An Exchange on Iran: David Frum & Steve Clemons

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This was an interesting BloggingHeads exchange for me because neoconservative thinker and FrumForum blogger David Frum and I largely agree that the “hit Iran hard” track in America’s current diplomacy could be counterproductive.
Frum supports sanctions on gasoline, so-called “crippling sanctions”, whereas I see them more designed to be about the West’s emotional and political needs rather than a strategy that would really move Iran to a new course.
I have always been intrigued by the neoconservative network and how it so successfully commandeered the helm of America’s national security establishment after having been for many decades mostly a small boutique shop of high octane intellectuals hanging out in Irving Kristol & Gertrude Himmelfarb’s apartment.
Frum is someone to watch. Yes, he coined the “axis of evil” line for a key George W. Bush speech and secured as his prize jealousy from a few other Bush speechwriters. But to focus on that and not see more of what he is trying to do today is a mistake.
Frum is a neoconservative but one who is pretty far from the current imperial line — sort of a cousin among many cousins and grandkids descending from the some of the original conceptualizers of neoconservatism — Irving Kristol, Albert Wohlstetter, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Norman Podhoretz, Midge Decter, Seymour Martin Lipset, and a few others.
My hunch is that Frum is watching various others of the more heir apparent royal cousins including Bill Kristol, John Podhoretz, a few of the Kagans perhaps (though I note an exception via Robert Kagan, who is a genuine intellectual rather than an apparatchik), eventually flame out in misguided attempts to surf Tea Party populism and to stay powerful by associating with a growing pugnacious, anti-intellectual movement in American politics.
Frum may be the only neocon with a serious policy shop and Irving Kristol-salon around him after the 2012 presidential race and may have an opportunity to replace the know-nothing brain of a Republican Party whose blustery, intolerant celebration of an anachronistic “whites dominate” nativism with a new set of principled policy positions that could define Republicanism by 2016.
Obviously, a lot can happen between now and then — and who knows, maybe the Tea Party crowd and someone anointed by Sarah Palin could win in 2012. But at this point, of leading, disaffected neoconservatives — like Frum, Francis Fukuyama, and I’d add Kenneth Adelman — Frum is building the most interesting franchise of forward-looking next gen conservatives who reject what they see from their own party. Fukuyama could play this role as well but like Robert Kagan is mostly a writing intellectual rather than one who organizes.
More soon. Greetings to readers at the International Studies Association meeting in New Orleans. I’ll be floating around some of the events today at the Hilton. Pittsburgh tomorrow.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

74 comments on “An Exchange on Iran: David Frum & Steve Clemons

  1. nadine says:

    questions, you think too much about sympathy and too little about facts. Generalizations are always facile. But sometimes are they are true.
    I don’t object to Barry Rubin’s son learning about slavery. Neither does Barry Rubin. What Barry Rubin objects to his son NOT learning about George Washington and Abraham Lincoln or any of the other rulers of this nation who made the equality of men one of its first principles, which allowed slavery to end, at the cost of Civil War, which Barry Rubin’s son won’t hear about in school either.

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  2. WigWag says:

    “The Muslim hatred of the West has deep roots and really began when the Muslim world woke up 200 years ago and discovered to its shock that it took an English admiral to chase a French general out of Egypt.” (Nadine)
    Actually, Nadine you may be understating the case. Almost the entire Muslim world is deeply dysfunctional, primitive, poor, culturally bereft, technologically backwards and politically unstable.
    There are 47 Muslim majority nations in the world today. Of these, at most 11 have governments that can reasonably be classified as democratic but many of these, like Jordan, don’t have what we would call democracy in the West.
    The average per capita gross domestic product of these 47 nations is a paltry $9,840; but this actually overstates the prosperity of the Muslim world. If you eliminate the Muslim nations that obtain almost all of their GDP through oil wealth (Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Iran, Libya, Bahrain, Qatar and Brunei) the average per capita GDP of the Muslim World drops to an astoundingly low $3,981. The average per-capita GDP of the entire world is $10,348; only two Muslim majority nations without oil reach the world average; Malaysia at $13,315 and Turkey at $12,888.
    Levels of religious tolerance in the Muslim world are remarkably low; most Muslim majority nations impose Islam (of one form or another) as the State religion and a large number of majority Muslim nations make it illegal or extremely difficult to practice other religions (or even other forms of Islam). By my count, only about 15 of the majority Muslim nations in the world have even limited tolerance for the practice of a religion other than Islam. Some of these, like Egypt allow Christian sects like the Copts to practice their faith but either allow official discrimination against them or fail to protect them adequately from the bigotry of violent Islamists.
    Interestingly, the majority Muslim nations that permit some democracy and freedom of religion fall almost completely outside of the Arab world. The Arabs are the most backwards of a backward lot. Count the number of Nobel Prizes coming out of the Muslim or the Arab world. Count the number of publications in world caliber peer reviewed science journals. Count the number of world-class musicians or artists (there is actually a tradition of great literature from Muslim nations). By almost any metric you can think of the Muslim world is in a shambles. It’s tempting to blame the legacy of colonialism, but other formerly subject peoples have emerged from the colonial era intact. Think about the Indians, the Chinese, the Singaporeans or many in South America. Even the majority Muslim nations in Africa (with the exception of Somalia) have brighter prospects than most of their co-religionists in the rest of the world.
    The Arabs present a special (and especially pathetic) case. From the early 1500s to the end of World War I, with the exception of Egypt, there was no Arab nation; just a collection of bickering tribes living under the suzerainty of the Ottoman Turks. Unlike subject peoples in the rest of the world, the Arabs proved incapable of producing indigenous leaders who could confront their oppressors.
    Who was the “George Washington” of the Arabs?
    Why it was T.E. Lawrence, an Oxford educated, British Anglican homosexual who had an affair with a young Syrian boy (Selim Ahmed) who may have been presented to him as a gift from Al Hussein, the great, great grandfather of the current Hashemite King of Jordan, King Abdullah, II.
    It is widely known that Lawrence had a fetish about self-flagellation. He would whip himself periodically and he would regularly pay others to whip him.
    In his famous “Seven Pillars of Wisdom,” Lawrence describes his capture in 1917 by a Bey expeditionary force. Lawrence claimed that he was mercilessly beaten and sexually abused by his guardsmen but he doesn’t seem to have minded it very much; this is how he described it,
    “…as the whip landed a delicious warmth, probably sexual, swelled through me…”
    Lawrence of Arabia; the George Washington of the Arabs. Kind of ironic; don’t you think?

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  3. questions says:

    typos. sorry. several. really weird. too early.

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  4. questions says:

    Nadine,
    Way too facile a story. Really.
    Make distinctions. Use historical specificity. Note that your concern for poor Barry Rubin’s poor poor son who’s stuck in the 4th grade learning about the wickedness of slavery rather than the greatness of Geo. Washington and being forced to call slavery his own… is not unlike what you’re identifying as a sort of Muslim-world phenomenon. The sense that one was powerful and lost it is too painful for Barry Rubin Rubin to bear (on behlaf of his son), but the ‘Muslimworld’ should put up and shut up. Or something. Can’t quite tell what you want people to do.
    Anyway, the feeling of loss of stature is a broad human phenomenon. The demagoguing of loss of stature is a broad human phenomenon. The efficacy of that demagoguing has also been seen before. And at the same time, plenty of people don’t buy into it. I’m guessing that I have plenty of ‘Muslimworld’ counterparts who would read Barry Rubin’s complaint the way I do, and who equally don’t give a damn about some golden age greatness thing. They want in no particular order, food, clothing, shelter, no bombs bursting in air, something like dignity, schooling and medical care, vertical buildings rather than piles of rubble…. Real basic stuff many in the US simply take for granted.
    So, once again, make distinctions, be specific, don’t overgeneralize what Palestinians are, how they take what they see on TV or why they push certain cultural memes over others. You weaken your case when you overgeneralize without at least noting the generalization and the lack of specific knowledge.
    ****
    Paul, thanks for the kind words. I started on Orientalism a few years ago, but it’s in a pile with other started books…. Infinite books, finite time. Huntington’s Clash book I never had the gumption to pick up, but I think I read something by him a long time ago and didn’t feel much sympathy for it. And Fukuyama, I read a chunk of the end of history stuff. At the time, I was closer to having been through some Hegel and wasn’t sympathetic. But my Hegel is really ancient at this point. So not only do I have a bunch of books to read, I now need to start re-reading. OH NO!

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  5. nadine says:

    “Terrorism does not emerge because “they hate our freedoms”—it’s a response to Western (mostly US) policy towards the Muslim world; the support of Israel, the occupations, the support of corrupt despots; these days the civilian deaths in Afghanistan from US bombing.”
    No, Mark, history didn’t begin last month. It’s not because of this month’s grievances, or last year’s, or even the last fifty years. The Muslim hatred of the West has deep roots and really began when the Muslim world woke up 200 years ago and discovered to its shock that it took an English admiral to chase a French general out of Egypt. They didn’t realize until then that they had fallen so far behind “the Franks”.
    Since then they have had to deal with the cognitive dissonance of knowing that they alone are the best civilization with the one true religion, yet also knowing that they are politically and militarily weak in the world, and at the mercy of the Great Powers.
    They tried this and that to catch up; some things worked partially (e.g. Turkey) but mostly they adopted lousy ideas from Europe that didn’t work (Pan-Arabism, Nazism, Socialism). Now they are trying an even worse idea: Islamism.
    What is really driving them crazy are not the things they wave as grievances but the ideas of the West, which globalism is pushing in their face and which they find terribly seductive. Nobody ever was made to eat at McDonald’s at gunpoint; or use a cellphone, or watch a movie, or surf the net. Yet with all these Western products come Western ideas.
    They call us “the Great Satan.” Satan is a seducer, don’t forget.
    But it’s so humiliating. It’s not dignified to admit you have been seduced. But you can rail against the immorality of the West and pick your grievance from an ever-available smorgasbord. It’s so much more comforting to yell “it’s THEIR fault” instead of ask “what is the matter with us? why can’t we compete?”

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  6. Paul Norheim says:

    Exactly, POA.
    A handful of dangerously irresponsible leaders and influential
    players dragging the rest of us into the maelstrom.

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  7. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “And what a catastrophe for the Iranian people to have such an unpredictable and unreliable clown as Achmedinejad as their President in such dangerous times!”
    Unfortunately, the same can be said for both the Israelis and us Americans. Its like a perfect storm of leadership assholes, seeing who is going to throw the first punch.

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  8. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “However, Paul fails to notice that only adherents of one religion are today routinely blowing themselves up to commit mass murder while shouting God is Greatest! following a tradition of jihad, which is unique to Islam”
    Palestinian Child Wounded By Settlers in Hebron
    Thursday February 18, 2010 02:13 by Saed Bannoura
    IMEMC & Agencies
    A group of fundamentalist settlers attacked a Palestinian child in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, on Wednesday, causing concussion and bruises that required hospitalization.
    Local sources reported that the settlers, marching with their machine guns in the center of the Old City of Hebron, attacked the child, Madlene Imad Awni, while she was in the local market in Hebron.
    She was moved to the Hebron Governmental hospital suffering from mild bruises and concussions.
    The attack is one of numerous attacks and violations carried out by extremist settlers living in the occupied Palestinian city, and several areas in the occupied West Bank.
    http://www.imemc.org/index.php?obj_id=53&story_id=57993

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  9. Paul Norheim says:

    Questions,
    I read the most (in)famous works from the early 90’s of both
    Fukuyama and Huntington 10 years ago. I borrowed them from
    an Ethiopian bartender in Kigali, Rwanda, and found both of
    them much more measured and complex than those who
    supported or attacked them. I’v had the same experience
    regarding Said and several others. They are nuanced and
    complex, but their effects are in tabloid format…that’s the irony
    of influence.
    “But after reading that the ISI on its own, and then with Bhutto,
    were supporting the Taliban while telling the US nothing about
    it”
    My impression is that Pakistan is unable to speak with one
    voice; there are strong divisions within the powerful circles (not
    only intelligence, but also in the army), and that’s been part of
    the problem for many years.
    I’ll read Coll.
    BTW, I enjoyed reading your last two posts.
    “…such that the mere identification of the type creates the type
    it is identifying.” Exactly!
    As for Iran, I agree with Fukuyama. And what a catastrophe for
    the Iranian people to have such an unpredictable and unreliable
    clown as Achmedinejad as their President in such dangerous
    times!

