The Human Price of Neocon Havoc

Exclusive: Neocons are the “masters of chaos” as they destabilize disfavored governments around the world. But real people pay the price as we’ve seen with Israel’s slaughter of four boys on a Gaza beach and an apparent shoot-down of a Malaysian airliner over war-torn Ukraine, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

Whether the tragedy is four boys getting blown apart while playing on a beach in Gaza or nearly 300 killed from a suspected missile strike on a Malaysian Airliner over Ukraine or the thousands upon thousands of other innocent victims slaughtered in Iraq, Syria, Libya and other recent war zones, the underlying lesson is that the havoc encouraged by America’s neocons results in horrendous loss of human life.

While clearly other players share in this blame, including the soldiers on the ground and the politicians lacking the courage to compromise, the principal culprits in the bloodshed of the past dozen years have been the neoconservatives and their “liberal interventionist” allies who can’t seem to stop stirring up trouble in the name of “democracy” and “human rights.”

Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who pushed for the Ukraine coup and helped pick the post-coup leaders.

Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who pushed for the Ukraine coup and helped pick the post-coup leaders.

Rather than work out reasonable albeit imperfect compromises with various foreign leaders, the neocons and their liberal allies insist on ratcheting up demands to such unrealistic levels that conflict becomes inevitable and the outcomes are almost always catastrophic.

In Iraq in 2003, the neocons and many liberal fellow-travelers insisted that the only acceptable solution was the violent removal of Saddam Hussein through an unprovoked U.S. invasion. Though Hussein was ousted and hanged, the collateral damage included hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis, including many children, along with the complete destabilization of the country.

In Syria and Libya, many of the same U.S. actors although in this case led by the liberal “responsibility-to-protect” crowd pushed for the overthrow of the existing governments, supposedly to save lives and spread democracy.

In Libya, the U.S.-led air war did cause Muammar Gaddafi to be overthrown and murdered but the ensuing chaos has led to many more deaths, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, plus the spread of Islamic militancy across the region.

In Syria, the U.S.-backed “regime change” bid failed to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad but the resulting chaos has left more than 100,000 people killed and has given rise to an ultra-violent jihadist group called the Islamic State, which first emerged from the U.S.-created war in Iraq and has now boomeranged back onto Iraq as the jihadists have seized major cities and spurred more sectarian killings.

But there may be a method to the apparent neocon madness. The neocons have always been committed to protecting Israel and enabling its oppression of Palestinians on the West Bank and Gaza. Indeed, one can understand pretty much every confrontational policy pushed by the neocons as being designed to serve Israeli interests.

These “regime change” schemes can be directly traced to the work of prominent U.S. neocons on Benjamin Netanyahu’s 1996 campaign for Israeli prime minister. Rather than continuing inconclusive negotiations with the Palestinians, Netanyahu’s neocon advisers including Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, David Wurmser and Mevray Wurmser advocated an aggressive new approach, called “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm.”

Essentially, the neocon thinking arose from Israeli frustration over negotiations with the Palestinians. The Israelis were angry at Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and the militant group Hamas as well as Lebanon’s Hezbollah. So the “clean break” scratched negotiations and replaced talking with “regime change” in countries supporting those groups, whether Iraq under Saddam Hussein, Syria under the Assad dynasty or Iran, a leading benefactor of Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas.

Two years later, in 1998, came the neocon Project for the New American Century’s call for a U.S. invasion of Iraq. PNAC was founded by neocon luminaries William Kristol and Robert Kagan. [See’s “The Mysterious Why of the Iraq War.”]

Helpful Chaos

Though many of the neocon plans have not worked out as advertised the promised “cakewalk” in Iraq turned into a bloody slog the neocon strategy could still be labeled a success if the actual intent was to destabilize and weaken Middle Eastern countries that were perceived as threats to Israel.

