news for once! Indeed, we haven't had any of that
since 9/11. I'm happy nay, ecstatic to report that the
much-ballyhooed attack on Iraq has been indefinitely "postponed."
As we are informed by the Washington Post [May 24]:
uniformed leaders of the U.S. military believe they have persuaded
the Pentagon's civilian leadership to put off an invasion
of Iraq until next year at the earliest and perhaps not to
do it at all, according to senior Pentagon officials."
a propaganda build-up lasting years, the War Party has had
its Waterloo. At a hush-hush White House briefing given by
General Tommy Franks earlier this month, Franks told the President
that an invasion of Iraq would have to mean assembling a force
of 200,000, and that we would have to fight our way into Baghdad
"block by block." The clincher: a cornered Saddam
Hussein could unleash biological or chemical weapons. Casualties
both Iraqi and American would be unacceptably high. Even
as Bush was denouncing the "axis of evil" from the
podium in Berlin, the decision had already been made to forego
the grand military strategy of "regime change" in
the Middle East and find other means to take down the Ba'athist
regime. The Peace Party in the Bush administration has prevailed
at least, for the moment: the neocons, who have been campaigning
hard for the invasion of Iraq, Iran, Syria, and even the military
conquest of Saudi Arabia, are vanquished. And their howls
of outrage are sweet music to my ears
out of the gate was, naturally, Andrew
Sullivan, whose womanish lament had the ring of my old
Auntie exclaiming "Oh dearie me, it's simply dreadful!"
"Is Bush surrendering?" he demanded to know, on
hearing the "dreadful news" that tens of thousands
of living human beings would be spared:
true, then those of us who have supported the war on terror
need to revise our assessment of this president. He told the
German press yesterday that there is no plan to invade on
his desk. He said it almost proudly. His military leaders,
in a sign of their determination to risk nothing and achieve
nothing, are now leaking to the Washington Post that they
have all but scotched a serious military option in Iraq."
have to listen to this puffed-up poofter (and
British immigrant) bloviate about the implied cowardice
of our military leaders is part of the price we have to pay
for our de facto policy of open borders. For all the whining
about being supposedly
"banned" from the pages of the New
York Times Magazine, imagine how he'd react to bullets
whizzing past his ear. Why the poor thing would run shrieking
from the battlefield, rationalizing his cowardice every step
of the way. The closest Sullivan has ever gotten to the military
is Uniform Night at the local
gay dive. When did our gay Napoleon ever risk his life
for a cause greater than a moment's satisfaction in the dark?
to the sheer foolishness of his posturing, Sullivan cannot
help himself. He rears up, in righteous anger, declaiming
that the aborted invasion is "nothing short of a staggering
betrayal of trust, a reversal of will and determination."
In other words, Bush and his military advisors are nothing
but cowards. How fickle some people are! Why, it
seems like only yesterday that Sullivan was proclaiming
that Bush's "bonding" with the American people (and,
presumably, himself) was deep and profound:
of his most memorable moments in the days after September
11 was when tears came again. He was in the Oval Office and
he was asked how these events had affected him. 'Well,' Bush
said, 'I don't think about myself right now. I think about
the families, the children. I am a loving guy.' And his voice
cracked. That's when the country bonded. And only from the
depths of such sorrow can come the iron determination to see
the crisis through, to ensure to the best of his ability that
it would never happen again. His emotional core is connected
to his lightness of spirit. He is secure in what he loves.
And the very simplicity and depth of his patriotism is more
in tune with most Americans than with some other members of
the media or political elite. That's why the bond is so strong.
And that's why it will last."
not too long, as least in Sullivan's own mind.
Flitting from hagiography to hateful diatribes in less than
two weeks, Butterfly Sullivan insults the entire Bush family,
implying some sort of genetic-ideological disorder that the
President must have inherited from his father :
signs are unmistakable. This president, having begun as an
improvement on his father, is showing signs that he could
end up as something even worse. It's time he heard from his
supporters that this is a critical matter on which there can
be no compromise. If he balks, it will be worse than his father's
betrayal on taxes. It will be a betrayal of the very security
of the American people."
is this sacred cause that is so critical to Sullivan and his
fellow neocons, one wonders: what high principle permits no
compromise? Sullivan claims it is "the security of the
American people" but our cities are way beyond
the reach of Saddam's primitive Scuds, although they could
indeed hit Tel Aviv. So whose security are we talking about
never retracted his recommendation that the US ought to nuke
Iraq in "retaliation" for the anthrax he claimed
was visited on us by Baghdad, in spite of exactly zero evidence
of this and even after it was clear that it came from a
domestic source. With no Iraqi link to 9/11, and Saddam moving
to make some accommodation with the UN on the weapons inspection
issue, the question of how to rationalize such a bloody and
expensive war would doubtless cross the mind of any American
President. Yet, according to Sullivan and his fellow neocons,
such considerations amount to a "betrayal" but
of what, or whom?
answer, in short, is Israel.
