And the funny thing is, Robert McFarlane, the former Reagan national security advisor who said that, is actually a McCain supporter. But McFarlane sees a world of difference between the inexperienced next-generation neocons who are closest to McCain and the old realists (like himself) who might steer a McCain administration once the youngsters foul up and get fired.
“My ears perked up when I heard this assessment,” writes Jacob Heilbrunn, who attended the Nixon Center event at which McFarlane spoke, “because it confirms what I’ve been hearing elsewhere: while Henry Kissinger, Brent Scowcroft, and other realist elders are consulted by McCain, his heart is with the younger neocons, the ‘beavers,’ in the words of one McCain supporter, who draft the speeches and get the grunt work done.”
Heilbrunn points to why, despite the bad odor they have come into during the Bush years, the neocons have never gone away and are not about to do so:
The gap — and it is fundamental — in the GOP today is generational. The elderly realists haven’t groomed anyone to replace them. The neocons have. Hence neocon redux. When someone of McFarlane’s stature offers the assessment that the neocons are in charge, then it’s pretty much official. The longer the election campaign goes on, the clearer it becomes that the neocons aren’t back. They never went away.
There are some young realists out there, of course — but few of them are in positions of influence within the GOP. And unfortunately, I can’t see that the party would welcome them if they tried to come on board. The Republicans’ domestic ideological commitments, the need to position themselves as patriots and the Democrats as America-damning traitors, preclude them from taking realists seriously. Old warhorses like McFarlane still have cachet, but the prospects for a younger realists making their way in the party look to be nugatory.
When the Democrats took over congress in January 2007 there was a lot of Republican angst over whether they would immediately turn Capitol Hill into a three-ring circus in an effort to roll back all the tax cuts, impeach the President and rip us out of Iraq. But any Democratic effort to turn tables on the GOP this year has been of minimal impact and drama – primarily because the so-called “MSM” has met it all with a distracted yawn. Republicans need not get exercised, they don’t even have to show up – because the cameras ain’t rolling.
That’s why it’s really disappointing when a truly informative, possibly damning, hearing is engaged and it has all the effect of a tree falling in a forest. Yesterday, while the press corps was squirming and wincing to the sounds of Rev. Jeremiah Wright at the National Press Club, Sen. Byron Dorgan, chairman of the Democratic Policy Committee, heard from former Kellogg, Brown and Root employees about widespread contracting abuses in Iraq. The committee heard from two people who I’m sure White House supporters would deem “unpatriotic” for coming forward, but they sounded anything but. And what they had to say was disturbing.
Linda Warren, a 50-year-old Marine Corps veteran with three sons in the military, worked for KBR (then under Halliburton) in 2004. She was threatened with bodily harm, and then later fired, for speaking out about the abuses she saw. She testified before the committee yesterday:
From the first day I was in Baghdad, I noticed something happening which I felt to be very wrong. KBR employees who were contracted to perform construction duties inside the palaces and municipal buildings were looting. Not only were they looting, but they had a system in place to get the contraband out of the country so it could be sold on eBay. They stole art work, rugs, crystal and even melted down gold to make spurs for cowboy boots …
All of the camps were the same. There appeared to be widespread corruption and no system of checks and balances. For instance, KBR allowed employees to use military convoys to get to the Baghdad International Airport to purchase alcohol. Another practice commonly referred to as a “drug deal” was rampant. A drug deal was a trade between KBR employees for goods stolen from the military. KBR employees would break into a “connex” box, which is a trailer full of supplies, and steal items, including lumber, air conditioners and tools meant for the troops. So instead of the troops using these items, KBR employees took them for their own use. Sometimes the KBR employees would trade these items with Iraqis …
Then, with her voice nearly cracking:
The impact that year had on me has been profound, and there were many times when I was ashamed to be an American working in Iraq. I suffer from anxiety and depression as a result of my experience working for KBR. I was afraid to talk about these events and yet, when I returned to the states, I contacted Members of Congress
because our sons and daughters who are fighting over in Iraq, and dying in the sands, deserve better. My son, who was in Fallujah with me, serving in the Marines, deserves better. Every American must be ready to step up to the plate when called to serve our country, and not be afraid. Our men and women who have stepped up to the plate
deserve the best that we can give them. Please do something about contractor abuses.
Frank Cassady, a former contractor for KBR/Halliburton from 2004-2005 was also a witness.
I first served as an ice plant operator at Camp Webster at Al-Asad in Iraq and also worked in various locations on electrical projects, construction and laundry. I observed burn pits throughout my time in Iraq, which resulted in millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars being wasted. Burn pits were used by the military and others to dispose of still-useable equipment and items that were no longer needed for a particular project, might need minor repair, or were difficult to transport and find storage ..
These pits were burning 24 hours a day …
I saw large, ten foot deep trenches dug in the sand where computers, electronic
equipment, and military items that could not be burned were buried. I asked military personal, “Why not send the wood and equipment to other bases?” I was told that it is cheaper to destroy everything and mark it off as destroyed by “the war” than to pay for the truck transport and find adequate storage…
In Fallujah, I saw explosives in the burn pits. There were times when these explosives would go off while I or my co-workers were disposing of waste items. In Fallujah, I observed Iraqis scavenging in the burn pits for items that they could use. They would jump in the back of my truck and try to remove items I was not discarding. Sometimes I had to physically remove them from my truck.
