A neoconservative (colloquially, neocon) in American politics is someone presented as a "conservative" but who actually favors big government, globalism, interventionism, perpetual war, police state, gun control, and a hostility to religion in politics and government. The word means "newly conservative," and thus formerly liberal. A neocon is typically pro-Deep State and a RINO Backer, and like RINOs does not accept most of the important principles in the Republican Party platform. Neocons do not participate in the March for Life, nor stand up for traditional marriage, advocate other conservative social values, or emphasize putting America first. Neocons support attacking and even overthrowing foreign governments, despite how that often results in more persecution of Christians. Some neocons (like Dick Cheney) have profited immensely from the military-industrial complex and their pro-war positions. Many neocons are globalists and support the War on Sovereignty.
Many neocons focus on the Middle East, often invoking Israel as a justification for endless war when in fact the true central justification is to protect the Saudi regime and the petrodollar. They also favor arming terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda and ISIS in order to achieve their foreign policy goals.
The centerpiece of neocon strategy was to invade Iraq, which left a predictable vacuum that resulted in the murder of many Christians there and the rise of ISIS. During the presidential Republican primaries in 2016, Donald Trump humiliated the neocons' insistence on the Iraq War, exposed the neocon claim of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq as a lie, and routed the neocon-supported Marco Rubio in his home state of Florida by a wide margin. Despite this, the mainstream media continues to treat neocons as "experts."
British rock star Mick Jagger released a vulgar song criticizing the neocons entitled "My Sweet Neocon," but he ineptly confused neocons with the Christian Right: "You call yourself a Christian ...."
- 1 Description
- 2 Dual origins
- 3 Values
- 4 Publications
- 5 Social Issues
- 6 Neoconservatives in the Obama era
- 7 Neoconservatism and Donald Trump
- 8 Nazi and Trotskyist roots of Neoconservatism: Shachtman and Burnham meet Carl Schmitt
- 9 See also
- 10 Further reading
- 11 External links
- 12 References
Many older neocons had been liberals in their youth and admired President Franklin D. Roosevelt, while younger neocons are more economically conservative than Roosevelt but like to downplay the social issues. In 2010 the highest priority of the neoconservatives was to increase military action by the United States in the Middle East and Afghanistan, and to expand it to an American confrontation against Iran; in 2011 their goals include supporting a military attack on Libya, continuing the Afghanistan War indefinitely, and even suggesting military action against Syria. There is a revolving door between some neocons and highly paid positions in the defense industry, which may explain the constant neoconservative demands for more wars.
In the European nations of Britain and France, neoconservatives and globalists dominate "right"-leaning politics, but in the United States neocons are less influential than the conservative movement. For example, neocons begrudgingly supported Mitt Romney as the Republican nominee for President in 2012, even though he was not their first choice and Romney has never supported the neocon agenda.
Neoconservatives tend to oppose the appointment of social conservatives to high governmental positions, such as nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. Neoconservatives support candidates who are liberal on social issues instead.
Neoconservatives favor expensive foreign interventionism with massive federal spending, often to replace a dictator with a new system of government that may be worse. Sometimes this is expressed as a desire to install a democracy in a culture that may be incompatible with it. The neoconservative position was discredited in the failure of democracy in the Iranian elections of 2009.
The neoconservative movement emerged in the mid-1970s, played a limited role in the Ronald Reagan Administration, and then had a voice in the Defense Department under the George W. Bush Administration after 9/11. Neoconservatives were prominent in the Bush Administration by supporting an interventionist domestic policy they called "compassionate conservatism" and a strong foreign policy, and especially favored the Iraq War and its efforts to spread democracy worldwide.
Some prominent spokesmen include Bill Kristol, Paul Wolfowitz, Lewis Libby, Norman Podhoretz, Charles Krauthammer, Richard Perle, Robert Kagan, Christopher Hitchens, Bernard Lewis, Stephen Schwartz, Elliott Abrams, Ben Wattenberg and Carl Gershman.
