Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Neoconservatism and War

In an excellent essay, C. Bradley Thompson explains the basic principles of neoconservatism:
The neocons want to “remoralize” America by creating a new patriotic civil religion around the idea of “Americanism”—an Americanism that will essentially redefine the “American grain.” The neoconservative vision of a good America is one in which ordinary people work hard, read the Bible, go to church, recite the Pledge of Allegiance, practice homespun virtues, sacrifice themselves to the “common good,” obey the commands of the government, fight wars, and die for the state.

The neocons’ national-greatness philosophy is also the animating force behind the their foreign policy. Indeed, neoconservative foreign policy is a branch of its domestic policy. The grand purpose of national-greatness foreign policy is to inspire the American people to transcend their vulgar, infantilized, and selfish interests for uplifting national projects. The neoconservatives’ policy of benevolent hegemony will, according to William Kristol and Robert Kagan, “relish the opportunity for national engagement, embrace the possibility of national greatness, and restore a sense of the heroic.” In other words, the United States should wage war in order to combat creeping nihilism. In the revealing words of Kristol and Kagan, “The remoralization of America at home ultimately requires the remoralization of American foreign policy.” Going to war, sacrificing both treasure and blood in order to bring “democracy” to strangers—this is a mission worthy of a great nation.

The neocons therefore believe that a muscular foreign policy—one that includes military intervention abroad, war, regime change, and imperial governance—will keep the American people politicized and therefore virtuous. By saving the world from tyranny, America will save herself from her own internal corruption.

I do not regard this as absurd; it may well be that in the future we will struggle to find challenges worthy of our intellectual talents, or moral purposes that are worth living for. But if the answer to the question of how to find meaning is "drop bombs on people," then I believe we are better off battling corruption and nihilism in our own little ways.


David said...

I find it detestable and insane, particularly the idea that many of us should die so that we can be the kind of people these twits want us to be. I do not wish to be a Roman, and the idea that I should be utterly enrages me, in a way that mutes my usual capacity to see the other guy's point of view. They may not have my son. And may they rot in hell.

ArEn said...

@David Word.