Ron Paul's Address: Neo-Conned
Congressman Ron Paul addresses
the U.S. House of Representatives
July 10, 2003
The modern-day, limited-government movement has been co-opted.
The conservatives have failed in their effort to shrink the size
of government. There has not been, nor will there soon be, a conservative
revolution in Washington. Political party control of the federal
government has changed, but the inexorable growth in the size and
scope of government has continued unabated. The liberal arguments
for limited government in personal affairs and foreign military
adventurism were never seriously considered as part of this revolution.
Since the change of the political party in charge has not made
a difference, whos really in charge? If the particular party
in power makes little difference, whose policy is it that permits
expanded government programs, increased spending, huge deficits,
nation building and the pervasive invasion of our privacy, with
fewer Fourth Amendment protections than ever before?
Someone is responsible, and its important that those of us
who love liberty, and resent big-brother government, identify the
philosophic supporters who have the most to say about the direction
our country is going. If theyre wrongand I believe they
arewe need to show it, alert the American people, and offer
a more positive approach to government. However, this depends on
whether the American people desire to live in a free society and
reject the dangerous notion that we need a strong central government
to take care of us from the cradle to the grave. Do the American
people really believe its the governments responsibility
to make us morally better and economically equal? Do we have a responsibility
to police the world, while imposing our vision of good government
on everyone else in the world with some form of utopian nation building?
If not, and the enemies of liberty are exposed and rejected, then
it behooves us to present an alternative philosophy that is morally
superior and economically sound and provides a guide to world affairs
to enhance peace and commerce.
One thing is certain: conservatives who worked and voted for less
government in the Reagan years and welcomed the takeover of the
U.S. Congress and the presidency in the 1990s and early 2000s were
deceived. Soon they will realize that the goal of limited government
has been dashed and that their views no longer matter.
The so-called conservative revolution of the past two decades has
given us massive growth in government size, spending and regulations.
Deficits are exploding and the national debt is now rising at greater
than a half-trillion dollars per year. Taxes do not go downeven
if we vote to lower them. They cant, as long as spending is
increased, since all spending must be paid for one way or another.
Both Presidents Reagan and the elder George Bush raised taxes directly.
With this administration, so far, direct taxes have been reducedand
they certainly should have beenbut it means little if spending
increases and deficits rise.
When taxes are not raised to accommodate higher spending, the bills
must be paid by either borrowing or printing new money.
This is one reason why we conveniently have a generous Federal Reserve
chairman who is willing to accommodate the Congress. With borrowing
and inflating, the tax is delayed and distributed in
a way that makes it difficult for those paying the tax to identify
it. For instance, future generations, or those on fixed incomes
who suffer from rising prices, and those who lose jobs they
certainly feel the consequences of economic dislocations that this
process causes. Government spending is always a tax
burden on the American people and is never equally or fairly distributed.
The poor and low-middle income workers always suffer the most from
the deceitful tax of inflation and borrowing.
Many present-day conservatives, who generally argue for less government
and supported the Reagan/Gingrich/Bush takeover of the federal government,
are now justifiably disillusioned. Although not a monolithic group,
they wanted to shrink the size of government.
Early in our history, the advocates of limited, constitutional
government recognized two important principles: the rule of law
was crucial, and a constitutional government must derive just
powers from the consent of the governed. It was understood
that an explicit transfer of power to government could only occur
with power rightfully and naturally endowed to each individual as
a God-given right. Therefore, the powers that could be transferred
would be limited to the purpose of protecting liberty. Unfortunately,
in the last 100 years, the defense of liberty has been fragmented
and shared by various groups, with some protecting civil liberties,
others economic freedom, and a small diverse group arguing for a
foreign policy of nonintervention.
The philosophy of freedom has had a tough go of it, and it was
hoped that the renewed interest in limited government of the past
two decades would revive an interest in reconstituting the freedom
philosophy into something more consistent. Those who worked for
the goal of limited government power believed the rhetoric of politicians
who promised smaller government. Sometimes it was just plain sloppy
thinking on their part, but at other times, they fell victim to
a deliberate distortion of a concise limited-government philosophy
by politicians who misled many into believing that we would see
a rollback on government intrusiveness.
