Article First Published in 2008
John F. Kennedy warned: “The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie -- deliberate, contrived and dishonest -- but the myth -- persistent, persuasive and unrealistic”. After the attacks of 9/11, refusing to present the truth as authority, we have been led to believe that the greatest threat to civilization is Islam. Dominance and ownership of language enabled the neoconservatives to coin the term ‘Islamofascism’ in order to wage war against Iraq. Iran is their next target, while shamelessly and brutally the people of Palestine and Lebanon are being eradicated in the name of ‘democracy’.
Describing Neo-conservatism as “a Jewish phenomenon” Jacob Heilbrunn, a professed former neoconservative says: “Neoconservatives are bound by a "shared commitment to the largest, most important Jewish cause: the survival of Israel”. Many of the founders of neo-conservatism, including the Public Interest founder Irving Kristol and coeditor Nathan Glazer, Sidney Hook, and Albert Wohlstetter, were either members of, or close to the Trotskyist left in the late 1930s and early 1940s. In 1960, Norman Podhoretz, became editor of Commentary and it focused on foreign policy, Israel in particular, and the threat of the Soviet Union.
The end of the Cold War had left Israel in an awkward place. According to The Jerusalem Report, in 1991, the idea that radical Islam would replace communism had taken seed among the Israeli right. The basis of the idea was founded on the neoconservatives fear that with the demise of the Soviet Union, and the splintering of the America’s right wing faction, there would no longer be an unconditional support for a U.S.-Israel alliance. Kristol and Podhoretz did not see the attraction to Islam as an ideology, but there was a decade of peace and prosperity to implement the seeds of hostility in the American psyche; As Podhoretz had stated: “But the real world and the world of ideas aren't always in the direct communication they should be. In the world of ideas the major media, the universities, the artistic community all of these are still on the left." (Jerusalem Report). These would have to be mastered.
In 1993, Samuel Huntington offered the solution, The Clash of Civilizations based on an earlier piece by Bernard Lewis. In an effort to Scapegoat Islam, he underscores that “Muslim societies and states located at the cultural fault lines of the world have shown to be excessively violent. He argues that Muslim enthusiasm for war and readiness to use violence cannot now be denied either by Muslims or non-Muslims. Although his theory was challenged by numerous reputable scholars, the neoconservatives continued to establish themselves in positions of power and influence.
Washington think tanks such as the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) became home to many influential neoconservatives such as Douglas Feith, David Wurmser, and Richard Perle who came to join the AEI from the Jerusalem-based think tank, the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies (IASPS). A 2003 study by the Institute for Research: Middle East Policy (IRMEP) indicates a correlation between the Bush war policy and the funding of these think tanks.
Table Exhibiting Funding Concentration: Top Three Donors
(Internal Revenue Service and IRMEP 2003)
(Internal Revenue Service and IRMEP 2003)
In addition to think tanks, much of the media was given over to the neoconservative ideology. This was made easy by the regulations in the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the 1980s allowing mergers and acquisitions. It was natural for Rupert Murdoch and the neoconservatives to come together in the 1990s who had continued to make his media empire grow, especially in the 90s. Murdoch was recognized by the U.S. for his support of Israel, and the Jewish Congress of New York had voted him “Communication Man of the Year” in 1982.
In line with the neoconservative’s agenda, the mainstream media in the US framed September 11 within the context of Islam and Islamic terrorists. Refusing to acknowledge the identity of the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks, fifteen of whom were Saudi nationals, the threat of Islam as designed by Huntington was trumpeted by the media. As religious extremism was emphasized as the motive for the terrorist plot, all other inquiries were terminated. America’s response to 9/11 was not an accident. Samuel Huntington’s ‘Clash of Civilizations’ was to provide new bearings for U.S. foreign policy.
