Cher Condi, crawls back to D.C. today empty handed. Doubtless chagrined that her PR, Karen Hughes and compliant American media can not deliver the photo op she expected. American media, almost unthinkingly pro-Israeli, is complicit in the unspoken (and heatedly denied when challenged) political assumption that an Israeli life is worth more (and more worthy) than “the dark people”. The rest of the world, unburdened by such assumptions, sees the ground truth in media that is less biased.
Let us concede that Rice's concern for the loss of life in Lebanon is sincere. And her emotional reaction genuine. (Although which emotion was more ascendant — empathy for the dead Lebanese or anger over Israeli efforts to pretend the attack did not happen until she herself raised it? — is unclear to the Stiftung). Nonetheless, she can not escape her official complicity (her personal views may differ) by obstructing the immediate cease fire.
Elements in Israel, the Neocons and the Cheney/OSD complex urge re-doubled military operations. Under their twisted logic of Force, there is no alternative. Hezbollah is the winner as of today. Olmert was manipulated into rolling the dice and it came up snake eyes. They do not grasp that more military operations will only accelerate Hezbollah's political victory in a radicalized and destabilized Lebanon. In domestic American terms, seeking more force is tempting. The siren call of a proxy war with Iran is still potent, particularly when commingled with untutored American theological and electoral embrace of Israel.
We hold no brief for Hezbollah. Nor any illusions about their ambitions or sponsors. But this current bungled Israeli campaign, and the subordination of American interests to Israeli, benefits neither the U.S. nor even Israel itself.
Rice in any event is a poor steward or banner carrier for the Realist perspective. For all the reasons we have written about here previously. Her stated objectives of a “lasting peace” or “sustainable peace” are still essentially transformative and a watered down version of grandiose social engineering delusions of 2002-2004. Her PR cult of personality aside, the intellectual mish mash of her thinking remains comical. In the past 4,000 years, every crisis du jour represented the chimera of a “turning point” and an “opportunity”. All her facile verbosity can not mask her essential lack of fundamental vision or understanding. Instead, what she brings back to Washington today is the pragmatism born of coffee klatch unpopularity.
Which is still better than nothing. Maybe it is even enough to prevent this defeat today from becoming even bigger.
A Haydon's visceral loathing for subordination to such dimwitted mediocrity as the Bush regime doubtless would be even more intense. But his stunted pyschology, misanthropy and related pressures would actually be far easier for him to rationalize. Oxbridge Rule of the Waves is a distant memory. ' Viability' has an entirely different context - and is in fact the entire rationale for Blair's Washington policy. Haydon-esque critiques of the Bush Administration and Unipolar America would actually probably disappoint him — rather than unique and subversive, they are down right conventional. And to a narcissist like Haydon, that would be doubly appalling.
The appearance had the effect of once more uniting Bush and Blair in a partnership against allies on a sensitive Middle East issue. Other world leaders are looking for more aggressive pressure on Israel to halt the offensive against Hezbollah that it launched after the militant group staged a cross-border raid last month, kidnapping two Israeli soldiers and killing eight others . . . U.S. officials — mindful of the political difficulties the situation is creating for Blair at home — said the prime minister has been influential in helping to convince the president that the idea makes sense as a way of helping the Lebanese government reestablish authority.
So once again, Blair surrenders his 'moral clarity' that Lebanon was a catastrophe, that an immediate cease fire is required, and parrots the Bush line. In return for? The sobriquet 'Yo' and chance to sit at the American table. Smiley could not help but be appalled. But perhaps, he might muse, wiping his glasses with his tie, one must cut the deal that one can. And sigh.
Looking for some concise, sane and informed analysis of the Middle East chaos? Who isn't.
You might do well to check out our friend, Dr. Leon Hadar of CATO and author of the book Sandstorm. Leon was the guest and subject of a CATO policy book forum today. He was joined by a panel featuring Jim Pinkerton of Newsday and Fox News, as well as Geoff Kemp, nee Reagan NSC staff for Middle Eastern Affairs and currently with the Nixon Center. Christopher Preble, Director of Foreign Policy Studies for CATO, served as the able emcee.
Leon's innovative analysis has earned strongly positive reviews from James Fallows, Middle East Review, Foreign Affairs and others. That trend continued today with both Jim and Geoff Kemp.
In short, Leon advocates the United States abandon the prison of the outmoded Cold War paradigm mandating massive (and counter-productive) U.S. engagement in the Mid East in favor of a gradual disengagement and discernment of true U.S. national interest. You can get more info via the link to the reviews of Leon's book at Amazon. Over on the left there.
When Krauthammer et al. are clamoring for the U.S. to “go ashore”, Leon and as endorsed today by both Jim Pinkerton and Geoff Kemp, counsels doing the precise opposite. Leon and the commentators today at CATO all of course recognize that such “disengagement” and sloughing off the old Cold War paradigm will take time and must be done gradually. But all note that what is going on over there emphatically is NOT “our war” and other such AgitProp falsehoods.
I couldn't find a video of the event on the CATO site or I would link it here. Perhaps it is forthcoming. Leon, as you may know, is also very funny and the presentation today crackled with some wry humor. I second Geoff Kemp's recommendation today that Leon definitely should continue the analysis in a further work exploring alternative political architectures that would support such gradual disengagement.
You might want to consider picking up Sandstorm. For two reasons, actually. First, Leon's books and columns on the Middle East over the years have a rare almost prescient quality. And secondly, analysis oddly reminiscent to Leon's somehow seems to pop up under other bylines now and then — so you might as well get the 100% genuine undiluted stuff straight from the source.
Kudos to CATO, Leon and the commentators today on a terrific event.
Conservative national security allies of President Bush are in revolt against Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, saying that she is incompetent and has reversed the administration’s national security and foreign policy agenda.
