leak of a memo written by U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald
Rumsfeld confessing that the Iraq war is going to be "a long,
hard slog" has dealt a body blow to the War Party – and
signals a new level of desperation on the part of the radical
clique that lured
us into the Iraq quagmire.
as a hawk, now appears eager to embrace an exit strategy.
He has enraged
the neoconservatives by refusing to come out in favor
of putting more troops in the field, and, according to Charles
Kupchan, an analyst with the Council on Foreign Relations,
"It's clear now
that Rumsfeld is not interested in 'remaking Iraq.' He wants
to get the hell out of there."
also wants to survive in Washington, where the hunt for scapegoats
is on: the war is going
badly, and the general pessimism of the leaked
memo reflects this. Although confident of ultimate victory,
"one way or another," in the short run the outlook, according
to Rumsfeld, seems altogether bleak. The "global war on terrorism"
is looking even grimmer:
are having mixed results with Al Qaida, although we have put
considerable pressure on them nonetheless, a great many
remain at large."
Osama is not mentioned by name in the memo, he doesn't need
to be: our complete cluelessness as to his whereabouts is
underscored every time we receive one of
those eerie tape-recorded messages promising more terror
to come. But it's a lot worse than that. According to Rummy,
we're flying blind:
we lack metrics to know if we are winning or losing the global
war on terror. Are we capturing, killing or deterring and
dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas and
the radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying
man wants "metrics." Maybe he should try these on for size.
Or isn't the number of American dead and wounded telling him
what he wants to hear?
the Byzantine world of Washington intrigue, one is tempted
to believe that the Secretary of Defense, far from being broadsided
by this leak, engineered
it himself, because it makes him seem almost semi-rational
next to the everything's-coming-up-roses crowd. But there's
some wild-and-crazy stuff here, too, just the sort of Dr.
Strangelove-ish ranting one might expect from Rummy in an
the changes we have and are making too modest and incremental?
My impression is that we have not yet made truly bold moves,
although we have made many sensible, logical moves in the
right direction, but are they enough?"
see: we've turned the "just war" doctrine
on its head and established our divine right of "preemption."
We've invaded a country that never attacked us, occupied it,
and are now bogged down in a war of attrition where victory
measured by any "metric" – is impossible. We have not
only alienated our traditional allies – we've gone out of our way to
make sure they stay alienated. Far from confronting Al Qaeda,
we have been Osama bin Laden's chief recruiter:
U.S. policy seems designed to provoke the Muslim world into
a frenzy of murderous opposition to American interests worldwide.
quite enough, thank you.
world-conquering Rummy, the conquest of Iraq is "too modest
and incremental." Sure, he wants the troops out of Iraq –
so they can move on to Syria, Iran, and central Asia. But
what really ought to make us prick up our ears is the cryptic
query near the end of the memo:
CIA need a new finding?"
the Washington Post pointed
finding, signed by the president, provides authority to conduct
whatever covert activity is stipulated. Rumsfeld did not indicate
the covert activity he had in mind."
your eye on Syria, the lynchpin of Arab "rejectionism" and
next on the neocons' wish list
for an involuntary "regime change." The strategy being followed
was laid out in a 1996 policy paper prepared for Israeli Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for
Securing the Realm" targeted Syria as the main danger
to Israel and held that the road to Damascus runs through
authors of that paper among them Douglas Feith,
now deputy defense secretary for policy, Richard Perle, disgraced
former chairman of the Defense Policy Board, and David Wurmser,
recently appointed Middle
East policy advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney are
in the highest foreign policy councils of this administration.
perhaps even war with Syria is a bit too "incremental" for
the Napoleonic crew in the Pentagon: Iran,
too, is in their sights. And they won't
this memo shows, above all, is the utter recklessness of this
administration, its unabashed radicalism: not since the Bolsheviks
seized power in a 1917 coup and went on to subjugate a third
of the earth's peoples has such a self-deluded power mad clique
posed such a threat to the civilized order. The conservative
columnist Paul Craig Roberts, echoing Claes Ryn
in Orbis, calls
them "neo-Jacobins," and points to the deadly danger the
neocons represent to what is left of our old republic:
dangerous an enemy of the US and its traditional values than
Muslims, neo-Jacobins have seized control of the Bush presidency
and US foreign policy. They will stop at nothing to achieve
their goal of World War IV in the Middle East."
