Monday, October 04, 2004

Panic at Foggy Bottom 

In a (subscription-only) article for Salon, an anonymous ex-Foreign Service officer now serving as a State Department official predicts that in a second Bush administration, Colin Powell's departure from State would effectively remove the final obstacle to full-spectrum foreign-policy dominance by the architects of the Iraq debacle, the same visionaries who were commonly known, back in the days of Bush 41, as the "lunatics":
The realization that the same neocons who dismissed State's accurate "Future of Iraq Project," prepared before the war, may now take over at State in the second term is widely viewed inside the department as a threat to the very integrity of the country's diplomatic first line of defense. Corridor discussion has turned desperate -- maybe former Secretary of State James Baker will intervene, maybe former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft will talk to someone, maybe 41 will talk to 43.

State personnel are used to comings and goings of Democratic and Republican administrations, serving all equally and fairly. Not since Vietnam, however, has the U.S. diplomatic establishment viewed the future with such a degree of alarm. Retired U.S. ambassadors and diplomats have raised their own public concerns in signed public statements about the direction of U.S. foreign policy -- but that concern pales compared with the quiet revolt brewing against a neocon takeover at Foggy Bottom . . . .

Powell's early 2005 departure is the subject of intense jockeying among the neocons. A Perle neocon protégé, Michael Rubin, has been given the task of destroying the only competition -- L. Paul "Jerry" Bremer, the former Iraq Coalition Provisional Authority chief, not a neocon insider and the favorite of traditional Republican conservatives. The neocon plan is to make Bremer the scapegoat: It was not bad neocon policy, it was bad Bremer decisions that has led to the fiasco in Iraq. Rubin was sent to Baghdad to be Wolfowitz's man inside the CPA. Bremer dissed Rubin as a lightweight. Rubin tried to push neocon policy inside the CPA -- what he, Perle and Ahmed Chalabi had pushed from the American Enterprise Institute -- restoring the Hashemite monarchy in Iraq by placing Jordan's Crown Prince Hassan on the throne. Bremer would have none of it. Rubin is now tasked by Perle and Wolfowitz to trash Bremer -- which he is dutifully doing in print and media appearances arranged by neocon handler, lecture agent and media booker Eleana Benador. They intend to close the Foggy Bottom door to any aspirations Bremer, a former Foreign Service officer and Kissinger protégé, might have to take over from Powell.

Given the implosion of Iraq, Wolfowitz and his coterie have doubts that Wolfowitz can be confirmed as secretary (of either DOD or State) without a debilitating confirmation process, though State remains choice No. 1. A more complicated plan is to again play behind Condoleezza Rice. With Rice as secretary of state and Wolfowitz in as national security advisor, neocons would put David Wurmser or John Bolton in as Rice's deputy, replacing Armitage . . . .

For the neocons, Sept. 11 and Israel's security policy under Sharon have morphed into a single concept, the kind of thinking typified by Secretary Rumsfeld's recent lapses mixing Saddam Hussein with 9/11 and Osama bin Laden with Iraq.

Working with direct input from Israeli intelligence, Feith's Pentagon office coordinated with Libby and Wurmser in the vice president's office to spread the story that the missing WMD are to be found hidden in Syria. Israeli agents have worked overtime to neutralize and undo Syrian cooperation with the CIA against al-Qaida. This comes on the heels of a similar highly successful destruction of CIA inroads with the Palestinian Authority. We are now light-years beyond the two-state solution focus of Middle East policy. Instead of chasing Laden, the neocons plan to put the U.S. on the road to Damascus -- and Tehran. The groundwork is laid.

Powell is leaving. We need to repeat that. When this reality sinks in, we will finally understand what we are getting ourselves into in a second Bush term. A handful of conservative columnists, Republican senators and a few other GOP luminaries are trying to reclaim a traditional conservative Republican foreign policy approach. But it is clearly too late.

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