The Truth About Neoconservatism

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The modern-day,
limited-government movement has been co-opted. The conservatives
have failed in their effort to shrink the size of government. There
has not been, nor will there soon be, a conservative revolution
in Washington. Political party control of the federal government
has changed, but the inexorable growth in the size and scope of
government has continued unabated. The liberal arguments for limited
government in personal affairs and foreign military adventurism
were never seriously considered as part of this revolution.

Since the
change of the political party in charge has not made a difference,
who’s really in charge? If the particular party in power makes little
difference, whose policy is it that permits expanded government
programs, increased spending, huge deficits, nation building and
the pervasive invasion of our privacy, with fewer Fourth Amendment
protections than ever before?

Someone is
responsible, and it’s important that those of us who love liberty,
and resent big-brother government, identify the philosophic supporters
who have the most to say about the direction our country is going.
If they’re wrong – and I believe they are – we need
to show it, alert the American people, and offer a more positive
approach to government. However, this depends on whether the American
people desire to live in a free society and reject the dangerous
notion that we need a strong central government to take care of
us from the cradle to the grave. Do the American people really believe
it’s the government’s responsibility to make us morally better and
economically equal? Do we have a responsibility to police the world,
while imposing our vision of good government on everyone else in
the world with some form of utopian nation building? If not, and
the enemies of liberty are exposed and rejected, then it behooves
us to present an alternative philosophy that is morally superior
and economically sound and provides a guide to world affairs to
enhance peace and commerce.

One thing
is certain: conservatives who worked and voted for less government
in the Reagan years and welcomed the takeover of the U.S. Congress
and the presidency in the 1990s and early 2000s were deceived. Soon
they will realize that the goal of limited government has been dashed
and that their views no longer matter.

The so-called
conservative revolution of the past two decades has given us massive
growth in government size, spending and regulations. Deficits are
exploding and the national debt is now rising at greater than a
half-trillion dollars per year. Taxes do not go down – even
if we vote to lower them. They can’t, as long as spending is increased,
since all spending must be paid for one way or another. Both Presidents
Reagan and the elder George Bush raised taxes directly. With this
administration, so far, direct taxes have been reduced – and
they certainly should have been – but it means little if spending
increases and deficits rise.

When taxes
are not raised to accommodate higher spending, the bills must be
paid by either borrowing or u201Cprintingu201D new money. This is one reason
why we conveniently have a generous Federal Reserve chairman who
is willing to accommodate the Congress. With borrowing and inflating,
the u201Ctaxu201D is delayed and distributed in a way that makes it difficult
for those paying the tax to identify it. For instance, future generations,
or those on fixed incomes who suffer from rising prices, and those
who lose jobs – they certainly feel the consequences of economic
dislocations that this process causes. Government spending is always
a u201Ctaxu201D burden on the American people and is never equally or fairly
distributed. The poor and low-middle income workers always suffer
the most from the deceitful tax of inflation and borrowing.

Many present-day
conservatives, who generally argue for less government and supported
the Reagan/Gingrich/Bush takeover of the federal government, are
now justifiably disillusioned. Although not a monolithic group,
they wanted to shrink the size of government.

Early in our
history, the advocates of limited, constitutional government recognized
two important principles: the rule of law was crucial, and a constitutional
government must derive u201Cjust powers from the consent of the governed.u201D
It was understood that an explicit transfer of power to government
could only occur with power rightfully and naturally endowed to
each individual as a God-given right. Therefore, the powers that
could be transferred would be limited to the purpose of protecting
liberty. Unfortunately, in the last 100 years, the defense of liberty
has been fragmented and shared by various groups, with some protecting
civil liberties, others economic freedom, and a small diverse group
arguing for a foreign policy of nonintervention.

The philosophy
of freedom has had a tough go of it, and it was hoped that the renewed
interest in limited government of the past two decades would revive
an interest in reconstituting the freedom philosophy into something
more consistent. Those who worked for the goal of limited government
power believed the rhetoric of politicians who promised smaller
government. Sometimes it was just plain sloppy thinking on their
part, but at other times, they fell victim to a deliberate distortion
of a concise limited-government philosophy by politicians who misled
many into believing that we would see a rollback on government intrusiveness.

Yes, there
was always a remnant who longed for truly limited government and
maintained a belief in the rule of law, combined with a deep conviction
that free people and a government bound by a Constitution were the
most advantageous form of government. They recognized it as the
only practical way for prosperity to be spread to the maximum number
of people while promoting peace and security.

