Were any fundamental neo-con philosophical assumptions changed by the Iraq debacle?

A lot of the underlying assumptions in the US Iraq polices where shaped by neo-conservative philosophical and political assumptions about the way the world worked. It didn’t quite turn out he way they expected.

Are the bright lights among the neo-conservatives doing a re-think of their underlying real politik assumptions, or is the mess we’re trying to extricate ourselves from simply being shrugged off as bad luck, and bad implementation and all real politik assumptions remain intact?

The neo-conservative worldview rejects all facts that don’t support their favored hypothesis. This has been amply demonstrated throughout this administration’s tenure.

For example, it was generally accepted by the people who were actually there (Blix, Ritter) that Iraq had no effective WMD; however, this was unacceptable to the neo-conservatives and thus the Office of Special Plans was created to winnow through the intelligence that we actually had and pick and choose “evidence” that would allow us to attack.

Given this, I expect very few genuine, dyed-in-the-wool neo-cons to change their minds based on the facts on the ground.

Francis Fukuyama is abandoning Bush. He’s one of the original signers of the New American Century Project, so I’d say his Neocon credentials are solid.

What I’ve seen so far is a lot of, “It was a great idea, but the execution left a lot to be desired.”
Those who I’ve read blame Bush, or some other factor other than the idea itself.

Though not a neo-con, (William Buckley was conservative back when Reagan was a Hollywood Liberal[sup]TM[/sup]) the esteemed Bill Buckley has said that if he had it to do over, he wouldn’t’ve supported the war. I expect that more and more war supporters with integrity and intelligence will come to similar conlusions as this legend of conservatism.

Republican Senator Pat Roberts, head of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has said about as much as well. IIRC, his opinion was that if the PotUS knew then what we know now, then the PotUS wouldn’t’ve supported the war either.

Two more ‘unpatriotic’, ‘treasonous’ Americans I suppose.

It doesn’t seem to have fazed Cheney. He’s still selling the yellowcake crap and the Iraq-al Qaeda cooperation with the tacit tie to 9/11.

The schools! The schools!

The current talking point is that things are getting better and nothing ain’t gonna move 'em off that until at least after the election…

The underlying assumption of your OP is that Iraq is a debacle. I’m not a neocon but I’d imagine that many of them would say that on the whole things have generally gone as expected so far. (as much as such things are possible in war) There have been numerous threads where people have argued precisely that.

Your’re absolutelty spot on. Many of the neo-cons predicted that the war would drive gas prices up, depress the Dow, kill almost 1,000 US soldiers, cause photographs and stories of the torture of Iraqi women and children by US “operatives” to be spread around the world, assassination of civilian leaders, bombing of the UN headquarters, the refusal of potential allies to commit troops, the withrawal of troops by existing allies, etc.

Just just help me out here a bit. What were the names of the neo-cons who accurately predicted all of this?

Well, I haven’t exactly heard any of the prominent neo-cons say that. But if I did I’d have to say that sounds a lot like the hardcore socialists who used to defend themselves by saying ‘Socialism’s the right way! The Soviets just did it wrong!’.

Question for those more knowledgeable. How many of the neo-con thinkers (alive or dead) were democrats in the 1950s and 60s? I know that a certain group of them converted at some point but I’m unaware of the numbers and names.

I think the gist of it is that many neo-cons accepted that we had to break some eggs to make this particular omelet, and that all of the stuff you’ve cited was simply ‘collateral damage’ in a wider war. So long as the US’s long-term goals are met, it all comes out in the wash. Though I’m still not sure what these goals are.

Sounds a lot like Cold War thinking to me.

Not to nitpick, but I just wanted to point out that neo-cons reject the idea of realpolitik. They say that the US should practice a principled foreign policy that encourages democracy and free markets. The people who do have the realpolitk assumptions would be realists (and there are a lot of them in the administration, too, like Cheney and Rumsfeld).

I wouldn’t say “a lot”. Basically only one, and it wasn’t a neo-con assumption.

The “assumption” was that Iraq had WMD, and it was an assumption shared by pretty much everyone, like Clinton, Albright, Hilary, Kerry, and others that would not be classified as neo-con under any reasonable definition.


Bullpucky. The Project for a New American Century provided most of the policymakers in the Administration, and they, as you damn well know, had been advocating the Iraq war for quite some time already for reasons having nothing to do with WMD’s. The WMD story made a good cover story, that’s all, but it’s never hard to come up with rationalizations.

And exactly what “fundamental neo-con philosophical assumption” do you think has changed?

And your assertion that the Project for a New American Century “had nothing to do with WMD” is, as usual, wrong.

Come to think of it, your whole post is summed up in its first word.


I’ll try to scare up some examples soon.
IIRC, these were opinion pieces from the Weekly Standard a few months back. While I read the WS on occasion, I don’t save their MS to my hd like I do sometimes with news reports and such. So, it’ll be a little longer searching.

I’ve never researched it with those parameters. I can name that Dick Perle off hand though. He at least was working for a Dem, Scoop Jackson. I suppose that’d make him a Dem, right?

None, really. There may be some neocons reconsidering their own beliefs, though. The things that they’ve asserted that have already been shown even to them as lies and delusions are no longer part of the rhetoric, though, except to (unsurprisingly) blame Clinton for them instead. Some, apparently including you, are still struggling with the disconnect between the facts and their ideology.

You don’t even read your own posts, do you? You presented the Iraq war as being entirely based on an assumption about WMD’s. I countered that the Iraq invasion was part of the PNAC vision and plan for a democratic, American-loving Middle East all along, and you’ve agreed. If there had never been any discussion about WMD’s, that vision and plan of the neocons would still have existed. Take that away and the underlying “philosophy” is still there.

Say it like you mean it.

Sen. Henry “Scoop” Jackson (D.-Boeing) was as hardline a militarist as the Senate has seen in many a generation. The party label he wore was incidental (remember when there were conservative Dems and liberal Reps?), and in no way a hindrance to one of his proteges being a neocon.

Perle was and still is a Democrat. Sen. Jackson, as you’ve stated, was a Democratic neocon, as was Sen. Moynahan. Jeanne Kirkpatrick and Elliot Abrams were once Democrats but now are Republicans (I think Kirkpatrick is now a Republican, at least). Samuel Huntington is still a Democrat.

Good OP question… I really don’t see much change. I think Neo-Cons haven’t changed or haven’t admited to change. Overall I think Republicans are getting a bit fed up with Neo-Cons. Expect less of them in the next Bush government (if this disaster does happen). If Kerry wins expect Neo-Cons to be blamed for the Democratic victory ?

OK, thanks for the info.

My question about the neo-con backstory comes about when I begin thinking about our last big and controversial (and still resonating) military adventure, Vietnam.

Is there a philosophical (and literal) connection between the cold warriors (many of whom were democrats) who got us into the Vietnam mess and the current crop of neo-cons who pushed for us to get into the current mess over in Iraq?