Foreign Policy Initiative’s Kagan And Kristol Already At Odds On Engaging Iran

Earlier this week, super-hawk neoconservatives Bill Kristol, Robert Kagan, and Dan Senor officially launched their new war incubator — “The Foreign Policy Initiative” — with the unveiling of its first policy event on Afghanistan. (The Wonk Room’s Matt Duss tentatively titled the event — “Afghanistan: Dealing With The Huge Problems Created By Many Of The People On This Very Stage”).

Senor, the former Coalition Provisional Authority spokesman under Paul Bremer, told Foreign Policy magazine yesterday that part of the group’s mission is to build “consensus” on major international issues that challenge the current thinking of those who currently hold power in the U.S. government. “We think there needs to be consensus on the other side of these issues,” he said.

But alas it doesn’t appear that FPI is off to a very good start building that “consensus.” Here is Kristol reacting to President Obama’s “historic” message to Iran on Fox News Sunday last week:

KRISTOL: [I]t’s an embarrassment. […] No, it’s a weak and embarrassing statement by a president of the United States. […] Appeasement begets appeasement. Appeasement does not — appeasement does not lay the groundwork for toughness among your allies who already are weaker.

Kristol continued to whine about Obama’s message in two separate columns, calling it a “message of weakness” and claiming Obama has “no sense of urgency about Iran’s nuclear program” and is “kowtowing” to its leaders.


And here is Kagan driving a dagger through any potential FPI “consensus” on dealing with Iran in a Washington Post column on Wednesday titled “What’s the Harm in Obama’s Approach?”:

But there is logic to the administration’s approach. After all, if the White House is going to give diplomacy and engagement a chance, it might as well do so thoroughly and aggressively. […] Draw the starkest contrast between the present benevolent U.S. administration and the evil Bush administration. […] I honestly can’t see the harm in the Obama administration’s efforts. I hope they succeed.

Matt Yglesias notes Senor’s inclusion in the project “is especially interesting since neocons of the Kristol/Kagan ilk ostensibly now believe that the early years of the war were catastrophically mismanaged. And yet here they are with the public face of the mismanagement as their partner in warmongering.” Maybe then the “consensus” Senor refers to is that they’ll all just agree to disagree.