Is it true that the freedom-mad neocons have suddenly turned toward rationality?

(Note, Feb. 2, 3:30 p.m.: See Paul Gottfried’s reply to this entry and my further reply to him.)

In response to Caroline Glick’s article and my commentary thereon, Paul Gottfried commented at VFR earlier today:

This situation seems to be resolving itself. Several days ago the Israeli foreign minister issued a statement indicating that the Muslim Brotherhood would take over Egypt in the planned transition to democracy. Needless to say, this assessment is realistic. Since then, this may or may not be coincidence, most of the neocon maniacs have been back-pedalling. Bolton has become sensible, and even Rich Lowry is punctuating his stuff about global democracy with the reminder that Bush’s initiatives in this direction “petered out.” My initial reaction was the same as yours but now it seems that even neocons can learn, at least in this instance, if pushed toward reality.

Leaving aside the irony that this is the first time to my knowledge that Gottfried has ever said anything positive about neocons, it is not my impression that his observation is overall correct. Most of the neocons seem to be cheering the victory of “freedom” in Egypt. At the Commentary blog, John Podhoretz says that we have no choice but to support the protesters, since “[i]t is written into the DNA of the United States that, when push comes to shove, we cannot support the forces of tyranny over mass protest.” In another entry, Podhoretz praises Obama’s statement this evening in which he ordered Mubarak to give up power. Podhoretz also says that it’s not within America’s power to prevent political change in another country. That is of course true, but it’s not the issue. What America is now doing, as Barry Rubin and Caroline Glick have cogently pointed out, and as is made even more clear by Obama’s statement, is actively demoralizing the Egyptian regime by siding with the protesters and telling the regime to quit, just as we did to the Shah in 1979, thus helping assure the regime’s fall. Meanwhile Max Boot says that the U.S. should have been ordering Mubarak to reform all along. And it’s also noted at Commentary that “Obama has invited Robert Kagan and Elliott Abrams”—two extreme neocons, the latter of whom has been all over the place applauding “freedom” in Egypt—“to participate in his deliberations.”

Meanwhile, writing at Family Security Matters, Ralph Peters sees the events in Egypt as happy confirmation of GW Bush’s pro-democracy policy and dismisses the notion that Egypt could be taken over by jihadists. And even if the Muslim Brotherhood does become part of a new government, he says, the march of freedom is more important.

Conclusion: I don’t see the turn of the neocons toward rationality that Paul Gottfried sees.

Also, I have been pointing out for many years that the neocons, by signing on so passionately to Bush’s pro-democracy agenda, had ceased caring about Israel’s safety, since the utopian goal of Muslim democracy was now more important to them. I often felt I was the only person saying this. Now, for the first time, with the articles by Rubin and Glick and other Israeli commentators denouncing the madness of the U.S. neocons, this split within the pro-Israel camp has come to the fore.

- end of initial entry -

February 2

John McNeil writes:

Seeing Paul Gottfried’s (surprising) comment at your blog, it made me think of this excellent article he wrote on Obama’s usurping American exceptionalism and reforging it into an instrument for leftist ideology.

To me, it ties into the growing fusion of leftist and neocon rhetoric/ideology over the situation in Egypt. It also demonstrates the weakness of the propositional nation; how a nation of ideas can be easily recast into something different.

Here’s an excerpt (ignore all the petty high-brow gossip and caviar conservatism displayed on the new Takimag):

Flights of fancy aside, it seems that Bam has learned something else from the neocons apart from yammering about American exceptionalism, or, according to Bill Lind, acting “as if the laws of nature don’t really apply to those residing within the borders of the US.” He has learned that one can be an exuberant America-booster, telling the world how great we Americans are, without having to sacrifice one’s progressive or leftist politics. It’s all quite simple. Once we’ve defined our country as some kind of propositional thing, then the leader is free to identify what the country is and how to force its citizens to comply with that proposition. The proposition has to be inclusive, universal, and egalitarian, like the neocon emphasis on democratic equality and human rights. No other kind of proposition is going to work any longer in a place as diverse and culturally fluid as today’s America. But once you enunciate the “idea,” then you can fit your own program into it, e.g., launching wars to spread democracy or throwing tax money at one’s favorite donors such as teachers’ unions.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at February 01, 2011 11:58 PM | Send

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