Ardent Neocon Preaches More War

Ardent Neocon Preaches More War September 11, 2013

If we don’t attack Syria, it will make it harder to attack Iran!  War!  More War!  Ever War!

It’s amazing how much these guys sound like Commies with their commitment to exportation of The Revolution at gunpoint, no matter how stupid and counter-productive.  Sure the war ideology doesn’t work in reality. But it does work in theory, dammit!

On this day in which we remember when some other warlike jerks achieved a “limited airstrike with no boots on the ground” against thousands of civiliian victims–a strike that the neocons parlayed into a catastrophic decade of fruit war in the service of social engineering–I for one pray that the neocons will never again have influence again.  They are peas in a pod with all those who try to usher in the Millennium through murder.

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  • Dan C

    I am loving the “Marxist-Islamist” movement paranoia. Because it can encapsulate all the Krazy about Obama in one neat, tidy conspiracy theory.

  • Dave G.

    I’m not as surprised by those who seem to support military solutions as a first resort as much as I am by those who have railed against our military endeavors in the past who are, all of a sudden, at the front of the line pushing support for a military strike in this case.

  • ivan_the_mad

    “Yet presidents of the United States must not be encouraged to make Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace, nor to fancy that they can establish a New World Order through eliminating dissenters. In the second century before Christ, the Romans generously liberated the Greek city-states from the yoke of Macedonia. But it was not long before the Romans felt it necessary to impose upon those quarrelsome Greeks a domination more stifling to Hellenic freedom and culture than ever Macedon had been. It is a duty of the Congress of the United States to see that great American Caesars do not act likewise.” — Russell Kirk, Political Errors at the End of the Twentieth Century, 1991

  • Andy Mason

    At least some of the neo-conservatives have associations with mid-20th century Trotskyism or socialism. Christopher Hitchens, for instance, was an ardent socialist up until the 80s or early 90s. They were anti-Soviet, but that doesn’t mean that they were against ideological Communism in general. They just took the ideas of permanent global revolution and applied them to exporting democracy.

    • Dan C

      Christopher Hitchens clearly became an aggressive militarist. That he became a “neo-con” is something that many conservatives would question, considering all his other opinions and religious beliefs.

      If neo-con is a limited definition regarding how one solves military questions, that is attempting to indicate there are non-overlapping conservative opinions on matters of economics, sexual and abortion ethics, marriage, and economics. I disagree with that. I do think that people have strong opinions governing their opinions and judgments on more than one sphere of interest and that to whom they are opposed is as important or more important as with whom and what they agree.

      As such, many anti-abortion activists are and were ardent pro-militarists, and if that is the definition, neo-cons also. In fact, Facebook feeds from pro-lifers can’t help but become effusive about these military ventures. I think the neo-con movement of 10 years ago was both pro-militarist, had a specific economic agenda (someone a bit too attached to the religion of “Lean Six Sigma” organized both the Afghanistan and Iraq interventions) and was cheap on public works projects.

      “Neo-con” usage seems to have distilled to merely identification with pro-militarism, and not to be a truly true aspect of most conservatives.

      • Andy Mason

        “Neo-con” is a limited description, referring to those who mixed Trotskyist ideas with conservative ones in specific areas of foreign policy. There is a diversity of beliefs among neo-cons in most if not all other areas, which is how you can have Christopher Hitchens placed in the same group with Dick Cheney and George W. Bush. Neo-con is a definition in the same way that Keynesian is a definition, neither really indicating where your beliefs might fall on the issues of, say, abortion or education policy. Any overlap in the beliefs of neo-cons on those issues throughout the years is probably due to the fact that neo-conservatism was cultivated among certain groups that already had those beliefs, and it is possible that the beliefs of neo-cons in those areas in the 60s and 70s might not be the same as the beliefs of neo-cons in the 21st century without those people ceasing to belong to the same group.