The conservatives, who include Newt Gingrich, Richard Perle and leading current and former members of the Pentagon and National Security Council, have urged the president to transfer Miss Rice out of the State Department and to an advisory role. They said Miss Rice, stemming from her lack of understanding of the Middle East, has misled the president on Iran and the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The Neocons do have a point. She is incompetent. But her sin in their eyes is a different sort — clueless staffer that she is, she has not fully grasped The Program, which is to do more than take Hezbollah down a notch. She may think that she is presiding over a client state Koniggratz.
No wonder she lacks enthusiasm for this trip. Not only because the U.S. is so isolated in our opposition to a cease fire. Her room for maneuver has been clipped by the Cheney/DoD/Israel nexus. She is on rails set by others. This was clear by her welcome in Israel, where Olmert greeted her mission with a speech of unabashed bellicosity and commitment to further violence. Not even a sop to the Saudi concerns that the street is running away from the Arabs glad to see Iran deflected. Her “umbrella” mantra to work requires that Israel achieve its military objectives relatively soon. The prospects are not encouraging. Once more Neocon arrogance that force of arms could remake the map is again proving hubristic.
A week ago, Israeli officials said their military had knocked out up to half of Hezbollah’s rocket launchers and suggested that another week or two would finish the job of incapacitating the Lebanese militia. That talk has largely stopped . . . “Two weeks after Israel set out to defeat Hezbollah, its military achievements are pretty limited,” lamented Yoel Marcus, a columnist and supporter of the war, in the daily Haaretz on Tuesday.
This operation is already overlong. Israeli airpower failed its promises for fast and precise victory; ground casualties are beginning to mount. Was the UN strike an accident? Or was it the Liberty? In any event, it serves the purpose of forcing potential international contributors to a stabilizing force additional pause. A pause which buys Israel more needed time. Because as it stands now, a cease fire is a Hezbollah victory. And absent dramatic surgical decapitation strikes, it is hard to see how Israel turns this misguided campaign into a military victory, let alone a political one.
Postscript: But at least the Israelis are fighting. See this pathetic item from Republican flack/President of Foundation for Defense of Democracies Cliff May. A little background is needed. KLo over at NRO wrote a review of the Oliver Stone movie about 9/11 and mentioned this is “why we fight”. She was challenged by an emailer who noted she is not fighting and not serving. KLo sensibly apologized. May rebuked her, noting that typing is just as valid as fighting in this war. By that standard, Kristol would be Pappy Boyington.
More later today about Condi's failed ballet and Maliki's confessional to Bush. But in the interim, we give you this entertainment:
Can a European be a Neo-Conservative?
August 14, 2006, 4:00 PM - 5:40 PM - Hudson Institute, Washington, D.C. Headquarters
Monday, August 14, 2006
Douglas Murray, author of the just-published book “Neo-Conservatism: Why We Need It” (Encounter Books) will debunk the myth that a European is either a liberal or a paleo-conservative. The term “neo-conservatism” is usually viewed as an American construct, but Murray will explain how it crosses the pond quite successfully. Drawing on his book, Murray will argue why America and Europe need a neo-conservative foundation for their respective foreign policies, discussing issues such as the historical rise of neo-conservatism and the centrality of the Iraq war to the 21st century.
Douglas Murray is also the author of Bosie: A Biography of Lord Alfred Douglas, a bestselling biography published while Murray was still an undergraduate at Oxford. Murray appears regularly on BBC and lectures throughout Europe and the United States on the War on Terror, Islam and Europe, interventionism and the ongoing culture wars.
Faint calls for Bush's resignation so far are quixotic. We have not heard any talk within the grapevine. Anatol Lieven in the LA Times writes“The Bush administration's plan to bring democracy to the Middle East is now in ruins. In a nation where political responsibility still counted for something, the architects of that strategy would be forced to resign.” The ominous thought of 2 years of President Cheney may have something to do with that, too. Lieven concludes:
The neoconservatives who shaped Bush's “strategy” toward the Middle East always embodied a quite Orwellian contradiction. On the one hand, they professed to believe that early democracy is possible for the Middle East and that it would solve the region's problems, including the Israeli-Arab dispute. On the other hand, many made no secret of their belief that, as neocon scholar Michael Ledeen has written (quoting Machiavelli), “it is better to be feared than loved.” Raphael Patai, whose book “The Arab Mind” influenced neoconservative thinking, argues that Arabs chiefly respond to the language of force.
But as the experience of Israel shows, rejecting compromise and relying mainly on force leads only to endless conflict. Now that the U.S. dream of combining democratization of the region with submission to Washington's policies is dead, the U.S. too is faced with a stark choice: seek genuine compromise with key regional actors, or be prepared to fight repeated wars.
3) It seems that the WMD were hidden meme is gaining steam again. Conservative 'Movement' types are now again claiming that Saddam hid his WMD in the Bekka Valley and warning that Hezbollah will use them on Israel. (Ya just can't make this stuff up — or maybe ya can, which is exactly the point). We'll see if anyone of the Hoekstra mold has the temerity to run with it in public.
4) And finally, unfortunately for the Victor Davis Hansons of the world, the Israeli difficulty in identifying and destroying the Hezbollah infrastructure with complete air superiority shows the limits of stand off airpower tactics. The Iranian challenge would be infinitely more daunting. The first of what may be a very small, too expensively gained and unintended silver linings in this misguided operation.
Victor Davis Hanson is easy to mock. We all do it. One of the few guilty pleasures over these past sordid years.
Yet there is no denying that he has an impact. As I mentioned before, a staff member in EOVP told the Stiftung that Cheney came up with the absurd notion that the insurgents are on their last legs because VDH mentioned to him that the kamikazes, which made their debut in the 1944 Battle of Leyte Gulf, were a sign of how desperate Japanese Naval Air Aviation had become. Admiral Takijiro Onishii conceived of the kamikazes as a last resort in the face of overwhelming American power and otherwise inevitable victory. Thus, the rise of suicide bombers in Iraq naturally to these wunderkind meant the same thing. Only it doesn't, of course.
