(Sultan Knish)While Maureen Dowd warns that the neo-conservatives are coming back, an event surely worse than the siege of American embassies and the murder of American ambassadors, she can rest her head easy on that account. The neo-conservatives died in the siege of Benghazi, much like Mubarak they are still around, but completely irrelevant in the way that most ideas are once they lose their meaning.
Dowd would know better than to celebrate the death of neo-conservativism, if she understood what that really meant, beyond the shadowy menace that her dinner party guests tell her about before the main course is served.
In the Middle East, neo-conservatives offered a middle ground between appeasement and belligerence that blended Cold War politics and Third World democracy outreach. The ideas that made so much sense when former liberals were confronting the nightmarish repressive powers of the Soviet Union met their end in the Middle East for reasons that neither they nor their ideological enemies can explain.
Democracy only works when the character of the people is better than the character of their government. It works very badly when the character of the people is actually worse and the existing system serves much the same purpose as bars in a tiger cage do. The neo-conservatives were unprepared to grapple with such troubling notions. They were very methodical in laying out the moral case against Saddam Hussein, but they were unprepared to cope with the notion that Iraq’s ruler might have reflected the moral level of a significant portion of Iraqis.
The Baath Party, unlike the Bolsheviks, was not an external ideology imposed on the Iraqis. Like most regional Socialist movements, its ideology was a fig leaf for tyranny and tribal alliances. Saddam was a cheap mass murdering thug with dreams of even bigger empires and atrocities. Removing him made a certain amount of geopolitical sense, but replacing him with purple fingers and democratic elections was never going to lead to a better Iraq.
Many neo-conservatives backed Obama’s own democracy experiments in the Arab Spring and his invasion of Libya because they seemed to resemble their own ideas. But Obama had actually reached back for Carter’s Green Belt playbook with the goal of defusing Islamic terrorism by giving their supposedly more moderate Islamist cousins what they wanted– their own countries to play with.
This wasn’t neo-conservatism, though it looked a lot like it, enough that Maureen Dowd should have blushed before beginning a tirade about the neo-conservative threat, it was appeasement politics dressed up in the same old democracy colors. The tyrants we were overthrowing were men who had made deals with us, and who were for the most part fairly benign by the standards of the region. That is what made them easy targets for the knife in the bag and the Islamist mob in the square.
By the light of burning embassies, it is somewhat redundant to even mention that this policy failed. Turning Islamists into rulers has upgraded their “extreme” wings from terrorists to militias and the September 11 attacks were an announcement that everyone, except the idiots in Washington DC still wailing about the video, understood. When armed militias and mobs besiege your embassies and plant their flags on your walls, it’s a territorial claim, not a protest rally about a dead pedophile.
The Arab Spring was the red line of democracy promotion. It pulled the trigger that Condoleezza Rice had been nervous about pulling and it did it to disastrous effect. And aside from the death toll, what all that noise really means is that neo-conservatism of the democracy intervention flavor is dead. The only people who still believe that local democracy works also believe that the Muslim Brotherhood is misunderstood and that we need to kill the Bill of Rights to appease Muslims. These are not, for the most part, neo-conservatives, they are the sort of appeasers who show up at Maureen Dowd’s dinner parties and at White House press conferences.
The death of neo-conservatism, unmourned as it may be, leaves few options between belligerence and appeasement. The neo-conservatives held out hope for a more rational order that fused the classic idealism of FDR, Ike and JFK as a formula for a foreign policy that would allow American to transform its enemies, rather than bombing them to bits.
That was why so many Democrats, especially in the most conservative Senate, got on board the George W. Bush express. Much as the left’s revisionist history might try to paint Bush as a wacky cowboy off on a shooting spree, his policy was an extension of what Clinton had done, and before liberal political calculation got in the way, had brought the senior leadership of the Democratic Party on board… not to mention Tony Blair.
What we are witnessing is the death of any such middle ground in the Middle East’s graveyard of idealism. The future will, as it turns out, not be one of purple fingers and people cheerfully accepting elections as a means of political representation, rather than a non-violent way of seizing power and then making sure that no one else can win an election again. The same mechanisms that kept Saddam in power made Maliki’s war on Sunnis and Kurds equally inevitable.