That remnant
– imperfect as it may have been – was heard from in
the elections of 1980 and 1994 and then achieved major victories
in 2000 and 2002 when professed limited-government proponents took
over the administration, the Senate and the House. However, the
true believers in limited government are now shunned and laughed
at. At the very least, they are ignored – except when they
are used by the new leaders of the right, the new conservatives
now in charge of the U.S. government.

The remnant’s
instincts were correct, and the politicians placated them with talk
of free markets, limited government, and a humble, non-nation-building
foreign policy. However, little concern for civil liberties was
expressed in this recent quest for less government. Yet, for an
ultimate victory of achieving freedom, this must change. Interest
in personal privacy and choices has generally remained outside the
concern of many conservatives – especially with the great
harm done by their support of the drug war. Even though some confusion
has emerged over our foreign policy since the breakdown of the Soviet
empire, it’s been a net benefit in getting some conservatives back
on track with a less militaristic, interventionist foreign policy.
Unfortunately, after 9-11, the cause of liberty suffered a setback.
As a result, millions of Americans voted for the less-than-perfect
conservative revolution because they believed in the promises of
the politicians.

Now there’s
mounting evidence to indicate exactly what happened to the revolution.
Government is bigger than ever, and future commitments are overwhelming.
Millions will soon become disenchanted with the new status quo delivered
to the American people by the advocates of limited government and
will find it to be just more of the old status quo. Victories for
limited government have turned out to be hollow indeed.

Since the
national debt is increasing at a rate greater than a half-trillion
dollars per year, the debt limit was recently increased by an astounding
$984 billion dollars. Total U.S. government obligations are $43
trillion, while total net worth of U.S. households is just over
$40 trillion. The country is broke, but no one in Washington seems
to notice or care. The philosophic and political commitment for
both guns and butter – and especially for expanding the American
empire – must be challenged. This is crucial for our survival.

In spite of
the floundering economy, the Congress and the administration continue
to take on new commitments in foreign aid, education, farming, medicine,
multiple efforts at nation building, and preemptive wars around
the world. Already we’re entrenched in Iraq and Afghanistan, with
plans to soon add new trophies to our conquest. War talk abounds
as to when Syria, Iran and North Korea will be attacked.

How did all
this transpire? Why did the government do it? Why haven’t the people
objected? How long will it go on before something is done? Does
anyone care?

Will the euphoria
of grand military victories – against non-enemies –
ever be mellowed? Someday, we as a legislative body must face the
reality of the dire situation in which we have allowed ourselves
to become enmeshed. Hopefully, it will be soon!

We got here
because ideas do have consequences. Bad ideas have bad consequences,
and even the best of intentions have unintended consequences. We
need to know exactly what the philosophic ideas were that drove
us to this point; then, hopefully, reject them and decide on another
set of intellectual parameters.

There is abundant
evidence exposing those who drive our foreign policy justifying
preemptive war. Those who scheme are proud of the achievements in
usurping control over foreign policy. These are the neoconservatives
of recent fame. Granted, they are talented and achieved a political
victory that all policymakers must admire. But can freedom and the
Republic survive this takeover? That question should concern us.

Neoconservatives
are obviously in positions of influence and are well-placed throughout
our government and the media. An apathetic Congress put up little
resistance and abdicated its responsibilities over foreign affairs.
The electorate was easily influenced to join in the patriotic fervor
supporting the military adventurism advocated by the neoconservatives.

The numbers
of those who still hope for truly limited government diminished
and had their concerns ignored these past 22 months, during the
aftermath of 9-11. Members of Congress were easily influenced to
publicly support any domestic policy or foreign military adventure
that was supposed to help reduce the threat of a terrorist attack.
Believers in limited government were harder to find. Political money,
as usual, played a role in pressing Congress into supporting almost
any proposal suggested by the neocons. This process – where
campaign dollars and lobbying efforts affect policy – is hardly
the domain of any single political party, and unfortunately, is
the way of life in Washington.

There are many
reasons why government continues to grow. It would be nave for
anyone to expect otherwise. Since 9-11, protection of privacy, whether
medical, personal or financial, has vanished. Free speech and the
Fourth Amendment have been under constant attack. Higher welfare
expenditures are endorsed by the leadership of both parties. Policing
the world and nation-building issues are popular campaign targets,
yet they are now standard operating procedures. There’s no sign
that these programs will be slowed or reversed until either we are
stopped by force overseas (which won’t be soon) or we go broke and
can no longer afford these grandiose plans for a world empire (which
will probably come sooner than later).

