Hegemony on Steroids: the NeoCons, Iraq, and Historical Revisionism

by Bruce Webb

Paul Rosenberg has started an interesting series over at Open Left that in some ways could see my post What is the Nexus? as prologue.

The first post in the series is Hegemony On Steroids–Episode 35,879: “The Neocons Couldn’t A Dunnit!” It starts by stating one set of revisionist talking points eagerly being peddled by wingnuttia (and the Village) to keep from having to take responsibility for Iraq

Last week, the day before Christmas, Digby took note of an eager wanker (Frank Harvey, pimped by Kelly McParland) making the argument that if Gore had been President instead of Bush, we would have had the exact same clusterfuck, because (a) the neocons had nothing to do with it, that’s just a conspiracy theory! (b) invading Iraq was inevitable and (c) Al Gore had all sorts of hawkish attitudes, towards Iraq in particular, so, case closed!

Well Digby did a through take down on points (b) and (c). Mainly in that Al Gore came out publicly against the then current Bush approach on Sept 23, 2002, i.e. before the war. (Extensive quotes and links at OL). Which allows Paul to pursue assertion (a).

And in the course of that he totally demolishes the twin arguments that the Neo-Cons were not powerful enough to get everyone else to go along and that in the end everybody was sharing the same intelligence analysis. Both are simple nonsense and Paul lays out the case why that is so. Conclusion of part 1

In fact, if one looks carefully at what was going on behind the screen–and even just what was going on in plain sight–it soon becomes quite apparent that BushCo and the neocons were quite aware of how utterly flimsy their “evidence” was. They may have fooled some other folks–or at least bluffed them into playing safe and stiffling their doubts–but they knew all along their case couldn’t stand the light of day.

Which is why they never laid it out for anyone else to see. They knew very well that there was no “there” there. They were eager to show us all the evidence. They just didn’t have any.

In Part 2, we’ll take a closer look.

Link to Part 2 and some comments below the fold

Hegemony On Steroids–“The Neocons Couldn’t A Dunnit!”, Part 2

After the Iraq fiasco, the key to continuing neocon power was two-fold: First, disappearing the disaster. Second disappearing the neocons themselves. The disaster was disappeared by a series of rationalizations and redefinitions, the most important of which was the replacement of the original rationale–9/11, WMDs and all that–with goal of “democratization” (which the US originally had no interest in), and the replacement of all else with the mantra, “the surge is working.” Disappearing the neocons involved a rather extensive chameleon act, a key part of which was the erasure of their fingerprints all over everything in sight.
This is where we get the common bit of hegemonic narrative used to excuse the Iraq War, the claim that “everyone” believed the intelligence that Saddam had WMDs. This narrative is not just false, it’s a textbook case of how hegemonic discourse makes it virtually impossible to think straight about anything. There’s an old adage that if you ask the wrong questions, you can’t get the right answers. Hegemonic discourse works best by making sure that nothing but wrong questions get asked.

By implicitly making the question, “did everyone believe Saddam had WMDs?”–and not even asking it, but simply asserting an answer, every question we ought to be asking is summarily swept off the table. And the chance of making a truly fundamental break with the neocon direction is substantially weakened

If some of this sounds awfully familiar it should, various commenter/war supporters here have been faithfully pushing versions of this argument for years.

In any event Paul goes on to give a detailed chronological timeline of how the intelligence was being consciously shaped around the war policy. In other words the Brits had it exactly right in the Downing Street Memo. The question of why Blair and Powell and Rice and Tenet (none of them neo-cons) and yes too many congressional democrats went along is really the theme of the rest of the piece. The whole thing is longish but certainly worth it.