Stupidity, thy name is neo-cons.
Their trademark is to hallucinate about “moderate forces” from South Asia to the Sahel; and, to urge the United States to partner with them to defeat extremism and spread democracy, the rule of law and secularism throughout the solar system. Exemplary is Fred Hiatt’s column in The Washington Post last Monday (“Cozying up to the dictators”).
His neo-conservative exhortation is the spiritual descendant of President John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address. It was delivered as the United States trotted into the Vietnam War to defeat Communism by partnering with South Vietnamese moderates we were convinced could be summoned into being. The president trumpted: “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”
More than 50 years later, Kennedy’s imagined moderate partners in Vietnam who would assure the success of liberty are yet to be discovered. Indeed, the United States is now defending a Communist dictatorship there in its maritime disputes with China. We paid a staggering price for our Vietnamese stupidity in lives lost and resources squandered.
In the spirit of Kennedy’s Inaugural, Mr. Hiatt is appalled that President Obama has cruelly refrained from partnering with anonymous “moderates” in Syria, Bahrain, Egypt, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Iraq to crush extremism and to give birth to secular democracy that has slumbered in these nations since the beginning of recorded history. But the neo-con megaphone is unable to identify even one “moderate” in any of these 11 countries endowed with even a tiny fraction of the courage, wisdom, character, and leadership needed to create the United States. Think of George Washington, John Adams, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, Edmund Randolph, John Marshall and Benjamin Franklin, among others.
The United States was more a miracle than an inevitability. On the centenary of the U.S. Constitution, Lord Gladstone praised the nation’s birth certificate as “the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man.”
Neo-cons are clueless about human nature and the primal craving for power that inclines all societies toward executive despotism. The rare combination of an educated public and long-headed, selfless political leaders is required to avoid tyranny. The key to justice and the rule of law is architecting a diffusion of power in all its moods and tenses that prevents any faction from acquiring unchecked authority. The number of architects qualified for the task can be counted on one hand with a few fingers left over.
If Mr. Hiatt believes there are moderate forces in Saudi Arabia sufficient to defeat despotism there, let me sell him the Brooklyn Bridge.
If he believes there are moderates in Yemen sufficient to overcome the extremism of al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula and the Houthi zealots in Sanaa, let me sell him a perpetual motion machine.
The neo-cons of Mr. Hiatt’s ilk are like the Duke and the Dauphin in Huckleberry Finn constantly seeking to lure the United States into foreign entanglements by concocting moderate partners allegedly eager to risk that last full measure of devotion to inaugurate a separation of powers, the rule of law, an independent judiciary, and secularism.
The neo-cons duped President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney into thinking Ahmed Chalabi and Hamid Karzai would be the George Washingtons of Iraq and Afghanistan, respectively. That stupidity eventuated in the squandering of $6 trillion by the Unites States to achieve two failed sectarian, corrupt, tribalist despotisms and more international terrorism.
When will the neo-cons have the decency to confess their colossal errors and retire on half-pay?
For more information about Bruce Fein, visit brucefeinlaw.