Neoconservatism: Mugged by Reality | William Yarwood


Well they finally got Liz Cheney. But she sure deserved what was coming to her. After being thwarted by the Trump-backed conservative lawyer Harriet Hageman from her once safe seat as the Republican candidate and Congresswoman for Wyoming’s sole congressional district, Cheney now finds herself in the wilderness. A wildness littered with an array of anti-Trump Republican candidates who have been falling like flies in the recent Republican primary races for Congress.

The overwhelming paleoconservative pro-Trump wing of the Republican party has taken no prisoners and given no apologies for enacting democratic vengeance on those who they perceive to be traitors to the America First agenda. Decrying many, including Cheney herself, as being RINO war-hawks who are more interested in pandering to the Democrats and embezzling public funds into the pockets of the corrupt military-industrial complex rather than standing up for the American people.

The successes of the America First Republicans have been many, but dethroning Cheney from her seat is being lauded as the crowning jewel of their recent achievements. Not just because she was anti-Trump, but because she belonged to and was essentially the heiress to an ideological sect that these nationalist Republicans have declared as their public enemy No.1 – neoconservatism.

Neoconservatism is not exactly in vogue in modern politics, nor do you hear many politicians and pundits wilfully adhering to the label as a badge of honour. If anything ‘neoconservative’ has become a derivative label to signify an ‘establishment’ Republican who is in bed with organisations that work against the American people. However, neoconservatism was once the coolest ideological kid on the right-wing block and had a plethora of supporters who carried the mantle unashamedly. More than that, neoconservatives were a powerful force to be reckoned with at the turn of the 21st century, to such an extent that much of the establishment at that time were self-professed neoconservatives.

How can a group that was riding on such a high and essentially was the establishment have floundered and failed to such a large degree? To answer this question, it is important to first understand what neoconservatism is.

What is Neoconservatism? 

Neoconservatism found a home in the American and British right-wings during the early 2000s, although its origins largely date back to the 1960s. Those associated with the term often declared that neoconservatism could not be coherently defined, nor had a unified manifesto or creed. However, this idea that neoconservatism cannot be clearly defined is not entirely accurate. One only has to look at the plethora of books, articles and journals to illustrate the existence of a coherent intellectual underpinning of neoconservatism. And no intellectual is more important to neoconservatism than Irving Kristol.

Kristol, the often titled ‘Godfather of neoconservatism’, aptly summed the political philosophy up as the position a liberal adopts after he is “mugged by reality”. What Kristol is illustrating by this turn of phrase is that the origins of neoconservatism fundamentally come out of the liberal (by which I mean American progressive) side of the political spectrum.

During the 60s, some sections of American liberals increasingly saw that the promotion of liberal social values, weak foreign policy and the ‘Great Society’, as envisioned by President Lyndon B. Johnson, were proving ineffective and misguided. The New Left counterculture, hippie peaceniks and the policy platform of the 60s Democrat Party caused a group of American liberals to move away from this new ideological consensus amongst the left and encouraged them to form their own amongst the right – namely neoconservatism. But it is specifically the peaceniks that neoconservatives hate the most. In Neoconservatism: The Autobiography of an Idea, Kristol lays the blame at the feet of New Left intellectuals for creating much of the pacifistic feeling that existed during the 60s and 70s – sneering at them as ‘sermonising clerics’ who spend their time inflaming passions without having any real grasp on foreign policy. Neoconservatives saw themselves as the remedy to this epidemic of pacifism pushed forward by countercultural leftists, New Left intellectuals and pro-détente Democrats.

They also saw themselves as being different from their countercultural counterparts because they still placed a lot of value in religion and law and order – both of which would reach their high points under Bush with his co-opting of the Evangelical Christian movement and his belief in capital punishment and mass surveillance. Unlike the New Left, neoconservatives saw religion as important to the maintenance of civil order and viewed it as one of the core ways in which to combat the increasing nihilism of modernity. Kristol himself saw religion as being the answer to two fundamental questions regarding human society:

“The first is: ‘Why?’ The second is: ‘Why not?’…It is religion that, traditionally, has supplied the answers to these questions. In our ever more secularised society, it is still religion that has supplied the answer to the second.”

While the 60s were important in formulating the movement’s ideological structure, neoconservatism would not see any rise in interest until the end of the Cold War. With the USSR gone and the US reigning as the supreme victor of not just the war against Communism but the 20th century at large, many neoconservatives saw this as their opportunity to solidify the US as the dominant power for the next century. This solidification would come about via the development of a new view on US foreign policy which, by today’s standards, is quite radical. 