Is the staff member right? I don't know. But it fits.
And so we see VDH, cheerfully riding er, shotgun, alongside Cheney's more profound weltpessimismus also is a regular at various briefings, fora and presentations across the national security complex — from military venues such as NDU to the permanent hybrid Homsecdef complex of the Booz Allens, SAIC, CSC, etc. So his romantic, ahistorical simplicities get around.
His latest invocation to Mars at NRO is simply Spinal Tap-esque. He begins with a ritualistic cadence of strawman questions to rouse the Neocon keyboardists to ardor, violence and le petit mort. All wrapped up in his confession that these urges are “secret”. “A Strange War: Israel is at last being given an opportunity to unload on jihadists” is like a Greatest Hits repackaged CD of his bizarro HistoriMilPorn. The images are clear: “unload”, “nooses around necks”, and so on. And the errors are vast, the need for “release” through violence undeniable as is the fixation on “honor” and similar nostrums. VDH even manages to toss in a reference to the Rhine — although he may not have intended images of Varus coming to mind.
A society in the grip of Agitprop governance always speaks in code, dissasscociated metaphor and ultimately, dishonesty. The reasons are simple. Code amplifies emotional manipulation of the politically passive. Code also eases secure communication among the manipulators — signalling new AgitProp directions, winners and losers in intra policy debates, etc. And joint participation in the falsehoods removes the external objective standard of morality — necessary for the narrative agility needed to obscure loathed Reality. Marxism-Lenism, Mao-ism, Koresh and so on.
“It is Topic A of every single conversation,” said Danielle Pletka, vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, a think tank that has had strong influence in staffing the administration and shaping its ideas. “I don't have a friend in the administration, on Capitol Hill or any part of the [neo — sic] conservative foreign policy establishment who is not beside themselves with fury at the administration.”
In Philadelphia there is a small think tank called The Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI). It has a long and venerable history in the intellectual history of the Cold War. Richard Bissell landed there post defenistration from the Agency courtesy of Bay of Pigs. And many others that we now think of as familiar personalities came from FPRI.
One almunus is Daniel Pipes. Pipes is recently prominent post 2000 for the Institute of Peace struggle and his unvarnished Neocon advocacy. Yet while Pipes can be predictable to a certain degree, othertimes, he surprises (angers?) his comrades in arms. Such is the case today.
In “Israel's Unnecessary War”, Pipes seemingly argues against the Israeli military operations underway against Hamas and Hezbollah. Yet he doesn't fully. Instead, he claims the current operations should be unnecessary but for Israel's abandonment of hard won fear and deterrence for measly negotiations. But his deterrence approach is significant. It is a break from the Likudite permanent subjugation of Arab and Palestinian untermensch notions.
Decades of hard work before 1993 won Israel the wary respect of its enemies. In contrast, episodic displays of muscle have no utility. Should Israel resume the business-as-usual of appeasement and retreat, the present fighting will turn out to be a summer squall, a futile lashing-out. By now, Israel’s enemies know they need only hunker down for some days or weeks and things will go back to normal, with the Israeli left in obstructionist mode, the government soon proffering gifts, trucking with terrorists, and yet again in territorial retreat.
Deterrence cannot be reinstated in a week, through a raid, a blockade, or a round of war. It demands unwavering resolve, expressed over decades. For the current operations to achieve anything for Israel beyond emotional palliation, they must presage a profound change in orientation. They must prompt a major rethinking of Israeli foreign policy, a junking of the Oslo and disengagement paradigms in favor of a policy of deterrence leading to victory.
(Btw, if the animations on this site don't quite look right in your browser (as opposed to being good, that's a whole 'nother story), you likely need to update your Flash player with the latest version here - AOL users in particular should do this. If your Flash player is not updated, the animation will not work properly. One way you can tell if your plug in is up to date is if you can see Kristol above).
And even if this misguided militarism might somehow partially redeem itself by the end and somehow serve Israeli interests (and we don't think the campaign will), Israeli interests are not necessarily ours.
There was a time when U.S. political and media leadership were able to make that distinction.
P.S. To the Condi Cheerleader Club (and you know who you are), we notice you have been reticent about all this and cher Condi's role (or lack thereof).
P.P.S. And no, this is not “anti-Semitic”. De facto or by intent. Although doubtless it will strike some of the more fervent believers as such. But then, anything less than 100% support for their views is usually sufficient to merit that charge.
(a) the true Neocon concern has always been first and foremost about Power. The freedom and democracy cant a tool, a political 'wedge' — first against the Sovs, then against the hated Arabs and Palestinians (and a very distant third, the Asians such as North Korea and China). Pretext.
It is a mistake in our opinion to spend overlong rebutting the silly nostrum that democracies are not warlike, wage wars of aggression, or even more limitedly, do not attack each other. That canard was an AgitProp meme. It will be discarded when convenience or opportunity presents itself for furthering the true goal of Power. (Of course, some essentially propogandists or flacks or shills may actually believe the line — Ken Adelman in an earlier generation, the NRO and Weekly standard pups today. But they are merely flaks, despite their mistaken self importance. And should the line change, they will as well).
(b) Israel, of course, now more or less concedes that this operation has been long planned. How could they not when the operation is so wholly disproportionate? But their actions have turned the minor hostage taking into a regional crisis, possibly destroying the nascent Lebanonese democracy, certainly destroying Lebanon's civil infrastructure, undermining if not destroying a duly elected goverment in Palestine.
