And so their great scheme, the subjugation
and democratization of Iraq, has failed; and all that is left for them is the
fate due all fanatical ideologues – to either desert the sinking ship like rats,
or else fight among each other like scorpions.
They have sown the dragon's
teeth; and the stone having been thrown among them, the
gonzocons fall upon each other with the same violence they once reserved
for the people of Iraq.
You'd almost pay to see it.
First to go was Francis
Fukuyama. Then the father of the feast, William F. Buckley Jr., joined
I for one relish the prospect of Buckley being denounced in his own pages
in the same way the gonzocons denounced
those who refused to follow their lead in the destruction of a nation, denunciations
they later tried to wipe
from the record.
It is ironic that this reflection is being written on the day that the
death of John Profumo,
the last survivor of those who voted the
appeaser Neville Chamberlain out of office, has been reported. Most of those
gonzos who shout "appeasement!"
and invoke Churchill probably don't realize that such an important link to the
man whose name they take in vain was still working in humility among
London's poor at the age of 91.
How ironic indeed, then, that the next to recant should have been George
Will, although he had to channel the
evacuation of Dunkirk in order to do it. This is the same George Will who
wrote of the 2004 Spanish election, in which the Spanish people democratically
Maria Aznar for his immediate, self-interested lies in the aftermath of the
Madrid train bombing, "Perhaps Sunday's election, which removed the
leadership that took Spain into the war against Islamist terrorism, means that
after the homegrown terrors of the 20th century, Spain, like much of the rest
of Europe, wants peace, and at any price."
It goes without saying that the liar Aznar was later feted at the American
Enterprise Institute, otherwise known as Gonzocon Central – on Sept. 24,
be exact. Predictably, he told them a pack of lies, which they presumably
greeted with thunderous
applause; but hopefully some
stout Spanish hearts will be lifted by the news that George Will, like Neville
Chamberlain, might also want peace.
All he has to do now is name his price.
Then there were three in a row, and all on the same day.
First up was a man from my own hometown who once described himself as "a
fully paid-up member of the neo-imperialist gang," a phrase so absurd it
should haunt him for the rest of his glittering career. Niall
Ferguson, Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University,
a thunderingly Gladstonian critique of current U.S. foreign policy, saying,
"The Republicans would certainly be foolish to climb
on to what is left of Bush's foreign policy. Nearly all its premises are crumbling
before our eyes. The theory of a democratic peace is a chimera; give Muslims
the vote and they vote for militants. Regime change in Iraq has not enhanced
American security; its principal beneficiary has been Iran."
As Churchill himself might have put it: Some neo-imperialist. Some gang.
Sullivan, Ferguson's contemporary at the University of Oxford, made
his excuses and left, saying,
"We have learned a tough lesson, and it has been a
lot tougher for those tens of thousands of dead, innocent Iraqis and several
thousand killed and injured American soldiers than for a few humiliated pundits.
The correct response to that is not more spin but a real sense of shame and
sorrow that so many have died because of errors made by their superiors, and
by writers like me. All this is true, and it needs to be faced. But it is also
true that we are where we are."
"We are where we are?" Where else did I read that?
Oh, yes, it was in the
recantation of a low-level British gonzocon named Nigel Farndale, published
on the same day as Sullivan's. Farndale's was entitled "The War of Wishful
Thinking"; the whole exercise might equally have been called the war of
Mark Steyn, one of gonzoconservatism's
most vocal champions, has also appeared
to waver. The recanted should cry out with one voice, "Come
on over, Mark, the water's lovely!"
But when Gerard
Baker wrote, "Three years ago I thought it was not only right but wise
and necessary to fight that war. It's much harder to make that case now,"
you could tell that the herd was in stampede.
It was time to round them up.
Melanie Phillips, Her
Majesty's Gonzocon, kept faith with her principles and
denounced Fukuyama, writing,
"Fukuyama thus joins the swelling band of fair-weather fainthearts
who originally supported the defense of the West but have turned tail and run
for their reputations now the going has turned tough. …
"A period of silence from this particular thinker would surely be preferable."
The desire that their critics be silent is a universal trait of all totalitarians.
Phillips lost her true vocation when she became a journalist. She'd have made
a wonderful commissar.
Victor Davis Hanson, the smartest and thus the worst of all gonzocons, has
a defense of current policy bathed in a fog of obscurantism that would have
baffled Leo Strauss,
"There are many reasons why such pessimism, and indeed depression,
is unwarranted – although I concede that very few Americans and still fewer
pundits would agree with my own explanations."
When faced with such odds and in such a position, a reasonable
man exercising a reasonable degree of care and skill in his reasoning might
reasonably reach a different and entirely reasonable conclusion.
