“If we have to make common cause with the more hawkish liberals and fight the conservatives, that is fine with me,” William Kristol has told the New York Times.
The Weekly Standard editor added that the neoconservatives may just abandon the Right altogether and convert to neoliberalism.
Alluding to his father Irving’s definition of a neoconservative as a liberal who has been mugged by reality, Kristol describes a neoliberal as a “neoconservative who has been mugged by reality in Iraq.”
Ranking his political preferences, Kristol added, “I will take Bush over Kerry, but Kerry over Buchanan … If you read the last few issues of the Weekly Standard, it has as much or more in common with the liberal hawks than with traditional conservatives.”
Yes, it does. But as John Kerry backs partial-birth abortion, quotas, raising taxes, homosexual unions, liberals on the Supreme Court and has a voting record to the left of Teddy Kennedy, how can Kristol prefer him to other conservatives? Answer: War and Israel.
Like Kristol, Kerry wants more U.S. troops sent to Iraq where they can advance the neocons’ project for empire. And at a fund-raiser in Juno Beach, Fla., Kerry declared eternal fealty to Israel: “I have a 100 percent record – not a 99, a 100 percent record – of sustaining the special relationship and friendship that we have with Israel.”
Kristol’s warning that the neocons could break with the Right and go to Kerry is an admission of what many conservatives have long argued. To neocons, Israel comes first, second and third, conservative principles be damned.
The day after Kristol said he preferred Kerry to conservatives skeptical of committing more troops to Iraq, this item appeared in the Wall Street Journal: “Mr. Kristol thinks Mr. Bush should use the revelations [from the Woodward book] to shake up his war cabinet by firing Mr. Powell … along with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who has pushed for smaller deployments of U.S. forces than some critics, including Mr. Kristol, think wise.”
Set aside the suicidal folly of Bush dynamiting his war cabinet in an election year by firing its most famous members, and consider the ingratitude, the rootlessness and the cynicism on display here.
When it was launched in 1995, the Weekly Standard called on Colin Powell to run for president and offered its endorsement. Purpose: Hook up with the most popular man in the GOP who could restore the neocons and Kristols to pre-eminence and power. Powell rebuffed the offer. Ever since, he has been a target of abuse for having repelled the boarding party.
As for Rumsfeld, he has been a hero of neoconservatives for two decades. He co-signed the neocons’ 1998 open letter to Clinton urging war on Iraq. He brought Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith into his Pentagon in the No. 2 and 3 slots. He put Richard Perle in charge of the Defense Review Board. After 9-11, according to Richard Clarke, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz were making the case for attacking Iraq immediately, even before Bush had ousted the Taliban enablers of al-Qaida and bin Laden.
Agree or disagree with the defense secretary, Rumsfeld has been a lion in the neocon cause. To see the Weekly Standard snake on him like this brings to mind that wretched crowd in Yankee Stadium that took to booing Joe DiMaggio at the end of his career.
With Iraq turning into the Mesopotamian morass some of us warned it would become, the neo-Jacobins have decided they are not going to be the ones to ride the tumbrels.
In times like this, character comes through. By turning on the men they persuaded to go to war, by fabricating alibis and inventing excuses to absolve themselves of culpability for what they labored to create, they have revealed themselves for what they are: hustlers and opportunists devoid of principle, driven by an ideology of power and a passionate attachment to a nation not their own.
The Old Right curmudgeons who warned us against giving these vagabonds food, shelter and a warm place by the fire were right. We should have put them back out on the street.
President Bush should have listened to his father, who kept the neocons at some remove, and he had best beware, because they have a major card yet to play. That card is escalation.
With the situation in Iraq deteriorating, the neocon agenda is to widen the war into Syria, Iran and perhaps Saudi Arabia, and convert it into “World War IV,” the war of their dreams, a war of civilizations, an Armageddon, with America and Israel on one side and Islam on the other.
Exiting Iraq with honor and avoiding the wider war for which the neocons are even now scheming is the first duty of patriots.