In contrast to traditional conservatives, neoconservatives favor globalism, downplay religious issues and differences, are unlikely to actively oppose abortion and homosexuality. Neocons disagree with conservatives on issues such as classroom prayer, the separation of powers, cultural unity, and immigration. Neocons favor a strong active state in world affairs.
One major strand of Neoconservatism emerged from a group of New York intellectuals, many of whom attended City College of New York in the late 1930s, a group that includes Irving Kristol, Daniel Bell, Seymour Martin Lipset and Nathan Glazer. Many of this group came to despise the counterculture of the 1960s and what they felt was a growing "anti-Americanism" among many baby boomers. During the Cold War era, most vigorously opposed the Stalinist regime. Kristol described a neoconservative as a "liberal mugged by reality".
Paleoconservatives, who dislike Neoconservatism intensely, have argued that it emerged from Trotskyite theories, especially the notion of permanent revolution. There are four fundamental flaws in the paleoconservatives' attack: most of the neoconservatives were never Trotskyites; none of them ever subscribed to the right-wing Socialism of Max Shachtman; the assertion that neoconservatives subscribe to "inverted Trotskyism" is misleading; and neoconservatives advocate democratic globalism, not permanent revolution.
A second main line of development of neoconservatism was strongly influenced by the work of German-American political philosopher Leo Strauss. Some of Strauss' students include Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork, former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, former Assistant Secretary of State Alan Keyes, former Secretary of Education William Bennett, Weekly Standard editor William Kristol, political philosopher Allan Bloom, former New York Post editorials editor John Podhoretz, former National Endowment for the Humanities Deputy Chairman John T. Agresto; political scientist Harry V. Jaffa; and Nobel Prize winning novelist Saul Bellow.
Neoconservatives also tend to minimize or overlook the significance of religious beliefs in conflicts and policies, as in advocating the installation of democracy in Muslim countries with little regard for Islamic beliefs and practices.
Neoconservatives hold an idealistic belief in social progress and the universality of human rights, coupled with anti-Communism. They hold the view that there is a universal desire to live in a technologically advanced and prosperous society and liberal democracy is one of the byproducts of such modernization.
The leading publications of neoconservatives since the 1970s have been Commentary, The Public Interest (founded by Daniel Bell and Irving Kristol) and The Weekly Standard. Many Washington think tanks, such as the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), the Project For New American Century (PNAC), Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) and Henry Jackson Society are now dominated by neoconservatives.
Neoconservatives positions on social issues are mixed with some holding to liberal positions on social matters, and are unlikely to agree with religious conservatives on issues like abortion, prayer in school and same-sex "marriage". Other neoconservatives of the Straussian type tend to have greater degrees of agreement with religious and cultural conservatives on social issues. Neoconservatives differ from libertarians in that neoconservatives tend to support big government policies to further their objectives, and to support Bush's 2001 Patriot act.
Neoconservatives often describe themselves as "conservative". William Kristol, a leading neoconservative, described himself as the "token conservative" when he taught at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.
In anticipation of vacancies on the U.S. Supreme Court, the neoconservatives urged on Bush the selection of Michael McConnell, a libertarian-leaning jurist, and J. Michael Luttig, who declared Roe v. Wade to be "super-stare decisis" and later left the judiciary to become general counsel of Boeing. Both were passed over in filling the vacancies and both left the judiciary entirely after missing their best chance for being appointed to the Supreme Court passed.
The term was coined by Socialist party leader Michael Harrington to describe the rightward turn of onetime liberals, and it was proudly accepted first by Irving Kristol then by most of the others.
Neoconservatives in the Obama era
Neoconservatives in the Obama era engineered both the rise of the Islamic State and the Syrian War which claimed in excess of 400,000 lives and created more than 6,000,000 homeless refugees abroad. They also inadvertently created the European migrant crisis.
