It is quite common to hear high officials in Washington and elsewhere speak of changing the map of the Middle East, as if ancient societies and myriad peoples can be shaken up like so many peanuts in a jar.
At the center of it is an anti-Iranian group calling itself “United Against Nuclear Iran” (UANI), which is very likely a front for some combination of the Israeli and U.S. intelligence services. When launched, NBC described its mission as waging “economic and psychological warfare” against Iran. The group was founded and is run and guided by a roster of U.S., Israeli and British neocon extremists such as Joe Lieberman, former Bush Homeland Security adviser (and
current CNN “analyst”) Fran Townsend, former CIA Director James Woolsey,
and former Mossad Director Meir Dagan. One of its key advisers is Olli
Heinonen, who just co-authored a Washington Post Op-Ed with former Bush CIA/NSA Director Michael Hayden arguing that Washington is being too soft on Tehran.
This group of neocon extremists was literally just immunized by a federal court from the rule of law. That was based on the claim —
advocated by the Obama DOJ and accepted by Judge Ramos — that subjecting
them to litigation for their actions would risk disclosure of vital
“state secrets.” The court’s ruling was based on assertions made through
completely secret proceedings between the court and the U.S.
government, with everyone else — including the lawyers for the parties
— kept in the dark.
In May 2013, UANI launched
a “name and shame” campaign designed to publicly identify — and malign —
any individuals or entities enabling trade with Iran. One of the
accused was the shipping company of Greek billionaire Victor Restis, who
vehemently denies the accusation. He hired an American law firm and
sued UANI for defamation in a New York federal court, claiming the “name
and shame” campaign destroyed his reputation.
Up until that point, there was nothing unusual about any of this:
just a garden-variety defamation case brought in court by someone who
claims that public statements made about him are damaging and false.
That happens every day. But then something quite extraordinary happened:
In September of last year, the U.S. government, which was not a party,
formally intervened in the lawsuit, and demanded that the court refuse
to hear Restis’s claims and instead dismiss the lawsuit against UANI
before it could even start, on the ground that allowing the case to
proceed would damage national security.
When the DOJ intervened in this case and asserted the “state secrets privilege,” it confounded almost everyone. The New York Times’s Matt Apuzzo noted
at the time that “the group is not affiliated with the government, and
lists no government contracts on its tax forms. The government has cited
no precedent for using the so-called state secrets privilege to quash
a private lawsuit that does not focus on government activity.” He
quoted the ACLU’s Ben Wizner as saying: “I have never seen anything like
this.” Reuters’s Allison Frankel labeled
the DOJ’s involvement a “mystery” and said “the government’s brief is
maddeningly opaque about its interest in a private libel case.”
Usually, when the U.S. government asserts the “state secrets
privilege,” it is because they are a party to the lawsuit, being
sued for their own allegedly illegal acts (such as torture or
warrantless surveillance), and they claim that national security would
be harmed if they are forced to defend themselves. In rare cases, they
do intervene and assert the privilege in lawsuits between private
parties, but only where the subject of the litigation is a government
program and one of the parties is a government contractor involved
in that program — such as when torture victims sued a Boeing subsidiary,
Jeppesen, for its role in providing airplanes for the rendition program
and the Obama DOJ insisted (successfully) that the case not go forward,
and the victim of U.S. torture was thus told that he could not even have a day in court.
But in this case, there is no apparent U.S. government conduct at issue in the lawsuit. At least based on what they claim about themselves,
UANI is just “a not-for-profit, non-partisan, advocacy group” that
seeks to “educate” the public about the dangers of Iran’s nuclear
program. Why would such a group like this even possess “state secrets”?
It would be illegal to give them such material. Or could it be that the
CIA or some other U.S. government agency has created and controls the
group, which would be a form of government-disseminated propaganda,
which happens to be illegal?
Also called neo-cons, share a post 1960s conservative political philosophy that employs Fox News, talk radio and media manipulation and deception with the goal of radically changing social policy BACK to the repressive pre-1960s days, while also enabling large corporations to take over the world.
On domestic issues, Neocons claim they are for limited government and “free market” solutions. However, when non-interventionist tactics do not yield the result they want, they have no qualms about using government power to garner their desired result. Neocons support the rights of oligarchs and big business monopolies above the individual rights of the people they disapprove of.
On foreign policy issues, neoconservatives frequently avoid using diplomacy. Neocons tend to participate in nation-building in the attempt to set up desired puppet governments in other countries. They claim to support liberal democracies and human rights abroad, but generally are more than willing to abandon this goal if it won’t create the desired effect. Neocons usually want to use massive military force to solve most international issues despite the fact that very few of them have ever served.
