Max speak. You listen:
That the Bush Administration assumes a more rational cast on foreign policy is no reason to let up on them. "Realism" in foreign policy still reflects an unacceptable premise of U.S. intrusiveness in the affairs of other nations, historically often fraught with horrific violence. After all, the famous Rummy handshake with Saddam and U.S. machinations in the Iraq-Iran conflict, entailing war crimes that are the basis of Hussein's death sentence, was an exercise in realism. Realism is still imperialism, without the crazy messianic face.Emphasis mine.
But why stop there? It's been an article of faith among the self-nominated antiwar wing of the Democratic party that a not-so-secret junta of millennarian neoconservatives, headed up by the death-cultist-in-chief, have been driving the pickup truck along a winding, messianic road. But the Secretary of Defense was an old hand, not a world-ender. So too the Vice President. So too the first Secretary of State. And let's not forget that the dauphin's secret Rasputin wasn't Richard Perle or Paul Wolfowitz or a Kagan or a Kristol. It was that old reptile Kissinger. Who rose from a coffin filled with the soil of his homeland and pronounced himself a realist, whatever on earth that meant in the long decades between Hanoi and Halabja. The antiwar Dems believe the opposition's press releases even as they call them lies. They believe that the American military lumbered into the Middle East in order to act out some PNAC white paper fantasy, giving exactly the undeserved credence to the Weekly Standard crowd that none of them deserve.
Atrios of Eschaton often writes that he still doesn't understand why we went to war in Iraq. That common confusion rests on an epistemological error. There's nothing to gain by seeking some ultimate reason distilled from six years of public yapping and private grousing about the war by the hangers-on-to-power. The Iraq war is the continuation of a policy of so-called realism that existed long before our current conflict.
We invaded Iraq to rectify the failure of prior policies of realism. Remember that Iraq under Hussein was largely constructed as an American pseudo-client state, reasonably tractible if occasionally unpredictable, which came to particular importance after some more American realism brought us the Iranian Revolution. We invaded Iraq because our policy of playing Iran and Iraq against one another during their long, bloody war eventually fell apart and because Hussein got too big for his britches. We invaded Iraq because after the First Gulf War and a decade of containment, a decision was made to reconstitute an actual client state in the Middle East with a government reasonably friendly to the United States and a lot of empty land for a permanent military presence. It was realism that brought us Iraq, despite all the democracy-building hullabaloo. It was realism about the delicacy of America's energy situation and the necessity of having a force capable of protecting the delicate arterial oil-web that runs every aspect of American society. Nevermind that every time we try to create a client state in the region, we get fucked. Nevermind. We invaded because the writing is on the wall, the Chinese are buying more cars, and the realists--Cheney, Rumsfeld, Kissinger--recognized that the status quo in the region was a poor position for American access to energy assets. (In a stroke of irony, the new Rumsfeld was a player in Iran-Contra.)
The Democrats are busy telling the American people that they will invest more in electric cars, or some such. The American people are too stupid to understand that we invaded Iraq because of them and their non-negotiable way of life. That's realism. We invaded Iraq because the easy-motoring, easy-credit lifestyle consumes too much energy, depends on plastics and pharmaceuticals, eats out on petrochemically-fertilized food. We didn't invade Iraq to steal their oil. We invaded Iraq to put a dusty boot down in the Middle East and establish a foil against other energy users just as we once tried to establish foils against the Soviets. It wasn't the Apocalypse. It was just business.
Realism is imperialism for a reason. Money. Resources. Influence. Democrats enjoyed a fine honeymoon when they could rail against the utopian dreams of PNAC neocons and bullshit claims about nuclear weapons. Neither ever had anything to do with anything, anymore than Kate Moss has something to do with whether or not your fat ass will fit into those skinny jeans. We aren't leaving Iraq because no politician will say to the America of the Automobile and the Chicken Nugget:
Du mußt dein Leben andern