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  10. questions says:

    Thanks for the link, Paul. Fukuyama seems very careful, measured even, in his writing. Not what I would have expected. But I don’t at all keep up with his work.
    I’m in the very middle of Steve Coll’s book now and have come to a lengthy discussion of Pakistan’s very quiet support of the Taliban despite its telling the US that there was no such support. If Pakistan is indeed no longer supporting the Taliban, and is in fact working with the US, my guess is that Afghanistan will go better for the US than it might otherwise.
    But after reading that the ISI on its own, and then with Bhutto, were supporting the Taliban while telling the US nothing about it, I do wonder…. (assuming I’m getting the details straight.)

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  11. Paul Norheim says:

    Fukuyama has been mentioned several times on this thread.
    Here is Fukuyama on Iran, from an article written in December (I
    think) 2009 for the Jan/Febr -10 issue of The American Interest:
    “The other ticking bomb in foreign policy, Iran, will either defuse
    itself through internal change, or go off sometime next year. I’ve
    believed for some time that we don’t have many levers in
    influencing events there, whether through negotiations, sanctions,
    provoking regime change or military action. So the Obama legacy
    will rest largely on how it reacts to an evolving situation that is
    not fundamentally under American control.”
    http://www.the-american-interest.com/article.cfm?piece=719

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  12. questions says:

    The problems with using phrases like “the Muslim world” to set policy are legion. There are the obvious issues of overgeneralization, stereotyping, lumping disparate and very different people together. These are so very familiar in US history that there’s not much point in using electrons to discuss further. Just note that many of these stereotypes about gender, ethnicity, and religion don’t hold up over time.
    Another, and more significant issue, is that our discourse about groups affects the structure of those very groups, kind of like how the observer affects the experiment. If “the Muslim world” becomes reified, then Muslims find themselves taken on the identity of “the Muslim world” such that the mere identification of the type creates the type it is identifying.
    So not only is it just plain wrong to do the neocon shuffle in terms of stereotyping, but even worse, it becomes something of a self-fulfilling prophecy.
    Again, individuation and particularism and specificity might be our allies. We’re so attuned to Cold War lumping of types that we have lost any ability to differentiate, say, Cuba and the USSR. The very notion of an “Axis of Evil” does basic the same thing. Several very different nations that bug the US for very different reasons get lumped together for speechifying’s sake. It’s unfortunate. And the model itself becomes part of our reality and as it becomes reality, it shapes reality, both in American response to the world, and the world’s response to the US.

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  13. MarkL says:

    Aren’t there two components to the fears of the Muslim world?
    One, there’s the discomfort with immigrants who have very different norms, and who are beginning to insist that non-Muslims obey the same codes of behavior.
    Second, there’s the fear of Islamic terrorism.
    Terrorism does not emerge because “they hate our freedoms”—it’s a response to Western (mostly US) policy towards the Muslim world; the support of Israel, the occupations, the support of corrupt despots; these days the civilian deaths in Afghanistan from US bombing.
    I don’t see any difference in motivation between Islamic terrorist and IRA bombers. Suicide bombings are quite chilling, but suicide attacks are not a modern invention.
    The neocons may see insane rage on the terrorists’ part, but the Islamic terrorists are no more irrational than Irish terrorists, Basque terrorists or Zionist terrorists from a few decades ago.
    Since there are over 1 billion Muslims, the corresponding threat is far greater than from the aforementioned, much smaller groups.
    The problem with immigrants, on the other hand, SHOULD be more tractable, but now it is intertwined with terrorist problem.
    If it weren’t for all the oil in the ME, separation would be a feasible policy: limit immigration from those countries and reduce the Western presence.
    If there’s a positive side to neoconservatism I can agree with, it’s that the West is in danger from conflict with the Islamic world.
    I can’t agree any further.

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  14. questions says:

    What if both the realists and the neocons are wrong, and what if it’s just wrong to read other countries within one’s own strategy (which is my new hobby horse for the week!)?
    Realists miss out on all the internal complexity of any nation, all the irrational bases for decision-making, all the misperceptions and exaggerations that come from less-than-perfectly-transparent others.
    Neo-cons seem to want to arrange everyone else’s lives and nations to suit a particular kind of fantasy that WE are the final product of history, the direction to which all things flow, a product not a process.
    But the neocons have it wrong, Fukuyama backed off this nonsense ages ago, (was he technically a neo-con??). The Platonic Form of proper democratic life is not really the US and so making others in our own image is really not a great strategy. It backfires all over the place.
    There are alternative readings of the relationships between nations that take into account the complex structures and institutions and psychic pressures and personalities within nations. Realism and neoconservatism miss the mark on all fronts.
    We need to think in terms of internalism (which would privilege the internal structures of nations as one tries to deal with them), psychologism (which would worry about insanity and rationality among leaders and peoples and ideologies), marriagism (which would look at the interpersonal dynamics that make people take on roles in relationships as against the other in a relationship — think Nadine goes to the right in the face of POA’s criticism, POA gest more shrill in the face of my being “foggy” or whatever, Sweetness is completely rational in the face of WigWag’s occasional way over the line comments, we bolster or attack one another in a system), and maybe a bunch of other isms.
    Each of these explanatory models is, of course, just a model and each captures only part of what is going on. The model shapes the facts, because of course, facts are less “fact-ish” than one might want.
    At any rate, I don’t think the neocon vocabulary is quite what’s winning out. I think that there may be some attempt to individuate responses to various nations. We’re working with Yemen, not bombing the shit out of them. We’re dancing with Iran, not invading. There isn’t an overarching strategy because it’s not possible to have one.
    There is, clearly, an overarching concern with terrorism because the problems are real, and we need to get a grip on this. War works (sort of??) in one place, drones in another, spies in another, attempts at conciliation and getting neighbors to help…. All of this is useful stuff. And none of it seems to fit an overarching view of the point of other nations, or the progress of other nations.
    (And I’ll have a new hobby horse in another week or two, I promise!)

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  15. nadine says:

    “Nadine and Kotzabasis may or may not be right that the most important features of the neoconservative ideal are dominating because they offer the most cogent critique of the world as it is and suggest the most effective strategy for decision making.” (Wigwag)
    While obviously I do think the neocon ideas are cogent, this was not my main point. My point was that in the aftermath of 9/11, the neocons had something while the realists had nothing, and you can’t beat something with nothing.
    Realists think of a world of rational state actors and various rebel and criminal groups. They don’t think of networked movements driven by irrational religious fundamentalism. Realists don’t really believe in religious fundamentalism. They think it’s just a cover story. This is a profound error imo, that makes them misjudge situations over and over, like they misjudged the threat of Al Qaeda in the 1990s.
    “After all, the serious tactical blunders that the United States made in Korea, Vietnam and Cambodia didn’t prove that containment was the wrong strategy to confront the Soviets.”
    The natural corollary: The serious tactical blunders that the United States made in Iraq didn’t prove that democratization was the wrong strategy to confront radical Islam.

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  16. WigWag says:

    “Interestingly, WigWag’s first comment, ironically as a past opponent and slightly diminishing opponent presently of the neocons, has loosened all the “demons” of neo-conservatism from their “caves” to come and haunt all liberals in their wishful thinking that Obama was a game-changer.” (Kotzabasis)
    Kotzabasis, I enjoyed this comment and think you made some excellent points; especially when you characterize Obama as the “bastard offspring” of the neoconservatives.
    At the risk of sounding wishy-washy, I’m not sure that it’s a question of whether I was once an opponent of the neocons or am slightly less of an opponent now.
    I thought the war in Iraq was a mistake for the United States and the West. Whether it was a mistake for Iraq is an open question. Clearly the Kurds are delighted that the United States invaded and eliminated Saddam Hussein; presumably the Shia are too. The Sunni, not so much.
    I think it’s hard to argue that the War in Iraq has not left the United States and all of its allies worse off than they were before the invasion.
    We now know that Iraq was far weaker than we thought and posed little threat to anyone. We also know that Saddam exaggerated his military prowess in order to frighten the Iranians. His bluff was working.
    Prior to the second Gulf War, Iran and Iraq were so obsessed with each other that they posed little threat to anyone else. But for the fact that the United States eliminated their primary adversary, Iran would be far weaker today than they are although they would probably still have a nuclear program (aimed primarily at countering the nuclear program that they, like almost everyone else) assumed that Iraq was pursuing.
    Had George W. Bush and his neoconservative allies chosen to attack Iran instead of Iraq I don’t know how I would have felt about it.
    On the one hand it should have been clear to Bush and everyone else that Iran was a bigger threat to the West; Iran is far bigger than Iraq; it has even more energy resources than Iraq does; it had a more modern industrial base and although like Iraq it had restive minority populations, those populations were more cowed than they were in Iraq.
    Most importantly, Iran had a proud and ancient Persian heritage while the Iraqis were just incompetent Arabs who frankly have never been able to accomplish anything on their own (at least for the last 1,500 years).
    From a strategic point of view, attacking Iran clearly made more sense. Still, on balance, I think that relying on the balance of power/terror between Iran and Iraq was probably the smartest thing to do.
    I don’t know, Kotzabasis, whether you watched the video attached to this post; if you haven’t, I highly recommend it. Clemons and Frum are both highly intelligent and well-spoken and they both show how people who disagree can do so without being disagreeable. Frum makes the interesting point that we don’t know what the world would be like today had the United States never attacked Iraq. He suggests that it is conceivable at least, that things could be far worse than they are now. Of course, we will never know.
    I also think that it is a fair criticism of the neoconservatives that they have never successfully refuted the allegation that they exaggerated how easy it would be to introduce democracy to places where it had never existed. The Arab nations in particular are culturally, technologically and economically backwards. They have no experience with liberal freedoms and only a very short history of self-determination.
    To make matters worse, the neoconservatives were guilty of conflating elections and majoritarianism with democracy. This mistake proved tragic and is still playing out in both Afghanistan and Iraq today.
    Presumably smart neoconservatives like Frum have learned from their mistakes.
    But opponents of the neoconservatives will be making a serious mistake themselves if they think that the failures in Iraq or other errors in judgment by leading neoconservatives prove that as a philosophy neo-conservatism is wrong.
    After all, the serious tactical blunders that the United States made in Korea, Vietnam and Cambodia didn’t prove that containment was the wrong strategy to confront the Soviets.

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  17. WigWag says:

    One other thing Sweetness, getting back to the substance of our discussion, Walter Russell Mead has a timely and very interesting essay about all of this in the current edition of Foreign Policy. Here’s a link to the article, (it’s free)
    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/01/04/the_carter_syndrome
    Mead, who is obviously far more sophisticated and eloquent on all of this then I am says,
    “In general, U.S. presidents see the world through the eyes of four giants: Alexander Hamilton, Woodrow Wilson, Thomas Jefferson, and Andrew Jackson. Hamiltonians share the first Treasury secretary’s belief that a strong national government and a strong military should pursue a realist global policy and that the government can and should promote economic development and the interests of American business at home and abroad. Wilsonians agree with Hamiltonians on the need for a global foreign policy, but see the promotion of democracy and human rights as the core elements of American grand strategy. Jeffersonians dissent from this globalist consensus; they want the United States to minimize its commitments and, as much as possible, dismantle the national-security state. Jacksonians are today’s Fox News watchers. They are populists suspicious of Hamiltonian business links, Wilsonian do-gooding, and Jeffersonian weakness.”
    The point that I am trying to make is that regardless of whether it’s fair to call Obama a neoconservative or not, a new foreign policy consensus is being formed in the United States and it seems to me that this consensus is far more agreeable to the neoconservative point of view than to the realist point of view or even the liberal internationalist point of view.
    Another way of putting it is that the debate about foreign policy issues has largely been framed by the neoconservative movement and that other schools of foreign policy seem too emasculated to change the terms of that debate.
    I remember the Campaign well; I particularly remember the debate between Clinton and Obama when he promised to reach out to the Iranians and Clinton called him naive. It looks like Obama decided Clinton was right because he is moving closer and closer to the approach that she advocated in mid 2008.
    Unlike so many Washington Note commentators, I don’t see conspiracies around every corner. I think it’s ludicrous to believe that there is some secret or not so secret cabal foisting the neoconservative ideology on a dimwitted and out of touch public.
    I think that in spite of the failure of the Iraq War, a consensus is forming on the part of both political parties and a significant majority of the American population that some things are true: that Muslim fundamentalism is not only a growing threat but that it is evil; that what has been called Islamofacism is the most important threat the United States faces today; that American military might is the most important line of defense against this threat; that while diplomacy has a role, diplomacy frequently doesn’t work and cannot be relied on as the last resort; that multilateral organizations might not be as useless as George W. Bush thought, but they are still pretty useless; that while seeing shades of gray is important, right and wrong do exist; that at the end of the day, Western Europe can always be counted on to be feckless and ineffective; and that the United States is not only an exceptional country but is an indispensable country.
    My point is not to argue whether these beliefs are right or wrong; but I think it’s irrefutable that a consensus is growing that all of these beliefs are true. I think that both political parties as well as the public at large continues to reject the “relativism” that so characterizes the views of leftists and that the tendency to see things in “binary terms” is growing.
    Nadine and Kotzabasis may or may not be right that the most important features of the neoconservative ideal are dominating because they offer the most cogent critique of the world as it is and suggest the most effective strategy for decision making.
    But as I said, one thing is clear; the neoconservatives are winning the argument. In fact, I think it is more accurate to say that they have won the argument.
    The neoconservative point of view no longer faces serious opposition in the United States and as Europeans come to dislike their growing Muslim populations even more, you could easily see the neoconservative ideal take hold in Europe; in fact, it already is.
    Some people might find all of this depressing; some may be cheered by it.
    But I don’t think you can argue that it isn’t true.

