Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 26, 2009

THE NEOCONS DON'T KNOW WHEN TO QUIT.... Their ideas discredited, and their arguments left on the trash-heap of history, neoconservatives should, ideally, enjoy some quiet time right about now. Instead, some of the movement's leaders are getting together to form yet another organization to promote the same misguided agenda that's already failed.

It's called, innocuously enough, the Foreign Policy Initiative. It will spread its wings next week with a panel discussion on Afghanistan, led in part by John McCain. (President Obama is scheduled to explore his own Afghanistan policy in more detail around the same time. What a coincidence.)

Matt Duss strikes the right note in dismissing the latest neocon endeavor.

The Foreign Policy Initiative lists Robert Kagan, Bill Kristol, and Dan Senor on its board of directors, so no prizes for guessing what they're about (more power, less appeasement, stronger wills.) Kagan and Kristol need no introduction, they're the Tick and Arthur of disastrously counterproductive military adventurism. Given the staggering costs in American blood, treasure, security, and reputation incurred by their boundless enthusiasm for blowing stuff up, you might think they'd have had the decency to retreat to a Tibetan monastery by now, but sadly no. The way it works in Washington is, if you're willing to argue for more defense spending, you'll always find someone willing to fund your think tank. [...]

On March 31, FPI holds its first public event, Afghanistan: Planning For Success, though, given the heavy representation of Iraq war advocates, I think a far better title would be Afghanistan: Dealing With The Huge Problems Created By Many Of The People On This Very Stage. The broad consensus among national security analysts and aid officials is that the diversion of troops and resources toward Iraq beginning in 2002 was one of the main reasons the Taliban and Al Qaeda were able to to re-establish themselves in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border areas, facilitating the collapse of the country back into insurgent warfare. Having failed to complete the mission in Afghanistan, Bush and the Iraq hawks handed the Obama administration a war that promises to be as difficult and costly as Iraq has been -- if not more. It's deeply absurd that some of the people most responsible for the crisis in Afghanistan would now presume to tell us how to deal with it.

At this point, I shouldn't be surprised by the shamelessness of Kristol, Kagan, et al. But I'd hoped they'd feel a little more chastened by their failures than this.

Steve Benen 1:55 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (22)

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Steve: "At this point, I shouldn't be surprised by the shamelessness of Kristol, Kagan, et al. But I'd hoped they'd feel a little more chastened by their failures than this."

Only if you assume that Kristol, Kagan, et al., in fact acknoeledge their failures. But to listen to them, one can't help but realize that the failure is ours, for failing to properly implement their ideas.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on March 26, 2009 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

So this basically "The Project For a New American Century v2.0."

Sad. Truly sad.

Posted by: Mark D on March 26, 2009 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

I think John McCain should go away quietly, his involvement with Phil Gramm, The savings & loan debacle and the deregulation of the banks, so the rich could steal more easily have left us with the wealthiest people having untold millions tucked away in offshore tax havens while Americans live in tent cities.This is what we are left with after the repubs got a hand in it. McCain should quietly retire to one of his 10 houses.

Posted by: JS on March 26, 2009 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

But to listen to them, one can't help but realize that the failure is ours, for failing to properly...................

pass that crack pipe down here, please.

Posted by: gapTOOTH on March 26, 2009 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

Is this the same John McCain who thought just last fall that Iraq and Pakistan share a border?

Or maybe he meant "share a boarder." But that's probably giving him too much credit for being clever.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on March 26, 2009 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

Failures? Why, Kagan, Kristol, Senor, Pipes and all the rest of them will tell you in no uncertain terms that their endeavors have been shining successes. That they had to move the goalposts just about out of the state to be able to claim "success" is not worth considering, in their minds.

Posted by: Domage on March 26, 2009 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

Mark D., you stole my thunder. I was wondering why PNAC wasn't sufficient that they had to start a new one. Maybe they just want another organization to support their own viewpoint so they can say SEE! WE AGREE WITH OURSELVES!

Posted by: MsJoanne on March 26, 2009 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

From the desks of Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan...
An Open Response to Your Slurs:

We have had no failures that were our fault. Our plans and policies were just not implemented fully or correctly.

As a preview to our presentation on Afganistan: The answer to the problem of Afganistan is to attack Iran.

Posted by: Bill Kristol on March 26, 2009 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

The FPI people you mentioned are only concerned with security of another country--not ours--and fancy themselves military experts despite having served neither in our military (Kristol and Pipes are student deferment punks) or the country of their primary concern (it has a no-shit draft, so no wonder they, nor their boy Marty Peretz, live there).

Why anyone takes those traitor/cowards seriously or gives them a public forum is beyond me.

Posted by: tec619 on March 26, 2009 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

The neocons have not failed at anything. They deliberately used Iraq as a diversion so that Haliburton, Blackwater, et. al. would reap a huge windfall while simultaneously keeping the Al Qaida/Taliban boogeyman alive well into the future for them to exploit politically and economically.

Dubya, Cheney and Rumsfeld didn't make any mistakes. Their disastrous policies were premeditated and intentional as well as made possible by the 9/11 strikes..hmmmm...

Posted by: John O. on March 26, 2009 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

Neocon: "The directions I gave you to my house were just fine. OK, so it wasn't a 'Yield' sign where you got t-boned, it said 'Stop.' And when I said right, I meant left. And, ok, the house was yellow stucco, not red brick.
The problem is you don't know how to follow directions."

Why would anyone, anyone want to hear one more word from these clowns. How would it be if they held a press conference and only "MAD" magazine and "The Onion" were the only ones to show up!

