THE NEOCON ARGUMENT….A quick addendum to the post below. Former CIA director James Woolsey is a charter neocon, and in the Guardian on Sunday he outlined at length the basic neocon argument about the Middle East. Here are a couple of excerpts about how he views the war on terrorism:
America and the western world are at war with ‘fascist’ Middle East governments and totalitarian Islamists…..[The parallels with the Cold War are:] that it will last a very long time – decades; that it will sporadically involve the use of military force, as did the Cold War in Korea for example; but that an important component would be ideological. I would add that, just as we eventually won the Cold War – and when I say ‘we’ here, I always mean Britain, the United States, the democracies, our allies – it was in no small measure because, while containing the Soviet Union and its allies militarily and with nuclear deterrence, we undermined their ideology.
….We are going to do things that are effective against terrorism, and which may involve steps like special scrutiny of Wahhabi-backed charities, for example, that would not have happened prior to September 11. We also have to realise who we are. We are not a race or a culture or a language. We are creatures of fourth US President James Madison’s Constitution and his Bill of Rights. We can never forget that.
….If one starts out from the proposition that this is a task for America, Britain or others to accomplish principally with military forces, we will fail. We have to take a much longer view, and, for example, pay attention to the brave newspaper editors – such as one in Saudi Arabia who recently took on the religious police and got himself fired by the Interior Minister Prince Naif bin Abdul Aziz. There are similar brave reformers in Egypt and other countries who are effectively the green shoots springing up through the pavement, indicative of a growing approach, a growing openness in much of the Muslim world to democracy and liberty.
….As we undertake these efforts in the Middle East and elsewhere, occasionally by force of arms but generally not, generally by influence, by standing up for brave students in the streets of Tehran, we will hear people say, from President Hosni Mubarak’s regime in Egypt or from the Saudi royal family, that we are making them very nervous. And our response should be, ‘Good. We want you nervous. We want you to change, but realise that now, for the fourth time in a hundred years, the democracies are on the march. And we are on the side of those whom you most fear: your own people.’
I’m excerpting this not because I agree with everything Woolsey says, but because he summarizes the neocon case pretty well and because I think he correctly emphasizes that military power ? as in the Cold War ? should be used infrequently. The main weapon in this war is influence, not tanks.
But I’m also linking to it to make the point that it’s George Bush who should be giving speeches like this, and giving them frequently. Will it make things harder in some ways? Yes. But if ? if ? this is truly what Bush believes, then he needs to forthrightly try to convince America and the world that it’s the right thing to do.
If you think the neocon formulation is an abomination, you should be in favor of Bush putting his cards squarely on the table because it gives you your best chance of fighting it. However, if you agree with Woolsey’s general argument you should also be in favor of having the president make the case personally and passionately. Everyone can tell the difference between someone who genuinely believes in a cause and someone who doesn’t quite have the courage to risk saying what he really means. It’s only the former who can rally long-term commitments from their countrymen and the world.