They’re baack, and it’s no joke

This entry deals with the alarming resurgence of the neoconservatives’ already discredited ideology of universal democratization. In the early 1990s, the neocon godfather Irving Kristol memorably observed that “Liberalism is brain-dead, even as its heart continues to pump out blood to all our institutions.” The same thing, more or less, can now be said of neoconservatism itself.

A year ago the falsity of the Bush Doctrine was being seen by more and more people, and the neocons were on the run. Do you remember the apostate neocons (dubbed by me “The Magnificent Seven”) who poured out their anguished disenchantment with Bush’s policy in the pages of Vanity Fair last December, while pathetically denying their own responsibility for that policy? Do you remember the lengthy repositionings of the former Bush policy supporters at National Review?

But things have changed again. The surge, by mitigating—but, of course, only temporarily—some of the worst effects of the Bush policy as it had existed from 2003 and 2007, culminating this past week with Gen. Petraeus’s testimony to Congress and the publication of Norman Podhoretz’s book, World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism, has given Bushism-Podhoretzism a new lease on life. And indeed the Bush/Podhoretz party are more full of themselves than ever. Read Bush’s September 13 speech about Iraq. Read Jamie Glazov’s September 12 interview with Podhoretz at FrontPage Magazine. Read Glazov’s symposium on “The Success of the Surge” in the September 14 issue of FrontPage, especially the full-bore Bushism of former Soviet defector Ion Mihai Pacepa. And read Rick Richman’s repulsive celebration of Podhoretz’s book (described by the hopeless sycophants at Powerline as the “best review ever written of a Podhoretz book”) published at The American Thinker—which, for publishing this mindless collection of cliches, ought to be renamed The American Anti-Thinker.

When I read Richman’s piece this past evening, and saw the full, unregenerate, unreformed, self-righteous blast of this insane ideology, with Richman using the same fake and absurd arguments in defense of the Bush Iraq policy that two and three years ago were already hoary and discredited, I said to a friend, I’d rather vote for Hillary than see these people continue in power. I didn’t mean it literally. But the fact that I would even say it conveys the fear and loathing triggered in me by these demented fanatics whose notion of defending America from Islamic extremism is to enslave America to an endless doomed effort to reform and democratize the Muslim world, while continuing to allow mass Muslim immigration into America, with both the democratization and the immigration based on the criminally false assertion that Muslims are basically just like us.

Here is the core of the Bush/Podhoretz argument, as stated by Podhoretz in his FP interview:

The Bush Doctrine, to simplify, sets forth a two-pronged strategy, one military and the other political, designed to confront the new kind of threat we are now facing. The military component is preemption (because, as the President has said, “if we wait for threats to fully materialize, we will have waited too long”) and the political component is democratization (to “drain the swamps” in which Islamofascist terrorism breeds). What I try to show in my book is that there is no other viable way to victory over Islamofascism.

What he is saying is absurd. If by democracy we mean liberal democracy, then to democratize the Muslim world is inherently impossible. If by democracy we mean merely elections, then to democratize the Muslim world bring to power the very forces Podhoretz claims to oppose, as has already happened again and again. Has he heard nothing of the elections in Lebanon that gave power to Hezbollah? The elections in Egypt that gave power to the Muslim Brotherhood? The elections in the Palestinian territories that brought Hamas to power? In fact, showing how out of touch with reality they are, Stormin’ Norman and his chorus line are still touting the Lebanese and Egyptian elections as successes for democratization.

If, as Podhoretz says, democratization is the only viable way to protect ourselves from “Islamofascism,” and if, as we know to be the case, Muslim democracy is unattainable, then the “World War IV” to which Podhoretz calls us can never end.

Finally, when we remember that Podhoretz is a senior foreign policy advisor to Rudolph Giuliani, we see that a Giuliani presidency would simply be Bush on steroids plus Judi. I’d rather have Obama or Hillary as president.

- end of initial entry -

Barbara writes:

“….Podhoretz is a foreign policy advisor to Rudolph Giuliani…”

A valuable piece of info a lot of us did not know. Thanks.

LA replied:

I first wrote about it here, in July.

Here’s something else criticizing the appointment, coming from what sounds like a liberal perspective, at the realist journal the National Interest. The writer seems to be against Podhoretz not over his overall ideology, but because he says military measures against Iran are needed.

However, I also believe military measures against Iran are necessary.

Norman writes:

Many have noted that the founders of the neo-con movement were 60’s radicals who came to realize the name “liberal” had become universally associated with stupidity and made the decision to pretend to change their political leanings and started calling themselves “conservatives”. I consider the president a “liberal” in every way.

LA replies:

Calling them “Sixties radicals” is not correct as it makes them sound as though they were members of the Sixties generation, which neither Norman Podhoretz nor certainly Irving Kristol were. Kristol, who had been a Trotskyite in college in the late 1930s, was already known as somewhat conservative in the 1950s because of his supportive statements about McCarthy. It’s true that Podhoretz, ten years younger than Kristol, appointed editor of Commentary in 1960, identified with Sixties radicalism, but then became disenchanted with it when he saw how destructive and anti-American it was becoming.

Also, as the neoconservatives became critical of sixties liberalism, it was liberals who first called them “neo-conservatives,” as a derogatory term. The neoconservatives then adopted the name themselves. However, it’s true that their relationship to the term “conservative” has always been ambiguous. From time to time, leading neocons have stated forthrightly that they are not conservatives in the traditional sense or even in any sense. They are unhappy with the fact that the word liberal has come to mean radical, so that they cannot use it for themselves any more.

At the same time, neoconservatism since the mid 1990s, and even more since 2001, has become more radical than it was before, both in signing on to various aspects of the cultural revolution, which it had previously opposed (see my 2002 article “The neocons go left”), and in its mad embrace of the crusade for universal democracy.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 15, 2007 01:44 PM | Send

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