Wednesday, August 25, 2021

The Last Neocons

I rarely post from the American Conservative, as it's a controversial publication with views I frequently find repugnant. 

That said, neoconservatives are on the defensive now, big time, so this is interesting.

See, "The Last Neocons on the Island":

If you want to understand the delusions that permeated the early-stage war on terror, pick up a copy of An End to Evil by Richard Perle and David Frum. Published in 2004, it reads like a fever dream one might have after playing Age of Empires on fast mode right before bed. Iraq? Saddam indicted not just himself “but all Arab tyrannies and all of their supporters.” Syria? “Why have we put up with it as long as we have?” (The entire country, apparently.) Everyone from the South Koreans to the peacekeepers in 1994 Rwanda are presented as appeasers for having failed to sufficiently confront evil.

Against all this criminality and cowardice, there can be only one tonic: a whole lot of American bicep-flexing. “When it is in our power and our interest,” Frum and Perle declare, “we should toss dictators aside with no more compunction than a police sharpshooter feels when he downs a hostage-taker.”

The difference, of course, is that sharpshooters tend to not get trapped for the next 20 years in the office buildings they help clear. So it is that even most hawks don’t talk this way anymore. Frum spends his time on Twitter pretending An End to Evil never happened. The antiwar blog LobeLog, meanwhile, noticed a few years ago that Perle had effectively vanished from public life. Some of their fellow neocons have gone and reinvented themselves as realists, asserting that American empire is a hardheaded necessity rather than an idealistic choice. Others have even moderated a bit.

Yet there remain a few stubborn holdouts, those stranded on the island who really do believe the “long war” is still going on. And it is they who have yelped the loudest as President Biden finally withdraws from Afghanistan. This is best illustrated not by a single personality but by an argument, heard from hawkish quarters in recent days. It goes like this: Why shouldn’t the United States remain in Kabul when we still have troops in Germany, Japan, and South Korea, decades after those conflicts ended?

It’s a sloppy comparison for several reasons. In none of those three theaters did America face an active civil war 20 years after the occupations began. And in none of those cases did the government we helped build turn out to be a weak, dysfunctional, on-the-take narco-state. It is also hardly a credit to the interventionist cause to point out that America still has military bases in the most powerful country in Europe and the third largest economy on earth 75 years after World War II ended. It tends instead to confirm what their opponents have said all along: occupations encourage dependence and mission creep.

But more important is the mentality that runs beneath this contention...

Keep reading.