December 28, 2006


Sucker Punch: How Bush fooled the neocons. (Jonathan Chait 12.25.06, New Republic)

[B]ush suckered the neocons.

On the surface, to be sure, they appear to be getting their way once again. News reports are suggesting that Bush plans to send more troops to Iraq. Neoconservatives have been urging this very course of action for a long time. Indeed, they've been advocating more troops in general for years--even before the war started. And that's not surprising. If you believe in expanding the worldwide application of American power, you need a military to do it. If you read old issues of The Weekly Standard, which is the bulletin board of neoconservatism, you can find calls for a bigger military going back to the Clinton administration

It's probably too late to make a difference in Iraq. Bush may have come to believe in the neoconservative mission for the nation's military. But he never accepted the corollary about increasing the military. So he ended up pursuing Dick Cheney's foreign policy with Bill Clinton's army.

In hindsight, we can see that the neocons made two huge blunders. The first was to go along with Bush's enormous tax cuts. When Bush took office in 2001, any halfway honest budget analyst would tell you that he was making a lot of promises that didn't add up. The neocons calculated that, if they supported the tax cuts like good party soldiers, Bush would grant them their defense budget increases later on.

So the Standard enthusiastically boosted the tax cuts. Neoconservative defense hawk Frank Gaffney concurred in a fawning open letter to Bush. "Those of us who look forward to helping you succeed in your efforts to rebuild our defense posture appreciate that your success in reducing taxes is a first and highly synergistic step toward that goal," he wrote. "Consequently, you can count on us in the national security community to support you in both of these important endeavors."

Whoops. It turned out there wasn't any money left over for a big troop increase, an eventuality nobody could have foreseen unless they knew how to add and subtract. Enraged at the lack of a defense hike, the Standard published an editorial calling on then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, to resign in protest of "the impending evisceration of the military."

You pretty much have to be an intellectual not to realize that the main Bush/Rumsfeld mission was the transformation of the military and 9-11 and the WoT just unwelcome temporary distractions. The neocons were taken even worse on the Iraq War though, which has empowered the Shi'a they hate and will give them none of the permanent bases they dreamt of.

All of this was obvious years ago.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 28, 2006 12:00 AM

I don't know anything about the "official neo-con" stand, but as an old-conservative I don't care how big our military is.

I just want our military to be big enough and powerful enough to be able to squash anyone who needs squashing. And Bush and Rummy did just that.

Posted by: ray at December 28, 2006 5:29 PM

And transforming the military for what?
Terrorits killing 3000 in your main city--just a distraction?
Your Gay Republic cant stand.

Posted by: Bisaal at December 29, 2006 1:09 AM

Yes, 3,000 dead is a blip.

Posted by: oj at December 29, 2006 12:15 PM