Neocons and the Permanent State (Part 2)
by Ilana Mercer
“How does America change if our intelligence agencies were more accurate in their assessment of Saddam Hussein’s chemical and nuclear weapons programs?” The question was posed, just the other day, in “Make America Competent Again,” by David French, at the Dispatch, a neoconservative website. The tract is an agony aunt’s meander that calls for shoring-up competency in state and civil society.
But first: dissecting, deconstructing and exposing the neoconservative mindset and machinations matters. The reason is this: thanks to President Trump, neoconservatives are not exactly having a moment—they’re down in the doldrums. But they’ll be back. For neocons and liberal interventionists make up the Permanent State. The ideology the likes of which David French, formerly of National Review, and his ilk promote—foreign-policy bellicosity, endless immigration, mindless consumerism, racial shaming, “canceling” of deviationists and conformity to an American identity that’s been melted away in vats of multiculturalism—is in our country’s bone marrow, by now.
Therefore, the fighting words in response to French’s framing of the invasion of Iraq as a mere glitch in intelligence are these: no creedal neoconservative should be able to get away with the claim that a problem of criminality is really just a problem of competency.
You’d think that a military man like Mr. French would know that fixing problems rests on defining them with precision. Recasting state corruption and war crimes as incompetence cures neither state crimes nor incompetence.
America’s war on Iraq was a war crime, plain and simple. It was a reflexive collaboration between elements in a vast, by now familiar, intelligence bureaucracy, comprised of neoconservative and liberal interventionists, whose aim was to help The Powers that Be pulverize a country, Iraq, for the purpose of making it over in the image of America.
Contra Mr. French, the war on Iraq cannot be reduced to systemic incompetence. Anyone who doggedly tracked and documented the ramp up to war, as this column did, can attest that the United States bullied its way to war, monomaniacally.
Legions of experts, credible ones, categorically rejected the contention that there were WMD in Iraq. They were silenced; shut out by the malfunctioning American media, the politicians, their handlers and their followers—none of whom should be allowed to deflect from the intellectual and moral corruption it took to invade a Third World country, whose military prowess was a fifth of what it was when hobbled during the Gulf War, which had no navy or air force and was no threat to American national security. Iraq had not attacked anyone in 12 years and was not poised to attack the U.S. or its neighbors.
Whether one examines the casus belli from the perspective of Catholic “Just War Theory,” constitutional authority or natural law—the war on Iraq was a failure of morals, ethics and constitutional fidelity. To attack Iraq was to launch a purely offensive, non-defensive war. This flouts the Christian duty to do no harm to one’s neighbors. It flouts the Jewish teachings, which instruct Jews to robustly and actively seek justice. It flouts “Just War Theory,” developed by great Christian minds like St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine. It flouts the libertarian axiom, which prohibits aggression against non-aggressors.
And it flouted what the Founding Fathers provided: a limited, constitutional republican government, by definition, doesn’t, cannot, and must never pursue what the likes of Mr. French and the neoconservative power elite still advocate: a 21st-century Manifest Destiny.The fact that it does, can, and is still intent on spreading global (failing) democracy by death and destruction (Iran is next) indicates how limitless, unconstitutional, and dictatorial the American Permanent State truly is.
As is their wont, the nation’s pundits never stopped licking their chops for that war. And they’ll salivate just the same should the U.S. have its way with Iran.
So, what does it say about those who supported conquering and occupying a sovereign member of the international community? Simply this: whether it is committed by a group operating within or without the law—inside or outside the state—a crime is a crime. And turning Iraq from rogue state to failed state, and in the process killing and displacing multitudes: that was a war crime, executed with as much competency as criminals can muster.
Mr. French and his ideological compadres must not get away with dismissing George W Bush’s bacchanalia of blood as a momentary lapse of competence.
Ilana Mercer has been writing a weekly, paleolibertarian column since 1999. She’s the author of Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America From Post-Apartheid South Africa (2011) & The Trump Revolution: The Donald’s Creative Destruction Deconstructed” (June, 2016). She’s on Twitter, Facebook & Gab. Latest on YouTube: “How Democracy Made Us Dumb.