August 16, 2003

Neoconservatives

Kevin Drum has been reading Irving Kristol with an insufficiently critical eye:

CalPundit: The Neocon Persuasion: To summarize: neocons want to cut taxes, team up with the religious right to maintain traditional cultural values, and aggressively defend democracy and American interests in the broadest possible sense...

Let's go through these planks of "neoconservatism" one by one, shall we?

The attachment to tax cuts comes not from a belief that they are good (for the country) and that supply-side doctrines are true, but from a belief that such policies and doctrines are useful (for mobilizing the Republican coalition. As Kristol wrote back in 1995, the neoconservatives had a "cavalier attitude toward the budget deficit and other monetary or fiscal problems" because "the task, as I saw it, was to create a new majority, which evidently would mean a conservative majority, which came to mean, in turn, a Republican majority--so political effectiveness was the priority, not the accounting deficiencies of government."

Similarly, the attachment to the religious right comes not because the neoconservatives believe that Genesis, Leviticus, and John are true (very few neoconservatives of my acquaintance accept Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Saviour, disbelieve in evolution, or believe that The One Who Is regards the eating of shellfish as an abomination), but because they believe it is good for the hoi polloi to believe in and fear traditional religious authority.

I have a harder time figuring out what the neoconservatives believe on foreign policy. It is hard to take seriously Kristol's declaration that neoconservatives believe that "the United States will always feel obliged to defend, if possible, a democratic nation under attack from nondemocratic forces, external or internal." Where were the neoconservatives when Chile's (flawed) democracy was under attack by Pinochet? What were the neoconservatives doing tilting toward the generals of Argentina (those who used to throw women out of helicopters into the Atlantic) when they attacked the British-settled Islas Malvinas? The Guatemalans have a good deal to say about neoconservative attachment to death squads rather than democracy in the 1980s. And surely the Indians have things to say about neoconservative foreign policy as well.

In truth, the neoconservatives used to believe that (a) the Commies were the Great Enemy, (b) the U.S. needed to ally with anybody who would fight the Commies, and (c) that those who wimped about human rights and complained about allies who turned out to be torturers and fascists (Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter) were close to being Stalin's fellow travellers, Lenin's useful idiots.

Since the fall of Communism, however, it is very hard to figure out what neoconservatives believe as far as foreign policy is concerned.

Posted by DeLong at August 16, 2003 02:37 PM | TrackBack

Comments

It's pretty simple:

1) The right prospers in a time of constant warfare. War, like a fire, needs tending and stoking.

2) Cut taxes and increase spending on your backers, (note: not your supporters, the ones who vote for you, but the ones who write the checks).

3) Most people are losers, who can be BS'd pretty much forever.

Posted by: Barry on August 16, 2003 03:29 PM

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The Project for the New American Century has plenty about foreign policy so that ought to be a good place to start.
After reading some of their global issues position paperhowever I am a lot wiser about what they are likely to do but unable to find a coherent thread in the rhetoric rhetoric of sovereignty and sweet compromise used to object to the International Criminal Court and the bellicose moral clarity explaining why regime change in Iraq needs to be a national priority. I am only able to see opportunism in both bits of rhetoric.
Clearly Saddam was not the biggest threat himself, not the biggest sponsor of terrorism, not the worst dictator and the guys at the PNAC have enough knowledge to be able to see that easily. Similarly if Neoconservatives believe that the best outcomes are often to be found by forgoing the opportunity to punish and that the threat or use of force is a poor deterrent to state brutality as John Bolton suggests in his testimony agaonst the ICC, it will come as a surprise to many.
Really I see the deeply pragmatic policies of a very jaundiced and pessimistic bunch wrapped in absurdly highly principalled and unrealistic rhetoric. That must be the worst of both worlds and by hiding behind high flown rhetoric they are destroying real debate.

Posted by: Jack on August 16, 2003 04:34 PM

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A nice and succinct resume of neoconservative values in foreign affairs.

It is clear that these folks don't value Democracy at all except as a public relations device.

It's not that hard to figure out what unifies the beliefs of neoconservatives before and after the fall of communism: the need to compensate for their domestic deficiencies by exaggerating external threats and their own capacity to deal with them.

Posted by: The Fool on August 16, 2003 05:17 PM

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I am pretty naive about this, but does their devotion to party and ideology remind you of communism? Especially the 'if you aren't with me today, you are an enemy forever' part?


Posted by: David on August 16, 2003 08:15 PM

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The current Neocon foreign policy seems to be:
a] There is an Enemy threatening not just the US but civilization [and obviously the only civilization worth saving is the western civilization] and this enemy is non-white and non-christian.
b]We will further define and identify the Enemy according to our convenience and anyone who disagrees is obviously a supporter/sympathiser/dupe of the Enemy.
c] We will attack/invade/bomb the country of the Enemy to make the world a safer, more peaceful place.
d] Anyone who wishes to be our ally has to prove that they are not a part of the Enemy by joining us in our quest of making the world a safer place.

As far as Indian reactions go, I'd say that the Marxists are the happiest with the Neocon foreign policy. They are having a lovely time crowing, 'See! We *told* you that America is a dangerously unprincipled, untrustworthy, imperialistic nation..'

Posted by: Ritu on August 16, 2003 08:52 PM

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The current Neocon foreign policy seems to be:
a] There is an Enemy threatening not just the US but civilization [and obviously the only civilization worth saving is the western civilization] and this enemy is non-white and non-Christian.
b] We will further define and identify the Enemy according to our convenience and anyone who disagrees is obviously a supporter/sympathiser/dupe of the Enemy.
c] We will attack/invade/bomb the country of the Enemy to make the world a safer, more peaceful place.
d] Anyone who wishes to be our ally has to prove that they are not a part of the Enemy by joining us in our quest of making the world a safer place.

As far as Indian reactions go, I'd say that the Marxists are the happiest with the Neocon foreign policy. They are having a lovely time crowing, 'See! We *told* you that America is a dangerously unprincipled, untrustworthy, imperialistic nation..'

Posted by: Ritu on August 16, 2003 08:54 PM

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The dark Kristol in question would be William, not Irving, correct?

Posted by: RonK, Seattle on August 16, 2003 09:06 PM

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How does a “neoconservative” differ from a plain conservative? Incidentally, Irving Kristol eschews the term “neoconservative.” During the PBS documentary “Explaining the World” he clearly said: “I’m not neo anything. I’m a Republican.” And no wonder, who wants to be defined by one’s ideological adversaries? After it was the socialist Michael Harrington who originally coined the term. But let’s look at those planks.

