THE BLOG

Neoconservatives Here To Stay

I have recently received calls from reporters suggesting that the neocon power base in the Bush administration is weak and in decline, a political movement that is basically over. They cite the slow leak of neoconservative voices from the administration, with the 2003 departure of Richard Perle from the Defense Policy Board, Wolfowitz from Defense to the World Bank, Feith into the world of memoirs and money-making, Bolton to the UN backwaters, Scooter Libby indicted, New York Times' reporter Judith Miller fired. My former co-worker Larry Franklin will serve 12 years in prison for spying, and AIPAC is under a new microscope. Americans generally assess the Iraq occupation as a bad decision, badly executed, and a majority of the people in this particular democracy would like our troops home. We've never believed the US must maintain long-term military bases in Mesopotamia.

With all this, I see the neoconservatives as clear winners, clear leaders, and active on the bridge of our ship of state. The folks at AEI, PNAC, AIPAC, and the whole Christian evangelical Israel-first crowd will probably, if quietly and politely, agree with me. We have a United States National Security Strategy of preemption (including nuclear) against just about anyone the President says. We have successfully inserted into the American belief system the idea that an endless offensive war on terror is both rational and winnable. It is neither, of course. But as with Alice in Wonderland, words increasingly mean whatever the administration says they do. We have long term military bases in Iraq, and a goal of around 100,000 US military permanently stationed there, much as we had in Germany for over 50 years. It's all for the new perpetual yet shapeless and formless enemy. Much more obviously than during the Cold War, it's for for protection and preservation of major American industries and their beneficiaries.

The neoconservative platform, as implemented by US foreign policy, might be described as a perpetual revolution of "democracy," perpetual interference and intervention abroad and at home, and perpetual war. This idea may be inspiring to Bolsheviks. Megalomaniacs like Mao and Pol Pot certainly appreciated this language of endless, idea-driven "destructive chaos." Jeremy Bentham might appreciate what we have become here at home, as the President protects us by secretly and not so secretly spying on us.

Neoconservatism is a success, at least so far. It dominates and sets the agenda on American interventionism. It is heartily embraced by both Republican and Democratic leadership. Historically, it will be damned at best, and given due credit for its important role in the legal, financial, and ideological destruction of our constitutional republic. But that is then, and this is now.

President Bush told us just today that Hamas, parliamentary winners in the Palestinian election, advocates the destruction of Israel, the Palestinian democracy remains an evil enemy, and peace is not an option. In doing so, Bush helpfully illustrates that democratic peace theory is bunk. Hamas dropped that particular call during the campaign, but this fact is irrelevant. That Bush would make this statement today, without notes and from his heart, with obvious emotion, tells me that those who think neoconservatism is on the outs are deluding themselves. To borrow a phrase from Mr. Rumsfeld, those who prefer a constitutional republic, oppose empire, prefer peace to war, and defense to offense, still face a "long hard slog."