As we have seen, the Iraq warmongers are like zombies, returning from the dead to once again fill the media landscape with their wrongness. Stephen M. Walt gives an excellent analysis of why the neoconservative leaders of the push for the disastrous war in Iraq continue to be welcomed into the debate. The list of reasons includes their enablers in the media and the liberal interventionists who are helping to try and rehabilitate the neoconservatives in order to distract from their own culpability in assisting them in the push for that criminal war.
Here are some excerpts from Walt’s analysis but you should read the whole thing.
From 2001 until sometime around 2006, the United States followed the core neoconservative foreign-policy program. The disastrous results of this vast social science experiment could not be clearer. The neoconservative program cost the United States several trillion dollars and thousands dead and wounded American soldiers, and it sowed carnage and chaos in Iraq and elsewhere.
One would think that these devastating results would have discredited the neoconservatives forever, just as isolationists like Charles Lindbergh or Robert McCormick were discredited by World War II, and men like former Secretary of State Dean Rusk were largely marginalized after Vietnam. Even if the neoconservative architects of folly are undaunted by failure and continue to stick to their guns, one might expect a reasonably rational society would pay them scant attention.
Yet to the dismay of many commentators — including Andrew Bacevich, Juan Cole, Paul Waldman, Andrew Sullivan, Simon Jenkins, and James Fallows — neoconservative punditry is alive and well today. Casual viewers of CNN and other news channels are being treated to the vacuous analysis of Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Cheney, and Bill Kristol.
But given their past failures, what explains neoconservatism’s apparent immunity from any degree of accountability? How can a group of people be so wrong so often and at such high cost, yet still retain considerable respect and influence in high circles?
The zombie-like ability to maintain influence and status in the face of overwhelming evidence tells you that F. Scott Fitzgerald was wrong: There are in fact an infinite number of “second chances” in American life and little or no accountability in the U.S. political system. The neocons’ staying power also reminds us that the United States can get away with irresponsible public discourse because it is very, very secure [My italics-MS]. Iraq was a disaster, and it helped pave the way to defeat in Afghanistan, but at the end of the day the United States will come home and probably be just fine. True, thousands of our fellow citizens would be alive and well today had we never listened to the neoconservatives’ fantasies, and Americans would be more popular abroad and more prosperous at home if their prescriptions from 1993 forward had been ritually ignored. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis would be alive too, and the Middle East would probably be in somewhat better condition (it could hardly be worse).
What, if anything, might reduce the neoconservative influence to its proper dimension (that is to say, almost nil)? I wish I knew, for if the past ten years haven’t discredited them, it’s not obvious what would. No doubt leaders in Moscow and Beijing derive great comfort from that fact: For what better way to ensure that the United States continues to lurch from crisis to crisis, and from quagmire to quagmire? Until our society gets better at listening to those who are consistently right instead of those who are reliably wrong, we will repeat the same mistakes and achieve the same dismal results. Not that the neoconservatives will care.
I think the part I italicized is very true. For all these warhawks and their enablers, these wars are just intellectual games to be played since nothing really hinges on them. They know that the US is in no real danger even as they overhype the danger as a means of obtaining public compliance in the shredding of rights here and abroad. Their attitude is like those who play violent video games. They can make highly risky moves and act irresponsibly because even if they ‘die’, they just come back to life and continue playing.
In real life, we tend to be far more cautious and responsible because we know that we have just one life. In the US the only ones for whom these wars are real are the soldiers who die or are injured and their loved ones. All the rest of us are affected only indirectly, by the waste of trillions of dollars that could have been used for the public good instead going to enrich military contractors and all the other parasites who profit off wars. The deterioration of the US because of its militaristic approach is too gradual for people to get alarmed about.
If there was something that really threatened the US in some visible and tangible way, you can be damned sure that people would only pay attention to those who had a reputation for credibility.