Sample research paper on neoconservatism in America

Neoconservatism in America

In this paper we have endeavored to present the theme of neoconservatism and its influence on the decision to invade Iraq. The political ideology reinforced by the Bush Administration is based on neoconservatism which is a vital element in invading Iraq. The ideology of neoconservatism comprises a rational set of arguments, ideas and conclusions. The outlook of neoconservatives is primarily shaped by religion and motivated by Biblical prophecies as well as Christian Zionists. Arguments have been presented to support the view point that neoconservatives wanted a war in Iraq based on their religious outlook. Finally it has been discussed that although the Iraq War was about oil but in fact it was much more than that.

Neoconservatism

The theme of neoconservatism is difficult to define. It is mostly used to express a blend of hawkish foreign policy and liberal democracy. The terms conservatism and neoconservatism are often used interchangeably, although the two have entirely different meanings. It is pertinent to understand different forms of political ideology so the term ‘neoconservatism’ can be elaborated. For instance, the term ‘paleo’ conservative represents traditional conservatives, whereas ‘neoconservatives’ refers to modern or new conservatives.

Irving Kristol, a writer and U.S intellectual, is regarded as the godfather of neoconservatism. He was a liberal but modeled an ideology that ultimately combined different philosophies. He was extremely influential in supporting and advancing the movement of neoconservatism.

His son William Kristol is most well known as an editor of ‘The Weekly Standard’. Neoconservative individual had been described by the younger Kristol as a ‘liberal mugged’ by reality. The philosophy of neoconservatism surfaced in the middle of twentieth century, although its origins are also traced to the social progressives and liberals who solidly supported World War II. In the decades of 1950s and 1960s, similar powerful views were adopted by the neoconservatives towards Soviet Union. (Ehrman 125[1])

The Rise of Neoconservatism in America

The neoconservatives revealed their robust presence in America when Ronald Regan decided to challenge the “evil empire” of Soviet Union. Later on, the idealistic neoconservatives were dismayed by the support of President Regan extended to anti-democratic regimes as they considered themselves strong allies of United States and strictly against Soviet Union. Support of Regan for Israel was also not up to the expectations of neoconservatives.

Ideologically, the collapse of Soviet Union and Communism was viewed as vindication by the neoconservatives- although the grand moment arrived when pragmatic senior George Bush was elected as the President of United States. However, they remained in opposition for sometime in the regime of Bill Clinton, even then they silently dominated the foreign policy of Republicans. A Project for the New American Century (PNAC) was their manifesto, major representative the ‘Weekly Standard Magazine’. The signatories of PNAC included Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz. The PNAC supported for higher spending in Defense, promotion of democracy as well as freedom all over the world. The neoconservatives gained power after the victory of George W. Bush in 2000, whereas events of 9/11 provided them cause. (Bronner 11[2])

A strong opinion persists that the power exercised by the neoconservatives had enormous but disastrous effects. Paul Wolfowitz, when he was a senior official at Pentagon, strongly believed that Saddam Hussein should have been ousted in the early part of 1990s and that the decision of allowing Saddam to remain in power after Gulf War in 1991 was a blunder. The ‘war on terror’ provided Wolfowitz and his followers their long-awaited chance. Neoconservatives at the office of Vice President and the Pentagon twisted the intelligence to establish that Saddam possessed WMDs and also was involved to some extent in the events of 9/11.

The credibility of neoconservatives has been shredded by Iraq. Kristol and other neoconservatives blame this failure on the poor organization by Donald Rumsfeld along with his juniors at the Pentagon and not on the original design. The original principles of Project for the New American Century are still intact and the cornerstone of foreign policy of United States.

There are mixed opinions about the success and failure of neoconservatism. The major success of neoconservatism are; the credit in the Saddam’s expulsion from Kuwait; the Slobodan Milosevic’s defeat in Kosovo and Bosnia; destroying al-Qaida to a large extent in the ‘war on terror’ or at least their capability to strike at targets on the soil of United States; cemented the dominance of Republicans in the battle of ideology in the United States, supporting their party to win the presidential elections of 2002 and 2004.

The main failures of neoconservatives are; their policies have led ultimately to a geo-strategic disaster for United States in Iraq and, most probably, in Afghanistan; and responsible for global surge in anti-Americanism. Neoconservatism, in United States, is characterized by a hostile stance on the matters of foreign policy.

