Open Thread: “Why Be A Neocon?… “

Because, per Tom Scocca at Gawker, “You Like Being Very Wrong About Everything“:

Slate columnist Reihan Salam has an important message: He still believes in neoconservatism. He concedes, more or less, that the past 13 years of United States foreign policy have been a hideous spectacle of strategic, tactical, and moral failure, all perpetrated in the name of neoconservative ideas. “Given all of this,” he asks, “why am I still a neocon?”

The answer—albeit Salam’s unintentional answer—is that he’s a neocon because he is a sloppy thinker who is deeply confused about history and how the world works. This is a valuable contribution to the ongoing discussion of America’s role in global affairs. Neoconservatism is a fantasy, and fantasies are hard to abandon…


Apart from enjoying some well-done invective, what’s on the agenda for the evening?

49 replies
  1. 1
    Pogonip says:

    Because being a neocon allows you to draw very generous Wingnut welfare?

    Nothing much going on this Holy Saturday.

  2. 2
    🌷 Martin says:

    @Pogonip: Yep. There are harder ways to collect a paycheck.

  3. 3
    Bob In Portland says:

    Vacuum, put away things, get ready for eating that boneless leg of lamb sitting in the fridge.

  4. 4
    Baud says:

    Some people are still Marxist. Some people will remain neocons. The difference is that neocons still have a shot at power if people aren’t vigilant.

  5. 5
    Mnemosyne says:

    Lazing about, sporadically going through my (way too many) clothes to figure out what to bring to the thrift store. All of my Sims are either at work or otherwise occupied until tonight, so I don’t have a game to play.

  6. 6
    Little Boots says:

    and now, to annoint this thread:

  7. 7
    The Dangerman says:


    Because being a neocon allows you to draw very generous Wingnut welfare?

    This coupled with it’s so damn easy; just complain about whatever (insert name here) that isn’t a neocon is doing. There was some Fox Talking Head yesterday that was just losing his shit about Obama being schooled by Putin. As for a any constructive suggestions, he provided none; that would take some work, I assume.

  8. 8
    Little Boots says:

    mmmm,. lucrative.

  9. 9
    Baud says:

    @The Dangerman:

    This coupled with it’s so damn easy; just complain about whatever (insert name here) that isn’t a neocon is doing.

    That’s all zealots. Not just neocons.

  10. 10
  11. 11
    Little Boots says:


    you’re horrible and wonderful.

    why I love this place, however much it is not reciprocated.

  12. 12
    Little Boots says:

    is it wrong to love the band?

  13. 13
    Little Boots says:


    see? a lot of anger.

  14. 14
    WereBear says:

    I’m celebrating passing the halfway mark on the Way of Cats Spring Fundraiser.

    Going out shortly to celebrate someone’s birthday with a group of our friends. One of the ways we know Mr WereBear’s chronic illness is somewhat improving is that he can attend these things more often than not! He used to be known as “Invisible Husband.”

    @Mnemosyne: I find that your tales of Sim Enjoyment remind me of what Sea Monkeys were supposed to be, yet were so sadly not.

  15. 15
    patrick II says:

    Neocons are “noble” liars. Their philosophy’s relationship to truth is based on the old gold, silver, iron, brass social classes of Plato’s republic, so measuring their success or failure in their own mind is by different standards than they allow us “brass” and “iron” citizens to see.
    We think that Iraq was a failure but for the true “gold” neocons, ie: Cheney, Krystal, Rumsfeld, Iraq was a success. They privatized the oil fields and put them back in the hands of large oil companies. They got Bush re-elected as a “war” president and kept his low tax policies, supreme court nominations and privitization policies in place for four more years. It only cost about 5,000 american lives and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives, — prices in brass and iron they are willing to pay.

    You will never get a true gold neocon to admit failure because by their secret, “noble” standards they have not.

