This post over at Glenn Greenwald's blog, Unclaimed Territory, struck me as mostly dead on. Here's a selection:
In two short posts at National Review, warmonger Mark Levin captures the essence of neoconservatism. First is his response to the news that Iran has rejected the proposal for an agreement whereby it would cease uranium enrichment:Ok, let’s all say it together, shall we? Diplomacy doesn’t work with terrorists. Terrorists only understand fear. They don’t fear us yet because we have not punished them enough.
All of the bad countries in the Middle East (and elsewhere) are "terrorists" and we must treat them as such. Only weaklings and appeasers would try to negotiate with or contain "terrorists." The only thing one can do with "terrorists" is kill them all so that we can rule the world (or at least the Middle East) by fear. That's why incidents like the killing of 50 Lebanese civilians in Qana is something to be cheered, rather than either condemned as deliberate or reckless, or at least lamented as a tragic accident. To neoconservatives like Levin, we need more of these incidents, because it shows the "terrorists" that there are consequences -- bad, ugly, scary, brutal consequences -- for confronting us.
That really is the essence of neoconservativsm. It's nothing more noble or complex than a base belief that we have to wage as many wars as possible and kill as many people as possible until people are sufficiently fearful of the U.S. that they will comply with our mandates. It is psychopathic and deranged, and the fact that it is typically cheered on by the likes of Mark Levin -- people who plainly lack feelings of physical power themselves -- is not insignificant. The contrived chest-beating and transparent desire to feel like a feared warrior, with none of the risk, is manifest, and it is what has shaped our foreign policy for the last five years and, by all appearances, continues to do so.
I disagree with his assessment of neocon motivation, though. When Greenwald writes, "It is psychopathic and deranged, and the fact that it is typically cheered on by the likes of Mark Levin -- people who plainly lack feelings of physical power themselves -- is not insignificant," I think he describes some, but not all warheads. There are plenty of brutal, punitive sons of bitches who are more than capable of kicking ass.
Prisons are full of them.
I once had someone describe the rationale of a violent offender to me. Basically, the inmate sees violence as entirely defensive. It's the answer to every problem - past, present, or future. If someone does something that harms you, you kick the living hell out of them. If someone is harming you, you kick the living hell out of them. If you think someone's going to harm you... You get the idea.
The reason they continue to do this is because of a delusion - they think this is a successful life strategy, because no one screws with you or tells you what to do. It's a delusion because you're in prison, which is basically the whole damned government screwing with you and telling you what to do. Even in incarceration, the violent believe they are masters of their fate. Violence always works.
So we see the delusion play out outside of prison. If violence is always successful, then a lack of success only means a lack of necessary violence. If your war is going south, you're not being brutal enough. Which brings us to the brutal, punitive son of a bitch who is Bill O'Reilly. From Media Matters:
The reason we're not winning in Iraq, in my opinion, is because we didn't level Fallujah when we should have leveled it. Level it! Give every civilian 24 hours to get out and blow the hell out of it. [Muqtada al-] Sadr, this little thug cleric, he should've had a bullet right between his eyes the first year. That's why we're not winning it. We're not tough enough.
You really need to hear it to get the full, frothing insanity of the quote (like everything Bill says, there's unintentional absurdist comedy - he later claims he's an intellectual). Like the violent criminal, Bill thinks that violence always succeeds. If you're not succeeding, you're not violent enough. O'Reilly again (emphasis mine):
It just depends on how you want to wage the war. If we wage the war the way Saddam handled Iraq, then we would have already won. That means martial law, torture, murder, kicking in doors. You know, Saddam controlled that country for 25 years. He didn't have any insurrections. He didn't have bombs going off. And half the country wanted to kill him. You know, all the Shia hated him. And how'd he do it? Through terror. So we could do it. But then, you know, as soon as you look at one of these guys cross-eyed, the ACLU's got you sued.
Never mind that the middle east has been violent for as long as I can remember. If there were a military solution to these conflicts, they would've been resolved a long time ago. Saddam Hussein knew how to handle this sort of thing - be brutal and punitive. Just like any other neocon.