The 1992 ‘Defence Planning Guidance’ document, which was written by then Under Secretary of Defence for Policy Paul Wolfowitz, can be seen to be the quintessential source in order to properly grasp what neoconservative foreign policy is all about. The document states:

“Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defence strategy and requires that we endeavour to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power.”

In its purest essence then, neoconservative foreign policy is about eliminating potential threats to American global hegemony. But more importantly, by eliminating these threats and ensuring that America has no rivals, allows for the country to solidify itself as the superior and dominant power on the world stage. This desire to eradicate all potential threats to secure the safety and dominance of a nation and its ideology is reminiscent of Trotskyist positions concerning ‘permanent revolution’. A ‘permanent revolution’ is the belief that socialist revolutions need to occur on a worldwide basis to combat global capitalist hegemony and, more importantly, secure the futures of pre-existing socialist states. Mirroring Trotsky, Kristol explained that:

“American democracy is not likely to survive for long in a world that is overwhelmingly hostile to American values, if only because our transactions (economic and diplomatic) with other nations are bound eventually to have a profound impact on our own domestic economic and political system.”

This link between neoconservatism and Trotskyism has been drawn before. Paleoconservatives such as Paul Gottfried and Pat Buchanan have spent their entire careers evidencing this link between neoconservatism and Trotskyism, as well as stressing the fact that various neoconservatives were ex-Trotskyists (including Kristol himself). Due to what paleoconservatives consider to be the Trotskyist and thus revolutionary nature of neoconservatism, they consider it to be one of the most dangerous ideological groups in existence – which explains why America First Republicans hate them so much – with paleoconservative intellectual Gottfried writing:

“What makes neocons most dangerous are not their isolated ghetto hang-ups, like hating Germans and Southern whites and calling everyone and his cousin an anti-Semite, but the leftist revolutionary fury they express.”

Alongside Trotsky, Leo Strauss’s influence on neoconservatism is equally as important and, some would say, equally as controversial. However, unlike the Trotsky association – which neoconservatives unequivocally deny – various neoconservatives refer to Strauss as a primary influence on their thinking. Strauss’ belief that liberal civilisation was faltering came from a belief that the West had become increasingly nihilistic – Strauss being heavily influenced by the Nietzschean diagnosis of a post-‘God is Dead’ world. “The crisis of the West consists in the West’s having become uncertain of its purpose,” wrote Strauss, and it was this pessimism that led Strauss to the position that it was only the West’s immense military power that could give it any measure of confidence. 

This Straussian pessimism bled neatly into neoconservatism and justified their views concerning the need to create a new global hegemony in which America was its lord and master.

This Straussian pessimism bled neatly into neoconservatism and justified their views concerning the need to create a new global hegemony in which America was its lord and master. Furthermore, the obsession with military strength as a means to combat this pessimism is a direct inheritance from Strauss and is a core motivator behind neoconservative views on foreign policy. Neoconservatives are fundamentally pessimists, one of the few things that they do have in common with their paleo and more mainstream conservative counterparts.

So, if neoconservatism believes in foreign interventionism as a method through which to establish and maintain American global hegemony and quell the nihilism innate in modern America, the question remains: what does American global hegemony entail? Ultimately, it entails every country adopting the values of the United States i.e. liberal-democratic capitalism. For the early 20th-century historians reading, this may sound similar to President Woodrow Wilson’s position on US foreign policy: neoconservatives see themselves as being the inheritors of the Wilsonian tradition regarding foreign policy, and this fact becomes starkly clear when one looks at American involvement in the First World War. 

The famous American First World War propaganda poster ‘Make the World Safe for Democracy’ is a great example of the ethos of Wilsonian foreign policy: enter the war, win it and then use the aftermath to overturn European monarchies so that they can become democracies and thus fall under the sphere of American influence. The austrolibertarian political philosopher Hans Hermann Hoppe in his book Democracy: The God That Failed elucidates the significance and ideological nature of Wilson entering the United States into the First World War:

“World War I began as an old-fashioned territorial dispute. However, with the early involvement and the ultimate official entry into the war by the United States in April 1917, the war took on a new ideological dimension. The United States had been founded as a republic, and the democratic principle, inherent in the idea of a republic, had only recently been carried to victory as the result of the violent defeat and devastation of the secessionist Confederacy by the centralist Union government. At the time of World War I, this triumphant ideology of expansionist democratic republicanism had found its very personification in then U.S. President Wilson. Under Wilson’s administration, the European war became an ideological mission—to make the world safe for democracy and free of dynastic rulers.”

