Bill Kristol and Fred Kagan's War Games

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In
a new jointly written Weekly Standard article,
Fred Kagan, the AEI think tank military genius behind President
Bush’s “surge” strategy, and Bill Kristol, one of the Chief Propagandists
behind this war from the start, condemn Democrats for daring to
question the military judgment of Gen. Petraeus, who agrees with
Kagan and Kristol that more troops are needed:

Why,
above all, would [Sen. Clinton] or anyone else imagine that it
is appropriate for a committee of 535 people to micromanage a
war by setting a precise (and arbitrary) figure for the number
of soldiers the commander on the spot can deploy?

There
is one man who should be recommending the size of American forces
in Iraq, and that is the incoming commander, General Petraeus.
Neither the Bush administration nor any collection of congressmen
should preempt his professional evaluation of the situation
and of the forces necessary to accomplish his mission. It is
foolish and absurd for politicians to propose resolutions on
American troop strength in Iraq before even hearing General
Petraeus’s voice in the debate. And when he has spoken, Senator
Clinton and her colleagues should carefully weigh the burden
they will take on themselves if they dismiss his advice.

So only blind
obedience to the decrees of Gen. Petraeus is acceptable because
he is the commander on the ground and thus Knows Best. And, of course,
unquestioningly cheering on the “surge” plan is the only thing which
responsible, serious and patriotic people would do:

Republicans
should not hesitate to point out how irresponsible their Democratic
colleagues (and some Republicans) are being. Senator Clinton’s
troop cap is dangerously foolish. The nonbinding resolution
of disapproval Senator Biden has proposed is irresponsible.
The fact is that President Bush has, as he was widely and correctly
urged to do, changed strategy. He’s put a new commander, General
Petraeus, in charge. Petraeus thinks the new plan can work,
with the support of additional troops. He’ll be confirmed by
the Senate and sent out to the theater this week. Members of
Congress should ask themselves, “What can we do to help Petraeus
succeed?” Or would Senator Clinton and the Democrats just as
soon lose?

We have
here the standard tactics of the warmonger – namely, anyone
who opposes Bill Kristol and Fred Kagan’s latest video game fantasies
are, by definition, unserious, irresponsible and want America
to lose. But what is uniquely and appallingly dishonest about
their new rhetoric tactic – that we must all defer to the
General – is that Kristol and Kagan have spent the last two
years, at least, insisting that Generals Casey and Abizaid, the
commanders on the ground, had no idea what they were talking about
because they resisted the neoconservative demands for escalation.
Just last November, these twin warriors wrote:

Abizaid
and Casey haven’t rethought these views even as they’ve been
mugged by the reality that lack of security does more damage
than a heavy footprint, and that failure is more of a threat
to responsible Iraqi behavior than dependency. But, just as
important, they underestimate the changes that have occurred
in Iraq since the February bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra
– changes that threaten to unravel the successes achieved
so far. In response to the clear fact that sectarian violence
is unhinging the effort to turn responsibility for security
over to the Iraqis, Abizaid simply demands an acceleration of
that transition. This is a recipe for disaster.

In the same
article, they went on to brand Abizaid’s view as “wholly inadequate”
and “unrealistic,” insist that his optimism about the current
strategy is “misplaced,” and then unleashed this:

In fact,
most serious people now concede we need more troops.

“Most serious
people now concede we need more troops.” Fathom the sheer quantity
of self-delusion and rank disregard for the most basic constraints
of truth-telling in order to make such a claim (and just incidentally,
the use of term “serious” to mean “those who agree with my war
views” has become one of the most potent indicators of mindlessness).
But this is who has been running our foreign policy, and our wars,
and still are. In fact, their grip on power is tighter than ever
because they are the only ones who have not abandoned the President.
And their ongoing loyalty is conditioned on the President’s continued
commitment to their twisted and bloodthirsty goals, not just in
Iraq, but beyond.

