Where are conservatives on Iraq?
Reihan Salam has a great TNR Online piece that breaks down where the various tribes of conservatives fall on Iraq — or, as Salam puts it, a “Guide to the Right on Iraq Gone Wrong.” The relevant categories (NOTE: I’ve added some names that Salam omits where I think they apply — my additions are ...
Reihan Salam has a great TNR Online piece that breaks down where the various tribes of conservatives fall on Iraq -- or, as Salam puts it, a "Guide to the Right on Iraq Gone Wrong." The relevant categories (NOTE: I've added some names that Salam omits where I think they apply -- my additions are in italics):
Reihan Salam has a great TNR Online piece that breaks down where the various tribes of conservatives fall on Iraq — or, as Salam puts it, a “Guide to the Right on Iraq Gone Wrong.” The relevant categories (NOTE: I’ve added some names that Salam omits where I think they apply — my additions are in italics):
1) “The Neo-Paleos: We Shoulda Known“: Burkean conservatives who never bought the democracy-building line, but did by the “Iraq has WMD” line (George F. Will, Tucker Carlson, Fareed Zakaria); 2) “The Neo-Neocons: Operation Chalabihorse“: True-blue believers convinced that Colin Powell is the devil and Ahmed Chalabi is the answer to all of the troubles in Iraq (Michael Ledeen, Richard Perle, Michael Rubin, David Frum, Laurie Mylroie). 3) “The Standard Neocons: Dude, Where’s My Neo-Reaganite Foreign Policy?” Cared more about democracy-building than WMD but are flummoxed by the Bush/Rumsfeld insistence on insufficient troop strength, suspecting that this is due to an aversion to casualties that impairs the mission (William Kristol, Robert Kagan, David Brooks, Andrew Sullivan, and yes, Daniel Drezner). 4) “The Neo-Imperialist: Bush Gets the Boot from Boot“: Gung-ho empire-builders that share the Standard Neocons’ discontent with the Bush administration — but unlike them, believe that constructive engagement with the Bush administration is pointless, and have gone full frontal with their criticism (Max Boot, Niall Ferguson)
For the immediate future, I’m interested in two things: A) Will the latter two groups merge? What separates them is not the ends but the means of advancing those ends — gentle vs. not-so-gentle criticism. I’ve been feeling myself shift slowly over this calendar year, and I strongly suspect others are as well (Matthew Yglesias shares my suspicions). B) Who will be the last neo-neocon standing? To be fair, I haven’t read Frum and Perle’s An End to Evil — and I’m sure there are a lot of ideas in there that the current situation in Iraq does not undercut. However, a key tenet of this group has been the inherent goodness of Ahmed Chalabi, and the U.S. decision to raid his headquarters today (plus the decision earlier this week to terminate his funding) may just signal a souring of the DoD-INC relationship [UPDATE: Chalabi’s home was also raided]. If that doesn’t do it, this anecdote from Salon’s Andrew Cockburn just might:
Why did the Bush administration turn against its former favorite Iraqi? Almost certainly because it realized that Chalabi, maddened by the realization that he was being excluded from the post-June 30 hand-over arrangements, was putting together a sectarian Shiite faction to destabilize and destroy the new Iraqi government. “This all started since [U.N. envoy Lakhdar] Brahimi announced that Chalabi would be kept out of the new arrangement,” says an Iraqi political observer who is not only long familiar with Chalabi himself but also in close touch with key actors, including U.S. officials at the CPA and Iraqi politicians…. U.S. disenchantment with Chalabi has been growing since it dawned on the White House and the Pentagon that everything he had told them about Iraq — from Saddam Hussein’s fiendish weapons arsenal to the crowds who would toss flowers at the invaders to Chalabi’s own popularity in Iraq — had been completely false. Some months ago King Abdullah of Jordan was surprised to be informed by President Bush that the king could “piss on Chalabi.” (emphasis added)
Who will the neo-neos go with — Bush or Chalabi? My money is on Chalabi. UPDATE: Josh Marshall has further thoughts on Chalabi and the neo-neocons. One point he makes confirms my theory about which way the neo-neos go: “I don’t doubt that some of Chalabi’s Washington supporters have encouraged him to take a more oppositional stand toward the occupation authorities to bolster his own popularity.” ANOTHER UPDATE: Just got one of Laurie Mylroie’s mass e-mails. She condemns “today’s outrageous, and totally uncalled for, raid on Ahmed Chalabi’s compound” and asks, “Just what is the U.S. doing in Iraq?” Yeah, she’s stickin’ with Chalabi.
Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-host of the Space the Nation podcast. Twitter: @dandrezner
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