Through that lens, it’s not entirely bad that old sectarian hatreds have been revived, pitting Sunni against Shiite and ripping apart societies such as Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. In the end, the regional chaos has helped Prime Minister Netanyahu starve the Palestinians of the financial support that they once had, supposedly making them more susceptible to whatever demands the Israelis choose to make. And it has given Netanyahu a freer hand to engage in periodic slaughters of Gazan militants, a process that Israelis call “mowing the grass.”

When the 1.7 million Palestinians packed into the Gaza Strip lash out at their Israeli oppressors as they periodically do the neocons who remain very influential in Official Washington are quick to dominate the U.S. media, justifying whatever levels of violence that Netanyahu chooses to inflict. But raining bombs down on this densely populated area is sure to kill many children and other innocents.

On Wednesday, the Israeli military targeted a shed on the beach in Gaza. According to reports, the first missile hit the shed and killed one small boy playing in the vicinity. When three other boys began running, the Israelis blew them away with a second rocket. New York Times photographer Tyler Hicks explained the events this way:

“A small shack atop a sea wall at the fishing port had been struck by an Israeli bomb or missile and was burning. A young boy emerged from the smoke, running toward the adjacent beach. I grabbed my cameras and was putting on body armor and a helmet when, about 30 seconds after the first blast, there was another. The boy I had seen running was now dead, lying motionless in the sand, along with three other boys who had been playing there.”

Presumably, the Israeli pilots or whoever targeted the missile deserve the immediate blame for this atrocity. But the far-worse criminals are the Israeli leaders who refuse to address the longstanding injustices inflicted on the Palestinian people. Also, sharing in this crime are the American neocons who justify whatever Israel does.

Similarly, it has been the neocons and their “liberal interventionist” allies who have been stoking the crisis in Ukraine in part out of a desire to drive a wedge between President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has assisted Obama in defusing crises in Syria and Iran, two areas where the neocons hoped to engineer more “regime change.”

By last September, leading neocons, such as National Endowment for Democracy President Carl Gershman, had identified Ukraine as the geopolitical instrument for punishing Putin. Gershman deemed Ukraine “the biggest prize” and hoped that grabbing it for the Western sphere of influence might undercut Putin at home as well.

Gershman’s NED funded scores of Ukrainian political and media organizations while Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland estimated that the U.S. government had invested $5 billion in the cause of pulling Ukraine into the West. Nuland, a neocon holdover who had been a top adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney, is the wife of PNAC co-founder Robert Kagan.

Nuland went so far as to show up at mass demonstrations in Kiev’s Maidan Square passing out cookies to the protesters, while neocon Sen. John McCain stood with the far-right Svoboda Party under a banner honoring Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera to urge on the protesters to challenge elected President Viktor Yanukovych. [See’s “What the Neocons Want from Ukraine Crisis.”]

Wreaking Havoc

The political crisis in Ukraine reached a boiling point Feb. 20-22 as the demonstrations turned increasingly violent and the death toll among police and protesters mounted. On Feb. 21, three European foreign ministers reached an agreement with Yanukovych in which he agreed to limit his powers and accept early elections to vote him out of office. He also pulled back the police, as Vice President Joe Biden had demanded.

At that point, however, well-trained neo-Nazi militias organized in brigades of 100 took the offensive, seizing government buildings and forcing Yanukovych’s officials to flee for their lives. Instead of trying to enforce the Feb. 21 agreement, which would have safeguarded Ukraine’s constitutional process, the U.S. State Department cheered the unlawful ouster of Yanukovych and quickly recognized the coup regime as “legitimate.”

The Feb. 22 coup set in motion a train of other events as “ethnically pure” Ukrainians in the west were pitted against ethnic Russians in the east and south. The crisis grew bloodier as the ethnic Russians resisted what they regarded as an illegitimate regime in Kiev.

Meanwhile, the U.S. mainstream press always enthralled to the neocons pushed a false narrative about Ukraine that put nearly all the blame on Putin, though he clearly was reacting to provocations instigated by the West, not the other way around.

Still, the neocons achieved one of their chief goals, alienating Obama from Putin and making the two leaders’ collaboration on Syria, Iran and other trouble spots more unlikely. In other words, the neocons have kept alive hope that those problems won’t be resolved through compromise, but rather might still lead to more warfare.

