A decisive moment in world history is at hand. If the United States, Britain and their allies fail in Iraq the result will almost certainly be a regional maelstrom. If the coalition succeeds, then the West will regain the initiative against radical Islam in Iran and throughout the Muslim world.
The current trajectory in Iraq is poor: rising sectarian violence threatens to rend Iraqi society and destroy America’s will to continue the struggle . . . [t]he choices are bleak. . .
There's no point having a short term surge. Especially, if it's proclaimed ahead of time that it's just short term. Then [the enemy] goes into hiding for 3 or 6 months.
We pull back and we're in the same situation. Bush will commit — I believe, when he speaks in a couple of weeks — to doing this. That this is a strategy for victory and that he's willing to do this for the remaining 2 years of his presidency. This is a remarkable moment, though. I came to Washington 30 years ago. How often does a president go against — what Juan referred to — the wider consensus in this town, 'the military solution isn't possible?' It's a very broad consensus of the establishment and, I think, that's why there's so much anger among the establishment-types. 'Gee. The Baker-Hamilton Commission pronounced its verdict. And how dare the president make up his own mind and decide that he's not just going to just gracefully accept defeat with this nice bi-partisan patina of the Baker-Hamilton Commission. How dare he decide that we might win in Iraq.
A discredited Neocon policy/pundit eilte. A national referendum on Nov. 7th. against the Administration. Yet a defiant escalation in the war. When even Kissinger must have told Dubya that National Strength = Power x Popular Will. Bush the 'Neocon in Chief" is ably laying the table for McCain the Successor. Iraq may not even be at the end of the beginning.
You tasked us to analyze why the mission to save the Realm and promote the American Empire failed. We believe the essential premise of the mission remains sound. There can be no accomodation with the Arab mind and Palestinian parasites until they learn fear, humiliation and obediance through force of arms. Nothing alters the correctness of our diagnosis.
American society was not up to the historical task assigned to it because of its essential decadence and political instability due to overreliance on consent and demos. This softness allowed only a short window within which to execute our plan before American power would collapse in confusion and accomodation. This 'American Disease' (see Annex B, supra for complete details) has now infected Israel itself.
Our Sparta is now sick with the same American softness and weakness. The Olmert government's failure to ignite a regional war in the Summer of 2006 only the most glaring evidence.
Curing The American Disease
To salvage this situation, we have a three fold plan. We estimate it will take at least 4 years to implement. The budget and human capital (HUMCAP) allocations are set forth in Table 27, supra.
First, to reverse the American Disease, we must accelerate its progress. We must 'heighten the contradictions' in American and Israeli society. Regional disorder in the Middle East, our initial objective in Phase One, will now serve to radicalize both societies. We must aggressively promote defeat as the consequence of betrayal and softness at home.
Our assets “SMUG CANADIAN”, “CHESHIRE CAT” and “CHEERFUL PUNDIT” will infiltrate the McCain, Guiliani and Gingrich campaign mechanisms towards that end. We also suggest an additional US $2.5 million be funnelled to Buchanan to subsize his polarization activities as well. He will be vulnerable to infusion through our usual False Flag cut out in Tempe, AZ. Later when he is exposed as relying on our money for subsistence, his following will implode. We also recommend covert support for progressive and Democratic web sites to promote the necessary dialectic of social restoration through heightened conflict. The Agents In Place to effect this manipulation are too numerous to list here.
Second, the U.S. military shows an alarming lack of commitment to our policies. The insubordination to Kagan's Surge is an unacceptable demonstration that Rumsfeld failed in his mission to subordinate the military to our Will. The Joint Staff in particular is a brake on all our plans. Accordingly, we recommend a further outreach effort to military evangelical organizations and networks to identify and promote officers who share our commitment and vision. Joint Israeli-American liaisons can further serve to cross pollinate our interrogation and other insights in controlling the Arab and Palestinians. We must also make sure that resentment in the military for failure be fanned. The military must equate Iraq-Defeat-Secular Progressive Decadence-Democrats. They then will be ripe for control.
