January 17, 2004
About Those Neocons: Thinking Again, or Just Wondering?
by Karen Kwiatkowski
The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace just published WMD in Iraq: Evidence and Implications. To paraphrase that lovable old Don Rumsfeld, the report summarizes what we knew, what we said about what we knew, what we imagined, what we said about what we imagined, and most significantly, what we didn’t say but strongly insinuated to the Congress and the American people about what we knew not and only hopefully imagined.
As the academics and politicians relax with after-dinner cigars and drinks, they may peruse at their leisure CEIP’s findings, which track closely with what I saw inside the five-sided asylum in the last two years:
* Iraq WMD was not an immediate threat
* Inspections were working
* Intelligence failed and was misrepresented
* Terrorist connection missing
* Post-war WMD search ignored key resources
* War was not the best – or only – option
Well, who really cares, right? So what if we lied about WMD, misled as to "war on terrorism" objectives, and wasted well over $200 billion we didn’t have, deployed 150,000 troops, and killed over 500 of them (so far and not counting suicides, or the thousands maimed) unnecessarily. Look at the bright side – on March 24, George W. Bush confiscated Iraqi bank and national financial assets, including assets of the oil ministry. On May 22, George W. Bush became the proud new administrator of the Iraqi Development Fund, and future oil sales that would feed it. On August 28, George W. Bush made sure that all additional government and Ba-ath official property be transferred into the Fund. All Iraqi oil sales are back in dollars too. We broke it, we bought it, we switched it back to dollars.
I wonder, in signing these and other executive orders seizing property, if Dubya was reminded of the good old days, when he and his partners "used Arlington’s [municipal] powers to condemn the land for the [Ranger’s] stadium, and relied on taxpayers to repay the bonds sold to build the Ballpark." After the stadium was completed, the increased "value" was pocketed when Bush and partners sold the team for $250 million in 1998 to Tom Hicks, who later merged with another Bush buddy, Lowry Mays to expand the media conglomerate Clear Channel.
I guess some "businessmen" are just more equal than others.
But back to the idea of "Thinking Again." The CEIP also publishes a bi-monthly called Foreign Policy, and it has a regular myth-busting corner called "Think Again." The current issue features my pal, Max Boot, who is thinking again about neocons.
Max says he is a neo-conservative, calls neo-conservatism a movement, and calls neoconservatives "hard-Wilsonians." Max thinks neocons are "targeting" North Korea and Iran next. Targeting for regime change, he means.
Max "knows" that "the Iranian and North Korean peoples want to be free." I am not sure if he means "as free as an Iraqi" or perhaps "as free as a bird." Maybe he means that freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose. If so, the Iraqis are getting pretty damn free, given that we own the oil, the government resources, the Ba-ath elite’s resources, and we handpicked their governing council and are denying elections.
Max also thinks that some widely held allegations about neocons are wrong. He says neocons are not "liberals mugged by reality" but are actually just good old American "hawks." Natural born birds of prey, as it were.
Max believes that almost everyone confuses the moniker of "neocon" as "Jew." He says this is done because people are malicious, and then Max proceeds to list the dozens of neocons who are not going to the synagogue. I think this would be even more effective if he would list the number of Jewish neocons who also haven’t seen the inside of a synagogue in a while. Fact is, 80% of American Jews are appalled at the neo-hawkish warmongering emanating from the mouths and pens of neocons. Many significant critics of neo-conservatism are well-studied and ethically minded Jews, including many rabbis. Some of the very best critiques and discussion of neo-conservatism in America, and its impacts in the Middle East, are regularly published by Israeli daily Haaretz. A classic explanation and discussion of the neocon-designed invasion of Iraq is entitled "White Man’s Burden," by Ari Shavit, in Haaretz last April.
Max also thinks it is crazy that a few people – maybe even only Paul Wolfowitz – with only a few impoverished thinktanks behind them (AEI, PNAC, the Olin, Bradley and Smith-Richardson Foundations) can create and control American foreign policy. He says neocons have been "relatively influential" only because their arguments are so good, not their connections. That’s probably why Dick Cheney placed so many previously connected thinktank guys in key positions at the Pentagon, within his own office, and in parts of the State Department so as to more easily roll those who weren’t convinced of the wisdom of those good neo-con arguments.
Funny how there are no female neocons. He mentions Jeanne Kirkpatrick, although she’s written nothing seriously promoting the neocon agenda of imperialism in the past several years. I guess some neocons are also more equal than others.
Max also denies that neocons are unilateralists, or Manichean simpletons who cherish the idea of noble lies and the stealthy practice of electoral politics by other means. Well, of course they aren’t unilateralist or Manichean–if you are with them, then you are certainly not against them.
He mentions the noble lie, Plato’s governing elite, contempt for common people and their choices. Of course, these three are nothing at all like the Iraqi liberation experience, the "Governing Council," and the denial of Iraqi elections and the disregard for the United States Congress. Not at all.
The last issue Max brings up is the success or failure of the war in Iraq. He says the war and occupation are flawed only because neocons were not allowed to be completely in charge of every detail. But alas, there are so few of them! Max says neocons are hankering for an even larger American military and military-industrial complex, and presumably one that is actively engaged in promoting a forward national agenda. How we miss you, General Butler.
Concluding, he says, "The continuing U.S. casualties are lamentable, but the losses so far are low by the standards of guerrilla wars – far fewer than the 500 soldiers the British lost in putting down a previous Iraq insurgency in 1920." Excuse me? Is this a typo?
Lamentable losses, he says.
Neoconservatives in both major political parties are still excited by their Bush-given opportunities, and still cozy in their safe officialdom. They evangelize our Constitution abroad, even as their program demands increasing constitutional breaches at home. Foreign Policy will think again on other subjects. Maybe next time they can challenge the old assumption that crime doesn’t pay.
Karen Kwiatkowski [send her mail] is a recently retired USAF lieutenant colonel, who spent her final four and a half years in uniform working at the Pentagon. She now lives with her freedom-loving family in the Shenandoah Valley.