US invasion of Iraq would permit the Likud
party nutballs to carry out their expansionist policy
of a "Greater Israel" under cover of a general conflagration
in the region, quite aside from knocking out a major antagonist.
On the other hand, the conquest of Iraq would cost the US
dearly, not only in lives, but in terms of support in the
Arab world. Israel's partisans or, at least, the Likudnik
variety, now in the saddle abhor the very idea of Arab support
for the US. For such support is bound to be mutual, and that
is the last thing they and their American amen corner want.
The Israeli version of the "war on terrorism," which
American neocons liken to the cold war, pits Washington and
Tel Aviv against the entire Arab world. It is a view that
Dubya's father rightly rejected, and, after a period of internal
struggle, has been similarly defeated within the current administration.
For the primacy of the US-Israeli alliance is no longer the
dominant factor in region, as far as US policy makers are
NEW MIDDLE EAST REALITY
new reality the radical divergence of US and Israeli interests
has taken hold since the end of the cold war, and certainly
9/11 rapidly accelerated the process. Quarantining Al Qaeda
politically as well as physically requires the active cooperation
of our Arab allies, first of all the Saudis. US economic and
military interests require, in this context, a tilt toward
Arab moderates. The Likudniks, and their American supporters,
including Sullivan, recognize no such fine distinctions: to
them, the entire Arab world is one vast reservoir of "Islamo-fascism," and
the sooner it is drained the better. As for the Americans,
they are coming to realize that the real Islamo-fascists have
no better friend than Ariel Sharon's Israel.
point is that this song and dance about Bush "betraying"
the "national security" is a complete inversion
of the truth: Bush is finally looking out for
US interests. Sullivan and his fellow neocons feel "betrayed"
because the President is putting America, and not Israel,
first. Sure, Saddam is a ruthless dictator who deserves the fate that befell
Mussolini, but it is not for the American armed forces
to achieve what none would dispute is a desirable result.
There are many like him and far worse who rule elsewhere.
Are we to overthrow them all? Only a few neocon ideologues
take such a batty idea seriously. (Although even
one would be too much.)
JOY OF GLOATING
cause for unalloyed glee aside from the feeling of relief
that so many Iraqi innocents have been spared is the sheer
misery of the neocons, who are furious that the President
has gone and ruined their lovely war. They were so counting
on it; indeed, neocon
pundits busied themselves giddy drawing up grandiose battle
plans. Use the disunited and disreputable Iraqi "opposition"
as a new "Northern
Alliance"! In case of trouble in Saudi Arabia, take over
the oil fields! "Liberate" Baghdad, but don't
stop there! On to Lebanon, Syria, Iran, and beyond oh,
and while we're at it, we may as well "democratize"
the Middle East. All that building of "new international
architectures," busy as beavers they've been and for
it's all come to naught, and Bill
Kristol is p'o-ed, I tell you, and even more appalled
than Sullivan by the Bushies suddenly going "wobbly."
But how, Kristol wants to know, could he do this, after
all that rhetorical warmongering: "Was it all hot air?"
The bad news gets worse: not only is Bush calling off the
Iraq attack, he's also declining to spend us into bankruptcy
by increasing the "defense" budget to the Weekly
Standard's satisfaction. Oh, the horror of it all!
War Party is in full retreat on the policymaking battlefield,
and the Peace Party is triumphant. But does that mean Noam
Chomsky has taken over the US State Department? Hardly. For
the Peace Party, in this context, is not the Left, or even
the nationalist-libertarian Right, but a far more powerful
and doggedly "isolationist" force: the US military.
The Telegraph headlined the story "Military
chiefs defy Bush on Iraq," and reported it as a sort
most senior military commanders have staged a joint rebellion
against calls for a swift strike against Iraq."
the various arguments utilized by the six Joint Chiefs of
Staff, the paper characterized their strenuous objections
to the Iraq invasion plan as a "revolt" that went
public "with a series of coordinated leaks to American
newspapers, describing how the Joint Chiefs stood 'shoulder
to shoulder' in challenging the wisdom of attacking Saddam."
So, has the Pentagon been taken over by peaceniks, infected
by what the War Party calls the virus of "Euro-pacifism"?
hardly. As the quintessential guardian of American interests,
the US military and its leaders instinctively put America
first. Just as a healthy body rejects a viral invader, so
the Pentagon chieftains fought and repulsed the alien agenda
of the Israel-firsters in the administration. The irony of
US military leaders as the most powerful force for peace is
somewhat abated when we recognize that these guys, after all,
are the ones who have to fight the wars.
our laptop bombardiers and our leftie peaceniks, who find
the idea of the Pentagon horning in on their peace-mongering
somewhat disquieting, to say the least the Joint Chiefs
know what war entails. Dying for your own country is
one thing: dying for somebody else's country is an altogether
different proposition. This explains why it's the civilians in the
administration Rumsfeld, Cheney, Rice, Wolfowitz, Perle
who are the most dangerous, and the military guys the
Joint Chiefs and Colin Powell who provide a counterbalance
of restraint and sanity. Their noninterventionist impulse
is neither weakness, nor cowardice, but plain common sense
born of bitter experience.
