modern-day, limited-government movement has been co-opted. The conservatives
have failed in their effort to shrink the size of government. There
has not been, nor will there soon be, a conservative revolution in Washington.
Political party control of the federal government has changed, but the
inexorable growth in the size and scope of government has continued
unabated. The liberal arguments for limited government in personal affairs
and foreign military adventurism were never seriously considered as
part of this revolution.
the change of the political party in charge has not made a difference,
who's really in charge? If the particular party in power makes little
difference, whose policy is it that permits expanded government programs,
increased spending, huge deficits, nation building and the pervasive
invasion of our privacy, with fewer Fourth Amendment protections than
is responsible, and it's important that those of us who love liberty,
and resent big-brother government, identify the philosophic supporters
who have the most to say about the direction our country is going. If
they're wrong – and I believe they are – we need to show it, alert the
American people, and offer a more positive approach to government. However,
this depends on whether the American people desire to live in a free
society and reject the dangerous notion that we need a strong central
government to take care of us from the cradle to the grave. Do the American
people really believe it's the government's responsibility to make us
morally better and economically equal? Do we have a responsibility to
police the world, while imposing our vision of good government on everyone
else in the world with some form of utopian nation building? If not,
and the enemies of liberty are exposed and rejected, then it behooves
us to present an alternative philosophy that is morally superior and
economically sound and provides a guide to world affairs to enhance
peace and commerce.
is certain: conservatives who worked and voted for less government in
the Reagan years and welcomed the takeover of the U.S. Congress and
the presidency in the 1990s and early 2000s were deceived. Soon they
will realize that the goal of limited government has been dashed and
that their views no longer matter.
conservative revolution of the past two decades has given us massive
growth in government size, spending and regulations. Deficits are exploding
and the national debt is now rising at greater than a half-trillion
dollars per year. Taxes do not go down – even if we vote to lower them.
They can't, as long as spending is increased, since all spending must
be paid for one way or another. Both Presidents Reagan and the elder
George Bush raised taxes directly. With this administration, so far,
direct taxes have been reduced – and they certainly should have been
– but it means little if spending increases and deficits rise.
are not raised to accommodate higher spending, the bills must be paid
by either borrowing or "printing" new money. This is one reason
why we conveniently have a generous Federal Reserve chairman who is
willing to accommodate the Congress. With borrowing and inflating, the
"tax" is delayed and distributed in a way that makes it difficult
for those paying the tax to identify it. For instance, future generations,
or those on fixed incomes who suffer from rising prices, and those who
lose jobs – they certainly feel the consequences of economic dislocations
that this process causes. Government spending is always a "tax"
burden on the American people and is never equally or fairly distributed.
The poor and low-middle income workers always suffer the most from the
deceitful tax of inflation and borrowing.
conservatives, who generally argue for less government and supported
the Reagan/Gingrich/Bush takeover of the federal government, are now
justifiably disillusioned. Although not a monolithic group, they wanted
to shrink the size of government.
in our history, the advocates of limited, constitutional government
recognized two important principles: the rule of law was crucial, and
a constitutional government must derive "just powers from the consent
of the governed." It was understood that an explicit transfer of
power to government could only occur with power rightfully and naturally
endowed to each individual as a God-given right. Therefore, the powers
that could be transferred would be limited to the purpose of protecting
liberty. Unfortunately, in the last 100 years, the defense of liberty
has been fragmented and shared by various groups, with some protecting
civil liberties, others economic freedom, and a small diverse group
arguing for a foreign policy of nonintervention.
of freedom has had a tough go of it, and it was hoped that the renewed
interest in limited government of the past two decades would revive
an interest in reconstituting the freedom philosophy into something
more consistent. Those who worked for the goal of limited government
power believed the rhetoric of politicians who promised smaller government.
Sometimes it was just plain sloppy thinking on their part, but at other
times, they fell victim to a deliberate distortion of a concise limited-government
philosophy by politicians who misled many into believing that we would
see a rollback on government intrusiveness.
was always a remnant who longed for truly limited government and maintained
a belief in the rule of law, combined with a deep conviction that free
people and a government bound by a Constitution were the most advantageous
form of government. They recognized it as the only practical way for
prosperity to be spread to the maximum number of people while promoting
peace and security.