Yes, there was always a remnant who longed for truly limited government
and maintained a belief in the rule of law, combined with a deep
conviction that free people and a government bound by a Constitution
were the most advantageous form of government. They recognized it
as the only practical way for prosperity to be spread to the maximum
number of people while promoting peace and security.
That remnantimperfect as it may have beenwas heard
from in the elections of 1980 and 1994 and then achieved major victories
in 2000 and 2002 when professed limited-government proponents took
over the administration, the Senate and the House. However, the
true believers in limited government are now shunned and laughed
at. At the very least, they are ignoredexcept when they are
used by the new leaders of the right, the new conservatives now
in charge of the U.S. government.
The remnants instincts were correct, and the politicians
placated them with talk of free markets, limited government, and
a humble, non-nation-building foreign policy. However, little concern
for civil liberties was expressed in this recent quest for less
government. Yet, for an ultimate victory of achieving freedom, this
must change. Interest in personal privacy and choices has generally
remained outside the concern of many conservativesespecially
with the great harm done by their support of the drug war. Even
though some confusion has emerged over our foreign policy since
the breakdown of the Soviet empire, its been a net benefit
in getting some conservatives back on track with a less militaristic,
interventionist foreign policy. Unfortunately, after 9-11, the cause
of liberty suffered a setback. As a result, millions of Americans
voted for the less-than-perfect conservative revolution because
they believed in the promises of the politicians.
Now theres mounting evidence to indicate exactly what happened
to the revolution. Government is bigger than ever, and future commitments
are overwhelming. Millions will soon become disenchanted with the
new status quo delivered to the American people by the advocates
of limited government and will find it to be just more of the old
status quo. Victories for limited government have turned out to
be hollow indeed.
Since the national debt is increasing at a rate greater than a
half-trillion dollars per year, the debt limit was recently increased
by an astounding $984 billion dollars. Total U.S. government obligations
are $43 trillion, while total net worth of U.S. households is just
over $40.6 trillion. The country is broke, but no one in Washington
seems to notice or care. The philosophic and political commitment
for both guns and butterand especially for expanding the American
empiremust be challenged. This is crucial for our survival.
In spite of the floundering economy, the Congress and the administration
continue to take on new commitments in foreign aid, education, farming,
medicine, multiple efforts at nation building, and preemptive wars
around the world. Already were entrenched in Iraq and Afghanistan,
with plans to soon add new trophies to our conquest. War talk abounds
as to when Syria, Iran and North Korea will be attacked.
How did all this transpire? Why did the government do it? Why havent
the people objected? How long will it go on before something is
done? Does anyone care?
Will the euphoria of grand military victoriesagainst non-enemiesever
be mellowed? Someday, we as a legislative body must face the reality
of the dire situation in which we have allowed ourselves to become
enmeshed. Hopefully, it will be soon!
We got here because ideas do have consequences. Bad ideas have
bad consequences, and even the best of intentions have unintended
consequences. We need to know exactly what the philosophic ideas
were that drove us to this point; then, hopefully, reject them and
decide on another set of intellectual parameters.
There is abundant evidence exposing those who drive our foreign
policy justifying preemptive war. Those who scheme are proud of
the achievements in usurping control over foreign policy. These
are the neoconservatives of recent fame. Granted, they are talented
and achieved a political victory that all policymakers must admire.
But can freedom and the Republic survive this takeover? That question
should concern us.
Neoconservatives are obviously in positions of influence and are
well-placed throughout our government and the media. An apathetic
Congress put up little resistance and abdicated its responsibilities
over foreign affairs. The electorate was easily influenced to join
in the patriotic fervor supporting the military adventurism advocated
by the neoconservatives.
The numbers of those who still hope for truly limited government
diminished and had their concerns ignored these past 22 months,
during the aftermath of 9-11. Members of Congress were easily influenced
to publicly support any domestic policy or foreign military adventure
that was supposed to help reduce the threat of a terrorist attack.
Believers in limited government were harder to find. Political money,
as usual, played a role in pressing Congress into supporting almost
any proposal suggested by the neocons. This processwhere campaign
dollars and lobbying efforts affect policyis hardly the domain
of any single political party, and unfortunately, is the way of
life in Washington.
There are many reasons why government continues to grow. It would
be naïve for anyone to expect otherwise. Since 9-11, protection
of privacy, whether medical, personal or financial, has vanished.
