September 17, 2003

DONALD RUMSFELD, PEACENIK?
Rummy wants out – and the neocons are hopping mad

by Justin Raimondo

There's a falling out among neocons, reports Jim Lobe of Interpress News Service, and you can bet it isn't going to be pretty. Considering their zeal to purge and smear dissidents on the Right for the slightest deviation an insufficient devotion to the cult of Lincoln, taking the "wrong" position on McCarthy (Joe, not Gene), mentioning Martin Luther King's Commie connections (or his career as a serial plagiarist) this fight is going to be worth the cost of a ringside seat. Oh, how the blood will flow!

Lobe, a longtime observer of the neocon scene, is certainly in the best position to give us a blow-by-blow account. He has covered their ideology, their methods, their plans, their obsessions, their triumphs, their troubles and, now, their split into contending factions.

The object of their contention is George W. Bush's conduct of the war on terror, which seems to have ground to a near halt. In Iraq, the Americans are on the defensive, floundering in a sea of hostility, while on the home front the neocons are increasingly singled out as the architects of a strategy that managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, turning a military success into a political and diplomatic failure.

In the neocons' view, however, it's all the President's fault. Not only did he fail to continue the war, but he sent Colin Powell hat-in-hand to the UN, despoiling the pristine arrogance of our post-9/11 foreign policy. Worse yet, the neocons' postwar grand design has been scaled down considerably.

"It's clear now that Rumsfeld is not interested in 'remaking Iraq'," says Charles Kupchan, an analyst with the Council on Foreign Relations. "He wants to get the hell out of there."

And the neocons are livid. Glory, glory hallelujah!

Frank Gaffney, Jr., of the Center for Security Policy, complains that the administration has gone soft on Syria, ignored the Iranian "threat," and given the Saudis a pass. The "road map" is sheer lunacy, to Gaffney, who is never in favor of peace if war is a possibility – and who never takes the American side in any dispute with Israel. He doesn't have the courage to come right out and point the accusing finger at the President, however:

"Published accounts say the most influential of these, White House adviser Karl Rove, has warned that there must be 'no more wars' for the remainder of Bush's term. Grover Norquist, allowed by Rove to portray himself as a close ally, has opined publicly that '[Wars] are expensive and a drain politically. They are not political winners.' According to Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform, it follows that if Bush persists in engaging in them, he could doom himself to being a one-term president."

No more wars?! Oh, but the neocons have just begun. They envision a whole series of wars raging throughout the Middle East. It's what Michael Ledeen calls "creative destruction." The neocon vision "transforming" the region so as to make it safe for Israel requires it. After all, you don't "remake" something without first destroying it. The neocons had their hearts set on the continuation of their war of "liberation," and the disappointment in Ledeen's voice is palpable as he commiserates with his buddy Pat Robertson:

ROBERTSON: "Well, I've read a couple of your recent columns. You're pointing to Iran as a terror master, but you're saying Iran, Saudi Arabia and Syria. But apparently our State Department doesn't want to really move against them."

LEDEEN: "No, our State Department just really wants to make deals with all of those countries. Our State Department thinks that, 'Now we've done Iraq. There's a presidential election coming up. Our troops are tired. Our resources are strained. Let's stop here for the time being, try to bring some order into Iraq. And then after the presidential election, if President Bush is re-elected, then we'll worry about what comes next.' That's their current thinking."

ROBERTSON: "If we pursue that, all the momentum we had after the Operation Iraqi Freedom is going to be lost."

It doesn't matter to fanatics like Robertson and Ledeen that our troops are tired, that our resources are strained, that "liberated" Iraq is in chaos. Reality can be safely ignored, you see, because victory is a matter of pure will. Besides that, Robertson believes that American resources must be put at Israel's disposal because God wills it, a delusion that suits Ledeen and his fellow neocons just fine.

Gaffney attacks Rove in another op ed, this time in the Washington Times, charging that the President's influential political advisor is part of a network involving "foreign-funded" "Islamist" groups, darkly insinuating that the Bush reelection campaign is colluding with pro-terrorist "radical" Muslims. What is the evidence for this? The President and Rove have met with representatives of a broad cross-section of Arab-American and Muslim groups in an effort to get their support. Can you imagine that a politician angling for votes and campaign contributions? Who ever heard of such a thing? Leave it to our American Likudniks to put a sinister cast on such a prosaic event.

Here's some news to brighten up your day. Gloom and doom hang over the War Party like a dark cloud:

ROBERTSON: "The President made a stirring speech after 9-11, that anybody who harbors a terrorist shall be considered a terrorist. And yet, it's been kid gloves with Saudi Arabia, kid gloves with Syria, kid gloves with Iran. When are we going to get tough?"

