WHY BUSH WON IN 2004: Neoconservatism needs an enemy.

Dear American friends of the Straight Dope,

I would have posted this next week, but my conscience forbade me to wait. Consider this an infinitessimal attempt to change the course of history, on behalf of a non-American who loves Americans but simply cannot believe what their country has become. Rest assured that should any of you compose a treatise similar to this before a British or EU election, I would consider it wholly appropriate and explore it with you in earnest.



Future History Lesson

Teacher: On 11th September 2001 Al Qaeda, a terrorist organisation headed by Osama Binladen, attacked America by hijacking and crashing 4 planes. The US, under president George W Bush (son of George H Bush), attacked Afghanistan where Al Qaeda were known to operate. The US then attacked Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.
Student: So Al Qaeda were also in Iraq? Or Iraq was funding or sheltering them?

Teacher: No. No significant links with Al Qaeda were ever demonstrated.

Student: So… Iraq was somehow a threat to the US in another way, and was about to attack the US independent of Al Qaeda?

Teacher: The US presented such an argument, that Iraq possessed chemical, biological and possibly even nuclear weapons, collectively known as weapons of mass destruction or WMD, that were a threat to the US either directly or if Saddam ever supplied them to Al Qaeda. However, no WMD were ever found in Iraq. They were likely destroyed a decade before, and UN sanctions and US bombing throughout the 1990’s made his likelihood of developing them ever smaller.

Student: So, it was humanitarian invasion? The US changed a brutal regime, even though it had nothing to do with 11/9/04, in some “good can come from bad” lesson?

Teacher: Perhaps, but no such argument was ever seriously presented before the invasion. Indeed, the administration seemed keen to shy away from such justification since it set a rather dangerous (and “liberal”; a term commonly misused at the time) precedent.

Student: So, why invade Iraq when Al Qaeda was still in Afghanistan?

Teacher: Afghanistan did not provide the “knockout blow” the president had hoped for. Binladen was not captured, nor evidence of his death apparent, and many high-ranking AQ personnel went missing also. He had to present a “big victory” to the US electorate in order to show that he had “done something” after 2001. Also, Iraq had large oil resources and was in a strategically important location (indeed, there were even plans to invade Iraq before 2001). Ultimately, George W Bush was convinced that invading Iraq was the way to win the 2004 election.
Amazingly, it worked.

I argue that it was not so amazing (indeed, given past history it is perhaps more surprising that the race was as close as it was). The story of the neo-conservatives in America is one of incredibly similar instances of “justified deception” based on the philosophy of Leo Strauss. He believed that the political elite must lead the people, if necessary resorting to ideologically driven myths, so that personal freedom and individual choice did not unstick the glue which held society together, making government ever weaker and more irrelevant. And what better to focus a country on working together under a strong, necessary government? Why, a common enemy.

Several admirers and former students of Strauss took his philosophy to heart when they entered government: Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz to name a few. Throughout the Cold War, these “neoconservatives” (more accurately “Straussians”) trumpeted the threat of the Soviet Union. If the CIA said there was no evidence of a particular weapon, they said it was because it was so advanced that it was undetectable. They screeched about how the Soviet Union secretly coordinated terrorist organisations worldwide, only to be informed that this was propaganda that the CIA had made up from whole cloth in the first place. They opposed a thaw, since they saw the power of government as dependent on an external threat: negotiation, diplomacy and détente were (and still are) dirty words. Instead, they supported the brave freedom fighters in Afghanistan against the Evil Empire, even when Gorbachev asked them to stop supporting those dangerous anti-democratic fanatics in order to help him create an Afghan democracy (which, of course, they ignored). They would side with anyone, and demonise anyone, so long as it advanced their aggressive ideology. Even Fundamentalist Christianity, which had traditionally avoided voting in grubby, worldly politics, was pressed into service, even though they held it in contempt (another necessary “noble lie”, as Plato would have called it 2400 years ago).

Dishonesty and legerdemain was, for those decades of their influence, fair play. Their Straussian philosophy was blatantly elitist, and yet with sheer breathtaking hypocrisy they convinced “down home” America that it was liberals (and even moderate conservatives) who were “intellectual elitists”. They said, with equally bewildering audacity, that they sought a safer world, when clearly their central philosophy necessitated an enemy such that should one become less of a threat they would immediately seek another. A genuinely safer world made government less relevant and raised the dread spectre of personal freedom: far better to kick the hornet’s nest and make a great show of subsequently killing the hornets (which will sting you and your family, America!). As for traditional conservative values such as “small government” and economic prudence, well, kicking hornet’s nests was expensive, and personal liberty was what they were saving America from.

