Jacobin fantasy redux

Banana_repubs_010306 A lot of realistic, tough minded people worked very hard and creatively over the last two years in and about Iraq to create the improved security situation visible there today.

A number of factors contributed to that improvement; the new counterinsurgency methodology, more US troops, continuing emphasis on professionalizing Iraqi security forces and most importantly the great "awakening" of Sunni Arabs and Shia seculars to the unacceptability of takfiri jihadi intentions toward them.  All of that went into making Iraq a more hopeful place.  All of these tendencies are about restoring the modicum of national concord that grew in Iraq in the decades following British occupation of the place in World War One.  None of it is about the Jacobin neocon fantasy of an Iraq made into a Western country, with Western values that is a staunch military ally of the United States and a Jordan/Egypt for Israel.

Nevertheless, on Fox News Sunday (FNS) today the egregious Fred Barnes and Billy Kristol, his less egregious but more mephistophelian boss at "The Weekly Standard," could not resist declaring an impending total victory in Iraq for the neocon goals enumerated above.  Juan Williams, the token liberal on the weekly panel) tried to remonstrate with them citing the fragility of the present lull in hostility toward the US and its forces, but they would have none of that.  Clearly, for them, their faith and perseverance have been rewarded, and now the dastardly Democrats (of uncertain patriotism – irony alert) are seeking to rob President Lincoln, oops!, Bush of the fruits of his long and noble struggle.  According to them, a crushing victory in Iraq against Al-Kayda (sic) can still be counted on to make the Muslims all turn into something "wonderful."  ("2001,  A Space Odyssey" reference there)


Oh, yes, they also pronounced that "the Iranians have suffered a major defeat in Iraq."  They have?  How?

Amusingly, this "gang that can’t shoot straight" had just finished predicting victory for the despised "Democrat" party in November before they took up the Middle East question.  Very odd.

I am sure that you will explain it to me.  pl

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16 Responses to Jacobin fantasy redux

  1. alnval says:

    Col. Lang:
    Looks to me like the neocons are developing a bad case of rehabilitationitis brought on by an equally bad case of unresolved cognitive dissonance. I think that even though they’ve finally figured out that the country really doesn’t believe that they or Bush will ever know how to read the nation’s compass they still can’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. After all, there’s got to be a pony in there somewhere. To deny that would truly be apostasy of the worst kind.
    Robert Kaplan’s new essay in the July/August 2008 Atlantic Monthly is a beautiful example of how the neocons have begun to try to convert their lemons into lemonade. The title of the essay says it all: What Rumsfeld Got Right – How Donald Rumsfeld remade the U.S. Military for a more uncertain world.
    Maybe they do understand that history is written by the winners.

  2. Ronald says:

    I am currently reading Halberstam’s “The Coldest Winter” on the Korean war, and I cannot help but compare the current Neocons with the worst of the “China firsters”; seeking to exploit a simplistic understanding of a overseas threat for domestic political gain, they see foreign citizens as simple people yearning to be American. They then attack dissenters as “weak” on communism, er, on terrorism and call them appeasers and defeatists. All the while, their stupid machinations and unwise investments in manipulative foreign con men (Um, Chalabi, anyone?) gets us embroiled in mismanaged wars that kill a lot of Americans and waste a lot of money.
    Is the parallel between the neocons and the China-firsters reasonable on any level? I am too young to have any knowledge of that era. If so, how on earth do we break the cycle?

  3. Taters says:

    Well done Col. Lang, thank you.
    ainval – I can not bring myself to read it as of yet. Yes, Donald Rumsfeld who could find time for a game of squash but not for signing letters of condolence to families of those KIA. Until he was caught autopenning. I am so grateful that the late Col. Hackworth exposed this fraud.

  4. jr786 says:

    C. Wright Mills described it 50 years ago as crackpot realism:
    a high-flying moral rhetoric is joined with an opportunist crawling among a great scatter of unfocused fears and demands. .. The expectation of war solves many problems of the crackpot realists; … instead of the unknown fear, the anxiety without end, some men of the higher circles prefer the simplification of known catastrophe….They know of no solutions to the paradoxes of the Middle East and Europe, the Far East and Africa except the landing of Marines. … they prefer the bright, clear problems of war-as they used to be. For they still believe that ‘winning’ means something, although they never tell us what
    Has anything changed?

