Wednesday, May 05, 2004

NeoCon vs. Con

Amid the swirl of foreign policy rhetoric, the term "neocon" (short for neoconservative) has been tossed around more frequently than dice at a craps table to describe the Bush administration's foreign policy apparatus, and at times the entire Republican Party.

I'm not sure this description is 100% accurate, although the recent war in Iraq certainly makes it appear this way. In truth though, there is an underlying tension in the conservative movement, between the neocons and the realists. Even the term neocon is not monolithic, and many of its adherents espouse differing views on many aspects of the overall theory. There is an excellent parsing of the philosophical tensions here, but in a nutshell the common themes are as follows:

"Contempt for international organizations and the concept of multilateralism; impatience with traditional balance-of-power diplomacy; a cultish devotion to the use of military power; an outspoken belief in the superiority of Western culture and political institutions; a messianic vision of America's mission to "civilize" the world, which at times (Max Boot) makes them sound like caricatures of old-fashioned European imperialists. And of course: an intense identification with the state of Israel, and a willingness, even eagerness, to use American power to protect and further Israeli security interests."

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