America’s First Neocon War

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Jefferson Morley has authored an excellent little article on the War of 1812 (which began 200 years ago this past Monday). It focuses upon the “War Hawks” which were the ideological driving force for American intervention and the imperial conquest of Canada. Upon reading it will become very evident why Morley labels this conflict as “America’s first neocon war.” The leader of the nationalist “War Hawks” in Congress was Henry Clay, who later became the mentor of Abraham Lincoln (“my ideal of a great man”). An economic interventionist to his core, Clay was the foremost proponent of what he described as “the American System.” This was a revamping of Hamiltonian corporatism from the earliest years of the Republic. It called for an increase in protective tariffs to foster industry in the United States, the use of federal funding to build and maintain infrastructure (“corporate welfare”), and a strong national bank. One can clearly see these aggressive “War Hawks” as the Mitt Romney, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Joe Lieberman, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich — ad nauseum — of that day. The anti-war opponents to this rush to war and the ensuing conflict were the dying remnants of the Federalist Party in New England, and the Old Republican “Tertium Quids” who had not joined in the sell-out of libertarian principles of the Democratic-Republican Party of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.

1:05 pm on June 21, 2012
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