Category Archive 'Outside Analysis'
The following article is more broadly about how initial supporters of the war in Iraq are having second thoughts, or doubts about how it has been conducted. It’s relevant to this site for two reasons: 1) it mentions a number of neoconservatives (Max Boot, Charles Krauthammer, Bill Kristol, and more) amongst the ranks of the disappointed, and 2) it speaks of how traditional conservatives (like CNN pundit Tucker Carlson, for example) are waking up to the fact that they allowed themselves to be spun into supporting a war which is not reflective of a conservative view of government’s role.
That sentiment is summed up best in this sentence:
How, they wonder, did so many conservatives, who normally don’t trust their government to run a public school down the street, come to believe that federal bureaucrats could transform an entire nation in the alien culture of the Middle East?
The article is worth reading just for the quote near the end from Edmund Burke about empire. I’m archiving the entire article here; you can access the original at the link below.
The Hawks Loudly Express Their Second Thoughts
The New York Times > Week in Review
By JOHN TIERNEY
Published: May 16, 2004
WASHINGTON — Not long ago, the word “triumphalist” was being applied to the neoconservatives and other intellectuals who championed the war in Iraq. Now the buzzwords are “depressed,” “angst-ridden” and “going wobbly.”
After the setbacks in Falluja and Najaf, followed by the prisoner abuse scandal, hawks are glumly trying to reconcile the reality in Iraq with the predictions they made before the war. A few have already given up on the idea of a stable democracy in Iraq, and many are predicting failure unless there’s a dramatic change in policy – a new date for elections, a new secretary of defense, a new exit strategy.
Most blame the administration for botching the mission, and some are also questioning their own judgment. How, they wonder, did so many conservatives, who normally don’t trust their government to run a public school down the street, come to believe that federal bureaucrats could transform an entire nation in the alien culture of the Middle East? To these self-doubting hawks, the conservatives now blaming American officials for Iraq’s problems are reminiscent of the leftists who kept blaming incompetents in the Kremlin for the failure of Communism.
Some hawks are staying the course. Donald H. Rumsfeld, the defense secretary, is still defended by The Wall Street Journal editorial page and columnists like Charles Krauthammer, of The Washington Post, and William Safire, of The New York Times, who has dismissed the idea of speeding the transition as “cut and walk fast.” Rush Limbaugh has accused liberal journalists of overreacting to the prison scandal.
When asked on Friday about the criticism from his fellow neoconservatives, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul D. Wolfowitz acknowledged difficulties but seemed unfazed. “Saddam’s murderers and torturers who abused the Iraqi people for 35 years have proven to be a tough as well as ruthless enemy,” he said. “But no one should have expected a cakewalk and that’s no reason to go wobbly now. I spend most of my time with officers and soldiers, and they’re not defeatists – not even the ones who suffered terrible wounds in Iraq.”
But many hawks across the political spectrum are having public second thoughts. The National Review has dismissed the Wilsonian ideal of implanting democracy in Iraq, and has recommended settling for an orderly society with a non-dictatorial government. David Brooks, a New York Times columnist, wrote that America entered Iraq with a “childish fantasy” and is now “a shellshocked hegemon.” Journalists like Robert Novak, Max Boot and Thomas Friedman have encouraged Mr. Rumsfeld to resign.
Robert Kagan and William Kristol, two influential hawks at the neoconservative Weekly Standard, warned in last week’s issue of the widespread bipartisan view that the war “is already lost or on the verge of being lost.” They called for moving up the election in Iraq to Sept. 30 to hasten the transition and distract attention from American mistakes.
“There’s a fair amount of conservative despair, which I respect,” Mr. Kristol, the magazine’s editor, said in an interview. “My sentiments are closer to anger than to angst. My anger is at the administration for having made many more mistakes than it needed to have made. But we still have to win and we still can win.”
Read the rest of this entry »
Jim Lobe could possibly be credited as being the journalist who has covered the rise of the neo-conservative movement, including the PNAC, more than anyone else.
Inter Press Service, the press agency Lobe works for (as Washington D.C. bureau chief), has compiled a focus area of all of his stories related to the neo-cons. It has dozens of stories, spanning a number of years.
