Skip to comments.Exit neocons, stage left
Posted on 08/25/2004 6:42:06 AM PDT by A. Pole
David Frum tells us that "[w]ar is a great clarifier" because it "forces people to choose sides."
It certainly does. For example, it forced us to team up with Joe Stalin in 1941. War forced the U.S. to side with Saddam Hussein in the 1980s and the Saudi royal family in the 1990s. Let's not forget that great clarifying moment when the Cold War forced us to fund Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan.
In the same way, our war against Iraq created political alliances domestically that may have been unnatural, and which now may be falling apart. Specifically, some moderate-to-liberal hawks temporarily rose to the forefront of the American right and started calling the shots--in some cases declaring who was and who wasn't fit to be part of the conservative movement.
But it is only in these post-war days (although many object to the claim that the war is over) that the real clarifying happens.
Many of these hawks, called neocons, spent the aftermath of 9/11 and the run-up to the Iraq war denouncing the conservatives who voiced opposition to Bush's planned wars. But now, after the war, with some of the dust settled, their differences with the right are becoming clearer, and their continued alliance with conservatives comes into question.
While neocons have reputations as esoteric Straussians, they have been straightforward in recent months in clarifying their worldview.
Frum: "I Am not Pro-Life"
In his April 7, 2003 cover story for National Review, Frum declared it unimaginable that Bob Novak (my boss), Pat Buchanan, Scott McConnell and other anti-war writers "would call themselves 'conservatives.'"
These "unpatriotic conservatives" were engaged in "a war against America." Frum accused Novak of "terror denial" for saying al-Qaeda is more dangerous than Hezbollah. Novak was guilty of "espousing defeatism" for writing, "The CIA, in its present state, is viewed by its Capitol Hill overseers as incapable of targeting bin Laden."
First, how is saying one Islamic terrorist organization is a bigger threat than another "denying" anything? On the second charge, Novak is called unpatriotic for quoting sources who judge that the CIA is in bad shape and will have trouble catching bin Laden (both judgments are evidently true and now universally embraced in the Republican Party).
But Frum went on and declared that these "paleocons" "are thinking about defeat and wishing for it, and they will take pleasure in it if it should happen."
"They began by hating the neoconservatives. They came to hate their party and this president. They have finished by hating their country."
These declarations amounted to an attempted purge. David Frum was setting the bounds of permissible dissent and declaring this odd grouping, which included free-traders, protectionists, left-coast anarchists and Latin-Mass Catholics, to be a faction beyond the pale.
It was an interesting role for Frum to assume, considering that the Canadian-born writer is not what one would call a typical conservative. As one clear example of his distance from the American right, he began a November 6, 2003 post in his Diary blog on NRO by declaring: "Now let me say right off: I am not pro-life."
Frum ended his paragraph with "I have thought about this issue just as hard as you have, and I'm not going to change my mind."
The Frum situation is thick with irony on two counts: first is the odd spectacle of a devout pro-choicer saying who is not a conservative; and, second, his charges against the paleos last year could be judged today to ring at least as true against the neos.
Kristol: "Common Cause"
A year after the Iraq war and after Frum's attempted purge, the New York Times went to William Kristol to ask him his thoughts on Iraq now that things weren't moving as smoothly as he had hoped.
Kristol told the Times that John Kerry had the real answer to the problems there: we need to send more troops. Kristol explained that this agreement between the neocons and the Democrats should surprise no one:
I will take Bush over Kerry, but Kerry over Buchanan or any of the lesser Buchananites on the right. If you read the last few issues of The Weekly Standard, it has as much or more in common with the liberal hawks than with traditional conservatives.
Kristol continued, "If we have to make common cause with the more hawkish liberals and fight the conservatives, that is fine with me, too."
Making "common cause" with the antiwar left was the first charge in Frum's indictment that Buchanan and Novak had gone "far, far beyond" the bounds of permissible dissent.
Lest the White House not understand the implicit threat, Kristol added more; summed up in the Times' closing paragraph:
Recalling a famous saying of his father, the neoconservative pioneer Irving Kristol, that a neoconservative was "a liberal who has been mugged by reality," the younger Mr. Kristol joked that now they might end up as neoliberals--defined as "neoconservatives who had been mugged by reality in Iraq."
In short, Kristol was saying to the GOP, "if you don't continue your Wilsonian march, we will find a party (maybe Wilson's) that will."
