Last Gasp of the Neoconservatives (Real Clear Defense)


    Last Gasp of the Neoconservatives – By Francis P. Sempa (Real Clear Defense) / Sept 2, 2023

    The Washington Post on August 15, 2023, in a story by Mariana Alfaro, writes about Bill Kristol’s launch of “Republicans for Ukraine,” which is using a $2 million ad campaign “to get congressional Republicans to commit to continue funding aid for Ukraine ahead of what is likely to be a lengthy appropriations fight.” According to Alfaro, advertisements, which will include “testimony” from pro-Ukraine Republican voters, will appear on television, billboards, and online. After two decades of promoting failed and costly wars and interventions, Kristol and what is left of the neoconservative movement are making a last gasp at relevance by once again promoting American involvement in another war.

    Fortunately, neoconservatives are a dying breed in American politics. At least in the Republican Party. Having achieved relevance in the latter stages of the Cold War by breaking with the Democratic Party (where most of them came from) and supporting President Ronald Reagan’s policies that won the Cold War, the neoconservatives spent much of the post-Cold War world finding new “monsters to destroy” (to use the famous phrase of John Quincy Adams). They first picked Saddam Hussein in Iraq. But after the U.S. military achieved a quick victory on the battlefield in 1991 and forced Iraqi forces to leave Kuwait, the neoconservatives criticized the Bush 41 administration for not toppling the Iraqi regime. During the Clinton administration, the neocons were ardent champions of U.S. intervention in the Balkans. Then, after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the neoconservatives persuaded the George W. Bush administration not only to retaliate against our enemies in Afghanistan but to declare a “Global War on Terror” and launch a crusade to democratize the Arab regimes of the Middle East. Bush 43, backed by the neoconservatives and using Wilsonian rhetoric, preemptively attacked Iraq, overthrew the heinous Hussein regime, declared “victory,” and then needlessly expended the lives of American soldiers and American treasure in failed efforts to remake the Middle East in America’s image.

    At the same time that the neoconservatives promoted the democratization of the Middle East, they also urged the Bush 43 administration to expand NATO closer to Russia’s border, ignoring the prudent counsel of Bush 41 Secretary of State James Baker (who told Russian leaders that NATO would not expand if Russia didn’t contest German reunification), and Russian expert and elder statesman George F. Kennan who presciently warned that NATO expansion would revive the worst aspects of Russian nationalism and imperialism. Bush 43 not only expanded NATO further (Romania, Estonia, Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia were given membership in 2004, while Albania, and Croatia were invited during the Bush 43 administration but formally joined in 2009), he also publicly called for Ukraine and Georgia to join the alliance. The neocons also urged U.S. intervention in Syria and Libya in 2011 as part of their championing of the so-called “Arab Spring,” which led not to democracy but instead to anarchy, chaos, and increased Russian and Chinese influence in the region.



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