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Neo-Cons Jumping Ship

Has death knell sounded for America’s ill-conceived, bloody interventionist policies? One can only hope.


By Richard Walker

Like rats on a sinking ship, leading neo-conservatives are now abandoning the U.S. foreign policy that they have used to steer into dangerous waters. Meanwhile, the ship continues to sink, taking with it any hope that the United States will be able to refocus on threats it has ignored in the midst of the Iraq debacle.

Dire warnings about the dangers arising from concentrating U.S. policy on the Middle East, as the White House has continued to do, are now coming from prominent Republicans like Rep. Henry Hyde (Ill.), chairman of the House International Relations Committee.

Hyde says he now sees the Bush policy of democratizing the world through regime change as a flawed strategy. Instead, we may destabilize parts of the world and make our lives more difficult. In his words, “a broad and energetic promotion of democracy in other countries that will not enjoy our long-term and guiding presence may equate not to peace and stability but to revolution.”

Hyde’s epiphany, delivered in a recent speech, was more than just a subtle wake-up call about Iraq policy as that country slides further into civil war. More disconcerting than the constant daily carnage caused by sectarianism is the fact that the United States not only failed to anticipate the guerrilla war but miscalculated the risks of civil war and the danger of U.S. troops facing a combined enemy of Sunnis and Shiites.

Contrary to much of the White House’s rhetoric since the invasion of Iraq, the majority Shiite population owes more allegiance to Iran than to the United States. Our troops could quickly find themselves facing a more formidable enemy, namely

Sunni insurgents allied with large, heavily armed Shiite militias.

That scenario became reality when U.S. troops were recently forced to a fight a gun battle with members of the Madhi Army run by popular Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr.

In tandem with that development, Washington is now at loggerheads with the Shiite political leadership and has demanded that Ibrahim al Jaafari be removed as prime minister because he has failed to provide a stable government in the midst of the ensuing chaos.

Hyde’s newfound voice demonstrates that Republicans are trying to insulate themselves from a growing sore spot. It also signals that they are beginning to speak out about the neo-cons’ dream that drew us into making the Middle East a priority without any consideration of what that would mean politically, militarily and financially.

Hyde’s warnings come in the wake of statements made by other leading neo-cons who are blaming President Bush for the policies they directed. They include William F. Buckley Jr. and arch chicken hawks like Richard Perle.

But the figure who has emerged as the most vocal critic of the Iraq war is Francis Fukuyama. Fukuyama was once at the center of a pro-war cabal that named among its members Robert Kagan, Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Cheney, Richard Perle and Bill Kristol, but Fukuyama has done a turnabout and is now condemning that very cabal.

In a damning new book (America at the Crossroads), Fukuyama now warns history will not look kindly on the Iraq war or its aftermath, adding that the neo-con dream should be consigned to the scrapheap of history. Those who advocated that dream, he said, are Leninists of a kind:

 “They believed that history can be pushed along with the right application of power and will. Leninism was a tragedy in its Bolshevik version and it has returned as farce when practiced by the U.S.”

Those reading Fukuyama’s obituary on neo-conservatism might well wonder why he did not make those points years before the United States became mired in the Middle East.

Still, his mea culpa may serve as the death knell for those who think it is the obligation of the United States to force democracy on parts of the world where it is not any of our business.

Richard Walker is the nom de plume of a former mainstream news producer who now writes for AFP so he can expose the kinds of subjects that he was forbidden to cover in the controlled press.

(Issue #15, April 10, 2006)

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Updated April 3, 2006