-- Glen Reynolds at Instapundit
The Left and the lying left wing media helped bring this war about.
-- Marc at USS Neverdock
Iraq Civil War “Made Up By The Media?”
-- Fox News
Dad looks at Billy sternly. "Young man," he says, "what were you thinking when you pushed that little girl down in the mud?"
Billy's lip quivers. "It's not my fault. Tommy was supposed to stop me and he didn't."
Dad looks at little brother Tommy and says, "Boy, what do you have to say for yourself?"
Thus is the political landscape of today's America. Everyone's responsible for the actions of the Bush White House and its allies except the Bush White House and its allies.
The country's a mess. And whose fault is it? Up to now it's been the usual list of scapegoats. Liberal high school teachers and college professors who use the classroom to preach their pink-o philosophies. The left wing media. Obstructionist Democrats in Congress. Revisionists. The Clintons. Progressive bloggers. Environmentalists. Catholics who voted for Kerry. Fluoridation.
Now we're seeing a new wrinkle in the shame game emerge: neoconservatives are pointing fingers at each other.
The split in the neoconservative camp isn't exactly new. As far back as April of 2004, founding members of the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan wrote of the Iraq war: "Serious errors have been made--and made, above all, by Donald Rumsfeld's Pentagon."
More recently, Kristol has said, " The president knows we have to win in Iraq…Rumsfeld doesn't," and has inferred that the administration "just isn’t as serious about the competent execution of the functions of government as it should be."
Francis Fukuyama, another founding PNAC member, has a new book about to hit the shelves that repudiates the neoconservative movement altogether--at least the part about invading Iraq. To hear Fukuyama tell it, it was all those other guys who wanted to toss Saddam Hussein out, not him.
Kristol, Kagan, and Fukuyama are trying to erase their histories. All three were key architects of the "Bush Policy." In fact, they formulated the policy before George W. Bush was ever a part of it. And the cornerstone of that policy, communicated to President Clinton in a 1998 letter, was the removal of Saddam Hussein by military force in order to protect "our friends and allies like Israel and the moderate Arab states" and "a significant portion of the world’s supply of oil."
Why the Mad Scramble?
Kristol, Kagan, Fukuyama, and others like them are trying to salvage as much as they can of their failed experiment. Their political and intellectual reputations are certainly near and dear to them. The GOP is vital to them because neoconservativism needs a political party to call home, and the Democrats aren't likely to put out the welcome mat for it. They probably hope to give George W. Bush a favorable legacy. Epithets like "worst President ever" won't do much for the health of the Republican Party.
But their most prized possession--their center of gravity, if you will--is neoconservatism itself.
The controversial Wikipedia entry for "neoconservatism" is anything but flattering, but its description of the movement's basic tenets is largely accurate. Neoconservatives are more supportive of big government and social spending than are "traditional" conservatives, and take an "interventionist and hawkish" approach to foreign policy.
As Jim Lobe of Alternet noted in 2003, neoconservatism sprang from the tenets of political philosopher Leo Strauss, a German academic who came to the United States in 1938.
Not only did Strauss have few qualms about using deception in politics, he saw it as a necessity. While professing deep respect for American democracy, Strauss believed that societies should be hierarchical--divided between an elite who should lead, and the masses who should follow. But unlike fellow elitists like Plato, he was less concerned with the moral character of these leaders. According to Shadia Drury, who teaches politics at the University of Calgary, Strauss believed that "those who are fit to rule are those who realize there is no morality and that there is only one natural right – the right of the superior to rule over the inferior."
This dichotomy requires "perpetual deception" between the rulers and the ruled, according to Drury. Robert Locke, another Strauss analyst says,"The people are told what they need to know and no more."
Bill Kristol's father Irving, called by some the "godfather" of neoconservatism, shares Strauss's "contempt for secular democracy."
Among other neoconservatives, Irving Kristol has long argued for a much greater role for religion in the public sphere, even suggesting that the Founding Fathers of the American Republic made a major mistake by insisting on the separation of church and state. And why? Because Strauss viewed religion as absolutely essential in order to impose moral law on the masses who otherwise would be out of control.
At the same time, he stressed that religion was for the masses alone; the rulers need not be bound by it. Indeed, it would be absurd if they were, since the truths proclaimed by religion were "a pious fraud."
Strauss also believed that war was essential to maintaining political and social order.
Strauss' attitude toward foreign policy was distinctly Machiavellian. "Strauss thinks that a political order can be stable only if it is united by an external threat," Drury wrote in her book. "Following Machiavelli, he maintained that if no external threat exists then one has to be manufactured."
"Perpetual war, not perpetual peace, is what Straussians believe in," says Drury. The idea easily translates into, in her words, an "aggressive, belligerent foreign policy," of the kind that has been advocated by neocon groups like PNAC and AEI scholars – not to mention [Paul Wolfowitz, former Undersecretary of Defense under George W. Bush] and other administration hawks who have called for a world order dominated by U.S. military power.
In recent articles and interviews, Francis Fukuyama has called for "new ideas for how America is to relate to the world - ideas that retain the neoconservative belief in the universality of human rights, but without its illusions about the efficacy of US power and hegemony to bring these ends about."
This is a wholly disingenuous contradiction. "Universality of human rights" has never been a tenet of neoconservativism, and without "illusions about the efficacy of US power and hegemony," neoconservatism doesn’t exist.
Beware of Smiling Neocons
The likes of Fukuyama, Kristol, and Kagan will reinvent their philosophy as a "kinder, gentler" neoconservativism. They'll do it in a way reminiscent of the old Chevy Chase Saturday Night Live sketch where the dreaded landshark tries to get into his victim's apartment by posing as a pizza delivery guy.
Whatever you do--don't open that door!