Here's an interesting interview
with Christopher Hitchens, which does a good job of describing three strains of foreign policy conservativism.
"That's when I began to first find myself on the same side as the neocons. I was signing petitions in favour of action in Bosnia, and I would look down the list of names and I kept finding, there's Richard Perle. There's Paul Wolfowitz. That seemed interesting to me. These people were saying that we had to act." He continues, "Before, I had avoided them like the plague, especially because of what they said about General Sharon and about Nicaragua. But nobody could say they were interested in oil in the Balkans, or in strategic needs, and the people who tried to say that - like Chomsky - looked ridiculous. So now I was interested."
There are two strands of conservatism on the US right that Hitch has always opposed. The first was the Barry Goldwater-Pat Buchanan isolationist right. They argued for "America First" - disengagement from the world, and the abandonment of Europe to fascism. The second was the Henry Kissinger right, which argued for the installation of pro-American, pro-business regimes, even if it meant liquidating democracies (as in Chile or Iran) and supporting and equipping practitioners of genocide.
He believes neoconservatism is a distinctively new strain of thought, preached by ex-leftists, who believed in using US power to spread democracy. "It's explicitly anti-Kissingerian. Kissinger hates this stuff. He opposed intervening in the Balkans. Kissinger Associates were dead against [the war in] Iraq. He can't understand the idea of backing democracy - it's totally alien to him."
"So that interest in the neocons re-emerged after September 11th. They were saying - we can't carry on with the approach to the Middle East we have had for the past fifty years. We cannot go on with this proxy rule racket, where we back tyranny in the region for the sake of stability. So we have to take the risk of uncorking it and hoping the more progressive side wins." He has replaced a belief in Marxist revolution with a belief in spreading the American revolution. Thomas Jefferson has displaced Karl Marx.
But can we trust the Bush administration - filled with people like Dick Cheney, who didn't even support the release of Nelson Mandela - to support democracy and the spread of American values now? He offers an anecdote in response. There is a new liberal-left heroine in the States called Azar Nafisi. Her book ?Reading Lolita in Tehran' documents an underground feminist resistance movement to the Iranian Mullahs that concentrated on reading great - and banned - works of Western literature. "And who is this book by an icon of the Iranian resistance dedicated to? [US Deputy Secretary of Defence] Paul Wolfowitz, the bogeyman of the left, and the intellectual force behind [the recent war in] Iraq."
Yes...isolationism, proxy war and puppets, and militaristic promotion of democracy. If anything, the left (and most libertarians) are closest to the first, isolationism. Or so it seems...I'm assuming the left is mostly anti-war, though I'm not sure what most on the left actually thought of Bosnia, since they don't like to talk about it much, and most of them now say they supported the invasion of Afghanistan, so who knows?
I understand the risks involved with the neocon philosophy, but as oppposed to the alternatives it still seems to be the best course of action.