Kenneth M. Pollack

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Person.png Kenneth M. Pollack   Powerbase SourcewatchRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Kenneth M. Pollack.jpg
Alma materYale University
SpouseAndrea Koppel
Member ofAlbright Stonebridge Group/Team, Brookings Institution
RelativesTed Koppel
Propagandist for the 2003 Iraq war; suspected Israeli operative

Employment.png Senior fellow

In office
2015 - Present
EmployerAmerican Enterprise Institute

Employment.png Adjunct professor

In office
2004 - Present
EmployerGeorgetown University

Employment.png Senior Fellow and Director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy

In office
2002 - 2015
EmployerBrookings Institution
Propagandist for the 2003 Iraq war; suspected Israeli operative

Employment.png Senior Fellow and Director of National Security Studies

In office
2001 - 2002
EmployerCouncil on Foreign Relations
Propagandist for the 2003 Iraq war; suspected Israeli operative

Employment.png Director for Persian Gulf Affairs

In office
1999 - 2001
EmployerNational Security Council
Propagandist for the 2003 Iraq war; suspected Israeli operative

Kenneth M. Pollack is a former CIA analyst, a former specialist on the Persian Gulf in Clinton's National Security Council, and a director of research at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings Institution. [1] He was one of the prominent 'liberal hawks' cheerleading for the Iraq war. His book, The Threatening Storm, was influential in selling the WMD case. [2] His latest book, The Persian Puzzle, recycles many of the same arguments, this time directed at Iran. Although he has tried to reinvent himself as a 'critic' of the execution of the Iraq war, he is presently using credibility thus gained to sell Bush's 'surge'. [3] He is also embroiled in the AIPAC Espionage Case.[4]

Selling the Iraq War

Pollack was a leading advocate for invading Iraq and published The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq in September 2002 to coincide with the Bush administration's marketing campaign for war.[5]

War for Israel

According to Robert Fisk the book is the “most meretricious contribution to this utterly fraudulent [war] ‘debate’ in the United States...Pollack’s argument for war was breathtakingly amoral. War would be the right decision, it seemed, not because it was morally necessary but because we would win. War was now a viable and potentially successful policy option... It would free up Washington’s ‘foreign policy agenda,’ presumably allowing it to invade another country or two where American vital interests would be discovered. [Pollack’s] narrative – in essence an Israeli one – is quite simple: deprived of the support of one of the Arab world’s most powerful nations, the Palestinians would be further weakened in their struggle against Israeli occupation.” [6]

According to the journalist Robert Parry:

Pollack’s influential book offered the “full monte” neoconservative vision for remaking the Middle East, with the Iraq invasion as only the first step in the transformation. Ousting Saddam Hussein “would sever the ‘linkage’ between the Iraq issue and the Arab-Israeli conflict,” Pollack wrote. “It would remove an important source of anti-Americanism.” [7]

Post-Quagmire Apology

After the U.S. invasion of Iraq failed to locate the promised weapons of mass destruction – and a stubborn Iraqi insurgency emerged – Pollack offered an apology for his high-profile role in promoting the war.
In fall 2004, Pollack told an interviewer for the New York Times magazine, “I made a mistake based on faulty intelligence. Of course, I feel guilty about it. I feel awful. … I’m sorry; I’m sorry!” [8]

Selling surge

Having re-positioned himself from war booster to war critic, Pollack has reinvented himself as a grudging convert to the wisdom of Bush’s surge. The media has played along, frequently introducing him as a 'critic' of the war without alerting the audience to this reverse metamorphosis. According to Parry, '[t]his idea of a critic reluctantly admitting the wisdom of a neoconservative strategy has long been one of the neocons’ favorite propaganda tactics dating back to the Cold War days of the 1980s.' [9]

AIPAC Espionage Case

The FBI's investigation into the involvement of two top AIPAC executives in espionage shows them receiving classified information from two government sources, identified in the indictment only as Government Official-1 and Government Official-2. Pollack has told an interviewer that he may be Government Official-1 (Government Official-2 has been identified as David M. Satterfield) since he had lunch with the two AIPAC officials on 12 December 2000 (Pollack was the National Security Council specialist on the Persian Gulf at the time), however he pleads his innocence. [10]

Memorable Quotes

Victory in Iraq (VII) in... 50 years

From an interview with Wolf Blitzer: [11]

Michael O'Hanlon and I, and, also, our colleague Anthony Cordesman, who all traveled [in Iraq] together, we came back optimistic — but very guardedly optimistic. The reason for the optimism was we did see greater progress with U.S. military forces and Iraqi military forces in their effort to restore security. I think we were all surprised by just how well things were going on that front...I don't know what victory really means. You know, if victory means that we're going to create a country like Switzerland, you know, Iraq is at least 50 or 60 years away from that. What we talk about in the piece the possibility that progress on the security front and also some progress that we saw in terms of the local level — political and economic factors — possibly creating, very far down the road, the potential for sustainable stability.'


Council on Foreign Relations



  • Kenneth Pollack, The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq, Random House, September 2002.
  • Kenneth Pollack, The Persian Puzzle: The Conflict Between Iran and America, Random House, Reprint Edition: 9 Aug 2005.
  • Kenneth Pollack and Daniel L. Byman, Things Fall Apart: Containing the Spillover from an Iraq Civil War, Brookings Institution, 1 June 2007.

External Resources


Event Participated in

WEF/Annual Meeting/200625 January 200629 January 2006SwitzerlandOnly a few of the over 2000 participants are known


  1. 'Contributors', Brookings Institution website, accessed 2 April, 2009.
  2. Kenneth M. Pollack, 'Spies, Lies, and Weapons: What Went Wrong', The Atlantic, January/February, 2004.
  3. 'The Persian Puzzle: An Interview With Kenneth Pollack', Mother Jones, 24 January, 2005.
  4. 'Espionage Case Opens Against ex-AIPAC Agents', Moderate Observer/The New York Times, 6 March, 2008.
  5. '"The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq: The Case for Invading Iraq", by Kenneth Pollack', The eBook Store website, accessed 2 April, 2009.
  6. Robert Fisk, The Great War for Civilization, 2006
  7. Robert Parry, The NYT's New Pro-War Propaganda, Consortium News, 30 July 2007
  8. Deborah Solomon, Bombs: Questions for Kennth Pollack, New York Times Magazine, 24 October 2004
  9. Robert Parry, The NYT's New Pro-War Propaganda, Consortium News, 30 July 2007
  10. Neil Lewis, Trial to Offer Look at World of Information Trading, New York Times, 3 March 2008
  11. Selling Arms to Saudi Arabia; Can U.S. Win in Iraq?, CNN transcript, 30 July 2007