A Clean Break - A new strategy for securing the realm - This document was
(original is here ) generated by a United States conservative think tank, The Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies,
in 1996. The document has been used to provide spurious evidence for claims that
Israel or Zionists were influential in instigating the United
States War in Iraq.
As listed in the Clean Break document, the authors of this document, prepared in the United States, were
Richard Perle, James Colbert, Charles Fairbanks, Jr., Douglas Feith, Robert Loewenberg, David Wurmser, and Meyrav
Wurmser. They included former and future U.S. defense and security officials as well as right wing Zionist activists and
lobbyists. There is no evidence that any Israeli officials or representatives had any hand in the document, or that
any Israeli political figures influenced it.
Content of Clean Break
The "realm" referred to in the document title is not the United States but Israel.
The document was created by the participants, American citizens, evidently as an expression of their own views, for newly elected right-wing Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu The
introduction to Clean Break explains:
Israel has a large problem. Labor Zionism, which for 70 years has dominated the
Zionist movement, has generated a stalled and shackled economy. Efforts to salvage Israel’s socialist institutions --
which include pursuing supranational over national sovereignty and pursuing a peace process that embraces the slogan,
"New Middle East" -- undermine the legitimacy of the nation and lead Israel into strategic paralysis and the
previous government’s "peace process." That peace process obscured the evidence of eroding national critical mass --
including a palpable sense of national exhaustion -- and forfeited strategic initiative. The loss of national
critical mass was illustrated best by Israel’s efforts to draw in the United States to sell unpopular policies
domestically, to agree to negotiate sovereignty over its capital, and to respond with resignation to a spate of terror
so intense and tragic that it deterred Israelis from engaging in normal daily functions, such as commuting to work in
The declared purposes of the Clean Break document are to abrogate the
Oslo Declaration of Principles and set Israel
on an independent path. This will be achieved supposedly by making Israel economically independent, thanks to a
capitalist free market revolution. However, despite the rhetoric about socialist government, Israel had had a right wing
Likud party government for 17 years, followed by three years
of Labor Party rule. Under the Likud governments, Israel
had suffered from 700% inflation. When Labor came to power, Israel was experiencing a severe economic recession. When
Benjamin Netanyahu took over from the Labor government, it was in the midst of a tremendous economic expansion.
The authors state:
To secure the nation’s streets and borders in the immediate future, Israel can:
- Work closely with Turkey and Jordan to contain, destabilize, and roll-back some of its most dangerous threats. This
implies clean break from the slogan, "comprehensive peace" to a traditional concept of strategy based on balance of
- Change the nature of its relations with the Palestinians, including upholding the right of hot pursuit for
self defense into all Palestinian areas and nurturing alternatives to Arafat’s exclusive grip on Palestinian society.
- Forge a new basis for relations with the United States-- stressing self-reliance, maturity, strategic cooperation on
areas of mutual concern, and furthering values inherent to the West. This can only be done if Israel takes serious steps
to terminate aid, which prevents economic reform.
Not a single one of the major foreign policy goals was ever pursued seriously by
any Israeli government, including the government of Netanyahu, and there is no evidence that the document was ever taken seriously in Israel.
Israel did change financial arrangements with the United States, but the sum total of aid remained the same.
The rest of the Clean Break report has a peculiar format that is explained by
This report is written with key passages of a possible speech marked TEXT, that highlight the clean break
which the new government has an opportunity to make. The body of the report is the commentary explaining the purpose and
laying out the strategic context of the passages.
There is no hint anywhere in the Clean Break document that Israel wants the United States to
take a larger role in the Middle East or to invade any country. The only references to the United States concern US
involvement in the peace process and the position that Israel should terminate aid payments from the United States.
The Clean Break document envisions that Jordan will bring about
regime change in Iraq, not the United States:
Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with
Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria. This effort can focus on removing Saddam
Hussein from power in Iraq -- an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right -- as a means of foiling Syria’s
regional ambitions. Jordan has challenged Syria's regional ambitions recently by suggesting the restoration of the
Hashemites in Iraq.
Since Iraq's future could affect the strategic balance in the
Middle East profoundly, it would be understandable that Israel has an interest in supporting the Hashemites in their
efforts to redefine Iraq, including such measures as: visiting Jordan as the first official state visit, even before a
visit to the United States, of the new Netanyahu government; supporting King Hussein by providing him with some tangible
security measures to protect his regime against Syrian subversion; encouraging -- through influence in the U.S. business
community -- investment in Jordan to structurally shift Jordan’s economy away from dependence on Iraq; and diverting
Syria’s attention by using Lebanese opposition elements to destabilize Syrian control of Lebanon.