Replace ‘Wilson’ for ‘Bush’, ‘European’ for ‘Middle Eastern’ and ‘dynastic’ for ‘theocratic’ and you have the foreign policy platform of a neoconservative. Like Wilson at the end of the First World War, neoconservatives saw the end of the Cold War as an opportunity for a new ‘Pax Americana’. A time in which they could universalise the American system of liberal-democratic capitalism and thus eradicate the potential for any ideological geo-political opposition. This idea somewhat echoes Francis Fukuyama’s seminal work The End of History and the Last Man, in which he illustrates, via the use of a Hegelian historical framework, that liberal democracy has emerged as the final and universal form of human governance, with the United States as its custodial head. Neoconservatism (a label Fukuyama once associated himself with) via American military involvement abroad simply wishes to bring about this new American-dominated epoch closer to the present.

Interventionism for the sake of strengthening and maintaining American global hegemony isn’t the only element of neoconservatism that makes it unique from regular American conservatism. In the words of Ben Wattenberg, a key neoconservative intellectual, neoconservatives also believe in a “muscular role for the state” at home. Neoconservatives advocate for sizable welfare states along with heavy regulation and taxation of the economy in order to ‘rig’ capitalism in the manner they wish it to operate. To use the language of James Burnham, one can describe neoconservatives as being the right-wing torchbearers of the managerial state that began under FDR, via their wish to maintain and even expand the post-Second World War welfare-warfare regulatory state. While a jaded right-libertarian like myself finds this abhorrent, neoconservatives do not share the libertarian fear of state power, as Kristol wrote:

“Neoconservatives are impatient with the Hayekian notion that we are on ‘the road to serfdom.’ We do not feel that kind of alarm or anxiety about the growth of the state in the past century, seeing it as natural, and indeed inevitable.”

State authoritarianism, welfarism, managerialism and, most importantly, a pessimistic belief in military intervention as the tool in which to promote and enforce American ideals abroad and secure American dominance internationally are all core elements of what defines a ‘neoconservative’. But while these ideas were being developed in the 60s and thereafter, it wasn’t until the dawn of the 21st century that neoconservatism would find its hands tightly wrapped around the levers of power.

The Ascendancy of Neoconservatism

When George Bush Jr took his oath of office in January 2001, it was not thought that he would become a president known for foreign wars and the growth of the American warfare state. Bush’s candidacy for president did not chest thump about the might of the American military, nor did it view military intervention as the sole way in which America should conduct itself on the international stage. Nor was Bush particularly authoritarian, at least in comparison to his contemporaries. As Stefan Halper’s book America Alone: The Neo-Conservatives and the Global Order highlights, Bush’s platform on foreign policy was originally in direct contradiction to neoconservatism – disliking the idea that America could act as the ‘world’s policeman’. Many neoconservatives were so opposed to Bush that some ended up funding and supporting Bush’s primary opponents such as John McCain (a long-time icon of the neoconservative right) and stressed amongst neoconservative allied Republicans that “getting into bed with Bush is a mistake”. However, once it was clear Bush had won the candidacy and later the presidency, many neoconservatives flocked around him and were overjoyed. Thanks to the neoconservatives such as Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney who cleverly supplanted themselves in the Bush camp, many neoconservatives now found themselves away from the think tanks and university campuses they resided in and finally within Washington’s halls of power; taking key positions in the Pentagon, the Vice President’s Office, and the National Security Council.

Vice, a film about the life and career of Vice President Dick Cheney, perfectly illustrates the extent to which neoconservatives were now in control. In one memorable scene, Cheney (played by Christian Bale) signals to his Chief of Staff Scooter Libby to explain the “lay of the land” of the Bush administration to his new team. Libby gleefully highlights how, thanks to the incompetency of Bush’s team, Cheney-allied neoconservatives now ruled the roost. Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, John Bolton, David Addington and the Vice President’s Daughter Liz Cheney (remember her?) to name but a few, formed core parts of the new neoconservative regime. From the State Department to the Pentagon to the Oval Office itself, neoconservatives now had unobstructed access to the steering wheels of power that would allow them to drive the American state as they saw fit. The neoconservative deep state had finally arrived.

