It looks like the September 10 roll-out at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) of Michael Ledeen’s “The Iranian Time Bomb” (with James Woolsey and ret. Gen. Jack Keane) is going to be upstaged by none other former Speaker of the House and still-possible 2008 Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, who will be delivering a major policy address earlier in the day in AEI’s very same Wohlstetter Conference Center. The subject? “What If? An Alternative History of the War Since 9/11.” (Note how War is singular — as in the “World War IV” rubric coined by Condi’s latest Counselor, Eliot Cohen, and heavily promoted by Woolsey and Norman Podhoretz or the “War for the Free World,” a favorite expression of Frank Gaffney — a reflection of the hawks’ conviction that Saddam, al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, the Taliban, the Baathist government of Syria, the Wahabis of Saudi Arabia, etc. are all part of the same phenomenon, or what Ledeen has called the “Terror Masters”. Here’s AEI’s description of the event:
It has been almost six years since the attacks of 9/11, and the United States has yet to confront the threat posed by the irreconcilable wing of Islam. The current strategy, structures, and resources of the American security apparatus are utterly inadequate to meet the challenges confronting the country. The United States faces active enemies that work every day to destroy it. Still, the United States does not act with the urgency of purpose required for victory. In comparison, after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, it took the United States and its allies less than four years to defeat Italy, Germany and Japan. In less than four years, the United States built a two-ocean navy, put 15,500,000 men and women in uniform, produced more than 50,000 aircraft a year (and more than 100,000 armored vehicles in 1944 alone) and built the most expensive project, the B-29, and the second most expensive project, the atomic bomb. The gap between what it will take for the United States to win this war and what is actually being done is so wide that only by developing an alternative history is it possible to make clear the scale of change required.
What if the policy vision contained in President Bush’s national security speeches since 9/11 had been systematically implemented? What if the American people and free people everywhere had come to recognize that since 9/11 the United States and its allies are engaged in a world war that pits civilization against terrorists and their state sponsors who wish to impose a new dark age? What would the world look like today? This speech will explore the development of, and describe, a war-winning strategy. This event is the beginning of a conversation to which everyone concerned about defending civilization and defeating evil is invited to contribute their ideas over the coming year. The result of this ongoing discussion will be published next year.
Now, I may be mistaken here, and frankly I don’t know what precisely President Bush’s “policy vision” as laid out by his national security speeches since 9/11 has been, but it’s my impression that the president has so far gotten from Congress virtually everything he has asked for in order to implement that “vision” in a systematic way. It seems that Gingrich is implying that the only problem in implementing that vision is that “the American people and free people everywhere” simply failed to recognize the stakes and that they must be prepared to spend far more in blood and treasure — especially treasure — than they have to date. This sounds like a defense contractor’s dream and reminds us that Likudnik neo-conservatives are not the only lobby whose interests are so aggressively pushed by AEI’s foreign-policy team.
In any event, it will be interesting to see how Gingrich’s speech will fit into the “Post-Labor Day Product Roll-Out: War With Iran” scenario so ominously described this week by the habitually highly sober, sensible, and well-connected Afghanistan expert, Barnett Rubin, but I suspect Newt wants to get his oar into the effort, and, hopefully, some press attention, as well, if, for no other reason than to keep himself in the public eye, particularly during a week when his fellow-AEI associate and possible political rival, Fred Thompson, officially throws his hat into the presidential ring. While I’m sure that Gingrich will have the courtesy to plug Ledeen’s new book, I suspect that AEI’s “Freedom Scholar” will not be pleased by his second billing.
A propos AEI, my good friend and Cascades companion, Steve Clemons, has an excellent post on his blog, on AEI’s corporate-ideological contradictions (and Norm Ornstein as well), a topic I also addressed in an August 3 post, “AEI: Caught Between Its Likudist Heart and Its Corporate Head.” I heard from a knowledgeable source this past week that several companies have recently informed AEI president Chris De Muth that they will no longer contribute to the organization because they do not see their interests being served by AEI’s foreign-policy agenda. I suspect that AEI’s upcoming live video-dialogue with Taiwan’s president, Chen Shui-bian, may also prove somewhat detrimental to its relations with corporate contributors that have major interests in China. And, given Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte’s harsh warnings this past week against any effort by Chen to pursue UN membership – the very subject on which Chen will be speaking at AEI — I don’t suppose the administration will be too happy either. On the other hand, Taiwan, which retained AEI fellow John Bolton’s legal and polemical services during the 1990’s and has also, according to several sources, contributed to AEI’s coffers over the years, is being pressed to buy a lot of weapons from U.S. military contractors, the same ones who are likely to be applauding Gingrich’s “alternative history” in the Wohlstetter Conference Center next week.