July 24, 2003
Cato Institute: Upholding Liberty in America
The Cato Institute is one of the most respected libertarian think tanks in America.
Upholding Liberty in America
by Ed Crane and William Niskanen
Ed Crane is president of the Cato Institute and William Niskanen is its chairman.
In the aftershock of September 11, 2001, there is a heightened awareness among most Americans of how precious their freedom is. They also realise the need for better government intelligence work to fight terrorism. But they should not let the government usurp basic liberties.
This is a danger as more and more anti-terrorist laws and rules straightjacket the nation. There is a congruent danger: the rise of neoconservatism on the right. The movement is using the threat of terrorism to expand government at home and abroad. America must safeguard its freedoms in the fight against terrorism, but protect itself from pernicious policies that erode freedom in the name of liberty.
Underlying neoconservatism is a desire to reshape America and the world through the efforts of a robust federal government. For years, the Weekly Standard, the neoconservative magazine, has promoted the need for initiatives to reinforce America's international power. Merely living in a free society appears to be insufficient for neoconservatives.
During George W. Bush's campaign for president, the neoconservative influence was felt in domestic policy ideas such as faith-based initiatives that would involve the federal government in private local charities, often with a religious orientation. It was also seen in the call for a greater federal role in local education. These are both inconsistent with the concept of limited government and federalism.
But neocons tend to be dismissive of the idea that the federal government should be limited to the protection of an individual's right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Some in the neoconservative movement have openly called for an American empire around the globe. Max Boot, the writer, recently praised what he termed America's "imperialism" and said it should impose its views "at gunpoint". James Woolsey, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, has called for a decades-long campaign to re-order the entire Middle East along neoconservative lines. Such thinking is profoundly un-American.
All is not gloom. What is needed now is for limited government conservatives of the variety exemplified by Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater to join forces with libertarians and enlightened liberals who respect civil liberties. They should speak out in support of America's heritage of liberty.
Posted by Lance Brown at 02:56 AM
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July 20, 2003
From heroes to targets
Salon.com is a decidedly left-leaning media source, but I found this article to be a well-written examination of the distance between the neocon/PNAC vision of how the war on Iraq would turn out, and reality. It's quite a distance.
I haven't been posting a lot of stories about how the war over there is failing, even though I read a lot of those. No point in beating a dead horse, really -- and this isn't an anti-war site as much as it's an anti- world-domination-based-foreign-policy site. However, it's very important to understand that there is that distance between the PNAC vision of the U.S. flexing its world-power muscles, and what the targets of our flexion see. And as long as there is that distance, things will not turn out like the PNAC visionaries have envisioned.
This excerpt is fairly long, as is the article itself. Both are worthy of their length, I think.
(Brief ad view or paid Salon.com membership needed to read full article.)
Salon.com News | From heroes to targets
The U.S. occupation of Iraq has turned into a daily debacle, say experts, because the Washington ideologues who planned the war were living in a fantasy.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
By Michelle Goldberg
July 18, 2003 | The Pentagon hawks who planned for postwar Iraq assumed American troops would be welcomed with flowers and gratitude. They assumed Saddam's regime could be decapitated but the body of the state left intact, to be administered by American advisors and handpicked Iraqis. They assumed that other countries, despite their opposition to the war, would come around once they saw how right America was, and would assist in Iraq's reconstruction.
The war's architects placed such unyielding faith in their assumptions that when they all turned out to be wrong, there was no Plan B.
Now, demoralized American forces are being attacked more than a dozen times a day and nearly every day an American soldier is killed. Iraqis are terrorized by violent crime; they lack water, electricity and jobs. With gunfire echoing through the night and no fans to stir the desert heat, people can't sleep and nerves are brittle. The number of troops on the ground is proving inadequate to restore order, but reinforcements, much less replacements, aren't readily available, and foreign help is not forthcoming. Saddam Hussein, like Osama bin Laden, is still at large. The White House now says the occupation will cost nearly $4 billion a month. While American fortunes could always improve, on Wednesday, Gen. John P. Abizaid, the new commander in Iraq, said American troops are fighting a guerrilla war, contradicting the sanguine rhetoric coming from the administration.