    • Andy Mason, your insight cannot be repeated enough. The neo-cons left their Trotskyism behind, but never their willingness to use revolutionary violence to remake the world. Wilsonian interventionist foreign policy is the least “conservative”, least Burkean thing imaginable: it’s a radical, destabilizing agenda that burns ancient cultures to ashes, and blows back on the U.S. instead of protecting us.

      • Dan C

        How new is this thinking to the conservative movement though?

        • Dan C

          Let me clarify- how new is this militarism to conservativism?

          • Dan C,
            I think it depends on the strand of conservatism about which you’re speaking. Traditionalist conservatism in the U.S. and U.K. has long been wary of standing armies and foreign intervention. In the U.S., presidents John Adams, Grover Cleveland, W.H. Taft, and Dwight Eisenhower, inter alia, exemplify the traditional conservative tendencies. However, there are nationalist strands of conservatism (particularly in the non-Anglophone world) that have been much more militarist. For “conservatism” generally, it might be hard to pin down an exact answer. My comment above is situated in the Anglo-American traditionalist conversation, rather than in a more general conservative conversation. If it were in the latter, I’d probably have to tweak it a fair bit.

            • Dan C

              1) Can we really label Eisenhower of this brood of limited interventionalists? His Presidency did not exactly show limits on US military power. He was a big cold warrior who was instrumental in developing client states as pawns in the battle against the Soviet Union.

              2) I think Reagan (no favorite of mine) was clearly in the camp of militarists. Military superiority and Americanist superiority internationally were principal pillars of his conservativism. His conservativism has branded political conservativism )or, another way to think of political conservativism is “practical conservativism.”

              3) Where is Milton in these definitions?

              • All good points, Dan C.

                1) Eisenhower is an example of the tendency, but no American president or British prime minister that I can think of is an unblemished paragon of anti-militarism. Politicians are more complicated than ideologies, and embody them imperfectly. But the pre-Reagan sense that interventionism was a “progressive” thing and realpolitik a “conservative” thing is I think broadly true.
                2. Agreed: Reaganism is about where conservatism begins to morph into the market-worshipping militarism that goes under the label now. To be conservative, in my meaning, is not at all to be a Reaganite.
                3) Milton the poet? He was a jacobinical Cromwellian republican, and nobody’s conservative. Do you mean someone else?

                • Dan C

                  So sorry. I was thinking of Milton Friedman.

                  • ivan_the_mad

                    He was mostly a libertarian. I know that he opposed the Gulf War and the Iraq war.

                  • Ah. Well, as Ivan said, Friedman was a libertarian. One of the better ones, as a matter of fact. Great thinker in many ways.

              • Stu

                Eisenhower got the US out of Korea and avoided the US from direct involvement in Indochina, Cuba and the Suez.

              • It was Reagan and Tom Clancy who seduced the conservatives.

            • ivan_the_mad

              Indeed. Kirk, writing in A Program for Conservatives, 1954: “A ‘preventive’ war, whether or not it might be successful in the field–and that is a question much in doubt–would be morally ruinous to us.”

          • ivan_the_mad

            Conservatism is entirely too broad and multifaceted a term (as is liberal). Limiting ourselves to discussion of the GOP, we may trace the more modern emergence of military intervention in the GOP to the defection of Wilsonian Democrats from the New Left, which occurred beginning in the 1960s. It had become well established in the late 70s and early 80s.

            Militarism is a cancer that has metastasized across the broader spectrum of American politics.

  • FaramarzFathi

    “Ardent Neocon Preaches More War”

    For benefit of their beloved country where their sole loyalty lie and detriment of US.

    How much more the American people are willing to tolerate these quislings are ASTOUNDING,

    Faramarz Fathi

  • Tim H

    Following this link which leads to another link – here’s the thing I don’t get. Why is that when we don’t want to bomb someone that makes us isolationist (neocon cant). But when we want to trade with folks from another country whose policies the world doesn’t like it makes us greedy capitalist pigs (leftist cant).

  • The problem of Iran is that you have the local great power, Russia, with core interests to keep Iran in misery and isolated while being its friend and protector. This is not a good thing.