At Al-Asad, a large waste dump and burn pit had many items that appeared to be in perfectly good condition, yet were discarded. I saw flack vests, black and green jungle style combat boots, olive drab field jackets, ammunition crates, tires, inner tubes, and a large volume of food items. These items were going to waste in the burn pits …
I came to testify before you today because I saw how the troops suffered and put at greater risk because of the shoddy work by KBR employees and the wasteful spending of KBR management. I would do anything to help the military and I hope that my testimony today will make a difference for the troops.
These two people seem to have no ax to grind other than they were bullied by their ex-bosses – who are still being fueled by billions upon billions of taxpayer dollars each year of this war – and that they feel compelled to get the truth out. And they did – to the deafening silence of the so-called liberal media. That liberal media was spending all of its energy Monday — not covering this hearing, or the death of four American soldiers in Baghdad or even in the hike in attacks on the Baghdad Green Zone – but over whether Sen. Barack Obama would be “hurt” by his pastor coming to town.
Meanwhile, Obama was the only presidential candidate to acknowledge his colleagues’ hearing Monday, and sent along a statement (pumping, in part, legislation he’s sponsoring to plug a loophole that allows companies like KBR to avoid paying taxes by creating offshore tax shelters):
“Whether it is the unaccountable actions of private security contractors accused of killing Iraqi civilians, the government’s overreliance on no-bid contracts, the alleged sexual assaults on the employees of major contractors, or contractor tax practices that exploit tax loopholes at the expense of ordinary taxpayers, the problems of military contracting – and all government contracting – must be addressed.
Addressed? Check. Action? Still waiting. Dorgan can’t even find enough senate support to get subpoena powers. After several attempts to create a separate committee to investigate contract abuses in a war that could go on for years and years and trillions of dollars, he still can’t get the 60 votes to move forward. Unless the Democrats really pummel the GOP in the congressional races next year – in fact, there’s potential there – expect more of the same next year, no matter who is president.
I don’t know if I should be comforted by Herbert Stein‘s law (If Something Can’t Go On Forever, it will stop) or disturbed. The New York Times has an article today about how rising oil prices aren’t leading to either a growth in supply or a drop in consumption:
Countries that are not members of OPEC have been the main source of production growth in the last three decades, as new fields were discovered in Alaska, the North Sea or West Africa. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, new opportunities emerged in Russia and the Caspian Sea.
Analysts at Barclays Capital said last week that non-OPEC supplies were “seemingly dead in the water.” . . .
. . . World consumption is projected to rise 35 percent, to around 115 million barrels a day, in the next two decades. Most of the growth will come from China, India and oil-producing countries in the Middle East, where retail fuel prices are subsidized, encouraging wasteful consumption.
“What is disturbing here is that things seem to get worse, not better,” an analyst at Goldman Sachs, David Greely, said. “These high prices are not attracting meaningful new supplies.”
. . .Oil prices might reach more than $200 by 2012, he said, a level that would probably mean $7-a-gallon gasoline in the United States.
Something to consider before getting that Escalade.
Let’s be fair, Clark. Bush conservatives haven’t just been obsessing over trivia like the Wright blow-up, they’ve also been keeping tabs on dangerous individuals like Jimmy Carter.
It’s one thing to complain about Carter, though. The question is, when will somebody do something about him? The Onion has an idea:
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND—An international peace-crimes tribunal commenced legal proceedings against former U.S. President Jimmy Carter for alleged crimes against inhumanity Monday.
“Jimmy Carter’s political career includes a laundry list of anti-war-making offenses,” said chief prosecutor Charles B. Simmons. “Carter’s record of benevolence, diplomacy, and respect for human life is unrivaled in recent geopolitical history. For millions, the very sight of his face evokes memories of his administration’s reign of tolerance.”
The former president, whom Simmons described as “relentless in his naked pursuit of everlasting global peace,” has been sought by peace-crimes officers in the international war-making community for decades. Police apprehended Carter on July 25 in South Florida, where he was building low-income housing as a part of a Habitat For Humanity project. Shortly thereafter, he was extradited to Geneva, where he will be prosecuted for “grossly humane acts against all nations.”
NRO’s Corner is demonstrating the right’s intellectual bankruptcy this morning. It has been wall-to-wall Rev. Wright. What else do the Republicans have to talk about this year? Bill Ayres?
National Review might be worth reading if put less effort into obsessing on trivia and more into the failure of the conservative program.
UPDATE: Just as soon as I trash the Corner, I see (via John Schwenkler) a post from David Freddoso accurately stating that the ethanol scam is largely driven by business interests, as opposed to environmentalists.
Very interesting and revealing post from Gideon Rachman about a lunch with Georgia’s President “Misha” Saakashvili. This sheds some light on the man at center of America’s strange and perilous friendship with Georgia, a relationship that increases tension between the USA and Russia.
