Skip to comments.Neocons and Small-Government Conservatives, Consciously Uncouple
Posted on 03/30/2014 9:01:53 PM PDT by WilliamIII
Once the Cold War ended it didn't make much sense for neoconservatives and small-government conservatives to remain in a coalition. But breakups take time, and post-9/11 politics briefly created the illusion that Bill Kristol and George Will belong in the same political party. I am here to tell you that they do not, even if many people who identify as small-government conservatives still don't realize it.
There are kind, intellectually honest neoconservatives who genuinely believe that their hawkish, imperial approach to foreign policy would bring about a better world. Their notion of the good is still incompatible with small-government conservatism and libertarianism. And the darkest strains in neoconservatismthe zealous defenses of torturing prisoners, for exampleare incompatible with the professed beliefs of a lot of social and religious conservatives, too. How could the GOP possibly serve the agendas of all these factions?
If neoconservatives got their way, as they did during George W. Bush's first term, the United States would spend more on its military and wage war in more countries. Neoconservatives still believe the Iraq War was a good idea. They'd have preferred to keep our troops in Afghanistan longer. They urged greater American involvement in Egypt and Libya. They wanted President Obama to intervene in Syria.
As they urge actions that would require spending tens of billions of additional dollars in the Middle East and North Africa, they also insist that NATO grant security guarantees to countries like Georgia, as if the sanctity of its borders is worth risking nuclear war. And .. they criticize the Obama Administration for not doing enough to "pivot toward Asia" in the Pacific.
Many small-government conservatives may be morally comfortable with interventionism. What they must realize is that neoconservatism's particular agenda would require dramatic tax increases, or significant borrowing
(Excerpt) Read more at theatlantic.com ...
I am not a neocon yet I believe the Iraq War was not just a good idea, it was a justified war.
I am a neocon and small gov conservative.
I am a neocon and small gov conservative.
Can’t be a big-government man when it comes to foreign policy - i.e., always more war, such as neocon McCain wants — and be a small-government man at the same time. There’s no such thing as a free welfare program - something liberals need to learn. And there’s no such thing as a free war - something neocons need to learn.
BTW, wasn't Ronald Reagan both a defense hawk (or "neocon," as this author would say) and a small government conservative at the same time? Or at least both of those general tendencies were within his fundamental principles.
“BTW, wasn’t Ronald Reagan both a defense hawk (or “neocon,” as this author would say) and a small government conservative at the same time?”
Yes he was. You just need to pick your battles carefully, unless of course, the battle comes to you with no choice in the matter. However, I’m not an American First type like Pat Buchanan, nor am I a Rand Paul type, the Libertarian view of no military action as the default. Some wars need to be fought.
This current president is libertarian on foreign affairs and national defense.
I would prefer a conservative, like Reagan in charge.
Reagan was just a conservative, a full conservative, not all these splinter off pieces and elements of conservatism.
Reagan was the full three legs of the stool.
George Will is a big government AmnestyCon.
“Speak softly and carry a big stick” sure works a lot better than “bend over and carry a red crayon.
The Republican Party is, within itself, too far apart to stand. You can state all day that Reagan straddled both wings, but you still have to choose whether to run up trillions of debt TODAY (paid back by our children) to defend questionable allies who don’t add a bit to our security.
We spend more on “defense” (offense) than the next 13 nations combined. See http://davidstockmanscontracorner.com/2014/03/30/debunking-the-gutting-of-military-storyline/
By far, the two greatest threats to America are debt, and WMD at our borders and airspace. How does defending Europe or SE Asia or Israel help with that?
Reagan was an ultra-rare person who understood that there are no liberties in a gulag, and that it’s better to fight on someone else’s land than your own.
The author of this article seems to have no idea what real Conservatives support. ....He even goes into the liberal lingo about “torturing prisoners”, when there has been no evidence of such torture. ...Just another liberal hack!
If the Iraq war was not prosecuted, Saddam Hussein would have continued working on a nuclear project. The world learned such from the CIA handler who spent a year with him while he was in prison. What would the cost have been if a nuclear device was detonated on Wall Street? How about a second one in Chicago? How about a third smuggled in by one one our illegal friends from the south of our border? Other than the military, I want our government to cut every penny it can where it is pratical. To me, Big Military does not mean Big Government. It means national survival.
