Sunday, May 04, 2008

An unrepentant view from inside the neocon bunker

They may have been chastened over Iraq but the hawks are hoping for a resurgence if John McCain becomes president

Had news of the meeting leaked a few years ago it would have been taken as evidence that a nefarious plot was being hatched by a sinister cabal of all-powerful ideologues and policy makers known as neoconservatives. For here they were, being served coffee and pastries – no alcohol – although it was evening: not just Perle, the host, but also Paul Wolfowitz, the former deputy defence secretary, officials from the Pentagon and Vice-President Dick Cheney’s office, and a smattering of neocon scribes and thinkers.

Five years on from the toppling of Saddam Hussein, it was a gathering of exiles who had mostly been stripped of their positions of power. The party was to commemorate – celebrate is not quite the right word – the publication of War and Decision by Douglas Feith, a leading neoconservative and former number three at the Pentagon, who has produced the first account of the origins and course of the “war on terror” to be written by a member of Donald Rumsfeld’s inner circle.

These days the neocons just hope for a respectful hearing.

Wolfowitz was punished for his part in the war when he was driven out of his job as president of the World Bank over exaggerated accusations that he pulled strings for his girlfriend, but he has not changed his views.

Mourning people’s short-term memories, he said: “Everyone says we’ve created a failed state in Iraq, but nobody stops to consider the failed state that Saddam was creating. He was hollowing out the country from the inside.”

Feith knows that when he goes to his grave, the words of General Tommy Franks, who led the invasion of Iraq, will be in every obituary. “The f****** stupidest guy on the face of the earth,” he called Feith. And George Tenet, the CIA director at the time, described him as “a man eager to manipulate intelligence to push the country into war” – a charge Feith vehemently denies...[Open in new window]


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