(c) The U.S. government's blatant refusal to defuse this aggression, its green light to Israel, and subordination of other strategic priorities to Israeli-decided timetables reveals that it is not just the Neocons who are hypocrites. But states, let alone Great Powers, often must be. Pretext.
The real discussion should be what are the legimitate U.S. national interests in this happening now? And in this manner? Aside from interests as perceived by those surrounding the weak Olmert there. Or their counterparts here.
Reducing Hezbollah's influence in Lebanon is a reasonable 'good' in strategic and political terms even from the U.S perspective. But the Israeli aggression as unfolding currently does not seem wise — even in its long term interests — nor destined to achieve even its stated and limited goals. The actions with regard to Gaza even less so.
(We do not subscribe to the Massoud analogy circulating in certain negative implication fantasist circles (see post below for definition) — that Israel is striking Hezbollah and Gaza now to clear the decks for forthcoming U.S. action against Iran or Syria).
Kagan replaying the 2002-2003 songbook shows the empty cupboards in that camp. Mercifully he stops short of his Oprahism of Mars and Venus again. Either way, not going to fly. But his choir certainly needs all the buck ups they can find.
And the Bard of Fresno again complains that Bush's problems are poor communications. Even at this late day. And eerily he squeeks that Bush (unspoken but implict like another regime in the past) failed to mobilize the American people properly for Total War. We don't know if Vic visits the Stiftung — we doubt it, we lack the martial pomp and play parade ground glitter he thrives on — but he again today justified Bush's Schmittean authoriarianism by citing approvingly Lincoln's suspension of habeus corpus and Wilson's arrest of Eugene Debbs as positive precedent for further radicalization here at home.
Let's agree that Israel's wholly disproportionate and possibly reckless response to Hamas and Hezbollah doubtless is providing an additional stimulant to those seeking a return to 2002-2005.
But the world has moved on, even if they haven't. We know the 2002 songs.
What of emerging fissures in the pro-war ranks? Of those initially supporting (trusting?) the Administration on Iraq? Like Gaul, we think they are divided into three.
The Honest Intellectuals
There aren't many. Lawrence Kaplan is a good representative of the few. Before March 2003, Kaplan was a fierce theoretical supporter of OIF. He embraced the imperative of sweeping strategic re-engineering of the region through force of arms and American imposed socio-political transformation. Yet Kaplan always remained even then not wholly disconnected to empirical realities. So it's not really surprising that he now concludes that mission was an impossibility —
(a) regardless whether the State Department ran the occupation planning instead of Feith;
(b) regardless whether Franks did not throw out Zinni's post combat force plan for the occupation troop levels;
(c) and regardless of tactics such as whether the Marines went into Fallujah immediately without a halt, etc.
Kaplan's recent items over at TNR discussed by Andrew Sullivan here are revealing. We thank Andrew for citing our Truman item below on his blog. He called us cranky but often interesting. We'll look into the cranky thing.
Kaplan's “At the end of the war, the Army digs in” is a well done sociological appraisal of the U.S. Army day-to-day in Iraq, disconnected with political debates at home. The Army has been left holding the bag. And they have no choice but to embrace empirical realities.
The anatomy of this universe, as much as anything that happens in it, points to an essential truth about the Iraq war: It has a momentum of its own. This much becomes clear even in Kuwait, where, at a desert air base, hundreds of soldiers line up in front of signs announcing flights to Speicher, Q-West, and other bases in Iraq. It is after midnight, but, from the other side of the base, the golden arches of McDonald's still glow in the sky. “When it gets built up like this, it's the surest sign you're going to lose,” a contractor who served in Vietnam tells me, alluding to the wasted years that must elapse before this sort of infrastructure can come into being . . .
The Army may have created its own universe in Iraq, but the outside world does intrude. The one arena where Washington does so regularly is the numbers game. In fairness, the Bush administration has only bad options: It can either maintain force levels in Iraq and face political ruination at home, or it can bring the troops home and watch Iraq burn. Most officers have resigned themselves to drawdowns proceeding without condition and regardless of consequence. “No one's going to 'pull' brigades out of Iraq,” says one field grade officer. “It'll be over when they leave but don't get replaced.” In the Pentagon's desire to hold up the deployment of additional brigades, he says, one may glimpse the future of the country the Army now calls home. There is none.
Missing from Kaplan's two TNR pieces? It's not the mea culpa that Josh Marshall seems to want now, today. Worse, does anyone really have the stomach to see (let alone trust) a David Horowitz transformation in reverse in July 2006? And besides, Kaplan has moved on to the China “problem”. We note at the close below that this mess will be with us for a long time. Plenty of opportunity for Kaplan to redeem himself with good works.
No, for today our question is more narrow. What Kaplan stops just short of is the essential Charlie Moskos-like sociological analysis. What will the Army's experience in Iraq mean for civil-military relations and defense policy back home, post OIF. That story has not started. And will not end for years to come.
Their name is Legion, for the obvious reasons. Usually they are political operatives, pundits or hangers on with no direct military or even policy making experience. There are alot of them. The meme is simple, emotionally satisfying, easily learned, repeated, etc. The rewards for joining 'the team' are immediate.
Today, Marshall Wittmann will serve as a representative as much as anyone. Responding to Harold Meyerson's rather mild column in the WaPo explaining why Lieberman is challenged in his primary, Wittmann promises retribution.
Sometimes we all need an accepted voice to state the obvious. The proverbial Goldwater visit with Nixon. With Iraq, could Barry McCaffery be the one?
Sure, he's now one consultant out of throngs. And he gilds words, basking in recent audiences with Bush and the “brilliant” Stephen Hadley. Yet still, aspects of the blunt operational commander remain. People remember that if Schwarzkopf and others had not overruled him, McCaffery was poised to obliterate the Republican Guard in '91. He needed only 1 more day. His assessments thus carry great weight across the political spectrum.
