People, Too
Louis Proyect
The Outsider-Insider: Isaac Babel’s Big Mistake
Simon Jones
The Human Lacunae in Ken Loach’s “I, Daniel Blake”
Martin Billheimer
Now and Then, Ancient Sorceries
Charles R. Larson
Review: Brit Bennett’s “The Mothers”
David Yearsley
Bach on the Election