The NeoCon Mind at Work
In late 2002, Max Boot compared the traditional conservative and the neoconservative worldviews:
One group of conservatives believes that we should use armed force only to defend our vital national interests, narrowly defined. They believe that we should remove, or at least disarm, Saddam Hussein, but not occupy Iraq for any substantial period afterward. The idea of bringing democracy to the Middle East they denounce as a mad, hubristic dream likely to backfire with tragic consequences. This view, which goes under the somewhat self-congratulatory moniker of "realism," is championed by foreign-policy mandarins like Henry Kissinger, Brent Scowcroft and James Baker III.He contrasted this traditional view with the neoconservative position:
Many conservatives think, however, that "realism" presents far too crabbed a view of American power and responsibility. They suggest that we need to promote our values, for the simple reason that liberal democracies rarely fight one another, sponsor terrorism, or use weapons of mass destruction. If we are to avoid another 9/11, they argue, we need to liberalize the Middle East--a massive undertaking, to be sure, but better than the unspeakable alternative. And if this requires occupying Iraq for an extended period, so be it; we did it with Germany, Japan and Italy, and we can do it again.It's pretty bizarre reading this today as an endorsement - rather than a parody - of the neoconservative position. Four years later, Boot engaged in an on-line discussion in the NY Times Book Review about Iraq, where he admitted the catastrophe Iraq has become but can't seem to admit to being wrong on this most fundamental point.
It is true that Iraqis were not well prepared for democracy, but then the same thing could be said of most democratizing countries...By and large, most Iraqis were as ready and eager for democracy as anyone else. But a small minority of extremists was determined to violently resist this transition, and the U.S. and its allies were not well positioned to stop them.Most Iraqis - at least in Baghdad - were ready and eager to loot the entire city as soon as the dust cleared. And when they did vote, they were eager and ready to vote for their side - Shia, Sunni, Kurd, but there's no evidence any Iraqis were voting for a democratic government. He goes on:
Following Saddam's fall, a security vacuum developed which has gotten worse over time. It is the absence of a functioning judiciary or police force that accounts for the sinister condition of Iraq today. New York or London probably would look only marginally better than Baghdad if, four years ago, their police forces had been disbanded, their government dissolved, their electricity turned off, two-thirds of their workers laid off, and their prison doors opened to release thousands of criminals.Obviously - we have those things because our forefathers - over the course of centuries - found them to be necessary to civil order. Arabs have their own approach to creating order - autocratic, Islamic governments. I'll give Max credit, though - he described his own foreign policy approach quite aptly in the first snippet: "a mad, hubristic dream likely to backfire with tragic consequences."