Reagan didn’t “straddled both wings”, he was a full blown national defense hawk, the greatest in American history.
He helped save a world. He knew that weakness brought aggression and war, he came into office determined to rollback Soviet gains under Carter’s libertarian policies. On Reagan’s list to involve America in was, and was not limited to, Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Iran, Laos, Libya, Nicaragua, and Vietnam.
He was proven right, and the USSR was defeated without nuclear war.
The Constitution left such matters as civilian healthcare & education, wholly to the States & people. There is no legitimate Federal role. (Nor can one be imagined, which respects even common sense.)
On the other hand, adequate defense was one of the principal motives for even considering a Federation of the 13 new Nations, linked by the Articles of Confederation.
But an adequate defense is not the same thing, and does not equate with crack-pot projects to redefine other nations concepts of Freedom, morality & social order. Neocons tend to embrace those crack-pot projects, American Conservatives, show better sense.
For an enunciation of the differences between traditional American foreign policy, and what we have been seeing from the last three Presidents: An American Foreign Policy.
For a specific look at George W. Bush's Second Inaugural Address, from the perspective of the ageless wisdom of George Washington: George Washington Answers George W. Bush.
For a look at Obama's abuse of the Law Of Nations in Libya: Obama & Libya.
For a look at what Bill Clinton did against Serbia in Kosovo: American Foreign Policy At The Crossroads.
Reagan's actions were all aimed at dealing with a very real threat to America's continued existence, from a determined World Communist movement. He offers no precedent for the crack-pots who seek to challenge the very concept of independent nations. Dealing with a specific enemy does not equate to dealing with peoples with whom you simply do not share common values.
Would you like the see Constitutional formal declarations of war by the Congress [not Executive workarounds like UN resolutions, Tonkin resolutions, everything on the table, authorized to use force]? I would.
I really like your insight - you can’t be a small government conservative if you are a war conservative.
Incidentally, here from 1929, is a speech by the Senator, who first rose against Wilson's League of Nations, which correctly states the true American Conservative position on adequate Defense. (Naval Appropriations Bill.)
The difference, of course, goes to the purpose of strong defense--Making the world safe for America. That is our business. The internal institutions of other peoples are not.
In Reagans first term the NeoCons peaked out. They led Reagan into Beirut where he got his nose bloodied. He shifted back to the Realists and George Schultz and Colin Powell were most influential.
But they still share power and a GOP prez's foreign policy team will have both NeoCons and Realists. Usually, Sec of State and NSA are Realists while the SecDef job goes to a NeoCon. OTOH, a dem prez will usually have Realists at SecDef and NSA and a Liberal Interventionist as Sec State.
This author and many others like to point the finger at the NeoCons, but the real problem is when the NeoCon republicans team up with the Liberal Interventionist democrats. Both of them are Idealists big on humanitarianism and nation building.
Under Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, and GHW Bush, the Realists had the upper hand. Under Clinton the Liberal Interventionists rose to power and under GW Bush the NeoCons rose to power.
The GOP has melded with the dem party.
What we see today is a vacuum.
What fills that vacuum is really up in the air at this point.
This is pretty un-predictable right now.
I know one thing....I am not the GOPs bitch.
They best not take the small government, social issue voter
It seems that is what they plan to do if thats is the case, I will do whatever
I can as an individual to collapse the system.
BTW, wasn't Ronald Reagan both a defense hawk (or "neocon," as this author would say)Neocons aren't strong on defense. They're strong on intervention, invasion, and interference. They could give a dang about defense so long as they get to go to other countries and fire up the machineguns.
Reagan didnt straddled both wings, he was a full blown national defense hawk, the greatest in American history.
Reagan wasn’t an interventionist. The only “invasion” under Reagan was the two-day rescue operation in Grenada. Other than that, eight years without any wars, no invasions of other countries - but we still brought down the Soviet empire. Too bad George Bush didn’t learn from Reagan’s foreign policy.
the Iraq War was not just a good idea
We have Obama as president because of the Iraq war — because of its massive unpopularity after years of futile American spending (and sky-high deficits) and deaths of American troops (and destruction of the country of Iraq, giving rise to civil war and turning jihadists loose on the country.) People “thanked” the GOP for this disaster by electing the Democrats. Obamacare is part of the result.
