Our War-Loving Foreign Policy Community Hasn't Gone Anywhere

Advocates of escalation in Afghanistan chose Bob Woodward to "reprise his role as warmonger hagiagropher" by publishing Gen. Stanley McChrystal's "confidential" memo to the President arguing for increased troops.

Advocates of escalation in Afghanistan chose Bob Woodward to "reprise his role as warmonger hagiagropher" by publishing Gen. Stanley McChrystal's "confidential" memo to the President arguing for increased troops. As Digby notes, the vague case
for continuing to occupy that country is virtually identical to every
instance where America's war-loving Foreign Policy Community advocates
the need for new and continued wars. It's nothing more than America's
standard, generic "war-is-necessary" rationale. That is not at all
surprising, given that, as Foreign Policy's Marc Lynch notes:

The "strategic review" brought together a dozen smart (mostly) think-tankers with little expertise in Afghanistan but a general track record of supporting calls for more troops
and a new counter-insurgency strategy. They set up shop in Afghanistan
for a month working in close coordination with Gen. McChrystal, and
emerged with a well-written, closely argued warning that the situation
is dire and a call for more troops and a new counter-insurgency
strategy. Shocking.

The link he provides is to this list
of think tank "experts" who worked on McChrystal's review, including
the standard group of America's war-justifying theorists: the Kagans,
a Brookings representative, Anthony Cordesman, someone from Rand, etc.
etc. What would a group of people like that ever recommend other than
continued and escalated war? It's what they do. You wind them up and
they spout theories to justify war. That's the function of America's
Foreign Policy Community. As one of their leading members -- Leslie
Gelb, President of the Council on Foreign Relations -- recently wrote in re-examining the causes of his enthusiastic support for the attack on Iraq:

Coming from Gelb, of all people, that observation speaks volumes. As I wrote in 2007:

The
Foreign Policy Community -- a term which excludes those in primarily
academic positions -- is not some apolitical pool of dispassionate
experts examining objective evidence and engaging in academic debates.
Rather, it is a highly ideological and politicized establishment, and its dominant bipartisan ideology is defined by extreme hawkishness, the casual use of military force as a foreign policy tool, the belief that war is justified not only in self-defense but for any "good result,"
and most of all, the view that the U.S. is inherently good and
therefore ought to rule the world through superior military force.

That
"experts" from the "Foreign Policy Community" endorse more war is about
as surprising -- and as relevant -- as former CIA Directors banding
together to decide that they oppose the prosecution of CIA agents. The only event that would be news is if a group of people drawn from that
"community" ever did anything other than endorse more war [and in the
few instances where one hears war hesitation from them, it's always on
strategic grounds ("we may not be able to achieve our mission") and
never on legal, moral or humanitarian grounds ("it's really not morally
or legally justified to slaughter enormous numbers of innocent human
beings under these circumstances or bomb, invade and occupy a country
that isn't attacking us or even able to").

* * * * *

We're
not even out of Iraq yet -- not really close -- and there is already an
intense competition underway to determine where we should wage war
next. Escalation in Afghanistan is just one option on the menu. Iran,
of course, is the other (although Venezuela has replaced Syria as a
nice dark horse contestant). In October, 2008, The Washington Postpublished an Op-Ed
from former Sen. Chuck Robb (D-Va.) and Dan Coats (R-In.) urging the
next President "to begin building up military assets in the region from
day one" towards "launching a devastating strike on Iran's nuclear and
military infrastructure." That October, 2008 Op-Ed was based on a new
report they co-authored for the so-called (and aptly
named) "Bipartisan Policy Center," which I analyzed here.

Today, they have a new Post Op-Ed
breathlessly warning that "we have little time left to expend on
Iranian stalling tactics" because "Iran will be able to produce a
nuclear weapon by 2010" and therefore, if there is no quick diplomatic
resolution, "in early 2010, the White House should elevate
consideration of the military option." Today's Op-Ed is based an
updated report they issued which shrieks in its title
that "Time is Running Out" (a phrase melodramatically super-imposed on
the cover over an Iranian flag and an almost-expired hourglass). The report itself
repeatedly demands that the U.S. threaten Iran with severe military
action, beginning with a naval blockade (the Report's advocacy for that
action begins by noting, with a dismissive yawn: "Although technically
an act of war . . . ." - "technically an act of war": whatever).

