From Bwtm

Neoconservatism is a political current and ideology, mainly in the United States, which emerged in the 1960s, coalesced in the 1970s, and has had a significant presence in the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.

Neoconservatism is fascism.



Warren Cohen on the Rise (and Fall) of the Neocons.

5 Myths About Those Nefarious Neocons

[February 10, 2008] As the Bush administration winds down, neoconservatism has become the most feared and reviled intellectual movement in American history. The neoconservatives have become the subject of numerous myths, mostly spread by their numerous detractors. They're seen as dangerous heretics by livid liberals as well as by traditional conservatives such as William F. Buckley Jr. and Patrick Buchanan.

So "neocon" has become a handy term of condemnation, routinely deployed to try to silence liberal hawks such as Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut or right-wing interventionists such as former deputy secretary of defense Paul D. Wolfowitz and the former Pentagon official Richard N. Perle, who's been nicknamed the "Prince of Darkness." That moniker aside, the neocons insist that there's nothing sinister about them; they simply believed that after 9/11, the United States should use its power to spread democracy throughout the Arab world, just as it had done in Eastern Europe and Central America during the Cold War. Their critics aren't so sure -- and the misconceptions grow.

1 The neocons are chastened liberals who turned right.

This is the self-mythologizing version that the neocons themselves like to spread. Don't believe a word of it. They weren't ever really liberals.

The one thing the movement's founders carried away from the sectarian ideological wars of the 1930s in New York was a prophetic temperament. Back then, Irving Kristol and a host of other future neocons were Trotskyist intellectuals who loathed their rivals, the vulgar Stalinists. Kristol and his comrades believed in creating a worker's paradise that would reject the totalitarianism of Stalin's Soviet Union in favor of a true Marxist utopia. After World War II convinced them that the United States wasn't an imperialist power but one fighting for freedom, Kristol and his fellow travelers briefly embraced liberalism in the late 1940s. But as the convulsions of the 1960s reenergized the radical left, the future neocons kept moving right. All along, they retained the penchant for abusive invective and zest for combat that they had first honed as Trotskyists, wielding magazine articles and op-eds as weapons to discredit their foes and champion their ideas.

2 The neocons are Israeli lackeys.

Bunk. The neocon saga couldn't be more American. It's a tempestuous drama of Jewish assimilation, from immigrant obscurity on the Lower East Side to the rise of a new foreign policy establishment that sees the United States as the avatar of democracy and foe of genocide. What truly animates the neocons is what they see as the lesson of the Holocaust: that it could have been avoided if the Western democracies had found the courage to stop Hitler in the late 1930s. This helps explain Perle's and former undersecretary of defense Douglas J. Feith's antipathy toward the State Department, which tried to stymie U.S. recognition of Israel at its founding in 1948. Neocons such as Norman Podhoretz scorn the State Department as filled with WASPs who seek to cozy up to the Arab states instead of recognizing Israel's strategic value and moral importance as a bastion of democracy in a sea of tyranny.

What's more, the neocons are often to the right of Israel's government. Feith and National Security Council aide Elliott Abrams scoffed at the idea of land-for-peace talks with the Palestinians, for instance, and Wolfowitz pushed for an invasion of Iraq for which even Ariel Sharon demonstrated no particular enthusiasm. The neocons aren't Israel's best advocates, either: The Iraq war has emboldened Iran, fanned the flames of jihadism and made Israel less, not more, secure. Contrary to Wolfowitz's arguments, the road to peace in Israel turned out not to run through Baghdad.

3 The neocons had too much power and took over Bush's brain.

In fact, President Bush used the neocons for his own purposes and then dumped many of them overboard. (Of course, many liberals think Bush doesn't have a brain to take over in the first place, but leave that aside.) On the campaign trail in 2000, Bush was a realist in the mold of his father. But under the appalling pressure of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Bush became the leading neocon in his own administration -- which is why he didn't need them around anymore once they had done their job as lightning rods. What's more, he never gave any of them Cabinet-level positions.

Neither Vice President Cheney nor former defense secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld -- the men who made the real decisions with Bush in the Oval Office -- has ever been a neocon. They are Republican unilateralists who believe in deploying U.S. power whenever and wherever the executive branch sees fit, regardless of what U.S. allies want. Cheney and Rumsfeld used Wolfowitz and other neocons to provide an intellectual patina of justification for war against Iraq, much as Cheney has been trying to do with Iran today. (One reason there was no serious postwar plan for Iraq was that no one in Cheney's office could ever decide whether the administration should have one.)

