Let others hail the rising sun: I bow to that whose course is run – David Garrick (1717-1779)
IT’S OVER. In its present incarnation, neo-conservatism is – to borrow Vice President Cheney’s phrase -- “in its last throes.” Despite the still-developing legacy of the neo-con-plagued administration of George W. Bush, Jr., it’s quite obvious that no longer can contemporary neo-conservatism be viewed as a viable philosophical commodity.
To it’s liberal critics in general and perhaps Bush in particular, the manner in which neo-conservatism has become little more that an evanescent philosophy may be the stuff of schadenfreude. But a bit of malicious joy would be apropos in that George W. Bush is to red meat neo-conservatism, what Jimmy Carter was to insouciant liberalism. Virtually single-handedly, he discredited it.
“The truth is, it was always (about) Bush.” submitted Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol in a the article “The Last Man Standing,” which appeared in a December, 2006 edition of Newsweek.
It’s still fairly easy to recall just a few short years back when the devotees of an audacious dogma – individuals who redefined hubris with their know-no-bounds optimism about the legitimacy of their cause --- hovered over both the domestic and geo-political landscape propelled by the sheer energy of their own ironclad certitude.
These were the post-Cold War-era, neo-cons. The contemporary ideologists of the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) and the Bush Doctrine’s “white man’s burden” view of the world, fortuitously emerging at a time when the peerless nature of America’s military superiority was unequivocal. This new breed, as Kristol, PNAC’s co-founder and chairman might point out, was not your father’s conservatives.
Certainly they weren’t his father’s conservatives. As it remains today, the world in which the PNAC/Bush Doctrine neo-cons inherited then was characterized by something that was not a reality for the previous generation’s Cold War-era neo-cons including Bill Kristol’s iconic father, Irving – that something was America’s position as the world’s sole superpower. Beyond that, they had something equally as important: the White House.
The Cold War was over, won precisely, they believed, because of neo-conservative concepts such as overtly extravagant military buildups and clandestine support for disparate anti-communist groups around the world. Having eliminated the Soviet Union and the communist threat through these and other means, the military restraints established by the Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) theory of the Cold War era suddenly no longer existed. In an instant, any real retaliatory threat posed by the alliance of Warsaw Pact nations had vanished. For the neo-cons, the possibilities were absolutely breathtaking, and seemingly endless.