December 24, 2003
Calpundit on the neocons
There's the basic contradiction all at once: Wolfowitz and the neocons seem to truly believe that they're motivated by an idealistic devotion to democracy, but at the same time they're willfully blind to the fact that their own Cold War history makes a shambles of that supposed devotion.
After all, this is the same group that spent much of the 70s and 80s so intent on interpreting everything as part of a war of civilizations between the West and a resurgent communism that they ignored — or in some cases actively encouraged — the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in the Middle East. (Remember Afghanistan and Iran-Contra?) The very single-mindedness that neocons are famous for blinded them to the fact that they were contributing to the rise of an even bigger problem, one that had nothing at all to do with communism.
A more expansive approach to the Cold War would almost certainly have worked nearly as well — after all, communism was rotting from within and the Soviet Union was never as strong as the neocons insisted it was — and might have left room for a more democratically inclined Mideast policy as well. But instead of learning this lesson the neocons have simply shifted their familiar monomania to the very fundamentalism they helped midwife into creation. Even the methods are familiar: proxy wars around the world, domino theories, demonization of the left, and an insistence on huge military buildups. The old hatred of Europe is back too, this time even more virulent than before.
Having failed so spectacularly in the 80s to understand the consequences of a single-minded foreign policy, they are now asking us to give them another chance against a different enemy. But wouldn't it be better, instead, to try a cure that hasn't already been proven worse than the disease?
Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 24, 2003 to Around the world
I love how the Berger/Lake/Halperin/Talbott types try to spin their views on the Cold War into some sort of coherent critique of contemporary foreign policy. The problem is, what IS that cure that isn't worse than the disease (according to liberal foreign policy elites)?
Clark giving the Euros a veto power over American foreign policy? Dean's passive multilateralism (the foreign policy elites I mentioned ARE largely his advisors after all)? Kerry's... oh hell, I can't keep up with what he wants to do on any given day. Lieberman's hawkish foreign policy? Oh wait, that's Bush lite according to the true believers. Kucinich's isolationism? Actually, that may be the most coherent, principled approach among the group at this point.
People opposed to Paul Wolfowitz's view of the world (both within and outside of the Administration) do have a problem: he has one, and has a view of foreign policy constructed around it. Critiquing it is not a substitute for a foreign policy. Claiming "I'd have a plan for Iraq" is not a plan in itself. The sooner his Republican and Democrat critics come up with a foreign policy approach that is not simply reactionary, the better the nation will be served.
what on earth is meant by "more expansive approach to the Cold War?"
The only thing i can figure is that maybe the writer believes it would have been better for the US to have been combatting Islamic fundamentalism as well as fighting the Soviet Union.
I suppose that behind this thought is the belief that islamic fundamentalism is the enemy of the United States. The writer says openly that the US somehow helped to create, encourage, or promote islamic fundamentalism. both of these postulates are an overintellectualization of the problem we face, with the writer apparently succumbing to Kissinger's disease of perceiving all difficulties as manifestations of realpolitik.
The rise of islamic fundamentalism is much bigger than the United States, and is not somehow a response to us, or a result of our policies. And it isn't even particularly new. Previous colonial regimes in the middle east, in the subcontinent and in the far east can testify to the strength of islamic fundamentalism--perhaps we could summon the ghost of Chinese Gordon as one witness. Only those who get all their information and history from facile shallow newsweeklies like Time and Newsweek could really believe that the US produced, or "midwifed" islamic fundamentalism. Please, writer, whoever you are, read at least one book on the history of the middle east. there are actually books available that discuss events in this region that took place before world war ii, believe it or not. after you've read at least one book, then come back and tell us that you still believe the US created islamic fundamentalism.
in any event, islamic fundamentalism per se is not our enemy. This kind of crypto racism is inherent in the thinking of many of those who call themselves progressive, and who are very eager to judge everyone by their faith, by their skin color, by their nationality. The terrorists who follow Bin Laden are a tiny minority of moslems--these murderers are our enemy.
I will certainly concede that the United States has sponsored a lot of tyrants and dictators in the name of anti communism. In the end, we won that war, but certainly some of the methods we used were shameful. The United States should be the champion of self determination and liberty. At our best moments, we live up to that ideal, and we can take a lot of pride in whatever role we played in the collapse of the Soviet Union and the liberation of eastern Europe.
In that spirit, we really should applaud the fall of the Shah of Iran and the rise of the Islamic republic of Iran, because for whatever failings the current government of Iran has, it is a better evocation of the will of the people of Iran that the government that preceded it.
Guys, let's be realistic. It's a resource war, just like almost every other war in history.
Especially, the Cold War. Read The Grand Chessboard, by Zbigniew Brzezinski - former US National Security Advisor (among other things).
We're running out of oil. Other nations have it. They were going to sell it to French and German companies. Now American companies are getting it all.
Read the book! It's piracy, plain and simple!