August 25, 2004

Rumblings of Internecine Warfare Chez the Neo-Cons

It's Fukuyama vs. Krauthammer going at it (somewhere around about the third round)! Krauthammer calls a Fukuyama National Interest piece "breathtakingly incoherent." Fukuyama, in turn, described a Krauthammer speech (presumably this one) as "strangely disconnected from reality." We will have more on the Fukuyama-Krauthammer spat once Krauthammer pens his response (forthcoming in the pages of the National Interest).

Until then, a word of praise for Jeanne Kirkpatrick who has injected a little common-sensical wisdom into all of this:

Jeane Kirkpatrick, the former United Nations ambassador and another founder of the neoconservative movement, said she, too, had doubts about the invasion. But she didn't think the debate over the Iraq war was about neoconservatism.

"I think there's almost an epidemic of the use of the term," she said.

Amen, to that!

For one, of course, what Kirkpatrick means is that we didn't go to war in Iraq simply because Perle whispered so to Wolfy who whispered so to Rummy who did to Cheney who then got the Kid on board. There was the little matter of 9/11--a changed global security environment--and many people (including the author of this blog) believed that a prudential, realist analysis of the threat posed by Iraq (assuming chemical and bio capability as so many of us did) merited action on more traditional security grounds in the face of Saddam's refusal to abide by 1441 and his past trouble-making behavior (see people like Kissinger, James Baker and, er, John Kerry too).

But, all this aside, Kirkpatrick's little quip rang true for me on another level too.
These days, it too often appears, simply if you have the misfortune of believing that the robust projection of American power overseas constitutes, in the main, a beneficial force for stability in the international system--well, you come under suspicion of being a dreaded neo-con.

You're not a paleo, Scowcroftian Bush 41'er, Kissingerian realist or Kerryesque McGovernite?

Must be a (gasp) neo-con, then.

As we are all so well aware, the neo-cons are often described as a nefarious high-preisthood of like-minded souls busily going about doing Arik Sharon's bidding on the back of cretin Georgie (and all us hapless folks imbimbing all the jingo-talk on Fox). They are often the object of humorously over-heated speculation (Wurmser, Perle etc. wanting to restore the Hashimite monarchy back to Baghdad!ed. note: Informed Comment needs to get its story straight, as before said blog was screaming it was Chalabi they wished to install...) And, of course, we are told that they control the entire Bush war cabinet save Colin Powell and Dick Armitage.

For sure, post 9/11, there was doubtless a period of hawkish ascendancy in Washington. And, to be sure, people like Wolfowitz had more of an audience with tough-minded American nationalists like Cheney and Rummy than they might have had otherwise. But other voices, throughout, remained influential. Powell won quite a few quiet victories, for instance. Has his Department not outflanked the Pentagon, all told, on both Iran and NoKo policy (the issue of policy drift without adequate brokering from the NSC aside)?

The reality, of course, is much more complex. Well before this little Fukuyama-Krauthammer discord--neo-cons have shown they are not afflicted by boorish, Pavlovian group-think. Bill Kristol was a McCain guy; Perle more of a Bushie. Michael Leeden has different views on Iran policy than Rob Kagan. And so on.

So Kirkpatrick is right...too much talk about all these neo-cons! They don't control all of Washington. They argue among themselves. They have different opinions. They don't wish to restore the Hashimites to power in Baghdad.

Yes, they tend to be quite pro-Israel. Yes, they badly botched the post-war planning on Iraq because of "cakewalk" assumptions. Yes, they were not knowledgeable enough about the region and they disdained expert input from State to all of our detriment.

So, no, I'm not a water-carrier from them. But their views are important and often compelling. They are smart and dedicated individuals. You can bitch on and on about them if you like--but neo-cons have (on, say, Bosnia policy) taken quite noble stances in the past. And they're not simply going to disappear.

But if you insist on going on about them-better to analyze them after debunking some of the myths surrounding them and generally taking the temperature down a few degrees.

Or, even better, per Jeanne Kirkpatrick, we might even start talking about them a tad less!

NB: More, from a quite old B.D. piece, here (mostly addressing some gripes against the neos emitting from the paleo-con crowd...).

OK, Fukuyama and Krauthammer to follow...

Posted by Gregory at August 25, 2004 08:15 PM


You forget to throw in the Zionist Bankers' Conspiracy. That is de rigeur in any analysis of the dreaded neocon conspiracy to place the United States as vassal to the political career of Arik Sharon.

Watch the Skies!:-)

Posted by: section9 at August 26, 2004 12:47 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

well said.

another fabulous mirage that so many people believe in and repeat is:

that Bush is a tool of Arik AND/OR
the House of Saud -SIMULTANEOUSLY.


My Lefty friends believe both the Moore Lie about Saudi Arabia controlling the "Bush Crime Family" and that the Likud does, too.

This BREATH-TAKING incoherence is AB FAB!


Kerry is a PRO at spewing out diametrically opposed policies without batting an eye or blushing!

