BUSH - LITE
MiddleEast.Org - Washington - 30 May: There
are many continuing in their dreams to pin their hopes on the
Democratic Party USA. When it comes to who would be put on the Supreme
Court and marginal differences on matters relating to the environment,
abortion rights, and other admittedly important issues it does matter
to some extent which party controls power in America. But when it
comes to foreign policy, especially matters relating to the Middle East
and Israel, there has been a neoconization of America that far too many
'liberals' and 'progressives' aren't willing to face or confront. This
column from the pages of the LATimes
over the weekend at least begins to examine what has happened to the
collective USA and both of the major parties in what let's charitably
call 'world outlook'. And those with an all-important Washington memory
can recall that the 'Prince of Darkness' himsself, Richard Perle, got
his start on Capitol Hill as foreign policy assistant to one of the
most prominent Democrats of yesteryear, 'Scoop' Jackson.
The Neoconization of America
Neocons in the Democratic Party
Like Kennedy and Truman, Democratic neocons want to beef up
the military and won't run from a fight.
By Jacob Heilbrunn
May 28, 2006 - Los Angeles Times:
DON'T LOOK now, but neoconservatism is making a comeback and not
among the Republicans who have made it famous but in the Democratic
host of pundits and young national security experts associated with the
party are calling for a return to the Cold War precepts of President
Truman to wage a war against terror that New Republic Editor Peter
Beinart, in the title of his provocative new book, calls "The Good
The fledgling neocons of the left are based at places
such as the Progressive Policy Institute, whose president, Will
Marshall, has just released a volume of doctrine called "With All Our
Might: A Progressive Strategy for Defeating Jihadism and Defending
Liberty." Beinart's book is subtitled "Why Liberals and Only Liberals
Can Win the War on Terror and Make America Great Again." Their
political champions include Connecticut Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman and
such likely presidential candidates as former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner
and Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, who is chairman of the Democratic Leadership
This new crop of liberal hawks calls for expanding
the existing war against terrorism, beefing up the military and
promoting democracy around the globe while avoiding the anti-civil
liberties excesses of the Bush administration. They support a U.S.
government that would seek multilateral consensus before acting abroad,
but one that is not scared to use force when necessary.
Democrats want to be seen as anything but the squishes who have led the
party to defeat in the past. Interestingly, that's how the early
neocons saw themselves too: as liberals fighting to reclaim their
party's true heritage before they decamped to the GOP in the 1980s.
the credo of the new Democratic hawks is eerily reminiscent of the
neocons of the 1970s, who ran a full-page ad in the New York Times
called "Come Home, Democrats" after George McGovern's crushing defeat,
in a play on his campaign slogan "Come Home, America." In it, early
neocons such as Jeane Kirkpatrick and Norman Podhoretz called for a
return to the principles of you guessed it Truman and President
They lamented the fact that their party had been
taken over by the forces backing McGovern's run for the presidency in
1972 and wanted to purge the party of the McGovernites. They didn't
want self-abasement about U.S. sins abroad but a vigorous fighting
faith that promoted the American creed of liberty and human rights
abroad and at home.
Now, a generation later, as the crusading
Republican neoconservatism espoused by Weekly Standard Editor William
Kristol and others lies in the smoking rubble of Baghdad, a new
generation of Democrats wants to dust off and rehabilitate those
traditional Democratic principles, which they believe were hijacked by
the Bush administration.
They want, in essence, to return to
the beliefs that originally brought the neocons to prominence, the
beliefs that motivated old-fashioned Cold War liberals such as
Democratic Sen. Henry "Scoop" Jackson.
Where will all this
lead? To an internecine Democratic war, of course. Just as Republicans
are being riven by debates between realists and Bush administration
idealists, so the Democratic Party is about to witness its own battle.
Just as the old neocons wanted to expel the McGovernites, so the new
ones want to rid the party of the Moveon.org types and move it to the
right. As Beinart puts it, "whatever its failings, the right at least
knows that America's enemies need to be fought."
In "With All
Our Might," scholars Larry Diamond and Michael McFaul both Democrats
outline a comprehensive democracy-promotion program. For example,
they imaginatively call for transplanting the 1975 Helsinki accords,
which insisted upon human rights monitoring in the former Warsaw Pact
nations, to the Middle East. "Freedom," they exhort, "is the
fundamental antidote to all forms of tyranny, terror and oppression."
Democrats, who call themselves the "Sept. 11 generation," have formed
what is known as the Truman National Security Project, whose avowed aim
is to revive the "strong security, strong values of the Democratic
Party for Democrats of all ages."
Does this simply sound
like Bush-lite? To the right and the left, it probably will, but the
main opposition facing the would-be Truman successors will come from
the latter. The battle will come from the generation of Democrats who
came of age during the 1960s and who were instrumental in finishing off
"Cold War liberalism" because of its failures in the jungles of
Vietnam, remember, was a liberal, not a conservative,
war, undertaken by warrior intellectuals who were liberal at home but
saw falling dominoes everywhere around the world. (The same lack of
nuance plagues the Bush administration, which has been trying to depict
a global kind of Islamic totalitarianism, when the foe, as in the Cold
War, is really more diffuse and less of a monolith than American
leaders are prepared to believe.)
The Moveon.org types are
hardly prepared to go down without a fight. At the moment, with no end
to the imbroglio in Iraq in sight, they the populist left are
poised for their greatest influence in the party since the McGovern
The new Democratic hawks, like the old neoconservatives
of the 1970s, represent an insurgency, a direct challenge to the
establishment. And if they are to revamp the party, they will have to
do a lot more than simply evoke the ghost of Truman and Co.
it is amusing to see that at the very moment when hawkish realists are
trying to extirpate the neocon credo in the Republican Party, it's
being revived in the Democratic Party that first brought it to life.
* Jacob Heilbrunn, a former Times editorial writer, is writing a book on neoconservatism.