Monday, April 9, 2007

Neocon Godmother Considered Iraq War a Mistake

From my "Capital Games" column at

From the grave, Jeane Kirkpatrick, the godmother of the neoconservative movement, speaks: the Iraq war was something of a mistake.

Kirkpatrick, best known as the combative UN ambassador during the Reagan administration who argued that the United States should be kind to authoritarian regimes that were partners in the crusade against communism, died last December. She had just completed a book entitled Making War To Keep Peace, which is being published next month. In the book, she reports--apparently for the first time--that she had "grave reservations" about George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq. She notes that at the time, "I was privately critical of the Bush administration's argument for the use of military force for preemptive self-defense." She does not say where and to whom she voiced her misgivings--if she did. Most strikingly, she argues that the war--with respect to bringing democracy to Iraqis--did more harm than good.

It's stunning criticism from a hawk who for over two decades has been a guiding light for the neocons who cheerleaded the nation to war in Iraq. In her book, she contends that the invasion has so far been counterproductive:

On a personal note, I have dedicated much of my professional life to reconciling what I consider the twin goals of American foreign policy, and that is why President George W. Bush's decision to go to war has troubled me deeply.

These twin goals of our foreign policy are, first, ensuring our security and, second, promoting democracy and human rights. An appropriate balance between the two must exist, and that balance must be determined within the unique circumstances of any situation. Yet, for democracy to take hold in a given region, it must be preceded by institutions that are receptive and willing to support democracy--because democracy requires security as a prerequisite. That is why, throughout history, if the single force of political stability in a region is removed without critical institutions in place to fill the resulting vacuum of power, the security of societies and their budding institutions will be precarious at best.

Unfortunately, what we face in Iraq today is a vacuum of power, a lack of stable institutions needed to govern, and the problem that the promise of democracy for which our nation stands may be lost in the essential scramble for safety and stability in the streets. This is one of the reasons I am uneasy about the war we have made here--for we have helped to create the chaos that has overtaken the country, and we may have reduced rather than promoted the pace of democratic reform.

Kirkpatrick suggests the Bush administration and her neocon colleagues rushed into the war irresponsibly:

Iraq presented a very different set of circumstances from Afghanistan, however. These are things we ought to have known and taken into account when weighing our decision to invade in 2003.

Iraq lacked practically all the requirements for a democratic government: rule of law, an elite with a shared commitment to democratic procedures, a sense of citizenship, and habits of trust and cooperation. The administration's failure involved several issues, but the core concern is that they did not seem to have methodically completed the due diligence required for reasoned policy-making because they failed to address the aftermath of the invasion. This, of course, is reflected by the violence, sectarian unrest, ethnic vengeance and bloodshed we see in Iraq today.

No "due diligence." Kirkpatrick is politely charging that George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell and other top administration aides invaded a nation recklessly. Can there be a more damning indictment?

In the book, Kirkpatrick does not engage in self-criticism. Before the invasion, she was part of the commentariat that helped create the context for the war. Three weeks after September 11, she suggested that Saddam Hussein was behind the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Appearing on The Oprah Winfrey Show Kirkpatrick declared, "Many people believe that it is likely that the hijackers had the support of Iraq. We know that Saddam Hussein has always said that we did not defeat him [in] the Gulf War, that it was just one battle, and that there would be more."

In a June 2002 interview with the Financial Times, Kirkpatrick said that she had "some questions" about whether it would be "prudent" to launch a preemptive strike on Saddam's regime, noting such an attack could "win recruits for the most radical Islamists." But on October 9, 2002--the day after Bush made a nationally televised speech asserting that Iraq posed a direct threat to the United States because it was loaded with weapons of mass of destruction and in league with al Qaeda--Kirkpatrick appeared on PBS's Newshour and praised the president for presenting an "effective and clear explanation of the US case...against Iraq." She voiced no reservations about a preemptive war with Iraq. And when Bush two weeks later said the United States could live with Saddam's regime if it met "all the conditions" of a United Nations disarmament resolution, Kirkpatrick called this gesture a mistake.

