July 17, 2006

The Corner Follies

If the current situation weren't so grave, one would have to chuckle at the going-ons at the Corner. Even J-Pod is having to rein in Michael Ledeen, who as is his cheery jingo wont, is getting carried away yet again ("Faster, please", the plaintive cow-wail rings out!), positively frothing at the mouth for us to attack Iran and Syria (Ledeen: "Is this not the time to go after the terrorist training camps in Syria and Iran?" [ed. note: followed by the inevitable, and so tiresome, Chamberlain analogy, assiduously lapped up by all the Churchill wannabes at various VDH-style troughs, doubtless]. Memo to Michael: The vast majority of Israelis themselves don't want to go into Syria, because nobody really has a clue who would replace Bashar Assad, and his successor could be even worse for the Israelis.

But I digress. J-Pod points out the blindingly obvious--that no Israeli government could realistically have hoped for better than the rather massive carte blanche that POTUS and his Secretary of State have provided these past days to Tel Aviv, not only refusing to issue any cautionary signals of real note about the wisdom of the Israeli policy, but indeed repeatedly stressing instead that the Israelis are free to pursue their Lebanese offensive pretty much however they see fit.

Meantime, Jonah Goldberg (reacting to Newt Gingrich's astoundingly hyperbolic, transparently amateur and screamingly faux Churchillian Meet the Press performance over the weekend, yes, please keep this man far from the Oval Office) is busily holding court on whether it's WWIII, or WWIV. Weighty stuff this, but yeah, as Jonah points out, guess Newt hadn't read the previously distributed memo.

But enough, it's WWIV (not III), didn't you know? Momentous times are afoot, and you're either seized of this and on message, or a defeatist, an appeaser, a coward, a rank traitor to the cause. Yes, it's just that simple, although a few paleos in their midst dare dissent and play party-pooper amidst the ginned up hoopla and sense of deep occasion and civilizational peril (this does not mean we aren't confronting real and varied national security threats at the present hour, but a sense of proportion and sobriety is urgently needed lest we march off towards another folly-infused blunder).

Meantime, in NRO proper, Michael Rubin is talking about the need for the "eradication of Hezbollah and Hamas." One can't help wondering what exactly "eradication" in this context means, really (Hamas and Hezbollah don't only have military wings, of course)--though Rubin is of course entitled to use whatever heated verbiage he prefers, even if it has unfortunate, shall we say, resonances. But somewhere along the way, it seems, we've gone from advocating that our Middle East policy be about moderating democratically elected parties (like, say, Hamas) to, well, simply eradicating them. I leave it to readers to ponder the rich ironies.

But, again, I digress. Just a quick post to point out some of the giddy burlesque of the ribald sand-box that is so often the Corner these heady days (and let us not forget the chuckle-inducing inanities emitting from the resident "fashion plate" manque). The state of play among our titular opinion 'leaders', my friends, is rather underwhelming, no? Bring back Bill Buckley, I say, and other sane adults...and, yes, faster, please...!

MORE: While I'm focused on NRO, don't miss George Will's (another adult in the Beltway, there are so few these days) remonstrations vis-a-vis the increasingly embarassing exuberances afoot at the Weekly Standard. Some excerpts:

The administration, justly criticized for its Iraq premises and their execution, is suddenly receiving some criticism so untethered from reality as to defy caricature. The national, ethnic and religious dynamics of the Middle East are opaque to most people, but to the Weekly Standard -- voice of a spectacularly misnamed radicalism, "neoconservatism" -- everything is crystal clear: Iran is the key to everything .

"No Islamic Republic of Iran, no Hezbollah. No Islamic Republic of Iran, no one to prop up the Assad regime in Syria. No Iranian support for Syria . . ." You get the drift. So, the Weekly Standard says:

"We might consider countering this act of Iranian aggression with a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities. Why wait? Does anyone think a nuclear Iran can be contained? That the current regime will negotiate in good faith? It would be easier to act sooner rather than later. Yes, there would be repercussions -- and they would be healthy ones, showing a strong America that has rejected further appeasement."

"Why wait?" Perhaps because the U.S. military has enough on its plate in the deteriorating wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which both border Iran. And perhaps because containment, although of uncertain success, did work against Stalin and his successors, and might be preferable to a war against a nation much larger and more formidable than Iraq. And if Bashar Assad's regime does not fall after the Weekly Standard's hoped-for third war, with Iran, does the magazine hope for a fourth?

As for the "healthy" repercussions that the Weekly Standard is so eager to experience from yet another war: One envies that publication's powers of prophecy but wishes it had exercised them on the nation's behalf before all of the surprises -- all of them unpleasant -- that Iraq has inflicted. And regarding the "appeasement" that the Weekly Standard decries: Does the magazine really wish the administration had heeded its earlier (Dec. 20, 2004) editorial advocating war with yet another nation -- the bombing of Syria?

Neoconservatives have much to learn, even from Buddy Bell, manager of the Kansas City Royals. After his team lost its 10th consecutive game in April, Bell said, "I never say it can't get worse." In their next game, the Royals extended their losing streak to 11 and in May lost 13 in a row.


Posted by Gregory at July 17, 2006 11:36 PM

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Gregory Djerejian comments intermittently on global politics, finance & diplomacy at this site. The views expressed herein are solely his own and do not represent those of any organization.

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