He's just back from Iraq and Afghanistan. Brian Williams revealed this morning on IMUS that McCaffery conducted an alarming briefing for the NBC News team Monday. Williams reported that McCaffery indicated his view that the wars, from Afghanistan to Iraq to Somalia are fast spinning out of control. Williams said the assessment fundamentally affected how he and his newscast are reporting on Iraq.
How could it not? NBC's own reporting made it all clear. Aside from the self evident rising cresendo of death squad murders, suicide explosions and chaos ,this item from CNN’s Nick Robertson stands out:
“One international official told me of reports among his staff that a 15-year-old girl had been beheaded and a dog’s head sewn on her body in its place; and of a young child who had had his hands drilled and bolted together before being killed.”
Now, first things first. Emery's piece is not a total historical hack job. Emery makes one point. Beinart and Klein are delusional in proclaiming “the belief that Harry Truman, and Franklin Roosevelt before him, were not just liberals who made good foreign policy, but that they made good foreign policy because they were liberals, and that thus only liberals can make good foreign policy judgments.”
After that non-revisionist start, Emery then jumps the rails and careens into a weird amalgram of peevish defensiveness — mostly about Taft Republicans, McCarthy, Dulles and rollback (rejected by Ike) but also Nixon — and outright historical fabrication and ignorance.
Emery whitewashes history to link Bush to Truman. Unfortunately, Truman emphatically was not a triumphalist nationalist. Truman also emphatically rejected pre-emption and unilateralism. Central to the foreign policy consensus that lasted from 1947-1973 was in fact an actual circumspection about American engagement abroad. It was the Europeans who begged America back with NATO in 1949 after the British guarantee to Western Europe with the Brussels Pact was insufficient. It was British collapse in the Med in 1947 and their promptings to Washington that goaded limited American assumption of the British role there. The Berlin Airlift of 1948 was a proportional and limited response. Ike did not respond to Hungry in 1956. (Emery omits all this entirely).
If anything, the closest to Bush today was Kennedy's imprudent “bear any burden” boasting, a far cry from Truman. And whether Kennedy would have pulled back from Vietnam is an unknown, but his uncertainty about it is not. Bush is actually far closer to LBJ than any of them. Not only for the obvious parallel to fighting a dubious war unrelated to core American strategic interests. But also for using that war to enact a sweeping social re-ordering at home, comcomitant with radical, World Historical fiscal recklessness.
Emery is correct, however, in linking Bush's universalist fantasies with 1980 in one respect. As noted, then a cadre of Scoop Jackson Democrats (ahem, the dreaded Neocon word conveniently omitted here) helped transform Republican foreign policy thinking. But what Emery misses is that while Reagan intuitively understood the power of ideas and American idealism in waging the Cold War, in practice, the Reagan Administration was far more practical and even 'realist' than Emery probably understands.
Neocon battles to hijack Truman at issue here parallel their equally fierce struggle to grab Reagan's legacy. But back to Harry.
Emery's historical funny mirror knows not distortional bounds. Emery equates Iraq with the June 1950 suprise conventional invasion of South Korea with Soviet assistance. “Korea, in fact, is Iraq on steroids, a compendium of every complaint that the liberals bring against Bush and his administration”. Emery goes farther, citing Barone “The United States suddenly found itself at war with an utterly alien foe, led by men of whom it knew nothing, and with whom it was in no communication, and backed by virtually unlimited reserves of manpower. . . . The decision to go north of the 38th parallel, coupled with the decision not to cross the Yalu . . . put the U.S. forces in peril and raised the possibility of broader and even nuclear war.”
Note that Emory omits the crucial fact that Stalin and North Korea launched that conventional invasion, not the U.S. Truman waged that war under UN auspices, as well. It was MacArthur, not Truman, who recklessly went to the Yalu. And it was MacArthur, not Truman, who wanted to start atomic war with China during the retreat.
No WMD in Iraq? No plan for insurgency? No plan for occupation? No link between al Qaeda and Saddam, a secular opponent of radical Islam? No audit of the billions squandered (Truman ran the Senate Committee against war fraud)? Well, to Emery, Goldberg and JPod, this cluster f*ck is the same as Korea. Ergo, ipso facto, Truman would have conducted a false Agitprop campaign in 2002 to manufacture a war of choice and bungle it too ! See? They are the same!
Emery closes the appallingly ignorant piece by wrapping Bush into Truman's role at WW II's end. Emery (apparently) is too ignorant of history to know that Truman had nothing to do with Curtis LeMay's low level incendiary attacks on Tokyo. Those raids, which Emery cites approvingly, killed far, far more Japanese than the atomic attacks. Nonetheless, Emery piles that body count on the Truman ledger too. The point? To deliberately conflate the current mismanaged and bungled action against Islamic insurgents with the mass mobilization total war of WW II.
Emery even drags Lincoln back into it (needed because, after all, his suspension of habeus corpus is essential to Bush self image of historical justification). The charade ends with this insult to history and intellect:
Truman showed here the relentlessness he [Truman] shared with Lincoln and Roosevelt; the will to do what one must to save one's people, in the knowledge that sometimes men who do not like to kill are forced and obliged to kill in great numbers, to make sure that cruel and evil regimes do not flourish and that those who like killing do not rule the earth.
Emery, “magnificent”? Appalling and intellectually dishonest.
Let's recap: Hoekstra was mad at Bush for keeping him out of the loop, and he warned the president about expanding the bloated intelligence capability [under Negroponte]. But he thinks the CIA is laced with politically-minded plotters who hold unfounded beliefs (such as there were no operational links between Saddam and
Osama bin Laden) [Kappes et al.] and who are working to thwart the national security policies of the nation. In Washington's version of Spy Verus Spy, it can be difficult to know which--if any--side to cheer.
