In a desperate 11th-hour bid to save
face and salvage credibility amid the violent collapse of their predictions
of a "cakewalk" victory over Iraq, neoconservative opinionmakers appear
to be preparing to spin America's likely troop drawdown as just another stage
in the fulfillment of their larger plans for the region.
"In Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and elsewhere in the Arab world, the forces
of democratic liberalization have emerged on the political stage in a way that
was unimaginable just two years ago," Washington Post syndicated
columnist Charles Krauthammer, perhaps the most widely read neocon pundit, recently
wrote on The
Wall Street Journal editorial page. "They have been energized and emboldened
by the Iraqi example and by American resolve."
Krauthammer's determined ignorance of an Iraq on the cusp
of civil war follows the declaration by Karl Zinsmeister, the editor-in-chief
of the neoconservative The American Enterprise magazine, that "the
war is over, and we won."
"What the establishment media covering Iraq have utterly failed to make
clear today is this central reality: With the exception of periodic flare-ups
in isolated corners, our struggle in Iraq as warfare is over," Zinsmeister
wrote in June. "Contrary to the impression given by most newspaper headlines,
the United States has won the day in Iraq."
Backing their claims of victory with few relevant facts, Zinsmeister, Krauthammer,
and other neoconservative pundits appear to be attempting to use their platforms
to counter reporting that indicates the situation in Iraq is deteriorating for
the American occupiers. One such article published July 27 by United Press International
was titled "U.S.
Plans Iraq Troop Cuts as Revolt Rages."
"The struggle against the Iraq insurgency passed a crucial tipping point
Wednesday with the current prime minister calling for major U.S. troop withdrawals
and the U.S. ground commander there acknowledging they will probably come next
year. The commander, however, made clear he did not expect the insurgency to
have dropped by then significantly below its current level," the report
"In Washington, well-placed military sources told UPI that 'as many
as' '20,000 or 30,000' U.S. troops might be withdrawn from Iraq next year. That
would bring the current force levels of around 140,000 – which many U.S. military
officers privately, and most counterinsurgency experts publicly agree are already
far too low to deal with the insurgency – down to only 120,000 or 110,000 troops."
There are also the reports,
given more coverage in the mainstream media after the London bombings, that
rather than diminishing the threat of terrorism, the invasion and occupation
of Iraq have actually increased the West's vulnerability.
"We're being attacked for what we do in the Islamic world, not for who we are
or what we believe in or how we live," Michael
Scheuer, a retired CIA Middle Eastern specialist and author of Imperial
Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror, recently told CNN.
An American drawdown from Iraq under these circumstances would be seen in the
United States and around the world as a major blow to the neoconservative school
of foreign policy, which Krauthammer defines as "an unashamed assertion
and deployment of American power, a resort to unilateralism when necessary,
and a willingness to preempt threats before they emerge."
Which is why, in order to minimize the damage to their future ambitions for
American-underwritten or -initiated military action in the Middle East, and
to preserve the image of "the Bush doctrine" (which Krauthammer says
is really "a synonym for neoconservative foreign policy"), the neocons
are furiously spinning their way to victory in Iraq – but not necessarily out
of the neighborhood.
"There are too many entrenched dictatorships and kleptocracies in the
region to declare anything won," says Krauthammer, who is now pushing for
"relentless and ruthless" American actions against Syria. "What
we can declare, with certainty, is the falsity of those confident assurances
before the Iraq war, during the Iraq war, and after the Iraq war that this project
was inevitably doomed to failure because we do not know how to 'do' democracy,
and they do not know how to receive it." Tough talk that doesn't square
with their new (and probably wise) plans to cut and run.
But if Iraq ends up in civil war, or as a Shi'ite dictatorship with Iran as
the ultimate beneficiary of America's neocon engineered project (another increasingly
likely scenario), all the spinning in the world won't be able to sell Iraq
as a victory for "democracy" – or to hide the failure of neoconservative
At nearly 2,000 American lives and $350
billion so far spent, learning that the neocons are terrible at making foreign
policy assessments and dangerous when put into positions of authority is proving
to be a costly American education. The additional realization that they are
also dishonest historians who play fast and loose with the facts may be one
of the few benefits of the expense.