Friday, September 01, 2006

Criticism of neoconservatism - Wikipedia

The current ideology controlling the minds of the White House advisors have something in common with an old-style left-wing idealism... not exactly a marxist one, but an hegelian one. Have you ever heard something like "There is a job to be done"? It's a bit like the old myth of the "end of history". A sense of a great task ahead as told by an archtypical neoconservative visionary leader. And then, there is all the stuff about democracy. You know all the rethorical references to a big wave of democracy coming under the wings of the righteous American eagle destroying "Evil".

There is indeed a sense that nothing like an objective analysis of foreign policy can ever be agreed with such an ideology. "Realism" already sounds like a betrayal for them.


Criticism of neoconservatism

Neoconservatives have often been singled out for criticism by opponents of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, many of whom see this invasion as a neoconservative initiative.

Jacobinism, Bolshevism

The "traditional" conservative Claes G Ryn has argued that neoconservatives are "a variety of neo-Jacobins." Ryn asserts that true conservatives deny the existence of a universal political and economic philosophy and model that is suitable for all societies and cultures, and believe that a society's institutions should be adjusted to suit its culture, while Neo-Jacobins

are attached in the end to ahistorical, supranational principles that they believe should supplant the traditions of particular societies. The new Jacobins see themselves as on the side of right and fighting evil and are not prone to respecting or looking for common ground with countries that do not share their democratic preferences. (Ryn 2003: 387)

Further examining the relationship between Neoconservatism and moral rhetoric, Ryn argues that

Neo-Jacobinism regards America as founded on universal principles and assigns to the United States the role of supervising the remaking of the world. Its adherents have the intense dogmatic commitment of true believers and are highly prone to moralistic rhetoric. They demand, among other things, "moral clarity" in dealing with regimes that stand in the way of America's universal purpose. They see themselves as champions of "virtue." (p. 384).

Thus, according to Ryn, neoconservatism is analogous to Bolshevism: in the same way that the Bolsheviks wanted to destroy established ways of life throughout the world to replace them with communism, the neoconservatives want to do the same, only imposing free-market capitalism and American-style "liberal democracy" instead of socialism.

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, had the following to say in a December, 2005 interview with the German weekly Der Spiegel: "They are not new conservatives. They're Jacobins. Their predecessor is French Revolution leader Maximilien Robespierre."[10]

Conflict with Libertarian Conservatives

There is also conflict between neoconservatives and libertarian conservatives. Libertarian conservatives are ideologically opposed to large government and regard neoconservative foreign policy ambitions with considerable distrust. Rep Ron Paul, a Republican libertarian who holds a Texas district, has spoken out consistently against the Bush Administration's foreign wars on both a fiscal point and as a moral point on non-intervention.

Disagreement with Business Lobby, fiscal conservatives

There has been considerable conflict between neoconservatives and business conservatives in some areas. Neoconservatives tend to see China as a looming threat to the United States and argue for harsh policies to contain that threat. Business conservatives see China as a business opportunity and see a tough policy against China as opposed to their desires for trade and economic progress. Business conservatives also appear much less distrustful of international institutions. In fact, where China is concerned neoconservatives tend to find themselves more often in agreement with liberal Democrats than with business conservatives. Indeed, Americans for Democratic Action - widely regarded as an "authority" of sorts on liberalism by both the American left and right alike - credit Senators and members of the House of Representatives with casting a "liberal" vote if they oppose legislation that would treat China favorably in the realm of foreign trade and many other matters.

Friction with "Paleoconservatism"

Disputes over Israel and public policy contributed to a sharp conflict with "paleoconservatives," starting in the 1980s. The movement's name ("old conservative") was taken as a rebuke to the "neo" side. The "paleocons" view the neoconservatives as militarist social democrats and interlopers who deviate from traditional conservatism agenda on issues as diverse as federalism, immigration, foreign policy, the welfare state, and in some cases abortion, feminism and homosexuality. All of this leads to a debate over what counts as conservatism.

