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Home > Politics > When you’re wrong, you’re wrong: Why do people listen to the neocons and not the Donald? | Mulshine (NJ.com)

When you’re wrong, you’re wrong: Why do people listen to the neocons and not the Donald? | Mulshine (NJ.com)


August 17, 2015



By Paul Mulshine  

Republican Presidential hopeful Donald Trump said yesterday he was not referring to menstruation when he said that during Thursday’s debate one could see blood coming out of Fox News’ Megyn Kelly’s “wherever.”

It’s official. Charles Krauthammer now has a perfect record.

He’s gotten everything wrong about the Mideast.

We saw that again after the Aug. 6 debate when he pronounced that the Donald’s performance represented “the collapse of Trump.”

Oops. Donald Trump keeps soaring in the polls.

It’s no secret that this is leading the media establishment to arrange a mugging. And by the media establishment, I mean everyone from the New York Times to Fox News. People are often misled into thinking there is some great difference between the “liberal” and “conservative” pundits, but that’s nonsense, at least when it comes to foreign affairs.

They’re all liberal internationalists. If you doubt that consider the so-called “Arab Spring.” As far as I can determine, the term was first used by the aging left-wingers like Krauthammer and William Kristol  who declared themselves “neo” conservatives during the Bush administration to push their Wilsonian vision of remaking the world at the U.S taxpayer’s expense.

Here’s an excerpt from a column I did in 2012 noting how the neocons first called for the overthrow of secular dictators in the Arab Spring and then pronounced themselves appalled when the predictable triumph of Islamic fundamentalists occurred:

Last year when the Arab Spring was going strong, neoconservative deep thinker William Kristol offered this deep thought: “We can’t make all right with the world. But we can make some things in the world a little better.”

Says who? Islamic fundamentalism is on the rise all over the Mideast. And the other day, we learned how the leaders of Egypt employed their newfound freedom: They announced they are going to put 19 American aid workers on trial. Their alleged crime? Spreading democracy.

That in itself ought to represent a fitting end to the so-called “neo” conservative strategy in foreign affairs. Add in the rise of those Islamic fundamentalist parties in Libya, Syria and, for that matter, Iraq, and any rational thinker would have to conclude the neocon experiment was the biggest failure in the history of American foreign policy.

The reason for its failure is not hard to find. Like bad generals, the neocons were fighting the next war with the tactics from the last. Promoting democracy worked like a charm when it came to the Cold War. Why wouldn’t it work in the so-called “War on Terror”?

THE REASONS WERE OBVIOUS to us conservatives. In the absence of political repression from a secular dictator, the Islamic fundamentalist majorities  would elect Islamic fundamentalist governments such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

Yet the very neocons who called for the Arab Spring soon did a 180 and claimed to oppose it all along. How did Krauthammer’s editors let him get away with opposing the Arab Spring after he helped usher it in?

Around the time I wrote that piece, Larry Auster at the View from the Right blog included my column i n this dissection of Krauthammer as well as  Rush Limbaugh:

As proof of my previous sentence, Rush Limbaugh, in the very act of reporting Krauthammer’s turnabout and complaining that Krauthammer does not apologize to the people (including Limbaugh himself?) who were warning from the start that the Arab Spring would lead to Islamist rule, states, “I have profound respect for Charles Krauthammer.” As long as Limbaugh avows his profound respect for this overrated bozo, how can rejection of the ruinous neocon ideology get anywhere? How can conservatism ever amount to anything serious, unless conservatives make speaking the truth more important than maintaining the mutual ass-kissing society that the conservative movement now is?

I don’t have the transcript of Limbaugh’s remarks. But they are worth listening to. He says some good things, about how the Arab Spring idea was wrong from the start, how it has among other things unleashed persecution of Christians, and how the neocons haven’t taken accountability for their terrible error. But notice at the same time how tentative and even apologetic he sounds in his criticisms of the democracy-spreaders.

Also, at the very moment I was complimenting Limbaugh for the somewhat thoughtful things he said about the mistakes and the lack of accountability of the democracy promoters, I came across another recent remark of his that reminds us that he will never rise permanently above the level of a moronic Republican cheerleader. 

THAT’S ANOTHER THING I don’t get. Why do people who purport to be conservatives take these radio talkers like Limbaugh seriously. They’re not political commentators. They’re entertainers who sell things like mattresses  – and their microphones.