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  18. WigWag says:

    “BTW…do you get your screen name from the now-defunct magazine of the same name?” (Sweetness)
    Sweetness, you put a huge smile on my face!
    I thought I was the only one left who remembered the wonderful, but short-lived magazine, Wigwag. Yes my screen name is my little homage to that late, great periodical.
    At one time, I even entertained the notion of starting my own blog called Wigwag but quickly realized that I didn’t have the technical expertise to set it up nor enough interesting things to say to make the endeavor worthwhile. I was also surprised to see that a blog of the same name already exists; it is devoted to the history of the American Civil War.
    The magazine (which featured extraordinary artwork as well as lucid and clever articles)was founded by a group of former staffers from the “New Yorker” who left when Conde Nast purchased the “New Yorker” and fired the legendary Wallace Shawn. Alot of people compared “WigWag” to another periodical that you might remember, “Spy.” It was also run by exiled “New Yorker” staff.
    I actually own a complete set of the magazines (my son is storing them for me and I look at them whenever I visit him). I was surprised to see last year that a complete set in good condition (as mine is) actually sold on E-Bay for $1,500.
    I don’t think that Wigwag ever had a circulation of more than 200 thousand readers and I doubt that it was ever very financially successful.
    It stopped publication in the early 1990s, but I remember it fondly.
    Thanks for putting me in mind of this.

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  19. markL says:

    Sweetness,
    Great comments. I appreciate your careful responses.
    As to your 2:35 comment—I’m shocked!!
    I guess I’ll have to check out the video too.

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  20. Sweetness says:

    Steve…having finally listened to your conversation with Frum, I’m
    struck by how little the comments here addressed the points and
    nuance in your conversation. Ah well…

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  21. Sweetness says:

    Just a few shout-outs to Nadine and Kotz: If we were to judge
    GWB by HIS OWN standards, not civilized standards, but his own,
    he would have been accounted a failure in his first term and his
    second term.
    Now to Wig…
    Sweetness, just about a year ago Jonathan Clarke, a fellow at the
    Carnegie Endowment for Peace wrote a short article for the BBC
    where he identifies some of the key characteristics of the
    neocons.
    SN: I’m not sure it can be defined fully as different practitioners
    place difference emphases on different things…
    Wig: He says the main characteristics of this movement include:
    1) A focus on the Middle East
    2) A tendency to see the world in binary terms
    3) A low tolerance for diplomacy
    4) Readiness for unilateral military action
    5) Mistrust of multilateral organizations
    Now, I am not sure that Clarke’s definition is entirely fair, but if
    you examine President Obama’s deeds as opposed to his words I
    think he meets four of the five tests rather well.
    SN: Okay, let’s see…
    Wig: Certainly he has been keenly focused on the Middle East
    and if you expand Clarke’s definition to include a focus on the
    Muslim world than Obama certainly fulfills this criteria.
    SN: Well, Obama inherited two mismanaged wars he didn’t start
    in the Middle East. That’s hardly the same as someone who
    goes out and starts two wars with the explicit intention of
    bringing democracy to the Middle East. If he HADN’T been
    focused there, it would have been a dereliction of duty.
    Whether it’s part of the “the definition” of neoconservatism or
    not, the transformation of the ME through war into a region of
    democracies was clearly one of the pillars of neoconservatism
    and one of the many rationales for the invasion of Iraq. I don’t
    think Obama has followed in these footsteps.
    That said, he does feel, as many do, the need for bridge building
    in the ME. But that’s hardly the neocon project.
    Moreover, MANY presidents have had a focus on the ME: Ike,
    Nixon, Carter, Reagan, HGB. And all the others have had some
    focus there, if for no other reason than the oil. I think it would
    be hard to argue that Ike was a neocon even though he
    participated in the 1956 war and deposition of Mossadeq unless
    you want to stretch the definition beyond recognition.
    Besides, call Ike a neocon and you’ll give Carroll the vapors.
    Wig: Think of the stepped up drone attacks in AfPak. Think of
    the surge in Afghanistan. Think of the increasing threats against
    Iran. Think of his willingness to acquiesce to Prime Minister
    Netanyahu’s wishes after the weakest and briefest rhetorical
    assault imaginable.
    SN: These are all tactical moves. Again, a focus on Afghanistan
    was part of what Obama ran on. You can’t now say that he’s a
    neocon when you weren’t willing to say it before. He’s focused
    on AQ and its destabilizing potential. That’s very different from,
    say, PNAC. Or Clean Break. The wheel is still in spin on some of
    these issues, so I wouldn’t deliver a verdict yet.
    Wig: And its not just Obama; it’s his fellow Democrats. They
    voted for Iran sanctions. They voted to eviscerate Goldstone.
    They are about to cast a vote sure to infuriate Turkey (Armenian
    Genocide vote on March 4th). Whether Obama held some of
    these positions before he became President doesn’t seem
    particularly consequential to me. His views on the Islamic world,
    despite his speech in Cairo, have a neoconservative patina.
    SN: But neoconservatism is a philosophy of conviction and action
    growing out of conviction. Just because Obama takes actions
    that a neocon might approve of doesn’t make them the same.
    As to sanctions, don’t forget that the neocons argued then with
    regard to Iraq and now with respect to Iran that sanctions
    weren’t enough and had to be backed up by force. I don’t think
    Obama is there with them.
    Wig: Obama talks a good game but his actual patience for
    diplomacy seems remarkably thin. Don’t take my word on it; take
    the word of hard-core realists like Flynt Leverett; he will tell you
    that Obama’s efforts to achieve a diplomatic solution with the
    Iranians were mostly just illusory. And remember all that talk
    about finding moderate elements of the Taliban that we could
    talk to and maybe even negotiate with? How’s that working out?
    Few Afghans are mistaking those drones for good-will
    ambassadors.
    SN: I don’t know what Obama’s patience for diplomacy is.
    Seems to me that Hillary is pretty much living on her jet. I don’t
    think that was the case with Powell. Isn’t that diplomacy? Again,
    valid criticisms of Obama’s actions don’t really prove an
    ideological shift. After all, Bush and Cheney didn’t bomb Iran
    even when they clearly wanted to. No one accused them of
    becoming liberal appeasers (except maybe those on the fringes)
    because of it. We will have to see how this evolves…
    Wig: While our effort in Afghanistan may technically be a
    multilateral in nature, is there really any question about which
    nation is doing most of the heavy lifting when it comes to the
    fighting?
    SN: Okay, but what does this have to do with neoconservatism?
    This was the hand Obama was dealt. He’s playing from that
    point forward.
    Wig: If I turn out to be correct (a big if I admit) it will be the
    United States attacking Iranian military installations with little to
    no help from anyone else.
    SN: We’ll see…
    Wig: And before the election, is there anyone in the United
    States who expected that Obama would announce a freeze in
    discretionary spending so he would have enough money to add
    more service members to the army and marine corp and add
    ships to the navy?
    SN: Not sure that was the rationale for the freeze, but, in any
    event, most commentary dismisses this action as not amounting
    to much money. So whether it’s for deficit reduction or adding
    to the military, it’s a drop in the bucket. In any event, some
    domestic programs are getting MORE funding. But yes, no one
    expected it. OTOH, any clear-headed thinker knew Obama was
    walking into a shit storm of problems that were almost
    unsolvable. Being greeted by complete Republican intransigence
    didn’t help matter and wasn’t foreseeable, either, IMO.
    Wig: While Obama may not exactly disrespect international
    organizations, I don’t exactly see him showing them very much
    love either. As you know, the Goldstone Report was
    commissioned by the United Nations Human Rights Commission
    (of which the United States is now a member). But the Obama
    Administration did everything it could (rightly I think) to
    discredit the Report. It tried to get the Palestinian Authority to
    ask that the Report be buried; it threatened to veto sanctions
    against Israel based on the Goldstone Report and U.S. diplomats
    waged a relentless campaign against Goldstone. When
    Democrats joined Republicans in Congress in voting to condemn
    the Report Obama said nothing and Obama never even used the
    Report to gain any leverage over the Israelis to get them to make
    concessions the United States believed were necessary.
    SN: I’m not a student of the Goldstone report or the controversy
    around it (shame on me). But it sounds like he’s given in to the
    lobby as every other president has. How does that make him a
    neocon? Again, being very pro-Israel doesn’t make you a
    neocon.
    Wig: The international community is also pretty unanimous in its
    opinion that Guantanamo should be closed. Obama may want it
    closed although if he does, his Administration has moved awful
    slowly on figuring out how. In any case, Obama can’t close
    Guantanamo because the Democrats in the House and Senate
    are almost as strongly neoconservative as their Republican
    counterparts. They don’t want Guantanamo closed; neither do
    the American people.
    SN: Lot of stuff in here. First, they have made progress in this
    direction and they have made strong moves to get prisoners
    transferred to max prisons in various states, including Illinois.
    They haven’t given in on military tribunals vs federal court. I
    don’t know what “the American people” want in this regard. I
    know some of those small towns with near-empty max prisons
    are very much in favor of getting the jobs that a transfer of
    prisoners would bring. Of course, any of these issues can be
    demagogue, and the demagogue engine is going full tilt now.
    This has an impact on Congress, unfortunately, because not
    many are willing to go against the tide and say the emphasis is
    on the first syllable.
    Wig: About the only criteria that I don’t think Obama fulfills is
    the tendency to see the world in binary terms. He doesn’t.
    But four out of five is pretty strong evidence of how profoundly
    neoconservative values have inculcated this Administration.
    SN: I see tactical shift and a wheel still in spin and you see the
    inculcation of neoconservative values. We’ll see…
    BTW…do you get your screen name from the now-defunct
    magazine of the same name?

    Reply

  22. kotzabasis says:

    The concept of the “Axis of Evil” had a politically pragmatic Machiavellian sense in the context of religious-riddled America, and not a metaphysical one. Religion can also be used not only as “glue” to societal values that binds people and commands them, as Durkheim argued, but also as glue to certain critical foreign policies that are vital to the security of a nation. Hence the Axis of Evil in the context of global terrorism and the rogue states which support it overtly or covertly. Statesmanship does not govern in a vacuum; it has to rally its people, like Churchill did, by certain concepts that appeal to them behind its policies and strategies. Neo-conservatives as pragmatists are amoral, and have no relationship with any kind of Manichaeism.
    Interestingly, WigWag’s first comment, ironically as a past opponent and slightly diminishing opponent presently of the neocons, has loosened all the “demons” of neo-conservatism from their “caves” to come and haunt all liberals in their wishful thinking that Obama was a game-changer. From the “prince of darkness,” Richard Perle, who presciently said in 2002 that “we are all neoconservatives now,” Wolfowitz, Feith, Frum, the Kristols and the Kagans, Cheney and Bolton, have taken the centre stage of American politics by “winning the argument,” according to WigWag, and shattering the unrealistic, idealistic, nursery rhymed policies of the liberals.
    And presumably even the White House is presently their turf as Obama himself has become their disciple, according to WigWag. But Obama is the bastard offspring of the neocons as he was conceived not by their spiritual virility but by the idealistic policies of his own, which in a profligacy of many nights stand in the domestic and international arena proved to be impotent and total failures, as the neoconservatives had predicted they would be. The clang sound of the chain of failures in health care, in climate change, in his toothless supine diplomacy in the Middle East, in his hope of changing the view of America’s enemies by practicing American values and asking for penance for America’s past ‘sins’, have forced President Obama to semi-adopt the policies of the neocons. Being a ‘pragmatic chameleon’ he had to change his colors purely for political survival. Obama is no convert to neoconservatism He is perforce adopting and implementing some of the policies of the neocons because they are the only reasonable policies in town. It’s due to the poverty of liberal policies that Obama is ostensibly becoming the nouveau riche from the wealthy and fecund policies of the neo-conservatives.

