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Neocons vs. Bush’s War?

Here’s a VANITY FAIR article getting a lot of play, featuring "neocons" Perle, Frum, Cohen, and others. But mainly Perle. The administration is blamed for its incompetence, of course, in its conduct of the Iraq war. Perle adds that, knowing what he knows now, he would have looked for alternatives to invasion. Well, that’s easy to say now (and I’m not saying that it’s unreasonable to say it), but the article also shows it’s quite, quite different from the optimism about the outcome he was displaying then. Helpful advice about what to do now is conspicuous by its absence from the article. The general approach to our policy by those interviewed is distancing plus fatalism. There’s complaining over at the NRO Corner that everyone was quoted out of context and the article is a pre-election hit job. I’m sure there’s some truth to all that, but I’m still not big on spending a lot of time explaing why you didn’t have anything to do with a well-intentioned effort that just hasn’t worked out. The president needs help and support in making the best of a messed up and unfortunate situation.

Discussions - 7 Comments

Perle and Co. are trying to protect themselves. Their jobs and their place in history.

It’s one thing if Bush and the Republican party falls.

It’s another if conservatism (neo, paleo or voodoo) falls.

And it’s yet another thing if Perle and friends are out of jobs.

David Frum’s response to the Vanity Fair hit piece:

My most fundamental views on the war in Iraq remain as they were in 2003: The war was right, victory is essential, and defeat would be calamitous.

And that to my knowledge is the view of everybody quoted in the release and the piece: Adelman, Cohen, Ledeen, Perle, Pletka, Rubin, and all the others.

Interesting that those good folks at Vanity Fair took a bunch of quotes out of context, set them up to look like a conversation in progress and made it appear, falsely, as though neo-cons are a bunch of rats fleeing a sinking ship.

Ledeen’s response at NRO.

Rubin’s response, also at NRO:

I absolutely stand by what I said. Too many people in Washington treat foreign policy as a game. Many Washington-types who speak about Iraq care not about the US servicemen or about the Iraqis, but rather focus on US electoral politics....If we abandon Iraq, we will not only prove correct all of Usama Bin Laden’s rhetoric about the US being a paper tiger, but we will also demonstrate—as James Baker and George H.W. Bush did in 1991—that listening to the White House and alliance with the United States is a fool’s decision.

Thanks UG. We can always count on you. Those statements are certainly much more forthright than the impression given by the article. But what do we do now?

What are we going to do now? Well, first we (and I include the Iraqis among the "we") are going to HANG SADDAM, although, it seems, nobody is paying the least bit of attention to that. In the immediate future, Rummy’s planning this and in the not too distant future Daniel Pipes says we should

"Stay the course – but change the course." I suggest pulling coalition forces out of the inhabited areas of Iraq and redeploying them to the desert.

Undoubtedly, this will ultimately be what is done, AFTER the Iraqi military is up to the task of taking on Sadr, et al by itself.

Pipes could learn a thing or two from Bill Clinton. The correct slogan of the hour is: "Mend the course, don’t end the course."

After the election, however, we’ll see if President Bush will be serious about such mending and about explaining it to the American people.

Recall Henry V’s words on Crispin’s day, when his brother told him that the French were ready, and would with all dispatch, move against him. He said "all things be ready if our minds be so." GW, AND his administration, MOST ESPECIALLY the establishment controlled State Department, REFUSED to properly identify the enemy. That means they did not ready the minds of the American people about the various campaigns, Afghanistan and Iraq, nor about the nature of the overall war effort. That’s flat out incompetent. The administration studiously refused to delineate the atrocities of our enemy, such as Beslan for instance. GW should have went to Beslan. He should have brought the media of the world to Beslan. He should have demanded an explanation from all of islam for the atrocities committed in their name at Beslan. GW has never tried to put all of islam on the rhetorical defensive. Harriet Tubman’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin was enormously powerful, and served to galvanize the North about the horrors of slavery. This administration doesn’t want to expose the nightmares throughout islam, female genital mutilations, "honour" killings, child rape, sectarian slaughter, etc.... GW has never revealed some of the horrors going on in "Saudi" Arabia. "Saudi" in quotation marks because the house of Al Saud is a single family, and their control of the rest of Arabia is illegitimate, and should be so stated, especially after 9/11. What price has the house of Al Saud paid for funding terror, for pouring BILLIONS OF DOLLARS into anti-American hate all across the world. None that I see. I don’t know of any country in the world where the surname of a family is included within the title of the country. Even that kook and his father in North Korea never did such a thing as the house of Al Saud had done to the people and tribes of Arabia.

