A doddering old former US secretary of state wants President-elect Obama to do more than keep Robert Gates on a secretary of defense. He suggests that Obama ought to retain W.’s policy of preventive, unilateral military assaults on, well, anyone we don’t like.

No, it’s not Henry Kissinger. George Shultz, who served under President Reagan, in an interview with the Washington Times, said that Bush’s “doctrine of pre-emptive defense against terrorism” was “a controversial but important idea,” adding:

“That is, that in this age where there are people who want to do damage to us through terrorist tactics, you want to be aggressive in trying to find out what might happen before it happens, and then stop it from happening; that is, take preventive action.

“And that’s an uncomfortable idea for people, particularly when the act of prevention takes place in some other country. Even if it takes place in this country, it has its problems.”

In this country? Does the senile old Shultz expect the Special Operations Command to, say, go after Bill Ayers? Anyway, he continued:

“I think that’s an important idea, that if ignored will cause us harm. It’s something we have to stick with.”

The Washington Times helpfully reminds us that among Bush’s preventive actions was the war in Iraq, though the newspaper strangely links it to eavesdropping and domestic surveillance:

“Mr. Bush’s pre-emptive actions, including going to war to topple terrorist regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq, were also based in large part on electronic eavesdropping here and abroad on telephone and other electronic communications, sometimes without a federal court order, which drew strong opposition from civil liberties groups and his critics on Capitol Hill and elsewhere.”

Is there no end to the chutzpah of the defeated neoconservatives and their running dogs, like Shultz? I guess not. In the Wall Street Journal today, William McGurn suggests that Barack Obama ought to be magnanimous and give the Medal of Freedom to — get this! — Stephen Hadley! That would be the Hadley who served as President Bush’s national security adviser, who secretly worked with neocons in the Pentagon, like Bill Luti, and hard-liners at the American Enterprise Institute to spring the 2007 surge on us, just at the moment when the US establishment was coalescing around the idea of getting out of Iraq, not further in.

Says McGurn:

“Awarding Steve Hadley the Medal of Freedom would cost Mr. Obama nothing, save possibly a few howls from the Daily Kos. Surely it is not beyond a candidate who has already conceded that the surge has ‘succeeded beyond our wildest dreams’ to bestow the Medal of Freedom on the public servant who made that success possible.

“Were President Obama to do so, a good man would receive an honor he richly deserves.”

What Hadley so richly deserves is to be hauled before congressional committee after committee and raked over the coals. What he deserves is for the Justice Department to include an investigation of Hadley in a sprawling war crimes docket. What Hadley so richly deserves is to be hounded for the rest of his life for his part in destroying an entire nation, for no reason other than the imperial fantasies of neoconservative empire-builders. How’s that for a howl, Mr. McGurn?