It is actually quite simple. The oversight committees on the Hill are broken. Hoekstra is over his head and ill-equipped to be the Chair of an active oversight mechanism — which is exactly why he is there. Out of the loop, he gorges himself on spoon fed fringe theories and AgitProp memes coming from AEI. Yet what he says reverberates even in Cairo. The White House quite justifiably treats all of this with brusque contempt and barely concealed loathing at the Hill's weakness, even weakness that it induces and which serves the White House well.
Frank J. Gaffney Jr., the firebrand director of the Center for Security Policy, has developed an anti-Norquist presentation, complete with charts and graphs, that he has shopped around to other conservatives, saying it shows Norquist's ties to terrorist sympathizers.
“This is the perfect moment to get the truth, because guys like Abramoff . . . have a powerful incentive to cooperate and get out the truth. At the very least, the questions should be asked,” Gaffney said.
At issue is the Islamic Free Market Institute, which Norquist created in 1998 to steer Muslim voters to the GOP. To run the institute, Norquist tapped Khaled Saffuri, whose dealings with the American Muslim Council linked him to Abdurahman M. Alamoudi, a founder of the council, who pleaded guilty in 2004 to accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars from top Libyan officials and admitted participating in a Libyan plot to assassinate then-Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.
Norquist dismisses Gaffney's charges as anti-Muslim bigotry and part of a long-standing vendetta against him. And he says he has never violated his small-government principles to raise a buck.
Frank Gaffney is a loon. His axe grinding on Grover has zero impact. If he comes after you, it is the best insurance possible — his ravings strike fear in no one. Same with Brent Bozell. They are fringe players and hangers on. Neither of them could ever assemble a movement or a social political network on their own to rival Grover's.
Can the tax exempt status of ATR be threatened — in reality or in perception? We wonder. Whether Grover escapes FBI/DoJ/IRS investigation will be interesting. A change of the House might also have an impact. McCain's release of the emails and the documents is a nick. But enough of them and who knows?
McCain's staff feuding with Grover is nothing new. Every story about the two camps usually features a money cat fight quote. This snippet from the story made us chuckle over coffee this AM:
“The idea that our friend John McCain yelling at me would hurt me misses McCain's position” among conservatives, Norquist said. “John McCain thinks he can't be president if I'm standing here saying he's got a problem with taxes.”
Mark Salter, McCain's longtime aide, replied: “Obviously, Grover is not well. It would be cruel of us to respond in kind.”
But now the next chapter of the generals' revolt is about to be published. Washington Post reporter Tom Ricks's new book, “Fiasco: The American Adventure in Iraq” will be released in less than three weeks. From the publicity surrounding it we can conclude that [Richard] Holbrooke did leak a big Dem political op, and that Blankley may have been prescient in thinking to apply the Uniform Code of Military Justice to any active duty officers involved.
The publisher's Amazon.com ad page for Ricks's book says it is,
“a searing judgment on the strategic blindness with which America has conducted [the Iraq war], drawing on the accounts of senior military officers giving voice to their anger for the first time...The American military is a tightly sealed community, and few outsiders have reason to know that a great many senior officers view the Iraq war with incredulity and dismay. But many officers have shared their anger with renowned military reporter Thomas E. Ricks...As many in the military publicly acknowledge here for the first time, the guerrilla insurgency that exploded several months after Saddam's fall was not foreordained. In fact, to a shocking degree, it was created by the folly of the war's architects. But the officers who did raise their voices against the miscalculations, shortsightedness, and general failure of the war effort were generally crushed, their careers often ended. A willful blindness gripped political and military leaders, and dissent was not tolerated.”
Babbin's goal here is not to rebut the book's substance. We already know all that. Even the Kool Aid set is beginning to admit the juice is spiked with bad acid. Babbin instead seeks to deflate the book's meme potential. He trots out the classic 'AgitProp Four-Step' dance.
The self-proclaimed “The Kerr Group”'s short item declares some basic truisms about analysis and organizational structure: lack of coordination, competition, redundancy and overtaxing of finite resources in proliferating government-run intelligence centers (not to mention intelligence functions now increasingly outsourced to the private sector) undermnine efforts to provide accurate and comprehensive analysis to national policy makers. Well DUH.
We will not delve into dry discussions of the intelligence cycle, product creation and dissemination and the role of policy makers. We'll save that for a bleak day.
In a pre-Bush Administration world, Kerr's points would be well taken. But. Competition and rivalry is precisely the point. In a way that the Agency Old Guard still can't comprehend. New organizational and information silos — created in the name of eliminating silos — all serve an overriding purpose of distracting, fracturing and rendering inert the existing and still non-compliant intelligence community.
A unified and holistic analytic capability is exactly what an ideological regime does not want — whether here or elsewhen in history. Accordingly, Kerr's ideal remains severed from political and ideological realities in the Imperial City.
A unifed and holistic analytic function and its intelligence community can occur on two basis: (a) the ideological regime is triumphant and confident that it has the cadres in place to allow consolidation and integration that will not threaten its apriori ideological world view; or (b) there is a restoration of political decision-making to an essentially empiricist and fact-based decision-making.
Choice (a) does not look likely given the disarray and dysfunction of the Bush regime as it lurches in its twilight. Choice (b) even should it occur, would still require the political will to then overcome normal bureaucratic and institutional rivalries, competition and jealousies. The default and likely outcome? More competition, overlap, dysfunction and far from Kerr's hoped-for “holistic” approach. We look forward to being surprised and proven wrong.
On a related note, the micro furor over the demise of the ineffectual and not-to-be-lamented 'Alec Station' (named after Scheuer's son) aka as Bin Laden Station is equally off the mark. It was a jury rigged effort by Tenet back in the day. The unit was the first time the Agency set up a “station” for a specific individual. And likely the last. The small and resource starved staff did not have many native Arab speakers, but reliant on FBIS (Scheuer does not speak, btw). They also failed to get really any, let alone capable, DO officers involved prior to 9/11 knowing it was a career cul de sac.
