Tuesday :: Apr 20, 2004

Unconvinced Conservatives


by pessimist

One way to ensure an electoral loss is to alienate one's voter base. That's what H. W. Bush did with his 'Read My Lips' comment.

Just like Junior didn't read Poppy's memoirs about why he didn't 'complete' the invasion of Iraq and topple Saddam, neither has he learned this lesson.

Lack of Resolution in Iraq Finds Conservatives Divided

A growing faction of conservatives is voicing doubts about a prolonged United States military involvement in Iraq, putting hawkish neoconservatives on the defensive and posing questions for President Bush about the degree of support he can expect from his political base. The continuing violence and mounting casualties in Iraq have given new strength to the traditional conservative doubts about using American military power to remake other countries and about the potential for Western-style democracy without a Western cultural foundation.

Still think only liberals can be against the Iraq war?

"In late May of last year, we neoconservatives were hailed as great visionaries," said Kenneth R. Weinstein, chief operating officer of the Hudson Institute, a center of neoconservative thinking. Those of us who favored a more muscular approach to American foreign policy and a more Wilsonian view of our efforts in Iraq find ourselves pitted against more traditional conservatives, who have more isolationist instincts to begin with, and they are more willing to say, `Bring the boys home,' " Mr. Weinstein said.

Richard A. Viguerie, a conservative stalwart and the dean of conservative direct mail, said the Iraq war had created an unusual schism. "I can't think of any other issue that has divided conservatives as much as this issue in my political lifetime. [Recent events] call into question how conservatives see the White House."

"It doesn't look like the White House is as astute as we thought they were."

National Review, the magazine founded by William F. Buckley and a standard-bearer for mainstream conservatives, adopted a newly skeptical tone toward the neoconservatives and toward the occupation. In an editorial titled An End to Illusion, the Bush administration was described as having "a dismaying capacity to believe its own public relations."

The editorial criticized the administration as having "an underestimation of the difficulty of implanting democracy in alien soil, and an overestimation in particular of the sophistication of what is still fundamentally a tribal society and one devastated by decades of tyranny."

I dare our friendly resident trolls to make the case that Buckley is a liberal!

The editorial described that error as "Wilsonian," another term for the neoconservatives' faith that United States military power can improve the world and a label associated with the liberal internationalism of President Woodrow Wilson. "The Wilsonian tendency has grown stronger in conservative foreign policy thought in recent years," the editorial continued, adding:

"As we have seen in Iraq, the world isn't as malleable as some Wilsonians would have it."

The editorial concluded:

"It is the Iraqis who have to save Iraq. It is their country, not ours."

Some of the main conservative opponents of the invasion, including [Pat] Buchanan and the libertarian Cato Institute were quiet after the war began but have now renewed their criticism.

In his syndicated column last week, Mr. Buchanan, who argued against the invasion on the grounds that the United States should use military force only to defend its vital interests, posed a series of questions: "Do we go in deeper, or do we cut our losses and look for the nearest exit? How much blood and treasure are we willing to invest in democracy in Baghdad, and for how long? Is a democratic Iraq vital to our security?"

"What assurances are there that we can win this war?"

David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union, said conservatives were becoming more receptive to Mr. Buchanan's arguments against the neoconservatives. "Now that they see Iraq edging into a nation-building kind of thing, conservatives are more skeptical," Mr. Keene said. "It isn't that someone went out and rhetorically beat the neoconservatives in an argument."

"It's just that they went out and tested their scheme against reality on the ground."

In a recent interview, Representative John J. Duncan Jr. of Tennessee, one of the few Republicans who voted against the invasion, said he believed the administration should seek an exit soon. "I think we should announce to the world that no country has come close to doing as much for Iraq as we have, but there are a significant number of people who don't appreciate what we have done," Mr. Duncan said. "I think we should get on out, we should celebrate victory and we should leave."

As he demonstrates, Mr. Duncan remains on the right page for the wrong reasons, but we'll allow him credit for trying.

It's too late for the US to cut and run, but it isn't too late to get the UN involved. I believe that Kofi Annan has the good relationships necessary to get other Muslim countries involved to help still the uproar, and then to bring in representatives of countries who still have some credibility in the eyes of the Iraqi people to help create a government. Only then can a democratic state be created out of George Warmonger Bush's droppings.

pessimist :: 3:48 PM :: Comments (2) :: Digg It!