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Thursday, February 12, 2004 - 07:09 AM Permanent link for WMD & the Paleo/Neo Split
WMD & the Paleo/Neo Split

Manish Vij forwarded me this article where Fox News stalwart Bill O'Reilly bashes Bush on Iraqi WMD -

The anchor of his own show on Fox News said he was sorry he gave the U.S. government the benefit of the doubt that former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's weapons program poised an imminent threat, the main reason cited for going to war.

"I was wrong. I am not pleased about it at all and I think all Americans should be concerned about this," O'Reilly said in an interview with ABC's "Good Morning America."

....O'Reilly said he was "much more skeptical about the Bush administration now" since former weapons inspector David Kay said he did not think Saddam had any weapons of mass destruction.

Without getting into the details of the WMD mess, I do think it's interesting how this issue precipitates an interesting PaleoCon vs. NeoCon split and reveals a lot about the marketing strategy for the Iraq liberation war.  

Neo's like Wolfowitz / Perle / Fukuyama / Hanson and others had always wanted to go after Iraq as part of a general regional revitalization strategy.   NeoCon is a rather maligned and misunderstood term and, admittedly, I'm using a rather broad definition of it here -- roughly "folks who believe that installing Liberal Democracy in other countries / cultures is the long term solution to US Security."

Early in the march towards war, the Powell's & Rice's in the administration correctly recognized that without the WMD issue, the NeoCon's lacked an argument for urgency.   Furthermore, many folks of all stripes had issues large and small about their core agenda of large scale liberal democraticization.  

Neo's fundamentally had a rather indirect rationale for why a liberated Iraq led to American national security and this was recognized as a tough sell.  Consequently, WMD was the causus belli put forth by the administration to rope in the Paleo's & the UN crowd to bind the anti-Saddam coalition.

Paleo's like O'Reilly / Buchanan / etc. tend to be very deeply Jeffersonian, and consequently somewhat isolationist, and thus would only accept the need to go after Iraq on strict national security merits and nothing else.  The rationale had to be direct with a pretty high bar for threat imminence.   In fact, some "deep Paleo's" like Pat Buchanan had such a high bar that evening prevailing arguments about Iraq's WMD never really reached them.  

FWIW, my blog readers probably recognize that I'm a NeoCon on this issue - I've always bought the Swamp Draining argument as the ultimate rationale for going after Iraq.  And I even look fondly at the subsequent successes in Libya and ongoing developments in Iran, Syria, and elsewhere as near term, visible proof that massive plate tectonics have been unleashed.  In my book, the timeline for evaluating success in Iraq will be measured in decades rather months.   Nevertheless, it's gonna be pretty darn difficult to sell future endeavors under the guise of preventing WMD proliferation even if it was "the right mistake"...

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