Neocons Turning on Bush?

Bill Kristol raises the dread specter of Howard Dean in the White House, and it’s all because the President’s hawkish impulses are being somehow subverted by out-of-line subordinates:

“While Bush is committed to victory in that war, his secretary of state seems committed to diplomatic compromise, and his secretary of defense to an odd kind of muscle-flexing-disengagement. And when Bush’s chief of staff, Andrew H. Card Jr., said on Sunday with regard to Iraq, ‘We’re going to get out of there as quickly as we can, but not before we finish the mission at hand,’ one wonders: Wouldn’t Howard Dean agree with that formulation?”

Actually, it’s hard to say what Dean would or would not agree with: the probable Democratic nominee has also said that we can’t just get up and leave, while somehow gaining a reputation as the “antiwar” candidate. Whatever. The point is that no presidential candidate who tells the truth about Iraq – that we’ll be there for the next decade or so, barring an outright military defeat, no matter which party is in power – can possibly hope to win. But the little Lenin of the neocons won’t take no for an answer:

“Indeed, doesn’t the first half of that sentence suggest that even the most senior of Bush’s subordinates haven’t really internalized the president’s view of the fundamental character of this war? If they haven’t, will the American people grasp the need for Bush’s continued leadership on Nov. 2? If not, prepare for President Dean.”

Kristol’s real problem, of course, is not the Rumsfeldian insistence that we have enough troops in the field, but that we haven’t launched any new invasions lately: by this time, the neocons complain, we should have been marching through the streets of Damascus and on the road to Tehran. “Faster, please,” is an exhortation that Michael Ledeen, neocon polemicist of Iran-Contra fame, makes a point of ending his frequent perorations with, and it fairly summarizes the neoconservative position.

Iran and Syria are their current targets, but in his book, The Terror Masters – the “What Is To Be Done?” of the War Party – Ledeen advocates overthrowing them all, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The smoke had barely begun to clear from the devastated World Trade Center before Kristol and his “Project for a New American Century” issued a statement that emphasized going after “other groups” than Bin Laden’s, including but not limited to the nations of Syria and Lebanon.

Both the pro-war and anti-war factions of the Right paint a portrait of a President caught in the machinations of Rasputin-like advisors. Kristol imagines that Rumsfeld and Powell are subverting the President’s real intentions, and subtly manipulating him to sell out the pro-war cause. Pat Buchanan, on the other hand, in commenting on Bush’s November speech to the National Endowment for Democracy, portrays the President of the United States as little more than a sock-puppet:

“George Bush did not write this democratist drivel. This is the kind of messianic rhetoric he probably never heard before he became president. Who is putting these words in his mouth?”

The President, in both scenarios, is an empty chalice waiting to be filled, a hapless Boy Emperor at the mercy of willful advisors, each with their own agenda. At the top of Karl Rove’s agenda is getting the President reelected, and that includes, we are told, a key proviso of “no war in ’04.” It seems pretty clear that a political decision has been made to at least give the appearance of handing power over to the Iraqis before the election really begins to heat up.

This rankles the neeocons to no end, and there are many signs, aside from Kristol’s complaint, that they may be turning against the Republicans. They never had any loyalty to the President to begin with, and, as has been foretold in this space many times, would turn on him viciously if it ever came to that.

Vicious certainly describes the attack launched by Frank Gaffney, ostensibly directed at conservative leader Grover Norquist, but which includes this astonishing accusation leveled at the White House:

“Ironically, pro-Islamist groups had been scheduled to meet with President Bush on the morning of September 11 to hear what he planned to do to deliver on his secret evidence campaign pledge. But that day, the executive mansion complex was shut down, for fear that a fourth hijacked aircraft was headed its way. I watched bemused as Grover Norquist and the White House official responsible for Muslim outreach, Suhail Khan, escorted the displaced Islamists into the conference room we share. (Al-Arian had arranged to participate in the presidential meeting via phone. According to his website, his teaching schedule at the University of South Florida would not allow him to be there in person.)”

The President, as The Speculist points out, was in Florida that fateful morning, and his schedule called for him to be there until Tuesday afternoon, as this White House briefing put it:

“He’ll return to the White House on Tuesday afternoon, where he will host, in the evening, the Congressional Barbecue on the South Lawn. Also on Tuesday, Mrs. Bush will make remarks on early child cognitive development to Senator Kennedy’s committee.”

