The Corner

Re: Vanity Fair

Okay, a couple of notes about the Vanity Fair piece in which I’m quoted.  Some people interviewed for the piece are annoyed because they granted interviews on the condition that the article not appear before the election.  Vanity Fair is spinning a series of long interviews detailing the introspection and debate that occurs among responsible policymakers every day into a pre-election hit job.  Who doesn’t constantly question and reassess?  Vanity Fair’s agenda was a pre-election hit job, and I guess some of us quoted are at fault for believing too much in integrity.  What the article seeks to do is push square pegs into round holes.  Readers will see that the content of the piece does not match the sensational headlines.  Were people gathered around the author gripping about Bush?  No.  Were people identifying faults in the implementation?  Yes.  Are people sick of the autodafe whereby pundits demand “neocon” confessions to fit their own silly conspiracy theories?  Yes.  Have those interviewed changed their mind about the war?  I have not, no matter how self-serving partisan pundits or lazy journalists want to spin it.  I can’t speak for others.  Again, despite the punditry out there, the so-called neocons are not Borg.

Now, for my own quote:  I absolutely stand by what I said.  Too many people in Washington treat foreign policy as a game.  Many Washington-types who speak about Iraq care not about the US servicemen or about the Iraqis, but rather focus on US electoral politics.  I am a Republican, but whether the Republicans or Democrats are in power, Washington’s word must mean something.  Leadership is about responsibility, not just politics.  We cannot go around the world betraying our allies—in this case Iraqis who believed in us or allied with us—just because of short-term political expediency.  This is not just about Iraq:  If we abandon Iraq, we will not only prove correct all of Usama Bin Laden’s rhetoric about the US being a paper tiger, but we will also demonstrate—as James Baker and George H.W. Bush did in 1991—that listening to the White House and alliance with the United States is a fool’s decision.  We can expect no allies anywhere, be they in Asia, Africa, or Latin America, if we continue to sacrifice principles to short-term realist calculations.  It’s not enough to have an attention span of two years, when the rest of the world thinks in decades if not centuries.

Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, senior lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Civil-Military Relations, and a senior editor of the Middle East Quarterly.

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