Scratch a Neo-Conservative, Find a Totalitarian

The American Conservative explains how today’s neo-conservatives have come to wholeheartedly embrace the tactics of Soviet Russia in “spreading democracy” to all corners of the world. As columnist Martin Sieff points out:

It is fitting that so many of the older generation of American neoconservatives started life as communist enthusiasts in the 1930s and ’40s. For today’s neocons are really neo-Trotskyites promoting the old, doomed enthusiasms under a new label.

This is the new conservatism but it is not genuine conservatism. In fact, it is radical leftism, seeking to force the ideals of the progressive West on the rest of the world through force of arms. What does it matter if we slaughter hundreds of thousands of Arabs as long as we carry the gift of Democracy on our swords? The similarities between America’s neo-conservatives and the Bolsheviks are striking. As one commenter put it: “As with all other left wing schemers, trying to bring heaven down to earth, they’ll succeed only in bringing hell up.”

It is only natural that we Americans should desire a free world. However, freedom cannot be delivered by the point of a sword. In fact, it cannot be forced at all. Freedom is a gift and, like all gifts it must be freely accepted. When other nations are ready for freedom then they will seek it on their own. As Martin Sieff points out:

Democracy works admirably in societies where it is allowed to develop organically. But when other governments try to accelerate its growth artificially or hasten its triumph from outside, especially when they resort to military force to do so, the result is almost always a fierce reaction against the forces of democracy. This reaction often generates extreme fascist, repressive, and intolerant forces. And these forces usually win and take power. Then they impose themselves on the societies in question, delaying any real democratic development for decades or generations.

If we are really interested in a free world then the best that we can do is lead by example and allow other countries the sovereignty that they are due, to follow their own way. If they like what they see here then they will try to emulate it. But if they do not like it then we can only push them towards fascism by trying to force democracy upon them.

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6 thoughts on “Scratch a Neo-Conservative, Find a Totalitarian

  1. A clarification please (only because I know someone will bring this up if I don’t):

    It is only natural that we Americans should desire a free world. However, freedom cannot be delivered by the point of a sword. In fact, it cannot be forced at all. Freedom is a gift and, like all gifts it must be freely accepted. When other nations are ready for freedom then they will seek it on their own.

    At least 2.5 examples I can think of which would seem to prove otherwise. (I know them because they are brought up ALL the time.)

    America South- Civil War
    Germany & Japan- WW2
    Soviet Union- the “half” count because it is arguable whether the cold war was “at the point of a sword” or not.
    (heck, some might argue whether America herself was democracy at swordpoint since some colonists were loyalists who didn’t want to leave England)

    Myself? I’m… not sure which way it goes. At the very least, I’d like to see other options be given a try.

  2. I’m not a historian so I’m an as informed on any of these wars as I am on current events but it is my understanding that the southern states had the right to secede under our constitution which makes me question the necessity of our civil war. Was it “necessary” to keep the US united? Perhaps, but when has that ever been a legitimate justification for war? Its not according to Christian Just War Doctrine. Was a very bloody war with Americans killing Americans necessary to put an end to slavery? I’m not so sure. A peaceful approach would have taken longer but probably would have led to less long-term resentment.

    As for WW2 I believe that it was, first, appropriate for us to not engage in preemptive war and, second, to become involved once we had been attacked. Also, many historians speculate that Pearl Harbor never would have happened if we didn’t impose sanctions on Japan and cut off their oil supply.

    As for the cold war, the Soviet Union decayed from within and, in the meantime, we were able to protect ourselves largely through a strong national defense (in stark contrast to the imperialist, invade-and-conquer strategy we see today). With that said I think we did some things wrong like fund and arm “freedom fighters” in the Middle East; Eventually, due mainly to our interventionists policies, these “allies” supposedly united with us under the cause of freedom became our enemies and today we call them terrorists (except the ones that cross the border into Syria and attack its government; they’re suddenly “freedom fighters” again).

    None of these examples constitute imposing democracy through force of arms, at least not to the extent that we see today with invasion, occupation, nation-building, assassinations, foreign aid and a never-ending state of war with no exit strategy.

  3. Also, many historians speculate that Pearl Harbor never would have happened if we didn’t impose sanctions on Japan and cut off their oil supply.