the Roberts-Ryn view of the problem in mind, the last sentence
of the Rumsfeld memo takes on an ominous aspect:
else should we be considering?"
since you asked: How about letting Israel fight its own battles,
and concentrating on the
hunt for Osama bin Laden and the top leadership of Al
Qaeda? Try pursuing a policy in the Middle East that doesn't
have all the earmarks of a Likud party policy paper. And the
next time a top general equates
Islam with Satanism, hustle him off to a mental institution
the way they did General
Edwin A. Walker.
else should they be considering? That whole gang – Rummy,
Wolfie, Feith, and the rest of the neocon nest in the Department
of Defense – should consider resigning. In Japan,
a failed policy is cause to fall on one's sword. Our neocon
samurai, unfortunately, have no such code of honor.
IN THE MARGIN
evidence for the theory that 9/11 ripped a hole in the space-time
continuum and repealed the laws of reason: The New Republic
is now deemed
guilty of anti-Semitism. The less said about the
Greg Easterbrook imbroglio the better, but one interesting
spin on the discussion was provided by David "Axis of Evil"
Frum, in his capacity as
chief enforcer of neocon dogma.
Opining that the danger to Jews worldwide is so great that
their "mass murder" is imminent, he writes:
"There is something more than a little fishy about the
way that journalists who show virtually zero interest in the
fate of these endangered people have pounced on the Easterbrook
story. And there is something even fishier about the way that
online journalists who have inveighed against 'American Likudniks'
and 'neoconservatives' in a way that seems almost calculated
to fuel anti-Jewish fantasies – yes, this means you Eric Alterman,
and you Mickey Kaus, and you too
Marshall – have suddenly deputized themselves to
serve as censors of offensive anti-Jewish speech. Mike Eisner
doesn't need your help, boys. Nobody in the American media
is going to hurl offensive untruths and hysterical calmunies
[sic] at him without thinking twice about it. The same
is not true, alas, of Paul Wolfowitz."
use the term "neoconservative" is to commit a hate crime.
That is the "offensive untruth" uttered by the writers Commissar
Frum singles out. To speak the word is a "calumny." How dare
they "deputize" themselves, when we all know that The
Frum, and maybe Norman Podhoretz, are
the only legitimate "censors of anti-Jewish speech."
all beginning to make a twisted kind of sense, the sort one
might expect in the Bizarro
World we're living in. Since Jews worldwide are supposedly
threatened by what amounts to a second Holocaust, to oppose
a war to make the Middle East safe for Israel is to be "objectively
anti-Semitic," as Leon
Wieseltier characterized Easterbrook's remarks. This is
the loopy premise at the core of Frum's frothy-mouthed rant.
this context, for Frum to accuse Alterman, Kaus, and Marshall
of being "hysterical" seems like a classic case of projection. It is Frum
who is the hysteric. That he continues to delude himself into
thinking that anyone is convinced by his extravagantly self-serving
excuse for an argument is little short of astounding.
all, how can he maintain this stance – that the power, influence,
and even the very existence of the neocons is a myth
when we have the revered "godfather" of neoconservatism, none
other than Irving Kristol,
holding high the banner of "the
neoconservative persuasion" in the pages of the Weekly
Standard? Is Kristol, too, guilty of uttering "offensive
"conservative" camouflage worn by the War Party is wearing
pretty thin, and Frum's authoritarian tone is a dead give-away.
The goal of his sort of criticism is to cut off all discussion
and abort any inquiry into who lied us into war, and
why. Frum and his cohorts
– many of whom are foreign-born
– are deeply uncomfortable with the free-for-all spirit of
American politics. They are the biggest supporters of the
Act" and the odious "Victory
Act," which would lay the foundations for a crackdown
on political dissent, and they are moving quickly to quash free speech on
through the direct use of government
is an authoritarian power cult, a conspiracy against liberty
at home and peace abroad. We cannot rest until it is defeated.
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