Thursday, April 10, 2008

The blanket label

There is an interesting piece in today's New York Times that discusses the influence that neoconservatives seem to have over John McCain:

Senator John McCain has long made his decades of
experience in foreign policy and national security the centerpiece of his
political identity, and suggests he would bring to the White House a fully
formed view of the world.

But now one component of the fractious
Republican Party foreign policy establishment —
the so-called pragmatists, some of whom have come to view the
Iraq war or its execution as a mistake — is
expressing concern that Mr. McCain might be coming under increased influence
from a competing camp, the neoconservatives, whose thinking dominated President
Bush’s first term and played a pivotal role in building the case for war.

I share the concerns of many of the so-called "realists" that John McCain does have a bit too much neoconservative influence in his camp-but I am very careful in my use of that word. It has become the new fad in many of the socio-political circles of the Left to label all of their conservative opponents as "neocons." The New York Times will sometimes feature op-ed pieces which label conservatives as "neocons." Liberal bloggers now use the term with reckless abandon, labeling nearly all of their political opponents as "neocons." I am now labeled as a neocon by certain Leftist bloggers on a regular basis, which would seem to belie a fundamental misunderstanding of the strains of conservative philosophy: Not only am I not a neoconservative, I am nowhere near being one.

Neoconservatives have their philosophical roots in the liberalism if the 1930's-1960's. Many neoconservatives became such because the radical Left took over the Democratic Party in the late 60's and 70's, forcing old fashioned liberals who were anti-Communist but who had a globalist worldview and who accepted a sort of "third way" approach to government (they have no problem with big government so long as the powers of government grow in the direction they are comfortable with), to redefine what it means to be conservative. The neoconservatives have been very successful, because they and their surrogates are now the dominant force in the national Republican Party.

My own philosophy is what is now referred to as
paleoconservatism. I believe in a very limited federal government, and support the idea that nearly all powers not granted to the federal government in the Constitution are to be reserved to the States or to the people. Paleoconservatives are fearful of the power of central government, but also fearful of excessive corporatism-which is why many paleoconservatives oppose the idea of the Federal Reserve and believe the United States should return to a standard of gold and silver as the means by which our money is backed.

Immigration should be limited only to those which can successfully integrated into American society with a minimum amount of federal and State spending-in other words, immigration shouldn't be stopped, but should be placed at levels that are far easier for the established citizenry to control. Immigration laws which are already on the books must be rigorously enforced. Neoconservatives believe (along with many liberals) that it is the business of the United States to intervene around the world in situations where we deem it important to do so, though the sides may differ in what situations intervention is permissable. Traditional paleoconservatives believe that the United States should avoid excessive foreign entanglements like the plague, and believe that foreign aid should be restricted so that America's needs are met with America's money before the needs of the rest of the world. Nearly all paleoconservatives believe the Iraq War was a mammoth mistake, but do believe that there are situations which necessitate American military intervention-with a Congressional Declaration of War (the Constitution says so).

Labeling all conservatives as "neocons" is a rather cheap political move by the Left that is intended to paint their opposition with a broad brush, but that brush is not representative of reality. As for the Iraq War-it was a mistake, and a terrible one, but we are now there whether we like it or not. I personally fear that a unilateral withdrawal would send a signal to Americas enemies that we are weak and unwilling to fight if need be. This war should not have been started, but it must be ended when victory can truly be declared.

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