The Neocons’ Grim ‘Victory’ in Iraq

The neocons who plunged the U.S. into the disastrous Iraq War never say they’re sorry. Instead, it’s all about how their idea was great but President Bush bungled the implementation or how the war was “won” but President Obama chose defeat. Still, the real neocon “victory” could be their success in inflicting endless chaos on the Middle East, as JP Sottile observes.

By JP Sottile

Neocons do like to declare victory, especially regarding the Iraq War. So it came as no surprise that Paul Wolfowitz, apparently unimpressed by Iraq’s mounting crisis, regaled a recent panel discussion at the U.S.-Africa Summit with the blunt proclamation, “We have won it, in  2009.” Unsurprisingly, that’s when Team Bush left the White House — and approximately 150,000 troops behind in Iraq.

Perhaps also not surprisingly, war-weary Americans didn’t pay much attention to Paul’s pronouncement. No doubt they are as tired of Wolfowitz as they are of the war he helped to start. It probably rang as hollow as the faint echo of his earlier pitch for a quick, all-expenses-paid war against 2003’s Hitler of the Moment, Saddam Hussein.

Former Undersecretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz. (DoD photo by Scott Davis, U.S. Army. Wikipedia)

Former Undersecretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz. (DoD photo by Scott Davis, U.S. Army. Wikipedia)

But it’s not quite as simple as that. The issue got more complicated shortly after the Africa summit when President Barack Obama, who had pinned his legacy on extricating the United States from Iraq, suddenly found himself at a podium to announce limited, but open-ended military action to halt the dreaded march of The Islamic State (often called ISIS or ISIL) through the repeatedly rocked Cradle of Civilization.

Many have explained the organization’s plan for creating a fundamentalist caliphate and its reliance on shockingly brutal tactics that make ISIS something that even al-Qaeda could never be, nor perhaps ever wanted to be. Many others have prodded the dying corpse of Iraq to assign blame here, there and everywhere. But the most basic reason for more bombing is found right there in the self-aggrandizing quip by Paul Wolfowitz.

The simple fact is that the Iraq War was a smashing success at least for the neocons because it smashed the keystone in the arch of the region’s stability. By removing Saddam Hussein, his government and the Republican Guard, neocons removed a bulwark against the very jihadism that has policymakers and pundits forever wringing their hands raw, military contractors ringing their cash registers, and the denizens of the national security state resting assured under a blanket of secrecy.

Considering the persistent ubiquity of U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf, their growing presence around the Horn of Africa and extension into Sub-Saharan Africa, Wolfowitz’s declaration of victory may not be ironic or delusional; it may have some measure of truth at least from his perspective but for a reason most would not consider victorious. That “victory” achieved something the neocons could only dream of during a fitful slumber brought on by counting the media’s sheep, i.e. a permanent war in the Middle East.

No Walking Away

The Iraq War made it functionally impossible for the United States to ever fully walk away from Iraq, the Persian Gulf or anywhere Muslims and oil mix. And for Wolfowitz, Don Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and William Kristol, it’s a dream come true. Regime change in Iraq created a power vacuum that was and is too strong to resist.

In fact, that vacuum allowed a wandering Jordanian jihadist named Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his group of international also-rans to run amok in the chaos of post-Saddam Iraq. After a series of suicide attacks and a pledge to al-Qaeda, the anti-Shi’ite, anti-American, anti-almost-everything group became “al-Qaeda in Iraq,” and, as Bobby Ghosh explains, eventually metastasized into ISIS.

ISIS’s regional road show took off after Zarqawi was killed in June 2006 and a tenuous stability was literally bought by the U.S. during the Sunni Awakening and the much-ballyhooed Surge. The Sunni Awakening was a cash-incentivized purchase of cooperation from just enough angry Iraqis to force interlopers and internecine adversaries to retreat, retool or retire. And that cash made it safe to hang the trappings of democracy over a vacuum that would eventually suck America back in again. And did it ever suck.

Although Team Obama was content to let ISIS grow in war-torn Syria’s radicalized incubator, ISIS’s unimpeded advance onto the doorstep of Erbil, the shining oil metropolis at the heart of the Kurdish semi-state, could not be tolerated.

While Chevron and ExxonMobil evacuated employees, Obama sent in tactical assistance for the Yazidi religious minority trapped on a mountain. While the humanitarian crisis and looming “genocide” came and went quickly, perhaps a little too quickly for credulity’s sake, the all-too predictable chaos unleashed by the legacy of regime change and left behind by a legacy-minded Obama made this latest action almost inevitable.

Hillary Clinton’s Protests

Alas, the policy of regime change has been replicated, with many thanks to the “stupid stuff” both Obama and Hillary Clinton have done in Libya and Syria. After having wrung the traditional idea of diplomacy out of the State Department i.e. advancing your country’s interests without warfare Hillary has climbed atop a growing stack of her unsold books so everyone can hear some classic Clintonian “triangulation” and pre-election posturing. It’s still early. Maybe she can create distance between herself, her former boss and her rumored, if perpetually disproved, ideals.

