"9/11 changed everything."
-- Dick Cheney
I'm fond (maybe too fond) of saying that there's nothing about our so-called war on terror that Thucydides didn't write about in his History of the Peloponnesian War in 400 B.C.
That's why I found this article by WaPo's Dafna Linzer somewhat disturbing.
The NSC's Sesame Street Generation
They headed off to college as the Berlin Wall was coming down, were inspired by globalization and came of age with international terrorism. Freed from a constant nuclear standoff as a dominant fact of international life, members of Generation X no longer fear war or upheaval in the global status quo…
…[N]early a dozen thirtysomething aides, breastfed on "Sesame Street" and babysat by "The Brady Bunch," are now shaping those strategies in unexpected ways as senior advisers at the National Security Council, the White House's powerful inner chamber of foreign policy aides with routine access to Bush. This small group of conservative Gen Xers -- members of an age cohort once all but written off as stand-for-nothing underachievers--is the first set of American policymakers truly at home in a unipolar world…
…Is it any wonder that some of the generation's best conservative minds serve a president who has staked his legacy on transforming the Middle East by force of arms?
Let's take a look at the inherent fallacies in the phrase "best conservative minds."
One of these bright young lights is 32-year-old Michael Allen, National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley's special adviser for legislative affairs. Hadley apparently likes to tell sea stories about his years as an arms control negotiator during the cold war. What's Allen's reaction to these history lessons? "We're like 'Arms control, what's that?'" he says.
Um, actually, Michael, "that" would be like, um, the stuff we're trying to do with Iran right now. You remember Iran, don't you? The country with the new meanie president who says crazy stuff? You know--kind of like Iraq only with an "n" at the end of it instead of a "q."
Another of these 100 watt bulbs is 36-year-old Meghan O'Sullivan, the deputy national security adviser for Iraq and Afghanistan. "You have to think about what are the defining features of the age we live in," she says. "For me, that's American primacy, globalization, terrorism and WMD, which is why we do what we do. This wasn't applicable during the Cold War."
Is that so, Meghan? Let's see. What was America trying to gain over the Soviets during the Cold War? It was "primacy," wasn't it? And when do you think globalization started? I bet your grandpa owned a Toyota or two. (No, come to think of it, your grandpa was probably a Mercedes man.) Terrorism is a whole lot older than your grandpa, but I bet he remembers who helped Osama bin Laden form his al Qaeda terrorist group to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. And all those nuclear thingies we and the Soviets had pointed at each other, were they weapons of totally massive destruction or what?
To paraphrase Mark Twain, history doesn't repeat itself, but it sure rhymes a lot. Understanding history won't give you all the answers, but ignorance of history is a sure fire recipe for repeating its disasters.
The "best young conservative minds" shaping policy today have no memory of Vietnam. That was something their poor friends' dads fought. The first Gulf War was a reality TV show.
What little history they know they learned from their mentors, the Dick Cheney generation of neoconservatives who had better things to do than fight in Vietnam, who wrote the script of the first Gulf War, and who literally invented a history to justify the second one.
X Generation neoconservatives have no grasp of reality. They think it's something they can cook up in a think tank. As one White House aide told NYT's Ron Suskind in 2004, "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''
In other words, the Brady Bunch of young Republicans forming U.S. security policy think they're gods.
And as Second City TV's Count Floyd would say, Scary, huh kids?
Oh. I forgot. The little rascals in the National Security Council don't remember Second City TV. That was, like, pre-iPod, right?