Atrios writes of the neocons:
When the American empire crumbles, future historians will point to the fact that anyone took any of these people seriously as the main reason…
The thing I always wonder is: how did the neocons amass so much influence? Everything they attempt fails and, when you consider how unpersuasive their arguments are, this failure isn’t surprising. How did it come to pass that a naive-sounding theory with no supporting body of empirical evidence became so influential? Yes, part of it is that our media elites are hacks and morons, part of it is that the so-called think tanks are staffed by hacks and morons, but give that there are an infinitude of dumb-sounding, empirically unsupportable theories, why did this particular one become so popular?
I don’t know the answer, but I think there is an answer and that this (from Ezra Klein) has something to do with it:
Speaking of bizarrely counterintuitive articles, and with the ostentatious contrarianism of Super Freakonomics still on everybody’s mind, it’s worth saying that there’s nothing contrarian about being contrarian in elite intellectual circles. Indeed, the really contrarian move would be to try to make your way as a thinker without taking aim at somebody’s sacred cows, or at least making it seem like you’re taking aim at somebody’s sacred cows. There’s a reason the book “Everything You Know Is Wrong” is not titled “Most of The Things You Know Are Right.”
There’s no doubt that some of the appeal of neoconservatism is the contrarian reasoning: you think that by negotiating with countries and bribing them with relatively small amounts of money you can make them do what you want, but if you look more closely….filler…HITLER! It’s powerful because it combines the contrarian impulse to arrive a conclusion no one else would arrive at with with the undeniable pleasure of talking about Nazis. It’s a rare chance to play at being Winston Churchill and Mickey Kaus at the same time.
But there’s got to be something more, because there’s all kinds of theories you could come up with that would be both contrarian and Hitler-related.
Maybe it’s just this: contrarianism is fun, talking about Nazis is fun, watching smart bombs drop is fun, various industries make a lot of money from wars, CNN’s ratings go up when there is a war. So it’s a simple marriage of a fun ideology and corporate interest. Do you think that’s right?