December 15, 2004

"IT" GUY (via Kevin Whited:

Realists Rebuffed: A vulgarized neoconservatism in the saddle (Scott McConnell, 12/20/04, American Conservative)

How inscrutable the last remaining superpower must seem to the outside world! Only six months ago, informed Washington opinion held that neoconservatism was a spent force. [...]

That apparent right-around-the-corner return to realism heralded the restoration of a natural order. Around the country are thousands with lifetime Republican attachments who supported or even served in the administrations of Nixon, Reagan, and George Bush I for whom the neoconservative ascendancy was almost too bizarre to be believed. They thought that eventually reality would reassert itself. George W. Bush would talk to his father and mother or to Laura, and they would warn him that American foreign policy was running off the rails. Dick Cheney would understand. Donald Rumsfeld, who had begun to question whether we had a “metric” to know whether we were actually winning the War on Terror, would finally see the light. Yes, the United States went through a trauma on 9/11, and yes, Paul Wolfowitz and Doug Feith and David Wurmser happened to be right there to dust off and present a Mideast attack plan from a Benjamin Netanyahu/Project For the New American Century coven from the mid-1990s. While Washington was off guard, they saw their opportunity and took it. But Iraq had proved such a mess that the ship of state would right itself. Had to.

This was less wishful thinking than the natural human tendency to believe that the social patterns one has lived with for one’s entire adult life—those that one’s parents had lived with—would inevitably reassert themselves. It was a belief perhaps akin to the German Jewish bourgeoisie’s as they watched the rise of Hitler: No, things couldn’t get really bad, not in our Germany. In America, the phase is “it can’t happen here.”

One must be clear what “it” is. The Patriot Act is not a giant step towards domestic fascism, and we are not halfway to martial law. George W. Bush bears no hatred towards any minority group or even any domestic constituency.

For contemporary America, the “it” is the setting in full motion of an aggressive, reckless, militarized foreign policy, viewed as lawless by much of the world—one whose almost inevitable outcome is nuclear war. While Pinochet and Franco and for most of his reign Stalin kept within their own borders, Bush has ambitions of global scope. Of course they are idealistic ambitions, beautiful ambitions. The spread of democracy—especially if it springs up from a country’s indigenous institutions and populace—is a very good thing. But the Bushites now see democracy’s spread as necessary for America’s own survival. The world, particularly the Muslim world, must become democratic now, or we will perish. The neoconservatives in the administration believe that democracy will spread only if the president commits more and more troops to Iraq and topples the regimes in Tehran and Damascus. As alarming as the neoconservatism of Rumsfeld, Cheney, Perle, Wolfowitz, Feith, Danielle Pletka, and John Bolton is, more alarming is the spirit that has spread in its wake—a kind of neoconservativism without a graduate degree.

Paleocons and the Left have had an extraordinarily hard time figurin g out the lesson that George W. Bush taught the neocons in the 2000 primaries--he, a theocon, is the jockey, not the nag.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 15, 2004 11:07 AM

No graduate degree!? Heaven forfend!

Posted by: Timothy at December 15, 2004 11:35 AM

"Inevitably lead to Nuclear War".

Well, this is a very real concern -- confrontation with Iran or the Norks might very well lead to this. The are rather on the unpredictable side. But didn't the "realist" position inevitably lead to 9/11? (Well, I suppose a lot of these realists would have dumped Israel, and blam support for Israel for our current fix).

I just can't credit the idea that no confrontation won't inevitably lead to nukes popping off in the U.S., Europe or wherever else. Are the "realists" still counting on the U.N. to solve this problem? France & Germany to get serious about it? Even now, after the Oil-for-Food Scandal has blown? After the failed Clinton/Carter/Nork nuclear pact? While watching Iran lead Britain, France & Germany around by the nose over their current nuke program?

I just can't believe that these people believe that the worn diplomatic ways of the late 20th Century can protect us from someone planting a nuke any better than confronting the regimes who might aid & abet such a thing.

Posted by: Twn at December 15, 2004 1:52 PM

"for whom the neoconservative ascendancy was almost too bizarre to be believed." & "Iraq had proved such a mess"
Talk about dwelling in your own fantasy. These guys have internalized their beliefs so much that the think the world must have to conform to them, as if it was the equivalent of the Law of Gravity.

Posted by: fred at December 15, 2004 2:07 PM

"Bushites now see democracys spread as necessary for Americas own survival. The world, particularly the Muslim world, must become democratic now, or we will perish"

Wrong again. What is so frustrating about reading & talking to these people is that they ascribe thoughts & beliefs to us and act on that basis---even though we've told them time and time again that we DO NOT think and believe that way.

In point of fact, when he says "...necessary for America's survival..." and "...or we will perish", he has it exactly backward. The Arab world has to change---and adapting democracy is the best way to make the necessary change--for *their own* survival.
Every time I respond to somebody railing at the "evil USA" and "illegal war", I ask them for their opinion of what American citizens would demand as our response to another 9/11 or a Madrid-style train bombing or a Beslan-type school massacre. In EVERY CASE, they thought about it for only a few seconds, and then said "the American citizens would demand the we perform a Hiroshima response."

Posted by: fred at December 15, 2004 2:17 PM

Realism: If you pay 'em enough protection money, they won't nuke you (hey, why should they? They're reasonable; they're businessmen, dammit!). And given the kickbacks, and skimming, made possible by the endless supply of oil money, everyone's rolling in the dough. It's a perfect system. It's continuous motion. IT'S FOREVER!

And the Americans wonder why they're hated.

Posted by: Barry Meislin at December 15, 2004 5:59 PM

There seems to be a great confusion here. North Korea or Iran popping a nuke is not nuclear war: what happens in response is nuclear war

If they decide to hit my city, which is no longer a major American metropolis, but which might attract attention as a Cultural icon, well, I hadn't planned on living forever.

The credible threat of biocidal response is my best protection, as it was when we brought down the Communists. Credible means believable. The Wogs must believe that we are prepared to kill hundreds of millions of them if the thing be pressed.

This is the only way total war may be avoided. It is the mystery of deterrence. Just as the peace creeps, isolationists and Oxford-pledgers brought about WWII, so those
who are too timid to prepare for war now are the ones who incite WWIV

Posted by: Lou Gots at December 16, 2004 2:01 PM
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