The leak of a memo written by U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld confessing that the Iraq war is going to be “a long, hard slog” has dealt a body blow to the War Party and signals a new level of desperation on the part of the radical clique that lured us into the Iraq quagmire.
Rumsfeld, long perceived as a hawk, now appears eager to embrace an exit strategy. He has enraged the neoconservatives by refusing to come out in favor of putting more troops in the field, and, according to Charles Kupchan, an analyst with the Council on Foreign Relations,
“It’s clear now that Rumsfeld is not interested in ‘remaking Iraq.’ He wants to get the hell out of there.”
He also wants to survive in Washington, where the hunt for scapegoats is on: the war is going badly, and the general pessimism of the leaked memo reflects this. Although confident of ultimate victory, “one way or another,” in the short run the outlook, according to Rumsfeld, seems altogether bleak. The “global war on terrorism” is looking even grimmer:
“We are having mixed results with Al Qaida, although we have put considerable pressure on them nonetheless, a great many remain at large.”
While Osama is not mentioned by name in the memo, he doesn’t need to be: our complete cluelessness as to his whereabouts is underscored every time we receive one of those eerie tape-recorded messages promising more terror to come. But it’s a lot worse than that. According to Rummy, we’re flying blind:
“Today, we lack metrics to know if we are winning or losing the global war on terror. Are we capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas and the radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying against us?”
The man wants “metrics.” Maybe he should try these on for size. Or isn’t the number of American dead and wounded telling him what he wants to hear?
In the Byzantine world of Washington intrigue, one is tempted to believe that the Secretary of Defense, far from being broadsided by this leak, engineered it himself, because it makes him seem almost semi-rational next to the everything’s-coming-up-roses crowd. But there’s some wild-and-crazy stuff here, too, just the sort of Dr. Strangelove-ish ranting one might expect from Rummy in an unguarded moment:
“Are the changes we have and are making too modest and incremental? My impression is that we have not yet made truly bold moves, although we have made many sensible, logical moves in the right direction, but are they enough?”
Let’s see: we’ve turned the “just war” doctrine on its head and established our divine right of “preemption.” We’ve invaded a country that never attacked us, occupied it, and are now bogged down in a war of attrition where victory measured by any “metric” is impossible. We have not only alienated our traditional allies we’ve gone out of our way to make sure they stay alienated. Far from confronting Al Qaeda, we have been Osama bin Laden’s chief recruiter: U.S. policy seems designed to provoke the Muslim world into a frenzy of murderous opposition to American interests worldwide.
That’s quite enough, thank you.
To world-conquering Rummy, the conquest of Iraq is “too modest and incremental.” Sure, he wants the troops out of Iraq so they can move on to Syria, Iran, and central Asia. But what really ought to make us prick up our ears is the cryptic query near the end of the memo:
“Does CIA need a new finding?”
As the Washington Post pointed out:
“A finding, signed by the president, provides authority to conduct whatever covert activity is stipulated. Rumsfeld did not indicate the covert activity he had in mind.”
Keep your eye on Syria, the lynchpin of Arab “rejectionism” and next on the neocons’ wish list for an involuntary “regime change.” The strategy being followed was laid out in a 1996 policy paper prepared for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm” targeted Syria as the main danger to Israel and held that the road to Damascus runs through Baghdad.
The authors of that paper among them Douglas Feith, now deputy defense secretary for policy, Richard Perle, disgraced former chairman of the Defense Policy Board, and David Wurmser, recently appointed Middle East policy advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney are now ensconced in the highest foreign policy councils of this administration.
But perhaps even war with Syria is a bit too “incremental” for the Napoleonic crew in the Pentagon: Iran, too, is in their sights. And they won’t stop there….
What this memo shows, above all, is the utter recklessness of this administration, its unabashed radicalism: not since the Bolsheviks seized power in a 1917 coup and went on to subjugate a third of the earth’s peoples has such a self-deluded power mad clique posed such a threat to the civilized order. The conservative columnist Paul Craig Roberts, echoing Claes Ryn in Orbis, calls them “neo-Jacobins,” and points to the deadly danger the neocons represent to what is left of our old republic:
“More dangerous an enemy of the US and its traditional values than Muslims, neo-Jacobins have seized control of the Bush presidency and US foreign policy. They will stop at nothing to achieve their goal of World War IV in the Middle East.”