  5. condfusedponderer says:

    There is some glimpse into that in this book review in The National Interest: Homo Neoconus

    For Rostow it was World War II all over again. In 1965 he urged Johnson to “systematically bomb the oil refining and storage capacity and the electrical power facilities in North Vietnam.” “I finally understand the difference between Walt and me,” said Nicholas deBelleville Katzenbach, who was Johnson’s undersecretary of state. “I was the navigator who was shot down and spent two years in a German prison camp, and Walt was the guy picking my targets.” Each American setback was interpreted by Rostow as providing a new and sturdier foundation for victory. Rostow skewed the information that reached the president. He argued for invading Laos and for creating a famine in North Vietnam by bombing its dikes (something Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger flatly refused to consider). He doctored CIA assessments of Vietnam, snipping out sections on “Setback and Losses.” And he torpedoed Kissinger’s attempts to reach a peace in Paris in 1968, prompting Kissinger to later refer to him as “a fool.” Rostow’s greatest fear was that an accommodation might be reached that would end the war prematurely. [sounds like Dick Cheney on Iran]
    It’s also the case that Rostow told Johnson what he wanted to hear—that he was a new Abraham Lincoln facing down the forces of evil. [cough … sounds like any president you know?]

    Milne persuasively argues that Rostow was, in many ways, the first foreign-policy neoconservative, anticipating and formulating many of the illusory arguments that Paul Wolfowitz and others would make during the run-up to the Iraq War about extending the benefits of American hegemony abroad. Milne states that Wolfowitz, who devoted much of his career to trying to help the third world, is “identifiably Rostovian with respect to his reading of international relations.” The parallel with Vietnam seems exact—just as the younger generation of cold-war liberals spun out of control in the 1960s, so the new generation of neoconservatives lacks the sense of realism that characterized their elders.
    Nevertheless, an important difference between the Vietnam-era liberals and the neoconservatives does exist. Having witnessed the splintering of the liberal establishment over Vietnam, the neoconservatives appear determined not to repeat it and have hunkered down, dismissing, as Douglas J. Feith has put it, the idea of any “Oprah-like confessions.” Rather than acknowledge error, they have gone on the offensive, working overtime to turn the 2008 election into a referendum not only on Iraq but also implicitly on Vietnam. Rostow, one of the few liberal hawks who never flinched on Vietnam, would have surely approved.

    It is a test of character. The neo-cons have the THE TRUTH. If they only stay on message long enough, the message will do it’s magic and become reality.

  6. Mad Dogs says:

    It must be a nice view at the top of Mount Olympus for all those Jacobin seers. All is well with the world when viewed from on high. Particularly so if one’s eyes are closed.
    But as our host has personally experienced, the view from the ground is much, much different.
    Take for example this view from the embedded Photojournalist Zoriah Miller in Iraq on his blog just a week or so ago (June 26, 2008):

    The above image is of a confiscated weapons cache housed inside of a US/Iraqi army base in Sadr City. Notice that there are no magazines in these weapons. As I was taking these photos, U.S. soldiers filled their pockets with loaded magazines, intending to distribute them to local militias.
    I am lying in my cot in a dank, concrete room in Joint Security Station Sadr City when one of the Army commanders who bunks next to me walks though the door, obviously frustrated an annoyed. He is stationed upstairs in the Tactical Operations Center, which is basically a command center for all the troops in the area and a relay point between them and other commands around the area.
    “What’s wrong man? You look pissed,” I say, as he throws his bag down on his bunk.
    “Everyone upstairs is all fucking pissed off because the fucking New York Times just broke a story about how the U.S. is arming and funding all of these neighborhood militias and gangs all around Iraq,” he says.
    I mention to him that I happen to know for a fact that this is true because not more than two days ago I saw it with my own eyes.
    He responds, “Yeah, I know its true too, we are taking guns out of one guys hand and putting them into the hands of another guy. I’m not pissed about the article, I just have to work with a bunch of idiots who are pissed about the article. That is what makes my life miserable.”
    I have decided to post what I wrote a few days ago, now that I am sure that hunch was correct.
    I am a photojournalist. It is my job to be a visual story teller, showing people what other’s lives and struggles are like, when they would otherwise have no way of visualizing these lives. I don’t consider myself to very an expert in politics, warfare or the situation in Iraq. It puts me in the unique position of seeing and experiencing without pre-conceived notions or ideas. Since my job is based on truly “seeing”, I am at ease with learning things along my path.
    I am noticing a disturbing trend in Iraq right now, one that I feel pretty sure will prove to be a major mistake in this war and cause a fair amount of grief to the Iraqi people and most likely beyond. The U.S. Military is arming and funding militias and civil military groups across the country. After a discussion with a soldier about the Sons of Iraq, what is now called a “neighborhood guard” by the US military, the soldier said, “We are basically paying these guys off with money and weapons to not kill us.”
    The streets of Iraq are now filled with various militias and private security forces. Think of these militias as Blackwater without background checks, rules or any kind of oversight whatsoever (ok, so just think of it like Blackwater!) . Often, they are composed mainly of children not old enough to drive and carrying AK-47 assault rifles nearly as big as themselves.
    Another soldier explains to me that most of the members from the militant groups and death squads a year or two ago, are now either wearing the uniforms of the Iraqi National Police Force, or in one of the hundreds, if not thousands of militias. As I said before, I no expert on such things, but in my humble opinion this appears to be a disaster waiting to happen.