However, one crucial part of the puzzle was missing – an excuse. The neoconservatives couldn’t swing the American state in the manner they saw fit without a viable reason. After all, their policies and ideas would prove immeasurably unpopular with the general public and indeed other members of the political class. Especially considering the administration was already perceived to be on a knife-edge after only winning the election by 537 votes. So they simply bided their time until an opportunity presented itself.

Luckily for the neoconservatives now riddled throughout the Bush administration, they did not have to wait for long.

The Neoconservative Apex: 9/11 and The War on Terror

11th September 2001 was a watershed moment in American history. The destruction of the World Trade Centre by Muslim terrorists, the deaths of thousands of innocent American citizens, and the general feeling of chaos and vulnerability were enough to turn even the cuddliest of liberals into a bloodthirsty war hawk. People were upset, confused and above all angry and wanted someone to pay for all the destruction and death. To paraphrase Chairman Mao; everything under the heavens was in chaos, for the neoconservatives the situation was excellent.

After 9/11, President Bush threw out the positions on foreign policy that he’d advocated for during his candidacy and became a strong advocate of using US military strength to go after its enemies. The ‘Bush Doctrine’ became the staple of US foreign policy during Bush’s time in office and the magnum opus of the neoconservative deep state. The doctrine stated that the United States was entangled in a global war of ideas between Western values on the one hand, and extremism seeking to destroy them on the other (an argument reminiscent of Kristol’s view on geopolitics). The doctrine turned US foreign policy into a black-and-white war of ideology, where the United States would show leadership in the world by actively seeking out the enemies of the West, eliminating them and changing those countries into becoming like the West. Bush stated in his 2002 State of the Union speech:

“I will not wait on events, while dangers gather.  I will not stand by, as peril draws closer and closer.  The United States of America will not permit the world’s most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world’s most destructive weapons.”

The ‘Bush Doctrine’ was a pure expression of neoconservatism. But the most crucial part of his speech was when he gave a name to the new war the American state had begun to wage:

“Our war on terror is well begun, but it is only begun.  This campaign may not be finished on our watch – yet it must be, and it will be waged on our watch.”

The ‘War on Terror’ became a term that would become synonymous with the Bush years and indeed neoconservatism. For neoconservatives, the attack on 9/11 reaffirmed their pessimism about the world being hostile to the United States and, in turn, their views on needing to eradicate it with ruthless calculation and force. A new doctrine, a new President, a new war – neoconservatism certainly held itself up to its ‘neo’ nature. With all this set in place and the neoconservative deep state rearing to go, they could finally start to do what they had always wanted to do – wage war.

Iraq and Afghanistan became the main targets, with Al Qaeda, Saddam Hussein and the Taliban becoming public enemies numbers one, two and three. A succession of invasions into both countries supported by the British military ended up with the West looking victorious. Both the Taliban and Saddam Hussein had been removed from power, Al Qaeda was on the run, and various of their top leaders had been captured or killed. It was ‘mission accomplished’ and thus time to remould Afghanistan and Iraq into American-aligned liberal democracies. Furthermore, the new neoconservative elite saw to demoralise and outright destroy all those who had been associated with the Hussein regime and Islamic radical groups and thus began a campaign of hunting down, imprisoning and ‘interrogating’ all those involved. While seemingly the victors, this victory would soon prove short-lived and would signal the beginning of the end of the neoconservative project.

The Failure and Eventual Fall of Neoconservatism

A core factor that contributed to the decline of neoconservatism was that their belief that one could simply invade non-democratic and often heavily religious countries and flip them into liberal democracies proved to be highly utopian. As Professor Ian Shapiro pointed out in his Yale lecture on the Demise of the Neoconservatism Dream, the neoconservative’s falsely believed that destroying a country’s military was equivalent to pacifying and ruling a country. The American-British coalition may have swiftly destroyed the armies of Hussein in Iraq and cleared out the Taliban in Afghanistan, but they did not effectively destroy the support both had amongst the general population, nor supplant it with anything worth supporting. If anything the removal of both created an array of intense power vacuums which the neoconservatives could only seem to fill with corrupt American-aligned Middle Eastern politicians as well as gung-ho Generals and neoconservative elites who knew very little about the countries they were presiding over.

To focus on Iraq, one such example of a neoconservative elite is Paul Bremer who led the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Iraq after the Hussein regime was overthrown. His idea was to disband the army and eradicate the Iraqi civil service and governmental authorities of those who were aligned with Hussein’s Ba’ath Party; terming it De-Ba’athification. Both led to a plethora of Iraqis losing their jobs and incomes as well as being smeared as enemies of the new American-led regime. 400,000 Iraqi soldiers lost their jobs and even low-level teachers and civil servant pen-pushers were removed, even though many of them joined the party simply to keep their jobs.

