Panorama investigates the “neo-conservatives”, the small and unelected group of right-wingers, who critics claim have hijacked the White House.
They brought us war against Iraq – what do the hawks in Washington have in store for us now?
The War Party was broadcast on Sunday, 18 May 2003 at 22:15 BST on BBC One.
PANORAMA THE WAR PARTY RECORDED FROM TRANSMISSION: BBC-1 DATE: 18:05:03 ........................................................................ STEVE BRADSHAW: This is a story about people who want the world run their way, the American way. WILLIAM KRISTOL: American pre-eminence BRADSHAW: People who believe American power is their to be used. JOSHUA MURAVCHIK: We're very unabashed about using American force. BRADSHAW: They're talking about a new world war. JAMES WOOLSEY: They will say: "You make us very nervous" and our response should be: "Good". BRADSHAW: And we scare the hell out of people. WOMAN: If we do not stop them now, they're going to continue with this war all over the world. IMAD MOUSTAPHA: Sometimes they are really terrifying in the way they think, the way they would like to shape the world. KHALED SAFFURI: It's like a gang, you know.. it's like Mafia. They'll take on everyone. BRADSHAW: It's a story of people who stick together. MEYRAV WURMSER: It's real fundamental love and power. BRADSHAW: But to outsiders they could be a mystery. JIM LOBE: How is it that these people.. you know.. gain such influence so quickly? BRADSHAW: They call themselves Neo-conservatives, rightwing thinkers whose dreams of a new American century have become George Bush's foreign policy. RICHARD PERLE: The President of the United States, on issue after issue, has reflected the thinking of Neo-conservatives. BRADSHAW: What's new about the Neo-cons thinking? They believe America's military might should promote America's ideals. WILLIAM KRISTOL: American power should be used not just in the defence of American interests but for the promotion of American principles. BRADSHAW: Throughout the war we were with the Neo-cons in Washington going behind the scenes… RICHARD PERLE: I'm going to get a monkey to go with it. (cell phone organ jingle) BRADSHAW: … finding out what makes them tick… MICHAEL LEDEEN: I'm a student of Machiavelli. I wrote a book on Machiavelli, and I know the struggle against evil is going to go on forever. BRADSHAW: … and what the Neo-cons have in store for us now. LEDEEN: We're going to have to bring down a series of regimes who are the sponsors of a network of various terrorist organisations. WURMSER: Syria…. MAN: Saudi Arabia… LEDEEN: Iran… MURAVCHIK: North Korea… LEDEEN: And then there's Libya. BRADSHAW: Tonight will America's super hawks drag us into more wars against their enemies? Day 1 19th March Washington, the city where war was planned, awaits the first shots. The deadline for Saddam is about to expire. Outside the White House a last minute protest against the war and against the people who are clearly pushing it. Inside the White House the President and his advisers are debating whether to launch what they call a decapitation strike. They've had an intelligence tip off. Saddam has been seen in a Baghdad suburb. Nowhere in this city of power is war awaited with more anxiety and enthusiasm than here in 17th Street; on the top three floors, the American Enterprise Institute, home to some of the top Neo-conservative thinkers who sold the President a more aggressive view of America's role in the world, one that's about to be tested in Iraq. STEVE BRADSHAW Now this place really is the ideas factory, the ideological engine room of the Bush administration. Meet Neo-conservative writer and thinker David Frum. He's a former top Bush speech writer and an AEI scholar as they're known. He helped coin the phrase "axis of evil" which President Bush used to condemn Iraq, North Korea and Iran, the sponsors of terrorism. David Frum left to write a book about a President he says is sometimes ill-informed but makes the right decisions. DAVID FRUM [on the telephone]: President Bush gave the 'axis of evil' speech 13 months.. 14 months ago. So this has been done deliberately. BRADSHAW: Like everyone in the AEI, David Frum is waiting to hear whether war against the first country in his 'axis of evil' has finally begun. And when we hear the news later this evening, or tomorrow morning, what do you think you're going to feel do you think? DAVID FRUM President Bush's Speechwriter, 2001-02 I'm going to feel, when I hear that news, I mean I'm going to pray as we all do for the success of American arms. I'm going to pray for low casualties on all sides and for the swift overthrow of this dictator. I'm going to feel some fear of course because people are in danger, I mean in harm's way. But mostly I'm going to feel confident because I think the war is just. I think America is going to win. I think the West.. the whole West is going to benefit. GEORGE BUSH: [TV address to nation] At this hour American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from more danger. BRADSHAW: The Neo-cons may have helped inspire the war, but they also inspire suspicion in Washington. WOMAN: They're hawks and they've had this plan set up for quite a while I believe. WOMAN: To me it seems like there's something… there's another agenda that we're not really privy to and that is what concerns me most. BRADSHAW: Washington's most Neo-con paper churns out the story. The war's begun, and so perhaps is the Neo-conservative way of running the world. You must see this as an important moment for