Yes, like Democrats and Liberals, Republicans and Conservatives want to wield power, and like Democrats and Liberals they make compromises—real politics is not pretty. As to foreign policy, what they want is simple, to promote the interests of the United States. Should our government promote the interests of France? Remember what FDR said about Rafael Trujillo: “He may be a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch.”

Modern conservatives are taking guidance from the old and new Left. They want power instead of ideological purity. After all, Kristol was himself a Trotskyist in his youth, so he knows what to do.

Finally what’s this “Malvinas” stuff? Those islands are the Falklands.

Posted by: A. Zarkov on August 16, 2003 09:23 PM

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Neoconservatives believe that western civilization and its ideals are worth defending, and that US foreign policy should seek to do that, and wherever possible promote democracy and human rights around the world.

Neoconservatives also believe that the US, for all its faults, is the last best hope of mankind.

Liberals used to believe those things, but don't any more. Today they tend to embrace a thoroughgoing relativism, according to which it is arrogant to believe that one form of government or type of economic system is superior to another.

Think of neoconservatives as old-fashioned liberals who still believe in liberty and progress.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on August 16, 2003 09:35 PM

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I have no idea how people come up with this stuff. Neoconservatives is such a cool and nasty name that you can say anything about without sounding hollow or stupid, it would seem.
The identification of radical Islam as an enemy has nothing to do with the fact that it is a non-Christian phenomenon, but is a matter of fact. The enemy is Muslim, there is no way to dance around it.
They believe that Western Culture is worth defending. How do you deduce from this that they believe no other culture is deserves respect?
Seriously. If this is to be something other than a club of disgruntled losers, people need to take things in perspective.

Posted by: Joe on August 16, 2003 10:01 PM

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My error, it's Irving after all ... who'da thunk it?

Posted by: RonK, Seattle on August 16, 2003 10:50 PM

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I believe William is the son of Irving.

Posted by: A. Zarkov on August 16, 2003 10:54 PM

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Neoconservatives appear to have all the hallmarks of a fascist movement. One of their most cynical lies is that they want to advance "democracy," which can only be taken to mean "democracy for the powerful," because as a Bush admn. official said after the failed coup against Chavez in Venezuela, "Legitimacy is something that is conferred not just by a majority of the voters". source: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20712FE35580C758DDDAD0894DA404482

The neoconservatives' goals appear to include:
-destruction of the New Deal and Great Society programs
-strengthening of corporate control of the government including more deregulation and subsidies
-weakening of internal democratic institutions in the US
-perpetual war with an "enemy of the month" club, meaning war against weak or defenseless enemies, most immediately to control middle east oil supplies
-almost nothing done to fight terrorists like Al-Qaeda
-a new american empire that keeps our rivals (EU, AIPAC) weak and divided and creates more and more client states that do our bidding
-fusion of church and state to create a theocracy
-transfer of tax burden away from higher income brackets to lower income brackets
-expansion of police state powers in the US so that any internal enemies can be eliminated, including jailing,deportation, or stripping of citizenship (note this has nothing to do with terrorism per se)
-total control of government including the courts, with "true believers" in all important judgeships
-destroying the bill of rights except for the right to bear arms

I believe if their program is successful we will see the United States turn into a fascist nation of the first order. These allegations isn't paranoia; they are all well-known goals of neocons and the radical right agenda that now controls our government. Also, I think their program is designed to benefit a VERY NARROW section of the population, and even a fair amount of our traditional elites have registered dissent.

Posted by: Joe Pundit on August 17, 2003 12:09 AM

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Question to Joe Pundit: Don't you think you'd better get out of the country before President Bush sends his secret agents to arrest you?

Posted by: Joe Willingham on August 17, 2003 12:29 AM

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Joe Willingham, every one of my assertions is true! Look up Patriot Act II in Google. If you have any factual criticisms of my assertions to make, fine. But sarcastic barbs just show you're unwilling to actually try and disprove what I am saying. You'd make a great Fox News commentator. And no, I don't plan to leave - this is my country, dammit!

Posted by: Joe Pundit on August 17, 2003 12:35 AM

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Joe, the burden of proof is on you. Provide quotes from the Patriot Act to back up your assertions. Can you name a single fascist movement or government that does not or did not seek to control gun ownership by private citizens? What is a “true believer?” Name a judicial nominee who is a “true believer.” What is a “neocon” and how does a neocon differ from an ordinary conservative? Most of your charges have been leveled against traditional conservatives, for example William F. Buckley.

Posted by: A. Zarkov on August 17, 2003 01:46 AM

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"Can you name a single fascist movement or government that does not or did not seek to control gun ownership by private citizens?"

By many accounts, guns seem to have been easily obtainable in Iraq during Saddam's infamous despotic regime.

As a Brit, I was enervated by that passage in Kristol's piece: "That is why it was in our national interest to come to the defense of France and Britain in World War II."

America didn't enter the war in Europe until December 1941 following the declaration of war by Germany three days after Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor. Evidently, Mr Kristol needs reminding that the war in Europe started on 3 September 1939, more than two years before. France had fallen and was out of the war by the end of June 1940.

What with the absent WMDs in Iraq, it seems tailoring the narrative to fit a political agenda and not the facts is part of the neocon agenda too, if not the wholesale re-writing of history. No wonder the burgeoning fiscal deficits for the foresseable future in America get dismissed as merely incidental detail in the grand strategy.

Posted by: Bob on August 17, 2003 02:31 AM

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Joe, you seem to have a pretty good idea of what is going on. The bush administration has taken advantage of 9/11 to gain political advantage as in the 2002 elections and has clearly moved to restructure the tax system so that their wealthy backers are in a position to use their wealth to perpetuate family and power rather than any ability.

The attack on Iraq probably had as much to do with domestic US politics as any real or perceived threat against the US.

Zarkov should go read the Patriot Act and leaks on the drafted Patriot Act II for himself. I found the clause that stated that if you made a contribution to an organization that supported terrorism you could be stripped of your citizenship and deported. It was not required that you know that the organization supported terrorism.

There are two major threats against America today. The first and most dangerous is the conservative movement and the Bush administration. The second, and much less threatening, is international terrorism.

Both need to be addressed and removed.

Posted by: Rick B on August 17, 2003 02:36 AM

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A. Zarkov: "Modern conservatives are taking guidance from the old and new Left. They want power instead of ideological purity."
Is this a good thing? Or is it just intended to be a "they're only playing by your rules" kind of thing? There are many non-neoconservatives that don't favour the political methods of Trotsky.
You are right however that the opportunism, disingenuousness, exploitation of fear and secrecy about the real goals of the inner circle are shared with Trotskyists and others. The divide between public and private views allows nasty thoughts to thrive and damages the real debate.
Looking over the Iraq war it is amazing how little of the debate centered on the political pronouncemnets of those in power. Both those for and those against seemed to have to divine what the real intention was before making a judgement. For example there is no official explanation of the Casus Belli just a lot of suggestion and patently hyped rhetoric. It is a direct symptom of such political practices which are too easily accepted and which damage that which tehy are trying to protect.
Am I sounding shrill yet?

