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Neoconservatism is a political philosophy that emerged in the United States. Its key distinction is in international affairs, where it espouses an interventionist approach that seeks to defend what neo-conservatives deem as national interests. In addition, unlike traditional conservatives, neoconservatives are comfortable with a minimally-bureaucratic welfare state; and, while generally supportive of free markets, they are willing to interfere for overriding social purposes.[1]

The term neoconservative, first coined at least as early as 1921, was used at one time as a criticism against liberals who had "moved to the right".[2][3] Michael Harrington, a democratic socialist, coined the current sense of the term neoconservative in a 1973 Dissent magazine article concerning welfare policy.[4] According to E. J. Dionne, the nascent neoconservatives were driven by "the notion that liberalism" had failed and "no longer knew what it was talking about."[5]

The first major neoconservative to embrace the term, and considered its founder, is Irving Kristol, father of William Kristol, who founded the neoconservative Project for the New American Century. The elder Kristol wrote of his neoconservative views in the 1979 article "Confessions of a True, Self-Confessed 'Neoconservative.'"[2] His ideas had been influential since the 1950s, when he co-founded and edited Encounter magazine.[6] Another source was Norman Podhoretz, editor of Commentary magazine from 1960 to 1995. By 1982 Podhoretz was calling himself a neoconservative, in a New York Times Magazine article titled "The Neoconservative Anguish over Reagan's Foreign Policy".[7][8] The term was the subject of increased media coverage during the presidency of George W. Bush.[9][10] In particular, discussion has focussed on the neoconservative influence on American foreign policy, as part of the Bush Doctrine, (see "Administration of George W. Bush," below).


[edit] History and origins

[edit] Great Depression and World War II

"New" conservatives initially approached this view from the political left. The forerunners of neoconservatism were often liberals or socialists who strongly supported the Allied cause in World War II, and who were influenced by the Great Depression-era ideas of the New Deal, trade unionism, and Trotskyism, particularly those who followed the political ideas of Max Shachtman.[citation needed] A number of future neoconservatives, such as Jeane Kirkpatrick,[citation needed] were Shachtmanites in their youth; some were later involved with Social Democrats USA.[citation needed]

Some of the mid-20th century New York Intellectuals were forebears of neoconservatism.[citation needed] The most notable was literary critic Lionel Trilling, who wrote, "In the United States at this time liberalism is not only the dominant but even the sole intellectual tradition." It was this liberal vital center, a term coined by the historian and liberal theorist Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., that the neoconservatives would see as threatened by New Left extremism. But the majority of vital center liberals remained affiliated with the Democratic Party,[citation needed] retained left-of-center viewpoints, and opposed Republican politicians such as Richard Nixon, who first attracted neoconservative support.[citation needed]

Initially, the neoconservatives were less concerned with foreign policy than with domestic policy. Irving Kristol's journal, The Public Interest, focused on ways that government planning in the liberal state had produced unintended harmful consequences. Norman Podhoretz's magazine Commentary, formerly a journal of the liberal left, had more of a cultural focus, criticizing excesses in the movements for black equality and women's rights, and in the academic left.[citation needed] Through the 1950s and early 1960s the future neoconservatives had been socialists or liberals strongly supportive of the American Civil Rights Movement, integration, and Martin Luther King, Jr..[11][12]

The neoconservatives, arising from the anti-Stalinist left of the 1950s, opposed the anti-capitalism of the New Left of the 1960s. They broke from the liberal consensus of the early post-World War II years in foreign policy, and opposed Détente with the Soviet Union in the late 1960s and 1970s.

Senator Henry M. Jackson, influential neoconservative forerunner.

[edit] Drift away from New Left and Great Society

Neoconservatives came to dislike the counterculture of the 1960s baby boomers, and what they saw as anti-Americanism in the non-interventionism of the movement against the Vietnam War.[citation needed]

As the policies of the New Left pushed these intellectuals farther to the right, they moved toward a more aggressive militarism, while becoming disillusioned with President Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society domestic programs. Academics in these circles, many still Democrats, rejected the Democratic Party's foreign policy in the 1970s, especially after the nomination of anti-war candidate George McGovern for president in 1972. The influential 1970 bestseller The Real Majority by future television commentator and neoconservative Ben Wattenberg expressed that the "real majority" of the electorate supported economic liberalism but social conservatism, and warned Democrats it could be disastrous to take liberal stances on certain social and crime issues.[13]

Many supported Democratic Senator Henry M. "Scoop" Jackson, derisively known as the Senator from Boeing, during his 1972 and 1976 campaigns for president. Among those who worked for Jackson were future neoconservatives Paul Wolfowitz, Doug Feith, Richard Perle and Felix Rohatyn. In the late 1970s neoconservative support moved to Ronald Reagan and the Republicans, who promised to confront Soviet expansionism.

