"Our 'neoconservatives' are neither new nor conservative, but old as Bablyon and evil as Hell." -- Edward Abbey
"I don't know where the neocons came from.... Somehow, the neocons captured the president. They captured the vice president." -- General Anthony Zinni
"[I]t is the neoconservative public policies, not the traditional Republican ones, that result in Republican presidencies." -- Irving Kristol
"We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study, too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors...and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do." -- White House aide, quoted by Ron Suskind in 2004 (courtesy of Gene Lyons)
Leading neoconservative Irving Kristol wrote in 1996, "With the end of the Cold War, what we really need is an obvious ideological and threatening enemy, one worthy of our mettle, one that can unite us in opposition." -- quoted by Pat Buchanan
Buchanan also notes that Kristol, who he names the "godfather" of the neoconservative movement, wrote that "...the historical task and political purpose of neoconservatism would seem to be...to convert the Republican Party and American conservatism in general, against their respective wills, into a new kind of conservative policits suitable to governing a modern democracy." Judging by their actions and their advocacies, neoconservatives have little use for most of the trappings of modern democracy, particularly the need for a strong, free, informed electorate, a strong, independent media, and the traditional conservative bent towards American isolationism. Instead, in my judgment, they envision an American "Pax Americana" most similar to the Roman Empire at its height, where a small cabal of political and economic oligarchs dictate policy to a captive populace.
Buchanan asks why traditional conservatives have gone along with the Big Government, imperialist doctrines of neoconservatives, and answers bluntly, "Because they were tired of losing the White House to Bill Clinton and being out of power. They were willing to make compromises at the expense of principle to get back in. And Bush seemed to offer the way back in. Post 9/11, he had the country behind him. And so the party fell in line. George Bush now defines conservatism for this generation, though any resemblance to what Bob Taft taught and Barry Goldwater preached and Ronald Reagan practiced, and what [traditional conservatives] once fought for, is purely coincidental." -- Pat Buchanan
Who exactly are the neoconservatives who are currently predominant in Bush's foreign and domestic policymaking? Pat Buchanan claims that "The first generation were ex-Trotskyites, socialists, leftists, and liberals who backed FDR, Truman, JFK, and LBJ. When the Democratic party was captured by McGovern in 1972 -- on a platform of cutting defense and 'Come Home America!' -- these Cold War liberals found themselves isolated and ignored in their own party. Adrift, they rafted over to the Republican Party and were pulled aboard as conservatism's long voyage was culminating in the triumph of Reagan. Neoconservatives were the boat people of the McGovern revolution that was itself the political vehicle of the moral, social, and cultural revolutions of the 1960s. Kevin Phillips wrote that a neoconservative was more likely to be a magazine editor than a bricklayer. Today, he is more likely to be a resident scholar at a public policy institute like AEI, or its clones such as the Center for Security Policy or the Project for the New American Century. Almost none came out of the Goldwater campaign, the catalyzing event of modern conservatism, or out of the business world or the military. As one wag has written, a neocon is more familiar with the inside of a think tank than of an Abrams tank. Their heroes are the heroes of the Left: Wilson, FDR, Truman, Martin Luther King, and senators Henry 'Scoop' Jackson and Daniel Patrick Moynihan." It is worth noting that I strongly disagree with some of Buchanan's implications that neocons are merely liberals "gone bad," as it were, or as he writes later, neocons are "liberal wolves in conservative suits."
From my own observations, neocons may pay lip service to the civil rights commitments of Dr. King and the commitment to a strong, government-sponsored social services net of Moynihan, but in reality they have little use for any such liberal policy bastions as civil and economic rights for all, a clean environment, and most strongly, a peaceful world based on tolerance and multicultural understanding. However, his observation that many neoconservatives were extreme liberals who have become extreme conservatives, without any of the old-line libertarian trappings of Goldwater or Reagan or any dalliance with the middle ground, is, in my view, correct. He ends the discussion by writing, "They were Leftists in the 1930s, New Deal and Great Society Democrats through the 1960s, and slid to the right and the Republicans after Nixon and Reagan began rolling up forty-nine state landslides. They defected from liberalism only when they saw conservatism in the ascendancy, and they rode the Reagan revolution into power. Their heroes -- Wilson, FDR, Dr. King -- are men of the Left. Their tracts denouncing rivals and critics as traitors, fascists, and anti-Semites come straight out of the hard [extremist] Left. Their agenda -- endless struggle and war if necessary to impose secular democracy and social revolution on the Islamic world -- is neo-Jacobin, out of the French, not the American, revolution."