America isn't losing the peace. The peace never began.
The current chaos in Iraq, many experts say, is the inevitable result of grandiose neoconservative ideology smacking into reality. The neocons underestimated the Iraqis' nationalism and their mistrust of America. They were so convinced that a bright new Middle Eastern future would inevitably spring from military victory that they failed to prepare for any other scenario. "Everything derives from a very defective understanding of what Iraq was like," says retired Col. Pat Lang, who served as the Pentagon's chief of Middle Eastern intelligence from 1985 until 1992 and who has closely followed the discussions over the Iraq war and its aftermath. "It was a massive illusion that the neocons had. It all flows from that."
Posted by Lance Brown at 05:15 PM
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July 16, 2003
PNAC college paper
Hi, this is my first entry to a blog, so dont go nuts on me if i messed up. I've uploaded a paper i wrote for my one class at college exposing pnac to ppl, the college profesor was as shocked to learn that this was going on as i was. Your comments are all welcomed.
Posted by Matt Hannon at 04:27 PM
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July 11, 2003
Rep. Ron Paul's Speech to Congress: "Neo-conned"
Republican Representative Ron Paul gave a stirring speech in Congress yesterday titled "Neo-conned". I haven't read it all, but I caught some of it live on C-Span. Ron Paul is well-respected by people from all across the political spectrum for his consistent adherence to principle -- in his case, the principle of liberty.
From what I know of Ron Paul, I'm sure this speech stands as one of the most credible and well-stated warnings about the encroaching influence of neo-conservatism -- the core philosophy driving the Project for the New American Century.
U.S. Representative Ron Paul: Neo-conned
Here is one relatively short segment in that long speech which gets to the heart of the matter:
Since the national debt is increasing at a rate greater than a half-trillion dollars per year, the debt limit was recently increased by an astounding $984 billion dollars. Total U.S. government obligations are $43 trillion, while total net worth of U.S. households is just over $40.6 trillion. The country is broke, but no one in Washington seems to notice or care. The philosophic and political commitment for both guns and butter—and especially for expanding the American empire—must be challenged. This is crucial for our survival.
In spite of the floundering economy, the Congress and the administration continue to take on new commitments in foreign aid, education, farming, medicine, multiple efforts at nation building, and preemptive wars around the world. Already we’re entrenched in Iraq and Afghanistan, with plans to soon add new trophies to our conquest. War talk abounds as to when Syria, Iran and North Korea will be attacked.
How did all this transpire? Why did the government do it? Why haven’t the people objected? How long will it go on before something is done? Does anyone care?
Will the euphoria of grand military victories—against non-enemies—ever be mellowed? Someday, we as a legislative body must face the reality of the dire situation in which we have allowed ourselves to become enmeshed. Hopefully, it will be soon!
We got here because ideas do have consequences. Bad ideas have bad consequences, and even the best of intentions have unintended consequences. We need to know exactly what the philosophic ideas were that drove us to this point; then, hopefully, reject them and decide on another set of intellectual parameters.
There is abundant evidence exposing those who drive our foreign policy justifying preemptive war. Those who scheme are proud of the achievements in usurping control over foreign policy. These are the neoconservatives of recent fame. Granted, they are talented and achieved a political victory that all policymakers must admire. But can freedom and the Republic survive this takeover? That question should concern us.
Neoconservatives are obviously in positions of influence and are well-placed throughout our government and the media. An apathetic Congress put up little resistance and abdicated its responsibilities over foreign affairs. The electorate was easily influenced to join in the patriotic fervor supporting the military adventurism advocated by the neoconservatives.
The numbers of those who still hope for truly limited government diminished and had their concerns ignored these past 22 months, during the aftermath of 9-11. Members of Congress were easily influenced to publicly support any domestic policy or foreign military adventure that was supposed to help reduce the threat of a terrorist attack. Believers in limited government were harder to find. Political money, as usual, played a role in pressing Congress into supporting almost any proposal suggested by the neocons. This process—where campaign dollars and lobbying efforts affect policy—is hardly the domain of any single political party, and unfortunately, is the way of life in Washington.