The
arguments for attacking Iran are so similar to the ones used for Iraq
that it's striking how little effort they make to pretend it's
different (Iran will get nukes, give them to Terrorists, we'll lose a
city, etc.) The Bipartisan Policy Center Report never takes note of
the irony that it "justifies" a threat of attack against Iran by
pointing to that country's violations of U.N. Resolutions, even as Article 2 of the U.N. Charter explicitly provides that "All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force
against the territorial integrity or political independence of any
state" -- a prohibition they demand the U.S. violate over and over. As
always, we're exempt from everything. Just imagine what our elite
class would say if Iran's leading newspapers routinely published
articles from leaders of its two largest political parties explicitly
advocating a detailed plan to attack, invade, blockade and bomb the U.S.

Also today in The Post,Fred Hiatt's Deputy Editor, Jackson Diehl, argues
that Israel's so-called "success" in its attack on Gaza and the lack of
bad outcomes from that attack may/should create the view that "even a
partial and short-term reversal of the Iranian nuclear program may look
to Israelis like a reasonable benefit." When examining the costs and
benefits, Diehl does not weigh or even mention the more than 700 civilians killed in Gaza (252 of them children, according to an Israeli human rights group), nor the fact that, according a U.N. Report,
Israeli (and Hamas) engaged in war crimes so serious that they may
constitute "crimes against humanity" warranting a war crimes tribunal.
When I interviewed
one of the "expert consultants" on the Robb/Coats Attack-Iran report,
Kenneth Katzman, he explicitly acknowledged that, when formulating its
recommendations for attacking Iran, the "Bipartisan Center" never
considered the number of Iranian civilians we would slaughter (you
remember Iranian civilians: the ones whom Bomb-Iran cheerleaders
recently pretended to care so much about).
"Number of civilian deaths" never enters the war-justifying equation
because the people doing the weighing aren't the ones who will will be
killed.

* * * * *

It's hard to overstate how aberrational
-- one might say "rogue" -- the U.S. is when it comes to war. No other
country sits around debating, as a routine and permanent feature of its
political discussions, whether we should bomb this country or that one
next, or for how many more years we should occupy our conquered
targets. And none use war as a casual tool for advancing foreign
policy interests, at least nowhere close to the way we do (the demand
that Iran not possess nuclear weapons is clearly part of an overall, stated strategy
of ensuring that other countries remain incapable of deterring us from
attacking them whenever we want to). Committing to a withdrawal from
Iraq appears to be acceptable, but only as long as have our escalations
and new wars lined up to replace it (and that's to say nothing of the virtually invisible wars we're fighting).
For the U.S., war is the opposite of a "last resort": it's the more or
less permanent state of affairs, and few people who matter want it to
be any different.

Indeed, the factions that exert the most
dominant influence on our foreign policy have only one
principle: ongoing wars are good (the public and private military
industry embraces that because wars are what bestow purpose, power and
profits, and the Foreign Policy Community does so because -- as Gelb
says -- it bestows "political and professional credibility"). In his 1790 Political Observation, James Madison warned: "Of
all the enemies of true liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be
dreaded. . . . No nation can preserve its freedom in the midst of
continual warfare
." Can anyone doubt that "continual warfare"
is exactly what the U.S. does and, by all appearances, will continue to
do for the foreseeable future (at least until we not only run out of
money to pay for these wars -- as we already have -- but also the
ability to finance these wars with more debt)? Doesn't turning
ourselves into a permanent war-fighting state have some rather serious
repercussions that ought to be weighed when deciding if that's
something we want to keep doing?

* * * * *

On an unrelated note: Tomorrow at roughly 10:30 a.m., I'll be on NPR's On Point with the ACORN-obsessed John Fund of The Wall St. Journal to talk about the ACORN "scandal." I have many things to say to/about John Fund (some based on this post); along those lines, note this amazing report
that 25 of the GOP Senators who just voted to cut off funding to ACORN
opposed, in 2006, legislation to curb abuse and fraud by federal
contractors, including the ones eating up billions up billions of
dollars in taxpayer funds in Iraq. Local listings and live audio feed
for On Point are here.