Like many others, investigative reporter Katherine Yurica says that political philosopher Leo Strauss is the "godfather" of today's neoconservative movement. A Jewish scholar who fled Germany when Hitler arose to power, Strauss taught for years at the University of Chicago in the political science department before his death in 1973. His work provided the guiding principles for Newt Gingrich's 1994 "Contract with America." Two of today's most prominent neoconservatives, Paul Wolfowitz and Abram Shulsky, received their doctorates under Strauss. The students of his teachings include, among others, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, former Solicitor General and Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork, publisher Irving Kristol and his son William Kristol, anti-abortion agitator Alan Keyes, former Secretary of Education and noted author William Bennett, former vice president Dan Quayle, writer Allan Bloom, magazine editor John Podhoertz, Bush education advisor John Agresto, former Attorney General John Ashcroft, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, anti-abortion advocate Gary Bauer, political strategist Michael Ledeen and scores of others, many of whom hold important positions in George W. Bush's White House and Defense Department. In simplistic terms, Strauss combined Machiavellian political strategizing with the Nietzchean ideal of the "Overman" to create a powerfully tempting political philosophy that energized the all-but-moribund conservative movement that took conservativism in a new, far more imperialistic, and far more overtly religious direction.
It is worth noting that one of Strauss's most important paradigms is that of secrecy of agenda -- leaders should lead the masses through misdirection and appeals to their particular beliefs or hatreds without actually subscribing to them themselves. In part, it was Straussian thinking that led Republicans to mount the highly successful "southern strategy" of appealing to many white Southerners' racial hatreds for political gain, without actually subscribing to those self-same racial prejudices. A true Straussian would have no qualms at manipulating Christian conservatives through their faith, though not actually subscribing to those beliefs themselves. Strauss believed that a national religion is a necessity, not because he or his followers believe so fervently themselves, but because "religion in his view is necessary in order to control the population." According to Strauss biographer Shadia Drury, Strauss and his neoconservative followers hold the following tenets:
The connection between Strauss and American evangelical conservatives can be found in the person of Strauss's student and fellow neoconservative Harry Jaffa. Jaffa appeared for four landmark days on Pat Robertson's 700 Club, joined by Robertson's political advisor Herb Titus. (Note that Jaffa has been a marked influence on Supreme Court justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.) Jaffa and Titus agreed that the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution, is the premier document behind the US government, and that in fact, the Declaration actually supercedes the Constitution. Titus said, "The Declaration...is the charter of the nation. It is what you might call the articles of incorporation, whereas the Constitution is the bylaws. The Constitution is the means by which to carry out the great purposes that are articulated in the Declaration." Robertson then asked, "Let's assume that eighty percent of the people are just totally immoral, they want to live lives of gross licentiousness and they want to prey on one another, that's what they want and they want a government to let them do it. How does that square with the Declaration of Independence and its consent of the governed?" Titus: "Even the people can't consent to give away that which God says is unalienable." Robertson: "The principles enunciated in the Declaration of Independence, how far have we gone from it and what can we do to redress some of these problems?"
Jaffa's response is noteworthy: "I'd say that today, for example in the Attorney General's [Edwin Meese's] warfare with the liberals on the Supreme Court, in his appeal to original intent, he appeals to the text of the Constitution. Jefferson and Madison said together in 1825, 'If you want to find the principles of the Constitution of the United States, you go first to the Declaration of Independence.'" Jaffa is building the idea of "original intent," that holds that to understand the Constitution, one must interpret it in the light of what it meant when it was originally framed. The idea itself isn't objectionable, but by twisting it to reinterpret "original intent" as "what we want now," the concept will be used by Dominionists to effectively curtail or repeal most of the major judicial decisions made in the last century. Neoconservatives and Dominionists take the words of the Declaration -- "That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness" -- to give them the right, even thrust upon them the duty, to effectively overthrow American democracy from the inside. Like Strauss, Jaffa "clearly believes that devious and illegal methods are justified when those in power are convinced of the rightness of their ends," writes Drury. Jaffa and Robertson saw eye to eye on more than one topic: for instance, Jaffa like his host Pat Robertson, found Oliver North to be a hero (and by extension Michael Ledeen) when both North and Ledeen went around the law to provide military aid to the contras.
