Kaplan, a prominent neocon hawk, published a
rather interesting op-ed recently in the Washington Post.
central claim of the piece is Kaplan's somewhat counter-intuitive
conclusion that our citizenry would gladly accept losing 30,000
American dead in Iraq if such losses were required to achieve neocon
strategic objectives. Kaplan denounces those arguing otherwise – in
particular, American military officers – as constituting the ranks
of the weak-kneed.
this Kaplan is hardly a marginal figure, being a Senior Editor of
the New Republic, former top editor at Irving Kristol's National
Interest, current op-ed columnist at the Post, and –
most significantly – co-author with William Kristol of that
definitive neocon text, THE WAR OVER IRAQ. Surely, he is one of
the more prominent neocon voices on the subject. We may therefore
safely assume that his views are generally in line with those of
his ideological confederates.
it is important to note that the supposedly "massive"
polling data Kaplan cites to support his controversial contention
actually derives from the year 1999. Thus, while I and most other
naïve observers at the tail end of the 1990s foolishly believed
that the American public was focused mostly on the Internet Bubble
and the embarrassing residuals from the Monica Lewinsky scandal,
instead, America's voters actually thirsted with the desire to send
their youth off to conquer and occupy Iraq, even if up to 30,000
of said youth subsequently returned home in body-bags. Presumably,
the lack of reporting on this crucial popular sentiment may best
be explained by the traditional liberal bias of America's elite
we consider the huge rise of American patriotism and military commitment
in the aftermath of September 11th, it seems likely that
this convincing data from 1999 must surely understate the current
mood to an enormous extent. Thus, I have little doubt that a similar
study conducted today by Kaplan and his friends would discover Americans
gladly willing to accept 300,000 or even 3,000,000 flag-draped coffins
in order to achieve the neocon objective of implanting a Jeffersonian
Democracy in Baghdad.
the other hand, those of us among the "weak-kneed" who
stubbornly doubt the reality of Kaplan's conclusions are faced with
the puzzle of explaining his argument. The notorious brilliance
of neocon policy thinkers and military strategists rules out the
obvious explanation, namely one of sheer stupidity.
perhaps a useful clue to an alternate hypothesis is that the piece
appeared in print just as our Iraq Adventure seemed to be turning
decidedly sour. Kaplan is probably a shrewd and rather cautious
individual, and might be beginning to grow somewhat nervous that
he and his fellows may soon face trial and execution for their promotion
of this war.
after all, it's never too soon to begin laying the groundwork for
a reasonably plausible insanity defense.