sexta-feira, 10 de setembro de 2004

Tempo de recordar

A Tragedy of Errors, by MICHAEL LIND
The Nation

Sobre o : "An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror" by David Frum and Richard Perle
[from the February 23, 2004 issue]

"Neoconservatism--the term was Michael Harrington's--originated in the 1970s as a movement of anti-Soviet liberals and social democrats in the tradition of Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Humphrey and Henry ("Scoop") Jackson, many of whom preferred to call themselves "paleoliberals." While there was a pro-Israel wing, the movement's focus was on confrontation with the Soviet bloc abroad and on the defense of New Deal liberalism and color-blind liberal integrationism against rivals on the left at home.(...)

Nevertheless, the origins of their ideology on the left are still apparent. The fact that most of the younger neocons were never on the left is irrelevant; they are the intellectual (and, in the case of William Kristol and John Podhoretz, the literal) heirs of older ex-leftists. The idea that the United States and similar societies are dominated by a decadent, postbourgeois "new class" was developed by thinkers in the Trotskyist tradition like James Burnham and Max Schachtman, who influenced an older generation of neocons. The concept of the "global democratic revolution" has its origins in the Trotskyist Fourth International's vision of permanent revolution. The economic determinist idea that liberal democracy is an epiphenomenon of capitalism, promoted by neocons like Michael Novak, is simply Marxism with entrepreneurs substituted for proletarians as the heroic subjects of history.
A few years earlier in the Wall Street Journal, Irving's son William and David Brooks co-authored a similar call for a "national greatness conservatism" in which American patriotism is emptied of all content except for military crusades on behalf of democracy abroad.

As far as empire is concerned, William Kristol and Max Boot embrace the "e-word" while Frum and Perle disavow it. But if the nation has value only as the host or carrier of a potentially universal ideology, which must be spread abroad by force of arms and subversion, then the distinction between "national greatness" and "imperialism" disappears--in the case of American neoconservatism no less than in the comparable cases of Soviet Communism and Napoleonic liberalism.
If Frum and Perle are to be believed, a great number of US invasions and US-supported revolutions will be necessary to bring democracy to countries that now lack it: "Kofi Annan complained in July 2003 that democracy cannot be imposed by force. Really?" Annan is a better historian than Perle and Frum. The record is clear--most of the democratic transitions that have taken place in the world in the past two centuries have had nothing to do with foreign military intervention or military pressure, while most US military interventions abroad have left dictatorship, not democracy, in their wake. The two cases that neocons constantly return to, Germany and Japan, are among the few cases where democracy has been restored (not created ex nihilo) as the result of a US invasion. The Soviet bloc democratized itself from within in the 1990s(...).

In theory, neoconservative ideology is more compatible with Israeli post-Zionism than with either the Labour Zionist or Revisionist Zionist forms of Israeli ethnic nationalism. The neocons are always denouncing American "paleoconservatives" for claiming that US nationality must be founded on race (Caucasian) or religion (Christianity)--and yet they defend Israeli politicians and thinkers whose blood-and-soil nationalism is even less liberal than the "Buchananism" the neocons denounce in the US context.

In the pages of The Weekly Standard, David Brooks made the astonishing argument that the United States, a Lockean liberal democracy, must defend Israel, another Lockean liberal democracy, against illiberal Palestinian nationalism. The idea that Israeli identity has nothing to do with blood-and-soil nationalism might hearten post-Zionist proponents of Israel as "a state of all its citizens" (not to mention Israel's 1 million Palestinian citizens) but will come as news to Labour Zionists as well as to the Likud, National Religious and Shas parties in Sharon's governing coalition. (...)

The influence of Leo Strauss's teachings about the need for the "philosophers" to conceal the truth from the masses can be exaggerated. The conviction on the part of neocons of their own rectitude may be sufficient, in their minds, to justify deception of the public in matters like Iraq's nonexistent threat to the United States.

After all, they are waging World War IV against--well, against whomever--a revived Russia this year, China the next, and the next year a vague "Islamist" threat that somehow contains anti-Islamist Baathists and secular Palestinians along with Osama bin Laden. In their own minds, the neocons are Churchillian figures, a heroic minority who, as they battle a generic "totalitarianism" of which radical Islam is the latest manifestation, are handicapped by cowardly establishment "appeasers" and purveyors of a decadent "adversary culture" among the "new class" in the academy and the media. I don't doubt that many leading neocons sincerely wanted to believe that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, that the Iraqi masses would embrace Ahmad Chalabi as their de Gaulle, that there would be a democratic domino effect in the Middle East, bringing pro-Israel and pro-American secularists to power.

Now that they have been proven wrong, at enormous cost in American and Iraqi life, they are disoriented. Instead of acknowledging and taking responsibility for their catastrophic failure, they are desperately trying to avoid blame.

Unfortunately for them, a political ideology can fail in the real world only so many times before being completely discredited.

For at least two decades, in foreign policy the neocons have been wrong about everything.

When the Soviet Union was on the verge of collapse, the hawks of Team B and the Committee on the Present Danger declared that it was on the verge of world domination. In the 1990s they exaggerated the power and threat of China, once again putting ideology ahead of the sober analysis of career military and intelligence experts. The neocons were so obsessed with Saddam Hussein and Yasir Arafat that they missed the growing threat of Al Qaeda. After 9/11 they pushed the irrelevant panaceas of preventive war and missile defense as solutions to the problems of hijackers and suicide bombers.

They said Saddam had WMDs. He didn't. They said he was in league with Osama bin Laden. He wasn't. They predicted that no major postwar insurgency in Iraq would occur. It did. They said there would be a wave of pro-Americanism in the Middle East and the world if the United States acted boldly and unilaterally. Instead, there was a regional and global wave of anti-Americanism.

David Brooks and his colleagues in the neocon press are half right. There is no neocon network of scheming masterminds--only a network of scheming blunderers. As a result of their own amateurism and incompetence, the neoconservatives have humiliated themselves.

If they now claim that they never existed--well, you can hardly blame them, can "you?

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