you, that there's something at stake for you you’re your conservatives here. MEYRAV WURMSER Neo-conservative writer Sure, there is a lot at stake. Ideas are being put to the test. We are aware of the fact that we are in France and the rights of millions of people with ideas. Ideas are being tested. Day 2 20th March [CNN Headline News] BRADSHAW: The next morning – Washington at war. The TV news sets a confident tone. Time for a walk on the wild side with Ultra Neo-conservative Michael Ledeen. He's been called a mysterious, ideological adventurer. In the 70s he was involved in the shadowy world of rightwing Italian politics. In the 80s his secret meetings with the Israel government led, inadvertently he says, to the notorious Iran- Contra Affair. The second day of the war and Michael Ledeen is about to go on TV talking about more regimes to topple. MICHAEL LEDEEN American Enterprise Institute This is a conflict between freedom and tyranny. We're fighting tyrants. I believe that if the tyrants are removed that there'll be a great deal more peace and chances for peace in the Middle East. BRADSHAW: And the tyrants – if you can name names. LEDEEN: Iran, Iraq, Syria and Saudi Arabia are the big four and then there's Libya. There's a North Korean problem too that we'll have to deal with although that's not directly related to the Middle East except in so far as North Korea has helped them. You can't solve all problems I grant that. I mean I'm a student of Machiavelli, I wrote a book on Machiavelli and I know the struggle against evil is going to go on forever. BRADSHAW: Post 9/11 Michael Ledeen's shadowy Neo-con talents are back in favour. He's listened to in the Pentagon and it seems the White House. The Washington Post recently reported he's an adviser to White House political guru Karl Rove. In Washington's national press centre journalist Jim Lobe has become a Neo-con anorak, compiling files on them since the 70s when he realised how influential they could become. Michael Ledeen a particular source of fascination. He's said to brief the White House as well. JIM LOBE Inter Press Service Yes, people were very surprised to see that of all the people who Karl Rove, his closest adviser, talks to very few people who are knowledgeable in foreign affairs, very few, like a handful. But one of them is Michael Ledeen and that would be cause for sleepless nights for many people I would think. He is a provocateur and he's written more than once that the thing he really dislikes about foreign policy establishment is that they prefer stability as opposed to revolution or radical change. BRADSHAW: Friday morning, key neo-conservatives gather at the American Enterprise Institute to explain to the world the Neo-con view of the war. It's what they call a 'Black Coffee Grouping'. Michael Ledeen is here to insist Iraq must be part of a campaign to bring democracy to the Middle East. The Neo- con say democracies don’t harbour international terrorists. Also here, the man who has been called the Neo-cons political godfather, Richard Perle. He is the former Reagan official who is now a key figure on a Pentagon civilian advisory board. Over 100 diplomats and reporters crowd in to get their inside and often unguarded views. RICHARD PERLE [speaking at Black Coffee Grouping]: I don’t think we're vindictive, I really don’t. MICHAEL LEDEEN [Black Coffee Grouping]: Richard doesn't think Americans are vindictive. Well I hope he's wrong. [Laughter] BRADSHAW: Any thoughts on how it's going? PERLE: Well it's going well. It's premature to say it's over. It isn't over. BRADSHAW: It's hard to overestimate the American Enterprise Institute's influence. Ladies and Gentlemen, the President of the United States… [Applause] BRADSHAW: It's helped give George Bush's administration its current ideology. 26th February 2003 GEORGE BUSH: At the American Enterprise Institute some of the finest minds in our nation are at work in some of the greatest challenges to our nation. You do such good work that my administration has borrowed twenty such minds. RICHARD PERLE US Defence Policy Board The President of the United States, on issue after issue, has reflected the thinking of Neo-conservatives. I think he comes at his view in his own way and through his own experience, but it happens to track very closely with the outlook of Neo-conservatives, especially since September 11. BRADSHAW: The Neo-con future is also being plotted five floors below the AEI in the offices of the Weekly Standard and its Editor William Kristol. The dream of sorting out Saddam one way or anther has haunted him for years. So you've got him over here. (referring to figure on Bill's desk) WILLIAM KRISTOL: Right, this art was done for a cover piece in the Weekly Standard by David Brooks. BRADSHAW: You've got it in a box. KRISTOL: The piece was called 'Saddam's brain'. BRADSHAW: But you're not obsessed with it? KRISTOL: No, no. This was given to me as a birthday present on my 50th birthday by my colleagues here at the Weekly Standard. BRADSHAW: Do you think he's still alive? KRISTOL: I'm afraid so, but maybe not too much longer. BRADSHAW: Bill Kristol was Chief of Staff to the Vice President in George Bush senior's White House. He was once called "Dan Quail's brain" but he believes George Bush senior wimped out by not toppling Saddam in the 91 Gulf War. Now he's Chair of perhaps the most hardcore Neo-con think tank, the revealingly titled "Project for the new American century". It's mission? To shape a new century favourable to American principles and