Supply-Side Neocon

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Growing
up, my brother and I always used to argue about what to watch on
television. Since 6 years separated us in age our tastes were sufficiently
divergent to result in yelling, wrestling and punching. There was
nothing democratic about the process we used in deciding what to
watch since every vote taken would have been a 1 to 1 tie even if
we both wanted to watch the same show anyway. Our mutual intransigence
would have never allowed agreement. If I wanted to watch the Yankees,
he wanted to watch the Mets. If he wanted to watch the Giants, I
wanted to watch the Jets. Since I was older I always prevailed and
we inevitably ended up watching my ridiculous choice (The Munsters)
as opposed to his equally ludicrous choice (The Magic Garden).
Luckily I can ascribe this idiotic, spiteful behavior to sibling
rivalry and the fact that we were both under the age of 13 at the
time. Understandably, my mother used to scream at me as I tyrannically
opposed my brother's viewing choices, "Act your age, not your
shoe size! He's your little brother."

Less understandably,
in the debates surrounding which country the neocons want to invade
next, their chronological age presents no such excuse. Despite all
the fun we are having in Iraq, Jeffrey Bell, "a principal of
Capital City Partners, a Washington consulting firm" has laid
down the gauntlet in the February 6th The Weekly Standard
in a puerile dare to President Bush. The title of his article, "Iran
or Bust: The Defining Test of Bush's Presidency," reminds one
of playground taunts of "Going Down the Slide Headfirst: Only
Real 3rd Graders Do It!" The only difference is
that more 3rd graders have been injured accepting such
a dare in the 2005–2006 school year than "consultants"
like Mr. Bell will ever be injured or killed in the Iraqi war of
which they are such huge proponents.

Mr. Bell
identifies the potential nuclear calamity with Iran as "the
central crisis of the Bush Presidency." Has he already forgotten
about Osama bin Laden or is he getting bored with the seemingly
futile pursuit? Either way, our original attacker is out making
videos and threatening us as we amass troops in Iraq so that foreign
women can vote, American reporters can get kidnapped or nicked by
shrapnel, and Halliburton can remain gainfully employed building
14 permanent military bases in the desert. Now it is time to forget
all that and move on to Iran as per Mr. Bell. Needless to say, nowhere
in the article does Mr. Bell mention that he will be setting an
example of true commitment in practicing what he preaches by volunteering
for military service. As one of my MBA professors used to quip in
a self-deprecating manner, "Those who can, do. Those who can't,
teach. Those who can't teach, consult." We can now add another
phrase to the chain: "Those who pontificate as consultants
should be the last ones to suggest that others fight wars on their
behalf unless they are willing to fight themselves."

Bell's
article strikes several other empty chords. He writes that, "The
President served notice that foreign governments providing safe
havens for terrorist enemies of the United States would be treated
as if those governments were mounting terrorist operations themselves
— that is, as enemies of the United States in a world war."
Despite the overtly belligerent language, I assume Mr. Bell merely
forgot to mention that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia get exemptions.
As to why, that is anybody's guess. Trying to discern any coherent
logical patterns or consistent philosophy in a warmongering chickenhawk's
scratchings is akin to writing about abstract, modern art — there
is no intrinsic value to it so just fill the page with sesquipedalian
words and impress your readers with BS.

Bell also
points out that one of the foundational elements of the Bush Doctrine
was the recrudescence of the Wilsonian crusade to make the world
safe for democracy, which in today's parlance is called "the
promotion of democracy" since it sounds a little less proactive
though no less threatening. Despite all the misgivings the ancient
Greeks had about democracy, we persist in our crusade. But woe to
the nation whose demos elects a leader we don't like. Hamas
might very well be an enemy of the United States but, luckily for
them, Mr. Bell is urging our military machine to focus further east
on Iran, the site of our next "cakewalk."

Bell and
his ilk have imputed a teleology to President Bush that is a long
way from the President's 2000 debate pledge to reduce the number
of US troops overseas. No one with the slightest grasp of reality
considered such a comment from W to be any more trustworthy than
his father's earlier tax pledge which only proved to the American
people that one ability each and every one of us lacks — the ability
to read lips — is more important than those of us with working ears
previously thought necessary. While 9/11 changed the geostrategic
map, our subsequent actions have been mere diversions from the pressing
matter of catching Osama bin Laden and his minions. Looking for
al Qaeda (along with WMD's, Kurd corpses, and Elvis for that matter)
in Iraq has gotten us nowhere whereas free elections in Afghanistan,
while making the nation builders beat their chests with pride, only
resulted in more videotapes from Public Enemy #1 threatening our
destruction. Bell now proposes that Bush's final test will be Iran
and its potential nuclear capabilities. This he sees as the test
which will define the Presidency of George W. Bush and is, in essence,
his telos, or ultimate end.

Could there
be a glimmer of hope in this challenge to an easily influenced Commander
in Chief? Might our global crusade end with Iran? Could Iran be
the teleogical end of Bush's presidency? If recent history is any
guide, obviously not. The list of bogeymen and rogue nations who
scare "our brave men out of uniform," so faithfully manning
their ink-spewing, jingoistic think tanks, is longer than the line
for the women's restroom at the intermission of The Phantom of
the Opera. But if there is one thing that gives us hope it is
this: after we "do our thing" in Iran (with Mr. Bell most
likely providing invaluable cheerleading from his cubicle), the
list of countries we need to invade, implement democracy in and
then garrison thousands of troops in forever, will be one shorter.
Such a prospect is hardly heartwarming. Let's just hope a nuclear
conflagration is not in the cards since most cubicles could not
withstand a geothermal blast.

February
9, 2006

Mark
G. Brennan [send him email]
writes from New York City.

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