As taught by Strauss, Robertson and many other Christian evangelicals, joined by conservative Roman Catholics and Episcopalians, found it easy and politically profitable to manipulate their less politically sophisticated, but sincere, followers. As Yurica writes, "[I]t was the Pentecostals and fundamentalists who made up the core of Robertson's audience. To a people who were largely uneducated and who often remained ignorant even if they went through college because of their fear of becoming tainted by the 'world and worldliness,' Dominionism came as a brilliant light that assuaged their deep sense of inferiority. Pentecostals in particular could take comfort from the notion that no longer would the world think of them as 'Holy Rollers' who danced in the 'Spirit' and practiced glossolalia. This time, they would be on top -- they would be the head and not the tail -- and the so-called elite, the educated of the world, would be on the bottom." Robertson and his colleagues founded schools and universities, and invited thousands to take part in political "training camps" where they taught their students how to run "stealth" campaigns for public office -- everything from county commissioner to school board member to local sheriff to more lofty offices. Robertson was the first, but not the last, to begin training a new breed of journalists at his Regent University (originally CBN University -- the name change not only reflected the "stealth" methodology of the movement, but echoes the Dominionist teaching that national governments must act as "regents" for the people of the world until the inevitable, and impending, return of Jesus Christ and Armageddon). Robertson does not eschew violence in the process of reforming America's democracy into a theocracy: the kingdom of heaven "suffers violence, and violent men take it by force," he wrote in his 1982 book The Secret Kingdom. "Zealous men force their way in. That's what it means." -- Katherine Yurica
"From their origins (be it as followers of Leon Trotsky or Leo Strauss), neoconservatives have seen the Christian tradition as an alien, even a threatening, one. ...The only Western tradition the neoconservatives actually want to defend is the Enlightenment. ...[T]hey have wanted to advance it in the rest of the world with the establishment of a kind of American empire. ...[This] is not a conservative project but a radical and revolutionary one. For the most part, it might be said that, with friends like the neoconservatives, Western civilization does not need enemies." -- James Kurth
As early as 1981, neoconservative Midge Decter declared, "Except in certain enclaves of absurdity and irrelevance, such as the universities and the Public Broadcasting System, virtually no one in the world believes anymore that there is a system preferable to ours: more benign, more equitable, more productive.... [We are] waging a 'battle of ideas.' The battle, at least among serious people, is not over. We have won it." (Author Frances Fox Piven calls Decter's arrogance "startling.") Of course, many neoconservatives did not actually believe the war was over. In 1993, neocon eminence Irving Kristol declared that the demise of the Soviet Union gave the opportunity for another battle to be engaged: a battle against liberalism. "There is no 'after the Cold War' for me," he wrote. "so far from having ended, my Cold War has increased in intensity, as sector after sector has been ruthlessly corrupted by the liberal ethos. Now that the other 'Cold War' is over, the real Cold War has begun. We are far less prepared for this Cold War, far more vulnerable to our enemy, than was the case with our victorious war against a global Communist threat." -- David Brock/Frances Fox Piven
"Neoconservative tutoring of 'the Republican Party and American conservatism' is done through publications they now control: the Weekly Standard, Commentary, the New Republic, National Review -- and the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, whose editor for three decades, the late Robert Bartley, was a patron. Though few in number, neocons wield disproportionate influence through foundations they have captured, their magazines and columns, and by networking and attaching themselves to men of power." -- Pat Buchanan
Pat Buchanan writes of the neoconservative foreign policy of the Bush administration: "Let it be said: This is utopianism. This is democratic imperialism. This will bleed, bankrupt, and isolate this republic. This overthrows the wisdom of the Founding Fathers about what America should be all about. This is an American version of the Brezhnev Doctrine, wherein Moscow asserted a right to intervene to save Communism in any nation where it had once been imposed. Only we Americans now assert a right to intervene anywhere to impose democracy." -- Pat Buchanan
The neoconservatives have a much grander plan for American world conquest than merely Iraq. Richard Perle said in December 2002, "This is total war. We are fighting a variety of enemies. There are lots of them out there. All this talk about first we are going to do Afghanistan, then we will do Iraq...this is entirely the wrong way to go about it. If we just let our vision of the world go forth, and we embrace it entirely and we don't try to piece together clever diplomacy, but just wage a total war...our children will sing great songs about us years from now." A British official summed up US neoconservative policy just before the war: "Everyone wants to go to Baghdad. Real men want to go to tehran." There is strong support within the administration for attacks on Saudi Arabia, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Egypt, and Myanmar.
