What do you do if your previous organization — and the ideology behind it — has become inextricably bound in the public’s imagination to one of the worst foreign policy blunders in American history? Obviously, shut it down, and start a new organization with a new name.
The Foreign Policy Initiative lists Robert Kagan, Bill Kristol, and Dan Senor on its board of directors, so no prizes for guessing what they’re about (more power, less appeasement, stronger wills.) Kagan and Kristol need no introduction, they’re the Tick and Arthur of disastrously counterproductive military adventurism. Given the staggering costs in American blood, treasure, security, and reputation incurred by their boundless enthusiasm for blowing stuff up, you might think they’d have had the decency to retreat to a Tibetan monastery by now, but sadly no. The way it works in Washington is, if you’re willing to argue for more defense spending, you’ll always find someone willing to fund your think tank.
Dan Senor is less known to the general public, but familiar to those who’ve followed the Iraq debacle closely. From 2003 to 2004, Senor served as a Coalition Provisional Authority spokesman under Paul Bremer. After that smashing success, Senor returned to Washington, where, among other things, in September 2004 he helped write speeches for Iraqi interim prime minister Ayad Allawi’s U.S. visit, and then apparently went on television to praise those speeches as evidence of Bush’s accomplishments in Iraq.
On March 31, FPI holds its first public event, Afghanistan: Planning For Success, though, given the heavy representation of Iraq war advocates, I think a far better title would be Afghanistan: Dealing With The Huge Problems Created By Many Of The People On This Very Stage. The broad consensus among national security analysts and aid officials is that the diversion of troops and resources toward Iraq beginning in 2002 was one of the main reasons the Taliban and Al Qaeda were able to to re-establish themselves in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border areas, facilitating the collapse of the country back into insurgent warfare. Having failed to complete the mission in Afghanistan, Bush and the Iraq hawks handed the Obama administration a war that promises to be as difficult and costly as Iraq has been -– if not more. It’s deeply absurd that some of the people most responsible for the crisis in Afghanistan would now presume to tell us how to deal with it.