Conservatives vs. Neoconservatives

Con: I’m right!
Neocon: I’m righter!
Con: Would you rather be hunting with Cheney or driving with Ted Kennedy?
Neocon: Ha ha. I wouldn’t be caught dead in Senator Kennedy’s car.
Con: Ha ha ha

[quote=“Chewycorns”][quote=“Comrade Stalin”][quote=“TainanCowboy”][quote=“gao_bo_han”]“Neo-conservative” is just a term used by leftists to portray the Bush Administration and anyone who agrees with them as outlandish and extremist."[/quote]gao_bo_han -
That is the most accurate definition I’ve seen so far. :bravo:
Everytime one sees this term being used a flag goes up. Its a trite little tool used to prejudice the standards for the discussion.[/quote]
It’s also often used by those who think JFK walked on water but know nothing of either his domestic or foreign policies.[/quote]
Tax cuts, “Flexible Response”, a love of counterinsurgency operations — he was a Neo : :bravo:[/quote]
John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center aka “The John Wayne School for Wayward Boys” certainly proves that JFK was a firm believer in the changing future of warfare.

Pinko: The Bush wiretaps were illegal.
Con: Al Gore in a ninny.
Neocon: Al Gore is a poo face.

Speaking as a con-man, I’d say it’s more accurate to characterize the con-man position as “Al Gore is a ninny and the Bush wiretaps are illegal.”

Pinko: This war should never have happened.
Con: Pansy.
Neocon: [text removed]

Cons: antisemites
Neocons: semites.

They’re ba-a-a-ck.

"At last, the conservatives stand up to be counted

It’s taken awhile, a little more than five years to be precise, but we may be witnessing the return of a respected and important political ideology in this town: conservatism. And its apparent ride back onto the political scene comes not a moment too soon.

Last week, when the Senate Judiciary Committee questioned Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Democrats asked a lot of combative questions, as one might expect. But the real news was that some of the senators on the right side of the dais wondered aloud about whether the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program went too far in the way of expanding executive power."

Con: Did you see the Democrat we photoshopped next to that bad guy?
Neocon: Yeah. That was funny.
Con: And it’s true too.
Neocon: ha ha ha

James Webb, Vietnam veteran, conservative, 0-for-12:

"It pains me to point this out, but in my view the United States invasion of Iraq was one of the most ill-advised and reckless actions that the US government has ever taken. . . .


Once upon a time, [url= posted an article by Francis Fukuyama[/url]. Mr. Fred Smith replied thus: [quote="[url= Smith[/url]"]Excellent article Mapo! Fukuyama deserves his reputation. I agree with his view 100 percent! [/quote]
[url= acknowledged that Francis has some interesting ideas, but took exception with Fred’s contention that Fukuyama’s reputation was anything to get excited about, and commented on how Fukuyama had offered up some scathing remarks on Bush’s status as a good “neo-con”.

Well, Francis has just published a long essay on Neoconservativism, and it’s well-worth reading. For those who don’t want, or have the time to wade through it, I’m posting a few excerpts.

[quote]Francis Fukuyama: After Neoconservatism

[color=blue]As we approach the third anniversary of the onset of the Iraq war, it seems very unlikely that history will judge either the intervention itself or the ideas animating it kindly. [/color]By invading Iraq, the Bush administration created a self-fulfilling prophecy: Iraq has now replaced Afghanistan as a magnet, a training ground and an operational base for jihadist terrorists, with plenty of American targets to shoot at. The United States still has a chance of creating a Shiite-dominated democratic Iraq, but the new government will be very weak for years to come; the resulting power vacuum will invite outside influence from all of Iraq’s neighbors, including Iran. There are clear benefits to the Iraqi people from the removal of Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship, and perhaps some positive spillover effects in Lebanon and Syria. But [color=blue]it is very hard to see how these developments in themselves justify the blood and treasure that the United States has spent on the project to this point.[/color]
[color=blue]The administration’s second-term efforts to push for greater Middle Eastern democracy, introduced with the soaring rhetoric of Bush’s second Inaugural Address, have borne very problematic fruits.[/color] The Islamist Muslim Brotherhood made a strong showing in Egypt’s parliamentary elections in November and December. While the holding of elections in Iraq this past December was an achievement in itself, the vote led to the ascendance of a Shiite bloc with close ties to Iran (following on the election of the conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president of Iran in June). But the clincher was the decisive Hamas victory in the Palestinian election last month, which brought to power a movement overtly dedicated to the destruction of Israel. In his second inaugural, Bush said that “America’s vital interests and our deepest beliefs are now one,” but the charge will be made with increasing frequency that the Bush administration made a big mistake when it stirred the pot, and that the United States would have done better to stick by its traditional authoritarian friends in the Middle East. Indeed, the effort to promote democracy around the world has been attacked as an illegitimate activity both by people on the left like Jeffrey Sachs and by traditional conservatives like Pat Buchanan.
[color=blue]The problem with neoconservatism’s agenda lies not in its ends, which are as American as apple pie, but rather in the overmilitarized means by which it has sought to accomplish them. What American foreign policy needs is not a return to a narrow and cynical realism, but rather the formulation of a “realistic Wilsonianism” that better matches means to ends.[/color]

