"The Neocon Shrug"

A reader writes:

There's a telling moment in the YouTube you posted of Norman Podhoretz speaking about the need to bomb Iran.

About halfway in he's asked what the correct British response should have been to the kidnapping of their sailors.  Podhoretz responds that "they should have threatened to bomb the Iranians to smithereens."  This comment in itself is unremarkable.  Pretty much par for the course for Podhoretz these days.  It's what follows that's illuminating.

He follows up his original comment with the caveat, "Whether they would have had to carry out threat, I doubt.  Maybe they would have."  He accompanies this last sentence with the most minimal of shrugs.  And the shrug tells you everything you need to know about the current state of neo-conservativism.

The shrug, an incredibly casual gesture, suggests that in the end, such indelicacies as bombing a country "to smithereens," don't really matter.  What is important is that the United States' will is enforced throughout the world.  By any means necessary.  The shrug suggests that posturing and diplomacy and military strikes are all (morally neutral) aspects of United States' foreign policy.  And, finally, the ultimate neoconservative falsehood, the shrug suggests that the democracy of the sword is just as effective and lasting and precious as the democracy of the popular will and the ballot box.

Norman Podhoretz speaks about bombing Iran like it is a necessity, vital to the preservation of Western democracy.  However, the shrug reveals that it simply another foolhardy attempt to create democracy in a vacuum regardless of the cost in human lives.

2006-2011 archives for The Daily Dish, featuring Andrew Sullivan

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