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Friday, February 04, 2011

Neocons grapple with conflict between Arab democracy movement and their Israel-first instincts and agenda

Neocons’ Tepid Reaction to the Egyptian Democratic Revolution

( -- by Stephen J. Sniegoski --

The uprisings currently taking place against the autocratic regimes in the Middle East would seem to be in line with the neoconservatives’ advocacy of radical democratic change in the region. But there is one significant difference. The neocons had sought to use democratic revolutions to overthrow the enemies of Israel, even applying it, much less successfully, to countries such as Saudi Arabia, which were client states of the United States; but now democratic revolution is engulfing the Mubarak regime in Egypt, which maintained friendly relations with Israel. As Israeli writer Aluf Benn points out in Ha’aretz, “[t]he fading power of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's government leaves Israel in a state of strategic distress. Without Mubarak, Israel is left with almost no friends in the Middle East.” [“Without Egypt, Israel will be left with no friends in Mideast,” January 29, 2010, ] In a situation where Israeli interests would be harmed by democratic revolution, the neocons’ ardor for this development has cooled dramatically.

Daniel Luban on Lobelog points out that in the first days of the Egyptian revolution the neocons were largely silent on this development and those who commented tended to express some skepticism as to its likelihood to bring about positive results. He quotes The Weekly Standard’s Lee Smith cautioning U.S. activists not to become too fond of the Egyptian demonstrators: “It is not always a good thing when people go to the streets; indeed the history of revolutionary action shows that people go to the streets to shed blood more often than they do to demand democratic reforms.” Luban predicts that “[i]f the protests are ultimately unsuccessful, the neocons will attack Obama for letting the protesters twist in the wind; if the protests are ultimately successful, they will claim the events in Egypt as vindication for the Bush democracy promotion agenda.”

[ “More Silence from America’s ‘Democracy Promoters’,” January 27, 2011,]

While my own brief research confirms Luban’s point that the neocons have not championed radical democratic transformation in the current situation, I also found a number of commonalities and differences among the views of the neocons who voiced their opinions as the events in Egypt have become a featured topic in the mainstream media. In line with what Luban has written, I also did not find any neoconservatives who have explicitly abandoned their professed faith in their democratic agenda. For example, they maintain that the revolts validate their democratic prescription for American Middle East policy during the past decades—that had the U.S. actually fostered democracy in the region, the current revolutionary turmoil would not have ensued.

The neocons differ among themselves, however, in their assessment of the current situation and in their prescriptions for U.S. actions. Where they express skepticism of the positive nature of the ongoing revolution, they try to demonstrate how this does not conflict with their fundamental faith in democracy. In short, they profess to identify with the democratic aspirations of the Egyptian demonstrators but question whether democracy will result from their actions. It should be emphasized that it is essential for the neocons to praise the democratic aim of the uprising since they could not do otherwise if they intend to maintain their image as champions of democracy at a time when most of the world wholeheartedly identifies with the Egyptian pro-democratic protestors. Moreover, since most observers agree that the Mubarak regime cannot survive, it is strategically necessary for the neocons to jump on the bandwagon and encourage the U.S. government to guide the revolution in directions beneficial to American–and, of course, Israeli—interests, under the guise of preventing it from leading to an alleged greater tyranny of the radical Islamists...

From the neocons’ less-than-enthusiastic reaction to the ongoing democratic revolutionary wave in the Middle East, it is apparent that they are far from being democratic ideologues, as has often been claimed. And this has been apparent for some time. In The Transparent Cabal, I cite many instances where the neocons take positions that are contrary to supporting democracy–their opposition to democratic rights for Palestinians being the most egregious, but far from the only example. In fact, I point out that the “Neoconservatives have not always even claimed to be exponents of democracy as a policy goal; in fact, it was the rejection of pushing democracy as a foreign policy goal that loomed large in their early years. During the Cold War, the neoconservatives emphasized that it was essential to support dictatorships, if they were pro-United States, as part of the overall war on Soviet Communism...

Thus it would be expected that the interests of Israel would loom large in their assessment of the current political upheaval in Egypt. The neoconservatives thus express their support for democracy in general in Egypt, but then raise the specter of a Muslim Brotherhood takeover of Egypt, and the concomitant emergence of an undemocratic theocratic state, if a free democratic election should actually take place. But why should the Muslim Brotherhood, which is the oldest and largest Islamic political organization, be prohibited from participating in the politics of Egypt? This trans-national organization renounces the use of force and expresses its commitment to democracy—a commitment which it has demonstrated in practice. The Brotherhood’s announced support for Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei to negotiate with the Mubarak regime would seem to dispel any anti-democratic intent. Moreover, political parties comprised of its members take part in other democratic governments, including that of Iraq, where the Islamic Party represents the religious Arab Sunni population. And the activist secular leaders of the revolution for democracy in Egypt (who would have the most to lose) do not express any grave fear that the Muslim Brotherhood would subvert a nascent Egyptian democracy. [“What's So Scary About Egypt's Islamists?,” Time, November 29, 2010, ]

It is quite apparent that Muslim Brotherhood is considered dangerous because it has long been hostile to Israel, and its impact on Egyptian policy would likely be to move the country away from its current friendly relationship with Israel. The Brotherhood's prescription for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is to support the Palestinian armed resistance, especially that of Hamas. Although this certainly goes against the goals of Israeli and American foreign policy, it is no more a violation of democracy than the militant foreign policy positions expressed by various Israeli, or for that matter, U.S. politicians. For a true believer in democracy, Egyptian foreign policy should be something for the Egyptian people to determine, not the United States or Israel...MORE...LINK

Chris Moore comments:

Nearly every nuance of neocon thinking and every political stance they ultimately take is predicated upon the question: "Is it good for Zionist Jewry?"

By Zionist Jewry, I don't mean merely Israeli Jews, but rather the larger diaspora Jewish nationalist community/network and its domestic political interests in America -- whatever they collectively calculate and deem best for the Jewish nationalist collective, both in Israel and abroad.

In this sense, neconservatism/neoliberalism is a very particularistic and predictable ethno-political ideology, as are its political Zionist-collaborators and lackeys like the Bushcons on the Right and the Obammunists on the Left.

In many ways, it's become pathetic how transparent and predictable they all have become. The Israel-first Emperor and Empire has no clothes, and ever more Americans are realizing this by the day.

What is the political outcome when a critical mass of Americans finally realizes it is being governed by a set of self-serving sociopaths and takes to the streets?

Either a Mubarak style government crackdown, or political transformation.

For the corrupt Zionist-American ruling class, the chaos in Egypt is a foreboding precursor to what sooner or later may be coming to America.

No wonder the neocons are wringing their hands.


Dissident said...

Chris, you always have the most concise and brilliant commentary to be found on this particular subject anywhere-bar none!

I find your analysis to be spot-on, as is typical from you. Well written and well thought out in a reasoned approach. Thanks.

Chris Moore said...

Thanks, Dissident.

It's a common quote, but it fits our era so well:

"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." -- George Orwell

I don't know if I'm brilliant, or just willing to tell the truth that many others see but have been trained and indoctrinated to suppress, repress and deny, even to themselves. I'm sure there are plenty others out there who could do the job better than me, but lack the will to walk off of the plantation and go "rogue" with the truth, but fortunately there seems to be more and more of us.