The Past, Present, and Future of Neoconservatism
I am no fan of the Neoconservatives, but it is helpful to understand all sides of the issues even or especially if you do not agree with them. Joshua Muravchik of the American Enterprise Institute has an article in Commentary entitled "The Past, Present, and Future of Neoconservatism" which challenges the common assertion that the Neoconservative movement is effectively dead now that their Mideast efforts are in a shambles. The article offers a decent summary of the history of the movement and what it allegedly stands for.
As for the future, although the voters will decide which ideology will be dominant in 2009, the Neoconservatives will still be there in the background, whispering into the ears of anybody and everybody in Washington. They may go into hibernation for a few election cycles, but I suspect that they eventually will be back, even if in a mutated form.
Oh, and in case you missed it Neoconservative "godfather" Norman Podhoretz had an article in Commentary entitled "The Case for Bombing Iran" which tells us about what he calls "World War IV":
Although many persist in denying it, I continue to believe that what September 11, 2001 did was to plunge us headlong into nothing less than another world war. I call this new war World War IV, because I also believe that what is generally known as the cold war was actually World War III, and that this one bears a closer resemblance to that great conflict than it does to World War II. Like the cold war, as the military historian Eliot Cohen was the first to recognize, the one we are now in has ideological roots, pitting us against Islamofascism, yet another mutation of the totalitarian disease we defeated first in the shape of Nazism and fascism and then in the shape of Communism; it is global in scope; it is being fought with a variety of weapons, not all of them military; and it is likely to go on for decades.
What follows from this way of looking at the last five years is that the military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq cannot be understood if they are regarded as self-contained wars in their own right. Instead we have to see them as fronts or theaters that have been opened up in the early stages of a protracted global struggle. The same thing is true of Iran. As the currently main center of the Islamofascist ideology against which we have been fighting since 9/11, and as (according to the State Department's latest annual report on the subject) the main sponsor of the terrorism that is Islamofascism's weapon of choice, Iran too is a front in World War IV. Moreover, its effort to build a nuclear arsenal makes it the potentially most dangerous one of all.
The Iranians, of course, never cease denying that they intend to build a nuclear arsenal, and yet in the same breath they openly tell us what they intend to do with it. Their first priority, as repeatedly and unequivocally announced by their president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is to "wipe Israel off the map" -- a feat that could not be accomplished by conventional weapons alone.
But Ahmadinejad's ambitions are not confined to the destruction of Israel. He also wishes to dominate the greater Middle East, and thereby to control the oilfields of the region and the flow of oil out of it through the Persian Gulf. If he acquired a nuclear capability, he would not even have to use it in order to put all this within his reach. Intimidation and blackmail by themselves would do the trick.
Nor are Ahmadinejad's ambitions merely regional in scope. He has a larger dream of extending the power and influence of Islam throughout Europe, and this too he hopes to accomplish by playing on the fear that resistance to Iran would lead to a nuclear war. And then, finally, comes the largest dream of all: what Ahmadinejad does not shrink from describing as "a world without America." Demented though he may be, I doubt that Ahmadinejad is so crazy as to imagine that he could wipe America off the map even if he had nuclear weapons. But what he probably does envisage is a diminution of the American will to oppose him: that is, if not a world without America, he will settle, at least in the short run, for a world without much American influence.
... the only prudent -- indeed, the only responsible -- course is to assume that Ahmadinejad may not be bluffing, or may only be exaggerating a bit, and to strike at him as soon as it is logistically possible.
Scary stuff, but Podhoretz is rather influential in foreign policy circles.