Michael Lind, a self-described former neoconservative, explained:[14]

Neoconservatism... originated in the 1970s as a movement of anti-Soviet liberals and social democrats in the tradition of Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Humphrey and Henry ('Scoop') Jackson, many of whom preferred to call themselves 'paleoliberals.' [After the end of the Cold War]... many 'paleoliberals' drifted back to the Democratic center... Today's neocons are a shrunken remnant of the original broad neocon coalition. Nevertheless, the origins of their ideology on the left are still apparent. The fact that most of the younger neocons were never on the left is irrelevant; they are the intellectual (and, in the case of William Kristol and John Podhoretz, the literal) heirs of older ex-leftists.

In his semi-autobiographical book, Neoconservatism: The Autobiography of an Idea, Irving Kristol cites a number of influences on his own thought, including not only Max Shachtman and Leo Strauss but also the skeptical liberal literary critic Lionel Trilling. The influence of Leo Strauss and his disciples on neoconservatism has generated some controversy, with Lind asserting:[15]

For the neoconservatives, religion is an instrument of promoting morality. Religion becomes what Plato called a noble lie. It is a myth which is told to the majority of the society by the philosophical elite in order to ensure social order... In being a kind of secretive elitist approach, Straussianism does resemble Marxism. These ex-Marxists, or in some cases ex-liberal Straussians, could see themselves as a kind of Leninist group, you know, who have this covert vision which they want to use to effect change in history, while concealing parts of it from people incapable of understanding it.

William Kristol defends his father by noting that the criticism of an instrumental view of politics misses the point. When the context is a discussion of religion in the public sphere in a secular nation, religion is inevitably dealt with instrumentally. Apart from that, it should be born in mind that the majority of neoconservatives believe in the truth, as well as the utility, of religion.[16]

[edit] 1980s

During this period, the United States increased its support for anti-communist governments, including those that engaged in human rights abuses, as part of its general hard line against communism.[citation needed] As the 1980s wore on, younger second-generation neoconservatives, such as Elliott Abrams, pushed for a clear policy of supporting democracy against both left and right wing dictators.[citation needed] This debate led to a policy shift in 1986, when the Reagan administration urged Philippines president Ferdinand Marcos to step down amid turmoil over a rigged election. Abrams also supported the 1988 Chilean plebiscite that resulted in the restoration of democratic rule and Augusto Pinochet's eventual removal from office.[citation needed] Through the National Endowment for Democracy, led by another neoconservative, Carl Gershman,[citation needed] funds were directed to the anti-Pinochet opposition in order to ensure a fair election.[citation needed]

[edit] 1990s

During the 1990s, neoconservatives were once again in the opposition side of the foreign policy establishment, both under the Republican Administration of President George H. W. Bush and that of his Democratic successor, President Bill Clinton. Many critics charged that the neoconservatives lost their raison d'être and influence following the collapse of the Soviet Union.[17] Others argue that they lost their status due to their association with the Iran-Contra scandal during the Reagan Administration.

Neoconservative writers were critical of the post-Cold War foreign policy of both George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton, which they criticized for reducing military expenditures and lacking a sense of idealism in the promotion of American interests. They accused these Administrations of lacking both moral clarity and the conviction to pursue unilaterally America's international strategic interests.[citation needed]

The movement was galvanized by the decision of George H. W. Bush and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Colin Powell to leave Saddam Hussein in power after the first Gulf War in 1991. Some neoconservatives viewed this policy, and the decision not to support indigenous dissident groups such as the Kurds and Shiites in their 1991-1992 resistance to Hussein, as a betrayal of democratic principles.[citation needed]

Ironically, some of those same targets of criticism would later become fierce advocates of neoconservative policies. In 1992, referring to the first Gulf War, then United States Secretary of Defense and future Vice President Dick Cheney, said:

I would guess if we had gone in there, I would still have forces in Baghdad today. We'd be running the country. We would not have been able to get everybody out and bring everybody home....

And the question in my mind is how many additional American casualties is Saddam [Hussein] worth? And the answer is not that damned many. So, I think we got it right, both when we decided to expel him from Kuwait, but also when the president made the decision that we'd achieved our objectives and we were not going to go get bogged down in the problems of trying to take over and govern Iraq.[18]

Within a few years of the Gulf War in Iraq, many neoconservatives were pushing to oust Saddam Hussein. On February 19, 1998, an open letter to President Clinton appeared, signed by dozens of pundits, many identified with neoconservatism and, later, related groups such as the PNAC, urging decisive action to remove Saddam from power.[19]

Neoconservatives were also members of the blue team, which argued for a confrontational policy toward the People's Republic of China and strong military and diplomatic support for Taiwan.

In the late 1990s Irving Kristol and other writers in neoconservative magazines began touting anti-Darwinist views, in support of intelligent design. Since these neoconservatives were largely of secular backgrounds, a few commentators have speculated that this – along with support for religion generally – may have been a case of a "noble lie", intended to protect public morality, or even tactical politics, to attract religious supporters.[20]

[edit] 2000s

[edit] Administration of George W. Bush

The Bush campaign and the early Bush Administration did not exhibit strong support for neoconservative principles. As a candidate Bush argued for a restrained foreign policy, stating his opposition to the idea of nation-building[21] and an early foreign policy confrontation with China was handled without the vociferousness suggested by some neoconservatives.[22] Also early in the Administration, some neoconservatives criticized Bush's Administration as insufficiently supportive of Israel, and suggested Bush's foreign policies were not substantially different from those of President Clinton.[23]

Bush's policies changed dramatically immediately after the September 11, 2001 attacks. According to columnist Gerard Baker,[24]

It took, improbably, the arrival of George Bush in the White House and September 11, 2001, to catapult [neoconservatism] into the public consciousness. When Mr Bush cited its most simplified tenet – that the US should seek to promote liberal democracy around the world – as a key case for invading Iraq, neoconservatism was suddenly everywhere. It was, to its many critics, a unified ideology that justified military adventurism, sanctioned torture and promoted aggressive Zionism.

Bush laid out his vision of the future in his State of the Union speech in January 2002, following the September 11, 2001 attacks. The speech, written by neoconservative David Frum, named Iraq, Iran and North Korea as states that "constitute an axis of evil" and "pose a grave and growing danger." Bush suggested the possibility of preemptive war: "I will not wait on events, while dangers gather. I will not stand by, as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons."[25][26]

Some prominent defense and national security personalities have been quite critical of what they believed was Neoconservative influence in getting the United States to war with Iraq despite it not being in the best interest of the United States. Retired General William Odom, who had once served as NSA Chief under Ronald Reagan, was openly critical of Neoconservative influence in the decision to go to war, having said "It’s pretty hard to imagine us going into Iraq without the strong lobbying efforts from AIPAC and the neocons, who think they know what’s good for Israel more than Israel knows."[27]

Nebraska Republican U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel, who has been critical of the Bush Administration's adoption of neoconservative ideology in his book America: Our Next Chapter, writes, "So why did we invade Iraq? I believe it was the triumph of the so-called neo-conservative ideology, as well as Bush administration arrogance and incompetence that took America into this war of choice ... They obviously made a convincing case to a president with very limited national security and foreign policy experience, who keenly felt the burden of leading the nation in the wake of the deadliest terrorist attack ever on American soil." [1]

[edit] Bush Doctrine

The Bush Doctrine of preemptive war was explicitly stated in the National Security Council text "National Security Strategy of the United States", published September 20, 2002. "We must deter and defend against the threat before it is unleashed... even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy's attack... The United States will, if necessary, act preemptively."[28] Policy analysts noted that the Bush Doctrine as stated in the 2002 NSC document bore a strong resemblance to recommendations originally presented in a controversial Defense Planning Guidance draft written in 1992 by Paul Wolfowitz under the first Bush administration.[29]

The Bush Doctrine was greeted with accolades by many neoconservatives. When asked whether he agreed with the Bush Doctrine, Max Boot said he did, and that "I think [Bush is] exactly right to say we can't sit back and wait for the next terrorist strike on Manhattan. We have to go out and stop the terrorists overseas. We have to play the role of the global policeman... But I also argue that we ought to go further."[30] Discussing the significance of the Bush Doctrine, neoconservative writer William Kristol claimed: "The world is a mess. And, I think, it's very much to Bush's credit that he's gotten serious about dealing with it... The danger is not that we're going to do too much. The danger is that we're going to do too little."[31]

[edit] 2008 Presidential Election and aftermath

John McCain, who was the Republican candidate for the 2008 United States Presidential election, supported continuing the Iraq War, "the issue that is most clearly identified with the neoconservatives." The New York Times further reports that his foreign policy views combine elements of neoconservative and the main competing view in conservative circles, pragmatism, also called realism:[32]

Among [McCain's advisors] are several prominent neoconservatives, including Robert Kagan... Max Boot... John R. Bolton... [and] Randy Scheunemann.

"It may be too strong a term to say a fight is going on over John McCain's soul," said Lawrence Eagleburger... who is a member of the pragmatist camp... [but he] said, "there is no question that a lot of my far right friends have now decided that since you can’t beat him, let's persuade him to slide over as best we can on these critical issues."

Mr. McCain, who is aware of the concerns, told reporters on his campaign plane early this week that he took foreign policy advice from a wide variety of people... Mr. McCain has always promoted his reputation for departing from ideological orthodoxy in both foreign and domestic policy... he talks to realists like... Henry A. Kissinger and... George P. Shultz.

Following the election, Jonathan Clarke, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, expressed the view that "[i]n many ways, the 2008 election represented a direct repudiation of the neocon style of foreign policy based on military-centred, unilateralist overreaching. At first sight, the incoming Obama administration appears to be the polar opposite of neoconservatism. Its instincts are multilateralist, being committed, for example, to adhering to the Kyoto Protocol and to international agreements like the Geneva Convention. It places a high priority on diplomacy, with President-elect Obama being open to direct talks with long-ignored countries like Iran and Cuba. Defense Secretary Gates, who is remaining in office, has made it clear that he regards military intervention as the genuinely last option. Furthermore, the financial meltdown and the drains of the Iraq and Afghan wars have chipped away at the pre-eminence of US power. It is difficult to argue today that the US enjoys a unipolar advantage. The safest bet, therefore, is that we can bid adieu to the neocons and leave their role to be adjudicated by history. They themselves argue that they form part of the mainstream of American history. It seems more likely that they will come to be seen as an aberration."[33]

[edit] Evolution of neoconservative views

[edit] Usage and general views

The term has been used before, and its meaning has changed over time. Writing in The Contemporary Review (London) in 1883, Henry Dunckley used the term to describe factions within the Conservative Party; James Bryce again uses it in his Modern Democracies (1921) to describe British political history of the 1880s. The German authoritarians Carl Schmitt, who became professor at the University of Berlin in 1933, the same year that he entered the Nazi party (NSDAP), and Arthur Moeller van den Bruck were called "neo-conservatives".[34] In "The Future of Democratic Values" in Partisan Review, July-August 1943, Dwight MacDonald complained of "the neo-conservatives of our time [who] reject the propositions on materialism, Human Nature, and Progress." He cited as an example Jacques Barzun, who was "attempting to combine progressive values and conservative concepts."

In the early 1970s, democratic socialist Michael Harrington used the term in its modern meaning. He characterized neoconservatives as former leftists – whom he derided as "socialists for Nixon" – who had moved significantly to the right. These people tended to remain supporters of social democracy, but distinguished themselves by allying with the Nixon administration over foreign policy, especially by their support for the Vietnam War and opposition to the Soviet Union. They still supported the welfare state, but not necessarily in its contemporary form.

Irving Kristol remarked that a neoconservative is a "liberal mugged by reality," one who became more conservative after seeing the results of liberal policies. Kristol also claims three distinctive aspects of neoconservatism from previous forms of conservatism: a forward-looking approach drawn from their liberal heritage, rather than the reactionary and dour approach of previous conservatives; a meliorative outlook, proposing alternate reforms rather than simply attacking social liberal reforms; taking philosophical or ideological ideas very seriously.[35]

Political philosopher Leo Strauss (1899–1973) was an important intellectual antecedent of neoconservativism. Notably Strauss influenced Allan Bloom, author of the 1987 bestseller Closing of the American Mind.

In January 2009, at the close of President George W. Bush's second term in office, Jonathan Clarke, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, proposed the following as the "main characteristics of neoconservatism"[36]:

  • "a tendency to see the world in binary good/evil terms
  • low tolerance for diplomacy
  • readiness to use military force
  • emphasis on US unilateral action
  • disdain for multilateral organizations
  • focus on the Middle East".

[edit] Usage outside the United States

In other liberal democracies, the meaning of neoconservatism is closely related to its meaning in the United States. Neoconservatives in these countries tend to support the 2003 invasion of Iraq and similar U.S. foreign policy, while differing more on domestic policy. Examples are:

In countries which are not liberal democracies, the term has entirely different meanings:

[edit] Neoconservative views on foreign policy

Historically, neoconservatives supported a militant anticommunism,[37] tolerated more social welfare spending than was sometimes acceptable to libertarians and paleoconservatives, and sympathized with a non-traditional foreign policy agenda that was less deferential to traditional conceptions of diplomacy and international law and less inclined to compromise principles, even if that meant unilateral action.

The movement began to focus on such foreign issues in the mid-1970s[citation needed]. However, it first crystallized in the late 1960s as an effort to combat the radical cultural changes taking place within the United States. Irving Kristol wrote: "If there is any one thing that neoconservatives are unanimous about, it is their dislike of the counterculture."[38] Norman Podhoretz agreed: "Revulsion against the counterculture accounted for more converts to neoconservatism than any other single factor."[39] Ira Chernus argues that the deepest root of the neoconservative movement is its fear that the counterculture would undermine the authority of traditional values and moral norms. Because neoconservatives believe that human nature is innately selfish, they believe that a society with no commonly accepted values based on religion or ancient tradition will end up in a war of all against all. They also believe that the most important social value is strength, especially the strength to control natural impulses. The only alternative, they assume, is weakness that will let impulses run riot and lead to social chaos.[40]

According to Peter Steinfels, a historian of the movement, the neoconservatives' "emphasis on foreign affairs emerged after the New Left and the counterculture had dissolved as convincing foils for neoconservatism... The essential source of their anxiety is not military or geopolitical or to be found overseas at all; it is domestic and cultural and ideological."[41] Neoconservative foreign policy parallels their domestic policy. They insist that the U.S. military must be strong enough to control the world, or else the world will descend into chaos.

Believing that America should "export democracy", that is, spread its ideals of government, economics, and culture abroad, they grew to reject U.S. reliance on international organizations and treaties to accomplish these objectives. Compared to other U.S. conservatives, neoconservatives take a more idealist stance on foreign policy; adhere less to social conservatism; have a weaker dedication to the policy of minimal government; and in the past, have been more supportive of the welfare state.

Aggressive support for democracies and nation building is additionally justified by a belief that, over the long term, it will reduce the extremism that is a breeding ground for Islamic terrorism. Neoconservatives, along with many other political theorists, have argued that democratic regimes are less likely to instigate a war than a country with an authoritarian form of government. Further, they argue that the lack of freedoms, lack of economic opportunities, and the lack of secular general education in authoritarian regimes promotes radicalism and extremism. Consequently, neoconservatives advocate the spread of democracy to regions of the world where it currently does not prevail, notably the Arab nations of the Middle East, communist China and North Korea, and Iran.

In July 2008 Joe Klein wrote in TIME magazine that today's neoconservatives are more interested in confronting enemies than in cultivating friends. He questioned the sincerity of neoconservative interest in exporting democracy and freedom, saying, "Neoconservatism in foreign policy is best described as unilateral bellicosity cloaked in the utopian rhetoric of freedom and democracy."[42]

In February 2009 Andrew Sullivan wrote he no longer took neoconservatism seriously because its basic tenet was defense of Israel:[43]

The closer you examine it, the clearer it is that neoconservatism, in large part, is simply about enabling the most irredentist elements in Israel and sustaining a permanent war against anyone or any country who disagrees with the Israeli right. That's the conclusion I've been forced to these last few years. And to insist that America adopt exactly the same constant-war-as-survival that Israelis have been slowly forced into... But America is not Israel. And once that distinction is made, much of the neoconservative ideology collapses.

Neoconservatives respond to charges of merely rationalizing support for Israel by noting that their "position on the Middle East conflict was exactly congruous with the neoconservative position on conflicts everywhere else in the world, including places where neither Jews nor Israeli interests could be found—not to mention the fact that non-Jewish neoconservatives took the same stands on all of the issues as did their Jewish confrères."[44]

[edit] Distinctions from other conservatives

Most neoconservatives are members of the Republican Party. They have been in electoral alignment with other conservatives and served in the same presidential administrations. While they have often ignored ideological differences in alliance against those to their left, neoconservatives differ from paleoconservatives. In particular, they disagree with nativism, protectionism, and non-interventionism in foreign policy, ideologies that are rooted in American history, but which have fallen out of the mainstream U.S. politics after World War II. Compared with traditional conservatism and libertarianism, which may be non-interventionist, neoconservatism emphasizes defense capability, challenging regimes hostile to the values and interests of the United States[citation needed]. Neoconservatives also believe in democratic peace theory, the proposition that democracies never or almost never go to war with one another.

Neoconservatives are opposed to realist (and especially neorealist) theories and policies of international relations[citation needed], often associated with Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger. Though Republican and anti-communist, Nixon and Kissinger made pragmatic accommodation with dictators and sought peace through negotiations, diplomacy, and arms control. They pursued détente with the Soviet Union, rather than rollback, and established relations with the Communist People's Republic of China. On the other hand, American neoconservatives are often held up as exemplars of idealism (often, paradoxically, called liberalism) in international relations, on account of their state-centered and ideological (as opposed to systematic and security-centered) interpretation of world politics.

[edit] Criticism of the term neoconservative

Some of those identified as neoconservative reject the term, arguing that it lacks a coherent definition, or that it was coherent only in the context of the Cold War.

Conservative writer David Horowitz argues that the increasing use of the term neoconservative since the 2003 start of the Iraq War has made it irrelevant:[citation needed]

Neo-conservatism is a term almost exclusively used by the enemies of America's liberation of Iraq. There is no 'neo-conservative' movement in the United States. When there was one, it was made up of former Democrats who embraced the welfare state but supported Ronald Reagan's Cold War policies against the Soviet bloc. Today 'neo-conservatism' identifies those who believe in an aggressive policy against radical Islam and the global terrorists.

The term may have lost meaning due to excessive and inconsistent use. For example, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld have been identified as leading neoconservatives despite the fact that they have been life-long conservative Republicans (though Cheney has supported Irving Kristol's ideas).

Some critics reject the idea that there is a neoconservative movement separate from traditional American conservatism. Traditional conservatives are skeptical of the contemporary usage of the term and dislike being associated with its stereotypes or supposed agendas. Columnist David Harsanyi wrote, "These days, it seems that even temperate support for military action against dictators and terrorists qualifies you a neocon."[45] Jonah Goldberg rejected the label as trite and over-used, arguing "There's nothing 'neo' about me: I was never anything other than conservative."

[edit] Antisemitism

Some believe that criticism of neoconservatism is couched in antisemitic stereotypes, and that the term has been adopted by the political left to stigmatize support for Israel. In The Chronicle of Higher Education, Robert J. Lieber warned that criticism of the 2003 Iraq War had spawned[46]

a conspiracy theory purporting to explain how [American] foreign policy... has been captured by a sinister and hitherto little-known cabal. A small band of neoconservative (read, Jewish) defense intellectuals... has taken advantage of 9/11 to put their ideas over on [Bush]... Thus empowered, this neoconservative conspiracy, "a product of the influential Jewish-American faction of the Trotskyist movement of the '30s and '40s" ([Michael] Lind)... has fomented war with Iraq... in the service of Israel's Likud government (Patrick J. Buchanan and [Eric Alterman).

Leading Jewish columnist, Time magazine's Joe Klein has suggested it is legitimate to look at the religion of neoconservatives. He does not say there was a conspiracy but says there is a case to be made for disproportionate influence of Jewish neoconservative figures in US foreign policy, and that several of them supported the Iraq war because of Israel's interests, though not necessarily in a conscious contradiction to American interests:

"I do believe that there is a group of people who got involved and had a disproportionate influence on U.S. foreign policy. There were people out there in the Jewish community who saw this as a way to create a benign domino theory and eliminate all of Israel's enemies....I think it represents a really dangerous anachronistic neocolonial sensibility. And I think it is a very, very dangerous form of extremism. I think it's bad for Israel and it's bad for America. And these guys have been getting a free ride. And now these people are backing the notion of a war with Iran and not all of them, but some of them, are doing it because they believe that Iran is an existential threat to Israel."[47]

David Brooks derided the "fantasies" of "full-mooners fixated on a... sort of Yiddish Trilateral Commission", beliefs which had "hardened into common knowledge... In truth, people labeled neocons (con is short for 'conservative' and neo is short for 'Jewish') travel in widely different circles..."[48] Barry Rubin argued that the neoconservative label is used as an antisemitic pejorative:[49]

First, 'neo-conservative' is a codeword for Jewish. As antisemites did with big business moguls in the nineteenth century and Communist leaders in the twentieth, the trick here is to take all those involved in some aspect of public life and single out those who are Jewish. The implication made is that this is a Jewish-led movement conducted not in the interests of all the, in this case, American people, but to the benefit of Jews, and in this case Israel.

The charges of antisemitism are controversial. As with the contested concept of the new antisemitism, some commentators claim that identifying support of Israel with the Jewish people is itself antisemitic. For example, Norman Finkelstein has criticised that it would therefore be antisemitic "both to identify and not to identify Israel with Jews."[50]

[edit] Criticism

The term neoconservative may be used pejoratively by self-described paleoconservatives, Democrats, and by libertarians.

Critics take issue with neoconservatives' support for aggressive foreign policy. Critics from the left take issue with what they characterize as unilateralism and lack of concern with international consensus through organizations such as the United Nations.[51][52][53] Neoconservatives respond by describing their shared view as a belief that national security is best attained by actively promoting freedom and democracy abroad as in the democratic peace theory through the support of pro-democracy movements, foreign aid and in certain cases military intervention. This is a departure from the traditional conservative tendency to support friendly regimes in matters of trade and anti-communism even at the expense of undermining existing democratic systems and possible destabilization. Author Paul Berman in his book Terror and Liberalism describes it as, "Freedom for others means safety for ourselves. Let us be for freedom for others."

[edit] Foreign interventionism

Recently neoconservatives and military, in line with the Bush Doctrine, are speaking of cumulative and synergistic Effects-Based Operations to combat asymmetric warfare nature in the War on Terrorism and their Axis of evil supporters. Such proactive foreign interventionism has over time created some controversy as in the case of Operation Gladio, School of the Americas, the Iraq War , the war in North-West Pakistan and over policies of low intensity conflict or other effects-based operations. Some conservatives, like Rush Limbaugh, say that parts of such demonizing controversy is fueling a culture of fear. Currently there are also controversies with Russia accusing the USA of interfering[54] in the Russia-Georgia war, Bolivian president Evo Morales accusing the USA of supporting an insurrection against him[55] and Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez saying the USA has been plotting for overthrowing his presidency.[56][57] Both Bolivia and Venezuela accuse the George W. Bush administration of interfering with their democratically elected governments. There are further controversies with earlier CIA activities in the Americas.

The 2004 award-winning documentary film Fahrenheit 9/11 by Michael Moore criticizes the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The 2007 documentary film The War on Democracy by Christopher Martin and John Pilger treats the subject of United States history of foreign interventionism in Latin America.

[edit] Imperialism and secrecy

John McGowan, professor of humanities at the University of North Carolina, states, after an extensive review of neoconservative literature and theory, that neoconservatives are attempting to build an American Empire, seen as successor to the British Empire, its aim being to perpetuate a Pax Americana. As imperialism is largely seen as unacceptable by the American public, neoconservatives do not articulate their ideas and goals in a frank manner in public discourse. McGowan states,[58]

Frank neoconservatives like Robert Kaplan and Niall Ferguson recognize that they are proposing imperialism as the alternative to liberal internationalism. Yet both Kaplan and Ferguson also understand that imperialism runs so counter to American's liberal tradition that it must... remain a foreign policy that dare not speak its name... While Ferguson, the Brit, laments that Americans cannot just openly shoulder the white man's burden, Kaplan the American, tells us that "only through stealth and anxious foresight" can the United States continue to pursue the "imperial reality [that] already dominates our foreign policy," but must be disavowed in light of "our anti-imperial traditions, and... the fact that imperialism is delegitimized in public discourse"... The Bush administration, justifying all of its actions by an appeal to "national security," has kept as many of those actions as it can secret and has scorned all limitations to executive power by other branches of government or international law.