interests. JAY MARX National Peace Lobby Project for the New American Century involves Richard Perle, Dick Cheney, Elliot Abrams, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, these are only five. And then there's Jed Bush, all these people, everybody knows about the project for the new American century, you're all going to go home and check it on the web, right? What it does is outline a doctrine for United States imperialism. Not even Neo-imperialism – bona fide old school imperialism. BRADSHAW: In 1998 the project for the New American Century wrote to President Clinton urging removing Saddam Regime's from power, 18 people signed, half now in the administration, including Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his influential deputy, Paul Wolfowitz. Pre-emptive action, regime change. After 9/11 those neo-con policies were just what George Bush was looking for. WILLIAM KRISTOL Project for the New American Century George Bush's current foreign policy is basically a Neo-conservative foreign policy in the sense that he believes that American power is crucial to the promotion of liberty and democracy around the world. 9/11 was a huge wakeup call, reality impinged and the President decided, in my view correctly, that to simply stand back and let things develop around the world was a recipe for more 9/11s, was a recipe for death and for tyranny prevailing and that we had to be active in the world. MARX: The majority of the world opposes this war and is looking at the United States going: "Oh my God, how can they let it happen? How can this happen in our name? And it sits here and happens. But not in our name. Not in our name. [crowd picks up the chant]: Not in our name, not in our name, not in our name… BRADSHAW: Meet Neo-conservative Meyrav Wurmser. She founded a charity that monitors the Arab press for anti-Semitic opinions. Her husband David is an advisor of the State Department, one of those minds the President borrowed from the AEI.. She's part of a group of Neo-cons who have been particularly influential post 9/11 because they specialise in the Middle East. MEYRAV WURMER Hudson Institute You have a story here about ideas, and love among people, and its true and I'm not being cynical about it, it's real fundamental love and power because some of those ideas make policy and some of the people in the group are policy makers, and we function and we view ourselves as a group, and we will all stand for each other in defence of each other all the way. Day 5 23rd March (Chanting demonstrators): USA, USA, USA, USA…. FEMALE DEMONSTRATOR: You know the people that are protesting against the war in Iraq, they don’t know what they're talking about. BRADSHAW: First Sunday of the war and America's pro-war majority makes its voice heard. FEMALE DEMONSTRATOR: They are in my country liberating it inch by inch and I am very thankful to them for this. BRADSHAW: It's also a day for reflection. Religion is important to the Neo-conservatives. It honours tradition, obedience and makes you think about good and evil, things that also, we're told, matter to George Bush. MINISTER: [speaking from the pulpit] Our own weapons, these precise and devastating bombs, have been shocking and awesome. BRADSHAW: Their critics say the Neo-conservatives are wrong to look at the world as if it's a battle between morale extremes. LOBE: The problem with the Neo-cons is that every time the US gets tested, it's a question of freedom versus tyranny, and there's really kind of nothing in between, and of course it never exactly turns out that way because the world is a lot more complicated. BRADSHAW: But the Neo-conservative hawks say history shows there really is good and evil, especially the history of Europe in the last century. The appeasement of Nazi Germany that led to the holocaust hovers over their view of the world and its dark possibilities. RICHARD PERLE US Defence Policy Board For those of us who are involved in foreign and defence policy today, my generation, the defining moment of our history was certainly the holocaust. It was the destruction, the genocide of a whole people, and it was the failure to respond in a timely fashion to a threat that was clearly gathering. We don’t want that to happen again when we have the ability to stop totalitarian regimes we should do so, because when we fail to do so, the results are catastrophic. 1992 BRADSHAW: Twentieth Century Europe said: "Never again" then failed to save the Muslims of Bosnia. It was a American power, the Neo-cons like to say, that finally ended the Balkan horror. PERLE: The failure to deal with Bosnia decisively and early was a defining moment for a lot of Neo- conservatives and some others as well. Nobody was prepared to take serious action in Bosnia until we did. The fact is that the world tends to look the other way and we don’t. Day 7 25th March BRADSHAW: On 17th Street the protestors are zeroing in on the Neo-cons HQ. Inside the American Enterprise Institute's latest Black Coffee briefing. Michael Ledeen, unapologetic about America's shock and awe tactics. MICHAEL LEDEEN American Enterprise Institute All the great scholars who have studied American character have come to the conclusion that we are a warlike people and that we love war. WOMAN [distributing leaflets]: There's one point you forget to talk about today. There's one point you forgot to talk about. BRADSHAW: One of the protesters has sneaked inside. (Officials forcefully removing woman) I'm sorry, you have to leave or you'll be escorted out by the