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The Neo-cons now want to "rebuild" Iraq


The entire postwar reconstruction of Iraq as of this writing is in the hands of the neo-conservative hawks around US Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle. The consequences for the future of not only the Middle east, but also of the entire postwar world are likely to be very bad.

Even before US Defense Secretary Rumsfeld declared "victory" in Iraq, the Washington neo-conservative hawk faction around Richard Perle and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz made clear just who will rule postwar Iraq. The arrogance of their actions is exceeded only by their boldness.

The postwar economic and humanitarian reconstruction of Iraq is not in the hands of the UN or even the US State Department's Agency for International Development which, at least, has some semblance of experience in rebuilding war-torn regions with necessary water, electricity and medical services. Instead, Rumsfeld has managed a political coup, against the expressed wish of the US Congress, which appropriated some $2.5 billion to the State Department for Iraqi reconstruction. Rumsfeld has instead played on his "victor" role to convince the President to make the Pentagon the overlord of the Iraqi economy.

The man chosen to be new US pro-consul of the Iraq economy is a pro-Israel arms dealer and friend of the leading Washington neo-conservative think tank, JINSA. General Jay Garner (ret.) Jay Garner enjoys strong ties to the Israeli Likud Party of Ariel Sharon, and to the Israeli military industry, as well as to Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and the Pentagon neo-cons. Garner's ties to Israel are so well-known that the English-language Jewish Forward greeted his appointment by Rumsfeld with a headline, "Pro-Israeli general will oversee reconstruction of postwar Iraq."

Garner, on leaving the Army in 1997, became president of SY Technology in California Today he remains President of SY Coleman, as it is now called, despite his Iraq post. At SY Coleman, Garner worked to provide technical support for the "smart bomb" and missile systems used in the Iraq war, and he worked with leading Israeli military contractors on Israel's $2 billion Arrow missile defense program.

Garner is also close to the leading neo-con, pro-Likud think-tank in Washington, JINSA. This Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs includes top neo-conservatives such as Richard Perle, Michael Ledeen, ex-CIA head, James Woolsey on its board. Garner has signed JINSA Open Letter appeals, meaning he is openly known as an ally of the pro-Likud group, hardly a reassurance for Iraqis or for the Arab world looking for any sign of positive US intent in the postwar period. 

Garner was named last January by Rumsfeld to head the Pentagon Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA). Garner's ORHA is directly under the supervision of Pentagon Undersecretary for Defense Policy, Douglas Feith, a neo-conservative friend of Perle. Garner's own deputy is Michael Mobbs, a former law partner and "special adviser" to Feith. Mobbs developed the theory that allowed the Defense Department to hold US citizens without trial or lawyer if deemed "enemy combatants." Garner's staff at ORHA also includes more than 100 "free Iraqis" selected by another dubious person backed by Pentagon neo-cons, Iraqi National Congress (INC) leader, Ahmed Chalabi. The Hawks around Wolfowitz hope quickly to "transfer" power from the US military in Iraq, from Garner and Tommy Franks, to an Iraqi provisional government led by Chalabi and his INC henchmen.

In early April, just hours before the Battle of Baghdad, the Pentagon flew Chalabi with 700 of his handpicked armed supporters, to the newly occupied city Nasiriyah in central Iraq. The State Department was reportedly "apoplectic" over the de facto Wolfowitz coup. The President has signalled that Rumsfeld is setting the agenda, at least now, for postwar Iraq.

Chalabi comes from a wealthy Iraqi family close to the deposed King Faisal II. He has lived in the USA and London in exile since 1958, most recently as head of the opposition Iraqi National Congress in London. But Chalabi is no ordinary Iraqi exile. He is a "neo-conservative Iraqi", who has been close friends with Richard Perle since 1985. Before that, at the University of Chicago, Chalabi came under the influence of deceased Perle mentor and neo-conservative Albert Wohlstetter, who reportedly introduced Chalabi to the neo-conservative philosopher Leo Strauss. Chalabi is the neo-con's man to head a post-Saddam Iraq.