Neocons tend to view the world in binary, good vs evil and us vs them, terms. They are generally upper middle and upper class white people with college educations (ie the stereotypical WASP) but there is also a strong neocon segment among poor whites with little education (ie the stereotypical redneck). Tending to be socially conservative, they often belong to evangelical Protestant Christian churches and often claim to have superior moral values. They love the status-quo.
Neoconservative people primarily belong to conservative groups and parties such as the GOP and the NRA. This leads to power struggles in these groups as tradition conservatives, paleoconservative and conservative libertarians (all sharing similar values) fight the neocons for control and to be the face of the group.
Neocon (shorter version): A person who practices hedonism in their personal life, but demands “personal responsibility” for others who are less wealthy or not politically connected. Neocons often abuse drugs and alcohol, but want to spend $37,000/year of taxpayer money to ruin the lives of poorer people who do the same. Normally a chicken hawk, neocons advocate the use of military force although most have never served in the military.
neoconservative policies: privatization of everything, privatization of healthcare, NO free public education, no separation of church and state, one government approved religion, vouchers instead of free / public education, repealing the voting rights act, creationism instead of evolution taught in schools, voter suppression, needless voter ID laws, no free school lunches for kids, no violence against women’s act, no equal pay for women laws, no teacher’s unions, no labor unions, no universal healthcare, no minimum wage AT ALL, vouchers for social security, no Wall St reform, ***CORPORATE PERSONHOOD*** no meals on wheels for the elderly, no marriage equality, no de-criminalization of marijuana, no taxes for millionaires, and absolutely positively NO gun law reforms.
Climate change is appealing to big government types because it’s about government. The minute you say “Oh it’s about the climate”, the minute you say it’s about rainfall, it’s about clouds, it’s about sunlight, it’s about CO2 - that floats across town and county and state and national borders, so we’ve got to have a vast planetary regime to regulate it.
It’s the most convenient one-size-fits-all blueprint for totalitarianism anyone’s ever come up with.
Norman Podhoretz, one of the leading figures of neoconservatism, at the Commentary office in the 1960s.
If New Leftists gave shape to one side
of the culture wars, those who came to be called neoconservatives were
hugely influential in shaping the other. Neoconservatism, a label
applied to a group of prominent liberal intellectuals who moved right on
the American political spectrum during the sixties, took form precisely
in opposition to the New Left.
In their reaction to the New Left, in their spirited defense of
traditional American institutions, and in their full-throated attack on
those intellectuals who composed, in Lionel Trilling’s words, an
“adversary culture,” neoconservatives helped draw up the very terms of
the culture wars.
When we think about the neoconservative persuasion as the flip side
of the New Left, it should be historically situated relative to what
Corey Robin labels
“the reactionary mind.” Robin considers conservatism “a meditation on —
and theoretical rendition of — the felt experience of having power,
seeing it threatened, and trying to win it back.
”In somewhat similar fashion, George H. Nash defines
conservatism as “resistance to certain forces perceived to be leftist,
revolutionary, and profoundly subversive.” Plenty of Americans
experienced the various New Left movements of the sixties as “profoundly
subversive” of the status quo. Neoconservatives articulated this
reaction best. In a national culture transformed by sixties liberation
movements, neoconservatives became famous for their efforts to “win it
”Neoconservatism was the New Left’s chief ideological opponent. In
assuming such a duty, neoconservatives set themselves up for a hostile
response. Fortunately for them, their prior experiences had prepared
them well for the task.
Many of the early neoconservatives were members of “the family,”
Murray Kempton’s apt designation for that disputatious tribe otherwise
known as the New York intellectuals. They had come of age in the 1930s
at the City College of New York (CCNY), a common destination for smart
working-class Jews who otherwise might have attended Ivy League schools,
where quotas prohibited much Jewish enrollment until after World War
Gertrude Himmelfarb, Irving Kristol,
and their milieu learned the art of polemics during years spent in the
CCNY cafeteria’s celebrated Alcove No. 1, where young Trotskyists waged
ideological warfare against the Communist students who occupied Alcove
No. 2. During their flirtations with Trotskyism in the 1930s, when
tussles with other radical students seemed like a matter of life and
death, future neoconservatives developed habits of mind that never
They held on to their combative spirits, their fondness for sweeping
declarations, and their suspicion of leftist dogma. Such an
epistemological background endowed neoconservatives with what seemed
like an intuitive capacity for critiquing New Left arguments. They were
uniquely qualified for the job of translating New Left discourses for a
conservative movement fervent in its desire to know its enemy.,,,,,
Consider urban policy as a policy space where [Neoconservatism and Neoliberalism] mix. The anthropologist Neil Smith argues that gentrification has created a “revanchist city,” where the goal is to reclaim the lost frontier of urban spaces from undesirables. This is a mix of creating good economic incentives for developers and desirable citizens while also creating heavily policed zones against undesirables. Public spaces are quasi-privatized through funding and maintenance when they aren’t private spaces with public access obligations. Benches are designed so people can’t sleep on them, public restrooms disappear from public spaces, and privatized parking meters require credit cards to park. Numerous other design choices shift the public sphere away from those at the margins, while extensive police presence claims the remaining spaces.
