Hawks tell Bush how to win war on terror
By David Rennie in Washington
President George W Bush was sent a public manifesto yesterday by Washington's hawks, demanding regime change in Syria and Iran and a Cuba-style military blockade of North Korea backed by planning for a pre-emptive strike on its nuclear sites.
The manifesto, presented as a "manual for victory" in the war on terror, also calls for Saudi Arabia and France to be treated not as allies but as rivals and possibly enemies.
The manifesto is contained in a new book by Richard Perle, a Pentagon adviser and "intellectual guru" of the hardline neo-conservative movement, and David Frum, a former Bush speechwriter. They give warning of a faltering of the "will to win" in Washington.
In the battle for the president's ear, the manifesto represents an attempt by hawks to break out of the post-Iraq doldrums and strike back at what they see as a campaign of hostile leaking by their foes in such centres of caution as the State Department or in the military top brass.
Their publication, An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror, coincided with the latest broadside from the hawks' enemy number one, Colin Powell, the secretary of state.
Though on leave recovering from a prostate cancer operation, Mr Powell summoned reporters to his bedside to hail "encouraging" signs of a "new attitude" in Iran and call for the United States to keep open the prospect of dialogue with the Teheran authorities.
Such talk is anathema to hawks like Mr Perle and Mr Frum who urge Washington to shun the mullahs and work for their overthrow in concert with Iranian dissidents.
It may be assumed that their instincts at least are shared by hawks inside the government, whose twin power bases are the Pentagon's civilian leadership and the office of the vice-president, Dick Cheney.
Such officials prevailed over invading Afghanistan and Iraq, but have been seen as on the back foot since the autumn as their post-war visions of building a secular, free-market Iraq were scaled back in favour of compromise and a swift handover of power next June.
The book demands that any talks with North Korea require the complete and immediate abandonment of its nuclear programme.
As North Korea will probably refuse such terms, the book urges a Cuba-style military blockade and overt preparations for war, including the rapid pullback of US forces from the inter-Korean border so that they move out of range of North Korean artillery.
Such steps, with luck, will prompt China to oust its nominal ally, Kim Jong-il, and install a saner regime in North Korea, the authors write.
The authoritarian rule of Syria's leader, Bashar Assad, should also be ended, encouraged by shutting oil supplies from Iraq, seizing arms he buys from Iran, and raids into Syria to hunt terrorists.
The authors urge Mr Bush to "tell the truth about Saudi Arabia". Wealthy Saudis, some of them royal princes, fund al-Qa'eda, they write.
The Saudi government backs "terror-tainted Islamic organisations" as part of a larger campaign to "spread its extremist version of Islam throughout the Muslim world and into Europe and North America".
The book calls for tough action against France and its dreams of offsetting US power. "We should force European governments to choose between Paris and Washington," it states. Britain's independence from Europe should be preserved, perhaps with open access for British arms to American defence markets.