Despite strong opposition from the US State Department against Chalabi, as well as from Tenet's CIA, and most outside the US, Chalabi is backed by the Pentagon hawks around Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz. Chalabi, convicted in Jordan for bank fraud in 1989, is surrounded by allegations of self-enrichment and dubious dealings. Some in Washington allege that Chalabi gets money directly from Likud intelligence. Even if not proven, his intimate ties with pro-Likud neo-cons like Perle and Wolfowitz guarantee that, were Chalabi to be installed by the Pentagon as President of Iraq or anything close, it would detonate a backlash across the entire Arab world, starting with Iraq, where the Shi'ite-tied Chalabi is already mistrusted as a US pawn. Some point to the US backing for the corrupt but "anti-communist" regime of South Vietnam's Ngo Dinh Diem in the 1960's which required major US military protection to support, as the model for what a Chalabi-run Iraq might look like.  

Alarmingly, this is just the direction Wolfowitz and the Pentagon hawks are pursuing. Jay Garner has named top Iraqi Chalabi associates to work side-by-side with US military figures, running every government ministry in postwar Iraq, "as a transition." The key ministry, naturally, is the Iraqi Oil Ministry, which controls the vast oil resources of Iraq. On April 20, the London Financial Times reported that a mysterious new, Co-ordinating Committee for the Oil Industry had appeared in Baghdad, under an equally mysterious Fellah al-Khawaja. Investigation revealed that al-Khawaja was backed by Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress and, of course, by Jay Garner's Pentagon, who is considering naming former US Shell oil executive, Philip Carroll to actually control the Iraq National Oil Company.

However, in order for the US to get the Iraq oil proceeds for Garner's "reconstruction," it needs to lift sanctions of the UN Security Council, something that gives France, China, and Russia a veto power. With no UN vote, the oil would be illegal and few traders would dare buy it. Chirac is hinting at possible yes vote to lift, but the battle is far from over, with EU countries and others demanding a role in the postwar reconstruction. Given the arrogance of the neo-conservatives now in charge in Iraq, it is unlikely that any but the close circle of "Pentagon friends" will get the plum contracts, potentially worth billions. 

At this writing, much remains unclear over the future of Iraq. But one thing is clear. If Garner, Chalabi and the present neo-con cabal remain in control of Iraqi reconstruction, the gulf between the United States and the rest of the world will widen even more than it has to date. That, of course, will only create joy in neo-con circles. (FWE, April 23, 2003)


American Power:

A great debate has just begun

By F. William Engdahl, author of Mit der Ölwaffe zur Weltmacht


Many Europeans have expressed a sense of alarm in recent months over what they see as signs that American foreign policy is becoming overtly "imperialist," or at the very least, "arrogantly unilateral." They point to President George W. Bush's unilateral rejection of the Kyoto Treaty on Global Warming, to imposition of steel tariffs, to rejection of the new International Court of Justice. However, the issue which is drawing most alarm in Europe and much of the rest of the world, is the fear that the American President has launched a new, unilateral, pre-emptive military doctrine, a 'Bush Doctrine', which in effect says, "Anyone who gets in our way, blaam, you're gone!"

In a June 1 speech to the cadets of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Bush declared, "America has, and intends to keep, military strengths beyond challenge, thereby making the destabilizing arms races of other eras pointless." National Security Adviser, Condoleeza Rice was largely the author of the September 2002 Presidential document, "The National Security Strategy of the United States of America." It states that, to address the gravest danger America faces, terrorists or rogue states with weapons of mass destruction, "America will act against such emerging threats before they are fully formed." 

With the President escalating pressure towards some action against Iraq's Saddam Hussein, in the aftermath of the terror attacks of September 11, some influential voices in the American political elite have begun to openly rejoice at the apparent aggressiveness of the Bush Administration in acting unilaterally. Charles Krauthammer, a prominent columnist with the Washington Post and Weekly Standard, recently wrote, "People are now coming out of the closet on the word, 'empire.'" He continued, "The fact is no country has been as dominant culturally, economically, technologically and militarily in the history of the world since the Roman Empire."

What few outside Washington realize, is that Krauthammer, and most of the prominent voices demanding pre-emptive or unilateral action, who call for the United States of America to reject its Constitutional heritage and proclaim itself the heir to the Roman Empire, are all part of a small, very well-financed policy faction. They call themselves neo-conservatives, or neo-cons.