police. WOMAN: Talk about that…. PERLE: I think she disagrees with our view on this. (meeting continues) LEDEEN: No one would have imagined that the United States could and maybe should consider France and Germany to be strategic enemies, and yet they have behaved now for several months as if they were strategic enemies. BRADSHAW: Michael Ledeen raises the stakes, as does Pentagon advisor James Woolsey. JAMES WOOLSEY US Defence Policy Board And we are going to have to be involved for the next.. I think several decades in helping change the face of the Middle East. BRADSHAW: Mr Perle, there's been talk of these meetings as a kind of victory celebration. People are talking about Americans liking war. Are you worried about the tone of this? Are people getting a bit carried away here? PERLE: I don’t believe that's the tone of these discussions. I think what this may portray is some underlying sense that maybe we were right after all. BRADSHAW: By now we'd picked up a recurrent theme of insider talk in Washington. Some leading Neo-cons, people whisper, are strongly pro-Zionist and want to topple regimes in the Middle East to help Israel as well as the US. In Washington this is a highly sensitive issue, one to take to Jim Lobe, veteran Neo-con watcher and long-standing opponent of anti-Semitism. Hi Jim, I was sitting in a bar in Capital Hill and I was told by congressional staff: "Careful how you use the word 'Neo-conservative'. People might think you're being anti-Semitic. Can you just explain this for me. JIM LOBE Inter Press Service I mean it's not secret. The majority of Neo-conservatives have been and remain Jewish, that is a fact. They are not.. they do not represent a majority of the American Jewish community. BRADSHAW: But you think it's legitimate to talk about the pro-Israeli politics of some of the Neo- conservatives? LOBE: Well I think it's very difficult to understand them if you don’t begin at that point. I mean I should think people would want to talk about that rather openly because to the extent that you suppress it, and I think there is an attempt by some to suppress it, I think then it festers. BRADSHAW: In 1996 a group of Neo-cons wrote a report intended as advice for incoming Israeli Prime Minister Benny Netanyahu. It called for a clean break with the peace process, rolling back Syria and removing Saddam Hussein from power, an important Israel strategic objective in its own right. Amongst those who contributed: Richard Perle, Douglas Feith (now number 3 at the Pentagon), David Wurmser (now in the State Department) and Meyrav Wurmser. MEYRAV WURMSER Hudson Institute It was no more than a mental exercise than in a think tank by a group of people. Yes, many of us are Jewish, there is no need to apologise for that. Most of us, all of us in fact are pro Israel. Some of us more fiercely so than others. But we have no problem also criticising Israel. BRADSHAW: But that paper in 1996, the 'clean break' paper, that was the paper that led to accusations of dual loyalty. WURMSER: There is not dual loyalty. The people in the group are Americans first and foremost, and view themselves as American thinkers, and as people who are most interested in American policy. We see a tremendous similarity between Israel and America, and Britain for that matter, simply because these are leading democracies. In the case of Israel it's the only democracy in the Middle East. BRADSHAW: On TV signs the advance is slowing. Charges of dual loyalty touch on raw emotions. Professor Eliot Cohen is one of America's top military historians. We met as the progress of the war seemed in the balance. Professor ELIOT COHEN US Defence Policy Board In a narrow military sense the achievements look pretty remarkable. Fifty miles outside Baghdad, a lot of bad things that could have happened, haven't happened yet. BRADSHAW: Professor Cohen is also an adviser to the Pentagon. He's been involved with both the AEI and the project for the New American Century. You've expressed some concern over the idea that this is all a conspiracy whipped up by a group of "Neo- conservative hawks" somehow allied to Israel, and you've expressed worries about them. Explain what you're concerned about. COHEN: Well sometimes the word Neo-conservative is used when what they really would like to say is 'Jew'. BRADSHAW: 'They' being? COHEN: People who use that kind of language, and as a Jew I find it offensive. There are two things that are despicable about it. The first is the imputation of dual loyalties. BRADSHAW: Between America and Israel. COHEN: Right. And just speaking as somebody who's father served in the United States Army, who's served in United States Army himself, who has a son serving in the United States Army, I find it deeply, deeply offensive and untrue. And the other thing that I find deeply offensive about it is it contains a very old anti-Semitic canard which is that the Jews, this scattered little people around the world, have these occult powers and are pulling the strings of the naïve and duped non-Jews, and it wasn't that long ago that those kinds of beliefs led to hideous things which impinged upon people like me very directly. So yes, I feel very strongly about it. Day 9 27th March GEORGE BUSH [American TV]: Iraq will be disarmed, the Iraqi regime will be ended, and the longsuffering Iraqi people will be free. WOMAN: Again it's the same sound bite. BRADSHAW: Same sound bite from the President but today a chance for Tony Blair to make the TV headlines in America. TONY BLAIR [American TV]: There is a