Friday, November 25, 2005
That's what I love about this blog
I am corrected by some pretty well-read, smart people. My definition of neo-con centered on unilateralism; nation-building, pre-emptive use of force and expedient social conservatism. My mind spit out a name -- Dick Cheney -- that fit that description to a 'T'. But, thanks CB and Renegade Eye, for calling me on that. I slam Republicans all the time for being, shall we say 'fluid' in their descriptions of matters. I shall try to aspire to a higher standard.
Cheney, on further review, does seem to be a "modern conservative" (term courtesy of CB) that co-exists with neo-cons. And, while I was aware of the Kristols, Kagan, Bolton (!) et al, I assumed a broader path to being a true neo-con. I think I assumed too much.
Neo-cons probably should be separated out from the conservative pack, if for no other reason than clarity. I have no problem with people changing from one to another, yes CB, the first generation of neo-cons were lapsed liberals; most were Jewish and all were intellectuals. What I have a problem with is the co-mingling of modern conservative domestic agendas in the service of neo-con foreign agendas.
After all, much of the domestic social agenda of neo-cons was secondary to the movement's military foreign agenda.
Strength through striking the first blow is the basic tenet of the pure neo-cons and I've got to believe they know that to be a slippery slope. Hell, pre-emptive strikes were Adolph Hitler's ace in the hole. Despite the neo-con wish to spread democracy (and I'm fond of democracy), their agenda is anti-human. They're not spreading European-style democracy -- as an example, not a shining beacon. They're spreading American style democracy. So, now we are empire builders, right? Because if we are spending billions on "freeing" these nations, aren't we, as a capitalist country, going to want something in return?
We are, in my opinion, getting the worst of all possible worlds when we are a nation of mixed-bag conservatives. Why do I say that? Because by definition, the neo-cons desire a conquering army to tame the world, while the modern conservatives want a government that leaves its citizens almost entirely alone. Hmmmm. I don't want to be a pessimist, but isn't part of our conquering army (read that broadly and include the intelligence agencies) dedicicated to spying on its citizenry; dedicated to squelching any potential uprising? How does an all-powerful army co-exist with a government sensitive to its citizens' needs? I don't know, google "predator federal software" sometime and get an eyeful.
What has happened with our rush to conservatism is that it has created strange bedfellows that see a government that behaves badly towards each segment of its people except the very wealthy. Thus, you can have a Timothy McVeigh, Branch Davidian and MOVE and the Nation of Islam all see government by demonic possession.
I'll tell you, the L word looks better and better to me every day.
| posted by Jae at 8:52 PM |
Renegade Eye commented at 7:36 AM~
Quite an interesting post.
Cheney is in his own world. I think he is out for himself. Neocons don't have his style.
Premptive strike is a red herring issue. There is little history, of USA, not striking first. Clinton bombed a pharmaceutical company in Sudan, without even the support of the joint chiefs. He bombed Iraq dozens of times, often with expedient timing. He defied world opinion in Bosnia, bombing without UN support. I'm only ragging on Clinton to show that is not unique, done by liberals as well. The thinking was why overthrow Saddam, on his timetable.
The new spy apparatus is both a liberal and conservative creation. Much of the Patriot Act, came after the bombing of the Oklahoma Fed Building.
My concern is when an anticlerical book as "Reading Lolita in Tehran", is dedicated to Richard Perle, or I'm reading an antidictatorship blog from Egypt, with progressive ideas, is linked to Michelle Malkin, I'm concerned the progressives are dropping the ball somewhere.
CB commented at 6:27 PM~
One interesting thing about the current war debate is the role reversal and overlap of sentiment expressed by traditional liberals and neo cons. I think the Hitchens article Renegade Eye linked, navigates the bs the best. The term "nation building" was thrown at liberals by conservatives as an example of the kind of expense laden, foreign adventure folly liberals often spoke of. Bush himself (who was probably more of a modern conservative than a neo con) said that he wouldn't engage in that practice during his first Presidential campaign. 911 changed his and the nations thinking (at least temporarily for some). The problem many liberals have with the practice now is two fold: 1) Bush 2) Cheney and the electoral success they've versus the frustration of liberals.
