Archive for category Neocons
This is from a long time ago, but that is insignificant in the scheme of things.
Shut Up! Is all they got.
Ten bloody and grueling years later, Iraq is finally emerging from its ruins and establishing itself as a geopolitical player in the Middle East — but not the way the neocons envisioned.
Though technically a democracy, Iraq’s floundering government has degenerated into a tottering quasi-dictatorship. The costs of the war (more than $800 billion) and reconstruction (more than $50 billion) have been staggeringly high. And while Iraq is finally producing oil at pre-war levels, it is trying its best to drive oil prices as high as possible.
Most disturbing to many American foreign policy experts, however, is Iraq’s extremely close relationship with Iran. Today, the country that was formerly Iran’s deadliest rival is its strongest ally.
In other words, the Neo Cons were not just wrong but absolutely 100% wrong, their predictions turned out exactly 180 degrees from what actually happened.
Predicting what’s next in Iraq is next to impossible. In virtually no scenario, however, do things turn out how the neocons intended.
“Whatever [the war] was about, which was never entirely explained, it hasn’t worked out terribly well,” said Freeman, “and in fact Iraq continues to evolve in ways that are, if not fatal to American interests, certainly negative.”
At this point, I’m even more certain the Iraq war was not worth what it cost. It was a colossal waste of time, resources, lives – an exercise in imperial vanity and posturing that was so destructive in every imaginable way, more costly, more ruinous than anyone predicted.
We need a national truth and reconciliation commission. We need it now.
In either situation, that makes for a bad president who has to make decisions based off of facts every day. And if a president can deny facts or they are too uneducated to understand those facts, then that harms the nation.
Hat Tip to the HuffPo for this powerful piece from Andrew Bacevich.
Reality, above all the two world wars of the last century, told a decidedly different story. Armed conflict in the industrial age reached new heights of lethality and destructiveness. Once begun, wars devoured everything, inflicting staggering material, psychological, and moral damage. Pain vastly exceeded gain. In that regard, the war of 1914-1918 became emblematic: even the winners ended up losers. When fighting eventually stopped, the victors were left not to celebrate but to mourn. As a consequence, well before Fukuyama penned his essay, faith in war’s problem-solving capacity had begun to erode. As early as 1945, among several great powers — thanks to war, now great in name only — that faith disappeared altogether.
Among nations classified as liberal democracies, only two resisted this trend. One was the United States, the sole major belligerent to emerge from the Second World War stronger, richer, and more confident. The second was Israel, created as a direct consequence of the horrors unleashed by that cataclysm. By the 1950s, both countries subscribed to this common conviction: national security (and, arguably, national survival) demanded unambiguous military superiority. In the lexicon of American and Israeli politics, “peace” was a codeword. The essential prerequisite for peace was for any and all adversaries, real or potential, to accept a condition of permanent inferiority. In this regard, the two nations — not yet intimate allies — stood apart from the rest of the Western world.
And this passage:
Events made it increasingly evident that military dominance did not translate into concrete political advantage. Rather than enhancing the prospects for peace, coercion produced ever more complications. No matter how badly battered and beaten, the “terrorists” (a catch-all term applied to anyone resisting Israeli or American authority) weren’t intimidated, remained unrepentant, and kept coming back for more.
And this one:
If any overarching conclusion emerges from the Afghan and Iraq Wars (and from their Israeli equivalents), it’s this: victory is a chimera. Counting on today’s enemy to yield in the face of superior force makes about as much sense as buying lottery tickets to pay the mortgage: you better be really lucky. [snip]
By 2007, the American officer corps itself gave up on victory, although without giving up on war. First in Iraq, then in Afghanistan, priorities shifted. High-ranking generals shelved their expectations of winning — at least as a Rabin or Schwarzkopf would have understood that term. They sought instead to not lose. In Washington as in U.S. military command posts, the avoidance of outright defeat emerged as the new gold standard of success.
And this devastating conclusion:
Nearly 20 years ago, a querulous Madeleine Albright demanded to know: “What’s the point of having this superb military you’re always talking about if we can’t use it?” Today, an altogether different question deserves our attention: What’s the point of constantly using our superb military if doing so doesn’t actually work?
In his books, Bacevich has strongly condemned the bipartisan madness of American politics unquestioned belief in our military greatness. The cost of war has vastly outstripped any possible rewards of victory. The real battles are not fought with guns and bombs and tanks; they are fought with words and are fought not on fields or city streets but in hearts and minds. That is a battle we can win but we have to show up and thus far we haven’t.
This morning on Dylan Ratigan’s MSNBC show, Glenn Greenwald took on Dan Senor. You may remember neocon Senor as the spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. He’s currently with the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI), popularly known as “PNAC 2.0.”
Although Greenwald made some good points, realistically Senor (who began his career working for AIPAC) represents the predominant inside-the-Beltway view of foreign policy. Despite leading America into not one but TWO unwinnable conflicts and wasting trillions of our dollars, neocons like Senor still have a lot of influence.