Posted by: Jack on August 17, 2003 03:01 AM

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hoi means the

Posted by: big al on August 17, 2003 03:46 AM

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These neocons are so zealously full of crap that they can actually be quite humerous when attempting to balance their immense cognitive disonance.

"I think all foreigners should stop interfering in the internal affairs of Iraq".

--Paul D. Wolfowitz, qtd. in The New York Times, 22 July 2003

Posted by: E. Avedisian on August 17, 2003 05:59 AM

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"The identification of radical Islam as an enemy has nothing to do with the fact that it is a non-Christian phenomenon, but is a matter of fact. The enemy is Muslim, there is no way to dance around it."

Very few people [ perhaps only the Islamic extremists and a few other lunatics] had any objections to the classification of radical Islam as a threat. After all, Islamic extremism has been a major problem in many parts of the world for decades now. But the Iraq war, unfortunately, sent another message out to the world - 'The enemy is Muslim'. Not the radical Islamist, not the terrorist who was born a muslim but the generic muslim. Check out the poll conducted across different countries here: http://people-press.org/reports/display.php3?ReportID=185. What you will see is that a majority of the muslims, in areas other than the middle east, are increasingly perceiving the US as a threat to their countries.
And then when there is talk of 'clash of civilizations', you have the non-muslim, non-whites feeling threatened as well. I see it every day around me - Hindus, Jain, Budhists, Parsees, Sikhs..they are all threatened. Oh, none of them expect an attack on India but that is not because they believe that there is no way they could ever be targeted but simply because they believe that the Bush administration wouldn't pick up a fight with a country that actually has armed forces.

The way the US is perceived has changed in a lot of places and, today, there are very few buyers for the idea of the US being the protector of humanity and civilization against the scourge of terrorism.

"They believe that Western Culture is worth defending. How do you deduce from this that they believe no other culture is deserves respect?"

I never said that they have no respect for other cultures but only that it appears that, to them, the only civilization worth protecting is the western one. The difference between the two statements lies in the time, money and effort you put in defending something you respect. And the difference also lies in the support and help you extend to someone who is fighting to defend something you respect.
As for how I deduced that, why that is simple indeed. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, there were a lot of speeches and plans for a global war against terror. A lot of people believed what was said, including the Indian government. Then in May 2002, 5 months after a terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament, terrorists murdered the sleeping wives and children of Indian soldiers in the military cantonment in Kaluchak, Kashmir. The targets and the method of the executions - these were frightening and enraging even for a country inured to terrorism. The army, already stationed at the border after the December attack on the Parliament, went on red alert. Donald Rumsfeld, in the subcontinent to defuse the tension, said in a press interview that India was being irresponsible by increasing the tension along the Indo-Pak border, that we should not try and divert the Pakistani army from the more important job of helping the US army hunt out Taliban and Al Quaida. Um, it gave us a rather clear indication of how much our pain, our loss and our fight against terrorism mattered to the Bush administration.
Some 10 months after that, when we were first asked to dispatch troops to Iraq, we were solemnly assured that India was one of the few countries which Bush listens to......

The diplomatic relations between India and the US have not always been smooth and congenial but the 1990s saw a rapid thawing in the bilateral ties. The Clinton era was especially good in this regard. Post 9/11, not only was India awash with sympathy and goodwill for the US, the government was the most pro-US govt ever. Not even 2 years have gone by since that day and the Bush administration has lost all the support and trust it was offered. The motives and statements of the US govt have never been greeted with such suspicion before, not even when the Seventh Fleet was sailing towards the Bay of Bengal.

Posted by: Ritu on August 17, 2003 06:09 AM

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Below is the URL to a short article where the "godfather" of the movement Irving Kristol explains what neoconservatism is. Far from being reactionary or fascist, neoconservatism is more "liberal" than is traditional conservatism.

Excerpt:

"Neoconservatism is the first variant of American conservatism in the past century that is in the "American grain." It is hopeful, not lugubrious; forward-looking, not nostalgic; and its general tone is cheerful, not grim or dyspeptic. Its 20th-century heroes tend to be TR, FDR, and Ronald Reagan. Such Republican and conservative worthies as Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Dwight Eisenhower, and Barry Goldwater are politely overlooked. Of course, those worthies are in no way overlooked by a large, probably the largest, segment of the Republican party, with the result that most Republican politicians know nothing and could not care less about neoconservatism. Nevertheless, they cannot be blind to the fact that neoconservative policies, reaching out beyond the traditional political and financial base, have helped make the very idea of political conservatism more acceptable to a majority of American voters. Nor has it passed official notice that it is the neoconservative public policies, not the traditional Republican ones, that result in popular Republican presidencies."

http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/003/000tzmlw.asp

Posted by: Joe Willingham on August 17, 2003 08:22 AM

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Radical right is radical right. These folks want to slice ever possible social benefit program to ribbons while rewarding the richest for being the richest at the expense of the American middle class. These folk have disdain for all social benefit programs from public schools to national parks to Social Security to Medicaid. Phooey on the radical right. These folks are the Republican Party. Phooey.

Posted by: lise on August 17, 2003 08:40 AM

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The Patriot Act has been the occasion of a lot of hysterical blather from the liberal press and from Cassandras like Joe Pundit. In fact, most of the act is a common sense updating of the law to accommodate new technology and changed circumstances. See the excellent analysis of the Patriot Act by Heather MacDonald. It is based on law and fact rather than paranoid fantasies.

http://www.city-journal.org/html/13_3_straight_talk.html

Posted by: Joe Willingham on August 17, 2003 08:45 AM

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Lise, if you read the writings of any member of the radical right you will find that he or she dislikes both George Bush and the neoconservatives. Radical rightists generally oppose the Iraqi war and the Patriot Act. See for example the John Birch Society web site.

The main criticism I hear from the Democrats against Bush is that his tax cuts are leading to big deficits. I agree with that criticism, but it is not about radical rightism.

The National Parks need fixing, big time. So far President Bush's response to this issue has been inadequate. But what did the Democrats do to fix the national parks when they were in power?

Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are here to stay, but experts agree that changes are needed to keep those programs solvent. Unfortunately most Democrats, especially those in the liberal wing of the party, are unwilling to discuss those changes in a rational manner.

Liberals too often confuse defense of public education with defense of the Neanderthal teachers' unions. It is the conservatives and the neoconservatives who want to experiment with ways to improve public education, and the liberals who acting like mossback reactionaries.