Shortly before Bush launched the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, he asked Kirkpatrick to head the US delegation to the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva. She took the job, and her primary mission soon became preventing the commission from passing a resolution condemning the Iraq invasion as illegal. Despite being "privately critical" of Bush's decision to invade, Kirkpatrick, according to her new book, believed the invasion was legal under international law, mainly because it was not a new war but a response to Saddam's failure to abide by the cease-fire terms of the first Gulf War. Thus, she writes, she was able to be a forceful advocate of Bush's right to invade Iraq, "even though I did not agree with the president's choices." A week after the invasion, Kirkpatrick beat back a resolution at the Human Rights Commission that challenged the legitimacy of the war.

Whatever her private concerns, she publicly defended the war. In a speech at the American Enterprise Institute on June 13, 2003, Kirkpatrick derided critics of the war. She singled out an editorial that had appeared in the International Herald Tribune. The paper had argued, "we did not like [Bush's] combative doctrine [of preemptive force] when it was formally unveiled...because it seemed to walk away from America's historical inclination to work with other nations to preserve the peace and to rely on force only when its security was directly threatened." Kirkpatrick called this "one of the silliest arguments" made against the war. In a September 30, 2003 speech at Georgetown University, she appeared to endorse the war and Bush's use of preemptive military action. Yet in her book, Kirkpatrick recounts that she did not support the "Bush administration's assertion of its right to preemptive action in self-defense." Now when it is too late--she is gone, the war is still here--Kirkpatrick says that Bush's primary rationale for the war was misguided and that the administration acted negligently by attacking Iraq without adequate preparation.

Kirkpatrick is the latest in a parade of Bush aides and associates who have expressed disappointment and dismay with Bush and his war. Matthew Dowd, the chief campaign strategist for Bush's 2004 reelection effort, recently told The New York Times that he had lost faith in Bush and believed US troops should be withdrawn from Iraq. Dowd indicated he felt the need to do penance for having enabled Bush to win reelection. Kirkpatrick offers no apologies for her own complicity, and only a small slice of the book concerns Iraq. Yet those few passages--each written in a dispassionate manner--show that as Kirkpatrick neared death she was troubled by the most important and consequential endeavor of the neoconservative movement, which she had inspired and led for decades. This is no deathbed confession. But it is a sharp parting shot: a mother's rebuke.

Posted by David Corn at April 9, 2007 09:01 PM


capt said...

Mr. David Corn,

Seems like none of the neocon "true believers" actually believe. It is all blind faith that they and their leaders are better than the "liberals" no matter how bad the character or poor the results.

Two faced, insincere SOB's does not begin to describe.

These neocons has made such a mockery of conservatism they have lost support on all fronts and yet the insanity continues.

We are perched precariously on the precipice of more war with madmen holding all the cards (either side). I think we might regret not following the rule of law with regard to the unconstitutional power grabs and abuses of office.

Thanks for all of your work!


capt said...

Laurie And Sheryl Didn't Make It Very Far Before Exxon Tried To Slash Tour Bus Tires

When Al Gore's movie, An Inconvenient Truth won the Oscar for Best Documentary, it didn't take him long to be attacked by the Right Wing $MEAR machine. (And the mainstream media didn't help much but not even checking out the basic facts of the story.)

So this morning when Laurie David and Sheryl Crow kicked off their Stop Global Warming tour, where they are doing outrageous things like discussing the reality of global warming and how concerned college students, aka our nation's future, can become involved, surely you didn't expect the oil companies to let them slide did you. Of course not.

Here are the first couple of shots. One accuses ABC NEWS of letting their on-air talent be used for a "political agenda."

For anyone who wants us to connect the dots, here they are.

1. Newsbusters is a project of The Media Research Center.

2. Media Research Center is, believe it or not, a charitable organization so if you give money to them, you get a tax deduction.

Founded in 1987, the MRC is a 501 (c)(3) non profit research and education foundation.3. Media Research recently gave Rush Limbaugh an award for "Media Excellence." We can't make this shit up if we tried.

4. And who gives them a nice $50,000 check every year? And gets the tax deduction? ExxonMobil.

Let's be clear.

Global Warming is not a political issue, it is a scientific fact.

