TNR: Neoconservatives are liberals

on 9 Comments

Adam Kirsch, a literary critic who is also published in the New York Review of Books and Tablet, has a semi-whitewash review in the current TNR on the history of neoconservatism in foreign policy. The good old polemical word "cabal," going back to 17th c. England, is once again said to be essentially anti-Semitic. The word Israel appears briefly, and in a parenthesis.

Kirsch is honest that neoconservatism comes out of the Jewish community, and he says that neoconservatives have sometimes gone too far, they were wrong about how the Iraq war would go. But people of good will must "sympathize with neoconservative aspirations and anxieties." They care more than most about freedom, and why not? The freer the society, the more Jews thrive. 

It is now pretty widely agreed that the invasion of Iraq was a failure, and that this failure discredited the neoconservatives….

This is one reason why American Jews tend to be patriotic: America has the most durable and deep-rooted liberalism of any country in the world. The desire to defend and to extend American freedoms is what leads many Jews to be left-liberals; but it is only a different interpretation of what that same defense requires, and who freedom’s enemies really are, that leads some Jews to be neoconservatives.

This is an expression of Jewish selfishness. Michael Otterman tells me that there are 5 million refugees in Iraq, 2.7 internally, 2.5 outside the country. So an Arab society is demolished, 20 percent of its population is uprooted, surely including the educated/privileged; imagine such a thing happening in the U.S.– 60 million people? But Kirsch can dispose of this rapidly as a "failure" of liberalism. It’s not liberalism. It’s an ideology informed by militant Zionism, and therefore indifferent to Arab refugees, Arab souls.

I notice in Robert Kaplan’s tricky/snarky book The Arabists that he repeatedly ignores the Palestinian refugees and describes Israel’s creation as a triumph of American liberalism.

Well I am a liberal Jewish American, and I sympathize with Arab "anxieties" in the face of unending violence.

9 Responses

  1. potsherd
    July 22, 2010, 8:48 am

    This theory goes aground on the fact that neocons and Zionists are busily engaged in a campaign to limit US freedoms, particularly freedom of speech.

  2. Citizen
    July 22, 2010, 8:57 am

    The cabal is transparent:
    Stephen Sniegoski link to

  3. Chaos4700
    July 22, 2010, 9:00 am

    This is, incidentally, why I despise Witty so much. As a neoconservative in liberal clothing, he’s basically suborning and corrupting American liberalism because, ostensibly as Phil and many others demonstrate, honest liberalism is a direct threat to racialized/colonialist Zionism.

  4. eljay
    July 22, 2010, 9:25 am

    >> The desire to defend and to extend American freedoms …

    The desire to defend “American freedoms” is fine. But those freedoms stop at the borders of America. To extend them – especially by force – is unacceptable. (If people choose to adopt them, that’s a completely different story.)

    • Zorro
      July 22, 2010, 12:23 pm

      To extend American freedoms by imposing them from without upon a people or country who never made war upon us is the height of illogic. Whatever we impose, thus, can hardly be called freedom and is more akin to what the Soviets (or even Napoleon) tried to with their export of revolution.

      True conservatism is honest and grounded in deeply thought out principles and humility and recognizes that in this imperfect world things are often best left to develop on their own or at least modestly, gradually and imperceptibly.

      These messianic neo-cons are a danger to the US and to world peace, and at least people are starting now to recognize them for the vipers, (albeit “well-intentioned” vipers) that they truly are.

  5. joer
    July 22, 2010, 10:08 am

    Actually, the neoconservative foreign policy is the traditional liberal one, going all the way back to Theodore Roosevelt. Liberalism advocates using all the power of the federal government in a muscular way both here and abroad. At home, it is celebrated for things like conservation, integration, etc. But it is also true that all America’s involvement in wars in the 20th Century were started by liberal administrations that wanted to increase America’s involvement in regional disputes all over the world. While we can dig up comments by Truman worrying about what the results of his Mideast policy will be, the policy was, in the end like his Korea policy-pick sides, even if you have to create your own side, and jump in with everything and back it up like the fate of the free world depends on it…By the way, this is an indictment of liberalism, not an attempt to mitigate the crimes of the neocons.

    • Psychopathic god
      July 22, 2010, 4:07 pm

      whose liberalism is that, joer, Italian Enlightenment or Eastern European?

      • joer
        July 22, 2010, 5:34 pm

        Actually, I was talking about the foreign policy put forth by people who are called liberal in the United States. They like to do things in a big way.

  6. annie
    July 22, 2010, 2:49 pm

    yeah, this is the new lingo. there are quite a few neoconservatives on dkos who claim to be liberals. what they mean is neoliberalism. one nw guy even claims to be a likud supporter and says that in american that would be considered left, or liberal. it’s sheer madness.

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