Olive commented at 6:51 PM~
Does it matter from whose political loins ‘neo-cons’ sprang? For the immediate purpose of saving the country, I don’t think it’s any more relevant than smugly pointing out the differences between pre- and post-Roosevelt Democrats. Evolution -- as well as de-evolution -- happens. Take Bob Woodward, for instance. He has de-evolved into something much less heroic than the slayer of political-dragons portrayed by Robert Redford in “All the Presidents Men.” (Or maybe Woodward always was more myth than man. Whatever. I’m a long-suffering liberal, used to disappointment.)
In any case, while we’re contemplating the etymology of ‘neo con,’ the Cheney Administration and its minions are ravaging this country. And I don’t think you need to be a liberal to recognize that. For the first Thanksgiving since 1970, my Nixon loving brother in-law didn’t serve up a heaping helping of right-wing stuffing. His nonpartisan silence -- apart from allowing other conversations to flow -- spoke volumes. I was thankful.
Like the names of dead soldiers scrolling down our TV screens during the Vietnam War, the crimes of the Bush/Cheney Administration are blurring together. I’m exhausted by the effort of keeping them straight, nearly numb to my own outrage anymore.
It’s time for true conservatives to put a temporary hold on their stumping for the party, realize that the old GOP referents have been co-opted by the “neo cons” and join the effort to evict these guys from the White House. They are about one thing and one thing only: unaccountable presidential power.
To CB: Speaking of cynically imputing nefarious purposes to positions, you can’t possibly believe that liberals (pick any liberal… your friend, Jae, for instance) somehow approve of or sympathize with terrorists who blow up mosques, wedding parties and school children? I mean, now who is being cynical? As for the evil that is Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld et al? This is evil being perpetrated in our names – yours, mine and Stevie Wonder’s. It is an evil that, unless vigorously denounced, is ours by association.
And, I don’t know that I ever thought the neo cons necessarily insincere in their beliefs -- though it’s difficult to distinguish the careerist from the bootlicker from the sincere zealot – just untrustworthy.
CB commented at 12:49 AM~
I won't yield even Vietnam. Militarily, morally and otherwise, we had the war won until we abandoned the South Vietnamese, 800,000 of whom braved the South China Sea rather face the benevolence of Ho Chi Mihn and the North Vietnamese communists. General Vo Nguyen Giap said that they (the Viet Cong) were defeated militarily, but they relied on John Kerry, Jane Fonda and their followers to erode American support for the fighting and even the funding of the South Vietnamese Army following the departure of our troops.
Now, the Iraqis, who were let down following the first Gulf War, wait to see if bin Laden's, al Zarqawi's and al Zawahiri's prediction regarding American distaste for the fighting will come true. Will liberal sentiment drive us away from our responsibility to Iraqis as well as seal our own fate with regard to security?
On the eve of elections and with insurgents making concessions as well as "the Arab street," according to Hitchens, turning against the bin Ladenists, will we, led by Cindy Sheehan, Michael Moore and George Soros, snatch defeat from the jaws of victory once more?
I recommend Mona Charen's "Useful Idiots: How Liberals Got it Wrong During the Cold War and Still Blame America First"
Olive commented at 1:33 PM~
So when our troops are used up and our coffers rendered bankrupt; when the last relationship with our last ally has been destroyed; when Iraq reconstruction accounts have been sufficiently pillaged by American con-men and Iraqi prisoners have been sufficiently (but pointlessly) abused by American-sponsored torturers; when the reality of an Iraqi civil war has finally been acknowledged, we’ll know who to blame: Cindy Sheehan, Michael Moore and George Soros.
Liberals have no power. Our only weapon for the past six years has been righteous indignation.
