As all sources indicate, the overwhelming choice of our neocon hawks to lead post-war Iraq is one Ahmed Chalabi. Now as anyone reading our newspapers should also know, Mr. Chalabi happens to be a convicted embezzler who hasn’t set foot in Iraq for over forty years. This certainly doesn’t prove anything. Perhaps a convicted embezzler who hasn’t set foot in Iraq for over forty years would indeed do an outstanding job of restoring Iraqi civil society, establishing democracy, and generally removing any lingering hostility to the US occupation.
But such a doubtful background has raised concerns among some US officials, and according to this morning’s articles, a compromise solution may provide Chalabi with a lesser position, perhaps as head of the new Iraqi Ministry of Finance, a post which I suspect he would find extremely agreeable.
As it happens, Chalabi’s most prominent patron is Richard Perle, who while an American government official was caught passing national security secrets to foreign intelligence agents. Now American government officials who are caught passing our national security secrets to foreign intelligence agents are not necessarily disloyal traitors—perhaps these were isolated instances involving special circumstances—but, again, such a background does raise considerable concerns in my own mind.
These are two examples of the sort of issues that I feel have utterly undermined the credibility of the hawkish neocons who support this war, and the mainstream conservative media that acts as their echo-chamber. Huge numbers of additional examples come to mind.
Consider that for weeks our neocon media—and several of the more gullible members of this list—have been opining that Saddam was surely killed or gravely injured by our strike at the very opening of the war, a position held despite all circumstantial evidence to the contrary. Then yesterday, Iraqi TV broadcast images of someone solidly identified as Saddam meeting with crowds while images of burning Baghdad fires were in the background and separately praising the Iraqi peasant who allegedly downed one of our Apache helicopters with his musket.
In response to questioning about this point, Ari Fleischer and various government sources claimed that the Iraqi broadcasts could easily have been pre-recorded. If so, then our military challenge was grave indeed, since then our (deceased) foe was not merely a bloodthirsty tyrant but an individual able to see into the future.
Or consider the supposed casus belli for our Iraqi War, namely the certain existence of Saddam’s vast stockpile of “weapons of mass destruction” and his notoriously bloodthirsty willingness to unleash them on America, even if we mostly left him alone. Our military forces control some 90% of Iraqi, we have repeatedly tried to kill him and his family, have destroyed most of his strongest military units killing thousands or tens of thousands, and are (possibly) on the verge of taking his capital city and concluding the war with his destruction. Yet we have found not the slightest trace of such WMD nor have been the targets of any such attacks. Presumably, Saddam has undergone some remarkable religious conversion regarding the accepted rules of war.
My point is a basic one. In the early 1960s, America’s government—rightly or wrongly—possessed a vast store of public credibility. During several years of the Vietnam War, our leaders completely burned through that credibility, leading to much of the ideological unrest and disillusionment of the late 1960s and afterward. It seems to me that our current national leaders are accomplishing this same negative goal in days or weeks rather than years, with potentially serious consequences for our domestic situation if—as I expect—our occupation becomes a disaster.
Sadly, I view this situation as a natural consequence of the remarkable growth of ideological and financial corruption within the establishment conservative movement.
For example, a year or so ago I was absolutely astonished to read a newspaper story reporting that a very prominent conservative activist had paid himself compensation of about $1.5M over a couple of years, that sum representing something like 80% of the budget of his small activist organization (I won’t mention his name, but everyone would find it extremely familiar). I suspect that others also read that story as the activist in question seems to have enormously reduced his public visibility since then.
Or take another one of our leading neocon Mid East “experts,” who published an article some time ago in NR whose central statistics seemed off by one or even two orders of magnitude. When I politely questioned his data via email, he reacted with shock, providing absolutely no source but expressing outrage that “a fellow conservative” would dare question his area of expertise when he would never think to question my own.
By contrast, consider Jared Taylor, who as our leading white nationalist intellectual is most assuredly no “liberal.” Although I certainly disagree with Taylor’s ideology and much of his analysis, I have always found his factual reports and data to be absolutely accurate, and would probably regard something I read in his own small publication as being somewhat more reliable than a similar story appearing in the establishment conservative media.
Once a movement or a society becomes laced with corruption, the cascading decline in standards means that the degenerative process is often very difficult to halt or reverse. This is a serious problem we should all recognize.