None of this
happened by accident or coincidence. Precise philosophic ideas prompted
certain individuals to gain influence to implement these plans.
The neoconservatives – a name they gave themselves –
diligently worked their way into positions of power and influence.
They documented their goals, strategy and moral justification for
all they hoped to accomplish. Above all else, they were not and
are not conservatives dedicated to limited, constitutional government.

Neo-conservatism
has been around for decades and, strangely, has connections to past
generations as far back as Machiavelli. Modern-day neo-conservatism
was introduced to us in the 1960s. It entails both a detailed strategy
as well as a philosophy of government. The ideas of Teddy Roosevelt,
and certainly Woodrow Wilson, were quite similar to many of the
views of present-day neocons. Neocon spokesman Max Boot brags that
what he advocates is u201Chard Wilsonianism.u201D In many ways, there’s
nothing u201Cneou201D about their views, and certainly nothing conservative.
Yet they have been able to co-op the conservative movement by advertising
themselves as a new or modern form of conservatism.

More recently,
the modern-day neocons have come from the far left, a group historically
identified as former Trotskyists. Liberal Christopher Hitchins has
recently officially joined the neocons, and it has been reported
that he has already been to the White House as an ad hoc consultant.
Many neocons now in positions of influence in Washington can trace
their status back to Professor Leo Strauss of the University of
Chicago. One of Strauss’ books was Thoughts
on Machiavelli
. This book was not a condemnation of Machiavelli’s
philosophy. Paul Wolfowitz actually got his PhD under Strauss. Others
closely associated with these views are Richard Perle, Eliot Abrams,
Robert Kagan and William Kristol. All are key players in designing
our new strategy of preemptive war. Others include: Michael Ledeen
of the American Enterprise Institute; former CIA Director James
Woolsy; Bill Bennett of Book
of Virtues
fame; Frank Gaffney; Dick Cheney; and Donald
Rumsfeld. There are just too many to mention who are philosophically
or politically connected to the neocon philosophy in some varying
degree.

The godfather
of modern-day neo-conservatism is considered to be Irving Kristol,
father of Bill Kristol, who set the stage in 1983 with his publication
Reflections
of a Neoconservative
. In this book, Kristol also defends
the traditional liberal position on welfare.

More important
than the names of people affiliated with neo-conservatism are the
views they adhere to. Here is a brief summary of the general understanding
of what neocons believe:

  1. They agree with Trotsky on permanent revolution, violent as
    well as intellectual.

  2. They
    are for redrawing the map of the Middle East and are willing
    to use force to do so.
  3. They believe in preemptive war to achieve desired ends.

  4. They
    accept the notion that the ends justify the means – that
    hard-ball politics is a moral necessity.
  5. They
    express no opposition to the welfare state.
  6. They
    are not bashful about an American empire; instead they strongly
    endorse it.
  7. They
    believe lying is necessary for the state to survive.
  8. They
    believe a powerful federal government is a benefit.
  9. They
    believe pertinent facts about how a society should be run should
    be held by the elite and withheld from those who do not have
    the courage to deal with it.
  10. They believe neutrality in foreign affairs is ill-advised.

  11. They hold Leo Strauss in high esteem.

  12. They
    believe imperialism, if progressive in nature, is appropriate.
  13. Using
    American might to force American ideals on others is acceptable.
    Force should not be limited to the defense of our country.
  14. 9-11
    resulted from the lack of foreign entanglements, not from too
    many.
  15. They
    dislike and despise libertarians (therefore, the same applies
    to all strict constitutionalists).
  16. They endorse attacks on civil liberties, such as those found
    in the Patriot Act, as being necessary.

  17. They
    unconditionally support Israel and have a close alliance with
    the Likud Party.

Various
organizations and publications over the last 30 years have played
a significant role in the rise to power of the neoconservatives.
It took plenty of money and commitment to produce the intellectual
arguments needed to convince the many participants in the movement
of its respectability.

It is no secret
– especially after the rash of research and articles written
about the neocons since our invasion of Iraq – how they gained
influence and what organizations were used to promote their cause.
Although for decades, they agitated for their beliefs through publications
like The National Review, The Weekly Standard, The Public Interest,
The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, and the New York
Post, their views only gained momentum in the 1990s following
the first Persian Gulf War – which still has not ended even
with removal of Saddam Hussein. They became convinced that a much
more militant approach to resolving all the conflicts in the Middle
East was an absolute necessity, and they were determined to implement
that policy.

