The Vindication And Refutation Of Neoconservatism

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[Re-posted]

I'm going to say something about neoconservatism here that perhaps needs to be said amid my many swipes. There are many good faith neocons who could not be more thrilled at what is happening in Iran, and although they may still have a hankering for some of the emotionally satisfying but now discredited rhetoric of the early days, their hearts are still in the right place.

Not all neocons backed torture (many were appalled), or the Iraq war in bad faith. The core hope that democracy could spread in the Middle East - and that this alone would ultimately destroy Jihadism - is in some ways vindicated by this year in Iran. It remains, of course, a fantastic irony that they chose Iraq to impose this result, rather than waiting for Iran to demonstrate it. And a further irony that their opponent Barack Obama helped inspire the hopes to vindicate neoconservative dreams.

But this democratic flowering follows the best version of the neoconservative inheritance, if not its recent descent into a bitter ideology of naked power. And if Obama can meet it, if he can somehow be a second term Reagan in his first, then the resonance will be even deeper.

Iran's green awakening may end awfully. But if it succeeds, it will be everything the neocons had hoped to achieve in Iraq - and also a demonstration of neoconservatism's core fallacy, which is that freedom can be forced on anyone; or somehow force-fed into maturity. It thus vindicates and refutes neoconservatism at the same time.

History is like that. It makes fools of us all in the end.

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

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