It looks to be invaluable resource for researching the background of the neo-conservative movement’s power structure, as well as for following along with developments as they have occured over time.
Inter Press Service/Jim Lobe: Neo-Cons
Here’s another angle on the Irving Kristol piece
in the Weekly Standard where he identifies the current administration as being neo-conservative, while explaining just what that means. This article comes from the “market anarchist”/anti-state site Strike The Root—another non-liberal, non-Democrat source.
Neoconservatism Made Kristol Clear
by Michael Tennant
August 18, 2003
Memo to Irving Kristol: Get yourself to a secure, undisclosed location immediately if not sooner. You are in grave danger. No, you needn’t worry about receiving threats from left-wing loonies like Al Gore or his disciple, the Unabomber. You don’t even have to fear the paleoconservatives and libertarians.
You should, however, keep your eyes open for members of the National Review/Wall Street Journal crowd. IMPORTANT: If you receive a package in the mail from David Frum, call the bomb squad immediately!
Why do I say Irving Kristol had better keep a close eye on his allies on the “official” right? Simply this: He recently wrote
a piece for The Weekly Standard in which he spelled out exactly what neoconservatism is. What’s worse is that ol’ Irv’s description of neoconservatism proves that it is everything its critics have said it is–and worse.
Now that “the ‘godfather’ of all those neocons,” as Kristol describes himself, has spoken on the subject (and written a book entitled Neoconservatism: The Autobiography of an Idea), the NR/WSJ crowd can no longer plausibly deny the existence of such a movement, as some have tried to do. In addition, they can no longer plausibly claim that neoconservatism is merely another form of traditional conservatism. Nor can they plausibly insist that neoconservatism has anything at all to do with the American founding and tradition of limited government and avoidance of entangling alliances. Kristol has blown all these arguments out of the water.
It appears that the Christian Science Monitor has put together the best journalistic primer to the neoconservative movement—in other words, the parents and children of the Project for the New American Century. Upon initial
examination, this would seem to be a strong candidate for "hottest resource" in the category of surface-level introductions to the world of the PNAC and beyond.
Empire Builders: Neoconservatives and their blueprint for US power
It features profiles and photos of the top dozen players in the modern movement: Irving Kristol, Norman Podhoretz, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, Lewis Libby, John Bolton, Elliot Abrams, Robert Kagan, Michael Ledeen, William Kristol, and Frank Gaffney, Jr.. They also have a Neocon 101 page, with the most basic questions answered; an "Are You a Neocon?" interactive quiz; analysis Q & A from neocon Max Boot and foreign policy expert Walter Russel Mead; a pop-up timeline of U.S foreign policy since 1783; a collection of short quotes from neocon figures; and a page of links to neocon thinktanks and key documents (our main target, the PNAC, made the top of that list).
It’s clear, succinct, journalistic (not editorial), and from a source which is not known for being especially liberal, or liberal at all as far as I know. In other words, it’s probably the best location going for introducing this bunch of issues to someone.
Of course, you might want to send them right here to this PNAC.info entry, so that they can see that the CSMonitor
focus area comes out of an atmosphere of concern that goes well beyond that one publication. Their web area doesn’t seem to have links or references to other critical or investigative resources related to the PNAC—or things like Rep. Ron Paul’s fantastic "Neo-conned" speech.
We at PNAC.info won’t pretend to take full credit for this happening…but we’ll take partial credit. 😉
A Debate Over U.S. ‘Empire’ Builds in Unexpected Circles
By Dan Morgan
The Washington Post
Washington Post original (will expire)
Sunday 10 August 2003
At forums sponsored by policy think tanks, on radio talk shows and around Cleveland Park dinner tables, one topic has been hotter than the weather in Washington this summer: Has the United States become the very “empire” that the republic’s founders heartily rejected?
Liberal scholars have been raising the question but, more strikingly, so have some Republicans with impeccable conservative credentials.
For example, C. Boyden Gray, former counsel to President George H.W. Bush, has joined a small group that is considering ways to “educate Americans about the dangers of empire and the need to return to our founding traditions and values,” according to an early draft of a proposed mission statement.
