Monday, 22 February 2010

Book review: The Transparent Cabal by Stephen Sniegoski

Book Review
The Transparent Cabal: The Neoconservative Agenda, War in the Middle East, and the National Interest of Israel by Stephen Sniegoski (Foreword by Congressman Paul Findley Introduction by Paul Gottfried).
(Enigma Editions, Norfolk Virginia 2008).

(Word version here)

In this meticulously researched and cogently argued book, Stephen Sniegoski presents the thesis that the 2003 Iraq war was, at root, all about Israel.

More precisely, Sniegoski argues that

the origins of the American war on Iraq revolve around the United States’ adoption of a war agenda whose basic format was conceived in Israel to advance Israeli interests and was ardently pushed by the influential pro-Israeli American neoconservatives, both inside and outside the Bush administration…

Such a thesis does not mean that the neoconservatives intentionally sought to aid Israel at the expense of the United States, but rather that they have seen American foreign policy through the lens of Israeli interest.

Sniegoski identifies the neocons as a group and establishes that they have, at least since the late sixties, been strongly motivated by a close identification with the state of Israel, and specifically with a Likudnik view of that state's interests. A substantial part of the book (the best part of five chapters) is dedicated to a detailed history of the neocons, and a huge amount of evidence is amassed, making this part of the book useful as a general - if not definitive - reference on the history of the neocons.

Among the events covered in this section are the neocons’ move from the Democratic to the Republican party - apparently motivated by the latter's more congenial attitude to an aggressive foreign-policy - and their wielding of disproportionate influence by means of a network of interconnected, overlapping and mutually supportive think tanks, which also extended to explicitly pro-Israel and indeed Israeli, and Israeli government, institutions.

The evidence adduced for the neocons' strong attachment to - even preoccupation with - a certain view of Israeli interests is overwhelming.  Besides their connections with the Israeli foreign policy establishment, Sniegoski adduces in evidence a number of policy documents, detailed below, which make it quite clear that the neocons were directly concerned with the interests, as they saw them, of Israel, unmediated by a conception of US interests.

In the course of establishing the neocons’ attachment to Israel, Sniegoski goes further and relates the development of a specific war strategy for the middle east originating with right-wing Israeli strategists, and carried forward both in Israel and among American neoconservatives, culminating in the emergence of the specific neocon plan to bring down Saddam. Sniegoski describes a consistent strategy which varies in its details but not in its central focus: the geopolitical ‘reconfiguration’ of the Middle East by a weakening of Israel's neighbour states, generally by means of destabilisation and fragmentation.

Sniegoski amasses a significant body of evidence for this approach, starting with a 1982 article by Oded Yinon, an Israeli foreign policy strategist and ex-government advisor, which recommends just such a fragmentation policy, with specific emphasis Lebanon as a model and Iraq as a target. It has been suggested that Sniegoski places too much reliance on this document in support of the fragmentation thesis as applied to the motives for the Iraq war, but  this is not clearly so. Certainly considerable evidence is presented that the strategy formed a main current in Likudnik thinking at the time and since.