Don’t forget the peacekeeping mission in Beiruit, or the assisted proxy wars in Afghanistan, Nicaragua, el Salvadore, Honduras, etc.
The Cold War was a completely different era where interventions could take place through proxies. Saying that Reagan wouldn’t have, under the actual circumstances at the time, invaded Afghanistan after 9-11 or Iraq after 15 years of all other options failing can’t be reasonably supported.
Oh, don’t forget el Dorado Canyon (and related military activities against Libya) and Preying Mantis, the latter being a quick 1 or 2 day war that effectively eliminated the Iranian Navy as a serious service, reducing it to ... speedboats.
America had a friendly relationship with Lebanon, the most westernized people in the near east in the 1930s, established before World War II. Reagan sent our forces in as a show of support; not to interfere with Lebanese institutions. When the show of support did not stabilize, but simply put American lives at risk, he pulled our forces out.
He did not have our Marines, acting as magnates for anti-American fire, patrolling the Iraqi dessert, for years after we had won a war with Iraq! There is a huge difference between a principled Conservative (Reagan) and Bush's neocon advisers.
The neocon foreign policy is simply a revival of the Leftwing foreign policy of Dean Rusk (1961-1969), and there was nothing Conservative about that. Even the war with the Communists in Viet Nam, was fought with our hands tied; while we toppled pro-Western leaders around the third world.
But freedom is free . . . right?
That invasion was conquering another country militarily, not knowing that shows how determined you are to play down the wonderfully aggressive President who is famous for his aggressive foreign policy and global interventions.
Reagan was fighting all over the globe and taking us to, and keeping us on the brink of war, with the half of the world that was already under communist domination.
Reagan pumped us up to 435,000 troops on the Soviet Empires European border, and we were practically in a state of war, and it was tense, but we approved of Reagan’s aggression, because we wanted to break this stalemate.
Reagan came in after the failings of the libertarian foreign policy of President Carter, when the Soviets absorbed country after country. On Reagans list to involve America in was, and was not limited to, Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Iran, Laos, Libya, Nicaragua, and Vietnam.
We again have a President who is libertarian on foreign policy and the military, he is shrinking the Army to a number of personnel that Reagan stationed in Europe alone.
Reagan PROJECTED strength, he knew that a libertarian foreign policy, meant the end of freedom and Western Civilization, and America.
No, the Iraq War has nothing to do with Obama.
We have Obama as President because the Democrats at the end of 2006 had control of the House and the Senate, and they wanted one of their own in the White House to push for socialism.
They knew that a “Black man” would sweep the black vote, in this case 90%, and the Liberals, which is exactly what happened.
“No, the Iraq War has nothing to do with Obama.”
You don’t read polls do you? Opposition to the Iraq war was the no. 1 issue driving voters to vote against the GOP in 2006 - when we lost the Congress — and in 2008, when we lost the White House
The author is a bit confused. Let's break it down.
If neoconservatives got their way, as they did during George W. Bush's first term, the United States would spend more on its military and wage war in more countries. Neoconservatives still believe the Iraq War was a good idea. They'd have preferred to keep our troops in Afghanistan longer.
Actually, 9/11 wrecks the author's curve. Iraq and Afghanistan were justified. The idea was not to keep our troops over there longer -- they should have been sent to win, win decisively and get the hell out, since combat troops are not nation builders and should not be employed as such. A true neo would want the troops out simply because they could then be deployed somewhere else.
They urged greater American involvement in Egypt and Libya. They wanted President Obama to intervene in Syria.
Military intervention is an option when national interest is threatened. It's very hard to make case for that in any of those three instances.
You are correct — I don’t bother with polls.
I said the war in Iraq was justified, but George W. Bush made the dreadful decisions believing the US could nation-build both in Iraq and Afghanistan. That is where he made fatal mistakes which destroyed the Republicans in the polls.
Once we got to Baghdad and a bit later Saddam was caught and executed, that was it - we should have left Iraq.
Afghanistan should have been treated like what it really is - a haven for criminals, in this case terrorists and drug smugglers. They should be treated the same way pirates are dealt with - quickly and severely; demand the Afghans hand over the terrorists or we hurt your nation very badly. Instead the fools decided to nation build. Now we have Karzai, who is thoroughly corrupt, and expanded poppy fields (from which some Americans are making lots of moolah). And we are still present there under Obama.