massive amount that has already been achieved. BRADSHAW: Do you think Tony Blair has anything in common with Neo-conservatives? RICHARD PERLE US Defence Policy Board I think Tony Blair's moral sense is very much reflected in the thinking of many Neo-conservatives. I suppose he'd be horrified to hear that, especially since the term Neo-conservative is so abused. But his sense that it was right to liberate Iraq is the sense of Neo-conservatives, and was not the view of most foreign offices including probably his own. TONY BLAIR [American TV]: The justice of our cause lies in the liberation of the Iraqi people, and to them we say we will liberate you. WILLIAM KRISTOL Project for the New American Century It's very nice to sit around and say we're in Europe and we believe in the rule of law and we believe in the United Nations. But Saddam Hussein is there and he's a dictator and he has weapons of mass destruction and are you going to do something about it or not. And in so far as Tony Blair's answer was yes, and in so far as Tony Blair's answer was yes, even if the rest of the US Security Council doesn't agree with us, I think Tony Blair is a kind of Neo-conservative despite himself. Day 10 28th March [NBC News] Many mental health experts believe following round the clock coverage of the war could be hazardous to your health. Opposition stronger than expected. The US prepares for a longer war. BRADSHAW: Ten days in, America's patriotic TV channels are worrying about a longer war. Bad news for the Neo-conservatives who help make out the case for the conflict. JIM LOBE Inter Press Service The story that I just wrote said: "Neo-con nose dive?" with a question mark. BRADSHAW: Neo-con nose dive? LOBE: Yeah. It has a certain alliteration. BRADSHAW: Tell me why… tell me why. LOBE: Well, because again, they're the ones who said essentially this would be a cake walk, this would be easy. We'd see tens of thousands of Iraqi soldiers surrendering; we'd see people rising up all over the place in joy to greet their liberators and so on and we haven't seen it yet. BRADSHAW: On Fox TV, where Neo-con Bill Kristol is a pundit, it all looks different. Fox has the most cheerleading tone. KRISTOL: They're doing fine out there, and you know the media does not reflect the country. BRADSHAW: Some people in Washington are saying this is a Neo-conservative war and so far there's no sign it's working, the regime isn't crumbling. What do you say? KRISTOL: I say it's an American war. BRADSHAW: Like Bill Kristol's magazine, Fox TV is part of Rupert Murdoch's media empire. The Neo- cons have been backed by entrepreneurs, corporations and rich rightwing foundations which has led some to claim they're being used to export not democracy but capitalism. Some people say look Neo-conservative ideology fine, but what you're really doing is making the world safe for capitalism. You know, you're backed by Mr Murdoch, Fox TV. Front for capitalism? KRISTOL: No, I mean not in my case. I'm much more interested in liberty and democracy than I am in capitalism. Yeah, I was once a social democrat sort of and I… no, look, social democracy is fine, it's about freedom and democracy. It's not about capitalism. BRADSHAW: Back in the 60s Joshua Muravchik of the American Enterprise Institute was even further to the left. It was the journey people like him made to the political right that earned them the label 'New' or Neo-conservatives, intended as an insult but one they took up as a badge of honour. Old political loyalties to democrat colleagues of the past still linger. Like Richard Perle, Joshua Muravchik is still a democrat. JOSHUA MURAVCHIK American Enterprise Institute I think it's very relevant that virtually all Neo-conservatives come out of the left, some the liberal left, some the radical left, as I myself did. I grew up in the civil rights movement fighting against discrimination and segregation and I think I brought some of that same spirit of fighting against communism when I came to the view that that was the world's chief evil, and today to fighting against terrorism and Islamic extremism, and I think it also gives us a certain flair for the ideological battle. We're not unhappy with it, we want to take on our opponents. Day 12 30th March BRADSHAW: On TV the more sceptical newscasts are talking of a quagmire. Richard Perle is in a Washington Studio for that Sunday's Panorama. His good humour belies the fact there's more bad news for the Neo-con cause. He's just resigned as Chairman of the Pentagon's Defence Policy Board, though he's still a member. There have been allegations of a conflict of interest over a business deal, charges he strongly rejects. [BBC World News] I'm joined from Washington by Richard Perle, the former US Assistant Secretary of Defence who's been described by some newspapers as the architect of the Iraq war. What will happen if at the end of the war the Americans do not find any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? PERLE: Well I believe that the liberation of Iraq, the freeing of the Iraqi people would be justification enough. BRADSHAW: How do you feel about being called the architect of the war? PERLE: Well I… I mean there's hardly a point in denying it. It isn't true of course but… and as far as the planning is concerned, I had nothing whatever to do with that – nothing! BRADSHAW: Do you think the influence of the New-conservatives in the Pentagon is going to be weakened by your resignation at all? PERLE: I certainly hope not. The Pentagon is in good hands and that will