As for "rewarding the rich", what does that mean? The rich have their reward. The rich should neither be rewarded nor punished, nor should anybody else unless he or she is doing something illegal.


In sum, there is plenty to critize the Bush administration for, especially their deficit spending and their environmental policies. But it is not "radical right".

Posted by: Joe Willingham on August 17, 2003 09:26 AM

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Radical righters despise all that FDR and TR stood for, though they spout the names as a smokescreen. Radical righters would turn the environment, neighborhoods where they do not live to sewers and destroy Social Security and Medicare and any New Deal manner of social benefit program. These radical righters are nasty "varmints."

Posted by: lise on August 17, 2003 09:26 AM

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I agree with you about radical righters. Fortunately there aren't very many of them around.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on August 17, 2003 09:45 AM

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Not sure if I qualify as a member of the so-called "radical right," but I'll speak up anyway. ;-)

"The neoconservatives' goals appear to include:
-destruction of the New Deal and Great Society programs"

This is a shared value among neocons and many traditional conservatives. I have friends who will oppose *any* tax increase and support *any* rollback, based on their expressed objective to starve the government into surrendering these and other domestic programs; but

-fusion of church and state to create a theocracy"

Nope. Neoconservatives give lip service to social conservativism and religious freedom, but never get around to acting on it. IMHO, it's all talk just to placate the traditional conservatives they depend on for votes. I don't think neo-cons are particularly ideological. their politics appears to be a means for channeling money into theirs or their cronies' financial enterprises. Note that John McCain had a stronger conservative record than the Bushes, but his positions on campaign finance reform simply could not be abided.

"-expansion of police state powers in the US so that any internal enemies can be eliminated, including jailing,deportation, or stripping of citizenship (note this has nothing to do with terrorism per se)
-total control of government including the courts, with "true believers" in all important judgeships
-destroying the bill of rights except for the right to bear arms"

There are plenty on both the left and the right who are comfortable with taking the law after perceived enemies whenever they can get away with it. Woe befalls any group in this country that can't get T.V. air time. Disagree? Look at the power of family law courts in the U.S.

From Kristol, or quote attributed, "[Neoconservativism's] 20th-century heroes tend to be TR, FDR, and Ronald Reagan. Such Republican and conservative worthies as Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Dwight Eisenhower, and Barry Goldwater are politely overlooked."

Maybe true, in the sense of the popular power wielded by the formerly-named presidents as opposed to the latter-named. But that just underscores my point: it isn't that neocons are either more liberal or more "forward-looking" - far from it. They're simply power-seeking. Excepting interventionist foreign policy, are there any further commonalities between the Republican President Teddy Roosevelt - the trust-busting, conservationist, progressive TR, and the Republican President George Bush?

Even while promoting overseas adventures, neocons want to do it on the cheap. Lucrative contracts for military hardware and consultants are valued above trifling matters like veterans' benefits. If the real conservatives understood how little these guys cared for true conservative values, they might be steered in another direction. Unfortunately, middle-class conservatives have been propagandized into believing that taxes are a social evil (no wonder, since neocon policies have effectively shifted the tax burden to *them*), and are persuaded that only neocons can save them from the Big Government monster.

Posted by: William Hillis on August 17, 2003 09:54 AM

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>John McCain

I note that Bill Kristol, Irving Kristol's son, supported John McCain during the Republican primaries in 2000.

I don't deny that there are valid criticisms of some of the neoconservatives. But their philosophy, an attempt to synthesize liberalism and conservatism, is not sinister or extremist or fascistic.

Wouldn't it be better to discuss political ideas and movement in a scholarly and analytical manner, rather than just calling folks dirty names (an offense I have sometimes been guilty of myself, mea culpa!)?

Posted by: Joe Willingham on August 17, 2003 10:35 AM

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Joe and William

Interesting comments!
Thanks.

Lise

Posted by: lise on August 17, 2003 10:42 AM

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I hope I wasn't calling anyone dirty names. I just fail to find much that's conservative about neoconservativism, per Brad's original post: "Since the fall of Communism, however, it is very hard to figure out what neoconservatives believe as far as foreign policy is concerned." I would add that they certainly aren't fiscally conservative, and not particularly socially conservative. So I'm left with the question, what motivates neocons? Self-interest? What else is there?

Posted by: William Hillis on August 17, 2003 10:42 AM

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" Kristol's declaration that neoconservatives believe that "the United States will always feel obliged to defend, if possible, a democratic nation under attack from nondemocratic forces, external or internal." Where were the neoconservatives when Chile's (flawed) democracy was under attack by Pinochet? "

Chile's democracy was under attack from Allende and his supporters. That's why Pinochet ousted Allende, and eventually restored democracy to Chile.

Allende wasn't making any secret of his plans to turn Chile into a Castro style dictatorship. He told Georgy Ann Geyer there would be no more elections after he was in power.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on August 17, 2003 11:11 AM

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The neoconservatives aren't fiscally conservative enough for my taste, but they are pretty conservative on social issues. See any of their publications, such as City Journal, The Public Interest, or The Weekly Standard.

What motivates the neoconservatives? They want to make money and promote their careers, but they also want to serve their country. In those respects they are not different from liberals and conservatives.

In foreign policy neoconservatives reject both the liberals' reliance on international organizations like the United Nations and the conservative Realpolitik of most past Republican administrations. They combine a desire to see the spread of freedom and democracy with a tough-minded realism about the need for US hegemony in order to achieve that end.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on August 17, 2003 11:14 AM

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Since the fall of Communism, however, it is very hard to figure out what neoconservatives believe as far as foreign policy is concerned.

Try this question when you're having difficulty: What would Likud Party members advocate?

I find this has considerable predictive value.

Posted by: Nell Lancaster on August 17, 2003 11:39 AM

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The intense conservative case has been well presented, though fudged on social issues. Leaving aside the social issues on which the extreme right is simply offensive, the fantasy that government has no distinct roles in a market economy is myopic and destructive.

There are all sorts of market imbalances that will need government address again and again. The California energy "crisis" was a telling example of myopia in deregulation. There was no competition among the power suppliers to California and supply and price manipulation was easy as pie even with no collusion. A deregulation that mixed market and public needs was needed.

The Ayn Rand fantasy of market market market, is a mere fantasy unless we are to have manipulation on manipulation. Balance is needed, radical conservatrives know of no balance.

