Living in a Dream World

If you need an example of just how sophomoric both Bill Kristol’s ‘Weekly Standard’ and AEI’s Michael Rubin can be, don’t miss Rubin’s latest article in the Standard, entitled “Living in a Dream World: The Political Fantasies of Foreign Service Officers”. Rubin’s target is the contents of a regular column in the State Department’s in-house monthly magazine, “State,” in which diplomats overseas offer brief descriptions of life in their host countries. It’s very difficult to figure out why Rubin, a talented polemicist and Rudi Giuliani’s “Senior Iran and Turkey advisor”, would spend much time going over old issues of the magazine to prove what he calls the “sheer inanity of Foreign Service thinking.” Perhaps he had an intern with a lot of time on his or her hands, and the Standard needed some filler. On the other hand, most neo-conservatives, especially proteges of Richard Perle, believe there’s never a bad time to bash the “realists” in the State Department. (Indeed, in his new book, They Knew They Were Right: The Rise of the Neocons, Jacob Heilbrunn quotes Douglas Feith, Rubin’s boss during Bush’s first term, as saying that his family’s history as Holocaust victims made him understand the true nature of foreign policy, “unlike the ‘WASPs in the State Department.'” With an attitude like that, it’s no wonder the Feith and the Pentagon civilians tried so hard to keep the State Department out of the loop.)
Of course, it was Rubin more than any other neo-con who repeatedly assailed Gen. David Petraeus for trying to “appease” Baathists in his efforts in 2004 and 2005 to pacify Mosul and al-Anbar provinces, as I pointed out in a post last October on the Likudist cast to Giuliani’s foreign-policy team. As late as 14 months ago, Rubin, a de-Baathification hawk and Chalabi acolyte from the get-go, was still complaining bitterly about Petraeus’ early efforts to co-opt the Sunni insurgency. That those efforts are now given credit — even by Rubin’s fellow-neo-cons and most especially Kristol, who named Petraeus the Standard’s “Man of the Year” just last month — for what progress has been made in reducing the violence in Iraq over the past year is ironic to say the least. Indeed, the relative success of Petraeus’ tactics also suggests that it’s not just foreign service officers who inhabit dream worlds.

Jim Lobe

Jim Lobe served for some 30 years as the Washington DC bureau chief for Inter Press Service and is best known for his coverage of U.S. foreign policy and the influence of the neoconservative movement.