There are many reasons why government continues to grow. It would be naïve for anyone to expect otherwise. Since 9-11, protection of privacy, whether medical, personal or financial, has vanished. Free speech and the Fourth Amendment have been under constant attack. Higher welfare expenditures are endorsed by the leadership of both parties. Policing the world and nation-building issues are popular campaign targets, yet they are now standard operating procedures. There’s no sign that these programs will be slowed or reversed until either we are stopped by force overseas (which won’t be soon) or we go broke and can no longer afford these grandiose plans for a world empire (which will probably come sooner than later.)
None of this happened by accident or coincidence. Precise philosophic ideas prompted certain individuals to gain influence to implement these plans. The neoconservatives—a name they gave themselves—diligently worked their way into positions of power and influence. They documented their goals, strategy and moral justification for all they hoped to accomplish. Above all else, they were not and are not conservatives dedicated to limited, constitutional government.
Neo-conservatism has been around for decades and, strangely, has connections to past generations as far back as Machiavelli. Modern-day neo-conservatism was introduced to us in the 1960s. It entails both a detailed strategy as well as a philosophy of government. The ideas of Teddy Roosevelt, and certainly Woodrow Wilson, were quite similar to many of the views of present-day neocons. Neocon spokesman Max Boot brags that what he advocates is “hard Wilsonianism.” In many ways, there’s nothing “neo” about their views, and certainly nothing conservative. Yet they have been able to co-op the conservative movement by advertising themselves as a new or modern form of conservatism.
More recently, the modern-day neocons have come from the far left, a group historically identified as former Trotskyists. Liberal Christopher Hitchins, has recently officially joined the neocons, and it has been reported that he has already been to the White House as an ad hoc consultant. Many neocons now in positions of influence in Washington can trace their status back to Professor Leo Strauss of the University of Chicago. One of Strauss’ books was Thoughts on Machiavelli. This book was not a condemnation of Machiavelli’s philosophy. Paul Wolfowitz actually got his PhD under Strauss. Others closely associated with these views are Richard Perle, Eliot Abrams, Robert Kagan and William Kristol. All are key players in designing our new strategy of preemptive war. Others include: Michael Ledeen of the American Enterprise Institute; former CIA Director James Woolsey; Bill Bennett of Book of Virtues fame; Frank Gaffney; Dick Cheney; and Donald Rumsfeld. There are just too many to mention who are philosophically or politically connected to the neocon philosophy in some varying degree.
The godfather of modern-day neo-conservatism is considered to be Irving Kristol, father of Bill Kristol, who set the stage in 1983 with his publication Reflections of a Neoconservative. In this book, Kristol also defends the traditional liberal position on welfare.
More important than the names of people affiliated with neo-conservatism are the views they adhere to. Here is a brief summary of the general understanding of what neocons believe:
1. They agree with Trotsky on permanent revolution, violent as well as intellectual.
2. They are for redrawing the map of the Middle East and are willing to use force to do so.
3. They believe in preemptive war to achieve desired ends.
4. They accept the notion that the ends justify the means—that hard-ball politics is a moral necessity.
5. They express no opposition to the welfare state.
6. They are not bashful about an American empire; instead they strongly endorse it.
7. They believe lying is necessary for the state to survive.
8. They believe a powerful federal government is a benefit.
9. They believe pertinent facts about how a society should be run should be held by the elite and
withheld from those who do not have the courage to deal with it.
10. They believe neutrality in foreign affairs is ill-advised.
11. They hold Leo Strauss in high esteem.
12. They believe imperialism, if progressive in nature, is appropriate.
13. Using American might to force American ideals on others is acceptable. Force should
not be limited to the defense of our country.
14. 9-11 resulted from the lack of foreign entanglements, not from too many.