be evidence when this is over. I think it's evidence already but it'll certainly be evidence when it's over. BRADSHAW: The US Department of Defence is the Neo-conservatives' stronghold. Lord Wolfowitz, the number two there, and fellow Neo-con Douglas Feith the number 3. At the more dovish State Department Neo-con John Bolton is in charge of arms control. At the National Security Council there's Eliot Abrams, the President's Near East Adviser. National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice, Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and Vice President Dick Cheney are not Neo-con intellectuals perhaps, but certainly political allies. That Sunday a meeting of the pro-Israel lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. COLIN POWELL: Syria also now faces a critical choice. [Applause] BRADSHAW: Even Secretary of State Colin Powell, who is quietly opposed to much of the Neo-com agenda is starting to use Neo-con language. COLIN POWELL US Secretary Syria bears the responsibility for its choices and for the consequences. [Applause] MURAVCHIK: The real symbol of opposition so to speak is Secretary of State Powell. BRADSHAW: So if Secretary of State Powell goes, that'll be game set and match to the Neo- conservatives? MURAVCHIK: Well, I would say game set and match would be to win him over to our side. [NBC News] According to an Iraqi general, 4,000 people have volunteered from 23 countries have volunteered to participate in suicide attacks. Day 13 31st March BRADSHAW: More worries on the breakfast news. Dark days for the Neo-cons, though they seem unperturbed. Professor ELIOT COHEN US Defence Policy Board We're talking I think on day 12 of the war, something like that, and you know.. it would be instructive I think to go back to day 12 of the First Gulf War, day 12 of Kosovo, day 12 of Afghanistan, and see how… see both how far one people were and the extent to which people in the press anyway were already reaching for 'quagmire' and 'debacle' and 'disaster' and all the rest. BRADSHAW: Professor Cohen's old pal and College Dean is Paul Wolfowitz. The Deputy Defence Secretary is the man who brought Neo-con philosophy into the heart of the US administration, the philosophy of exporting democracy in the interests of defending America. COHEN: What is distinctive about his world view, which has been influential, is that it is a very interesting blending of in some ways rather old-fashioned realpolitik, if you will, a tough minded view of the world, with on the other hand a certain kind of American democratic idealism. That's very unusual. That's really very unusual and that synthesis at the moment I think is intellectually dominant. I've no idea whether it will survive this war or not. Day 14 1st April [RADIO] Now, with a panel of world class military and political experts and scholars, here's Chris Core…. And very familiar voices and faces at the microphones tonight…. BRADSHAW: Of course some Neo-cons, like Michael Ledeen, believe in exporting democracy rather more aggressively than others. [RADIO] … I'm just the moderator, thank you for joining us. I'll ask it this way of you Michael that.. you know, how many of these – "You'd better watch it, we're coming after you" – can we do at once? LEDEEN: We're going to have to bring down a series of regimes who are the sponsors of a network of various terrorist organisations, and Iraq is part of it. BRADSHAW: It was Eliot Cohen who gave this Neo-con campaign a name. He sees the Cold War against communism as World War Three and the conflict with what he calls "militant Islam" as World War Four. COHEN: And so I said World War Four somewhat tongue in cheek, but as a way of capturing the fact that.. I mean I believe we are locked in a long-term war with the radicalised branches of Islam which are deeply hostile to the United States but I think more probably to the West. You have a very large phenomenon which is very difficult to figure out how to beat, which is capable really of inflicting catastrophic damage not just to our cities but to yours. Day 15 2nd April BRADSHAW: As the coalition approaches Baghdad, George Bush's White House has kept faith with the hard line Neo-cons. But what do the rest of America's conservative movement make of them? To find out we got an invite to one of the mainstream conservative right's private weekly meetings. Here conservative lobbyists from across the US plot the week's business. To liaise with them, there's a man from the White House. [Speaker at Meeting] : …. is somebody voting against us because they're a union member or are they voting against us because they're a government employee. BRADSHAW: Many traditional conservatives are suspicious of the Neo-con cuckoos in the nest. They don't like America being embroiled in foreign adventures. And then there's the Middle East problem. BEN WORKS Strategic Issues Research Institute They are entitled to their opinions, but when it gets to Arab bashing, general Arab bashing, I think they take it too far. KHALED SAFFURI Islamic Institute I think they are a disaster for this country, and many members of Congress believe that but they don’t dare say it and they'll take on everyone. It's like a gang, you know.. it's like Mafia. BRADSHAW: Are you a Mafia? MURAVCHIK: (laughing) That is so absurd. BRADSHAW: Mafia, do you recognise any gang, Mafia, you know.. RICHARD PERLE US Defence Policy Board No. I usually have a response to statements like that but I don’t understand the statement frankly. I don’t know what power to intimidate