Finally, we must begin more intensive cadre development. We failed in large part this time because we acted oversoon. Our cadres lacked sufficient numbers to occupy secondary and tertiary positions. This is true in the American government but also in Iraq at the CPA. Out talent spotting staff must be expanded beyond the Ivy League. Interbreeding and affirmative action have destroyed those student pools as reliable sources. Albert Wohlstetter before his passing in 1997 revised our PsychoActive Profile Kit (PPK). It has been improved upon since. We recommend the new PPK field trials begin immediately. Age Cohort Classes 5, 6 and 9 require three-fold expansion before OPERATION PEACOCK THRONE commences.
These initial steps, if taken together, will allow us to resume our march to victory and a New Middle East. This is a dark time for the American Empire. The Realm requires immediate assistance. If we act now, we will be poised to secure our power. The Tehran occupation will vindicate us all.
Whether the Maximum Leader announces his “New NEW Strategy for Forward Victory Paths” this week, next or at the halftime of the Super Bowl makes no difference to us. In fact, all things being equal, the latter would be a blessing. The NFL halftime show could use a good stand up act. We won't lose anything by waiting. As our friends at Global Paradigms say, it is in the end, too little too late.
But it is the holidays, and playing games of What It All Means is a tradition. In olden times before color TV, PETA and cute animal merchandizing icons, a priest would grab a small varmint and seek to divine outcomes via entrails. Villagers would nod at it all, mutter and retire to the market. Good in theory but too messy. That's out. Turning on “The Situation Room” and its kin is just too grim. So we will have to just share our own thoughts. Here goes:
First, we believe the Administration is still capable of surprise. November 7th, the ISG, 21% approval ratings, Maliki, etc. notwithstanding, the Administration's fundamental radicalism remains unchanged. (Rumsfeld was only an ancillary part of it). Recall that they started office with at least 1/2 the country believing they were illegitimate and another 25% uncertain. It didn't matter. Today, even with a Democratic Congress, it may be adjustment rather than change. A government of pragmatism and execution requires accumulation of facts, formal policy review mechanisms, etc. — all antithetical to a political Movement in power. Bush and Cheney both know that such a formalized and transparent (at least to itself) government would be the death knell of their essential political personas.
Second, we have heard rumors from a highly knowledgeable source that the NSC itself recently convened/sponsored a simple war game exercise. Participants were drafted from the usual suspect Think Tanks. The purpse of the exercise as told to the Stiftung was to play out strikes and military options on Iran. We don't know anymore than we were told, i.e. did SAIC or someone run it, was it done in house, or if actually transpired. We are running it down and actually curious to see who was Red and Blue, etc. For some reason we have to smile thinking someone at some point would have to demand a do over. The military option on Iran we believe — regardless of this report — to be very much alive internally. This will have implications for ISG recommendations.
The initial take was that internal Saudi royal family matters drove events more than our American tragi-comic theater. A second wave of speculation driven by Turki partisans (and let's be candid, suck ups) are claiming Bandar was too jealous of his standing here. One thing we can be sure: a veteran like Turki did not suddenly wake up and scream realizing that the House of Saud mortgaged their futures to a bunch of incompetents. He's been hip to that by 2004 at the latest. Which is to say that we do not expect it had anything to do with a “Shia Tilt” in Iraq ala “pick sides” — at least not right away.
No question as we have written before that Wurmser and others in EOVP and on the NSC want to overthrow the House of Saud badly. They continue to push the choose the Shia option internally according to the New York Times. A grand alliance with purple fingered Shia grateful to Uncle Sam was their preferred means. But we suspect in the end, having to choose between a nuclear Iran and the House of Saud, only one of them holds conferences denying the holocaust. And that one would utltimately control a Shia Iraq and Hezbollah. Easy choice.
As for the recommendations in the ISG, sadly we don't think it matters overall. Even if adopted, this crowd is not competent enough to execute them. We will get more money and talk about training, embedding and a regional conference or maybe two. It won't make any difference. We expect in Gerson's own words, Bush will reap the whirlwind, and so will we.
