November 25, 2006

The Neo-Con's Gross Amateurism

Stephen Holmes, reviewing Fukuyama's latest in the LRB, makes some very good points:

The neo-con argument goes roughly as follows. The US had to deploy its military might because American national security was (and is) threatened by the lack of democracy in the Arab Middle East. The premise behind this allegation is not the much debated notion that democracies seldom go to war with one another and, therefore, that democratisation makes an important contribution to the pacification of the globe. The neo-con argument is concerned not with relations among potentially warring states, but with class or group dynamics within a single state that may spill over and affect other countries adversely.

The thesis is that democracy is the most effective antidote to the kind of Islamic radicalism that hit the US on 9/11. Its exponents begin with the premise that tyranny cannot tolerate the public expression of social resentment that its abuses naturally produce. To preserve its grip, tyranny must therefore crush even modest stirrings of opposition, repressing dissidents and critics, with unstinting ferocity if need be. In the age of globalisation, however, repressed rebellions do not simply die out. They splash uncontrollably across international borders and have violent repercussions abroad. Middle Eastern rebellions have been so savagely and effectively repressed that rebels have been driven to experiment with an indirect strategy to overthrow local tyrannies and seize power. They have travelled abroad and targeted those they see as the global sponsors of their local autocrats.

On 9/11, this argument implies, the US woke up in the middle of someone else’s savage civil war. The World Trade Center was destroyed by foreign insurgents whose original targets lay in the Middle East. The explosive energy behind the attack came from Saudi and Egyptian rebels unable to oust local autocrats and lashing out in anger at those autocrats’ global protectors. Thus, the rationale for reaching ‘inside states’ is not the traditional need to replace hostile or un-cooperative rulers with more compliant successors (of the type Ahmed Chalabi was apparently slated to become), but rather to ‘create political conditions that would prevent terrorism’. The political condition most likely to prevent anti-American terrorism from arising, so the neo-cons allege, is democracy.

Their reasoning at this point becomes exasperatingly obscure and confused, but their guiding assumption is clear enough: democratic government channels social frustrations inside the system instead of allowing discontent and anger to fester outside. Autocratic governments in the Arab world have shown themselves capable of retaining power by sheer coercive force, but their counter-revolutionary efforts, under contemporary conditions, have serious ‘externalities’, especially the export of murderous jihad to the West. America’s security challenge is to shut down this export industry. To do so, the US must find a way to democratise the Middle East.

This convoluted and debatable argument played only a marginal role in the administration’s decision to invade Iraq. It plays a more substantial role in the current presentation of its ‘mission’ in Iraq, however. It is also a central focus of Fukuyama’s book. So how should we evaluate the idea? Is a democratic deficit in the Middle East the principal cause of anti-Western jihadism? And is democratisation a plausible strategy for preventing the export of political violence?

The first thing to say is that fighting terror by promoting democracy makes little sense as a justification of the American invasion and occupation of Iraq. Although the lack of democracy in Saudi Arabia and Egypt may indirectly fuel anti-Western jihad, in Iraq it has never done so. In non-democratic countries with which the US is allied (such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt), anti-regime violence naturally escalates or swerves into anti-American violence. The idea that a lack of democracy in countries overtly hostile to the US (such as Saddam’s Iraq or contemporary Iran) will have such an effect is logically implausible and unsupported by historical evidence.

To argue that creating democracy in Iraq will help defeat Islamic terrorism is to bank on a multi-stage process by which democracy, once established in Iraq, will spread to Egypt, Saudi Arabia etc by force of its inspiring example. Only then, after neighbouring dominoes (including governments allied with the US) begin to fall, would the democratisation of Iraq contribute seriously to draining the terrorists’ proverbial recruitment pool. Of course, such political revolutions, in the unlikely event that they actually erupted, would be wholly impossible to control or steer. That is reason enough to doubt that Cheney or Rumsfeld, for example, ever took seriously this frivolous bit of neo-con futurology.

The idea of a democratic cure for terrorism assumes that there are two separate causes of anti-American jihad: Middle Eastern autocracy, and unprincipled or opportunistic American backing for it. Anti-American jihad would subside, the theory implies, if either condition could be eliminated. Thus, the neo-con rationale for regime change in the Middle East seemingly justifies something much less radical, and presumably less difficult, than creating stable multiparty democracy in Mesopotamia: the gradual withdrawal of American support from the region’s corrupt oligarchies and oppressive autocracies. Putting daylight between the US and abusive Middle Eastern regimes should be enough to insulate America from the violent backlash such tyrannies produce.

Unfortunately, this pathway is blocked. The US cannot simply disengage from a region in which so many of its vital interests, including the steady flow of oil and the tracking down of terrorists, are at stake. Yet the paradox remains. From the impossibility of disengaging and the perils of engaging with autocrats, the neo-cons conclude that American interests require engagement with a democratic Middle East. The logic sounds impeccable at first. But it is based on the unfounded assumption that periodically elected governments in the region will necessarily be stable, moderate and legitimate, not to mention pro-American.

An even more fundamental argument against fighting terrorism by promoting democracy, however, is that no one in the US government has any idea how to promote democracy. Fukuyama accuses the neo-cons of chatting offhandedly about democratisation while failing to study or even leaf through the ‘huge academic and practitioner-based literature on democratic transitions’. Their lack of serious attention to the subject had an astonishing justification: ‘There was a tendency among promoters of the war to believe that democracy was a default condition to which societies would revert once liberated from dictators.’ Democracy obviously has many social, economic, cultural and psychological preconditions, but those who thought America had a mission to democratise Iraq gave no thought to them, much less to helping create them. For their delicate task of social engineering, the only instrument they thought to bring along was a wrecking ball.

One might have thought that this ‘remove the lid and out leaps democracy’ approach was too preposterous ever to have been taken seriously. But it is the position that Fukuyama, with some evidence, attributes to neo-cons in and around the administration. They assumed, he writes, that the only necessary precondition for the emergence and consolidation of democracy is the ‘amorphous longing for freedom’ which President Bush, that penetrating student of human nature, detects in ‘every mind and every soul’. Their sociology of democracy boils down to the universal and eternal human desire not to be oppressed. If this were democracy’s only precondition, then Iraq would have no trouble making a speedy transition from clan-based savagery and untrammelled despotism to civilised self-restraint and collective self-rule: sceptics who harped on the difficulty of creating a government that would be both coherent and representative in a multi-ethnic, multi-sectarian and tribally fragmented country, simply failed to appreciate the love of freedom in every human heart.

Neo-cons, Fukuyama implies, seldom do the hard work required to learn about the evolving political and social dynamics of specific societies. Instead, they over-personalise any ‘regime’ that they dream of destabilising, identifying it with a single reprehensible ruler who can, in principle, be taken out with a single airstrike. But here again they walk into a serious self-contradiction. One of their principal claims is that a bad regime will have long-lasting negative effects on the society it abuses. A cruel autocracy puts down ‘social roots’ and reshapes ‘informal habits’. Thus, ‘Saddam Hussein’s tyranny bred passivity and fatalism – not to mention vices of cruelty and violence.’ It is very likely, in other words, that Saddam unfitted the Iraqi people for democracy, for a time at least. This is a logical implication of the neo-cons’ theory of ‘regimes’, but not one they considered, presumably because it would have knocked the legs from under their idealistic case for war...

...The proposal to pull Mesopotamia into the modern world, he says, is based on a facile optimism reminiscent of 1960s liberalism and publicly rebutted by the original neo-cons. Progressive dreams are bound to be dashed on the hard realities of social habit. One of the fundamental goals of neo-conservatism, in its formative period, was to show that ‘efforts to seek social justice’ invariably leave societies ‘worse off than before’. They were especially ‘focused on the corroding effects of welfare on the character of the poor’. All distribution from the rich to the poor and from whites to blacks is inevitably counterproductive. Progressive attempts to reduce poverty and inequality, although well-intentioned, have ‘disrupted organic social relations’, such as residential segregation, triggering a violent backlash and failing to lift up the downtrodden. According to the neo-cons, it is wiser to concentrate on the symptoms, using police power and incarceration to discourage violent behaviour and protect civilised values.

The neo-cons, according to Fukuyama, never explored the relevance of such warnings to US foreign policy. Proponents of the Iraq war, very much like old-style liberal advocates of welfare, ‘sought worthy ends but undermined themselves by failing to recognise the limits of political voluntarism’. Their failure in Iraq was just as predictable as the failure of American liberals to improve the lives of poor American blacks. In short, the plans of today’s idealistic hawks for creating Iraqi democracy show how utterly they have betrayed the neo-con legacy. Perhaps the deepest irony is that their enthusiasm for destroying the status quo and overthrowing the powers that be (without giving much thought to how to replace them) recalls the institution-bashing antics of 1960s student radicals more than the counter-revolutionary posture of the founding fathers of neo-conservatism. [my emphasis]

I've posted extensive excerpts, but you should read the whole thing, as they say. I'll note too, I post this on a day when Dick Cheney, more or less hat in hand, is in Saudi Arabia looking for any assistance the Kingdom can render to stabilize Iraq and counter Iranian and Syrian influence in Lebanon (still foolishly without engaging in direct dialogue with them). Doubtless the 'more rubble, less trouble' crowd, and the feverish 'end all evil' brigades at AEI will view this as another sign of American weakness. And, to an extent, they will be right. But their fanciful, utopic remedies are no real alternative, of course. But this won't stop them from clamorously hollering and complaining and writing their breathless little op-eds. This won't stop them from having dim cable anchors and radio talk show hosts ask them stupid questions while credulously lapping up their half-cocked answers. In short, the moronic inferno will proceed on in all its glory. Would that this only constitute but burlesque farce and cheap entertainment, save that some of these personages still (amazingly) wield not insignificant influence in the Beltway.

