Monday, August 25, 2008

The Three Dumbest Neocon Predictions Since the Disaster in Iraq
By John Dolan, AlterNet
Posted on August 25, 2008, Printed on August 25, 2008 /

Now that the Beijing games have wound up, we can get on to a sporting event with real significance: a Neocon Olympics to decide the most grossly wrong, stupid prediction by a Neocon pundit post-Iraq. Of course, it's a very rich field. Being totally wrong about absolutely everything is the Neocons' job, and they've been working overtime on it. Their proudest moment had to be in the lead-up to the Iraq war when Kenneth Adelman assured America that democratizing Iraq would be "a cakewalk." Indeed, early Neocons like Adelman and Richard Perle (who predicted that Iraq would settle down "at the first whiff of gunpowder") set the bar for disastrously wrong predictions so high that some have suggested that the trophy be retired in their honor. But doing that would mean shutting out all the more recent Neocon predictions. Their little mistakes may not have cost as many trillions of dollars and thousands of lives as Adelman and Perle's, but give them time. They're doing their best to push us into more disastrous wars, and with team spirit like theirs, they may yet succeed. Here are the top contenders:

1. "The Arab Spring Is Happening Now" by Abe Greenwald, Pajamas Media.

There are many unintentionally funny aspects of this April 13, 2008, article, such as the fact that two of the countries Greenwald cites approvingly, Turkey and Pakistan, aren't Arab at all. But as with all good comedy, it's the timing that makes this article such a winner. To see the joke, you have to remember that Neocons have been predicting an "Arab Spring" for years, in which democracy, once we'd introduced it to Iraq, would spread like a weed all over the Middle East.

2. "Hail Mauritania!" by James Kirchick, Weekly Standard.

Kirchick may not be the most famous Neocon, but in one obscure column he encapsulated their key trait: arrogant predictions, based on total ignorance, which prove to be disastrously wrong. Iraq, of course, is the classic example. On May 7, 2007, Kirchick wrote a cheery, optimistic column called (believe it or not) "Hail Mauritania," in which he gushed that democracy had "bloomed" in this "remote corner of the Arab world" because they'd held "democratic elections." Then history supplied the punch line: Three months later, on Aug. 6, the Mauritanian army overthrew the winner of that glorious election, and democracy had suddenly un-bloomed. To date, Kirchick has not commented on that unexpected and irksome twist. Kirchick wasn't just unlucky in his prediction; it was absurd from the start. Nobody who knew anything about Mauritania could have imagined that simply because the local elite had cynically embraced the facade of American-style elections, the country would suddenly transform into a peaceful democracy. Only willful ignorance could sustain that notion. Obama is right; these people really are "proud to be ignorant." In fact, they're desperate to remain ignorant, especially about the fact that elections, in themselves, mean very little.

3. "The Pain Game: A Military Response to Russia's Aggression?" Stuart Koehl, Weekly Standard.

Quite a title, eh? "The Pain Game." That really says it all. The author is supposedly talking about how a Georgian insurgency could "pain" the Russian army in this Aug. 14, 2008, piece, but he may as well be cheering the unimaginable pain that such a course would inflict on the Georgian population. It's that childish callousness that makes this such a classic of Neocon prognostication: "Why don't you Georgians start a guerrilla war against the Russians? It'd be fun!" Fun, that is, for Koehl, in his living room. Koehl's advice to the Georgians is almost unbelievable in its stupidity. Like a typical Tom Clancy fan, he reduces the problem to hardware, starting with a long, loving list of the armored vehicles the Russians are using, followed by a list of U.S. weapons that will supposedly neutralize these vehicles. Then, getting really excited, he fantasizes in true Clancy style about how a few cool new weapons can force Russia out:

What's most dismally typical of Neocon thinking here is the mad nonchalance with which this suburban hobbyist urges Georgia to let itself in for the sort of slaughter that has been going on in Chechnya for years. The Chechens have lost a substantial part of their total population in a losing insurgency. And the Russians didn't defeat the Chechens by tinkering with this or that weapons system; they went in and kidnapped, tortured and killed all the young males they even suspected of being insurgents, just like we're doing in Iraq. That's how this kind of ugly war is fought. So prescribing guerrilla warfare means telling the Georgians to start a process that will lead to the death of most of their families. That's what insurgency means.


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