The Muslim world is not individualistic, nor is it made up of individuals seeking their own version of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is a collectivist place, even more so than the United States is becoming, where tribe and religion matter because they are the only ways that individuals get ahead. We were not dealing with meritocracies, not even the damaged affirmative action kind we run now, but with tribal systems with a smattering of modern politics on top, where local nationalism is also economic survival. The family’s social capital counts for much more than empty talk about freedom and old hatreds against neighbors can be pursued by men who wear army or police uniforms, but who identify with old vendettas more than with new governments.
We have already seen the left’s answer to neo-conservativism, if we hadn’t already seen it earlier in the Carter years. Shameless appeasement tethered to a reflexive hatred of the United States where all violence is incorporated into blowback theory. The Carter Doctrine rewards the worst enemies in the hopes that doing so will eventually make them our friends and blames all setbacks on new anger for some real or imaginary offense by us. The Carter Doctrine is now the Obama Doctrine and it’s why our embassies are burning brightly in the night.
The only good thing about the Carter/Obama Doctrine is that it cannot be sustained for long, not because our boys and girls in DC and the UN can’t keep it up, but because the Islamists won’t let them. The Salafi raids ruined a perfectly good Arab Spring because the raiders couldn’t resist rubbing the noses of the infidels in their own weakness. And those raids will only escalate because Islam, like a steroidal weightlifter, is so insecure that it constantly needs to show off its power.
But that doesn’t leave much of an alternative on the conservative side. Republicans liked neo-conservativism because it was idealistic, and by the standards set by the decaying left, had become conservative. It allowed Republicans to cheer American Exceptionalism as the solution to all global problems, without understanding that its aggressive good cheer was completely misplaced.
Exceptionalism is exceptional. If American Exceptionalism can be plonked down in Iraq or Afghanistan, then it isn’t exceptional anymore. And in fact, it can’t be. The United States has conquered and reconstructed several countries before, and only the ones with a tradition of democracy that predated the need to conquer them, are worth mentioning today. And none of them are little Americas and have, at best, a conflicted relationship with the United States.
Romney is still echoing vaguely neo-conservative talking points, but it’s doubtful that he, or anyone, besides McCain, really wants to invade Syria for the Muslim Brotherhood. Americans didn’t want the Libyan War, and aside from some of senate fixtures like McCain, few Republicans really want to do it either.
The second set of September 11 attacks may have finally begun convincing Republicans that Muslims really don’t want to be Americans and they aren’t going to be turned into Americans any time soon. It has not quite led them to the logical conclusions to be drawn from that, but it still might. The death of the middle ground of neo-conservativism leaves few options but appeasement and belligerence, not democracy belligerence, but plain old fashioned saber rattling.
If Muslims can’t be taught to be nice people and won’t leave us alone, then there are two alternatives. Give them what they want or give them hell. Obama has tried the former with the expected results. The window on giving them hell is slowly starting to creak open, though I wouldn’t expect many prominent Republican politicians to start talking like Patton any time soon.
The Israeli example has demonstrated that Muslims never miss an opportunity to sabotage their own appeasers. It’s why the Israeli left has a death grip on unelected government positions, but is about as popular with the voters as cholera on a stick. The American left could learn from its example, but if it could learn from examples, it wouldn’t be the left. Instead it banked its political capital on appeasing Muslims and it if gets a second term to do so, it will be that much closer to becoming completely unelectable– especially when Muslims decide to celebrate another September 11 in an even flashier way and with a larger death toll.
The Israeli left did everything possible to appease Muslim terrorists and the terrorists repaid them by politically destroying them with constant violence. Now Obama is on the receiving end of the same treatment and had he been as familiar with the Muslim world as he claimed to be, then he would have known to expect that. And the same process will likely kill Eurabia in its own cradle.
The ball is in the court of the right. It can choose between fake moderation and assertive action. It can rediscover the military as a force for defending the country, rather than a means of introducing Muslims to the concept of elections, and it will be pursuing the popular course. But to do that it will have to believe in America, rather in the universal goodness of human nature and the other pablum that led us into this mess.
People are not interchangeable, apart from the governments. Governments reflect the people. No country will last for very long under a government that does not reflect its national character unless that government is backed by foreign armies. It is best to treat other governments as reflective of their peoples and to treat their peoples as reflective of their government. And it is best to keep a wary distance from any people and country that are under a system too different from our own for our own safety.