    Reply

  23. nadine says:

    Wigwag, it’s not that Obama wishes to follow the neocons’ way, it’s just that he is being forced to by the failure of his own ideas, or by their absence. Obama is becoming the prisoner of events. Dick Morris, of all people, has put his finger on it:
    “One of my favorite quotes about politics comes from Henry Kissinger in his book Years of Upheaval, his memoir of the Ford presidency: “A statesman’s duty is to bridge the gap between his vision and his nation’s experience. If his vision gets too far out ahead of his nation’s experience, he will lose his mandate. But if he hews too close to the conventional, he will lose control over events.”
    Now, at once, we see both happening to President Barack Obama….His healthcare proposals obviously ran afoul of the first of Kissinger’s warnings. By pushing for changes that conflicted with America’s values, common sense and experience, he lost his mandate….But now, as he faces threats from Iran, domestic terrorism, continually high unemployment and the swollen deficit, he is also violating the second half of the Kissinger warning — his politics are too passive and too conventional and, as a result, he is losing control over events.”
    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2010/02/17/obama_is_ruining_his_presidency_and_his_party.html

    Reply

  24. nadine says:

    Sweetness, Obama promised to close Gitmo, broker Mideast peace, and engage with Ahmedinejad, all in his first year. He is zero for three. He is shaping up to be an epic fail.

    Reply

  25. nadine says:

    “Jonathan Clarke, a fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for Peace wrote a short article for the BBC where he identifies some of the key characteristics of the neocons.
    He says the main characteristics of this movement include:
    1) A focus on the Middle East
    2) A tendency to see the world in binary terms
    3) A low tolerance for diplomacy
    4) Readiness for unilateral military action
    5) Mistrust of multilateral organizations” (wigwag)
    This is a good illustration of how the left filters what the neocons say. For example, neocons say, as Frum did in the video, that the ideology of a state makes a big difference in its behavior both to its own people and externally; a democratic Iran would behave very differently to a theocratic dictatorial Iran, which we have today. Leftist translation: they see the world in binary terms.
    Neocons say that you have to evaluate a states prime goals, and if you decide you can’t accept a state’s prime goal, mere jaw-jaw won’t dissuade them unless it is back up by credible threats of force. Iran wants nuclear weapons and hegemony in the Gulf, and talking nicely won’t make them want something different. Talking nicely with a real “or else” to back it up, might. Leftist translation: low tolerance for diplomacy. And so on.

    Reply

  26. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “However, Paul fails to notice that only adherents of one religion are today routinely blowing themselves up to commit mass murder while shouting God is Greatest”
    http://www.ifamericansonlyknew.org/
    124 Israeli children have been killed by Palestinians and 1,441 Palestinian children have been killed by Israelis since September 29, 2000.
    1,072 Israelis and at least 6,348 Palestinians have been killed since September 29, 2000.
    8,864 Israelis and 39,019 Palestinians have been injured since September 29, 2000.

    Reply

  27. WigWag says:

    Sweetness, just about a year ago Jonathan Clarke, a fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for Peace wrote a short article for the BBC where he identifies some of the key characteristics of the neocons.
    He says the main characteristics of this movement include:
    1) A focus on the Middle East
    2) A tendency to see the world in binary terms
    3) A low tolerance for diplomacy
    4) Readiness for unilateral military action
    5) Mistrust of multilateral organizations
    Now, I am not sure that Clarke’s definition is entirely fair, but if you examine President Obama’s deeds as opposed to his words I think he meets four of the five tests rather well.
    Certainly he has been keenly focused on the Middle East and if you expand Clarke’s definition to include a focus on the Muslim world than Obama certainly fulfills this criteria. Think of the stepped up drone attacks in AfPak. Think of the surge in Afghanistan. Think of the increasing threats against Iran. Think of his willingness to acquiesce to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s wishes after the weakest and briefest rhetorical assault imaginable. And its not just Obama; it’s his fellow Democrats. They voted for Iran sanctions. They voted to eviscerate Goldstone. They are about to cast a vote sure to infuriate Turkey (Armenian Genocide vote on March 4th). Whether Obama held some of these positions before he became President doesn’t seem particularly consequential to me. His views on the Islamic world, despite his speech in Cairo, have a neoconservative patina.
    Obama talks a good game but his actual patience for diplomacy seems remarkably thin. Don’t take my word on it; take the word of hard-core realists like Flynt Leverett; he will tell you that Obama’s efforts to achieve a diplomatic solution with the Iranians were mostly just illusory. And remember all that talk about finding moderate elements of the Taliban that we could talk to and maybe even negotiate with? How’s that working out? Few Afghans are mistaking those drones for good-will ambassadors.
    While our effort in Afghanistan may technically be a multilateral in nature, is there really any question about which nation is doing most of the heavy lifting when it comes to the fighting? If I turn out to be correct (a big if I admit) it will be the United States attacking Iranian military installations with little to no help from anyone else. And before the election, is there anyone in the United States who expected that Obama would announce a freeze in discretionary spending so he would have enough money to add more service members to the army and marine corp and add ships to the navy?
    While Obama may not exactly disrespect international organizations, I don’t exactly see him showing them very much love either. As you know, the Goldstone Report was commissioned by the United Nations Human Rights Commission (of which the United States is now a member). But the Obama Administration did everything it could (rightly I think) to discredit the Report. It tried to get the Palestinian Authority to ask that the Report be buried; it threatened to veto sanctions against Israel based on the Goldstone Report and U.S. diplomats waged a relentless campaign against Goldstone. When Democrats joined Republicans in Congress in voting to condemn the Report Obama said nothing and Obama never even used the Report to gain any leverage over the Israelis to get them to make concessions the United States believed were necessary.
    The international community is also pretty unanimous in its opinion that Guantanamo should be closed. Obama may want it closed although if he does, his Administration has moved awful slowly on figuring out how. In any case, Obama can’t close Guantanamo because the Democrats in the House and Senate are almost as strongly neoconservative as their Republican counterparts. They don’t want Guantanamo closed; neither do the American people.
    About the only criteria that I don’t think Obama fulfills is the tendency to see the world in binary terms. He doesn’t.
    But four out of five is pretty strong evidence of how profoundly neoconservative values have inculcated this Administration.

    Reply

  28. Sweetness says:

    MarkL writes: “Sweetness, doesn’t it seem to you that the
    neocons are still on full tilt for war with Iran?
    TT: This wasn’t the question I was addressing quite, but I think
    some, like Fukayama and maybe Adelman, have been chastened
    a bit. I don’t know. I haven’t read them closely. I DO think
    they’re aware that we’re stretched pretty thin right now and may
    even have some worries about the havoc a bombing strike might
    pose, at least to our stripes. They’re probably “full tilt” for it; I’m
    just not sure that we are closer to going to war with Iran.
    I see the Iraq game plan being played again.
    If anything, their hand is stronger with Iran than Iraq, because
    Iran unquestionably has a nuclear program of some sort, which
    we did NOT know about Iraq. Note, I didn’t say nuclear weapons
    program. In order for the play to work, anything “nuclear”
    occurring in Iran suffices to establish public support for war.
    TT: As to the public, do you think the teabaggers are itching to
    bomb Iran? I don’t know. I haven’t heard that. They are for a
    strong defense, but I think they felt burned by Iraq. And
    certainly the Paulers wouldn’t be for it. The case may be
    stronger, but the game is undoubtedly harder to digest.
    I believe the original choice to invade Iraq was a somewhat
    paradoxical gamble that once we fought one war against a
    nation which posed a dubious threat, the presence of our troops
    so close to a nation seems to pose a greater threat would make
    a second invasion an easier sell.
    TT: Yes, but it pretty clearly didn’t work out that way. So while
    some neocons may be itching for a fight, I’m not sure they think
    they have the public with them this time. And the president isn’t
    pushing the idea and the propaganda 24/7.
    Also, invading Iran first would have strengthened Saddam, an
    undesireable outcome.
    The neocons are on record from before the invasion of Iraq that
    Iran was the real target. I don’t get any sense that they are
    chastened by the outcome in Iraq.
    TT: They may still think Iran was the target, but they weren’t
    able to pull it off even when Bush and Cheney were in office.
    Their chances are less now, despite what Wig says. But who
    knows? Events make liars of us all.
    I have to say that I agree with those who said Hillary would have
    been a bellicose President, especially towards Iran; however,
    Obama was always just another bag of the same tea, IMO.
    TT: I don’t agreed about Obama, but okay.

    Reply

  29. Sweetness says:

    Nadine writes: “He has started to close down Gitmo, but has run into problems. This represents not a change of view, but
    difficulty in making his wishes happen-two different things.” (sweetness)
    Ditto for Mideast Peace. Ditto for engagement with Iran. Ditto for getting Russian cooperation on sanctions on Iran. Ditto
    for just about all his naive and unrealistic notions of how everything was going to be different because the evil GW Bush
    had been replaced by the marvelous BH Obama.”
    A few things…
    • I was responding to Wig’s assertion that Obama was pursuing a neocon train of thinking and the necons had essentially
    won. So what you say here isn’t responsive.
    • It’s unassailable that he has made progress toward his goal of closing Gitmo, so I guess all those “dittos” must mean, in
    your book, that he’s made progress on the other fronts you mention, too. Not too bad, IMO.
    • Obama never said “everything was going to be different” for any reason, let alone his becoming president. In fact, he
    has repeatedly stressed how hard change is and how long it was likely to take and how he couldn’t bring it about alone.
    Portraying him as some sort of self-proclaimed false Messiah is what the Republicans have attempted to do.
    • But, at least on the foreign policy front, Obama hasn’t made the deliberate and ill-considered choice of invading a
    sovereign country that had in no way attacked us and thereby provoking the deaths of 650,000 innocent people and
    costing us a trillion dollars while ignoring the first war they started and coming this close to breaking our military.
    Ordinarily, I’d say this was no great achievement on Obama’s part. But since GWB DID do that, and bungled even on his
    own terms, it has to be counted as a big point in Obama’s favor.

    Reply

  30. MarkL says:

    Nadine,
    Stupid is as Nadine writes: you’re supporting my thesis.
    Of course Iran is a more credibly hyped nuclear threat, but the postmodern neocon doesn’t require anything more than plausibility. Facts will be produced only if necessary.

    Reply

  31. nadine says:

    MarkL, you are trying to make yourself stupid about Iran. Even the IAEA, which has spent seven years making excuses for Iran, has now announced that they are working on a nuclear warhead. Everybody knows they are. Wishful thinking is childish. Try to think what an Iranian bomb will mean to the balance of power in the Mideast. That’s what the neocons are worried about.

    Reply

  32. nadine says:

    “He has started to close down Gitmo, but has run into problems. This represents not a change of view, but difficulty in making his wishes happen-two different things.” (sweetness)
    Ditto for Mideast Peace. Ditto for engagement with Iran. Ditto for getting Russian cooperation on sanctions on Iran. Ditto for just about all his naive and unrealistic notions of how everything was going to be different because the evil GW Bush had been replaced by the marvelous BH Obama.

    Reply

  33. nadine says:

    I like it. Another rant about the terrors of “religion” from our post-religious Norwegian contributor, touching on Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam and let’s not forget the Orthodox Jews.
    However, Paul fails to notice that only adherents of one religion are today routinely blowing themselves up to commit mass murder while shouting God is Greatest! following a tradition of jihad, which is unique to Islam.
    Mustn’t single anybody out. Wouldn’t be prudent. Not PC. Not allowed. Don’t even think about it.
    I can’t think of any non-Muslim theocracy. Nepal had one, but they abolished it. Is there another one?

    Reply

  34. MarkL says:

    Sweetness, doesn’t it seem to you that the neocons are still on full tilt for war with Iran?
    I see the Iraq game plan being played again.
    If anything, their hand is stronger with Iran than Iraq, because Iran unquestionably has a nuclear program of some sort, which we did NOT know about Iraq. Note, I didn’t say nuclear weapons program. In order for the play to work, anything “nuclear” occurring in Iran suffices to establish public support for war.
    I believe the original choice to invade Iraq was a somewhat paradoxical gamble that once we fought one war against a nation which posed a dubious threat, the presence of our troops so close to a nation seems to pose a greater threat would make a second invasion an easier sell.
    Also, invading Iran first would have strengthened Saddam, an undesireable outcome.
    The neocons are on record from before the invasion of Iraq that Iran was the real target. I don’t get any sense that they are chastened by the outcome in Iraq.
    I have to say that I agree with those who said Hillary would have been a bellicose President, especially towards Iran; however, Obama was always just another bag of the same tea, IMO.