Free speech and the Fourth Amendment have been under constant attack.
Higher welfare expenditures are endorsed by the leadership of both
parties. Policing the world and nation-building issues are popular
campaign targets, yet they are now standard operating procedures.
Theres no sign that these programs will be slowed or reversed
until either we are stopped by force overseas (which wont
be soon) or we go broke and can no longer afford these grandiose
plans for a world empire (which will probably come sooner than later.)
None of this happened by accident or coincidence. Precise philosophic
ideas prompted certain individuals to gain influence to implement
these plans. The neoconservativesa name they gave themselvesdiligently
worked their way into positions of power and influence. They documented
their goals, strategy and moral justification for all they hoped
to accomplish. Above all else, they were not and are not conservatives
dedicated to limited, constitutional government.
Neo-conservatism has been around for decades and, strangely, has
connections to past generations as far back as Machiavelli. Modern-day
neo-conservatism was introduced to us in the 1960s. It entails both
a detailed strategy as well as a philosophy of government. The ideas
of Teddy Roosevelt, and certainly Woodrow Wilson, were quite similar
to many of the views of present-day neocons. Neocon spokesman Max
Boot brags that what he advocates is hard Wilsonianism.
In many ways, theres nothing neo about their views,
and certainly nothing conservative. Yet they have been able to co-op
the conservative movement by advertising themselves as a new or
modern form of conservatism.
More recently, the modern-day neocons have come from the far left,
a group historically identified as former Trotskyists. Liberal Christopher
Hitchins, has recently officially joined the neocons, and it has
been reported that he has already been to the White House as an
ad hoc consultant. Many neocons now in positions of influence in
Washington can trace their status back to Professor Leo Strauss
of the University of Chicago. One of Strauss books was Thoughts
on Machiavelli. This book was not a condemnation of Machiavellis
philosophy. Paul Wolfowitz actually got his PhD under Strauss. Others
closely associated with these views are Richard Perle, Eliot Abrams,
Robert Kagan and William Kristol. All are key players in designing
our new strategy of preemptive war. Others include: Michael Ledeen
of the American Enterprise Institute; former CIA Director James
Woolsey; Bill Bennett of Book of Virtues fame; Frank Gaffney; Dick
Cheney; and Donald Rumsfeld. There are just too many to mention
who are philosophically or politically connected to the neocon philosophy
in some varying degree.
The godfather of modern-day neo-conservatism is considered to be
Irving Kristol, father of Bill Kristol, who set the stage in 1983
with his publication Reflections of a Neoconservative. In this book,
Kristol also defends the traditional liberal position on welfare.
More important than the names of people affiliated with neo-conservatism
are the views they adhere to. Here is a brief summary of the general
understanding of what neocons believe:
1. They agree with Trotsky on permanent revolution, violent as well
2. They are for redrawing the map of the Middle East and are willing
to use force to do so.
3. They believe in preemptive war to achieve desired ends.
4. They accept the notion that the ends justify the meansthat
hard-ball politics is a moral necessity.
5. They express no opposition to the welfare state.
6. They are not bashful about an American empire; instead they strongly
7. They believe lying is necessary for the state to survive.
8. They believe a powerful federal government is a benefit.
9. They believe pertinent facts about how a society should be run
should be held by the elite and
withheld from those who do not have the courage to deal with it.
10. They believe neutrality in foreign affairs is ill-advised.
11. They hold Leo Strauss in high esteem.
12. They believe imperialism, if progressive in nature, is appropriate.
13. Using American might to force American ideals on others is acceptable.
not be limited to the defense of our country.
14. 9-11 resulted from the lack of foreign entanglements, not from
15. They dislike and despise libertarians (therefore, the same applies
to all strict constitutionalists.)
16. They endorse attacks on civil liberties, such as those found
in the Patriot Act, as being necessary.
17. They unconditionally support Israel and have a close alliance
with the Likud Party.
Various organizations and publications over the last 30 years have
played a significant role in the rise to power of the neoconservatives.
It took plenty of money and commitment to produce the intellectual
arguments needed to convince the many participants in the movement
of its respectability.