In February 2003, undersecretary of state John Bolton (later nominated as the US's ambassador to the UN), told Israeli officials he expected the US to deal with Iran, Syria, and North Korea militarily after mopping up in Iraq. Bolton gave a speech in Seoul, South Korea in August 2003 in which he attacked North Korea as a "hellish nightmare," and called for global trade sanctions with North Korea. In return, North Korean officials called Bolton a "bloodsucker" and insisted that Bolton not be part of any talks between the US and North Korea. While this was playing out, Bolton went before Congress and argued that Syria posed an imminent threat to stability in the Middle East, and must be dealt with. (Syria offered its assistance to the US in tracking al-Qaeda terrorists, but the US refused the offer. Why? According to a CIA official, Donald Rumsfeld and his neocon advisors "want to go in there next.")
Rumsfeld has his own vision -- after the US conquers Iran, North Korea, Syria, and perhaps even Saudi Arabia, he envisions a large, mobile military force rotating through bases scattered throughout the world, from Kyrgyzstan, the Philippines, and Singapore to the Horn of Africa and Eastern Europe, enforcing the US's will. This also explains, to a degree, Rumsfeld's reluctance to commit large numbers of American troops in Iraq -- he said those troops would be "bogged down" and could be "less usable" elsewhere in the world.
"After September 11, US neocons began calling openly for the establishment of an American empire. PNAC senior fellow Thomas Donnelly wrote in the eminent journal Foreign Policy that "American imperialism can bring with it new hopes of liberty, security, and prosperity." And the Weekly Standard's Max Boot has demanded that Americans "unambiguously...embrace [America's] imperial role." This is countered by a warning from the conservative British publication The Economist, which wrote, "Imperialism and democracy are at odds with each other. The one implies hierarchy and subordinates, the other equality and freedom. People nowadays are not willing to bow down before an emperor, even a benevolent one, in order to be democratized. They will protest, and the ensuing pain will be felt by the imperial power as well as by its subjects. For Americans, the pain will not be just a matter of budget deficits and body bags, it will also be a blow to the very heart of what makes them American -- their constitutional belief in freedom. Freedom is in their blood; it is integral to their sense of themselves. It binds them together as nothing else does, neither ethnicity, nor religion, nor language. And it is rooted in hostility to imperialism -- the imperial rule of George III. Americans know that empires lack democratic legitimacy. Indeed, they once had a tea party to prove it." -- Eric Alterman and Mark Green
The neoconservatives are also tremendous backers of Israel -- or at least the hard-right Israelis represented by their wing of the Likud political party. Many Bush officials and administration associates have been accused of secretly passing classified and sensitive information to Israel in order to further their neocon aims. Former Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, his senior undersecretary for policy Douglas Feith, and former Defense Policy Board chairman Richard Perle have all been suspected of such. Wolfowitz was once investigated for passing classified information to an Israeli official through AIPAC, the powerful Israeli lobbying organization, regarding the sale of US arms to an Arab nation. Wolfowitz pushed for the export of American missile technology to Israel even though the Israelis were violating nontransfer agreements by selling the weapons to China. Feith was picked up on an FBI wiretap discussing classified information from the National Security Council with an Israeli embassy official, and was one of the leakers of a classified CIA report to Israel while working with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "Nearly every one of the people we would identify as neocons has had problems with their security clearances because they've been giving information to Israel or they are suspected thereof," says 17-year Mideast CIA veteran and counterterrorism expert Philip Giraldi.
Most of the neocons promoting the invasion of Iraq have strong ties to radical neocon and imperialist Michael Ledeen of the American Enterprise Institute. Ledeen, himself a former consultant and confidant of Feith who has worked for the defense intelligence community, and who has close ties with Israel's Mossad and Italy's SISMI intelligence bureaus, is a founding member of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), which once boasted Dick Cheney as a board member. Ledeen also created the Center for Democracy in Iran (CDI). Ledeen is regarded by the CIA and the Italian government as "an agent of influence for Israel," though he denies any ties with Mossad or the Israeli government. Ledeen, brought into the Pentagon in the early days of the Bush administration by Feith even before Feith was confirmed by the Senate, is a close political advisor to Karl Rove, who told him early in the administration's tenure, "Anytime you have a good idea, tell me." Ledeen says he met with Rove every four to six weeks with ideas for Rove to consider. Some of these ideas, says Ledeen, have become Bush administration policy.
