Sunday, March 13, 2011

Neocons Rise to the Bait - a New Country to Save

I've been away from internet access for more than a week (visiting family and then conventioneering - American Oriental Society in Chicago), which has kinda knocked me off stride as regards keeping up with this blog. My handy iPhone at least kept me tuned in enough to be shocked by the damage the recent earthquake and tsunami did to Japan - and fretful about the potential for nuclear disaster if the problems with the reactors at several of Japan's nuclear power plants are contained.

And it's also evident that Japan's troubles have sucked much of the air out of the reporting on the civil war in Libya, where Mr. Qaddafi has regained his footing and his armed forces are inexorably driving back the rebel forces.  That is now confronting Mr. Obama with a major dilemma as to the appropriate US response: isolate Qaddafi (which provides no real help to the now reeling rebel forces), or intervene militarily via a US-led no-fly zone over Libya (which, as SecDef Robert Gates made very plain, would have to begin by attacking Libya's air-defense systems - i.e., with an overt act of war).

But as if Mr. Obama already didn't have enough to deal with, now a cast of infamous characters have re-emerged to heap opprobrium upon his graying head for not jumping into the Libyan fray with both feet. I speak, of course, of those pesky neocons - those heroic, lusty cheerleaders and armchair generals of the US's recent military adventure in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Fox News, of course, has no shame in calling upon such worthies.  But I find it especially galling that others of the MSM are calling upon people like Fouad Ajami and Paul Wolfowitz to plumb their "expertise."  CNN recently pitted Ajami against Gen. Wesley Clark in re the merits of a no-fly zone.  Clark sensibly spoke of costs vs. benefits; Ajami, on the other hand, spoke of America's tradition of "rescuing" countries in trouble, and the shame that, in his view, Obama deserves for holding off.

Prof. Ajami, of course, has become the media's favorite pet Arab, a supposedly authentic Middle Eastern voice whose accent, eloquence, and academic pedigree are supposed to reassure us that he somehow speaks for the intelligent people of the Middle East.  This is, however, the same Fouad Ajami who cheered so loudly for the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, which he described - and still touts - as (in his book of the same name) "The Foreigner's Gift."  As millions of Iraqis have learned, it's a gift that keeps on giving, even if many of them at this point would likely opt to return it for a refund if that were possible.

And as for Wolfowitz? Maureen Dowd's essay in today's NYT says it all. She reminds us up front of Mr. Gates' comment on the advice that Wolfowitz's former boss gave to W.:

as Defense Secretary Robert Gates told West Point cadets last month, “In my opinion, any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should ‘have his head examined,’ as General MacArthur so delicately put it.”

Turning then to Wolfowitz himself, Dowd notes: 

 Wolfowitz, Rummy’s No. 2 in W.’s War Department, pushed to divert attention from Afghanistan and move on to Iraq; he pressed the canards that Saddam and Osama were linked and that we were in danger from Saddam’s phantom W.M.D.s; he promised that the Iraq invasion would end quickly and gleefully; he slapped back Gen. Eric Shinseki when he said securing Iraq would require several hundred thousand troops; and he claimed that rebuilding Iraq would be paid for with Iraqi oil revenues.

How wrong, deceptive and deadly can you be and still get to lecture President Obama on his moral obligations?


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