It is no secretespecially after the rash of research and
articles written about the neocons since our invasion of Iraqhow
they gained influence and what organizations were used to promote
their cause. Although for decades, they agitated for their beliefs
through publications like The National Review, The Weekly Standard,
The Public Interest, The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, and the
New York Post, their views only gained momentum in the 1990s following
the first Persian Gulf Warwhich still has not ended even with
removal of Saddam Hussein. They became convinced that a much more
militant approach to resolving all the conflicts in the Middle East
was an absolute necessity, and they were determined to implement
In addition to publications, multiple think tanks and projects
were created to promote their agenda. A product of the Bradley Foundation,
American Enterprise Institute (AEI) led the neocon charge, but the
real push for war came from the Project for a New American Century
(PNAC) another organization helped by the Bradley Foundation. This
occurred in 1998 and was chaired by Weekly Standard editor Bill
Kristol. Early on, they urged war against Iraq, but were disappointed
with the Clinton administration, which never followed through with
its periodic bombings. Obviously, these bombings were motivated
more by Clintons personal and political problems than a belief
in the neocon agenda.
The election of 2000 changed all that. The Defense Policy Board,
chaired by Richard Perle played no small role in coordinating the
various projects and think tanks, all determined to take us into
war against Iraq. It wasnt too long before the dream of empire
was brought closer to reality by the election of 2000 with Paul
Wolfowitz, Richard Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld playing key roles
in this accomplishment. The plan to promote an American greatness
imperialistic foreign policy was now a distinct possibility. Iraq
offered a great opportunity to prove their long-held theories. This
opportunity was a consequence of the 9-11 disaster.
The money and views of Rupert Murdoch also played a key role in
promoting the neocon views, as well as rallying support by the general
population, through his News Corporation, which owns Fox News Network,
the New York Post and Weekly Standard. This powerful and influential
media empire did more to galvanize public support for the Iraqi
invasion than one might imagine. This facilitated the Rumsfeld/Cheney
policy as their plans to attack Iraq came to fruition. It would
have been difficult for the neocons to usurp foreign policy from
the restraints of Colin Powells State Department without the
successful agitation of the Rupert Murdoch empire. Max Boot was
satisfied, as he explained: Neoconservatives believe in using
American might to promote American ideals abroad. This attitude
is a far cry from the advice of the Founders, who advocated no entangling
alliances and neutrality as the proper goal of American foreign
Let there be no doubt, those in the neocon camp had been anxious
to go to war against Iraq for a decade. They justified the use of
force to accomplish their goals, even if it required preemptive
war. If anyone doubts this assertion, they need only to read of
their strategy in A Clean Break: a New Strategy for Securing
the Realm. Although they felt morally justified in changing
the government in Iraq, they knew that public support was important,
and justification had to be given to pursue the war. Of course,
a threat to us had to exist before the people and the Congress would
go along with war. The majority of Americans became convinced of
this threat, which, in actuality, never really existed. Now we have
the ongoing debate over the location of weapons of mass destruction.
Where was the danger? Was all this killing and spending necessary?
How long will this nation-building and dying go on? When will we
become more concerned about the needs of our own citizens than the
problems we sought in Iraq and Afghanistan? Who knows where well
go nextIran, Syria or North Korea?
At the end of the Cold War, the neoconservatives realized a rearrangement
of the world was occurring and that our superior economic and military
power offered them a perfect opportunity to control the process
of remaking the Middle East.
It was recognized that a new era was upon us, and the neocons welcomed
Frances Fukuyamas end of history declaration.
To them, the debate was over. The West won; the Soviets lost. Old-fashioned
communism was dead. Long live the new era of neoconservatism. The
struggle may not be over, but the West won the intellectual fight,
they reasoned. The only problem is that the neocons decided to define
the philosophy of the victors. They have been amazingly successful
in their efforts to control the debate over what Western values
are and by what methods they will be spread throughout the world.
Communism surely lost a lot with the breakup of the Soviet Empire,
but this can hardly be declared a victory for American liberty,
as the Founders understood it. Neoconservatism is not the philosophy
of free markets and a wise foreign policy. Instead, it represents
big-government welfare at home and a program of using our military
might to spread their version of American values throughout the
Since neoconservatives dominate the way the U.S. government now
operates, it behooves us all to understand their beliefs and goals.