Some months after Krauthammer and this small group of influential hawkish intellectuals had begun to call for an American Empire, another event took place in Washington. On October 11, thousands of supporters of an organization called the Christian Coalition, gathered at the Ellipse in Washington D.C. to proclaim solidarity with Israel.

The two currents, the unabashed neo-conservative advocacy of an American Imperialism, and the mobilization of the Christian Coalition to support Israel, are connected. Very few Europeans I know, let alone Americans, have the slightest idea how the two are connected, and how that influences Washington policy after September 11. A closer look at this cynical political coalition of curious interest groups that seems to exercise power over war and peace today is urgent to understand U.S. actions and words.


What are neo-conservatives?


The recent public assertions that America ought to behave as a true Imperial power, the call for a unilateral war on Iraq, regardless of support of European or Arab allies, the insistence that Ariel Sharon's policy towards Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority should be backed fully, are all core policies of the American neo-conservatives.

The origins of the neo-conservatives in U.S. politics go back to the 1970's, and the Cold War. It was a neo-conservative who convinced Ronald Reagan to label the Soviet Union, "The Empire of Evil." Their main complaint with the USSR, however, was the refusal to allow Russian Jews to emigrate to Israel.

Several prominent creators of the synthetic neo-conservative movement in the 1970's, such as Irving Kristol, came out of the 1930's Marxist movement. However, to see the neo-conservative danger as merely disguised Marxism, would be misleading, as by no means all neo-conservatives are former Marxists.

The "neo," from the Greek neos, or new, refers to their one-sided support in foreign policy of a special relationship of the United States to the State of Israel. More precisely, the neo-cons back a specific extreme faction in Israel, around the Likud Party of Sharon, Bibi Netanyahu, and the fanatical settlers' movement that provokes Palestinian reaction.

Neo-cons are always poised for war, not peace, and have little use for moderate Israeli groups like those in the Labour Party, Peace Now, or other moderate Israelis. Irving Kristol was overjoyed when the Rambo movie became so popular because, as he put it, "it proves Americans love war." The ideology of neo-conservatives is theologically Manichean, dualism between "good" as they define good, and "evil" as they define it. By coincidence, neo-cons' axis of evil happens to coincide with Sharon's worst enemies—Israel is good and Iraq and Iran are evil, is their basic premise.

A small circle of writers around Kristol's The National Interest and Commentary magazine editor, Norman Podhoretz, emerged in favor of the war in Vietnam, and against the policies of the New Left in the early 1970's. They cleverly chose domestic issues to build their acceptance, attacking the spread of pornography, homosexuality, drugs and the rise of crime, something that won for them acceptance in the ranks of traditional conservatism. It was opening the gate to a Trojan Horse.


Neo-cons and 9.11


Commenting on American neo-conservatism, Dr. James Zogby, President of the Arab American Institute, calls it an intellectual current espoused by a "small but extremely influential group of writers, media commentators, political operatives and academics... Because of the influence wielded by its advocates, it has been able to shape the policy debate within the Republican party. The editorial pages of today's newspapers and the talkshows on U.S. television are dominated by neo-conservatives. They also hold some key positions within the Bush Administration."[1]

Zogby, an experienced  Washington observer, argues that the Administration of George W. Bush, despite contrary appearances, is not as ideologically biased to neo-conservatives as that of Reagan. But, what "helped to tip the scales, at least for a time, in the direction of the neo-conservatives, were the September 11 terrorist attacks." Immediately beginning September 11, prominent neo-conservatives started the war cry for a military attack on Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

On September 20, 2001, William Kristol, son of neo-conservative founder, Irving Kristol, and one of its most influential figures, published an Open Letter to the President in his online magazine, The Weekly Standard. British media mogul, Rupert Murdoch gave Kristol $10 million to create the magazine as the voice of U.S. neo-conservatism.

Kristol outlined the latest neo-conservative action agenda. He called the effort to destroy the terror network of Osama bin Laden, "a key goal, but by no means the only goal." Kristol immediately turned, only nine days after the devastation of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks, to the theme of Iraq, demanding, "a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power...full military and financial support to the Iraqi opposition. American military force should be used to provide a 'safe zone.'"

