The Slate Field Guide to Iraq Pundits
By David Plotz, Julia Turner, and Avi Zenilman
Posted Friday, March 14, 2003, at 11:00 AM PT
You've seen them pontificate gravely on Meet the Press, explain military strategy to Oprah, denounce France on The O'Reilly Factor, and solve the war's aftermath in 30 seconds on The NewsHour. But face it, it's impossible to tell them apart.
What's the difference, if any, between William Kristol and Robert Kagan? Which one of those ex-generals worked for Bush the Father, which worked for Clinton, and which worked for Bush the Son? Who is Frank Gaffney, and why is he always on my TV set?
The Slate field guide to Iraq pundits is arranged in order of bellicosity, from blood-red hawks to snow-white doves.
1. Richard Perle
Aka: The Hawk's Hawk
Authorized bio: Chairman of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board. American Enterprise Institute fellow.
Unauthorized bio: Easily mistaken for an actual administration official. Suing Sy Hersh, who criticized him in The New Yorker for establishing a company that would allegedly profit from war.
His take on war: Liberate Iraq, allied and U.N. objections be damned. The Iraqi people will rejoice at Saddam's downfall.
Like a broken record: "The Iraqis will welcome the liberators with open arms."
Connections: Godfather of the oust-Saddam movement. James Woolsey and Henry Kissinger serve on his Defense Policy Board. Like Frank Gaffney, a hawkish former Reaganite and aide to former Democratic Sen. "Scoop" Jackson. In the neocon clique with Kagan and Kristol.
Don't tell Jacques Chirac: Vacations at a French summer house.
2. Frank Gaffney
Authorized bio: President and CEO of the Center for Security Policy. Assistant secretary of defense under Reagan.
Unauthorized bio: The cable networks call him when Perle is busy.
His take on war: Why are we even talking to the United Nations? We should've liberated Iraq a long time ago. Iraq is a terrorist nation, involved in planning the 1993 WTC bombing and possibly even Oklahoma City. Heck, we should liberate North Korea and the rest of the Middle East, too.
Like a broken record: "I simply disagree that there's no evidence of involvement between Saddam and acts of terror in this country. There is considerable evidence of it."
Connections: Woolsey, Laurie Mylroie, and Perle are on his center's advisory council. Has allied with Kagan and Kristol.
Who's next? In March 2001, Gaffney promoted a new Bush doctrine that would "challenge the legitimacy" of autocratic governments, including Castro's Cuba, Qaddafi's Libya, and Putin's Russia.
3. William Kristol
Aka: The Happy Warrior
Authorized bio: Chief of staff for Vice President Dan Quayle. Editor of the Weekly Standard. Co-author of The War on Iraq: Saddam's Tyranny and America's Mission. Chairman and co-director of the Project for the New American Century, etc., etc., etc.
Unauthorized bio: Irving Kristol's son, Dan Quayle's brain.
His take on war: Inspections are a joke. Let's get Saddam and bring freedom to the Middle East.
Like a broken record: "We're not going to have peaceful disarmament with Saddam Hussein."
Connections: Kagan, Perle, and pretty much the rest of the GOP.
Early adopter: Kristol and his magazine were preaching regime change in the '90s.
4. Robert Kagan
Aka: The Thoughtful Superhawk
Authorized bio: Washington Post columnist, senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, author of Paradise and Power: America vs. Europe in the New World Order, co-director of the Project for the New American Century.
Unauthorized bio: The guy who explains why the Europeans are wimps.
His take on war: European and American views of geopolitics are irreconcilable. The American view—that only force can secure democracy and international order—is correct, so we should topple Saddam now.
Like a broken record: "Americans are from Mars; Europeans are from Venus."
Connections: Writes for Kristol's Weekly Standard and directs Kristol's think tank. Kagan and Kristol co-wrote the 1996 Foreign Affairs piece "Toward a Neo-Reaganite Foreign Policy," a neocon manifesto advocating that the United States pursue "benevolent global hegemony." Works under Jessica Mathews at Carnegie.
He is not: Frederick Kagan (his brother, a military historian with identical views), Robert Kaplan (Atlantic Monthly, geopolitical Jeremiah), Lawrence Kaplan (New Republic, identical views), or Fred Kaplan (Slate, "Bush is blowing it"). See Slate's "No Relation" Explainer, which details the fine points.
5. Laurie Mylroie
Aka: Ms. Iraq=Al-Qaida
Authorized bio: Iraq scholar and investigator, author of The War Against America: Saddam Hussein and the World Trade Center Attacks: A Study of Revenge, which links Iraq to both World Trade Center attacks.
