21 October 2008

The collapse of neoconservatism

With the election of George W. Bush in 2000, Americans neoconservatives must have felt they had entered the Promised Land. Not only did they have a right-wing president, they had a weak president who had leaned on others all his life. He would be putty in their hands. And indeed he was, and they guided the poor, benighted man into the worst presidency in modern history. Everything for the United States, domestic and foreign, is worse, much worse, than it was eight years ago.

First was foreign policy and the neocon dream of thrashing Saddam Hussein as a way to impose American values and interests on the Middle East. If the 9/11 cloud had a silver lining, it was providing them with the national mood and justification for invading Iraq and they took full advantage, abandoning truth and sound advice as necessary. The result was one of the biggest U.S. foreign policy blunders in the country's history. Overnight the international sympathy and support for the United States generated by 9/11 was transformed into frustration and hostility. As Colin Powell, former Secretary of State in the Bush administration, recently stated, it will be up to the next president, “to fix the reputation that we’ve left with the rest of the world.” That will be a challenge indeed.

Then there is the economy. Years of dogma-driven deregulation, starting well before the Bush era but enthusiastically embraced by the president, have finally led to the inevitable misbehaviour of capitalists and the collapse of the U.S. financial system. American greed and recklessness has dragged the rest of the world's economies down as well and this, too, will require bridge-building with the international community.

So the neocons have had their star turn on the world's biggest stage and it has exposed their philosophy to be as destructive as it is self-righteous. It lies in ruins. Only moments it seems after the collapse of Communism, we see yet again the folly of allowing ideology to triumph over good sense.

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