Linda Heard: Yet Another Neo-Con at his Wits’ End

By Linda Heard

That’s it! From now on the term neoconservative or neocon should go down in history as a dirty word. These pro-endless war, pro-US global domination, pro-Israel disciples of Leo Strauss, a Chicago professor, were once perceived as ideologues who believed America could be a force for good in spreading worldwide democratic values using force. They billed their ideology as a noble one even as they pushed for the invasion of Iraq, the second in a series of countries of their long “to do” list.

But one by one these men have been exposed as less than noble. Their Project for the New American Century has turned out to be a disaster that may take the US decades from which to recover.

Thanks to this gang of “crazies” as they were correctly referred to by George H.W. Bush, the world has become unstable and America one of the most feared and detested nations on the planet alongside North Korea.

The public display of neocon rot began when then US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld signed a memo authorizing the torture of detainees contravening the military’s own rule book and the Geneva Conventions.

Then Lewis “Scooter” Libby, a top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in the 2003 leak of a CIA undercover agent’s identity. The jury is still out on the role of Bush’s top advisor Karl Rove in the incident.

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzalez is currently up against the ropes for his dismissal of eight US attorneys out of hand. Critics say they were fired due to their political persuasions rather than incompetence, a charge Gonzalez has thus far failed to quash.

Now the acknowledged intellectual architect of Iraq former Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and current head of the World Bank has been implicated in cronyism/nepotism after he seconded his bank employee girlfriend a position at the State Department paying more than Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s own.

He also bypassed the bank’s procedures when hiring two personal assistants — former Bush administration officials — on massive salaries. This is a man who lectures countries in need on the subject of corruption and who has made aid and loans conditional on its absence. Now that his credibility has been shot he should go.

He’s been booed by his own staff between chants of “resign, resign”, strongly and publicly rebuked by the board, and derided by the IMF as well as several European countries including the UK. The Financial Times has also demanded he resign.

This is a man whom the Jerusalem Post once described as “devoutly pro-Israel” which implies he is incapable of being even-handed in his job. The question is should he have ever been appointed as World Bank chief in the first place?

In fact, he was anointed by US President George Bush, who is the one person standing up for him during this crisis and because he has the ear of arguably the most powerful man in the world he feels able to resist pressure to resign.

This situation is untenable both morally and on practical grounds. His very appointment is a crony appointment and there is talk he has used his position to twist the arms of smaller nations to toe the Bush administration line in return for bank assistance.

This scandal should be a wake-up call for the international community. For instance, why does the head of the World Bank have to be an American? If that’s the case then it should look at changing its name. And why does the American president have the right to place on of his own into such a powerful job with serious repercussions for the rest of the world? It’s a similar story with the United Nations where the US uses its power of veto to ride roughshod over the international community’s will and bribes and bullies smaller nations behind closed doors as we witnessed in the run-up to the Iraq war.

In fact, the US has used its veto more than all other veto-holding nations put together especially in relation to calls for censuring Israel and its disdain for the UN was evident when Bush slipped in John Bolton, a disliked neocon, anti-United Nations warmonger as ambassador to the UN during a Congressional recess.

Both the World Bank and the United Nations require a serious overhaul. If it’s true that the US puts up most of the funds to oil those institutions then other countries need to step up to the plate if there is to be any equity in decision-making. It’s time for Congress to ask questions too. There are always bad apples in any administration but when they begin to outweigh the good guys lawmakers should look at the big picture and do something about it.

They might begin with Cheney’s affiliation with Halliburton, awarded a series of billion dollar no-bid contracts in Iraq. They might ask why John Negroponte, John Poindexter and Elliot Abrams, all major players in the Iran-Contra scandal, were given top jobs in the Bush administration.

One can only wonder how the American people manage to retain faith in a leadership that is peppered with such unsavory individuals.

Why, for example, was there such a clamor to impeach then President Bill Clinton over an extra-marital affair when his successor is given carte blanche to take the country into elective wars that have caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands on the say-so of a bunch of disreputable neocons?

However, there is hope. We witnessed America’s disillusionment when they voted for a Democratic Congress and in recent months we have seen stirrings of dissent among ordinary people as well as celebrities such as Charlie Sheen, Tim Robbins, Rosie O’Donnell and Donald Trump, who predicted George W. Bush will go down in American history as the worst president ever. Thankfully, the grip of the neoconservatives is finally loosening. Paul Wolfowitz is hanging on to his job by his fingertips. If justice is served he should quietly descend into the abyss of obscurity along with his pals, who have collectively wrought a century’s worth of damage. 

( Arab News – www.arabnews.com, April 17, 2007)

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