Above all else, it is important to make clear to our own people and to theirs, that we have borders and nations for a reason. That if foreign nations and peoples would like to use force to tell us what movies we can make, then we will use force to tell them what protests they can have, and that in a contest of force, we will win.
It is time for a new way, a way in which Muslims will no longer have to learn about America and Americans will no longer have to learn about Islam, where we will give up on winning each other’s hearts and minds, and stick to watching each other’s property lines. That is the argument that needs to be advanced in the face of Obama’s catastrophic Arab Spring failures and the alternative to it is four more years of terror and appeasement.
(NewsMax) New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd @NYTimesDowd came under fire Sunday night for what some on both the left and the right said were words that came dangerously close to anti-Semitism.
Dowd’s Sunday column, about the Republican ticket’s foreign policy proposals, accused Mitt Romney of being a tool of neo-conservative puppet masters.
The problem, critics said, was that many leading American neo-conservatives are Jewish and that Dowd’s turns of phrase were reminiscent of anti-Semitic slurs of the 20th Century, Politico reported.
Late Sunday night, the editorial page editor of the Times, Andy Rosenthal, responded via email that “No fair-minded reading of Maureen Dowd’s column supports the allegations” that Politico reported. “She makes no reference, direct or implied, to anyone’s religion.”
Dowd, a liberal who has made of career of mocking conservatives, wrote that neither Mitt Romney nor Paul Ryan are experts in the field of foreign policy. She then asserted their strategy was orchestrated by a “neocon puppet master” who was leading the neocon effort to “slither back” into power.
Those words struck experts as a seeming appeal to anti-Semitic stereotypes. They seemed especially offensive ahead of the first night of the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah.
“Dowd’s use of anti-Semitic imagery is awful,” Steven A. Cook, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote on Twitter.
“Maureen may not know this, but she is peddling an old stereotype, that gentile leaders are dolts unable to resist the machinations and manipulations of clever and snake-like Jews,” Jeffrey Goldberg, the Atlantic columnist and leading journalist on Israeli issues, wrote.
“[A]mazing that apparently nobody sat her down and said, this is not OK,” Blake Hounshell, the managing editor of Foreign Policy magazine, tweeted.
On the right, The Weekly Standard’s Daniel Halper called it “outrageous,” while Commentary’s Jonathan Tobin described it as “particularly creepy.”
“Dowd’s column marks yet another step down into the pit of hate-mongering that has become all too common at the Times,” Tobin wrote, according to Politico. “This is a tipping point that should alarm even the most stalwart liberal Jewish supporters of the president.”
The neoconservatives were impressed by Israel’s modernism, but they assumed that it could be copied over to their neighbors and came to resent Israel as an obstacle for not playing a more meaningful role in their grand theory of history.February 18, 2012
funny the way Ron Paul supporter Don Black used to be in the National “SOCIALIST” White People’s Party and now calls himself Conservative… and no one calls him a NeoCon. Much like the word Anti-Semitism …I don’t use that word either anymore because the Muslims are looking to co-opt it… I’m now saying the original JudenHass to define the hate I deal with. The Etymology of the word is not as important as it’s history. People who have given up on socialism after experiencing it is not what defines the term as much as the party of people who went by the name. Same as the word used to describe the haters of Jews. It was meant to define them in less offensive way, but now is being used against it’s intention. Language is a living thing and you must learn to grab new meaning as your enemies steal the thunder in agreed understanding. Even if your opponents are wrong in their arguments and knowledge, their ideas gain momentum by shear will.
George Orwell famously remarked that the new definition of a fascist is someone you don’t like. This seems to be what Ron Paul and his little minions are attempting to do with the word “neocon”:
In the face of several electoral challenges from tea party-connected candidates, Texas Republican Congressman Ron Paul cautioned in a recent interview that “neocon influence” is “infiltrating” the movement he is often credited for creating.
“My message is somewhat different,” he said. “The message gets somewhat diluted” with large movements of this nature.
“Everybody likes to join what looks like a popular movement, then they want to come in and influence that movement,” Paul continued.
His core issues, such as creating transparency at the Federal Reserve, recalling overseas soldiers and ending the drug war, are “not what is generally heard from the Republican party,” he said.