In addition
to publications, multiple think tanks and projects were created
to promote their agenda. A product of the Bradley Foundation, American
Enterprise Institute (AEI) led the neocon charge, but the real push
for war came from the Project for a New American Century (PNAC),
another organization helped by the Bradley Foundation. This occurred
in 1998 and was chaired by Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol.
Early on, they urged war against Iraq, but were disappointed with
the Clinton administration, which never followed through with its
periodic bombings. Obviously, these bombings were motivated more
by Clinton’s personal and political problems than a belief in the
neocon agenda.

The election
of 2000 changed all that. The Defense Policy Board, chaired by Richard
Perle played no small role in coordinating the various projects
and think tanks, all determined to take us into war against Iraq.
It wasn’t too long before the dream of empire was brought closer
to reality by the election of 2000 with Paul Wolfowitz, Richard
Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld playing key roles in this accomplishment.
The plan to promote an u201CAmerican greatnessu201D imperialistic foreign
policy was now a distinct possibility. Iraq offered a great opportunity
to prove their long-held theories. This opportunity was a consequence
of the 9-11 disaster.

The money
and views of Rupert Murdock also played a key role in promoting
the neocon views, as well as rallying support by the general population,
through his News Corporation, which owns Fox News Network, the New
York Post and Weekly Standard. This powerful and influential
media empire did more to galvanize public support for the Iraqi
invasion than one might imagine. This facilitated the Rumsfeld/Cheney
policy as their plans to attack Iraq came to fruition. It would
have been difficult for the neocons to usurp foreign policy from
the restraints of Colin Powell’s State Department without the successful
agitation of the Rupert Murdock empire. Max Boot was satisfied,
as he explained: u201CNeoconservatives believe in using American might
to promote American ideals abroad.u201D This attitude is a far cry from
the advice of the Founders, who advocated no entangling alliances
and neutrality as the proper goal of American foreign policy.

Let there
be no doubt, those in the neocon camp had been anxious to go to
war against Iraq for a decade. They justified the use of force to
accomplish their goals, even if it required preemptive war. If anyone
doubts this assertion, they need only to read of their strategy
in u201CA Clean Break: a New Strategy for Securing the Realm.u201D Although
they felt morally justified in changing the government in Iraq,
they knew that public support was important, and justification had
to be given to pursue the war. Of course, a threat to us had to
exist before the people and the Congress would go along with war.
The majority of Americans became convinced of this threat, which,
in actuality, never really existed. Now we have the ongoing debate
over the location of weapons of mass destruction. Where was the
danger? Was all this killing and spending necessary? How long will
this nation-building and dying go on? When will we become more concerned
about the needs of our own citizens than the problems we sought
in Iraq and Afghanistan? Who knows where we’ll go next – Iran,
Syria or North Korea?

At the end
of the Cold War, the neoconservatives realized a rearrangement of
the world was occurring and that our superior economic and military
power offered them a perfect opportunity to control the process
of remaking the Middle East.

It was recognized
that a new era was upon us, and the neocons welcomed Frances Fukuyama’s
u201Cend of historyu201D declaration. To them, the debate was over. The
West won; the Soviets lost. Old-fashioned communism was dead. Long
live the new era of neoconservatism. The struggle may not be over,
but the West won the intellectual fight, they reasoned. The only
problem is that the neocons decided to define the philosophy of
the victors. They have been amazingly successful in their efforts
to control the debate over what Western values are and by what methods
they will be spread throughout the world.

Communism
surely lost a lot with the breakup of the Soviet Empire, but this
can hardly be declared a victory for American liberty, as the Founders
understood it. Neoconservatism is not the philosophy of free markets
and a wise foreign policy. Instead, it represents big-government
welfare at home and a program of using our military might to spread
their version of American values throughout the world. Since neoconservatives
dominate the way the U.S. government now operates, it behooves us
all to understand their beliefs and goals. The breakup of the Soviet
system may well have been an epic event but to say that the views
of the neocons are the unchallenged victors and that all we need
do is wait for their implementation is a capitulation to controlling
the forces of history that many Americans are not yet ready to concede.
There is surely no need to do so.

