Contrasts

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Iraq War

Kurt Campbell notes in the New York Times that the “Iraqitects” — “the Bush Administration’s key architects of the Iraq War” — are not a group prone to losing sleep.

Indeed, what’s particularly unique about this group of national security strategists is their sheer ability to keep moving forward and to remain in the game. No public fretting or loss of composure, no signs of a larger remorse for the terrible chain of events they helped set in motion, no sense that history is not going as planned.

Even after offering atrocious advice to President Bush during the 2000 campaign, most of them are back again advising one or more of the prospective Republican candidates, and many continue to offer sage assessments and quick denunciations on Fox news about the recent developments in Iraq. All say that history will redeem them, that democracy will triumph in Iraq, and that Harry Truman has suddenly become their second favorite president of all time (no one could beat out the Gipper).

Iran poses new opportunities for scheming and planning, and Islamofascism is on the march and must be vigorously opposed. For the Iraq architects – or Iraqitects — life goes on and there is very little in the way of public accountability or introspection. Everything remains, well, normal.

Campbell uses the word normal quite a bit. Think Hannah Arendt.

Perhaps part of the curiosity is because this current generation of war planners has conducted themselves so much differently than the Vietnam era Masters of the Universe. Many from the version 1.0 of the best and the brightest – those intrepid Cold Warriors who led the country to a slogging defeat in Vietnam – had to subsequently endure booing on college campuses, shunning from old friends and colleagues, brutal treatment from the commentariat of the time, and the kind of bitter despair that generally accompanies a thoroughgoing battlefield defeat.

As a post graduate fellow at Harvard, I can still recall the lonely, ghostlike figure of Robert McNamara striding around Cambridge, making presentations to a new generation of would-be strategists about how to learn from his mistakes of the past. Others, like Dean Rusk, simply quietly retreated from public view, perhaps hoping history would treat them more gently than some of their contemporaries.

It’s a sad day when we look back at the “Vietnamitects” as role models.

The version 2.0 era of neoconservative advocates of military action to topple Saddam have behaved very differently in the midst of our current quagmire in Iraq. … very few have publicly questioned themselves over their own culpability in the entire mess. And those who have had the courage to do so, like Frank Fukuyama, have been roundly attacked and criticized from within the neocon camp. Indeed, what’s particularly unique about this group of national security strategists is their sheer ability to keep moving forward and to remain in the game. No public fretting or loss of composure, no signs of a larger remorse for the terrible chain of events they helped set in motion, no sense that history is not going as planned.

The Iraqitects remind me of a stock character in old films and television dramas, the aristocratic villain. Aristocratic villains are generally corrupt and incompetent bullies who are rich, titled, and privileged by accident of birth. No matter what messes they make, unless they are convicted of doing something treasonous or felonious (always a satisfying plot resolution) they remain rich, titled, and privileged. And they make life hell for the hero, who is usually a common-born, practical, man-of-action type.

Speaking of which, Barbara Barrett of the Virginia News & Observer writes that life is not so normal for others.

Late at night, after the moon has settled into the swamps and cotton fields surrounding Army Sgt. 1st Class Chad Stephens’ home, the soldier puts down his last drink.

He pulls himself off the sofa, leans over the television to snap quiet his latest war movie and lies in bed next to his wife of 12 years.

The dream never takes long to arrive. Stephens’ platoon of Bradley fighting vehicles is somewhere in Iraq, pinned down by the enemy.

Grenades fly at them. Bullets ding off metal. His troops holler into their radios, and Stephens, the platoon leader, feels the danger.

On this night in his dream, like every night, Stephens will keep a promise — to his soldiers and, in particular, to the mother of a blue-eyed gunner named Danny.

Nearly four years ago, in January 2004, the N.C. National Guard platoon sergeant stood in an Army classroom facing that mother and the families of the 40 men he was about to lead into war.

He stood 6-foot-4 and infantry-lean, and in the confident voice familiar to his men, he made a promise: I’ll bring your sons home.

He had wanted it to be true.

Even then, Stephens knew he was lying.

This is a powerful piece. Be sure to read it.

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7 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Bonnie  •  Nov 17, 2007 @1:10 pm

    The things that keep happening in this country just seem to prove over and over and over and over and over ad nauseum that there is no justice. It’s a nightmare that goes on day and night, waking or asleep.

  2. c u n d gulag  •  Nov 17, 2007 @3:58 pm

    For the last 17 years we, like a modern Sisyphus, we have been trying to push Iraq up a hill.

    I’ll give Bush I credit, he was smart enough to realize that Iraq could roll right back over him.
    Bush II seemed to think that he was Wile E. Coyote, “Super Genious,” and that no matter what happened – whether Iraq rolled back over him or not, he’d be featured, whole, in the next cartoon.

    I hope that when he dies and goes to Hell, GWB has to keep trying to push Iraq up a hill, knowing that it will fail EVERY time. But that idiot probably wouldn’t know that, now would he?

    But we do. The Iraqi people do. Iraq is like his polling numbers: What goes up, must come down. HARD!

    GWB is like Alfred E. Neuman’s “What, me worry?’ meeting Forrest Gump’s Ma’s, “Life’s a box of chocolates, Forrest (Goerge). You never know what you’re gonna get..” Hence, why worry about what you get?

    Redefiniton of the Murphy’s Law, now to be know as Bush’s Law: “Things will go wrong in any given situation, if you give them a chance!” Or, “Anything that can go wrong, will,” given enough incompetence and lying.
    And from that, these evil clowns profit.

    Page the Hague!

  3. erinyes  •  Nov 17, 2007 @6:59 pm

    The neocons are sociopaths.
    I’m not into myths and fantasy, but if I were, I’d be wishing these critters would pay them a call….
    http://www.theoi.com/Khthonios/Erinyes.html

  4. Orwie  •  Nov 17, 2007 @7:51 pm

    When you declare your enemy to be “Islamofascism” then you cant have any fascist tendencies yourself, now can you? Projection really is more than a psychological reflex – it is a PR tactic.

    Its not even that clever and yet they get away with it.

  5. Swami  •  Nov 18, 2007 @8:38 am

    I remember Wolfowitz saying that our Iraqi adventure would cost 10 billion dollars, and would be paid from Iraqi oil..Well, 1.6 trillion dollars later the costs are still adding up.
    The question I ask is what did get for our money? A permanent military presence in Iraq?…Even that isn’t going to come cheap. At a minimum it will cost billions a month to sustain…it doesn’t make sense to me. I quess Ben Franklin was right..” a fool and his money soon parted”

    Speaking of architects..Have you seen pictures of the new U.S.Embassy in Iraq..What a monstrosity..it’s nothing but a huge gray cement bunker with absolutely no architectual beauty or design. It looks like an apartment complex built in a remote Soviet republic during the 60’s.. Tashkent?

  6. The Conservative Deflator  •  Nov 18, 2007 @10:03 am

    The “Iraqitects” are what is known as sociopaths. They have no conscience. They cannot admit they are wrong. They are immune to the suffering and death of others. And the President of the United States is the worst sociopath of all. How we have allowed this mentally ill man to stumble and bumble his way along for seven years without removing him from office, speaks volumes about how ignorant and disengaged the American electorate is.

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