Twilight of the neocons
by Ted Rall
Perry Anderson has a very interesting piece on neocon Francis Fukuyama in the latest issue of the Nation. Fukuyama, once the herald of post-cold war capitalist triumphalism and prominent member of the Project for a New American Century, has garnered a lot of attention lately on the left because of his well publicized break with his fellow neo-cons. An advertisement for his new book America at the Crossroads, is even running on the Daily Kos website.
The extent of the break has, of course, been exaggerated as Anderson points out. Despite the book's commendable rejection of American exceptionalism, Fukuyama continues to promote a policy of "Realistic Wilsonianism."
Fukuyama remains fully committed to the American mission of spreading democracy round the world, and the use of all effective means at the disposal of Washington to do so. His criticism of the Bush Administration is that its policies in the Middle East have been not only ineffective but counterproductive. The promotion of internal regime change by the right mixture of economic and political pressures is one thing. Military action to enforce it externally is another, conducive to misfortune.For "democracy" read "capitalism" and the picture becomes pretty clear. Indeed, Fukuyama has become skeptical about the universality of democracy and the goal has thus been reduced to promoting strong states capable of "good governance."
There is not the faintest suggestion in these pages of any basic change in the staggering accumulation of military bases around the world, or the grip of the United States on the Middle East, let alone symbiosis with Israel. Everything that brought the country to 9/11 remains in place.The desperation of the left in the face of the ongoing horrors of the imperium makes it all too easy to exaggerate the degree to which the growing chorus of right wing defectors like Fukuyama and Phillips have really changed.
Anderson also usefully reminds us that Fukuyama's account of the origins of the war as a neocon mistake is a self-aggrandizing misinterpretation. Many of the promoters of the war were not neocons and many were not even Republicans.
Everything happens as if neoconservatives were the basic driving force behind the march to Baghdad, and it is their ideas that must be cured if America is to get back on track. In reality, the front of opinion that pressed for an assault on Iraq was far broader than a particular Republican faction. It included many a liberal and Democrat. Not merely was the most detailed case for attacking Saddam Hussein made by Kenneth Pollack, a functionary of the Clinton Administration. What remains by a long way the most sweeping theorization of a program for American military intervention to destroy rogue regimes and uphold human rights round the world is the work of Philip Bobbitt, nephew of Lyndon Johnson and another and more senior ornament of the national security apparatus under Clinton.Even today, the vast majority of the Democrats remain supporters of the war in some form or another. So delegitimizing the neocons, and getting them out of their positions of power is a worthwhile goal, but hardly the end of the struggle.