Kristol's Open Letter to Bush also demanded U.S. "retaliation" against Syria and Iran for backing Hezbollah. Then, in a section on Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Kristol revealed his main concern: "Israel has been and remains America's staunchest ally against international terrorism...The United States should fully support our fellow democracy (i,e, Israel). We should insist the Palestinian Authority put a stop to terrorism...Until the Palestinian Authority moves against terror, the United States should provide it no further assistance."

The Kristol war call was signed by 41 leading neo-conservatives, among them, former Drugs Czar William Bennett, Norman Podhoretz and his wife, Midge Decter, "end of history" writer, Francis Fukuyama, Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Studies, Robert Kagan of the Weekly Standard, Charles Krauthammer, Jeane Kirkpatrick, and Richard Perle.

There are several well-placed neo-conservatives inside the Bush Administration, especially in the Defense Department. Defense Deputy Secretary, Paul Wolfowitz is a close friend of Richard Perle and a strong warhawk on Iraq. Douglas Feith, Pentagon planning head is also a neo-conservative Perle ally, as is too State Department Undersecretary, John Bolton, a close friend of William Kristol. More insidious, a number of speechwriters, including Joseph Shattan and Matthew Scully in the White House, and John McConnell in Vice President Cheney's office, as well as Cheney's Chief of Staff, Lewis Libby, all are Kristol neo-cons. Critics claim that any effort by the Bush Administration to pursue an even-handed policy in the Mideast is immediately leaked to the well-placed voices in the neo-con media network, whether New York Times' William Safire, Krauthammer of the Washington Post or the Wall Street Journal's Editor, Robert Bartley, all close friends of Richard Perle and the neo-cons. Not surprising, then, that most Europeans see the strident neo-cons as speaking for official Washington today. It is a well-crafted illusion, deliberately cultivated.


The 'Prince of Darkness'


Of this group of neo-conservatives, the most influential is Richard Perle, once nicknamed by his opponents in the Reagan State Department as, "The Prince of Darkness," for his hawkish opposition to disarmament during the Cold War, when he was an aide to Senator Henry Jackson. Perle, also a director of the Jerusalem Post, bases himself in the neo-con Washington think-tank, American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy, with fellow neo-conservatives, Michael Ledeen, and Irving Kristol. 

Perle gives media interviews, regularly attacking factional opponents, including Secretary of State Colin Powell, as though Perle were speaking for the President. When former UN Iraq inspector Scott Ritter recently declared his doubt that Saddam had developed atomic weapons, Perle called Ritter, "unbalanced," implying he had a mental disorder.

In reality, Perle has no paid Government position. His only official connection is as unpaid chairman of the Defense Policy Board, normally an irrelevant post buried in the Pentagon bureaucracy. Yet the media treats him as if he spoke for the President, something he does not, or at least for Secretary Rumsfeld. During the Afghan campaign last year, Perle openly attacked British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw's efforts to enlist Iran in the war on terror as "a failed and embarrassing" effort. Iran is on the neo-con "evil" list.

When President Bush declared in April that Sharon's troops must leave the West bank Palestinian areas, Perle told CNN that pressuring Israel was "a change in policy, a very undesirable change and I don't believe it was the President's policy. It originated in the State Department."[2] And in the October 2, 2002 German Handelsblatt, Perle called for Gerhard Schroeder to resign if Germany wanted to improve US relations, although this was not at all Bush Administration policy. He simply acted as if it were.     

Perle himself would be an insignificant, Rambo-type figure, but for the fact, behind him is a well-organized machine, including Washington think-tanks and media persons that attack their political foes ruthlessly. The think-tanks which form the core of the Perle influence machine in Washington include Frank Gaffney's Center for Security Policy, Perle's American Enterprise Institute, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), the Washington Institute for Near East Policy of former Clinton Mideast envoy, Dennis Ross, the Hudson Institute of Meyrav Wurmser. Her husband, David Wurmser, a close Perle friend, is at Perle's American Enterprise Institute heading Middle East Studies.

