This story, written by AgainstCronyCapitalism.org on May 16., was published by
The term “neoconservative” or “neocon” is often thrown around, but few people have a real grasp of the school of thought.
Basically, it is a big-government “conservative” position. Neoconservatism does not fear government and government expansion the way traditional or “paleoconservatives” do. Neocons believe, like progressives, that the state should be used to craft a better society (at home and abroad). It can be argued well that neoconservatives are a branch of the progressive tradition in this country.
In fact, Irving Kristol in his book Neoconservatism even wrote:
It describes the erosion of liberals among a small group toward a conservative point of view, conservative but different in certain respects from the conservatism of the Republican Party [1930’s]. We accepted the New Deal in principle, and had little affection for the kind of isolationism that then permeated American conservatism.
The neocons rose out of the City College of New York, led by Irving Kristol, the father of Bill Kristol, the current editor of the Weekly Standard. In its early days, it has been said that the school was influenced by the ideas of Soviet thinker and leader Leon Trotsky. Originally, the neocons were allied with the Democratic Party but then switched to the GOP in the late 1960s and early 1970s as the Democrats became too socially liberal for the neocons. Soon the neocon school was lodged firmly within the GOP.
Abroad neocons are advocates of an activist foreign policy. It is this activist policy that most defines them. Iraq and, in many ways, Afghanistan were neoconservative endeavors. As you may recall, President George W. Bush referred to Iraq as the first of many battles in an ongoing war. Indeed, the plan was to turn the Mideast into a garden in which democracy could blossom.
I remember listening to the Diane Rheame show in 2002 or 2003 while some neocon wonk made the case that we needed to systematically depose all the despots in the region one by one, that Iraq was only the beginning and that a bright shining future lay just around the corner. In addition to increasing our safety in the U.S., the wonk argued, such a crusade would greatly enhance the security of Israel.
It must be noted that a large number of neoconservatives are Jewish, but certainly not all are. And it is true that for neocons Israel occupies a special place. It is for these reasons that opposition to the neoconservatives has often been characterized by some within the school as anti-Semitic. To oppose the neocons is to oppose Israel’s existence, which is to oppose the Jewish people.
It has been an effective charge. But it is one that has worn with time. As more and more Americans have seen their sons and daughters come home in body bags or with crippling injuries, both visible and not, more and more Americans have grown sour to the idea that we must make the world “safe for democracy” — especially while the democracy at home is a shadow of what it should be or even what it once was.
The neocons, who still control many of the purse strings of the GOP and many of the important foreign policy positions in the GOP, are very concerned that this more traditional American approach to foreign policy might really take hold (again) within the halls of power. They particularly fear a leader who can articulate the traditional GOP position on foreign policy effectively to the voting public — a position which holds that the U.S. is to be very sparing in engagement and slow to meddle in the affairs of other countries. The neocons fear that Rand Paul might be such a leader, and that is why they are lining up to throw money at the other Republicans running for President.
The neocons think Paul can’t be trusted. That is, Paul can’t be trusted to expand the government at home the way the neocons like (think the Bush big-government years) or to employ our military overseas in the way the neocons would like.
Of particular concern is the idea that Paul might not bomb Iran the way the neocons want the next President to. Another concern is that Paul has questioned the effectiveness of foreign aid. Israel gets more than $3 billion in foreign aid each year. Israel is not a big country. That’s a lot of bread spread across the Israeli political class. The neocons and their allies in Israel do not want that money to dry up. It’s conceivable that a President Paul would move to reduce this pool of money.
That is why the neocons are gunning for the first real conservative to have a shot at the GOP nomination in a very long time. They simply don’t want a truly conservative President. And yet the neocons still dominate the GOP. What does this say about “the party of small government?”
The foreign policy hawks within the establishment GOP — among them pro-Israel donors, national security types and neoconservatives — are impressed by Paul’s attempts to broaden the Republican base and find him willing to listen to their concerns. But ultimately, according to people plugged into the Republican donor class, they worry that a President Paul would dangerously scale back America’s activities abroad — a deepening concern in some corners as his star has risen within the broader party.
Editor’s note: Noninterventionism is not isolationism. Noninterventionism is the traditional American position. It’s also known as minding one’s own business.