I began to comprehend that eight or nine neoconservatives who were political outsiders in the Clinton years had essentially overthrown the government of the United States—with ease. It was stunning to realize how fragile our Constitution was. The intellectual leaders of the group—Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, and Richard Perle—had not hidden their ideology and their belief in the power of the executive but depicted themselves in public with a great calmness and a self-assurance that masked their radicalism.


A few months after the invasion of Iraq, during an interview overseas with a general who was director of a foreign intelligence service, I was provided with a copy of a Republican neocon plan for American dominance in the Middle East. The general was an American ally, but one who was very rattled by the Bush/Cheney aggression. I was told that the document leaked to me initially had been obtained by someone in the local CIA station. There was reason to be rattled: The document declared that the war to reshape the Middle East had to begin „with the assault on Iraq. The fundamental reason for this … is that the war will start making the U.S. the hegemon of the Middle East. The correlative reason is to make the region feel in its bones, as it were, the seriousness of American intent and determination.“ Victory in Iraq would lead to an ultimatum to Damascus, the „defanging” of Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, and Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization, and other anti-Israeli groups. America’s enemies must understand that „they are fighting for their life: Pax Americana is on its way, which implies their annihilation.“ I and the foreign general agreed that America’s neocons were a menace to civilization.


I learned then that Rumsfeld had asked the American military command in Stuttgart, Germany, which had responsibility for monitoring Europe, including Syria and Lebanon, to begin drawing up an operational plan for an invasion of Syria. A young general assigned to the task refused to do so, thereby winning applause from my friends on the inside and risking his career. The plan was seen by those I knew as especially bizarre because Bashar Assad, the ruler of secular Syria, had responded to 9/11 by sharing with the CIA hundreds of his country’s most sensitive intelligence files on the Muslim Brotherhood in Hamburg, where much of the planning for 9/11 was carried out.

—Seymour Hersh, Reporter, (New York: Vintage Books, 2018), 303, 306-307.

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