Over at HuffPo today, Robert Scheer highlights the dissonance of Mister Bush's war speech from Monday. Even as Bush proclaimed, "By their response over the past two weeks, Iraqis have shown the world that they want a future of freedom and peace," the New York Times reported:
In Sadr City, the Shiite section in Baghdad where the terrorist suspects were executed, government forces vanished. The streets are ruled by aggressive teenagers with shiny soccer jerseys and machine guns. They set up roadblocks and poke their heads into cars and detain whomever they want. Mosques blare warnings on loudspeakers for American troops to stay out. Increasingly, the Americans have been doing just that.
Scheer is a long time Bush critic, but it's not just the "liberal" media figures who are voicing displeasure with the administration's handling of foreign affairs.
On Monday, Michael Scheuer of the Washington Times wrote:
These days Osama bin Laden must fear that Muslims will begin to believe the United States is his sponsor, and that Washington is doing all it can to ensure al Qaeda's victory. The foreign-policy performance of the Bush administration since bin Laden's Jan. 19 statement has been a godsend for al Qaeda. So bad for U.S. interests has been Washington's diplomacy that a summary of it falls into what radio host Don Imus calls the "you-couldn't-make-this-up category."
Scheuer somehow manages to blame Bush policy failures on Democrats and Western Europeans, but hey, we're talking about Scheuer here, so go figure.
Conservative luminaries like Bill Kristol, William F. Buckley, and Francis Fukyama have admitted to the failure of the Iraq experiment and attempted to distance themselves from the conduct of the war and, in the case of Fukyama, from the decision to invade.
Iraq isn't the only facet of foreign policy that critics from the left and right alike are condemning. On Tuesday, an event of near-biblical proportions occurred. The Washington Post and the Washington Times agreed that the administration's diplomatic efforts on Iran are doing more harm than good.
Talk about cats and dogs living together.
Resolute, Insane, or Resolutely Insane?
I commented yesterday on the 30-something Generation X "senior" advisers in the National Security Council who don't think the Cold War involved weapons of mass destruction and who say things like, "Arms control, what's that?"
That the NSC has become a juvenile hall suggests that our ship of state is adrift because the South Park kids are at the helm. But I strongly suspect that the kids are driving the ship precisely how the grown ups told them to.
Our seemingly chaotic foreign policy comes into sharp focus when we look at the documents that defined it.
In June of 1997, Bill Kristol, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, John Bolton and other members of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) called for the United States to return to a "Reaganite policy of military strength and moral clarity." Key components of this policy were to "increase defense spending significantly" and to maintain "peace and security" in the Middle East.
In January of '98, the PNAC wrote a letter to President Clinton calling for him to remove Saddam Hussein from power by force in order to protect "…our friends and allies like Israel and the moderate Arab states, and a significant portion of the world’s supply of oil…"
In September 2000, PNAC published Rebuilding America's Defenses, the 76 page neoconservative manifesto that revealed their ambition to increase the U.S. military footprint in the Middle East regardless of whether Saddam Hussein remained in power.
[T]he United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the regime of Saddam Hussein.
-- p. 14
The PNACers knew that realizing their goals would take a long time barring some "catastrophic and catalyzing event--like a new Pearl Harbor."
On September 20, 2001, nine days after they got their "Pearl Harbor," the PNAC brain trust sent a letter to Mister Bush, again urging direct military action against Hussein.
[E]ven if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the attack, any strategy aiming at the eradication of terrorism and its sponsors must include a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq.
Over a four-year period, PNAC's justification for its desired Middle East policy waffled back and forth among Hussein, weapons of mass destruction, peace, oil, Israel, "moderate" Arab states, and terrorism. But its ultimate intentions were clear: to expand the U.S. military and establish a central base of operations in the Gulf region from which America could control the flow of Middle East oil through armed force.
If we consider that those are still the objectives of the Bush foreign policy team, their present day actions make perfect--though frightening--sense. Setbacks in Iraq, Iran, Palestine, Lebanon and elsewhere are just speed bumps on the road to global empire.
If we can lock down control of the Gulf Region's oil, we've got control of everybody: China, Europe, Russia, India--the whole shebang.
The baby boomer neocons and their Gen X protégés still believe they can achieve this dream, and they won't abandon their pursuit of it until somebody stops them. The U.S. judicial branch has limited ability to shape foreign policy. Election year posturing notwithstanding, the GOP controlled Congress won't do anything to curb the administration's foreign ambitions.
If we the people don't vote in a Congress that can stand up to the White House come November, the neoconservative administration will keep going in its chosen direction until it sinks under the burden of its own insatiable appetite for power, dragging the two hundred something year-old noble American experiment down with it.