The original intention of the neocons was regime change in Syria – the overthrow of Bashar Assad – without using American troops. Radical Islamic terrorists, many of their leaders supposedly "de-radicalized" while in American detention, were returned to their groups to form new militias armed and trained by American, Turkish, Saudi, and Qatari Special Operations Forces and advisors. By removing the Syrian Alawite regime aligned with Iran, the hope was to rid Syria of Hezbollah, a 10,000 man force which is directly under the command and control of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, and deemed a threat to Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the Gulf states.
The Benghazi massacre however, slowed the progress of arming the Syrian jihadis, now dubbed "moderate rebels" by the Obama administration and its sycophantic media. The Syrian government gained popular support as the people of Syria witnessed foreign jihadis backed by the Obama administration and its allies, flood Syria with psychotic killers and weapons. With a quick resolution not in the offing, Russian troops intervened preventing the Obama administration from establishing a no-fly zone to aid its radical jihadis on the ground to overthrow the government, as had been done in Libya.
Neoconservatism and Donald Trump
Despite campaigning against endless foreign wars and a humanitarian-based foreign policy that promotes democracy, President Donald Trump appointed several internationalists and neoconservatives to his administration, including John Bolton and Mike Pompeo.
Alex Jones has claimed that neo-conservatives, as part of a Deep State, have been fighting a civil war inside the United States Government in order to gain control of the government and influence President Donald Trump – himself, Paul Joseph Watson, and David Knight also claimed this throughout Infowars segments, and that the recent missiles launched against Assad were a result of the neo-conservatives attempting to control Donald Trump.
Stefan Halper, a neoconservative of the Bush Sr. era, colluded with Obama CIA Director John Brennan and FBI agent Peter Strzok to set-up Trump advisors Carter Page and George Papadopoulos as supposed agents of the Russia government, to initiate an FBI counterintelligence investigation and procure a FISA warrant to surveil the 2016 Trump campaign, Trump transition team, and well into the first year of the Trump Administration.
Nazi and Trotskyist roots of Neoconservatism: Shachtman and Burnham meet Carl Schmitt
Neoconservative globalist ideas on foreign policy have their roots on the writings of renegade Trotskyists Max Shachtman and James Burnham in the 1940s and 1950s, while on domestic policy they derive their authoritarianism from the writings of Nazi jurist Carl Schmitt during the same period.
Burnham and Shachtman were American Trotskyists who had clashed with Leon Trotsky in 1939-40 on the issue of whether the international workers' movement should support the Soviet Union in the event of a Nazi attack. Trotsky said it should, while Burnham and Shachtman said it should not. Both Burnham and Shachtman abandoned Marxism in the 1940s (ostensibly) and entered the conservative movement. In fact, they never really abandoned the idea of "Permanent Revolution", they just reshaped it to make it look more "conservative": the one-world government, for them, wouldn't come through the USSR or through workers' revolution, but through American internationalist and imperialist foreign policy. Burnham explicitly wrote:
A World Federation initiated and led by the United States would be, we have recognized, a World Empire. In this imperial federation, the United States, with a monopoly of atomic weapons, would hold a preponderance of decisive material power over all the rest of the world. In world politics, that is to say, there would not be a balance of power.
As regards domestic policy, the neoconservatives' advocacy for the aggressive curtailing of freedom and civil liberties has its roots to the ideas of a self-proclaimed post-war ally of American imperialism, Carl Schmitt, who before the war had been a Nazi jurist for Hitler. The proponent of the theories of "state of exception" and "unitary executive power" (which, according to Schmitt, "frees the executive from any legal restraints to its power that would normally apply"), during the Weimar Republic Schmitt had advocated for the imposition of a Presidential dictatorship by Paul von Hindenburg, then after 1933 he willingly offered his services to Hitler and produced legal theories that justified Nazi invasion of neutral countries, infamously proclaiming "woe to the neutrals". Schmitt called for an imposition of an open dictatorship of a system aligned to the needs and interests of big government and corporations against the people. He argued that the massacre of large numbers of people without due process of law signifies the creation of a new world order of law and justice.