LEDEEN: "Yeah. I don't know. I mean, it seems to me, too, that he's lost his bearings on this."

In other words, the President has regained his bearings, albeit perhaps only temporarily. On account of the coming struggle to retain the White House, Bush 43 has put on hold, if not entirely called off, what the neocons call "World War IV."

As the Old Right journalist and polemicist Garet Garrett put it:

"Between government in the republican meaning, that is, Constitutional, representative, limited government, on the one hand, and Empire on the other hand, there is mortal enmity. Either one must forbid the other or one will destroy the other. That we know. Yet never has the choice been put to a vote of the people."

And George W. Bush has no intention of breaking that tradition. Grover Norquist is right: war sure isn't a political winner. That's why Woodrow Wilson campaigned on a platform of "he kept us out of war," while Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared "I have said this before, but I shall say it again and again and again: Your boys are not going to be sent into foreign wars" even as he was plotting and conniving to drag us into World War II by hook, by crook, and through the back door.

Regardless of the President's intentions, the last thing Karl Rove wants is an inquisition into plans for expanding a war that is already proving to be a political albatross – one that could drag not only the President but his party down to defeat in '04.

Rove, however, is only one source of the new caution. The other is Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who is looking for an exit strategy not only to extricate us from Iraq, but to extricate himself out of the role of scapegoat. As Lobe puts it:

"Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld, on the other hand, is dead-set against deploying yet more troops to join the 180,000 now in Iraq and Kuwait. And while he, like the neo-cons, opposes conceding any substantial political role for the UN or anyone else, his preferred option is to transfer power directly to the Iraqis as quickly as possible, even at the risk that reconstituted security forces would be insufficiently cleansed of elements of the former regime's Ba'ath Party."

No war in '04? You betcha. Beyond that, however, all bets are off.

Since both major parties are merely the "right" and "left" wings of a single party, the War Party, it makes no difference which one wins the White House. Unless a candidate emerges from the pack who is clearly and specifically for getting us out of Iraq, and out of the business of empire-building altogether, the outcome of the election is utterly irrelevant. In any case, our interventionist foreign policy is sure to stay in place.

Every election season is a vast distraction that, traditionally, the peace movement has had to endure, like a passing storm. Resources and energy are temporarily diverted into the nearly always vain hope that one of the two major political parties can be made into the vehicle on which the anti-interventionist movement can hitch a ride. Principles are eclipsed by partisan loyalties, and I'm not just talking about the willingness of all too many "antiwar" types to overlook Howard Dean's shifty stance on what to do about Iraq, but also Bob Novak's sudden flacking for a war that he vehemently (and rightly) opposed. .

There's only one sure defense against the depredations of the War Party, and that is the organized vigilance of the American people. Ah, but vigilance presupposes knowledge, and that's what Antiwar.com is all about. Election seasons come and go, like the weather, but the movement to reclaim the foreign policy of this country soldiers on.

My good friend Lew Rockwell recently remarked that we should never tire of saying "I told you so" to the warmongers, and I agree completely with his pro-gloating stance. We said the war would be a breeze compared to the occupation, and that the real war wouldn't start until we declared "victory" and we were right. We said there were no weapons of mass destruction, no links to Al Qaeda, no real rationale for war other than serving Israel's interest and we were right about all that, too. I long ago predicted that the neocons would turn on Bush if he faltered in pursuit of their dreams of empire, and I take great delight in publicly gloating over this recent turn of events.

NOTES IN THE MARGIN

Check out my review of Jim Bovard's new book, Terrorism and Tyranny: Trampling Freedom, Justice, and Peace to Rid the World of Evil (Palgrave-Macmillan), in the September 22 issue of The American Conservative. (I don't know if they're going to put it online, so get your copy on the news stands now). Bovard's book is the perfect antidote for Ashcroft's "Patriot Act II" Tour, in which the Attorney General is trying to sell the most serious assault on the Bill of Rights since the Alien and Sedition Acts as a defense of the very system he undermines. Buy it, read it, and give it to your friends.

– Justin Raimondo

comments on this article?