The breakup of the Soviet system may well have been an epic event,
but to say that is a victory for the views of the neocons and all
we need to do is wait for their implementation, is a capitulation
to controlling the forces of history that many Americans are not
yet ready to concede. There is surely no need to do so.
There is now a recognized philosophic connection between modern-day
neoconservatives and Irving Kristol, Leo Strauss and Machiavelli.
This is important in understanding that todays policies and
the subsequent problems will be with us for years to come if these
policies are not reversed.
Not only did Leo Strauss write favorably of Machiavelli, Michael
Ledeen, a current leader of the neoconservative movement, did the
same. In 1999, Ledeen titled his book, Machiavelli on Modern Leadership,
and subtitled: Why Machiavellis iron rules are as timely and
important today as five centuries ago. Ledeen is indeed an influential
neocon theorist whose views get lots of attention today in Washington.
His book on Machiavelli, interestingly enough, was passed out to
Members of Congress attending a political strategy meeting shortly
after its publication and at just about the time A Clean Break was
In Ledeens most recent publication, The War Against the Terror
Masters, he reiterates his beliefs outlined in this 1999 Machiavelli
book. He specifically praises: Creative destruction
within our own society and abroad
(foreigners) seeing America
undo traditional societies may fear us, for they do not wish to
be undone. Amazingly, Ledeen concludes: They must attack
us in order to survive, just as we must destroy them to advance
our historic mission.
If those words dont scare you, nothing will. If they are
not a clear warning, I dont know what could be. It sounds
like both sides of each disagreement in the world will be following
the principle of preemptive war. The world is certainly a less safe
place for it.
In Machiavelli on Modern Leadership, Ledeen praises a business
leader for correctly understanding Machiavelli: There are
no absolute solutions. It all depends. What is right and what is
wrong depends on what needs to be done and how. This is a
clear endorsement of situation ethics and is not coming from the
traditional left. It reminds me of: It depends on what the
definition of the word is is.
Ledeen quotes Machiavelli approvingly on what makes a great leader.
A prince must have no other objectives or other thoughts or
take anything for his craft, except war. To Ledeen, this meant:
the virtue of the warrior are those of great leaders
of any successful organization. Yet its obvious that
war is not coincidental to neocon philosophy, but an integral part.
The intellectuals justify it, and the politicians carry it out.
Theres a precise reason to argue for war over peace according
to Ledeen, for
peace increases our peril by making discipline
less urgent, encouraging some of our worst instincts, in depriving
us of some of our best leaders. Peace, he claims, is a dream
and not even a pleasant one, for it would cause indolence and would
undermine the power of the state. Although I concede the history
of the world is a history of frequent war, to capitulate and give
up even striving for peacebelieving peace is not a benefit
to mankindis a frightening thought that condemns the world
to perpetual war and justifies it as a benefit and necessity. These
are dangerous ideas, from which no good can come.
The conflict of the ages has been between the state and the individual:
central power versus liberty. The more restrained the state and
the more emphasis on individual liberty, the greater has been the
advancement of civilization and general prosperity. Just as mans
condition was not locked in place by the times and wars of old and
improved with liberty and free markets, theres no reason to
believe a new stage for man might not be achieved by believing and
working for conditions of peace. The inevitability and so-called
need for preemptive war should never be intellectually justified
as being a benefit. Such an attitude guarantees the backsliding
of civilization. Neocons, unfortunately, claim that war is in mans
nature and that we cant do much about it, so lets use
it to our advantage by promoting our goodness around the world through
force of arms. That view is anathema to the cause of liberty and
the preservation of the Constitution. If it is not loudly refuted,
our future will be dire indeed.
Ledeen believes man is basically evil and cannot be left to his
own desires. Therefore, he must have proper and strong leadership,
just as Machiavelli argued. Only then can man achieve good, as Ledeen
explains: In order to achieve the most noble accomplishments,
the leader may have to enter into evil. This is the
chilling insight that has made Machiavelli so feared, admired and
we are rotten, argues Ledeen. Its
true that we can achieve greatness if, and only if, we are properly
led. In other words, man is so depraved that individuals are
incapable of moral, ethical and spiritual greatness, and achieving
excellence and virtue can only come from a powerful authoritarian
leader. What depraved ideas are these to now be influencing our
leaders in Washington? The question Ledeen doesnt answer is:
Why do the political leaders not suffer from the same shortcomings
and where do they obtain their monopoly on wisdom?