Again, no one should have been surprised. Kristol's close ally, columnist Charles Krauthammer, never hid his admiration for Wilson, FDR and Truman, who he recently called "three giants of the twentieth century." Neocon publisher Lord Conrad Black wrote a paean to FDR. Kristol has given LBJ the A-Okay.
The neocons--and they admit this--are hawks first, and Republicans or conservatives second.
Boot: "Virtually Inevitable Defeat"
Another unpardonable sin of Frum's targets was "espous[ing] a potentially self-fulfilling defeatism." This charge is an odd one coming from a neocon, considering their success as a group is tied to their pragmatism. Neocons, it is said, are just conservatives who understand how the real world works.
So, it is certainly odd for neocons to tell the rest of the right to be more idealistic.
Their standard operating procedure is to criticize cultural conservatives for tilting at windmills in a dream world and trying to repeal modernity.
As a case in point, take Max Boot's Los Angeles Times article on homosexual marriage headlined: "The Right Can't Win This Fight." Boot contends that while we are not "in cultural decline," our society has irrevocably embraced the entire sexual revolution and more. The legitimacy of homosexual marriage is the inevitable next step and we are fools if we try to fight it.
Boot advises conservatives to surrender:
Faced with virtually inevitable defeat, Republicans would be wise not to expend too much political capital pushing for a gay marriage amendment to the Constitution.
What happened to Frum's demand that conservatism must now be "an optimistic conservatism"? For the neocons, this marching order is for foreign policy, not for culture wars.
Krauthammer: "Human Rights and Social Justice"
After we failed to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz explained to Vanity Fair that that didn't mean the war was fought for no good reason. There were many other reasons to overthrow Hussein, he explained, but the war cabinet settled on WMD because it was the one everyone could agree on.
Into this void came Krauthammer, perhaps the most eloquent and prolific pro-war writer on the right. In a May 16, 2003 article headlined, "Iraq: A Moral Reckoning," Krauthammer listed the virtues of the war.
His three bullet points were "Human rights," "Economic equity and social justice," and "The environment." We were also reminded at this time that the war had been authorized--indeed compelled--by UN resolution 1441.
So a war most conservatives had backed as a preemptive and unapologetic defense of our homeland and our allies from killer weapons was being explained to us after the fact as a humanitarian mission and an enforcement of UN resolutions.
In other words, the war had become a liberal war. Liberal not just as a social justice or UN mission, but liberal as part of an ambitious plan to use the state to remake society.
Many neocons after Baghdad fell immediately called for going onto Syria. Today it is Iran. The Palestinians and the Saudis, we are told, should also be on our list.
Just reading the Krauthammer headlines and the Kristol covers, we begin to see the bigger picture that is the neocons' vision. Iraq was just one piece in the puzzle of reshaping the entire Middle East and spreading Democracy to every corner of the world--an undertaking many conservatives (not just the paleos) would judge more fitting for the left's utopianists than the right's conservatives.
After Hussein has fallen, the neocons, tireless soldiers, march on. They tell us to abandon the culture wars at home and instead to find more overseas battles. And they let us know that if we balk as the battle moves to fronts we never imagined, they will have no trouble finding a new movement, and even a new president, to march beneath their flag.
Tim Carney is a reporter for the Evans-Novak Political Report.
ping a rooooo
how exactly does one define a NeoCon?
Is it me, or do so-called "Paleocons" bitch about being oppressed more than liberals?
One must admire Mr. Carney's thesis: Why fight terrorism when you can fight your fellow Americans?
A hawk who hates social conservatives.
Another Liberal conflation of fact.
We, the US, the CIA never did fund Bin Laden.
The Saudis did.
We, the US, the CIA funded the Norther Alliance & others.
Repeat the lie enough......
No kidding. By the time Osama became associated in any manner, shape or form with Afghanistan the Cold War had been over for nearly ten years.
NeoCon is a communist in conservative suit.
My definition of neo-conservatism is:
A intellectual movement born during Cold War which had roots among Wilsonian liberals, former leftists (some related to anti-Soviet Trotskyite factions). Fiercely anti-communist, supportive of big military and foreign interventions.
Neocons at first wanted to be considered conservative, but meeting the resistence from the original real conservatives who were anti-interventionists, suspicious of big government and sceptical toward utopias of New World Order, ended up with "neo" prefix. The actual conservatives are named sometimes paleo-conservatives to contrast them with neocons.
Neocons tend to blame their oponents of anti-semitism based on the fact that many neocons are Jewish. It is the tactic inherited from their Communist past when the anti-communists were slandered the same way.