NB: For a pretty good example of what passes for foreign policy "analysis" these days, see this laughably underinformed news anchor plying his trade (note the hyperbolic reference to the "biblically evil" Ahmadi-Nejad being "far worse" than Hitler, at the end of the 'interview') with one of the more die-hard neo-cons down in DC (bonus references by the interviewee to 50 Cent and, later, "free ice-cream"--"state workers" of the world unite and getcha yer' Haagen Dazs!--as he, rather weakly, attempts to sketch a way forward on Iran policy). Do go listen, while keeping in mind also that, while some in the Iranian youthful demographic of grafitti-scribbling 50 Cent aficionados doubtless might not like aspects of the clerical regime--they sure as hell would like American attempts to stoke internal discord to install an American puppet far less, and, like it or not, Iranians across the political spectrum believe a nuclear program, if not weaponized nuclear arms, constitutes an inalienable right of the Iranian nation, not least given that countries like Pakistan, India and Israel have nukes. But I digress. Click the link for some ribald fun on this Saturday (and ignore the unconnected footage after the interview which, for some reason, was part of the "YouTube" video):

UPDATE:

Greenwald:

Seeking input from the neocons on how to solve the Iraq disaster would be like consulting the serial arsonist who started a deadly, raging fire on how to extinguish it. That actually might make sense if the arsonist were repentant and wanted to help reverse what he unleashed. But if the arsonist were proud of the fire he started and actually wanted to see it rage forever, even more strongly -- and, worse, if he were intent on starting whole new fires just like the one destroying everything and everyone in its path-- it would be the height of irrationality for those wanting to extinguish the fire to listen to what he has to say.

What he said.

Posted by Gregory at November 25, 2006 06:12 PM
Comments

ouch...a lot of good points.

Posted by: neill at November 25, 2006 08:36 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Well.... It's a good read, but am I supposed to be surprised about that neo-con conceptions of social and political relations are crude and shallow?

Look, you don't even need to look at their expectations of the Iraqi Democratic Flowering to grok that you're dealing with self-deluding dopes. Consider how they sold our Grand Mesopotamian Adventure with lowballed costs and inflated expectations. They plainly never considered the possibility of a backlash against their project at home, and even more damning, they never considered how their initial deceptions would stoke the backlash. I don't think people like Churchill, Lincoln, FDR, Orwell (all ostensible neo-con heroes) made their reputations with lines like, "It shouldn't take more than a month, and then -- Utopia!"

Not only are neo-cons too incompetent to talk about democracy in Southwest Asia -- they aren't even aware of how things work in their own societies.

Posted by: sglover at November 25, 2006 10:36 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

What I consider worth mentioning too is that in those trouble spots where democratic elections actually took place, the results are seen as unfavorable for America too - and subsequently, these democratically elected governments are undermined by our brave avatars of democratization.

Think about the Palestinians electing Hamas. Think about the Lebanese where Hezbollah is part of the government. And who of us here would expect a pro-American government to pop up should elections be held in Iraq now (if it was possible)?

Posted by: Mentar at November 25, 2006 11:24 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

What I consider worth mentioning too is that in those trouble spots where democratic elections actually took place, the results are seen as unfavorable for America too - and subsequently, these democratically elected governments are undermined by our brave avatars of democratization.

Yeah, the Krauthammers and Kristols and AEI Clausewitzen don't seem to have anticipated that one either, eh? Which brings to mind a simple question, that I've never seen asked, let alone answered: Is there a single neo-con, just one, who has even freshman-level competence at Arabic or Farsi? Could any of them read even a headline in any newspaper in the region that they thought they could remake?

Posted by: sglover at November 26, 2006 02:08 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Yeah, the Krauthammers and Kristols and AEI Clausewitzen don't seem to have anticipated that one either, eh? "

Heh. Someone needs to write a parody neocon military strategy manifesto, by "Carl von Fuckwitz".

(Or, perhaps, by "Carl von Dimwitz".)

Posted by: Jon H at November 26, 2006 02:23 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Right-Wing nationalists, in most nations, will use Christ, Liberty and security as an excuse to kill tribes they are fearful of.

Posted by: me at November 26, 2006 03:19 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

guys, I know it feels good.

we 'neocons' fucked up, we were wrong, about a lot of things.

but what we did, we did sincerely in the interests of OUR country, yours and mine.

now, think as carefully and soberly as possible about what will serve the long-term interests of America.

because America's welfare depends upon it.

Posted by: neill at November 26, 2006 06:48 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

well you know...that guy in the video? He is just the equivalent of someone in Iran who leads the "death to America / Israel" chant. All black and white, hyperbole, no reason. Men like him are what will drive us to war.

Posted by: nick at November 26, 2006 07:15 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I find it interesting that the neo-con failure to grasp both the vectors and the remedies for terrorism is being placed at the doorstep of 60s liberalism, as though that brand of idealism somehow poisoned neo-con 'clearheadedness' of the realities of autocratic ME governments, what to do about them, and the role they might play in fomenting terrorism - with the terrorism either being egged-on by such regimes, or as a reaction to them.

But the downfall of Communism, where the neo-cons supposedly place one of their crucial g-spots of inspiration, was the doing of the people in those countries, not Gorbachev or Bush I or Thatcher and such - they gave support from within their own ideological vectors, but calibrated to their political ends - yet it was the people marching in the streets of East Berlin and Prague and Budapest and such that made the difference. The best thing we did was to get out of the way and let it happen, not intervene to make it happen.

The point I'm trying to make is that a genuine, liberalistic response to democracy-building would be to let people take it into their own hands, not force it from without - now matter how 'un-American' or convoluted or slow-assed it seems to us. So many conservatives are now trying to distance themselves from the Christian right, and trying to show that the right as a whole is a rainbow of competing interests and orientations; why is liberalism still being painted with such a broad brush? This seed of neo-con 'liberalism' is at most just that - a tiny seed - that they're now quickly trying to grow into a mightly oak not only to shelter themselves under, but to somehow blame as well. I see little that can be traced to even a soured liberalism in people such as Fukuyama, unless it's the 'inverted liberalism' of someone like Andrew Sullivan, who thinks that a true conservative is a 'classic liberal' in the mold of Burke, Locke, the Mills, etc. Certain political ideologies might overlap in strips, but that's about all - strips.

This is another way of saying to the neo-cons - don't get the notion for one minute that you can hang any of your failure on liberalism. If they knew that didn't work within the agenda it tried to pursue and failed in, why did they transpose its shortcomings to their own failures? This reeks of intellectual and ethical dishonesty, to say the least.

Posted by: sekaijin at November 26, 2006 09:37 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


neill:

we 'neocons' fucked up, we were wrong, about a lot of things.

but what we did, we did sincerely in the interests of OUR country, yours and mine.

now, think as carefully and soberly as possible about what will serve the long-term interests of America.

We have, notwithstanding your smug assumption that we haven't because we don't agree with you.

But you didn't have to think, because you had your sincerity. Sincerity doesn't need any thought. You can grab any random opinion and be sincere about it.

Posted by: David Tomlin at November 26, 2006 09:58 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


I find it interesting that the neo-con failure to grasp both the vectors and the remedies for terrorism is being placed at the doorstep of 60s liberalism, as though that brand of idealism somehow poisoned neo-con 'clearheadedness' . . .

Or, as if the founders of neoconservatism were 60s liberals, who broke with the Democrats after the 1972 nomination of McGovern.

The point I'm trying to make is that a genuine, liberalistic response to democracy-building would be to let people take it into their own hands, not force it from without . . .

That's right. For example, the liberalistic response to building racial harmony isn't to force it from without, with things like federal civil rights laws or court-ordered school busing.

Posted by: David Tomlin at November 26, 2006 10:11 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Take a trip through time to Europe circa 1905 and ask a neocon-like intellectual, any thoughtful person for that matter, their opinion of current trends and forces roiling the continent and ask them what suggestions they might make to avoid looming conflicts and social upheaval - what would their answers have been? We know the fate of some of the answers that arose, but fact is no answer would have sufficed: the best intentions were about to be overwhelmed by and in some cases become complicit in the actions of the worst.

Do neoconservative ideas as they exist today in the minds of a flaccid few amount to so much gibberish? That seems clear. But it also seems clear that the war wasn't fought to defend those ideas even though elements of the neocon ethos were used to push the argument for war forward. Democracy was an afterthought that rose to the top of the talking points as way of justifying a war that could no longer be justified as soon as it refused to end in accordance with the 'mission accomplished' plan.

So is there really any point of doing a postmortem on neoconservatism? Possibly, but to me only insomuch as it leads to these questions: what ideas, if any, would have survived 9/11? Are we not again in a situation where the best intentions of people are about to be overwhelmed by the worst? Are not ideas always at the mercy of actions and events, even if they are the proximate cause of those actions and events?