AND CONTINUITY IN AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY
is why Sullivan's contempt for the American military is so
galling especially coming from a foreigner whose country
we saved not once but twice. For the same reason, he's dead
wrong about what he regards as the weakness of the Bushies,
disdainfully observing that the apparent decision not to invade
is something one might expect of a Gore administration. The
Weekly Standard chimes in, ruefully remarking that
this is but a "continuation" of the Clintonian policy
an argument, however, suffers from the blinkered worldview
of the Beltway punditocracy. The continuities of American
foreign policy and the conflicts that shape it are not
properly defined in such narrowly partisan terms, which invariably
distort the larger issues. One has only to step back five
or so years to see the current debate as a reenactment of
an earlier clash between the military and a rarin'-to-go civilian
leadership. It was, after all, Madeleine Albright who famously complained
to Colin Powell:
the point of having this superb military you're always talking
about, if we can't use it?"
was in 1992, when Albright was demanding a massive US intervention
in Bosnia. In his memoirs, Powell wrote:
thought I would have an aneurysm. American GIs are not toy
soldiers to be moved around on some global game board."
the neoconservatives are echoing Albright's indignant query,
and threatening Powell and his Pentagon allies with multiple
aneurysms. To these laptop bombardiers, who are blithely willing
any price, bear any burden" in pursuit of Empire,
American troops are toy soldiers and the world is indeed
a global game board. And they are playing to win
it funny how, just as George W. Bush seems to be turning pro-American,
all of a sudden the media is developing an obsession with
his alleged foreknowledge of 9/11. What did he know, and
when did he know it? they screech. We are now seeing one
of the weirdest de facto alliances in modern political history:
the convergence of the Cynthia McKinney conspiracists,
who blame 9/11
on the President's friends in the mysterious
Carlyle Group in concert, no doubt, with the ultra-capitalist
denizens of the Bohemian Grove and the neocons. "Bush
Knew!" screamed the staunchly Republican New York
Post headline. An odd stance for New York's voice of neoconservatism
to take, and yet seen in the context of this policy shift
within the administration, it all begins to make a grotesque
sort of sense.
PARTY TURNS ON BUSH
a while, the War Party was hoping that Bush's tilt toward
the Palestinians and his embrace of the Saudi peace plan was
just a clever ruse, a "rope-a-dope" theory. But,
Roy Edroso points out on the vastly-improved Warblogger Watch
site, their patience soon wore thin. Until finally John
Derbyshire, like some fishwife complaining that her husband
never takes her out anywhere but MacDonald's, expressed the
half-hidden fear at the heart of all this rationalizing in
an article for National Review, "The U.S.
Will Not Go to War Against Iraq,"
you starting to get the feeling I'm getting, the feeling expressed
in my title? The feeling that there will be no war against
Iraq? Not this year, not next year, not ever?"
Washington Post piece reporting the Franks briefing
came out less than a week later, and by then the mood of the
War Party was considerably darkened. Oh, but don't worry,
wrote John O'Sullivan a few days later, look on the bright
is one overwhelming reason why Bush will invade Iraq in the
next year or so: He will not be reelected if Saddam Hussein
is still ruling in Baghdad in 2004."
that is a prediction, or a threat, I leave to my readers to
decide. I also leave to them the question of why so many transplanted
Brits Sullivan, Derbyshire, O'Sullivan, and god knows who
else are laboring so mightily to drag us into war. Perhaps
we should make it a condition of conferring US citizenship
that the lucky recipient sign a pledge refraining from taking
a public position on any foreign policy question for
a minimum of ten years and make the rule retroactive.
WAR ON BUSH
we should all take a moment to celebrate this apparent victory
God knows we don't have the chance to do it very often
this is no time for complacency. After all, the War Party
isn't going to sit still for this kind of treatment at hands
of the Bush administration, and you can be sure that we haven't
heard the last of this "what-did-he-know?" mantra.
An all-out neocon war on the Bushies allied, strategically
and ideologically, with such pro-Israel Democrats as Senator
Joe Lieberman is in the works, and it isn't going to be
pretty. As I wrote last month,
now, it seems, even the long-awaited assault on Iraq seems
to be up in the air.
The President's tilt toward the Saudi
peace plan bodes ill for Gulf War II
Cheney had just gotten back from the Middle East where he
talked up the Iraq attack (to no avail), and the President
the Pope in demanding an end to the "humiliation"
of the Palestinians:
Andy Sullivan, the gay Catholic and Republican sympathizer
who will now have to take on not only President Bush but also
the Pope! It must be hard. However, the rest of the neocons,
all ex-Democrats (or ex-Trotskyists, depending on how far
back you want to go) will have no trouble changing horses
in midstream. As I have pointed out on many occasions, their
own loyalties have always been clear: in any conflict between
the US and Israel, they have always defended the latter no
matter what. So, stand back, and let the fireworks begin."
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