Although it did have Bin Laden located once for a clumsy cruise missile strike of dubious effectiveness, it never got as close to Bin Laden as Peter Bergen and others did. The record of Bin Laden Station is one of failure. The Clinton Administration did not help matters. But the Agency is simply lying when it blames its operational failures on Dick Clarke and others. Scheuer — an analyst — was a poor choice to head the unit, having no field experience, contacts or sense of operational realities. This showed. They never penetrated al Qaeda at any meaningful level and relied on a crusty remnant of the Agency's (or rather mostly Milt Bearden's) former 1980s Afghan networks for what little on the ground intel it was able to glean.
Its dissolution means nothing in terms of effectiveness to the overall community effort. Ignore the blathering of those in the Opposition who fall too easily into the false dichotomy of Agency == Anti Bush == Always Right and the Administration as the locus of evil. The latter may not be far off in terms of its ideological impact. But the former is definitely not the case. Too many different channels have Bin Laden related information and sources, such as the military in Afghanistan, etc. If the Opposition is truly different from the Bush regime and rooted in the reality based community, it should eschew cheap political props like maintaining an irrelevant and ineffective staff for the sake of appearances. That Kerry writes silly letters “demanding” its restoration,etc. merely demonstrates how clueless he and others are — or what they will do for cheap political stunts.
Oh, the Jedi reference in the title? Simply this: the Jedi demise came about because they became too smug and set in their internalized view and sense of mission to detect that they were being used by malignant forces set upon their destruction. Malignant forces they were blindly serving. Until it was too late. The rest should be clear . . .
War crimes. Almost always something done by The Others.
Liddice. The Commissar Order. Einsatzgruppen in Poland. Unit 731. Malmedy. The rape of Nanjing. The U.S. until recently thought itself as an inherently moral power apart from other nations. Which is why My Lai imposed such trauma on the U.S. self image. And Abu Ghraib to a sadly lesser extent.
But times change. One by product of the Administration's political strategies of fear and scapegoating AgitProp is that notions of mainstream American nationalism and large portions of the so-called conservative Movement conflate celebration of unconstrained Power with American morality. Moral constraints have been superseded by the compelling meme of expediency.
But what happens when the Bush Administration's AgitProp no longer commands the American people? What happens when facts come out implicating the President directly in extra legal activity?
In popular lexicon, of course, “war criminal” is now a generic insult. Much like “communist”, “terrorist” or “fascist”. Christopher Hitchens, before his full chug of Neocon kool aid, famously wrote an entire book declaring Henry Kissinger a war criminal for the civilian deaths in Cambodia, etc. And of course, using the same logic he uses to indict Kissinger, he and his fellow War Without End enthusiasts are supporting and encouraging war crimes today.
Why You May Hear More About This In Years Ahead
The specific issue of White House culpability in war crimes for the Global War on Terror (tm) is another matter. Two recent developments frame the issue with more detailed factual predicates and add compelling legal substance. This is no longer a far fringe allegation.
As explained more fully in the insightful comments to the second Hamdan post here, the Suskind book reveals startling details of Bush, Cheney and Tenet's direct role in ordering conduct that violated Article 3 of the Geneva Convention of 1949. And the Hamdan decision makes clear that Article 3 is in fact the law of the land. The 1996 War Crimes Act, passed by Congress and signed by the Clinton Administration, makes life imprisonment or even death sentence punishments for violating said Article 3. It applies to any US national, military or civilian. A violation is defined to include the deliberate “killing, torture or inhuman treatment”, such as “outrages upon personal dignity” of detainees.
North Korea's acting out yesterday poses a risk to the region, but not for reasons you will hear on MSNBCNNFOX et al. Here's why:
1). As Strategy Page reminds us, the North Korean economy continues to nose dive. Pyongyang recently resorted to stealing the Chinese aid trains themselves arriving from China, kicking the Chinese crews back across the border. The regime totters on the brink more every month. There is almost no more elasticity to be gained by offloading food and other shortages on to the civilian population — to the point of mass starvation — while preserving the military and regime. This growing potential social implosion only heightens unpredictability.
2). We disagree usually with the revanchism of of “The Korea Liberator” group blog. Their blog is, however, a reliable window to what certain Non-Neocons-But-Neocon-Influenced circles advocate. (The Korea Liberator folks have taken the Neocon liberation memes at face value, alas for them).
Their particular analysis yesterday of why the North launched is not too far off the mark. (Yet they omit two vital missing ingredients in the bid for attention — North Korea can not be credibly tied to a threat to Israel and they lack oil.) But otherwise the blog offers the predictable Bolton-esque responses. Here's their wish list for a U.S. non-military response.
3). Quite sensibly, the Chinese, the South Koreans and even the Russians are likely to focus on 1)., supra and ignore this “wish list”. Further “liberation” theology from the U.S. will not avert either a desperation military option from the North or a social implosion. Their strategic priority — as literal next door neighbors — is to seek policies fostering a soft landing for the regime.
For the South Koreans, the specter only slightly less alarming than military adventurism is an Egon Krenz — a regime that disintegrates in the North, flooding the South with millions of refugees, etc. The South Koreans can only look at the German experience to see the political and economic costs of rapid (and forced, by default) integration. The Japanese, also not connected by a common border (and with imperial history as well) are in the U.S. camp.
4). The real winner in all of this are the Korea Liberators, Boltons, etc. And Rumsfeld et al. in OSD. The psychological costs of the test failure was a double plus bonus. Politically, the Administration will push for more sanctions unilaterally and at the hated (from their point of view) UN. Over at OSD, expect the Missile Defense Agency to get higher visibility and more money for a system of dubious operational viability. If you are a shareholder on the prime or subcontractors for the Alaskan or sea based missile defense subcontractors, your equity position just went up.
