Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Neocon Bunnies: Still Going

If you thought American neoconservatism was dead, think again. Yes, it was encouraging to see Donald Rumsfeld, John Bolton and Scooter Libby marched to the guillotine, but guess what: there's more where they came from.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has chosen Eliot Cohen to serve as her "counselor." It might be more accurate to say that Rice has tapped Cohen to become her neo-consigliore.

Neo-connecting the Dots

Cohen's job as State Department counselor, according to a Johns Hopkins University press release, will be as "a principal officer who serves the Secretary as a special advisor and consultant on major problems of foreign policy and who provides guidance to the appropriate bureaus with respect to such matters. The Counselor conducts special international negotiations and consultations, and also undertakes special assignments from time to time, as directed by the Secretary."

The same press release quotes Cohen as saying "It is an honor to be asked to serve one's country at any time, but particularly during wartime."

Well, well, it's nice of old Eliot to be honored to be consulted on major problems of foreign policy during wartime, especially considering that he's one of the chief culprits who created the problems and the war.

Cohen, along with Rumsfeld, Bolton, Libby and others, were charter members of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), the neoconservative think tank founded by Bill Kristol that forged young Mr. Bush's foreign policy--most notably, the part of that foreign policy that involved regime change in Iraq through armed invasion. Like Condi, who was a professor of political science at Stanford, Cohen is an academic.

To take the State Department job, he'll have to be on leave of absence from his regular gig as director of John Hopkins' Strategic Studies Program. That's a good news/bad news thing. The good news is we're getting a neocon out of academia. The bad news is, we're putting another one into the government. The worse news is that when Condi and Cohen leave the government, they'll both go back to academia, where they'll be key players in growing follow-on generations of neocons.

The Neo-Swarm

Douglas Feith, another PNACer, was the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy who his fingers in every Rumsfeld era scandal from the Office of Special Plans (OSP) intelligence cooking on Iraq to the Abu Ghraib scandal. Feith is now a visiting professor in national security studies at Georgetown University.

Feith's successor as Undersecretary of Defense for Policy is Eric S. Edelman. Edelman was a recess appointment in August 2005. Edelman has a long history of ties with Vice President Dick Cheney, another PNAC charter member. Edelman is in charge of the Iranian Directorate (ID), an intelligence cherry picking group that does much the same thing with Iranian intelligence that Feith's OSP did with the intelligence on Iran. Like the OSP, the ID gives direct briefings to Dick Cheney, most notably in the person of Abram Shulsky, who was director of the OSP under Doug Feith and who was also a member of the PNAC.

John Bolton's successor as Ambassador to the UN is expected to be current Ambassador to Iran Zalmay Khalilzad. Khalilzad was also an original member of the PNAC. Bolton is now a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, as is Fred Kagan. Kagan is also a PNACer and was the primary author of the Iraq "surge" plan. Kagan taught military history for a decade at the West Point Military Academy.

In the wake of the Libby verdict, many have speculated that Dick Cheney will use his recently diagnosed case of economy class leg lump as an excuse to step down and make way for an heir apparent to the 2008 GOP presidential nomination. One name that looms large in the speculation is Little Brother Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida and, oh by the way, also a charter member of the PNAC.

Irish journalist Andrew Cockburn tells a pretty good story about a conversation between Bush 41 and Bush 43 that took place during the 2004 election campaign. Big Brother turned to Big Daddy and asked, "What's a neocon?"

Cockburn won't reveal his source, but he swears the story is true.

Big Daddy's supposed reply was "I'll give it to you in one word: Israel." But he might as well have simply said, "They're everywhere."

At this juncture in the American experiment, the neoconservatives have infiltrated nearly every nook and cranny of the country's political, economic, intellectual and religious life. It virtually owns a significant portion of our information media (A.M. talk radio, the Weekly Standard, National Review, Fox News, etc.), and has infected all of it. And they're reproducing like rabbits. For every Libby who bites the poison turnip, a dozen more young neocons spring out from the shrubbery.

