US Neocons - A Temporary Movement?

Posted in United States | 29-Oct-05 | Author: Dieter Farwick

The White House - too much influence for Neo Cons ?

In some areas of our globe, the title "neocon" has become a synonym for one-dimensional imperial thinking and policy. "Arrogance of power" became an often-used label. These neocons have a lot of power and influence in the administration of George W. Bush. Therefore, it is interesting to take a closer look at these protagonists of a hegemonic policy of the world's sole superpower, the United States.

These people believe that the superpower US has the right and the obligation to design and build a new world order following American standards and values. "Democratization" has become a key word.

The question is whether or not democracy can and should be exported to each and every country in the world regardless of its respective history, culture, religion, traditions and perceptions of the "target society."

Is it possible to impose democracy from the outside? Would it be better and more prudent to implant the idea of participation and democracy as a virus into the hearts and minds of the people and let it grow and spread? Free media and the Internet without territorial borders could be a tool for an orchestrated public diplomacy to promote the idea of participation and democracy.

Is democracy the starting point or the desired end state? Are “early elections” desirable or do they give democratic legitimacy to former non-democratic strong players? Or is it necessary to first develop a desire for participation and democracy? For example: German reunification was not initiated from the outside world. “We are the people” was the cry for more freedom, participation and democracy - a desire that had become stronger and stronger over months and years.

The ideas of the neocons gained in power and influence when the US became the sole superpower in a unipolar world. There was no longer a political heavyweight to counterbalance the one “imperial empire.” The temptation grew to prefer unilateral, national actions to multilateral ones, or to form a “coalition of the willing” in order to avoid long and fruitless discussions and consultations with unwilling partners – as in NATO.

More than Afghanistan, Iraq became the test bed for these ideas. There is already one important lesson to be learned: As the sole superpower, the US has proven to be able to win a “hot war” based on military supremacy but face huge problems in the long lasting process of “post-conflict-operations.”

There is a second development: The unipolar world might be a temporary status. States like China, India and – less probably – a stronger Europe will challenge the status of the US. No one is able to tell when this status might change – but it will at the end of the day.

Thus, it is interesting to ponder the future of neocons in the US. To understand their future, we have to understand the history and present-day status of neo-conservatism. This is exactly the purpose of our newsletter written by the American academic Norman Levine. He goes back to the roots of this movement. He describes the power and the influence of neocons in US policy. Think tanks and well organized media transport their ideas to the public throughout the world. He asks for the future of those ideas.

The worldwide feedback seems to be counterproductive for the image of the US. Conservatism is not a bad idea. In a good sense, conservative people want to safeguard values and standards for the future.

If we had more participation and democracy in the world, it would be a safer and better place. The fundamental question is how to get there. It takes time to awaken the desire for participation and democracy. Information and communication can be helpful. There is the need to educate and form a new “political class” that can take over responsibility and accountability in due course. Democracy belongs to the people.

We must learn to accept that a “new democracy” might choose a different way – its own way. These “new democracies” will bring more stability than those authoritarian leaders and regimes we needed as allies and partners in the Cold War to contain our former enemies.

Let’s have a fresh look at an ever-changing world.