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I was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator and am now a journalist. I am the author of three New York Times bestselling books -- "How Would a Patriot Act" (a critique of Bush executive power theories), "Tragic Legacy" (documenting the Bush legacy), and With Liberty and Justice for Some (critiquing America's two-tiered justice system and the collapse of the rule of law for its political and financial elites). My fifth book - No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the US Surveillance State - will be released on April 29, 2014 by Holt/Metropolitan.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

The crazed face of neoconservatism

(updated below)

In two short posts at National Review, warmonger Mark Levin captures the essence of neoconservatism. First is his response to the news that Iran has rejected the proposal for an agreement whereby it would cease uranium enrichment:

Ok, let’s all say it together, shall we? Diplomacy doesn’t work with terrorists. Terrorists only understand fear. They don’t fear us yet because we have not punished them enough.

All of the bad countries in the Middle East (and elsewhere) are "terrorists" and we must treat them as such. Only weaklings and appeasers would try to negotiate with or contain "terrorists." The only thing one can do with "terrorists" is kill them all so that we can rule the world (or at least the Middle East) by fear. That's why incidents like the killing of 50 Lebanese civilians in Qana is something to be cheered, rather than either condemned as deliberate or reckless, or at least lamented as a tragic accident. To neoconservatives like Levin, we need more of these incidents, because it shows the "terrorists" that there are consequences -- bad, ugly, scary, brutal consequences -- for confronting us.

That really is the essence of neoconservativsm. It's nothing more noble or complex than a base belief that we have to wage as many wars as possible and kill as many people as possible until people are sufficiently fearful of the U.S. that they will comply with our mandates. It is psychopathic and deranged, and the fact that it is typically cheered on by the likes of Mark Levin -- people who plainly lack feelings of physical power themselves -- is not insignificant. The contrived chest-beating and transparent desire to feel like a feared warrior, with none of the risk, is manifest, and it is what has shaped our foreign policy for the last five years and, by all appearances, continues to do so.

Levin's second post spews contempt at this Op-Ed by Bush 41 National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft. Scowcroft commits the grave neoconservative sin of advocating the ultimate evil -- a peace plan for the Middle East. Levin's response demonstrates just how radical neoconservatives are:

Thank goodness Brent Scowcroft is no longer influencing U.S. foreign policy. He helped bring the Middle East to its current point, and should be dismissed as another failed diplomat. Scowcroft, James Baker, Warren Christopher, Madeleine Albright, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton — all failures ... which means the Big Media will continue to seek out their views.

To neconservatives, everything that made the U.S. a respected superpower over the last six decades is all obsolete and worthless. To them, foreign policy experts from both political parties are responsible for 9/11 and the rise of Islamic extremism because they believe too much in diplomacy and restraint. They didn't wage enough wars and the wars they did wage weren't ferocious enough. There weren't enough Qanas, and as a result, we aren't sufficiently feared. People around the world need to know that they either comply with our instructins or fire and brimstone will rain upon their heads.

I still consider Jonah Goldberg's explanation for why he favored the invasion of Iraq to be the Gold Standard for illustrating the impulses which lay at the heart of the neoconservative syndrome:

Q: If you're a kid and you've had enough of the school bullies pants-ing you in the cafeteria, what's one of the smartest things you can do?

A: Punch one of them in the nose as hard as you can and then stand your ground.

That is why we hear that the "people who are fighting this war" include Michael Ledeen, Cliff May, and Mark Steyn. It's why we hear someone like Jonah Goldberg -- who still has to move his nepotistic umbilical cord so that it doesn't get in the way when he types -- warn us in his best tough-guy, no-nonsense voice that we are becoming "A Nation of Wimps" because "Parents are going to ludicrous lengths to take the bumps out of life for their children." This is all about a personal craving for feelings of power and superior strength, to be fulfilled through endless war waged on those who have not been placed in sufficient fear of our warrior greatness.

All of this is why George Will recently called neoconservatism a "spectacularly misnamed radicalism." It is opposed to every guiding principle of American foreign policy under both political parties, and seeks to transform the U.S. into a rogue state which operates with no moral limits or ethical constraints, and for which unrestrained war is always the preferred option. All failures can be and are explained away by the fact that we just haven't killed enough people yet. It is homicidal madness, real derangement, masquerading as some sort of serious philosophy, and it is a true indictment of our political life that its advocates are taken seriously at all, let alone often listened to at the highest levels of our government.

UPDATE: Mr. Montalban at Sadly, No uses the Mark Steyn column referenced above to explore some of the ideological antecedents, as it were, to neoconservatism, which have devolved into nothing more complex than this: "(Steyn's) main point is crystallized around the reference to John Podhoretz’s recent whine that the West may lack the stones to do what it really needs to do: commit genocide on the filthy wogs." As noted in the post below, John Hinderaker offered us this weekend the only-slightly-more-dignified corporate lawyer version of this homicidal theme. It is the sentiment that has been darkly lurking in our foreign policy for some time, and which -- mobilized by the excitement over the "Great Opportunity" in the Middle East -- is now parading itself around for all to see.

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