(We will post some more thoughts on Hamdan, war crimes and Addington in a bit).
Some relaxed musings on the holiday weekend. Reasons for us all to be optimistic. Democrat feebleness notwithstanding.
We should be thankful one supposes that the Rove Playbook is 0-2 (so far) in the Senate: gays as the new Jews failed to pass on a bipartisan basis, the flag burning charade collapsed in black comedy. Meanwhile, the Neocon playbook is meeting an even more sad fate — it is being largely ignored as from kook ville.
Earlier some readers asked the Stiftung why Santorum went public with the silly charges that WMDs had been found in Iraq. We learned from sources near the matter that Barbara Ledeen (yes, that Ledeen) at the Senate Policy Committee is close to Santorum and convinced him to go live with a press conference and TV, etc. Other Republicans and staff in the Senate are aghast at this Neocon-backdoor manipulation of the candidate (Santorum still trails Casey in most PA polls). Santorum, the Stiftung is advised, is very much enthralled with Barbara Ledeen (who technically works for him).
Rep. Peter Hoekstra, a Michigan Republican, said in a letter to Negroponte that intelligence officials at a June 21 press briefing organized by his office misled journalists about the significance of 500 munitions containing mustard and sarin nerve agents discovered since May 2004.
Intelligence officials at the briefing told journalists the weapons predated the 1991 Gulf War, were too degraded to be used as originally intended and posed no threat to U.S. forces deployed in the region during the run-up to the 2003 invasion.
We told a Republican pundit friend of the Stiftung's about the Santorum-Ledeen WMD axis. His response? Disgruntlement in Senate ranks over the WMD stunt proves Republicans are waking up to Neocon manipulations and thus becoming normalized. If one views the problem of the Republican Party as merely “Those People”, then perhaps. But the Santorum/Ledeen and Hoekstra outbursts are feeble gasps. The far greater problem of radical Christian authoritarian socialism remains. That still is the Republican Party and the so-called “conservative base”.
Another encouraging coda to the above today. While in the Stiftungmobile (tm), we checked out the local AM wingnut radio station. A guest announcer was sitting in for Beck. And denouncing “Superman Returns” for about 40 minutes. The reason? One line of dialogue. Frank Langella, playing Perry White, asks his assembled reporters if “He still stands for Truth, Justice and all that stuff.” Apparently, eliding out “the American Way” in this one line in a 2 1/2 hour movie was sufficient to consign it all to Michael Moore-ville.
Granted, this was probably C-list talent given the holidays. We still find it all slightly comforting. Of course, a week is a lifetime and all that . . . but nice to see the AgitProp engine sputtering so loudly.
Have a happy and safe holiday one and all . . . . Cheers !
The Stiftung went to another showing of Superman last nite with others. To sit in with a paying audience. The theater was sold out. And reaction from the smiles of the departing crowd seemed very positive. Our take seems to be shared.
Not surprisingly, Malkin is barking at the moon again. And for the record, to my friend who stops by here and should know better, she is not “hawt” but just a screed-filled (and plagarism-challenged) Filipina. For shame.
Definitely on the to do list. Roxanne also notes David Brooks' silly reaction — much like a leather trench coat wearing Bobo sniffing at art that makes him feel bad last century. For those of us unwilling to pay for Friedman's banalities, Dowd's erraticisms and Brooks's tediousness, Roxanne says:
*Shorter Brooks: “The new museums are Tony-the-Tiger grrrrrrrrrrrrrrreat! Or would be, if it weren't for the self-centered 60's.”
So much pique, Mr. Brooks. And all because he never got invited to the Kool Kidz parties, never got over the fact that the tormentors of his youth would party in basements surrounded by Jimmy Page posters and Bad Company mirrors. Such a brittle smile masking so much resentment and rage.
Now, all those earnest little geeks who felt marginalized in the 1970s (which were the carry over from the 1960s, of course), rule keyboards across the land. There, they can create their own art. To safely exort the youth today to die selflessly for CACI, KBR, Rovian Wedge Politics, and the Country Which Can Not Be Named, of course.
And thus send to Hell and possible maming and death these contemporary standins for all who despised Brooks et al. back then — the football team captains, the rockers, cooler but less economically privileged, etc. Talk about self-centered.
So, given Brooks' own inherent ideological narcissism and self referential fixations (“but on me,” he says, “they look good!” ), we offer you Dear Reader a chance to create some pop art yourself. At his expense. And check out the rest of Roxanne's photo caption contests.
For new readers, the Stiftung has been writing about Addington for a while and warning about him around town for years. You can do a search in the box to the right for our writings here.
When some of the more famous blogs (and journalist/blogs) were still venting invective about John Yoo and the torture and detainee memos from OLC last year, the Stiftung tried to warn people to ignore Yoo (the pawn) and focus on Cheney and Addington.
Addington has held the extreme views for decades, back when the Stiftung wandered the Minority Staff offices of the Iran Contra Committee Staff. Addington was there, as was Michael Malbin. Anyone who remembered the Iran Contra days and what Addington said and wrote (Cheney did, as a member, and he took Addington with him to DoD and then back to the White House) knew pretty much what was going to happen if he was in a position to call shots.
It is rather late in the day and penny short for the New Yorker to wake up to Addington's malign role — 6 years in (Addington was Cheney's counsel before he filled Scooter's role). But better late than never.
Although it is unfortunate that some journalists and media outlets still feel the compulsion to grovel before the Temple of Colin Powell. A sycophant and overly vain toady, Powell still today is consumed with his own reputation and “viability”. If there was a loving God, Powell would sentenced to give speeches asserting mobile weapons labs before the Iraqi victims of the war, with Tenet seated behind him. Until the End of Time.