    And if you are up to a bit more from Zoriah Miller, here’s what you won’t see in America because the MSM is part of the Administration’s GWOT War Machine – Anbar Province Suicide Bombing – Zoriah’s Eyewitness Account – Iraq War Diary posted just a couple of days ago on his blog July 1, 2008.
    Note: The photos at this site are indeed graphic, so don’t go there if it would offend either your sensibilities or your conscience.
    And Senator John McSame and the Jacobins say we’re winning. Winning what I wonder?
    P.S. – A final postscript on Zoriah Miller’s situation – Embed Termination – Statement About My Situation in Iraq:

    A few hours after posting my story on the suicide bombing in Anbar Province, I was woken up by a young marine who took me to receive a phone call. A high ranking Public Affairs Officer told me that they were requesting that I remove my blog post immediately. I asked on what grounds, as media rules state that wounded and killed soldiers may be portrayed in images as long as their name tags and identifiable features are not shown. I made very sure my images followed those guidelines, and questioned a large number of soldiers on base to see if they could find anything at all that would identify the dead. I did this primarily out of respect for the families.
    After the post was online, I was told that the Marine Corps would not allow even the pants or shoes of a injured or killed Marine to be depicted in images. This was a rule I had never been told or even heard of. I refused to remove the blog post. It seemed insane to me that the Marines would embed a war photographer and then be upset when photographs were taken of war.
    A few minutes later my embed was terminated and a convoy was arranged, despite a fierce sand storm, to bring me to Camp Fallujah where I would wait for the first flight out of the Marines area of operation and into the Green Zone.
    I still wait for my flight out one day later. Apparently they fear that someone is angry enough to do me harm, as I now must go to the chow hall with two armed escorts. However, I have had five or more Marines approach me on base and tell me that the images were the best and most powerful, real photographs of war they had ever seen, and that they supported my choices 100%…

  7. Homer says:

    PL: Oh, yes, they also pronounced that “the Iranians have suffered a major defeat in Iraq.” They have? How?
    Maliki cautions U.S. against Iran attack
    BAGHDAD, July 5 (UPI) — Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has cautioned the United States against using Iraqi territory to carry out attacks on Iran.
    Maliki’s statements came in a Friday video link meeting with U.S. President George W. Bush, al-Alam reported.
    Maliki said he was concerned about military pressure aimed at Iran regarding the country’s nuclear activities, adding he would not permit U.S. forces to use Iraqi land, airspace and waterways as a means for attacking states in the region.
    He said the Mideast is in a “fragile” state and “fomenting tension in the region and pushing for military action against Tehran could wreak havoc on the entire region, including Iraq.”
    Maliki said diplomacy would be the most effective way to resolve conflict surrounding Iran’s nuclear activities.

  8. hidebound says:

    stupid is as stupid does

  9. CTuttle says:

    Col., Barnes and Noble err… , Bloody Kristol are only relaying what our Prez and the PM of Iraq is spewing! Can’t blame them! Case in point; Iraq’s Al Maliki says government has defeated terrorism!
    If they say it… It must be true…! Right…?