Keeping the Roberts-Ryn view of the problem in mind, the last sentence of the Rumsfeld memo takes on an ominous aspect:
“What else should we be considering?”
Okay, since you asked: How about letting Israel fight its own battles, and concentrating on the hunt for Osama bin Laden and the top leadership of Al Qaeda? Try pursuing a policy in the Middle East that doesn’t have all the earmarks of a Likud party policy paper. And the next time a top general equates Islam with Satanism, hustle him off to a mental institution the way they did General Edwin A. Walker.
What else should they be considering? That whole gang Rummy, Wolfie, Feith, and the rest of the neocon nest in the Department of Defense should consider resigning. In Japan, a failed policy is cause to fall on one’s sword. Our neocon samurai, unfortunately, have no such code of honor.
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
More evidence for the theory that 9/11 ripped a hole in the space-time continuum and repealed the laws of reason: The New Republic is now deemed guilty of anti-Semitism. The less said about the Greg Easterbrook imbroglio the better, but one interesting spin on the discussion was provided by David “Axis of Evil” Frum, in his capacity as chief enforcer of neocon dogma. Opining that the danger to Jews worldwide is so great that their “mass murder” is imminent, he writes:
“There is something more than a little fishy about the way that journalists who show virtually zero interest in the fate of these endangered people have pounced on the Easterbrook story. And there is something even fishier about the way that online journalists who have inveighed against ‘American Likudniks’ and ‘neoconservatives’ in a way that seems almost calculated to fuel anti-Jewish fantasies yes, this means you Eric Alterman, and you Mickey Kaus, and you too Josh Marshall have suddenly deputized themselves to serve as censors of offensive anti-Jewish speech. Mike Eisner doesn’t need your help, boys. Nobody in the American media is going to hurl offensive untruths and hysterical calmunies [sic] at him without thinking twice about it. The same is not true, alas, of Paul Wolfowitz.”
To use the term “neoconservative” is to commit a hate crime. That is the “offensive untruth” uttered by the writers Commissar Frum singles out. To speak the word is a “calumny.” How dare they “deputize” themselves, when we all know that The Frum, and maybe Norman Podhoretz, are the only legitimate “censors of anti-Jewish speech.”
It’s all beginning to make a twisted kind of sense, the sort one might expect in the Bizarro World we’re living in. Since Jews worldwide are supposedly threatened by what amounts to a second Holocaust, to oppose a war to make the Middle East safe for Israel is to be “objectively anti-Semitic,” as Leon Wieseltier characterized Easterbrook’s remarks. This is the loopy premise at the core of Frum’s frothy-mouthed rant.
In this context, for Frum to accuse Alterman, Kaus, and Marshall of being “hysterical” seems like a classic case of projection. It is Frum who is the hysteric. That he continues to delude himself into thinking that anyone is convinced by his extravagantly self-serving excuse for an argument is little short of astounding.
After all, how can he maintain this stance that the power, influence, and even the very existence of the neocons is a myth when we have the revered “godfather” of neoconservatism, none other than Irving Kristol, holding high the banner of “the neoconservative persuasion” in the pages of the Weekly Standard? Is Kristol, too, guilty of uttering “offensive untruths”?
The “conservative” camouflage worn by the War Party is wearing pretty thin, and Frum’s authoritarian tone is a dead give-away. The goal of his sort of criticism is to cut off all discussion and abort any inquiry into who lied us into war, and why. Frum and his cohorts many of whom are foreign-born are deeply uncomfortable with the free-for-all spirit of American politics. They are the biggest supporters of the “Patriot Act” and the odious “Victory Act,” which would lay the foundations for a crackdown on political dissent, and they are moving quickly to quash free speech on the campuses through the direct use of government power.
Neoconservatism is an authoritarian power cult, a conspiracy against liberty at home and peace abroad. We cannot rest until it is defeated. Frum Delenda est!