There seemed to be a deliberate attempt to portray the motivation of the hijackers as Islamic extremism, thus replacing the threat of Soviet Union with Islam. But who were the real hijackers? In that a new U.N. Human Rights Council assigned to monitor Israel is calling for an official commission to study the role neoconservatives may have played in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, is indicative that this group’s role is believed to be influencing U.S. policies, if not determining it (New York Sun). What is irrefutable is that on September 20, 2001, a large group of neoconservatives outside the government sent an open letter to the White House outlining how the war on terror should be conducted. The target was to be Iraq even if evidence did not link Iraq directly to September 11. Among them were Norman Podhoretz, Defense and Policy Board members Eliot Cohen and Richard Perle, William Kristol, and Charles Krauthammer.
Two short months after the invasion of Iraq, William Kristol, Editor of Murdoch’s Weekly Standard and recently appointed New York Times columnist opined: “[T]he war in which we are presently engaged is a fundamental challenge for the United States and the civilized world ….The liberation of Iraq was the first great battle for the future of the Middle East. The creation of a free Iraq is now of fundamental importance…But the next battle....will be for Iran.” (Weekly Standard) The threat of Islam has been driven home to the American people by the neoconservatives and the controlled media so that nations in the Middle East can be annihilated – wiped out. The leaders no longer serve the American people but the interest of Israel. The 2008 presidential campaign was a clear indication of the influence of the neoconservatives, the mass media, and the priorities in this country.
Former New York mayor, Rudy Giuliani, made the threat of Islamic terrorism the centerpiece of his campaign. He brought two neoconservatives on board with him as advisors; Daniel Pipes, the man who headed ‘Campus Watch’ to ensure that all education in this country is pro-Zionist, and Peter King, senior Republican Congressman on the House Homeland Security Committee who is of the opinion that there are “too many mosques in this country”. Podhoretz also joined Giuliani (now with McCain), as did John Deady who resigned after it came out that he said the following of Giuliani: "He's got, I believe, the knowledge and the judgment to attack one of the most difficult problems in current history and that is the rise of the Muslims. Make no mistake about it, this hasn't happened for a thousand years, these people are very dedicated and they're also very, very smart in their own way. We need to keep the feet to the fire and keep pressing these people until we defeat or chase them back to their caves or, in other words, get rid of them."[i] Renowned Evangelical Pat Robertson gave Giuliani his endorsement.
Mitt Romney raised eyebrows when he suggested that mosques be wire-tapped. Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, allegedly dissuaded Mike Huckabee from “reaching out” to the Muslim world. Jim Backlin, a blogger for the Christian Coalition of America wrote: "Comments like 'America was founded on Christian principles' by Senator John McCain just might make him President" who sings ‘bomb Iran’. Mrs. Clinton has pledged to “obliterate Iran” should Iran attack nuclear-armed Israel with nuclear weapons [it does not have].
Where does America go from here? Wave our flags and destroy another country because we allow our congress and officials, including the president to be influenced by neoconservatives and in so doing tell us that they are saving our civilization?
An army is a strange composite masterpiece, which strength results from an enormous sum total of utter weaknesses. Thus only can we explain a war waged by humanity against humanity in spite of humanity – Victor Hugo
Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich is an Iranian-American studying at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. She is a member of World Association of International Studies society, Stanford. Her research focus is U.S. foreign policy towards Iran, Iran’s nuclear program, and the influence of lobby groups. She is a peace activist, essayist, radio commentator and public speaker.
[i] “The Religion Card; GOP Candidates Play on anti-Muslim Sentiments” The Progressive, Biography Resource Center, USC Feb 2008“The Religion Card; GOP Candidates Play on anti-Muslim Sentiments”The Progressive, Biography Resource Center, USC Feb 2008
Sources: JJ Goldberg, “The Rest is Commentary”. The Jerusalem Report. Jerusalem:Sep 26, 1991
Eli Lake, The New York Sun, 10 April 2008
William Kristol, Weekly Standard, May 12, 2003
Tony Smith, “A Pact with the Devil”
Halper and Clarke, “America Alone: The Neo-Conservatives and the Global Order”. Cambridge University Press: 2004