Once this trust is placed in the hands of a powerful leader, this
neocon argues that certain tools are permissible to use. For instance:
lying is central to the survival of nations and to the success
of great enterprises, because if our enemies can count on the reliability
of everything you say, your vulnerability is enormously increased.
What about the effects of lying on ones own people? Who cares
if a leader can fool the enemy? Does calling it strategic
deception make lying morally justifiable? Ledeen and Machiavelli
argue that it does, as long as the survivability of the state is
at stake. Preserving the state is their goal, even if the personal
liberty of all individuals has to be suspended or canceled.
Ledeen makes it clear that war is necessary to establish national
boundariesbecause thats the way its always been
done. Who needs progress of the human race! He explains: Look
at the map of the world: national boundaries have not been drawn
by peaceful men leading lives of spiritual contemplation. National
boundaries have been established by war, and national character
has been shaped by struggle, most often bloody struggle.
Yes, but who is to lead the charge and decide which borders we
are to fight for? What about borders 6,000 miles away unrelated
to our own contiguous borders and our own national security? Stating
a relative truism regarding the frequency of war throughout history
should hardly be the moral justification for expanding the concept
of war to settle mans disputes. How can one call this progress?
Machiavelli, Ledeen and the neocons recognized a need to generate
a religious zeal for promoting the state. This, he claims, is especially
necessary when force is used to promote an agenda. Its been
true throughout history and remains true today, each side of major
conflicts invokes Gods approval. Our side refers to a crusade;
theirs to a holy Jihad. Too often wars boil down to
their god against our God. It seems this principle is more a cynical
effort to gain approval from the masses, especially those most likely
to be killed for the sake of the war promoters on both sides who
have power, prestige and wealth at stake.
Ledeen explains why God must always be on the side of advocates
of war: Without fear of God, no state can last long, for the
dread of eternal damnation keeps men in line, causes them to honor
their promises, and inspires them to risk their lives for the common
good. It seems dying for the common good has gained a higher
moral status than eternal salvation of ones soul. Ledeen adds:
Without fear of punishment, men will not obey laws that force
them to act contrary to their passions. Without fear of arms, the
state cannot enforce the laws
to this end, Machiavelli wants
leaders to make the state spectacular.
It's of interest to note that some large Christian denominations
have joined the neoconservatives in promoting preemptive war, while
completely ignoring the Christian doctrine of a Just War. The neocons
sought and openly welcomed their support.
Id like someone to glean anything from what the Founders
said or placed in the Constitution that agrees with this now-professed
doctrine of a spectacular state promoted by those who
now have so much influence on our policies here at home and abroad.
Ledeen argues that this religious element, this fear of God, is
needed for discipline of those who may be hesitant to sacrifice
their lives for the good of the spectacular state.
He explains in eerie terms: Dying for ones country
doesnt come naturally. Modern armies, raised from the populace,
must be inspired, motivated, indoctrinated. Religion is central
to the military enterprise, for men are more likely to risk their
lives if they believe they will be rewarded forever after for serving
their country. This is an admonition that might just as well
have been given by Osama bin Laden, in rallying his troops to sacrifice
their lives to kill the invading infidels, as by our intellectuals
at AEI, who greatly influence our foreign policy.
Neoconsanxious for the U.S. to use force to realign the boundaries
and change regimes in the Middle Eastclearly understand the
benefit of a galvanizing and emotional event to rally the people
to their cause. Without a special event, they realized the difficulty
in selling their policy of preemptive war where our own military
personnel would be killed. Whether it was the Lusitania, Pearl Harbor,
the Gulf of Tonkin or the Maine, all served their purpose in promoting
a war that was sought by our leaders.
Ledeen writes of a fortuitous event (1999):
we can always get lucky. Stunning events from outside can providentially
awaken the enterprise from its growing torpor, and demonstrate the
need for reversal, as the devastating Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor
in 1941 so effectively aroused the U.S. from its soothing dreams
of permanent neutrality.
Amazingly, Ledeen calls Pearl Harbor a lucky event.
