Thursday, September 9, 2010

Time to Throw the Neocons Overboard

Neocons are Progressive community organizers on a global scale. It’s time to pitch then overboard if we want to advance the conservative movement
Operation New Dawn, its name suggesting a skin cream or dishwashing liquid, now begins. (What ever happened to the practice of using terms like Torch or Overlord or Dragon to describe military campaigns?) (Andrew Bacevich - Obama Wants Us to Forget Iraq Lessons)

Professor Andrew Bacevich, who lost a son in the Iraq war, has consistently provided readers a clear-eyed view of American foreign policy. In his latest article, he shows how good intentions can reap unintended (and undesirable) outcomes.

Every time we thought we had “solved” something in the Middle East, another problem cropped up. Taking out Mossadegh let the Shah of Iran back in, angering the Islamists, who then took power 20 years later. Taking out Saddam destroyed the firewall protecting the Middle East from the Iranians. Wouldn’t it have been better to let Saddam take Kuwait?

"But he put his own citizens through giant shredders!"  The neocons shout.

"But women had relative freedom in Iraq and he brutally squashed all that Sharia nonsense," retort the realists.

See? We put ourselves in the position of weighing the pros and cons of remaking the lives of others. We have no business doing that, most especially when the people don’t want our help.

You can’t help those who don’t want your help
“Nation building” only works when the nation you are building wants to be built, like the European nations after World War II, Japan, and later South Korea. We took a relatively light touch in Central America during the Reagan 80’s, and the situation there is materially better because of our efforts.

Rock-ribbed conservative David Freddoso goes even further than the more liberal Bacevich, declaring that nation building in Iraq was not worth it. I can’t go that far.

We did not achieve “nothing.” No matter how ill-conceived the invasion may have been, troops on the ground made the best of a very bad situation. We took out a dictator, killed a lot of bad guys, and at least gave Iraqis a chance to chart a new course. That in itself is quite an achievement, more so for the US Military (especially the US Army) than for our government or any politician.

I do agree with Freddoso on this...
The question we need to ask is whether we really want to do something like that again. It’s a question that Republican candidates for Congress should be asking themselves right now
As someone who has been there as a bit player in a supporting role, my answer is no, we should not do something like this again.  It's time to pitch the neocons overboard.  Hard.  On their heads.

Neocons, like progressives, have Utopian dreams of solving problems, ignoring the stubborn fact that in this vale of tears, nothing is ever “solved.”


  1. Agree. Its an altruist foreign policy and needs to go.

    Yaron Brook contributed a chapter on foreign policy to Thompson's Neoconservatism: An Obituary. He's got a lecture here:

  2. The title of this piece might have resonated just a bit more if you'd typed it 10 or 12 years ago.

    It wasn't impossible then to imagine the PNAC crowd was going to bring a heap o' woe on our heads if their fantasies were indulged.

    But, as they say and as is even sometimes true, better late than never Les.

  3. In 1998 I was fighting in the Balkans, so I was too busy to write this.

    A conservative like me woke up. Thanks for not gloating too much.

    Yes Arthur, it's me. We exchanged a e-mails a few months back...

  4. Silverfiddle - A great post. These are things conservatives need to recognize, and most assuredly seperate themselves from the neo-cons.

    History will ultimately be the judge of the success or lack therof with repect to Iraq.

    I am not sure what we accomplished. Taking out Saddam destabilized the region. The Shite malority that is more radical than the Sunni minority will rise to greater power, we are witnessing a resurgent Iran (Sadam acted as a moderating force in the region), and when we are really gone...well, we'll be gone.

    It remains to be seen what the long term effects of our invasion of Iraq will be. Unintended consequences I fear.

  5. John Bolton just announced he is running for President in 2012...

    It seems that he is concerned that people are not taking neo conservatives seriously...

    Looks to me like cleaning the republican party of neocons is going to a little harder than you think...

  6. What's to gloat about?

    Iraq is a tragedy. Afghanistan is a tragedy.

    As has far too frequently happened during the history of the US a complacent, distracted electorate was hoodwinked by warmongers and empire builders.

  7. Arthur - Afghanistan after 911 was necessary in my opinion.

    Iraq was not.

    Currently Afghanistan is questionable.


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