Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Trigger Happy Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight

Even a once-bitten, twice-jaded cynic must admit to being somewhat caught off guard by the recent onslaught of full-throated war cries shouted from atop the many peaks within the neoconservative firmament (as well as the echoes reverberating from their ideological allies).

We've seen Michael Ledeen's "faster-please" mantra thrown into nitro-box-popping-turbo overcharge, complete with accusations that George W. Bush, of all people, is beginning to resemble Neville Chamberlain. Yes folks, Bush is overly cautious. Too circumspect. An 'appeaser' if you will.

Everyone from Newt Gingrich to Jonah Goldberg (even, the ubiquitous Ledeen himself) have been rushing to label this skirmish "World War III." Or "World War IV," depending on your method of historical categorization. This breathless haste to up the ante rhetorically speaking has resembled a form of ghoulish wishful thinking for a widening of the conflict. If you frame it, they will bomb.

Michael Rubin chimed in with an ominous, and historically uncomfortable, demand for the "eradication of Hezbollah and Hamas" (two groups whose members number in the millions - which might require some interesting means to carry out said "eradication"). What exactly did you have in mind there Michael?

The normally intelligent Michael Oren came up with this unintentionally laughable line: "To prevent a regional conflagration, Israel should attack Syria..." Yeah, that should really quiet things down.

Charles Krauthammer comes across sounding almost giddy while describing the ongoing bloodshed as "a rare, perhaps irreproducible, opportunity" and a "golden, unprecedented opportunity" before offering a resolution so improbable as to boggle the mind. "The road to a solution is therefore clear: Israel liberates south Lebanon and gives it back to the Lebanese." Sure. Piece of cake. Continues Krauthammer, "Only two questions remain: Israel's will and America's wisdom." Funny you should mention "wisdom" because....

...The Weekly Standard has been, well, the Weekly Standard - complete with urgent pleas that the US take this opportunity to attack Iran and/or Syria and join Israel in something that would resemble a real-life version of a script from Bin Laden's propaganda shop. Brilliant!

But the hits, as they say, keep coming. David "there's no such thing as a neoconservative" Brooks couldn't resist for long, offering his own studied attempt at politically expedient historical revisionism last Friday on the PBS News Hour (via Billmon):

DAVID BROOKS: If you look at the jihadists, they had a victory in '79 by pushing the Soviets out of Afghanistan. They pushed the U.S. out of Lebanon. The pushed the Israelis out of Gaza and out of Lebanon. They're probably pushing the U.S. out of Iraq. They are on the march.

Billmon had this to say in response:

It's not that the things Brooks says are completely untrue (except for the '79 date, which is when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, not when they left.) It's that each of them contradicts -- some blatantly; others more subtly -- both the actual context of those events and the official party line at the time, as expounded by official sources and regurgitated in the paper Brooks works for. [...]

...Brooks applies the fear stimulus (in a gentle way, admittedly, but then this is PBS.) He warns us that "they" (meaning, presumably, the armies of jihad) are "on the march" -- neatly conflating in one plural pronoun Shi'a and Sunni, religious and secular, Lebanese politician and Palestinian nationalist and Iraqi insurgent and Al Qaeda terrorist. They're all on the march...

Hey, any sufficiently angry Muslim is a "they" in my book. I don't do nuance.

Apparently undeterred by George Will's smackdown, William Kristol is taking no chances - for fear of letting the prospect of more war, more chaos and the attendant lack of stability slip through his fingers. To aid his cause, he is attempting to, as they say, fool us twice.

Check out Mr. Kristol's "informed" predictions on the likely reaction of Iran's citizens should we heed his advice and launch military strikes on that country. Although cautious not to utter the words "flowers and candies" to describe our reception, the concept is remarkably similar. From an interview on Fox News (via Think Progress):

QUESTION: You know, the down side, though, you know very well, to all of that being that we’re involved in Iraq and Afghanistan. Also that Iran is much different than Iraq. It’s huge and more formidable.

KRISTOL: It is, but also the Iranian people dislike their regime. I think they would be – the right use of targeted military force — but especially if political pressure before we use military force – could cause them to reconsider whether they really want to have this regime in power. There are even moderates – they are not wonderful people — but people in the government itself who are probably nervous about Ahmadinejad’s recklessness.

This is why standing up to Iran right now is so important. They’re overreached. They and Hezbollah have recklessly overreached. They got cocky. This is the moment to set them back. I think a setback to Hezbollah could trigger changes in Iran. People can say, wait a second, what is Ahmadinejad doing to us. We’re alone. The Arab world is even against us. The Muslim world is against us. Let’s reconsider this reckless path that we’re on.

Yes, nothing like a little shock and awe to make friends and influence people. Works every time, like clockwork. Just look at Iraq. Speaking of which, this is the same William Kristol who brought us this keen historical analysis:

"There's been a certain amount of pop sociology in America," he told National Public Radio listeners in the war's opening weeks, "that the Shia can't get along with the Sunni and the Shia in Iraq want to establish some kind of Islamic fundamentalist regime. There's been almost no evidence of that at all," he continued. "Iraq's always been very secular."

No evidence indeed. Why, the Sunni and Shia are getting along swimmingly! This is also the same William Kristol who, in one of his headier moments immediately preceding the US invasion of Iraq, defiantly proclaimed:

We are tempted to comment, in these last days before the war, on the U.N., and the French, and the Democrats. But the war itself will clarify who was right and who was wrong about weapons of mass destruction. It will reveal the aspirations of the people of Iraq, and expose the truth about Saddam’s regime.…History and reality are about to weigh in, and we are inclined simply to let them render their verdicts.

On second thought, this is actually one of the smartest things Kristol has ever said. While I am reluctant to take his advice on any matter, perhaps it is time to let "history and reality weigh in and render their verdicts." I offer this as Exhibit A.

And when the verdict comes down, I can think of an appropriate sentence to be handed out: no sane person, and/or person of influence, takes these pundits seriously on any weighty matter of foreign policy for at least the next 25 years. To life.

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