Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Why Centrists Infuriate Me

I should never read Jonathan Chait, but I keep forgetting that. Oh, I'm sure he's a very nice man, and he does write well. Almost invariably, however, he misses the point in even the most cogent sounding column. His Christmas Eve column in the Los Angeles Times provides an excellent example of this.

FOR A LONG TIME now, President Bush's critics — and even many of his erstwhile admirers — have been wondering why he let the neoconservatives fool him on Iraq. "All [the neoconservatives] care about is ideology," complained MSNBC's Chris Matthews a few months ago. "The president bought it hook, line and sinker."

There's a lot of truth to that. Neoconservatives had been gung-ho for years on the idea of invading Iraq, establishing a democracy and watching the transformative power of liberty work its magic. It is indeed curious how and why Bush let the neocons sucker him.

But fewer people seemed to have noticed that the reverse is also true: Bush suckered the neocons.

OK, so far so good.

Chait then launches into the two mistakes the Neocons made when dealing with Bush. The first was going along with the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. The assumption was that once those cuts were imposed, Bush would find a way to increase the defense budget so that the military would be built up to a satisfactory level for the upcoming exercise in hegemony-building. Of course, with the tax cuts, there was no way to increase the Pentagon's budget, no way to increase troop levels and supplies, which meant that the incursion was going to be impossible to pull off.

Chait then shows how this led to the second mistake. The Neocons, even in the face of an inadequate force, still went along with the White House plans to invade Iraq. And it is at this point that Chait falls flat on his face. Here's his concluding paragraph:

But if [the Neoconservatives] had only withdrawn their support earlier, before the big tax cut and before Bush invaded with too small of an army to win, the United States would be in much better shape today — and so would the neocons.

Excuse me while I bang my head on the desk.

The war was not just a bad idea, it was, quite simply, morally wrong. Iraq, however much a pain in the US butt, was no threat to this country. The White House knew that, as did the Neoconservatives. The neocons in the administration went along with the doctored intelligence knowing it was false because their vision of an Imperial America required an American military presence in the Middle East, and this war was the easiest and quickest way to accomplish their vision.

Both the President's plan and the Neoconservative plan were deeply flawed. Both should have been and still should be rejected.

And you, Mr. Chait, should get a clue.

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