– imperfect as it may have been – was heard from in the elections of
1980 and 1994 and then achieved major victories in 2000 and 2002 when
professed limited-government proponents took over the administration,
the Senate and the House. However, the true believers in limited government
are now shunned and laughed at. At the very least, they are ignored
– except when they are used by the new leaders of the right, the new
conservatives now in charge of the U.S. government.
instincts were correct, and the politicians placated them with talk
of free markets, limited government, and a humble, non-nation-building
foreign policy. However, little concern for civil liberties was expressed
in this recent quest for less government. Yet, for an ultimate victory
of achieving freedom, this must change. Interest in personal privacy
and choices has generally remained outside the concern of many conservatives
– especially with the great harm done by their support of the drug war.
Even though some confusion has emerged over our foreign policy since
the breakdown of the Soviet empire, it's been a net benefit in getting
some conservatives back on track with a less militaristic, interventionist
foreign policy. Unfortunately, after 9-ll, the cause of liberty suffered
a setback. As a result, millions of Americans voted for the less-than-perfect
conservative revolution because they believed in the promises of the
mounting evidence to indicate exactly what happened to the revolution.
Government is bigger than ever, and future commitments are overwhelming.
Millions will soon become disenchanted with the new status quo delivered
to the American people by the advocates of limited government and will
find it to be just more of the old status quo. Victories for limited
government have turned out to be hollow indeed.
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 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.
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.
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
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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 Woolsy; 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.
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.
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:
agree with Trotsky on permanent revolution, violent as well as intellectual.
are for redrawing the map of the Middle East and are willing to use
force to do so.
believe in preemptive war to achieve desired ends.
accept the notion that the ends justify the means – that hard-ball
politics is a moral necessity.
express no opposition to the welfare state.
are not bashful about an American empire; instead they strongly endorse
believe lying is necessary for the state to survive.
believe a powerful federal government is a benefit.
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.
believe neutrality in foreign affairs is ill-advised.
hold Leo Strauss in high esteem.
believe imperialism, if progressive in nature, is appropriate.
American might to force American ideals on others is acceptable. Force
not be limited to the defense of our country.
resulted from the lack of foreign entanglements, not from too many.
dislike and despise libertarians (therefore, the same applies to all
endorse attacks on civil liberties, such as those found in the Patriot
Act, as being necessary.
unconditionally support Israel and have a close alliance with the
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.
no secret – especially after the rash of research and articles written
about the neocons since our invasion of Iraq – how they gained influence
and what organizations were used to promote their cause. Although for
decades, they agitated for their beliefs through publications like The
National Review, The Weekly Standard, The Public Interest, The Wall
Street Journal, Commentary, and the New York Post,
their views only gained momentum in the 1990s following the first Persian
Gulf War – which still has not ended even with removal of Saddam Hussein.
They became convinced that a much more militant approach to resolving
all the conflicts in the Middle East was an absolute necessity, and
they were determined to implement that policy.
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.
of 2000 changed all that. The Defense Policy Board, chaired by Richard
Perle played no small role in coordinating the various projects and
think tanks, all determined to take us into war against Iraq. It wasn't
too long before the dream of empire was brought closer to reality by
the election of 2000 with Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Cheney and Donald
Rumsfeld playing key roles in this accomplishment. The plan to promote
an "American greatness" imperialistic foreign policy was now
a distinct possibility. Iraq offered a great opportunity to prove their
long-held theories. This opportunity was a consequence of the 9-11 disaster.
and views of Rupert Murdoch also played a key role in promoting the
neocon views, as well as rallying support by the general population,
through his News Corporation, which owns Fox News Network, the New
York Post and Weekly Standard. This powerful and influential
media empire did more to galvanize public support for the Iraqi invasion
than one might imagine. This facilitated the Rumsfeld/Cheney policy
as their plans to attack Iraq came to fruition. It would have been difficult
for the neocons to usurp foreign policy from the restraints of Colin
Powell's State Department without the successful agitation of the Rupert
Murdock empire. Max Boot was satisfied, as he explained: "Neoconservatives
believe in using American might to promote American ideals abroad."
This attitude is a far cry from the advice of the Founders, who advocated
no entangling alliances and neutrality as the proper goal of American
be no doubt, those in the neocon camp had been anxious to go to war
against Iraq for a decade. They justified the use of force to accomplish
their goals, even if it required preemptive war. If anyone doubts this
assertion, they need only to read of their strategy in "A Clean
Break: a New Strategy for Securing the Realm." Although they felt
morally justified in changing the government in Iraq, they knew that
public support was important, and justification had to be given to pursue
the war. Of course, a threat to us had to exist before the people and
the Congress would go along with war. The majority of Americans became
convinced of this threat, which, in actuality, never really existed.