“The End of History,” in other words, presented a kind of Marxist argument for the existence of a long-term process of social evolution, but one that terminates in liberal democracy rather than communism. In the formulation of the scholar Ken Jowitt, the neoconservative position articulated by people like Kristol and Kagan was, by contrast, Leninist; they believed that history can be pushed along with the right application of power and will.[color=blue]*[/color] Leninism was a tragedy in its Bolshevik version, and it has returned as farce when practiced by the United States. [color=blue]Neoconservatism, as both a political symbol and a body of thought, has evolved into something I can no longer support.[/color][/quote]

Now that’s funny: a Marxist-Leninist split on the far-right!

Read Parts II and III on the following page.

Part II: Francis Fukuyama: After Neoconservativism.

[quote]Francis Fukuyama: After Neoconservatism

The Failure of Benevolent Hegemony

The Bush administration and its neoconservative supporters did not simply underestimate the difficulty of bringing about congenial political outcomes in places like Iraq; they also misunderstood the way the world would react to the use of American power. […] After the fall of the Soviet Union, various neoconservative authors like Charles Krauthammer, William Kristol and Robert Kagan suggested that the United States would use its margin of power to exert a kind of “benevolent hegemony” over the rest of the world, fixing problems like rogue states with W.M.D., human rights abuses and terrorist threats as they came up. [color=blue][b]Writing before the Iraq war, Kristol and Kagan considered whether this posture would provoke resistance from the rest of the world, and concluded, “It is precisely because American foreign policy is infused with an unusually high degree of morality that other nations find they have less to fear from its otherwise daunting power.”

It is hard to read these lines without irony in the wake of the global reaction to the Iraq war, which succeeded in uniting much of the world in a frenzy of anti-Americanism.[/b][/color] The idea that the United States is a hegemon more benevolent than most is not an absurd one, but there were warning signs that things had changed in America’s relationship to the world long before the start of the Iraq war. The structural imbalance in global power had grown enormous. America surpassed the rest of the world in every dimension of power by an unprecedented margin, with its defense spending nearly equal to that of the rest of the world combined. […]
[color=blue]There were other reasons as well why the world did not accept American benevolent hegemony. In the first place, it was premised on American exceptionalism, the idea that America could use its power in instances where others could not because it was more virtuous than other countries. [/color]The doctrine of pre-emption against terrorist threats contained in the 2002 National Security Strategy was one that could not safely be generalized through the international system; [color=blue]America would be the first country to object if Russia, China, India or France declared a similar right of unilateral action. The United States was seeking to pass judgment on others while being unwilling to have its own conduct questioned in places like the International Criminal Court.[/color]
[color=blue]Finally, benevolent hegemony presumed that the hegemon was not only well intentioned but competent as well.[/color] Much of the criticism of the Iraq intervention from Europeans and others was not based on a normative case that [color=blue]the United States [/color]was not getting authorization from the United Nations Security Council, but rather on the belief that it had not made an adequate case for invading Iraq in the first place and [color=blue]didn’t know what it was doing in trying to democratize Iraq. In this, the critics were unfortunately quite prescient. [/color][/quote]

Part III: Francis Fukuyama: After Neoconservativism.

