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Think Again; Neocons

Neocons under examination on Foreign Policyin a clarifying article by Max Boot. He discusses the cliches aboutthat“cabal of neoconservatives” which—according to its enemies—has hijacked the Bush administration’s foreign policy and transformed the world’s sole superpower into a unilateral monster.

 

This is how Max Bootsynthesizes—rebutting most of them–some common opinions :

 

“The Bush Administration Is Pursuing a Neoconservative Foreign Policy”(If only it were true!)

 

 

“Neocons Are Liberals Who Have Been Mugged by Reality”(No longer true)

 

 

“Neocons Are Jews Who Serve the Interests of Israel”(A malicious myth)

 

“Neocons Are a Well-Funded, Well-Organized Cabal”(Hardly)

 

“Neocons Are Wilsonian Idealists”(True)

 

“Neocons Are Targeting North Korea and Iran Next”(True)

 

“Neocons Oppose Multilateralism”(False)

 

“Neocons Are Political Fundamentalists”(This portrayal is a crude caricature of a group that believes American values are worth defending at home and abroad)

 

“Failure in Iraq Has Discredited the Neocons”(Too early to say)

 

Max Boot—often associated with the neoconservative movement—is Olin senior fellow in national security studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, a contributing editor to the Weekly Standard, and author of The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power (New York: Basic Books, 2002).

 

 



The Washington Monthly shows a completely different approachby featuring a sharply critical article on the same subject : Twilight of the Neocons. Richard Perle has begun to panic (by Stefan Halper and Jonathan Clarke).It’s a review of David Frum and Richard Perle’s new book An End to Evil: What’s Next in the War on Terrorism.Here are two examples:





Ideology informs the book like an iron spine. The authors seem less interested in imparting new information than in reminding the faithful about what they should be thinking. This may be the book’s most interesting aspect, in as much as the authors betray a mild note of panic. They write that “the will to win is ebbing in Washington” and warn against “a reversion to the bad old habits of complacency and denial.” It is as though they fear that, given the so-far fragile progress in both Afghanistan and Iraq and in their misconceived recommendations for North Korea, their 15 minutes of fame may be coming to an end. They are right to worry. The twilight of neoconservatism has arrived.



The real world makes only cameo appearances in the book. Readers are not asked to clutter their minds with the actual outcomes in Iraq and Afghanistan–the continuing American casualties, the burgeoning heroin production or unsavory deals with despots in Central Asia. No. Electricity is back. Schools are reopening. Mission accomplished. Time to move on. Problems with Syria, Iran, North Korea, China? It’s simple. Straight talk and a whiff of grapeshot. Terrorism? More of the same. The authors speak only of force. It is the only dimension, they say, through which the terrorist challenge can be approached. And, by implication, it is the only thing that the authors trust their readers to understand.



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