  16. 16
    WereBear says:

    He concedes, more or less, that the past 13 years of United States foreign policy have been a hideous spectacle of strategic, tactical, and moral failure, all perpetrated in the name of neoconservative ideas. “Given all of this,” he asks, “why am I still a neocon?”

    It’s how anyone clings to a belief system which makes them miserable, yet continually denies that they are a) miserable and b) that it is because of the belief system.

  17. 17
    Little Boots says:

    although steeplejack is probably really sick of this, it’s his fault for being here. and I’m not done with it:

  18. 18
  19. 19
    Schlemizel says:


    Actually the Marxists are in very good shape. The more the 1% rape the 99, the less hope they leave that the capitalist system will allow their children to do better the more likely it is that we are on our way to a marxist revolution. I have maintained for a few years now that the Koch bros are actually communist saboteurs. They may not know it but they are setting up the conditions that are fertile ground for a ‘populist’ uprising that could go fascist or communist

  20. 20
    Little Boots says:


    IF the average american weren’t easily fooled.

    but JESUS, GUNS, usually does the trick.

  21. 21
    Ruckus says:

    I don’t think they are miserable. I think they like being assholes. More than that I don’t think they can stand being anything but assholes. If they were just miserable they might, just might try to be a little less miserable. But they don’t, so I have to believe that they are just assholes, through and through. They have no redeeming qualities, and they think everyone else is as big an asshole as they are so they have no reason to try and be less of one.

  22. 22
    Suffern ACE says:

    Just continue to put pressure on the allies to support worthless causes until they are all gone. Then you have the world the neocons want. Just us and Israel.

  23. 23
    Little Boots says:

    the left keeps thinking logical, the right keeps thinking Id. who’s winning?

  24. 24
    Baud says:


    Populism is not equal to Marxism. I’m not going to predict the future, but I don’t see any signs that Marxism is making a comeback.

  25. 25
    sharl says:

    Assuming it hasn’t already been used, here’s a fine video (3m37s) I recommend for use in the next post on GoT. Very shouty, with lots of cartoonish violence and ending with the comedic showing of a bit of bum.

    I rather liked it, given the context.

    via Sady Doyle – afaict inspired by her long-simmering (~3-yr) pissoffedness at Alyssa Rosenberg over dueling GoT-related posts.

  26. 26
    srv says:

    Neocons want to change the world, while you people prefer to live in the slow slog towards submitting to other actors deciding the worlds’ fate.

    The reality is, the US could just keep bombing infrastructure and imposing baby-killing sanctions for decades so well-meaning mainstream liberals fee-fees would not be hurt, or or you could have plan B. You can’t blame necons for just being big thinkers and not implementers. They’re just the opposites of marxist/progressives/DFH’s with real power and influence.

    They’ll be proud because they tried.

  27. 27
    Mike in NC says:

    As long as we have insane billionaires like Sheldon Adelson, we’ll be stuck with the neocon scum pining for more wars.

  28. 28
    sharl says:

    @srv: Maybe there is something to what you are saying – I would need a lot more detail on what you mean to be certain.

    When the Cold War (mostly) ended, we threw out a number of babies with the bathwater. Closing State Dept. libraries run in foreign nations for use by their citizens… abandonment of Afghanistan after the Russian withdrawal… turning over much of our foreign policy to corporate predators and evangelical wackaloons… etc.

    The problem with our recent experience with neocons is that they are not the soft diplomacy types. They are Bam-Bam (and his hammer) from the old Flintstones cartoon, but without the adorability – you know, the when-you-have-a-hammer-everything-looks-like-a-nail kind of neocons.

    [We have this same tendency domestically too – DHS-funded paramilitary SWAT units, and untrained and ill-suited cops armed with guns and tasers, going kinda nuts on life’s losers (aka people who cannot afford nice neighborhoods and good lawyers) – while social services (e.g., mental health and drug treatment facilities) are being slashed.]