“The answer I suggest, is a type of conservatism that has yet to reach our shores in significant number. A conservatism unafraid of cultural confidence, proud of the past achievements of Britain and unflinching in a desire to learn from and confront past injustices.”
One thing is for certain, British small-c conservatism hasn’t got enough attack dogs. Britons are famous for restraint, that eternal stiff upper lip has made us punch, historically at least, way above the weight that an island nation of our size should. As the Labour Party’s Welsh firebrand Nye Bevan put it, this island is surrounded by fish and made mainly of coal. Well, we’re no longer surrounded by fish, and we’ve given up our coal.
Naturally, (some would say as a result) Britain now searches once again for her place in the world. Finding our place will be difficult, and without a major institutional rethink, we are left as no more than a second, even third rate world power. That is simply not good enough for a country that spearheaded the triumphs of the industrial revolution, parliamentary democracy, individual liberty and the so called ‘universal values’ most of the world now espouses, which it’s worth adding, are only universal because of a collection of military victories by the English speaking peoples. We should however recognise that the institutions that have failed to arrest and nigh on encouraged our decline as a nation must be recaptured from the clutches of liberal-left consensus without, as Toby Young puts it, ‘damaging them in the process’.
Traditional small-c conservatism does not have the necessary confrontational instinct to square up to the manoeuvres of the left on British liberty and the institutions that protect it. The Conservative Party will not undertake these vital steps to rudely interrupt the decline of Britain, as it too is an all too forgotten theatre of the culture wars. We must not look any more to the Conservative Party than any other party for assistance, as they can only recognise the destructiveness of the captured institutions, and fail in efforts to change them. Conservatism, unlike leftist thought, is not guided by ideological commitment in the traditional sense, it is defined by a desire to preserve social institutions. When those institutions are captured, degraded or dismantled in a way that is socially or morally undesirable, what is a conservative to do? He is, as Douglas Murray suggests, “left feeling loyal to institutions that have not been loyal to him”. This is plainly not sustainable.
The answer I suggest, is a type of conservatism that has yet to reach our shores in significant number. A conservatism unafraid of cultural confidence, proud of the past achievements of Britain and unflinching in a desire to learn from and confront past injustices. Too many have been allowed to be brought up to despise Britain from within, this is in my view less to do with family and more to do with media and education. Children are in many cases taught to think critically only of some things. Others, taking multiculturalism for example, are explained only in association with things that evoke positive emotional responses or defined in opposition to certain destructive influences in a society. Tolerance, welcomeness and cohesion versus intolerance, racism and conflict. Bordering off critical thought through conflation in this way has made us less confident in ourselves and our values, simply because we don’t know what our values are any more. Another potent example of this is the increasing influence of the cultural and moral relativism of the pacifist left on the BBC and Channel 4.
The BBC, as it is funded by the British people must represent the overarching moral values of the British people. Whilst they have an obligation to expose their viewership to differing opinions within reason, they cannot continue to give equal weight to factually and morally unequal ideas and arguments. Aptly demonstrative of the gulf between the BBC and British values are words from BBC broadcast guidelines of events during the Falklands War - “We are not Britain. We are the BBC”. The BBC fulfils a noble role in international broadcasting, and is oftentimes the only reliable source of news for citizens of countries with far less media freedom than ourselves. I suggest therefore that the BBC must be Britain, not just for our sakes but for the sake of those who rely on it far more than ourselves. Recapturing the BBC must then be pursued, as the Book of Common Prayer says - ‘reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly’.
In the final analysis, Neoconservatism is the only defence against such obvious sapping at the pillars of British liberty by the Left. We cannot remain committed and loyal to institutions that are no longer loyal to the values that we hold dear. The BBC must change or be changed, education must reassert our values or be changed. We must not fail to comprehend the implications of not doing so.
