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.
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.