There is now
a recognized philosophic connection between modern-day neoconservatives
and Irving Kristol, Leo Strauss and Machiavelli. This is important
in understanding that today’s policies and the subsequent problems
will be with us for years to come if these policies are not reversed.

Not only did
Leo Strauss write favorably of Machiavelli, Michael Ledeen, a current
leader of the neoconservative movement, did the same. In 1999, Ledeen
titled his book, Machiavelli
on Modern Leadership
, and subtitled: u201CWhy
Machiavelli’s iron rules are as timely and important today as five
centuries ago.u201D Ledeen is indeed an influential neocon theorist
whose views get lots of attention today in Washington. His book
on Machiavelli, interestingly enough, was passed out to Members
of Congress attending a political strategy meeting shortly after
its publication and at just about the time A Clean Break was
issued.

In Ledeen’s
most recent publication, The
War Against the Terror Masters
, he reiterates his beliefs
outlined in this 1999 Machiavelli book. He specifically praises:
u201CCreative destruction…both within our own society and abroad…(foreigners)
seeing America undo traditional societies may fear us, for they
do not wish to be undone.u201D Amazingly, Ledeen concludes: u201CThey must
attack us in order to survive, just as we must destroy them to advance
our historic mission.u201D

If those words
don’t scare you, nothing will. If they are not a clear warning,
I don’t know what could be. It sounds like both sides of each disagreement
in the world will be following the principle of preemptive war.
The world is certainly a less safe place for it.

In Machiavelli
on Modern Leadership, Ledeen praises a business leader for correctly
understanding Machiavelli: u201CThere are no absolute solutions. It
all depends. What is right and what is wrong depends on what needs
to be done and how.u201D This is a clear endorsement of situation ethics
and is not coming from the traditional left. It reminds me of: u201CIt
depends on what the definition of the word u2018is’ is.u201D

Ledeen quotes
Machiavelli approvingly on what makes a great leader. u201CA prince
must have no other objectives or other thoughts or take anything
for his craft, except war.u201D To Ledeen, this meant: u201C…the virtue
of the warrior are those of great leaders of any successful organization.u201D
Yet it’s obvious that war is not coincidental to neocon philosophy,
but an integral part. The intellectuals justify it, and the politicians
carry it out. There’s a precise reason to argue for war over peace
according to Ledeen, for u201C…peace increases our peril by making discipline
less urgent, encouraging some of our worst instincts, in depriving
us of some of our best leaders.u201D Peace, he claims, is a dream and
not even a pleasant one, for it would cause indolence and would
undermine the power of the state. Although I concede the history
of the world is a history of frequent war, to capitulate and give
up even striving for peace – believing peace is not a benefit
to mankind – is a frightening thought that condemns the world
to perpetual war and justifies it as a benefit and necessity. These
are dangerous ideas, from which no good can come.

The conflict
of the ages has been between the state and the individual: central
power versus liberty. The more restrained the state and the more
emphasis on individual liberty, the greater has been the advancement
of civilization and general prosperity. Just as man’s condition
was not locked in place by the times and wars of old and improved
with liberty and free markets, there’s no reason to believe a new
stage for man might not be achieved by believing and working for
conditions of peace. The inevitability and so-called need for preemptive
war should never be intellectually justified as being a benefit.
Such an attitude guarantees the backsliding of civilization. Neocons,
unfortunately, claim that war is in man’s nature and that we can’t
do much about it, so let’s use it to our advantage by promoting
our goodness around the world through force of arms. That view is
anathema to the cause of liberty and the preservation of the Constitution.
If it is not loudly refuted, our future will be dire indeed.

Ledeen believes
man is basically evil and cannot be left to his own desires. Therefore,
he must have proper and strong leadership, just as Machiavelli argued.
Only then can man achieve good, as Ledeen explains: u201CIn order to
achieve the most noble accomplishments, the leader may have to u2018enter
into evil.’ This is the chilling insight that has made Machiavelli
so feared, admired and challenging…we are rotten,u201D argues Ledeen.
u201CIt’s true that we can achieve greatness if, and only if, we are
properly led.u201D In other words, man is so depraved that individuals
are incapable of moral, ethical and spiritual greatness, and achieving
excellence and virtue can only come from a powerful authoritarian
leader. What depraved ideas are these to now be influencing our
leaders in Washington? The question Ledeen doesn’t answer is: u201CWhy
do the political leaders not suffer from the same shortcomings and
where do they obtain their monopoly on wisdom?u201D

Once this
trust is placed in the hands of a powerful leader, this neocon argues
that certain tools are permissible to use. For instance: u201Clying
is central to the survival of nations and to the success of great
enterprises, because if our enemies can count on the reliability
of everything you say, your vulnerability is enormously increased.u201D
What about the effects of lying on one’s own people? Who cares if
a leader can fool the enemy? Does calling it u201Cstrategic deceptionu201D
make lying morally justifiable? Ledeen and Machiavelli argue that
it does, as long as the survivability of the state is at stake.
Preserving the state is their goal, even if the personal liberty
of all individuals has to be suspended or canceled.