Today reminds one of a Nimitz class carrier trying to manuever and keep up with a renegade Cigarrette sport racer. The carrier's captain is holding proof the ship is headed for rocks. He can't listen to all the suggestions. His heart is filled with rage and shame, knowing his decisions have been ruinous. But treason within made it happen. His petty officers are snitching strawberries from the officers' mess. And that prick from COMNAVSURPAC? Who cares if he served with the captain's father? That was years ago. By just standing on the bridge, that asshole is reminding everyone the captain is a lesser man.
Besides, what can really be done? Everyone knows that if the captain were to concede and take evasive maneuvers, even the latest carriers like the U.S.S. Reagan don't turn on a dime. Inertia with 100,000 tons of steel can't be waived away. Who's really fooling whom now?
In a banana republic, there is an electric thrill that occurs when someone ad libs the truth. “Are we winning? No, Sir.” The masses titilate. “Iraq is deteriorating”. More jaw jawing. What else is there to say? Such obvious statements are treated as news events only because the society is still hungover from binge drinking the narrative Kool Aid of the last 6 years. In all truth, much of the recent U.S. reaction is not too different than the Soviet Union during early Gorbachev glasnost' — the same shock and excitement that the truth could be officially spoken.
In your heart of hearts, you know that to be true, too.
What would have been noteworthy is if someone said the obvious: even if all 79 of the vaunted ISG recommendations are accepted with unvarnished enthusiasm and DoD operational adjustments are made, Iraq is still going to fail. Done. All of this posturing is kabuki to obscure the reality that we have created and will have to deal with a failing/failed state in Mesopotamia for some time.
Even more deranged are reports that the NSC is considering political advice to Maliki on the one hand as in Hadley's weird memo. Advice that if put in the U.S. context would be to tell Bush to dump Cheney, fire Rove, get rid of the Christian Right, become a Democrat, and appoint Ted Kennedy and Barbara Boxer to his cabinet. Equally boneheaded are the “pick sides” — Sunni or Shia — crowd. It's moot — there are no cohesive Shia or Sunni sides to support and nor do they want U.S. “help”. As everyone but the Administration seems to know, the factions are intramural as well as extramural.
Even more desperate it seems are notions that the U.S. can coax Saudi Arabia to come off the sidelines as an overt participant against Iran and its proxies. This strikes the Stiftung as unrealistic as the Neocon war fever — brave Saudi OpEd declarations aside. Despite some internal security improvements, Saudi Arabia remains an immensely fragile edifice. A Saudi role directly engaging the Iranians and their proxies on the ground does not seem particularly credible or even advisable. Although, ironically, givent that Wurmser, Perle et al. have made no secret for years that their end game was the overthrow of the House of Saud, perhaps the Neocons wouldn't mind dragging the Saudis in. Granted the Saudis and Sunnis generally are threatened by waxing Persian power, but what to do remains the question.
Finally, we wonder what will be accomplished by the overarching proposed shift in geopolitical strategy. We have always thought such a strategy was and is far more important than military fantasies in halting the regional slide towards wider warfare. But this crowd could never pull it off. Dubya himself tempermentally, religiously and intellectually is not subtle enough. No one now would believe him an honest broker on the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. EOVP remains opposed as well. Cher Condi doesn't have the brains, stature, clout, vision and capability to execute it — she remains a staffer and family retainer just now removed to Foggy Bottom. In her defense, if she somehow became truly competent it still wouldn't matter. Her principal — the Maximum Leader — is driving that boat for the shoals no matter what.
Bottom line? Here's our pool slip.
The Stiftung says we get: (a) troop redeployment within Iraq and Iraqi training upgrades; (b) a regional conference(s); (c) no war with Iran through '08 (a nice double plus good bonus); and (d) more Friedman Units, hotair and posturing while U.S. troops die for Neocon deceit and Dubya's vanity.