    Well, probably not though I should point out that cutting off the oil supply was a way to try and stop an aggressive power without resorting to war. But then that’s the big question of international politics isn’t it? How do you treat a country that’s behaving like a total dick to everyone else?

    As for the cold war, the Soviet Union decayed from within and, in the meantime, we were able to protect ourselves largely through a strong national defense (in stark contrast to the imperialist, invade-and-conquer strategy we see today).

    So we kept our swords sharpened and ready but didn’t have to use them. 😉

    With that said I think we did some things wrong like fund and arm “freedom fighters” in the Middle East; Eventually, due mainly to our interventionists policies, these “allies” supposedly united with us under the cause of freedom became our enemies and today we call them terrorists (except the ones that cross the border into Syria and attack its government; they’re suddenly “freedom fighters” again).

    Just going to point that if we don’t embargo (see Japan above) and we don’t give aid to opposing forces and we don’t bother fighting directly… then there’s not really any other policy left for dealing with some nations other than hoping they will start behaving. Not that there’s a problem with that, but that is something we must discuss as moral beings. Do we just tolerate evil as long as it’s always within a country’s borders? That’s a hard sell in modern America (especially since so many are ready to tug at the heartstrings for various causes like the Kony thing).

    None of these examples constitute imposing democracy through force of arms, at least not to the extent that we see today with invasion, occupation, nation-building, assassinations, foreign aid and a never-ending state of war with no exit strategy.

    Actually… I think WW2 is imposing democracy through invasion, occupation, and nation building (we still have bases in Japan & Germany today). In fact, from what I’ve read by people and talked with them, that’s been its justification for a lot of today’s actions. (not kidding, something like: “Oh tearing them down and building them up worked so well for Germany & Japan, let’s do it to Afghanistan, Iraq…”)

    But that’s just me playing devil’s advocate, I would like to see us explore more options. Heck, many seem to not consider that the democracies we set up in some places might not be what we really want. (i.e. “In today’s election, turns out 60% of voters want Death to America.”)

  4. Well, the problem with both foreign aid and sanctions is that, while the intentions are always good, they almost always have very bad unintended consequences: sanctions usually polarize and make war more likely, not less and they tend to weaken the private market of a country and drive the ruling regime towards fascist extremism as they gobble up all the failing industries. Also, the private citizens generally tend to come to hate the foreign entity that’s destroying their economy through sanctions.

    Foreign aid often goes to tin pot dictators who favor “American interests” whatever that means but are often hated by their own people (which is usually part of why they need foreign aid in the first place). Without the support of their people, however, the dictators inevitably fall but the new regime does not forget what we did. And people wonder why the new regimes of the Arab Spring are so anti-American. Also, the “freedom fighters” that we smuggle aid to always end up “terrorists” ten or twenty years later. Westasia is our ally and we’ve always been at war with Eastasia . . . except when Eastasia has always been our ally and we’ve always been at war with Westasia.

    As far as WWII goes we should have closed our bases in Japan, Germany and other places decades ago.

    As far as I’m concerned, the distinction between foreign and domestic policy is an arbitrary one. The same principles should be applied to each. We should rely on the free exchange of ideas, goods and services between nations and war should always be a last resort. When dealing with issues like poverty abroad we should rely on a ground-up approach just like we should at home and not a top-down one. State-distributed welfare and the like has been a complete disaster here at home so why should we believe that these kinds of tactics will work abroad?

    The best way to positively influence another nation is through mutual trade and economic interdepedence. As Ludwig von Mises notes in A Critique of Interventionism, “Wars, foreign and domestic (revolutions, civil wars), are more likely to be avoided the closer the division of labor binds men.”

  5. “(heck, some might argue whether America herself was democracy at swordpoint since some colonists were loyalists who didn’t want to leave England)”

    This was exactly my question. Were “freedom” and “democracy” not foisted upon the colonies at the point of the sword, of violence, of war?

    To the remainder of the article, well put.

  6. I honestly don’t know if the revolutionary war was entirely just or not. I think that the cause of the revolutionaries was good but I doubt that war really constituted a “last resort.” There was little to no urgency of gross human rights violations. Meanwhile, war inevitably leads to the destruction of life and property. Perhaps the revolutionaries should have worked harder to exact change within the system or maybe they had already exhausted all of their other options. I don’t really know.

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