Tuesday, January 06, 2004

An Afghan-American Neoconservative

Though there are many examples of neoconservatives who are not Jewish, I'd like to point out the most obvious and relevant one - Zalmay Khalilzad.
According to academic colleagues, Khalilzad held pro-Palestinian views in his student days. By the end of the 1970s, however, his foreign policy views had taken on a clear hawkish cast, distinguishing him as perhaps the first and only Afghan-American neoconservative. (via Slate)

Khalilzad also is one of the neoconservatives who signed an open letter to President Clinton in 1998 on the subject of overthrowing Saddam Hussein. When George W. Bush came to power, Khalizad experienced quite a bit of upward mobility.

After the 2000 election, Cheney selected him to head Bush's transition team for defense issues. In May of this year, Bush (43) appointed him the chief NSC official dealing with the Persian Gulf and Central Asia. In that capacity, he works directly under National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.

Khalizad, also a signer of "PNAC's 1997 founding statement of principles as well as several PNAC sign-on letters", has moved up quickly in the current Bush Administration.

He became George W. Bush's special envoy to Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban as well as is special envoy to the Iraqi during the 2003 Occupation of Iraq. On September 24, 2003, George W. Bush also named Khalilzad the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan and he took his post in Kabul on November 27.

I would add that most criticism of the neoconservatives you hear these days is really about their role as the ideological force behind the Project For A New American Century (PNAC), their seemingly radical and undue influence on the current Bush Administration, and consists of linking the two and asserting that the reasons we gave for going to war with Iraq may not have been genuine, that PNAC more likely was really the guiding strategy (since we're dealing with the same cast of characters in both cases), and that the Bush Administration should have owned up to that and defended their policy on its real merits (which these critics, as one might guess, find wanting and misguided, but with noone to debate since there's no ownership by the Bush Administration of the real strategy as such, there's no public hearing on the matter).