Another submission from Matt Hannon:
This is the second college paper I wrote that talks about PNAC. Much of the PNAC info is repeated. However, this paper gives an interesting look into why the government wanted war so badly in Iraq. There are also some diesel links in the works referenced section.
This article, by long-time PNAC-focused investigative journalist Jim Lobe, features claims made by an apparent whistleblower of sorts from the Pentagon. If the claims are true—and it seems that at the very least, the names and affiliations of the various people named are likely accurate—then they would substantiate most of what the detractors of PNAC, myself included, have claimed and feared. Which is to say, that a group of like-minded policymakers and administrators has managed to acquire an actionable amount of influence upon the U.S.’s foreign policy, and have used that influence to direct the U.S. strongly toward a new body of policy that involves many of the goals outlined in the Project for the New American Century’s “Rebuilding America’s Defenses” strategy document, among other places.
Those goals being, briefly, to move the world toward a “unipolar” power structure—with the United States being the one driving pole of power and influence in global matters—by means of the aggressive and widespread use of the U.S. force capabilities, high-pressure diplomacy, or any of the other strategic tools in the U.S. foreign policy toolbox. (Though it often seems that the use of force, and high-pressure diplomacy, are the preferred tools, along with manipulation of evidence and data to bolster their arguments.)
POLITICS-U.S.: Pentagon Office Home to Neo-Con Network
Analysis – By Jim Lobe
WASHINGTON, Aug 7 (IPS) – An ad hoc office under U.S. Undersecretary of Defence for Policy Douglas Feith appears to have acted as the key base for an informal network of mostly neo-conservative political appointees that circumvented normal inter-agency channels to lead the push for war against Iraq.
The Office of Special Plans (OSP), which worked alongside the Near East and South Asia (NESA) bureau in Feith’s domain, was originally created by Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz to review raw information collected by the official U.S. intelligence agencies for connections between Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda.
Retired intelligence officials from the State Department, the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) have long charged that the two offices exaggerated and manipulated intelligence about Iraq before passing it along to the White House.
But key personnel who worked in both NESA and OSP were part of a broader network of neo-conservative ideologues and activists who worked with other Bush political appointees scattered around the national-security bureaucracy to move the country to war, according to retired Lt Col Karen Kwiatkowski, who was assigned to NESA from May 2002 through February 2003.
The heads of NESA and OSP were Deputy Undersecretary William Luti and Abram Shulsky, respectively.
Other appointees who worked with them in both offices included Michael Rubin, a Middle East specialist previously with the neo-conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI); David Schenker, previously with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP); Michael Makovsky; an expert on neo-con icon Winston Churchill and the younger brother of David Makovsky, a senior WINEP fellow and former executive editor of pro-Likud ‘Jerusalem Post’; and Chris Lehman, the brother of the John Lehman, a prominent neo-conservative who served as secretary of the navy under Ronald Reagan, according to Kwiatkowski.
Submitted by Matt Hannon:
I’ve uploaded a paper I wrote for my one class at college exposing pnac to ppl, the college profesor was as shocked to learn that this was going on as I was. Your comments are all welcomed.
Download Matt’s paper (.doc file)
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.
U.S. Representative Ron Paul: Neo-conned
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. …
Read the whole speech
This is an essay by a conservative, about the neoconservative movement, and the distinctions between the various sectors of conservatism.
Pay no attention to the neocon behind the curtain
By Timothy P. Carney
Debates among and about “Neoconservatives” and “Paleoconservatives” recently have bounced between being enlightening, mendacious, vicious, and dangerous. But easily the most bizarre aspect of the fight is the claim that neoconservatives don’t exist—that they are the hallucinations of fevered minds.
Regardless of whether you consider yourself neo-, paleo-, non- or just plain-conservative, it is worth examining whether a) there is such a thing as a neocon, and b) how, if it all, they differ from conservatism proper.
Welcome to PNAC.info-- a site dedicated to drawing attention to the neoconservative foreign policy approach, and its consequences for America and the world.