Since Obama didn’t go as far as Hillary now says she wanted to go in smashing Syria, it’s even more likely that she played a significant role sucking two more secular regimes down the jihadist rabbit hole, Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya and Bashar al-Assad’s Syria (although “regime change” has come up a little short in Damascus). True enough, some Syrian rebels were only helped covertly through her State Department’s Conflict Bureau (and the CIA) and, although never officially linked to the U.S., through Libyan weapons transferred to the fight against Assad, another Hitler du jour, reportedly via a little-known port at a place called Benghazi.

But now there is little doubt Clinton was present at the creation of yet more reasons for Muslim radicals to organize and arm themselves against U.S. aims, allies and proxies, from drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan to Muslim persecution after the “foreign policy success” of Myanmar.

However, the Mother of All Sucking Sounds is still the powerful vacuum created by destroying an entire country under false pretenses. That Iraq vacuum sucked trillions of dollars out of the U.S. Treasury, sucked hundreds of thousands of Americans into a vortex of deployments and redeployments, and created the impetus for millions of Muslims around the world to quite rightly think that they were being targeted by America.

As if decades of dances with dictators and America’s oil-slicked machinations weren’t enough evidence, the neocon agenda for Rebuilding America’s Defenses established once and for all through facts on their sandy ground, through pictures from Abu Ghraib and with extrajudicial imprisonment at Gitmo that Muslims make easy targets (in more ways than one).

Perhaps by taking out a contract on Saddam’s uncooperative regime, they were, in effect, taking out a “bridge loan” for their corporate sponsors until another wave of neocon-men and con-women could breathe life into the long-since dead Cold War with their chess moves in Ukraine. But the real action was and is still at the “other” Ground Zero, in Iraq and around the oil-enriched Persian Gulf.

The bait-and-switch of 9/11 for Saddam, of Colin Powell’s show-stopping vial of fake anthrax for actual evidence of chemical weapons, of aluminum tubes as proof for non-existent nuclear centrifuges, it all set a trap that, in the final analysis, America cannot really free itself from, no matter how rabidly Uncle Sam gnaws at the exposed bone of his blood-soaked leg.

Unbloodied and Unbowed

And somehow, the planners of the Great Remaking of the Middle East have been surprisingly unbowed in spite of the colossal failures and the supposed “blunder” of a strategy gone wrong. Their lack of penance has made them the butt of jokes, but the joke may be on us.

These were not stupid men. They knew that the only way to keep their version of “the peace” was to keep America trapped in Middle East wars in perpetuity. They planned on it. Sure, Obama’s pull-out provided momentary relief from the trap, but with each passing month the death and destruction and body count mounted in a “free” and “democratic” Iraq until it predictably collapsed upon itself, unable to make whole what American indifference to facts, law and human life tore asunder.

Now that vacuum has sucked in the detritus of the Obama administration’s own failed policy of regime changes. In Syria and in Libya and, somewhere outside the news media’s bubble, in Yemen, a supposedly feckless Obama has played the same damnable game with the targeted “smashing” of drones, airstrikes and anti-terrorism initiatives.

Meanwhile, the result of illegally smashing Iraq still speaks for itself. So maybe, just maybe, Wolfowitz is, technically speaking, correct when he said “we won.” The problem is that the “we” is not America or even most Americans. The “we” is the quirky cabal of desk jockeys, chicken-hawks and Sunday showmen who, through their interconnected web of think tanks and political appointments and corporate connections, ensnared the United States into a conflagration that is beginning its second act.

And if the U.S. somehow avoids getting sucked into a long-term battle against disaffected, dislocated and disenfranchised Muslims? Cold War 2.0 ensures that the perpetual machine designed to continually “rebuild” America’s defenses has a never-ending supply of financial fuel and antagonistic grist for its multi-generational mill.

Either way, the neocon mission has truly been accomplished.

JP Sottile is a freelance journalist, radio co-host, documentary filmmaker and former broadcast news producer in Washington, D.C. His weekly show, Inside the Headlines w/ The Newsvandal, co-hosted by James Moore, airs every Friday on KRUU-FM in Fairfield, Iowa and is available online. He blogs at or you can follow him on Twitter, http://twitter/newsvandal.

12 comments for “The Neocons’ Grim ‘Victory’ in Iraq

  1. ACasey
    September 2, 2014 at 08:57

    Wolfowitz & Company are desperate old men cornered by their approaching mortality and clutching to what little time they have left in life, still clamor to conquest and take from others giving to themselves.

    The Wolfowitz Doctrine and neo-conservative New American Century show they build nothing. These architects of this insane mindset left rubble and ruin in their wave of terror across the entire planet.

    The future belongs to the youth. These decrepit, geriatric old throwbacks to yesteryear, cornered by their impending mortality and destroying everything they touch, must be replaced. The world will be a better place without them.

  2. August 31, 2014 at 17:04

    The author may be right. But I think the objective in Iraq was to occupy it permanently like Germany after WWII. Hence the Adolf Hitler. The evidence is the largest ever U.S. embassy built in Baghdad.