While seen as a tactical way in which to remove any potential opposition to the CPA, the move created more opposition to the new government than any dissident Iraqi group could have wished. It also didn’t help that Bremer and the CPA failed to account for various funds and financial aid given to him for the reconstruction of Iraq, leading to various financial blackholes and millions of dollars that simply disappeared.

Insurgent groups grew rapidly and assassination attempts on Bremer became commonplace, to such an extent that even Osama bin Laden himself placed a sizable bounty on Bremer’s head. The opposition to Bremer was so fervent that he was essentially forced to leave his position in the CPA by mid-2004 with his legacy being one of failure, instability and corruption. A legacy which the Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich called “the largest single disaster in American foreign policy in modern times”.

Attempting to work with opposition, even though they might have been anti-American, is something the US has done before on the world stage, but the neoconservative mind has no tolerance or time for those who oppose American values. Instead, they wish to eradicate them – leading to brutal methods being used against those who do not comply.

It was under the neoconservatives that Guantanamo Bay was opened, a prison known for its mistreatment of prisoners and dubious torture methods. It was under the neoconservatives that Abu Ghraib prison, a feared prison under Hussein’s regime, became a place in which American soldiers and state officials were allowed to abuse and use interrogation methods on prisoners in manners that violate basic human dignity. And it was under the neoconservatives that created a mass surveillance state in their own country via the so-called ‘Patriot Act’ began, which put the privacy of American citizens in great danger. The Bush administration claimed that these abuses of human rights were not indicative of US policy but, as evidenced by a variety of top-level military officials being accused of human rights abuses, they were and the neoconservatives were the ones responsible.

The neoconservative mind has no tolerance or time for those who oppose American values. Instead, they wish to eradicate them.

Luckily, these abuses were quickly all over mainstream news both inside and outside the US and horrified the population at large, even those who had once supported the War on Terror. Furthermore, soldiers who had fought abroad came back with horror stories of their fellow soldiers abusing prison inmates and how they’d left Iraq bombed to the ground, displacing families, and causing casualty rates of up to 600,000 Iraqi civilians. The American mood turned against the war and by the end of Bush’s tenure in office: 64% of Americans felt that the Iraq war had not been worth fighting.

The average American who felt angry and upset at their freedoms being threatened by Islamic terrorism became just as angry and upset when they saw their own country committing atrocities and taking away the freedoms of others. While it may seem cliche to point out the hypocrisy of the American state, it is important to note that this was one of the first times Americans had been exposed to the violence and brutality of which their state was really capable. As Professor Ian Shapiro lays clear, the real legacy of the Iraq war and the War on Terror is that it destroyed America’s moral high ground; a high ground America has never been able to reach since.

By the end of the Bush era, Barrack Obama and the Democrats were attacking the Republicans and their neoconservative wing for their human rights abuses, the unjustified invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan and the implosion of America’s moral standing on the international stage. It is not unfair to say that Obama’s intoxicating charm and message of hope for America were desperately wanted in a post-Bush era so that Americans could try to take the neoconservative taste out of their mouths. He promised to pull out of Iraq, close Guantanamo Bay and replace the neoconservative doctrine with one based on diplomacy and moderation. A far cry from the authoritarianism and militancy of Bush and Cheney.

The majority of neoconservatives left office after the election of Obama – in which he beat the then-darling of the neoconservative right John McCain – and have since failed to re-enter the halls of power or indeed even their own party. The Tea Party movement supplanted neoconservative dominance over the Republican Party in the early 2010s, and those still clinging on are being cleared out by the new America First Republicans. With the dethroning of Liz Cheney, the heiress of the movement herself, signalling the dramatic end of neoconservatism within the Republican Party.

Conclusions

Not since the fall of the Berlin Wall has an ideological group lost its grip on power so completely as the neoconservatives have. With the failure of nation-building in Iraq and Afghanistan, the grotesque violation of individual liberties at home and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people abroad, neoconservatism, and indeed even the US government, became synonymous with warmongering, authoritarianism and out and out international crime. To quote Stephen Eric Bronner in his book Blood in the Sand:

“Like a spoiled child, unconcerned with what anyone else thinks, the United States has gotten into the habit of invading a nation, trashing it, and then leaving without cleaning up the mess.”