Now we have the ongoing debate over the location of weapons of mass
destruction. Where was the danger? Was all this killing and spending
necessary? How long will this nation-building and dying go on? When
will we become more concerned about the needs of our own citizens than
the problems we sought in Iraq and Afghanistan? Who knows where we'll
go next – Iran, Syria or North Korea?
end of the Cold War, the neoconservatives realized a rearrangement of
the world was occurring and that our superior economic and military
power offered them a perfect opportunity to control the process of remaking
the Middle East.
recognized that a new era was upon us, and the neocons welcomed Frances
Fukuyama's "end of history" declaration. To them, the debate
was over. The West won; the Soviets lost. Old-fashioned communism was
dead. Long live the new era of neoconservatism. The struggle may not
be over, but the West won the intellectual fight, they reasoned. The
only problem is that the neocons decided to define the philosophy of
the victors. They have been amazingly successful in their efforts to
control the debate over what Western values are and by what methods
they will be spread throughout the world.
surely lost a lot with the breakup of the Soviet Empire, but this can
hardly be declared a victory for American liberty, as the Founders understood
it. Neoconservatism is not the philosophy of free markets and a wise
foreign policy. Instead, it represents big-government welfare at home
and a program of using our military might to spread their version of
American values throughout the world. Since neoconservatives dominate
the way the U.S. government now operates, it behooves us all to understand
their beliefs and goals. The breakup of the Soviet system may well have
been an epic event but to say that the views of the neocons are the
unchallenged victors and that all we need do is wait for their implementation
is a capitulation to controlling the forces of history that many Americans
are not yet ready to concede. There is surely no need to do so.
is now a recognized philosophic connection between modern-day neoconservatives
and Irving Kristol, Leo Strauss and Machiavelli. This is important in
understanding that today's policies and the subsequent problems will
be with us for years to come if these policies are not reversed.
did Leo Strauss write favorably of Machiavelli, Michael Ledeen, a current
leader of the neoconservative movement, did the same. In 1999, Ledeen
titled his book, Machiavelli on Modern Leadership, and subtitled:
Why Machiaveli's iron rules are as timely and important today
as five centuries ago. Ledeen is indeed an influential neocon theorist
whose views get lots of attention today in Washington. His book on Machiavelli,
interestingly enough, was passed out to Members of Congress attending
a political strategy meeting shortly after its publication and at just
about the time A Clean Break was issued.
most recent publication, The War Against the Terror Masters,
he reiterates his beliefs outlined in this 1999 Machaivelli book. He
specifically praises: "Creative destruction…both within our own
society and abroad…(foreigners) seeing America undo traditional societies
may fear us, for they do not wish to be undone." Amazingly, Ledeen
concludes: "They must attack us in order to survive, just as we
must destroy them to advance our historic mission."
words don't scare you, nothing will. If they are not a clear warning,
I don't know what could be. It sounds like both sides of each disagreement
in the world will be following the principle of preemptive war. The
world is certainly a less safe place for it.
on Modern Leadership, Ledeen praises a business leader for correctly
understanding Machiavelli: "There are no absolute solutions. It
all depends. What is right and what is wrong depends on what needs to
be done and how." This is a clear endorsement of situation ethics
and is not coming from the traditional left. It reminds me of: "It
depends on what the definition of the word 'is' is."
quotes Machiavelli approvingly on what makes a great leader. "A
prince must have no other objectives or other thoughts or take anything
for his craft, except war." To Ledeen, this meant: "…the virtue
of the warrior are those of great leaders of any successful organization."
Yet it's obvious that war is not coincidental to neocon philosophy,
but an integral part. The intellectuals justify it, and the politicians
carry it out. There's a precise reason to argue for war over peace according
to Ledeen, for "…peace increases our peril by making discipline
less urgent, encouraging some of our worst instincts, in depriving us
of some of our best leaders." Peace, he claims, is a dream and
not even a pleasant one, for it would cause indolence and would undermine
the power of the state. Although I concede the history of the world
is a history of frequent war, to capitulate and give up even striving
for peace – believing peace is not a benefit to mankind – is a frightening
thought that condemns the world to perpetual war and justifies it as
a benefit and necessity. These are dangerous ideas, from which no good
of the ages has been between the state and the individual: central power
versus liberty. The more restrained the state and the more emphasis
on individual liberty, the greater has been the advancement of civilization
and general prosperity. Just as man's condition was not locked in place
by the times and wars of old and improved with liberty and free markets,
there's no reason to believe a new stage for man might not be achieved
by believing and working for conditions of peace. The inevitability
and so-called need for preemptive war should never be intellectually
justified as being a benefit. Such an attitude guarantees the backsliding
of civilization. Neocons, unfortunately, claim that war is in man's
nature and that we can't do much about it, so let's use it to our advantage
by promoting our goodness around the world through force of arms. That
view is anathema to the cause of liberty and the preservation of the
Constitution. If it is not loudly refuted, our future will be dire indeed.
believes man is basically evil and cannot be left to his own desires.