Who is lying? Until 9/11 Northern Alliance was supported by IRAN and RUSSIA while Taleban was supported by USA. Check the facts, please!
An important part of the leftoid mythology. And patently false, by the way. Osama channeled funds of his own along with donations from Muslim countries. He never received a dime of U.S. money, or weapons, or training. All U.S. support went to native Afghans, not foreign fighters.
He did not need it for sure. But he did not work in vacuum. From the time of Soviet invasion of Afghanistan to the Taleban/KLA/Chechnya before 9/11 you can find a lot of strange alliances.
I have never seen
an official def. I use
and acknowledge that
create society by
their thoughts and actions.
I think neo-cons
are people who have embraced
the liberal love
of the collective
and social engineering
over free action.
It's true neo-cons
set different targets for
and use different
collective social units,
but I see their thoughts
are built from the same
basic concepts as the Left.
Both have contempt for
thinking or living freely
without some "elites" . . .
Maybe according to some. But you do not have to be Jewish to be a neocon, Commie or perhaps a Trotskyist - although I am not sure about the last :). Hey, you even can find some paleo Jews!
Irving Kristol was ALWAYS a flaming communist. An apple does not fall far from the tree. How better to gain control of any party than from inside. Be more hawkish than the hawks and push them aside. The lot of them have their own agenda and it is not pro-American.
A Scoop Jackson Democrat?
It's not just you. They do in fact whine like little bitches while they look down their noses at others.
Quite comical, really.
Is this what has come to - neglect the internal decay of our own nation to fight wars outside of it? If that is the neocon way, count me out. My kids are growing up here, not there. Seriously, in your opinion, is this why Cheney took the stance on gay marriage that he did - because the culture wars here are not winnable?
that lewrockwell site was really poorly put together. I mean sure they are nuts but couldn't they hire someone to design the site?!?! yeesh, my blog is better than that site
I hope Neocon isn't code for being Jewish because I don't want to have to double guess everytime some brings it up that they might be an Anti-Semite.
Found this article that gives a decent explanation of the term and its evolution to what it means today (at least by journalists views)
Neocon' becomes a confusing code word
By Suzanne Fields
Politics is all about polarities. Republican vs. Democrat, conservative vs. liberal, right vs. left, hard thinking vs. soft thinking. The labels are pervasive, but the ground frequently shifts, requiring a new prefix to freshen up the label.
The word neocon, for example (short for neoconservative), was born of such a shifting of the ground. Coined in the 1970s, the label stuck to Democrats who had watched the Scoop Jackson anti-Communist wing of the Democratic party evaporate before their very eyes. They saw the War on Poverty become a losing battle. On the domestic front, they observed the death of morality as it had been defined for thousands of years in the Judeo-Christian tradition. These Democrats finally concluded that liberalism, as they had known it, was dead.
Irving Kristol, father of the neocons, defined his band of brothers and sisters as "liberals mugged by reality." That reality was the "evil empire" as defined by Ronald Reagan, the leader they championed. The reality extended to a concern for crime and education and what came to be called "family values." A subdivision of the neocons, the "cultural conservatives," were wryly defined as liberals with daughters in junior high.
Jews were prominently identified with the neocons, largely because Norman Podhoretz, editor of Commentary magazine, made the magazine a sounding board for neocon criticism. But Jeanne Kirkpatrick, a Baptist, and William Bennett, a Roman Catholic, were prominent neocon voices from the beginning. So were other Christians. "What are we," they might ask, "chopped liver?"
The Jewish neocons understood what the majority of Jews who vote Democratic didn't - that Jews and Evangelical Christians held many things in common, among them an admiration and affection for Israel.
Such definitions and ideological attitudes are amply documented in the political history of the second half of the 20th century, but the neocon label resurfaces today as many journalists and pundits identify the neocons as a new generation driving the foreign policy of George W. Bush.
It's a label that doesn't quite fit, since those credited with influence are hardly "neo" anything. For the most part, the label is attributed to second-generation conservatives. Some are sons of the Scoop Jackson Democrats whose fathers have the last name of Podhoretz and Kristol, but the label as accurately understood has a much more inclusive intellectual base, including, for example, Vice President Dick Cheney; his wife, Lynne; Condoleezza Rice; Don Rumsfeld; and Paul Wolfowitz, the hugely influential deputy defense secretary.
The term, however, is disingenuously bandied about at dinner tables and policy meetings in London and Paris and elsewhere, where it is colorfully coded to suggest a Jewish conspiracy working on the White House.