Posted by: underwhelmed at November 26, 2006 12:45 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

but what we did, we did sincerely in the interests of OUR country, yours and mine.

now, think as carefully and soberly as possible about what will serve the long-term interests of America.

I have. And my first conclusion is that we have to permanently shutter all the neo-con "think" tanks, and put you folks in "homes" for the rest of your pathetic, blood-soaked lives where you can no longer harm decent people.....

Posted by: p.lukasiak at November 26, 2006 01:38 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"the attack came from Saudi and Egyptian rebels unable to oust local autocrats and lashing out in anger at those autocrats’ global protectors"

Or maybe, the attack came about only because there was an eccentric multi-millionaire, Oama Bin Laden, who was able to financially support a gang of radicals - who otherwise wouldn't have been much of a threat to anybody.

Gedanken: How many fringe groups are there, both in the U.S. and abroad, that could cause lots of mayhem if they had the money?

Back to the main neocon premise. They apparently saw al Qaeda as a near-inevitable result of oppressive Arab regimes, without considering the possibility that it was more of an exceptional historical development, fueled by a handful of wealthy Sunni reactionaries.

Posted by: Quiddity at November 26, 2006 03:54 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Or maybe, the attack came about only because there was an eccentric multi-millionaire, Oama Bin Laden, who was able to financially support a gang of radicals . . .

Bin Laden's personal fortune wasn't that large, and I think most of it was confiscated somewhere along the line. He financed al Qaeda by raising money from other wealthy Saudis sympathetic to the cause.

Posted by: David Tomlin at November 26, 2006 04:19 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Neil,

Mussolini’s Brown Shirts were sincere.

--------------------------------------

Where are all the academic journals and articles by Neocons about democracy promotion before 9-11?

They have always promoted American hegemony by power. NOT democracy promotion.

They were always heavy-handed Realists. Might and power dictate the rules on the ground. Might and power determine the morality and ethics of the actors.

Since that stuff doesn’t sell bumper stickers for wars, changing INFLICT PAIN to SPREAD FREEDOM AND PEACE, was a typical right-wing nationalist move, for the Neocon. And a whole assorted group of right-wingers and libs fell for it whole heartedly.

Posted by: me at November 26, 2006 04:51 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Neill--if a doctor does surgery, ends up screwing up and the patient dies, he doesn't get off the hook of a malpractice suit because he was "sincere" and had "good intentions."

Given the CF that you neocons have made of this little exercise in Mesopotamia, why should you be put in charge of ANYTHING in the future more complex than asking "do you want fries with that?"

Sincerity does not absolve one of incompetence. And you guys have been damned incompetent.

Posted by: grumpy realist at November 26, 2006 04:53 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Where are all the academic journals and articles by Neocons about democracy promotion before 9-11?

Will you settle for books? The journals and articles exist, but I don't feel like googling for examples.

Joshua Muravchik, Exporting Democracy, 1992

http://www.amazon.com/Exporting-Democracy-Joshua-Muravchik/dp/0844737348

Michael Ledeen, Freedom Betrayed, 1996

http://www.amazon.com/Freedom-Betrayed-America-Democratic-Revolution/dp/0844739928/ref=pd_sim_b_2/105-7316841-5611625

Posted by: David Tomlin at November 26, 2006 05:11 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Tomlin,

Yeah, I would like a basic list of the articles conserning "democracy promotion"/"American hegemony".

Posted by: me at November 26, 2006 05:39 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Sincerity does not absolve one of incompetence. And you guys have been damned incompetent.

And frankly, even the claims of "sincerity" ring hollow, to anyone who reflects on the disinfo campaign that launched this lost war. The "Lawyers, Guns and Money" site recently mentioned an excellent, simple test for deciding the merits of any scheme -- Is it being sold through distortion and obfuscation and fast talking? Are the proponents changing their rationale every time a new bit of information comes in? If so, it's a bad plan. Lies aren't necessary to get informed, fair-minded people behind genuinely good plans. Does anyone seriously believe that the neo-cons presented an honest case for their pet war? If so, I got a big consignment of aluminum tubes to sell you....

This "But we meant well!" horseshit is the last gasp of desperate neo-cons. It's no more worthy of attention or belief than anything else they say. There's only one imaginable neo-con statement that I could admire -- "We fucked up. Our grasp of external reality is seriously flawed. We're going to shut up now."

Posted by: sglover at November 26, 2006 05:54 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"By going to war without Security Council approval, the United States has avoided perpetuating the misguided idea that council authorization is necessary for the legitimate use of force abroad. American power has done much more to preserve peace than the Security Council, and thus subordinating the former to the latter would be a dangerous mistake. Instead, in order to alleviate fears about American power, Washington should stress its commitment to international law, of which the Security Council is only one part."

"We Are Better Off without That UN Resolution"
AEI Online
March 1, 2003

It seems many Neocons believe that "American power" by definition is "democracy promotion."

Posted by: me at November 26, 2006 06:40 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


I would like a basic list of the articles . . .

I suggest you do your own homework.

Posted by: David Tomlin at November 26, 2006 06:44 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The above quote is from Joshua Muravchik.

-----------------------------

Now, for the kids.

Neoconservatives and the Dilemmas of Strategy and Ideology, 1992-2006

In all the discussions of neoconservative foreign policy that have taken place over the past couple of years --- some more informed than others, some more disapproving that others --- there is one abiding perception that seems to unite critics and proponents alike: that a neoconservative foreign policy is distinct from other strands of conservatism because of its emphasis on democracy promotion and that, in fact, exporting democracy for strategic and moral reasons --- and through hard power if necessary --- is one of the central defining purposes of contemporary second generation neoconservatism.

This paper will challenge the dominant view that neoconservatism prioritises democracy promotion. It will examine the nature of the neoconservative foreign policy strategy articulated during the 1990s --- which, it is argued, has been widely misinterpreted --- and will discuss the strategic and ideological tensions inherent within the strategy. Though the George W. Bush administration has not followed a neoconservative strategy in every respect, his administration has been strongly influenced by it and so some of these strategic and ideological tensions have also emerged since 9/11. It is my belief that the central cause of this tension is that the most important priority of the neoconservative strategy has always been to preserve the post-cold war ‘unipolar moment’ by perpetuating American pre-eminence and this clashes with the purported emphasis on democratization. The strategy also risks imperial overstretch and, for the most part, it fails to consider matters that are not state-based economic or state-based military issues.

At the end of the cold war, the first generation of neoconservatives that had emerged in the early seventies, was replaced by a second, younger generation that began to gravitate around the idea of American unipolarism.1 (This is the group that will be the subject of our discussion here.) It is important to clarify from the beginning that although this younger group was organised and led primarily by neoconservatives such as William Kristol and Robert Kagan, it was not their exclusive domain; rather it was a mix of neocons and other conservatives, such as Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, who all shared a vision of a unipolar America, a vision of global dominance. Gary Dorrien refers to this group collectively as “unipolarists”.2 In the main, neocons were the most important organisers and theorists within this network, but their ideas enjoyed some wider support.3 How much of a difference there, in fact, is between neocons and their other conservative sympathisers is an issue we will return to.


More:
Neoconservatives and the Dilemmas of Strategy and Ideology, 1992-2006

Democracy promotion if you mean American power.

Posted by: me at November 26, 2006 07:05 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"[B]ut what we did, we did sincerely in the interests of OUR country, yours and mine."

Really?

You neocons called us appeasers, traitors, left-wing scum, Defeatocrats, and "objectively pro-terrorist" out of a sincere interest in America's well-being?

You neo-cons shut us out of the debate, ignored us, and made up your own facts when the real facts didn't suit you, out of a sincere interest in America's well-being?

Nearly 3000 US troops killed, tens of thousands maimed physically or psychologically, and you neo-cons said "They knew what they were getting into when they signed up." Was that an example of a sincere interest in America's well-being?

Uncounted - literally uncounted - hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead, scores turning up tortured to death every week, millions more displaced or exiled. The ones still living have excellent reason to hate America for the rest of their lives - along with millions more throughout the Mid-East and a billion Muslims throughout the world. Turning warmth into anger, anger into hatred, and hope into despair into more anger and hatred - is all of that more examples of a sincere interest in America's well-being?

You need to define what you mean by "a sincere interest in America's well-being." Because I don't think it means what you think it means.

Posted by: CaseyL at November 26, 2006 07:07 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Niel,

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Liberals who questioned neo-cons and their plan also had the best interest of their nation in mind. Yet here they were derided as anti-American, terrorist-loving appeasers.

Greg,

This post was excellent. This is the direction America needs to take. A step well far away from the thinking of neo-conservatives. That philosophy must die a quick and very painful death.

Posted by: Dan at November 26, 2006 07:19 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Guys,

Democracy promotion was only one among many reasons to topple Saddam, based on what we knew at the time. Primary among those was the potential threat he represented in combination with non-state actors, who his intelligence papers he was in communication with. The nuclear diagram published by the NYTimes, right before the election, showed his research program had proceeded to a point where he was about a year away from a working design. The sanctions regime was unraveling.

There was also a huge risk to leaving Saddam in place after 9-11.