The Bush administration has a specific and clear vision for the future of United States and also the world. They strongly believe that the vision created by them is positive. The focal point of neoconservative vision was initially articulated in the year 1997 when Dick Cheney, Bill Bennett, Gary Bauer, Donald Rumsfeld, Jeb bush, Elliot Abrams, Gary Bauer, Paul Wolfowitz, Steve Forbes, Vin Weber and different other personalities singed a statement of Principles prepared and presented by the Project For the New American century. This statement explicitly stated that it is the lesson of history to embrace the American leadership cause. (Ehrman 125[3])

Role of Religion in the Political Decisions of Neoconservatives

It is mostly criticized that the religiosity is used as a political artifice in neoconservatism. President Bush mentioned Iraq War as a ‘Great Crusade’ and obviously it could be recognized, in retrospect, as a maneuver to earn support particularly from the war-mongering fundamentalists. (Lindberg 24[4])

The liberal analysis of Nazism and communism religions in cold war can be applied to understand the political decisions made by the neoconservatives in the Iraq War. This contention rests on the hypothesis that neoconservatism is a variety of liberalism. Apart from the fact that the abstract demarcations among neoliberalism, liberalism and neoconservatism are mostly not clear, the above-mentioned assertions are debatable.

To a large extent, the ideology of neoconservatism comprises a utopian strand that is normally not found in the conservative politics. The political decisions of the present administration on Iraq policy have in fact resulted in violence, creation of globalization fear and bloodshed in the region. While the policies being framed from this particular insight could be termed as messianic, ironically they could be viewed as plausible traditional practice in power politics.

Influence of Neoconservatives on Propelling Current Iraq War

The public of United States voted, on November, 7, 2006, in the midterm elections in which a single issue heavily dominated: the War of Iraq. The Bush administration, on the basis of neoconservatism ideology, presented the phenomenon of Iraq War as a key battle being fought in the post 9/11 era. By the middle of 2005, slightly two years after the combat operations were declared with uncertainty by the President, almost half of the Americans were of the view that the operation has in fact made U.S. less safe.

The consequence for the War in Iraq has been enormous and massive with death toll rising well over hundred thousand. Sectarian killings have become a routine and it is widely believed that the forces deployed by the Iraqi government along with U.S. led coalition are not successful in staving off a full-fledge civil war in Iraq. (Halper 78[5])

Moreover, given the complex religious, ethnic and economic circumstances and history in the Middle East, there is a high probability that, rather than elevating the contagion of democracy, the United States has in fact opened a dangerous and risky Pandora Box in the entire region. As such it is necessary to understand the overall political climate and the political ideology reinforced by the Bush administration: the neoconservatism. The ideology of President Bush and his administration was a vital element in the invasion of Iraq. Even though neoconservatism is not a plain and simple doctrine, it is fundamentally based on a rational set of arguments, ideas and conclusions. (Powers 22[6])

It is, therefore, necessary to discuss the impact of neoconservatism on the government of Untied States, particularly in connection with Iraq War. It can be safely asserted that this ideology of Bush administration was a vital element in the initial decision undertaken to invade Iraq. The same ideology of neoconservatism has led to a war, fought poorly, particularly in its overall ability to averting the sectarian insurgency.

The events of 9/11 transformed George W. Bush, who had initially focused on domestic issues and had been a critic of the former President Bill Clinton for his humanitarian intervention in the Haiti and Balkans, into one placing the foreign policy at the top of agenda. The events of 9/11 compelled Bush to embrace the ideology of neoconservatism. He also shifted his foreign policy affiliations from a realist view to an idealist one, this put the regime of Iraq as a primary candidate for change.

Paul Wolfowitz, a neoconservative, then Deputy Secretary of State, asserted in the first meeting just after 9/11 attacks that the United States should exploit this opportunity by attacking Iraq, destroying Saddam Hussein regime. Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden network are considered as the perpetrators of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the United States was extensively supported by the international community for the consequent attack on the Taliban reign in Afghanistan.

It is widely believed that there were two aspects of the value system designed by neoconservatives in the decision related to invading Iraq. First, the neoconservatives firmly believe that the structure of a government matters. They stringently regard democracy as good, while non-democracy as evil. The autocratic rule of Saddam in Iraq along with its history of violence towards its neighbors, and in some cases event to its citizens, presented the antithesis of a fair democratic country.