The same small group of people, like Perle, sit on the boards of several policy institutes at the same time, adding to the impression of a large number of different voices advocating the same hawkish Mideast policies. An example, Meyrav Wurmser, Director of the Center for Middle East Policy at Hudson Institute, also belongs to the Middle East Forum. She also writes for Perle's Jerusalem Post, and co-founded Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), which was revealed in a recent London Guardian article to be a project of Israeli military intelligence, offering highly select translations from Arab media to U.S. Congressmen, to influence their Middle East views.

Perle and former Iran-Contra liaison between Oliver North and the Israelis, Michael Ledeen, also sit JINSA's board, as did John Bolton and Douglas Feith before joining the Bush Administration. Ledeen calls for "total war" against Israel's foes in the Middle East, including not just regime change in Iraq, but also Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian Authority. He argued so in an article in the September 24 London Financial Times, "The real foe is Middle Eastern tyranny."[3]

Former President, George Bush, reportedly blames his defeat in 1992 by Clinton, to the fact Bush went against Israel and pressured Israel to stay out of the Iraq war. His son, George W. Bush, apparently is very nervous about not repeating the same mistake and losing in 2004. When Presidential candidate Pat Buchanan dared criticize Israel, he was savagely and unjustly attacked as, "anti-semitic," a label curiously enough, even used to silence Jewish critics of their policies. Many members of Congress, fearing such attack, vote pro-Israel simply to avoid enemies.

The real political clout of Perle and his small band of neo-conservatives however, depends on a bizarre political alliance that the Likud and its Washington friends have forged over the past two decades and more, with certain nominally Christian religious groups in the United States.


Praying for Armageddon in the Middle East?


"If you just focus on the power of Jewish (lawmakers) and Jewish groups in forming U.S. policy on Israel, you're missing the boat," says Steven Spiegel, Professor at the University of California. "The Christian Right has had a real influence in shaping the views of the Republican Party toward Israel."

The spiritual godfather of today's U.S. neo-conservatives was the late philosopher, Leo Strauss, of the University of Chicago, whom Irving Kristol cited as one of the two greatest intellectual influences on his thought. Strauss was known among his students and devotees for advocating using religion to "control the masses," though the "true wise men," (like Strauss, presumably) know that religion is a "deception of the masses", but that deception must be kept secret, to maintain control, Strauss privately admitted to his inner circle.[4]

Through the works of Leo Strauss, Irving Kristol, Podhoretz and other neo-conservatives realized the potency of introducing religion, contrary to the traditional Constitutional principle of separation of church and State, directly into American politics. The religion they helped to introduce, principally into the Republican Party in the Reagan era, the Christian Right of Falwell and company, however, had little to do with traditional Christian teachings of love and compassion. For Strauss like Marx, religion was the opium of the masses, but Strauss was for handing out the opium in free doses, like today's drug treatment programs. 

After the Likud government of Menachim Begin realized in 1977 that President Carter was intent on human rights for Palestinians, including statehood, they and their American neo-conservative allies in the U.S. began to look for allies other than in the liberal Democratic Party of Carter. The Israeli Labour Party had supported land-for-peace, but the Likud backed a Greater Israel, which would include the occupied Palestinian territories of West Bank and Gaza, which they call Judea and Samaria.

In 1978, Prof. Yona Malachy of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, published a major research profile on American evangelical Protestant groups, titled, "American Fundamentalism and Israel: The Relation of Fundamentalist Churches to Zionism and the State of Israel." What Malachy found were numerous American Protestant sects, most in the rural Southern states, who linked their theology to the State of Israel, through a strange, literal interpretation of the Bible. Their ministers were typically trained at the Moody Bible Institute or, often, the ultra-conservative Dallas Theological Seminary of  John Walvoord. They read the Scofield Reference Bible, whose footnotes "explain" the Bible texts in their arcane prophecy terms.

Leaders of  the Likud and select Israeli religious leaders, went to work after 1977 to bring the most charismatic leaders of these U.S. Christian groups to Israel, where they developed direct links between Likud leaders and the Christian Right in the U.S. Menachim Begin began to attend Washington "prayer breakfasts for Israel" with fundamentalist ministers including Rev. Jerry Falwell, then head of Moral Majority, and Rev. Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition and the Christian Broadcasting Network.

