In 1984, the renowned historian and two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Barbara Tuchman published "The March of Folly," a book about how, over and over again, great powers undermine and sabotage themselves. She documented the perverse self-destructiveness of empires that clung to deceptive ideologies in the face of contrary evidence, that spent carelessly and profligately, and that obstinately refused to change course even when impending disaster was obvious to those willing to see it. Such recurrent self-deception, she wrote, "is epitomized in a historian's statement about Philip II of Spain, the surpassing wooden-head of all sovereigns: 'No experience of the failure of his policy could shake his belief in its essential excellence.'"The beat goes on, and a whole new generation of dunderheads persists in their folly. While Congress struggles to cope ineffectually with the war in Iraq, the neocons aren't sitting still. They and their friends are thinking ahead to the next one. Congress should think about stopping it before it starts. Here's a sampling of what they've been saying, quoted in Craig Unger's "From the Wonderful Folks Who Brought You Iraq" in the March Vanity Fair:
Director of the Center for Middle East Policy at the Hudson Institute and wife of Cheney Middle East adviser David Wurmser
Nevertheless, neoconservatives still advocate continuing on the path Netanyahu staked out in his speech and taking the fight to Iran. As they see it, the Iraqi debacle is not the product of their failed policies. Rather, it is the result of America's failure to think big. "It's a mess, isn't it?" says Meyrav Wurmser, who now serves as director of the Center for Middle East Policy at the Hudson Institute. "My argument has always been that this war is senseless if you don't give it a regional context."Reuel Marc Gerecht
American Enterprise Institute fellow
She isn't alone. One neocon after another has made the same plea: Iraq was the beginning, not the end. Writing in The Weekly Standard last spring, Reuel Marc Gerecht, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, made the neocon case for bombing Iran's nuclear sites. Brushing away criticism that a pre-emptive attack would cause anti-Americanism within Iran, Gerecht asserted that it "would actually accelerate internal debate" in a way that would be "painful for the ruling clergy." As for imperiling the U.S. mission in Iraq, Gerecht argued that Iran "can't really hurt us there." Ultimately, he concluded, "we may have to fight a war—perhaps sooner rather than later—to stop such evil men from obtaining the worst weapons we know."Benjamin Netanyahu
Former and possibly future prime minister of Israel
More recently, Netanyahu himself, who may yet return to power in Israel, went as far as to frame the issue in terms of the Holocaust. "Iran is Germany, and it's 1938," he said during a CNN interview in November. "Except that this Nazi regime that is in Iran … wants to dominate the world, annihilate the Jews, but also annihilate America."Let's see. Bringing democracy to Iraq and spreading it like a benign virus was going to be the regional solution, wasn't it? Didn't we fight the Iraq war to stop an evil man and his weapons of mass destruction? And didn't the Iraqis just execute the Middle East Hitler who was going to annihilate America?
The March of folly is aimed directly at Iran now, ready to recreate the mistakes of Iraq on a much larger scale. Does the Democratic Congress have the guts to stop it? Stay tuned.