Despite getting everything wrong about the Mideast, Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin and so on still have big audiences. As for the sort of intelligent conservative thought you see from Auster above, I fear Larry is no longer with us. He did not long after that column and is sorely missed among the small core of genuine conservatives in the media.

Or are we demagogues? 

On Sunday this article by Jack Shafer of Politico ran headlined “Donald Trump: American Demagogue” ran in our Perspective section.

Curious to see how the left views Trump, I gave it a read. Before long I found the writer denouncing as a demagogue not just Trump but also Pat Buchanan.

“The demagogue’s formula, which can vary, tends to simplify all politics and policy to single irrefutable talking points. In Trump’s case, he reliably heralds himself as a ‘smart’ man who can solve problems the ‘stupid’ people of Washington can’t by the pure force of his own will,” Shafer wrote.

Let us examine the views of these two demagogues on the Iraq War. In this 2003 piece in the American Conservative, (for whom I write on occasion) Buchanan accurately dissected the neocon effort to get us bogged down permanently in the Mideast. After listing a bunch of the usual suspects, he had this to say:

A list of the Middle East regimes that Podhoretz, Bennett, Ledeen, Netanyahu, and the  Wall Street Journal regard as targets for destruction thus includes Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, the Palestinian Authority, and “militant Islam.”

Cui Bono? For whose benefit these endless wars in a region that holds nothing vital to America save oil, which the Arabs must sell us to survive? Who would benefit from a war of civilizations between the West and Islam?

MOST OF THAT OCCURRED on schedule. If it’s demagoguery, we could use more of it and less of the mindless interventionism that most of the 17 contenders for the Republican presidential nomination endorse.

The exceptions are of course Trump and Rand Paul, who for some reason didn’t qualify for Shafer’s list of demagogues.

During that debate, Trump went out of his way to bring up his 2004 comments against the Iraq War and he’s been repeating that stance since. Note this column in which I pronounced him one of the sole-grown-ups on foreign policy in the field.  I quoted from that Esquire article:

“Does anybody really believe that Iraq is going to be a wonderful democracy where people are going to run down to the voting box and gently put in their ballot and the winner is happily going to step up to lead the country?” Trump said. ” C’mon. Two minutes after we leave, there’s going to be a revolution, and the meanest, toughest, smartest, most vicious guy will take over.”

“What was the purpose of the whole thing? Hundreds and hundreds of young people killed. And what about the people coming back with no arms and no legs? Not to mention the other side. All those Iraqi kids who’ve been blown to pieces. And it turns out that all the reasons for the war were blatantly wrong. All this for nothing!”

IF THAT’S DEMAGOGUERY, then maybe Trump should start a Demagogic Party. I’d vote for him over either Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush, both of whom want to continue the Arab Spring  idiocy by overthrowing yet another dictator, Bashar Assad or Syria.

Give me a demagogue any time if he’s smart enough not to make that mistake again.

And I haven’t even touched on immigration. Buchanan predicted during his 1992 run in the Republican presidential primary against George H.W. Bush  that mass immigration would move some of the most populous states in the country permanently  into the Democratic column. Was that demagogy? Only if you think giving the Democrats a near-lock on the Electoral College is a good idea.

Prior to the presidencies of the two Bushes, both of whom were open-borders advocates, the GOP could win states like New Jersey and California. Now, they don’t even bother campaigning.

The same goes for Trump’s stance on immigration. Again, such “neo” conservatives as Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio fly into a panic at the thought of an America-first immigration policy. But then they don’t support an America-first foreign policy either.

Neither of course do any of the Fox News pundits.

My readers often seem confused by the question of just who is a liberal and who is a conservative.

For that reason I’ve devised a simple test:

Do you think Charles Krauthammer is a conservative?

Congratulations! You’re a liberal.

Do you thing he’s a liberal?

Then you’re a conservative.

And if you think any  of the leaders of the major parties know how to sort out the Mideast, then you’re a word that I am too polite to use here.

COMMENTS: I will be leaving comments closed for some time to give you time to read all of the links and ponder them before commenting. Even at this late date I still hear from people who say they don’t know the difference between real conservatives and “neo” conservatives. Reading this link to my recent columns on the subject should clear that up.

Note: My software no longer has the indent function that I used to separate quotations  and citations from copy so I am now using bold type to show the transition back to my own writing.

It may be a little confusing but nobody ever accused the Movable Type people of making things easy.