A reader writes:
Kristol's ideology reminds me a lot of Marxism. It's a theory that works only in an ideal world that doesn't actually exist. In Kristol's world, the US can muster the political will and economic might to build an enormous army akin to what we fielded in World War Two. He believes we can march that army into the heart of the middle east and impose our will on a country like Iran; that doing so would have no long term negative ramifications for our economy; and that any negative consequences to our standing in the world could be ignored because we are the all powerful hegemon. Of course none of that is true.
Whether Iran counter-attacked or not, the consequences for our country would be almost entirely negative if we attacked them. There's no realistic scheme under which we could unleash the kind of overwhelming force Kristol suggests. So our limited efforts would only secure the power of those currently in charge in Tehran and they would crush any straggling remnants of the green revolution. It would give an excuse to other nations to ease up on sanctions in the interests of making money from trade with Iran. It would provide the justification for Iran to go really nuclear in the future and the means by which to do it.
This is true and familiar. The first generation of neocons were ex-leftists and the pattern of thought is identical. What's staggering to me is that this ideology has become even more rigid after the most obvious refutation of its delusions one can imagine. Iraq and Afghanistan were to be models of the power of military might to coerce change; they would prove that under the surface all humans were interchangeable and all culture and history would surrender to a particular version of individual liberty that was, for the neocons, a fact about humanity. The sublime popularity of the American model was self-evident; the impact of culture, of religion, of history were no matches for the "march of freedom".
As you watch Iraq today veer between a reprise of brutal sectarian warfare and a political class utterly uninterested in actual democracy, only a blind man or a fool can still believe what Kristol and others (including me) said before the war. As you observe Afghanistan returning to its entropic state, and the obvious delusions engaged in by the president just a few months ago, how on earth can you be still instinctively wedded to the notion of ever-increasing US military enmeshment in failed states, let alone a completely unpredictable and potentially catastrophic attack on Iran? Only ideologues or cynics can sustain this kind of insanity against this mountain of empirical evidence.
Kristol, I suspect, is both: an ideologue and a cynic. Which is why his candidate is Sarah Palin. And why she will be her party's nominee in 2012.