Therefore, he must have proper and strong leadership, just as Machiavelli
argued. Only then can man achieve good, as Ledeen explains: "In
order to achieve the most noble accomplishments, the leader may have
to 'enter into evil.' This is the chilling insight that has made Machiavelli
so feared, admired and challenging…we are rotten," argues Ledeen.
"It's true that we can achieve greatness if, and only if, we are
properly led." In other words, man is so depraved that individuals
are incapable of moral, ethical and spiritual greatness, and achieving
excellence and virtue can only come from a powerful authoritarian leader.
What depraved ideas are these to now be influencing our leaders in Washington?
The question Ledeen doesn't answer is: "Why do the political leaders
not suffer from the same shortcomings and where do they obtain their
monopoly on wisdom?"
trust is placed in the hands of a powerful leader, this neocon argues
that certain tools are permissible to use. For instance: "lying
is central to the survival of nations and to the success of great enterprises,
because if our enemies can count on the reliability of everything you
say, your vulnerability is enormously increased." What about the
effects of lying on one's own people? Who cares if a leader can fool
the enemy? Does calling it "strategic deception" make lying
morally justifiable? Ledeen and Machiavelli argue that it does, as long
as the survivability of the state is at stake. Preserving the state
is their goal, even if the personal liberty of all individuals has to
be suspended or canceled.
makes it clear that war is necessary to establish national boundaries
– because that's the way it's always been done. Who needs progress of
the human race! He explains: "Look at the map of the world: national
boundaries have not been drawn by peaceful men leading lives of spiritual
contemplation. National boundaries have been established by war, and
national character has been shaped by struggle, most often bloody struggle."
who is to lead the charge and decide which borders we are to fight for?
What about borders 6,000 miles away unrelated to our own contiguous
borders and our own national security? Stating a relative truism regarding
the frequency of war throughout history should hardly be the moral justification
for expanding the concept of war to settle man's disputes. How can one
call this progress?
Ledeen and the neocons recognized a need to generate a religious zeal
for promoting the state. This, he claims, is especially necessary when
force is used to promote an agenda. It's been true throughout history
and remains true today, each side of major conflicts invokes God's approval.
Our side refers to a "crusade;" theirs to a "holy Jihad."
Too often wars boil down to their god against our God. It seems this
principle is more a cynical effort to gain approval from the masses,
especially those most likely to be killed for the sake of the war promoters
on both sides who have power, prestige and wealth at stake.
explains why God must always be on the side of advocates of war: "Without
fear of God, no state can last long, for the dread of eternal damnation
keeps men in line, causes them to honor their promises, and inspires
them to risk their lives for the common good." It seems dying for
the common good has gained a higher moral status than eternal salvation
of one's soul. Ledeen adds: "Without fear of punishment, men will
not obey laws that force them to act contrary to their passions. Without
fear of arms, the state cannot enforce the laws…to this end, Machiavelli
wants leaders to make the state spectacular."
interest to note that some large Christian denominations have joined
the neoconservatives in promoting preemptive war, while completely ignoring
the Christian doctrine of a Just War. The neocons sought and openly
welcomed their support.
someone to glean anything from what the Founders said or placed in the
Constitution that agrees with this now-professed doctrine of a "spectacular"
state promoted by those who now have so much influence on our policies
here at home and abroad. Ledeen argues that this religious element,
this fear of God, is needed for discipline of those who may be hesitant
to sacrifice their lives for the good of the "spectacular state."
in eerie terms: "Dying for one's country doesn't come naturally.
Modern armies, raised from the populace, must be inspired, motivated,
indoctrinated. Religion is central to the military enterprise, for men
are more likely to risk their lives if they believe they will be rewarded
forever after for serving their country." This is an admonition
that might just as well have been given by Osama bin Laden, in rallying
his troops to sacrifice their lives to kill the invading infidels, as
by our intellectuals at AEI, who greatly influence our foreign policy.