As in :

for troop deployment,
and against troop deployment;

against Kyoto (voted that way in 1998),
and for Kyoto;

for the Iraq War,
against it / for it,
but against the financing of it;

against the Wall,
for the Wall;

believes in Choice,
but believes life begins at conception;

says Viet Vets are war criminals worse than "Jenjis" Khan,
says all vets are heroes above any reproach - especially HIM;

decries an independent anti-Kerry group of Viet Vets (exercisng their free speech) as a GOP front,
while DNC 527's out raise the GOP 527's by better than 10-to-one (and he says nothing);

says he wss deep inside Cambodia when Nixon was president - (when Nixon wasn't president), and says that Nixon lied about it (when it was BOTH years later and an OVERT EXPLICT POLICY), and then retracts the length of his journey, the time of this journey, the purpose of his journey into Cambodia...


What is SO BIZARRE abiout this is that I KNOW that many of my Lefty friends have real, deep policy convictions. They really belive that Kyotio is a good treaty, for example. Which is why it puzzles me NO END that they can vote for a guy who has shown NO COMMITTMENT TO ANY POLICY - other than to get himself elected.

I guess that their hatred of Bush and his neo-con Likud Saudi buddies/controllers is so great AND SO IRRATIONAL that they'd support a proven liar who has no consistent policies on anything.

What do they think their gonna get if he's elected!?!?

It frightens me.

Kerry frightens me, and the willingness of the Left to support a liar who has no policy principles frightens me, too.

I expect Zell Miller to ne a great keynote speaker for thr GOP. Just like Jeanne Kirkpatrick was.

Ironically, 12 years ago - in that same venue: MSG - Miller nominated Clinton.

It was a GREAT speech. I wept at one point, and I remenber exactly what Zell said that made me weep. He said that one day while sitting on the porch (of the unheated, unelectrified, telephoneless N.W. Georgia "hillbilly" shack they called home) his momma told him:
"Look Zell. See that road down there in the hollow?"
"Yes, momma"
"Well, Zell, you can get anywhere you want to in the whole world on that road."

That's because that road was in America.

SPEAKING OF ROADS: Tell me, anyone out there:

Why is it that so many fine and bright and involved AND IMPORTANT politicians and public policy makers have gone on the SAME ROAD AS KIRKPATRICK AND MILLER?

Like the Rostows, Kristol, Podhoretz, Dechter, Wolfowitz, Perle, GEamm, Armey, Giuliani, Shelby, Campell, Alexander, and so on.

And I can name only Jeffords as having gone from GOP-> to ->DNC?

Posted by: dan at August 26, 2004 03:04 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

All of which is to avoid a very central point: the Krauthammer wing of the neoconservatives has been discredited.

Although these nutcases have a way of popping back up now and then after enormous screw-ups.

Ideological fanaticism breeds forgiveness, I suppose.

I'm recalling Perle's scuttling of Jewish emigration in the seventies, followed by his brilliant plan to get a lot of Russian defectors cornholed by the muj.

And yet, he's still around.


Posted by: praktike at August 26, 2004 01:56 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

You make a good point Greg, that the neo-conservative movement is not monolithic, but wouldn't that suggest that it is possible that Cole and others are right in asserting that some saw Chalabi as the logical choice for post-invasion leader, while others toyed with the notion of restoring the Hashemite monarchy? Perhaps there was even a plan for a constitutional monarchy with dual heads of state (it is a fact after all that Chalabi and his family have long standing ties to Hashemites in Iraq, Jordan and elsewhere in the region, so he may have touted his ability to accomplish such a move).

Still, I agree with praktike that there are more important revelations to be gleaned from this back and forth. Fukuyama's piece is quite coherent, and rather comprehensive. He exposes Krauthammer's weaknesses with meticulous detail. It is in fact a departure from reality to argue that the Krauthammer, Perle, Frum wing have not lost considerable credibility tilting the balance to the Fukuyamas and Kagans, and the others who are more amenable to multilateral approaches, less credulous about the military's abilities to re-cast nations, less convinced about the wisdom of the policies of Sharon, etc.

Posted by: Eric Martin at August 26, 2004 04:08 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Eric -

One point that distinguishes Fukuyama from Krauthammer and Podhoretz is that Fukuyama is making empirical claims whereas the latter two are making moral claims.

That their moral claims have only a tenuous relationship with the facts on the ground does not seem to bother them.

That's why they keep popping back up, I suppose.

Posted by: praktike at August 26, 2004 07:47 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

So Fukuyama hates America?

Posted by: Eric Martin at August 26, 2004 08:16 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

But seriously, I think the detachment from reality is stubborn and intractable. How else do you explain this quote from the newly drafted Republican platform:

Iraq "is now becoming an example of reform to the region."

I much prefer Fukuyama's empircal approach. The one that takes an honest, objective appraisal of the situation, and draws its conclusions based on that analysis. The bottom line is that a theory or hypothesis can have all the appeal and cachet in the world, but if it doesn't work, it just doesn't work.

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