The Neocon-Bleeding Heart Alliance

Stephen Walt reminds us of the great elite consensus in Washington:

When you have a big hammer the whole world looks like a nail; when you have thousand of cruise missiles and smart bombs and lots of B-2s and F-18s, the whole world looks like a target set. The United States doesn't get involved everywhere that despots crack down on rebels (as our limp reaction to the crackdowns in Yemen and Bahrain demonstrate), but lately we always seems to doing this sort of thing somewhere. Even a smart guy like Barack Obama couldn't keep himself from going abroad in search of a monster to destroy.

The American people experienced the Iraq fiasco as something never to be entertained again. The neocons and liberal interventionists in Washington saw it as one road bump in their plan to make the whole world a better place (and treat it as if it were a matter of history, not still absorbing American arms and money and occupying troops). That's why a man like Paul Wolfowitz is unashamed to speak of America's moral standing, when he was integral to an administration that authorized torture; or why Lawrence Kaplan who was spectacularly wrong about the commitment in Iraq now feels no hesitation to pontificate on Libya without any acknowledgment of his massive failure of judgment only a few years ago; or why TNR, having had to beat its breast over Iraq, snaps back into the familiar posture that doing nothing is equivalent to massacring thousands ourselves.

It turns out that in Washington, where no one is held accountable for anything real (like torture) but everyone is held accountable for things that are utterly irrelevant (a Craigslist posting, or a gaffe), the Iraq war crowd is as powerful now as ever.