    Reply

  35. Sweetness says:

    Wig writes: “Since the time of Irving Kristol’s death, President
    Obama with substantial support within his own Party has:
    ramped up American involvement in Afghanistan; he’s increased
    covert operations against the Taliban in both Afghanistan and
    Pakistan and he’s dramatically increased the number of drone
    attacks. He hasn’t closed the prison in Guantanamo largely
    because almost all Democratic congressman and Senators agree
    with their Republican counterparts that Guantanamo shouldn’t
    be closed. He’s sold weapons to Taiwan; he’s meeting with the
    Dalai Lama today; he’s imposed a moratorium on growth in
    domestic spending while allowing continued growth in military
    spending. Perhaps most fascinating of all is that despite his
    campaign rhetoric, he’s following a path on Iran that
    neoconservatives are sure to celebrate. He’s imposing sanctions
    as a precursor to what will almost surely be an American military
    attack on Iran.”
    Wig, this isn’t really convincing. A few points. Obama RAN on
    the notion that Afghanistan was the “right war.” So this ramping
    up is a campaign promise fulfilled, despite what his supporters
    may think. If he wasn’t a neocon then, he isn’t one now. More to
    say about that, including stuff about Pakistan, but I’ll leave it for
    the moment. He is focused on AQ–the folks who attacked us-
    -not on making a thousand democracies bloom.
    He has started to close down Gitmo, but has run into problems.
    This represents not a change of view, but difficulty in making his
    wishes happen-two different things. Selling weapons to Taiwan,
    as I understand it, is a standing agreement and certainly isn’t
    the start of a new cold war or a class of civilizations. Meeting
    with the Dalai Lama, well, a friend of mine held hands with the
    DL, and she’s no neocon. It’s symbol small potatoes. Domestic
    spending issues don’t really consume neocons. It may not be a
    good decision, or one I agree with, but it doesn’t make him a
    neocon. And of course, almost all presidents increase military
    spending. The path on Iran that neocons celebrate is bombing
    Iran, and he has not done that. Remember, we had sanctions on
    Iraq, and the neocons were not at all happy with that. They
    aren’t sanction-type guys and gals.
    Finally, the neocon project was principally about INVADING the
    middle east and actively transforming it into a series of
    democracies, whether they wanted it or not. I don’t think
    Obama has much appetite for that, nor do the European
    countries that I know of. They are running into a lot of
    problems with immigration and assimilating Muslims, but that’s
    far different from a crusade for democracy in the middle east. I
    also don’t think that the teabaggers and other ascendant
    conservatives really have much appetite for foreign adventurism
    of this type.
    What do you think?

    Reply

  36. Paul Norheim says:

    WigWag,
    I actually agree with most of what you said above. I have read
    some stuff about the neocons in a highly unsystematic way, and
    also some essays by Irving Kristol, Podhoretz, and several
    others of the younger generation, like the Kagan’s, Kristol jr.,
    Fukuyama etc.. Kristol pere had roots in Jewish traditions and
    Judaism. But they are all typical intellectuals. They somehow
    remind me of conservative movements in Europe (France and
    England) in the 19th century, whose proponents argued that
    religion was good because it served as a glue in society, with
    it’s moral values etc. Obviously this is not a religious argument.
    David Frum… and his axis of evil: to me it seems rather insane
    to introduce the metaphysical concept of evil in the foreign
    policy of a highly advanced society. Do these people actually
    believe in “evil” and “good” as metaphysical concepts? Or in a
    more secular “idealist” version?
    You mentioned a possible contradiction between their
    intellectualism, and their support of religion for reasons outside
    of religion itself. The same may, I think, be said with regard to
    their approach to moralism and moral concepts.
    On one hand, you find cynical geopolitical calculations of the
    interests of a superpower, and the interests of Israel as a small
    nation in a hostile environment. On the other hand somewhat
    muddy and old fashioned metaphysical concepts of some
    radical Evil – incarnated in actual states or movements in
    opposition to the superpower or Israel. I have no doubt that
    Bush believed in this stuff – but Frum? Kagan? Kristol?
    Is there a genuine and radical moral manichaeism at the core of
    this movement, or should also their moral credos and
    expressions rather be seen as a machiavellian language,
    developed to communicate effectively to the masses? Moral as
    morphine?
    Personally I doubt that the majority within the movement
    believe or ever believed in this stuff. Many of them are former
    trotskists with a tactical and clever mindset. They adapt with
    the circumstances. The only credible factor on an emotional
    level, generally speaking, is their allergy towards their former
    allies on the left.
    Podhoretz writes in a famous essay about his hatred for the
    militant Black Panter movement. This is credible, not despite,
    but because these folks always have been rather militant
    themselves. Malcolm X is on one level just a version of Norman
    Podhoretz. Norman saw himself in the mirror when he looked at
    Malcolm, and didn’t like what he saw.
    Nope, their manichaeism is not more sincere than their support
    of religion. “axis of evil”… come on, that’s pretty radical, and
    not typical for coldblooded thinkers.
    But of course, if David Frum happens to read this thread, I
    would be curious to hear what he has to say on this subject.

    Reply

  37. WigWag says:

    Paul, I found your essay posted on Feb 19 2010 at 5:45AM to be very interesting.
    I wonder if David Frum wastes his time reading any of the comments on this post; if he did, and I ever had the opportunity to ask him a question (which I would enjoy doing because I think he is very smart), I would ask him for a fuller description of the neocon view on religion.
    A couple of things are clear; most of the neoconservative leadership both Jewish and Gentile are, as Steve Clemons calls them, “high-octane” intellects. One natural extension of this fact is that most are undoubtedly secular.
    One of the reasons that the neoconservatives have been so spectacularly successful is that they aggressively reached out to and made common cause with tens of millions of Americans who are both far less intellectually oriented than they are, and far more religious than they are. The Christian right, far more than American Jews, has become almost an appendage of the neoconservative movement.
    In as much as neoconservativism was in large part a movement rooted in disgust for the counterculture of the 1960s (it had its genesis in opposition to the New Left and to the Port Huron Statement) and in as much as neoconservatives tend to see things in black and white and good and evil; it’s not surprising that they believe that religion plays a critical role in society even if they don’t believe any of that hogwash themselves.
    The neoconservative’s embrace of religion reminds me of nothing so much as the famous statement by Marx suggesting that religion is the opiate of the masses. The neoconservatives think Marx was right about this and they are all too happy to embrace what they think is a “noble lie.”
    The irony that I wish I could ask David Frum about is that on the one hand neoconservatives seem more invested in the Samuel Huntington thesis about a “war of civilizations” than many others do. On the other hand, they view religion as playing a crucial role in maintaining standards and order in society and in imbuing society with the sense of right and wrong that they think is so important.
    The irony stems from the fact that Muslims in general and Sunni Muslims in particular adhere precisely to the type of moral code that neoconservatives applaud. Sunni Islam, especially when practiced with appropriate restraint, as it is in places like Egypt and Turkey, serves perfectly as the check on unrestrained passions that so alarm the neoconservatives.
    Yet, rather than cheerleading for moderate forms of Islam, the neoconservatives have allowed themselves to develop a reputation as being hostile to Islam.
    It seems to me that this might have been a strategic mistake.
    If I was plotting to extend the influence of neoconservatism still further. I think I would focus on recruiting a significant number of Muslim scholars to the cause.
    While he may have been somewhat critical of the Samuel Huntington thesis, if the neoconservatives really want to take over the world the way they have taken over the United States, they need about 100 more Fouad Ajamis.

    Reply

  38. samuelburke says:

    “Grant F. Smith, director of the Institute for Research: Middle
    Eastern Policy in Washington, D.C., discusses the US Treasury’s
    Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (TFI) that is closely
    allied with the Israel lobby.”
    http://scotthorton.org/radio/10_02_16_smith.mp3
    Grant F. Smith, director of the Institute for Research: Middle
    Eastern Policy in Washington, D.C., discusses the US Treasury’s
    Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (TFI) that is closely
    allied with the Israel lobby and enforces sanctions on Iran, how
    sanctions and embargoes punish the law abiding and make
    billionaires out of black market operators, Israel’s importation of
    Iran-sourced pistachios that violates its own “Trading With the
    Enemy Act” and how the debate over Iran’s nuclear program
    diverts attention away from the intractable Palestinian problem.
    Grant F. Smith is the author of Spy Trade: How Israel’s Lobby
    Undermines America’s Economy, America’s Defense Line: The
    Justice Department’s Battle to Register the Israel Lobby as
    Agents of a Foreign Government and Foreign Agents: The
    American Israel Public Affairs Committee from the 1963
    Fulbright Hearings to the 2005 Espionage Scandal. He is a
    frequent contributor to Radio France Internationale and Voice of
    America’s Foro Interamericano. Smith has also appeared on BBC
    News, CNN, and C-SPAN. He is currently director of the Institute
    for Research: Middle Eastern Policy in Washington, D.C.

    Reply

  39. samuelburke says:

    Steve, please stop giving credence to these politically motivated
    accusations by lending your good name to these
    miscommuniques.
    what can come out of this type of hyperbole is a greater
    catastrophe than what has befallen the u.s and the poor
    innocent people in iraq and afghanistan.
    “The stark contrast between the treatment of the Iranian and
    South Korean cases by the IAEA Secretariat and its Board of
    Governors is the most dramatic evidence of a politically
    motivated nuclear double standard practiced by the agency and
    its Governing Board, dominated by the United States.”
    http://original.antiwar.com/porter/2009/12/19/iaea-applying-
    a-nuclear-double-standard/

    Reply

  40. samuelburke says:

    If at this late stage of the game putzes like frum, wolfowitz and
    their israel loving or america as hegemon loving ilk are still
    being listened to by anybody at all is amazing beyond my ability
    to comprehend.
    but this is america and the national enquirer news cycle rules
    our media.
    how many ridiculous mispronouncements is one allowed to
    make before being completely discredited as a ridiculous
    propagandist?
    iran has the inalienable right under the npt to enrich uranium
    for peaceful purposes.
    http://original.antiwar.com/porter/2009/12/19/iaea-applying-
    a-nuclear-double-standard/
    “If you’re referring to the amazing feat that the neoconservatives
    have executed of making their philosophy far and away the
    most dominant political philosophy in the foreign policy world, I
    don’t think it’s any one thing.” (wigwag)
    It IS ONLY ONE THING-the financial power of the united states
    which has fueled the unbridled growth of its military and their
    clausewitzian worshiping ubermenschen.
    waning financial power will lead to a citizenry that will demand
    greater accountability of its politicians and their spendrift ways.
    as the united states continues to slide down the slippery slope
    to financial armageddon you are seeing other views vying for
    prominence in washington and, ultimately the neocon view for
    the world, which is a trotskyist democratic revolution, with the
    united states as the benevolent hegemon will be once and for
    all buried along with marx, lenin and trotsky.
    the transition to the ridiculously misnamed “smart power” is a
    step in the process…just keep this in mind, as time progresses
    you will see how correct this assessment is.
    in the meantime gloat in the folly of believing this is incorrect.

    Reply

  41. PissedOffAmerican says:

    What a different debate this would be if our ass kissing cowardly “representatives” in DC would do the right thing, and DEMAND that Israel join the NPT, and work towards nuclear disarmament.
    Crippling sanctions are in order. The racist little shithole of a country is demanding too much of our time, our treasure, and our blood.

    Reply

  42. Dan Kervick says:

    “But I think the best way to sum it up is that, like it or not, they won the argument.”
    Perhaps in some cases rational argument is what wins out. But it occurs to me that neocon ideology satisfies an emotional need that is more powerful than reason. People all over this country feel weak, desperate and persecuted. They are powerless to influence the forces in their immediate environment that oppress them. So they long to be part of some ass-kicking outfit that is larger and stronger than themselves, dispenses pain and death easily and frequently, and gets even.

    Reply

  43. MarkL says:

    Wigwag,
    Interesting comments.
    Honestly, I’m not sure what the neocon position is, except that the US should apply military force liberally and often, not just to solve problems, but to show the world we mean business.
    Of course protecting Israel is equally important.
    But look at the neocons who supported the Iraq war. A lot of them really believed that Iraq would be a cakewalk and the US troops would have flowers thrown at them.
    Still others thought that once the US had the opportunity to reform the Iraqi economic system, all good would flow. Bremer was one of these. He has stated that his most important accomplishment was instituting a flat tax in Iraq. Wow, just wow.
    You say the neocons won the argument, and I’d have to say you’re right. But that doesn’t explain how a bunch of crazy people who can’t tie their own shoes or comb their hair without making you want to call the health department (wolfowitz) won the argument. It was by propaganda, in the courts of public opinion, backed by powerful media moguls, and not by merit of having strung together a cogent string of thought.

