Why do I keep hearing William Shatner's voice in the back of my head yelling at me, "Get a life!"
The misadventure in Iraq never was and never will be the neo-con version of a violation of the Prime Directive in the old can-do Kirk as Liberal Spirit.
First of all, the neo-cons have never been in charge of the mess. The war was all the doing of Bush, Cheney, and Rove. I'm still not sure that they didn't put a gun to Rumsfeld's head somehow. And God knows what they did to Colin Powell.
But Bush, Cheney, and Rove planned it and started it and they're keeping it going, and Paul Wolfowitz, his company, and his comb were dragged along to provide intellectual cover. Their job was to give the punditocracy something to argue about. The pointyheads and talking heads could all jabber on about Grand Strategy, The Clash of Cultures, and RealPolitik and not have time to notice that things like actual strategy and real politics weren't playing any role in the war at all.
The War had only three goals. Get rid of Saddam. Gain control of the oil fields. Plant a big scary American army right in the middle of the Arab World. The last one is the Neo-cons' contribution if you believe that the purpose of that army was to frighten the beejeebers out of Israel's enemies. More likely it's there to frighten the beejeebers out of any Islamic fundamentalists who might come to power in Saudi Arabia and think about nationalizing the oil fields. Scaring Iran is also part of it.
I guess that might be considered a neo-con idea. After all, most of their big talk about Democracy and Freedom is cover for protecting American interests, which are, in the Middle East, almost entirely economic.
As I said this morning, the original neo-cons were Cold War Liberals who got spooked badly by the Cuban Missle Crisis. President Kennedy came out of that experience a chastened, but better and wiser man, who had decided that the Cold War was an insanity that had to end. Khruschev apparently came to the same conclusion.
The neo-cons came away from it convinced that the only way to avoid Armageddon was to have World War III as soon as possible.
There's debate about when the movement started, who started it and with what book or article, but I see the Cuban Missle Crisis as the time when the ideas that the long Twilight struggle was too much to put up with anymore, that Containment wasn't enough, and that we had to destroy the Soviet Union in order to save ourselves petrified the brains of a whole class of intellectuals and policy wonks who rushed into the arms of the Republican Party offering their services as wizards and grand viziers at the exact moment when the Republican Party was transforming itself into the new Dixiecrat Party.
Thus the neo-cons allowed the Republicans to portray themselves as super-Patriots and eager warriors while their main objective was to undo the New Deal, the Great Society, and the Civil Rights Movement here at home and put a corporate-funded, religious and politically reactionary aristocracy in charge of the nation.
Thanks a lot, guys.
The neo-cons lost faith.
They lost faith in America as a shining example to the world. Ronald Reagan's soaring rhetoric aside, the neo-cons working for the Gipper did not set examples; they organized, trained, and financed, by selling arms to our enemies, death squads.
They lost faith in democracy and self-government as univerally desired conditions and put their faith in Star Wars, the magical missle shield not the movies, and in the Contras.
And they lost faith in the persuasive power of capitalism, which should have disgraced them in the eyes of the last true conservatives left in the Republican Party. They lost faith in the Free Market as demi-urge, the quasi-conscious force for good that brings freedom and democracy wherever toys, blue jeans, iced lattes, and quarter-pound cheeseburgers are sold.
They only trusted force. They worshiped and advocated violence and power as our only recourse and shield, the intellectual posture of the truly terrified.<>>
To the degree that Iraq is a defensive war---a war waged to frighten the other guy away---then it is the neo-cons' war.
That's the strategy behind the Flypaper Theory, if you can call it a strategy, to turn Iraq into a defensive buffer, a great big Hadrian's wall between US and THEM.
That's not Kirk violating the Prime Directive.
That's not the Kennedy-style can-doism getting us into trouble in Vietnam.
That's the Soviet Union taking Poland.