The vast majority of American and international Christian churches are highly critical of the theological claims of  the Christian Zionists. The Middle East Council of Churches, representing Oriental and Eastern Christian churches in the Middle East, charges that the Christian Zionists have "aggressively imposed an aberrant expression of the Christian faith, and an erroneous interpretation of the Bible which is subservient to the political agenda of the modern State of Israel." Christian Zionism, they say, "rejects the movement of Christian unity and inter-religious understanding."

Christian Zionism existed before Herzl founded modern Jewish Zionism in the late 1800's. Certain Protestant dissenter sects during the English Civil War in the 1600's believed themselves to be God's Chosen people, the lost tribe of Israel. A number of prominent British Imperialists were Christian Zionists, including Lord Palmerston, Lord Shaftesbury, Lloyd George and Balfour, author of the 1917 Balfour Declaration giving Jews a homeland in British-protected Palestine. For them, it justified British Imperialism as a mission.

Today, Christian Zionists argue that the Land of Israel has been given to the Jewish people by God, and that in order for the Second Coming of Christ to occur, all Jews must return to Israel, this for a Final Battle of Armageddon, between the Forces of Good and Forces of Evil. They admit it will destroy the Earth, the so-called End Times, but the "good news" for Christian Zionists, is that they, the true believers, will be suddenly caught up into Heaven in a holy "Rapture," and be spared the messy aspects of a nuclear holocaust at Armageddon. Their theology is a dangerous brew of Manichean absolute black and while, good versus evil, which sees the alliance of the U.S. (under their direction, of course) and Israel, battling the forces of evil, especially Arabs and Muslims.  

Ironically, behind their pro-Israel facade, Christian Zionists like Falwell or Robertson  cynically use their links to Israeli Jews to push an anti-semitic agenda of their own. Uri Avnery, leader of the Israeli peace group, Gush Shalom, describing the theology of these supposed Christian friends of Israel, stated, "According to its theological beliefs, the Jews must congregate in Palestine and establish a Jewish state on all its territory so as to make the Second Coming of Jesus Christ possible...The evangelists don't like to dwell openly on what comes next: before the coming (of the Messiah), the Jews must convert to Christianity. Those who don't will perish in a gigantic holocaust in the battle of Armageddon. This is basically an anti-semitic teaching...," namely that Jews who remain true to their Old Testament beliefs will all be killed. 

When Ronald Reagan became President in 1980, the pro-Likud neo-conservatives, and their new Christian Zionist allies, concentrated on building their power among conservative Reagan Republicans. [5] Their shift from Jimmy Carter in 1980, caused Carter's defeat, and made the Republican Party increasingly hostage to their politically organized machine, Pat Robertson and Ralph Reed's Christian Coalition.

Christian Zionists and the Israeli right wing  Likud Party firmed their alliance in 1980, when J. W. van der Hoeven, and several other Christian Zionists founded the International Christian Embassy-Jerusalem (ICEJ), as a defiant support of Begin's illegal annexation of Arab East Jerusalem. The ICEJ receives financial support from Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network and other U.S. Christian Zionist groups.

Despite the name, the ICEJ is no diplomatic body, but rather a political lobby for support of Likud settlements policy in the occupied territories, "Erez Israel" of Greater Israel, organizing millions of dollars support for new settlements in occupied territories. The ICEJ Washington office is a focal point for Christian Zionist pressure on Congressmen and the White House. Benjamin Netanyahu and Sharon are frequent guests when in Washington at their Prayer Breakfasts for Israel.

In terms of their influence on Republican Party politics, however, the Christian Right or Zionists work through Robertson's Christian Coalition, founded in the early 1990's by Robertson's protege, 40-year old Ralph Reed, today a Republican political consultant. Reed has gone to Israel several times, one sponsored by Richard Perle's Jerusalem Post, and has said openly he has "the closest affinity" with Likud.

By 1994 Reed had built the Christian Coalition into a $20 million organized force with 1.5 million supporters. It played a key role in the 1994 Republican Newt Gingrich takeover of Congress. In February 1997, Time quoted former Republican National Committee Finance Chairman, John Moran, charging that the Committee had been taken over by the Christian Coalition, "and others who are adamantly opposed to a moderate agenda," warning that the Coalition of Reed then was at a point of "exercising significant control" over the Republican National Committee, stating, the Party's future "is in jeopardy."