September 11th 2001, engineered by the man they had refused to help Gorbachev eliminate, ironically made them almost invincible. The Straussian neoconservatives, having stolen the Republican Party, had only one Achilles heel: democracy. Their only vulnerability lay in the ability of the US electorate to see through the wool which neoconservatism said that the elite may pull over its subjects’ eyes occasionally, for the sake of their ideology. They had become so skilled at this, and the electorate so hypnotised by it, that not even losing a truth telling contest with Saddam Hussein was enough to break the trance. Iran, China, even EU allies or the UN could be presented as the enemy, and only traitors would question it.

The US electorate had one chance to finally reject neoconservatism, on November 2nd 2004. They blew it.

Teacher: And we all know what those psychopaths did next.

The power of those nightmares… :slight_smile:

You missed how, post-Afghan conflict, Clinton became the next home-spun bogey-man to focus the fear and hate towards.
Always a focus, always an enemy; always evil to confront, real or imagined.

(Very well written OP, BTW)

Nice! Writing future history so that the facts all support you! Great idea!

Student: So, no WMDs were found in Iraq?

Teacher: Not initially, but later large caches were found in Jordan and adjoining countries. No definitive proof was found linking them to Iraq, but that’s almost certainly the case.

Student: So then Bush got the credit?

Teacher: No. The late Democratic party managed to turn public opinion against the war by publicizing events such as prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib and missing munitions at an Iraqi barracks. Bush lost to President Kerry, before the latter’s odd mutation into a three-legged waffle…

Do you believe those are issues only the Democrats care about, and they have brought them up exclusively as a partisan attack and not out of genuine concern?

Not to mention, of course, that only 2 lines from the entire OP were ‘predicting’ a future, the rest is history.

I’m intrigued as to why you think these events should not have been publicized athelas, but maybe I misunderstand.

By the way, I think a two headed waffle would be more appropriate. That way he could argue with himself and possibly be his own vice president. :stuck_out_tongue:


This isn’t the proper forum to practice writing fiction, SM.

If only it were.

Debate me.

Rebut me.

Defend Straussianism.

Provide cites that prove all of your allegations.

To put it another way:

Kerry, and his neo-liberal cronies are all satanists. (Note: I’m offering no proof or cites to this effect, just some cute creative writing. Take my word for it.)

Debate me.

Refute me.

Defend Satanism.

*Would you waste your time with such a challenge?

Very well, Debaser. Which specific allegations do you question?

All of them.

You know, I’ve got a rule. Never argue with anyone who calls you a psychopath. It never goes well.

Well, beginning at the beginning: “On 11th September 2001 Al Qaeda, a terrorist organisation headed by Osama Binladen, attacked America by hijacking and crashing 4 planes.”

There is scope for questioning whether Al Qaeda really exists as a global organisation, or whether Binladen merely managed to cobble together a small group of Taleban fanatics for his ultimate atrocity, but I could cite many news articles for the allegation “On 11th September…”

I trust you do not mean these allegations, Debaser. I suggest we go one at a time. All of the allegations I make in my OP were supported by first hand interviews with CIA officials on a BBC documentary “The Power of Nightmares” (which Aro mentioned). The transcirpt is not yet available, but I am confident that I could find articles on the Web where the same people have said the same things.

Which allegation of fact do you find most questionable?

Future History Lesson

Teacher Good morning, children. Now that we’ve finished the Prayer of Allegiance, it’s time for our history lesson. Today’s history lesson is brought to you by Coca-Cola. Drink Coca-Cola, pupils: it will make you happy, strong, and with every satisfying gulp you’ll be supporting your country.

Students, in Unison: We will drink Coca-Cola!

Teacher: Now then, today, we’re going to talk about one of the most important events in our history: the start of Pan-Arabic War I, when Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda crashed planes into office. We had tolerated Saddam Hussein and Al Qaedea for many years, even though we knew they were stockpiling vast quantities of dangerous weapons of mass destruction, and that they wanted to use them on us.

Pupil with large pupils: You mean the Arabs wanted to hurt us? Even kids?

Teacher: That’s right, little Susy Smith. Fortunately, the American people had elected a strong leader, a man of principle, a man who was willing to counter-attack our enemy with force and dedication. That man, was President George W Bush the First.

Little Johnny: Is he related to Jeb the Wise?

