Friday, June 20, 2008

The Return of the Neocons
Bush Hawks Aggressively Working to Rewrite Accepted Iraq War History

By James Risen 06/19/2008 |

Ever since the Rumsfeld era at the Pentagon ended abruptly in the aftermath of the Democratic victory in the 2006 mid-term elections, the civilian hawks who ruled the Defense Dept. during the early years of the Iraq war have remained largely silent. They have not engaged publicly even as their culpability for the Iraq war's myriad failures has congealed into accepted wisdom.

But for the Pentagon troika most identified with Iraq – former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith -- silence has not equaled happiness. It certainly has not meant acceptance of their fate at the hands of the many journalists, former generals and assorted ex-members of the Bush administration who have taken to the cable talk fests and the nation’s media outlets to reject and denounce them. Nor does it mean they walk the aisles at Barnes & Noble with equanimity while scanning shelves filled with books that lay the fault for George W. Bush’s failed presidency at their doorstep.

This anti-Pentagon historical narrative is straightforward and seems well established: Wolfowitz and Feith ran a neoconservative frat house while an arrogant, fiddling Rumsfeld roared against anyone who dared try to bring him the truth.

Neoconservatives -- a loose association of pundits, politicians and analysts who put a right-wing spin on American exceptionalism and coupled that with an embrace of the doctrine of pre-emptive war -- began pushing for regime change in Iraq in the 1990s. Wolfowitz and Feith brought this desire to oust Saddam Hussein with them when they joined the Bush administration.

After 9/11, neoconservatives inside and outside the administration argued for war; Washington must act because Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and might share them with terrorists. Inside the government, Rumsfeld, not a neoconservative himself, embraced and advanced these arguments, following the lead of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. Perhaps Rumsfeld also sensed that the war in Afghanistan had been too quick and remote to serve as a true demonstration of U.S. power in the Middle East.

And so, during the critical 18 months between the Sept. 11 attacks and the invasion of Iraq, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Feith were united at the forefront of the administration's march to war...[Open in new window]


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