October 12, 2005


The conservative crack up: The neocons develop an exit strategy — a political one (Howard Fineman, Oct. 12, 2005, Newsweek)

President George W. Bush may have no military exit strategy for Iraq, but the “neocons” who convinced him to go to war there have developed one of their own — a political one: Blame the Administration.

Their neo-Wilsonian theory is correct, they insist, but the execution was botched by a Bush team that has turned out to be incompetent, crony-filled, corrupt, unimaginative and weak over a wide range of issues.

The flight of the neocons — just read a recent Weekly Standard to see what I am talking about — is one of only many indications that the long-predicted “conservative crackup” is at hand.

The problem for neocons, as they discovered in '00, is that the Republicans just don't need them, while they've nowhere else to go. They sure as heck aren't going back to a Democratic party that's even more hostile to Israel and dominated by blacks than it was when they bolted in the '70s.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 12, 2005 4:35 PM

The lack of critical media coverage at the beginning of the Iraq War is widely acknowledged. But the media's failure to cover Iraqi voices of opposition is arguably a greater default.

The mainstream media convey the impression that there are two categories of Iraqis--the handful of fanatical jihadist terrorists and the majority who showed their yearning to be free during January's election. In this paradigm, our troops are seen as defending, even cultivating, a nascent democracy. Not surprisingly, a Fox News poll in February revealed that 53 percent of Americans believed the Iraqis wanted our troops to stay while only 35 percent thought the Iraqis wanted us to leave.

To a public fed this distorted narrative and nothing more, the actual facts may be too jarring to believe. There has been little or no coverage of these realities:

A majority of Iraqis in polls favor US military withdrawal and an end of the occupation. At the time of January's election, 69 percent of Shiites and 82 percent of Sunnis favored "near-term withdrawal." Surveys done for the Coalition Provisional Authority in June 2004 showed that a 55 percent majority "would feel safer if US troops left immediately."
A recent summary of numerous Iraqi surveys, by the independent Project on Defense Alternatives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, concluded that a majority of Iraqis "oppose the US presence in Iraq, and those who strongly oppose it greatly outnumber those who strongly support it." The PDA report went on to say that "the fact that [these surveys] have played little role in the public discourse on the Iraqi mission imperils US policy and contributes to the present impasse."

The only Iraqis who strongly support the US occupation are the Kurds, less than 20 percent of the population whose semi-autonomous status is protected by the United States, and who are represented disproportionately in the Iraqi regime. By backing the Kurds and southern Shiites, the United States is intervening in a sectarian civil war. The US-trained Iraqi security forces are dominated by Kurdish and Shiite militias.

In mid-September of this year, the eighteen-member National Sovereignty Committee in the US-sponsored Iraqi parliament issued a unanimous report calling for the end of occupation.

In June, more than 100 members of the same parliament, or more than one-third, signed a letter calling for "the departure of the occupation." They criticized their regime for bypassing parliament in obtaining an extension of authority from the United Nations Security Council.

In January, US intelligence agencies warned in a "grim tone" that the newly elected Iraqi regime would demand a timetable for US withdrawal, which indeed was the platform of the winning Shiite party. After the election, nothing came of the worry. The winners simply abandoned the campaign pledge that helped elect them.

In June, the former electricity minister of the Coalition Provisional Authority, Aihim Al-Sammarae, created an organization to begin dialogue with eleven insurgent groups. The London Times reported that high-ranking US military officials joined one round of talks.

In 2004, twenty Iraqi political parties formed a National Foundation Congress to become a public voice for withdrawal. In May 2005 it held a second Congress, releasing a three-point platform demanding a withdrawal timetable, an interim international peacekeeping force, and internationally supervised elections.

Virtually none of these realities have been reported in the American media, with the exception of articles by Nancy Youssef of Knight-Ridder.

Posted by: Derf at October 12, 2005 4:47 PM


You don't read this blog, do you?

Posted by: Brian (MN) at October 12, 2005 5:38 PM

That has got to be the longest non sequitur I've seen here in a while. The article in question isn't about Iraq policy, it's about the "neo-cons". But, hey, when the talking points that you've been supplied don't cover the subject at hand, try to change it to what they do cover. Then yell them long and loud.

As for the neo-cons, as exemplified by The Weekly Standard, when have they ever not whined and complained? Even when Bush was doing 90% of what they wanted, they weren't satisfied. They were tiresome by the election season in '004, and I think their present behavior is because they know that.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at October 12, 2005 5:48 PM

Neocons don't like blacks? Or they don't like to work for/with blacks?

And if anyone doesn't know, I hate Fineman. "President George W. Bush may have no military exit strategy for Iraq" wonderful! yep we're just over there with no f'ing clue or strategy...and where did you go to school Fineman? How long have you been a journalist? This is why i've stopped buying those magazines and watching the major network news broadcasts.

Posted by: Scof at October 12, 2005 6:12 PM


Attribution, please, when you cut 'n paste.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 12, 2005 6:12 PM

Although I think the split during the 2008 primary will form along slightly different lines due to the candidates currently involved, the Miers brouhaha was something the GOP was going to have to deal with before '08 anyway, to determine the post-GWB direction of the party.

While this particular event might have an effect on the 2006 turnout -- if confirmed, Miers' initial votes on the court between that moment and the end of the current court term will determine that -- in a way it could be better in the long run for the gloves to come off in 2005 as opposed to the 2008 primary season, so that everyone knows ahead of time where the party's power base lies before the fact, as opposed to duking it out through the primary season while Hillary sails to the Democratic nomination. That will give a lot of the current wounds over two years to heal.

Posted by: John at October 12, 2005 7:29 PM

One of the many hilarious things about the neo-con flight is that they're abandoning Bush just when things are finally coming together in Iraq. Will they reverse themselves yet again and try and take credit?

The other interesting thing will be the relationship of Kristol et al to McCain. If OJ is correct and McCain takes over in '08, I can't help but think that they're gonna be way more disappointed in him than they've been in Bush. After all McCain was their boy in '00.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at October 12, 2005 7:54 PM

I think finemann is onto something. The neo-cons are "purists" even worse in some respects than pro-choice ers. Many (Bill Kristol in particular) couldn't take the heat of iraq and have begun distancing themselves ever since.

: Too much spending - Give me a break Reagan spent like a drunken sailor
: Taxes - Reagan RAISED taxes
: NCLB - Bush ran on this, remember the "soft bigotry of low expectations"
: Judges - In the mode of Scaliea/Thomas. Every pick he has made has been in this mold.
: Campaign finance reform : Heck the congress passed it and the Supreme Court upheld it. So "who" is out of the mainstream here????

Posted by: dude at October 12, 2005 10:15 PM

Yes, they will reverse themselves when things work out, but who will care?

Judging by the Reagan timeline, this should occur in ~2025, at which point it will have become inevitable that the regimes in the middle east would implode anyway (because they didn't properly implement islamic fundamentalism).

Posted by: mike beversluis at October 12, 2005 10:20 PM

"articles by Nancy Youssef of Knight-Ridder."

And you believed her.

Fineman is a Democrat party operative, he hasn't the vaugest idea of what he is talking about. John Hinderaker at Powerline eviscerates it. Go RTWT

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at October 13, 2005 12:57 AM