Chickenhawk or the Egg?

With all the talk of neoconservative influence, it’s important to remember that neoconservatism is only one of many ingredients in Bush foreign policy–an important ingredient, worth discussing, but it sometimes overshadows everything else. Some antiwar conservatives who are generally sympathetic to the president act as if the thought of invading the Middle East never would have crossed Dubya’s mind were it not for Paul Wolfowitz. Kevin Phillips challenges that belief with an enlightening look at the Bushes:

Dynasties in American politics are dangerous. We saw it with the Kennedys, we may well see it with the Clintons and we’re certainly seeing it with the Bushes. Between now and the November election, it’s crucial that Americans come to understand how four generations of the current president’s family have embroiled the United States in the Middle East through CIA connections, arms shipments, rogue banks, inherited war policies and personal financial links.

Read the whole thing.

While neocon heavies certainly do exert enormous influence in the government, it seems to me that far from “capturing” the president, the president (ie, Dick Cheney) selected them to provide intellectual cover for policies he was going to pursue anyway.

(Gracias to Cursor for the link.)’s New Look

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The Five Hundredth

William Rivers Pitt presents this powerful perpective on who will be the soldier whose death will receive the dubious honor of being The Five Hundred in our continuing tragic war in Iraq.

It will be upon us soon. Sometime, likely before January is out, the 500th American soldier to die in Iraq will fall. He will be killed by a roadside bomb, or a mortar, or a rifle shot from afar, or a pistol to the back of the head in a crowd, or a rocket-propelled grenade into his convoy, or into his helicopter which will plunge, blazing, from the sky. He will fall in Baghdad, or Tikrit, or Mosul, or some unnamed town in between…

Must that 500th soldier be a man? Ask Rachel Bosveld, who was 19, Kimberly Hampton, who was 27, Sharon Swartworth, who was 43, Karina Lau, who was 20, Analaura Gutierrez, who was 21, Alyssa Peterson, who was 27, Melissa Valles, who was 26 or Lori Ann Piestewa, who was 23, what place gender has on the fields of the dead. They would answer, if they could, but their voices were lost in the grinding of the guns in Iraq…

The number of wounded American soldiers shipped home fails to find a consistent count. Some say 2,000, others say 9,000, and still others say 11,000 and rising. Another generation of shredded American veterans has been born, honored when the country needs heroes to inspire the next generation into enlisting, but forgotten the rest of the time, left to pinch pennies and rub the stumps where their healthy young legs used to send them running and leaping and dancing through a life they surrendered in a blinding flash of pain and light…

His synopsis of the bald-faced lies that brought us into this war is followed by this dire prediction of the outcome:

American forces will never leave Iraq. It was never about freedom, or democracy. It was about the occupation of an oil-rich nation in a world where petroleum stores are dwindling. Perhaps it was about revenge for September 11, but if so, it was revenge taken on a virtually defenseless civilian population that had no hand in these attacks. It was also about profit. Nearly $200 billion has been spent to date on this invasion and occupation. Most of that money has gone to massive corporations like Dick Cheney’s Halliburton, to George Herbert Walker Bush’s Carlyle Group, to weapons manufacturers, to other petroleum companies. Once upon a time, that money belonged to you. Now, it belongs to them.

So it goes for that 500th soldier, who may be the 550th soldier for all we know. Not so long ago he, or she, raised a hand and swore an oath to defend the United States of America, and pledged his, or her, life to that cause. Implicit in that oath was a promise from the country honored to receive that oath. That promise? Your life will not be spent to no good end, soldier. Your life will not be wasted. The promise was broken…

I’ll Take the Old Republic, Thank You Very Much

In a bold move sure to confuse the Bush campaign, The New Republic has endorsed five Democrats for president. Joe Lieberman gets the editors’ nod, however, and the cover. Here’s why:

[T]he fight against Saddam Hussein falls within a hawkish liberal tradition that stretches through the Balkan wars, the Gulf war, and, indeed, the cold war itself. Lieberman is not the only candidate who stands in that tradition–Wesley Clark promoted it courageously in Kosovo, as did Richard Gephardt when he defied the polls to vote for $87 billion to rebuild Iraq. But Lieberman is its most steadfast advocate, not only in the current field but in the entire Democratic Party. In 1991, he broke with every other Northern Democrat in the Senate to support the Gulf war, then broke with George H.W. Bush when the former president allowed Saddam to slaughter tens of thousands of Iraqi Shia in the war’s aftermath. In 1998, Lieberman joined with McCain to co-sponsor the Iraq Liberation Act, which committed the United States to regime change in Baghdad. And, in the 2000 campaign, when the younger Bush was still peddling neo-isolationism, it was Gore and Lieberman who insisted that the United States be prepared to use force to stop genocide and promote democracy.

I think this is fabulous. Lieberman’s shot at the nomination appears to be doomed. Let’s hope this sinking ship pulls the whole Peter Beinart school of liberal interventionism down with it.

But I Wanna Be a Conspiracy Theorist!

Aw shucks, turns out we at haven’t been conjuring visions of a dark neocon conspiracy, after all. Jim Henley goes super-sleuth on something called Google:

I read a lot of criticisms of neoconservative foreign policy. Been reading them for years, actually, long before the Bush Administration existed. Hey, I’ve written them! While I occasionally see people who use the word “conspiracy” with regard to the neocon influence on Bush Administration policy, I don’t recall actual critics referring to said conspiracy, or Tendency or what-have-you as “shadowy.” There is clearly nothing shadowy about prominent national security intellectuals, prominently published in many cases, holding down high-level government jobs and not infrequently making statements to the media. “Shadowy” itself is a word generally inserted into the discussion by those who smear neocon critics, the better to stigmatize them. I googled “neocon shadoy conspiracy” this evening, and a scan of relevant hits on the first two pages shows that the word “shadowy” is almost always used by smearer of neocon critics rather than a neocon critic. Then I googled specifically. Of the four hits, not one used the word “shadowy” in relation to “neocon conspiracy.” Then it was off to The American Conservative. No hits at all.

Googling the same site for simply “neocon conspiracy”, the only hit is actually a quote by neoconservative columnist Robert Kagan. Searching the same parameters on produces 10 pages of hits (imagine!), but none of the ones on the first two pages turn out to be about, well, neocon conspiracies. The word conspiracy is never used to characterize the actions of the neoconservatives in or out of government.

This makes sense. Conspiracies are secret things, and if there’s one thing the PNAC, the Weekly Standard and AEI are not, it’s secret. Even Richard Perle can’t shut his mouth for more than five minutes.

I can still wear a tinfoil hat, right?