This essay was first published in the Palestine Chronicles 2004 12 08 and is copyright protected.
Not to be published without consent of the author.
This is the third in a series of articles that explores the rise to power of the fundamentalist Christian right within the government of the United States and its affects on perceptions and actions in the Middle East. The previous article examined the roots of fundamentalism from both a sociological and theological perspective. This article focuses on the Big Four neocons, those closest to Bush in influence.
III The Neocons – The big four
There has been a lot written about the neoconservative elements within the government and within the media and think tanks that support them or lobby against them. The ‘think tanks’ in particular are very self serving and offer up reports and statistics and opinions engineered to fit the purposes of promoting their own belief systems. I will deal here only with the neocons who are actually active in the government by gaining some form of employment within the Bush administration, or who have recently retired such as John Ashcroft. In consideration that there may well be other changes, retirements, firings, and new hirings, this will be more of a retrospective on the first Bush regime and the players active through to 2004, many who have been around for several decades in and out of politics and industry. There are hundreds if not thousands of sources available on the neocons and any search on the internet reveals articles and quotes and references that provide many details of those involved. It is not the intent here, then, to detail the life and times of those concerned, but rather to highlight their perspectives in alignment with the Christian Right. The leaders of the most powerful of these men (as all of them are to my knowledge) are Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, John Ashcroft, and Paul Wolfowitz. Dick Cheney is situated best of all the neocons, providing the thoughts and clarity for Bush’s lack thereof and his mangled syntax, without having to take the flack as number one leader. It would not be stretching it too far to say he is the real leader of the pack.
The essential Dick Cheney is a man who shuns the spotlight yet effectively pulls the strings behind the scenes, the marionette master to Bush’s often-wooden style. His history is readily available and shows an interesting early start to the good old boys club. An early colleague, Jacob Plotkin, says of his record “It’s hard to flunk out of Yale, It’s something that one really has to put effort into,” with that effort being put into “talking, drinking, or playing cards with his football buddies,” all good pre-requisites for American politics. There is little if any information on Cheney’s religious beliefs, but what comes through shows someone thoroughly aligned with the Christian Right, mainly from his voting record in Congress, and as a supporter of Israel, being a former member of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA). All his votes have supported the political right, including votes on various items for gun safety and control, civil rights, and ultimately on terrorism, labelling Nobel Peace Prize winner Nelson Mandela as a terrorist. The most direct connection to any religion comes from his board of advisors position with the JINSA, an institute that works “for big arms companies supplying weaponry to the Pentagon and Israel.” 
That the right supports him strongly is undoubted. Jerry Falwell said his position as VP is “an excellent move – one that will energize many camps within the Republican Party.” The Christian Right’s Family Research Council is fully in support of Cheney and his pro-life, pro-military, and pro-tax cuts stance. His pro-military stance might be questioned as to his personal experience. In a speech to veterans he spoke hypocritically by thanking them for “the great honour you have brought to your uniform, to our flag, and to our country.” He should have continued, I would have joined you but “I had other priorities in the 60s than military service,” ironically about the time he was at Yale.
Standing alongside Bush, but without the strings so cleanly attached is Karl Rove, apparently one of the greatest political manipulators in action over the past four decades. As Cheney is the marionette maestro, Rove is the puppet master, the ventriloquist, standing invisibly at his master’s side, the Bunraku, always at his side but becoming invisible to the audience. That he is ideologically on the far right is undisputed, but “no one knows if his politics are religious or politics are his religion,” however “Karl does have an ideology, and it is very fundamentalist, conservative, Republican to the right. If he had to pick a group which he most closely associates with, that group is going to be very conservative, Christian fundamentalist Republicans.” All the available information leads the reader to believe that he is made of teflon, that none of his alleged dirty tricks, that go back decades, have never been pinned on him, that no smoking gun has ever been found. In interviews, he speaks in generalizations and appears to know how to avoid quotable quotes that might reflect back on him, although in one that identifies him with the Christian Right, whether it is politics or religion leading the way is unclear, is “The big discrepancy is among self-identified white, evangelical Protestants, Pentecostals and fundamentalists. If you look at the electoral model, there should have been 19 million of them. Instead there was 15 million…We may have failed to mobilize them.” Reflecting from this Steven Waldman from BeliefNet said “the entire Republican get-out-the-vote effort was a religious outreach effort.”
