Republican Representative Ron Paul gave a stirring speech in Congress yesterday titled “Neo-conned”. I haven’t read it all, but I caught some of it live on C-Span. Ron Paul is well-respected by people from all across the political spectrum for his consistent adherence to principle—in his case, the principle of liberty.
From what I know of Ron Paul, I’m sure this speech stands as one of the most credible and well-stated warnings about the encroaching influence of neo-conservatism—the core philosophy driving the Project for the New American Century.
Here is one relatively short segment in that long speech which gets to the heart of the matter:
Since the national debt is increasing at a rate greater than a half-trillion dollars per year, the debt limit was recently increased by an astounding $984 billion dollars. Total U.S. government obligations are $43 trillion, while total net worth of U.S. households is just over $40.6 trillion. The country is broke, but no one in Washington seems to notice or care. The philosophic and political commitment for both guns and butter–and especially for expanding the American empire–must be challenged. This is crucial for our survival.
In spite of the floundering economy, the Congress and the administration continue to take on new commitments in foreign aid, education, farming, medicine, multiple efforts at nation building, and preemptive wars around the world. Already we’re entrenched in Iraq and Afghanistan, with plans to soon add new trophies to our conquest. War talk abounds as to when Syria, Iran and North Korea will be attacked.
How did all this transpire? Why did the government do it? Why haven’t the people objected? How long will it go on before something is done? Does anyone care?
Will the euphoria of grand military victories–against non-enemies–ever be mellowed? Someday, we as a legislative body must face the reality of the dire situation in which we have allowed ourselves to become enmeshed. Hopefully, it will be soon!
We got here because ideas do have consequences. Bad ideas have bad consequences, and even the best of intentions have unintended consequences. We need to know exactly what the philosophic ideas were that drove us to this point; then, hopefully, reject them and decide on another set of intellectual parameters.
There is abundant evidence exposing those who drive our foreign policy justifying preemptive war. Those who scheme are proud of the achievements in usurping control over foreign policy. These are the neoconservatives of recent fame. Granted, they are talented and achieved a political victory that all policymakers must admire. But can freedom and the Republic survive this takeover? That question should concern us.
Neoconservatives are obviously in positions of influence and are well-placed throughout our government and the media. An apathetic Congress put up little resistance and abdicated its responsibilities over foreign affairs. The electorate was easily influenced to join in the patriotic fervor supporting the military adventurism advocated by the neoconservatives.
The numbers of those who still hope for truly limited government diminished and had their concerns ignored these past 22 months, during the aftermath of 9-11. Members of Congress were easily influenced to publicly support any domestic policy or foreign military adventure that was supposed to help reduce the threat of a terrorist attack. Believers in limited government were harder to find. Political money, as usual, played a role in pressing Congress into supporting almost any proposal suggested by the neocons. This process–where campaign dollars and lobbying efforts affect policy–is hardly the domain of any single political party, and unfortunately, is the way of life in Washington.
There are many reasons why government continues to grow. It would be naive for anyone to expect otherwise. Since 9-11, protection of privacy, whether medical, personal or financial, has vanished. Free speech and the Fourth Amendment have been under constant attack. Higher welfare expenditures are endorsed by the leadership of both parties. Policing the world and nation-building issues are popular campaign targets, yet they are now standard operating procedures. There’s no sign that these programs will be slowed or reversed until either we are stopped by force overseas (which won’t be soon) or we go broke and can no longer afford these grandiose plans for a world empire (which will probably come sooner than later.)
None of this happened by accident or coincidence. Precise philosophic ideas prompted certain individuals to gain influence to implement these plans. The neoconservatives–a name they gave themselves–diligently worked their way into positions of power and influence. They documented their goals, strategy and moral justification for all they hoped to accomplish. Above all else, they were not and are not conservatives dedicated to limited, constitutional government.
Neo-conservatism has been around for decades and, strangely, has connections to past generations as far back as Machiavelli. Modern-day neo-conservatism was introduced to us in the 1960s. It entails both a detailed strategy as well as a philosophy of government. The ideas of Teddy Roosevelt, and certainly Woodrow Wilson, were quite similar to many of the views of present-day neocons. Neocon spokesman Max Boot brags that what he advocates is “hard Wilsonianism.” In many ways, there’s nothing “neo” about their views, and certainly nothing conservative. Yet they have been able to co-op the conservative movement by advertising themselves as a new or modern form of conservatism.
More recently, the modern-day neocons have come from the far left, a group historically identified as former Trotskyists. Liberal Christopher Hitchins, has recently officially joined the neocons, and it has been reported that he has already been to the White House as an ad hoc consultant. Many neocons now in positions of influence in Washington can trace their status back to Professor Leo Strauss of the University of Chicago. One of Strauss’ books was Thoughts on Machiavelli. This book was not a condemnation of Machiavelli’s philosophy. Paul Wolfowitz actually got his PhD under Strauss. Others closely associated with these views are Richard Perle, Eliot Abrams, Robert Kagan and William Kristol. All are key players in designing our new strategy of preemptive war. Others include: Michael Ledeen of the American Enterprise Institute; former CIA Director James Woolsey; Bill Bennett of Book of Virtues fame; Frank Gaffney; Dick Cheney; and Donald Rumsfeld. There are just too many to mention who are philosophically or politically connected to the neocon philosophy in some varying degree.
The godfather of modern-day neo-conservatism is considered to be Irving Kristol, father of Bill Kristol, who set the stage in 1983 with his publication Reflections of a Neoconservative. In this book, Kristol also defends the traditional liberal position on welfare.
More important than the names of people affiliated with neo-conservatism are the views they adhere to. Here is a brief summary of the general understanding of what neocons believe:
1. They agree with Trotsky on permanent revolution, violent as well as intellectual.
2. They are for redrawing the map of the Middle East and are willing to use force to do so.
3. They believe in preemptive war to achieve desired ends.
4. They accept the notion that the ends justify the means–that hard-ball politics is a moral necessity.
5. They express no opposition to the welfare state.
6. They are not bashful about an American empire; instead they strongly endorse it.
7. They believe lying is necessary for the state to survive.
8. They believe a powerful federal government is a benefit.
9. They believe pertinent facts about how a society should be run should be held by the elite and
withheld from those who do not have the courage to deal with it.
10. They believe neutrality in foreign affairs is ill-advised.
11. They hold Leo Strauss in high esteem.
12. They believe imperialism, if progressive in nature, is appropriate.
13. Using American might to force American ideals on others is acceptable. Force should
not be limited to the defense of our country.
14. 9-11 resulted from the lack of foreign entanglements, not from too many.
15. They dislike and despise libertarians (therefore, the same applies to all strict constitutionalists.)
16. They endorse attacks on civil liberties, such as those found in the Patriot Act, as being necessary.
17. They unconditionally support Israel and have a close alliance with the Likud Party.
Various organizations and publications over the last 30 years have played a significant role in the rise to power of the neoconservatives. It took plenty of money and commitment to produce the intellectual arguments needed to convince the many participants in the movement of its respectability.
In addition to publications, multiple think tanks and projects were created to promote their agenda. A product of the Bradley Foundation, American Enterprise Institute (AEI) led the neocon charge, but the real push for war came from the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) another organization helped by the Bradley Foundation. This occurred in 1998 and was chaired by Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol. Early on, they urged war against Iraq, but were disappointed with the Clinton administration, which never followed through with its periodic bombings. Obviously, these bombings were motivated more by Clinton’s personal and political problems than a belief in the neocon agenda.
The election of 2000 changed all that. …