October 02, 2003

Join the cabal

In this article on the so-called "neoconservative cabal," Joshua Muravchik reminds us of the way we were, and why it changed:

But this brings us back at last to the question of the neocons' alleged current influence. How did their ideas gain such currency? Did they "hijack" Bush's foreign policy, right out from under his nose and the noses of Richard Cheney, Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld, and Condoleezza Rice--all members of the same team that, to hear the standard liberal version, was itself so diabolically clever that in the 2000 election it had stolen the presidency itself?

The answer is to be found not in conspiracy theories but in the terrorist outrage of September 11, 2001. Though it constituted a watershed in American history, this event was novel not in kind but only in scale. For roughly 30 years, Middle Eastern terrorists had been murdering Americans in embassies, barracks, airplanes, and ships--even, once before, in the World Trade Center. Except for a few criminal prosecutions and the lobbing of a few mostly symbolic shells, the U.S. response had been inert. Even under President Reagan, Americans fled in the wake of the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, then the largest single attack we had suffered.

Terrorism, we were told, was an accepted way of doing politics in the Middle East. More than a handful of the regions governments openly supported it, and the PLO, an outfit steeped in terror, was the poster child of the Arab cause. Any strong response to this scourge would serve only to make the people of the region angrier at us, and generate still more terrorists.

On September 11, we learned in the most dreadful way that terrorists would not be appeased by our diffidence; quite the contrary. We saw--they themselves told us--that they intended to go on murdering us in ever larger numbers as long as they could. A sharp change of course was required, and the neoconservatives, who had been warning for years that terror must not be appeased, stood vindicated--much as, more grandly, Churchill was vindicated by Hitler's depredations after Munich.

(Via Damian Penny.)

Posted by Andrea Harris at October 2, 2003 10:47 PM

Insanity has been defined as continually doing the same thing and expecting a different result, yet the attempts at appeasement continue. One would think we should have learned that lesson at Munich. Both Munichs.

Posted by: Ken Summers at October 3, 2003 at 08:59 AM

Being ancient, I wonder often how history will look upon this time. I wonder how the "Neo-Cons" will be thought of and written about. Having read a little bit, I can't help but think that things are going just swimmingly by way of action and reaction. Not perfectly, but damn well.

Of course, you have to get into that whole "history is written by the victorious" thing. Eh...ignore me.

Posted by: Scott Chaffin at October 3, 2003 at 10:01 PM

The misuse of "neoconservative" has always annoyed me, as well. I'm glad he got that cleared up. Not that it's going to do any good, mind you.

Posted by: David Perron at October 20, 2003 at 10:02 AM