Inside Man | The Nation


Inside Man

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In this his memory has failed him. In June 1997 Fukuyama was a founder, alongside Rumsfeld, Cheney, Dan Quayle, Wolfowitz, Scooter Libby, Zalmay Khalilzad, Norman Podhoretz, Elliott Abrams and Jeb Bush, of the Project for the New American Century, whose statement of principles called for "a Reaganite policy of military strength and moral clarity" to "promote the cause of political and economic freedom abroad." In January 1998 he was one of the eighteen signatories of an open letter from the project to Clinton insisting on the need for "willingness to undertake military action" to secure "the removal of Saddam Hussein's regime from power," and declaring that "the US has the authority under existing UN resolutions to take the necessary steps" to do so. Four months later, he was among those denouncing the lack of such action as a "capitulation to Saddam" and an "incalculable blow to American leadership and credibility" and spelling out just what measures against the Baath regime were required: "We should help establish and support (with economic, political, and military means) a provisional, representative and free government" in "liberated areas in northern and southern Iraq" under the protection of "US and allied military power." In other words: an invasion to set up a Chalabi regime in Basra or Najaf, and to topple Saddam from this base.

About the Author

Perry Anderson
Perry Anderson teaches history at the University of California, Los Angeles.

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Under Bush, the project--its ranks now swollen by such stalwarts as Democratic veteran Stephen Solarz and Marshall Wittmann, now of the Democratic Leadership Council--returned to the attack, and Fukuyama was again to the fore in pressing for an onslaught on Iraq. On September 20, 2001, little more than a week after 9/11, he appended his signature to a blunt demand for war that waved aside any relevance of links to Al Qaeda and did not even bother to raise the specter of WMD:

It may be that the Iraqi government provided assistance in some form to the recent attack on the United States. But even if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the attack, any strategy aiming at the eradication of terrorism and its sponsors must include a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq. Failure to undertake such an effort will constitute an early and perhaps decisive surrender in the war on international terrorism. The United States must therefore provide full military and financial support to the Iraqi opposition. American military force should be used to provide a "safe zone" in Iraq from which the opposition can operate. And American forces must be prepared to back up our commitment to the Iraqi opposition by all necessary means.

For good measure, the signatories added that "any war against terrorism must target Hezbollah" and prepare for "appropriate measures of retaliation" against Syria and Iran as its sponsors.

To recall this campaign for blood and steel in the Middle East is not to single Fukuyama out for special incrimination. Congress, after all, would give the green light for war on Iraq with virtually complete bipartisan unanimity. But Fukuyama's deeper implication in the drive to Baghdad than he would now have us believe raises an important question: Why, if he was originally so committed to the adventure in Iraq, did he later break so sharply over it with his erstwhile intellectual allies? The disasters of the occupation are, of course, the most obvious reason--all kinds of creatures, large and small, jumping off the ship as it tilts lower in the waters. But this cannot be the principal explanation of Fukuyama's change of mind. He says he had lost belief in an invasion before the war started, and there is no reason to doubt him. Moreover, disillusion with the lack of practical success in an enterprise regarded as commendable in principle has been common enough among conservatives, without leading to the kind of historical critique and dissociation Fukuyama has embarked upon. It would have been quite possible to say Operation Iraqi Freedom has gone wrong, even that in retrospect it was a mistake from the beginning, without writing an obituary of neoconservatism. What suddenly put such distance between Fukuyama and his fellow spirits?

Two factors of division can be deduced from America at the Crossroads, and the essay on "The Neoconservative Moment" in The National Interest that preceded it. Fukuyama did not share the same degree of commitment to Israel as his Jewish colleagues. In The National Interest he complained not of actual subordination of American to Israeli objectives in the Middle East but rather of a mimesis of the Israeli outlook on the Arab world among too many of his companions. Applying a mailed fist to the region might well be rational for Tel Aviv, he remarked, but was not necessarily so for Washington. His criticism was tactful enough, but it met with a vehement response. Replying, Charles Krauthammer charged Fukuyama with inventing a "novel way of Judaizing neoconservatism," less crude than the slanders of Pat Buchanan and Mahathir Mohamad but equally ridiculous--moving Fukuyama in turn to object to imputations of anti-Semitism. Evidently burned by this exchange, and aware of the general delicacy of the topic, Fukuyama does not revert to it in America at the Crossroads, explaining that the mindset he had criticized, "while true of certain individuals, cannot be attributed to neoconservatives more broadly" and offering the olive branch of general support for the Administration's policies toward Palestine. Behind the politesse, it is doubtful if his reservations have disappeared.

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