Regarding the relationship with the United States, Clean Break declares:
Israel can make a clean break from the past and establish a new vision for the U.S.-Israeli
partnership based on self-reliance, maturity and mutuality -- not one focused narrowly on territorial disputes. Israel’s
new strategy --based on a shared philosophy of peace through strength -- reflects continuity with Western values
by stressing that Israel is self-reliant, does not need U.S. troops in any capacity to defend it, including on
the Golan Heights, and can manage its own affairs. Such self-reliance will grant Israel greater freedom of action and
remove a significant lever of pressure used against it in the past.
To reinforce this point, the Prime Minister can use his forthcoming visit to announce that Israel is
now mature enough to cut itself free immediately from at least U.S. economic aid and loan guarantees at least,
which prevent economic reform. [Military aid is separated for the moment until adequate arrangements can be made to
ensure that Israel will not encounter supply problems in the means to defend itself]. As outlined in another Institute
report, Israel can become self-reliant only by, in a bold stroke rather than in increments, liberalizing its economy,
cutting taxes, relegislating a free-processing zone, and selling-off public lands and enterprises --moves which will
electrify and find support from a broad bipartisan spectrum of key pro-Israeli Congressional leaders, including Speaker
of the House, Newt Gingrich.
The privatization program, in one form or another, has been pursued by Likud
governments both before and after the Clean Break document. It had no bearing on foreign policy. The specific nature of
the economic recommendations, as opposed to the grandiose flourishes of the foreign policy recommendations, might
suggest that the economics were the main thrust of the document, and that the principals representing financial
interests in the United States or Israel interested in privatization.
Misuse of Clean Break by Critics
The Clean Break document presented an unrealistic program of Israeli foreign
policy independence based primarily on economic recommendations and on regional alliances. Critics claimed, without
quoting from the document, that it was the basis for alleged Israeli or Zionist instigation for the Iraq war that the
United States undertook in 2003. (see Iraq Crisis).
There is no doubt that Douglas Feith and Richard Perle and Meyrav Wurmser, who
are among the authors of the document, later advocated US involvement in Iraq. They did so, evidently, on their own
initiative and with no involvement of Israel or any major Zionist organization, just as other American Jews, in fact a
majority, opposed the war in Iraq. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon specifically warned President George Bush
about military involvement and occupation Iraq. He also expressed doubts about the "democratization" plans of
neoconservative advocates of the war:
Publicly, Sharon played the silent ally; he neither criticized nor supported the Iraq adventure. One
reason for his relative silence was Washington’s explicit request that Israel refrain from openly backing its invasion
of an Arab country or in any way intervening, lest its blessing damn the United States in Arab eyes.
But sometime prior to March 2003, Sharon told Bush privately in no uncertain terms what he thought
about the Iraq plan. Sharon’s words — revealed here for the first time — constituted a friendly but pointed warning to
Bush. Sharon acknowledged that Saddam Hussein was an “acute threat” to the Middle East and that he believed Saddam
possessed weapons of mass destruction.
Yet according to one knowledgeable source, Sharon nevertheless advised Bush not to occupy Iraq.
According to another source — Danny Ayalon, who was Israel’s ambassador to the United States at the time of the Iraq
invasion, and who sat in on the Bush-Sharon meetings — Sharon told Bush that Israel would not “push one way or another”
regarding the Iraq scheme.
According to both sources, Sharon warned Bush that if he insisted on occupying Iraq, he should at
least abandon his plan to implant democracy in this part of the world. “In terms of culture and tradition, the Arab
world is not built for democratization,” Ayalon recalls Sharon advising.
Be sure, Sharon added, not to go into Iraq without a viable exit strategy. And ready a
counter-insurgency strategy if you expect to rule Iraq, which will eventually have to be partitioned into its component
parts. Finally, Sharon told Bush, please remember that you will conquer, occupy and leave, but we have to remain in this
part of the world. Israel, he reminded the American president, does not wish to see its vital interests hurt by regional
radicalization and the spillover of violence beyond Iraq’s borders.
Synonyms and alternate spellings: ;
Further Information: See History of Islam and the A Clean Break - A strategy for securing the realms