I'm getting a little tired of this
This CW annoys me.
Ask thy father, and he will show thee: advice that, at long last, George W. Bush seems to be taking. ... The American people, as politicians like to say, spoke last week—and spoke in no uncertain terms. The 2006 vote does not suggest an eagerness for a sharp left turn. It seems, rather, to be a plea for a shift from the hard right of the neoconservatives to the center represented by the old man in Houston. The re-emergence of Iraq Study Group voices such as Baker, Gates and Alan Simpson—all longtime friends of Bush Senior—is not unlike the entrance of Fortinbras at the conclusion of "Hamlet." These are 41's men, and the removal of Rumsfeld—an ancient rival of Bush Senior's from the Ford days—is a move toward the broad middle. The apparent triumph of pragmatism over ideology on Iraq was welcome news, at least to the public. In the new NEWSWEEK Poll, 67 percent favor Bush Senior's internationalist approach to foreign policy over his son's more unilateral course.
As the war has gone badly and the years have ticked by—2003, 2004, 2005 and now much of 2006—the senior President Bush, the man who managed to capture just 37 percent of the vote in 1992, has grown in stature. Raising taxes and capping domestic spending in 1990, refusing to exceed the United Nations mandate after expelling Saddam from Kuwait, and deftly managing the end of the cold war and the reunification of Germany loom ever larger.
Ugh. There's lots to make you vomit there. But perhaps worst of all is the fantasy that George Herbert Walker Bush believed in restrained foreign policy. Just read the shit the CIA pulled in Latin America during a span of time that includes his year as its director. He was a board member of the Committee on the Present Danger, for crap's sake. The whole fucking family thinks meddling in the affairs of other countries is our absolute right as Americans. Robert Gates, the new apparatchik brought back from the dead, was hip-deep in Iran-Contra, the entire purpose of which was to meddle in Nicaragua. James Baker (along with Poppy) is, as part of the Carlyle Group, an open war profiteer, most recently seen using his position as Special Presidential Envoy supposedly charged with getting nations to forgive Iraqi debt to try and coax a $1 billion investment out of Kuwait. He's been futzing with Iraq since before the first Gulf War.
This is not a shift from neoconservativism to moderation. This is a shift from a foreign policy that straddles the line between deluded Wilsonianism and corporatism to one that's 100% about global capital. I suppose you could call that a change from "ideology" to "pragmatism," but only because at this point "pragmatically smoother for certain corporations" couldn't possibly be any worse than "completely and utterly bugfuck insane." I have this vision of Dick Cheney painting the walls of his undisclosed bunker with his own feces and insisting the irregular shapes he creates are his new counterinsurgency plans for Iraq. Toning everything down to the Dirty War/black ops level would have to be an improvement, at least for Americans--but that doesn't mean it's in any way a return to "moderation."
It occurs to me that the difference between Poppy and Junior is perhaps best understood as one not of philosophy but of tactics: a question of how many Americans' hands to dirty. Poppy preferred proxy wars and deniable torture; Junior, the petulant little autocrat, wants everything done under his direct control. Poppy's method does have the advantage of killing fewer brown people in aggregate (compare 80,000 dead in Operation Condor in the entire southern cone of South America to 650,000 dead in Iraq alone) and far fewer Americans. It also allows for more interference in more places at once. Junior's method, however, is arguably more honest and transparent, probably because although Junior likes secrecy and lying as much as the next would-be despot, he is too stupid for real guile. Maybe Newsweek just prefers Poppy's professionalism.
Thanks to an anonymous commenter for additional poop on Gates.