The rest of Gaffney’s screed is a farrago of lies, character assassination, and the usual guilt-by-association tactics that are the hallmark of his written works. It’s as if someone had taken The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and transmuted it into a polemic against the real hidden masters of the universe – radical Islamists, who, in Gaffney’s whacked-out world, have infiltrated and taken over the White House!

The dogs of war are barking up a storm, driven half-mad by the thought that their plans may be frustrated. And it’s music to my ears….

NOTES IN THE MARGIN

Speaking of barking dogs, somebody muzzle radio ranter Neal Boortz before he embarrasses himself any further. Now he’s calling me – me! – a Communist! Check it out:

“Justin Raimondo doesn’t particularly like me. He doesn’t like me because I approve of our actions in Iraq. Fair enough. Do you know who else doesn’t like our Iraqi actions? Well, communists, for one. The chairman of those anti-war protests in London is the leader of the British communist party. So … is it a bit odd that Raimondo’s rants against me show up in a Pravda chat room?

Since anyone can post anything in a “chat room,” isn’t it more than a bit odd that this ersatz evidence of my secret membership in the Communist Party should turn up now? This is evidence, alright – of Boortz’s basic asininity.

I would ask Boortz: do you know who else doesn’t like our Iraq actions? The Libertarian Party, that’s who – the party that has disgraced itself by inviting you as a speaker at their national convention. The same party whose banner I ran under, in the 1980s, for three different offices in the state of California. The same party whose state convention I addressed in Illinois.

Is the Libertarian Party also part of the Commie conspiracy against this war? That’s the question Neal Boortz should be asked, by the party leadership. Boortz insists the antiwar movement must be watched by federal agents. Should members of the Libertarian Party, too, be spied on by the government because they hold antiwar views and participate in antiwar protests?

We’re all waiting for your answer, Neal….

Speaking of Commies, Glenn Reynolds is going on about the glorious “anti-terrorism” rallies in Baghdad and elsewhere protesting the actions of the Iraqi insurgency, but in citing news accounts he always carefully edits out the leading role taken by the Iraqi Communist Party:

“Thousands of Iraqis, some watched over by US Apache helicopters, demonstrated in Baghdad and other cities to condemn ‘terrorism’ in their country. More than 200 protesters from the Iraqi National Congress and other political parties, women’s groups and sheikhs in traditional dress gathered near the National Theatre in Baghdad and marched to a central Baghdad hotel.

“‘This is the national campaign against terrorism and sabotage,’ said Abo Thaer, 55, a member of the Iraqi Communist Party. His party members turned out with giant red flags bearing the hammer and sickle.

” … Qutaiba Khalid, and his wife Taghreed Jasin, both 28, said they were representing students as well as the Communist Party. With a red neckerchief and purple-tinted sunglasses, Khalid said violence ‘will endanger the lives of innocent people and it will delay the departure of the occupying force.'”

The Communists showed up early, and in large numbers, and their key role as organizers and foot soldiers of the occupation is underscored by Middle East scholar Juan Cole:

“The plan for a new anti-terrorist force of 750-850 fighters, drawn from the militias of 5 Iraqi parties, appears to be going forward. It is scary that the force will include members of the Badr Corps (trained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards). Western news agencies are not reporting, as al-Zaman does, that one of the five paramilitaries providing fighters is the Communist Party of Iraq! So, the last best hope of the US for an effective anti-terror campaign in Iraq rests with hardline Shiites and Communists?”

Since Glenn Reynolds made such a big deal about commie participation in the antiwar marches, exemplified by the Workers World Party-controlled “International ANSWER,” inveighing against marching with “Stalinists,” how does he justify marching with Iraqi Stalinists – who no doubt had a great deal to do with organizing these demonstrations? Reynolds urged sincere opponents of the war to boycott the demos organized by ANSWER, on the grounds that to march would sully the moral integrity of everyone who abhors the mass murders committed by Stalin and his successors. Well then, why doesn’t this same principle apply in Iraq? Or does it only apply to the antiwar movement?

I recommend the above to Neal Boortz and his fans, who have been writing me incoherent letters: now that’s the way red-baiting is really done!

Read more by Justin Raimondo

Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of Antiwar.com, and a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He is a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and writes a monthly column for Chronicles. He is the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].