15. They dislike and despise libertarians (therefore, the same applies to all strict constitutionalists.)
16. They endorse attacks on civil liberties, such as those found in the Patriot Act, as being necessary.
17. They unconditionally support Israel and have a close alliance with the Likud Party.
Various organizations and publications over the last 30 years have played a significant role in the rise to power of the neoconservatives. It took plenty of money and commitment to produce the intellectual arguments needed to convince the many participants in the movement of its respectability.
In addition to publications, multiple think tanks and projects were created to promote their agenda. A product of the Bradley Foundation, American Enterprise Institute (AEI) led the neocon charge, but the real push for war came from the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) another organization helped by the Bradley Foundation. This occurred in 1998 and was chaired by Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol. Early on, they urged war against Iraq, but were disappointed with the Clinton administration, which never followed through with its periodic bombings. Obviously, these bombings were motivated more by Clinton’s personal and political problems than a belief in the neocon agenda.
The election of 2000 changed all that. ...
Read the whole speech
Posted by Lance Brown at 12:26 AM
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July 05, 2003
U.S. pullback in S. Korea also alarming to N. Korea
Alarming other nations and making them feel threatened by our power and our maneuvers are important elements of the PNAC's strategy, and of the United States' current foregin policy stance. So North Korea's reaction here would not necessarily be seen by PNAC proponents as a bad thing.
U.S. pullback in S. Korea also alarming to N. Korea
James Brooke, New York Times
Published June 22, 2003
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA -- When the United States announced plans to pull its troops away from the border with North Korea, attention focused mostly on South Korea and its objections to losing the protection of the so-called tripwire. What was largely overlooked were the protests from the party that felt most threatened by the change: North Korea.
In a new twist, North Korea now fears that if the United States rolls up its human tripwire, it will free U.S. military planners to go north, bombing nuclear sites near Pyongyang, the capital. In the military chess game on the Korean Peninsula, by moving U.S. troops out of range of North Korea's border artillery, the United States gains a strategic advantage.
"Our army and people will answer the U.S. arms buildup with a corresponding powerful deterrent force and its pre-emptive attack with a prompt retaliation to destroy it at the initial stage of war," North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency said recently.
Alexandre Mansourov, a former Soviet diplomat in Pyongyang who now teaches security studies in Hawaii, translated North Korea's concerns to mean, "If the U.S. pulls out of the bases, North Korea knows that the U.S. is preparing a pre-emptive strike."
Posted by Lance Brown at 11:59 PM
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July 04, 2003
Pay no attention to the neocon behind the curtain
This is an essay by a conservative, about the neoconservative movement, and the distinctions between the various sectors of conservatism.
Pay no attention to the neocon behind the curtain
By Timothy P. Carney
Debates among and about "Neoconservatives" and "Paleoconservatives" recently have bounced between being enlightening, mendacious, vicious, and dangerous. But easily the most bizarre aspect of the fight is the claim that neoconservatives don't exist -- that they are the hallucinations of fevered minds.
Regardless of whether you consider yourself neo-, paleo-, non- or just plain-conservative, it is worth examining whether a) there is such a thing as a neocon, and b) how, if it all, they differ from conservatism proper.
Posted by Lance Brown at 02:58 AM
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Defense deputy gets authority for military tribunals
PNAC prodigy Paul Wolfowitz has been granted a powerful new position.
CNN.com - Defense deputy gets authority for military tribunals - Jun. 24, 2003
From Barbara Starr
CNN Washington Bureau
Tuesday, June 24, 2003 Posted: 2:01 PM EDT (1801 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has delegated his role as "appointing authority" for military commissions to his deputy, according to Pentagon officials.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld signed a delegation last weekend putting Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz in authority over the tribunals that will try al Qaeda and Taliban suspects, the officials said.
Under an order that President Bush issued in November 2001, military tribunals can be used to try non-citizens accused of terrorist acts. Individuals brought before the tribunals would have no right to a jury trial, no right to confront their accusers and no right to judicial review of trial procedures or sentences, which could include death.
Posted by Lance Brown at 02:50 AM
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