Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Wurmser knew

Robert Dreyfuss writes about the power of the Office of the Vice President, and in particular here on David Wurmser, the Likudnik neocon who has largely gotten a free pass in discussions of who to blame for Iraq (my emphasis in red):

“Like Hannah, who came to the OVP from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Wurmser traipsed a roundabout path to Cheney’s staff: He worked with Hannah at WINEP in the 1990s, and then went to AEI, where he directed Middle East affairs, to the Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans, to John Bolton’s arms control shop at the State Department, and then to the OVP. Even among ardent supporters of Israel, Wurmser - and his wife, Meyrav, who runs the Hudson Institute’s Middle East program - is considered an extremist. In 1996, the Wurmsers, Perle, and Feith co-authored the famous ‘Clean Break’ paper for then-Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, which called for radical measures to redraw the map of the entire Middle East (Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Palestine) to benefit Israel. Later, in a series of papers and a book, Wurmser argued that toppling Saddam was likely to lead directly to civil war and the breakup of Iraq, but he supported the policy anyway: ‘The residual unity of [Iraq] is an illusion projected by the extreme repression of the state.’ After Saddam, Iraq will ‘be ripped apart by the politics of warlords, tribes, clans, sects, and key families,’ he wrote. ‘Underneath facades of unity enforced by state repression, [Iraq’s] politics is defined primarily by tribalism, sectarianism, and gang/clan-like competition.’ Yet Wurmser explicitly urged the United States and Israel to ‘expedite’ such a collapse. ‘The issue here is whether the West and Israel can construct a strategy for limiting and expediting the chaotic collapse that will ensue in order to move on to the task of creating a better circumstance.’ Later, with former cia director James Woolsey and others, Wurmser proposed restoring the Jordan-based Hashemite monarchy in Iraq. While Wurmser’s OVP allies may share his neoconservative fantasies of the willy-nilly reorganization of the Middle East, few experts do. ‘I’ve known him for years, and I consider him to be a naive simpleton,’ says a former U.S. ambassador. Adds Wilkerson, ‘A lot of these guys, including Wurmser, I looked at as card-carrying members of the Likud party, as I did with Feith. You wouldn’t open their wallet and find a card, but I often wondered if their primary allegiance was to their own country or to Israel. That was the thing that troubled me, because there was so much that they said and did that looked like it was more reflective of Israel’s interest than our own.’

We’re supposed to believe that what has happened to Iraq is a complete surprise to the Bush Administration.  Yet Wurmser, Cheney’s chief advisor on the Middle East, knew about the all the problems, described them in detail, and said they didn’t matter as getting rid of Saddam was so important for Israel.