Neocons are on the way out
Posted on Wednesday, November 8, 2006
No matter who controls Congress come 2007, we’re not going to have the neo-conservatives to kick around anymore. The geopolitical seers whose Project for a New American Century manifesto helped convince President Bush to invade Iraq are having second thoughts. Displaying the same impeccable political judgment that led the U. S. into Baghdad, the war’s intellectual architects chose the weeks before the election to vent against the White House. See, if the American Enterprise Institute and the Weekly Standard ran things instead of that pinhead Bush, everything would be different. Here’s who Michael Ledeen, the AEI “freedom scholar” currently promoting war with Iran, blames for the mess in Iraq: “Ask yourself who the most powerful people in the White House are,” he told a Vanity Fair interviewer. “They are women who are in love with the president: Laura, Condi, Harriet Miers and Karen Hughes.” What, no Karl Rove? It gets worse. Here’s Kenneth Adelman, longtime GOP cold warrior and member of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board. Adelman famously predicted that liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk in two influential Washington Post articles in 2002 and 2003. Now he thinks he was foolish to believe Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Condi Rice could pull it off.
“I just presumed that what I considered to be the most competent national security team since [Harry] Truman was, indeed, going to be competent,” Adelman told author David Rose. “They turned out to be among the most incompetent teams in the post-war era. Not only did each of them, ndividually, have enormous flaws, but together they were deadly, dysfunctional.”
For Adelman, the decisive moment came when Bush awarded the Presidential
Medal of Freedom to former CIA director George Tenet, retired Gen. Tommy
Franks and Coalition Provisional Authority head Jerry Bremer, “three of the most incompetent people who’ve ever served in such key spots. And they get the highest civilian honor a president can bestow on anyone!... It was then I thought, ‘There’s no seriousness here, these are not serious people.’”
Former White House speech writer David Frum laments that Bush proved sadly incapable of absorbing his wisdom. As a speech writer, he’d imagined “that if you could persuade the president to commit himself to certain words, he would feel himself committed to the ideas that underlay those words. And the big shock to me has been that although the president said the words, he just did not absorb the ideas. And that is the root of, maybe, everything.”
Yeah, maybe. Or maybe Bush’s biggest mistake was listening to this cabal of half-baked swamis to begin with. But hold that thought. Here’s Richard Perle, the so-called “Prince of Darkness,” an icon on the Chicken Little right. For Perle, catastrophe is always imminent and war mandatory, although it’s doubtful that he’s ever personally had even a fist fight.
Back in 1987, he resigned from the Defense Department, reportedly in disgust over President Ronald Reagan’s chumminess with Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev—the rapprochement that helped end the Cold War two years later.
Consistently wrong but rarely in doubt, Perle was made chairman of the Defense Policy Board by Bush. He and Frum co-authored a 2003 book portentously called “An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror.” It urged pre-emptive strikes on several Middle Eastern countries. Now he says it’s a shame no Delphic oracle predicted White House bungling.
“Huge mistakes were made,” he says, “and I want to be very clear on this: They were not made by neo-conservatives, who had almost no voice in what happened, and certainly almost no voice in what happened after the downfall of the regime in Baghdad. I’m getting damn tired of being described as an architect of the war. I was in favor of bringing down Saddam. Nobody said, ‘Go design the campaign to do that.’ I had no responsibility for that.”
Ledeen even posted an article in the National Review on-line claiming he “opposed the military invasion of Iraq before it took place.” Alas, as Glenn Greenwald pointed out on his Unclaimed Territory Web site, Ledeen had published an August 2002 article in the same magazine endorsing “the desperately needed and long overdue war against Saddam Hussein and the rest of the terror masters.” He expressed “hope that we turn the region into a cauldron, and faster, please. If ever there were a region that richly deserved being cauldronized, it is the Middle East today.” Evidently, National Review editors have short memories. When it comes to personal betrayal, Bush and Rove famously never forget, so it’s clear that the neo-cons are finished for now. If they did something serious like work for the Weather Channel or pick NFL games for ESPN, chances are they’d need to change occupations. Alas, every right-wing “think tank” in Washington is chock-full of half-baked ideologues and magical thinkers exactly like them. So we probably haven’t seen the last of them yet.