That he is wrong.
But, sheesh, it's Vic Hanson we're talking about. That would be asking too
To Phillips' stridency and Hanson's baffling hypotheses must be added the
still, small voice of Christopher Orlet:
"It is true a minority will always oppose freedom. However, those Sunnis
who bombed the Samarra mosque are but the remnants of Saddam's dying fascist
regime – thugs who believe they can regain their lost power by provoking a sectarian
war. Yes, there will be sectarian violence. And it will not be limited to Iraq.
The Shi'ites and the Sunnis have been beating each other over the head since
the Prophet ascended into paradise in 632. Sectarian violence is common in India,
Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestine, and until recently Ireland. The fascists do not
speak for the Iraqi people, nor can they be allowed to win.
"Do not write off the Iraqi people. The alternative is a return to
Taliban or Ba'athist rule. And nobody, save the Taliban and the Ba'athists,
It does not seem to occur to Orlet that the sectarian violence he deplores
is a direct consequence of the policy he defends: the result of the blind
failure to understand the reality of Iraqi society from the outset. One can
always tell when Victor Davis Hanson has been on a roll at the keyboard, because
he starts to bemoan "the loss of blood and treasure" caused by the
failure of previous policies. The loss of blood and treasure in the past is
a matter for historians, but failure to curtail the loss of blood and treasure
in the present would be a far more worthy topic for the attention of the otherwise
not unreasonable Orlet.
Perhaps the remaining faitful do not yet realize that Richard
Perle, one of the greatest gonzocons of them all, has
strayed from the reservation. Richard Breeden called Perle a "faithless
fiduciary" to Hollinger Inc.'s stockholders, a term that now describes his
role in gonzoconservatism.
So the game is up for the poor old gonzocons, but the writing's been on the
wall for a while.
The occupation of Iraq has been a disaster from start to finish. From the ideology-driven
disbanding of the Iraqi armed forces to the use of Sharia law as a source of
the constitution, virtually guaranteeing the country's eventual fate as an Islamic
theocracy, the gonzos made one false step after another.
But the ideology's ultimate failure happened nowhere near Iraq. That Rubicon
was crossed last fall, on the shores of Lake
All ideologues, be they communist, fascist, or gonzocon, claim that they are
able to solve all problems confronting their adherents; and when they can't,
With Nazism, that moment came at the Battle of Stalingrad.
With Soviet Communism, it was the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Gonzo neoconservatism is an ideology whose great hook is the global projection
of national power. The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina showed that the ideology
that demanded national power be projected internationally could not project
national power nationally; at that point, its fate in the dustbin of history
Justin Raimondo referred to the Katrina disaster as the outcome of "putting
America last"; but I prefer to think of the levees of New Orleans as "neoconservatism's
Where do the gonzocons go from here?
Many of the elected ones will be out of office in November, if they don't start
exhibiting more interest in America. This is perhaps as good an explanation
as any for the current congressional shenanigans over port leases. For the time
being, it looks like Congress will have to pay more attention to those on whose
behalf they congregate.
Waving inky fingers might
not cut it in Dubuque anymore.
It's also not at all unreasonable to imagine that Dick Cheney will not be vice
president come November. Deadeye Dick is a far bigger electoral liability than
bonus given, inter alia, his status as Scooter Libby's last pre-arrest
employer. If Karl Rove still has his wits about him, then organizing the Last
Flight of Gonzo One may
be near the top of his agenda.
The pundits and think-tankers will still go cranking along – each with a spoor
of clippings on the Net as proof of their misdeeds, albatrosses
they will all have to bear for as long as the rest of us have printers and
Some might show some shame for the way they have behaved during this scandal.
And some have behaved scandalously: George Will not only cheered on the destruction
of one country, but also smeared the democrats of another as cowards.
If he is ever looking for an example of how he can change, I suggest he look
no further than the example given by another man of great power and influence
brought low by scandal who spent the rest of his life atoning by doing good
works in obscurity.
His name was John Profumo.
This has been an epic scandal, the worst in all American history, and one of
the worst in all British. What gives this scandal its truly ghastly edge is
that it was cooked up by smart people, educated people, people one would expect
to know better, people whom you would expect to question ideas placed in front
of them but who didn't, who swallowed lie after lie after lie instead because
they felt they had to or simply because they wanted to.
Worse, it is a scandal of the elites, of those who live their lives at the
base of power's throne, far away from the homes of those whose blood is spilled
and whose treasure is wasted paying for games of war.
How the gonzocons must miss Arthur
Chrenkoff. At least he tried to give them some good news.
And if anyone thinks I feel a measure of schadenfreude over their fate,
I can assure you I don't. I only feel a little shame, because
I was once a gonzocon, too.