Some have argued that neoconservativism has been influenced by Schmitt. Most notably the legal opinions offered by Alberto Gonzales, John Yoo et al. by invoking the unitary executive theory to justify highly controversial policies in the war on terror—such as introducing unlawful combatant status which purportedly would eliminate protection by the Geneva Conventions, torture, NSA electronic surveillance program—mimic his writings. Professor David Luban said in 2011 that "[a] Lexis.com search reveals five law review references to Schmitt between 1980 and 1990; 114 between 1990 and 2000; and 420 since 2000, with almost twice as many in the last five years as the previous five".
In 1934, Schmitt wrote an essay bearing the title: 'The Führer Protects Justice'. In it he defended the crassest form of arbitrary fascist justice and most firmly upheld the view that the Führer had the sole right to distinguish between friend and foe:
The Führer is in earnest over the warnings of German history. That affords him the right and the power to found a new State and a new order ... The Führer is protecting justice from the vilest misuse when, in the hour of danger, he creates justice directly as the supreme authority by virtue of his leader's office ... The office of judge emanates from that of Führer. Anyone ... wishing to separate the two is seeking to put the State out of joint with the aid of justice . . . The Führer himself determines the content and scope of a transgression against the law.
Schmitt not only supported Hitler's moves in home affairs. Already before the outbreak of the Second World War, during the preparations for it, he became the leading law ideologist of Nazi Germany's foreign policy. He resisted the 'universalist' claims of the League of Nations and called instead for the application of the Monroe Doctrine to Germany and territory in which she had interests. He quoted a statement by Hitler on this subject and commented:
'That expresses the idea of a peacefully arbitrated (schiedlich-friedlich) demarcation of the major territories in the simplest business-like terms. It eliminates the confusion that an economic imperialism created around the Monroe doctrine by twisting its reasonable idea of territorial demarcation into an ideological claim to global intervention.'
This theory too rested on the Nazi dogma of the 'Reich'. 'Empires in this sense are the leading and supporting powers whose political idea is radiated over a specified major territory and which fundamentally exclude the intervention of extra-territorial powers with regard to this territory.' Such a division of the world, which would guarantee the appropriate 'major territories' for Germany and Japan, would, in Schmitt's view, mark the start of a new and higher condition of international justice. There would no longer be nation-states, as before, but only 'empires'. The concrete consequences of this Schmitt spelled out in another essay bearing the significant title 'Woe to the Neutrals!' Here it was argued that the concept of major territories implied the abolition of neutrality. So in 1938, Schmitt had penned in advance the 'international' legal apologia for unbridled imperialism: Empires had the "right" to conquer nations. It is this core legal ideology that he rent to the Americans after the war.
Shortly after Nazi defeat, he re-invented himself as an spokesman of American globalism. In "Nomos of the Earth" (1950), he gave the best definition of the principle behind American globalist foreign policy which he supported. Schmitt's formulation rivals Burnham's in cynicism but surpasses it in precision: 'cujus economia, ejus regio'. This is a cynically candid expression of the United States' absolute claim to global dominion; and not by chance is it an up-to-date secular variant on the 1555 Augsburg Convention (cujus regio, ejus religio). In both cases naked power relations are stated as absolute determinants, only now of course at a more advanced stage, hence economic in substance and absolute in all political respects.
Being a proponent of war and foreign intervention on the part of Nazi Germany, after the war he advocated, with equal fervor, a policy of interventionism and perpetual war (or, as he called it, "world-wide civil war") on the part of the United States. Hence he showed in "Nomos of the Earth" (1950) the ineluctability of the dilemma of isolation or intervention for the U.S.A.:
The contradictions stem from the unresolved problems of a territorial development involving an obligation either to set limits to the invasion and to find other major territories beside those recognizing themselves as such, or else to turn back what has hitherto been a war of national claims into a world-wide civil war.
As a short summary, Neoconservatives take their advocacy for globalism, interventionism, perpetual war, police state and the trampling of citizens' rights from two Trotskyists (Shachtman and Burnham) and one Nazi (Schmitt).