America has a sincere interest in a moderate, self-sustaining state in his place. I believe this is still possible. The Iraqis need to step up for this to become a reality. I believe they can and will achieve this, in a more secure environment -- which we CAN provide, with the proper changes.

Underwhelmed: "Are we not again in a situation where the best intentions of people are about to be overwhelmed by the worst? Are not ideas always at the mercy of actions and events, even if they are the proximate cause of those actions and events?"

This applies to the initial decision to go in. It applies as well to a decision to withdraw.

Posted by: neill at November 26, 2006 08:06 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

we 'neocons' fucked up, we were wrong, about a lot of things.

Neill, it's hard for me to believe you're really a neocon.

If you were a real neocon you wouldn't admit it. You'd be posting under some other name. You'd be telling us you were a liberal who'd been against the war all along, but now you see that we have to see it through because we have a responsibility to fix our mistakes. Etc.

No way would a real neocon start telling the truth at this point.

But you have people thinking you're a neocon. Will they keep debating you even now? Will they keep pretending that your opinions in some way matters even now?

Tune in soon for another incredible episode of -- Belgravia Dispatch.

Posted by: J Thomas at November 26, 2006 08:07 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"democracy"?

The Pentagon Papers gave the american people a very rare glimpse into the inner sanctum of Power Projection. McNaughton's summary of 1966:

1. US aims:

70% --To avoid a humiliating US defeat (to our reputation as a guarantor).
20%--To keep SVN (and then adjacent) territory from Chinese hands.
10%--To permit the people of SVN to enjoy a better, freer way of life.

can be translated into 2006's terms with a simple cut & paste.

neil's dumbassery:

"here was also a huge risk to leaving Saddam in place after 9-11."

completely ignores the fact that Iraq was a nation of 20-odd million people, very few of whom were actually pro-US/AIPAC/AEI.

Funny how Democracy Boy is happy now with the status quo in Libya. Wonderful Democracy we've got there working for us.


Posted by: Troy at November 26, 2006 08:24 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

America has a sincere interest in a moderate, self-sustaining state in his place. I believe this is still possible. The Iraqis need to step up for this to become a reality. I believe they can and will achieve this, in a more secure environment -- which we CAN provide, with the proper changes.

You're delusional or ignorant or both. Leaving aside the anarchic violence in Iraq, the worst omen for that sad country's future is the flight of their entire educated class. Why don't you tell us -- you who has the gall to demand everyone else to provide "answers" and "citationa" while offering none of your own -- how the evolving demographics of Iraq are going to hatch your "moderate, self-sustaining state"?

But, enough. Your comments tell me that you are not a serious person, not really worth talking to.

Posted by: sglover at November 26, 2006 08:32 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I take that to mean you're not up for Greg's surge.

Have fun arranging the deck chairs.

Posted by: neill at November 26, 2006 09:06 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

neill:

we 'neocons' fucked up, we were wrong, about a lot of things.

but what we did, we did sincerely in the interests of OUR country, yours and mine.

Oh, wailing about good intentions. Aside from the fact that I don't believe that the NeoConMens' intentions were good, I'll merely point out that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Posted by: raj at November 26, 2006 09:56 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Now that the Democrats have won control of Congress, it's open season on the Bush administration by both parties, if it hadn't been before. Of course, as much as people want to blame a conspiracy of neo-conservatives for taking over the country after 9/11 and manipulating a stupid president into a senseless war, it's not that simple. This war was popular, as almost all of them are, in the beginning. It's now called a "catastrophe" by some. (As modern wars go, Iraq is only a fraction of a catastrophe.)

Now that the reality of occupying Mesopotamia has disappointed expectations, we are going to hear sophisticated and not-so-sophisticated defenses of the decision to invade in 2003 and subsequent occupation. Republicans in Congress under new leadership are going to dig up internal memos dating back to 2002 expressing their reluctance to go to war. Democrats such as Sen. Clinton and Sen. Kerry are going to try to explain their pro-war votes to the left. Vice-President Gore is going to say "Told you so!" to cheering crowds for the next few years, but he still won't be elected president. (He will morph into Ralph Nader.) The Democratic leadership in Congress is going to pretend that the demand for immediate withdrawal is the majority view. Blue-dog Democrats are going to ask good questions, and perhaps many good people will listen. I should hope so.

But we are going to hear increasingly about a small, almost covert group of neo-conservatives who made every major decision from 9/11 to this month's election. We are going to hear that they are now out or on their way out of Congress and the Bush administration. This way, we can reduce the blame to a handful of invisible people plus President Bush, Vice-President Cheney, and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. I will call this "blame shrinkage," and it allows the next administration to perpetuate the fiction that it is clean of blockheads and idiots.

But don't believe it. After 9/11, I heard liberals, conservatives, Democrats, and Republicans advocating rash and violent action. In 2002, when war was in the air, the Republicans won a resounding victory in the November elections and gained a working majority to implement the current policies. Many Democrats were mute, not because they were silenced by intimidation, but because their credibility on military matters was nil and they knew it. Many of the Democrats were defeatists from the beginning, and though many of them kept their mouths shut to avoid political fall-out in 2003, their arguments against the war were based more upon Vietnam-era slogans and cliches than a careful analysis of America's proper role in the Middle East. Americans don't like defeatists, and when given a choice between defeatists and the bull-headed, Americans will choose the bull-headed.

If George C.Marshall today walked from the chamber of the House of Representatives through the Senate and to the White House, nobody would recognize him, much less listen to him. Many Democrats have been so condescending towards the Bush administration, military careerists, enlisted soldiers and their families, and those who were willing to use military force to change the Middle East that they lost the argument about the war before 2003. The Republicans, for their part, were and are mostly chicken hawks who advocated war despite having little or no military experience. Democrats bleat "Vietnam" and Republicans bleat "appeasement." Neither party advocates a defensible policy.

Thus, there is a fundamental disconnect in the United States between the elites who serve in Congress and the Bush administration and the people who actually fight wars overseas. The elites were too blind to assemble advisors in high and low places in Washington and Baghdad who could intelligently advise policy-makers about the history, ethnic divisions, religious nuances, tribal relations, and traditions of the Middle East and apply that knowledge to American military capabilities and culture. We suffer from a failure of leadership among all of our elites, Republicans and Democrats, think tanks and universities, elected officials and staff. This failure is not limited to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. It begins in America's prep schools.

Could we have improved upon the situation in Iraq? Yes, at many times and places, but let's recognize that occupying another country is a strange mix of brutality, annihilation, mercy, and nurture. Some conquerors are revered by the vanquished, such as Douglas MacArthur. Most are not.

For our adventure in Iraq, the jury of history is going to be out for at least a generation. Let me back up a minute to another unpopular war.

In 1953, after static trench warfare for two years, a truce was signed to end the Korean War. By then, there were some 2 million casualties, including more than 30,000 American dead. A five-star general had been fired during the pinnacle of his career. The opposition party had blasted the majority party and administration daily for incompetence, miscalculation, poor intelligence, poor equipment, and poor training. In 1952, a sitting president decided against running for reelection, and the opposition enjoyed a complete sweep. The Republicans became the majority party in both houses of Congress and elected their first president since Herbert Hoover. No war was ever as unpopular, and no president's reputation more ruined by a war than Harry Truman's. Nonetheless, the Korean War, despite the blood and mistakes, appears today to be worth the sacrifice. I won't predict a similar satisfying result in Iraq, but I will admit that I don't know and that nobody in Congress, the White House, Baghdad, or the punditry knows either.

In the long run, the Korean War was worth it because the South Koreans worked hard to rebuild their country, built a credible (though brutal and corrupt) army and police, and gradually developed free institutions despite a century of war and pillaging.

Our challenge today is to give the best Iraqis a chance to overcome the worst Iraqis and decades of oppressive government and petroleum-fueled corruption. I hope we can and do. I am afraid that the vindication of policy positions is going to be substituted for fresh thought during the next few years.

Posted by: Tertium Quid at November 27, 2006 02:29 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The nuclear diagram published by the NYTimes, right before the election, showed his research program had proceeded to a point where he was about a year away from a working design.

dude, you have to stop getting your talking points from Red State, because it makes you look like even more of an idiot than you already do.

The Times did not publish a nuclear diagram. The Bush Administration, at the urging of people like YOU, put a whole buttload of highly classified technical nuclear information from Iraq on the internet in untranslated Arabic -- for no other reason than the HOPE somewhere in all of these documents that no one had the time to translate would be the "proof" that "Saddam had WMDs".

Well, he didn't. More to the point, what the Bush regime put on the web was stuff we'd known about since NINETEEN NINTY FIVE. Its stuff that Iraq provided to Mohammed el Baradei and Hans Blix as part of the inspections process in 2002-2003.... and when the UN released this declaration, it made sure to WITHHOLD from the public these pages because the information was so sensitive.

YOUR GOVERNMENT published the information.... DESPITE a previous incident where a separate cache of untranslated documents detailed how to make two forms of highly poisonous weaponized gas.

GET A FREAKING CLUE...or go back to Free Republic where no one actually bothers to read newspapers, or reports, or do anything but watch Fox News and read and repeat right wing blog talking points.

Posted by: p.lukasiak at November 27, 2006 02:30 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg, point me to one webpage that describes what you believe is essential for society to function and how to get there. You spend so much ventilating what is wrong. Try to be constructive and instructive.