Posted by: anne on August 17, 2003 11:47 AM

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Respectfully speaking, Mr. Sullivan just wrote several of the biggest lies that I have ever witnessed. If you will recall the truth, Allende was a democratically elected president who was brutally toppled by a CIA-backed military coup which installed the right wing dictator Pinoche in power. Democracy was only restored to Chile after more than 15 years of brutal repression and economic decay which led to the elites abandonment of the military dictatorship and support for the redemocratization of Chile. At no point did Allende ever wish to become supreme dictator of Chile as did Pinoche. He was a democratic socialist whose main crime was supporting the nationalization of the mining industries at the expense of American corporations. I have no problem with conservatives who can rationally argue their positions based upon facts. However, so many conservatives like Mr. Sullivan tend to spout bald faced lies that just happen to reinforce their dogmatic ideology. Greed is perhaps the most powerful psychological motivating force. People tend to go to almost any extent in bending the truth in order to rationalize it.

Posted by: non economist on August 17, 2003 11:54 AM

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Allende was a democratic socialist, but he was also a fool whose extremist policies wrecked the economy and led the middle class and the upper working class to welcome Pinochet's coup.

Pinochet was a criminal who murdered 3000 of his political opponents. But his generally sound economic policies prepared the way for his own overthrow and the restoration of democracy.

As the Marxists say, reality is full of contradictions.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on August 17, 2003 12:18 PM

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"Leaving aside the social issues on which the extreme right is simply offensive, the fantasy that government has no distinct roles in a market economy is myopic and destructive."

Sorry to be so offensive. :-) Per your second point: should there be an extended period of sustained and exacerbated unemployment, coupled with any scenario that divests middle-class households of homeownership, then traditional conservatives may become surprisingly favorable to market intervention by the government. The links between social conservatives and the anti-tax, anti-regulation crowd aren't strong enough to survive that sort of economic debacle, UNLESS arguments that government intervention is somehow contributing to the crisis are allowed to go unanswered.

I believe a lot of FDR's support came the residents of what we now call "flyover country," whose grandparents had voted for William Jennings Bryan. Social conservatism and government regulation of markets are not mutually exclusive. Still say "radical conservatives know of no balance"? I guess I'm not sure what a "radical" conservative is, but I'm certain they have bills to pay and mouths to feed.

Posted by: William Hillis on August 17, 2003 12:35 PM

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Rick B, it’s up to you to provide the quote from the Patriot Act that supports your argument. Your statement that “you” could be stripped of your citizenship and deported for contributing to a terrorist organization does not seem credible on its face. Does the term “you” apply to natural born citizens? If so, where would you be deported to? True in some cases a naturalized citizen can be deported if he gave false information on his naturalization forms. This has been applied in a very few cases (perhaps only one) to Nazi war criminals. I doubt very much that there is anything like what you say in the Patriot Act. But if so, give us the text.

Posted by: A. Zarkov on August 17, 2003 12:50 PM

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William Hillis' post above is right on the money. Conservatives and neo-conservatives consider the free market to be the default, but are in favor of a government safety net for both the indvidual and the society as a whole.

It appears to me from reading their writings that the disagreement that moderate liberals like Paul Krugman and Brad DeLong have with conservatives on the role of government in the economy are more a matter of degree rather than of principle.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on August 17, 2003 01:24 PM

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I'm curious about Brad's "neoconservatives of my acquaintance " ... Would those be the 18-or-so year olds referenced in this _Economist_ article?

http://www.economist.com/World/na/PrinterFriendly.cfm?Story_ID=1942332

Posted by: Pouncer on August 17, 2003 01:24 PM

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I'm curious about Brad's "neoconservatives of my acquaintance " ... Would those be the 18-or-so year olds referenced in this _Economist_ article?

http://www.economist.com/World/na/PrinterFriendly.cfm?Story_ID=1942332

Posted by: Pouncer on August 17, 2003 01:29 PM

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William Hillis' post above is right on the money. Conservatives and neo-conservatives consider the free market to be the default, but are in favor of a government safety net for both the indvidual and the society as a whole.

It appears to me from reading their writings that the disagreement that moderate liberals like Paul Krugman and Brad DeLong have with conservatives on the role of government are more a matter of degree rather than of principle.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on August 17, 2003 01:31 PM

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Joe Willingham wrote,

"Allende was a democratic socialist, but he was also a fool whose extremist policies wrecked the economy and led the middle class and the upper working class to welcome Pinochet's coup."

Right. And the US never made a covert effort to destabilize the Chilean economy.

"Pinochet was a criminal who murdered 3000 of his political opponents. But his generally sound economic policies prepared the way for his own overthrow and the restoration of democracy."

Sound economic policies? You haven't looked at the stats for growth during the Pinochet years versus those before, have you?

Posted by: Stephen J Fromm on August 17, 2003 02:06 PM

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Came upon this blog piece about the Allende Myth: http://val.dorta.com/archives/000343.html

Posted by: Bob on August 17, 2003 03:21 PM

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Neoconservativsm is Trotskyism minus utopianism. All that remains is naive "power politics", worship of the state, and an abiding hatred of democracy and any moral standards not defined by convenience.

Posted by: citizen k on August 17, 2003 05:16 PM

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Hmmmm... Neoconservatism is extreme right-wing-ism, Trotskyism except for a hatred of the government, and the reincarnation of Ayn Rand's "market market market" creed...

Sorry, I must have the wrong room. I thought this was the post-grad seminar on conservative philology. I didn't realize it was remedial.

I'll be leaving now. Anybody seen my Hayek?

Posted by: Blackavar on August 17, 2003 05:36 PM

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Read the article by Irving Kristol whose URL I posted above and you will see that what citizen K says is the exact opposite of what neoconservatives believe.

Neoconservatives believe in morality, democracy and limited government. Liberals used to believe in those things, but now they don't seem to believe in much of anything but white guilt, "multiculturalism" and the inferiority of the US to other societies and the inferiority of western civilization to other civilizations.

American liberalism isn't being destroyed by neoconservatism or conservatism. It is committing suicide.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on August 17, 2003 05:37 PM

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Sorry Bob, but posting rants from two bit neocon weblogs does not constitute as sufficient evidence for historical revision. I suggest opening a history book for a more accurate analysis of the Allende-Chile affair.

Posted by: non economist on August 17, 2003 05:45 PM

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[1] For what it's worth, you can find two lengthy articles on the neo-cons and their influence on US foreign policy at my site,

http://www.thebuggyprofessor.org/archives/00000107.php

http://www.thebuggyprofessor.org/archives/00000108.php


Originally published in late April of this year, the two were knocked into cyberspace-purgatory, lost forever --- along with all the articles published at the buggy site between April 19th and July 1 --- by a hacker attack that day. The site was down for two weeks and returned on July 14th, housed at a different webhosting site.


