Planning the Iraq War before 9/11

On July 8, 1996 Richard Perle delivered the “Clean Break” report  from [#IASPS] to Israel’s prime minister. The report does not push for American involvement in Iraq; that idea was added in a later report from Wurmser / IASPS (see below). But the report does push for ousting Saddam Hussein.


Author Role in Bush Administration
Wurmser State Department, then Mid-East Adviser to Cheney
Perle Rumsfeld‘s Chairman of Defense Policy Board
Feith Under-Secretary of Defense to Wolfowitz


From the “Clean Break” Report: (Full Report)

Srategic Objective:
“Israel can shape its strategic environment, … This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq — an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right.”

“Iraq’s future could affect the strategic balance in the Middle East profoundly, it would be understandable that Israel has an interest in supporting the Hashemites in their efforts to redefine Iraq”

How to protect Israel from its three worst enemies. 
“Were the Hashemites to control Iraq, they could use their influence over Najf to help Israel wean the south Lebanese Shia away from Hizballah, Iran, and Syria.”

How to “manage and constrain” U.S. reactions: 
“To anticipate U.S. reactions and plan ways to manage and constrain those reactions, Prime Minister Netanyahu can formulate the policies and stress themes he favors in language familiar to the Americans by tapping into themes of American administrations during the Cold War.”

Coping with Crumbling States:

A Western and Israeli Balance of Power Strategy for the Levant Wurmser
A second report from IASPS, December, 1996.

One of the crumbling states is Iraq, and the problem is not that Saddam is a threat, but rather that Iraq is so weak that Iran or Syria (enemies of Israel) might take over.

This report by Wurmser, who became [#Cheney]’s Mid-East Adviser, focuses entirely on removing Hussein and on the post-Saddam situation but in 30 pages does not once mention WMD or terrorist threats to the U.S. It is just concerned with Syria and Iran taking over Iraq. This is the real reason why the neocons wanted the U.S. to remove Saddam.

From the Report. “The Levant [Mid-East] now resembles Europe of 1914: crumbling states, like Syria, locked in bitter rivalries over a collapsing entity (Iraq). … Iraq, a nation of 18 million, occupies some of the most strategically important and well-endowed territories of the Middle East. … Thus, whoever inherits Iraq dominates the entire Levant strategically.

Dec. 1996  Podhoretz explains the Iraqi threat to Israel Podhoretz explains in Commentary why Iraq is a threat to Israel: “with the missiles available to Iraq and Syria that could easily reach Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Haifa, many civilians would die.”  “Yet surely for Syria, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia–and for Iran as well–the opportunity to dispose of Israel once and for all would be more than enough to make them temporarily set their mutual hatreds aside and unite in a final jihad.”