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The Real "Con" In NeoCon: Why Their Foreign Policy Will Never Work

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The Neocon vision of a unipolar world employs unchallenged US military power to cleanse countries of regressive and/or unfriendly regimes. The "American Century" was to be a benign hegemony, dedicated only to the growth of multinational corporations whose self-interest would promote stable, educated populations working at the lowest possible wages. Perhaps not a wonderful life for the liberated, but better, if achievable, than their current situation of total deprivation and repression.

For this policy to be successful, two assumptions must be valid. The first is that the only barrier to universal adoption of US values is the lid imposed by repressive regimes. Quick strikes, decapitating the leadership, is all that would be required for a "thousand flowers to bloom". Brief pulses of US military power conjure visions of "immaculate" wars with few US casualties and only mild "collateral" damage to the liberated country.

The second major assumption is that liberation from the oppressive regimes occurs within no historical context, or, if there were such a context, it would be of minor significance compared to the allure of a American-style society. There would exist no second or third level power brokers who would rush into the power vacuum created by the decapitation of the leadership, no rival group that would use the situation to feather its own nest.

The assumptions are wrong. Worse, however, is the soft "third" assumption that, even if they are wrong, these assumptions are close enough to being correct that pursuing a boiled down version is prudent policy.

It is this insidious third assumption that the neocons have fashioned into US foreign policy, and that has led to the disastrous policies for which we, and the world, will pay for dearly for at least a generation.

Assumption #1 is wrong because more than a "quickie "is required for US military power to provide a stable, functioning government. Thus, the US must be able to commit substantial ground forces for a prolonged period. To do this effectively, a permanent draft would be required. The American people oppose a draft. Hence, NeoCon-ology ignores this reality, and pretends such forces are unnecessary. Neither the neocons themselves, of course, nor their family members, volunteer for the military actions they support. Taken together, this amounts to the ultimate con job, and the ultimate hypocrisy.

Assumption #2 is wrong because these societies have long histories and, as was shown in the Balkans following Tito's death, and in Iraq, very long memories. Equally important, American democratic values are not on the top of everyones' lists to meet their immediate needs of survival, respect and power. Decapitate a leadership, and all those seeking that power will emerge, some from the old leadership and some from the shadows. Neocons ignore all the other investments required for these to evolve (did I use the word "evolve"?!) to pluralism because the costs and commitments would be beyond what the American people would support.

Neocon foreign policy will never work because their assumptions are wrong and because neocons are not willing to make the required commitments. They will not pay more taxes, they will not lead by volunteering to risk their own lives, they will not support a draft. They are willing only to lead the US astray by pretending the challenges are imagined, and then accusing everyone else of weakness or lack of patriotism when their ill-conceived schemes inevitably founder.

Moreover, even if commitments were matched with reality, foreign occupiers are at an inherent disadvantage: the inhabitants stay, occupiers eventually go home. While espousing US democratic values, the neocons steer the US to empire. Forcing the unwilling to be part of your empire does not create friends, and reduces support among traditional allies. And, winning hearts and minds cannot be accomplished by decimating large populations.

Their failures, however, do not shame, embarrass or concern them. They push on. As Baker-Hamilton was being prepared, led by the never-volunteered-for-war Robert Kagan, they rushed an alternative vision to Bush's desk that became the surge. More US deaths, more US soldiers maimed forever.

Their drumbeat has already begun to blame the Iraq and Afghanistan failures not on their policy, but on Rumsfeld's bungling (yes, they eat their own when they have to, and, after all, he has already been hailed as the greatest Secretary of Defense in world history), and the loss of will by the Democrats. Vietnam, the first neocon disaster, should have raised the burden of proof on the war proponents, but its lessons were neglected.

The Neocon foreign policy will never work. They will not support it with the resources really needed to give it even a snowball's chance in the hell they create, and it is highly unlikely that it would work anyhow. We will run out of money, and American lives and limbs, long before "they" run out of enmity.