Twilight of the Neocons
The end of the ignominious career of Don Rumsfeld concluded with a defiant press event, with Rummy insultingly suggesting that only he can understand the war on terror, and he's only falling on his sword because the plebes can't figure out his brilliance.
That's completely unsurprising. The neocons are magical thinkers. They think they're the only ones who see the world as it really is, and in a way, they're right. Nobody else sees the world in the warped way that they do. Nobody else plans a war without planning the peace, because they think an Arab nation in the Middle East would greet them as liberators. Nobody else has exiled Iranian spies talk them into thinking that they'd be wildly popular and that Iraqi oil revenues would pay for reconstruction. Nobody else thinks you can win a land war without any troops to do the job. Nobody else thinks that basic military services should be carried out by price-gouging subcontractors. Nobody else thinks that the way to fight Islamic fascism is to start a wholly unrelated war in the Middle East that they could use as a rallying cry.
Nobody else thinks this way, and now the American people have resoundingly spoken; they don't think this way either. In many ways Jim Webb didn't run against conservatism but against neoconservatism. He time and again said that the military is being run into the ground by theorists who don't have the real-world experience to lead. And voters in Virginia rewarded him, throwing out an incumbent who was thought to be the next empty suit the neocons could hide behind in the White House.
It's not just Rumsfeld that's being offered as a sacrificial lamb. Zalmay Khalilzad, the supposed "savior of Iraq" after he became US Ambassador there, is likely to quit. Conservative bloggers are going off the rails left and right, denouncing this cancer that has so damaged their party. Some of the architects of the Iraq war strategy went public - although they wanted to do it after the election - by trying to disassociate themselves from Iraq and put a kinder, gentler face on neoconservatism. This involved lying about their first intentions (Ken Adelman and Michael Ledeen claiming they didn't support the war when they did) and shifting blame as much as possible.
According to Perle, who left the Defense Policy Board in 2004, this unfolding catastrophe has a central cause: devastating dysfunction within the administration of President George W. Bush. Perle says, "The decisions did not get made that should have been. They didn't get made in a timely fashion, and the differences were argued out endlessly.… At the end of the day, you have to hold the president responsible.… I don't think he realized the extent of the opposition within his own administration, and the disloyalty." [...]
“Huge mistakes were made, and I want to be very clear on this: They were not made by neoconservatives, who had almost no voice in what happened, and certainly almost no voice in what happened after the downfall of the regime in Baghdad. I’m getting damn tired of being described as an architect of the war. I was in favor of bringing down Saddam. Nobody said, ‘Go design the campaign to do that.’ I had no responsibility for that.”
I have to agree with Bradrocket on this one:
Know what, Richard? Go to hell. You brought Chalabi and his merry band of crooks to the White House and had them feed the CIA bogus intel. You kept insisting that the invasion was a success long after it was clear to all non-Glenn Reynoldses that it was an abject failure. And you and Frummy wrote An End to Evil, the ultimate book of neocon wingnuttery that recommended, among other things, that the United States declare France an enemy state. To say that you bear no blame for this sad human catastrophe is beyond reprehensible. You and your buddies need to be banished completely from the national discourse and be forced to beg on the street for food. Just go away. Never come back.
Everybody knows Bush is a blank slate and a bit dim, but more and more people know that the neocons are the real source of danger in the White House. And once again, they figured it out all by themselves, without help from the chattering classes. It can take Americans a while, but eventually they get it right.
It has been said today that Bush made this decision on Rumsfeld over Cheney's wishes (and then Chris Matthews tried to give the President a pony by saying "this is the first decision he's made by himself!" Hey Tweety, he's been President SIX YEARS, that's not something you'd put on the résumé!). Better than Rumsfeld, who's an instrument of policy as much as an architect, leaving is the possibility that Cheney is completely diminished. The country can stop talking about pixies and faerie dust anymore as if they're real strategies for national security.
I heard neocon Frank Gaffney today try to slam incoming Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Gates probably deserves some slamming, but Gaffney tried to claim that Gates would have us negotiate with terrorists, and give up our power and moral authority in the world, etc. Even Tucker Carlson looked at him with a special kind of disdain. To the neocons, anyone who doesn't agree with their agenda, which has gotten everything wrong in foreign policy for the last 50 years, is a hippie freakshow terrorist-lover. And while they congratulate themselves on this score, they're now only talking to themselves.