    It did not work because of the insurgency and the Shiite government determination to expel the U.S. troops. At the end, Washington did not have the stomach to fight both.

  3. August 28, 2014 at 19:59

    The key point omitted from this otherwise brilliant article by JP Sottile is that the neocons grim “victory” in Iraq — permanent chaos in the Middle East — has long been a strategic goal of the Nation for which they bear a passionate attachment.

  4. nmb
    August 22, 2014 at 10:21

    A temporary turn of 180 degrees by the neocon hawks

  5. Hillary
    August 22, 2014 at 07:02

    [email protected] on August 22, 2014 at 2:51 am

    Thank you for the link.

    This shocking situation is unfortunately true and very frightening indeed.

    Israel also trains the “police” and Military in many other countries that we never hear about.

  6. August 22, 2014 at 02:51

    When is the spade going to be called a spade?
    When are the neo-cons going to be called what they truly are: Zionist Khazari jews, without one strand of DNA to tie them to the Biblical Semitic jews of the holy land, who incidently fear for their lives in Israel should their humanity compel them to object to zionist extremist settlers killing the land owners for their land?
    When is it going to be said that the Wall Street Government has transferred the wealth of the People of the United States to the Rothchilds the builders of Israel. When is it going to be said that the US Army, the greatest army in the world, is doing the dirty work for some terrorist country ( if you have any doubts look at Gaza 2014), so thst Zionist can control the outflow of trade from Eurasia, by attacking Iran in the future and Russia through instability in the Ukraine presently?
    Look up every so called neo-con on Wikipedia and you will find that almost everyone is a Zionist.
    Zionist do not believe that all men are created equal.
    When are the goims in the US government are going to check if they still have any balls? When are they going to realize that our America has been aflicted with a cancer? Do they know that when that cancer has nothing left to suck out of our country, they will collapse our Dollar and our national debt will be flaunted in our face and our options will be to rent out our military and our poor youth, for Israel.
    In the alternative we the people could give a hoot and elect a president with brass balls who will kill the “not” Federal “with no” Reserve and print our own money, like Lincoln and Kennedy.
    Wake up goims, wake up the cancer has mestitised.
    May God bless America, but God helps those that help themselves and wake up. May God bless you, and almost still ours, America.
    When will the free alternative press call the spade a spade.

    Please visit this article if you dare ” American police now “Israeli-DHS trained,” precursor to dictatorship” at:

  7. Hillary
    August 20, 2014 at 19:53

    Sharansky & Lewis the “intelectual” Zionist Israeli ”salesmen” played G.W.Bush like a violin ..
    Then PNAC deciple Paul Wolfowitz “the Iraq Expert” claimed there would be no problem with the unlawful invasión of the Sovergin State of Iraq— the first on the neocon list of countries to be attacked — because Iraq stood up for Palestinian justice & was Israel’s foremost enemy.
    Wolfowitz was rewarded by promotion instead of tried at the Hague for war crimes . Wolfowitz just one more Jewish American hero & FOX war pundit.

    • Joe Tedesky
      August 20, 2014 at 20:08

      Don’t ever make me watch something like that again! Ugh!

  8. Zachary Smith
    August 20, 2014 at 18:14

    The simple fact is that the Iraq War was a smashing success – at least for the neocons – because it smashed the keystone in the arch of the region’s stability.

    I’ll admit my feathers were getting ruffled, for the neocons are in fact very pleased with themselves.

    Iraq, Syria, Libya; their destruction has made the area much safer for a thieving/murder state on the east end of the Med. All that remains are Turkey and Iran.

  9. Abe
    August 20, 2014 at 15:33

    ISIS: Region-wide Genocide Portended in 2007 Now Fully Realized

  10. Abe
    August 20, 2014 at 15:25

    “It does not matter whether the war is actually happening, and, since no decisive victory is possible, it does not matter whether the war is going well or badly. All that is needed is that a state of war should exist. The splitting of the intelligence which the Party requires of its members, and which is more easily achieved in an atmosphere of war, is now almost universal, but the higher up the ranks one goes, the more marked it becomes. It is precisely in the Inner Party that war hysteria and hatred of the enemy are strongest. In his capacity as an administrator, it is often necessary for a member of the Inner Party to know that this or that item of war news is untruthful, and he may often be aware that the entire war is spurious and is either not happening or is being waged for purposes quite other than the declared ones: but such knowledge is easily neutralized by the technique of doublethink. Meanwhile no Inner Party member wavers for an instant in his mystical belief that the war is real, and that it is bound to end victoriously, with Oceania the undisputed master of the entire world.

    “All members of the Inner Party believe in this coming conquest as an article of faith.”

    – from Chapter III of The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism by Emmanuel Goldstein, the book that Winston Smith is reading in George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four” before being arrested

  11. OH
    August 20, 2014 at 15:10

    The war against the Iraqis was really a war against a generation of Americans jobs.

    USA for USA, one day.

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