Unauthorized bio: The one who blames everything on Saddam.
Her take on war: Get Saddam before he and his terror associates strike again.
Like a broken record: "Iraq and Osama Bin Laden work together. Osama Bin Laden provides the ideology. Iraqi intelligence provides the direction, training, and expertise."
Connections: Perle and Gaffney tout her research, and Woolsey contributed to her book.
Unlikely history: Advised Bill Clinton during his 1992 campaign.
6. James Woolsey
Aka: The Clintonite Who Sounds Like a Bushie
Authorized bio: CIA director under President Clinton.
Unauthorized bio: The guy who advocated looking into Saddam's ties to Sept. 11 as early as Sept. 13.
His take on war: Hussein has ties to al-Qaida, employs weapons of mass destruction on his own people, and starts wars against his neighbors. Case closed.
Like a broken record: Inspections will fail because Hans Blix leads a gang of "Inspector Clouseaus, wandering around a country the size of California, with an inspection force the size of the Chico, Calif., police force."
Connections: Boosted Mylroie's Iraq/al-Qaida theories. Serves on the Defense Policy Board with Perle and Henry Kissinger.
Closet detective: He traveled to Great Britain on his own last year to investigate links between Iraq and al-Qaida.
7. Steve Emerson
Aka: The Terrorism Guru Doves Love To Hate
Authorized bio: NBC terrorism analyst; author of American Jihad: The Terrorists Living Among Us; producer of 1994 Frontline film Jihad in America.
Unauthorized bio: Journalist most loathed by American Muslims. Has been documenting American links to Islamic terrorists for years.
His take on war: Invading Iraq will increase terrorism in the short run, but let's do it anyway; Saddam cannot be allowed to develop WMD.
Like a broken record: "Bin Laden has set up a franchise operation."
Superhero alter ego: Batman. People who visit Emerson's D.C. office must be blindfolded en route, and employees call it "the bat cave."
8. Christopher Hitchens
Aka: The Latter-Day Orwell
Authorized bio: Astonishingly prolific author of Why Orwell Matters and The Trial of Henry Kissinger, columnist for Vanity Fair and Slate.
Unauthorized bio: Iconoclast who broke ranks with the left over Islamist terrorism and Saddam Hussein. Quit writing a column for The Nation in September 2002 because the magazine was an "echo chamber of those who truly believe that John Ashcroft is a greater menace than Osama bin Laden."
His take on war: Must remove Saddam without compromising Iraqis' democratic aims. Turkey and the United Nations are hypocrites and should be ignored.
Like a broken record: "Washington has been too patient with Saddam Hussein and for far too long."
Connections: Kissinger's sworn enemy.
Impressive twofer: For the war; against Mother Teresa.
9. Henry Kissinger
Aka: As Always, the Realist
Authorized bio: Former secretary of state and national security adviser, prolific author. CEO of Kissinger Associates.
Unauthorized bio: Minion of Satan.
His take on war: Iraq is a terrorist state seeking WMD. Inspections have proven ineffective. We have too much invested to stop now.
Like a broken record: "Are we supposed to march 200,000 troops out of the Middle East?"
Connections: Tagged as a war criminal by Christopher Hitchens. Serves on defense panel with Perle and Woolsey.
Parlor game: Guess which Kissinger clients will get what sweet deals in postwar Iraq.
10. Gen. Wayne Downing
Aka: The Go-to General
Authorized bio: Retired Gulf War general and special-ops expert. Former adviser to the Iraqi National Congress. Appointed by Bush to head the White House Office for Combating Terrorism in October 2001; resigned 10 months later.
Unauthorized bio: TV general who explains why current U.S. military plans make sense.
His take on war: War is a given. U.N. support would be nice, but we have the military might to carry it off alone, although we might suffer more casualties than in '91. All that Pentagon griping that Rumsfeld is a meddling micromanager? Hogwash. Military planning always requires back-and-forth.
Like a broken record: "We all have this conception that we're going to stick the videotape into the VCR, and we're going to see Desert Storm as it was in 1991 play out. This is different. … This is about regime change."
Connections: Fought under Schwarzkopf in Desert Storm.
Mystery resignation: Why did he quit the Office for Combating Terrorism so suddenly? No one is talking.
11. David Kay
Aka: Hell Hath No Fury Like an Inspector Scorned
Authorized bio: U.N. chief nuclear weapons inspector after Gulf War I, Potomac Institute for Policy Studies senior fellow.