This bizarre but deliberate alliance of Christian Zionist groups such as the Christian Coalition, with the pro-Israel neo-conservatives who back Sharon and Netanyahu, has become one of the most influential political interest groups in U.S. politics, especially with the lack of popular vote mandate enjoyed by President Bush. Christian Zionist financial contributions to specific U.S. Congressmen give them enormous influence over Congress. Christian Zionist "friends" in Congress include Senator James Inhofe or Republican House whip, Tom DeLay, and Senate Foreign Relations head, Jesse Helms, all closely tied to the support of Christian Zionist Israel policy.[6]


Perle's big mistake begins The Great Debate


Christian Zionists are far fewer than might appear. Religious organizations estimate only 3 million of a total of 98 million evangelical Christians are actually Christian Zionist, while another 30 million might share one or more of their beliefs, but not all. In recent years the Christian Coalition has lost clout and influence.

But since September 11 2001, they have been vocal in advocating defense of Israeli tank forays into Palestinian territories, and are the most strident voices calling for war on Iraq.  The coming November U.S. Congressional elections could be decisive in weakening their hawkish influence. Polls suggest they are having trouble mobilizing their supporters to vote, which might be the best thing that could happen at present.

A major debate has begun within U.S. policy elites since a RAND corporation briefing on Iraq organized by Richard Perle was leaked to the Washington Post in August. In it, the RAND analyst proposed not only war on Iraq, "the pivot," but on the world's oil heartland, Saudi Arabia, and on Egypt. Perle apparently went too far. A major debate over U.S. foreign policy has since begun, with voices like James Baker III and Brent Scowcroft, even Henry Kissinger denouncing the Perle faction of neo-conservatives. Many U.S. newspapers and journals have begun to identify the insidious coalition of Christian Right and neo-conservatives as a manipulative effort to skew open debate in favor of one country, Israel. The taboo about criticizing Israel politics in U.S. media has begun to break down.

[1] Dr. James Zogby, Washington Watch, May 13, 2002, "Understanding America's Right: Part I. 

2 Quoted in "Inside Job" by Joshua Micah Marshall, in The American Prospect, December 17, 2001. 

3 Jason Vest, "The Men from JINSA and CSP," in The Nation, September 2, 2002; Brian Whitaker, "U.S. Thinktanks give lessons in foreign policy," in The Guardian, August 19, 2002, and his Guardian article, "Selective MEMRI," of August 12, 2001; Chris Suellentrop, "Richard Perle-Washington's faceful bureaucrat," in, August 23, 2002, and some of the more recent articles documenting the network of neo-conservative influence in Washington. 

[4] Shadia B. Drury's book, Leo Strauss and the American Right, St. Martin's Press, New York, 1999, offers an incisive philosophical critique of the little-known relation of Strauss to Kristol and American neo-conservatives, and of their manipulation of religion in politics to further their agenda. 

[5] The report, "Christian Zionism: Christian Support for the State of Israel: The Politics and Theology of Armageddon", contains a useful chronology of the alliance between the Likud Party and U.S. Christian Right groups. Donald Wagner, director of the pro-peace  Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding published an analysis of the "Evangelicals and Israel: Theological Roots of a Political Alliance," in The Christian Century, November 4, 1998 which is useful. 

[6] Grace Halsell, herself from a conservative evangelical Christian family, documented the nature of Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and the U.S. Christian Zionists in relation to the Likud in her book, "Forcing God's Hand: Why Millions Pray for a Quick Rapture...and Destruction of Planet Earth," Crossroads International Publishing, Washington D.C., 1999. She travelled with Rev. Jerry Falwell to Israel to study the movement's leading political figures first hand, and documented such things as the gift to Falwell of a private jet in 1978 by the Begin government to help him build support in the U.S. Former staff member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Clifford Kiracofe, "President Bush and the Christian Zionist Lobby," in The Daily Star of Lebanon, 9.05.2002, has a useful review of their political role today.