“Neocon issues in public policy are not exactly dead these days,” he explained, seemingly pointing to the Obama administration. “Progressive Democrats aren’t really happy with foreign policy. … That’s the infiltration, philosophically, in different positions.”
First of all, who on Earth has credited Ron Paul for creating the Tea Party movement? My understanding is that the impetus behind it sits with Rick Santelli, the CNBC commentator who randomly came up with the idea while standing on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Chicago Mercantile Exchange (thanks, Anthony!). While the Tea Party movement has a decidedly libertarian bent, it’s more of a Reagan “libertarianism-is-the-heart-and-soul-of-conservatism” kind of bent than a Paul “The Federal Reserve wants to deep-fry your children” one.
More importantly, though, is the question: what the heck is a “neocon” to these people? Neoconservatism, properly defined, arose as a response to 60’s radicalism. Its godfathers, Irving Kristol and Norman Podhoretz, were former Trotskyist radicals who became, as it was so famously put, “mugged by reality” into accepting a “new” conservatism: cultural traditionalism, a vigorously anti-Communist foreign policy, and a cautious form of free-market economics that accepted the inevitability of the welfare state. Its founders were mostly, though not exclusively, Jewish: Jeane Kirkpatrick can hardly be considered Jewish, for instance.
Today, what we know as “neoconservatism” tends to be vigorously and proactively anti-totalitarian foreign policy: the kind that accepts intervention and international institutions (when they can be worked for America’s benefit). They’re more “big stick” than “walk softly.” And that big stick is America’s superior morality. What we know as the “neoconservative” foreign policy tendency has been accepted by figures, with particular variations, from Barry Goldwater, Ayn Rand, Ann Coulter, Rudy Giuliani, and Ronald Reagan. Not that we’ve got anything like unanimous consent: commentators like Pat Buchanan, Dinesh D’Souza, William F. Buckley, and Robert Spencer do not or did not accept neoconservatism, thinking it too optimistic about the human condition, too quick to think foreign cultures malleable, or too inappropriate with regard to America’s role in the world.
“Neocon” is typically employed as a pejorative. It is discordant to the ear, particularly because of the second half of the term: a “con” is a bad deal, a fake. “Neo” makes use of the long-e sound, a distinctly unmusical tone. Lacking is the augustness of the full term “conservatism,” and the according history. “Neocon,” with its cadence, becomes something of a smear in itself (despite some attempts to “take it back,” by those like Irwin Stelzer, for instance, editor of “The Neocon Reader”).
Is Sarah Palin a “neocon”? After endorsing Ron Paul’s son for Congress, giving a shout-out to Ron Paul over a video for MTV, and insisting that “we’d better not be at war [over oil],” her instincts certainly don’t lay in that realm. Now, she’s committed heresy by becoming the Eliza Doolittle of the famously neoconservative Weekly Standard crowd. She signed a letter calling for a surge in troops in Afghanistan along with Kristol, Kagan, and the “usual neocon suspects.” But she did just endorse a Paul.
Moreover, when have ending the drug war — a quixotic libertarian cause — and recalling overseas troops been an aim of the Tea Party movement? As I demonstrated earlier this evening, Pat Buchanan has also bought into this bizarre delusion: they look at the Tea Party movement and see themselves. (One might accuse me of harboring the same symptoms by so frequently referring to Ayn Rand in relation to the Tea Partiers, but I’m not the one who is spiking up sales of Atlas Shrugged or holding up “Shrug, Atlas” and “Who Is John Galt?” posters!) Ron Paul wants the Tea Party movement to be about him, and when it comes to capitalism, it’s right on board with him — but not with his bizarre, meaningless crusade against “neocons” and the Drug War. I’d wager that the Tea Party movement, like most Americans, opposes efforts to legalize drugs. This is unfortunate, but it’s true.
If Barack Obama is a “neocon,” as Paul seems to imply (hey, he did just ramp up the war in Afghanistan, right? Neocon!), if Sarah Palin is a “neocon,” if George W. Bush is a “neocon,” if anyone who thinks that America should stand by Israel is a “neocon” (have you checked out the comments by the Paultards on my [retracted] Debra Medina endorsement?) — then the word is meaningless and only serves as a pejorative. Toss it.