One significant casualty (at least for now) of the disastrous and immoral Iraq war is the neo-conservative philosophy of shaping the world, particularly the middle east, through aggressive military invasions. With Bush-Cheney's Iraq policy now thoroughly discredited and in shambles, their neo-con supporters are scrambling to distance themselves from this administration. But they also remind us quietly that the idea of the Iraqi invasion was not flawed - only its execution by the incompetent bunch in the White House, was. They are a crestfallen bunch. To their astonishment and bitter disappointment, Bush did not turn out to be the knight in the shining armor they had hoped for but rather the emperor without a stitch on him, as many of us skeptics had suspected all along.
But the neo-cons are intrepid and dogged warriors - albeit of the armchair variety. They don't dirty their fingernails in the battle field. They get down and dirty only in the corridors of power where they are perennially in search for a committed fellow traveler who will fulfill their fantasies of world domination through military might. Their fondest dream of course is to reshape the middle east in order to make the region a more hospitable (and supplicant) place for the US and Israel. With numerous failed schemes on their resumes, they are ever eager to hatch a new one. With blood on their hands and egg all over their faces, the veteran empire builders of the neo-con movement are lying low. A new spokesman has emerged to begin the rehabilitation process. Joshua Muravchik a self described dyed in the wool neo con and resident scholar of the American Enterprise Institute, has already boldly called for the bombing of Iran. Muravchik now warns those of us who may be gloating over the demise of neo-conservatism, to not pour our celebratory champagne yet. Neo conservative war-mongering will emerge from the ashes he assures us, with the right war and the right warrior.
These are dark days for the neocons.
The midterm "thumping" the GOP suffered on Nov. 7 was largely a repudiation of the increasingly unpopular war in Iraq, a conflict linked to neoconservative ideology. Donald Rumsfeld, the administration's leading patron of neoconservative personnel, was quickly ousted as defense secretary. Key players from the administration of Bush the elder are back — former secretary of state James Baker heading the search for new Iraq policies, and former CIA director Robert Gates nominated to take over at the Pentagon — leading some to believe the president will cast aside the neoconservative influences that have distinguished his foreign policy from that of his father.
So, is neoconservatism dead?
Far from it. Neoconservative ideas have been vindicated again and again on a string of major issues, including the Cold War, Bosnia and NATO expansion. It is the war in Iraq that has made "neocon" a dirty word, either because President Bush's team woefully mismanaged the war or because the war (which neocons supported) was misconceived. But even if the invasion of Iraq proves to have been a mistake, that would not mean that the neoconservative belief in democracy as an antidote to troubles in the Middle East is wrong, nor would it confirm that neoconservatism's combination of strength with idealism is misguided. Neoconservatism isn't dead; it can be renovated and returned to prominence, because, even today, it remains unrivaled as a guiding principle for U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and beyond.
The rest of Muravchik's article describing the neo-conservative philosophy, hopes and dreams here.