Tuesday, September 21, 2004


There is another book here condemning "neocons" generally and "Straussians" in particular. These wicked souls are said to be behind a push to make America some sort of "empire". They LIKE big government and want to expand its influence worldwide.

I have no doubt that there are some "conservative" intellectuals who think like that -- particularly those who have migrated from the Left. But to say that such people are the power behind the throne in the current administration is absurdity of a high order. No doubt some of GWB's advisers do favour broadly "neocon" thinking, though I am sure there are big differences among them over actual policy. The point is, however, that GWB receives a wide range of policy advice from many sources. Practically every newspaper and TV station for a start is keen to give him advice, to say nothing of his many official staff. And it is GWB who decides what advice to take from the menu that is offered to him. And one thing nobody claims is that GWB is a "neocon". He is plainly a Christian conservative and that is of course the major theme of his policies. The idea that a handful of neocons would have more weight with him than would the many millions of Christian conservatives who put him into office is absurd.

The big obsession among the propagators of the "neocon ascendancy" myth is the current military involvement of the USA overseas. That is their "Aha!" factor. Neocons want a more activist foreign policy so the present involvements abroad must be an outcome of that. I suppose the involvement of Wilson in World War I, Truman in Korea, Johnson in Vietnam and Clinton in Serbia were "obviously" the product of a fiendish neocon plot too! The point I want to make, then, is that there are many reasons why America might take up military involvements abroad and "neocon" thinking is only one of them. And to attribute the present involvements to neocon thinking is quite simply perverse. The reason for America's present activist foreign policy is as plain as a pikestaff and is known to everybody. It is the outcome of one event: The fact that America was grievously attacked by Muslim fanatics on 9/11/2001. No country will last long if it ignores attacks on it and America has finally got to the point where it can no longer do so. It now just has to hit back in some way if the attacks are not to escalate. So it has moved to take down two of the world's biggest and most assertive Muslim power centres and bases of support for Islamic aggression. The "neocon" theory for America's actions ignores all that and just shows that those who hold it are as much out of touch with reality as conspiracy theorists always are.

In the circumstances, I was rather amused to see that there is a recent article in The Public Interest (the premier journal of the neoconservatives) which points out at great length that the support-base for GWB and the GOP is overwhelmingly "cultural". In other words, among GOP voters, economics plays second fiddle to concerns about things like abortion, guns and military strength. It shows that it is GWB's voters who want him to hit back at America's attackers. Another proof of the vast neocon conspiracy? Far from it. The article is in fact written by a Left-leaning author and is little more than a parade of exit polls and other voting statistics -- statistics that are publicly available for anyone to check (and I have checked some of them). So it may suit the neocons that GWB's voters want an assertive military response to the 9/11 attacks but it is the voters who matter. And I am sure that intelligent people like the neocons are not stupid enough to think that American public opinion will ever support America becoming any sort of empire -- though some of them can be remarkably naive, as George Will points out.


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