The studied refusal to identify the enemy, the studied refusal to place this war within a broad historical context, stretching all the way back to the mohammedan conquest of Egypt, Alexandria, Hippo, Antioch, Damascus, Constantinople, et al, has led to vast incoherence in our war efforts. And it’s only getting worse.

What we’re seeing now is a vast disconnect between the people’s view of the enemy, of the nature of the war, and the establishment. Rest assured, the American people would never have signed off on a policy whereby there are more "saudis" in America now, than there were on September 11th. Such a "cultural outreach" most Americans would deem insane. That was an establishment policy, and something that would have turned the stomachs of ordinary Americans. Once ordinary America got the gist of the ports’ deal, they laughed it right out of the ballpark, while establishment types complained that it was all a matter of ignorance and "racism."

So the distancing and fatalism that Lawler properly deplores is simply the result of continued interaction with this administration, and especially the President, George Walker Bush.

For instance, we need a larger Army, we should have another five full divisions, easy. How many times have neocons pleaded for such enlargement of the our land forces, only to be derided by Rumsfeld, or not even answered by the President.

Likewise our Navy and Air Force. Same response.

McCain has rightly called for a national effort, overcoming any and all obstacles thwarting us completing the task within Iraq. All we’re getting is more "whack a mole." Which isn’t cutting it.

Iraqi security forces needed to be properly vetted, we’ve could’ve done so with modern lie detecting devices, which measure brain waves, and aren’t subjective. Such measures would have provided ADDITIONAL confidence by all Iraqis in the impartiality of the security forces. Instead of a creation of a genuine security force, we get Karen Hughes spouting off about little kid schools. The disconnect between what Iraqis need, and what that woman from the Bible belt thinks they need is gigantic, simply gigantic.

Here is another for instance, we never should have put the money from the oil proceeds into the hands of the government, we should have distributed the proceeds from the oil sales to the Iraqi people, on a per capita basis. Once ordinary Iraqis were getting 1,200 bucks per annum from the sale of their oil, they would have had a far greater stake in the continuation of that government, and the continuation of that stream of income. Not to mention, it would have served as a sharp spur to Iraqi economic activity. That would have been far better than establishing little schools in various communities.

Lack of imagination has crippled this administration from the get go. In fact, even before they took office, we knew what we were going to get, because GW ran an unimaginative campaign way back in 2000, just as he did in 2004.

I don’t think that GW has sufficient knowledge and imagination to lead us to victory. NEITHER DOES HE, which is why he constantly says the war is going to take "decades." And his team is now retreating back to bedrock positions of the Washington establishment regarding Iran and the proliferation of nukes.

So the administration just hasn’t lost their nerve, they’re completely losing their way, and the whole world is reflecting that fact in their decisions, which is why various members of the Arab league are beginning to go nuke, and the Japanese are ditching their Constitutional inhibition against war, and are beefing up their defense capacities.

Bush’s weird attempts to make the UN and the IAEA live up to their mandates is now way beyond bizarre. The entirety of his second term foreign policy is being channelled through the various agencies of the UN. No wonder his base has become so disenchanted with him. And Condi has become a joke, and her unseemly cheerleading for Palestinian nationalism of late, especially after their sick euphoria on 9/11, has ruined her reputation amongst Conservatives. Don’t hear too much of Dick Morris puffing Condi of late, now do ya. The enormity of her office found her out. Simply repeating establishment positions is not a sufficient response to the challenges of the hour. And this pathetic attempt to reach out to James Baker to pull their chestnuts out of the Iraqi fire is utterly disgraceful. The very suggestion of reaching out to the Iranians, who’ve been blowing up Americans in Iraq, to ameliorate the sectarian strife in Iraq, which they’ve been inciting, is surreal, totally surreal.

The whole plan of leveraging Iraq to destabilize Iran will be cashiered if we adopt Baker’s suggestions. Well whatever. This administration is badly out of their depth. And with people like Powell and Armitage, what did we expect.

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