Unauthorized bio: Accused of being a CIA spy after he found documents indicating Iraqi WMD programs in late 1991. He was subsequently locked in a bus and held hostage by Iraqi troops.
His take on war: Saddam needed to grant unfettered inspections. He didn't. Let's kick his ass.
Like a broken record: "The issue is not the insertion of the inspectors. The issue is the behavior of the Iraqi government."
Connections: Did the same work as Richard Butler and Scott Ritter.
Bomb Baghdad, not breweries: "Iraqi beer is terrific. It comes in liter-sized bottles."
12. Kenneth Pollack
Aka: The Lefty Sort-of Hawk
Authorized bio: National Security Council staffer under Clinton. CNN analyst. Brookings Institution senior fellow. Author of The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq.
Unauthorized bio: His book is responsible for persuading many on the left to support the war (The "I-Can't-Believe-I'm-a-Hawk" Club). Disingenuously cited by conservatives trying to prove bipartisan unanimity about the war.
His take on war: We should have crushed al-Qaida and somewhat defused the Israeli-Palestinian crisis before moving on to Iraq. Bush has bungled the war diplomacy. Still, inspections are a joke, and we have gone too far not to topple Saddam now.
Like a broken record: "Now is a much better option than never."
Connections: Worked at CIA for Woolsey. Like Clark, a former Clintonite.
My book does not say what everyone thinks it does: Responding to a Slate piece, Pollack wrote, "You really have no idea how painful it has been for me to see a book that I labored to make as balanced as possible to reflect the complexities of the situation constantly caricatured."
13. Norman Schwarzkopf
Aka: Not-So-Stormin' Norman
Authorized bio: Commander of U.S. forces during the Gulf War.
Unauthorized bio: The Gulf War celebrity most likely to criticize today's political and military leaders. In January, he panned Donald Rumsfeld and Gulf War II, though he clammed up once Colin Powell turned hawkish.
His take on war: Reluctant warrior. We've got no choice now that Powell has supplied the damning evidence. Let's go, but be careful in the cities!
Like a broken record: Why he's not to blame for Hussein surviving the first Gulf War: "Hindsight is 20/20, but …"
Connections: Commanded Downing in Desert Storm. Worked with Lawrence Eagleburger during Bush I.
What real generals think of armchair ones: Blasted Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for ignoring his military advisers.
14. Lawrence Eagleburger
Aka: The Old-Fashioned Cautious Republican
Authorized bio: Secretary of state under the first President Bush.
Unauthorized bio: Secretary of state for about 15 minutes under the first President Bush.
His take on war: Urged Bush last summer not to rush into war. Now he says Bush has made the case for war, but he worries about global opposition. Uninterested in the neocon crusade for Iraqi democracy, only cares about denying WMD to terrorists.
Like a broken record: "It's a real stretch when the president thinks we can introduce democracy into Iraq in any real form, very quickly."
Connections: Worked with Schwarzkopf during Bush I. Easily confused with other former Republican officials, including Kissinger, Gaffney, Brent Scowcroft …
Dissents from GOP line: Thinks the United States must be tougher with Israel, notably about settlement-building.
15. Thomas Friedman
Aka: The Earnest Reformer
Authorized bio: New York Times Pulitzer-Prize-winning foreign affairs columnist.
Unauthorized bio: Along with Pollack, the guy who can make the (reluctant) liberal case for war. Now a charter member of the balking hawks club.
His take on war: Bush has been too unilateral about preparing for the war and too casual about preparing for the aftermath. Still, regime change is the right thing to do, not because Saddam is an imminent threat, but because it might reform the Middle East. But we must do what it takes to get our allies involved.
Like a broken record: "Iraq is a war of choice—a legitimate choice …"
Best attempt to distance his vision of a reformed Middle East from the neocons: "Some things are also true even if Richard Perle believes them."
16. Gen. Wesley Clark
Aka: The Democratic General
Authorized bio: Former NATO supreme commander, ran Kosovo operation. CNN military analyst.
Unauthorized bio: Auditioning for presidential campaign.
His take on war: Bush erred last year by concentrating on Iraq instead of the real threat, al-Qaida. But now that we're committed, we have to fight.
Like a broken record: "I would have focused on al-Qaida."
Prediction: The war will be over in two weeks, but the reconstruction will take forever.
17. Richard Butler
Aka: The Ex-Inspector
Authorized bio: Former chair of the UNSCOM inspection team; author of The Greatest Threat: Iraq, Weapons of Mass Destruction, and the Crisis of Global Security.