    Geographically and economically, Iranian pipelines are the best solution to exporting Central Asia’s energy. If Iran ever gets a sane government, the entire energy map of central Asia will be redrawn with all of the Central Asian states building cheap exit routes through Iran to the ocean to diversify their energy export routes. That means Russia could no longer credibly threaten to deep freeze Europe and it would be a major blow to Russia’s influence in Europe and the world.

    These are the real stakes here and why christian Russia is always coming islamist Iran’s defense. They neither want them too strong or too weak and very definitely never free.

    Now how does one fix this?

    Yes, the bomb everyone approach is clearly not the answer. What is?

    • Elmwood

      It’s Iran’s gas and resources, who are we to tell them how they should export their gas? Treat others like you want to be treated. We all agree at least that war is never the answer to these political problems.

      • If I were under a tyranny of theocrats who are propped up in a codepenent relationship from hell, I would want out. These jokers are approving engineering decisions like what kind of buildings can be built in an earthquake zone based on theological statements that enrich regime insiders. In any sane world, we would stop that as that kills people. This is not theoretical or speculative. It’s happened multiple times in Khomeinist Iran. And Russia does its best to keep that crew in power because it’s the only way that the Central Asian (not Iranian) gas and oil keeps using Russia’s pipeline system.

        You may have misinterpreted me. No harm, no foul, I just wanted to clarify that what you’re advocating, I’m already doing.

    • Mark S. (not for Shea)

      Well, first of all, don’t confuse the people of Iran with the government of Iran. Outside of Israel, Iran is probably the most Western country in the Middle East. Persians are some of the warmest most generous people you will ever meet. It’s a country ripe for change, but it needs to come from within, not from American bombs.
      You can’t force a democracy with a revolution. Revolutions come from democracy. Didn’t Chesterton say something to that effect?

      • I’m rereading what you replied to and don’t see where I am confusing the people and government of Iran. The problem is that a durable power configuration of outside forces is constantly intervening inside Iran to keep the mullahs in charge. That’s what needs fixing. After that, it’s all about the people of Iran growing up and overriding their fixed electoral system to sweep away Khomeinism.

    • Happily, TMLutas, with North American shale gas exports ready to come on line, the Russians won’t be able to credibly threaten to deep freeze Europe for much longer anyway. Poland, e.g., is currently building an LNG terminal for Qatari gas that should be seeing quite a bit more use in future years for North American gas. The best way to stick it to petrocrats like Putin and Madero is to keep fracking.

      • Fracking optimists generally aren’t adding in the extra demand from the global middle class. Fracking is great. It is just not enough. Add a billion more on the demand side and people see the problem generally.

        • Great point, TMLutas. Certainly I expect to see the Chinese and Indians burning more of the American coal we no longer want anything to do with. Good for America’s environment, but a wash globally.

  • Mark S. (not for Shea)

    Shall we take bets on how long it will be before conservatives begin taking umbrage at and debating the meaing of the word neo-con? Every time Mr. Shea uses the word, it happens. Let us strain at gnats while we swallow camels.

    • Stu

      It’s a fairly established term started by those who call themselves neo-cons.

    • We did have a bit of a kerfuffle a while back about the idea that the term neo-con is inherently anti-Semitic. I don’t think that always (usually?) true, but I can understand why some might feel that way and dislike the term. It’s just hard to think of another term that would be a good replacement.

      • Imp the Vladaler

        “Neo-con” is the new “fascist,” which means “person to my right whom I really dislike.” Tossing “Neo-con” around to mean “guy who wants to bomb Arabs” without an understanding of where Neoconservatism comes from and how it developed within the broader conservative movement shows that you’d rather resort to easy slurs than actual discussion.

        • In practice, that is indeed often the usage.

      • kenofken

        Neo-cons are not anti-Semitic in the usual sense of the word. In fact, some of their leading architects and cheerleaders of the Mideast pre-emptive war strategy are Jewish – Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Charles Krauthammer, David Frum, Daniel Pipes, and many more.