    Reply

  44. Paul Norheim says:

    The separation of Church and State has been a strict rule in
    Western societies for a couple of centuries. Not so in Iran since
    1979, or in Afghanistan under Taliban rule some years ago.
    20-30 years ago I sincerely believed that this development was
    irreversible; that modern societies inevitably would become
    more secularized, even atheistic. Significant developments in
    countries where Islam, Buddhism, or Hinduism dominated –
    especially Turkey under Atatürk and afterwards, but also Japan
    after WWII, even India under Nehru etc – seemed to confirm
    this. “God is dead.”
    I am not so sure anymore. There has been a huge religious
    renaissance during the last 30 years, globally – also in Western
    societies. Since Ronald Reagan, the born-again Christians have
    become a significant and powerful element in America’s political
    culture. Every POTUS is forced to pay tribute to a handful of
    crazy, but prominent sect leaders. Senior officials in the
    Norwegian government, past and present, believe in telepathic
    healing and New Age-inspired medicines against cancer. Exit
    two hundred years of Enlightenment?
    If some kind of socialism was the dominant ideology in Middle
    Eastern societies like Egypt and Israel during the cold war, the
    increased influence of the Muslim Brotherhood since then in
    Egypt, and the orthodox Jews in Israel, are signs of a huge
    change with obvious political implications. The same pattern can
    be observed with regard to Hindi/Muslim extremism in India.
    Militant secularism is one “Western” (or “Modern”) response to
    the Islamist ideologies during recent years – but only one
    among many others that may become much more dominant in
    the future. Various more or less fanatical Christian sects is
    another response – a pendant to Islamist fanaticism.
    So, which voices will dominate during these turbulent and
    confusing times? Moderate Muslims, or militant Islamists?
    Moderate secularists, or militant secularists? Moderate
    Christians, or fanatical sects? Moderate Israeli Jews, militant
    secular Zionists, or ultra-orthodox Jews? Catholicism (in
    moderate or conservative forms), or Californian-European-
    Indian New Age movements (in extreme or moderate, private
    forms)?
    Given the topic of this thread – the surprising rise to power of a
    handful of militant, pro-Israeli neoconservatives in the most
    powerful nation on earth – no one can predict the future in
    these matters.
    But frankly: I would not be so surprised (even if the prospects
    seem remote today) if, say the Evangelical Christians got the
    upper hand in Washington and blurred, or even erased the strict
    line between state and church, religion and politics.
    There is a theoretical risk that a parallel development could
    happen in Tel Aviv as well in the not so remote future. And in
    Cairo. And in Istanbul. And in New Delhi. And in…?
    And I would even be less surprised if this happened on another
    continent: Africa. On one hand some Islamist theocracies; on
    the other hand some Christian sects invading the political scene
    – due to the combined historical influence of former European
    colonies and their missionaries, and the huge impact of
    Evangelical Christians of American brands in many countries on
    the continent during recent years (both former
    capitalist/cleptocratic countries like Kenya, Uganda, and Congo,
    and former socialist/corrupt countries like Tanzania and
    Ethiopia). Nigeria has for a long time been almost split in two by
    such a conflict.
    The African Islamists may find inspiration in Bin Laden or the
    Muslim Brotherhood. But Sarah Palin may become a valuable ally
    for future Christian theocrats on the continent. They speak the
    same language.
    The violent expressions of militant Islamism have been the most
    spectacular religio-political performances we have witnessed in
    recent years – and they fit perfectly into a sensation-hungry
    media industry, which enhances the potential for conflict on a
    wide range, from demonstrations against blasphemous
    cartoons, to terrorist attacks against restaurants and night
    clubs.
    Most people react emotionally to this stuff. And not only
    secularist ideologies, but also religions like Christianity,
    Judaism, and Hinduism may morph into even more extreme
    variants and branches in an epoch characterized by confusion
    and violent conflicts.
    The contours of all of this are evident. The further development
    and outcome is of course much less clear in most parts of the
    world. The majority on the planet may be moderate, and are
    probably more concerned about issues like toothache, soap
    operas, gossip, and lottery tickets than the second coming of
    the Mahdi or the Messiah, or dreaming of becoming voluntary
    martyrs for free speech, in the name of Enlightenment.
    But the extremists in every camp may hijack the scene, backed
    up and manipulated by powerful but shortsighted interests.
    I think religion is the big X factor in all of this.
    Rant over.

    Reply

  45. nadine says:

    Maw, you are arguing against yourself. On the one hand Bush is of a “nutty persuasion”, on the other, it’s not true belief, just a ruse to hide naked power grabbing. It has to be one or the other; it can’t be both. Might it not matter which it was?
    Plus, like I said before, Bush is irrelevant. The subject is Ahmedinejad, whom you refuse to talk about, and you’re sure Bush is just as bad, ’cause all religions are equally nutty, at least those believed in by Republicans and Islamic extremists. This automated knee-jerk response is quite amusing — can’t you see how you are veering away from perfectly rational subjects because you are self-censoring yourself from even thinking about them? Wigwag can see that.
    Does Ahmedinejad believe it is his destiny to pave the way for the imminent return of the Mahdi? He has given many signs that he does. Don’t you think it might make a difference to his decision making if he really believes that?

    Reply

  46. Maw of America says:

    I beg to differ. I don’t know what kind of mainstream Christians you are hanging with, but none that I know are of the nutty persuasion as Bush.
    And Wag, Bush is just a different flavor, slightly diluted, from that of Ahmedinejad’s. At the end of the day, it all a ruse to keep hidden the face of naked power grabbing. Don’t deflect from Bush’s culpability. I will continue to call you out on it.

    Reply

  47. WigWag says:

    “I can’t count how many times I have been round this same loop with people on the left. As soon as I ask about Ahmedinejad’s religion, it’s like a knee-jerk reaction: “Bush! What about Bush!” or, as I read it, I’m not allowed to talk about Ahmedinejad! He’s an Iranian Muslim! Wouldn’t be politically correct. So let’s talk about George W. Bush! Bush! Bush! Yeah, I can talk about Bush!” (Nadine)
    You’re precisely right about this Nadine. The funny thing is that (as you mentioned) Ahmedinejad is a practioner of “Twelver” Islam. To the vast majority of Muslims and especially to the most pious Sunni Muslims, “Twelvers” are apostates. A significant number of radical Sunnis believe that heretics like the “Twelvers” should be killed. Certainly, many radical Sunni believe that blowing up Shia shrines is not only permissible but is, in fact, a religious obligation.
    For the most part, Christendom got over these problems more than a century ago. Methodists like George W. Bush may think Mormons like Mitt Romney are theologically misguided, but they don’t want them executed or stripped of their political rights.
    Unfortunately, this type of dysfunctional thinking is still the rule rather than the exception in the Muslim world.

    Reply

  48. nadine says:

    “If you’re referring to the amazing feat that the neoconservatives have executed of making their philosophy far and away the most dominant political philosophy in the foreign policy world, I don’t think it’s any one thing.” (Wigwag)
    Neocons habitually think ideology is important; realists downplay ideology. One result was that the neocons spent the nineties warning of the “clash of civilizations” to use Huntingdon’s phrase and the rise of radical Islam; realists paid much less attention to it and thought no paradigm shift was necessary. When 9/11 came, the neocons had an explanation of what had just happened ready and a prescription of what to do; the realists were caught by surprise. This, in a nutshell, is the source of the neocons’ current power imo.

    Reply

  49. nadine says:

    “Nadine says,”Leaders can mix political calculations with religious motivation and rhetoric.”
    Again, I would direct you inwards to exhibit A for the master of this nefarious practice – George W. Bush:” (Maw)
    Maw, we were talking about Ahmedinejad and what policy should be adopted about Iran. I’m sure George Bush’s religious belief does influence his world view. But Bush is a mainstream Christian, not an apocalyptic believer in the imminent return of the hidden Imam like Ahmedinejad. If Bush can be influenced by his religous beliefs, what about Ahmedinejad?
    I can’t count how many times I have been round this same loop with people on the left. As soon as I ask about Ahmedinejad’s religion, it’s like a knee-jerk reaction: “Bush! What About Bush!” or, as I read it, “I’m not allowed to talk about Ahmedinejad! He’s an Iranian Muslim! Wouldn’t be politically correct. So let’s talk about George W. Bush! Bush! Bush! Yeah, I can talk about Bush!”
    George W. Bush isn’t even in politics anymore. This tactic is past its expiration date.

    Reply

  50. WigWag says:

    “WigWag, what would you say is the ultimate source of this near miraculous power?” (Dan Kervick)
    If you’re referring to the amazing feat that the neoconservatives have executed of making their philosophy far and away the most dominant political philosophy in the foreign policy world, I don’t think it’s any one thing.
    But I think the best way to sum it up is that, like it or not, they won the argument.

    Reply

  51. Dan Kervick says:

    “It’s an amazing thing to behold.”
    WigWag, what would you say is the ultimate source of this near miraculous power?

    Reply

  52. WigWag says:

    “Brilliant comment, WigWag (the first one).” (Paul Norheim)
    Well Paul, I feel I must be doing something right; after all, you’ve referred to one of my comments as brilliant and just the other day, Kotzabasis said (on another thread) that he was astonished by something I said.
    I’m blushing!
    On a more serious note, there is something happening that I think is going largely unnoticed. From the end of World War II until the conclusion of the Cold War a remarkable consensus existed about American foreign policy. Democrats and Republicans and liberals and conservatives all believed that confronting the Soviet Union and containing its expansion should be the preeminent goal of American policy.
    Some, like Kennan may have been doves; others like Nitze may have been hawks but everyone believed in containment in one form or another and the shared feelings about how the United States should execute its foreign policy were far stronger than whatever differences there might have been.
    With the end of the Cold War during the last years of George H.W. Bush and the entire Bill Clinton Presidency that consensus on how to conduct American foreign policy broke down. At times the dispute became bitter and the refrain was heard over and over again how much everyone missed the days when Republicans and Democrats agreed on at least the basic premises of what American foreign policy should look like.
    Here we are now 20 years past the end of the Cold War and that consensus seems to be reemerging. Who would have guessed that a shared commitment to “containment” would now be replaced by a shared commitment to the neoconservative ideology?
    Like it or not, that’s almost certainly where we are. The foreign policy views of Republicans and Democrats in Congress are remarkably similar and President Obama is conducting a kindler and gentler version of the George W. Bush foreign policy.
    In the meantime, the realist school of foreign policy is deader than a door nail and the liberal internationalists are all a twitter about things that don’t matter like nuclear disarmament.
    During the 1960s President Nixon famously said “we are all Keynesians now.” During the second decade of the 21st century President Obama might as well announce that “we are all neoconservatives now.”
    The United States has a new foreign policy consensus and it’s based on the ideology that Irving Kristol and Gertrude Himmelfarb formulated with a few friends sitting around their dining room table.
    It’s really quite astonishing.
    What I find even more amazing is that the foreign policy ideas dreamt up by the neocons are now taking root throughout Europe While Europeans may have been culturally uncomfortable with the braggadocio displayed by President Bush and while they may have found his cowboy mentality déclassé, its becoming increasingly clear that they are willing to embrace the neocon ideology. The recent elections to the European Parliament prove it as do the elections of Berlusconi, Merkel and Sarkozy as well as the coming election of David Cameron.
    Look at what you told me recently, Paul, about the Swedes and the Danes; you said that you hardly recognize them any more. A lot of this is about the increasing European discomfort with Muslims in their midst which makes Samuel Huntington’s concept of a clash of civilizations seem even more resonant to Europeans than it does to Americans. And remember several leaders of important European nations are even bigger Iran hawks than Obama is.
    There’s a real irony here, Paul. Barack Obama has morphed into a neoconservative (on foreign policy not domestic policy) and he’s putting such a pretty face on the neoconservative ideology that he’s even bringing the Europeans along.
    It would not surprise me one bit if Robert Kagan or even David Frum ended up endorsing Barack Obama’s reelection.