Unauthorized bio: This Aussie was tougher than the Swedish Hans Blix, which is why Saddam booted Butler in 1998.
His take on war: Saddam must be disarmed—by force if necessary—but multilaterally. Iraq is in violation of Resolution 1441, and Blix ought to say so. If the United States invades without U.N. approval, it will be an "imperialist outlaw."
Like a broken record: "[Imposing] your version of freedom and democracy on others is hardly a democratic thing to do."
Connections: Was Scott Ritter's boss.
Operation Desert Feud: When Butler joined UNSCOM in 1997, he and Scott Ritter—who'd been with UNSCOM since '91—fought over inspection tactics and the degree to which Iraq had been disarmed. Ritter resigned and later accused Butler of destroying UNSCOM.
18. Jessica Mathews
Aka: The Force-Loving Dove
Authorized bio: President of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Served in the Carter and Clinton administrations. Former Washington Post columnist.
Unauthorized bio: Authored the Carnegie Endowment's proposal for "coercive inspections," which got press last summer and then was ignored.
Her take on war: Blix is too much of a softie. Let's back inspectors with an international force of 50,000 troops so they can really disarm Saddam. We have time because the threat from Iraq, though real, is not imminent.
Like a broken record: Weapons of mass destruction are Saddam's "crown jewels." Why would he give them to "people [like Osama] that he doesn't control?"
Connections: Robert Kagan's boss at the Carnegie Endowment. Like Pollack, a former Clinton official.
Bone to pick: Mathews has argued that Blix hired the wrong people: "The qualified, experienced people with prior experience in Iraq … are sitting in television studios telling television audiences what's going on."
19. Scott Ritter
Aka: The Hawk Who Magically Became a Dove
Authorized bio: Former U.N. weapons inspector.
Unauthorized bio: Hawkish U.N. weapons inspector turned aggressive dove. In new incarnation, addressed Iraqi parliament and made a documentary asserting that Iraq is now harmless.
His take on war: Forget what I said during the '90s. Iraq has disarmed, the inspectors are doing their job, war violates international law. Oh, and President Bush should be impeached.
Like a broken record: "Iraq is a defanged tiger."
Connections: Worked for and feuded with Richard Butler.
You haven't seen him on television recently because: News just broke of a two-year-old arrest for allegedly soliciting a 16-year-old girl. He blames political enemies for publicizing the story.
20. Tom Andrews
Aka: The Mainstream Dove
Authorized bio: Director of Win Without War. Former Democratic congressman from Maine.
Unauthorized bio: The politician doves recruited so they'd seem less radical.
His take on war: Inspections are working, so let them continue. War will leave us broke, inflame the volatile Middle East, and recruit new fans for Bin Laden.
Like a broken record: "Inspections during the 1990s destroyed more weapons of mass destruction than our entire armed forces were able to destroy in the Gulf War."
Connections: Janeane Garofalo.
Day job: President of New Economy Communications, which does consulting and PR for lefty advocacy groups. Clients include Burma's government in exile, led by Aung Sun Suu Kyi.
21. Janeane Garofalo
Aka: The Celebrity Dove
Authorized bio: Comedic actress. Appears in anti-war TV commercial.
Unauthorized bio: A celeb doves recruited so they'd be more visible. More appealing and famous than Mike Farrell, celebrity dove No. 2.
Her take on war: There's no credible link between Iraq and al-Qaida. The Iraqi people should be liberated, but a unilateral U.S. invasion will invite global conflict.
Like a broken record: "I don't have to be a policy expert to know that this will be a disaster."
Connections: Works with Tom Andrews. Interchangeable with Mike Farrell, Susan Sarandon, Sheryl Crow, Martin Sheen.
Dissembling comedienne? In her anti-war commercial, Garofalo calls Iraq "a country that's done nothing to us." But later on Crossfire, Garofalo said, "I don't know who you're referring to exactly who said, 'What has Iraq done to us?' "
22. Dennis Kucinich
Aka: Candidate Dove
Authorized bio: Democratic congressman from Ohio. Former mayor of Cleveland.
Unauthorized bio: Currently competing with Al Sharpton for "fringiest candidate" mantle in the 2004 Democratic primary.
His take on war: Did Iraq attack us on 9/11? No. Do they threaten our security? No. Is Bush after oil? Yes. Should we let the United Nations handle this? Yes.
Like a broken record: "Iraq is not an imminent threat."
If I were president … Kucinich advocates the creation of a Department of Peace, which would work to "make war archaic."