Neo Cons Under Fire

They’re what Marxists call “contradictions within the ruling class:” sharp differences within the power elite which weaken it collectively and can sometimes be exploited by those seeking radical change. It is a very good thing that the “intelligence community” is beginning to level an assault on the neocons. Their falling out has deep roots, dating to the 1980s when the CIA accurately assessed the Soviet military “threat,” while the neocons (Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Frank Gaffney) wanted to grossly inflate it, to justify the massive Reagan military buildup and perhaps launch a successful World War III. (The “noble lie” worked: the other side, with half the U.S.’s GDP, was obliged to match U.S. military expenditures, and essentially went bankrupt, petering out without a shot.)

The present enmity dates to the days immediately after 9-11 when the CIA was called upon to prove links between Iraq, the attacks, and al-Qaeda. When the CIA was unable to find any, to the disgust of leading war advocates Donald Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz (who feel that reluctance to lie on behalf of imperial glory makes you a wuss) they created the spooky (and unforgivably under-reported) Office of Special Plans to stovepipe cherry-picked “intelligence” to the White House and thence the world.

Events and limited media exposure have shown to all sentient beings the official rationale(s) for war on Iraq do not correspond to reality. Washington can either tell the truth: “We distorted the facts to justify attacking Iraq,” or dissemble: “Some of our intelligence turns out to be incorrect” But by ridiculously blaming the CIA, they insult it. And while the Company’s “we will of course disavow any knowledge of your actions” culture disinclines it to rail openly against the administration it must serve, some within it are in fact rebelling. Michael Scheuer, for example. (Here’s a still-serving CIA employee spilling the beans, big-time. Such strange times we live in.)

It is quite natural for intelligence specialists, whose professional dignity has been besmirched and whose competence called into question, would undertake some response to the abuse they’ve suffered. That response may well produce the following assessment:

(1) After 9-11, Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, sidelining Colin Powell, successfully urged an impressionable president to implement a plan for general Middle East change earlier articulated by Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, “Scooter” Libby, and Perle;

(2) that the neocons, ardently supportive of Israel and desiring to eliminate regimes unfriendly to the Jewish state, went beyond the normally intimate interaction between the two governments to engage in abnormally illicit consultations and information exchange;

(3) that the neocons used known charlatans such as (centrally important, now publicly discredited) Ahmad Chalabi, and the Iranian businessman Manucher Ghorbanifar (Iran-Contra principal figure identified long ago as a “fabricator” by the CIA) to pursue their “regime change” ambitions; and

(4) the neocons having sidelined and offended the intelligence community, now falsely seek to impute blame to it for their own mendacity.

I’m hoping (not quite betting) that the Franklin Affair, the Plame Affair, and multiple unfolding scandals produce by late October a major challenge to the Bush administration’s credibility and such moral standing as it retains even among the willfully oblivious. Here’s one possible scenario. We might be informed that the CIA has concluded that the infamous Niger uranium documents were forged by Israeli
intelligence. (I have no idea, but this is surely plausible.)

Special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald might charge that Libby, (as Joseph Wilson has suggested) is responsible for the vindictive outing of Wilson’s CIA wife. The FBI may conclude that Feith okayed illegal contacts between his subordinates and various foreign operatives designed to facilitate U.S. aggression against Syria and Iran.

The timid media might start getting very bold and actually do some investigation of the Bush administration’s Middle East plans, and plans to deceitfully sell them.

Meanwhile Israel, which today makes no secret of its willingness to attack Syria (as a response to Hamas attacks in Israel) and Iran (to destroy its nuclear arms potential) may take actions with or without Washington’s approval (or, more specifically, with or without Bush’s personal approval, since Washington speaks—to Israel at least—with more than one voice) that impact U.S. forces in Iraq and pose more dilemmas to the above-mentioned, fortunately contradiction-ridden power elite. In such circumstances thinking people may start putting two and two together, and realize that these regime change projects have nothing to do with 9-11, but lots to do with a scandal-ridden cabal’s aggressive world-changing agenda. They may appropriately rebel at that agenda.

“There is great disorder under heaven,” the Chinese communists, when they were communists, used to say, always adding: “The situation is excellent.” Surely there are opportunities here for people who oppose imperialism categorically, whichever warmonger wins in November, and (whatever terrors are staged by whomever before the election) to rationally take advantage of this situation.

GARY LEUPP is Professor of History at Tufts University, and Adjunct Professor of Comparative Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa Japan; Male Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900. He is also a contributor to CounterPunch’s merciless chronicle of the wars on Iraq, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia, Imperial Crusades.

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Gary Leupp is Emeritus Professor of History at Tufts University, and is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa JapanMale Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900 and coeditor of The Tokugawa World (Routledge, 2021). He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, (AK Press). He can be reached at: