Monday, April 04, 2005

Richard Perle vs. Wesley Clark -- the Rematch

Ran across this post on Juan Cole's blog today, about a conference call Wesley Clark gave for some bloggers this morning about his upcoming testimony before the House Armed Services Committee on the subject of Iraq policy, opposite Richard Perle. If he's got the cojones to say anything like what he said to the bloggers today, it's going to be good (from Juan Cole's account):

But the success of this enterprise requires that the government in Iraq have political legitimacy.

He went on to imply that it also requires the cooperation of Iraq's neighbors. He saw a key contradiction in Bush administration policy in Iraq, which is that the operation in Iraq was seen as only a stepping stone to also overthrowing the regimes in Syria and Iran.

He located this policy in part in the Neoconservative circle of Richard Perle and Douglas Feith (Undersecretary of Defense for Policy).

He said the aim was to punish Asad's regime and topple it, and likewise with Iran.

The problem with this idea of using Iraq as a springboard to finish off the regimes in Damascus and Tehran is that Bush has given Syria and Iran every reason to interfere with a soft landing of the US-- indeed, there is a danger of a wider entanglement of the US in the region. [This is all loose paraphrase, not verbatim, but I think I've caught the implications.]
Will Wes Clark deliver the smackdown? Only time will tell. Personally, I was a Dean supporter the last time around, and being a lifelong loyal Dem, had some misgivings about a former Reagan voter, but if Clark has the courage to take on the broad agenda the neocons are promoting, he's likely won a convert. Of course, if he comes through on this, the neocon pundits will be writing columns later in the week about how it's political suicide -- but it isn't -- things in the Middle East are about to get a lot worse, and if Clark calls bullshit on it now, even if it doesn't make a difference immediately, it's going to be a lot of use to him later. "Told you so." And that'll be in sharp contrast to Hillary Clinton's AIPAC-butt-kissing routine.


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