Mr. Rove was a bit more loquacious after the election, giving the credit to the moral values position presented to the public, but as seems typical, it is uncertain as to whether it is religion or politics speaking, or both: “I do think it was part and parcel of a broader fabric where this year moral values ranked higher than they traditionally do.” These moral values were certainly not present in the alleged dirty tricks that follow Rove like an annoying little brother, nor in his engineering of former Christian coalition director Ralph Reed’s appointment to Enron Corporation, nor in his avoidance of the draft, nor in his holding of shares in various military associated corporations counter to conflict of interest regulations after joining the White House. What is evident is that he does support the Christian right, he is of the same milieu that circulates between politics and business with ease, and without speaking it directly, supports the strongest elements of the Christian Right.
Among the leading big four, with Cheney and Rove directing the governments main ideology, is support by a person still very powerful but more narrowly defined in position, yet one who had a strong influence on that ideology.
The recently retired Attorney-General John Ashcroft arguably held one of the more influential positions within the government. He is widely known for his very strong fundamentalist background within the Assemblies of God Church, a church that follows the literal interpretation of biblical prophecy towards the end times, thus fitting him quite clearly into the mould being examined here. Controversy has surrounded his tenure at the White House. His Patriot Act was rushed through quickly after 9/11 without much debate, and while parts of it are scheduled for re-examining soon, many think it infringes on the individual rights and freedoms guaranteed by the constitution. He sponsored the ‘Charitable Choice’ clauses of the Welfare Reform Act, including ideas that, for some, severe the fine line between church and state, imposing as it were a church tax on all citizens. There are many other arguments swirling around his views and positions, some contradictory in relation to his religious views, others firmly in the strong religious right positions he takes in relation to abortion, bussing, sexuality and other concepts.
Along with his fundamentalist background, he is a strong supporter of the state of Israel. While the Assemblies of God Church “disavows universalism and the toleration of world views that do not require entering the kingdom of God through the narrow gate of the God-man, Jesus Christ,” he spoke at a “Stand for Israel” meeting at the Israeli Embassy indicating that “We are people of faith as well as people who defend those of other faiths or willing to defend the right of individuals to have and express no faith at all.” Following on that, Ramsey Harris of the Abundant Life Worship Center declared, “His example should be followed by many other politicians. I think he has set a precedent for the stand that other politicians should follow in regard to supporting Israel.” 
One of the more worrisome of the leaders of the New Rome is Paul Wolfowitz, Jewish, with parents as teachers, he received his education under the tutelage of Albert Wohlstetter, a disciple of Leo Strauss. He has a Ph.D. in political science (of which there is very little to be scientific about), and being in familiar territory with Cheney and Ashcroft, has “no experience of either war or the military.” From this educational background he has a “wide ranging network of travellers and sympathisers, commonly referred to in Washington as the “Wolfowitz cabal.”” Although denied by Wolfowitz and his entourage, the idea is supported in a study of Strauss that says Wolfowitz studied with the Strauss cabal, “This [denial] is a little disingenuous, for if he ate lightly of the main dish, there were others on the table.” Those others include Albert Wohlstetter who made his reputation “by advocating limited use of nuclear weapons” with Wolfowitz following on that “suggesting that the Pax Americana is dependent on the willingness and ability to use nuclear weapons” Never mind the irony of the Latin ‘pax’ in association with nuclear war (which also recalls the ballistic missile dubbed the ‘Peacemaker’), Wolfowitz, in association with others, is the author of the American pre-emptive strike policy, “turning the iron laws of necessity in nuclear strategy into foreign policy” creating a “quagmire” of “endless war across a vast stretch of the earth—a war from which extrication will be next to impossible.” That impossibility obviously delights the corporations that feed off government military largesse and delights the politicians who find a welcoming revolving door to their boardrooms.
Along with the exhortations for global hegemony, Wolfowitz, as a fully educated member of the neocon group, uses the “export of American values as the main prop and justification for an American global mission.”  This fills the second wing of the American eagle, the values of democracy being paramount, with the always underlying theme of Christian supremacy. “The Presbyterian cant of Woodrow Wilson” and its “enlightened self-interest under which free markets and democracy shall flourish” rides along with the “big stick” of Theodore Roosevelt, now seen as global military supremacy under the pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons.