Ledeen makes
it clear that war is necessary to establish national boundaries
– because that’s the way it’s always been done. Who needs
progress of the human race! He explains: u201CLook at the map of the
world: national boundaries have not been drawn by peaceful men leading
lives of spiritual contemplation. National boundaries have been
established by war, and national character has been shaped by struggle,
most often bloody struggle.u201D

Yes, but who
is to lead the charge and decide which borders we are to fight for?
What about borders 6,000 miles away unrelated to our own contiguous
borders and our own national security? Stating a relative truism
regarding the frequency of war throughout history should hardly
be the moral justification for expanding the concept of war to settle
man’s disputes. How can one call this progress?

Machiavelli,
Ledeen and the neocons recognized a need to generate a religious
zeal for promoting the state. This, he claims, is especially necessary
when force is used to promote an agenda. It’s been true throughout
history and remains true today, each side of major conflicts invokes
God’s approval. Our side refers to a u201Ccrusadeu201D; theirs to a u201Choly
Jihad.u201D Too often wars boil down to their god against our God. It
seems this principle is more a cynical effort to gain approval from
the masses, especially those most likely to be killed for the sake
of the war promoters on both sides who have power, prestige and
wealth at stake.

Ledeen explains
why God must always be on the side of advocates of war: u201CWithout
fear of God, no state can last long, for the dread of eternal damnation
keeps men in line, causes them to honor their promises, and inspires
them to risk their lives for the common good.u201D It seems dying for
the common good has gained a higher moral status than eternal salvation
of one’s soul. Ledeen adds: u201CWithout fear of punishment, men will
not obey laws that force them to act contrary to their passions.
Without fear of arms, the state cannot enforce the laws…to this
end, Machiavelli wants leaders to make the state spectacular.u201D

It’s of interest
to note that some large Christian denominations have joined the
neoconservatives in promoting preemptive war, while completely ignoring
the Christian doctrine of a Just War. The neocons sought and openly
welcomed their support.

I’d like someone
to glean anything from what the Founders said or placed in the Constitution
that agrees with this now-professed doctrine of a u201Cspectacularu201D
state promoted by those who now have so much influence on our policies
here at home and abroad. Ledeen argues that this religious element,
this fear of God, is needed for discipline of those who may be hesitant
to sacrifice their lives for the good of the u201Cspectacular state.u201D

He explains
in eerie terms: u201CDying for one’s country doesn’t come naturally.
Modern armies, raised from the populace, must be inspired, motivated,
indoctrinated. Religion is central to the military enterprise, for
men are more likely to risk their lives if they believe they will
be rewarded forever after for serving their country.u201D This is an
admonition that might just as well have been given by Osama bin
Laden, in rallying his troops to sacrifice their lives to kill the
invading infidels, as by our intellectuals at AEI, who greatly influence
our foreign policy.

Neocons –
anxious for the U.S. to use force to realign the boundaries and
change regimes in the Middle East – clearly understand the
benefit of a galvanizing and emotional event to rally the people
to their cause. Without a special event, they realized the difficulty
in selling their policy of preemptive war where our own military
personnel would be killed. Whether it was the Lusitania, Pearl Harbor,
the Gulf of Tonkin or the Maine, all served their purpose in promoting
a war that was sought by our leaders.

