Thursday, November 03, 2005

Scowcroft vs. Wolfowitz

I just finished Jeffery Goldberg's much talked about profile of Brent Scowcroft and his public break with the Bush Administration over Iraq. It's very good and it's a must read if you want a good overview of the personalities and differences between Washington's realists and neocons. As anyone that's read this blog will know, I side more with the neocons of the Wolfowitz variety than the realists of the Scowcroft variety. Goldberg's piece shows why, using an example --the Kurdish and Shiite rebellion against Saddam in 1991 -- I used in a post two days ago in my "Irrational Realism" post. Here goes:
In the case of Iraq, Scowcroft was incensed by Saddam’s violation of an international border; he did not believe that Saddam’s treatment of his own citizens merited military intervention. A month into the war, Bush, in public comments, encouraged Iraq’s defeated military, and also its civilian population, to “take matters into [their] own hands” and to rise up against Saddam. “Here’s where we fell down,” Robert Gates said recently. “It was our hope that the magnitude of the defeat would lead the Iraqi generals to throw Saddam out, but we didn’t anticipate those uprisings. When the Kurds and the Shiites rose up, Saddam won back his generals. We speculated that Saddam ‘warned’ his generals that, without him, they could not control the uprising, and the country would disintegrate.” Gates, who went on to serve as director of the C.I.A. from 1991 to 1993, argued that the President never intended to provoke a popular rebellion. “When the President talked about the Iraqis solving the problem, he was absolutely not urging the Kurds and the Shiites to do it. He was talking about the generals taking him out.” In the book that Scowcroft wrote with the elder Bush, a passage about the uprising said, “It is true that we hoped Saddam would be toppled. But we never thought that could be done by anyone outside the military and never tried to incite the general population. It is stretching the point to imagine that a routine speech in Washington would have gotten to the Iraqi malcontents and have been the motivation for the subsequent actions of the Shiites and Kurds.” In Wolfowitz’s view, Scowcroft, “by overestimating the risk of supporting the rebellions that the U.S. had encouraged, bequeathed to George W. Bush a much more complicated situation ten years later.”
And there you have it. The realists simply wanted a cosmetic change in Iraq. As long as an internal coup replaced Hussein with another strongman then the U.S.'s strategic interests -- uninterrupted access to and control over oil -- would be secure. Wolfowitz's position was open to the possibility of chaotic change in the region and that U.S. immediate interests might be harmed by the uprising against Hussein. But the realists won, and now the U.S. -- not without hypocrisy or their eyes on Iraqi oil -- is doing what should have been done over a decade ago.

I just want to put it to my brethren on the left this way: if you had to pick a foreign policy for the right to wield, wouldn't it be that of Wolfowitz rather than Scowcroft?

It's the Scowcroft brand of realism that has led America to support of the hideous despots throughout the Arab world, our support for Suharto in Indonesia and his genocide of the East Timorese, along with our contempible overthrows of democracy throughout Latin America, especially the other 9/11 in Chile in 1973. It should be noted both Democrats and Republicans consistently followed this brand of realism -- yes, even Clinton. So I'm for a Wolfowitz foreign policy when it leads to the fall of vicious dictatorships like Marcos in the Phillipines and now in Iraq. The crime of the latter is that the American people had to be hoodwinked into supporting the Iraqi adventure, which has considerable imperial interests embedded within it. And let's be honest, the American people would neverhave supported a war to liberate Iraq from Hussein. For that reason alone, it should never have been pursued. But alas, it was, and I'm happy Hussein's gone and we're past the realism of the Scowcroft and Kissingers that value our "national interests" more than the people we tacitly and indirectly murder through supporting the likes of Hussein, the Shah, Suharto, Marcos, Pinochet, etc.

If you call this "peace" or "stability," then scrub your hands, for they're covered in blood.