Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Andrew Sandlin: Neo Con

Andrew Sandlin has a thought provoking piece written by David Bashen about the Paleo Conservative and Neo Conservative split. Interestingly both men side with the Neo Conservatives over the Paleo Conservatives. Sandlin writes:

In a post-9-11 world, I simply cannot endorse the paleo-con option, as much as I can respect those who hold it. As the threats change, our manner of dealing with must change, too.

And Mr. Bashen argues:

That the GOP has been repugnantly guilty of growing the government is not for dispute, and I am as sickened by “No Child Left Behind” and the Prescription Drug Bill as I have ever been. However, Mr. Novak is clearly linking the two together in a way I find very disturbing (presuming that pro-war Republicans are also pro-big spending Republicans). There is room for intelligent debate on the paleo vs. neocon differences, but one need not be a pro-entitlement, “Teddy Roosevelt” Republican, just because they supported the Iraq war, and just because they take a post-9/11 view of foreign policy.

But actually there is reason to link them. Both the ‘post-9/11 foreign policy’ and increased domestic spending are founded upon the idea that government is the best agency or instrument to accomplish a better world. Big domestic spending is a fundamental point of Neo-Conservatism. Paleo Conservative belief focuses on the individual, but the Neo Conservative view prefers the group to the individual (although it does not go so far as preferring the collective like Communism). George W. Bush himself has declared the role of government when he called for the ‘repsonsibility era’ to replace the ‘era of dependency’. He goes on to say, ‘Government can be a part of helping usher in the responsibility era’(Bush, A Charge to Keep pg. 229. I took it from 8 Ways to Run the Country) This translates into Federal standards of education and the No Child Left Behind Act. It translates into Prescription Drugs on Medicare. It translates in funding Faith Based Programs. It is no longer the ‘maternal welfare state’ but rather a new ‘paternal welfare state’ (according to Irving Kristol) or a ‘welfare society’ (according to Michael Novak) not just a state. Plus the Neo Cons would never dream of limiting government in the ways Paleo Cons desire such as returning to the Gold Standard, balancing the budget, or removing the Department of Education (traditional goals of conservatives). Big government at home always translates to an aggressive big government foreign policy. This is what we see in the Neo-Conservative movement.

Sandlin and Bashen are failing to see the anti-communism, pro-military stance of the Paleo Cons is not the same as the ardent nationalism, pro-war stance of the Neo Cons. Anti-communism, pro military spent large sums of money on defense and always rushed to the aid of an ally in trouble, especially against communism. The ardent nationalism, pro-war group needs not wait for trouble. Pre-emptive wars are the order of the day, and that idea is founded upon a completely different set or presuppositions. Pre-emptive wars are founded upon the idea that Government intervention is good. And if that is true, then it must be true at home as well as abroad.

I am saddened to see that Sandlin and Bashen are neo-conservative converts. Everyone wants to see peace and order in the Middle East. I just disagree that the American government is the best engine to accomplish those goals.