[2] Now revised and updated, they can be found published on the site today along with several links to some commentaries by others on neo-conservative. Read carefully, they might just help round off the perspective on neo-conservatism --- what it is, how it originated and why in the early 1970s (nothing to do with foreign policy then); how The Public Interest, the most influential policy journal ever in US life, became their fulcrum (edited by three well-known liberal scholars, Daniel Bell, Nathan Glazer, and Irving Kristol --- then a journalist); how Commentary, until then a liberal journal, joined their reaction against the New radical Left that had emerged in US life in the 1960s; and how eventually in the Reagan era it also came to embrace a particular kind of US tradition --- muscular Wilsonian liberalism, updated by FDR and Truman --- as an alternative to realist management of power politics. The articles also explain how, initially, paleo-conservatives recoiled and fought back against the neo-cons, all of them originally like the three I named, plus James Wilson at Harvard and some others, convinced that a welfare state was indispensable for stabilizing modern capitalism, well-known Roosevelt and Truman democrats right through the LBJ era.

[3] Later, that would change. A reconciliation between the William Buckley group at the National Review, Commentary, and the Public Interest intellectuals was consolidated in the late 1980s and has held ever since. Those who remain hostile to the neo-cons are the radical right, starting with Pat Buchanan and moving to the extremist wing quickly. (Reacting against Buchanan’s anti-Semitism in the 1992 Presidential primaries, Buckley devoted a whole issue of the National Review to dissecting not just Buchanan’s racism, but that of the WASP circles in which he had been reared.)

[4] It was, to repeat, the Reagan era that brought foreign policy to the fore of the neo-conservative outlook. Until then, little could be found in neo-conservative writings on the topic, and probably managerial realism of the Kissinger-Nixon sort --- plus some leanings toward Carter’s human rights policies --- would splutter now and then in their vast intellectual output, almost all exclusively aimed at domestic politics, economics, and culture. By the start of the 1980s, that would change.

Jean Kirkpatrick, a Georgetown professor appointed our UN representative with Cabinet level status by Reagan, became the leading policy activist in the 1980s. On the intellectual side, the National Review was created as a foreign policy equivalent of the Public Interest (without ever having the impact the latter has had on both US academic work and policymaking); it was later joined in the 1990s by the Weekly Standard, edited among others by Irving Kristol’s son.

[5] Note finally in passing that, with occasional exceptions --- some writing by Kristol --- the neo-cons have never been outright free-market enthusiasts. The thrust of their writing, domestically, was on the need to maintain a strong bourgeois culture, along with self-restraint, a common civic culture widely shared by all citizens, and a sense of individual responsibility. Originally embracing a welfare state, some of them --- for instance, Nathan Glazer who still helps edit the Public Interest --- even favor the retention of affirmative action.

--- Michael Gordon
http://www.thebuggyprofessor.org

---

Posted by: michael gordon on August 17, 2003 05:45 PM

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"On the intellectual side, the National Review was created as a foreign policy equivalent of the Public Interest (without ever having the impact the latter has had on both US academic work and policymaking); it was later joined in the 1990s by the Weekly Standard, edited among others by Irving Kristol’s son."

That should read *National Interest* and not *National Review*. Otherwise that is an excellent capsule history of neo-conservatism.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on August 17, 2003 06:31 PM

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Doesn't matter what their supposed belief is in having a healthy middle class - their policies don't lead there.

As for foreign affairs, it's simple. They want to remodel the world in the interests of the US and they are willing to use force to do it. They figure that the US is the 800 lb gorilla and can basically do whatever it wants.

They're as wrong on the second count as they are on the first (in large part because of the first), it's just going to take little longer for it to get through their ideologically rigid minds.

Posted by: Ian Welsh on August 17, 2003 06:37 PM

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"They combine a desire to see the spread of freedom and democracy with a tough-minded realism about the need for US hegemony in order to achieve that end."

Posted by Joe Willingham at August 17, 2003 11:14 AM


Such sweet words, "freedom" and "democracy".

Exactly, what do they mean? Entire libraries could be assembled around them, but when you use them, what do you mean, exactly? AFAIK, almost every country in the world claims to be promoting these ideals.

Supposing--just supposing here--that most of the rest of the world doesn't welcome the interdiction of a US hegemony, then what? Does the US invade and impose its version of "freedom and democracy"?

There have been polls taken in many countries recently regarding this very subject. The results are not favorable to the position of the "neoconservatives" or to the Bush Administration.

An overwhelming majority of the world's citizens absolutely reject the notion that one country has any "right" to impose itself on another.

So, if the neoconsevatives aren't ready to fight the entire world, then some rethinking is in order.

Posted by: James Hogan on August 17, 2003 07:14 PM

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The US has been involved in several military interventions in recent years. The Gulf war, Bosnia, Haiti, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq are examples. Iraq was the only case that occasioned a lot of controversy. The Gulf War found the US allied with Saudi Arabia, Syria and most other Arab countries. In Bosnia and Kosovo we and the Europeans had the support of the Islamic world in rescuing the Muslims from the Orthodox Christians, although in Bosnia it was a case of too little too late. An interesting fact is that in Bosnia and Kosovo liberals and neoconservatives were generally in favor of US intervention while most conservatives were against it.

In Iraq, according to a poll, 50% approve of the US invasion, 26% disapprove, and the rest are still making up their minds. Only 15% want the US to leave immediately.

Another poll: a plurality of Iraqis want a western style democracy, a sizeable number want a monarchy, and not a few want a moderate Islamic state. The administration line is that the Iraqis can have any of the above so long as it has the consent of most Iraqis and is peaceful. Nobody is saying that they are required to model their government on that of the US.

The US has turned over peacekeeping in Afghanistan to NATO, and the Red-Green German government is participating. Friends can disagree about some situations while cooperating in others.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on August 17, 2003 09:40 PM

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Joe Willingham,

How can you take a "poll" in a country that rarely has running electricity, and whose main roads are unsafe for Americans to travel? What was the phrasing exactly of the poll question that garnered such support for American intervention in Iraqi affairs?

Maybe you should contemplate the fact that most of the "news" you read or see or hear in America is part of a seemingly endless stream of convenient lies manufactured to prop up a simpleton and his viciously power-mad court advisors.

Posted by: Kirby Stone on August 17, 2003 10:49 PM

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Most of the news comes from a press that is so partisan in its dislike of President Bush that it concentrates on reporting the negative,often in a distorted or exaggerated fashion. This is especially true of the BBC, whose news departments is controlled by anti-American leftists without an ounce of honesty or integrity. Nonetheless some truth gets out, and that truth is not comforting to people like you for whom anti-Americanism trumps all other concerns.

Has it ever occurred to you that people don't like living under a tyrant who murders and tortures his people by the hundreds of thousands, drives 2.1 million of them into exile, and brings his country to economic ruin?