While some Machiavellians might admire this neocon “always-say-die” determination, the human consequences can be quite severe. For instance, the violence in eastern Ukraine may have led to the Thursday crash of a Malaysian Airliner flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur with all 295 people onboard killed.

It was not immediately clear which side in the fighting if any was responsible for the suspected shoot-down of the plane. The various parties to the conflict all denied responsibility. But it would not be the first time that an international conflict has contributed to the destruction of a civilian airliner.

On July 3, 1988, the USS Vincennes shot down Iran Air Flight 655 over Iranian territorial waters in the Persian Gulf, killing all 290 people onboard, after apparently mistaking the airliner for a warplane.

While Ukraine’s new President Petro Poroshenko was quick to call the crash “a terrorist act” and implicitly blame the ethnic Russian rebels the reality is almost assuredly that it was an accident (assuming that a missile did bring down the airliner). Presumably, the same is true about the Israeli twin missile strikes killing those four boys on a beach in Gaza. The Israeli military most likely misjudged their ages.

But the overriding lesson from these tragedies should be that the real villains are people who opt for chaos and war over progress and peace. And, in the case of the Middle East and Ukraine, the greatest purveyors of this unnecessary warfare are America’s neocons.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and For a limited time, you also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

24 comments for “The Human Price of Neocon Havoc

  1. Ron Harwell
    July 23, 2014 at 16:59

    I was with the author until the end when he stated killing the children on the beach was an accident. Israel has a sordid, horrible, history of killing women and children and this was no exception. This was deliberate. By their own words and writings, they have admitted the Palestinians are not human beings, not people but fit to be killed and feel no guilt over the killings.

  2. Mike R.
    July 23, 2014 at 14:36

    Jewish Zionists are – they simply are – a major, maybe the major engine behind interventionism. If we are afraid to say so, in a truthful and balanced way – these wars will never stop. The Oded Yinon plan was the Godfather of PNAC’s call for a “New Pearl Harbor”… for Eretz Israel.

    There will be more…


  3. tom oneill
    July 19, 2014 at 12:14

    Another wonderful article from Parry. It counteracts the human tendency to simply go dizzy, to surrender to vertigo, in the face of so many bad things happening at once. We are inclined to shrug and say “Shit happens.” Or “That’s the way the cookies crumbles.” Or maybe, “The Invisible Hand is really ticked off with us.” We know how terrible the alternative is. To say, “People are doing this,” is–we are told–to become a simple-minded conspiracy theorist. This article is a bracing gust of fresh air. People ARE doing this. We know their names. Why are we not heaping upon them the shame they have relentlessly earned? Where is the spirit of Jeremiah when we need it?

  4. Jack
    July 18, 2014 at 14:14

    Ike warned about the Military Industrial complex on leaving the Office of the President. President Johnson massively increased the standing military complex. The course was set long ago.

  5. jg
    July 18, 2014 at 12:17

    They actively seek to partner with the most detestable scum on the planet. They empower terrorists, nazis, dictators, drug runners, and they get away with it because US media won’t call them CRIMINALS, in need of criminal prosecution for CONSPIRACY.

    Because 99% of the douchebag media trembles in fear of being labeled the dreaded “conspiracy theorist.” Very neat trick Satan pulled, making their crimes disappear from reality with a sleight of hand trick like that.

    Unless you stand up and accuse government officials of being CRIMINALS, FELONS, CONSPIRATORS, then the rest, Mr. Parry, is a lot of useless hot air.

  6. Joe Tedesky
    July 18, 2014 at 11:13

    I think there maybe profit in havoc.

    • John
      July 18, 2014 at 13:40

      Probably special discounts on specially-equipped 777s, with a platinum-passenger option to divert the flight over surveillance targets.

  7. John
    July 18, 2014 at 07:51

    Regardless of who or why the airliner was shot down, its presence there tells a great deal.