it's suggested that we have. We say what we think. JOSHUA MURAVCHIK American Enterprise Institute We're the very opposite of the kind of clandestineness one associates with the Mafia. I think what rubs people wrong about us is that we're so out front and audacious about saying things that go against the grain. BRADSHAW: Some of Washington's rightwing insiders are so irritated with their Neo-con colleagues they like to dispute whether the White House is really influenced by them at all. GROVER NORQUIST Americans for Tax Reform Some intellectuals have run around saying: "Let's have a war with…" and then they've listed eleven countries. And because in the eleven was included Iraq, they've also gone around going "Because the cock crowed the sun went up" as opposed to taking a look and saying: "This Government and this President were going to hit Iraq, were going to hit the Taliban, regardless of what some people wrote in newspaper columns. If I'm wrong and the United States Government invades Iran and Saudi Arabia and Egypt and decides to run a 30 year holy war against the Muslim and Arab world, then seven writers did in fact pull the President around by the nose. MEYRAV WURMSER Hudson Institute We don’t claim credit for it at all. You could say that our power is a figment of our enemies' imagination. It might be absolutely true. We are not claiming to be running the world. Our job is just to think, and if ideas get adopted, and if ideas turn into policy – wonderful. That's what we're here for. Day 16 3rd April CNN Deadline News Good morning, as always it's great to have you here. Coalition forces have the Baghdad skyline in their sights. The US Central Command says that…. BRADSHAW: Suddenly optimism on every channel and the Neo-cons ramping up the rhetoric. JAMES WOOLSEY CIA Director, 1993-95 We will make a lot of people very nervous, and we will hear, for example, the Mubarak Regime in Egypt, or the Saudi Royal Family thinking about this idea that these Americans are spreading democracy in this part of the world they will say: "You make us very nervous." Our response should be – "Good". BRADSHAW: Going too far? MEYRAV WURMSER: No. The Iranians and the Syrians they're even more nervous than the Saudis and Egyptians at this very moment. Syria is making.. you know.. the Syrian Regime is making comments that they're nervous, that they think that they're next. BRADSHAW: So, are the Syrians worried? I went to their embassy to ask whether they took much notice of the Neo-conservatives. Do they go to those American Enterprise Institute briefings? IMAD MOUSTAPHA Deputy Syrian Ambassador Oh yes, I try to attend almost all their public meetings. Sometimes I find them amusing. Sometimes they are really terrifying in the way they think, the way they would like to shape the world, the way they think they can impose their doctrine and their ideology on everybody else, even if force is needed. BRADSHAW: Are you worried? MOUSTAPHA: No, we are not worried at all. We have our alliances, we have our friends, but I don’t think they have any chance whatsoever of translating this agenda into policies. BRADSHAW: By now I've been round other embassies in Washington, and gathering some startled private comments about the Neo-conservatives. Washington's staid diplomatic community taken aback by the Neo- cons aggressive view of America's role in the world. Now here's what some diplomats and foreign embassies have had to say off the record about Neo- conservatives. "We're flabbergasted, they've hijacked the administration. We've commissioned a report on Neo-conservatives and it's a best seller in the Embassy, and this really is a revolution in foreign policy. We've seen nothing like it before." Day 22 9th April [News] This is a Fox News alert and this is what a lot of people in the world have been waiting for. The people…. BRADSHAW: Triumph on the screen and for the Neo-conservatives for whom the long awaited fall of Saddam is just an opening episode of the New American Century. Just tell me what you felt, what you thought, when you saw that statue of Saddam coming down. PERLE: Well I did something that always looks absurd when other people do it. I applauded the television set. DAVID FRUM President Bush's Speechwriter, 2001-02 It was a moment of… it just underscored and reminded us that freedom is an enduring ideal everywhere and not just in the western world, everywhere. BRADSHAW: This was a dream that Meyrav Wurmser and her husband David, now at the State Department, had cherished as long as anyone in Washington. MEYRAV WURMSER: We actually opened a bottle of champagne. This was a moment we waited for, for many, many years. I mean we've been working on freedom for Iraq for the past 9 years maybe. My personal feeling was doing an incredibly good deed by pushing this war because, you know.. people got their freedom out of it. BRADSHAW: And do you think the Neo-cons have won? FRUM: (Laughing) You make it… this was not a factional fight. We had a great debate in the United States in Britain, in the western world, in the Atlantic Alliance, on how to secure the world.. the peace of the world, and different people had different ideas, but it would be horribly petty to say "Oh terrific, you know.. the sashes come down, my team won a Washington debate" that's no way to think. BRADSHAW: Jim, hi. JIM LOBE: So good to see you. BRADSHAW: So the statues are coming down. How strong a position is this going to leave the Neo-cons in Washington? JIM LOBE Inter Press Service Quite strong. Much stronger