Recently (in a comment thread), Polimom’s use of the term “neocon” was challenged, and while PNAC’s ideology is never totally “gone” from my thoughts, that dialogue brought the entire subject back to front and center.
Folks, just because A (neocon) is a subset of B (Republicans), and B is a subset of C (conservatives), A does not necessarily equal B or C.
Simple, right? Yet the term “neocon” has become terribly over-used and -applied. The neoconservatives have had a profound effect on American foreign policy in the current administration, but it’s a mistake to automatically paint Republicans and conservatives with the same brush.
Yesterday, digby at Hullaboo wrote:
When are Americans going to take the neocons seriously?
I’m not talking about the Republican party here or the movement conservatives. I’m speaking specifically of the group that can be called the true neocons of the era: The PNAC signatories and their supporters throughout the rightwing think tank intelligensia.
Polimom’s afraid they never will, digby. The distinction you define is blurred for most folks, largely because thus far, the only people who have tried to define it are those on the left… and the right won’t listen to them.
During the presidential elections in 2004, Polimom was beset on nearly all sides by folks who supported the current administration. These weren’t just neighbors or acquaintances (though living in Katy, TX would have made this true regardless); they were some of the people nearest and dearest to my heart.
During one particularly difficult discussion with Dear Mother-in-Law (DMiL), Polimom brought up PNAC — and unsurprisingly, she’d never heard of them. Ever-helpful, I brought up their website on my computer, chattering brightly to negate the sense of threat she obviously felt… and stood in stunned awe as she told me, “This is probably just a propoganda site put on the web by W’s enemies.”
You just can’t talk to people like that.
In recent years, every objection to the Iraq war has been attacked as “treasonous” or “anti-American”. Now, with an incredibly complex situation unfolding in Israel/Lebanon, we have the converse: any mention of Iran or Syria as part of the current crisis is being labeled as “neocon”… and that’s just as misleading.
Who, then, can explain the problem to the “true” conservatives and traditional Republicans? Will they listen to George Will?
The administration, justly criticized for its Iraq premises and their execution, is suddenly receiving some criticism so untethered from reality as to defy caricature. The national, ethnic and religious dynamics of the Middle East are opaque to most people, but to the Weekly Standard — voice of a spectacularly misnamed radicalism, “neoconservatism” — everything is crystal clear: Iran is the key to everything .
“Why wait?” Perhaps because the U.S. military has enough on its plate in the deteriorating wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which both border Iran. And perhaps because containment, although of uncertain success, did work against Stalin and his successors, and might be preferable to a war against a nation much larger and more formidable than Iraq. And if Bashar Assad’s regime does not fall after the Weekly Standard’s hoped-for third war, with Iran, does the magazine hope for a fourth?
As for the “healthy” repercussions that the Weekly Standard is so eager to experience from yet another war: One envies that publication’s powers of prophecy but wishes it had exercised them on the nation’s behalf before all of the surprises — all of them unpleasant — that Iraq has inflicted. And regarding the “appeasement” that the Weekly Standard decries: Does the magazine really wish the administration had heeded its earlier (Dec. 20, 2004) editorial advocating war with yet another nation — the bombing of Syria?
PNAC’s vision has taken America on a truly terrifying ride — one that most voters didn’t realize they were going on, but the situation in the Middle East is far too dangerous to simply write off discussions about Iran’s involvement as a neocon agenda. While that may very well be true, it doesn’t equate to Iranian innocence. We have to be able to talk about this.
Are Iran and Syria behind Hezbollah? I think so. Does that make Polimom a neocon? Pffftt.
America would be foolish to preempt the situation or expand the confrontation. Does that make Polimom a liberal? Pffffftttt.
George Will is right. So is digby. Pay attention. It matters.