Both Ledeen and Rove are great admirers of Machiavelli; Ledeen has gone farther, writing in his 1972 book Universal Fascism that the fascist Italian government of Benito Mussolini, which allied itself with Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany, was not in fact fascist, and tries to justify the seduction of millions of Europeans (and conservative Americans) by fascist ideology by lauding its "coherent ideological appeal to a great many people." Ledeen's radical ideology includes his advocacy of an American president and his aides for "breaking the law from time to time" to further its rightist, hegemonic goals, and says that it is necessary sometimes for a country's leader to "enter into evil whenever the very existence of the nation is threatened." Like other neocons, Ledeen argued for an end to legal restrictions "that prohibit American officials from working with murderers" and an end to the prohibition of American government officials from "conduct[ing], order[ing], encourag[ing], or facilitat[ing] assassination." All told, it is hard to see much ideological difference between Ledeen's beliefs and the Islamist terrorists he claims to despise.
Ledeen was investigated by a number of journalists when he was involved with Reagan-era government officials. Documents uncovered by journalists Edward Herman and Gerry O'Sullivan from the 1980 trial of SISMI agent Francesco Pazienza showed that Ledeen was working on an undercover basis in Italy. Pazienza was convicted of forgery, political manipulation, and the protection of terrorists and criminals as a member of Italy's right-wing extremist Masonic lodge P2 (Propaganda Due). Pazienza claimed to Wall Street Journal reporter Jonathan Kwitny that Ledeen was paid $120,000 by SISMI from 1980-1983, and that some of the funds were deposited in a Bermuda bank account. Ledeen's code name was Z3. Ledeen, of course, denies everything except having a Bermuda bank account, with a much smaller amount of money held in it. But Kwitny's conservative Journal editors were unlikely to print such a sensational story without solid confirmation, and Ledeen never sued any reporter or publication for libel. The Journal's 1985 story forced Ledeen to acknowledge that his consulting firm ISI had possibly received payments from SISMI totaling somewhere around $100,000. Italian intelligence agents testified that Ledeen was involved in a disinformation campaign designed to smear then-president Jimmy Carter's wastrel brother Billy by exposing Billy Carter's business interests in Libya, in an attempt to smear the president by association.
Ledeen later recanted his admissions during the Iran-Contra investigations, and accused the journalists who revealed his Italian connections -- and reported his own admissions -- of being "malicious." P2 was almost entirely controlled by SISMI during the time of Ledeen's involvement with the group; it was linked to the 1980 bombing of a Bologna train station which killed 80 innocent citizens. Former Reagan administration official Barbara Honegger wrote in her book October Surprise that Reagan officials Henry Kissinger and Alexander Haig authorized Ledeen to buy the list of 953 names on the P2 membership rolls when the home of the terrorist group's founder was raided by Italian police. Ledeen denies this as well.
Ledeen's connections to the "Billygate" affair were revealed in court testimony from Pazienza; the court documents call Ledeen "a well-known American Italianist" who worked "in collaboration" with Pazienza and "succeeded in extorting, also using fraudulent means, information -- then published -- in the international press -- on the Libyan business of Billy Carter, the brother of the then-president of the United States." Pazienza claimed that information on Billy Carter was gathered by P2's Italian-controlled intelligence operations and was then given to Ledeen, who broke the "Billygate" story in the New Republic. Ledeen's co-author of the story was Arnaud de Borchgrave, who went on to become editor-in-chief of the conservative, Moonie-owned Washington Times.
After the new head of SISMI called Ledeen an "intriguer" and said he was no longer welcome in Italy, in 1983 Ledeen was hired as a consultant on terrorism by Noel Koch at Reagan's Pentagon, after bowing to pressure to bring Ledeen aboard by Richard Perle. Koch later called Ledeen's work at the Pentagon "transparent crap." Ledeen had a troubling habit of snaring classified documents and reading them in Koch's outer office, and pressed Koch for access to highly classified CIA documents, asking for them by their alphanumeric designations, which were as classified as the documents themselves. When Ledeen's access to classified materials was cut off, he simply stopped coming to work. He eventually landed at the National Security Council, where his supervisor was Oliver North. It was Ledeen who suggested using "Israeli contacts" in the attempt to gain the release of American hostages being held by terrorists in Lebanon, but other, more senior NSC officials were suspicious of Ledeen's motivations and eventually downgraded his security clearance. Even the rabidly ideological North recommended that Ledeen be required to take "periodic polygraphic examinations" to ensure his honesty. North claimed in a memo that he thought Ledeen and Iranian arms dealer Manucher Ghorbanifar were profiting on illegal arms sales to Iran through Israel, though North lied to Congress and FBI investigators about those deals, and the final Iran-Contra report said "no evidence exists" of any such arms deals involving Ledeen.