    Remember that the US CIA diverted flight “007” (Korean Airlines) over USSR missile bases in the 1980s where it refused to change course despite fighter intercepts, and was shot down. The US never apologized to the Korean victims families for neglecting to tell the passengers of their military mission.

    Now plainly the US caused this flight MH17 to just happen to fly over Eastern Ukraine (normal flight path from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was south of Ukraine) for similar military surveillance purposes, neglecting to inform the passengers of their military mission. And there will be no admission or apologies.

    So now we know what happened to the last Malaysian Airlines flight that went missing. It is missing in the vicinity of some US surveillance target, probably in China, and the US dares not admit that it knows very well where that is, or what it knows happened.

    • John
      July 18, 2014 at 13:52

      No doubt this flight was diverted at this time, because Israel asked the US to do so as a media cover for its Gaza invasion. And very likely this particular flight was chosen, because it was full of AIDS conference attendees. And very likely it was shot down by Kiev forces by prior arrangement, as a false-flag operation to blame on Russia. All this will be revealed in the 2030s and 2040s.

      • sharonsj
        July 18, 2014 at 18:49

        One says the U.S. caused the Malaysian plane to fly over the Ukraine and the other says Israel did it. The two of you are crazy–Malaysia chose that route because it was the shortest–so you both are in serious need of psychiatric help.

        • July 19, 2014 at 02:45

          The shortest route (great circle) passes about 100 miles north of the actual flight path, and would have avoided the combat zone around Donetzk.

      • Joseph
        July 19, 2014 at 07:10

        Well, SJ Sharon, another standard right wing false accusation in lieu of evidence or argument. Afraid of the truth? It is the right wing that needs therapy.

  8. F. G. Sanford
    July 17, 2014 at 23:44

    Well, here we are, ten days and counting to the anniversary of that “war to end all wars”. There are hostilities in about seventeen different countries, and…this just in: the tanks are rolling into Gaza. We formalized billions in debt relief to banks that stole money at taxpayer expense. To make up for those costs, we’re shutting off the water to poor people in Detroit. That’s so the same banks we bailed out can get a better deal on the foreclosures they engineered after the unsecured loan frauds fell apart. As the economy tanks, the IMF realizes that it will never see a dime from Ukraine. The BRICS clinched a deal to create capital investment projects…and whaddya know…a civilian airliner gets shot down over “disputed territory”. Figure the odds! Flight capital, cartelization, offshoring, collateralized debt obligations, derivatives trading and money printing continue to bolster robust statistics encouraging the delusion of economic recovery. The top four industries by profits in the USA today are healthcare, pharmaceuticals, defense and illegal narcotics, but not necessarily in that order. We’re sick, crazy, drugged out of our minds and armed to the teeth. What’s a country to do? Oy vey! Uncle Bibi, who looks a lot like Don Rickles without the diplomatic restraint and Vicky Nudelman (yeah, that’ s her real name), who looks like Almira Gulch without the warmth and charm seem to have the perfect solution. They’ve teamed up to create “facts on the ground”. If this was the “Mighty Carson Art Players”, Doc and the band would segue into, “If I Only Had a Brain”. Johnny would resort to his signature “soft-shoe” while feigning bewilderment. The skit would end, and the audience would doze off happily knowing they still have a job. Did I mention that Tin Man plans to re-open the Lourdes Electronic Listening Post on Cuba? Meanwhile, in the land of the Munchkins, there’s cold beer on tap, fresh bratwurst on the grill, and most everybody has a job with free healthcare and six weeks paid vacation. The Good Witch of the North wants to keep it that way. My guess is there’s plenty of maneuvering to make sure those “black boxes” get to Scarecrow before they get to The Wizard. Lion is battling a case of spastic colitis at the thought of another round of standing ovations in the Land of Oz. Wizard sent his Flying Monkeys out to get their asses waxed, and Tin Man looks more and more like The Terminator. Angela…I mean Dorothy seems reluctant to play along with Brussels…I mean the Emerald City. As “facts on the ground” start looking more like mass graves, the Munchkins may choose up sides and get this World War thing back on the Yellowcake Road…or not. Eddie, Tin Man and Dorothy seem to have caught Wizard with his curtain drawn. Lion may be faced with a tough choice: bratwurst or yellowcake? I think I know what Lion will pick. Even with his ass waxed, Bibi is no match for Dorothy. That goes for Vicky, too.

