The Right Coast

November 19, 2004
Neoconservative Inspiration
By Mike Rappaport

Whenever the neoconservative (in foreign policy) in me becomes pessimistic, one of the best cures is to read Victor Davis Hanson. Here is an excerpt from his latest:

Just as the breakdown of a few Communist Eastern European states led to a general collapse of Marxism in the east, or the military humiliation in colonial Africa and the Falklands led to democratic renaissance in Iberia and Argentina, or American military efforts in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Panama City brought consensual government to Central America, a reformed Afghanistan and Iraq may prompt what decades of billions of dollars in wasted aid to Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinians, the 1991 Gulf War, and 60 years of appeasement of Gulf petrol-sheiks could not: the end of the old sick calculus of Middle East tyrannies blackmailing the United States through past intrigue with the Soviet Union, then threats of oil embargos and rigged prices, and, most recently, both overt and stealthy support for fundamentalist killers.

Those on the left who are ignorant of history lectured the Bush administration that democracy has never come as a result of the threat of conflict or outright war — apparently the creation of a democratic United States, Germany, Japan, Italy, Israel, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama, Serbia, and Afghanistan was proof of the power of mere talk. In contrast, the old realist Right warned that strongmen are our best bet to ensure stability — as if Saudi Arabia and Egypt have been loyal allies with content and stable pro-American citizenries. In truth, George Bush's radical efforts to cleanse the world of the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, bring democracy to the heart of the Arab world, and isolate Yasser Arafat were the most risky and humane developments in the Middle East in a century — old-fashioned idealism backed with force in a postmodern age of abject cynicism and nihilism.
I am less of a neoconservative than Hanson. I am a skeptic about government, even in foreign affairs. And I think Hanson is somewhat too optimistic about the future. That said, he is on the right track.