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Salon: Mission accomplished (New Book: Rise of the Vulcans)

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kskiska Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 10:32 PM
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Salon: Mission accomplished (New Book: Rise of the Vulcans)
Bush's brain trust had a grand plan for the Middle East. The results are coming home every day in body bags.

By Martin Sieff


Cheney and Rumsfeld, Mann notes, both hoped to run for president -- the first in the '80s and the second in the '90s -- but for all the "wealth of experience in Washington" that both could boast, at least on their rsums, "they did not attract the money, the name recognition or the core base of supporters that provide the ingredients of success in presidential politics." Both men had successfully run for election and reelection to Congress, but in safe seats that for conservative Republicans required as much charisma and electoral skill as winning election as a Communist Party candidate in Leonid Brezhnev's Soviet Union.

There is of course a cleavage in the inner circle of these Vulcans. It is the dividing line between traditional cautious internationalism as advocated by Powell and his deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage, and the sweeping, triumphal, Tom Clancyesque fantasies of power advocated -- and, under Bush II, practiced -- by the rest of the group. That cleavage follows another defining fault line. Powell and Armitage, so often decried contemptuously as wimps by the armchair warriors of the neocon Op-Ed columns, are brave men who served in combat in Vietnam. None of the rest ever saw action. Rumsfeld was a Navy pilot in the '50s, but never had to experience the dangers and messiness of war. Mann notes the contrast in defining life and experience between Armitage and Wolfowitz. "Wolfowitz's training ground," he writes, "was in the world of academia, while Armitage's was in the mud of Vietnam."

It is also revealing about the truly archaic and romanticized worldview of the hawks among this "Superior Six" that they have an obsessive reverence for Winston Churchill to the point of childishness. "In times of adversity many of the Vulcans instinctively sought inspiration from Winston Churchill," Mann writes. He further rightly points out the irony that "among the Vulcans" Churchill's contemporaneous war leader, America's own President Franklin D. Roosevelt, "did not enjoy the same iconic status."

Indeed, Mann documents how Churchill's words and example evoke the same infantile worship and slavish identification as sightings of Elvis among the True Believers. Right after the al-Qaida terrorists flew their planes into the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon, Mann relates, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Cheney's fawning neocon chief of staff, applied to his boss Churchill's famous lines on assuming the premiership of Britain in 1940: "I felt as if I were walking with destiny, and that all my past life had been but a preparation for this hour and for this trial."

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