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  • What Is A NeoCon?

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on May 15th, 2004 (All posts by )

    The Christian Science Monitor has a primer. I took the interactive Are you a neocon? quiz and it thinks I’m a Realist. In general, I’d agree with that. Except I also believe that ethics do have a place in policy decisions.

    I was a little disturbed that the CSM felt it necessary to point out which neocons are Jews. What’s that all about?, I asked myself. Did they point out which members were Christians or Buddhists or atheists or agnostic? I came up with three possibilities:

    1. Jews = suspicious. If so, why is that? Anti-Semitism? In a Boston paper?

    2. Being a little too ‘Jewish’ in extraction, the neocon movement is little more than an American shill for the Likud at worst, or a little too pro-Israel at best. They’re definitely pro-Israeli from what I can see. I haven’t seen any evidence they’re necessarily anti-Arab or anti-Muslim. Anti-fascist, yes.

    3. Being that the paper is entitled, after all, The Christian Science Monitor, they believe a person’s religious beliefs are inextricably tied to their political views and/or world view. There’s probably some truth in that. But again, why only mention which members are Jews?

    I emailed the CSM those questions. I’ll let you know if I receive a response.

    * In the interest of full disclosure, I was baptized Catholic. However, I am also a member of the AEI. Does that mean my soul is damned for eternity, or that I will simply spend time in Purgatory?

     

    17 Responses to “What Is A NeoCon?”

    1. Sylvain Galineau Says:

      I think the assumption is that one has to be Jewish to be pro-Israel. Or that the former is the main explanation for the latter. In other words, neocons are generally pro-Israel because many are Jewish. Like most stereotypes, it’s pretty dumb even if it reflects some factual truth.

    2. TM Lutas Says:

      Don’t worry, the jews are just being the canary in a coal mine again. The secular papers will be noting who is a part of the christian conspiracy soon enough. The jews are just a little ahead of the curve.

    3. Dean Esmay Says:

      I took the test and came up an Isolationist.

      Which is rather amusing since I’ve been 100% in favor of taking down Saddam and trying to reform the Middle East for two years almost, and wouldn’t oppose taking out Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and North Korea’s governments and reforming those into democratic regimes too, if we had the resources.

    4. Mitch Says:

      Bummer. I’m a realist, too.

      Too philo-semitic? Too pro-Israel? Listen, it was neither the Israeli government or Jews that blew up our embassies or killed 3,000 of us in NY, DC, and PA. They don’t call for our destruction from the pulpit in synagogues, or promise paradise to those who detonate themselves in pizza shops. Or is that insufficiently nuanced?

    5. DSpears Says:

      I came up as a “realist” although I don’t agree with everything on that list and I don’t look to Colin Powell or Eisenhower as like minded individuals, strictly speaking. Of course the quiz had few answers that I whole-heartedly agreed with, but you had to pick one.

      I just don’t get Reagan as a neocon. He was certainly anti-communist, but he was also a minarchist in his view of national defense being the primary responsibility of the federal government, vs. other less-worthy domestic pursuits that a pre-Vietnam 20th century American liberal (which is essentially what a neo-con is) would be in favor of.

      I would describe myself as Jacksonian if you want a label. My perfect world would be one where America traded freely with the world but doesn’t involve itself in it’s larger problems. I fully recognize this as a fantasy and I think America will be periodically sucked into world conflicts from time to time, but I am less inclined to beleive that we can actually prevent any of these things from happening, so we should sit back protected by our oceans and wait until we are needed to go straighten things out amongst the children.

      But if America is threatened then we should crush any enemy with overwhelming force, occasionally indiscriminately (like Iraq) just so that nobody forgets that we are not to be trifled with. This requires a large peace-time standing army, which I whole-heartedly support, although I’d like to be as inexpensive as possible (maybe another fantasy).

      I have little stomach for Nation building, although if we ARE going to involve ourselves in such things we aught to stick to til the end and not bailout half-way through. I like being the world’s only superpower, I just don’t think it’s in our best interests to over-flex that muscle or too stick our noses into too many places. Empire (which America really isn’t) is an un-Godly expensive endeavor, with steeply diminishing returns. Pre-emption is an idea that I have soured on a bit. Taken to it’s extreme, we could spend the next hundred years fighting wars to free ungrateful, unworthy people from the despots that continually (and maybe not coincidentally) rule these people.

      So that probably means I’m an isolationist, (although I certainly don’t look to Pat Buchanan as my intellectual bretheren) but there are 2 types of isolationists: Those that think that the world is too good for America, and those that think America is too good for the world.