It's hard to be distracted for any length of time by the current soap operatic miniplots unfolding around town. There is something especially immaterial about them — disconnected from the historical tapestry clearly visible to the rest of the world.
Gates? He is the personification of how the institutional forces of status quo will ensure that Iraq “wind down” will be protracted, measured and an ultimately futile — but “bi-partisan” — gesture. Already astute bloggers are mocking the Friedman Units being tossed around.
How bemusing to see the servile media now intoning with knowing insight that there are no “silver bullets” for Iraq. Which of course was the whole point of the initial roll of the dice in 2003 and sending the United States “ashore” and burning our boats behind. Even now the media by and large has no clue how they were used and abused.
Instead, we have been trying to find a historical precedent for what this regime has wrought. That seems a worthy inquiry that promises some needed perspective. In 2001, the U.S. had a massive budget surplus, substantial good will and political capital across the globe and a political landscape whose major polarizing domestic challenge was how to mock the term “lock box”. In 5 years our finances are in free fall, our international political capital depleted, our economy hollowed out as never before, domestic polarization at an all time high, our military reputation-as-deterrent wiped out, our actual military burnt out. A strategic audit on purely geopolitical terms regardless of party affiliation is staggering.
Contra the received wisdom in this town, Iraq really is not problem number one — it is symptom number one. One reason we have not been impressed by most of the “lists” of worst presidents currently in vogue at various holiday parties is that these lists and debates are excessively narcissistic and inwards looking. Far more interesting are the world historical implications for this regime. Can anyone find either a U.S. or non-U.S. analogue for a regime that has had such a needlessly foolish negative impact on a Great Power's standing at home and abroad? That, to us, is a holiday list worth discussing.
(Note: the shots above are from our 3D work in progress “Golem Unleashed”. You maybe can't really tell here but the Golem is brought to life by Dubya's rigid imagination).
When we're wrong, we cop to it. And we were wrong about Bolton.
A few years ago, we were at a Georgetown Party. It was a mixed generational thing, with elders from both parties mingling with earnest and ambitious young people. John Bolton's nomination was just being introduced the first time.
All these 20 somethings at various non-profits (“World Peace Through MP3 Filesharing.org”, “Birkenstocks For Multliateralism.org”, etc) were hovering over the sumptuous sushi spread boldly declaring that Evil Incarnate, John Bolton would not be allowed to destroy the Holiest of Holies, the UN.
And there was a now famous blogger and left of center media persona who was at the time a relatively obscure policy wonk with an unread blog. That night this older blogger was stoking the youngsters' flames, encouraging the most strident declarations of faith in the value of standing up to the Maximum Leader.
We smirked at them all. At the blogger for the cynicism of using opposition to Bolton to brand themselves and launch a media presence. And for encouraging the youngsters to have the romantic delusion that the Senate actually would defy the White House. Besides, all of them refused to budge from the sushi.
Just goes to show the Stiftung can blow it now and then. And how cynicism can obscure the truth that there is always hope. And how even career building can also render a public service for the Nation.
That blogger, of course, is now the envy of most colleagues, having ridden Bolton and the whole nomination saga to fame and fortune. Almost no one can remember how a few short years ago they had no idea who this person was. To that person's credit, the ride was managed with supreme skill and finesse. Luck may occur, but skill turns opportunity into success. And the youngsters? They have a real notch on their belt and a new appreciation for hardball politics and yes, actual stands on principle. Hope truly is the most precious of commodities.
Bolton in the end was done in by three forces: (i) the anti-Bush multilateralists and Dems; (ii) the Powell/Armitage clique (joined by horrified careerists at State); and (iii) Rice's clique (who wanted no part of Bolton knowing full well how Bolton spied on Powell for Cheney). We knew all that sipping drinks that night fighting for sushi. What we didn't count on was Chafee and Voinovich growing a pair. And how defeating Bolton would serve as a rallying cry to a Nation in despair of Dubya's Christian Socialist Authoritarianism.
