The NeoCon Con

Douglas Feith recently spoke here on campus. Chicago, home of Leo Strauss and Albert Wohlstetter, is an important place for Doug Feith to come and defend the assault on Iraq strategy of the administration – and by extension the neocon world view.
Today’s NYT (r.r) has an indepth on the three-member crack team (and yes, crack) of Feith, Maloof and Chalabi who were responsible for coming up with lots of nice powerpoint presentations on Iraq, WMDs, al-Qaeda. There is an earlier WaPo (r.r) piece that covered most of this Shadow Squad . Both of these pieces show that post-Sep 11, the neocons were ready to find the intelligence to support their gut feeling: that Saddam had to go, that the Empire had to return, that the World was Dangerous Place. Of course, any kind of intelligence can easily be found if one culled over enough policy and analysis memos and, of course, called a dissident insider who had all kinds of “neat” information. It is a pattern we have seen in every other public policy of this administration: Have a conclusion, find the reasons. And the reasons are all there in those books and memos. God forbid one has to leave the Regenstein.
What is fascinating to me is the way that the neocons have gone around defending themselves. Bernard Lewis, the doyen of Orientalists, was on Charlie Rose last night saying how wonderful a guy Chalabi is and how cruel the media has been to him. Oh yea, the media is sooo bad to them.
The neocons LOVE the spotlight. They do. Have you seen any tabletop lately that did not have Richard Perle perched on it? They know they were right and they thought this was going to be the moment when sheepish intelligentsia would be lining up to shower them with flowers (ha). The fact that it did not happen in Iraq may have given them pause, but no. They want the accolades. They want to be proven right.
In the end they are the quintessential Chicago students: Hungry for approval, utterly convinced of their rightness, and with immutable faith that the text will save us all.

Identify Yourself

Britain is rolling out the I.D. cards in London. This is a voluntary trial but by 2012 it will be compulsary. Funnily enough, Muslim women will be exempt from this trial presumably because it fringes on their religious practice to veil. Mind you, Britain is a police state already. There are cameras every 10 feet in london and I am sure the MI-5 learned a trick or two from the K.G.B.
The backlash specifically counters the claim [pdf] that ID cards will deter terrorists (I have yet to hear about terrorists faking identities).
I remember Dean taking all kinds of flack because he mentioned something about a National ID card. In Pakistan, we have had ID cards forever (as in most of Europe and Asia) and I know that my uncles had about 6 a piece – with different names and pictures. My uncles were no terrorists. They are not even shady. The multiple ID cards were used to get out of parking tickets and cast multiple votes in student elections in their college. Of course, that was long ago and the new NID card in Pakistan has some biometric (?) data and a spiffy website. So, presumably, that kind of abuse no longer takes place.
I think that National ID card will debut very soon after the Bush re-election. Larry Ellison is chomping at the bits to put his Oracle db to the backend and have a national ID. Ashcroft, who hated the idea of gun owners having to register, is on board.
My small contribution to this debate is to merge the CAPPS II rating system with the ID card. Look at your driver’s license. On the front, it has a “class” listing which pertains to whether you use corrective lenses. That should be the terrorist rating you get from the CAPPS II. Help the police out. I am AAB, btw, which means I get checked manually on the terror list each time I board a plane. But I do NOT get body cavity search. WOO HOO.

Conspiracy Theory Alert!!

Grapevine says that in all the hubhub in Fallujah, the US is shipping WMDs into Iraq in trucks with fake Saudi and Jordanian license plates. I would never pay attention to that. I maintain that people are too damn dumb to conceal ANYTHING. When they do try, they come up with the most implausible scenarios ever! Case in point, Kevin Spacey. It is so obvious that this man was engaged in consensual park activity of the oral nature with the “mugger”. After the deed was done, Mr. Spacey panicked that The Sun would be carrying details about the story in the morning. So he probably threatened the young gentleman with a mugging story and went running to the bobbies to create the cover story. In the end, the whole thing blows up in his face (!) and he retracts with a “i tripped on my dog”.
That is ridiculous, you say? Yes, it is. I am just pointing out that the cover story sucks (…) and that if this WMD story is true and the weapons are being planted then that cover story will be EVEN lamer and will blow up in the neo-con faces.
However, that is not to say that I don’t think they won’t try it anyways.
So, if there is any WMD news between now and November, lets all take the Kevin Spacey test to the cover story.

Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.

Blasting loud rock (what, no LimpBizkit?) and insults at the Fallujah uprisers is the current state of psyops in Iraq.

At night, the psychological operations unit attached to the Marine battalion here sends out messages from a loudspeaker mounted on an armored Humvee. On Thursday night, the crew and its Arabic-language interpreter taunted fighters, saying, ≥May all the ambulances in Fallujah have enough fuel to pick up the bodies of the mujahadeen.≤
The message was specially timed for an attack moments later by an AC-130 gunship that pounded targets in the city. Later, the team blasted Jimi Hendrix and other rock music, and afterward some sound effects like babies crying, men screaming, a symphony of cats and barking dogs and piercing screeches. They were unable to draw any gunmen to fight, and seemed disappointed.

It seems like a weird tactic (do the insurgents even know english?) designed to provoke more than prevent. But that seems to be the modus operandi in Iraq. There is no attempt at all to connect to the Iraqis as people with a proud heritage who have yet to achieve their freedom. The tactics of war are good for just that: war. You cannot have a peace and reconstruction mission carried out by marines and soldiers. They are trained for something else.
Fallujah is a fiercely tribal place that will answer only with aggression. Wiser heads than mine, Juan Cole, have written on the need for temperance and restraint in Fallujah.
Here is another account of a briton in Baghdad pointing out the absurdity of peace-keeping with military tanks.
All this is, rather, academic. Iraq has toppled into the chaos that was predicted before the war. Bush/Blair are leaving come July. Iraq belongs to the Iraqis. Afghanistan belongs to the Afghanis. We have done our job. To give them freedom.