And if you imagine America’s closeness to Georgia will dissipate post-Bush, think again,
I ask the president if he is not over-dependent on his friendship with Bush? What will happen when he goes? No problem, apparently. John McCain is also a personal friend – “the guy brought me a bulletproof vest in 2003, specially came in with a bulletproof vest to give it to me.” How about the Democrats? Saakashvili points out that Barack Obama was one of two co-sponsors of a recent Senate resolution in favour of Georgia joining Nato. And Richard Holbrooke, tipped to be secretary of state in a putative Clinton administration, is “a good friend for a long time, a real genius”.
Jason Epstein refers, apparently with approval, to “a sustainable farm near Charlottesville, Virginia,” that is described at length in Mr. Pollan’s previous book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma. And immediately Mr. Epstein undoes his approval with the following remarkable statement: “But sustainable farming is not sustainable on a national scale any more than Alice Waters can cook for the entire United States. . .”
. . . Earl Butz, who is deplored by Mr. Epstein, would have agreed enthusiastically. . .
Can Wendell Berry have read what I wrote? He accuses me of attempting to “dissociate” myself from what “is at the heart of both of Mr. Pollan’s recent books: that industrial agriculture is not only unsustainable, but . . . ruinous of the health of everything involved.” . . . Though I am in favor of sustainable, small-scale agriculture and an enthusiastic admirer and friend of Alice Waters, I do not see how small-scale farming and Alice’s brave campaigns can replace the present system for the millions of Americans too poor and too distracted to take advantage of them . . .
There is a way to settle this dispute that is as obvious as it is unlikely (in the short term)–end the subsidies for industrial agriculture and internalize the externalities; particularly carbon dioxide and other pollutants. Industrial agriculture is on a collision course with reality in the form of soil erosion, rising energy costs, climate change and the damage it is doing to bodies of water like the Gulf of Mexico. I don’t know it the resulting changes in agriculture will look like Joel Salatin’s Polyface Farm (also featured in Rod Dreher‘s book, but it’s worth finding out.
Paul Krugman states the obvious about John McCain’s tax policy today, but it is a truth worth stating.
If truth be told, the McCain tax plan doesn’t seem to embody any coherent policy agenda. Instead, it looks like a giant exercise in pandering — an attempt to mollify the G.O.P.’s right wing, and never mind if it makes any sense.
The impression that Mr. McCain’s tax talk is all about pandering is reinforced by his proposal for a summer gas tax holiday — a measure that would, in fact, do little to help consumers, although it would boost oil industry profits.
More and more, Mr. McCain sounds like a man who will say anything to become president.
Of course. McCain knows that his tax policy will die a quick death before a Democratic congress, so he can say what he pleases.
Now that the administration has been exposed for what was already suspected on some level, that it enlisted no less than 75 malleable ex-military officers (who happened to be intercessors for the defense industry) to serve as agents, or as they were called by the Pentagon, “message force multipliers” to spin the war in Iraq, maybe the duped mainstream news media will be properly chastened and start covering Iraq properly.
Yeah right. Considering that the media, once caught red-handed, never gets red-faced, it proceeds pretty much like nothing happened, the truth be damned.
Thankfully, the Internet has offered an alternative throughout these heady days of “progress.” And now I don’t feel so naughty indulging in a lefty-pinko liberal media radio program like the “War and Peace Report” with Amy Goodman on Pacifica News from time to time. She has some great guests.
Just the other day, for example, I listened with growing agitation about how prostitution is on the rise by 20 percent in Iraq – within the country’s borders and in the refugee areas of Syria and Jordan — because women don’t have enough money feed their children. Their desperate acts make them instant targets for so-called honor killings by their own families and by armed militias that have become de facto security throughout the country. It’s not a matter of if, but of when, and how. If not prostitution, these fundamentalist militias are finding other reasons for maiming, torturing and killing women – for not covering up, for making love to a man, for ignoring the rules.
From an interview with Yanar Mohammed, founder of Women’s Freedom in Iraq:
In Syria, we hear that some women reach to the point where they are begging strangers passing by to exploit them sexually so they can feed their children. You know, women of Iraq were not in this situation, I would say, six years ago. We did not have to do this. We did not have to go through humiliation, through prostitution. We did not have to beg in the embassies to be accepted in the Western world, when the attack on our lives came from the West.
Not wanting to take her word for it, I did my own Googling around. Read More…
Coming your way in the next ten days:
Featuring William S. Lind on Petraeus, Crocker, and the pretend-state of Iraq; Allan Carlson on a family-friendly solution to the mortgage crisis; interviews with Zbigniew Brzezinski (by Phil Weiss) and Bob Barr (by TAC’s editors); Michael Brendan Dougherty on the veepstakes; Jim Antle on the the New Jersey Senate race circus; a look at gang infiltration of the U.S. military by Matthew Roberts; reviews by Michael Desch, Darryl Hart, and myself; plus Patrick Buchanan, Phil Giraldi, Steve Sailer, Daniel Larison, Jim Pinkerton, and more.
The surest way to make sure you never miss a crucial issue of TAC is, of course, to subscribe. And if you enjoy the magazine, consider spreading the word by giving gift subscriptions to friends. They’ll thank you for it!