Tuesday, July 15, 2003

James Pinkerton over at Newsday has a very good article comparing the travels and adventures of Don Quixote with the NeoCons and their failures in Iraq:
Disregarding prudence, precedent and honesty, they went off - or, more precisely, sent others off - tilting at windmills in Iraq, chasing after illusions of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction and false hope about Iraqi enthusiasm for Americanism, and hoping that reality would somehow catch up with their theory. The problem, of course, is that wars are more about bloodletting than book learning.


After 9/11, the neocons went into overdrive. America had been attacked from al-Qaida in Afghanistan, but the intellectuals around President Bush had their own plan for war. According to Bob Woodward's book, "Bush at War," on Sept. 15, 2001, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz pressed the case to the commander in chief for an immediate attack on . . . Iraq. At that time, Wolfowitz asserted that there was just a "10 to 50 percent chance" that Iraq was involved in the terrorist attacks. But no matter, Iraq, not Afghanistan, was central to the neocon vision of "liberating" the Mideast. Bush wisely chose to move against the Afghan attackers, but apparently, at about the same time, the decision was made to move against Iraq, too.

Meanwhile, neocon word-creations, such as "moral clarity," "axis of evil" and "Bush Doctrine," spread far and wide. These word-weavings were repeated over and over again, in magazines, books and cable news shows. Bush became Winston Churchill, Saddam Hussein became Hitler, the Arabs were ripe for Americanization, and the U.S. military became the sword not only of vengeance, but also of do-gooding and nation-building.


But, in a world that's mostly gray, "moral clarity" becomes a synonym for tunnel vision. To see something complicated as simple requires that the seer leave out critical details. And thus amid all the intellectual intoxication, a lionized, neocon-ized Bush didn't worry about such variables as the world reaction to America's plan, not to mention the Iraqi reaction.