    Reply

  53. Maw of America says:

    Nadine says,”Leaders can mix political calculations with religious motivation and rhetoric.”
    Again, I would direct you inwards to exhibit A for the master of this nefarious practice – George W. Bush:
    “I’ve heard the call. I believe God wants me to run for President.” (1999)
    “This crusade, this war on terrorism is going to take a while.” (2001)
    “This young century will be liberty’s century. By promoting liberty abroad, we will build a safer world. By encouraging liberty at home, we will build a more hopeful America. Like generations before us, we have a calling from beyond the stars to stand for freedom. This is the everlasting dream of America.” (2004)
    “Sometimes true believers act on their most fervent beliefs. Leaders can mix political calculations with religious motivation and rhetoric.” (2007)

    Reply

  54. Mark KL says:

    David Frum may be a neocon, but he is one
    of the few conservatives who is willing
    to stand up to the populist tide and I
    support that. The conservatives will be
    back in power someday, by default, if nothing else.Better hope they are ones with a clue and a bit of intelligence like David.
    He did an interview with Bill Moyers
    on healthcare that is well worth watching.
    http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/08142009/watch2.html
    Have to give credit to the conservatives
    who know what conservativism is. Not
    a lot of them about these days. That was
    a good discussion, Mr. Clemons, thanks for
    providing it.

    Reply

  55. nadine says:

    “Religion does matter, but only to the extent that it is a proxy for sway over ignorant people and a mask for power grabs. Again, I would look inwards for the best example of this.” (Maw)
    Try applying this to say, the history of Europe in the 16th century, and you will fail to understand a great deal. Sometimes true believers act on their most fervent beliefs. Leaders can mix political calculations with religious motivation and rhetoric. After all, the religious rhetoric works much better if your followers know that you mean it. Even the ignorant can tell the difference between a phony and true believer in the long run.

    Reply

  56. Paul Norheim says:

    Brilliant comment, WigWag (the first one).
    In your reply to DonS, you said: “You’ve had a year to watch
    President Obama, DonS, so you know that in addition to all their
    policy similarities, President Obama has one political instinct
    similar to George W. Bush; whenever he’s in political trouble, he
    lurches to the right.”
    Which in this context means: the neocon right. And I think your
    observation is correct.
    But I also notice that your reply to DonS is colored by the
    utmost respect for Obama-the-Neocon-Hawk – a man you
    ridiculed as a naive moron and empty suit until a couple of
    months ago.
    What happened to the latte drinking moron who lacked any kind
    of relevant experience, and who won the election through sexist
    remarks and empty promises, WigWag?

    Reply

  57. nadine says:

    “Haven’t the majority of countries in the Arab Muslim world accepted Israel’s right to exist?
    “Nowhere else in the whole world do you have a 60 year standoff where one side won’t even recognize the existence of the other.”
    I would point to Cuba as another 60-year standoff (although I believe we recognize the existence of Cuba).” (Maw)
    Only Egypt and Jordan, which have signed treaties, recognize the existence of Israel. Plus I think Morocco and Tunisia, whose politics are removed by virtue of geography. The others don’t recognize it or even name it, calling it the “Zionist entity” or some such. I’ve never seen a Saudi map with Israel on it.
    The US recognized the existence of hostile states, such as the USSR or Communist Cuba.

    Reply

  58. thetruth says:

    Frum has been proven wrong by actual events, time and time again. Hundreds of thousands have payed the price of their own blood so Frum could be proven wrong.
    Why do you still even engage him as any sort of legitimate intellectual, when he has been so catastrophically wrong on so many occasions?
    Neoconservatives should be laughed out of the room any time they open their mouths. There *should* be reprecussions for what they’ve disasterously advocated. They should be judged, and judged harshly due to the deaths that resulted, for the terrible policies they’ve advocated.
    Stop propping up failed neoconservatives Steve.

    Reply

  59. Maw of America says:

    Nadine – A couple of things from your 6:40 PM post stood out for me:
    You say:
    “If the Arab Muslim world did not believe as a matter of religious conviction that Jews are a despicable underclass and a Jewish state is per se illegitimate…”
    Haven’t the majority of countries in the Arab Muslim world accepted Israel’s right to exist?
    – and –
    “Nowhere else in the whole world do you have a 60 year standoff where one side won’t even recognize the existence of the other.”
    I would point to Cuba as another 60-year standoff (although I believe we recognize the existence of Cuba).
    Religion does matter, but only to the extent that it is a proxy for sway over ignorant people and a mask for power grabs. Again, I would look inwards for the best example of this. Paging Sarah Palin!

    Reply

  60. nadine says:

    “My hunch is that Frum is watching various others of the more heir apparent royal cousins including Bill Kristol, John Podhoretz, a few of the Kagans perhaps (though I note an exception via Robert Kagan, who is a genuine intellectual rather than an apparatchik), eventually flame out in misguided attempts to surf Tea Party populism and to stay powerful by associating with a growing pugnacious, anti-intellectual movement in American politics.
    Frum may be the only neocon with a serious policy shop and Irving Kristol-salon around him after the 2012 presidential race and may have an opportunity to replace the know-nothing brain of a Republican Party whose blustery, intolerant celebration of an anachronistic “whites dominate” nativism with a new set of principled policy positions that could define Republicanism by 2016.”
    So, a neocon becomes respectable by becoming less Republican? How convenient. This stuff about “know nothings” and “whites dominate” is mindless calumny and is beneath you, Steve. The Tea Parties are founded around small government fiscal conservatism, which is far from mindless. They are not in the least racist.
    You are being infected by the MSNBC defense mechanisms, which keeps sliming the tea parties trying to portray those who attend them as whacko bigoted gun nuts. They went crazy taking photos of one man who brought a semi-automatic to a Tea Party rally. Trouble was, they had to take real tight pictures, showing only the gun but not the man, because the man was black! That would have spoiled the chosen narrative entirely!
    Do yourself a favor and attend some of these rallies to see for yourself. You’ll stop saying such stupid things about them.

    Reply

  61. nadine says:

    “You’ve had a year to watch President Obama, DonS, so you know that in addition to all their policy similarities, President Obama has one political instinct similar to George W. Bush; whenever he’s in political trouble, he lurches to the right.
    Of course when Bush lurched to the right, he was moving towards his political base; when Obama lurches to the right, he’s moving away from his political base.
    We’ve seen Obama do this a hundred times now; on Guantanamo, on Afghanistan; on Israel/Palestine; on trials for the planners of 9/11; on health care reform; on energy policy (e.g. nuclear power); on the federal budget; etc.” (Wigwag)
    No, I think you’re wrong about Obama’s instincts. Obama’s instinct is to lurch to the left, towards his base; as we see with populist anti-banker rhetoric and his runaway budget. What has happened on Afghanistan, Mideast peace processing, etc, is not that Obama has chosen to lurch to the right, but that his unrealistic notions ran into unyielding reality and collapsed, leaving no alternative.
    In Afghanistan he was faced with the stark choice: more troops or lose. Here he was trapped by all his own tough talk about Afghanistan as the good war, the important war, etc.
    In the Mideast, nothing happened because the Palestinian leadership doesn’t want to talk (they’re being paid very well for staying just as they are, thank you) and Obama’s bumbling gave them a perfect excuse not to talk.
    On Gitmo, he had to face a problem that big bad George W Bush did not invent: there is nowhere else to put some of these guys that doesn’t run real risks of having them blow up in your face (maybe literally) later on with an enormous political price to pay. Again he was trapped by his own naivite and his wish to collect admiration for good intentions.

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  62. nadine says:

    OA is spouting rubbish as usual. Iran has 2,000 kilometer missiles already, which put Europe in range.
    “Iranian Defense Minister Gen. Ahmad Vahidi said on Press-TV that the solid-fuel, high-speed Sajil-2 missile has “great maneuverability” and can access targets more than 2,000 kilometers (1,242 miles) away, making Israel and U.S. military bases in the Gulf reachable.”
    http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meast/12/16/iran.missile/index.html

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  63. nadine says:

    What disturbs me about the shared conversation between Steve Clemons and David Frum is an assumption shared between them: that heads of state can never be motivated by religious fervor. They may talk a good game, but at the end of the day, they both think, prudence rules. This is a comforting assumption but the study of history doesn’t back it up.
    The study of current events doesn’t back it up either: if the Arab Muslim world did not believe as a matter of religious conviction that Jews are a despicable underclass and a Jewish state is per se illegitimate, the Arab/Israeli conflict could never have reached the iconic status it has. Nowhere else in the whole world do you have a 60 year standoff where one side won’t even recognize the existence of the other. The whole Arab world has seized on the conflict as a legitimizing pillar for various autocratic regimes which are failures looked at from a material or military viewpoint. Religion matters in the Middle East.
    Religion matters in Iran too. There is a struggle going on between the “Iran as religious cause” camp and the “Iran as great country” camp. Here Frum is right. Simply saying you need to give Iran “respect” misses the point — which Iran are you respecting? What kind of “respect” can you give to an Iran which demands America’s downfall as an essential part of its program? As Steve says, much of Obama’s program (he really seems to have believed his naive notions about engagement) just projects weakness.
    It is imo highly imprudent not to at least consider the possibility that Ahmedinejad is the Mahdist true believer those who study him think he is; and that this fervent belief informs his decision-making. Just because apocalyptic true believers don’t inhabit the elite corridors of Washington DC does not mean it’s the same in Tehran!
    I would be more interested to see Steve debate a real neocon on Iran. How about Michael Ledeen or Amir Taheri?

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  64. samuelburke says:

    dual loyalty again…
    by PHILIP WEISS on FEBRUARY 18, 2010 · 5 COMMENTS
    Greenwald on Gary Ackerman:
    whatever else is true, once one listens to this, it’s simply
    impossible to deny that this highly influential American
    Congressman, devoted to pushing the U.S. to war with Iran, is
    driven, at least in substantial part, by his fervent devotion to
    Israel. There’s nothing wrong with that per se, but there is
    much wrong with trying to force people to pretend it’s not true.
    This stuff is obvious. People have denied it forever. Apparently
    Jeffrey Goldberg and Jonathan Chait have been doing the denial
    lately; and probably arguing that separate roadways and a pass
    system don’t make apartheid, too. Eric Alterman has been
    intellectually honest about it.
    I’m perfectly happy to admit my own dual loyalty, as should any
    honest supporter of the Zionist project. After all, it’s impossible
    for Israel and the United States to have exactly the same
    interests all the time, and sometimes Israel’s well-being may
    have to take precedence.
    The day when Jews have a genuine forum on these questions,
    rather than a Walt and Mearsheimer bash, is fast approaching.
    The anti-Zionists predicted this problem a long time ago. It’s
    built into the law of return and the Jewish state, and more than
    that, the dependence of the Jewish state on influence in the U.S.
    As Avraham Burg put it, the double structure that Zionism built:
    the Jewish state, and the “semi-autonomous” community of
    influence in the U.S. I don’t want to be semi-autonomous.
    http://mondoweiss.net/

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  65. Outraged American says:

    Hello, Wig-um-you need a DELIVERY SYSTEM to launch a real
    nuclear weapon.
    Guess what? Iran doesn’t have one. Nor does that nefarious
    group composed of “Anyone Who Opposes UsRael” AKA
    “Terrorists” have one.
    Wig says, “Something else that will move Obama towards
    attacking Iran is his genuine conviction that nuclear proliferation
    needs to be discouraged.”
    This while admitting that the only country in the Middle East
    that has a nuclear weapon (200 +) is Israel.
    Then Wig yet again confirms that Israel controls the US
    government when it comes to the Middle East.
    I think, and I also think it’s a shame for “self-hating” i.e., Jews
    with a conscience who want to be a part of humanity rather
    than an elitist group of thugs, of whom (the former) I know
    many, that Zionism exists.
    Wig, Nadine and your fellow Zionist travelers, not only will you
    bring on WW III, but you will bring down eternal hatred on
    innocent Jews when an attack on Iran is launched.
    Not in my name Wig. You want what’s best for Israel, make
    aliyah and get the hell out of here along with every citizen of
    this country who supports Israel’s interests above our own.

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  66. DonS says:

    I buy the ‘forestall mid east nuclear arms race’ caution and motivation for confronting Iran. But, talk about horse already out of the barn, it would seem that Pakistani or Russian nukes could go rogue easily if terrorists put their mind to it.
    Amadinajad is playing with Obama: this week ‘We’ve enriched uranium’. Also “I think worldwide nuclear disarmament is the way to go’.
    The US is positioning anti missile sites around the Gulf. Definitely raising the temperature. US as world policeman once again.
    A blockade, say, of gasoline, with interdiction the high seas, would be such an aggressive act how could Iran not retaliate. Almost unthinkable; but with Obama’s efficacy tanking, and he blowing like a weathervane, wag the dog seems quite plausible. Iran relent? I don’t think so; if the US chooses to squeeze Iran, the Iranians will suffer, yes, but their nationalism will blame the US, not their leaders.
    Remind me again why invading Iraq and disturbing the ME balance/empowering Shia Iran further, made any sense on a strategic level? Aggressive approach to dominating the region. As if China doesn’t have the clout to weigh in on that plan.

