It's on now:
There was a time when neoconservatives sought to hold the moral and intellectual high ground. There was something inspiring in their vision of America as a different kind of superpower--a liberal hegemon deploying its might on behalf of subjugated peoples, rather than mere self-interest. As the Iraq war has curdled, the idealism and liberalism have drained out of the neoconservative vision. What remains is a noxious residue of bullying militarism. Kristol's arguments are merely the same pro-war arguments that have been used historically by right-wing parties throughout the world: Complexity is weakness, dissent is treason, willpower determines all.
Kristol's good standing in the Washington establishment depends on the wink-and-nod awareness that he's too smart to believe his own agitprop. Perhaps so. But, in the end, a fake thug is not much better than the real thing.
Chait is strongest when highlighting this particular bit of bile from Kristol:
Having turned against a war that some of them supported, the left is now turning against the troops they claim still to support. They sense that history is progressing away from them--that these soldiers, fighting courageously in a just cause, could still win the war, that they are proud of their service, and that they will be future leaders of this country.
The clear assertion is that the "left", which includes in the Iraq case, many, many conservatives, not only knows that the surge is working, but wants to withdraw precisely because the surge is working. Because, apparently, they hate America and a free society so much they are happy to consign Iraq to a burgeoning civil war rather than face reality. Because they hate patriotic and courageous soldiers.
This is pure toxin. The truth, of course, is that this might conceivably apply to a fringe on the extreme left - but they never supported the war in the first place. Those of us who did and who have watched as the effort has been bungled morally, strategically and diplomatically to almost comic degrees, are guilty of a few things. We are guilty of accepting that there is no good, medium term end to this catastrophe; we are guilty of sticking to the basic premises of counter-insurgency warfare when judging how far the surge can go; we are guilty of tending to the very political benchmarks that Petraeus and every other sane observer has called the essential metric for judging the surge's progress; we are guilty, unlike Kristol, of taking some moral responsibility for the carnage and evil our previous positions have helped unleash and, in the case of torture, actually imposed.
Maybe we're wrong (we have been before).
Maybe a miracle is about to occur and ancient Shia-Sunni rifts are about to melt away. Maybe Maliki is a great man on the verge of a triumph. But we do not wish to hurt the troops; we do not want America to fail; we do not want terror to win. And we know that under this president, terrorists have won many victories, America has endured a profound, moral tarnishing, the military has been stressed beyond measure, thousands of Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis have died, billions have been wasted, and Iraq is further away from some kind of normalcy than it was three years ago. In fact, Bush has presided over the creation of two new terror sanctuaries in five years: Iraq and Pakistan. And yet those who faced up to this these past few years are now the ones being called to account. Go figure.
The vileness and chutzpah of the current neocon right on the war are still somewhat staggering to me. I thought better of them. I really did. But this Weimar crapola is really depressing. I guess they have nowhere else to go.
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