- Right-wing dictatorship
- George W. Bush
- Dick Cheney
- Donald Rumsfeld
- Bill Kristol
- Irving Kristol
- Permanent Revolution, a Troyskite idea that Neocons do not accept
- Norman Podhoretz
- Leo Strauss
- Lionel Trilling, a major literary critic who influenced many neocons
- Paul Wolfowitz, a powerful #2 under Donald Rumsfeld in the Defense Department in 2001–04, advocated invasion of Iraq
- David Petraeus
- John Bolton
- Mike Pompeo
- Steve Bannon
- Police state
- Bloom, Allan. The Closing of the American Mind (1988)
- Dorrien, Gary. The Neoconservative Mind, (1993)
- Friedman, Murray. The Neoconservative Revolution: Jewish Intellectuals and the Shaping of Public Policy. (2006) excerpt and text search.
- Fu kuyama, Francis. America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy, (2006)
- Gerson, Mark. The Neoconservative Vision: From the Cold War to Culture Wars (1997)
- Halper, Stefan and Jonathan Clarke. America Alone: The Neo-Conservatives and the Global Order (2004) excerpt and text search* *Heilbrun, Jacob. They Knew They Were Right: The Rise of the Neocons (2009) excerpt and text search
- Murray, Douglas. Neoconservatism: Why We Need It (2006)
- Steinfels, Peter. The Neoconservatives: The Men Who Are Changing America's Politics. (1979)
- Stelzer, Irwin. Neo-conservatism (2004)
- Demuth, Christopher, and William Kristol, eds. The Neoconservative Imagination: Essays in Honor of Irving Kristol (1995) excerpt and text search
- Gerson, Mark ed., The Essential Neo-Conservative Reader (1997)
- Kristol, Irving. Neoconservatism: the Autobiography of an Idea (1999) excerpt and text search
- Stelzer, Irwin, ed. The NeoCon Reader (2005) excerpt and text search
- Neoconservatism's Future: It's still the only game in town, Joshua Muravchik, OpinionJournal.com, October 3, 2007. From Commentary.
- The Henry Jackson Society
- The Neoconservative Persuasion by Irving Kristol
- Carlson, Tucker (February 15, 2019). Why Are These Professional War Peddlers Still Around? The American Conservative. Retrieved February 15, 2019.
- The Neoconservative Revolution: Jewish Intellectuals and the Shaping of Public Policy, Murray Friedman, 2005
- After Neoconservatism, February 19, 2006
- William F. King, "Neoconservatives and 'Trotskyism'" American Communist History 2004 3(2): 247-266 online at EBSCO
- Maitra, Sumantra (November 11, 2019). Freakout Over Nationalism Book Illustrates The End Of Traditional Left-Right Politics. The Federalist. Retrieved December 2, 2019.
- James Burnham, The Struggle for the World (Toronto: Longmans, 1947), 190, 210.
- Legal justification
- Thinking out loud about John Yoo (and about Carl Schmitt) by Sandy Levinson, Balkinization, April 12, 2008
- The Bush Regime from Elections to Detentions: A Moral Economy of Carl Schmitt and Human Rights by Abraham, David, University of Miami – School of Law, University of Miami Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2007 – 20 May 2007
- Torture, Necessity and Existential Politics by Kutz, Christopher L., University of California, Berkeley – School of Law (Boalt Hall), UC Berkeley Public Law Research Paper No. 870602, December 2005
- The Return of Carl Schmitt Scott Horton, Balkinization, 7 November 2005
- Deconstructing John Yoo by Scott Horton, Harpers, 23 January 2008
- The will to undemocratic power By Philip S Golub, Le Monde Diplomatique, September 2006
- The Leo-conservatives by GERHARD SPÖRL, Der Spiegel, 4 August 2003
- War crimes warning
- David Luban, "Carl Schmitt and the Critique of Lawfare", Georgetown Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 11-33, p. 10