By The Contrary Perspective
David Bromwich has an insightful post at TomDispatch.com on neoconservatives and their pursuit of regime change via war in the Middle East. Describing them as a “political cult,” Bromwich notes that neocons not only create their own reality but they also aim to keep Americans ignorant of basic facts — facts such as these:
When you are educating a people who have been proselytized, as Americans have been, by a political cult for the better part of two decades, nothing should be taken for granted. Most Americans do not know that the fanatical Islamists, al-Qaeda, al-Nusra, the Islamic State (IS) — the active and destructive revolutionary force in the greater Middle East at the moment — are called Sunni Muslims. Nor do they know that the Shia Muslims who govern Iran and who support the government of Syria have never attacked the United States.
To say it as simply as it should be said: the Shiites and Sunnis are different sects, and the Shiites of Iran are fighting against the same enemies the U.S. is fighting in Syria and elsewhere. Again, most Americans who get their information from miscellaneous online scraps have no idea that exclusively Sunni fanatics made up the force of hijackers who struck the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. They would be surprised to learn that none of these people came from Iraq or Iran. They do not know that 15 of the 19 came from Saudi Arabia — a supposed ally of the United States. And they do not know that the Islamist warriors who brought chaos and destruction to Syria and Iraq are bankrolled in part by members of the Saudi and Qatari elite who have nothing to do with Iran. It has never been emphasized — it is scarcely written in a way that might be noticeable even in our newspaper of record — that Iran itself has carried the heaviest burden of the fight against IS.
Throughout his presidency, when speaking of Iran, Obama has mixed every expression of hope for improved relations with a measure of opprobrium. He has treated Iran as an exceptional offender against the laws of nations, a country that requires attention only in the cause of disarmament. He does this to assure the policy elite that he respects and can hum the familiar tunes. But this subservience to cliché is timid, unrealistic, and pragmatically ill advised. Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill did not denounce the Soviet Union when they took that country’s dictator, Joseph Stalin, as a partner in war in 1941, though Stalin’s crimes exceeded anything attributable to the Iranian mullahs. Ritual denunciation of a necessary ally is a transparent absurdity. And in a democracy, it prevents ordinary people from arriving at an understanding of what is happening.
It’s good that Bromwich criticizes the Obama Administration as well as Bush/Cheney and their fellow neocons, but his critique doesn’t go far enough. For Obama as well as Congressional liberals and progressives have largely failed to denounce and to reverse neocon initiatives. And so-called neo-liberals are not far behind the neocons in pushing for American hegemony over the world by continued war funding and blanket support of Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Bromwich further notes that:
Between 2001 and 2009, the U.S. government was run by neoconservatives; they had a fair shot and the public judgment went against them; but in a climate of resurgent confusion about the Middle East, they have come a long way toward rebuilding their bridge. They are zealots but also prudent careerists, and the combination of money and revived propaganda may succeed in blurring many unhappy memories.
But whose fault is that? In 2009, with a clear mandate for “hope” and “change” and possessing a “super” majority in Congress, Obama relied on some of those same neocons to provide him with foreign policy advice. He failed, moreover, to hold anyone accountable for major crimes such as torture. He even won praise (briefly) from Dick Cheney, who assuredly was heartened — and empowered — by the new president’s mantra of “look forward.”
The neocons are resurgent because they were never called to account for their mistakes. No Congressional hearings, as in the Fulbright Hearings held during the Vietnam War. No public accountability. Just business as usual by the Washington Beltway establishment.
So, as we look ahead to 2016, we see no major candidate other than perhaps Bernie Sanders or Rand Paul who is at all skeptical of continued U.S. military interventionism, notably in the Middle East but also around the globe.
Bromwich concludes that for the neocons “there is always another war ahead. They will push until they are stopped.”
But who is to stop them when big-name candidates like Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush are ready to join them in the pushing?