Mitt Romney's embrace of the dusted-off nostrums of the Iraq war architects as his foreign policy – more defense spending! more! where's Max Boot? which Kagan are you? – is a sign of how tenacious neoconservatism is. Just as none of the leading neocon figures have suffered an iota of prestige-loss in Washington because they concocted a foreign policy disaster that cost tens of thousands of lives to no serious effect, so they have, almost to a man, refused to cop to a single error in the process. Their partisan discipline is only matched by their unchanging Stalinist ideology. So what if the Iraq war was a disaster? It's time for a new war with Iran!
[Iran] is a brutal dictatorship. And it’s seeking nuclear weapons while denying it’s doing so. It’s long since been time for the United States to speak to this regime in the language it understands—force. And now we have an engraved invitation to do so. The plot to kill the Saudi ambassador was a lemon. Statesmanship involves turning lemons into lemonade.
Let us pause to note that for Kristol, war is like lemonade. It's a good thing: delicious, refreshing, innocent. One wonders whether he has, for a millisecond, paused to think of the tens of thousands of innocents who died during his beloved occupation of Iraq, or the thousands of permanently maimed veterans who fought and died in Kristol's war only to empower Iran and bankrupt America. You can be wrong in good faith, as I think Kristol was – and yet also take responsibility for the consequences of your good faith decisions. But neoconservatism is about the abdication of any intellectual responsibility and the promotion of those not proven right, but proven relentless in the promotion of an agenda. It is now, as it has always been, about power, not freedom.
And this must be a core debate in the next election. Are we going to return to a foreign policy that bankrupted the Treasury, destroyed America's moral standing, eviscerated the US military's reputation for competence (a huge loss of deterrence), and empowered our enemies? Or are we going to continue the pragmatism that has since ended torture, decimated al Qaeda, and removed more despots from power in two years than Bush tried to in eight?
Repeat after me: Romney = Cheney's return. And if your purism demands staying home next year, do not complain when a global religious war breaks out. They've told us quite plainly that's what they want. Like a cold, sparkling drink on a hot summer day. War as a cocktail.
(Photo: Arria Belli via Wiki.)