Posted by: Joe Willingham on August 17, 2003 11:21 PM

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Joe Willingham, it is such a joke when people whine about the media "disliking" Bush. COME ON! The media in this country is so right-wing its almost a caricature of itself. And spare me the BBC whining, nobody watches BBC TV - if people hit their website, that's their business! US TV was a propaganda service during the war, and you know it. And let's not mention the ridiculous build-up to war where everyone was hyping up the "threat" Iraq posed....if you get mad because people are reporting fact on the ground (one American GI dead per day, $1 Billion spent per week), well that is just TOUGH.

Posted by: Joe Pundit on August 18, 2003 01:31 AM

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non economist: A neocon rant on Allende? Curious that. One of the principal citations in the blog on the Allende Myth is to Paul Sigmund: The Overthrow of Allende and the Politics of Chile 1964-76 (1978). Sigmund, a professor at Princeton, has been a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars, and the Institute for Advanced Study, and has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation. Currently, he is working on a reader on John Locke and a collection of interviews with ex-guerrillas in Latin America. Sigmund earned his PhD from Harvard.

Posted by: Bob on August 18, 2003 02:48 AM

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Which polls are you talking about, Mr. Willingham?
The ones I have seen do not give the numbers you quote. The latest one I saw was commissioned by the conservative British magazine,_The Spectator_, and printed in its July 19 issue. According to this one, 75 percent of Iraqis say that Baghdad is 'more dangerous' than before the war (including 54 percent who say it is 'much more dangerous'). As many as two-thirds fear being attacked in the streets.

Forty five percent of Iraqis believe the US invaded their country 'to secure oil supplies' and 41 percent 'to help Israel.' Just 23 percent say the aim was to liberate its people. Only 6 percent think that the main motive was 'to find and destroy WMD.'

Only 29 percent favour the Americans, although only 7 percent want Saddam Hussein back. Power cuts are mentioned by 80 percent as 'the biggest' problem 'affecting you personally.' Only 13 percent want the occupation troops to leave immediately. But 71 percent want power handed over to the Iraqi people within 12 months.

Posted by: Ritu on August 18, 2003 03:30 AM

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"Read the article by Irving Kristol whose URL I posted above and you will see that what citizen K says is the exact opposite of what neoconservatives believe."

Hey, if you read "Let 100 Flowers Bloom" by Chairman Mao you will find that Maoism is about the free expression of ideas in search of ways of bettering humanity. When an author claims to be on the side of good against evil - it's not definitive. The problem is that neoconservatives define "democracy" to be rule of themselves, "national interest" as empire, and "cultural values" as repression. Actually, I forgot to mention another distinctive aspect of Neo-cons - they are 4th rate academics. Note the pretentious cite of Thucydides who was not, as Strauss and his dimbulb followers imagine, particularly a fan of moronic foreign adventures. The neo-cons imagine the Melian dialogues to be a recipe for moral action, but they are really a description of the futility of real-politick.

Posted by: citizen k on August 18, 2003 05:09 AM

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Right and Left extremes lead always lead to corrupt governments. Right extremes lead to Fascism. Left extremes lead to communism. Each form of government is to be avoided. As citizens we need to be ever vigilant in guarding against our extremist gaining power. Are the neo-cons extremists. Not yet. Just like any power group, if they are allowed to continue to far to the right or left, they will.

To Ritu,
It is not a wise idea to allow war between nuclear capable countries. This is why the US intervened. Especially now that the SIS in the Pakistani government is actively assisting the Taliban again.

Posted by: James on August 18, 2003 08:28 AM

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Ritu, the Spectator poll you cite and the American poll I cite do not contradict each other. Basically Iraqis don't trust the US, but are glad we overthrew Saddam Hussein.

"Favor the Americans" and "favor the invasion" are not the same things. Clearly many Iraqis think of the Americans as a sort of necessary evil.

Note that the electricity shortages are not necessarily the fault of the US and Great Britain. Before the war Baghdad had a pretty steady electricity supply, but most of the rest of the country didn't.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on August 18, 2003 10:33 AM

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For a summary of neo-con foreign policy look here:

http://www.eurolegal.org/useur/usneocon3.htm

The neocons are interventionists. They differ from the decades of GOP isolationism from Taft to Eisenhower. The Neocons were attracted to Reagan's aggressive anti-communism and sought to use it against those who worked against the political and corporate interests of the US. The Neocons are historically anti-Stalinist and view the threat from communism and socialism as being dire.

The Kristol quote "the United States will always feel obliged to defend, if possible, a democratic nation under attack from nondemocratic forces, external or internal." refers primarily to Israel. By non-democratic forces, they mean those with politics to the left of the neocons and those with religious beliefs that challenge American influence.

William Kristol, for one, broke with traditional isolationist (Pat Buchanon) conservatives, supporting the action in Kosovo. The Neocons believe in the US as the world policeman. Ford pulled the plug on US troops in SE Asia and Carter had a focus on human rights that did not involve the extension of US power to enforce US interests. The Neocons don't want the US to back away.

Europeans are appalled by the Neocon ideology Europeans look at war as a lose/lose proposition after suffering through the death and devastation of 2 World Wars. America has not been hurt badly by war in comparison. Since the Civil War, all American Wars have been fought in someon else's country. The US looks at war as the US going in to straighten the situation and then leaving it better than we found it.

Under Reagan, the Neocons were influential but did not wield power. Mr. Bush started out isolationist (no to North Korea, No to treaties, the flap with China) but after 9/11, the Neocons became ascendent in US foreign policy.

To learn what the neocons believe, read their policy papers. The Bush WH does not believe it can sell the American public on neocon foreign policy so it is disguising the true policy. It is easier to get forgiveness than permission. With Iraq, the idea was to get us in so deep that the US public would have no choice but to support the Neocon position and see it through.

Posted by: bakho on August 18, 2003 12:38 PM

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"By non-democratic forces, they mean those with politics to the left of the neocons and those with religious beliefs that challenge American influence."

The neocons have no quarrel with any of the world's great religions. Their line on Islam is that militant Islam is the problem and moderate Islam is the cure. In case you haven't noticed, there is a civil war going in the Islamic world between moderates and extremists. The number of westerners the extremists have killed is small compared to the number of Muslims they have murdered.

The US has been dragged into this civil war, and so have other western countries. There are German and other European troops in Afghanistan for example. This hasn't happened because of the machinations of a bunch of Jewish intellectuals. There are vast historical forces in play, mostly having to do with a civilization, the Islamic, being in a state of crisis due to its failure to adapt to the modern world.

"Under Reagan, the Neocons were influential but did not wield power. Mr. Bush started out isolationist (no to North Korea, No to treaties, the flap with China) but after 9/11, the Neocons became ascendent in US foreign policy.

