Dealing with the neo-conservatives, 2007
. . . .the neocons were dealt an unexpected body blow with the Dec. 3 release of a stunning U.S. intelligence assessment that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program four years ago, a finding that contradicted Bush's belligerent rhetoric about Iran's nukes possibly provoking "World War III." The National Intelligence Estimate knocked the wind out of the neocons' hope for a military confrontation with Iran before the end of Bush's term. . . .
At a Dec. 4 press conference, Bush was left sputtering an unpersuasive claim that his warning about "World War III" . . . was uttered while his intelligence advisers were keeping him in the dark . . . . the NIE represented a declaration of independence by professional U.S. intelligence analysts who had been bullied by the neocons over the past three decades and especially during the run-up to the war with Iraq. . . .
Though Bush and the neocons again find themselves on the defensive, the political battle is far from over. The neocons retain extraordinary strength within the U.S. news media as well as in the leading Washington think tanks and inside many of the presidential campaigns. . . . the Republican contenders are enthusiastic backers of the neocon agenda of an imperial United States . . . waging . . . an indefinite "war on terror."
While all the Democrats criticize Bush's approach to some degree, the neocons view purported front-runner, New York Senator Hillary Clinton, as an ally who often votes with neocon hawks, such as Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Connecticut. Until recently, Sen. Clinton was getting foreign policy advice from "surge" advocate Michael O'Hanlon.
So, if the early political handicapping holds up, the neocons could find themselves in the enviable position next fall of having a super-neocon Republican versus a neocon-lite Democrat.
If that's how Election 2008 does turn out, the again-triumphant neocons might be looking to dish out some payback to those newly independent-minded CIA analysts. Plus, the neocons implicated in abuses during Bush's presidency could expect to get off scot-free.
Here is something I either forgot about or didn’t grasp at the time:
When Bill Clinton took office in 1993, he appointed neoconservative Democrat James Woolsey to head the CIA. Then, in a gesture of bipartisanship, the new President pulled the plug on ongoing investigations of Reagan-Bush-era wrongdoing regarding secret arms deals with Iran and Iraq. By turning out the lights on that history, President Clinton apparently felt he would gain some reciprocity from the Republicans. But Clinton's actions only emboldened the Republicans and gave the neocons time to regroup.
I have always thought Bill Clinton’s “triangulating” with Republican positions was less philosophical and a lot more tactical – in an era that had been dominated by the right wing for 12 years, with Mondale and Dukakis having been killed. I think Parry is probably right that he was looking to defuse some Republican opposition – as with NAFTA, a balanced budget and “the end of welfare as we know it,” and mostly guessed wrong on how nasty the Republican Party is now. But now we’ve seen the light. We’ve seen the damage the neo-cons have done, too. I think Hillary’s so-called hawkishness has been a lot more about getting elected – and it’s critically important for the Democratic nominee to win, whoever it is – than a policy position like Lieberman’s. I would expect her actual foreign policy to be a lot more like Obama’s and Edwards’ than Lieberman’s.