As he makes clear in this post, The Atlantic’s Andrew Sullivan has finally come to the conclusion that the democracy claptrap that neo-conservatives have spouted since 9/11 has been a facade for their core foreign-policy worldview with Israel at its heart.
“I took neoconservatism seriously for a long time, because it offered an interesting critique of what’s wrong with the Middle East, and seemed to have the only coherent strategic answer to the savagery of 9/11. I now realize that the answer – the permanent occupation of Iraq – was absurdly utopian and only made feasible by exploiting the psychic trauma of that dreadful day. The closer you examine it, the clearer it is that neoconservatism, in large part, is simply about enabling the most irredentist elements in Israel and sustaining a permanent war against anyone or any country who disagrees with the Israeli right. That’s the conclusion I’ve been forced to these last few years. And to insist that America adopt exactly the same constant-war-as-survival that Israelis have been slowly forced into. Cheney saw America as Netanyahu sees Israel: a country built for permanent war and the “tough, mean, dirty, nasty business” of waging it (with a few war crimes to keep the enemy on their toes).”
(Sullivan’s post has predictably infuriated John Podhoretz, the keeper of the neo-con flame at Commentary.)
Given their long-established affinity for “friendly authoritarian” regimes, I never understood why so many foreign-policy and other intellectuals were gulled by the neo-cons’ efforts to dress up their Arabo- and Islamophobia in the guise of Wilsonianism and democracy promotion (although I accept that Wolfowitz — a neo-con who is not a Likudnik — may have been sincere). The contradictions in their arguments, let alone with their historical record, always seemed so glaringly obvious. (How can you be a Wilsonian and indefinitely deny self-determination to Palestinians or condition it on their becoming Finland, as one of Ariel Sharon’s closest advisers suggested?) Just this past week, I attended a presentation by Council on Foreign Relations fellow Stewart Patrick, the author of a new book on the origins of U.S. multilateralism, who described them as Wilsonians who disdain multilateral institutions. The sooner people disabuse themselves of the notion that the spread of Wilsonian democracy is a core tenet of neo-conservativism, the more realistic any discussion of the movement and its contribution to the disastrous situation both the United States and Israel now face in the Middle East will be.