Moore and Slater believe that Ledeen was involved to some extent in the forged documents that alleged Iraq was attempting to buy uranium from Niger, allegations that Bush officials used to justify the invasion of Iraq and were cited in Bush's 2003 State of the Union address. The involvement of SISMI in routing the fraudulent documents to the CIA gives further circumstantial weight to the possibility of Ledeen's involvement. On the subject of those forged documents, Giraldi says, "It's clear to me that he was one of the likely implementers of this case, this process. There are a number of ways those phony documents could have been fed back into the system." -- James Moore and Wayne Slater
Retired Marine Corps general Anthony Zinni, forced out of the Pentagon when he embarrassed the administration by publicly criticizing its plans for the occupation of Iraq, said in January 2004 that the neoconservative ideologues plunged us into war in a part of the world that they do not understand. "The more I saw, the more I thought this was the product of the neocons who didn't understand the region and were going to create havoc there. These were dilettantes from Washington think tanks who never had an idea that worked on the ground." -- New York Times Magazine/Frances Fox Piven
In November 2006, days before the Democratic sweep of the midterm elections, a number of prominent neoconservatives, including Richard Perle, Michael Ledeen, David Frum, Ken Adelman, and others, come out hard against the Iraq policy as implemented by Bush and his administration, calling it a failure and blaming the incompetence of Bush and his officials for its failure to achieve the neocons' goals. In doing so, many of them twist the events of the past three years to avoid any blame for their own actions. The centerpiece of this turnaround is featured in a November 3 Vanity Fair article; some neocons, such as Ledeen, are now claiming that they never supported the invasion of Iraq, a blatant lie. For further information on this stunning turnaround, see the items on the November 2006 page of this site.
The Bush administration was immediately "infiltrated," if one can use the word with the knowledge that Bush and Cheney are both in full collusion with such "infiltration," by a neoconservative cabal calling themselves the "Vulcans." Recruited by Condoleezza Rice, the most visible members were Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle. Perle writes of his first encounter with the future president George Bush, in terms that Pat Buchanan equates to the delight of "Fagin relating his initial encounter with the young Oliver Twist:" "The first time I met Bush 43," Perle writes, "I knew he was different. Two things became very clear. One, he didn't know very much. The other was he had confidence to ask questions that revealed he didn't know very much. Most people ar reluctant to say when they don't know something, a word or a term they hadn't heard before. Not him." Buchanan writes in response, "Thus began the tutoring of George W. Bush in Kristol's 'new kind of conservative politics suitable to governing a modern democracy' just months before he assumed office as president of the United States." -- Pat Buchanan
According to Buchanan, Wolfowitz first came to public notice inside the Beltway in 1992 after, as assistant secretary of defense under Dick Cheney, a document leaked from his office. The document, cowritten by Wolfowitz and his deputy Lewis Libby, set forth a plan for a new "Defense Planning Guidance" that would set the nation's foreign-policy direction into the next century. The Wolfowitz memorandum called for a permanent US military presence on all six inhabited continents to deter any "potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role." Containment and deterrence, the two linchpins of US foreign policy against potential enemies or rivals, would be jettisoned for a new, militarily aggressive strike-first policy to "establish and protect a new order." Wolfowitz proposed that the US view Russia as its most dire enemy (even though the Cold War was over and Russia was working to establish itself as some sort of Western-allied democracy), and proposed that the US spearhead a NATO counterattack against Russia if that country were to begin any military aggression such as an invasion of Lithuania. Wolfowitz's proposal that the US essentially begin World War III over Lithuania came with a detailed response plan, including a major air, sea, and land offensive that would "bottle up" the Russian Navy in the eastern Baltic; neither Wolfowitz nor Libby believed that the Russians would use nuclear weapons during the proposed war, though neither based their belief on any real evidence.