Posted by: sbw at November 27, 2006 02:40 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

You spend so much ventilating what is wrong. Try to be constructive and instructive.

I have to empathize with greg here. With "impeachment off the table", and Bush/Cheney still running things, its really impossible to be "constructive and instructive" knowing that for the next 2 years, the government will be run by people who JUST DON'T FUCKING GET IT.

what else can you do in that situation but rant, rave, and "ventilate"?

Posted by: p.lukasiak at November 27, 2006 03:37 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Please focus on the big picture:

"Now that the Democrats have won control of Congress, it's open season on the Bush administration by both parties, if it hadn't been before. Of course, as much as people want to blame a conspiracy of neo-conservatives for taking over the country after 9/11 and manipulating a stupid president into a senseless war, it's not that simple. This war was popular, as almost all of them are, in the beginning. It's now called a "catastrophe" by some. (As modern wars go, Iraq is only a fraction of a catastrophe.)

Now that the reality of occupying Mesopotamia has disappointed expectations, we are going to hear sophisticated and not-so-sophisticated defenses of the decision to invade in 2003 and subsequent occupation. Republicans in Congress under new leadership are going to dig up internal memos dating back to 2002 expressing their reluctance to go to war. Democrats such as Sen. Clinton and Sen. Kerry are going to try to explain their pro-war votes to the left. Vice-President Gore is going to say "Told you so!" to cheering crowds for the next few years, but he still won't be elected president. (He will morph into Ralph Nader.) The Democratic leadership in Congress is going to pretend that the demand for immediate withdrawal is the majority view. Blue-dog Democrats are going to ask good questions, and perhaps many good people will listen. I should hope so.

But we are going to hear increasingly about a small, almost covert group of neo-conservatives who made every major decision from 9/11 to this month's election. We are going to hear that they are now out or on their way out of Congress and the Bush administration. This way, we can reduce the blame to a handful of invisible people plus President Bush, Vice-President Cheney, and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. I will call this "blame shrinkage," and it allows the next administration to perpetuate the fiction that it is clean of blockheads and idiots.

But don't believe it. After 9/11, I heard liberals, conservatives, Democrats, and Republicans advocating rash and violent action. In 2002, when war was in the air, the Republicans won a resounding victory in the November elections and gained a working majority to implement the current policies. Many Democrats were mute, not because they were silenced by intimidation, but because their credibility on military matters was nil and they knew it. Many of the Democrats were defeatists from the beginning, and though many of them kept their mouths shut to avoid political fall-out in 2003, their arguments against the war were based more upon Vietnam-era slogans and cliches than a careful analysis of America's proper role in the Middle East. Americans don't like defeatists, and when given a choice between defeatists and the bull-headed, Americans will choose the bull-headed.

If George C.Marshall today walked from the chamber of the House of Representatives through the Senate and to the White House, nobody would recognize him, much less listen to him. Many Democrats have been so condescending towards the Bush administration, military careerists, enlisted soldiers and their families, and those who were willing to use military force to change the Middle East that they lost the argument about the war before 2003. The Republicans, for their part, were and are mostly chicken hawks who advocated war despite having little or no military experience. Democrats bleat "Vietnam" and Republicans bleat "appeasement." Neither party advocates a defensible policy.

Thus, there is a fundamental disconnect in the United States between the elites who serve in Congress and the Bush administration and the people who actually fight wars overseas. The elites were too blind to assemble advisors in high and low places in Washington and Baghdad who could intelligently advise policy-makers about the history, ethnic divisions, religious nuances, tribal relations, and traditions of the Middle East and apply that knowledge to American military capabilities and culture. We suffer from a failure of leadership among all of our elites, Republicans and Democrats, think tanks and universities, elected officials and staff. This failure is not limited to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. It begins in America's prep schools.

Could we have improved upon the situation in Iraq? Yes, at many times and places, but let's recognize that occupying another country is a strange mix of brutality, annihilation, mercy, and nurture. Some conquerors are revered by the vanquished, such as Douglas MacArthur. Most are not.

For our adventure in Iraq, the jury of history is going to be out for at least a generation. Let me back up a minute to another unpopular war.

In 1953, after static trench warfare for two years, a truce was signed to end the Korean War. By then, there were some 2 million casualties, including more than 30,000 American dead. A five-star general had been fired during the pinnacle of his career. The opposition party had blasted the majority party and administration daily for incompetence, miscalculation, poor intelligence, poor equipment, and poor training. In 1952, a sitting president decided against running for reelection, and the opposition enjoyed a complete sweep. The Republicans became the majority party in both houses of Congress and elected their first president since Herbert Hoover. No war was ever as unpopular, and no president's reputation more ruined by a war than Harry Truman's. Nonetheless, the Korean War, despite the blood and mistakes, appears today to be worth the sacrifice. I won't predict a similar satisfying result in Iraq, but I will admit that I don't know and that nobody in Congress, the White House, Baghdad, or the punditry knows either.

In the long run, the Korean War was worth it because the South Koreans worked hard to rebuild their country, built a credible (though brutal and corrupt) army and police, and gradually developed free institutions despite a century of war and pillaging.

Our challenge today is to give the best Iraqis a chance to overcome the worst Iraqis and decades of oppressive government and petroleum-fueled corruption. I hope we can and do. I am afraid that the vindication of policy positions is going to be substituted for fresh thought during the next few years."

Posted by: Tertium Quid at November 27, 2006 02:29 AM | Permalink to this comment

Posted by: neill at November 27, 2006 04:01 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

This failure is not limited to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. It begins in America's prep schools.

Posted by: Tertium Quid at November 27, 2006 02:29 AM | Permalink to this comment

Lord have mercy.

Posted by: me at November 27, 2006 04:31 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The Indispensable Paper of Record Once Again Dispenses The Indispensible:

Another Killing in Lebanon


It is too early to know who ordered this week’s assassination of the Lebanese cabinet minister Pierre Gemayel, but there are many reasons to suspect Syria. Mr. Gemayel opposed Syria’s unrelenting campaign to dominate Lebanon’s fragile democracy. If the cabinet now loses even one more minister, through intimidation or worse, Lebanon’s pro-Western government will collapse — a collapse that Hezbollah, Syria’s ally and henchman, has been publicly seeking.

(ya think?)

In a Middle East plagued by constant tragedy and defeat, Lebanon’s Cedar Revolution and the ousting of Syrian troops last year was a rare and precious victory. The United States and the international community must now rally to support Prime Minister Fouad Siniora — with cash, security advisers, and anything that might help him and his government survive.

(leave the violence and intimidation to Hezbollah -- those bad, bad boys -- tee-hee)

Damascus must also be told that it will pay a high price — in scorn, isolation and sanctions — if it is found to have ordered Mr. Gemayel’s death, or the deaths or maiming of a half-dozen other anti-Syrian politicians and journalists. Hezbollah must be told that it will be shunned if it tries to grab power through further violence or intimidation.

(thank god for the enduring power of scorn)

The United Nations took an important step this week, approving the creation of a tribunal to prosecute the killers of Rafik Hariri, a former prime minister. The only question there is which top Syrian official gave the order.

This page believes that the United States needs to begin a dialogue with Syria, about Iraq and regional peace. But President Bashar al-Assad needs to understand that neither the tribunal nor Lebanon’s independence will ever be on the bargaining table. Europe, Russia and all of Syria’s neighbors need to join Washington in delivering that message.

(Never...ever)

Hezbollah has been insisting on veto power over all government decisions, including whether it will participate in a U.N. tribunal. If there is any possible good to come from Mr. Gemayel’s death, it is that Hezbollah will now have to postpone its announced plan to call thousands of demonstrators into the street to bring down the government. We hope Mr. Siniora can use this time to rally the majority of Lebanese who still believe in national reconciliation and the spirit of the Cedar Revolution.

(we're confident that Syria/Hezbollah WON'T use this time to quash the Harirri assination investigation by killing more cabinet ministers)

We would urge Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to go immediately to Beirut, except we’re not sure she would be welcome after President Bush’s failure last summer to restrain Israel’s disastrous air war.

(And we're confident Ms. Rice -- who by the way is ... un-married -- would respond to the murder and abduction of American soldiers on American territory and the sustained rocket attack on Texas, Arizona and Southern Clifornia by Mexico with a request for direct negotiations.)

Ms. Rice might still do some good if she brought with her a large group of European and moderate Arab foreign ministers. That is a sad admission about the limits of American influence. But Mr. Siniora needs all the help he can get.

(sigh)

Posted by: neill at November 27, 2006 05:18 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Neill, what does Lebanon have to do with what we were talking about? Stick to the subject.

Or better yet, apologize.

Posted by: grumpy realist at November 27, 2006 05:55 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


Dan: Liberals who questioned neo-cons and their plan also had the best interest of their nation in mind.

Don't forget the libertarians, and even few conservatives.

Yet here they were derided as anti-American, terrorist-loving appeasers.