Posted by: c u n d gulag on March 26, 2009 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

Man, I wish Napolitano weren't Secretary and was instead running for McCain's seat.

Posted by: Critical Mass on March 26, 2009 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

But Steve, you don't understand. In their eyes, the Iraq War was a HUGE SUCCESS, and they want to build on it by providing DC with their unique insight on how to do the same in Afganistan.

They're really doing us a big favor. /snark off

Seriously, this is just phase 2 in their overarching plan to realign the Middle East, reality be damned.

You can't change their mind, but anyone who gives them shelter should be outed and flogged (rhetorically) until they stop.

Posted by: bdop4 on March 26, 2009 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

Duss said: "The way it works in Washington is, if you're willing to argue for more defense spending, you'll always find someone willing to fund your think tank."

That's a good point. And it's certainly fine - if people want to pay the Kristols of the world to be in their think tank, that's their right.

What I dont get is why the media pay them so much disproportionate attention. The defense industry props up these mouthpieces, sure, but why does anyone listen to them? If it's known that Kristol is going to be pro-defense spending, and that it's in his financial self-interest to do so, why is his opinion sought out?

Posted by: TG Chicago on March 26, 2009 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

Oh Great. Another right-wing organization? The FPI?
---I can't wait. Yawn.

Posted by: -jlinge- on March 26, 2009 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

Bill Kristol and the rest of that bunch have an unquenchable desire to see people killed, to see people in pain and to see people suffer. They are more interested in seeing the rapture happen and help usher it in than any one else in America. They are very sick people and the world would be much better off if they just died. They don't care about anyone but conservative republicans. They are a stain on our nations morality.

Posted by: Patrick on March 26, 2009 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

At this point, I shouldn't be surprised by the shamelessness of Kristol, Kagan, et al. But I'd hoped they'd feel a little more chastened by their failures than this.

This assumes that:

a) Messrs. Kristol, Kagan, et al have a capacity for being chastened; history suggests otherwise.

b) that they consider Iraq + Afghanistan to be failures. They probably still think that Stephen Colbert was 100% serious when he said that a government which governs least governs the best, by which measure US intervention in Iraq + Afghanistan was wildly successful.

c) that they are not demonstrably insane.

I suggest a combination of all three of the above.

-Z

Posted by: Zorro on March 26, 2009 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, maybe there's more to this than one assumes...

"Hi, I'm here for the Foreign Policy Initiative. Wasn't it supposed to be in this room?"

"Oh, yeah, Mr. Kristol, it was, but there were naughty hippies out there protesting it, so we moved it for security reasons."

"Okay, where is it?"

"Well, it's so secure that it's through this dark tunnel, and we need to blindfold you."

"What?! No way I'm doing that!"

"Yes, but if you don't then the terrorists win."

"Oh, all right."

(later)

"Boy, this is a long tunnel."

"Hang on, almost there...ah, here we go, right to your reserved seat. Hope you enjoy it!"

"Thanks a lot, sir. (hears the door closing)"

(intercom voice) *bing* "Thank you for joining us on United flight 946 nonstop from Washington Dulles to Amsterdam, where you will no doubt be met by friendly prosecutors. In the event of a water landing..."

Posted by: noplot on March 26, 2009 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

To all those soldiers who watched their buddies get slaughtered in Iraq the focus of your anger should be directed at Kagan and Kristol who not only got the war going, cheered it on, but supported the most blatant mistakes that got so many people killed unnecessarily like firing the Iraq army after they offered to work with the Americans, which formed and started the insurgency.

These pudgy arm chair warriors played your friends like a board game of war. They are backed by enough funding that keeps them on TV and in seditious think tanks trying to repeat past war games rather than being shunned or hanged. They will forever walk around with targets painted on their tiny heads so must stay hidden and away from the public but you that fought in Irag for their excitement should mark their faces and names well...to keep history from repeating itself.

Permanent war all the time is why these war profiteers pay their cheerleaders so well through the mechanisms of TV talk news, radio and think tanks. It wouldn't look too good if they paid them directly now would it.

PS...only closed minded ignorant ideologues can't see that the 'surge' was the most violent, life costing, terrorist producing tactic of all the many options open to us. It only appears to have worked because it masked what was already beginning to work...re-hiring the Iraq Army and paying Iraqis to work.

Posted by: bjobotts on March 26, 2009 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

"It's deeply absurd that some of the people most responsible for the crisis in Afghanistan would now presume to tell us how to deal with it."

No more (or less) absurd than expecting that the Financial Masters of the Universe that got us into this mess are the best people to get us out of it.

Posted by: Texas Aggie on March 26, 2009 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

btw...anything with McCain's name on it is already compromised. McCain got exposed for the "everybody's pet senator on a leash" phony he's always been. What happened to his attempt to re kindle the cold war with Russia with his "we are all Georgians now". What, is it now going to change to, "we are all Afghans now". Are Afghans Sunni or Shia....hope he gets that straight. It's the Savings and Loan Afghanistan Association War Committee to lead the way.

"I know how to win wars...I was captured in one"

Someone made a lot of money off these goobers...enough to fund this ridiculous enterprise.

Posted by: bjobotts on March 26, 2009 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

re: Kagan and Kristol---beating a dead horse, i know...but still....how can people who have shown conclusively that they don't know how to do their job, keep their jobs...do they have a big stash of incriminating photos or somethin'....it really makes me batty....

Posted by: dj spellchecka on March 26, 2009 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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