Who is to blame for Iraq, Bush’s poor execution or neoconservativism?

December 10, 2006 | By | 1 Reply More

Vanity Fair has published an extraordinary article including interviews with many architects of America’s foreign policy.  What do they think now that Iraq has been such a miserable failure?

Varying degrees of regret can be detected in the people interviewed, but little remose, except from Kenneth Adelman:

Fearing that worse is still to come, [Kenneth] Adelman believes that neoconservatism itself—what he defines as “the idea of a tough foreign policy on behalf of morality, the idea of using our power for moral good in the world”—is dead, at least for a generation. After Iraq, he says, “it’s not going to sell.” And if he, too, had his time over, Adelman says, “I would write an article that would be skeptical over whether there would be a performance that would be good enough to implement our policy. The policy can be absolutely right, and noble, beneficial, but if you can’t execute it, it’s useless, just useless. I guess that’s what I would have said: that Bush’s arguments are absolutely right, but you know what? You just have to put them in the drawer marked CAN’T DO. And that’s very different from LET’S GO.”

That constant din in the background of most of the other interviews is blame directed toward the President for poorly executing the what the neocon architects still consider policy.  Reading between the lines, you know that they’d like another crack at it if they can ever come to power again.  Here are a few excerpts:

If not for the administration’s incompetence, [neocons] say, Saddam’s tyranny could have been  replaced with something not only better but also secure. “Huge mistakes were made,” Richard Perle says, “and I want to be very clear on this: they were not made by neoconservatives, who had almost no voice in what happened, and certainly almost no voice in what happened after the downfall of the regime in Baghdad. I’m getting damn tired of being described as an architect of the war. I was in favor of bringing down Saddam. Nobody said, ‘Go design the campaign to do that.’ I had no responsibility for that.”

Here is an excerpt from the interview of Frank Gaffney, president of the hawkish Center for Security Policy, which has close ties with the upper echelons of the Pentagon.

Gaffney describes the administration as “riven,” arguing that “the drift, the incoherence, the mixed signals, the failure to plan this thing [Iraq] rigorously were the end product of that internal dynamic.” His greatest disappointment has been the lack of resolution displayed by Bush himself: “This president has tolerated, and the people around him have tolerated, active, ongoing, palpable insubordination and skulduggery that translates into subversion of his policies.… He doesn’t in fact seem to be a man of principle who’s steadfastly pursuing what he thinks is the right course,” Gaffney says. “He talks about it, but the policy doesn’t track with the rhetoric, and that’s what creates the incoherence that causes us problems around the world and at home. It also creates the sense that you can take him on with impunity.”

It is currently standard GOP policy to paint the Iraq war as a good idea that was poorly executed by an incompetent president.  An aggressive media would remind the GOP that few Republicans were speaking out against Bush’s Iraq policy itself when Saddam’s statue toppled or when Bagdad was looted non-stop.  They now want to have it both ways, by casting strategic blame despite their earlier silence at critical junctures.

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Category: Iraq, Politics, The Middle East, War

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. grumpypilgrim says:

    Extraordinary article, indeed! It should be required reading for everyone who ever voted for Bush or who supported the neo-con agenda, so they can see the level of damage they have done. From the moment Bush became the front-runner for the Republican nomination in the 2000 election, I have wondered how voters could possibly imagine that a guy with Bush' long track record of career failures could possibly make a good president. Bush had been a dysfunctional disaster for *decades,* yet people imagined he could somehow create a successful team to run the country. I just shake my head.

    Elections aren't about electing one person; they are about hiring the whole team of people who come along with that person — the ones who do all the heavy lifting that we don't see in the news. Bush's history screamed of nepotism and incompetence — just the kind that is described in that Vanity Fair article — yet voters were apparently more concerned about their own interests to care. Whether they voted for Bush in the name of religion, conservatism, so-called "family values," nationalism (what they call "patriotism"), or just plain greed, they were all dead wrong.

    Dead, as in 3,000 loyal American soldiers dead.

    Dead, as in 150,000+ innocent Iraqis dead.

    Dead, as in millions of Americans who are dying from diseases that stem cell research might have saved dead.

    Dead, as in millions of America's who already are, or soon will be, without adequate healthcare, Social Security, Medicare, etc., dead.

    Dead, as in poisoning our air, water and land by rolling back environmental protection laws dead.

    Dead, as in wasting America's political capital in Iraq while thousands of innocent people die in Darfur, Lebanon, Palestinian territorities, etc., dead.

    The list goes on.

    My hope is that conservatives in America will remember these painful lessons when it comes time to cast their next vote. Also, bear these in mind:

    1) Every theocracy in modern times (and perhaps in all times) has been a disastrous failure, so stop trying to create one in America.

    2) Someone who calls himself "a conservative" or "a Christian" is not immune from moral, intellectual or financial bankruptcy, so do not make your political decisions based on such labels. Dig below the surface.

    3) Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    4) Hiring an incompetent person to be America's president really can cause widespread death, destruction and financial ruin.

    5) Drumhead trials (such as the one orchestrated by the neo-cons against Saddam) produce neither fair, nor desirable, outcomes.

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