"To learn what the neocons believe, read their policy papers. The Bush WH does not believe it can sell the American public on neocon foreign policy so it is disguising the true policy. It is easier to get forgiveness than permission. With Iraq, the idea was to get us in so deep that the US public would have no choice but to support the Neocon position and see it through."

That is a pretty accurate account of the matter. You have to ask yourself *why* President Bush, who started out as a traditional business Republican. became a neocon. The answer is that history offered him no other plausible choice.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on August 18, 2003 01:15 PM

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"The answer is that history offered him no other plausible choice."

You're not a Marxist, are you? History doesn't *offer* choices; it is merely the record of choices that were made. Bush doesn't get to shuffle off responsibility for the choices he made on some abstract force of historical inevitability. He chose to listen to neocons who sounded like they knew what they were doing but didn't; on his head be it.

Or to put it in words that may resonate better for you, Joe:

History doesn't start wars. People start wars.

Posted by: Canadian Reader on August 18, 2003 09:27 PM

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"The answer is that history offered him no other plausible choice."

How about multinational police action, collaboration with our European Friends who have much more experience fighting internal terrorist threats, and measured cooperation with states like Syria and Lybia who offered help against Al-Qaeda after 911?

The fundamental choice Bush made was to declare a general "war on terror" instead of a more narrow "war on Al-Qaeda". This was CERTAINLY a credible alternative.

Choosing to take over the entire middle east per the neocons' Project for a New American Century roadmap was not the only choice. Choosing to invade Iraq, which had absolutely NOTHING to do with 911 and which as we now know had no Chem/Bio/Nuclear weapons and posed no threat to our nation.

Bush quote:
"We know that the regime has produced thousands of tons of chemical agents, including mustard gas, sarin nerve gas, VX nerve gas."
-Cincinnati, Ohio Speech, Oct. 7, 2002

If WMDs had been found In Iraq in the quantities claimed by Bush administration, I can just HEAR the howls out of Bush apologists like Joe Willingham that the credibility of the "left" is gone, etc. etc.

Joe, there's overwhelming evidence the administration lied to get us into Iraq. Do the ends justify the means?

Posted by: Joe Pundit on August 18, 2003 10:16 PM

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Response to James:

"It is not a wise idea to allow war between nuclear capable countries. This is why the US intervened."

Oh, you wouldn't find me arguing this point. I think that a war between any two countries is usually not a wise idea and self-defence is the only viable reason to fight a war. I neither have problems with the fact that America intervened nor with the fact that they pressured the BJP govt. into easing off the sabre rattling [the concept of war between nations as a solution to terrorism *is* an idiotic one after all].
My sole point was that regardless of the propaganda of the Bush administration, they do not care one whit about India's terrorism problems. That was illustrated by the mode of the intervention, by the dismissal of our pain and concerns. The intervention itself suited me just fine. :)

"Especially now that the SIS in the Pakistani government is actively assisting the Taliban again."

The ISI has never stopped assisting Taliban, not from the day the Taliban was being created and trained by the ISI and the CIA. I am reasonably certain that Musharraf wishes it were otherwise but the fact is that the political heads of Pakistan have not been able to excercise much control over the ISI for decades now.


Posted by: Ritu on August 18, 2003 11:24 PM

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Response to Joe Willingham:

"The Spectator poll you cite and the American poll I cite do not contradict each other."

Perhaps you are right and the two polls do not contradict each other but I would submit that the relative impressions fostered by them are completely different. There *is* a significant difference between saying that 50% of the Iraqis approve of the invasion, 26% disapprove and 24% percent are undecided; and saying that 29% support the Americans, 7% want Saddam back and 64% are undecided [albeit glad that Saddam has gone]. The former figures confer the legitimacy of public approval on the invasion and the reconstruction; the latter showcases the need to win this approval.

""Favor the Americans" and "favor the invasion" are not the same things. Clearly many Iraqis think of the Americans as a sort of necessary evil."

True. And if the 'favour the invasion' and the ambivalent groups don't convert into the 'favour the americans' group soon enough, there would be problems emanating from the 71% who want the Americans out by May 2004.

"Note that the electricity shortages are not necessarily the fault of the US and Great Britain. Before the war Baghdad had a pretty steady electricity supply, but most of the rest of the country didn't."

The electricity shortages may very well not have been a fault of the coalition but the coalition is in charge *now* and they are the ones who are being blamed. And the Iraqis would keep on blaming the coalition until either the problems are solved or the coalition withdraws from Iraq.

I think a part of the problem may well lie in the great expectations raised by the well-publicised 'humanitarian reasons' for the war. If the Iraqis hadn't been promised liberation and reconstruction, I wonder if they would have been quite so critical of the coalition efforts.

Posted by: Ritu on August 19, 2003 02:46 AM

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Some of the Iraqi criticism of the Coalition efforts is justified, but some of it is unreasonable. You can't repair the damage caused by thirty years of misrule overnight. The Iraqis need to take more responsibilty for their own reconstruction, and not attribute miraculous powers to the Americans and British.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on August 19, 2003 02:29 PM

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Joe Willingham, the U.S. tore up the country and overthrew Saddam. If the Iraqis wanted to do so, they would have. Therefore the U.S. is responsible for what happens.

Posted by: Joe Pundit on August 19, 2003 04:35 PM

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"[T]he hoi polloi"?
Pardon my Greek, but I don't think so.

Posted by: Thom on August 20, 2003 02:07 PM

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"[T]he hoi polloi"?
Pardon my Greek, but I don't think so.

Posted by: Thom on August 20, 2003 02:07 PM

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"[T]he hoi polloi"?
Pardon my Greek, but I don't think so.

Posted by: Thom on August 20, 2003 02:07 PM

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"[T]he hoi polloi"?
Pardon my Greek, but I don't think so.

Posted by: Thom on August 20, 2003 02:08 PM

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"[T]he hoi polloi"?
Pardon my Greek, but I don't think so.

Posted by: Thom on August 20, 2003 02:08 PM

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Some of the Kuwaiti criticism of the Iraqi efforts is justified, but some of it is unreasonable. You can't repair the damage caused by thirty years of misrule overnight. The Kuwaitis need to take more responsibilty for their own reconstruction, and not attribute miraculous powers to the Iraqis.

Posted by: Joe Pundit on August 20, 2003 10:31 PM

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I believe that all government is evil, and that trying to improve it is largely a waste of time.

Posted by: Denis JudeLaure on December 10, 2003 10:26 PM

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Give what you have. To someone, it may be better than you dare to think.

Posted by: Boroson Bram on January 10, 2004 03:14 AM

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