An Introduction to Neoconservatism

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Questions
relating to neoconservatism — what it is, who runs the
show — have begun to be raised by the conventional press,
mainly due to the invasion of Iraq, which is clearly the fruit
of policy recommendations made by neoconservative advisors to
President Bush. Foreign policy is the traditional monopoly of
the Establishment. After all, the Council on Foreign Relations
is not called the Council on Domestic Policies. Any invasion
of turf by outsiders is therefore resented by the Establishment.
The neocons are turf-invaders, which bothers the Establishment
far more than the invasion of Iraq does.

Criticism
of neoconservatism from the paleoconservative Right has also
escalated. If the paleoconservatives had any institutional turf
to defend, their resentment might be compared with the reaction
of the Establishment. But because the paleos have served the
Right as non-interventionism’s John the Baptist, crying in the
wilderness, they were on the attack against neoconservatism
as early as the first Bush’s Administration. Their decade-old
name is a self-conscious reaction to neoconservatism. Their
attitude is straightforward: “We don’t need no stinking neo.”

The paleos
resent the neocons for the same reasons that their spiritual
forbears, the Taft Republicans, resented the post-war foreign
policy interventionism of both Democrats and Republicans: first
under Dean Acheson and then long-time internationalist John
Foster Dulles. (By far the best book on Dulles is Alan Stang,
The
Actor
, Western Islands, 1968.)

I am a
paleo, but with distinctions. I was an anti-Communist. My view
of national defense during the Cold War was strictly defensive.
I publicly promoted the Strategic Defense Initiative even before
President Reagan announced it. I favored the creation of a national
civil defense program. (Arthur Robinson and Gary North, Fighting
Chance
, 1986.) I favored the replacement of offensive
ICBM’s by thousands of mobile, subsonic, nuclear-tipped cruise
missiles
, which would have eliminated any strategic possibility
of a Soviet first strike against these strictly defensive weapons.
I was opposed to MAD: Mutual Assured Destruction, where civilians
were held hostage by both sides. The idea of war against civilians
appalls me. As to my anti-Communist bona fides, you can
download a free copy of my 1968 book, Marx’s
Religion of Revolution
.

In tracing
the rise of neoconservatism, it is best to use the five W’s
of old-fashioned journalism: what, who, when, where, and why,
in that order. I offer these thoughts as an introduction, not
as anything remotely definitive. Let us begin with the pre-neo
conservative movement.

THE
OLDER CONSERVATISM

The American
conservative movement of the 1930’s was a grass-roots movement
in an era of the dust bowl. It had no political philosophy.
It had only one large, unattainable goal: the defeat of That
Man, Franklin D. Roosevelt. Justin Raimondo’s book, Reclaiming
the American Right
(1993), goes into details regarding
its intellectual leaders. The movement was nationalist, non-interventionist,
and anti-New Deal. To say that it had no funding does not begin
to do justice to its condition. After Pearl Harbor, it disappeared.

If we
date the rise of American conservatism with Whittaker Chambers’
accusations in 1948 against Alger Hiss, the darling of the internationalists,
John
Foster Dulles’ hand-picked man to run the Carnegie Endowment
,
then the post-war movement was grass roots. It was anti-Communist,
anti-Soviet Union, and anti-liberal. It appealed to millions
of voters. The problem was, the party structure kept them from
electing many representatives. The Cold War era Old Right had
a lone voice in the House of Representatives:

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