Here's an interesting postscript to Nick Clegg's attack on Policy Exchange for privately briefing against the Global Peace and Unity event in London.
One of the organisations cited by Policy Exchange, the Society of Americans for National Existence, has objected to my characterisation of them in a post at Spinwatch. On their blog a SANE staffer writes:
They then quote the following section of the Spinwatch piece:
Neither the quote nor the full article labels either SANE or IASPS as 'neocon' institutions. Much of what the article does say is specifically accepted by SANE. Indeed, SANE goes on to provide two articles which elaborate on IASPS' role in formulating the Clean Break strategy.
The first of these, Israel: The Advanced Case of Western Affliction, states (my emphasis):
The piece also alludes to the role of Wurmser, Perle et. al:
At this point, SANE would seem to have recapitulated most of my original argument. So what are they trying to establish with their rebuttal? I think there are two key points which also emerge in the second article Does Pat Buchanan Have a Flea Problem, a Blind Spot or Both?
..Nothing in the Clean Break or in any of the other IASPS studies would suggest that America should become the Great Last Hope for building democracies among the ruthless and murderous Muslims of the Middle East. The point of the carefully researched and more closely analyzed studies of the Institute suggest that a regional strategic stability is possible in the Middle East given free market economic reforms and a regional power structure that would understand well and accept the Islamic and Arab realities that exist in that part of the world. There was none of the utopian democracy ideology that so dominates the Bush administration’s foreign policy initiatives.
So the Clean Break document was aimed at the Israeli government, not the US, and strategic security was the goal not spreading democracy.
It is worth comparing this with what some of the neoconservatives' critics have said. For example, Stephen. J Sniegoski has written:
Sniegoski went on to note the very same points SANE make about the differences between a Clean Break and the case for war presented in 2003:
While neocons present American policy in a very idealistic light, their policy prescriptions for Israel, which involved similar concrete policy objective, were devoid of such sentiment. Written in terms of Israeli interest, the study made little mention of the benefits to be accrued by Israel's neighbouring countries, such as the establishment of democracy. (The Transparent Cabal, p92)
The conclusion that SANE invites us to draw is that the aims of the Israeli geopoliticians of 1996, were unrelated to those of the American idealists of 2003, despite the minor coincidence of their being the same people. The more credible view is that a right-wing Likudist analysis of Israel's geopolitical interests was a factor in the neoconservative drive to war.
The Clean Break document was not silent on the role of the United States:
The subsequent emphasis on bringing democracy to Iraq was consistent with this principle.
In the transition from A Clean Break to the US invasion of Iraq the neocons presented a identity between American and European interests, and a hard-line Likudist conception of Israel's interests. [Edit 2014: Note this does not necessarily mean that A Clean Break was a truer reflection of Israeli interests than of American ones, An alternative conception of Israeli interests might well stress peace with its Arab neighbours. What's clear is that the neoconservatives were pushing the same underlying agenda to both governments in different ways].
This is a habit that arguably did not end in 2003, and may explain episodes such as Policy Exchange's private briefing.
If Europeans oppose engagement with the Muslim Brotherhood at home, they are not likely to press for Israeli negotiations with Hamas. Likewise, If Europeans fear Muslim population growth at home, they are more likely to accept extreme responses to Palestinian population growth.
A Clean Break is not, incidentally, the only evidence that SANE and IASPS have neoconservative links. SANE president David Yerushalmi is general counsel and policy advisor to the Center for Security Policy, a think tank headed by the former Assistant Secretary of Defense, Frank Gaffney. Gaffney's neoconservative record has been documented by Jim Lobe, who also revealed earlier this year, that Gaffney's sister, Devon Gaffney Cross has been organising Pentagon-funded private briefings by fellow neoconservatives for reporters in London and Paris.