I’m being sarcastic, CB, and that’s not very nice but it makes me crazy. Conservatives in this conversation will defend (and often, well) their position and ideology but will not acknowledge the big fat ugly elephant in the room: the full-scale corruption that is this administration and its ill-conceived war. I just want to hear one conservative say that he or she sees it and disapproves of it (without bringing up Bill Clinton’s BJ).
Just last week we learned that we put a convicted con man in charge of the money – $82 million, cash -- for the Coalition Provisional Authority. In 1996 (well before his appointment) Bob Stein was convicted in Federal Court for fraud. He spent eight months in prison and was ordered to pay $45,000 in restitution. A recently unsealed criminal complaint alleges that (surprise, surprise) he used some of that money (remember, money that was supposed to be used to rebuild the country we’ve destroyed) to pay the US district court in North Carolina. And this story, like those about Iraqi prisoner abuse, is not that of an isolated incident.
We’ve burned -- through graft, greed and deceit -- so many bridges that even well reasoned pro-war positions have fallen victim to the lies. You cannot muster credibility because, like it or not, conservative has become synonymous with neo-con, with Cheney, with criminality.
Olive commented at 2:23 PM~
I have just one more point: Recent polls showing waning support for the war reflect the pessimism of conservatives, not liberals. Anti-war liberals have always been counted. Plummeting pro-war numbers are a result of conservative chagrin. Sadly, we've come to accept that the only legitimate critisism of this administration's policies, can come from conservatives.. or at least our media doesn't start reporting on it until it's uttered by a conservative.
CB commented at 7:57 PM~
Thanks for answering, I wasn't sure if I'd hear from you on this one again. You do make a good point in that Republicans are supposed to be in control. Even though large elements of the media have a strong liberal bias, the Administration and Congressional Republicans have done a poor job of remaining on the public relations offensive.
Prosecution of wars are rarely perfect, mistakes are made. Graft and corruption with the amount of money flowing through a country without institutional checks and balances is inevitable. I contend the nature of corruption is spelled bureaucracy (I just made that up, I'll have to use that sometime).
Olive, despite not finding WMD, despite the resistance, despite potential civil war, at times sloppy execution of the war and inevitable corruption, I still firmly believe that we did and are doing the right thing in Iraq. Why, you ask? Because freedom works!
Natan Sharansky in his book The Case for Democracy, makes a powerful case for even the hope of liberty. Iraqis have more than hope, they have a fighting chance. As I mentioned, the Sunni insurgents are in a negotiating mood. Although I've not interviewed them, from their prospective, despite death threats, men and women risked their lives and the lives of their children, parents and grandparents to stain their fingers blue. I think they see that this government will be formed and supported. They also see Iraqi security forces being stood up and Sunnis being called back to serve. They see diminished support for the bin Ladenists. They, in short, see Iraq working.
Moreover, the myth of no connections between al Qaeda and Iraq, between islamo fascists and secular Baathists, was incorrect and if any proof is required, the Iraqi insurgence should put that all to rest. Aside from the ample evidence detailed in the bi-partisan, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report (if I remember correctly, beginning on page 51) and the 911 Commission report, Steven Hayes has documented more ties than could be found in a 5th Avenue Men's store.
If Iraq works, Iran and Syrian democrats will be emboldened. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Yemen, Bahrain, UAE, Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, etc., will all feel more pressure to liberate their citizens from tyranny. This honors the sacrifice of those who have been injured (many people forget about) and those that have died. It will cement the nobility of our fighting forces in history and continue America's tremendous legacy of doing good.
On the issue of our "allies" the corruption documented in the Oil for Food scandal offers ample evidence of why Russia, China and France didn't vote to go to war. I won't even go into the fact that France is still burning tonight or that Putin has suspended press freedoms and is housing more and more power in the Kremlin. China is gearring up for war, manipulating the currency markets, actively engaged in pirating corporate and military secrets and all kinds of pleasantries. So like the Pharisee asked of Jesus, "who is my neighbor?" or in this case ally?
Criticize the execution, suggest more boots on the ground, have regional powers put more pressure on Syria and Iran but by all means support the effort to win.
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