Formerly chief of George W. Bush's Defense Policy Board in the run-up to the Iraq war, a huge supporter for the war, and leading neoconservative figure Richard Perle is trying to waltz away from his responsibility for the Iraq debacle. Cheeky devil. Dana Milbank is amazed.
In real life, Perle was the ideological architect of the Iraq war and of the Bush doctrine of preemptive attack. But at yesterday's forum of foreign policy intellectuals, he created a fantastic world in which:
1. Perle is not a neoconservative.
2. Neoconservatives do not exist.
3. Even if neoconservatives did exist, they certainly couldn't be blamed for the disasters of the past eight years.
"There is no such thing as a neoconservative foreign policy," Perle informed the gathering, hosted by National Interest magazine. "It is a left critique of what is believed by the commentator to be a right-wing policy."
Back in 2006 Richard Perle argued that the Iraq invasion could have turned out well if only Bush wasn't incompetent. Not the fault of Richard Perle. Only the fault of Dubya. He even says in retrospect he wouldn't advocate invasion seeing how things turned out. Geez, Bush wasn't an adequate implementer of Perle's policy and so Bush shouldn't have been entrusted with carrying it out. If only we knew in advance.
As soon as the term neocon became a dirty word some of the neocons started trying to disavow any knowledge or membership in the neocon circle of foreign policy intellectual activists. Yet, a history of the fight between paleoconservatives and neoconservatives shows that neocons are a real faction. Check out Scott McConnell's 2003 essay on the battles of these ideologues with other factions on the Right. They made a huge mistake in Iraq though, and some of them are trying very hard to distance themselves from it and from the very existence of their faction. They are trying to claim all of conservatism for their faction. What audacity.
Neoconservatism exists and Irving Kristol, one of its founders, acknowledges it as an ideology. But the ideological America of neocon imaginings is an enemy of the real America.
Update: Some of the neocons are going back into the Democratic Party. Is there some way to persuade all of them to make this switch?
Might there be a reunion, this time with the neocons courting the liberal hawks rather than the liberal hawks trying to court the neocons? The more conciliatory neocons have begun to send up signal flares. It isn’t simply David Brooks’s paeans to Obama. Robert Kagan has praised what he calls “Obama the Interventionist” in his Washington Post column: “Obama believes the world yearns to follow us, if only we restore our worthiness to lead. Personally, I like it.” Even the Weekly Standard has begun to reassess its seemingly intractable hostility to all things Clinton. Vigilant neocon-spotters will have noticed that the Standard featured not one but two items praising the idea of Hillary as secretary of state. The tone of both seemed to be “yes, we should.” Under the heading “Hail Clinton,” Michael Goldfarb, McCain’s deputy communications director during the campaign, blogged that she is “likely to be a nuisance to Obama whether she is inside or outside of his administration, but as our top diplomat she could reprise a role that made Powell a kingmaker in this year’s election. And perhaps she could even present the case for war with Iran to an insubordinate United Nations in the event that Obama’s personal diplomacy somehow fails to deter the mullahs from their present course.”
The Standard’s Noemie Emery went even further. In her view, “For the moment, Hillary Clinton will be the conservatives’ Woman in Washington, more attuned to their concerns on these issues than to those of the get-the-troops-home-now wing of her party, a strange turn of events for a woman whose husband was impeached by Republicans just ten years ago, and whose ascent that party had dreaded since she went to the Senate two years after that.” Indeed.
Maybe they'll succeed in making both of America's political parties nutty.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2009 February 23 10:00 PM Religion Secular Ideologies|