Twilight of the neocons

A top Wolfowitz aide falls on his World Bank sword. Next?

Published May 7, 2007 5:58PM (EDT)

World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz wants the world to believe that he is the blameless victim of a "smear campaign" orchestrated by his political enemies. But in light of the resignation from the bank, reported today by the Wall Street Journal, of one of his top aides, Kevin Kellems, one could come to another conclusion. The neocon chickens are coming home to roost.

Kellems has a long and undistinguished history as a flack, first for Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar, then for Wolfowitz at the Pentagon, then as spokesman for Vice President Dick Cheney, and until yesterday, at the World Bank, where his job title was director of strategy of the World Bank's External Affairs Department.

As flack for Cheney, Kellems was responsible for doing his best to push the line that the U.S. was justified in invading Iraq because Saddam Hussein was stockpiling weapons of mass destruction and supporting al-Qaida -- two of the most damaging falsehoods ever promulgated by the U.S. government.

My favorite line from Kellems, in a speech delivered in April 2003 at the Public Relations Student Society of America Midwest Regional Partners Conference: "The United States did not seek this conflict."

Imagine you are a World Bank staffer, and in the wake of Wolfowitz's appointment as president, in come people like Kevin Kellems, grabbing $250,000 plum jobs, and immediately setting to work pushing the Bush administration's partisan agenda. At the time of their arrival, the worldview of these conquering heroes was triumphant, and they surely thought they could do whatever it is they wanted.

Now their worldview is in tatters. Their war is an unmitigated disaster. Their president is a cancer on the Republican Party. They are under assault from all sides. And they are beginning, as Kevin Kellems' resignation proves, to drop like flies. No smear campaigns necessary. Just the truth.

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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Globalization How The World Works Iraq War Neoconservatism