Neoconservatives blame Obama for events in Iraq. This was predictable, and in 2005 I predicted it: “Unless we domestically clean house and discredit neoconservative ideas, they will be heartened by the Iraq outcome no matter how it turns out. If stability occurs, they’ll take credit. If it doesn’t, they’ll blame the anti-war supporters.”
What are the neoconservative ideas that need to be discredited? That’s too large a subject for one blog, but let’s take a small bite at it. Norman Podhoretz is a major neoconservative. What is he saying these days? What are his assumptions in his article from last September that criticized Obama’s foreign policy? They’re quite clear. The U.S. should be number one. He says “…Americans have taken pride in being No. 1.” This is not by their industrial, commercial, financial, humanitarian, intellectual, artistic, sports and scientific accomplishments. It is to be in the realm of POWER. What Podhoretz worries about is “erosion of American power.” He worries about “a complete loss of American influence.” He’s concerned about “diminution of American power.”
Podhoretz identifies the “country” with the State, writing of “the erosion of the country’s power and influence”. To him, America is the U.S. government and the State. Power and influence of the State are what matter to him, not the accomplishments of Americans in other realms of human life. Podhoretz wants to “restore U.S. power and influence.” This restoration is directly connected in his mind to foreign policy, military might, and military action (wars and warring). He thinks that the U.S. government should be projecting power in foreign lands, intervening and leading. To Podhoretz, being the leader of the Free World means using power and military power pro-actively to remake the world. In this article, leadership in other spheres of life ranging from wealth creation to invention to the creation of beauty are not his concern.
Podhoretz views Obama as a closet isolationist, intent on reducing the influence of a world power. His particular cause last September was that Obama should have unilaterally bombed the hell out of Syria.
Insofar as Podhoretz and this one article of his represent important neoconservative ideas, what are they?
1. America the country is its State and government, not its people and their lives.
2. Power of the State and especially military power are what make the State (standing in for America) No. 1.
3. The State should project this power in foreign lands. This should be its leadership. The State should actively fight foreign evils and seek to promote American values (actually the State’s highly-distorted version thereof.)
4. This projection of power is assumed to be good, right and a noble cause. The costs of such policies, in terms of people’s lives, in America and abroad, are not mentioned. The benefits are taken for granted.
5. It is assumed that the U.S. government has a mandate (and right) to remake other countries in the world, that it has a right to tax Americans for this purpose, and that it has the wisdom and capabilities of bringing this about.
6. The opposite of what Podhoretz wants is his cartoon version called “isolationism”, which is taken to be weakness, intentionally weakening and undermining America (again, by pulling back its State). There are no other alternatives in his view. It’s either isolationism or world leadership and interventionism via power and might.
7. Being No. 1 is viewed as a single aspiration of a unified “America” as distilled into its crowning institution, the State.
All of these ideas need to be rejected and discredited. They comprise a vision and blueprint for America as a militaristic society in which America is viewed as its government or the State. That State is viewed as propelling the world and other peoples through its power, might, influence, dominance and control.
All of these neoconservative ideas need to be replaced by a very different vision in which a free American people or peoples are what comprise America. Their accomplishments in many realms of human endeavors are how Americans lift themselves and others, not through military power and interference. This is how evils are ameliorated, not through intervention in the affairs of others. Leadership is through the accomplishments of Americans as a free people, not as a militaristic society. The possibilities of being number one are dispersed among many fields of accomplishment, not focused on the State and its military.8:48 am on June 25, 2014 Email Michael S. Rozeff