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  67. WigWag says:

    “I tend to think you are right about Obama, prodded no doubt by Hillary, backing himself into a corner on Iran. Only I think it may be just a greater willingness to allow Israel to do the deed, e.g., relenting on allowing Israel to bomb by being allowed through US controlled airspace…” (DonS)
    Could be, but I sincerely doubt it. The Israelis, like everyone else, will be smart enough to recognize that Obama has backed himself into a corner that he can’t extricate himself from without an American attack. My guess is that the Israelis (who don’t have the firepower to get the job done anyway) will simply call Obama’s bluff and do nothing.
    Obama will then be confronted with the prospect of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons on his watch. The mantra of every Administration official from Barack Obama on down has been “we can’t permit the Iranians to obtain nuclear weapons.”
    After repeating this mantra for months and months it will be politically devastating to Obama and to the Democrats if Iran does get a nuclear weapon and the United States sits by and does nothing. After everything that they’ve said about how bad a nuclear armed Iran will be, the idea that Obama will be able to sell a policy of deterrence to the American public is ludicrous.
    To rescue himself politically Obama will attack Iran; he may not invade the country but a naval blockade to prevent gasoline shipments and a bombing campaign directed against putative nuclear sites and Revolutionary Guard installations seems to be a certainty; unless Iran relents.
    You’ve had a year to watch President Obama, DonS, so you know that in addition to all their policy similarities, President Obama has one political instinct similar to George W. Bush; whenever he’s in political trouble, he lurches to the right.
    Of course when Bush lurched to the right, he was moving towards his political base; when Obama lurches to the right, he’s moving away from his political base.
    We’ve seen Obama do this a hundred times now; on Guantanamo, on Afghanistan; on Israel/Palestine; on trials for the planners of 9/11; on health care reform; on energy policy (e.g. nuclear power); on the federal budget; etc.
    It may be a good political strategy on Obama’s part or it may be a bad political strategy; but exiting stage right is the first thing Obama does when the political going gets tough.
    In light of everything that his Administration has said about Iran, there’s no reason to believe that he won’t do the same thing if it looks like an Iranian nuclear weapon are on the horizon.
    Something else that will move Obama towards attacking Iran is his genuine conviction that nuclear proliferation needs to be discouraged. Few Presidents in modern times have been as focused on nuclear proliferation as Obama is. It is apparent to everyone that an Iran with an atomic bomb will provide a major incentive to other Middle Eastern players from Turkey to Egypt to Saudi Arabia to develop their own weapon.
    With all of those nations armed with nuclear weapons the chance that a bomb could find its way into terrorist hands is higher than Obama will be willing to chance. The fact that hostility between Sunni nations and Iran and the Muslim world and Israel is so hot, means that any of these nations, if armed with nuclear weapons, might operate on a hair-trigger response. In the nomenclature of the Cold War, that means, “launch on warning.” The threat of nuclear war will be greater than at any time since a nuclear armed India and a nuclear armed Pakistan almost came to blows.
    Do you really think that there’s any chance that Obama will permit this scenario to unfold?
    I don’t
    And of course anyone deluded enough to think that Obama will pursue a nuclear-free Middle East and ask the Israelis to give up their nuclear arsenal is truly mistaken: Obama won’t even ask the Israelis to extend their partial settlement freeze for a few extra months.
    Put two and two together, DonS. Given the political realities that he will face and given his genuine concern about the spread of nuclear weapons, the chance that Obama will refrain from U.S. military action against Iran is near zero.
    You better start getting used to it now. An American attack on Iran is coming.
    Unless Iran relents.

    Reply

  68. DonS says:

    . . . to clarify, though I think despite the grammatical awkwardness of mine it is clear, it is Frum’s hands that are bloody; never Steve’s. Steve did his part by stifling the gag reflex.

    Reply

  69. DonS says:

    Wigwag, I tend to think you are right about Obama, prodded no doubt by Hillary, backing himself into a corner on Iran. Only I think it may be just a greater willingness to allow Israel to do the deed, e.g., relenting on allowing Israel to bomb by being allowed through US controlled airspace, (something George Bush did not allow) instead of reminding the Israelis their planes will get shot down. The momentum of the neocon narrative lives on, far outweighing Obama’s gauzy words about being willing to engage with Iran. One wonders, if the Europeans are more ‘hawkish’ about Iran than the US, as Frum asserts, and Clemons agreed, left to their own devices would they attack? They are far more dependent on Iran than the US (but for the Israeli wild card that runs US policy). So why the US is so disproportionately buttinski? Maybe Frum has a wonderfully strategic analysis.
    I’ve only watched half the Clemons-Frum video, but they definitely are very civil to each other. With blood on his hands, as Cato points out, it is Clemons, of course, who has extended himself, since Frum’s natural interlocutors don’t belong in civilized company. But that is the nature of the Washington beast; one must rub shoulders with others whose hands are quite bloody, and pretend not to notice.

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  70. MarkL says:

    Wigwag,
    How do you judge competence in neoconservatives? More efficient engines of death—more kills for the dollar?
    Listening to SOS Clinton, I agree with you that military actions are coming. While I know she’s representing Obama’s interests—or his caretaker’s interests and those of whoever is “Obama’s brain”—her rhetoric clearly signals willingness to act.
    By the way, I do think Obama may turn out to be a more competent Reagan emulator than Bush as well. After all, he is poised to dismantle Social Security, with the blessing of his own party.

    Reply

  71. WigWag says:

    By the way, congratulations to David Frum and Steve Clemons for a respectful, highly intelligent and informative discussion.
    The idea that both commentators share that Obama won’t attack Iran is wrong. Obama is backing himself into a corner on Iran. His rhetoric and his actions will leave him with little choice.
    Unless Iran relents, Obama will almost certainly be ordering military action against Iran. That action might include a naval blockade to prevent Iranian importation of gasoline; it might include a bombing campaign.
    But whether you think military action against Iran is a good idea a bad idea or something in between, those who think Obama won’t attack Iran are deluding themselves.
    Neoconservatives will come to love Obama; he’s one of them.
    He’s just a more competent neoconservative than George W. Bush was.

    Reply

  72. Cato the Censor says:

    David Frum is the man who, as a White House speechwriter, devised the phrase “axis of evil,” used by Bush in one of his speeches to panic the United States into invading Iraq. Telling lies to foment a war of aggression is a WAR CRIME. David Frum, like so much of the human excrement at loose and free in DC specifically and the world at large, is a WAR CRIMINAL. As George Galloway said to Frum’s face (much to his discomfiture), he is a murderer with blood on his hands.
    What lovely company you keep.

    Reply

  73. WigWag says:

    “I have always been intrigued by the neoconservative network and how it so successfully commandeered the helm of America’s national security establishment after having been for many decades mostly a small boutique shop of high octane intellectuals hanging out in Irving Kristol & Gertrude Himmelfarb’s apartment.” (Steve Clemons)
    Back in mid September, Steve wrote an obituary at the Washington Note for the “intellectual god-father” of the neoconservative movement, Irving Kristol. Steve pointed out how Kristol, along with his wife and a handful of other former “Humphrey Democrats” (earlier in their lives, several of them were Trotskyites) revolutionized thinking about foreign policy issues by creating one of the “smartest” (to use Steve’s word) and most powerful intellectual movements that we’ve seen in a long time.
    What was obvious back in September was that this small group of mostly Jewish intellectuals had completely captured the Republican Party. During the Reagan and George H.W. Bush years, the Republican Party was filled with thoughtful realist thinkers and politicians; James Baker, Chuck Hagel, Henry Kissinger all come to mind immediately.
    What’s so astonishing about Kristol and his neoconservative allies is how thoroughly they eviscerated the realist school in the Republican Party; in fact, there are essentially no realist thinkers of any importance left amongst Republicans. With the possible exception of the well-respected but tired Dick Lugar, there’s not even one Republican Senator who could be called a realist. The same is true in the House of Representatives; other than Ron Paul and one or two other congressmen; the entire House Republican caucus wears the neoconservative uniform. To put the icing on the cake, every single one of the legitimate contenders for the 2012 Republican nomination buys neoconservative
    talking points, hook, line and sinker. Think Mitt Romney; Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Tim Pawlenty; there’s not one of them who believes what the realists are selling.
    Steve Clemons, Rita Hauser, Susan Eisenhower and Lincoln Chafee have all been exiled from the Republican Party; to make matters worse, Republican leaders now ridicule the views of these former loyal Republicans. Rank and file Republicans don’t think much of their views either. Even the more prominent Republican realists like Brent Scowcroft, James Baker and even Henry Kissinger have all been sidelined. Irving Kristol even felt free to refer to the greatest Republican icon in modern history, Ronald Reagan, as “an appeaser.” When he did, the leadership of the Republican Party and the rank and file just yawned.
    What’s even more remarkable is that this largely Jewish group of neoconservative intellectuals managed to take over the Republican Party without delivering any votes (Jews still vote overwhelmingly for Democrats) and without delivering much campaign cash (most Jewish campaign money goes to Democrats just like their votes do).
    There is no better word to describe the achievement of this cadre of neoconservative thinkers than the word “remarkable.”
    Now that Kristol has been dead for almost half a year we can see that if anything, his achievements that Steve lauded in September are even more astonishing than we first thought.
    It seems that not only have the neoconservatives taken over the Republican Party; it looks more and more like they have taken over the foreign policy apparatus of the Democratic Party.
    Since the time of Irving Kristol’s death, President Obama with substantial support within his own Party has: ramped up American involvement in Afghanistan; he’s increased covert operations against the Taliban in both Afghanistan and Pakistan and he’s dramatically increased the number of drone attacks. He hasn’t closed the prison in Guantanamo largely because almost all Democratic congressman and Senators agree with their Republican counterparts that Guantanamo shouldn’t be closed. He’s sold weapons to Taiwan; he’s meeting with the Dalai Lama today; he’s imposed a moratorium on growth in domestic spending while allowing continued growth in military spending. Perhaps most fascinating of all is that despite his campaign rhetoric, he’s following a path on Iran that neoconservatives are sure to celebrate. He’s imposing sanctions as a precursor to what will almost surely be an American military attack on Iran.
    Add to all of this the fact that Obama has abandoned even his rhetorical pressure on Israel and the fact that Democrats in Congress overwhelmingly joined their Republican colleagues in condemning the Goldstone Report and in voting for severe sanctions on Iran, and we are left with little choice but to acknowledge that the neoconservatives now own the Democratic Party almost as completely as they own the Republican Party.
    In the House of Representatives, Howard Berman, the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee and Illeana Ros-Lehtinen, the ranking member, have views that are almost indistinguishable. On March 4th, they will jointly be recommending to the Committee that it pass a resolution condemning Turkey for the Armenian Genocide; the Resolution is sure to pass the Committee and will probably pass the full House. In the Senate, John Kerry, the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was powerless to stop his Committee from unanimously passing a sanctions bill on Iran that includes restrictions on Iran’s importation of gasoline. Shortly thereafter, the bill passed the entire Senate without a single vote of “nay.”
    It’s great that the liberal internationalists in the Obama Administration are worrying about matters of purely theoretical importance like nuclear disarmament. And they’ve done a truly great job on Haiti. It’s great that the Administration plans to get rid of “Don’t Ask, don’t tell.”
    But on issues that are truly consequential; on issues where the rubber really does meet the road, every foreign policy position that this Democratic President takes is a position advocated by the neoconservatives. And the rest of the Democratic Party falls in lockstep behind the President as he adopts these neoconservative approaches.
    The neoconservatives have truly won it all; they have little opposition left. It’s an amazing thing to behold.
    Irving Kristol must be looking down and smiling.
    But Steve makes another great point in his essay; there is a strong incestuous element to the neoconservative leadership. Like royalty, the mantle does seem to be passed down from generation to generation.
    Anyone who wants to know how that works in the long run need only look at Prince Charles and some of the other members of the British Royal Family.
    The gene pool does seem to get diluted over time. Could the same thing happen to the neocons?

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  74. bob h says:

    “..eventually flame out in misguided attempts to surf Tea Party populism and to stay powerful by associating with a growing pugnacious, anti-intellectual movement in American politics.”
    If only that were true. Kristol, et. al. may yet be riding a wave that returns them to power. The jury is still out.

    Reply

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