The Project for a New American Century, as recently as September
2000, likewise, foresaw the need for a Pearl Harbor event
that would galvanize the American people to support their ambitious
plans to ensure political and economic domination of the world,
while strangling any potential rival.
Recognizing a need for a Pearl Harbor event, and referring
to Pearl Harbor as being lucky are not identical to
support and knowledge of such an event, but that this sympathy for
a galvanizing event, as 9-11 turned out to be, was used to promote
an agenda that strict constitutionalists and devotees of the Founders
of this nation find appalling, is indeed disturbing. After 9-11,
Rumsfeld and others argued for an immediate attack on Iraq, even
though it was not implicated in the attacks.
The fact that neo-conservatives ridicule those who firmly believe
that U.S. interests and world peace would best be served by a policy
of neutrality and avoiding foreign entanglements should not go unchallenged.
Not to do so is to condone their grandiose plans for an American
The current attention given neocons usually comes in the context
of foreign policy. But theres more to whats going on
today than just the tremendous influence the neocons have on our
new policy of preemptive war with a goal of empire. Our government
is now being moved by several ideas that come together in what I
call neoconism. The foreign policy is being openly debated,
even if its implications are not fully understood by many who support
it. Washington is now driven by old views brought together in a
We know those who lead usboth in the administration and in
Congressshow no appetite to challenge the tax or monetary
systems that do so much damage to our economy. The IRS and the Federal
Reserve are off limits for criticism or reform. Theres no
resistance to spending, either domestic or foreign. Debt is not
seen as a problem. The supply-siders won on this issue, and now
many conservatives readily endorse deficit spending.
Theres no serious opposition to the expanding welfare state,
with rapid growth of the education, agriculture and medical-care
bureaucracy. Support for labor unions and protectionism are not
uncommon. Civil liberties are easily sacrificed in the post 9-11
atmosphere prevailing in Washington. Privacy issues are of little
concern, except for a few members of Congress. Foreign aid and internationalismin
spite of some healthy criticism of the UN and growing concerns for
our national sovereigntyare championed on both sides of the
aisle. Lip service is given to the free market and free trade, yet
the entire economy is run by special-interest legislation favoring
big business, big labor and, especially, big money.
Instead of the end of history, we are now experiencing
the end of a vocal limited-government movement in our nations
capital. While most conservatives no longer defend balanced budgets
and reduced spending, most liberals have grown lazy in defending
civil liberties and now are approving wars that we initiate. The
so-called third way has arrived and, sadly, it has taken
the worst of what the conservatives and liberals have to offer.
The people are less well off for it, while liberty languishes as
Neocons enthusiastically embrace the Department of Education and
national testing. Both parties overwhelmingly support the huge commitment
to a new prescription drug program. Their devotion to the new approach
called compassionate conservatism has lured many conservatives
into supporting programs for expanding the federal role in welfare
and in church charities. The faith-based initiative is a neocon
project, yet it only repackages and expands the liberal notion of
welfare. The intellectuals who promoted these initiatives were neocons,
but theres nothing conservative about expanding the federal
governments role in welfare.
The supply-siders policy of low-marginal tax rates has been
incorporated into neoconism, as well as their support for easy money
and generous monetary inflation. Neoconservatives are disinterested
in the gold standard and even ignore the supply-siders argument
for a phony gold standard.
Is it any wonder that federal government spending is growing at
a rate faster than in any time in the past 35 years?
Power, politics and privilege prevail over the rule of law, liberty,
justice and peace. But it does not need to be that way. Neoconism
has brought together many old ideas about how government should
rule the people. It may have modernized its appeal and packaging,
but authoritarian rule is authoritarian rule, regardless of the
humanitarian overtones. A solution can only come after the current
ideology driving our government policies is replaced with a more
positive one. In a historical context, liberty is a modern idea
and must once again regain the high moral ground for civilization
to advance. Restating the old justifications for war, people control
and a benevolent state will not suffice. It cannot eliminate the
shortcomings that always occur when the state assumes authority
over others and when the will of one nation is forced on anotherwhether
or not it is done with good intentions.
