In the Vanity Fair article on the neo-cons, which today seems to be a leading topic for discussion on political blogs, the neo-con cheerleaders of the Iraq war are wringing their hands at what has happened in Iraq, and blaming everybody except themselves for the Bush Administrations failures. Ken "Cakewalk" Adelman is shocked that those he had thought were competent proved incompetent:
"I just presumed that what I considered to be the most competent national-security team since Truman was indeed going to be competent. They turned out to be among the most incompetent teams in the post-war era. Not only did each of them, individually, have enormous flaws, but together they were deadly, dysfunctional."This was a state secret before the war? I thought it was pretty obvious that the "team" at issue was limited in its competence, and was eager to shut out anybody who dared to suggest that they were about to head down a disastrous road. I suspect that Adelman viewed the pro-war leaders of the Bush Administration as competent because they found both a warm reception for his ideas and, ultimately, agreement with those ideas. And now the fact that it was anything but a "cakewalk" has Adelman declaring the Bush Administration incompetent... for implicitly agreeing with him.
Similarly, Richard Perle declines to accept any flaw in his ideology, or any responsibility for the implementation of a war he doggedly advocated:
"Huge mistakes were made, and I want to be very clear on this: They were not made by neoconservatives, who had almost no voice in what happened, and certainly almost no voice in what happened after the downfall of the regime in Baghdad. I'm getting damn tired of being described as an architect of the war. I was in favor of bringing down Saddam. Nobody said, 'Go design the campaign to do that.' I had no responsibility for that."Ah yes, how clearly I recall him denouncing the Bush Administration's post-war plans, immediately after the invasion, as a recipe for disaster. Why, here he is, speaking of how Iraq could not possibly be occupied and transformed with such low numbers of troops:
Forget the 250,000 figure, Perle said: "The Army guys don't know anything. They said we needed 500,000 troops in 1991 [for the Gulf War]. Did we need that many to win? No."Er... Oops? Can you even begin to imagine the scope of the catastrophe had Perle's war plan in fact been followed? That is, had the "Army guys" who "don't know anything" not worked so hard, even against their career interests, to ensure that Perle's plan was not followed?
What's the Perle Plan? I asked.
"Forty thousand troops." he said.
To take Baghdad? Nah, he replied. To take control of the north and the south, particularly the north, where the oil fields are. Cut off Saddam's oil, make him a pauper, that should do the trick.
"We don't need anyone else," he said, in a distinctly imperial fashion.
Adelman's awakening is something else:
And if he, too, had his time over, Adelman says, "I would write an article that would be skeptical over whether there would be a performance that would be good enough to implement our policy. The policy can be absolutely right, and noble, beneficial, but if you can't execute it, it's useless, just useless. I guess that's what I would have said: that Bush's arguments are absolutely right, but you know what, you just have to put them in the drawer marked can't do. And that's very different from let's go."The best analogy I have heard for these guys, which I first heard before the invasion even occurred, depicts them as having the mindset that wars are like video games, and when things go wrong you can just press the "reset" button and make your mistakes go away. Adelman seems to fall into that category, and Perle seems to have learned everything he knows about warfare from a "Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers" episode. It took Adelman this many years to realize what many others saw as obvious at the outset, and the neo-cons were more than happy to pour scorn and derision on these skeptics. And now we are assured, their ideology remains perfect - they are but victims.
How fortunuate - even as I type this, my wife is making soup. When it is done, I shall shed some bitter tears into my bowl for those poor, misunderstood neo-cons.