Wes Clark and the neocon dream

In 2007, the retired General described a necon "policy coup" aimed at toppling the governments of 7 countries VIDEO

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(updated below)

In October, 2007, Gen. Wesley Clark gave a speech to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco (seven-minute excerpt in the video below) in which he denounced what he called “a policy coup” engineered by neocons in the wake of 9/11. After recounting how a Pentagon source had told him weeks after 9/11 of the Pentagon’s plan to attack Iraq notwithstanding its non-involvement in 9/11, this is how Clark described the aspirations of the “coup” being plotted by Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and what he called “a half dozen other collaborators from the Project for the New American Century”:

Six weeks later, I saw the same officer, and asked: “Why haven’t we attacked Iraq? Are we still going to attack Iraq?”

He said: “Sir, it’s worse than that. He said – he pulled up a piece of paper off his desk – he said: “I just got this memo from the Secretary of Defense’s office. It says we’re going to attack and destroy the governments in 7 countries in five years – we’re going to start with Iraq, and then we’re going to move to Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran.”

Clark said the aim of this plot was this: “They wanted us to destabilize the Middle East, turn it upside down, make it under our control.” He then recounted a conversation he had had ten years earlier with Paul Wolfowitz — back in 1991 — in which the then-number-3-Pentagon-official, after criticizing Bush 41 for not toppling Saddam, told Clark: “But one thing we did learn [from the Persian Gulf War] is that we can use our military in the region – in the Middle East – and the Soviets won’t stop us. And we’ve got about 5 or 10 years to clean up those old Soviet regimes – Syria, Iran [sic], Iraq – before the next great superpower comes on to challenge us.” Clark said he was shocked by Wolfowitz’s desires because, as Clark put it: “the purpose of the military is to start wars and change governments? It’s not to deter conflicts?”



The current turmoil in the Middle East is driven largely by popular revolts, not by neocon shenanigans. Still, in the aftermath of military-caused regime change in Iraq and Libya (the latter leading to this and this), with concerted regime change efforts now underway aimed at Syria and Iran, with active and escalating proxy fighting in Somalia, with a modest military deployment to South Sudan, and the active use of drones in six — count ‘em: six — different Muslim countries, it is worth asking whether the neocon dream as laid out by Clark is dead or is being actively pursued and fulfilled, albeit with means more subtle and multilateral than full-on military invasions (it’s worth remembering that neocons specialized in dressing up their wars in humanitarian packaging: Saddam’s rape rooms! Gassed his own people!). As Jonathan Schwarz (or, as he would be called by establishment newspapers: “a person familiar with Jon Schwarz’s thinking on the subject who asked not to be identified”) put it about the supposedly contentious national security factions:

As far as I can tell, there’s barely any difference in goals within the foreign policy establishment. They just disagree on the best methods to achieve the goals. My guess is that everyone agrees we have to continue defending the mideast from outside interference (I love that Hillary line), and the [Democrats] just think that best path is four overt wars and three covert actions, while the neocons want to jump straight to seven wars.

The difference between seven and four overt wars isn’t non-existent or unimportant, of course, but it’s a question of means. The neocon end as Clark reported them — regime change in those seven countries — seems as vibrant as ever. It’s just striking to listen to Clark describe those 7 countries in which the neocons plotted to have regime change back in 2001, and then compare that to what the U.S. Government did and continues to do since then with regard to those precise countries.

 

UPDATE: Those unreasonable, inscrutable Pakistanis are angry just because the U.S. entered their country by air and killed 30 of their soldiers today. As a result, they have demanded that the U.S. vacate its drone base on their soil. What an outrageous over-reaction: I’m sure the U.S. would be extremely understanding if a foreign nation came and killed 30 U.S. soldiers on American soil from the air.

Glenn Greenwald

Follow Glenn Greenwald on Twitter: @ggreenwald.

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