than they were two weeks ago when they were so glum. Their position has strengthened. But at the same time they become ever more visible. They've never had the prominence that they have at the present moment, never. And I think that makes them feel both a little giddy and a little anxious. BRADSHAW: So what happens next? LOBE: It's a never ending drama here in Washington. Day 24 11th April BRADSHAW: For the Neo-cons the images of victorious American power showed their ideas of working. They say they don’t want to declare war on the wealth of democracy and hope other regimes can be changed by politics and pressure, but they rarely rule force out. Joshua Muravchik has his sights on another regime in the axis of evil – North Korea. It's reported to have a weapons grade nuclear programme. He says diplomacy is unlikely to work. So how far would you go? JOSHUA MURAVCHIK American Enterprise Institute Well that might include having to try to destroy it by military strikes. BRADSHAW: But that would lead to war, wouldn't it, on the Korean peninsular? MURAVCHIK: There's danger it would lead to war. BRADSHAW: Far worse than in Iraq. MURAVCHIK: It would be far worse than in Iraq. It would be a war in which thousands and thousands of Koreans would die and maybe thousands of Americans as well. Day 25 12th April MARX: Foreign policy has essentially been hijacked by a group of Neo-conservatives…. BRADSHAW: Victory weekend, America's anti-war activists – still a minority – gather in Washington. Too late to stop this war but not perhaps the others they fear will follow. WOMAN: If we do not stop them now, they're going to continue with this war all over the world. JAY MARX National Peace Lobby No one sort of paid attention until all of a sudden we wake up in 2001 really, we wake up and they're running the Government. They own the Defence Department. I mean that's what is terrifying. BRADSHAW: Well, you thought the war is going to spread all over the Middle East, you thought there'd be massive bloodshed. It hasn't happened, has it? MARX: Not yet, it's only been three weeks. My God! Look, that's what we have to worry about, I mean really, we have to…. It's been three weeks and we're not in Syria yet, but already in the American media you're seeing oh, Syria.. Syria.. bad, look out for Syria. It's like they're preparing us. BRADSHAW: Down town Jay Marx's band of protestors are joined by 30,000 others. They're protesting against a war they see as the start of the new American empire against a policy of exporting democracy that only seems to target regions where American interests are at stake. The accusation in Arab circles, and some people in Washington say this as well but generally they're too polite to put it this way but let me say it anyway, is that the Administration has been hijacked you a small group of often pro-Zionist intellectuals without any real popular backing who've somehow persuaded President Bush to go to war with Iraq. MEYRAV WURMSER Hudson Institute No, contrary to popular belief (laughing) there is no conspiracy, and the group would not have been so powerful was it not for an administration and a president who is susceptible and is willing to adopt many of those ideas. BRADSHAW: Susceptible in the sense of… WURMSER: Open… open to listening, open to hearing those ideas. Nobody hijacked anything. Nobody has brainwashed the American President. He's acting according to his own convictions and beliefs. BRADSHAW: A few blocks away the pro-war patriots hold their own rally. The turnout just a thousand or two, the passion just as intense. KIRSTOL: Hi, how are you? BRADSHAW: How did you feel when the statue came down? WILLIAM KRISTOL Project for the New American Century Moved. It was a moving moment really. Great to see. BRADSHAW: Looks like you won. What next? KRISTOL: Well, I think we need to help get Iraq on its feet and help establish a decent government there, and then really work to remove other dictators with weapons of mass destruction and deal with the threat of terrorism around the world, but hopefully not with military action, hopefully through diplomatic pressure, but this is the end to the beginning of this broader war, it's not the end of the end. KRISTOL: [addressing public] : This was a very important moment I think in all honesty in American history this last 3-4 weeks. After Vietnam many Americans came to think that we couldn't be a force for good in the world, that our military …. BRADSHAW: Much of the world peers into the New American Century with anxiety. Neo-conservatives hope we'll rally round their faith I American power. They may not win every battle, George Bush may yet find them a liability. But his ideological shock troops are on a roll. Bad news if you're in the way. KRISTOL: [addressing public]: I think the President and the military and our leadership will need the support of all of us over the next month and years as well, as we continue to make this world a safer and a better, and a freer place. [Applause and cheers] BRADSHAW: Do you understand why Neo-conservatives scare the hell out of a lot of people, not just tyrants in the Middle East but ordinary people in Britain too? This does scare a lot of people. RICHARD PERLE US Defence Policy Board Right. I understand that, and if the alternative to scaring people, even after we've tried to hard to explain what it is we're thinking, if the alternative to that is abandoning our values and abandoning our own defence, then people are just going to have to live with whatever apprehension we generate.