Tips for the neo-con project

Clive Davis is pleased someone is being fair to the neo-cons… but Stephen Pollard comits a dirty sleight-of-hand.

At last, says Clive Davis, someone has written a fair article on the Neo-conservative ideology. What a shame then, that this fairness does not extend to the other side of the debate.

In The Times, Stephen Pollard of the Centre for the New Europe, discusses how a person’s Left-or-Right political leanings no longer has a bearing on what their stance on British foreign policy will be. As Clive says, its important to point out the humanitarian aspect to neo-con policy… but Pollard comits a dirty sleight-of-hand:

It might, after all, be thought reasonable to identify democracy, freedom and human rights as key components of a left-wing approach. And yet the reaction to the Iraq war shows that this no longer applies

Innocuous, but actually very naughty. The implication, throughout the article, is that only one side of the argument has human rights at heart. The implication is that by questioning the wisdom of war, those on The Left were reverting to an anti-americanism factory default, with support for the Islamo-facists an unwitting side-effect. It also ignores the worry held by many worldwide, that there were other, less noble reasons for war.

The mistake that Stephen Pollard makes, along with countless others on both sides of the debate, is to misunderstand the nature of the argument. It is not a debate about where the concept of human rights falls in our list of global priorities. Mine is an unpopular belief: that there are people in both the pro-war and anti-war camps who had the best interests of the Iraqis, their fellow human beings, at heart when they took their stance.

For me, the debate about the Iraq war was not ideological, but practical. Dictators should be stopped, no question, but my objections were over the best way to achieve that aim. Telling lies over WMD and ignoring our blood-stained hand in the history of the region was not a good footing for a military campaign. If the intervention had been managed more honestly, I may have had a different view… but pencilling a war into your diary for six months hence, then constructing a forty-five minute justification afterwards, is not a viable strategy. Although confident that we would defeat the Saddam regime itself, I was never confident that we would ‘win’ the war in the sense of acheiving our human rights objectives. Indeed, as a piece The Times published earlier this year shows, the soul searching by war hawks who have had second thoughts is almost entirely based on practical considerations. It is not the morality of toppling a dictator that figures, but the manner in which we did it. Suggesting that we could have chosen a different way is libellously painted by the hawks as against human rights.

Pollard also mocks the idea that there is some kind of project for “American global dominion” of which the Iraq war was a part. But I would suggest that it is actually those in the pro-war camp, our own leaders no less, who allow this accusation to flourish. Their pitiful attempts to wish away the WMD transgressions merely fuel the theory of American Imperialism. Certainly it distracts from the humanitarian case for intervention. Despite their reputation for being slick spin-doctors, the neo-conservatives have presented their argument appallingly, in no small part due to the inarticulacy of their chief spokesperson, President Bush. If the neo-cons wish to invoke the name of Henry Jackson and his ideas of principled intervention, they had better damn well demonstrate those principles before they start trying to convince the rest of us. An honest account of how we came to war, and why we previously supported Saddam Hussein in the 1980s, would be a fine start. Until then, they cannot take the moral high-ground that Stephen Pollard claims for them.

8 thoughts on “Tips for the neo-con project”

  1. Pingback: Pickled Politics
  2. Further to your recent blog on the human rights arguments of both sides of the pro and anti-war on Iraq divide I thought the following article would be of interest:

    Observer | International | Abuse worse than under Saddam, says Iraqi leader

    I also think Robert gives the right the benefit of the doubt without any justification on this issue. The right (including New Labour) only employed the human rights argument as a tool to further their real agenda (regime change) and mollify middle class critics. We saw the same ahead of the invasion of Afghanistan when Cherie Booth and Laura Bush were wheeled out to suddenly speak up for the rights of a group of women in which they had previously taken nil interest.

    By according the human rights ‘concerns’ of the right a respect they don’t deserve, I think Robert helps to muddy the argument – which is exactly what the right want, of course. Indeed, I think the neo-Con’s attempts to co-opt human rights concerns is one of the most dangerous recent political developments. It needs to be exposed rather than accepted at face value.

  3. Given the title of the post, I think it is legitimate for me to lend some weight to the human rights ‘concerns’ of the right, even if I don’t agree with them. It better underlines my central charge, which is the hypocrisy of our hawkish leaders.

    And its very much the leaders, the people in power, who I accuse of being hypocritical liars. Those members of the public who consider themselves either a ‘neo-con’ or simply part of the pro-war Left are not part of any duplicitous scam – they just find the arguments persuasive, especially the human rights element to those arguments. I think they’re dangerously mistaken, and will argue against them forever… but that is different from saying that they have secret agendas that need to be ‘exposed’, as you put it. Where there is misinformation on the neo-con front I loudly and willingly point it out, hence my complaint about Stephen Pollard’s poor choice of phrase.

    By tweezering out these differences, I hope we can separate the wheat from the chaf, the racist imperialists, the Islamo-facists, and the large spectrum of more moderate thought that is genuinely seeking a solution.

    If this appears achingly diplomatic, I assure you that is not my final intention. The debate doesn’t stop here with “oh let’s just all agree to disagree”. I am merely making observations about how these debates are framed and conducted. I believe that ultimately this will lead to a more persuasive and substantial argument on this and future debates.

  4. Any discussion of neoconnerie that doesn’t mention its essentially Jewish character is worthless. Neoconnerie is the latest manifestation of that race’s ‘don’t do as I do, do as I say’ strategy for confusing and demoralising its gentile hosts. Here, for instance, the Jew Davis commends the Jew Pollard’s plug for the Jew Kamm. You need earplugs not to be deafened by the backscratching.

    Almost the only defenders of the Krazy Krusade left in Blighty blogocracy are Jews such as Norman Geras, Nick Cohen, David Aaronovitch and Melanie Phillips, for whom ‘will it make Israel safer?’ is the acid test of British foreign policy.

    Show me a neocon who criticises Israel or Zionism at all severely and I’ll believe there’s more to this pious waffle about human rights and democratic principles. Not otherwise.

  5. Love Supreme,

    Your comments smack of anti-Semitism and are therefore a most unwelcome addition to this blog, in my view. ‘Neoconnerie’ as you call it may be closely allied with the interests of Zionists and of Likudnik politics, but to reduce the Neocon project to some kind of Jewish conspiracy is juvenile as well as racist.

  6. Thanks for stepping in, Intifada Kid. An appropriate response to someone who clearly isn’t genuinely looking for a solution to the problem.

    Indeed, by commenting on a post that specifically talks about engaging with the ‘other side’ of a debate, I wonder if Love Supreme is genuinely expecting anyone to engage with the comments at all.

  7. Love supreme – does it not seem hypocritical to be blogging with such a title when you are giving people prefixes to their names and rashly asserting things about them because of their race/colour or creed. No understanding will be reached with this attitude and understanding is needed first before there can be acceptance/denial and at some stage resolution for the good of the whole.

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