| Bush Era Neocons Should Shut The Fuck Up About Iraq And Everything Else | MR Online

Bush-era neocons should shut the fuck up about Iraq (and everything else)

Originally published: Caitlin A Johnstone Blog on March 15, 2023 (more by Caitlin A Johnstone Blog)  |

David Frum and Max Boot, two neoconservatives who helped grease the wheels for the invasion of Iraq, have some thoughts they’d like to share with us as we approach the 20th anniversary of that horrific and unforgivable war. Both of these perspectives can be read in widely esteemed mainstream publications, because everyone who was responsible for inflicting that war upon our species has enjoyed mainstream influence and esteem to this very day.

Both men concede in their own ways that the war was a mistake, while simultaneously cheerleading the U.S. proxy war in Ukraine that has brought humanity closer to nuclear armageddon than it has been at any time since the Cuban Missile Crisis. Both men mix their Iraq War retrospectives with war apologia, historical revisionism, and outright lies. And both men should shut the fuck up. About everything. Forever.

Frum’s article is posted in The Atlantic, where he is a senior editor, and it is titled “The Iraq War Reconsidered“. Frum is credited with authoring George W Bush’s infamous “Axis of Evil” speech, which marked the beginning of an unprecedented era of U.S. military expansionism and “humanitarian interventions” in geostrategically valuable nations after 9/11.

In just the second sentence of his article Frum opens with an absolute scorcher of a lie, saying “an arsenal of chemical-warfare shells and warheads” were discovered in Iraq to suggest that the weapons of mass destruction narrative had been proven at least somewhat true. As The Intercept’s Jon Schwartz explained back in 2015, the only chemical weapons in Iraq were either (A) munitions sealed in bunkers at an Iraqi weapons complex by UN inspectors in the nineties and left there because they were too dangerous to move, and (B) some old munitions that had been lost and forgotten after the Iran-Iraq War. In neither of these cases is it true that Saddam Hussein was hiding any weapons of mass destruction.

Frum claims that “The United States went to war to build a democracy in Iraq,” which is an infantile fairy tale only idiots and children believe. Iraq was invaded because it was an oil-rich nation in a geostrategically crucial region whose leader had been insufficiently servile to U.S. energy interests. Probably didn’t help that it was also moving toward re-normalizing relations with Iran.

Frum hilariously claims that “What the U.S. did in Iraq was not an act of unprovoked aggression,” and shows that he has learned absolutely nothing about anything by criticizing the Obama administration for not invading Syria to enforce “its own declared red lines” on chemical weapons allegations.

Frum begins the article by calling the war “a grave and costly error,” but by the end he has completely walked this back by gushing about how much better it made things for Iraqis. He says that “ISIS has been destroyed in Iraq and reduced to a tiny foothold in Syria” and “Jihadist terrorism has receded across the Arab Middle East,” and that the ensuing “stability” has had “economic benefits” for Iraqis, like greater oil exports. Frum makes the unfalsifiable fantasy claim that things would have been just as bad for Iraqis if the U.S. hadn’t invaded, saying “Whether Iraq had an alternative future that would have been much better for the country and its people seems very doubtful to me.”

“Imperfect as Iraqi governance is, thanks to the U.S. intervention, the country has for the first time in its independent history a political system that is in some measure accountable to its people,” Frum writes.

Frum closes with a paragraph that continues The Atlantic’s long and ongoing pattern of churning out think pieces which use the war in Ukraine to rehabilitate the image of the neocons:

The invasion of Ukraine has recalled the peoples of the Western democracies to themselves. There are times when free people must fight in self-defense. That truth must not be lost, whatever lessons we draw from the Iraq War. And perhaps the commitment to share that freedom with the people of Iraq is not yet lost either. They have gained a chance, and their story is not over.

Max Boot’s article is titled “What the Neocons Got Wrong“, and it’s published in Foreign Affairs. Boot was one of the earliest influential proponents of the Iraq invasion, penning a now-notorious essay for the neoconservative Weekly Standard titled “The Case for American Empire” a month after 9/11. Boot’s 2001 screed called for “a U.S. invasion and occupation” of Iraq, predicting a swift and easy victory and saying that “Once we have deposed Saddam, we can impose an American-led, international regency in Baghdad, to go along with the one in Kabul.”

Boot’s sentiments on Iraq today are more contrite than Frum’s, unequivocally denouncing the war and the idea of promoting democracy by military force, but there’s still a lot of warmongering bullshit in his Foreign Affairs piece.

“Both South Korea and South Vietnam were worth defending from communist aggression, but the Koreans showed greater skill and willingness to fight for their own freedom than the South Vietnamese did,” Boot proclaims out of fucking nowhere.

“I am a neocon no more,” Boot declares, before making it clear that he has simply pivoted from supporting Republican wars to supporting Democrat wars like the proxy war in Ukraine. Boot says “Ukraine easily meets the test” for justifiable U.S. interventionism, and calls President Zelensky “a Churchillian figure worthy of the United States’ unstinting support.”

Despite his denunciation of neoconservatism, Boot has been an exceptionally hawkish supporter of the same U.S. proxy war that all his Bush-era neocon buddies have rallied behind in the last year. In his regular opinion column for The Washington Post he has been one of the loudest voices pushing for the U.S. to pour more powerful weapons into Ukraine, and even went on a trip with U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to write war propaganda about the need for the U.S. alliance to send more tanks there.

(While we’re on the subject, why does The Washington Post need to give regular opinion columns to Max Boot, John Bolton, Jennifer Rubin, and Josh Rogin? They’re all warmongering neocons. I think even neocons would agree that’s too many neocons.)

But of greater significance than the specific words that David Frum and Max Boot have published is the fact that their words are being published at all. It is absolutely insane that the people who helped unleash the horror that was the Iraq War upon the world are not only not in prison, but are actively uplifted and celebrated on the most influential platforms in the western world. These freaks shouldn’t be able to get jobs of any greater influence than working behind a cash register, and they should have a harder time getting those jobs than convicted felons. They certainly shouldn’t be given a platform to write about the very crime they helped orchestrate.

But such is the civilization we find ourselves in. The empire elevates those who serve the empire, and marginalizes those who speak out against it. David Frum and Max Boot are massively amplified celebrity pundits not in spite of their past misdeeds but exactly because of them. They have proved themselves to be reliable servants of the empire, and the empire has rewarded them accordingly.

In a remotely sane society, this would not be the case. In a remotely sane society, such creatures would be regarded with the same revulsion and rejection as child molesters. These people are worse than serial killers, because they’ve got body counts that Jeffrey Dahmer or John Wayne Gacy could only dream of.

Here’s hoping that one day we live in a society that has become so healthy that it is no longer acceptable to be a neocon.

Monthly Review does not necessarily adhere to all of the views conveyed in articles republished at MR Online. Our goal is to share a variety of left perspectives that we think our readers will find interesting or useful. —Eds.