    We’re not the same kind of people who used to include those earlier and (IMO) better “neocons” – then known as (Scoop) Jackson Democrats. They are now Bill Kristol Republicans, and they are too crude and sociopathic to be trusted.

    Hopefully it’s just a phase, and one that won’t get too many more innocent people killed before it comes to a merciful close.

  29. 29
    srv says:


    We’re not the same kind of people

    Some would argue you’re exactly the same kind of people, flying under the banner of Right-to-Protect to hang Mubarak out to dry, courtesy bomb Libya, support jihadi rebels in Syria and pseudo-nazis in Ukraine.

    Lots of innocents getting butchered for someones idea of progress and experimentation.

    Obama is just another flavor of neocon, called a neoliberal in real-politik speak.

  30. 30
    sharl says:

    @srv: OK, so the Obama supporters are neoliberals, who are pretty much like neocons except they try to pretty it up and otherwise deny the similarities.

    Is that what you are trying to say?

  31. 31
    kindness says:

    I don’t read Gawker much. I’m gonna have to start reading it more.

    That was really good.

  32. 32
    sharl says:

    @sharl: On the assumption that is what you are trying to say, is there some other way Obama could have done things while avoiding being a one-term president? Or if you think the latter was the preferred way to go – as a consequence of Obama following alternative policies and avoiding those to which you object – what alternative achievable outcome would you have preferred?

    {Edited for (I hope) clarity}

  33. 33
    srv says:

    @sharl: No. Obama supporters don’t really understand neoliberalism, or care, other than whatever Obama does is OK and moral.

    Bush supporters at least embraced their ideology.

  34. 34
    srv says:

    @sharl: Elections aren’t won or lost on FP. Iraq proved that.

    This blog’s archives are filled with countless debates on all of these topics, feel free to explore the alternatives proposed and the Obots supporting the losing side (early elections in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood takeover, rebels in Libya, jihadi’s in Syria, and soon to be Ukraine). They told you so.

    This isn’t a single pixel of hindsight, it’s all there in the archives. The DFH’s are always right.

  35. 35
    sharl says:

    @srv: I suspect a lot – maybe most – Obama supporters probably just think no more deeply about it than to have decided that Obama was/is better than the available alternatives, and – like you said – probably don’t care about (or believe in the achievability of) the concept of a National Morality. Which is unfortunate, but human* (*I think not just American), given the primacy and immediacy of local/familial concerns to “just regular folks”.

    As we decline as a nation, and the scaffolding supporting the illusion of American exceptionalism falls apart, I think it’s inevitable that we’ll have some hard falls as a result. Over years or decades; I dunno. It’s regrettable that we as a nation don’t have the widely shared vision and wisdom to pull the damn thing down and rebuild it in a controlled and determined manner, but then The Beast wasn’t built from any kind of Master Plan in a rational and predetermined fashion in the first place.

  36. 36
    sharl says:

    @srv: Ah, was working on my last comment when yours went up.

    It’s rather easy to be always right when your contributions are purely criticisms. On that score, I’ll agree with you that the DFHs have “always been right”. On that score as well, I agree with my fellow cranky Boomer, though my preferred Utopia would be the land portrayed in Xena, Warrior Princess, complete with sexy warrior women dispensing justice. That would be awesome.

  37. 37
    srv says:

    @sharl: Yeah, always easier to punch hippies than ever admit you’re wrong about anything and somebody actually said so. Or, ever actually credit them.

    Conservatives, liberals, all the same rationalizer when you scratch deep enough.

  38. 38
    sharl says:

    @srv: You are very noble. Stay above it all and carry on, good madam/sir!

  39. 39
    srv says:

    @sharl: Thanks for playing.

    But it would probably be better for you to spend your time reading, IDK, foreign policy journals and such where all those gumdrop PhDs (like Stephen Walt and such) writing on why policies, like, IDK, the Ukraine are dumb right now. Or you could just keep on keeping on with FP’ers who punt on all that hard thinking and prefer to punch neocons or hippies.

