Does Richard Clarke stand a chance of becoming a darling of the left-wing antiwar crowd? After all, you have to admire his courage for standing up, even while he was in administration, to the group-think obsession about Iraq that seems to have afflicted most of the administration functionaries responsible for defence and security. But sometimes I wonder whether there is an antiwar movement in the US, or just an anti-Iraq war movement.
People like Richard Clarke or columnists like Colbert King present arguments that simply say: we shouldn’t have attacked Iraq, because it distracted us from the war on terror. Or because it has brought Muslim radicals into power who openly sympathize with the likes of Ahmet Yassin and threaten US ally Israel. These aren’t arguments that address the root causes of conflict, but are predicated on a desire to win in any conflict.
Clarke was forcefully advocating going after bin Laden. How? By bombing his bases in Afghanistan - in other words, regardless of the inevitable civilian casualties, and the consequent boost to the desire for revenge on the US in the Islamic world. Clarke is now turning out to be the hero of the hour for exposing the US administration’s persistently ignoring terror warnings from Al Quaeda and being focused on attacking Iraq – even after 911. But why should this make Clarke a hero of the left-wing antiwar movement?
Besides, why, if he was so troubled by Bush and Rice’s lack of focus on terrorism, did he praise Bush for “the courage, determination, calm, and leadership you demonstrated on September 11th”?
Clarke appears to be merely in another tent in the same camp of people who believe the US has the right to unilaterally bomb the living daylights of any country which the US feels poses a threat to the US or its allies – i.e., people who subscribe to the Bush doctrine. I haven’t yet read his book, but I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t subscribe largely to the PNAC view of the world. His differences with the Bush neocons are not strategic but tactical.
On the other hand, he even managed to get security clearance for his book, as I heard him say on CNN Late edition this evening, so why is the White House acting surprised? Is this some kind of carefully choreographed political shadow-theatre being played out in Washington?