Neoconservatives like to hand-wring about the ‘evils’ of Middle Eastern dictators while they allow dogs to tear off the limbs of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, spy on innocent American citizens, and bomb Afghani schools full of children into oblivion. Thanks to the neoconservative project of the early to mid-2000s – elements of which still are in place today – the United States became a leviathan monstrosity of surveillance, torture, corruption and warmongering.

It is interesting to see that after being the “cause célèbre of international politics”, neoconservatives are now the frequent targets of ridicule and scorn; and deservedly so, especially considering what neoconservatism has devolved into. The Straussian and genuinely conservative elements of the political philosophy have been ripped out; replaced with vague appeals to liberal humanitarianism (hardly something Cheney and Rumsfeld were known for) and pandering to globalist organisations like the UN and NATO. The caricature of neoconservatives wanting drag queens to be able to use gender-neutral bathrooms at McDonalds in Kabul has shown to be somewhat accurate. After all, neoconservatives exist to promote ‘Western values’ in foreign countries, so naturally what they will end up promoting is the current cultural orthodoxy of the West, namely progressive leftism, intersectionality and social decadence. 

However, despite their dwindling ranks and watering down of the ideology, the essence of neoconservative foreign policy remains intact; they still think the world should look like the United States. Therefore, it is unsurprising to see neoconservatives calling for every country in the world to be a liberal democracy along the American model, or for Western troops to stay in Afghanistan indefinitely. Not only are these convictions still deeply held, but they are a direct expression of a desire for American global hegemony to persist. On a deeper level, one can see the pearl-clutching and whining from neoconservatives regarding pulling out of Afghanistan as simply a reflection of the anxiety that they hold. Their ideas about what the world should look like have come collapsing before their eyes. And they can’t bear to face the fact that they were wrong.

This collapse has been occurring for some time and hopefully with the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, the removal of the last of the neoconservatives from positions of power and the recent moves amongst elements of the right and left to adopt a more non-interventionist approach to foreign policy, the collapse of neoconservatism will remain permanent. After all, the neoconservatives who backed President Joe Biden – thinking he would spell a revival in their views – have now had an egg thrown in their face, with Biden having proven himself to not be aligned with neoconservative foreign policy views.

The neoconservatives who backed President Joe Biden – thinking he would spell a revival in their views – have now had an egg thrown in their face, with Biden having proven himself to not be aligned with neoconservative foreign policy views.

Despite his claims that ‘America was back’ and his past support of foreign interventionism, it is evident that Biden has no real ideological attachment to staying in Afghanistan or indeed starting any other wars. In turn, he seems to have found it relatively easy to pull out of military engagements and then spout rhetoric that wouldn’t be uncommon to hear at a Ron Paul rally. He stood against nation-building, turning Afghanistan into a unified centralised democracy and rejected endless military deployments and wars as the main tool of US foreign policy. President Biden, alongside President Donald Trump, has turned the tide of US foreign policy away from military interventionism and back towards diplomacy. A surprise to be sure, but a welcome one.

However, while the War on Terror may firmly be at an end, the American state has worryingly turned its eyes towards a new ‘War on Domestic Terror’. A war that political scientist and terrorism expert Max Abrahams worries will be catastrophic for the United States, quoting Abrahams:

“The War on Terror destabilized regions abroad. It’ll destabilise our country all the same… We cannot crack down on people just because we don’t like their ideology…otherwise, the government is going to turn into the thought police and that is going to spawn the next generation of terrorists.”

The neoconservatives may have lost the War on Terror but the structures and policies they put in place to fight that war are now being used, and being used more effectively, against ‘domestic terrorists’. The American regime’s tremble in the lip is so great that it now believes the real threat to its existence lies at home – a belief that has only intensified since the infamous 6th January storming of Congress. While this ‘War on Domestic Terror’ is still in its infancy, it is clear that the neoconservative deep state’s preferred means of torture, mass surveillance and war are now being put back to use. Only time will tell if it will have the same consequences in America as it did in the countries it once occupied.

With the removal of Liz Cheney, the continued rise of anti-interventionism on the right and left, and the memory of the failure of the conflicts in the Middle East fresh in people’s memories, neoconservatism has been all but relegated to the ideological graveyard – its body left to rot under the cold soil for eternity. A fitting fate.

“A neoconservative is a liberal who has been mugged by reality” proclaimed the godfather of the ideology Irving Kristol, but in the perusal of utopian imperial ambitions it has now suffered the same fate – neoconservatism has been mugged by reality. A reality it so desperately and violently tried to bring to heel.


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