We all know that saying you were wrong is hard, especially for a pundit. So I guess I should give kudos to Joe Klein for admitting he was wrong about the surge in his new Swampland column – Surge Protection. I’ll even take him at his word when he says he “happily” acknowledges he was wrong about the surge, although why we should think Klein more expert in military affairs than John McCain, given their backgrounds, I’m not sure.
What irritates me about Klein though is the end of his column, when he engages in some ritual neocon bashing: “The notion that we could just waltz in and inject democracy into an extremely complicated, devout and ancient culture smacked–still smacks–of neocolonialist legerdemain. The fact that a great many Jewish neoconservatives–people like Joe Lieberman and the crowd over at Commentary–plumped for this war, and now for an even more foolish assault on Iran, raised the question of divided loyalties: using U.S. military power, U.S. lives and money, to make the world safe for Israel.”
Never mind that I didn’t know that Lieberman was a neocon. The statement in general is remarkably arrogant and, dare I say it, out of control. What about the idea that so-called neocons actually believe in democracy in the Middle East? Not possible, Mr. Klein? It’s all legerdemain? Maybe we’ve got a little projection going on here.
Whatever one thinks about the neocons, they had virtually the only program, the only idea of how to right the world after 9/11. Conventional liberalism and conventional liberals had nothing to say. They still don’t. Maybe the neocons over-reached in their idealism, but they are looking a lot better lately. Klein and his ilk can barely contain their hope for the ultimate failure of the neocons – stating and restating that Iraq can never be a true democracy (he does it again in the article). That’s a view that can easily be construed as racist. In the end, it is the neocons’ critics who are indicting themselves.