If there is another major terrorist attack on our country, will people finally realize Greenwald is right? Or will they revert to American exceptionalism, and fail to make the connection that U.S. and Israeli actions that inflict insecurity and bloodshed on Middle Eastern countries also hurt our own national security?
This morning, when President Obama went to view the return of our dead soldiers, did he think about whether endless war is really going to make us safe, or have the opposite effect?
UPDATE: Unlike the previous President, who was too busy vacationing and riding his mountain bike, Obama takes his commander-in-chief responsibilities seriously. And Liz Cheney, of all people, criticizes him for it.
One of my favorite movies is William Friedkin’s “To Live and Die in L.A.” (1985). It’s about a fictional, reckless Secret Service agent (William Petersen) who breaks the law to take down a big-time counterfeiter (Willem Dafoe). It’s all predicated on a self-perpetuating, endless cycle of crime, totally amoral. And there’s great dialogue:
Credit Card Counterfeiter: Why are you chasing me?
Secret Service Agent: I don’t know, why you running?
Credit Card Counterfeiter: ‘Cause you’re chasing me!!
We have to realize that U.S. foreign policy has become a lot like “To Live and Die in L.A.” Our government has decided that the rules don’t apply to us, that we’ll do whatever it takes to get the bad guys. They need to realize that this policy opens the way to an endless war.
From Glenn Greenwald:
In 2004, Donald Rumsfeld directed the Defense Science Board Task Force to review the impact which the administration’s policies — specifically the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — were having on Terrorism and Islamic radicalism. They issued a report in September, 2004 (.pdf) and it vigorously condemned the Bush/Cheney approach as entirely counter-productive, i.e., as worsening the Terrorist threat those policies purportedly sought to reduce.
This five-year-old report clearly answered the “why do they hate us”? question for anyone interested in knowing the answer.
Muslims do not “hate our freedom,” but rather, they hate our policies.
…in the eyes of Muslims, American occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq has not led to democracy there, but only to more chaos and suffering.
In the last ten years, the U.S. and Israel collectively have bombed at least six Muslim countries (including Gaza). Despite that, 40% of Americans want to attack yet another one [Iran], and 1/3 want to invade. Those are the same people who, if there is another terrorist attack on U.S. soil, will be walking around, eyebrows earnestly raised, innocent, self-righteous and confused, and asking: “why do they hate us??”
Actually, I think Greenwald is forgetting the bombing of Syria by Israeli jets on September 6, 2007. That brings the total to 7 Muslim countries attacked:
Somalia (USA, December 1992 – Present)
Afghanistan (USA, October 2002 – Present)
Iraq (USA, March 2003 – Present)
Pakistan (USA, June 2004 – Present)
Lebanon (Israel, July-August 2006)
Syria (Israel, September 2007)
Gaza (Israel, December 2008 – January 2009)
UPDATE: Tom Engelhardt underscores the amorality of U.S. policy by pointing out we sometimes end up fighting Muslims we once armed and supported.
The Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI, aka “PNAC 2.0”), which is headed by neoconservatives Bill Kristol, Robert Kagan, and Dan Senor, enthusiastically supports escalating U.S. troop commitments in Afghanistan beyond the current plans.
President Obama has already ordered the deployment of 21,000 additional U.S. forces. That will bring the number of U.S. soldiers and marines in Afghanistan to a record 68,000 by the end of this year. There are also 74,000 civilian contractors and 38,000 NATO troops.
If FPI wants escalation, that means it’s exactly the wrong thing to do. FPI’s predecessor, the Project for a New American Century, staked its reputation on advocating for the worst foreign policy blunder in American history — the Iraq invasion. FPI is now calling for a counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan modeled on the Iraq so-called “surge.” Senators John McCain, Lindsay Graham and Joe Lieberman are pushing the same bad idea.
Matt Yglesias points out that the Obama administration needs to “reject the kind of discredited neocon logic that says the only way to deal with the problem of the moment is with maximum force.” He adds, “the situation in Afghanistan has gotten as bad as it has in large part precisely as a result of the last administration listening to the counsel of people like McCain.”
UPDATE: General Stanley McChrystal’s classified 66-page report on Afghanistan has leaked to the press. McChrystal says the situation there is “deteriorating,” and warned that unless the U.S. and its allies gain the initiative and reverse the momentum of the militants within the next year the U.S. “risks an outcome where defeating the insurgency is no longer possible.”
UPDATE: Condi Rice helping the neocons spread the fear: “If you want another terrorist attack in the U.S., abandon Afghanistan,” she said. Josh Marshall offers an intelligent critique of Condi’s unintelligent remark.
UPDATE: According to the New York Times, President Obama is conducting another review of Afghanistan/Pakistan strategy, this time considering a shift from a counterinsurgency strategy to a focus on counterterrorism.
UPDATE: Dan Froomkin on HuffPo: Obama Finally Facing Reality in Afghanistan