Lacking a real base in the Republican Party, the neocons got picked off as soon as Bush's handling of the war seemed to falter. They didn't have too much power; ultimately, they had too little to implement their schemes. The result has been finger-pointing and self-exculpatory memoirs from the likes of Feith. Meanwhile, the CIA (which the neocons loathe) has outflanked them on Iran by declaring that it isn't building nuclear weapons. And one of the most prominent surviving neocons, the NSC's Abrams, has proved unable to stop Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's efforts to restart negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

4 The neocons are bloodthirsty ideologues, trying to impose a militant Wilsonianism on the United States that is alien to our foreign policy traditions.

Militant? Sure. But alien? Baloney. In fact, the neocons' worldview melds both of the major strands of traditional U.S. foreign policy thinking -- realism and idealism -- in a highly opportunistic fashion. This is why liberal hawks such as author Paul Berman, Washington Post columnist Peter Beinart and the editors of the New Republic signed on to the neocon crusade at the outset of the Iraq war, while the true realists, such as former national security advisers Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski, blanched in horror.

5 The Iraq debacle has discredited the neocons.

This could be the biggest whopper of them all. Now that the "surge" in Iraq has brought levels of violence down somewhat, the neocons are already claiming vindication. As Iraq fades from the front pages, the neocons' hero, Arizona Sen. John McCain, is poised to become the Republican standard-bearer in 2008. (The neocons also would have happily flocked around Rudolph W. Giuliani, who recruited Norman "World War IV" Podhoretz as a senior adviser.)

The truth is that the neocons have been repeatedly declared dead before -- and, to the chagrin of their enemies on the left and the right, bounced back. At the end of the Cold War, the arch-realist George H.W. Bush relegated them to the sidelines; then the triangulating Bill Clinton seemed to deprive them of their biggest foreign and domestic policy issues. If they came back from that, they can come back from anything. Now that Robert Kagan, William Kristol (who seems not to be discredited in the eyes of the New York Times, which just made him a columnist) and a host of other neocons have hitched their fortunes to McCain, the neocons are poised for a fresh comeback. If they make a hash of foreign policy by 2011, perhaps the familiar cycle of public scorn and rebirth might even start all over again.

End of the neo-con dream

The neo-conservative dream faded in 2006.

Iraq was meant to be the showcase for a New American Century

The ambitions proclaimed when the neo-cons' mission statement "The Project for the New American Century" was declared in 1997 have turned into disappointment and recriminations as the crisis in Iraq has grown.

"The Project for the New American Century" has been reduced to a voice-mail box and a ghostly website. A single employee has been left to wrap things up.

The idea of the "Project" was to project American power and influence around the world.

The 1997 statement (written during the administration of President Bill Clinton) said:

"We seem to have forgotten the essential elements of the Reagan Administration's success: a military that is strong and ready to meet both present and future challenges; a foreign policy that boldly and purposefully promotes American principles abroad; and national leadership that accepts the United States' global responsibilities."

"Neo-conservatism has gone for a generation, if in fact it ever returns." David Rothkopf, Carnegie Endowment

Among the signatories were many of the senior officials who would later determine policy under President George W Bush - Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Elliot Abrams and Lewis Libby - as well as thinkers including Francis Fukuyama, Norman Podheretz and Frank Gaffney.

The neo-conservatives were called that because they sought to re-establish what they felt were true conservative values in the Republican Party and the United States.

They wanted to stop what they felt were the isolationist tendencies that had developed under President Clinton, and even under the pragmatic President George Bush senior.

They saw the war in Iraq as their big chance of showing how the "New American Century" might work.

They predicted the development of democratic values in a region lacking in them and, in that way, the removal of any threat to the United States just as the democratisation of Germany and Japan after World War II had transformed Europe and the Pacific.


Since so much was pinned on Iraq, it is inevitable that the problems there should have undermined the whole idea.

"George Bush is about the last neo-conservative standing." David Rothkopf, Carnegie Endowment

"Neo-conservatism has gone for a generation, if in fact it ever returns," says one of the movement's critics, David Rothkopf, currently at the Carnegie Endowment in Washington, and a former official in the Clinton administration.

