Another thing the neocons don’t want is for the American people to connect the painful and costly disaster in Iraq to neocon plans for using U.S. military power to advance Israeli security interests, though that is what the historical record points to. In the neocon fantasies of a decade ago, the invasion of Iraq was supposed to transform it into an ally of Israel and a base to pressure other anti-Israeli Muslim states for “regime change,” especially Syria and Iran.
Then, once “regime change” came to Syria and Iran, the neocons believed support would dry up for Hezbollah in Lebanon and for Hamas in the Palestinian territories, freeing Israel to dictate terms to its Arab neighbors and thus bring a form of enforced peace to the region.
The early outlines of this aggressive concept for remaking the Middle East predated the 9/11 attacks by half a decade, when a group of American neocons, including Richard Perle and Douglas Feith, went to work for Israeli Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu during his 1996 campaign for prime minister.
The neocon strategy paper, called “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm,” advanced the idea that only regime change in hostile Muslim countries could achieve the necessary “clean break” from the diplomatic standoffs that had followed inconclusive Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.
Under the “clean break,” Israel would no longer seek peace through mutual understanding and compromise, but rather through confrontation, including the violent removal of leaders such as Iraq’s Saddam Hussein.
The plan called Hussein’s ouster “an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right,” but also one that would destabilize the Assad dynasty in Syria and thus topple the power dominoes into Lebanon, where Hezbollah might soon find itself without its key Syrian ally. Iran also could find itself in the cross-hairs of “regime change.”