A member of the French parliament, quoting Dominique de Villepin, the French defense minister, scoffed that "the hawks in the U.S. administration (are) in the hands of (Ariel) Sharon." This is a not-so-sly reference to the conservative Jews who are credited with converting the president to a sympathetic regard for Israel. Of course, those who cite a conspiracy or cabal continue to see the president as a dunce, whose tabula rasa is filled in by manipulative Jewish advisers.
Closer to home, the New York Observer, in a front page story under the headline "Neo-York, Neo-York," says the "neoconservative network is riding high." This requires stretching the definition beyond recognition, citing Rupert Murdoch, the publisher of the New York Post, the Weekly Standard and the Fox News Network.
"I have been amazed by the label of conspiracy-mongering around neocons," David Brooks, an editor at the Weekly Standard, tells the Observer. "I get it every day - the 'evil Jewish conspiracy.' The only distinction between 'neoconservative' and 'conservative' this way is circumcision. We actually started to call it the Axis of Circumcision."
Jay Nordlinger, an editor of the National Review, says the misuse of the term "neoconservative" as applied to him comes from reporters who are liberal, apolitical or stupidly political, "who know nothing about conservatism." He prefers the term "Reaganite."
Like Ronald Reagan, those who are called neocons today see the United States as a force for good against evil, and they're not afraid to speak in such terms. George W. Bush began to express that kind of thinking after Sept. 11, when everything changed.
"Evil still stalks the planet," Ronald Reagan told the Oxford Union Society in 1992. "Its ideology may be nothing more than bloodlust; no program more complex than economic plunder or military aggrandizement. But it is evil all the same. And wherever there are forces that would destroy the human spirit and diminish human potential, they must be recognized and they must be countered."
That sounds a lot like a lot of conservatives, neo- or not.
"Many of these hawks, called neocons, "
--Upon further review--
"Many of these
hawks chickenhawks, called neocons, ...." Just who are some of these neo'coms' who have been in uniform in harm's way.
And thats it, right? Theres no Islamo-Fascist network of disgruntled fanatics out to destroy us, its all about a bunch of commie libs out to remake the world.
Oh, and I guess Buchanan isnt just another version of Lyndon Larouchie populist and Novak isnt just a pro-Arab status quo appeaser. Whatever you say.
The only people who use that code are the neocons themselves.
They'll use it to smear anybody who has a substantive disagreement with their political agenda.
In that respect, they remain remarkably faithful to their liberal roots.
The only people who use that code are the neocons themselves.
They'll use it to smear anybody who has a substantive disagreement with their political agenda.
Garbage. As loony as your maglev trains.
Neo'com' war plans for America must be having a 'Titanic' moment. They are in lifeboats hurrying away, denying responsibility and screaming smears as they go.
"Paleos" are frauds if they call themselves conservative. They are extreme eccentrics who were unemployable by the Reagan administration because of their nonpresentable social demeanor and wild-eyed fanaticism for what can never again be if ever it was. Their predecessors wore themselves out smooching the backsides of Hitler and Stalin and Mao and Ho Chi Minh in the hope that they would be loved by our enemies. Today they smooch Hussein (a lesser god to be sure). Pat Buchanan must ahve lost his mind to hang politically with such a menagerie of crackpots who are the "paleos." I voted twice for Buchanan but he can kiss off now. His reputation cannot be restored.
Carney complains about the Frum article (National Review, 4/03). He would make much of Frum being a pro-abort and that is fair, every bit as fair as demanding that the "paleos" account for such lavender queens as Justin Raimondo (foreign minister of the paleos) and his barf-bag worthy antiwar.com (don't believe me but check for yourself). Carney can also explain the anti-Semitism, racism, isolationism, border paranoia and a variety of libertine (libertarian) obsessives that so characterizes so many in "paleo" ranks. Frum is no prize but he understands the "paleos" far better than they understand themselves. Stopped clocks are right twice a day.
The neoconservatives (mostly over eighty and some dead) are: Norman Podhoretz, Midge Decter, Irving Kristol, Gertrude Himmelfarb, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Sidney Hook, Jeanne Kirkpatrick and a few others). They (mostly) fled the Demonratic Party when that party became pro-communist and anti-American with the nomination of George McGovern. Their foreign policy is very much that of the post-Pearl Harbor American conservative political movement.
