September 21, 2005


Coalition down but not out (Jim Lobe, 9/22/05, Asia Times)

It was four years ago this week that a little-known group called the "Project for the New American Century" (PNAC) published an open letter to President George W Bush advising him on how precisely he should carry out his brand-new "war on terrorism". [...]

[I]t would be a mistake to believe that because the PNAC and the coalition it represents are down, they must be out, particularly with respect to the other policy initiatives which they recommended four years ago.

Confrontation with Iran, particularly under the leadership of hard-line President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, is something that the coalition remains unified about, particularly with respect to the prospect of Tehran's acquisition of nuclear weapons.

While the PNAC has not explicitly addressed what to do about Iran, there is little question that the coalition - like the hawks within the administration - remains fundamentally united on its own hardline policy and, in any event, an absolute refusal to directly engage the new government.

What to do about Syria is more uncertain, although more hawkish sectors within the coalition clearly favor "regime change", possibly with the help of cross-border attacks in the name of preempting the infiltration of insurgents into Iraq, as has been called for by Kristol, among others.

While realists within the administration argue in favor of engaging Syrian President Bashar Assad, if only because the alternative could be so much worse, the hawks, particularly the neo-conservatives who often refer to Damascus as "low-lying fruit", appear determined to prevent any weakening of their policy of isolation and economic pressure on the assumption that the regime will soon collapse.

As in Iraq, however, the question of what will take its place has not yet been fully thought through.

While no one can hold a candle to Mr. Lobe for being hysterical about the neocons, Diane Rehm does her best. The other day her topic was using the spread of democracy in order to fight terrorism and she asked Reuel Marc Gerecht where such ideas came from. He credited Bernard Lewis and Fouad Adjami in the main--both of whom have been writing and teaching about the Middle East for some decades. She rounded on him and asked if they didn't get their ideas from PNAC, displaying a misapprehension of history and a paranoia worthy of the very best conspiracists.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 21, 2005 9:55 AM
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