The entire affair is a wonderful example of Imperial City drama. We sat this one out as mentioned. When we have been involved in crafting things through Congress for presidential signature, we know full well the narcotic effect of deal heat on the Hill. It truly is as intense as any Wall Street deal. But sometimes that intensity is a microcosm for those involved. The Bolton saga instead resonated with Americans generally.
Stopping Bolton represented probably one of the most self-contained and focused foreign policy issues that could offer that deal frission. Our cynicism that night in Georgetown gave way to grudging respect within weeks to full on admiration. We learned a lesson. Before November 7th and the Liberation of Congress, stopping Bolton was the first step to retaking the Nation. It was Coral Sea to November's Midway.
Congratulations to all involved. The Nation and perhaps the world are better off for your hard work. But next time don't boggart all the sushi.
No rough beast would ever bother slogging towards Bethlehem these days. Far easier to just fax in a book deal.
Which brings us to Neocons, AgitProp and our current situation. They were hip to this truism a long time ago.
A hallmark of Western civilization since, well that gets tricky as you will see below, but let's say since the Greeks, has been reliance on metanarratives to tell our story. A metanarrative is a story about a story — and are all around us: the “Fall of the Roman Empire”, the “Enlightenment”, etc. Metanarratives more than mere 'history' define who we are and how we understand the world. Thus Orwell was only partially right — he who controls history has only completed the first step. Then they must conjure up a compelling metanarrative to sell their version.
“Everyone knows” Rome “fell”. Gibbons said so. And we can see it all the time on Turner Classic Movies, etc. That's a metanarrative entrenched in the collective consciousness.
But parts of Western Civilization since the 1960s are no longer comfortable with the dead weight of existing metanarrativies. On the Left, one aspect of postmodernism is to attack, tear down and otherwise erode existing metanarratives in favor of new mixes, factually dense recitals that refute narrative coherence at all, etc. On the Right, particularly the religious authoritarian right, science, rationality, facts, are rejected in favor of emotion, faith, belief and authority. (It is for this reason — and embodying elements of both critiques — the Bush regime is the first postmodernist government in American history).
Neocons, as masters of AgitProp, know all this very well. Besides the Catholic Church, they may be the best meme promulgators and defenders around at the moment. But they also know that disintegration is only temporarily. Eventually human need for narrative compels a new one to emerge, usually combining both new and old. The best Neocon minds seek to control that dialectic, current operational issues in America and theMiddle East aside. Their technique is to manufacture a false historical trail. Contaminating understanding of the past helps ensure new narratives will embrace their world view.
A classic example in a microcosm are the collective works of Neocon Mater Dolorosa Gertrude Himmelfarb (wife of Irving, mother of William). For example, her “The Roads to Modernity: The British, French, and American Enlightenments” is a conscious effort to manufacture a new metanarrative about the origins of the Enlightment to justify current Neocon calls for Will to Power cloaked under Wilsonian pablum. Himmlefarb's assignment is to fabricate a metanarrative to claim current Neocon cant is inherent in and legitimate because of the accepted meme of the Enlightenment metanarrative. Her current 2006 work, “The Moral Imagination: From Edmund Burke to Lionel Trilling ” continues her intellectual misdirection from a different angle. Donald Kagan similarly seeks to wield a re-worked history of the Peloponnesian War to rebut Paul Kennedy and others warning of American over extension.
And now comes Max Boot, faxing it in to Bethlehem. To mention Boot in the same post as Himmelfarb and Kagan is perhaps a slight to the latter two but also emblematic at how tawdry the Neocon effort really is. To subvert the Enlightenment to Neocon ends requires a certain erudition. Similarly, for all of his intellectual slight of hand, Kagan knows a bit about the Ancient World. But what of Boot?
624 Pages Ending In Confusion
Over 620 pages in his “War Made New: Technology, Warfare and the Course of History 1500 to Today” is Boot's effort to explain the historical materialism that inexorably leads to Western (now American) military and thus global ascendancy. What, you might ask, are Boot's real qualifications for attempting this labor? See the comment on Yeats, supra.