[quote]Francis Fukuyama: After Neoconservatism
What to Do

Now that the neoconservative moment appears to have passed, the United States needs to reconceptualize its foreign policy in several fundamental ways. In the first instance, [color=blue]we need to demilitarize what we have been calling the global war on terrorism and shift to other types of policy instruments.[/color] We are fighting hot counterinsurgency wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and against the international jihadist movement, wars in which we need to prevail. But [color=blue]“war” is the wrong metaphor for the broader struggle[/color], since wars are fought at full intensity and have clear beginnings and endings. Meeting the jihadist challenge is more of a “long, twilight struggle” whose core is not a military campaign but a political contest for the hearts and minds of ordinary Muslims around the world. As recent events in France and Denmark suggest, Europe will be a central battleground in this fight.

[color=blue]The United States needs to come up with something better than “coalitions of the willing” to legitimate its dealings with other countries. The world today lacks effective international institutions that can confer legitimacy on collective action; creating new organizations that will better balance the dual requirements of legitimacy and effectiveness will be the primary task for the coming generation. [/color]As a result of more than 200 years of political evolution, we have a relatively good understanding of how to create institutions that are rulebound, accountable and reasonably effective in the vertical silos we call states. What we do not have are adequate mechanisms of horizontal accountability among states.
The final area that needs rethinking, and the one that will be the most contested in the coming months and years, is the place of democracy promotion in American foreign policy. The worst legacy that could come from the Iraq war would be an anti-neoconservative backlash that coupled a sharp turn toward isolation with a cynical realist policy aligning the United States with friendly authoritarians. [color=blue]Good governance, which involves not just democracy but also the rule of law and economic development, is critical to a host of outcomes we desire, from alleviating poverty to dealing with pandemics to controlling violent conflicts. A Wilsonian policy that pays attention to how rulers treat their citizens is therefore right, but it needs to be informed by a certain realism that was missing from the thinking of the Bush administration in its first term and of its neoconservative allies.[/color]

We need in the first instance to understand that promoting democracy and modernization in the Middle East is not a solution to the problem of jihadist terrorism; in all likelihood it will make the short-term problem worse, as we have seen in the case of the Palestinian election bringing Hamas to power. Radical Islamism is a byproduct of modernization itself, arising from the loss of identity that accompanies the transition to a modern, pluralist society. It is no accident that so many recent terrorists, from Sept. 11’s Mohamed Atta to the murderer of the Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh to the London subway bombers, were radicalized in democratic Europe and intimately familiar with all of democracy’s blessings. More democracy will mean more alienation, radicalization and

Well, he offers some nice ideas that are hard to refute. I think everyone agress that there is a broader war that has to be fought with ideas rather than (or perhaps in addition to) military means. However, I’m not sure how to apply his ideas given a situation like Iran, where any action taken might have to be done sooner rather than later, which doesn’t allow time to set up the bodies he is talking about. He appears to critisize a COW action in that situation, but doesn’t really give us a viable alternative.

Another argument he makes is that the U.S. is hypocritical, in that the U.S. wouldn’t put up with unilateralism from another nation – I’m not sure that point is entirely legitimate though. For example, I don’t think the U.S would necessarily intervene if say, China got into a spat with a former Soviet neighbor (except Russia). True the U.S. would not allow another nation to intervene as broadly as we do, but it’s also true that the U.S. has taken the burden of being the primary police of the world – a responsibility you don’t see the U.N. or anyone else jumping to take.

Conservative idealism at its best.


Bruce Bartlett, conservative: Impostor

Well, conservative idealism is what he asked for, I did my best to deliver in the absence of one who would present the position a little better than I could. Perhaps I should have been a little more snide about it. :wink:

A different brand of conservative, William F. Buckley, jr. has also come out arguing that Bush’s Iraq policy is failure that must now be acknowledged.

An interesting contrast between the analyses of Fukuyama and Buckley concerning the appropriate response to “the postulates of American idealism.” In the article posted above, Fukuyama argues that the idealism currently driving foreign policy is predicated on a flawed, Leninist understanding of historical forces (“when the crucial moment arrives, WE can MAKE it happen”), and that this model should be abandoned for a more realistic, modest, Wilsonian approach (cooperative, multi-national, restrained). Buckley doesn’t list all the postulates, but counters that abandoning them because they failed in this one instance would not be healthy for the American psyche.

