Kurt Campbell notes in the New York Times that the “Iraqitects” — “the Bush Administrationâ€™s key architects of the Iraq War” — are not a group prone to losing sleep.
Indeed, whatâ€™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 â€“ or Iraqitects â€” 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 â€“ those intrepid Cold Warriors who led the country to a slogging defeat in Vietnam â€“ 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, whatâ€™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.