War hawk John Bolton is adamantly opposed to any cuts to the Defense Department’s budget, or military spending in general. In fact, he thinks the U.S. should spend more. Bolton recently argued that in order to put more in the Pentagon’s coffers, Congressshould take funds from Social Security and Medicare.
On Fox News last night, Bolton cheered Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s — so far evidence-free — claim that further cuts in military spending would be “devastating.” “We have been under spending on defense. We should be spending more,” Bolton said, adding that the U.S. should be directing those additional funds toward weapons and “force levels around the world.” Yet Bolton does see an area where the military can trim the fat: veterans’ health care and retirement benefits:
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN: Nobody is talking about monitoring these contractors to see where our money is going. That’s the thing that is stunning. We’re talking about how much we need. But we are not doing anything it seems to make sure we really need it.
BOLTON: We should be. Look, there’s fraud and waste in the defense budget, of course there is.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why doesn’t anybody talk about that?
BOLTON: That’s part of the government. I think we can do more in military health care for example, to cut costs there, in the retirement system…
Good to know that Obama’s Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has the backing of the dipshits that started this mess. And Hillary Clinton as well.
This article is a bit long (at least by our attention-deficit standards), and much of it consists of political (and to a lesser extent, religious) autobiography, but to good effect; namely, a succinct and sweeping picture of the wreckage of conservatism, or at least the type of conservatism that would move a person to write something like this:
“No international bureaucracy, much less a single nation, however powerful and idealistic, can substitute itself for the healthy nationalism of an alien people. Almost everyone agrees, for instance, that Saddam Hussein is bad for his country. But can Americans be better Iraqis than Iraqis themselves, or presume to tell the Chinese how to be better Chinese? If we try, we can only be poorer Americans.”
The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues. And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigns over the kings of the earth. –Rev. 17:15
Neoconservatism, now “mainstream conservatism,” is at odds fundamentally and philosophically with the older, traditional conservatism that actually created this country in the late 1780s, what one writer has called “gut conservatism,” which reflects those familial and inherited beliefs and customs that first annealed this republic. What is amorphously termed “conservatism” today is largely farcical, a bunch of self-important, self-appointed, endlessly-arguing “thought-setters” who end up talking to themselves and to an ever-shrinking circle of chattering class readers….all the while a much, much larger group of Americans sink inevitably into the defecated morass of a culturally and politically poisonous black hole, AKA America, ca. 2016…
Beginning in the 1970s, and into the 1980s, there was an influx of former Leftist and ex-Trotskyite intellectuals and writers, who had become anti-Communists and who began to move to the right into the older conservative movement. These were denominated the Neoconservatives, or Neocons. At first the Neocons were welcomed as ex-Marxists “coming in from the cold.” The problem was, and still is, that the Neocons brought with them not only their welcomed and spirited anti-Communism, but also their intellectual template of across-the-board egalitarianism, internationalism, and an a priori liberal and global interventionist foreign policy, which has, as its underlying principle, an almost chiliastic belief in imposed “liberal democracy” as the “final stage” of human (and secular) progress. And it is that Idea of (irreversible) Progress, which means the destruction of older traditions, customs, and those things considered “reactionary” that stand in the way of Progress, that characterizes most of Neocon thinking. Such ideas, needless to say, run counter to traditional conservative principles….
With the triumph of the Neocons, conservatism soon no longer resembled what it once was. The principles which so characterized the Old Right were replaced with an ideological zeal for the very opposite of those principles. Older conservative icons such as John Randolph and John C. Calhoun, included prominently in Kirk’s pantheon of great conservatives, were, due to their opposition to egalitarianism, expelled from the Neoconservative lexicon, to be replaced by Abraham Lincoln, and later figures such as Gandhi and Martin Luther King. (And Southerners like Sam Ervin, Harry Byrd Sr., Robert E. Lee, Wade Hampton, etc., were now uniformly condemned and rejected by the new “mainstream conservatives.”)…
Thus, in a very real sense, what is commonly termed “conservatism” today has not been truly conservative in the traditional sense for probably three or four decades, at least. Indeed, political scientists and historians such as Gottfried, Claes Ryn (at Catholic Univ), Gary Dorrien (in his study, The Neoconservative Mind), and others have examined this transition in some detail….
