Unexpected consequences fascinate us here at LI. Last year, we pondered whether the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq would actually free the administration to engage elsewhere on its patented path to maximum criminal activity. Well, LI worried in vain. We were not counting on the pure incompetence of the Bush people. Rumsfeld has squandered the army the way Bush squandered the budget surplus. The result is that the army is breaking. The real question is whether the U.S. is going to be in the odd position of spending half a trillion dollars per on the War Department while fielding an army consisting of 100 fatigued frag victims.
While the anti-war movement in this country has either hibernated as a wholly owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party, suffering the curious death from asphyxiation that befalls mammals who spend too much time with their heads up their assholes – or rallied its invite only, vegan lefty undergrad troops to acts of high, symbolic impotence – the real antiwar movement has been beautifully self organizing in the burbs and the highlands. It consists of parents who don’t want to sacrifice their children for the mad vanity project of a bunch of D.C. eggheads. Ah, every once in a while LI does feel the distant intimation of … well, let’s admit it, patriotism … when we witness such things as the undeclared general strike against the project that was imposed on us by the Weekly Standard crowd and their Pentagon companeros. While the Rubicon that divides the noble lie from the pathological one is so easily jumped in D.C. that the noble liars don’t even give it a second thought, the consequences outside of D.C. – the abasement of American prestige, the skewing of American self interest into a dead end filled with alien corpses, the impoverishment of American culture, the elevation to power of the greatest single collection of educated morons since Mcnamara started flowsheeting kill-to-hill ratios in the War room – is nevertheless felt, as it were, in the very air and water.
Now, there has always been a puzzle about the neocons. The puzzle is in two parts, only one of which gets publicized. The publicized part is: how could they have been so incredibly unprepared for occupying Iraq? The less publicized part is: how could they have been so incredibly arrogant as to think that they could take various democracies for a joy ride without any domestic blowback? One of the consequences of the leadership of a government embarking on an unpopular war is the disenchantment of the people with the leadership. This is a no brainer. It could be missed by the D.C. wizards only because their vaunted expertise consists solely in a sort of gaseous moralism. They had, as we have found out, no real knowledge at all about Iraq. They have no real knowledge, as in knowledge of language and history and culture, about most places in the world. They even have no real knowledge of the history and culture of the countries they live in, i.e. the U.S. and the U.K. It is astonishing how little the Wolfowitz crowd and their journalistic acolytes – the Hitchens, the Krauthammer, the Hoagland, etc., etc. – really know. Besides the piss elegance of being able to allude to Plato and Leo Strauss over the sherry, these people apparently have gone through life with the motto, everything I learned I learned at expensive Georgetown restaurants. Because they have broken canapés with the thrilling Mr. Chalabi, they were all Iraq experts. One is reminded of that astute political scientist, Jeremiah. What he said of Jerusalem could well be said of Bush War D.C.: “all that honored her despise her, because they have seen her nakedness: yea, she sigheth, and turneth backward. Her filthiness is in her skirts she remembereth not her last end; therefore she came down wonderfully: she had no comforter.”
All of which is by way of guiding the reader to today’s extra special reading: Max Boot’s column in the L.A. Times. Boot has become quite deranged, always harping on ‘staying the course’ – not a good idea when you are in the wrong lane on the interstate. His proposal is, to give you the shortened version, this: to overcome the general strike against the Bush war, the Pentagon should be given the power to hire foreigners – basically, to compose an army of mercenaries, which can then be put at the pleasure of the executive. Boot points out that this worked well for the Roman Empire. He doesn’t point out that it spelled the doom for the Republic. Not that this would particularly bother him and his ilk – self-described meritocrats deserve, after all, to live in a meritocracy protected by Condottieri. It’s the brave new gated community world! As usual, a neocon boldly walks up to the plate and calmly dismisses the whole structure of American conservative thought, built up over two hundred years, to the applause of the right. Who knew that the ultimate victims of the neo-Peronist Bushies would be the American tories?
So tell me again – how did these people get within a mile of the levers of power?