Buckley doesn’t offer any sort of argument to support that conclusion, beyond a weak statement that “The killer insurgents are not entitled to blow up the shrine of American idealism,” and while I agree with Fukuyama’s conclusions, it’s not his argument that convinces me.

It will be interesting to see which direction American conservatives lean: towards more of the same gun-ho idealism, a more modest version, or a complete withdrawal.

[quote=“William F. Buckley, jr.”] [b]It Didn

A little bird told me that I had been summoned back a la seance. I would be happy to offer my two cents. Rest assured that this ugly, fat, disgusting bird is being taken care of as we speak…

First of all, while Fukuyama has a point, you need to ask yourself this: Who has formed alliances to gang up against the “threat” of the US or even if you stick to it as being “perception of a threat”? Iran and Syria come to mind, but anyone else? The Moscow-Berlin-Paris axis is in tatters. What has happened with the Russia-China-Central Asia alliance? Nothing, nothing, nothing. While the European “public” has often vented anti-American, what in reality has happened behind closed doors? In reality, even during the Iraq war, the German establishment was working closely together with the US and once Schroeder and Fischer were out, we discovered that the reason for the rupture had more to do with those two individuals and the interests that they represented than the actual strategic interests of the country. It was not therefore the gun-toting American cowboy but venal, shallow pandering for votes in post-historic societies that no longer recognize any use of force unless it is demanding the US use its considerable military resources for disaster relief or to stop conflicts in Sudan.

Ditto for France. Did France work together more closely with the US before or after Bush and his policies? I would argue that despite the very public venting, it was France that caved in and is now working closely across the spectrum from Syria to Iran. Today, are Germany, France and the UK lining up against the US and its policy on Iran or are they all in lockstep with us? Is the UN actively blocking the US on Iran or working closely with us to achieve our goals? What about Russia? China? India? So while Fukuyama talks about benevolent regime change not working, I would argue then why are so many people calling for US and UN intervention in Sudan? Why the outside interest in the fate of Kosovo? Why the success in Libya? Lebanon?

While you have Chavez in Venezuela, Castro in Cuba and this new fat-faced peasant whose coarse appearance comes to mind but whose name escapes me in Bolivia, how are these new populists any different from those of old? This is the same song and dance that has surfaced and resurfaced in Latin America ad naseum since it achieved independence from Spain. Boring. Let’s move on but whatever we do, let’s not pretend that it is some manifestation stemming from loss of American influence, prestige or represents an active power-politics alliance formation to gang up on the strongest: the US. In fact, ask yourself why this has not happened. Throughout history it has been the case. The only time this has not occurred is now during the Pax Americana? Why not? Because no one views us as the threat that the hyperventilating media or knee-jerk liberal professional protesting marchers would have you believe. Too bad their lives don’t have meaning but the reality is that in the highest offices where true decisions are made, this is not the case.

Finally, while it is all fine and good to talk about soft-power solutions, let’s face it, Saddam would be there in 30 years if we had not taken him out. The solution sometimes calls for a hard-power solution and while the US is now actively cultivating soft-power solutions, so what? I would argue that 17 resolutions before the UN were clear indication that Bush was willing to pursue soft-power but when it ultimately was proved to have failed, he was willing to go that extra step further to do something about it. Today, is Europe more or less willing to engage in hard-power solutions? or has the US become more soft-power? Who do you think has really shifted to the other’s position? Look at France in Lebanon and the Three European powers with regard to Iran. Who is moving toward the other’s direction? Clearly, Europe now sees a need for the US and its hard power like never before.

So continue with soft power until there are 17 resolutions calling for Iran to disarm. Continue to have Russia and others engage in dialogue regarding Syria and Iran and their actions in the Middle East which are directly antithical to “international law” until you are blue in the face but the fact remains when the US is ready, we will take care of those problems to the best of our ability and while narcissistic, empty-headed, kneejerk leftists will march in great numbers through the capitals of every European city, what will their governments actually do?