    At least Republicans find new material once in awhile.

  40. 40
    J R in WV says:


    I’ve actually made a small effort to make lifestyle changes that make it obvious that I CAN afford lawyers, indeed, have lawyers as personal friends, who would come if I called for help at 3 am.

    Driving newish more expensive trucks and cars, with political bumper stickers that make it obvious that we are well off. Hair cut, after 25 years of a ponytail. Other things, as well.

    Actually, I noticed that having a greying beard and driving a newish nice vehicle with no rust results in warning tickets instead of speeding / burned out tail light tickets. Last speeding ticket was for 67 in a 55 on a highway where the de jure limit is now 65 and the de facto limit is 70+… So that tells you how long ago that was.

    The last time I was pulled over I wound up talking about diesel trucks with a very polite deputy in Kansas.

    I hate it that looking prosperous gets you treated better than being broke, but it is what it is…

  41. 41
    trollhattan says:

    Your Random Capitalizations are a tell. Please report to programming for a firmware upgrade.


    Heh-heh, he said “upgrade.”

  42. 42
    sharl says:

    @trollhattan: Hey, that’s my Artisanal Commenting Style, dammit!

  43. 43
    sharl says:

    @J R in WV: Yep, on average that kind of stuff will help. The well trained, professional cops may start out with an attitude, but once they know you’re not a threat and you’re not challenging their authority – and in my case at least, being white didn’t hurt (I was guilty as hell of speeding, fwiw) – they’ll make out their ticket and send you on your way. The state trooper who stopped me even asked if I needed any “block-out” assistance to get safely back on the freeway.

    It’s the thugs with badges (and their counterparts elsewhere in the prison-industrial complex) that will sadly ensure that Radley Balko and @PrisonCulture never run out of things to write about.

    My Dad – ~70yo at the time and with my then-living Mom in the car – got stopped in the small Rust Belt city where I was raised, and that guy made it clear that he was a former U.S. Marine and wasn’t going to take any sass because my Dad “was 2-3mph over the speed limit.” Shook Dad up pretty good. An example of normally extended privilege denied, but I wasn’t about to explain to a guy who grew up in semi-rural poverty and worked his ass off his whole life why he still had it better than others who didn’t even get his breaks. He doesn’t read sociology, and he would find the idea that he is privileged absurd. (Me explaining that privilege is a relative thing would not have helped, no it would not.)

  44. 44
    A Humble Lurker says:

    In short: both sides do it?

  45. 45
    confusedponderer says:

    @A Humble Lurker:

    Very, very much so. Who did they pick to head the Senate FRC? Menendez. Who did Hillary pick to “reset” with Russia? McFaul. Who did she pick to mess with the Ukraine? The Kagans. What did she call Putin? Hitler.

    Over the past few weeks, I’ve come to the opinion she’s John McCain in drag. Her State Dept. kept a lot of Rice and Wolfowitz’s favorite people in very prominent roles.

    “Houston, we gotta problem”.

  46. 46
    Nutella says:

    @patrick II:

    It only cost about 5,000 american lives and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives, — prices in brass and iron they are willing to pay.

    They are very, very happy to pay.

  47. 47
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Schlemizel: But probably fascist because people suck. The socialists made a real effort in Greece but they failed. Easier to collapse into outbreaks of xenophobic violence than face poverty together.

  48. 48
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @sharl: Welcome to balloon juice.

    srv is an object lesson in why the “left” has no appeal to me. More authoritarianism … thought I went liberal to get away from that. No, I’m not going to believe that Faction A is “all these things I like” because they put out a press release claiming they support “all these things I like” because I’m not a fucking sucker.

    At the end of the day, BY THE WAY, I am going to get more accomplished and am by my actions going to be more radical, than a dozen far left extremist nut scratching purity ponies at the radical bookstore/coffee shop who so desperately want to denounce me for not knee-jerk agreeing with their oh-so-erudite foreign policy prescriptions.

  49. 49

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