This new breed of anti-nation building, anti-neocon Jacksonian seems intent on proving Daniel Larison right. Here Jed Babbin bemoans that silly neocon desire to nation build because it interferes with our ability to bomb other Muslim countries.
This will necessitate an argument between conservatives and neocons, the latter’s belief in nation-building being one of their defining characteristics. The outcome of that argument will determine the immediate future of conservatism and, in all likelihood, the outcome of the 2012 election.
Neocons — according to an August 2003 Weekly Standardarticle by the late Irving Kristol, credited as the godfather of neoconservatism — define themselves differently from traditional conservatives….
If Bush had meant what he said, the Saudis would have been forced to stop sponsoring terrorism and both the Iranian kakistocracyand Assad’s Syria would only be bad memories. But he never took action, far less decisive action, against any of them.
Terrorists only have global reach if they are sponsored and supported — and given safe harbor [- by nations.
True Jacksonianism probably would represent a step forward, because true Jacksonianism is marked by an understanding of the gravity of war and doesn’t seek out quarrels. But this bastardized version shares with the neoconservatism it supposedly opposes an irrational assessment of the level of threat and a knee-jerk embrace of belligerent interventionism as the only solution. It is also characterized by a heaping helping of historical revisionism.
While it is helpful that these Jacksonians now recognize the neocons as something categorically different, the idea that nation building is a uniquely neocon project and it is keeping us from the important business of bombing Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Syria, etc. is madness.
The invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan CAN NOT be separated from their nation building component. The same revisionists who are now whining that we should have gone in, struck hard and gotten out are the same people who at one time were telling us we couldn’t leave because the terrorist will just come right back and leaving would be tantamount to “surrender.” (Remember we could have no “timelines” for withdrawal.) So am I to assume that Mr. Babbin would now endorse an immediate pull-out from both quagmires? I seriously doubt it.
While neocons may be more motivated by some abstract sense of America’s mission to police the world, and this new bread of anti-neocon Jacksonian may be more motivated by concrete concerns for American security, the result is the same, especially if both share the same fear mongering perspective about Islam. If we break it, we’ve bought it. They must own the consequences of their policies. There is no easy way of war.
The problem is the underlying interventionism and irrational fear that motivates both perspectives. Until these so-called “conservatives” abandon their Chicken Little mindset, we will continue to have perpetual war for perpetual peace.