The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) has been a major source of the Bush administration’s extreme neoconservative thought. AEI is the home, or former home, of Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Dick Cheney, John Bolton, and Doug Feith. With the help of Fred Kagan, AEI designed the Iraq “surge” strategy that Bush implemented in January 2007.
Today, AEI may be moving away from eight years of cheerleading for Bush policies. The National Interest reported Friday that there is a “purge” of neocons at AEI:
The neocon world has been rocked by recent events at AEI. Numerous neocons told me that a vicious purge is being carried out at AEI, spearheaded by vice-president for foreign and defense policy studies, Danielle Pletka.
There can be no doubting that change is afoot at AEI. Recently, Michael Ledeen and Reuel Marc Gerecht have departed AEI. Joshua Muravchik is on the way out as well. Other scholars face possible eviction. Both Muravchik and Gerecht are serious intellectuals who have published prolifically.
The purge is reportedly being led by Danielle Pletka, a promoter of neocon policies herself. “But now there is tremendous hostility toward her among neocons, who allege that, as a former staffer for Jesse Helms, who embodied more traditional Republican foreign-policy precepts, she is out to extirpate neocon influence at AEI,” National Interest explains.
For years, Muravchik, Gerecht, and Ledeen have been the most egregious promoters of Bush foreign policy thought. Some lowlights:
— Resident Scholar Josh Muravchik: Served during the Bush administration on the State Department’s Advisory Committee on Democracy. “Make no mistake, President Bush will need to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities before leaving office,” he wrote in 2006. Was a signatory with neoconservative Project for a New American Century (PNAC).
— Resident Fellow Reuel Marc Gerecht: In February 2002, Gerecht promoted regime change in both Iran and Iraq and is the director of the Middle East Initiative at PNAC. A former CIA officer, Gerecht referred to waterboarding last week as “sensible.”
Today, the fruits of of AEI and Bush’s foreign policy are a Middle East in flames, the U.S. reputation abroad in tatters, and the most unpopular president in modern history. “The change that Obama promised during the campaign seems to be reaching Washington in unexpected places,” National Interest concludes.