You have to admire the neoconservative imagination. Alright, maybe not admire exactly. But in any case you have to acknowledge that these guys are in it for the long haul. Neither age nor failure can wither them. No amount of death and destruction can ever dampen their ardor or lead them to question their own assumptions. Whole countries and regions may collapse into violent chaos as the result of the wars that they have advocated, but they won’t say sorry because they have nothing to be sorry for.
Like Martin Luther King they have had a dream that has nothing to do with sitting at the table of brotherhood. Their dream is a world in which America fulfills its ‘destiny’ and has absolute military hegemony over every corner of our troubled planet, and there no more rivals and challengers, and no more evil and tyranny and every country will be a thriving market democracy, watched over by American military power.
These beautiful dreamers don’t know the meaning of defeat. When their dreams turn into nightmares they come springing out of the ruins like Terminator, ready to fight evil and march on towards the next target. Don’t expect them to weep for the dead and wounded their wars have left behind them, either on the enemy’s side or their own, because empathy is not their strong point, and they always know that no matter how far the outcomes of wars differ from their predictions, there will always be the next war, the one that will be better than the last, the one we must fight before it’s too late.
This weekend the writer and commentator Joshua Muravchik gave a classic demonstration of what makes the neocons great in a piece for the Washington Post which argued that negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program are pointless and that war is ‘probably our best option.’
Muravchik has been making the same argument for years, not only about Iran, but also about Iraq and Libya. Now after careful consideration – ok maybe after very little consideration – he argues that negotiations with Iran are doomed because
Yep, a regime that is ‘redolent with hatred’ is clearly not to be negotiated with, any more than you would negotiate with a rabid dog. And even worse
As an analysis of Iran this is about as profound and insightful as a xmas cracker joke, and certainly nothing to justify the Wall Street Journal’s description of Muravchik as ‘ maybe the most cogent and careful of the neoconservative writers on foreign policy’. Muravchik’s Iran is another variant of a cliché put forward by Niall Ferguson, Bernard Lewis and others from the let’s bomb Iran crowd; namely that Iran is an inherently irrational when compared with rational states, without any state or security interests of its own.
This nonsense once reached a crescendo of stupidity, when Ferguson and Lewis suggested that Iran was bent on acquiring nuclear weapons in order to carry out an act of nuclear ‘martyrdom’ and bring about the return of the twelfth Imam. Muravchik’s record on Iran – and his strident support of everything Israel does – is not without a certain amount of ‘hatred’ itself. As for comparisons with communist and fascist attempts to ‘transform the world’, he and his ghoul-like fellow militarists have spent much of the last twenty-odd years advocating that America should do just that – with catastrophic results that go way beyond anything Iran has been responsible for.
For Muravchik however, ‘visionary regimes’ like Iran cannot be deterred by sanctions and ‘an air campaign targeting Iran’s nuclear infrastructure would entail less need for boots on the ground than the war Obama is waging against the Islamic State, which poses far smaller a threat than Iran does.’ No need to worry whether such an attack might ’cause ordinary Iranians to rally behind the regime’ because ‘military losses have also served to undermine regimes, including the Greek and Argentine juntas, the Russian czar and the Russian communists.’
So to put it crudely, Muravchik would like America to kill a lot of Iranians, excuse me, I meant inflict ‘military losses’ on Iran because that might turn Iranians against the regime and get them to love America and democracy. It makes sense when you think about it, or rather when you don’t think about it too much.
And as for the argument that destroying Iran’s nuclear infrastructure would only delay its acquisition of the bomb or even facilitate its acquisition, Muravchik recognizes that this is a possibility, but it’s not a serious one because ‘ we can strike as often as necessary’ and even if Iran concealed its nuclear facilities ‘ we might have to find new ways to discover and attack them. Surely the United States could best Iran in such a technological race.’
What if ‘Iran retaliated by using its own forces or proxies to attack Americans’? Well that’s ok too because ‘ We could attempt to deter this by warning that we would respond by targeting other military and infrastructure facilities.’
So all in all, war would ‘probably’ be the best option, says Muravchik. But don’t think this is a man who doesn’t takes risks without thinking them through. He recognizes that ‘Nonetheless, we might absorb some strikes. Wrenchingly, that might be the price of averting the heavier losses that we and others would suffer in the larger Middle Eastern conflagration that is the likely outcome of Iran’s drive to the bomb.’
I love that ‘wrenchingly’, with its suggestion that war would be as hard to bear for Muravchik as it would for everyone else. Because this glibly horrific piece of homicidal militarism suggests very different conclusions: that for Muravchik and his fellow-intellectuals war is not the last resort but the first; that they are reckless gamblers with other peoples lives; and that even as they pay lip service to its costs and ‘risks’, they do so knowing that for them there will never be any costs or any ‘risks’ at all.
Given the record of the last fourteen years, such men ought to be regarded as a danger to their own country as well to others. But the fact that what was once one of the great US liberal newspapers chose to publish his call to arms suggests that they are still being given way more respect than they have ever deserved, and that, in a way, is almost as alarming as Muravchik’s own crazed pronouncements.