Right Web

Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Selective Service

In the growing debate over whether the Bush administration should get "boots on the ground" in the war-torn West African nation of Liberia, the neoconservatives who...

In the growing debate over whether the Bush administration should get “boots on the ground” in the war-torn West African nation of Liberia, the neoconservatives who helped lead the charge to war in Iraq have been surprisingly silent. Led by top Pentagon officials and advisers like Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle, the neocons were championing war with Iraq even as the dust from the 9/11 attacks was still settling over lower Manhattan. By September 20, the neocon-led Project for the New American Century (PNAC) had published an open letter to the president calling for “a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq” — regardless of whether evidence connected him to the terrorist attacks. As the war crusade gathered momentum in late 2002 — and as doubts grew about Saddam’s connections with Al Qaeda — the neocons gave voice to a full-throated Wilsonianism (minus the multilateralism) as the reason for invading Iraq. The newest rationale became “liberation” from “tyranny.” As Lawrence Kaplan and Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol wrote in late January, the “Bush strategy enshrines ‘regime change’ — the insistence that when it comes to dealing with tyrannical regimes like Iraq, Iran, and, yes, North Korea, the U.S. should seek transformation, not coexistence, as a primary aim of U.S. foreign policy. As such, it commits the U.S. to the task of maintaining and enforcing a decent world order. ” After the war, when critics began hounding the administration to prove that it had not exaggerated its claims regarding Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction, the neocons lambasted the doubters as mere quibblers and bad sports who were, in Charles Krauthammer’s words, “deeply embarrassed by the mass graves, torture chambers and grotesque palaces discovered after the war” and thus trying “to change the subject and relieve themselves of the shame of having opposed the liberation of 25 million people.” Given their apparent concern over stamping out terrorism across the globe and ousting leaders who commit atrocities against their own people, the neocons’ silence over Liberia is deafening. After all, Liberia seems to be a country tailor-made to the neocons’ interventionist agenda. First, unlike the case in Iraq, there is solid evidence connecting Liberia to international terrorism. Liberian President Charles Taylor allegedly gave refuge to Al Qaeda operatives after 9/11 and helped the terrorist group buy diamonds from rebel groups in neighboring Sierra Leone. Second, unlike Saddam Hussein, Taylor has actually been indicted for crimes against humanity by an international court. While the Hussein regime was clearly one the great human rights abusers of the last 20 years, Taylor can certainly be said to hold his own in that area. Not only are there “mass graves and torture chambers” to which Krauthammer is presumably sensitive, but there were also the tens of thousands of amputations and mutilations carried out by Taylor-backed rebels in neighboring Sierra Leone. As Human Rights Watch put it, the Liberian president is notorious “for the brutal abuses of civilians perpetrated by his forces in Liberia, and for his use of child soldiers organized in ‘Small Boy Units.'” Taylor’s hand has also been traced to brutal conflicts in Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire. With the president on his way to Africa this week, one would expect the normally loquacious neocons to be raising their voices. So far, only the neoconish Wall Street Journal editorial page seems to have squarely addressed whether the United States should intervene. Its recommendation — let the feckless U.N. and the perfidious French, who “left America alone to clean up Iraq,” take care of the problem. The lone neocon voice calling for intervention appears to be Thomas Donnelly, a Perle colleague at the American Enterprise Institute. With coauthor Vance Serchuk, Donnelly argues in The Washington Post on July 7 that intervention is justified not for humanitarian motives per se, but because of the growing acknowledgment that “U.S. security interests in Africa… cannot be ignored.” But where are the rest of the neocon ring leaders? If they truly believe that the United States is now committed “to the task of maintaining and enforcing a decent world order,” than why aren’t they crying out now for intervention in Liberia? Why hasn’t PNAC issued a new sign-on letter pressing the administration to act? And why aren’t Wolfowitz and his comrades in the Defense Department strongly urging the president to once again extend the boundaries of the war on terrorism?

Michael Flynn is a research associate with the IRC’s Right Web program. Jim Lobe writes for Right Web (rightweb.irc-online.org), Foreign Policy In Focus, and Inter Press Service.

 

 

 

Citations

Michael Flynn and Jim Lobe, "Selective Service," IRC Right Web (Somerville, MA: Interhemispheric Resource Center, July 8, 2003).

Share RightWeb

Featured Profiles

Update was slow, but still no lag in the editor window, and footnotes are intact.     This has been updated – Bernard Lewis, who passed away in May 2018, was a renowned British-American historian of Islam and the Middle East. A former British intelligence officer, Foreign Office staffer, and Princeton University professor, Lewis was…


Bernard Lewis was a renowned historian of Islam and the Middle East who stirred controversy with his often chauvinistic attitude towards the Muslim world and his associations with high-profile neoconservatives and foreign policy hawks.


John Bolton, the controversial former U.S. ambassador to the UN and dyed-in the-wool foreign policy hawk, is President Trump’s National Security Adviser McMaster, reflecting a sharp move to the hawkish extreme by the administration.


Michael Joyce, who passed away in 2006, was once described by neoconservative guru Irving Kristol as the “godfather of modern philanthropy.”


Mike Pompeo, the Trump administration’s second secretary of state, is a long time foreign policy hawk and has led the public charge for an aggressive policy toward Iran.


Max Boot, neoconservative military historian at the Council on Foreign Relations, on Trump and Russia: “At every turn Trump is undercutting the ‘get tough on Russia’ message because he just can’t help himself, he just loves Putin too much.”


Michael Flynn is a former Trump administration National Security Advisor who was forced to step down only weeks on the job because of his controversial contacts with Russian officials before Trump took office.


For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

Trump is not the problem. Think of him instead as a summons to address the real problem, which in a nation ostensibly of, by, and for the people is the collective responsibility of the people themselves. For Americans to shirk that responsibility further will almost surely pave the way for more Trumps — or someone worse — to come.


The United Nations has once again turn into a battleground between the United States and Iran, which are experiencing one of the darkest moments in their bilateral relations.


In many ways, Donald Trump’s bellicosity, his militarism, his hectoring cant about American exceptionalism and national greatness, his bullying of allies—all of it makes him not an opponent of neoconservatism but its apotheosis. Trump is a logical culmination of the Bush era as consolidated by Obama.


For the past few decades the vast majority of private security companies like Blackwater and DynCorp operating internationally have come from a relatively small number of countries: the United States, Great Britain and other European countries, and Russia. But that seeming monopoly is opening up to new players, like DeWe Group, China Security and Protection Group, and Huaxin Zhongan Group. What they all have in common is that they are from China.


The Trump administration’s massive sales of tanks, helicopters, and fighter aircraft are indeed a grim wonder of the modern world and never receive the attention they truly deserve. However, a potentially deadlier aspect of the U.S. weapons trade receives even less attention than the sale of big-ticket items: the export of firearms, ammunition, and related equipment.


Soon after a Saudi-led coalition strike on a bus killed 40 children on August 9, a CENTCOM spokesperson stated to Vox, “We may never know if the munition [used] was one that the U.S. sold to them.”


The West has dominated the post-war narrative with its doctrine of liberal values, arguing that not only were they right in themselves but that economic success itself depended on their application. Two developments have challenged those claims. The first was the West’s own betrayal of its principles: on too many occasions the self interest of the powerful, and disdain for the victims of collateral damage, has showed through. The second dates from more recently: the growth of Chinese capitalism owes nothing to a democratic system of government, let alone liberal values.


RightWeb
share