        It’s more accurate to say that they were, and are, rabidly pro-Israel or more accurately, pro-Likud. They believed that the way to pacify and democratize the region is to simply crush and take away the countries of any Arab states that annoyed us. Evangelical neo-cons tend to see Jews and Israelis in particular as serving a pivotal role in their ideas of the End Times and the final battle for good and evil centering in the Middle East.

        At the same time, it can be said there is an undercurrent of anti-Semitism in the movement. They ascribe many of the evils of liberalism to Jews with money and high position – the “mainstream media”, “Hollywood”, the gay rights cause and so forth.

        • Imp the Vladaler

          I think you misread that slightly. The term “Neo-con” can carry with it some anti-Semitic connotations, just as the people who seem a little too interested in the influence of the “Israel Lobby” or won’t shut up about AIPAC probably have something more than strictly geopolitical concerns in mind.

          • chezami

            Bullshit. Cheney, Rumsfeld, Weigel, Neuhaus, and Bush were not Jews. Two of the dumber stupid neocon tricks is to a) deny that there is any such thing as a neocon or b) bawl “anti-semite”.

            • Imp the Vladaler

              Bawl? I’m not the one using profanity. Nice, Shea. Real nice. It doesn’t hurt my delicate sensitive ears or anything, but you’re one of the last ones who should be criticizing anyone’s tone.

              Some people who toss around the term “Neo-con” are anti-semites. Given that a significant portion of the Neoconservatives are Jewish and the movement got off the ground in Commentary, it’s bound to happen. Deal with it.

              Similarly, if you spend a lot of time criticizing Israel, you’re going to start noticing anti-semites hanging around. Doesn’t mean that you’re an anti-semite, but some of your allies are.

              No one denies that such a thing as a “Neo-con” exists. The Neoconservatives proudly wear that label. What is denied is that the term “neo-con” means “someone whose solution to every problem is to bomb Arabs.” That’s basically how you use it. Go for it if you want, but you’re just revealing your persistent, damn-near-invincible ignorance on this topic.

              You know nothing about Neoconservatism and you don’t care to learn. You couldn’t define Neoconservatism to save your soul. That’s fine. But at least make an effort to use the term correctly. Sheesh, as you love to say.

              • chezami

                I didn’t criticize your tone. I criticized the bullshit proposition that criticizing neocons is some how to incur the scent of anti-semitism. That’s cuz it’s bullshit. Meanwhile the subject of the blog is hungering for more and ever more war, which is the main issue. As for you, I’m, well, kind of sick of you. Bye.

  • Elmwood

    Let’s not forget about how Romney was criticizing Obama about his military inaction in Syria and Iran. He even called for arming the rebels, in direct opposition to the Pope Emeritus BXVI who called that a “grave sin”. And many GOP Catholics (CA voter guide, EWTN) were adamant about how Catholics were obligated to vote for the lesser evil, which according to them, is always GOP.

    I’m sorry, but you can’t be pro-life and neglect the poor and environment and promote war. They all matter, not just gay marriage and abortion. GWB’s invasion ended up killing well over 100,000 civilians in Iraq, many of whom were Catholic.

    • D.T. McCameron

      And the numbers aborted domestically?

      • Elmwood

        Are you saying Obama or any politician aborted babies directly? GWB did directly invade Iraq. Abortion is a non-negotiable, but maybe we and our elected officals should also non-negotiably avoid war.

        • Well, war is a matter of prudence, while abortion is intrinsically evil. Frankly, neither major party is any great prize.

          • Elmwood

            Iraq wasn’t a war of prudence like Afganistan. It was inherently unjust because it was offensive–pre-emptive war by definition is unjust, only defensive wars–repelling aggressors– may be just. Modern warfare may never be justified.

            Just because a political party pays lips service to the pro-life movement doesn’t mean they automatically deserve the observant Catholic vote and thereby forcing us to eat the sh#t sandwich they serve us.

            • I agree, Elmwood! The Iraq War was the opposite of a just war. Further, I’d say that NEITHER major party deserves the observant Catholic vote. YMMV.

