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After Obama's election, it has been reported that Bush, Cheney, and some other neo-conservative big wigs are working on their memoirs. We don't know for sure what they're going to say yet. Whatever they'll say, they'll try to have the last word on their era.

The neo-con era is coming to a close. Military withdrawals in Iraq is taking place and will be soon completed (notwithstanding the substantial force to be left behind to deal with the legacies.) Guantanamo is winding down. War on terror is no longer in the American official lexicon. Obama, on behalf of Christian America, has offered an olive branch to the Muslim Arabs. Nowadays, America seems to be curiously uninvolved in the situations in North Korea and Iran, two ex-officio members of the 'Axis of Evil', who both, like washed-up gangster actors, seem to miss their days in the international limelights.

* * * * *

Looking back at the neo-cons, I have these thoughts:

  1. In the aftermath of 911, the neo-cons thought they saw a historic opportunity for America to become an empire.

  2. The neo-cons knew that the naked notion of the American Empire was somewhat incongruent with American history, mainstream American political beliefs (i.e. Americans were the good guys), and popular opinion. Nonetheless, they were determined to forge ahead.

  3. Platitudinous public opinion was an obstacle to be overcome. In order to gain support for their cause, the neo-cons sold a case of paranoia (America is under attack!), nationalism (America is the only superpower!), and patriotism (liberals are wimps!) to the American public. They also exploited religion, duping a largely Christian America into a crusade against the Muslim world.

     This reminds me of Hermann Göring's confession to his American interrogator, Captain Gilbert, just before the Nuremberg trials:

     "Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship. ...voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country." [1]

     (I didn't mean to take the Nazi analogy so far as to imply that America was evil like Hitler's Third Reich. Rather, I was just trying to illustrate the commonality of certain themes in modern history.)

  4. Meanwhile, the neo-cons taunted, scared, and jaw-boned the rest of the world, Americans and non-Americans alike, into feared silence.

  5. Armed with their once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, a patriotic and complicit American public, overwhelming military superiority, and a cowed international community, the neo-cons waded first into Afghanistan, then, with the barely credible pretext of WMD (which was soon totally discredited), into Iraq.

  6. The neo-cons' vision of the American Empire was predominantly based on America's overwhelming military superiority and dominant control over planet Earth's energy resources, especially Middle Eastern oil.

     (Curiously enough, oil to the neo-cons was like lebensraum to the Third Reich - something they had to grab from the others because they didn't have enough themselves. Again, I was not implying that the Americans were as evil as the Nazis, but simply trying to identify certain leitmotifs running through modern history.)

  7. The neo-cons thought that once they were in charge of Iraq, controlling its oil and making it an example to the Middle East (and the rest of the world), other problems would automatically resolve themselves and fade away. International, diplomatic, political, economic, cultural, historical, governmental and administrative factors were brushed aside as being insignificant.

  8. The neo-cons were closely tied with the military and energy industries in America. Needless to say, the thought of benefiting themselves must have more than crossed their minds. However, it seemed that self-interest was not the neo-con's only motivation.

  9. The neo-cons seemed genuinely to believe in their notion of the American Empire. They thought that their simple-minded quest for American hegemony would eventually be appreciated by the American public and vindicated by history. By that time, in the greater scheme of things, their misdeeds (and the trifling "collateral damages") would be no more than footnotes.

 10. Nonetheless, the neo-cons have made some crucial mistakes, necessitating that the outcome of their venture would inevitably end in failure.

 11. Firstly, apart from looting the oil, the neo-cons had not seriously planned what to do after getting into Iraq. As the situation descended into anarchy, the hapeless American forces were being forced to stay on almost indefinitely.

     In Sun Tzu's The Art of War, the first caveat on the strategy of using overwhelming force was that such force, if to be used at all, must only be used for a short duration only and must get out as soon as the military objective has been achieved. Otherwise, the ensuing quagmire would bleed you dry militarily, logistically, economically, etc., in every imaginable way.

     This was exactly what happened.

 12. Secondly, the very conception that oil was the premier strategic resource was fatally flawed.

     America was the motherland of innovation; innovation, rather than oil, was America's premier strategic resource. Read Thomas Friedman's books ans articles and you would know.

     Instead of inventing their way out of the oil-age into another technological age, in the neo-cons' world-view oil must stay as the premier strategic resource. To the neo-cons, the only way for America to dominate was to dominate militarily and to dominate oil in a world that stayed permanently in the oil-age. No such thing as global warming, they said, and they didn't care if average temperature would rise 20 degrees in 100 years' time, turning the Earth into a lifeless inferno.

     This ridiculously narrow vision was borne out of the fact that most leading neo-cons were oilmen, leaders of the military-industrial complex, their underlings, paid demagogues, and others who got a decent cut out of this twisted world order. They wanted to make sure that America dominated the world, and that they dominated America through oil and the military-industrial complex. They just couldn't imagine that things could be done any other way.

     (Now I am thinking about the Goebbels couple killing their five children, then themselves, in Hitler's bunker, because they couldn't imagine living in a world without national socialism. Paucity of imagination seems to be another common theme running through the hegamonists' thoughts, haha!)

     While this might seem funny to some, this was actually not at all funny: if the neo-cons had their way, humankind would be doomed in a hundred years.

 13. Thirdly, the neo-cons executed their plot so incompetently that, at the end, success was not an option.

     Apart from the initial military success, which was guaranteed by the overwhelming force of the American military, everything else they touched failed dismally. Iraq descended into anarchy. Global terrorism bred like germs in the nurturing environment of resentment against American policies. American deployments got stuck in a quagmire, bleeding America dry of resources and good will. America's positive image and moral high ground were tarnished.

     To finance war spending (and tax cuts, another neo-con nutty dogma), America issued piles and piles of government debt. Together with lax regulatory oversight over financial institutions (which actually was not an exclusively neo-con idea), this toxic brew eventually led to a complete meltdown of the financial system.

     America went on decline. The rest was history.

     (Curiously, the rise of China, relatively speaking in the international pecking order, was largely attributable to America's self-inflicted decline. I'll leave this subject to another day.)

 14. Last but not least, the American Empire was patently an erroneous idea. America's pride on its moral high ground meant it was totally unsuited to be the bad guy in the world order.

     America's great success and dominance were all associated with its role as vanguard of freedom and democracy, of free market and innovation, of belief in human rights and progress, and of fair play and just cause. America was renowned for safeguarding the proper course of modern history by defeating totalitarianism and fascism (the Kaiser's Germany, Hitler's Third Reich, and Hirohito's Japanese Empire) and communism (winning the cold war against USSR and lifting the iron curtain). America was known as the beacon when darkness threatened to descend upon mankind. To maintain this role was enough to ensure American hegemony. A role reversal - to be the bad guy for once - was not only totally unnecessary but also totally catastrophic, tarnishing the hard-won achievements of an entire century.

     (Of course, neo-cons would argue they were the torch bearers of freedom, saving the Iraqis from Saddam Hussein's tyranny. But who on earth actually believed a word of them?)

* * * * *

In conclusion, the neo-cons messed up, big time! That they are still stirring up the hillbillies and rednecks is a real shame! White trashes like Limbaugh and Sarah Palin should have no business running America. They should leave it to people who really have brains and stop denouncing them as the out-of-touch liberal elite.

* * * * *

[1] Gilbert, G. (1995). Nuremberg Diary. New York: Da Capo Press. pp. 278–279

Originally posted to Vincecharus on Tue Jul 07, 2009 at 10:14 PM PDT.

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