Recall that,
according to
the neocon-friendly New York Sun, Bill Kristol was urging the
White House back in September to obtain from Congress an Authorization
to Use Military Force against Iran when the Republicans still
controlled Congress, and he even argued that doing so was the
only way to swing the election in favor of the Republicans. The
people who want a surge are the same people who want a war against
Iran, and the latter is what is driving the former. It is all
part of the same worldview and agenda and it is one the President
has embraced. Here is Kagan last August in an AEI
article
where he first laid out his “surge” plan in detail:

The United
States has ground and air forces stationed on both the western
and eastern borders of Iran at a time of crisis over Iran’s
nuclear programs. In principle, that presence should give the
United States leverage in Tehran; the Iranians clearly feared
this in the immediate wake of the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
But the oft-repeated American determination to withdraw from
Iraq and Afghanistan as rapidly as possible, together with the
continuing violent insurgencies in both countries, has turned
the tables. . . .

As we
consider the alternatives, with the possibility of conflict
with Iran ever on the horizon,
it would be well to ensure
that we are not overlooking the option that would best serve
our strategic needs.

The military
establishment, the political establishment, the American public,
and increasingly elected officials in both political parties have
abandoned this war and oppose the surge. The war – literally
– is basically being run by a handful of war-hungry extremist
ideologues out of the American Enterprise Institute who are driven
by an insatiable appetite for endless war on various Middle Eastern
countries and little else. They are backed up by Weekly Standard
and Fox News (starring John McCain and Joe Lieberman), and that
is all that’s left – a tiny band of fringe war-obsessed extremists
who are highly unrepresentative of the American public. But that
is more than enough to ensure the pointless, wasteful, and tragic
continuation, even escalation, of this war because they are the
ones to whom the President listens.

The same
people who spent the last many months, if not longer, urging the
replacement of Casey and Abizaid because of their foolish, ignorant
and misguided resistance to the Glorious AEI Escalation Plan now
say that the only patriotic and responsible thing to do is to
blindly accept the judgment of the Commander on the Ground (who
was appointed as such because he agrees with escalation) and that
the only thing to do is to ask oneself how to be most loyal to
“his” plan.

The reason
our foreign policy has been so incoherent, amoral and bloodthirsty
is because the people behind it are. And until Democrats and other
opponents of this extremist group commit themselves to stopping
them and figuring out how to do that (and so far, at least, they’ve
done neither), nothing will deter them in their insane militarism.

Greg Djerejian
deconstructs
the incoherence and series of internal inconsistencies in which
Kagan’s “surge” plan is grounded. What Djerejian really demonstrates
is that treating Kagan’s surge as some sort of “plan” to win the
war is to give it far more credit than it deserves. None of the
details or even “substance” of the plan matter. Its only real
objective is to provide an excuse for continuing the war (“hey,
we found a great new plan to succeed! You owe us a chance to try
it”) and, more importantly, to ensure that we continue to increase,
rather than contract, our military presence in the Middle East.
As long as that is achieved, nothing else matters, which is what
accounts for Kagan’s embrace of multiple contradictory premises.

Also, on
an unrelated note, Jane Hamsher has long been one of my favorite
people in the blogosphere and one of the most impressive bloggers
around. I think she personifies the ethos of the blogosphere –
genuine and intense passion accompanied by sophisticated insight
and the willingness (and ability) to develop knowledge of the
nuts and bolts of political issues which surpasses that of any
commentators anywhere. You probably know that Jane is battling
her third bout of breast cancer, and doing so with predictable
fortitude.

No
matter how strong someone is, that is an extremely difficult battle,
and here
is one way to support the work Jane and FDL do. And a new publishing
company created by Jane and Markos Moulitsas has just published
a new
book
by blogger and Plamegate expert Marcy Wheeler which I
read in galley form and which – particularly in light of
the imminent Lewis Libby trial – I highly recommend as the
definitive account of that scandal.

 

January
22, 2007

Glenn
Greenwald [send him mail]
is the author of How
Would a Patriot Act?
See his blog Unclaimed
Territory
, where this first appeared.

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