The attempt to turn it into a partisan issue is a political issue and is being done by the Right Wing donors, such as ExxonMobil, who have the most to lose if we move to alternative energies. If you can turn it into a political issue, you can begin to hide the facts.

Know the facts, and you know the truth. So get on the bus with Laurie and Sheryl.


capt said...

The Washington Post's Constitutional revisionism …

Joshua Holland: Your so-called "liberal" media: so eager to attack Dems that they're reinventing government.

While I have to take the Washington Post to task for its reporting from time to time, its news-gathering is usually professional and often excellent (with the exception of its Latin America reporting, which is always loyal to the "Washington Consensus").

But, under Fred Hiatt, the paper's editorial page is becoming a joke, and since the Dems' victory in the mid-terms, it's just gotten worse (as has been apparent in its reporting on the bogus Nancy Pelosi in Syria non-scandal).

How bad has it been, vis-a-vis reality? Well, consider this editorial, via Matthew Yglesias, in which the WaPo's editors are so eager to attack Dems that they just re-write the whole U.S. Constitution to fit their premise …

President Bush used his Easter weekend radio address to suggest that while Americans are "blessed" to have so many brave, volunteer military service members, congressional Democrats are jeopardizing their safety by refusing to sign his $100 billion war funding bill.

Got that? The president apparently writes the bills, and Congress signs them.

So, in honor of the rocket-scientists at the Washington Post, I offer this incredibly wonky explanation of how legislation gets done in America …

Schoolhouse Rock- How a Bill Becomes a Law (Youtube)


*****end of clip*****

The propaganda value is strong on the undercurrent of lies and media manipulation.


capt said...

10 States Introduce Impeachment

In 10 U.S. states, either this year or last year or both, the state legislature has introduced and considered, though not yet passed, a bill to petition the U.S. House of Representatives to impeach Bush and Cheney. The question, of course, is what in the heck is wrong with the other 40 states? We can't find a single state legislator with the decency to uphold the U.S. Constitution and at least introduce a resolution to impeach? Where are the states that created the Constitution? Where are Massachusetts and Virginia? What's holding up New York? Where in the world is Oregon? Is this all the pressure we can muster in the cause of justice?

But let's give credit where it's due. These 10 states have acted: CA, HI, IL, MN, MO, WA, VT, NM, WI, TX. These 10 legislators who've taken the lead should be drafted to run for Congress (except for Ellison, whom we've already elected to Congress): Les Ihara, Jr. HI; Lon Burnam TX; Gerald Ortiz y Pino NM; Eric Oemig WA; Paul Koretz CA; Daryl Pillsbury VT; Karen Yarbrough IL; Jamilah Nasheed MO; Frank Boyle WI; and Keith Ellison MN. Special credit goes to Oemig and Ortiz y Pino who have come close to passing their bills.

Of course, at the local level, dozens of cities and towns have passed these resolutions, and dozens more are trying. Vermont is far and away in the lead in the number of resolutions passed, but its Congress Member has not yet responded. While the national Green Party backs impeachment, so do at least 16 state Democratic parties. A list of all these resolutions, passed and pending, can be found at

Last Congress, 39 Congress Members signed onto a redundant bill, a bill to conduct a preliminary investigation into grounds for impeachment. I call this redundant because an impeachment hearing simply is a preliminary investigation. There's no serious doubt that there are grounds to begin such a hearing. The problem is that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has ordered her party not to impeach, even though the Constitution says otherwise.


*****end of clip*****

No politician has the right or the power to "take impeachment off the table" as that would mean ignoring the constitution. To do such a thing is criminal and stupid.


Gerald said...

Ron Paul, a rep from Texas, has a sign on his desk in plain sight for all to read. DON'T STEAL: THE GOVERNMENT HATES COMPETITION!!!

Our Nazi government cannot find $2.3 trillion dollars or 25% of of deficit money. Do suppose that Nazis have stored this money in some offshore bank accounts? It would not surprise me because the Bush regime is one of the most overt corrupt administrations in U.S. history. Bush, Slick Dick, and friends must be complimented. They let us see their corruption in plain sight and Americans will still not believe in the corruption. Too many stupid Americans!!!

I love this country! Don't you?

capt said...

New Thread!