Combined with the rationalizing intellect and the irrational use of nuclear weapons, Wolfowitz carries his Jewish heritage, and his acknowledged interest in a strong Jewish state. In a pro-Israeli rally speech, Wolfowitz closed by praying, “May God bless America, may God bless Israel, and may God bless all the peacemakers in the world.” Too many ironies and hypocrisies abound in all these characters about their professions for peace and their advocacy of weapons of mass destruction (nuclear) and terror (missiles and bombs) that they hardly need to be pointed out, but there goes another one. While he is “circumspect in public”, “it is clear that at bottom Israel is a major interest and may be the principal reason for his near obsession with the effort…to dump Saddam Hussein, remake the Iraqi government in an American image and then further redraw the Middle East by accomplishing the same goals in Syria, Iran and perhaps other countries.” Israel’s true enemy is Syria, not that Hussein would have been very friendly, but the Israelis are still engaged with the Syrians in the Golan Heights, valued for it militarily advantageous position as well as its access to water supplies. There are dissenting opinions as the “neconservative clique [think cabal] seeks to ensnare our country in a series of wars that are not in America’s interest” seeing that “Israel’s enemy remains Syria, but the road to Damascus runs through Baghdad.” Paul Wolfowitz carries the strongest of the worst – a sanctimonious conservative worldview couched in the wonderful terms of peace and democracy accompanying the hawkish pre-emptive nuclear capability that he is author of, both directed at the preservation of Israel. We may be lucky that he has resigned; we may be unfortunate in that he has other plans that will return him to or keep him in some position of influence and power.
Of the Big Four, Rove fills the position of political maestro, ensuring that opponents are thoroughly discredited, using dirty tricks, as well as clever political manoeuvring. Cheney is the businessman, the real connection between the emperor and the powerful beneath him. Ashcroft has moved on, but has left a legacy that may be hard to undo with the administration proceeding full steam ahead, having implanted fear of terrorism, by way of the Patriot Act, as the latest fear to control America. Finally, Wolfowitz is the grand theorist of military strategy, providing the intellectual impetus behind the “full spectrum dominance” and the unilateral pre-emptive first use of nuclear weapons. The ‘lesser cons’ are just as devoted to the militaristic cause espoused by the Christian right, with more obvious connections to Jewish influences. To that story we turn next.
 Plotkin, Jacob cited in “The Unauthorized Biography of DickCheney” Fifth Estate
 Christison, K. and B. “The Bush Administration’s Dual Loylaties”, The Politicics of Anti-Semitism, Ed. Cockburn and St. Clair, Counterpunch, Oakland, USA, 2003.
 www.socialism today.org (November 2002).
 Rigth Wing Watch Online www.pfaw.org
 “Two men driving Bush into war” The Observer February 23,2003 http://observer.guardian.co.uk
 James Moore cited in "Bad Brains" by Mark Karlin June 05, 2003. www.alternet.org/story.16080
 Karl Rove cited by Sam Francis, January 21, 2002 ttp://www.vdare.com/francis/contempt_bushman.htm
 cited in Duncan, Ben. “A nation split down a religious fault line” November 21, 2004. http://english/aljazeera.net
 Rove cited in “Moral Values Carried Bush, Rove Says” Adam Nagourney, New York Times,
 cited in Jones, Shannon “US attorney general invokes God in “war on terrorism”, 15th May, 2002. www.wsws.org
 Johnson, Chalmers Sorrows of Empire Metropolitan Books NY 2004.
 Norton, Anne Leo Strauss and the Politics of the American Empire Yale University, 2004.
 Husain, Khurram “Neocons, the Men Behind the Curtain” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Nov/Dec 2003.
 Khurram, ibid.
 Tabb, William K. “The Two Wings of the Eagle” Pox Americana Ed. Foster and McChesney Monthly Review Press, NY, 2004.
 Wolfowitz cited in www.nclci.org/washrally-Wolfowitz.htm
 Buchanan, Patrick J. “Whose War?” The American Conservative, March 24, 2003.