I realize that all conservatives are not neoconservatives, and
all neocons dont necessarily agree on all pointswhich
means that in spite of their tremendous influence, most members
of Congress and those in the administration do not necessarily take
their marching orders from AEI or Richard Perle. But to use this
as a reason to ignore what neoconservative leaders believe, write
about and agitate forwith amazing success I might point outwould
be at our own peril. This country still allows open discoursethough
less everydayand we who disagree should push the discussion
and expose those who drive our policies. It is getting more difficult
to get fair and balanced discussion on the issues, because it has
become routine for the hegemons to label those who object to preemptive
war and domestic surveillance as traitors, unpatriotic and un-American.
The uniformity of support for our current foreign policy by major
and cable-news networks should concern every American. We should
all be thankful for C-SPAN and the Internet.
Michael Ledeen and other neoconservatives are already lobbying
for war against Iran. Ledeen is pretty nasty to those who call for
a calmer, reasoned approach by calling those who are not ready for
war cowards and appeasers of tyrants. Because some urge
a less militaristic approach to dealing with Iran, he claims they
are betraying Americas best traditions. I wonder
where he learned early American history! Its obvious that
Ledeen doesnt consider the Founders and the Constitution part
of our best traditions. We were hardly encouraged by the American
revolutionaries to pursue an American empire. We were, however,
urged to keep the Republic they so painstakingly designed.
If the neoconservatives retain control of the conservative, limited-government
movement in Washington, the ideas, once championed by conservatives,
of limiting the size and scope of government will be a long-forgotten
The believers in liberty ought not deceive themselves. Who should
be satisfied? Certainly not conservatives, for there is no conservative
movement left. How could liberals be satisfied? They are pleased
with the centralization of education and medical programs in Washington
and support many of the administrations proposals. But none
should be pleased with the steady attack on the civil liberties
of all American citizens and the now-accepted consensus that preemptive
warfor almost any reasonis an acceptable policy for
dealing with all the conflicts and problems of the world.
In spite of the deteriorating conditions in Washingtonwith
loss of personal liberty, a weak economy, exploding deficits, and
perpetual war, followed by nation buildingthere are still
quite a number of us who would relish the opportunity to improve
things, in one way or another. Certainly, a growing number of frustrated
Americans, from both the right and the left, are getting anxious
to see this Congress do a better job. But first, Congress must stop
doing a bad job.
Were at the point where we need a call to arms, both here
in Washington and across the country. Im not talking about
firearms. Those of us who care need to raise both arms and face
our palms out and begin waving and shouting: Stop! Enough is enough!
It should include liberals, conservatives and independents. Were
all getting a bum rap from politicians who are pushed by polls and
controlled by special-interest money.
One thing is certain, no matter how morally justified the programs
and policies seem, the ability to finance all the guns and butter
being promised is limited, and those limits are becoming more apparent
Spending, borrowing and printing money cannot be the road to prosperity.
It hasnt worked in Japan, and it isnt working here either.
As a matter of fact, its never worked anytime throughout history.
A point is always reached where government planning, spending and
inflation run out of steam. Instead of these old tools reviving
an economy, as they do in the early stages of economic interventionism,
they eventually become the problem. Both sides of the political
spectrum must one day realize that limitless government intrusion
in the economy, in our personal lives and in the affairs of other
nations cannot serve the best interests of America. This is not
a conservative problem, nor is it a liberal problemits
a government intrusion problem that comes from both groups, albeit
for different reasons. The problems emanate from both camps who
champion different programs for different reasons. The solution
will come when both groups realize that its not merely a single-party
problem, or just a liberal or just a conservative problem.
Once enough of us decide weve had enough of all these so-called
good things that the government is always promisingor more
likely, when the country is broke and the government is unable to
fulfill its promises to the peoplewe can start a serious discussion
on the proper role for government in a free society. Unfortunately,
it will be some time before Congress gets the message that the people
are demanding true reform. This requires that those responsible
for todays problems are exposed and their philosophy of pervasive
government intrusion is rejected.
Let it not be said that no one cared, that no one objected once
its realized that our liberties and wealth are in jeopardy.
A few have, and others will continue to do so, but too manyboth
in and out of governmentclose their eyes to the issue of personal
liberty and ignore the fact that endless borrowing to finance endless
demands cannot be sustained. True prosperity can only come from
a healthy economy and sound money. That can only be achieved in
a free society.
© 2003 The Liberty Committee