12/07/2005

Neoconservatism's Berlin Wall Revisited

One of my more widely read posts has been 'Neoconservatism's Berlin Wall', which was linked to by Andrew Sullivan.
The theme of the piece was that neonservatism is an ideology like any other; that all ideologies fail when confronted with situations for which the ideology cannot provide an answer; that the collapse of the New Orleans levees and the subsequent breakdown of order and government in that city was that moment for neoconservatism, as neoconservatism's core ideal is the global projection of national power; and Katrina showed that the ideology was incapable of projecting national power nationally. Game, so to speak, over.
If the neos go down, they deserve it. They're nasty people.
One of their worst acts of nastiness was the publication on 'National Review Online' of an article by David Frum called 'Unpatriotic Conservatives' on March 19 2003. Frum wrote,
"From the very beginning of the War on Terror, there has been dissent, and as the war has proceeded to Iraq, the dissent has grown more radical and more vociferous. Perhaps that was to be expected. But here is what never could have been: Some of the leading figures in this antiwar movement call themselves "conservatives."
These conservatives are relatively few in number, but their ambitions are large. They aspire to reinvent conservative ideology: to junk the 50-year-old conservative commitment to defend American interests and values throughout the world — the commitment that inspired the founding of this magazine — in favor of a fearful policy of ignoring threats and appeasing enemies.
And they are exerting influence. When Richard Perle appeared on Meet the Press on February 23 of this year, Tim Russert asked him, "Can you assure American viewers . . . that we're in this situation against Saddam Hussein and his removal for American security interests? And what would be the link in terms of Israel?" Perle rebutted the allegation. But what a grand victory for the antiwar conservatives that Russert felt he had to air it.

You may know the names of these antiwar conservatives. Some are famous: Patrick Buchanan and Robert Novak. Others are not: Llewellyn Rockwell, Samuel Francis, Thomas Fleming, Scott McConnell, Justin Raimondo, Joe Sobran, Charley Reese, Jude Wanniski, Eric Margolis, and Taki Theodoracopulos. "
Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of Antiwar, which has published four articles of mine. His response to being labelled 'unpatriotic', was to call Frum's article what it was - a denunciation worthy of the Trotskyism in which neoconservatism is rooted.
In an article today called 'Putting America Last', Raimondo warms precisely to the theory of 'Neoconservatism's Berlin Wall', writing,
"Forget foreign policy "realism," for the moment: let's have a little domestic policy realism for a change.

A massive dose of this sort of realism was served up as the Katrina debacle unfolded and the American people watched their government flounder, while FEMA "fashion god" Michael Brown wondered "Can I quit now?" and "Is it time to go home yet?"

The big collapse, not only in the president's ratings, but in support for the Iraq war, started around that time, and it's no accident. Suddenly people realized that government sucks at what it is supposed to do – and, not only that, but officials are really much more focused on other matters. Government agencies don't really have the time, energy, inclination, or resources to adequately protect or assist their involuntary "clients" – because their resources are being diverted elsewhere. Government, in short, has another agenda, a hidden one, which, in that moment when Katrina dispelled our illusions, the public saw with a terrible clarity.

The United States wants to rescue the world from "Islamofascism" when it can't even rescue its own citizens as they drown in the floodwaters of New Orleans. That realization on the part of the general public was and is revolutionary in its implications. It permits all sorts of interesting and quite subversive questions to be raised, starting with: well, if they aren't protecting us, then what the heck are they doing with the tax dollars and power we give them?"
Exactly. It's nice to know you might be right; and even better when someone else thinks the same way.
One of the principal mouthpieces for neoconservatism has been the 'National Review'. I took down the link I had to 'National Review Online' three days ago, along with that to 'Townhall'. Neither site has anything to say to me any more, and the deterioration of NRO's blog 'The Corner' is best exemplified by the debate which seems to have raged there for days over whether or not John Derbyshire was rude to Gertrude Himmelfarb.
Yesterday, Jonah Goldberg announced that he had made the 60,000th post on The Corner, although he did admit that it might just have been the 60,000th this year. This is my favourite Corner post of the last 12 months.
It's not something you see often.

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