"A year before, President Bush 41 had barely objected when Russian Spetsnaz troops invaded Vilnius, Lithuania; only three weeks before, Bush and Russian president Yeltsin had jointly declared that "Russia and the United States do not regard each other as potential adversaries." Neocon Wolfowitz was proposing not just a resumption of the Cold War, but a "hot war" against the world's second-largest nuclear power over what must be regarded as slim provocation. Wolfowitz wrote that the US must never permit any nation -- Russia, Germany, Japan, China, India, whoever -- to rise to the status of even a regional power, and if they tried, the US military would dissuade them in the bloodiest terms. Senator Joe Biden denounced the memo as a blueprint for a "Pax Americana" that would establish the United States as, essentially, a world empire; Senator Edward Kennedy claimed that Wolfowitz wanted to find new ways to return the US to Cold War levels of military spending. The memo was disregarded by the Bush administration and shunned by Clinton, but in September 2002, with Cheney, Wolfowitz, and Libby once again in high office, the Wolfowitz memo reappeared in an official document released by the White House, renamed "The National Security Strategy of the United States." Wolfowitz's chilling blueprint for US world domination would become the linchpin for the Bush administration's approach to foreign policy. -- Pat Buchanan
Richard Perle began his political career as an aide to conservative Democratic senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson, a renowned hawk with close ties to Israel. Perle would go his former boss one better in both hawkish conservatism and loyalties to Israel. In 1970, he was picked up on a foreign wiretap discussing classified information from the National Security Council with the Israeli embassy, an act that can both legally and ethically be construed as treason. However, Perle's career flourished. In 1996, in collaboration with Douglas Feith and David Wurmser, Perle wrote a policy paper called "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm" for neoconservative sympathizer Benjamin (Binyamin) Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel. Perle's memorandum urged Netanyahu to junk the hard-won Oslo peace accords and adopt a new, aggressive strategy based on what he called "the principle of preemption:" "Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria. This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq -- an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right."
The memo saw Syria as Israel's main enemy, but according to Perle, the road to Damascus runs through Baghdad. In 1997, Perle's collaborator, Douglas Feith, urged Netanyahu to reoccupy "the areas under Palestinian Authority control" though "the price in blood would be high." Wurmser, a resident scholar at AEI, went completely overboard, urging the US to join Israel in a series of preemptive strikes and blitzkrieg wars from North Africa to Iran: "Israel and the United States should...broaden the conflict to strike fatally, not merely disarm, the centers of radicalism in the region -- the regimes of Damascus, Baghdad, Tripoli, tehran, and Gaza. That would establish the recognition that fighting either the United States or Israel would be suicidal." Wurmser urged the US to use the first opportunity to launch these blitzkriegs: "Crises can be opportunities." He published his war plans on January 1, 2001, a mere nine months before 9/11. All of these bloodthirsty neocons were awarded high positions within the Bush administration. Wolfowitz would become Deputy Secretary of Defense. Perle became chairman of the Defense Policy Board. Feith became an undersecretary of defense. Wurmser shuttled between a post as special assistant to Undersecretary of State John Bolton to working with Feith at the Pentagon to a post as special assistant to Lewis Libby, himself the chief of staff for Dick Cheney. Bolton, himself a neocon and an outspoken adversary of Secretary of State Colin Powell, said in February 2003 that he knew the US would soon attack Iraq, and after Iraq, threats from Syria, Iran, and North Korea would be dealt with shortly thereafter. -- Pat Buchanan
Author Larry Beinhart writes, "One of the primary examples in The Tipping Point, How Little Things Can Make a Difference,, by Malcolm Gladwell, is the change in policing in New York in the 90s, when the police and the city went after such petty crimes as subway fare jumping and graffiti. By immediately jumping on small things -- the theory goes -- the government demonstrated it cared and would respond, and in the course of doing so, tended to locate the bad guys, because robbers, killers, dealers, and rapists often violated all rules, not just the big one. The result was a dramatic decrease in crime. People commit far fewer crimes in a clean, well-ordered, well-maintained place than they do in rubble and graffiti strewn neighborhoods where the trash piles up. Iraq demonstrates the opposite. When you let some people start looting and stealing and refuse to enforce order, more and more members of the population quickly get the idea and they understand that it's every person for themselves. We accept order and restraint because we know it's a good deal. By respecting hospitals, for example, we know that when we need medical care, they'll be there for us. But if we see that the government -- in this case, Paul Bremer's Coalition Provisional Authority and the United States Armed forces -- simply stand by while some criminals loot the hospitals, there's no point in accepting order and restraint. The deal -- the social contract -- is broken. So more and more people become lawbreakers and then turn to informal organizations for power and self-protection and those turn into gangs and militias.
