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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

is neo-conservatism dead? « Previous | |Next »
November 23, 2006

That's the title of an op-ed in The Australian by Joshua Muravchik, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. His answer is that neoconservatism is now the only game in town. Unfortunately he has a narrow understanding of neo-cconservatism, as he does not see it as the adversaries of the adversary culture of the 1968ers New Left and social liberalism. On this broader understanding of neo-conservatism, neoconservatism is dead because it has won: Communism is dead, the left is in disarray, and the expansion of the welfare state has been blocked.

Muravchik defines neo-conservatism in terms of foreign policy. He says that 'even if the invasion of Iraq proves to have been a mistake, that would not mean that the neo-conservative belief in democracy as an antidote to troubles in the Middle East is wrong, nor would it confirm that neo-conservatism's combination of strength with idealism is misguided.' His argument is this:

As badly as things have gone in Iraq, the war has not disproved neo-conservative ideas. Iraq is a mess, and the US mission there may fail. If that happens, neo-cons deserve blame because we were key supporters of the war. But American woes in Iraq may be traced to the conduct of the war rather than the decision to undertake it.....Until someone comes up with better ideas than these, the neo-con strategy of trying to transform the Middle East, however blemished, remains without alternative. .... But neocon ideas are unlikely to be jettisoned – either by Bush or his successor – until a viable replacement is found. So far, there is none.

For Muravchik neo-conservatism isn't dead, as it
' can be renovated and returned to prominence, because, even today, it remains unrivalled as a guiding principle for US foreign policy in the Middle East and beyond.'

This overlooks the way that the neoconservatives were appalled by what had become of liberalism and how they adoped a combative stance to (social) liberalism without actually dumping liberalism.

I guess that Muravchik is addressing Francis Fukuyama's argument that neo-conservatism is dead. He wrote:

The so-called Bush doctrine is now in shambles. The doctrine…argued that, in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, America would have to launch periodic preventive wars to defend itself against rouge states and terrorists with weapons of mass destruction; that it would do this alone, if necessary; and that it would work to democratize the greater Middle East as a long-term solution to the terrorist problem.

Fukuyama argued that the Bush administration is now in a full-scale retreat from these positions.

Muravchik response is to say that the neoconservative foreign-policy argument -- that democracy and freedom should be promoted as it is in America's interests---won the day. US foreign policy is now about the war on terror (Islamic fundamentalism) with Islamism now seen as the successor to Communism. What has been rejected is the liberal policy of humanitarian interventionism. It has been replaced with a Judeo-Christian remoralization of Anglo-American foreign policy that gives us a Manichaean division of the world into good and bad (terrorist and freedom-loving) coupled to a philosophy of pre-emptive wars.

The problem with this neo-conservatism is that the Israeli–Palestinian issue is much more than a battle against Hamas and Hezbollah terrorism by a freedom-loving, democratic Israel. It also has to do with the displacement of the Palestinian people from their land; the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory (Gaza and the West Bank) and the ongoing colonial oppression of the Palestinian people.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 6:14 AM | | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (1)

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference is neo-conservatism dead?:

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