As to coalitions of the willing? haha. Let’s face it. The only indispensable nation is the US and no 300 troops from Denmark, 2,000 from Ukraine or 9,000 from the UK is going to change that. Ultimately, the training, firepower and ability to project power rest with only one nation. And if that nation were truly the threat that some claim, you can damned well be sure other nations would be rising, arming and allying to fight it. The fact that they are not show that we have won the PR battle at least in the halls of power. How soon intelligent adults in Europe will grow up and realize that they cannot have their cake and eat it too is up to them. It is a small factor of increasing irrelevance and they have ensured that by their very actions, they have made themselves so. Yawn. It is about as interesting as university professors in Rome, Berlin or London writing theses about the continued relevance of the Marxist paradigm when interpreting blah blah blah.

Let me answer the other point in the next post.

Oh Fred Smith you are back, glad to hear about you.

Just a quick point as for the European stance before I go.
We cannot compare at all the situation of Iran with the one of Iraq where we had our disagreement.
Iran is a real danger and no one would disagree with a Bush or with a democrat on this.
Nice day to you

Just for today. Holiday. Under the influence. Someone else is to blame.

[quote]Just a quick point as for the European stance before I go.
We cannot compare at all the situation of Iran with the one of Iraq where we had our disagreement.
Iran is a real danger and no one would disagree with a Bush or with a democrat on this.
Nice day to you[/quote]

Find me one quote from anyone in the European establishment that said Iraq was not a threat. You will not find one. Even those that did not believe that Saddam had wmds (very limited number) never said he was not a threat. Given that most of the establishment in Europe fully believed that Saddam too had wmds, how pray tell is that different from the situation with Iran? The reality is that Europe is now more like America than American being more like Europe. Perhaps, all those terrorist bombs in your “understanding” societies coupled with the reality of your demographic disaster in the making have made you sit up and realize that you can no longer afford to take your five week vacations while failing to produce children and allowing those directly antithical to your system enter in increasingly greater numbers and still preserve your way of life. Good luck to you. You are at the 11th hour. Better hurry and start integrating the Muslims or the shoe will be on the other foot. Picture yourself in a veil! without a job! not being able to vote! perhaps not even drive! and forget about your daughters getting an education!


I disagree with Buckley and I think that we have been very successful. Remember that it took 10 years for Kurdistan to settle all these internal conflicts 1991 to 1998 and even longer. Give Iraq the same amount of time, say, to 2013 to achieve a stable government. In the meantime, we will be pulling out troops as Iraqi units take over. We will remain over the long-term with 35k to 50k troops. Our success in Iraq will eventually gel. We can aid this process by stepping up pressure on the forces that are funding those who fight against us. Those sources are mostly in Syria and Iran but also in Saudi Arabia. The longer and farther we go in Iraq, the more this will become apparent. The sooner we can remove something easy like Syria, the fewer bases those forces will have.

The media and various “leaders” have been predicting civil war in Iraq since the very beginning. Has it taken place? Why not? Will bombing of mosques today be perceived as any different when they occured in Najaf three years ago? Remember? So no, I do not see civil war occuring. I see a lot of political posturing. That occurs in abundance in other societies as well. Ask yourself if there is any force in Iraq currently that could actually change the status quo? Disrupt? yes. Overturn? No. If this gets worse, it will reach only the level of the Algerian conflict which ultimately also failed to overturn the government and is now remarkably quiet.

Iran was a problem that would not have been easily solved with an invasion even before we dealt with Iraq. There would have been no invasion of Iran even in 2003 or 2001 or 1999 or 2005 or perhaps even 2007 though we may have to wait and see. This is not about overextension. This is not about being bogged down in Iraq. The reality is that even at full power, the US would have been hard pressed to come up with a viable solution to deal with Iran. That is also precisely why I am glad we did what we did with Iraq when we still had the chance. I am very eager, however, to see Syria fall. Here, my impatience is palpable. With Iran though… show me the plan that shows that we can do something and I will look at it, but until then… it falls into the same category as North Korea. We may have to look to long-term containment solutions for both.

Anyway, nice being back for a visit. Next vacation is in about two months? Maybe talk to you all then. Anyway, given that the same fights among the same people seem to be occuring at the same levels of intensity, I have no doubt that I will be able to pop in and no one will be any the wiser. haha

Over and out.

Frederick P. Smith V.