      I’m the latter.

    6. Sylvain Galineau Says:

      So I’m a realist. And French too boot.

      What a mess. I feel like a living quagmire. Where are the Marines ?

    7. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      Dean,

      Seems you should be a neocon in good standing, foreign policy wise. If fact, with views like that, you’d have made a hell of a Roman.

      Hail, Caesar! Those who are about to die salute you!

      By ‘resources’, I hope you’re referring to more than sufficient American troops. Or, are you actually in favor of an American Imperium?

      Regarding North Korea, I’d liken them to a nation wearing a nuclear suicide belt. An invasion of NK would almost certainly mean a nuclear war on the peninsula. Which is preferable, tens of thousands dead in gulags and by starvation every year or hundreds of thousands to millions dead by nuclear war? Do the Koreans get to vote on this or is Congressional approval sufficient?

      Regarding Iran, I think most people feel (I among them) that it’s a regime on the ropes. That’s not a guarantee it’s going to fall any time soon, but the demographics are certainly leaning that way. I’d council patience on Iran. And pressure.

      An invasion of Saudi Arbia would mean endless jihad there. We’ll do much better with diplomatic pressure on the Al Saud family to curtail funding of extremists and getting their curriculum more in line with world standards.

      Syria is a tougher nut. Their funding of Hamas is a real problem. I think if Americans are killed by Hamas members, I’d support limited airstrikes on Syria in reprisal. I think the Libyan case demonstrates that can be quite effective.

      For the long haul though, I believe coordinating a plan of action with our allies and others (China, for instance) is going to be a far more effective, less bloody and less dangerous approach.

    8. aaron Says:

      I’m a realist and I agree with about everything DSpears wrote. I don’t know a thing about Eisenhower and very little about Powell.

      I think what were doing in Iraq, for the most part, is a very good, well planned, and a flexible strategy. I think in situations where a threat might be the main reason for military action we should have no problem with making strikes and leaving the mess for the locals to clean up.

    9. aaron Says:

      I’m not concerned with NK as a nuclear threat. I do consider it a proliferation risk. The real problem with NK is the refugee and PR problem. No wants to be responsible for hundreds of thousand, possibly millions, of starving, uneducated, repressed people.

    10. Sylvain Galineau Says:

      I’ll still be the odd one out. I think Pakistan is a bigger present and future problem than anyone else.

    11. aaron Says:

      That’s not so odd.

    12. Lex Says:

      Weird. It says I’m a Neocon. I’m not, I don’t think. I don’t think the quiz is very well put together.

      Pakistan is a catastrophe waiting to happen. Sylvain is right. Some guy manages to shoot Musharraf, and all Hell breaks loose over there.

    13. PJ Says:

      Hmm, I’m a neocon. Dont tell my friends!

      Actually, I think a neocon (in this quiz) is a realist with some romantic visionary thinking, like Paul Berman maybe, which fits in with my past as a liberal/romantic.

    14. Jonathan Says:

      I’m not even going to bother with the test. Most Neocons I know of are ex-Democrats, and I haven’t been a Democrat since I was 12, so I don’t really fit into that category. Call me a Jewish Jacksonian libertarian, or maybe a Zionist minarchist, or a populist republican Republican, or. . .

    15. Tom Bridgeland Says:

      Wow! I am a neo-con! I never would have guessed it before this little quiz. Some of the questions were tough. There were several answers I liked for some and none for others. And here I thought I was libertarian.

    16. Rick in NY Says:

      I defer to VD Hanson on the issue. Regardless of how one, or the Christian Science Monitor, classifies oneself, the present reality is that there are a committed group of men in the world who are set, absent wholesale Islamic conversion, on the destruction of Western civilization and its societies, as it is the will of God in their view. History is full of comparable examples, and the results will be the same.

      At some point liberal democracy will triumph, but the costs will be high – in terms of lives, materials, and money. But what choice do you have?

      Regardless of whether the next act of Al Qaeda occurs in Grand Central Station or the Wal Mart parking lot in Topeka, KS it is being planned, and absent our unwavering commitment to eradicate the men behind it, it will happen.

      Sometimes I think the American public, and certainly most of the intelligensia, fail to understand that we are at war, and war is hell.

    17. john Says:

      you’re surprised? didn’t anyone see the thing in the leftist mag “adbusters” where they listed prominent neocons and put little pen marks next to those they “believed to be jewish”? the weekly standard had a little thing on it a few months ago, including the list.