Those accused of being merely "neoconservative" by leftist and "paleo" enemies of all respectable things conservative are, well, the conservative movement, which is to say: conservatives. Conservative foreign policy is interventionist and not cowardly or pantywaist. Neville Chamberlain was an early George McGovern or Tom Hayden or Justin Raimondo or John Kerry and not not an early Ronald Reagan or Dubya.
Conservative foreign and military policy does not consist of crawling on our knees begging to kiss the backsides of the enemies of our civilization so that monsters may adore or ignore us but of employing our military as necessary to kill our enemies (those monsters) and break their things.
John Forbes Kerry is a despicable excuse for a human being NOT because he served, however briefly, but because he libeled a generation of noble young men, far better men than Kerry ever was or would be, soldiers who did their part to exterminate communism but failed because of the lies of the John Kerrys and the William Sloane Coffins, and the Jane Fondas and the Tom Haydens and the Jerry Rubins and the Abbie Hoffmans and their ilk. Like Kerry, these are the true forebears of today's "paleo" "conservative," enemies of America, each and every one. They believe nothing worth fighting to defend and they are most certainly are NOT any kind of conservative.
no, neocon isn't code for jewish, although alot of the prominent neocons are Jews. We just have a little fun with cranks who post the latest screed from LewRockwell, LibertyPost, etc, because those Fortress Amerika-types seem to think our staunch support for Israel makes us their tool. They're not really anti-semnites, just mildly xenophobic.
Neocons are also luddites.
how exactly does one define a NeoCon?
A Neo-con, someone who understands it 2004
A Paleocon, Someone who wants it to be 1934
1. Why are Paleos so convinced that "Neos" care about their "real conservative" opinions? Guess what? THEY DON'T GIVE TWO FARTS.
2. Why can't they stop whining? Do they actually believe, with all their spiteful rhetoric, that any other group sympathizes with them? I am convinced that alot of "Paleos" and capital L Liberatarians are big liabilities to the Republican Party.
Willie, you've confused me. Luddite means "one who opposes technical or technological change". The only people here bitching about change are the Paleos. Explain, please?
And should! The world is too big to be "filled" by United States. Realistic policy is not to be everything for everyone - it is to participate in or manage multipolar balances. If done cleverly the power of others can be leverage to the advantage of the clever side. That is why Reagan administration was supporting Saddam Hussein.
Nothing remains stagnant. "Change" is always a constant.
"Change" can be either positive (constructive) or negative (destructive).
Luddites oppose constructive change.
Neocons oppose constructive change by undermining technological development with cheaper, antiquated technologies that are operable by unskilled slave labor.
Same was with the criticism of Communism. So?
Well, if we don't fill the vacuum as much as possible, maybe the Chinese PLA will do it... or the Caliphate, or the EU army... who knows???
But if we're gonna be bitching that some of the architects of the current US foreign policy are pro-choice or favor homosexual marriage, we should be getting ready our red flags with the 5 stars to welcome the "liberating" army.
Make it 1913. And that in 1914 Serbia were left alone. The world without WWI and WWII, without Lenin and Hitler would be a very different place.
My definition: Liberals who really really like to blow things up so much that it estranges them from pacifistic liberals.
There is no maybe - United States WILL NOT fill the vacuum - at most it will go bankrupt trying. Capisti?
"You can hold yourself back from the sufferings of the world, that is something you are free to do and it accords with your nature, but perhaps this very holding back is the one suffering you could avoid". (Franz Kafka)
"Neocons tend to blame their oponents of anti-semitism based on the fact that many neocons are Jewish. It is the tactic inherited from their Communist past when the anti-communists were slandered the same way."
This is true, and I think it's despicable how on this forum anti-neocons are called anti-Semites by some. I supported the war myself, but I don't see how you can deny that neocons are simply hawks looking for which party has a better deal on foreign policy.
PS: Their call for attacking Syria immediately after the Iraq War proves that they're absolutely reckless and that their thoughts on foreign policy should be disregarded by the White House. End of story.
What charmingly discreet way of putting it! ;o)
There are many examples.
One that particularly stands out is steel production.
Contrary to political rhetoric, the United States' steel industry is the most technologicly advanced in the world. Domestic producers are highly productive when measured on a tons/employee basis, and they do so while being subjected to stringent health, safety and environmental regulations.
Neocons, however, have been adament that our domestic industry shut down and consolidate this "excess" global capacity.
The luddites prefer the higher profits they can obtain by operating antiquated, pollution-belching technology that's acquired cheaply on the global market.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.