(Part I discussed how preeminent neoconservative Richard Perle has disavowed responsibility for the Iraq fiasco and blames the strategic failure in that war on incompetence in the Bush administration. Part II will explore how both the neoconservatives and the GOP are attempting to salvage their movement and their party.)
Whatever gains the Democrats make in this election, America still needs to pay heed to the neoconservative movement's continued influence on the military industrial complex, the Republican Party, and U.S. foreign policy.
Richard Perle is, in fact, largely responsible for the decision to invade Iraq. His signature not only appears on the 1998 PNAC letters to President Clinton and to then House and Senate Speakers Newt Gingrich and Trent Lott that called for a military overthrow of Saddam Hussein, he is a signatory to the September 20, 2001 PNAC letter that called on young Mister Bush to invade "…even if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the [9/11] attack." And at a September 2003 American Enterprise Institute luncheon, he said, "I think we were right to liberate [Iraq], with or without weapons of mass destruction."
But more importantly, Perle also played a key role in how the war was fought. Perle was vocal advocate of Donald Rumsfeld's military transformation initiatives. In October 2003, he described the vision of the future force as one that puts "…an incredible premium on speed, universality, flexibility, and precision in our weapons systems."
This transformational came to life in the form of futuristic concepts like network centric warfare and shock and awe, concepts upon which Donald Rumsfeld based his Iraq strategy.
Our Iraq experience has proven, once again, a basic premise of warfare theory that Perle, Rumsfeld, and the other neocon warhawks never bothered to learn. Net-centricity and shock and awe provide dominance in combat between notionally symmetric forces. But while combat is an inherent part of war, combat success alone does not in itself lead to strategic victory. As the saying goes, "You can win a thousand battles and still lose the war."
Rats, Ships, Neocons and the GOP
In his recent interview with David Rose of Vanity Fair, Perle said of Iraq, "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."
Who does Perle think he's kidding? Everyone he's blaming for the failures in Iraq was a card carrying PNAC neoconservative and a Perle associate. PNAC luminaries in the Bush administration constitute a veritable wall of shame: Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Zalmay Khalilzad, I. Lewis Libby, Midge Decter, Vin Weber, John Bolton…
Traditional Republicans (sometimes referred to as "paleocons") are trying to distance themselves from the neocons, but they're doing so in a rather funny way.
In an October 22 interview on CNN's Late Edition, former Secretary of State under Ronald Reagan Alexander "I'm in control" Haig told Wolf Blitzer that the Iraq debacle was the fault of "…the so-called neocons that hijacked my party, the Republican Party, before this administration..."
Wolf Interrupted Haig and asked him to name names. Haig hemmed and hawed. Wolf finally asked, "Was Rumsfeld a neocon?"
"I wouldn't say he was. I wouldn't say..." Haig answered.
Moments later Wolf asked, "Is Cheney a neocon?"
"I think so," Haig said.
If Al Haig really doesn't know that Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld are PNAC neocons, he's a mouth breathing political moron. More likely he's pulling a neocon-job of his own in an attempt to protect his beloved GOP by trying to distance the party from the neoconservative movement. Whatever the case, it's important for all of us to remember that the neoconservative movement has metastasized to the point where "neoconservative" and "Republican" are synonymous, and the closest thing we're likely to see to a true paleo-conservative in the next decade or so is something we now call a "moderate Democrat."
Like the monsters of summertime horror movie sequels, the neocons will never completely go away. The likes of Perle, Cheney, Bill Kristol, Jeb Bush, Rumsfeld and many, many others have already spawned a next generation of neo-imperialistic ideologues whose names we don't even know yet, and who will lurk underground for years waiting for their chance to come into power again, much as Cheney and Rumsfeld and Perle did.
I'm something of a recovering Republican. I cast my first vote for a Democrat in 2004, shortly after I reached the ripe age of 50. I won't vote for another Republican until I’m convinced that the party has totally purged itself of the neoconservative influence.
Given my age and what I've seen of the neoconservative movement, something tells me I'll never vote for a Republican again.
Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at ePluribus Media and Pen and Sword.