"Let's not forget the theory that guns are good for you. It's the idea that if everyone had a gun, criminals would be afraid to commit crimes because the decent folks would shoot down anyone who dared try something. Nobody would commit rape, for fear that the woman had a gun, or that her husband, father, brothers, and cousins would race to her armed defense or organize a revenge attack. In Iraq, we let everyone have guns. In fact, we left unguarded arms depots around, so people who wanted guns could steal them and arm themselves. The real result is an explosion of murder, rape, kidnapping, and gang violence, while militias kill at will. This leads to hatred and more killing. If the facts were not fogged over by describing everything in terms of a war, we would notice that Iraq has the highest crime rate in the world.
"It is necessary to understand that this has not been a series of minor flaws. Or even to say -- as the superb book Fiasco by Thomas Ricks does -- that it has been a vast accumulation of severe flaws of execution all across the board. The issues are basic and a matter of philosophy. ...They have terrific rhetoric and they're great with buzzwords that sound idealistic -- but their ideas, in principle, are bankrupt and will bankrupt anything they control. It's not a matter of execution or of minor flaws. Nor is it a matter of particular fools. It has not been just Bush and Cheney. It has been Rumsfeld, the Republican Congress and Senate, all the Democrats who followed along with them, and the vast majority of the media who echoed and supported all of it, thoughtlessly and uncritically. They could only have done so if they bought into the basic philosophical propositions. It is their principles we are concerned with and their principles will always bring us Iraq, the loss of New Orleans, great bogus enterprises such as the War on Terror and Enron."
Beinhart notes that the neocons -- in fact, the entire modern right-wing movement, "grew up inside a very sheltered world, one built largely by New Deal liberals. Within it, freedom, both social freedom and economic freedom, could exist comfortably cushioned by the security of a well run and flexible state. This is similar to the way that middle class and upper middle class children can indulge in all sorts of pleasures and excesses, in mildly illegal activities and in economically high risk fields such as the arts and entrepreneurships, choices that can be disastrous for poor and minority kids. There is always a certain percentage of such privileged children that have nothing but contempt and even hatred toward their parents and their social group. They don't understand how their privileges made their life possible. It's not that they take it for granted; it's invisible to them. Put their ideas -- their philosophy -- to work without all that safety and protection and you get Iraq."
Beinhart notes, correctly enough, that many neocons and their Republican fellow travelers treat the laws of this country, or of any country or the United Nations, with contempt. "This is a matter of basic philosophical principles and virtually the same principles. Rich and powerful people generally encounter the law only as an irritant. Preventing them from developing wetlands. Or dumping toxic wastes from their factories. Speeding tickets. Divorce laws that prevent them from keeping -- or getting -- what they think they deserve. They don't see the vast network of laws -- invisible in their ordinariness and ubiquity -- as that which permits their normal existence." Of course, laws are a necessity for any sound and civilized society. And laws are especially necessary to oversee the relations between nations. Yet, "[i]nternational law is a particular object of neo-con and right-wing contempt. That's because the United States is the biggest gorilla in the zoo and therefore tends to think if it could just get out past the laws that bar him in, he could do so many wonderful things. Indeed, they tend to think of international laws as a way for smaller monkeys to get away with stuff that they should be smacked down for. But like domestic law, international law has grown out of experience. ...One of those laws -- inscribed variously in the Hague Conventions of 1907, the Geneva Conventions, and the UN Charter -- is that if a country conquers another country and becomes the occupying power, they are responsible to establish law and order, to protect the civilian population and property, supply food, and medical care. The failures to do those things, are crimes."
He writes, "We need to ask, are we going to shrug them off as forgivable ineptitudes, or are we going to address them for what they are, violations of law. Normally, when we are dealing with the law, it doesn't matter if they are thoughtless violations. Or if Paul Bremer -- for example -- was ignorant of the law. Or if Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld, et al, jumped over the law because of philosophical opposition to it. Are we going to be a nation of laws -- which is a very practical, efficient and useful way to be -- or do we wish to drift toward becoming Iraq? And to turn the world into a series of Iraqs?" -- Larry Beinhart
"If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy." -- James Madison