The George W. Bush administration is accused of political denialism,[59] as well as hundreds of secretive flights with ghost detainees in the extraordinary rendition program in association with the War on Terrorism.

[edit] 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, abortion, feminism and homosexuality. All of this leads to a debate over what counts as conservatism.[citation needed]

The paleoconservatives argue that neoconservatives are an illegitimate addition to the conservative movement. Pat Buchanan calls neoconservatism "a globalist, interventionist, open borders ideology."[60] 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 neoconservatives complained that he had criticized Abraham Lincoln; the paleoconservatives supported Bradford.

[edit] Related publications and institutions

[edit] Institutions

[edit] Publications with neoconservatives

[edit] See also

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ Tanner, Michael. Leviathan on the Right. Cato Institute, 2007. pp 33-34.
  2. ^ a b Goldberg, Jonah (2003-05-20). "The Neoconservative Invention". National Review. Retrieved on 2008-03-30. 
  3. ^ Kinsley, Michael (2005-04-17). "The Neocons' Unabashed Reversal". The Washington Post: p. B07. Retrieved on 2008-03-30. 
  4. ^ Harrington, Michael (Fall 1973). "The Welfare State and Its Neoconservative Critics". Dissent 20.  Cited in: Isserman, Maurice. The Other American: the life of Michael Harrington. New York: PublicAffairs. ISBN 1891620304. "...reprinted as a chapter in Harrington's 1976 book The Twilight of Capitalism, pp. 165-272. Earlier in 1973 he had sketched out some of the same ideas in a brief contribution to a symposium on welfare sponsored by Commentary, "Nixon, the Great Society, and the Future of Social Policy," Commentary 55 (May 1973), p.39" 
  5. ^ Dionne, E.J. (1991). Why Americans Hate Politics. New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 55-61. ISBN 0-671-68255-5. 
  6. ^ Kristol, Irving (1999). Neoconservatism: The Autobiography of an Idea. Ivan R. Dee. ISBN 1-56663-228-5. 
  7. ^ Gerson, Mark (Fall 1995). "Norman's Conquest,". Policy Review. Retrieved on 2008-03-31. 
  8. ^ Pohoretz, Norman (1982-05-02). "The Neoconservative Anguish over Reagan's Foreign Policy". The New York Times Magazine. Retrieved on 2008-03-30. 
  9. ^ Marshall, J.M. "Remaking the World: Bush and the Neoconservatives". From Foreign Affairs, November/December 2003. Retrieved on December 1, 2008.
  10. ^ Fukuyama, F. (February 19, 2006). After Neoconservatism. New York Times Magazine. Retrieved on: December 1, 2008.
  11. ^ Nuechterlein, James (May 1996). "The End of Neoconservatism". First Things 63: 14–15. Retrieved on 2008-03-31. "Neoconservatives differed with traditional conservatives on a number of issues, of which the three most important, in my view, were the New Deal, civil rights, and the nature of the Communist threat... On civil rights, all neocons were enthusiastic supporters of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965 (sic), while the National Review was suspicious of King and opposed to federal legislation forbidding racial discrimination.". 
  12. ^ Gerson, Mark (Fall 1995). "Norman's Conquest,". Policy Review. Retrieved on 2008-03-31. "Podhoretz was a liberal in that he supported the New Deal and civil rights". 
  13. ^ Mason, Robert (2004). Richard Nixon and the Quest for a New Majority. UNC Press. pp. 81–88. ISBN 0807829056. 
  14. ^ Lind, Michael (2004-02-23). "A Tragedy of Errors". The Nation. Retrieved on 2008-03-30. 
  15. ^ The Power of Nightmares, episode 2.
  16. ^ Mark Gerson: The Neoconservative Vision: From the Cold War to the Culture Wars, pp. 284-85. Madison Books, 1997. ISBN 1-56883-054-5.
  17. ^ Jaques, Martin (2006-11-16). "America faces a future of managing imperial decline". The Guardian.,,1948806,00.html. Retrieved on 2008-01-31. 
  18. ^ [|Pope, Charles] (2008-9-29). "Cheney changed his view on Iraq". Seattle Post Intelligencer. Retrieved on 2008-10-25. 
  19. ^ Solarz, Stephen, et al. "Open Letter to the President", February 19, 1998, online at Accessed September 16 2006.
  20. ^ Bailey, Ronald (July 1997). "Origin of the Specious". Reason. Retrieved on 2008-03-31. 
  21. ^ "Bush Begins Nation Building". WCVB TV. 2003-04-16. 
  22. ^ Vernon, Wes (2001-04-07). "China Plane Incident Sparks Re-election Drives of Security-minded Senators". Newsmax. Retrieved on 2008-03-30. 
