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December 5, 2006

Bush Is No Conservative


by Paul Craig Roberts

The conservative movement in the United States has been stamped out, not by liberals but by neoconservatives. Conservative philanthropic foundations, conservative print media, and conservative think tanks have been taken over by neoconservatives, who have exiled real conservatives to voicelessness and joblessness.

Neoconservative translates as "new conservative." However, there is nothing at all conservative about neoconservatives. The name is a misnomer of the first rank. Neoconservatives believe the U.S. can deracinate foreign cultures and remake foreign countries in America's image. True conservatives, following Edmund Burke, do not believe that a country can be shorn of its social, political, economic, and cultural ways and made anew from the ashes.

Modern history bears out this opinion. The Jacobins of the French Revolution were going to transform not only France but also all of Europe, but no such thing happened despite the abolition of feudalism in 1792 by the National Assembly, the guillotine, and France's military dominance of Europe for two decades.

The Bolsheviks were going to transform Russia, but after 75 years of an unaccountable Communist Party, Russia has emerged more capitalist than when the Communist transformation of Russia began.

Mao undertook to transform China by exterminating landlords, merchants, and private property, but today China is emerging as the leading capitalist power of our time.

There was no skimping on the expenditure of human life in behalf of the great cause to remake human society. Victims of the Communist "transformation" of Russia and China number in the tens of millions.

All of these outcomes reinforce the genuine conservative's confidence in Edmund Burke. The only people who are intent on repeating the mistakes of the past are the neoconservatives, who believe they can remake the Islamic world in America's image.

In the face of the total failure of their plan to remake Iraq and Afghanistan, neoconservatives continue to say that America must deracinate Islam and put in its place a women's-rights democracy. On National Public Radio recently, neoconservative Joshua Muravchik reaffirmed that it was America's job to remake Islamic society.

Neoconservatism is actually a more extreme form of revolutionary utopianism than that of the Bolsheviks and the Jacobins. The Soviet Communist Party was content with trying to remake Russians. The Jacobins ran out of steam early, and Napoleon reinstituted the old order, dispensing titles of nobility and crowning himself emperor. Only neoconservatives are sufficiently ignorant and delusional as to believe that America's overthrowing an Arab leader will result in Arab states reconstituting themselves in the West's image.

Neoconservatives have demonstrated an unrivaled ability to detach themselves from reality. Americans should be terrified that delusional neoconservatives were able to seize control of the presidency of George W. Bush and commit the U.S. to two illegal wars that have been lost and that have isolated the U.S. from the rest of humanity with the exception, of course, of Israel.

The lack of any connection to reality makes the neoconservative print media, such as the Weekly Standard, the Wall Street Journal editorial page, and National Review so absurd as to be unreadable. The Dec. 4 issue of National Review, for example, has a cartoon portraying a U.S. soldier in Iraq pondering the 2006 congressional election results. An Iraqi kid is tugging on the soldier's trouser leg and saying "say you won't go, Joe!"

National Review's editors are as lost in delusion as President Bush. And they are just as irrelevant. It boggles the mind that there could be a journalist anywhere on earth who is unaware that polls of Iraqis consistently show that large majorities of Iraqis are "strongly opposed" to the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq, believe the U.S. occupation makes them less secure, and approve of the insurgent attacks on U.S. troops.

When Bush says that the U.S. will stay in Iraq and Afghanistan "until the job is done," what job is he talking about? The slaughter of civilians? The destruction of Iraq's infrastructure and entire towns such as Fallujah? The incitement of civil war? Recruitment for al-Qaeda and the provision of a training ground for Osama bin Laden's followers? The fostering of Islamic extremism throughout the Middle East? These are the real results of Bush's occupation of Iraq, but they are not what he means by "the job." In true Jacobin, Bolshevik, Cultural Revolution, neoconservative fashion, the job Bush wants to accomplish is the deracination of Islam and the recreation of Muslim society in America's image. It is impossible to imagine a less conservative goal.

Bush has taken America far beyond the role of being the world's policeman. Bush is America's first Jacobin president. He is as far from a conservative as it is possible to be.


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    Paul Craig Roberts wrote the Kemp-Roth bill and was assistant secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was associate editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and contributing editor of National Review. He is author or co-author of eight books, including The Supply-Side Revolution (Harvard University Press). He has held numerous academic appointments, including the William E. Simon chair in political economy, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, and senior research fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He has contributed to numerous scholarly journals and testified before Congress on 30 occasions. He has been awarded the U.S. Treasury's Meritorious Service Award and the French Legion of Honor. He was a reviewer for the Journal of Political Economy under editor Robert Mundell.

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