Originally published at AlterPolitics

Many of the notables who served in the Bush Administration and played key roles in misleading the United States into war with Iraq have passed through the corridors of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP). In fact, the think-tank serves as an incubator for the hawkish Neoconservative ideology.

Here is how Harvard professor of Int’l Affairs Steven M. Walt describes the think-tank:

[WINEP] is a key organization in the Israel lobby. It was founded in 1985 by three individuals: Larry and Barbi Weinberg, who had formerly been the president and vice-president of AIPAC; and Martin Indyk, who was previously deputy director for research there. These founders understood that AIPAC’s efforts would be enhanced if there was a separate, seemingly “objective” research organization to provide consistently “pro-Israel” analysis and commentary, while AIPAC concentrated on more direct lobbying activities. Although WINEP claims that it provides a “balanced and realistic perspective” on Middle East issue, anyone who spends a few hours examining its website and reading its publications will realize this is not the case.

In fact, WINEP is funded and led by individuals who are deeply committed to defending the special relationship, and promoting policies in Washington that they believe will benefit Israel. Its board of advisors is populated with prominent advocates for Israel such as Martin Peretz, Richard Perle, James Woolsey, and Mortimer Zuckerman, and there’s no one on this board who is remotely critical of Israel or inclined to favor any other country in the “Near East.”

Former AIPAC staffer MJ Rosenberg was literally “in the room” when WINEP was founded. Here he describes its birth:

I was in the room when AIPAC decided to establish WINEP.

It was Steve Rosen (later indicted under the Espionage Act, although charges were subsequently dropped) who cleverly came up with the idea for an AIPAC controlled think-tank that would disseminate the AIPAC line but in a way that would disguise its connections.

There was no question that WINEP was to be AIPAC’s cutout. It was funded by AIPAC donors, staffed by AIPAC employees, and located one door away, down the hall, from AIPAC Headquarters (No more. It has its own digs).

It would also hire all kinds of people not identified with Israel as cover and would encourage them to write whatever they liked on matters not related to Israel. “Say what you want on Morocco, kid.” But on Israel, never deviate more than a degree or two.

So, it probably shouldn’t have come as TOO big a shock when this video became circulated on Twitter tonight, showing the depths the Neoconservatives are prepared to plunge to get their war against Iran.

Here is a video of WINEP’s Director of Research Patrick Clawson, telling a gathering in the group’s conference room that the United States should find a ‘false flag’ to get into war with Iran.

WATCH:

TRANSCRIPT:

I frankly find that crisis initiation is really tough. And it’s very hard for me to see how the United States President can get us into war with Iran. Which leads me to conclude that if in fact compromise is not coming that the traditional way that America gets into war is what would be best for U.S. interests.

Some people might think that Mr. Roosevelt wanted to get us into World War II, as David mentioned, you may recall we had to wait for Pearl Harbor. Some people think Mr. Wilson wanted to get us into World War I, you may recall we had to wait for the Lusitania episode. Some people might think that Mr. Johnson wanted to send troops to Vietnam, you may recall we had to wait for the Gulf of Tonkin episode. We didn’t go to war with Spain until the USS Maine exploded. And may I point out that Mr. Lincoln did not feel he could call out the Federal Army until Fort Sumter was attacked which is why he ordered the commander of Fort Sumter to do exactly that thing which the South Carolineans had said would cause an attack.

So if in fact the Iranians aren’t going to compromise, it would be best if somebody else started the war. One can combine other means of pressure with sanctions. I mentioned that explosion on August 17th. We could step up the pressure.

I mean look people, Iranian submarines periodically go down, some day one of them might not come up, who would know why? We could do a variety of things if we wish to to increase the pressure. I’m not advocating that, but I’m just suggesting that this is not an either or proposition, you know it’s just sanctions have to succeed or it’s other things.

We are in the games of using covert means against the Iranians. We could get nastier.