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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 12/3/09

Obama Pleases the Neocons

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Nevertheless, the "surge" myth allowed the neocons to insist that they had been right after all, even if there may have been some bumps along the way.

By fall 2009, key neocons felt confident enough to bash President Obama for taking time to re-think the eight-year-old U.S.-led military occupation of Afghanistan.

Washington Post neocon columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote an Oct. 9, 2009, column entitled "Young Hamlet's Agony" accusing Obama of cynical dithering.

"So what does [the Democrats'] commander in chief do now with the war he once declared had to be won but had been almost criminally under-resourced by Bush? Perhaps provide the resources to win it?

"You would think so. And that's exactly what Obama's handpicked commander requested on Aug. 30 — a surge of 30,000 to 40,000 troops to stabilize a downward spiral and save Afghanistan the way a similar surge saved Iraq.

"That was more than five weeks ago. Still no response. Obama agonizes publicly as the world watches."

Krauthammer also made clear that the neocons hadn't given up on their grandiose vision of a permanent American military dominance astride the globe, whatever the cost.

In an Oct. 19 article for The Weekly Standard, entitled "Decline Is a Choice: The New Liberalism and the End of American Ascendancy," Krauthammer demanded that the United States resist the temptation to withdraw from its status of global hegemon.

"Heavy are the burdens of the hegemon," Krauthammer wrote. "After the blood and treasure expended in the post-9/11 wars, America is quite ready to ease its burden with a gentle descent into abdication and decline.

"Decline is a choice. More than a choice, a temptation. How to resist it? First, accept our role as hegemon. And reject those who deny its essential benignity."

Neocon Impracticality

But there remains a glaring impracticality in the neocons and their hegemonic rhetoric. Krauthammer combines his call for the American people to accept their inner "hegemon" with a tirade against those who say it's time for the United States to reduce its military budget and begin addressing its economic and social problems.

To the neocons, all that is important is the American ability to project military power around the world — and especially in the Middle East. The reality of the disappearing U.S. industrial base and America's decaying infrastructure do not fit into the soaring rhetoric about U.S. global power.

Yet, wielding the "successful surge" myth as a club, the neocons shaped the Washington debate about the Afghan escalation and now believe they have managed to influence another President to do as they wished, even while operating from more distant positions, like the Washington Post's editorial pages, TV talk shows and think tanks.

With their ideological certitude and intellectual firepower, the neocons seem to believe they can will the results in the field much the way they dominate dinner-party conversations in Washington, with tough-talk, bluster and a readiness to question the patriotism and courage of anyone who doesn't agree.

However, the real world isn't defined by clever arguments over a chilled Chardonnay. It is a hard place where soldiers and civilians bleed and die — and where imperial overreach can corrode the foundations of a Republic.

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Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at secrecyandprivilege.com. It's also available at
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