Leading neocon Bush supporter says Bush nation-building policy is wrong

For years the neocon Bush supporters have, in their hive-like manner, in which every member of the hive says exactly the same things as all the other members of the hive, been telling us that our Iraq policy has been a “success” and that this “success” can be replicated in Afghanistan. Today Jed Babbin, one of the most vocal and stalwart of neocon Bush supporters, reverses himself:

Out of a misplaced sense of loyalty to their former president, Republicans have bound themselves to President Obama’s counterinsurgency-cum-withdrawal strategy. They’ve done so because Obama’s is an extension of George W. Bush’s nation-building strategy, which we have pursued in Afghanistan since 2001 and in Iraq from 2003.

That strategy has failed. The Iraqi government remains dysfunctional. Moqtada al-Sadr has returned to ensure instability and—with others’ help—eventual dissolution. In Afghanistan the Karzai government cannot—and in many instances refuses to—establish the local governance to replace the Taliban where military gains are made….

Congressional Republicans have played along with nation-building for too long. Whatever sense of loyalty to former President Bush remains, it cannot be allowed to stand in the way of a thorough re-evaluation of the war we’re in. There is wisdom, not shame, in admitting that Bush was wrong and blaming Obama for compounding Bush’s mistakes.

Now he tells us that Bush was wrong! Now he tells us that the policy he and his fellow neocons have foisted on us for all these years was a mistake! But what is the policy with which Babbin wants to replace what he now calls the failed Bush/Obama policy of nation-building and democratization? That’s not at all clear. He says our policy shouldn’t be about nation-building, since that places our forces in a defensive position, with our troops sitting in hostile countries and being attacked by terrorists funded and armed by hostile powers. (I’ve been saying the same since mid 2003.) Babbin concludes his article as follows:

For over nine years we have been fighting the terrorists instead of forcing the terror-sponsoring nations to cease their support for terrorism. In those years, we have sacrificed thousands of young American lives, spent hundreds of billions of dollars in combat and fruitless nation-building actions, and have done nothing to stop the sponsorship of terrorism. Bush refused to fight the ideological war despite the advice he received from Tony Blair and Donald Rumsfeld. Obama has compounded that mistake by preemptively surrendering the ideological war. He has gone so far as to ban the terms “jihad” and “Islam” from his National Security Strategy doctrine.

For too long, Obama has controlled the political narrative, limiting it to domestic issues. We hear no debate on the war, just political statements from both sides on issues ranging from Obamacare to the Tucson shootings. Republicans cannot allow Obama to keep the war off the air and on the back pages of the newspapers.

For one simple reason, there must be a debate—of sufficient intensity to flush Obama out of his domestic issues cover—to correct our course in this war. The reason is that we are losing the war.

This war is different from Vietnam in the most important respect. Vietnam wasn’t an existential war, and this one is. We lost in Vietnam but that loss cost us none of our freedoms at home. The war that the terror-sponsors are waging against us is existential: if we lose this war, we lose America and all the freedoms our Constitution preserves.

Babbin makes no coherent argument. He states that our present policy, which he has supported for all these years, has been a failure, but what he urges in its places is hopelessly vague. What does he mean by “forcing the terror-sponsoring nations to cease their support for terrorism”? What does he mean by “fighting an ideological war”? He doesn’t say. Yet even as he fails to define this war that he advocates, he tells us, in the usual hysterical neocon manner, that our very existence as a nation depends upon our winning it.

Babbin may have backed away from the Bush policy, but he, and his fellow hive members, remain as incoherent as ever.

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Paul K. writes:

The incoherence of Jed Babbin’s argument hit high gear at its summation: “The war that the terror-sponsors are waging against us is existential: if we lose this war, we lose America and all the freedoms our Constitution preserves.”

What is one to make of this ridiculously apocalyptic pronouncement? The only “freedom” we need lose is the freedom of Muslims to travel to and settle in the United States, and, while here, to be free from any particular scrutiny. If we treated them with the respect due to carriers of a communicable disease, the homeland would be secure. However, to neocons, that solution appears to be beyond the pale.

LA replies:

Not just beyond the pale. Beyond their remotes conception.

Tom P. writes:

Regarding Jed Babbin, Not only has he come out and said that neocon nation building makes no sense, even Bill O’Reilly (a far more influential figure to conservatives) is starting to rally against it on his show lately, something that would have been unthinkable with Bush still in office. It seems the Bush influence is being completely purged and rejected by the right.

LA replies:

Let us hope.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at January 17, 2011 07:57 AM | Send

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