Ledeen writes
of a fortuitous event (1999): u201C…of course, we can always get lucky.
Stunning events from outside can providentially awaken the enterprise
from its growing torpor, and demonstrate the need for reversal,
as the devastating Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 so effectively
aroused the U.S. from its soothing dreams of permanent neutrality.u201D

Amazingly,
Ledeen calls Pearl Harbor a u201Cluckyu201D event. The Project for a New
American Century, as recently as September 2000, likewise, foresaw
the need for u201Ca Pearl Harbor eventu201D that would galvanize the American
people to support their ambitious plans to ensure political and
economic domination of the world, while strangling any potential
u201Crival.u201D

Recognizing
a u201Cneedu201D for a Pearl Harbor event, and referring to Pearl Harbor
as being u201Cluckyu201D are not identical to support and knowledge of such
an event, but that this sympathy for a galvanizing event, as 9-11
turned out to be, was used to promote an agenda that strict constitutionalists
and devotees of the Founders of this nation find appalling, is indeed
disturbing. After 9-11, Rumsfeld and others argued for an immediate
attack on Iraq, even though it was not implicated in the attacks.

The fact that
neo-conservatives ridicule those who firmly believe that U.S. interests
and world peace would best be served by a policy of neutrality and
avoiding foreign entanglements should not go unchallenged. Not to
do so is to condone their grandiose plans for an American world
hegemony.

The current
attention given neocons usually comes in the context of foreign
policy. But there’s more to what’s going on today than just the
tremendous influence the neocons have on our new policy of preemptive
war with a goal of empire. Our government is now being moved by
several ideas that come together in what I call u201Cneoconism.u201D The
foreign policy is being openly debated, even if its implications
are not fully understood by many who support it. Washington is now
driven by old views brought together in a new package.

We know those
who lead us – both in the administration and in Congress –
show no appetite to challenge the tax or monetary systems that do
so much damage to our economy. The IRS and the Federal Reserve are
off limits for criticism or reform. There’s no resistance to spending,
either domestic or foreign. Debt is not seen as a problem. The supply-siders
won on this issue, and now many conservatives readily endorse deficit
spending.

There’s no
serious opposition to the expanding welfare state, with rapid growth
of the education, agriculture and medical-care bureaucracy. Support
for labor unions and protectionism are not uncommon. Civil liberties
are easily sacrificed in the post 9-11 atmosphere prevailing in
Washington. Privacy issues are of little concern, except for a few
members of Congress. Foreign aid and internationalism – in
spite of some healthy criticism of the UN and growing concerns for
our national sovereignty – are championed on both sides of
the aisle. Lip service is given to the free market and free trade,
yet the entire economy is run by special-interest legislation favoring
big business, big labor and, especially, big money.

Instead of
the u201Cend of history,u201D we are now experiencing the end of a vocal
limited-government movement in our nation’s capital. While most
conservatives no longer defend balanced budgets and reduced spending,
most liberals have grown lazy in defending civil liberties and now
are approving wars that we initiate. The so-called u201Cthird wayu201D has
arrived and, sadly, it has taken the worst of what the conservatives
and liberals have to offer. The people are less well off for it,
while liberty languishes as a result.

Neocons enthusiastically
embrace the Department of Education and national testing. Both parties
overwhelmingly support the huge commitment to a new prescription
drug program. Their devotion to the new approach called u201Ccompassionate
conservatismu201D has lured many conservatives into supporting programs
for expanding the federal role in welfare and in church charities.
The faith-based initiative is a neocon project, yet it only repackages
and expands the liberal notion of welfare. The intellectuals who
promoted these initiatives were neocons, but there’s nothing conservative
about expanding the federal government’s role in welfare.

The supply-siders’
policy of low marginal tax rates has been incorporated into neoconism,
as well as their support for easy money and generous monetary inflation.
Neoconservatives are disinterested in the gold standard and even
ignore the supply-siders’ argument for a phony gold standard.

Is it any
wonder that federal government spending is growing at a rate faster
than in any time in the past 35 years?

Power, politics
and privilege prevail over the rule of law, liberty, justice and
peace. But it does not need to be that way. Neoconism has brought
together many old ideas about how government should rule the people.
It may have modernized its appeal and packaging, but authoritarian
rule is authoritarian rule, regardless of the humanitarian overtones.
A solution can only come after the current ideology driving our
government policies is replaced with a more positive one. In a historical
context, liberty is a modern idea and must once again regain the
high moral ground for civilization to advance. Restating the old
justifications for war, people control and a benevolent state will
not suffice. It cannot eliminate the shortcomings that always occur
when the state assumes authority over others and when the will of
one nation is forced on another – whether or not it is done
with good intentions.