  10. Homer says:

    Coming to a theater near you…
    Scene 1: History’s shittiest colonizers (Neocons) will have their idealogical-heads sawed off with the blade of an Iraqi sword
    Scene 2: Mysteriously, history’s shittiest colonizers (Neocons) will then hold up their very own heads for all to see so that they may proclaim victory in Iraq, Mission Accomplished…..
    Enter Maliki …..
    Iraq’s al-Maliki wants short-term US agreement
    By QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA – 1 hour ago
    The proposed memorandum includes a formula for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, al-Maliki told several Arab ambassadors to the United Arab Emirates during a meeting Monday.
    “The goal is to end the presence” of foreign troops, said al-Maliki. [snip]
    President Bush opposes a timetable for troop withdrawal. [snip]

  11. Binh says:

    “the Iranians have suffered a major defeat in Iraq.”
    If the Iranians have suffered a major defeat in Iraq, I’d hate to see what a victory looks like. It’s heartening to see the decline of neocon influence in the administration (look at N. Korea), and the ousting of Rumsfeld has made it all but impossible for them to establish “facts on the ground” to force the debate and policy in their direction.

  12. I understand in 1946 the 1st Marine Division was deployed in China to seperate Nationalist and Communist forces. Perhaps someone decided “losing China” was better than choosing sides in either the short or long run. Nonetheless, we are definitely choosing sides now in Iraq, and the side being chosen is not for long-run good of the people of Iraq. The wild west will return when the marshall leaves town. The sheriff resigned long ago.

  13. Spider Rider says:

    If all war is in fact continuous conflict among governments, manifested one way or another, never with a clear end, only respites in the forms of treaties, say, shouldn’t we start redefining goals, and for that matter, warfare?
    How much of what we see today in the Middle East is still an outgrowth of WW2, and the changes in social dynamics that war brought about?
    Shouldn’t we look at warfare differently, then, in order to secure more stable social systems, and governments, not prone to this type of upheaval, for the long term?
    To that end, bombing really doesnt do anything but buy a little time, maybe, you will never ever eliminate the threat with a bomb, it would seem. Laos was mentioned, say, for instance, Laos was simply a actor for China, or Russia. How do we get China (or Russia) to change it’s thinking? Same with Korea.
    Ronald mentioned Halberstam’s “Coldest Winter,” the absolute HUBRIS of MacArthur, and I agree with him, Korea is a metaphor for the very thing the US is dealing with in Iraq, and elsewhere, just mangled Pentagon practices.
    What is war? What is the aim of war? What is the aim of peace?
    Seems to me we’re missing something here, and it doesn’t involve bombs, it involves the scope of warfare, it’s causes, our own GOALS, as a free nation and world citizen, and how to best resolve these issues for the long term benefit of ALL.
    I don’t mean this to be anything but passing thoughts, no intent to offend, but it seems the culture of “war” should be looked at as a sort of greater ecosystem, perhaps, as opposed to a collection of battles, here and there.

  14. Michael says:

    Why isn’t more being made of this by anyone?
    Please explain… the NSA wiretap requests were made BEFORE 9/11?

  15. Spider Rider says:

    “I am noticing a disturbing trend in Iraq right now, one that I feel pretty sure will prove to be a major mistake in this war and cause a fair amount of grief to the Iraqi people and most likely beyond. The U.S. Military is arming and funding militias and civil military groups across the country.”
    This because some slow witted commander is not able to recognize the true cost to the US, and Iraq, really the thinking here simply does not get more provincial.
    It’s as if some unsophisticated, uneducated strategist grabbed onto this, aloft in a panic of fear, wholly unqualified for his position, throwing this out, from desperation, and fear.
    This is the type of command corruption buys.
    The only thing to understand is, IMO, others are aware this is a colossal screw up, and fatal to the US, if left unattended.
    Which is a good thing.

  16. Martin K says:

    Sir. They are merely setting themselves up for cushy jobs on the far-right talking circuit, explaining how everything would have worked out OK if only McCain had won the election. They are planning 4-8 years ahead, building up a revisionist resonance with wich to play the dolchstoss myth again. “Iraq was a sucess (and never mind the facts) until Obama started pulling out troops!” (And never mind Afghanistan either). As usual, they are thinking of new paradigms and memetic constructs to apply to the body politic in order to keep afloat, not the best of the country.

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