Indeed, Richard Perle made precisely this point to George Packer ina discussion about the role that the neoconservatives played in makingthe Iraq war happen. "If Bush had staffed his administration witha group of people selected by Brent Scowcroft and Jim Baker," Perlenoted, "which might well have happened, then it could have been different,because they would not have carried into it the ideas that the people whowound up in important positions brought to it.139 The New York Times columnistThomas L. Friedman offered a similar appraisal in May 2003, telling AriShavit of Ha'aretz that Iraq was "the war the neoconservatives wanted... the war the neoconservatives marketed ... I could give you the namesof 25 people (all of whom are at the moment within a five-block radiusof this office [in Washington, D.C.]), who, if you exiled them to a desertisland a year and a half ago, the Iraq war would not have happened."We agree completely with Perle's and Friedman's observations, while recognizingthat it was a combination of individuals, ideas, and circumstances thatcame together to produce the ultimate decision for war.140
159. On the neoconservatives' thinking about regional transformation,see Robert Blecher, "Free People Will Set the Course of History,"Middle East Report Online, March 2003; Jack Donnelly and Anthony Shadid,"Iraq War Hawks Have Plans to Reshape Entire Mldeast,'' BostonGlobe, September 10, 2002; Halper and Clarke, America Alone, 76-90; NicholasLemann, "After Iraq: The Plan to Remake the Middle East,"New Yorker, February 17, 2003; and Klein, "How Israel."
From the search for WMDs to the battle of Fallujah More » 2005
The New York Times also reported that Halevy gave a speech in Munichin February 2003 where he said, "The shock waves emerging from post-SaddamBaghdad could have wide-ranging effects in Tehran, Damascus, and in Ramallah.153The author of the article noted that Israel "is hoping that once SaddamHussein is dispensed with, the dominoes will start to tumble. Accordingto this hope ... moderates and reformers throughout the region would beencouraged to put new pressure on their own governments, not exceptingthe Palestinian Authority of Yasir Arafat." The Forward summed upIsraeli thinking about regional transformation in an article publishedjust before the war: "Israel's top political, military and economicechelons have come to regard the looming Iraq war as a virtual deus exnachina that will turn the political and economic tables and extricateIsrael from its current morass."154