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Thursday, June 9, 2016

Being a Neocon Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry-they were wrong about every aspect of Iraq. Why do we still have to listen to them? Because mainstream media including NY Times, Washington Post and Wall St. Journal keep paying attention to them-Foreign Policy, Walt, June 2014

June 2014 article

6/20/2014, "Being a Neocon Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry," Foreign Policy, Stephen M. Walt 

"These guys were wrong about every aspect of Iraq. Why do we still have to listen to them?"


One would think that these devastating results would have discredited the neoconservatives forever, just as isolationists like Charles Lindbergh or Robert McCormick were discredited by World War II, and men like former Secretary of State Dean Rusk were largely marginalized after Vietnam. Even if the neoconservative architects of folly are undaunted by failure and continue to stick to their guns, one might expect a reasonably rational society would pay them scant attention.  

Yet...neoconservative punditry is alive and well today. Casual viewers of CNN and other news channels are being treated to the vacuous analysis of Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Cheney, and Bill Kristol. 

More worrisome still: It seems to be having some impact, insofar as President Barack Obama appears to have bowed to pressure and dispatched 300 U.S. military advisors to help the incompetent and beleaguered Maliki government in Iraq....

Neoconservatives would have much less influence if mainstream media didn’t continue to pay attention to them. They could publish their own journals and appear on Fox News, but the big force multiplier is their continued prominence in places like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and other outlets. Neocons continue to have frequent access to op-ed pages, and are commonly quoted by reporters on a range of foreign-policy issues. 

This tendency is partly because some important members of the mainstream media are themselves neoconservatives or strongly sympathetic to its basic worldview. 

David Brooks of the New York Times,  
Charles Krauthammer and  
Fred Hiatt of the Washington Post, and 
Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal 

are all card-carrying neoconservatives and were, of course, 
prominent voices in the original (Iraq) pro-war camp....

The final source of neoconservative persistence is the continued support they get from their close cousins: the liberal interventionists.

Neoconservatives may have cooked up the whole idea of invading Iraq, but they got a lot of support from a diverse array of liberal hawks. As I’ve noted before, the only major issue on which these two groups disagree is the role of international institutions, which liberals view as a useful tool and neoconservatives see as a dangerous constraint on U.S. freedom of action. Neoconservatives, in short, are liberal imperialists on steroids, and liberal hawks are really just kinder, gentler neocons.

The liberal interventionists’ complicity in the neoconservative project makes them reluctant to criticize the neoconservatives very much, because to do so draws attention to their own culpability in the disastrous neoconservative program. It is no surprise, therefore, that recovering liberal hawks like Peter Beinart and Jonathan Chait who both backed the Iraq war themselves — have recently defended neoconservative participation in the new debate over Iraq, while taking sharp issue with some of the neocons’ position.  

The neoconservative-liberal alliance in effect re-legitimates the neoconservative world view, and makes their continued enthusiasm for U.S.-led wars look "normal." When the Obama administration is staffed by enthusiastic proponents of intervention like Samantha Power or Susan Rice, and when former Obama officials like Anne-Marie Slaughter are making neocon-like arguments about the need to send arms to Syria, it makes neoconservatives sound like a perfectly respectable faction within the broad U.S. policy community, instead of underscoring just how extreme and discredited their views really are....

What, if anything, might reduce the neoconservative influence to its proper dimension (that is to say, almost nil)? I wish I knew, for if the past ten years haven’t discredited them, it's not obvious what would. No doubt leaders in Moscow and Beijing derive great comfort from that fact: For what better way to ensure that the United States continues to lurch from crisis to crisis, and from quagmire to quagmire? 

Until our society gets better at listening to those who are consistently right instead of those who are reliably wrong, we will repeat the same mistakes and achieve the same dismal results. Not that the neoconservatives will care." (end of article)



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