– anxious for the U.S. to use force to realign the boundaries and change
regimes in the Middle East – clearly understand the benefit of a galvanizing
and emotional event to rally the people to their cause. Without a special
event, they realized the difficulty in selling their policy of preemptive
war where our own military personnel would be killed. Whether it was
the Lusitania, Pearl Harbor, the Gulf of Tonkin or the Maine, all served
their purpose in promoting a war that was sought by our leaders.
writes of a fortuitous event (1999): "…of course, we can always
get lucky. Stunning events from outside can providentially awaken the
enterprise from its growing torpor, and demonstrate the need for reversal,
as the devastating Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 so effectively
aroused the U.S. from its soothing dreams of permanent neutrality."
Ledeen calls Pearl Harbor a "lucky" event. The Project for
a New American Century, as recently as September 2000, likewise, foresaw
the need for "a Pearl Harbor event" that would galvanize the
American people to support their ambitious plans to ensure political
and economic domination of the world, while strangling any potential
a "need" for a Pearl Harbor event, and referring to Pearl
Harbor as being "lucky" are not identical to support and knowledge
of such an event, but that this sympathy for a galvanizing event, as
9-11 turned out to be, was used to promote an agenda that strict constitutionalists
and devotees of the Founders of this nation find appalling, is indeed
disturbing. After 9-11, Rumsfeld and others argued for an immediate
attack on Iraq, even though it was not implicated in the attacks.
that neo-conservatives ridicule those who firmly believe that U.S. interests
and world peace would best be served by a policy of neutrality and avoiding
foreign entanglements should not go unchallenged. Not to do so is to
condone their grandiose plans for an American world hegemony.
attention given neocons usually comes in the context of foreign policy.
But there's more to what's going on today than just the tremendous influence
the neocons have on our new policy of preemptive war with a goal of
empire. Our government is now being moved by several ideas that come
together in what I call "neoconism." The foreign policy is
being openly debated, even if its implications are not fully understood
by many who support it. Washington is now driven by old views brought
together in a new package.
those who lead us – both in the administration and in Congress – show
no appetite to challenge the tax or monetary systems that do so much
damage to our economy. The IRS and the Federal Reserve are off limits
for criticism or reform. There's no resistance to spending, either domestic
or foreign. Debt is not seen as a problem. The supply-siders won on
this issue, and now many conservatives readily endorse deficit spending.
no serious opposition to the expanding welfare state, with rapid growth
of the education, agriculture and medical-care bureaucracy. Support
for labor unions and protectionism are not uncommon. Civil liberties
are easily sacrificed in the post 9-11 atmosphere prevailing in Washington.
Privacy issues are of little concern, except for a few members of Congress.
Foreign aid and internationalism – in spite of some healthy criticism
of the UN and growing concerns for our national sovereignty – are championed
on both sides of the aisle. Lip service is given to the free market
and free trade, yet the entire economy is run by special-interest legislation
favoring big business, big labor and, especially, big money.
of the "end of history," we are now experiencing the end of
a vocal limited-government movement in our nation's capital. While most
conservatives no longer defend balanced budgets and reduced spending,
most liberals have grown lazy in defending civil liberties and now are
approving wars that we initiate. The so-called "third way"
has arrived and, sadly, it has taken the worst of what the conservatives
and liberals have to offer. The people are less well off for it, while
liberty languishes as a result.
enthusiastically embrace the Department of Education and national testing.
Both parties overwhelmingly support the huge commitment to a new prescription
drug program. Their devotion to the new approach called "compassionate
conservatism" has lured many conservatives into supporting programs
for expanding the federal role in welfare and in church charities. The
faith-based initiative is a neocon project, yet it only repackages and
expands the liberal notion of welfare. The intellectuals who promoted
these initiatives were neocons, but there's nothing conservative about
expanding the federal government's role in welfare.
policy of low-marginal tax rates has been incorporated into neoconism,
as well as their support for easy money and generous monetary inflation.
Neoconservatives are disinterested in the gold standard and even ignore
the supply-siders' argument for a phony gold standard.
any wonder that federal government spending is growing at a rate faster
than in any time in the past 35 years?
politics and privilege prevail over the rule of law, liberty, justice
and peace. But it does not need to be that way. Neoconism has brought
together many old ideas about how government should rule the people.