Browsing BD's archives, I get the impression that Greg refrained from personal attacks on war opponents generally. He did show a peculiar contempt for those who participated in demonstrations.

http://www.belgraviadispatch.com/2003/11/the_routinization_of_social_pr.html

November 22, 2003

'Sure, and to be more serious, there are doubtless many protestors who have intelligently thought out concerns about Dubya's policies who attend these rallies out of fervently held conviction. But a good dollop are there just for cheap kicks and have barely a clue what they're protesting against.'

http://www.belgraviadispatch.com/2003/04/that_cakewalk_thing_ken_adlema.html

April 10, 2003

'I hope too that the naive and spoiled anti-war protestors (many of them comfortable amidst the material bounty of the West and protesting out of nothing more noble than sheer boredom) will take stock of the lessons of Baghdad's liberation yesterday.

'Many of these anti-war protestors, of course, had nary a clue about the grotesque repression that was part and parcel of Saddamism (while pretending to be protesting on behalf of the Iraqi people). Perhaps some of the anti-war forces, even if just a small number, might re-analzye their Pavlovian anti-war posture in the face of the images of liberation the world witnessed yesterday.'

These slurs were not accompanied by any evidence.

People who participate in any kind of political demonstration are generally better informed on politics than the average American. That 'Many . . . had nary a clue' about Saddam's repression, when that subject has been a theme of our government's propaganda since 1990, is just ridiculous.

Being myself a sometime anti-war demonstrator, and so having met many others, I can testify that many of them are interested in and knowledgable about repression and human rights issues in many countries, and not just those targeted by our government's foreign policy.

Posted by: David Tomlin at November 27, 2006 05:58 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

In my last comment, 'Yet here they were derided as anti-American, terrorist-loving appeasers' was another quote from Dan's comment, which I neglected to italicize.

Posted by: David Tomlin at November 27, 2006 06:01 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

gr, my reference to the grey lady's response to events in Lebanon has to do with the generally feckless liberal approach to the generalized threat we face, and how it should be most effectively confronted -- in pro-active sense.

something, as from the beginning, I still have a rather slippery sense of....

Posted by: neill at November 27, 2006 06:22 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Neill - you call the liberal response 'feckless', but it isn't feckless for what you seem to believe - if anything, it's probably starting to become both more pragmatic about what is actually happening in Iraq as opposed to what we wish things to be there.

I would agree that it WAS faulty say, a year ago, but for a different reason than the fecklessness you think you diagnose. What was wrong with it was that it wasn't principled enough against the war, and not outraged enough at general contempt the Bushies have had for actual ground-level expressions of democracy in the ME in general (Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in the Palestinian elections). As for those, were they 'democratic'? Of course, not in nature. But in function they were an expression of popular will, which only goes to show that the Palestinians and Lebanese are every bit as capable of making terrible choices as Americans did in 2004 by (re-)electing Bush. Has an Iranian Expeditionary Force anytime recently been set upon DC to try to counter the lousy administration we've stuck ourselves with? Not that I've noticed recently.

The liberal response spluttered, stammered, slobbered, stabbed, shot and spat - but didn't oppose anything, because in the end, so many Democrats thought they had to go along with the Republicans to appear 'patriotic' (and save their own skins). Whatever principled opposition came in the guise of people like Cindy Sheehan - and she was ridiculed, humililated and lampooned by the right-wing bullies of Fox, the dittoheads and what-not. If anything, too many liberals capitulated to the right on the war, not opposed it enough. So I would've been willing to have shared a complaint with you about liberals - though over a totally opposite source.

If there's anybody who is now truly feckless, it's these neo-cons and inhabitants of the White House - for clinging to the notion that they are doing something worthwhile, and that anyone's listening. It's liberals who have now come to realize that they are an opposing ideology who have to stop providing cover to people who generated the brutish policies that have led us into this disaster. My own problem with liberals is that they didn't see their way to do this four years ago, when a genuine opposition by them could've stopped the war, thought outside the box as to what to do about AQ, and prevented us from blogging about all this right now.

Posted by: sekaijin at November 27, 2006 12:47 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"My own problem with liberals is that they didn't see their way to do this four years ago, when a genuine opposition by them could've stopped the war"

FTR - I meant "when a genuine opposition by them could've prevented the war."

Just wanted to clarify.

Posted by: sekaijin at November 27, 2006 12:51 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Neill--

As I have asked you over and over on these threads:

Where do you get the manpower?

Where do you get the funding?

If you can't come up with answers for these, just running around wringing your hands about how Horrible Things Will Be If We Leave is just hot air. And that's all the neocons have been producing.

And now you twits want to go attack Iran?!

Can you please explain how the US economy will manage to weather $200/bbl oil price spikes when Iran shuts the Straits of Hormuz?


Posted by: grumpy realist at November 27, 2006 03:44 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

sekaijin, no. No genuine opposition could have prevented the war.

After 9/11 the american public suffered a sort of mass insanity. Anybody who got in the way of that got steamrolled. There simply weren't enough sane people available to stop the war.

At the time, it was actually a credible position that everywhere there were muslims, the muslims would take over the governments and establish muslim governments under sharia law controlled by the caliph bin Ladin, that they would be a far worse threat than the USSR, and that if we can not forcibly establish permanent democracies all across the middle east we will have no choice but to nuke the whole area.

There were americans who wanted to rescue iraqis from Saddam. But there were just as many who wanted to punish iraqis and other arabs for 9/11. It didn't matter to them whether iraq got a democracy or not, provided we did enough airstrikes.

The matter of WMDs was a smokescreen. A lot of people who recognised that approved. They wanted to wreak havoc to show that arabs couldn't get away with 9/11. But some weren't so sure. My own father listened for 2 minutes to me explain about nameless CIA reports claiming the evidence was cooked and then he shut me off. "Why do you believe those people who won't even give their names? Are they really in the CIA at all? If they're telling secrets they'd get punished for telling, they're traitors anyway." The last time I talked with him about such things, 3 weeks ago, his position had changed slightly. "Why would you believe any of these people? Why would any of them tell the truth if they even know it?" I think he's accepted that the Bush administration has been systematically lying, but he doesn't see that anybody else would do better and he's still voting a straight republican ticket. He pointed out that the economy is doing fine and the stock market is booming. I asked him about his stocks. No, his stocks are doing badly but that's his fault, he just picked the wrong stocks.

The public was still insane about 9/11. They wanted to kick ass. You couldn't stop them any more than you could have stopped the spanish war back when people were chanting "Remember the Maine!" When the public gets war fever the most you can do is the futile gesture of getting in their way and getting trampled.

Now people are getting sick of the war. The army doesn't like it, they keep getting sent back to iraq for nothing, and the stop-loss rankles etc. The news is all bad. Bush promised them an easy victory before the war, and now they feel cheated. Where's their easy victory? If we're still hanging in there in 2008, a candidate who claims he has as plan that will give us an easy victory is likely to win. A lot of us aren't so much upset about being lied into the war or about the corruption or the lives lost etc. A lot of us are upset because somebody stole our easy victory, and we want it back.

I don't have a political solution. A great big slice of the voters isn't going to believe we can't win until we suffer a great big loss, and when that happens they're going to look for traitors to blame it on -- democrats, mostly. They'll blame the Bush administration for incompetence but most of the anger won't be against them because their hearts were in the right place and they tried. The real anger will be against the people who didn't support the war sufficiently. For example, the people who prevented a draft by turning that necessary step into a political football.

We have a consensus against Bush. We don't have a consensus even now what to do about the war. The minority of sane people in 2003 couldn't have stopped the war then. It can't even be stopped now.

Posted by: J Thomas at November 27, 2006 04:17 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The public was still insane about 9/11. They wanted to kick ass. You couldn't stop them any more than you could have stopped the spanish war back when people were chanting "Remember the Maine!" When the public gets war fever the most you can do is the futile gesture of getting in their way and getting trampled.

although i agree that the general public was insane after 9-11, it wasn't "war fever" but "daddy fever" that meant support for the Iraq War. (By "daddy fever" I mean the fear-driven impulse to do whatever a leader, the national "daddy", says needs to be done.)

Americans in general were not, in fact, eager to attack Iraq. Prior to the invasion, a majority of Americans supported an invasion ONLY if it was done under UN auspices (which Bush publicly told the American people would be the case.) Public opinion changed when Bush decided to go in without UN support -- they just followed "daddy" off the cliff that was Iraq.

Posted by: p.lukasiak at November 27, 2006 05:14 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

yankee, go home.

Posted by: somedude at November 28, 2006 12:54 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

There is much irony in how criticism of younger neo-con foreign policy sounds much like original neo-con domestic policy criticism of (US) liberal good intentions.

Why interventionist policies with much poorer feedback structures than domestic policy has should work much better is, indeed, a bit of a mystery. But one which the younger neo-cons are hardly alone in thinking various versions of. (IMF, World Bank, come on down.)

While I don't share Stephen Holmes' dismissive attitude to external effects on the Soviet collapse--there was, at the very least, more value in "holding the line" and increasing the costs of Soviet expansion, not to mention reinvigorating market/private property policy approaches, than he concedes--his point about past experience being misconstrued for future policy is well worth pondering. Though, again, not an exclusive neo-con sin. Still, one wonders whether the Japan and West Germany cases after WWII underpinned neo-con overconfidence.

But the Middle East does provide profound conundrums. The US cannot really disengage, but most of the regimes it must engage with are various levels of noxious and it becomes embroiled in their consequences. It constantly has, or is tagged with, more responsibility than real power, no matter what it does.