I realize
that all conservatives are not neoconservatives, and all neocons
don’t necessarily agree on all points – which means that in
spite of their tremendous influence, most members of Congress and
those in the administration do not necessarily take their marching
orders from AEI or Richard Perle. But to use this as a reason to
ignore what neoconservative leaders believe, write about and agitate
for – with amazing success I might point out – would
be at our own peril. This country still allows open discourse –
though less everyday – and we who disagree should push the
discussion and expose those who drive our policies. It is getting
more difficult to get fair and balanced discussion on the issues,
because it has become routine for the hegemons to label those who
object to preemptive war and domestic surveillance as traitors,
unpatriotic and un-American. The uniformity of support for our current
foreign policy by major and cable-news networks should concern every
American. We should all be thankful for C-SPAN and the Internet.

Michael Ledeen
and other neoconservatives are already lobbying for war against
Iran. Ledeen is pretty nasty to those who call for a calmer, reasoned
approach by calling those who are not ready for war u201Ccowards and
appeasers of tyrants.u201D Because some urge a less militaristic approach
to dealing with Iran, he claims they are betraying America’s best
u201Ctraditions.u201D I wonder where he learned early American history!
It’s obvious that Ledeen doesn’t consider the Founders and the Constitution
part of our best traditions. We were hardly encouraged by the American
revolutionaries to pursue an American empire. We were, however,
urged to keep the Republic they so painstakingly designed.

If the neoconservatives
retain control of the conservative, limited-government movement
in Washington, the ideas, once championed by conservatives, of limiting
the size and scope of government will be a long-forgotten dream.

The believers
in liberty ought not deceive themselves. Who should be satisfied?
Certainly not conservatives, for there is no conservative movement
left. How could liberals be satisfied? They are pleased with the
centralization of education and medical programs in Washington and
support many of the administration’s proposals. But none should
be pleased with the steady attack on the civil liberties of all
American citizens and the now-accepted consensus that preemptive
war – for almost any reason – is an acceptable policy
for dealing with all the conflicts and problems of the world.

In spite of
the deteriorating conditions in Washington – with loss of personal
liberty, a weak economy, exploding deficits, and perpetual war,
followed by nation building – there are still quite a number
of us who would relish the opportunity to improve things, in one
way or another. Certainly, a growing number of frustrated Americans,
from both the right and the left, are getting anxious to see this
Congress do a better job. But first, Congress must stop doing a
bad job.

We’re at the
point where we need a call to arms, both here in Washington and
across the country. I’m not talking about firearms. Those of us
who care need to raise both arms and face our palms out and begin
waving and shouting: Stop! Enough is enough! It should include liberals,
conservatives and independents. We’re all getting a bum rap from
politicians who are pushed by polls and controlled by special-interest
money.

One thing
is certain, no matter how morally justified the programs and policies
seem, the ability to finance all the guns and butter being promised
is limited, and those limits are becoming more apparent every day.

Spending,
borrowing and printing money cannot be the road to prosperity. It
hasn’t worked in Japan, and it isn’t working here either. As a matter
of fact, it’s never worked anytime throughout history. A point is
always reached where government planning, spending and inflation
run out of steam. Instead of these old tools reviving an economy,
as they do in the early stages of economic interventionism, they
eventually become the problem. Both sides of the political spectrum
must one day realize that limitless government intrusion in the
economy, in our personal lives and in the affairs of other nations
cannot serve the best interests of America. This is not a conservative
problem, nor is it a liberal problem – it’s a government intrusion
problem that comes from both groups, albeit for different reasons.
The problems emanate from both camps who champion different programs
for different reasons. The solution will come when both groups realize
that it’s not merely a single-party problem, or just a liberal or
just a conservative problem.

Once enough
of us decide we’ve had enough of all these so-called good things
that the government is always promising – or more likely,
when the country is broke and the government is unable to fulfill
its promises to the people – we can start a serious discussion
on the proper role for government in a free society. Unfortunately,
it will be some time before Congress gets the message that the people
are demanding true reform. This requires that those responsible
for today’s problems are exposed and their philosophy of pervasive
government intrusion is rejected.

Let it not
be said that no one cared, that no one objected once it’s realized
that our liberties and wealth are in jeopardy. A few have, and others
will continue to do so, but too many – both in and out of
government – close their eyes to the issue of personal liberty
and ignore the fact that endless borrowing to finance endless demands
cannot be sustained. True prosperity can only come from a healthy
economy and sound money. That can only be achieved in a free society.

See
the Ron Paul File

July
10, 2003

Dr. Ron
Paul is a Republican member of Congress from Texas.

The
Best of Ron Paul

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