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May 11, 2004

To Neocons, Reality Is 'Treason'


by Paul Craig Roberts

President Bush learned about the US torture of Iraqi detainees the same way you did from TV news compelling evidence that Bush has been manipulated by VP Cheney, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and the neocon warmongers. And you thought President Bush was in charge!

President Bush is being manipulated to promote war against the Muslim Middle East. Before conservatives ridicule him for being a manipulated object, they need to look in the mirror. They, too, are manipulated.

It is close to impossible for conservatives to get any but rah-rah kick-their-terrorist-butts commentary on the Iraqi conflict. Anyone who relies on Fox News, the Weekly Standard, National Review or the Wall Street Journal Editorial Page for understanding the US invasion and occupation of Iraq is as propagandized as Germans during the Nazi era.

The TV networks are not much better. Indeed, it is a legitimate question whether the invasion could have occurred without television's interest in exciting news.

American conservatism was killed by the September 11 terrorist attack on the US. Overnight conservatives became neoconservatives, determined to protect America by remaking the world in our image.

Neocons are not conservative. They are, as Professor Claes Ryn has conclusively shown, neo-Jacobins. Their roots lie in Robespierre and the Trotskyite left. Conservative media voices have become neocon propaganda organs.

Prior to the US invasion of Iraq, it was clear that the US was making a strategic blunder. An invasion that would clearly outrage the Muslim world, breed terrorism, and even unite long-feuding Muslims was not in our interest or in Israel's interest.

The new conservatives, however, would brook no dissent about the righteousness of the American cause in Iraq. With their policy in ruins, neocons now claim that Bush failed because he was not forceful enough. Prior to the torture scandal, neocons were calling for Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's resignation for being a wimp and not invading the entire Middle East.

If you listen to conservative talk radio, you will hear wholesale apologies and excuses for everything the US has done in Iraq and demands for more extreme actions. "Quagmire" is dismissed as the defeatist talk of the liberal press, a liberal plot to defeat America in Iraq just as in Vietnam. Neoconservatives regard any accurate description of our situation in Iraq as treason.

There is a large contingent of neocon brownshirts who believe that Americans have let the millennium-old crusade against Islam go unfinished for too long.

This is not an environment in which sound judgments are likely to be made. Just as Hitler, stalemated in his war against England, marched off into Russia, neocons argue that to win in Iraq we need to attack Syria and Iran. If Bush is reelected, wider war and a draft to feed it seem a certainty.


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    Paul Craig Roberts wrote the Kemp-Roth bill and was assistant secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was associate editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and contributing editor of National Review. He is author or co-author of eight books, including The Supply-Side Revolution (Harvard University Press). He has held numerous academic appointments, including the William E. Simon chair in political economy, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, and senior research fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He has contributed to numerous scholarly journals and testified before Congress on 30 occasions. He has been awarded the U.S. Treasury's Meritorious Service Award and the French Legion of Honor. He was a reviewer for the Journal of Political Economy under editor Robert Mundell.

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