WASHINGTON - Although still united in pushing for confrontation with Iran, the coalition of hawks that propelled US troops toward Baghdad three years ago appears to have finally run out of steam.Enter Condi Rice.
Demoralized by the quagmire in Iraq, as well as President George W Bush's still falling approval and credibility ratings, the coalition of aggressive nationalists, neo-conservatives and the Christian Right that promoted the belligerent, neo-imperial trajectory in US foreign policy has lost both its coherence and its power to dominate the political agenda in Washington.
As a result - and almost by default - realists under Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and in the uniformed military have steadily gained control over the administration's policy. Within the increasingly fractious Republican Party, more xenophobic forces appear to be on the rise, as evidenced by recent and ongoing controversies surrounding immigration and foreign control of US ports.The debacle in Iraq is responsible.
Evidence of a decisive shift is not hard to find, beginning with the latest edition of the "The National Security Strategy of the United States of America", released last month.
A kinder, gentler version of its fire-breathing 2002 predecessor that laid out the doctrinal justification for the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, the new version puts a greater emphasis on diplomacy and development, tending alliances and other realist themes, even as it continued the administration's defense of preemptive military action with Iran squarely in mind.
In fact, the hawks' decline dates to late 2003 when it became clear that Cheney and Rumsfeld and their neo-conservative subordinates, then-deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz, under secretary for policy Douglas Feith, had totally failed to anticipate, let alone prepare for, a Sunni-based insurgency that has gone from strength to strength.This is not necessarily a positive move. The change is not a recognition that the ideology and policy is misguided but only it's execution under the Cheney/Rumsfeld cabal was faulty. So this in no way reduces the possibility of a foolish attack on Iran.
Lobe also fails to mention the very important political considerations of war by the Rovians in the administration. It is now obvious that the invasion of Iraq was at least in part motivated by politics. With the political fortunes of George W. Bush and the Republicans in free fall the Rovians might see an attack on Iran as a political plus.