 Please Support Antiwar.com

Antiwar.com
520 S. Murphy Avenue, #202
Sunnyvale, CA 94086

or Contribute Via our Secure Server
Credit Card Donation Form

Your contributions are now tax-deductible

Antiwar.com Home Page

Most recent column by Justin Raimondo

Archived columns

Donald Rumsfeld, Peacenik?
9/17/03

Countdown to Catastrophe in the Middle East
9/15/03

Iraq Is the Flytrap
9/12/03

9/11 Conspiracy Chic
9/10/03

Bush Speech: No U-Turn on the Road to Empire
9/8/03

Imperial Eye for the Republican Guy
9/5/03

Iraq's Mystery Terrorists
9/3/03

The Dean Deception
8/27/03

The War Party Unmasked
8/25/03

America in Iraq: A Glutton for Punishment
8/22/03

Baghdad Bomb Blasted American Hubris
8/20/03

The Neocons Come Out
8/18/03

The Real Terror Masters
8/15/03

Iraq War Critics Purged
8/13/03

A Politically Correct War?
8/11/03

US Troops in Iraq Are Sitting Ducks
8/8/03

Dean vs. Loserman
8/6/03

Anthrax Anniversary
8/4/03

What Does Bush Have to Hide?
8/1/03

Mr. Sharon, Tear Down That Wall!
7/30/03

Who Lied Us Into War?
7/28/03

Bremer's Baghdad Bolsheviks
7/25/03

The Perversion of History
7/23/03

Coalition of Deceit
7/21/03

Military Morale Hits Bottom in Iraq
7/18/03

Saddam Meets the Man From U.N.C.L.E.
7/16/03

Bogus from the Beginning
7/14/03

'If It Feels Good Do It'
7/11/03

Mosaic of Lies
7/9/03

To Heck with Liberia!
7/7/03

Mourning in America
7/4/03

No Exit?
7/2/03

The Road Map
6/30/03

The Culture of Imperialism
6/27/03

The WMD Cult
6/25/03

The New Thought Police
6/23/03

Empire of Liberty?
6/20/03

The Gaza Trap
6/18/03

What's It All About?
6/16/03

Trotsky, Strauss, and the Neocons
6/13/03

Classic Raimondo:
Israel's Taliban
6/11/03

Behind the Lies
6/9/03

Liars 'R Us
6/6/03

Hell to Pay
6/4/03

Wackos, Weirdos and Wing-Dings
6/2/03

We Were Right
5/30/03

On to Tehran?
5/28/03

Classic Raimondo:
Decline and Fall
5/26/03

Outing the Neocons
5/23/03

Revolt Against the Neocons
5/21/03

Regime Change Roulette
5/19/03

Blowback in Riyadh
5/16/03

The Anti-Americans
5/14/03

Classic Raimondo: Living in a Soviet America
5/12/03

Smoking Gun
5/9/03

Mad Dogs of War
5/7/03

Whose 'Road Map'?
5/5/03

The Final Secret of 9/11
5/2/03

Neocons in Denial
4/30/03

Santorum's Sins
4/28/03

The Real Crisis
4/25/03

Screw the UN
4/23/03

Putting America First
4/21/03

Fickle 'Victory'
4/18/03

Nesting Habits of Washington's War Birds
4/16/03

Phase Two Begins
4/14/03

King George Returns
4/9/03

The Real War
4/7/03

World War IV
4/4/03

If This Be Treason
4/2/03

On the Middle East Escalator
3/31/03

A Perle of High Price
3/28/03

Iraqi Pandora
3/26/03

A No-Winner
3/24/03

Commissar Frum
3/22/03

Bluff and Bluster
3/21/03

Shine, Perishing Republic
3/19/03

This Isn't About You
3/17/03

What's It All About, Ari?
3/14/03

Postwar Blues
3/12/03

Reckless Warmongers
3/10/03

This War Is Treason
3/7/03

The Hapless Hegemon
3/5/03

Libertarianism in the Age of Empire
3/3/03

Notes from the Margin
2/28/03

Is War Inevitable?
2/26/03

War Party Stumbles
2/24/03

Vive la France!
2/21/03

A 'Toxic' Meme
2/19/03

Rallying for War
2/17/03

Rally Against Fear
2/14/03

One Battlefield, Two Wars
2/12/03

Antiwar Breakthrough!
2/10/03

The Lying Game
2/7/03

Free Taki!
2/5/03

The Kook Factor
2/3/03

Our Reds, and Theirs
1/31/03

Beware the Ides of March
1/29/03

Growing Up
1/27/03

Israel's Amen Corner
1/24/03

Target: Scott Ritter
1/22/03

Listen Up, Soldier
1/20/03

Watch Your Back
1/17/03

Going Crazy
1/15/03

Turning Point
1/13/03

War Party in Retreat
1/10/03

Hail Caesar?
1/8/03

Korean Ghosts
1/6/03

Do Neocons Exist?
1/3/03

Happy New Year?
1/1/03

Previous columns

Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of Antiwar.com. He is also the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement (with an Introduction by Patrick J. Buchanan), (1993), and Into the Bosnian Quagmire: The Case Against U.S. Intervention in the Balkans (1996). He is an Adjunct Scholar with the Ludwig von Mises Institute, in Auburn, Alabama, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Libertarian Studies, and writes frequently for Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard.

Back to Antiwar.com Home Page | Contact Us