Calling Team B

On the neo-con Iran-war front, Marc Lynch notes the intensifying neo-conservative campaign for attacking Iran, led this week by Reuel Marc Gerecht’s cover story in the Weekly Standard. (I wrote an article along similar lines ten days ago for IPS.)

The only piece he doesn’t mention is one published Monday on the op-ed page of the Wall Street Journal by the Hudson Institute’s Gabriel Schoenfeld, in which he makes a rather blatant appeal for a new “Team B” — this time for analyzing the intelligence community’s work on the Iranian nuclear program — although without recalling the old, neo-con-led Team B of the mid-1970’s that helped derail detente with the Soviet Union. The old Team B, which was headed by Richard Pipes — father of Daniel — and which included Paul Wolfowitz, has subsequently been proven wrong on virtually every one of its key conclusions about the strategic threat posed by the Soviet Union. If composed of the kind of people who hyped the Soviet threat so badly in the original Team B, the “independent inquest” proposed by Schoenfeld to assess Iran’s nuclear program and the intelligence community’s presumed under-estimation of its progress, would no doubt reach similar conclusions as its badly flawed and highly politicized antecedent.

The best line in Schoenfeld’s piece, however, has to be the lede:

“U.S. intelligence has already had two horrendously costly lapses this decade: the failure to interdict the plot of Sept. 11, 2001, and the erroneous assessment that Saddam Hussein was amassing weapons of mass destruction. Both brought us into wars.”

Of course, putting the blame on the intelligence community for providing the faulty assessments absolves the neo-cons and their enablers of any responsibility for corrupting the intelligence process through the vice president, or Doug Feith’s office and Ahmed Chalabi, and the constant stream of disinformation they themselves provided through friendly media outlets in the run-up to the invasion. It was, after all, then-Defence Policy Board chairman Richard Perle who published an op-ed in the New York Times way back on December 28, 2001, arguing for attacking Iraq:

“With each passing day, he comes closer to his dream of a nuclear arsenal. We know he has a clandestine program, spread over many hidden sites, to enrich Iraqi natural uranium to weapons grade. We know he has the designs and the technical staff to fabricate nuclear weapons once he obtains the material. And intelligence sources know he is in the market, with plenty of money, for both weapons material and components as well as finished nuclear weapons. How close is he? We do not know. Two years, three years, tomorrow even?”

Oh, and lest we forget how good Perle’s intelligence was, he went on in the same article to argue:

“Saddam Hussein’s removal from office, we are told privately, would be cheered in the Persian Gulf. The conventional wisdom that an attack on him would be seen as an attack against Islam is an insult to Islam, and it is wrong. To most Muslims, his reign of terror is an abomination. In Iraq itself, his downfall would be met with dancing in the streets. A decent successor regime would be very likely to encourage peace in the region.”

Any of that sound familiar?

Jim Lobe

Jim Lobe served for some 30 years as the Washington DC bureau chief for Inter Press Service and is best known for his coverage of U.S. foreign policy and the influence of the neoconservative movement.



  1. J.H. Christ. I just read Reuel March Gerecht’s Weekly Standard piece. It’s terrifying to think this guy was really in the CIA for ten years. I hope they didn’t give him a gun, or even a sharp pencil, for that matter. I did not detect a single piece of actual information in his lengthy and erratic discursion. He is incoherent, just slapping together every single anti-Iranian cliche you could pick up in any Krauthammer or Clifford May tirade.

  2. Yes. By all means we MUST continue to blame the NeoCons for a war that Obama has been pushing hard, a war that is already now well underway in th form of a brutal economic assault on Iran. But obviously such pro-Obama propaganda, which seeks to blame the whole mess on the Right, is working: as we see here, the Magical Incantation OBAMA IS PRESIDENT still works to reassure folks that all will be well, and therefore we don’t have to worry about actually changing the malevolent course of the Empire.

  3. I certainly don’t believe “all will be well” because Obama is president. My point was simply that an American war on Iran (by war I mean a military attck, bombs flying, etc.) is not going to happen under Obama, whereas if Romney or Gingrich or Palin come to power war becomes, perhaps, likely.

    I’m not a Democrat or a “progressive.” I supported B.O. in 2008 because I felt the Bush-Cheney-Rove troika had overthrown all conservative principles and virtually wrecked the country. I still like Obama, but from a policy standpoint he’s been largely disappointing. He’s the lesser of evils. One shouldn’t expect a Democratic politician to pursue the right policies, anymore than one can find the right stuff among the Republicans. At the same time, while it’s easy to criticize from the sidelines, there are political imperatives that box in any president. And Obama is just a lawyer who served part of a Senate term; he doesn’t have the reputation, character, or testicular fortitude to take on the interests that would, if he stepped too far out of line, terminate him politically. I won’t go so far as to say that he’s doing the best that he can, but he’s not a Roosevelt or even an Eisenhower. He’s more exposed, politically, than even JFK was. He has only so much room for maneuver. It’s easy to say he should be more bold, but you’re not in his shoes. Everything looks easier when you’re sitting at your laptop in your living room.

  4. interesting Jon. as to Obama should be more bold, of course many believe he has been far too bold. I agree with you that that is utter nonsense, this is more of the status quo.

    I like to put it this way. Many on “both” sides agree that we are on a collision course, and, it’s a big slow ship of state full of so much inertia. But, as we all grab for the helm, which way do we turn, left or right?

    The reality of politics, propaganda/marketing and the media, I am far from optimistic about the future of this country. I’m planning on moving to Algeria someday, I just hope it’s before the collision.

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