Second, they shared an arrogant pride in the inherent desire for citizens to enjoy democratic regime rather than any other form of government. This second aspect is vital in the endeavor to understand the obvious lack of preparation as an inevitable insurgency.

War of Iraq- A Religious Outlook and a Utopian Vision

Neoconservatives are in fact, shrewd and smart students of history. Since their evolution, they have properly viewed Iraq, at most of the times, a country of huge potential. Iraq has also been the heart of Arab revivalism and as such an impediment to their Middle East paradigm. They are said to be motivated on the religious terms by Biblical prophecies and Christian Zionists. They have a profound affection for Israel, also on religious terms, as their founding fathers of secular neoconservatives. The neoconservatives block appears to establish the directions of its foreign policy purely on religious terms, motivated by the security and superiority of Israel.

The outlook of neoconservatives is significantly shaped by religion, for instance Karl Rove, a former advisor to President Bush and Paul Wolfowitz, former deputy secretary of defense, are considered as the masterminds behind the Iraq War. The position of Rove matched with the beliefs of Wolfowitz, and the alliance between Zionism and Protestantism was gorged, each of them zealous and enthusiastic about his religion. This led to designing and implementing a policy that continuously focus on the transition of Middle East into a region under protection of United States, in which Israel can have a privileged status.

It seems these neoconservatives have a utopian vision for the world. But utopia is dead whereas religion is still alive. Religion embodies a basic human need while this is not true for utopianism. The neoconservatism that fueled the decision of United States to invade Iraq in 2003 was just a modern avatar of Illumination-inspired utopianism.

Iraq War- Certainly about Oil but Much More than That

Neoconservatives openly acknowledged that United States is, in fact, a small part of world’s population but consumes large percentage of the natural resources and oil. They firmly believe that the American citizens deserve a deluxe and lavish life style being the rulers of world; the nucleus of this is oil. The Bush administration defends the involvement of United States in Iraq by asserting that it is not about oil or the high profits earned by the American oil companies. On the contrary it is certainly about oil but more than that; in their opinion it is the ultimate survival and endurance of American lifestyle which is not only non-negotiable but completely based on a cheap access to oil.

As such, the neoconservatives view American lifestyle- their ability to maintain the system of auto-based transportation, demand for warm and comfortable houses and appetite for a broad variety of cheap consumer goods and foods- is presently based on access to low-priced oil. (Lindberg 24[7])

Conclusion

In this paper we have endeavored to examine the ideology of neoconservatism in the backdrop of War in Iraq. Events of 9/11 presented an opportunity for neoconservatives to fulfill their dream of penetrating Middle East; the first step was invading Iraq. It is, therefore concluded that the policies of neoconservatism within the framework of War and subsequently continuous bloodshed in Iraq demonstrate a complete failure creating the globalization of fear as well as institutionalization of chaos specifically in the Middle East.

Works Cited

Bronner, Stephen. “Is neoconservatism dead”. The Guardian. 16.3 (2007): 11

Ehrman, John. “The Rise of Neoconservatism: Intellectual and Foreign Affairs”. Yale University Press. (2006): 125

Halper, Stefan. “The Neo-conservatives and the Global Order”. Cambridge University Press. (2007): 78

Lindberg, Tod. :Neoconservatism‘s Liberal Legacy.” Policy Review. (2004): 24

Powers, Thomas. “Tomorrow the World” The New York Review of Books.: 51.4. (2004): 22

[1] Ehrman, John. “The Rise of Neoconservatism: Intellectual and Foreign Affairs”. Yale University Press (2006): 125

[2] Bronner, Stephen. “Is neoconservatism dead”. The Guardian 16.3 (2007): 11

[3] Ehrman, John. “The Rise of Neoconservatism: Intellectual and Foreign Affairs”. Yale University Press (2006): 125

[4] Lindberg, Tod. “Neoconservatism‘s Liberal Legacy.” Policy Review (2004): 24

[5] Halper, Stefan. “The Neo-conservatives and the Global Order” Cambridge University Press (2007): 78

[6] Powers, Thomas. “Tomorrow the World” The New York Review of Books.: 51.4. (2004): 22

[7] Lindberg, Tod. :Neoconservatism‘s Liberal Legacy.” Policy Review. (2004): 24


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