The paleoconservatives argue that neoconservatives (and Straussians) are an illegitimate addition to the conservative movement. Pat Buchanan calls neoconservatism "a globalist, interventionist, open borders ideology."[11] The open rift is often traced back to a 1981 dispute over Ronald Reagan's nomination of Mel Bradford, a Southerner, to run the National Endowment for the Humanities. Bradford withdrew after neocons complained that he had criticized Abraham Lincoln; the paleos supported Bradford.

The paleos complained that the neocons shoved ideology and global intervention down their throats. Their critics sometimes claim that attacks on neoconservatism masks antagonism toward Jews in general. [12]. Paleos are also often accused of siding with the Left or anti-Western forces, such as Islamofascism.

David Frum and Patrick Buchanan of traded volleys at the start of the Iraq war in 2003. Buchanan called neocons imperialist [13]. Frum charged that paleocons were unpatriotic and, at times, anti-Semitic[14].

Besides Buchanan and Bradford, the most prominent paleoconservatives include Paul Craig Roberts, Paul Gottfried, Thomas Fleming, Chilton Williamson, Joseph Sobran, and Clyde N. Wilson. The two leading paleoconservative publications are Chronicles and The American Conservative, which Buchanan helped create. In addition, paleolibertarianism is a parallel movement that stresses free market economics; is its main outpost.

Neoconservatism, Judaism, and "Dual Loyalty"

Some opponents of neoconservatives have sought to emphasize their interest in Israel and the relatively large proportion of Jewish neoconservatives, and have raised the question of "dual loyalty". A number of critics, such as Pat Buchanan and Juan Cole, have accused them of putting Israeli interests above those of America. In turn these critics have been labeled as anti-Semites by many neoconservatives (which in turn has led to accusations of professional smearing, and then paranoia, and so on).

Some neo-nazi conspiracy theorists such as David Duke have attacked neoconservatism as advancing 'Jewish interests.' Classic anti-Semitic tropes have often been used when elaborating this view, such as the idea that Jews achieve influence through the intellectual domination of national leaders. Similarly, during the run-up to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, left-wing magazine AdBusters published a list of the "50 most influential neocons in the United States", noting that half of these were Jewish (see [15]); although many prominent neoconservatives are not Jewish, among them Michael Novak, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Frank Gaffney, and Max Boot.

Neoconservatives in the 1960s were much less interested in Israel before the June 1967 Six Day War. It was only after this conflict, which raised the specter of unopposed Soviet influence in the Middle East, that the neoconservatives became preoccupied by Israel's security interests. They promote the view that Israel is the United States' strongest ally in the Middle East as the sole Western-style democracy in the region, aside from Turkey (George W. Bush has also supported Turkey in its efforts to join the European Union).

Commenting on the alleged overtones of this view in more mainstream discourse, David Brooks, in his January 6, 2004 New York Times column wrote, "To hear these people describe it, PNAC is sort of a Yiddish Trilateral Commission, the nexus of the sprawling neocon tentacles".

In a similar vein, Michael Lind, a self-described 'former neoconservative,' wrote in 2004, "It is true, and unfortunate, that some journalists tend to use 'neoconservative' to refer only to Jewish neoconservatives, a practice that forces them to invent categories like nationalist conservative or Western conservative for Rumsfeld and Cheney. But neoconservatism is an ideology, like paleoconservatism and libertarianism, and Rumsfeld and Dick and Lynne Cheney are full-fledged neocons, as distinct from paleocons or libertarians, even though they are not Jewish and were never liberals or leftists" (see [16]).

Lind argues that, while "there were, and are, very few Northeastern WASP mandarins in the neoconservative movement", its origins are not specifically Jewish. "...[N]eoconservatism recruited from diverse farm teams including Roman Catholics (William Bennett and Michael Novak) and populists, socialists and New Deal liberals in the South and Southwest (the pool from which Jeane Kirkpatrick, James Woolsey and I [that is, Lind himself] were drawn)" (see [17]).


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