"Their signal enterprise was the invasion of Iraq and their failure to produce results is clear. Precisely the opposite has happened," he says.

"The US use of force has been seen as doing wrong and as inflaming a region that has been less than susceptible to democracy.

"Their plan has fallen on hard times. There were flaws in the conception and horrendously bad execution. The neo-cons have been undone by their own ideas and the incompetence of the Bush administration.

"George Bush is about the last neo-conservative standing, Cheney as well maybe. Bush is not an analytical person so he just adopted the neo-cons' philosophy.

"It fitted into his Manichean, his black and white view of the world. After all, he gave up his dissolute youth and was born again as a new man, so it appealed to his character."


The fading of the dream has led to a falling-out among the neo-conservatives themselves.

Richard Perle had once argued for going to war in Iraq

In particular, two leading neo-conservatives, Richard Perle and Kenneth Adelman, attacked the Bush team in Vanity Fair magazine. Both had been on a Pentagon advisory board. Both had argued for war in Iraq.

In an article called "Neo Culpa", Richard Perle declared that had he known how it would turn out, he would have been against it: "I think now I probably would have said: 'No, let's consider other strategies'."

Kenneth Adelman said: "They turned out to be among the most incompetent teams in the post-war era.

"Not only did each of them, individually, have enormous flaws, but together they were deadly, dysfunctional."

Donald Rumsfeld "fooled me", he said.

He declared of neo-conservatism after Iraq: "It's not going to sell."

Defence and counter-attack

Other neo-conservatives defend their record, arguing strongly that the original idea had an effect, and pressing the point raised by Perle and Adelman that it was the execution of the idea not the idea itself that was wrong.

"Now I am not sure we can pick the bacon out of the fire." Gary Schmitt, American Enterprise Institute

Gary Schmitt used to be a senior figure at the "New American Century" project. Now he is director of strategic studies at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), and he says the project has come to a natural end.

"When the project started, it was not intended to go forever. That is why we are shutting it down. We would have had to spend too much time raising money for it and it has already done its job.

"We felt at the time that there were flaws in American foreign policy, that it was neo-isolationist. We tried to resurrect a Reaganite policy.

"Our view has been adopted. Even during the Clinton administration we had an effect, with Madeleine Albright [then secretary of state] saying that the United States was 'the indispensable nation'.

"But our ideas have not necessarily dominated. We did not have anyone sitting on Bush's shoulder. So the work now is to see how they are implemented. Obviously it makes life difficult with the specific failure in Iraq, but I do not agree with Richard Perle that we should never have gone in.

"I do argue that the execution should have been better. In fact, I argued in late 2003 that we needed more troops and a proper counter-insurgency policy."

Indeed, not all neo-conservatives have given up all hope in Iraq.

The AEI, which has become the natural home for refugees from the American Project, is promoting an article entitled: "Choosing Victory: A Plan for Success in Iraq".

The article calls not for a withdrawal of US troops but for an increase. President Bush's decision is expected in early January.

Characteristics of a Neoconservative

List of people described as neoconservatives


Irving Kristol

Irving Kristol, Godfather of Modern Conservatism, Dies at 89.

Kristol was not an original thinker and never claimed to be one. The actual origins of neoconservatism will provide material for historians for some time to come. Distinct streams of thought, in sometimes contradictory coexistence, made it up. Jewish Democrats with roots in the New Deal concluded that the Great Society had gone too far—especially with its programs of affirmative action for women and minorities. Technocratic skeptics like the political scientist James Q. Wilson thought that much government intervention failed and was socially counterproductive. Defenders of familial and religious values, often Catholic, thought that Americans should not trade their ethnic identities for what they saw as a sterile universalism. The theme of the superior wisdom of ordinary Americans triumphing over the unrealistic notions of educated elites was prominent. It contrasted with the views of the followers of the philosopher Leo Strauss, who did not think that citizenries could, or should, rule themselves. Yet they found themselves in the same movement.

Paul Wolfowitz

On 'Realism' And The Iraq War.

Richard Perle

Neo Culpa As Iraq slips further into chaos, the war's neoconservative boosters have turned sharply on the Bush administration, charging that their grand designs have been undermined by White House incompetence. In a series of exclusive interviews, Richard Perle, Kenneth Adelman, David Frum, and others play the blame game with shocking frankness. Target No. 1: the president himself.

Whacko Neo-Con web sites, A Free Press For A Free People