It may have modernized its appeal and packaging, but authoritarian rule
is authoritarian rule, regardless of the humanitarian overtones. A solution
can only come after the current ideology driving our government policies
is replaced with a more positive one. In a historical context, liberty
is a modern idea and must once again regain the high moral ground for
civilization to advance. Restating the old justifications for war, people
control and a benevolent state will not suffice. It cannot eliminate
the shortcomings that always occur when the state assumes authority
over others and when the will of one nation is forced on another – whether
or not it is done with good intentions.
that all conservatives are not neoconservatives, and all neocons don't
necessarily agree on all points – which means that in spite of their
tremendous influence, most members of Congress and those in the administration
do not necessarily take their marching orders from AEI or Richard Perle.
But to use this as a reason to ignore what neoconservative leaders believe,
write about and agitate for – with amazing success I might point out
– would be at our own peril. This country still allows open discourse
– though less everyday – and we who disagree should push the discussion
and expose those who drive our policies. It is getting more difficult
to get fair and balanced discussion on the issues, because it has become
routine for the hegemons to label those who object to preemptive war
and domestic surveillance as traitors, unpatriotic and un-American.
The uniformity of support for our current foreign policy by major and
cable-news networks should concern every American. We should all be
thankful for C-SPAN and the Internet.
Ledeen and other neoconservatives are already lobbying for war against
Iran. Ledeen is pretty nasty to those who call for a calmer, reasoned
approach by calling those who are not ready for war "cowards and
appeasers of tyrants." Because some urge a less militaristic approach
to dealing with Iran, he claims they are betraying America's best "traditions."
I wonder where he learned early American history! It's obvious that
Ledeen doesn't consider the Founders and the Constitution part of our
best traditions. We were hardly encouraged by the American revolutionaries
to pursue an American empire. We were, however, urged to keep the Republic
they so painstakingly designed.
neoconservatives retain control of the conservative, limited-government
movement in Washington, the ideas, once championed by conservatives,
of limiting the size and scope of government will be a long-forgotten
in liberty ought not deceive themselves. Who should be satisfied? Certainly
not conservatives, for there is no conservative movement left. How could
liberals be satisfied? They are pleased with the centralization of education
and medical programs in Washington and support many of the administration's
proposals. But none should be pleased with the steady attack on the
civil liberties of all American citizens and the now-accepted consensus
that preemptive war – for almost any reason – is an acceptable policy
for dealing with all the conflicts and problems of the world.
of the deteriorating conditions in Washington – with loss of personal
liberty, a weak economy, exploding deficits, and perpetual war, followed
by nation building – there are still quite a number of us who would
relish the opportunity to improve things, in one way or another. Certainly,
a growing number of frustrated Americans, from both the right and the
left, are getting anxious to see this Congress do a better job. But
first, Congress must stop doing a bad job.
at the point where we need a call to arms, both here in Washington and
across the country. I'm not talking about firearms. Those of us who
care need to raise both arms and face our palms out and begin waving
and shouting: Stop! Enough is enough! It should include liberals, conservatives
and independents. We're all getting a bum rap from politicians who are
pushed by polls and controlled by special-interest money.
is certain, no matter how morally justified the programs and policies
seem, the ability to finance all the guns and butter being promised
is limited, and those limits are becoming more apparent every day.
borrowing and printing money cannot be the road to prosperity. It hasn't
worked in Japan, and it isn't working here either. As a matter of fact,
it's never worked anytime throughout history. A point is always reached
where government planning, spending and inflation run out of steam.
Instead of these old tools reviving an economy, as they do in the early
stages of economic interventionism, they eventually become the problem.
Both sides of the political spectrum must one day realize that limitless
government intrusion in the economy, in our personal lives and in the
affairs of other nations cannot serve the best interests of America.
This is not a conservative problem, nor is it a liberal problem – it's
a government intrusion problem that comes from both groups, albeit for
different reasons. The problems emanate from both camps who champion
different programs for different reasons. The solution will come when
both groups realize that it's not merely a single-party problem, or
just a liberal or just a conservative problem.
of us decide we've had enough of all these so-called good things that
the government is always promising – or more likely, when the country
is broke and the government is unable to fulfill its promises to the
people – we can start a serious discussion on the proper role for government
in a free society. Unfortunately, it will be some time before Congress
gets the message that the people are demanding true reform. This requires
that those responsible for today's problems are exposed and their philosophy
of pervasive government intrusion is rejected.
Let it not be said that no one cared, that no one objected once it's
realized that our liberties and wealth are in jeopardy. A few have,
and others will continue to do so, but too many – both in and out of
government – close their eyes to the issue of personal liberty and ignore
the fact that endless borrowing to finance endless demands cannot be
sustained. True prosperity can only come from a healthy economy and
sound money. That can only be achieved in a free society.