Posted by: Lorenzo at November 28, 2006 02:36 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I'm a little bit miffed about Neill's "feckless" comment referring to liberals (I guess everyone who opposes a bat-shit insane foreign policy is automatically a feckless liberal these days, but dichotomies do make ad hominen attacks against people who disagree w/ you much easier now, don't they?)

Actually, Neill's assumption that I'm "feckless" rests largely on the assumption that I buy into his Neocon rhetoric that Saddam Hussein's govt. and Al-Qaida (two groups that, again, only have something to do w/ one another if you live in neocon geopolitical fantasy land) pose some kind of immanent and almighty threat to America's existence. It means that I buy that Saddam Hussein is as great a threat to the civilized world as Adolph Hitler and that Al-Qaida and other terrorist orgs are somehow more objectively dangerous than a nation-state with a nuclear arsenal big enough to destroy the entire world a few times over (remember the Soviet Union anyone?). In other words, it means that I have to become a complete idiot with no regard for historical perspective or accuracy.

Can terrorist groups such as al-Qaida inflict major damage? You betcha. I, unlike Bush and the Neocons, have not distorted the lessons of 9/11. But, Neills of the world, let's get something straight here. Terrorists use terrorist tactics because they are objectively weak. They don't have (and will never have) the kind of objective firepower it takes to take over a nation-state like the US.

What they can do, however, (and terrorist groups have been doing this for hundreds of years - way before Al-Qaida) is use tactics that create an atmosphere of overblown fear, and then hope that this atmosphere leads their enemies to become so insane with fear that they destroy themselves by, well, gutting their own civil liberties, throwing any moral authority they had in the world out the proverbial window, and invading random countries in the Middle East and thereby turning that whole region against it. In other words, they can hope for exactly the kind of hyperbolic response that the Bush admin. and the necons continue to advocate and project. This is exactly the kind of response objectively weak terrorist actors need to make them subjectively appear bigger and badder than they really are.

So, come to think of it, Neill, we "feckless" folk did do something to fight terrorism this past election cycle. We voted a whole bunch of fear-mongering politicians out of office. Strike a blow against the terrorist plan. We Americans do have a backbone!

Posted by: Dan W. at November 28, 2006 03:57 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I didn't say that you were feckless, Dan.

I said that liberal ideas like those espoused in that inane, infantile NY Times editorial about how to respond to naked Syian depredations in Lebanon without really doing ANYTHING are feckless.

This is another launch of the meme about how Repuggs are what we 'really' have to fear. Their bloodthirsty nature is creating all this awfulness.

The reason this nursery rhyme is resorted to is that the genuine source of the awfulness is so horrific ..... you can't even acknowledge its presence, to look it in the face, to see what it is. Which is exactly what happened in Europe in the 30s -- exactly. Churchill was SCORNED as, yes, a fearmonger.

And why do we now revere him as a Hero, while all his detractors amount to less than mist? Because his perception and leadership literally saved England, and possibly the West, from destruction. Churchill perceived that that destruction was not only possible, but likely. But for a long, long time, he was virtually a one-man band, a voice in the wildnerness far removed from the Conventionl Wisdom.

What set him apart from his peers was his perception, and especially, his indomitable spirit.

Newt:


Searching for Victory in Iraq: Why the Baker-Hamilton Commission Ought to Visit Mount Vernon

by Newt Gingrich
Posted Nov 27, 2006

The Sunday before Thanksgiving, Callista and I took some friends to Mount Vernon to see the new education center. It is an amazing tribute to George Washington and the creation of America.

We watched a movie about George Washington's crossing the Delaware on Christmas Eve and surprising the Hessians (German mercenaries) on Christmas Day in Trenton. As I watched, I was struck by the amazing difference between the attitude of the Father of our Country and the current attitudes in the city that bears his name.

Gen. Washington had a long and painful summer and autumn of defeat in 1776. His American Army had been defeated across New York -- in Brooklyn, Manhattan and White Plains -- and then driven across New Jersey and forced to flee across the Delaware River into Pennsylvania.

Washington's forces had dwindled until he had only about 4,000 effective soldiers left. There were another 6,000 men present, but they were so sick they were unable to go into battle.

Faced with declining morale, rising desertions, the collapse of political will in the country at large and a sense of despair, Washington decided to gamble everything on a surprise attack. It would require a night crossing of an icy river against a formidable professional opponent.

But the most telling sign of Washington's mood as he embarked on the mission was his choice of a password. His men said "victory or death" to identify themselves.

That night crossing, immortalized in paintings of Washington's standing in the boat as Marblehead Fishermen rowed him across the ice-strewn river, led to an amazing victory on Christmas Day. That victory led to a surge in American morale and a doubling in the size of the American forces under Washington within two weeks. And that gave Washington the strength to win a second surprise victory at Princeton.

In two weeks, Washington had gone from defeated, hopeless bungler to victorious American hero and personification of the American Cause.

....

Imagine there had been a Baker-Hamilton Commission -- the group charged with assessing our options in Iraq -- advising Washington that cold Christmas Eve. What "practical, realistic" advice would they have given him?

Posted by: neill at November 28, 2006 06:10 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Can terrorist groups such as al-Qaida inflict major damage? You betcha. I, unlike Bush and the Neocons, have not distorted the lessons of 9/11. But, Neills of the world, let's get something straight here. Terrorists use terrorist tactics because they are objectively weak. They don't have (and will never have) the kind of objective firepower it takes to take over a nation-state like the US.

What they can do, however, (and terrorist groups have been doing this for hundreds of years - way before Al-Qaida) is use tactics that create an atmosphere of overblown fear, and then hope that this atmosphere leads their enemies to become so insane with fear that they destroy themselves by, well, gutting their own civil liberties, throwing any moral authority they had in the world out the proverbial window, and invading random countries in the Middle East and thereby turning that whole region against it. In other words, they can hope for exactly the kind of hyperbolic response that the Bush admin. and the necons continue to advocate and project. This is exactly the kind of response objectively weak terrorist actors need to make them subjectively appear bigger and badder than they really are."

Dan, I believe you are mistaken here.

America as an economic entity is now a system of networks: transportation, financial, military, .... and most importantly distribution. 9-11 was as damaging s it was because t least three of those systems were given good shake. It all works with the fluidity of swiss watch, lubricated by our confidence in the movement of the system. You give that system a great enough shock, and it WILL collapse. It works on momentum, like a bike.....arrest its momentum enough and.....it falls over.

For instance, the Port of LA.

Did you know that fully half of America's shipping enters and exits this narrow harbor? And from there a huge labyrinth of trucking, rail, and air distribution is orchestrated like a petrol-driven ballet delivering everything to all of us. But like the port, there are key choke points that, try as you might to protect them, are always going to be vulnerable to attack. And then nothing gets delivered to nobody.

Islamists don't want to take us over.... they're gunning for our collapse.

So a willingness to accept a defeat at their hands, to essentially assist in their expansion and popularity of their ideology is....well....exceedingly dangerous.

Not something that George Washington or Winston Churchill would advise as a path to escape destruction.

Posted by: neill at November 28, 2006 07:11 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Okay, Neill, I apologize for internalizing your comment.

But, again, I have to disagree w/ some of your (and Newt's) assumptions here.

I really find the historical comparisons between Churchill and Bush, Washington's crossing of the Delaware during the Revolutionary War and our current, hapless situation in Iraq, the threat of Hitler's Germany and Al-Qaida, etc. to be highly distorted. These are comparisons made by way of weak analogies and not by actually taking an empirical and objective look at the the historical conditions to which one is making reference (again, as this post has pointed out, neocons have an unfortunate pension for ignoring the nature of the social, political, and historical conditions with which they think they are dealing). Just because Churchill advocated an unpopular position that was against the "conventional wisdom" of the time does not make it in any way equivalent (morally or practically) to our current situation. There are thousands of positions that are unpopular at any given historical moment, and some of them are unpopular because they are just plain bad positions to take. You know as well as I do that you'd be kicked off any high school debate team for engaging in these types of logical fallacies. But political pundits somehow get away with making these unsubstantiated historical comparisons all the time. It's just maddening.

Are terrorists an objective threat to people around the world, including Americans? Absolutely. Are they anywhere near as big of an objective threat to our country as Hitler's Germany or the nuclear-equipped Soviet Union or, for that matter, the American Confederacy during this country's bloody civil war? Absolutely not. Again, these inaccurate historical comparisons only serve to distort the real dangers we face in the world today. We are not fighting Nazis. We are not fighting Communists. We are not fighting "Islamofascism," as the silly radio-hosts like to call them. We are fighting terrorists. Nasty, rotten, evil terrorists who resort to terror because they are too weak to effectively use any other tool to meet their objectives. The more we resort to hyperbole and turn them into something they are not, they better off they are.

Posted by: Dan W. at November 28, 2006 07:58 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Are Germans an objective threat to people around the world, including Britons? Absolutely. Are they anywhere near as big of an objective threat to our country as the Germany in 1919 or, for that matter, the Danes at the outset of this milennia? Absolutely not."