For years since they infiltrated and subverted the older right wing traditional conservative movement, which began back in the 1950s, the Neocons have offered rosy solutions which have led what is left of this nation into a succession of unwinnable wars, faulty nation-building, miserable failures and misadventures in foreign policy. They have pushed their secular nostrums with a quasi-religious zeal, inherited from their previous devotion to Leon Trotsky’s Marxist globalism, to impose liberal democracy and egalitarianism on every 13th century corner of the globe, including creating model peoples’ democracies in Uzkekistan, Zimbabwe, Upper Volta, and, even Lower Slobbovia. (If you don’t know where that is, go look up cartoonist Al Capp.) In this they’ve failed totally. The God-given Laws of Nature can’t be changed by the likes of George Will, John Bolton, or even Charles Krauthammer.
Boyd D. Cathey holds a doctorate in European history from the Catholic University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain, where he was a Richard Weaver Fellow, and an MA in intellectual history from the University of Virginia (as a Jefferson Fellow). He has published in French, Spanish, and English, on historical subjects as well as classical music and opera.
Even as they castigate Mr. Obama, the neocons may be preparing a more brazen feat: aligning themselves with Hillary Rodham Clinton and her nascent presidential campaign, in a bid to return to the driver’s seat of American foreign policy. To be sure, the careers and reputations of the older generation of neocons — Paul D. Wolfowitz, L. Paul Bremer III, Douglas J. Feith, Richard N. Perle — are permanently buried in the sands of Iraq.
But others appear to envisage a different direction — one that might allow them to restore the neocon brand, at a time when their erstwhile home in the Republican Party is turning away from its traditional interventionist foreign policy.
And the thing is, these neocons have a point. Mrs. Clinton voted for the Iraq war; supported sending arms to Syrian rebels; likened Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, to Adolf Hitler; wholeheartedly backs Israel; and stresses the importance of promoting democracy.
It’s easy to imagine Mrs. Clinton’s making room for the neocons in her administration. No one could charge her with being weak on national security with the likes of Robert Kagan on board.
Of course, the neocons’ latest change in tack is not just about intellectual affinity. Their longtime home, the Republican Party, where presidents and candidates from Reagan to Senator John McCain of Arizona supported large militaries and aggressive foreign policies, may well nominate for president Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, who has been beating an ever louder drum against American involvement abroad.
In response, Mark Salter, a former chief of staff to Senator McCain and a neocon fellow traveler, said that in the event of a Paul nomination, “Republican voters seriously concerned with national security would have no responsible recourse” but to support Mrs. Clinton for the presidency.
I feel comfortable with her on foreign policy… If she pursues a policy which we think she will pursue it’s something that might have been called neocon, but clearly her supporters are not going to call it that; they are going to call it something else.
Neoconservative pundit and co-founder of the Project for the New American Century Robert Kagan, on Hillary Clinton’s possible 2016 presidential run
this is from the same NYTimes piece where the paper (accurately) described Hillary as “the vessel into which many interventionists are pouring their hopes”.
When we think about the transition from feudalism to capitalism, we take the long view – we scan the four centuries from 1400 to 1800, looking for signs of fundamental but incremental change. To be sure, we assume that the great bourgeois revolutions of the seventeeth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries were both symptoms and causes of this transition; in that sense, we proceed in our thinking as if capitalism were created by social movements, political activism, ideological extremism. Still, we know these early modern movements can’t be compared to the communist parties that created state socialism in twentieth-century Russia, China, and Cuba, because in these more recent instances, self-conscious revolutionaries organized workers and peasants to overthrow capitalism and create socialism.
In the mid seventeeth century, John Milton, John Lilburn, and Gerrard Winstanley clearly understood that they were overthrowing something, but they didn’t know they were creating the conditions of capitalism; neither did Thomas Paine a century later, as he made his way from the American to the French Revolution, from Common Sense to The Rights of Man. Not even Maximilien Robespierre, the mastermind of the Terror, was prophet enough to see this improbable future. And when Theodore Weld, Angelina Grimke, Frederick Douglass, and Abraham Lincoln set out to overthrow slavery, they didn’t know they were making “The Last Capitalist Revolution,” as Barrington Moore, Jr. called it in Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy (1966).
In short, capitalism was the unintended consequence of bourgeois revolutions, whereas socialism has been the avowed purpose, or at least a crucial component, of every revolution since 1911. This difference has become so important that when we think about the transition from capitalism to socialism, we take the short view: we look for ideological extremes, social movements, vanguard parties, self-conscious revolutionaries, radical dissenters, armed struggles, extra-legal methods, political convulsions – as if the coming of socialism requires the abolition of capitalism by cataclysm, by insurgent, militant mass movements dedicated to that purpose. As a result, we keep asking Werner Sombart’s leading question, “Why Is There No Socialism in the United States?” And we keep answering defensively, on our way to an apology. [read]