Morning Report 5/10/05
Neocons Fight Back
Not by actually fighting, mind you
You can always depend on humorless people for a good laugh. Especially the neocons, who are dead serious about making other people die for their ideology and profits.
Paul Wolfowitz and Doug Feith have already said they're leaving the Pentagon, Wolfowitz for the World Bank and Feith for, well, maybe his old job of shilling for defense-contractor pals here and in Israel.
I can't wait to see what these guys do about the powder keg that is Pakistan, a huge nation that's desperately poor and ruled by a military dictator, Pervez Musharraf, who naturally is one of our supposed allies.
The Bush regime's stated policy is to sell more arms to Pakistan and India—marketing death and calling it democracy, as I called it last month.
World Bank president-elect Wolfowitz will be a major player in Pakistan's future. He'll help determine whether Musharraf will be able to keep as firm a grip on Pakistan as he has on the many presents the U.S. government has given him (see photo below).
The neocons' choice is to arm Musharraf to the hilt. Once again, these civilian hard-liners ignore advice from their own Pentagon analysts. I wrote yesterday about the interesting studies produced by the Naval Postgraduate School's Strategic Insights electronic journal. Here's another one.
In December 2002, Robert Looney of the school's Center for Contemporary Conflict analyzed the seeming conflict between the International Monetary Fund's work in Pakistan and the "Global War on Terror." The IMF, by the way, is part of the World Bank Group, which Wolfowitz is about to formally take over.
What has Musharraf done with the IMF money, with which he is supposedly engaging in "reforms"? Pakistan is poorer, while its "elites," including military officials, are getting richer. Looney's piece, "IMF Stabilization Programs and the War on Terrorism: Conflicting or Complementary Objectives in Pakistan?" includes this passage:
Critics of the Musharraf reforms also stress the fact that their whole orientation is inappropriate: in addition to the growing level of poverty noted above, 60 percent of the population has no access to education. 50 percent has no access to basic health services, while the same number does not have access to sanitation facilities. At the same time the country has one of the highest population growth rates at 2.8 percent. Growing unemployment of the youth has led to increased frustration, but more importantly has created an environment where radical Islamists have been able to capitalize, as evidenced by their striking gains in the last election.
In sum, while many macroeconomic indicators targeted by the IMF show encouraging improvement, the indicators that really count in terms of standards of living—investment, GDP growth, health and education and so on have not shown much of an advance, and in some cases have even deteriorated. This has lead some observers to believe that the reforms are fundamentally flawed due to the inability of the IMF and Pakistan to learn from past mistakes—most notably, redistributing income toward elites while failing to promote economic growth and attack poverty.
Feith, too, is ignorant. Blinded by his fervor for war, he blustered his usual bullshit to the Council on Foreign Relations last February:
- We’re working with allies and partners to develop common views on the nature of the threat of terrorist extremism. We’re assessing with them the capabilities needed to confront it. We urge our partners to do their duty as sovereign states to regulate their borders and otherwise control their territories.
Those "partners," he noted, include Pakistan, whose military is getting our best "counter-terrorist train-and-equip efforts."
No matter that we're ignoring the scary rumblings of a deteriorating Pakistani regime that might lose its grip on a poorer, and angrier, populace.
That's 150 million people, most of them hungry, thirsty, and without adequate sanitation. They're probably deliriously happy about our new arms deals with their government. Lucky for the neocons that most of them can't read.
More grins from the neocons. This morning, Salon's Tim Grieve pricks the bubble of National Review online hawk Jonah Goldberg, a prickly prick who doesn't like being questioned about why he's not laying his own sorry ass on the line in Iraq even though he's young enough to do so.
Grieve points out that Goldberg "finally explains why he can't be bothered to put his own life on the line in the war he believes is so critical." Go to Goldberg's own words for that:
As for why my sorry a** isn't in the kill zone, lots of people think this is a searingly pertinent question. No answer I could give—I'm 35 years old, my family couldn't afford the lost income, I have a baby daughter, my a** is, er, sorry, are a few—ever seem to suffice.
But this chicken-hawk nonsense is something that's been batted around too many times to get into again here. What I do think is interesting is that out of the thousands upon thousands of emails I've gotten from people in the military over the years, maybe a dozen have ever asked this question. Invariably, it's anti-war leftists who believe that their personally defined notions of hypocrisy trump any argument and any position. Meanwhile, the military guys have been overwhelmingly friendly and very often grateful for the support we offer around here.
Good logic: As a promoter of the military establishment, Goldberg gets a pass. What does he think he's doing? Following orders? Being a good soldier?
Regarding Goldberg's point about how it's just "anti-war leftists" and their "personally defined notions of hypocrisy," take a look at my colleague Tom Robbins's rundown of the military heroics of the pols who clamor for war. Grieve also puts the lie to that part of Goldberg's wimpy response:
- As Daily Kos' Markos Moulitsas Zuniga notes today—and yes, he did serve in the U.S. Armed Forces—any number of the soldiers who have fought and died in Iraq could have offered up the same litany of excuses Goldberg provides: The eligibility age is now 38, there is almost always financial hardship associated with serving, lots of fallen soldiers have left young children behind, and we're betting that not everyone who turns up at the local recruiting station is in fighting shape.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in New York, delivered to your inbox.