    • Joe Tedesky
      July 18, 2014 at 11:07

      F.G. Someday someone is going to make a screen play out of one of your post…great stuff & entertaining! Bravo, bravo!

      • F. G. Sanford
        July 18, 2014 at 11:55

        Thanks, Joe, glad somebody enjoyed it.

        • bobzz
          July 18, 2014 at 12:02

          F. G., more people enjoy and learn from your posts than you might imagine.

  9. Robert
    July 17, 2014 at 22:43

    I’m a 60% disabled Vietnam veteran so I’ve been around awhile… and I’ve studied political science in one form or another all of my life. When the government was cranking up their justification for a “shock and awe” I was in disbelief. I asked my employees what is wrong with these people? They HAVE to know they cannot end the conflict in the middle east… never… never. never ever. And now seeing Hillary gearing up for a presidential run I think, how can anyone who can read want to vote for John McCain in a skirt? It’s all crazy and Robert Parry is exactly right. The Palestinians will continue to hate Israel, Israel will continue to hate them, The Saudis will continue to bankroll terrorism, everyone will continue to ensure that the NRA and the defense contractors continue to absorb as much taxpayer money as possible… I for one will no longer vote for our two headed snake, that is what is now the Republican/Democrat party. They are one in the same in my view. Two sides of the same neocon coin.

    • Longfisher
      July 18, 2014 at 11:49



  10. July 17, 2014 at 21:38

    If Mr. Parry thinks Israel doesn’t intentionally target children and other civilians as policy, he hasn’t studied the reports of the respected human rights organisations on Israel’s massacres in Gaza.

    I go over and link to them and other experts in this article:

  11. Morton Kurzweil
    July 17, 2014 at 20:15

    Israel’ slaughter or self defense against terrorists rocket attacks?
    Enough of your anti-Israeli propaganda.
    Self defense against seventh century Islamic mythological hate mongers does not qualify 21st century Christians to continue the Crusade.

    • Nate
      July 17, 2014 at 21:51

      Funny how the truth suddenly becomes” anti-Israeli propaganda”, or how some Zionists would say “anti-semetic”.

    • Joseph
      July 18, 2014 at 07:44

      Undeniably the Israeli right wing created their situation by seizing Palestine, regardless of debate over means and alternatives. The reaction was inevitable. And their demagogues have maintained the problem to distribute handouts to supporters. stolen from others, in the classic mode of tyrants as described by Aristotle, just as Hitler did.
      Let it be a lesson to you Israeli tyrants, that it is the right wing that has caused wrongs throughout history. not a particular people.

    • Marysue
      July 19, 2014 at 19:31

      Anti-Israeli propaganda? You have GOT to be kidding! Most of the people the Israelis (all males, right?) have killed have been women and kids–the ones with ZERO power, ZERO say in anything, right? Their men don’t listen to them any more than Jewish men listen to Jewish women and Jewish kids, either! So THE issue in the Middle East appears to be a MALE dominance problem. You guys just don’t want to get along! You ALL want to be boss. Smarten up and share the power and the land in peace. Share food, education and government equally with all sexes and ages! Share and care! This is NOT a brainer. Maintain the peace, pass the peas and please GROW UP!

  12. Yar
    July 17, 2014 at 18:46

    We must recognise – they take pleasure from deaths and blood. They really enjoy…
    Ukrainian National Guards mutilate and kill a 3-years child in front of his mother – it’s hardly an “anti-terroristic activity”, it’s just a horrific, perverted enjoyment. American politicians (bogeyman neo-cons? – no, almost all of them) do the same – with someone else’s hands. God-like feeling, presumably… (Oh, yea, and a bit of a profit…)

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