As I said, that used to be the definition. Today, we can define those few who still embrace the neo-conservative ideal as morons who either can't or won't learn from recent history. It's one thing to have faith in a political hypothesis before you put it to the test, it's another to watch that hypothesis fail the acid test and come to the conclusion that you're correct.
These are today's neocons. They are fewer, no wiser, and just a little bit crazier. Having watched Iraq devolve into chaos, civil war, and anarchy, they believe they're still right. Iraq isn't the problem, others interfering in Iraq is the problem. The problem isn't -- as Gen. Omar Bradley said of the Korean war -- "The wrong war, at the wrong place, at the wrong time, and with the wrong enemy." The problem is that the war is too narrow.
The Iranians, of course, never cease denying that they intend to build a nuclear arsenal, and yet in the same breath they openly tell us what they intend to do with it. Their first priority, as repeatedly and unequivocally announced by their president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is to "wipe Israel off the map" -- a feat that could not be accomplished by conventional weapons alone.
Pretty much proving that reality is secondary to his theory, Podhoretz writes, "It now remains to be seen whether this President, battered more mercilessly and with less justification than any other in living memory, and weakened politically by the enemies of his policy in the Middle East in general and Iraq in particular, will find it possible to take the only action that can stop Iran from following through on its evil intentions both toward us and toward Israel. As an American and as a Jew, I pray with all my heart that he will."
I've said it before, but it bears repeating -- Ahmadinejad's the head of Iran in the same way that Mickey Mouse runs Disneyland. What he says is propaganda for regional consumption; he's the marketing department. Podhoretz knows this -- he just doesn't care. He's only interested in going to war with Iran. Like Iraq's WMD, Iran's nuclear ambitions are only a pretext. Where the invasion of Iraq was the beginning of the neocon world-building experiment, going to war with Iran was always a part of it.
The face of the neo-conservatives in the Bush administration has always been Dick Cheney and, thankfully, there's some evidence that Cheney's influence is on the decline. Maybe it's the fact that he's the brains behind the Scooter Libby scandal or maybe it's the fact that he's proven himself to be a really bad fortune teller, but there's an internal struggle in the administration over the question of Iran. One side wants war, the other believes diplomacy is the answer.
One guess as to where Dick is. As the old saying goes, "If at first you don't succeed, try again -- fail better."
New York Times:
A year after President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced a new strategy toward Iran, a behind-the-scenes debate has broken out within the administration over whether the approach has any hope of reining in Iran's nuclear program, according to senior administration officials.
The debate has pitted Ms. Rice and her deputies, who appear to be winning so far, against the few remaining hawks inside the administration, especially those in Vice President Dick Cheney's office who, according to some people familiar with the discussions, are pressing for greater consideration of military strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities.
Cheney, Like Pohoretz, seems completely incapable of grasping the fact that the neocon hypothesis has been proven untrue. In their minds, rebuilding the middle east from Iraq is a brilliant idea. And, if you take a look at the map, it becomes pretty obvious that war with Iran was the plan all along. Afghanistan on one border and Iraq on the other puts Iran between two staging areas (with nominal ally in the 'war on terror,' Pakistan, also on the border). They're merely arguing for attacking Iran ahead of schedule.
Regardless of whether or not attacking Iran is a good idea in the best case scenario, we live in the worst case scenario. Neither Iraq nor Afghanistan is stable. In fact, according to former US General Jay Garner, who'd been appointed two months before the invasion to head reconstruction in Iraq, that country is on the verge of total chaos and civil war on a balkan scale. He predicts a three-way, genocidal war. And he lays a great deal of blame for that in the lack of planning and coordination prior to the war. The neocons were so certain that their vision was inevitable that they didn't put a lot of sweat into figuring out how to go about it.
If Garner's right -- and there's no reason to believe he's not -- then moving the neocon world-dom concept forward right now is even more insane than the original plan. It's hard to imagine working around a war of ethnic cleansing to stage an attack on Iran. It's even harder to imagine taking a retaliatory attack from that position.
Cheney and Podhoretz, not learning a damned thing from Iraq, counsel catastrophe. We can be glad that Cheney's star seems to be past its zenith with the administration. That's the good news. The bad news is that the cooler heads that seem to be prevailing are on the shoulders of George W. Bush and Condoleezza Rice.
That's not extremely comforting...
Technorati tags: politics; war; Iran; Iraq; Afghanistan; war on terror; George W. Bush and Condoleezza Rice are our only hope against Dick Cheney's neocon dreams -- in other words, we're screwed...