Reinventing the War Party

The tom-toms are beating, and the word is going out to neocons worldwide: Save yourselves! Anybody but Bush! Yes, I know it must be hard to believe, since loyalty is such a big deal to the neocons (as in: they don’t have any), but the word on the street is that, since the Great Cause of Democracy (and Richard Perle’s bank balance) has been betrayed – and the Prez is a goner, come November, anyway – it’s time for the neocons to go into opposition. That’s what the revival of the supposedly “bipartisan” Committee on the Present Danger is all about, and the signs of a neocon retrenchment are all around us.

Check out the final paragraph of Christopher Hitchens’ latest advertorial for Ahmed Chalabi, the now disgraced leader of the Iraqi National Congress. After defending this convicted embezzler and self-described “hero in error” – the one man on earth who might be more of an opportunist than Hitchens – for well over a thousand words, the former features editor of one of the most boring Trotskyite rags in existence avers:

“As I write, the Allawi government in Baghdad is trying, with American support, a version of an ‘iron fist’ policy in the Shiite cities of the south. (‘Like all weak governments,’ as Disraeli once said in another connection, ‘it resorts to strong measures.’) Chalabi, who has spent much of this year in Najaf, thinks that this is extremely unwise. We shall be testing all these propositions, and more, as the months go by.”

Hitchens howled for war, along with the rest of the neocon wolf pack, for months – nay, years – yet now he cites Disraeli’s disdain for “strong measures.” So, Chalabi thinks it “unwise” for the U.S. to move into Najaf, does he? Why didn’t he think of the possible consequences back when he was demanding a U.S. invasion of Iraq? Are these neocons afflicted with the ideological equivalent of Alzheimer’s disease, or is something else going on here?

After a years-long high-decibel campaign, during which Chalabi and his American fan club connived, finagled, and lied us into war, the War Party has suddenly begun to switch sides. Recently deprived of his monthly $350,000 subsidy, Chalabi turns on his former sponsors and employers, embracing the rebel Shi’ite leader, Muqtada al-Sadr – and Hitchens, who denounced war opponents as “anti-American” Ba’athist sympathizers, turns with him. Having dragged down the President by embroiling him in an unwinnable and increasingly expensive war, the neocons are not only getting ready to abandon Bush but also sending some sniper fire his way.

More evidence that the neocons are repositioning themselves for a post-Bush era: Michael Rubin, a former CPA official, and one of the youngest and most militant of the neocon cadre, is taking on the Bushies. Rubin is cited in a story in The Oregonian that broke the news of torture inflicted on Iraqi detainees by Iraqis – and detailed how U.S. National Guardsmen were prevented from rescuing them. It seems some National Guardsmen on patrol came upon a horrifying scene: Iraqi soldiers beating, abusing, and otherwise torturing other Iraqis. The Guardsmen disarmed the soldiers, and administered first aid to their victims, but were told to back off by their commander, on the grounds that they must show the proper respect for Iraqi sovereignty. Rubin, rather than take responsibility for the inevitable consequences of the policy he fought for – and implemented – points the finger of blame at his former boss Paul Bremer, and, by implication, his boss, George W. Bush:

“’Iraqis want us to respect their sovereignty, but the problem is we will be blamed for leaving the fox in charge of the henhouse,’ said Michael Rubin, a former adviser to the interim Iraqi government who is now a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. ‘We did not generally put good people in.’”

“Good people” – you know, like Señor Chalabi, who is not without reason known as the thief of Baghdad, the man who betrayed the innermost secrets of U.S. intelligence to his Iranian paymasters and now has returned to Iraq – only to go back into hiding. Anything to avoid facing the charge of counterfeiting.

As to whether Chalabi would be as bad, or worse, than Iyad Allawi, the current U.S. sock-puppet, it is hard to say. While Allawi is reputed to have personally executed detainees just days prior to his ascension to the Iraqi presidency, one reason Chalabi is still staying out of sight is doubtless because he doesn’t want to get mixed up in the murder charges filed against his nephew, Salem, also a close associate of Washington neocons, war profiteer par excellence, and key INC member.

The idea that Chalabi is or ever was any kind of Iraqi “democrat” – or that his neocon amen corner in the U.S. gives a fig about “democracy” – doesn’t merit a hollow chuckle, especially when one considers that Chalabi is now repositioning himself as an ally of the Sadrists – radical proponents of an Iranian-style theocracy.

As the war goes horribly wrong, and the casualty count nears the thousand-mark, with no end in sight, the neocons are slinking away from their own bloody handiwork, blaming others – the President, Rumsfeld’s faulty “implementation,” a “loss of nerve” on the part of the American people: anything or anyone but the war and its most militant proponents.

Rubin’s concern for the victims of Allawi’s thugs is touching, but you’ll forgive me if I don’t take it too seriously, considering his response to the Abu Ghraib torture revelations in an op-ed piece written less than three months ago:

“Professors and pundits may say that the sky has fallen, but Iraqis have a broader perspective. They may forgive the actions of a few soldiers. While the American media focus on car bombs and prison abuse, in the year since liberation, Iraqis have also watched thousands of soldiers and contractors repair schools, repave roads and revitalize the electrical grid.”

Torture is apparently an American privilege, the exclusive prerogative of conquerors. Once the Iraqis try to get in on the act, that’s where Rubin draws the line.

Sheesh, you couldn’t make this stuff up. But if Rubin’s hypocrisy takes on epic proportions, the ultimate in sheer chutzpah has got to be Chalabi’s lawsuit charging the government of Jordan – and his enemies in the U.S. government – of conspiring with Saddam Hussein to destroy him over a period of some 15 years.

The only proper answer to this outrageous display of unmitigated gall is an arrest warrant issued by a U.S. court. Chalabi ought to be charged not only with bilking the American taxpayers out of untold millions of dollars for “intelligence” that turned out to be a pack of lies, but also with espionage for telling the Iranians that we had broken their code. Hitchens confidently claims “the Iranians had apparently used their ‘broken’ code to alert their HQ that the code had been broken,” but doesn’t say how he knows this. Presumably he has it straight from Tehran. Hitchens, as usual, fails to provide any links, leading one to wonder why he even bothers publishing on the internet, or why the editors of Slate continue to embarrass themselves with these linkless, clueless diatribes.

The neocons are a stealthy bunch, and opportunistic to a fault: just as long as they could use George W. Bush they were glad enough to ride his coattails and surf the wave of irrationality and fear unleashed by 9/11. Now that it looks like, maybe, the “war President’ is going to be a one-termer, these rats are jumping ship – but not before taking a few bites out of their former patron. This, of course, is what being a true parasite is all about: if it doesn’t outright kill its host, then it does as much damage as it can before being forced out.

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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].