As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, March 27, 2009

They're Baaaack...

You didn't think Bill Kristol and the PNAC crowd would just go away, did you?

What do you do if your previous organization — and the ideology behind it — has become inextricably bound in the public’s imagination to one of the worst foreign policy blunders in American history? Obviously, shut it down, and start a new organization with a new name.

The Foreign Policy Initiative lists Robert Kagan, Bill Kristol, and Dan Senor on its board of directors, so no prizes for guessing what they’re about (more power, less appeasement, stronger wills.) Kagan and Kristol need no introduction, they’re the Tick and Arthur of disastrously counterproductive military adventurism. Given the staggering costs in American blood, treasure, security, and reputation incurred by their boundless enthusiasm for blowing stuff up, you might think they’d have had the decency to retreat to a Tibetan monastery by now, but sadly no. The way it works in Washington is, if you’re willing to argue for more defense spending, you’ll always find someone willing to fund your think tank.

Dan Senor is less known to the general public, but familiar to those who’ve followed the Iraq debacle closely. From 2003 to 2004, Senor served as a Coalition Provisional Authority spokesman under Paul Bremer. After that smashing success, Senor returned to Washington, where, among other things, in September 2004 he helped write speeches for Iraqi interim prime minister Ayad Allawi’s U.S. visit, and then apparently went on television to praise those speeches as evidence of Bush’s accomplishments in Iraq.

Senor is also Campbell Brown's husband, so I'm sure this will be covered extensively on her show, which as you know is both no bias and no bull.

Spencer Ackerman and Ari Rabin-Havt have more. Interestingly, this little group's first public event is a half-day conference on how to succeed in Afghanistan, featuring some of the same cheerleaders who blundered us into war in Iraq.

FPI, whose founders and principals include Robert Kagan, Bill Kristol, and Dan Senor, will host a summit next Tuesday titled "Afghanistan: Planning for Success." Billed as a "half-day conference" to "discuss how the United States and our allies can succeed in Afghanistan," the event will feature appearances and discussion from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Rep. John M. McHugh (R-N.Y.) -- ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee -- and Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), who chairs of the House Homeland Security Intelligence Subcommittee.

"I know these people and recognize where they're coming from," the Congresswoman said of her appearance at the event. "I'm coming from a different place and want to be sure that point of view is heard. My point of view will be extremely sympathetic to the Obama Administration position on Af/Pak."

Maybe Harman could go ahead and not show up to give a point of view that none of the magical thinkers and armchair generals who make up this outfit would possibly care about. But I am intrigued by the focus on Afghanistan. As Matt Duss notes, the better title for the conference would be "Afghanistan: Dealing With The Huge Problems Created By Many Of The People On This Very Stage." The relentless focus on Iraq drew attention and resources from Afghanistan and helped to put us in this predicament. But the current dynamic shows Republicans both praising Obama's Afghanistan/Pakistan plan and calling it "the new surge." Here's John Cornyn.

I commend President Obama on his plan for a surge in Afghanistan, which is our front line in the Global War On Terror. Victory there is imperative, and President Obama and our troops on the ground in Afghanistan have my full support. I will do everything in my power to ensure that Congress provides any and all resources required to accomplish the mission [...]

It is my hope that President Obama's surge in Afghanistan achieves results similar to the surge in Iraq, enabling victory and bringing our fighting men and women home as soon as possible.

You can see an outline of the foreign policy critique here. First of all, the neocons are trying to redeem the Bush strategy in Iraq by casting it as a success (I have hundreds of thousands of reasons why this is not the case). Then there is the support of Afghanistan, which will quickly turn into "there needs to be a greater commitment" as it falters. Neoconservatism cannot fail, of course, it can only be failed. And so the argument will be that Green Lantern's will just needs to be stronger and we can exterminate the brutes and claim victory. Which is actually not Obama's Af/Pak plan (a plan I don't fully support), so the space on the right can be easily carved.

It would be easy to say "Forget about these idiots who wrecked the world, they have been totally discredited," but the country's politics have never worked that way. The same discredited group one year returns to power the next. And so it's crucial to keep tabs on these knaves and see what most excellent adventure they have planned for the country when they claw their way back.

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