William Kristol, the editor of The Weekly Standard and one of the intellectual godfathers of neo-conservatism, argued this weekend that the fighting in the Middle East was part of a broad-based attack on “liberal, democratic civilisation” and had been encouraged by western weakness: “Weakness is provocative . . . The right response is renewed strength – in supporting the governments of Iraq and Afghanistan, in standing with Israel and in pursuing regime change in Syria and Iran.” He urged Mr Bush to order an immediate “military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities” and to fly from St Petersburg to Jerusalem to demonstrate solidarity with Israel.Gregory at Belgravia comments on Rachman's thesis:
Mr Kristol’s argument is characteristic of the neo-conservative world-view – both in the seductive ease with which it links different crises and proposes a simple solution; and in its alarmingly casual attitude to military escalation. This neo-con combination of “moral clarity”, radicalism and an appeal to military force carried the day after 9/11. After America’s experience in Iraq, it seems less likely that Mr Bush will take his advice from this quarter. But crises can shift attitudes quickly. If Mr Bush heeds even half the advice he is now getting from the radicals in Washington, the European-American divisions that were evident in St Petersburg this weekend will be just a foretaste. [emphasis added]
Three years ago, I would have poo-pooed anyone using the word "radicals" to describe the neo-cons. No more. Any group that can so brazenly (and breezily) avoid a real reckoning with the continuing crisis in Iraq--which is descending into civil war as we speak--any movement that has the gall to suggest as some panacea that we mount significant military operations in Iran and Syria and god knows where else (with Israel in Lebanon to boot), well, their credibility is at a very low ebb indeed, and they very much need to be urgently reined in.So what will the Bush frat boy do. He should take a trip to Crawford and meat with his fathers advisers, Brent Scowcroft and James Baker. They tried to keep him out of the Iraq debacle in the first place. He should admit that the nut cases Cheney put in charge of his foreign policy have made a total mess of things and that he needs a new plan that has at least some relationship to reality. Will it happen?
Rachman is likely right that, in the main, Bush is unlikely to imbibe again the Jacobin-like fervors emitting from NRO and the Standard given the massive train wreck that is Iraq. But Rachman is also right, of course, that in times of crisis unexpected turns and events and forks in the road can lead to cascading blunders (Guns of August, anyone?). Is it possible, even with Lebanon's Cedar Revolution now lying in ruin, even with Iraq bleeding profusely, even with Afghanistan (and portions of Pakistan) increasingly seeing a reconstituted neo-Talib and al-Qaeda presence--is it really possible that Bush would listen to an unholy alliance of unrepentant, incorrigible and increasingly reckless neo-cons (Krauthammer, Kristol's Standard, most of NRO etc.), crude Jacksonians (Bolton, Steyn) and hotted up evangelical rapturists (the legions of Hewitts)?