Thursday, June 17, 2004

The Neocons Are NOT Finished

A conservative is one who sells the misdevelopments of yesterday as solutions for tomorrow.
What conservatives want to conserve is the illusion of a golden age, so that they can ignore all the problems hidden behind the facades.
The only thing conservative politicians want to conserve is their power - secured and expanded by all means.
The only moral conservative politicians follow: forgive the sins of fellow conservatives.

The much-needed reality check comes in a major US paper, the Los Angeles Times, from the pen of editorial writer Jacob Heilbrunn:

Although it is certainly true that the neoconservatives have had to beat a number of tactical retreats, they have not lost the war for Bush's mind. Quite the contrary; that's just wishful thinking by their enemies on both the left and right.

For one thing, Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have made no fundamental revisions in foreign policy. Sure, they've made a few modest concessions to Europe and the U.N. on Iraq. But the basics remain unchanged: Bush isn't bailing out of Iraq, and more than 100,000 U.S. troops will remain there for at least another year.

Rather than tone down his rhetoric, Bush has adhered to the twin neoconservative themes of promoting democracy abroad and aggressively employing U.S. military power. "If [the Middle East] is abandoned to dictators and terrorists," he said June 2, "it will be a constant source of violence and alarm, exporting killers of increasing destructive power to attack America and other free nations."

Nor has Bush wavered in his support of Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, an ally of the neocons. The president has insisted that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat be sidelined. He has slapped sanctions on Syria and pushed to isolate Iran. If this is moving away from neoconservatism, what would an embrace look like?

Indeed. And as I wrote earlier, even neocons don't all share the same views, and we can be certain that most of Perle's terms are met whether US rule over Iraq can be maintained or not. (Except, I suspect even he hasn't foreseen how effective an Iraqi guerilla could become to stop oil production - which is more important than most think, because it surely falls into consideration in both the USA's and al-Qaida's plans for what to do after an eventual toppling of the Saudi monarchy.)

But I go even further than Heilbrunn at the end of his article: I don't think neocons will necessarily be finished off if Bush loses to Kerry. They still have their think-thank and media network, and surely are busy extending it further (adding new cover organisations with names as yet unrecognised by the public). And they have the patience to re-emerge later.

Just like they did last time.

And the time before.

Last time, that is after diving at the end of Papa Bush's reign. The last time before, that is after being sidelined upon the revelation of Iran-Contra.

I don't give many chances to (supposedly principled) Paleocons. Rule 1 of conservative politics is the Patriarchal/Feudal Principle: Be Faithful - faithful to the leaders. Ideology takes a second stand. If you are a conservative cynical enough to adapt your ideology (or just rhetorics) for the current powers-that-be, you can have an influence. If not, you'll be sidelined.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Iraqi Poll Analysis

The CPA at last released its poll famed for some leaked disastrous results. The highlights in my view:

Approval/disapproval rates of institutions [page 6]:
CPA: 11%/79%
US military: 10%/81%
IGC: 28%/55%
the misused UN (listen Kerry!): 29%/57%

92% (!) see 'Coalition' troops as occupiers [p.35], 55% would feel more safe it troops left now (and 10% would feel just as safe), only 32% would feel less safe [p.37].

Asked about the likely motivations of the Resistance, out of a choice of ten, the three seen least likely were the US propaganda favourites [p.41]:

(True/Partially true/Not true)
want to reinstate the old regime: 9%11%/61%
are angry about lost Saddam-era privileges: 15%/17%/48%
do not want democracy: 17%/21%45%

Also, 67% totally agree (plus 12% somewhat agree), with just 9% disagreeing, that attacks increased because of loss of faith in the 'Coalition'[p.40]. And here is the approval/disapproval rate of politicians [p.15]:

Ali Sistani: 70%/20%
Moqtada al-Sadr 67%/29% (41% have a somewhat better, 40% a much better opinion of him!)
Ibrahim Jaferi 58%/38%
Ahmad al-Qubaisi 55%/29%
Abdul Azziz al-Hakim 51%/44%
Hare'eth al-Dhari 45%/27%
Muhsin Abdul Hamed 45%/35%
Muhammad Bahr al-Ulum 44%/49%
Adnan Pachachi 41%/50%
Abdul Karem al-Muhammadawi 31%/45%
Muwaffaq al-Rubaie 29%/61%
Iyad Allawi 23%/61%
Jalal Talabani 21%/74%
Massoud Barzani 19%/74%

For those not well versed in Iraqi politics, a short classification according to allegiances, based on my own memory/Juan Cole:

Sistani: independent Shi'a fundie cleric, close to SCIRI
al-Sadr: Sadrist (national-islamist Shi'a, with large militia, anti-occupation)
Jaferi, al-Ulum, al-Rubaie: Daawa (Shi'a fundies, have an ex-terrorist militia, was on IGC)
al-Hakim: SCIRI (pro-Iran Shi'a fundies with large militia, was on IGC)
al-Qubaisi, al-Dhari: Board of Muslim Scolars (Sunni Arab fundies, anti-occupation)
Hamed: Iraqi Islamic Party (Sunni Arab fundies, was on IGC)
Pachachi: IDP (mostly ex-monarchist exile, Sunni Arab nationalist, was on IGC)
al-Muhammadawi: Hizbullah (Shi'a Marsh Arab semi-fundiesm with major militia, left the IGC)
Allawi: INA (mostly ex-Baathist exile, was on IGC)
Talabani, Barzani: PUK resp. KDP (rival Kurdish semi-fundies, with large militias, rule over fiefdoms with some local democracy elements, was on IGC)