On Modern Neoconservatism and Foreign Policy

My last post about foreign policy was a fairly big picture; it laid out the rough sketch of my worldview. The DC consensus pretty much agrees on the basics, while the rest of America operates on a completely different worldview. Luckily we’ve had a kick-up on foreign policy because Rand Paul appears to be flushing out Neoconservative side of the Washington, D.C. foreign policy consensus. But to be honest, I expected that and was not really interested in writing another piece until this video about Neoconservativism popped up in response to another Rand Paul interview. Note: “establishment,” “statist,” “liberal,” “RINO,” “neocon,” and “progressive Republican.” A lot of these words get thrown around. I prefer statist myself generally but will often in foreign policy describe a warmongering interventionist a Neocon, for short.

Krauthammer starts out claiming that there are no neoconservatives. That they don’t exist unless Rand Paul names them one by one. That and the word is now an “Ad Hominem attack,” aka an attack against the opponent’s person rather than an argument, which is absurd. Any dufus with 30 seconds, a google machine and an internet connection can find out what neoconservativism is in broad, diffused sense.

As this video highlights, why is neoconservativism hard to define? Because it is a political philosophy that eschews political philosophies. They don’t describe themselves as having a philosophy of government, rather they have a “tendency” to view government a certain way.  You can point to thinkers, but not systematic thought, because it is not something that can be categorized that easily. Typically the list goes like this: William Kristol, Robert Kagan, Dick Cheney, John Bolton, and Paul Wolfowitz are all modern political actors in DC who are neoconservatives. Oh yeah, you are too Krauthammer, I don’t think your cohost said it without a reason, some are cited below.

But how do you know that they are a neoconservative you ask? Well, Mr. Krauthammer gives us a great example of the difference between a conservative and a neoconservative. What Mr. Krauthammer says about 7:35 seconds in “[Libertarianism] is not a governing philosophy… I think you cannot govern a country, an advanced industrial society of 300 million people of incredibility complex social relations without a strong central government. That has sort of been the rule for 70 years… [Rand Paul] has a lot of good ideas on domestic reforms but it’s the foreign policy stuff…”

Now if you believe in spontaneous order, as Ronald Reagan did, this sentence makes zero sense to anyone steeped in conservativism post-Reagan era. Why would Krauthammer, a professed conservative, say it? Because he’s not a Reagan conservative. Even as he says he likes Rand Paul’s domestic policy, he really does not understand it. Neocons of this type are perfectly ok with big government everywhere as long as they are running it. Others are only ok with government as long as it’s in foreign policy.

Former Ambassador to the UN John Bolton, claims he’s a libertarian (on domestic policy) and claims that libertarians who question the Iraq invasion are defending Saddaam Hussain. He doesn’t’ appear to care how Iraq got from 2002 to 2014 but only that now we have to “do something now”. He defines “American interest” as American oil access and power hegemony. I don’t think he really feels the need to be consistent at all simply because he continues to get more interviews regardless of his constant moving on the issue.

The difference between Krauthammer and Bolton is only that Krauthammer is consistent enough to apply his foreign policy principles of centrally planning the security of the world, to centrally planning the lives of Americans. Watch how Krauthammer frames his conservativism.

Conservativism is…liberalism that wants to be solvent? There are no ideas here about the civil society, spontaneous order or freedom that defines the rhetoric of Reagan conservatives like Mark Levin and Glenn Beck but not Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly.

Krauthammer wrote back in 2002 that disarmament was the goal of the war in Iraq and in 2003 that it now wasn’t the goal and, “The war is not just to disarm Saddam. It is to reform a whole part of the world”. A direct quote of the policy goals of the neoconservatives of the 1990’s. This is how I define modern neoconservative foreign policy. It is to advance the idea that the world can be made in America’s image from Washington, D.C. That it is the proper role of the DOD to plan the security of the entire world to ensure American hegemony in the short term.

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