Saturday, June 08, 2013

Hey, let’s say “imperialist” instead of “neocon”

One might argue that because they’re less enthralled with democratization, Krauthammer and Bolton aren’t real neocons. But it’s a mistake to put democratization at neoconservatism’s core. Kristol, Kagan, and Abrams are more optimistic than Krauthammer and Bolton that democracy can promote American hegemony, but even for them, democracy is valuable primarily as a means to that end. Kristol and Abrams, for instance, are sympathetic to bombing Iran even though it would be a disaster for the democracy movement there. And neither show much concern about the fundamentally undemocratic nature of Israeli control of the West Bank.

Besides, even if democratic expansionism were neoconservatism’s essence, journalists don’t define it that way. In February 2012, citing Abrams and Kristol’s support for the Egyptian uprising that brought the Muslim Brotherhood to power, an article in the Newark Star-Ledger asked, “How’s that Arab Spring working out for you, neocons?” Later that year, an article in The New Statesman, citing Krauthammer’s pessimism about Egypt’s revolution, declared, “Ignore the neocons—I refuse to give up on Egypt, or the Arab Spring.” Each article, in other words, identified “neocon” with a polar opposite view of the Arab Spring…

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