Friday, July 21, 2006

Neocons fading out?

June 19, 2006

"The lazy-minded evangelico-romanticism of George W. Bush, the bureaucratic will to power of Donald Rumsfeld, the avuncular condescension of Dick Cheney, and the reflexive military deference of Colin Powell combined to get us into a situation we never wanted to be in, a situation no self-respecting nation ought to be in, a situation we don't know how to get out of. It's not inconceivable that, with a run of sheer good luck, we might yet escape without too much egg on our faces, but it's not likely."
That is how John Derbyshire, a one-time neoconservative who ardently pushed for the war against Iraq, presents a reformed view of the administration's approach to Iraq.
Derbyshire's description of the key players — Powell is out of the game though — apart, the summary he presented in a article in National Review accurately reflects the crisis that the US faces in Iraq.
It is not Derbyshire alone from the neocons who feels that way. Several others have spoken up before him and have quit the neocon camp, perhaps because they want to put as much distance as possible between them and the warmongers who they believe could be held to account at some point, sooner than later, for nudging their country to the abyss that is today's Iraq.
An overview of the neocon camp show that either they believe they have done completed their mission — US domination of Iraq — and are disbanding, or they are deserting the ship ahead of stormy waters. These are two theories attributed to the apparent inactivity of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), the core neoconservative group that planned, plotted and persuaded the Bush administration to go to war against Iraq as the first phase of a grandoise Israel-centric plan for the Middle East..
The PNAC was founded in 1997. The list of its founders and members reads like a "who's who in Washington" under the Bush administration. They could be better described as — in the words of Jim Lobe of the Inter Press Service — aggressive nationalists, Christian Zionists of the religious right, and Israel-centred neoconservatives.
The list includes William Kristol, Gary Schmitt, Robert Kagan, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, I. Lewis Libby, Paul Wolfowitz; Elliott Abrams, Zalmay Khalilzad; Peter Rodman, Richard Perle and Jeb Bush.
In 1998, members of the PNAC, including Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz, wrote to then president Bill Clinton urging him to remove Saddam Hussein from power using US diplomatic, political and military power. The letter argued that Saddam would pose a threat to the United States, its Middle East allies and oil resources in the region if he succeeded in maintaining his stockpile of weapons of mass destruction. The letter also stated "we can no longer depend on our partners in the (1991) Gulf War to continue to uphold the sanctions or to punish Saddam when he blocks or evades UN inspections" and "American policy cannot continue to be crippled by a misguided insistence on unanimity in the UN Security Council." The letter argued that an Iraq war would be justified by Saddam's defiance of the UN "containment" policy and his persistent threat to US interests.
In 2000, the group drew up a report — "America's Defences" — which said in part that "while the unresolved conflict in Iraq provides the immediate justification (for US military presence), the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein" and "over the long term, Iran may well prove as large a threat to US interests in the Gulf as Iraq has. And even should US-Iranian relations improve, retaining forward-based forces in the region would still be an essential element in US security strategy given the longstanding American interests in the region".
The war campaigners had to wait until 2001 — when George W Bush took over the White House — in order to set in motion the plan that they had drawn up: Invade Iraq, topple Saddam Hussein, instal a US-friendly regime in Baghdad that would take care of the people of Iraq, launch action — political, diplmatic and limited military strikes — against Iran, bring about "regime change" in Tehran, and consolidate American military presence in the Gulf in order to call the shots in the region.
In a letter sent to Bush on Sept.20, 2001, nine days after the aerial attacks in New York and Washington, called for the ouster of the Taliban from power in Afghanistan and elimination of Al Qaeda as well as waging a broader "war on terrorism" targeting the Palestinian liberation movement led by Yasser Arafat, destroying Lebanon's Hizbollah, bringing Syria and Iran to heel, and, most importantly, ousting Saddam regardless of whether he had any ties with Osama Bin Laden, Al Qaeda or the Sept.11 attacks.
"Israel's fight against terrorism is our fight. Israel's victory is an important part of our victory," the letter stated. "For reasons both moral and strategic, we need to stand with Israel in its fight against terrorism."
The letter was signed by Kristol, Kagan, Perle, Woolsey and Eliot Cohen, Centre for Security Policy president Frank Gaffney, former education secretary William Bennett, syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, and Foundation for the Defence of Democracies director Clifford May among others.
While these planned moves were projected as aimed at strengthening American supremacy of the globe, the PNAC was mainly seeking to serve Israel's quest for domination of the Middle East by removing the Jewish state's strongest Arab and Muslim challengers.
Even those neocons who have jumped ship are steering clear of mentioning the Israeli element in the agenda for war against Iraq and Iran. Obviously, they are aware that running foul of Israel means ruining themselves. They have seen it inevitably happening to anyone and everyone of value in US politics.
The PNAC went on a decline when it became clear that its "recommendation" had placed the US is a precarious position: It was being sucked deeper into the Iraqi embroglio, with American casualties rising every day, and it was also rendered in a position not to advance the neocon plans for Iran.
Infighting started in the PNAC, with one group targeting Rumsfeld for bitter criticism for not having sent enough forces to Iraq to pre-empt the insurgency and for having placed too much faith in Iraqi exiles who had claimed they would have whole-hearted and unreserved support of the Iraqis in post-Saddam Iraq.
The internal fueds led to a debate on the group's future. Some argued that its "mission" was accomplished and therefore it is desired that the group is closed down, particularly in view of the fallout among its members.
According to reports in the US press, including the Washington Post, the PNAC has issued any official announcement since late last year. There is no one to answer the PNAC telephones in Washington since January.
The Post quoted one unidentified source as saying that the group was "heading towards closing" with the feeling of "goal accomplished."