    • Imp the Vladaler

      tl;dr “Romney wasn’t worthy of votes from Catholics. P.S. Bush sucked.”

      Is there a relevant point to be made about Syria here, or did you just feel like reminding us of that?

  • So … I just watched President Obama’s speech, and I don’t think it sounded unreasonable at all.

    His argument seemed to be pretty straightforward:
    1. The Assad regime used chemical weapons, which are banned by international law.
    2. The international community’s failure to punish the use of chemical weapons would be seen by the Assad regime and others as quasi-permission to use such weapons.
    3. Quasi-permission by the international community would embolden other regimes in their pursuit, stockpile, and use of such weapons.
    4. This would result in
    a. more widespread use of these inherently unjust weapons,
    b. greater potential of them being used against US troops at some point in the future, and
    c. a far greater likelihood of a stockpile being stolen by or sold to terrorists.
    5. Therefore, the international community should punish the Assad regime for the use of chemical weapons.

    It seems to me that this all comes down to whether the United States has the duty to act as the enforcer of international law. Do we? If chemical weapons become widespread and the world suffers, would future generations blame us, particularly, for not leading the world in making sure those weapons did not get used?

    Feel free to disagree with any of the points in this post. I’m just noodling this over. So far, as someone who didn’t vote for Obama ever and who doesn’t want any more wars, I didn’t think Obama’s case came off nearly as crazy as I was led to believe.

    Obviously, if the Kerry-Putin plan works, that’s a good idea. But why would Assad even agree to Putin’s diplomacy if he didn’t think it was an alternative to getting targeted by the US military?

    • Imp the Vladaler

      Assuming #1 to be true, #2 is puzzling. Why should we conclude that the international community has failed to punish the use of chemical weapons? Has the international community been given ample opportunity to try? Because I’ve been following this story fairly closely, and as far as I can tell, what the international community has failed to do is give Obama the immediate thumbs-up to lob explosives into Syria at a time and in a manner of his choosing. I don’t see how anyone can argue that a diplomatic solution has been tried and failed. Can you say, with a straight face, that Obama has tried his level best to find a non-military solution to Assad’s use of gas?

      I don’t think you can. In fact, my takeaway from Obama’s speech is that he wants Congress to authorize military action because it strengthens his hand at the negotiating table.

      I’m not ready to take military action off the table, if it meets Just War criteria. But a military response wasn’t Obama’s last resort; it was his first resort. No sale.

    • John W, I think it doesn’t come down to whether we have the “duty” to enforce international law, but in fact whether by enforcing the norm against chemical weapons without backing from the UN Security Council, NATO, or the Arab League, we’d be undermining the norms of Westphalian sovereignty in favor of “responsibility to protect” humanitarian warmongering.

      I think you’re right that Obama’s threat of force has made constructive action on the part of the Russians more likely here. I very much hope that works out. However, it wasn’t worth risking an unnecessary and illegal war with Syria to bluff the Russians–even in the laudable cause of stigmatizing chemical weapons.

    • Elmwood

      We have WMD–nukes. We used them indiscriminately on civilian centers. The church is opposed to the arms race and all WMD. Who are we to be the world police? Why not lead by example and stop our arms race and destroy our WMD.

      • Imp the Vladaler

        Although I agree broadly with your sentiments, I have to take issue with two things:

        (1) Is there a statute of limitations on bad stuff that America did? I mean, sure, the U.S. did some bad stuff during its history, but everyone involved with the use of nuclear weapons in WWII is dead. At some point we get to criticize modern bad actors. In some ways, this is the same argument that enemies of the Church use: “you tolerated pedophiles, so you can’t tell me that what I’m doing is wrong.”

        (2) Why is “world police’ a pejorative? I don’t think of the police as bad. I think of them as existing to serve the interests of justice. If bad stuff happens in the world, and the international community decide that it needs to stop, and Just War conditions are met, is there anything inherently wrong with being the “policeman” who put a stop to it?

        • Dave G.

          Is there a statute of limitations on bad stuff that America did?