George W. Bush isn't the only cement head who doesn't understand the scope of the neocons' influence and activity. Last October, on CNN's Late Edition, former Secretary of State Al Haig told Wolf Blitzer that the Iraq war "…was driven by the so-called neocons that hijacked my party, the Republican Party."

When Blitzer pressed Haig to name some names, Haig flummoxed and fussed. He eventually threw out names like Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz. When Blitzer asked him point blank whether Donald Rumsfeld was a neocon, Haig replied, "I wouldn't say he was." When Blitzer asked if Cheney was a neocon, Haig said, "I think so."

I wouldn't say? I think so? Yeah, Al. Cheney and Rumsfeld are as neo-connected as they come, and you don't know that?

It will be a very long time before the GOP manages to purge the neocons from its ranks, which means it will be a cold day in Cuba before I vote for a Republican again.


Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at Pen and Sword.


  1. Anonymous12:38 PM

    Most of the buzz about NeoCons centers around PNAC. This information is useful for history lessons, but I suspect that the real NeoCon thought experiments and policy decisions are concocted elsewhere. PNAC may be just too darn visible. What would be useful would be to check out the other affiliations of these people and look for common threads. American Enterprise Institute comes to mind, but I am sure that there are other, less visible organizations.


  2. The PNAC is rolling up its carpet, from reports I hear, but it is located on the top floor of the AEI building in D.C., and most of its original membership was drawn from AEI. Other prominent neocon think tanks include the Hoover Institution (Condi's Stanford group) and the Heritage Foundation.

    There are others.

  3. Bacon's Rebellion2:07 PM

    With regard to where to look for the hand behind the neo-con think-tanks and related PR organizations try the Israeli Embassy in Washington. I have no doubt that from the ambassador to the most junior political and intelligence officers that their staff is working tirelessly to provide both support and guidance to the Neo-cons whenever and wherever they can.

    However, if the Republicans are tossed out of the Oval Office in 2008 have no fear Plan "B" will be in effect to provide similar "guidance" to the Democrats. Take a look at the efforts of Clinton and Obama this week to assure liberal Jewish voters of their unstinting support for the government of Israel. The Israelis have certainly been much more successful recently with the Republicans than the Democrats but they will always play both sides of the isle. They'd be utterly foolish not to have such a strategy. We'd be equally foolish to allow ourselves to once again be manipulated by them.

    Its always interesting when the "Vicar of Foreign Policy" sneaks away from the retirement home and plants himself in front of a TV camera. Al Haig has always been a bit fuzzy on most things except his own self-promotion. Al's secret to success: find the most senior general officer you can with an available daughter and marry her. You cannot quarrel with success as it certainly worked for him. Chuck Robb must have used him for a role model before getting himself detailed to the WH as an ADC.

  4. ...and I keep wondering "why?" Why this devotion to the state that brought us Jonathan Pollard and the USS Liberty attack. And, Jeff, you probably recall a Navy court martial a few months back where a sailor name of Ariel Weinman was convicted of espionage for an "unnamed country."

    You've scared me good with this post. Metastatic Neoconservatism and, as you point out, the academia-government cycle is particularly concerning.

  5. Anonymous4:05 PM

    It is interesting that you bring up the Liberty. My Navy recruiter was am IC1 who was serving aboard that ship during the attack. As we became friends, the incident becomes somewhat personal.

    I've yet to come up with hard, court admissible "proof", but Alex Jones (Prison Planet, etc.) makes a credible case that Lyndon Johnson not only knew about the attack, he restrained the carrier group stationed there from interfering! The only reason that the Liberty did not wind up on the bottom was a Russian AGI that witnessed the attack. According to Jones, this was supposed to work out as a false flag attack meant to draw the US into the 1967 war.

    I feel like a traitor for posting this, both because I spent 26 years in the Navy and because I am a Messianic Jew. Nonetheless, there can be no higher value than telling the truth.