Burial of Neoconservatism?
Andrew Sullivan asserts that “Bush’s apparent acceptance of the Blair-Baker position that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is central to resolving Iraq is the end of neoconservatism in the Bush administration.”
I reject both the idea that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has much of anything to do with Iraq and much of the neoconservative foreign policy agenda. Regardless, it is far from clear that Sullivan’s contention is correct.
Neoconservatism’s central tenants vis-a-vis foreign policy, as outlined by founder Irving (father of Bill) Kristol are “Patriotism is a necessity, world government is a terrible idea, the ability to distinguish friend from foe, protecting national interest both at home and abroad, and the necessity of a strong military.” Certainly, a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which definitionally would be on terms acceptable to Israeli, would not violate any of those principles.
In its second generation incarnation, neoconservatives contend that,
Aggressive support for democracies and nation building is founded on a belief that, over the long term, it will reduce the extremism that is a breeding ground for Islamic terrorism. Neoconservatives, along with many other political theorists, have argued that democratic regimes are less likely to instigate a war than a country with an authoritarian form of government. Further, they argue that the lack of freedoms, lack of economic opportunities, and the lack of secular general education in authoritarian regimes promotes radicalism and extremism. Consequently, neoconservatives advocate the spread of democracy to regions of the world where it currently does not prevail, most notably the Arab nations of the Middle East, communist China, North Korea and Iran.
How does a resolution of the crisis violate that? The Palestinian Authority is already quasi-democratic, in the sense of having meaningful elections, even if the result is hardly to our liking. Presumably, a sovereign Palestine would be less apt to elect terrorists in the future.
It seems to me that the ISG recommendation most at odds with neoconservatism is the idea that we should seek the cooperation of the despots in Iran and Syria, buying them off so that they will quit fomenting trouble in Iraq. That’s hardline Realpolitik. All indications so far, though, as that Bush is dismissing that out of hand.