December 23, 2004


Neocons vs. Rumsfeld (Robert Novak, December 23, 2004, Townhall)

In the bowels of the Pentagon, the colleagues and subordinates of Donald Rumsfeld were not upset by Republican senators who were sniping at him. Instead, they complained bitterly about a call for his removal by a private citizen with no political leadership position: William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard. His position was, in effect, a declaration of war by the neoconservatives against the secretary of defense.

The capital's feeding frenzy over Rumsfeld's fate did not begin until Kristol's Dec. 12 op-ed column in The Washington Post. While critical senators did not get to the point of demanding Rumsfeld's removal, Kristol did. He said the troops in Iraq "deserve a better defense secretary than the one we have." A firm declaration by a prominent Republican activist turned journalist who is the clarion of neoconservatism counts for more than equivocation by U.S. senators.

Rumsfeld's civilian colleagues at the Pentagon are furious because they consider Kristol a manipulative political operative, critiquing the war in Iraq after years of promoting it. But his criticism has a broader base. Kristol long has called for big-government conservatism, which on the international sphere involves proactively pursuing democracy around the world. He and the other neocons do not want to be blamed for what has become a very unpopular venture in Iraq. Thus, it is important to get the word out now that the war in Iraq has gone awry because of the way Rumsfeld fought it.

Ideologues never question their own ideas, only the application of them.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 23, 2004 8:25 AM

"Subtile" and "William Kristol" (or "General Kristol" as Brit Hume called him to his face on Sunday) just do not go together when it comes to his personal ambition to get back into a position of influence in government. Based on Bill's TV remarks and his writings in The Weekly Standard and elsewhere over the past decade, only a clueless idiot couldn't have figured out that when McCain made his move against Rumsfeld, Kristol would be marching in step right behind him.

The funnier thing is the idea that Bob Novak, who was a critic of Rumsfeld and the Iraq invasion to begin with, and Kristol are suddenly on the same side, since Bob has been the most anti-neo con columnist this side of Patrick J. Buchanan since Gulf War I. That would also explain why Novak has no problem letting unnamed Pentagon folks have at Bill in his column, instead of writing something that claims Kristol has finally seen the light.

Posted by: John at December 23, 2004 9:03 AM

Novak, a marrano in every sense of the word, is trying to create disagreement where there is none. Since he sold his birthright for the 20th century equivalent of a pottage of lentils, he has set his sights at opposing anything anywhere that might possibly smack of benefit to Israel. A guy who accused the Reagan-era State Department bureaucracy of being slavishly pro-Israel doesn't have problems with Israel, he has problems with reality. If Cheney, Wolfowitz and Feith are not neo-conservatives then I'll just have to turn in my decoder ring.

Kristol is ambitious for himself. Someone who is best known for the dubious distinction of being 'Dan Quayle's brain' has to do something else with his life. Kristol has been on the McCain bandwagon since forever and McCain is far more in line with the Pentagon apparat than Rumsfeld ever was. His statements are redolent of inside-the-Beltway BS that belongs far more in the Court of the Roi Soleil than in 21st century America.

Posted by: Bart at December 23, 2004 9:09 AM


Except that he's right about the neocons.

Posted by: oj at December 23, 2004 9:21 AM

One problem......Iraq hasn't gone awry. I also note that Kristol didn't give a name for who would be a "better secretary of defense". Alexander and Hannibal aren't available at this time.

Posted by: ray at December 23, 2004 9:23 AM

Cliff May commenting at NRO's corner had the best line of the day.
"Mostly, the idea of a “neo-con” cabal has become a convenient bogeyman for the neo-isolationist right (e.g. Pat Buchanan) and the post-Humanitarian left (e.g. The Nation)."
Mike Daley

Posted by: Mike Daley at December 23, 2004 6:39 PM
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