          I loved reading that. Sadly, no. But then history is supposed to be there for the learning. Condemning without end? Probably not, and it chills me to the bone to think of what future generations will say about us. May they have more mercy on us than we do toward those who have come before.

        • kenofken

          A statute of limitations is only relevant if we consider things like Hiroshima a one-off isolated event. It wasn’t. Not only did we use WMD on a civilian population, we developed our entire defense strategy around a WMD arsenal of staggering proportions, a strategy that reserved the option to use them preemptively, even for regime change or tactical battlefield use. This is not ancient history. During the Afghanistan War, we were developing technology for nuclear “bunker busters”.

          We aided and abetted the development of chemical weapons used by Hussein and we turned a blind eye to our “ally” Pakistan selling nukes to North Korea. We’re telling the world in word and action that we can and will use WMD whenever we feel it serves our national security interests. We could talk of statute of limitations if we were in a position to cast our WW II nuclear use as a bug, not a feature of our defence policy. At least the architects of that could argue they lost their heads in heat of an existential battle. We have no such excuse. Our sins/crimes/monumental mistakes are premeditated and continual.

          As far as being world police, police have legitimate moral and legal authority that derives from the consent of those being policed. We have had no such consent or consensus for most of our violence in recent times. By no stretch of imagination have our actions comported with just war theory or international law.

          We have decided that war can be a first resort, to hell with what international law says. “We are the law because we have the biggest guns.” We assert, and liberally exercise, a right to enter the airspace and borders of any country to kill anyone for any reason we feel is sufficient. To that extent, we are no more police of the world than the Zeta Cartel can be said to be the police of Mexico.

          By our own actions, we have gutted our credibility to exercise force even in situations where it might otherwise be justified and backed by the international community.

          • This makes a lot of sense as a realistic assessment of the situation as we have it. We could have done better, though.

  • enness

    Oh…apparently my mind now divides these into two categories: John McCain and Not John McCain.

  • astorian

    Okay, can someone give me a precise definition of “neoconservative”? I ask because I thought I knew, once.

    I always thought that the neoconservatives were people like Norman Podhoretz and Irving Kristol- intellectuals (often, but not always, Jewish) who HAD been liberals, sometimes even Communists, but who shifted rightward in the late Sixties and early Seventies, often in response to the excesses of the radical left.

    But I’ll be darned if I can figure out what makes Dan Senor a “neocon.” He’s 42 years old, and was NEVER a liberal, let alone a Communist. Come to think of it, MOST of the modern political figures slammed as as “neocons” were never liberals in the first place, never mind Trotskyites.

    So, just what DOES “neocon” mean? Does it mean “ANY Jewish conservative or Jewish Republican”? “ANY conservative who’s hawkish on foreign policy?” “ANY self-proclaimed conservative that I don’t like?”

    I ask, in part, because “neocons” are invariably blamed for the Iraq War, despite the fact that there were damn few people in the Dubya administration who qualify as “neocons” by any definition. To be sure, the Weekly Standard crowd were ardent supporters of the war, but almost NONE of them were serving in important positions in the Bush II administration because almost all of them had been John McCain supporters in 2000, and were therefore shut out of the plum foreign policy positions.

    The architects of the Iraq War were NOT sinister Jewish intellectuals- they were mainstream, Ripon Society, Rockefeller Republicans like Colin Powell and Dick Cheney.Powell and Cheney cannot be painted as “neoconservatives” no matter how much Pat Buchanan, Daniel Larison and Ron Paul would like to pretend otherwise.

    • Elmwood

      The Project for the New American Century was the brains behind the Iraq invasion debacle. Both Rumsfeld and Cheney were members of this think tank which promoted “a Reaganite policy of military strength and moral clarity”, that is, it was all about keeping the industrial military complex well funded after the cold war and finding excuses to go to war.

      • astorian

        Rumsfeld and Cheney were both relics of the Ford administration. Neither is Jewish, neither was ever a liberal (much less a Trotskyite), and there is NO definition of “neoconservative” broad enough to encompass either man.