Teacher: That’s right, Johnny. President George W Bush was the great granduncle of Emperor Jeb Bush the III. But back to our lesson: after George W Bush had finished invading Afghanistan and Iraq, he quickly set up democratic governments, and all the opressed Arabs soon became a free and happy people, thanks to the philanthropy of corporations like Halliburton.


Teacher: There’s the recess bell, students! This recess is brought to you by Nestle! Try new “Nestle Double-Deep-Fried Processed American Cheese Product Sticks” today! They’ll give you valuable nutrients, and their fortified with healthy vitamins and minerals! Yum! After recess, we’ll talk about the downfall of the democratic party, and later in science class we’ll finish up our unit on Noah’s flood and start studying why Liberalism was never a viable solution.

From the above argument, I conclude the George W Bush is right for America. Four more years!!!

For the love of all that is holy, understand that everything above is said quite fascetiously.

For starters, a little reading:
Neoconservatism (United States)
Empire Builders (Neo conservatives)
Committee on the Present Danger
The Bush Doctrine
Quotes taken from Richards Perle’s book, An End to Evil.

That should cover most of the history lesson regarding the OP. If there are specific remaining issues that need resolved, please clarify.

Also, a little background on the prompting for the thread (for those State-side), as I see it:
Making of the Terror Myth. (commentry and background about "The Power of Nightmares" programme, from the Guardian)
Ditto from the BBC.

What’s funny about Metacom’s post is that I see it as just about equally rediculous as the OP. I have just about equal difficulty finding something to factually challenge them on, simply because it’s tought to pick a place to start when faced with such over the top and silly rhetoric.

But, here we go, SM:

Please provide cites to prove that:

Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz are all admirers and former students of Leo Strauss.

The Soviet Union did not coordinate with terrorist organizations woldwide, and the CIA made up propaganda to the contrary.

The current administration sees power of government dependant on an external threat.

Gorbachev wanted to create a Afghan democracy.

The current administration holds fundamentalist christians in contempt.

All of these are just from one paragraph of your OP. They are all conclusions that you state as fact, but which are entirely unsupported by your OP.

Metacom, just as Debaser will likely ask me for citations about how neoconservatives exaggerated the Soviet threat and supported Afghan fanatics even when Gorbachev suggested co-operation upon Soviet withdrawal in order to avoid leaving a theocracy of murderous thugs, I would ask you for citations supporting the allegations in your lesson: notably the connections between Al Qaeda and addam Hussein and the “vast stockpiling of WMD’s”. And note that I have prognosticated only into next week, rather than the length of time it will take for Arabs to become “free and happy”.

What’s that? The term “psychopath” doesn’t refer to anyone here but to the neocons running our foreign policy? Shhhhhhh. Don’t tell Captain Amazing. If we point out she is misrepresenting the OP she will lose her excuse to ignore the substance of the debate.

You’re lucky I do debate with people calling me a girl. And, no, he didn’t call the neocons running our foreign policy psychopaths. He called neocons in general psychopaths. And I’m ignoring the substance of the debate because it’s not a debate, it’s a rant. He’s not interested in debating whether neoconservativism is good or bad, or what extent Strauss influenced neoconservative thought, or even to what degree the invasion of Iraq was influenced by neoconservative ideas.

He just wants to say the neoconservative movement is evil, that the Bush administration is evil, and that the war in Iraq was evil.

It is not about evil versus good, that is the heart of the neo-con lie. The black and white agenda of leaders who wish nothing more than to fool the people into following their cries and living with their manufactured fears. No one said Neo-conservatism was evil, just (possibly) misguided and (certainly) manipulative. Many people may agree with their approach and consent to be manipulated in such a way, even think it is a good thing. Many others acknowledge the existence of the so-called necessary lies created to perpetuate the required myths. Yet many, many more don’t yet have the opportunity to remove themselves from constant exposure to the lies and end up, unfortunately, growing to accept them.

As required.

a, kind of, good example of this for anyone who may not see it… (I doubt there are - but you never know … I thought I saw some Bush voters just now )

there is a film that works on that premise… … kind of Spoilers ahead for anyone who wants to see that film and hasn’t…

Film:The Village
A group of “elders” form a society hidden from the rest of the world, they create a threat to keep people from leaving the village - in order to keep the village crimeless and not driven by money
eventually a “crime” occurs - a mentalist stabs a bright young man (who’s almost worked it out anyway…
his girlfriend is told the truth by her father - and she leaves to get medicine from the “towns”…

the people who did this in the said film were doing it for a noble cause - - but it still asks the question is it right to mislead people - even for their own good…

if the US government is really making up the severity of these threats in order to reduce the freedoms which they say they are defending - - I would say that was definitely wrong…