  23. ^ "Bush accused of adopting Clinton policy on Israel". The Daily Telegraph. 2001-06-26. Retrieved on 2008-03-30. 
  24. ^ "The neocons have been routed". The Times. 2007-04-13. 
  25. ^ "The President's State of the Union Speech". White House Press Release, Jan. 29, 2002.
  26. ^ "Bush Speechwriter's Revealing Memoir Is Nerd's Revenge". The New York Observer, Jan. 19, 2003
  27. ^ "General Condemnation". 
  28. ^ "National Security Strategy of the United States". National Security Council. 2002-09-20. 
  29. ^ "The evolution of the Bush doctrine", in "The war behind closed doors". Frontline, PBS. February 20, 2003.
  30. ^ "The Bush Doctrine". Think Tank, PBS. July 11, 2002.
  31. ^ "Assessing the Bush Doctrine", in "The war behind closed doors". Frontline, PBS. February 20, 2003.
  32. ^ Bumiller, Elisabeth; Larry Rohter (2008-04-10). "2 Camps Trying to Influence McCain on Foreign Policy". The New York Times. Retrieved on 2008-04-16. 
  33. ^ "Viewpoint: The end of the neocons?", Jonathan Clarke, British Broadcasting Corporation, January 13, 2009
  34. ^ Fritz Stern: Five Germanies I Have Known (2006 hc), p.72
  35. ^ Kristol, Irving. "American conservatism 1945-1995". Public Interest, Fall 1995.
  36. ^ "Viewpoint: The end of the neocons?", Jonathan Clarke, British Broadcasting Corporation, January 13, 2009
  37. ^ Muravchik, Joshua (2006-11-19). "Can the Neocons Get Their Groove Back?". The Washington Post. Retrieved on 2006-11-19. 
  38. ^ Kristol, What Is a Neoconservative? 87
  39. ^ Podhoretz, 275.
  40. ^ Chernus, chapter 1.
  41. ^ Steinfels, 69.
  42. ^ Klein, Joe"McCain's Foreign Policy Frustration" TIME magazine, July 23 2008
  43. ^ Andrew Sullivan,"A False Premise", Sullivan's Daily Dish, February 5, 2009.
  44. ^ Joshua Muravchik: The Past, Present, and Future of Neoconservatism Commentary October 2007.
  45. ^ Harsanyi, David (2002-08-13). "Beware the Neocons". FrontPage Magazine. Retrieved on 2008-08-31. 
  46. ^ Lieber, Robert J. (2003-04-29). "The Left's Neocon Conspiracy Theory". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved on 2008-03-31. 
  47. ^ Jeffrey Goldberg: Joe Klein on Neoconservatives and Iran The Atlantic blog, July 29, 2008.
  48. ^ Brooks, David (2004). Irwin Stelzer, ed.. ed. The NeoCon Reader. Grove. ISBN 0-8021-4193-5. 
  49. ^ Rubin, Barry (2003-04-06 accessdate=2008-03-31). "Letter from Washington". h-antisemitism. 
  50. ^ Finkelstein, Norman. Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History, University of California Press, 2005, p. 82.
  51. ^ Kinsley, Michael (2005-04-17). "The Neocons' Unabashed Reversal". The Washington Post: p. B07. Retrieved on 2006-12-25.  Kinsley quotes Rich Lowry, whom he describes as "a conservative of the non-neo variety", as criticizing the neoconservatives "messianic vision" and "excessive optimism"; Kinsley contrasts the present-day neoconservative foreign policy to earlier neoconservative Jeane Kirkpatrick's "tough-minded pragmatism".
  52. ^ Martin Jacques, "The neocon revolution", The Guardian, March 31, 2005. Accessed online December 25, 2006. (Cited for "unilateralism".)
  53. ^ Rodrigue Tremblay, "The Neo-Conservative Agenda: Humanism vs. Imperialism", presented at the Conference at the American Humanist Association annual meeting Las Vegas, May 9, 2004. Accessed online 25 December 2006 on the site of the Mouvement laïque québécois.
  54. ^ CNN: Putin accuses U.S. of orchestrating Georgian war, September 12, 2008
  55. ^ CNN: Bolivian president calls for ouster of U.S. ambassador, September 12, 2008
  56. ^ CNN: Venezuela to expel US ambassador over coup plot, September 12, 2008
  57. ^ TIME: U.S. Ambassador Patrick Duddy given 72 hours to leave Venezuela, September 12, 2008
  58. ^ McGowan, J. (2007). "Neoconservatism". American Liberalism: An Interpretation for Our Time. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. pp. 124–133. ISBN 0-807-83171-9. 
  59. ^ Dickinson, Tim (2007-06-20). "The Secret Campaign of President Bush's Administration To Deny Global Warming". Rolling Stone. Retrieved on 2007-07-14. 
  60. ^ Tolson 2003.

[edit] References

[edit] Further reading

[edit] History of neoconservatism

[edit] Who is neoconservative?

[edit] Explanations of neoconservative ideas

[edit] Critiques of neoconservative ideas

[edit] Conservative criticism of neoconservatism

[edit] Neoconservatism, Leo Strauss, and Trotskyism

[edit] Neoconservatism and Jews

[edit] Documentaries

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