Until he went to work in the Bush administration, David Wurmser was Middle East fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and his views were quite public.
Once on Cheney’s staff, however, David Wurmser hasn’t said much of anything public. It has always been tempting to read Meyrav Wurmser’s public pronouncements as some kind proxy for the prevailing views of David Wurmser, if not the Office of the Vice President as a whole.
Meyrav Wurmser’s interview is extremely pessimistic, not about Iraq or the Middle East, but about the factional politics of the Bush administration. The tone offered up is not the outlook of a person whose partner is about to win control of the ship of state.
In any event, if Meyrav Wurmser’s Ynetnews interview is any indication of David Wurmser’s influence, however, it looks highly unlikely that his so-called “Shiite Option” will be adopted as a result of the ongoing White House Iraq Policy Review.
Indeed, Meyrav Wurmser suggests that most of the Neocons are already gone and “there are others who are about to leave” (including David Wurmser? or Elliott Abrams? both?).
This is not a cautious interview. Interviewer and interviewee are so blunt about so many issues that I wondered if the interview was a fake. Instead, it appears to be the opening salvo in a post-Wurmser Bush administration.
Either way, here are some of the key sections of the interview (there are sections on Israel’s military action in Lebanon that lend support to propositions from previous posts here and here, but the selections below are the ones focused on Iraq):
YITZHAK BENHORIN: Did you, in practice, bring about the war in Iraq?
MEYRAV WURMSER: “We expressed ideas, but the policy in Iraq was taken out of neocon hands very quickly. The idea was that America has a war on terror and that the only actual place for coping with it is in the Middle East and that a fundamental change would come through a change in leadership. We had to start somewhere.
“The objective was to change the face of the Middle East. But it was impossible to create a mini-democracy amidst a sea of dictatorships looking to destroy this poor democracy, and thus, where do insurgents in Iraq come from? From Iran and Syria.”
YITZHAK BENHORIN: Should they have been conquered?
MEYRAV WURMSER: “No. There was a need for massive political action, of threats and pressure on these governments, financial pressure, for example. The sanctions on Syria were nothing. There was a period of time when the Syrians were afraid that they were next. It would have been possible to use this momentum in a smarter way. There’s no need to go in militarily.”
YITZHAK BENHORIN: Your people held senior positions in the Pentagon. Didn’t Deputy Defense Minister Paul Wolfowitz and Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith implement your theories?
MEYRAV WURMSER: “The final decisions were no in their hands. In the Pentagon, the decisions were in the hands of the military, and the political leadership had a lot of clashes with the military leadership.”
YITZHAK BENHORIN: Did the military leadership ask for more soldiers in Iraq?
MEYRAV WURMSER: “Rumsfeld prevented that. He was a failure. The State Department opposed the neocons’ stances. Also John Bolton, who is also part of the family, and was no. 4 at the State Department under Colin Powell, was incapable of passing decisions…
“Powell curbed our ideas and they did not pass. There was a lot of frustration over the years in the administration because we didn’t feel we were succeeding.
“Now Bolton left (the UN – Y.B.) and there are others who are about to leave. This administration is in its twilight days. Everyone is now looking for work, looking to make money… We all feel beaten after the past five years… We miss the peace and quiet and writing books…
“When you enter the administration you have to keep your mouth shut. Now many will resume their writing… Now, from the outside, they will be able to convey all the criticism they kept inside.”
YITZHAK BENHORIN: In the meantime you left the US inside Iraq?
MEYRAV WURMSER: “We did not bring the US into Iraq in such a way. Our biggest war which we lost was the idea that before entering Iraq we must train an exile Iraqi government and an Iraqi military force, and hand over the rule to them immediately after the occupation and leave Iraq. That was our idea and it was not accepted.”
The only “news” here is probably the prediction that other members of “the family” are “about to leave.” The idea that the “administration is in its twilight days” certainly seems to suggest that there will no big new initiatives from the Right Zionist playbook in 2007.
Meyrav Wurmser writes as if James Baker was now running the White House. Or, at least, as if any push back against Baker does not represent any particular fidelity to the ideas of “the family.”