The neoconservative hour may be coming to an end in the Bush era. Reason: The cakewalk war they plotted long before 9-11, on which their dreams of Middle East empire and reputations hang, has gone awry
Dissent in the U.S. establishment is growing louder. Gen. Brent Scowcroft, the national security adviser to George H.W. Bush, fears the elections, by giving the Shia majority dominance of Iraqi politics, could lead to "incipient civil war." Scowcroft thinks America's best bet may be to turn Iraq over to the United Nations or NATO, whose presence might be less detested and inflammatory than our own.
Zbigniew Brzezinski, Jimmy Carter's national security adviser, seems even more pessimistic: "I do not think we can stay in Iraq in the fashion we are now in. ... If it cannot be changed drastically, it should be terminated." Brzezinski estimates it would take 500,000 troops, $500 billion and resumption of the draft to pacify Iraq.
And so, reality intrudes. Where once, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Rice and Bush marched in lockstep with the neocons, U.S. national interests and Bush political interests seem now to diverge from the neocon agenda of more troops in Iraq and expanding the war to Syria or Iran. Rumsfeld appears to have recognized this truth and begun to act on it. Hence, the Weekly Standard calls for his firing.
President Bush now approaches the crossroads LBJ reached in December 1967. Then, Gen. William Westmoreland came home to tell LBJ he needed 200,000 more troops, in addition to the 500,000 already committed. A war-weary LBJ said no. Came then the Tet Offensive, and the presidency of Lyndon Johnson was broken.
Bush is nearing his Tet moment. After the Jan. 30 elections, he will have three options. Persevere in a no-win war with 150,000 U.S. troops bleeding indefinitely until America turns on him, his policy and his party. Send in tens of thousands of fresh U.S. troops to crush the insurgency as we undertake a years-long program of training Iraqis to defend their own democracy. Third, find an honorable exit, and leave Iraq to the Iraqis.
The success or failure of the Bush presidency will likely hang (good choice of words -ed.) on his decision. For which, he can thank the neoconservatives.
He can thank them as they all ascend the gallows steps, Patrick me boy-o. Soon, I hope.