Posted by: neill at November 28, 2006 08:23 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Neill,

Alright, that last comment certainly contains some historical perspective, and I appreciate it. You're absolutely right that terrorist techniques pose much more of an objective threat to nation-states in our globalized world than they did fifty years ago. I agree with that. And I would find an empirical analysis of the potential economic and social effects of probable future terrorist attacks very enlightening. But what I do not find enlightening are tortured analogies equating the current situation with historical events during WWII. I think these analogies are generally used as a smoke-screen so that the American people will not ask serious questions about the underlying assumptions and rationale for going to war against Iraq. And, again, I do not accept those underlying assumptions and rationales. I think they are incorrect both morally and practically.

And, despite the real threats that terrorists do pose, they are still not the type of threat many are making them out to be. We have unfortunately gone from grossly underestimating their power and presence to grossly overestimating it. Sigh. Where are the voices of reason and moderation when you need them? Oh yes, the Bush administration fired all of them.

But Neill, the position you are holding which says, "At least we tried to do SOMETHING to ameliorate the situation!" necessitates that we buy into the straw-man argument that everyone but the neocons and the Bush admin. were advocating doing NOTHING. That was and still is quite untrue. It is, of course, possible to be against the war in Iraq and still be against terrorism (and have a plan to combat the latter problem that does not include invading Iraq or Iran).

And this way of thinking and acting is especially possible when we stop thinking and acting like the neocons.

Posted by: Dan W. at November 28, 2006 08:26 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"And, despite the real threats that terrorists do pose, they are still not the type of threat many are making them out to be. We have unfortunately gone from grossly underestimating their power and presence to grossly overestimating it."

You have no idea regarding this, nor do I.

As a former girlfriend once advised me, "Hope for the best, and plan for the worst."

Wise words.

Posted by: neill at November 28, 2006 09:02 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

y'know, when it all comes down to it, whether I was for this war at the outset, or you were against is, is actually completely irrelevant at this point.

The only thing that really matters now is whether the outcome of the war is in the long-term interests and security of America -- or in the long-term interests and security of the Islamists.

When it comes to war, like sports, the only thing people will remember is who won, and who lost.

And either way, chances are it will be long-term.

Posted by: neill at November 28, 2006 09:19 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

and who gave up.

and who didn't give up.

Posted by: neill at November 28, 2006 09:23 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


The full text of Gingrich's 'Searching for Victory in Iraq' is here:

http://www.humanevents.com/winningthefuture.php?id=18212

Despite the title, there are only two sentences about how to achieve, or even search for, victory in Iraq.

The Bush Administration should reach out to moderate Democrats and forge a bipartisan agenda for victory and, by March 2007, pass a bipartisan resolution for victory in Iraq and for stopping Iranian efforts to get nuclear weapons. That will set the basis for appropriations to continue the effort.

I guess that bipartisan resolution will put the fear of Jesus in them there Eye-rack-ees.

Posted by: David Tomlin at November 28, 2006 10:55 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

In support of Dan W. - Bush is no Churchill in 1938 sounding alarums about a real and present threat from a rearmed nation-state. If anything, Bush is more like Chamberlain in 1938 - with more than a dash of Churchill (as First Lord of the Admiralty) circa 1915 re the Gallipoli disaster. It's true that Chamberlain and Daladier were dreading the worst and were making all the wrong moves to avoid it. It's also true that Churchill could get a lot of his traction from the fact that he had been excluded from meaningful Cabinet positions for years within the Conservatives, rendering him as something like a backbencher within his own party even when it was in the majority, and could righteously thunder out what Chamberlain was unwilling to face: that Britain would have to confront Hitler sooner or later. But here also Neill's historical analogies crash on some sharp rocks.

Churchill knew that Britain, even with the Commonwealth and the empire, couldn't go it alone and needed France, and ultimately, the U.S. He knew that the League of Nations was useless, but understood the importance of multilateralism; he knew that Britain could not unilaterally go after Germany. He knew too that if Britain had to face Germany alone it would be prepared to do it - but couldn't do it for long. He refrained from partisanship, worked with the Liberal and Labour opposition, held his nose with Stalin, and assembled the best he could within his cabinet to guide him through it. Even after all that, he was defeated by Attlee and Labour in 1945; and even after all that, he accepted the will of the electorate and made no move to extend his government with secret caveats or panicked self-serving justifications to suspend the normal functions of government just because the war was still on. (I'm not a huge Churchill fan, BTW; he could be pig-headed; he could be wrong. But I'm willing to recognize that he could be right at least most of the time)

Bush has demonstrated that he has understood none of the things Churchill did. The U.N., as imperfect as it is, has achieved far above and beyond what the League ever did in terms of leverege, moral approbrium, and - believe it or not - even force. Yet Bush did not draw on what could be done through the U.N., choosing to regard it as an obstacle. He permitted Rove to make fighting terrorism a partisan issue that excluded half of government, rewarding him with a totally useless cabinet position that is an election-fixing apparatus in disguise, alientated all those (intellectuals, ME regional experts, advisors, hell, even pundits) who showed they had a clue about what the ME is really all about, showed no signs of reigning in the noxiousness of a right-wing screaming media-machine whose rhetoric has bordered on the fascist, and set out to make enemies everywhere on a par rivaling what the insurgency could produce.

I could say more, but you get the picture. Sorry, but the 'best intentions' and 'we had our country's best interests at heart' line is pretty much spit and vinegar. We keep talking about what OUR interests are in Iraq as though that still meant something. But I think at this point, it'd be far more relevant to ask just what Iraqis want - if we care anymore about that democracy thing (so easy to forget, awot?).

Posted by: sekaijin at November 28, 2006 01:07 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I'm not drawing a parallel between Washington/Churchill on the one hand and Bush on the other. History, which is still playing out as we speak, will judge Bush.

Both Churchill and Washington, because of their perception of mortal threat and spirit in the face of it, provided leadership that was absolutely critical to the survival and flourishing of the society in which we currently bask.

Posted by: neill at November 28, 2006 04:36 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

How has the invasion and occupation of Iraq lessened the threat of an Al Qaida attack on the United States?

Posted by: Tom S. at November 28, 2006 04:37 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

How has the invasion and occupation of Iraq lessened the threat of an Al Qaida attack on the United States?

"Never interrupt your enemy while he is making a mistake." Napoleon.

When Bush did just exactly what al Qaeda wanted him to, al Qaeda stopped triggering terrorist attacks on the continental USA. Why should they distract Bush when he's already reacting so perfectly?

Posted by: J Thomas at November 28, 2006 05:30 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Of course, Washington and Churchill were fighting wars of liberation against foes who were militarily superior. So is Sistani Churchill? Al Sadr Washington? Discuss.

Posted by: Tom S at November 28, 2006 06:46 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I said:

"And, despite the real threats that terrorists do pose, they are still not the type of threat many are making them out to be. We have unfortunately gone from grossly underestimating their power and presence to grossly overestimating it."

To which Neill responded:

"You have no idea regarding this, nor do I."

But, actually, I do have some idea regarding this, as do many other people willing to take a look at empirical facts. You see, there's this thing called research and analysis that you can do to help you better estimate and understand real-life situations. It happens in laboratories, universities, and libraries every day. If only the neocons would try it sometime.

Dr. John Mueller, for example, has been critically analyzing the objective threat of terrorism for quite some time now. Case in point, "A False Sense of Insecurity?":

http://www.cato.org/pubs/regulation/regv27n3/v27n3-5.pdf

Posted by: Dan W. at November 28, 2006 09:42 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Oh, and on the lighter side, there's this little gem from Mr. Colbert:

http://www.crooksandliars.com/2006/11/28/colbert-catches-the-bushies-lying-with-his-tivo/

Posted by: Dan W. at November 29, 2006 07:44 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Every last word of the addendum by Greenwald can be applied directly, and with much more justice, to engagement with Iran and Syria. There is no sense in which the neo-cons are proud of the situation in Iraq, nor do they delight in it and seek a repeat elsewhere.

Iran and Syria, however, are another matter. They do delight very much in what they have managed to make of the situation in Iraq, and the brand new fires they're gleefully stoking in Lebanon are proof positive that "engaging" with them is not less than IDENTICAL to the analogy Greenwald is making. (After all, at least the neocons would very much like to see the fire put out, as it were.) I'm stunned our host was too blind to make the connection himself.

Look, I'm as frustrated and disgusted by the shabbiness of the End to Evil crowd's thought as anybody. But suggesting they revel in the hideous bloodbath in Iraq, and want to see it done again elsewhere, is just uncharitable and stupid.

Posted by: Sage at November 29, 2006 11:18 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Sage, they've lied so much about what they want and how they want to do it, that it's hard to be charitable now when we try to guess what they want. Sure, what we think they want for syria and iran is stupid. But their results in iraq were stupid. And they are indeed talking about attacking syria and iran, even now.

Given their history, it's hard to be too uncharitable to them. I mean, it's hard to be so uncharitable that it seems less than completely appropriate.

I think we ought to be merciful to individual neocons who show that their hearts are in the righit place. What they need to do is:

1. Acknowledge the harm they have done to the USA and to iraq.
2. Attempt to make amends for their harm using their personal fortunes.
3. Promise to never ever try to influence US foreign policy, never ever again.
4. Renounce US citizenship and apply for iraqi citizenship.
5. Emigrate to iraq.

At that point they deserve forgiveness.

Posted by: J Thomas at November 30, 2006 12:33 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Amen to that, J Thomas.

Posted by: sekaijin at November 30, 2006 07:08 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

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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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