Skip to comments.Empire Builders. Neoconservatives and Their Blueprint for US Power (Neocon 101)
Posted on 08/28/2003 7:35:28 AM PDT by u-89
Some basic questions answered.
What do neoconservatives believe?
- "Neocons" believe that the United States should not be ashamed to use its unrivaled power forcefully if necessary to promote its values around the world. Some even speak of the need to cultivate a US empire. Neoconservatives believe modern threats facing the US can no longer be reliably contained and therefore must be prevented, sometimes through preemptive military action.
- Today, both conservatives and neocons favor a robust US military. But most conservatives express greater reservations about military intervention and so-called nation building. Neocons share no such reluctance.
- neocons are not afraid to force regime change and reshape hostile states in the American image
- many other conservatives, particularly in the isolationist wing, view this as an overzealous dream with nightmarish consequences.
- Neocons envision a world in which the United States is the unchallenged superpower, immune to threats. They believe that the US has a responsibility to act as a "benevolent global hegemon." In this capacity, the US would maintain an empire of sorts
- Any regime that is outwardly hostile to the US and could pose a threat would be confronted aggressively, not "appeased" or merely contained. The US military would be reconfigured around the world to allow for greater flexibility and quicker deployment to hot spots in the Middle East, as well as Central and Southeast Asia. The US would spend more on defense, particularly for high-tech, precision weaponry that could be used in preemptive strikes.
In their own words. A collection of quotes by neoconservatives.
- "Change - above all violent change - is the essence of human history." - Michael Ledeen
- "American power should be used not just in the defense of American interests but for the promotion of American principles." - William Kristol
- "Republicans are good at wielding power, but they're not so wonderful when it comes to the more idealistic motives of liberal internationalism. The Democrats are better at liberal internationalism, but they're not so good at wielding power. I would say that if there were a Joe Lieberman/John McCain party, I'm in the Joe Lieberman/John McCain party." - Robert Kagan
The Monitor asked a leading US foreign policy expert, Walter Russell Mead, to place neoconservative beliefs in historical context.
- "..in the early part of the 20th century when it was clear that the British empire was not going to be as strong and the Unisted States was growing. And you had people like Teddy Roosevelt and others beginning to think ... "What if America is going to become an imperial nation? What does that look like?"
-If you went back a hundred years or so, Wilsonianism was carried out by people like missionaries who thought that the way to make America safe was to make the rest of the world believe the way we do ........The neocons of today have sort of revived this older Wilsonian tradition
Q: What do you see as the neocons' biggest obstacles in the future?
A: They have the problem that all Wilsonians have. Wilsonians always want more foreign policy, in a way. If you think about democratizing the Middle East ... that's an incredibly tall order. That could take us a very long time. And it's not completely sure that everybody in the US is going to want to make those sacrifices ... especially if it involves troops, maybe not just in Iraq, but in other places ... some of whom will be getting shot at from time to time.
Walter Russell Mead is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
The Monitor asked award-winning author, US military historian, and self-described neocon Max Boot to discuss the extent of neocon power.
Max Boot: "I think neocons combine the best of the two dominant strains of US foreign policy thinking: Wilsonian idealism and Kissingerian realpolitik. They have Wilson's devotion to promoting democracy while at the same time recognizing as Wilson did not that this often requires force"
(Excerpt) Read more at csmonitor.com ...
Start at the end with Max Boot (with whom I am utterly unfamiliar), the "self-described neo-conservative." His heroes: Wilson and Kissinger. Wilson????? Wilson was a schizophrenic politico with support from Klansmen like McAdoo on the one hand and grand visions of the League of Nations on the other. Wilson was an internationalist and no sort of conservative. Kissinger, Mr. Detente???? Mr. SALT???? I don't think so. Not a conservative but another internationalist. I will tell you out of the gate that if the ONLY alternatives were internationalism, more properly speaking "globaloney" and isolationism, then isolationism is number 1 with a bullet (you should pardon the expression) on this week's top 40. Fortunately, isolationism is a very distant second when outpaced by interventionism (on US terms when we feel like it for reasonable causes).
To Walter Russell Mead of the, ahem, Council on Foreign Relations, and no mere member but a frequent spokesthing, this conservative and most whom he knows would undress at high noon in the public square (offending public taste as well as public morals) before aiming for democracy in the Middle East. A conservative must be at least a skeptic on globaloney agendae and probably its outright enemy in 90%+ of cases. Given the wild popularity of the looney tunes led by Muhammed el Rootie Kazootie and his legion of child butchers by homicide bombings of school buses, I am not eager for Middle Eastern "democracy" any time soon. I miss the Shah of Iran. He was a far better model.
Michael Ledeen can call himself whatever he wants to call himself. He shifts around so much that he probably doesn't know what he is. In any event his quote is his opinion on what history has been and not what he thinks it SHOULD have been.
Donald Kagan will probably take Robert Kagan to the woodshed if he reads that nonsense about "liberal internationalism" much less the support for Lieberman/McCain.
As to other points, benevolent hegemon, perhaps. Empire???? No! Favor forcing regime changes? You bet! Remaking East Kaboomistan in the American image??? No! Rebuiilding East Kaboomistan with American money???? Absolutely not!
Conservatives and neocons favor a robust American military AND the willingness, yea, the eagerness to use America's unrivalled military strength reactively but preferably pre-emptively in interventions where desireable. Paleos do not. Paleos and conservatives do NOT favor nation-building, nor the abuse of the military and its personnel as social workers in Haiti or Kosovo or anywhere. Neoconservatives may favor nation-building. The old folks did work for LBJ and the Great Society in the pre-communist, pre-pervert Democrat Party and it would be in line with LBJism as reflected in his goofier Vietnam speeches. None of these groups favor empire.
Aggression and NOT appeasement and NOT containment (other than temporary while busy elsewhere) are indeed the conservative policy toward states and movements hostile to US interests and have been since Pearl Harbor and ever will be. High tech weaponry, reconfiguration for rapid deployment, greater flexibility, preventive strikes: Absolutely. Not limited to the Middle East, Central and Southeast Asia, either.
Mommy, there's a neocon under my bed!
You think that's bad?? I took the quiz and all of the sudden this popped up:
The "neo-con" explanation started with crypto-anti-semitism selective identification with certain supposed Jews in the administration. This was generated by La Rouche and perhaps a Buchanan piece or two. Confronted with non-Jews like Cheney and Rice, and unable to sustain a totally paranoid racist discourse holding that Ledeen, et al. is pulling Cheney's strings (though some Arabs and English can maintain this fiction), some libs adopted the "neo-con" rubric, but expanded it to Cheney, etc. Perhaps the commonest characteristic of this identification/definition project is the avoidance of asking any of these people if they are "neo-cons", let alone analyzing their views in context of Wahhabism, Caliphatism, ME politics, Kashmir, etc.
The historical parallel of the retinue of ideas they define is not only Wilson, but other self-identified non-conservatives such as JFK and LBJ. Also, the views of the defined "neo-cons" is not different than modern libs who want to "change" the world, they just don't like the tactics, and protraying America as a beneficient or even neutral actor interferes with their meticulous grooming of their anti-american historical narrative, a project which is threatened by reality and pesky foreign actors who aren't saying what they wish they would say.
Alex 'royal pinhead' Jones is BIG on toutiong this angle these days ...
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