Francis Fukuyama wants you to know that he's no longer associated with Neo-Conservatism. Nope, he's done with it.
Neoconservatism, as both a political symbol and a body of thought, has evolved into something I can no longer support.
I appreciate the public disavowal of the movement. But Fukuyama still doesn't get it. He imagines the intentions of the Neo-Conservatives were good, and that it was just dumb luck and inaccurate intelligence that doomed those intentions, and with them, the credibility of the movement.
But successful pre-emption depends on the ability to predict the future accurately and on good intelligence, which was not forthcoming, while America's perceived unilateralism has isolated it as never before.
This is a convenient self-deception, that the shitty intelligence and the inaccurate predictions were unmotivated. Here's Paul Pillar in Foreign Affairs, a journal I'd wager Fukuyama reads quite closely.
In the wake of the Iraq war, it has become clear that official intelligence analysis was not relied on in making even the most significant national security decisions, that intelligence was misused publicly to justify decisions already made, that damaging ill will developed between policymakers and intelligence officers, and that the intelligence community's own work was politicized.
Pillar is certainly not the first to make such accusations, but hopefully his stature and his publication in Foreign Affairs will alert recovering Neo-Conservatives like Fukuyama that the claim that "good intelligence ... was not forthcoming" is nothing but self-deception. It pretends the intelligence problems that resulted in the war happened by accident, without anyone driving that result. Of course, the problems with intelligence were not accidental. Dick Cheney and Scooter Libby and Douglas Feith and Paul Wolfowitz and Donald Rumsfeld--all but Feith original signatories with Fukuyama to PNAC--deliberately buried sound intelligence and ignored realistic predictions.
Fukuyama's self-deception extends beyond the Iraq war to Neo-Conservatism in general. Here's how he describes Shadia Drury's work on Strauss' influence on the Neo-Conservatives.
One came from the students of the German Jewish political theorist Leo Strauss, who, contrary to much of the nonsense written about him by people like Anne Norton and Shadia Drury, was a serious reader of philosophical texts who did not express opinions on contemporary politics or policy issues. Rather, he was concerned with the "crisis of modernity" brought on by the relativism of Nietzsche and Heidegger, as well as the fact that neither the claims of religion nor deeply-held opinions about the nature of the good life could be banished from politics, as the thinkers of the European Enlightenment had hoped.
The critique of Drury (I'm not familiar with Norton's work on Strauss) is unfair. Here is Drury describing Strauss commenting on contemporary America as rare, the exception rather than the rule.
Strauss was grateful to American for giving him shelter, and was not eager to criticize her too openly. As a result his criticism was indirect and took the form of a critique of "modernity." But there was one rare occasion when Strauss expressed his view of America most candidly. (Leo Strauss and the American Right 7)
Drury does not claim that Strauss commonly expressed opinions on contemporary politics or policy. Moreover, she examines Strauss' studies of philosophical texts and makes virtually the same claims--about Nietzsche, about Heidegger, about religion, about the Enlightenment--Fukuyama does. But Drury says some more on Strauss that Fukuyama would have done well to consider closely.
When ideas are inculcated by whispering to boys in corners, the result is not just corruption, but stupidity. I contend that the pernicious influence of Leo Strauss has its source in the kind of elite he cultivates--an elite that is not fit for power because it is neither wise nor good. It is not wise because it cannot defend its beliefs before the tribunal of reason; it preaches only to the converted. It is not good because it is a manipulative elite that eschews the truth in favor of lies and deceptions, and because it exempts itself from the moral standards it imposes on others--and this is the road to tyranny. (18-19)
"Whispering to boys in corners" ... "cannot defends it beliefs before the tribunal of reason" ... "preaches only to the converted" ... "manipulative" ... "eschews the truth in favor of lies and deceptions." Remarkable descriptions that capture almost all the causes for the shitty intelligence and unrealistic assumptions on the Iraq war. Had any of Fukuyama's PNAC friends presented their rationale for the war openly we would not have gone to war. Had they allowed the intelligence professionals who weren't converted to their plans to present their views, we would not have gone to war. Had they presented the truth rather than the lies of Chalabi, we would not have gone to war. As I say in an old post on Neo-Conservative Utilitarian Postmodernists:
OSP didn't get fooled by Saddam or by Chalabi, as Habbakuk suggests. Rather, the critical deception was not Saddam's or, by itself, Chalabi's. It was that of OSP, which knowingly propagated Saddam's and Chalabi's deceptions to accomplish their goal--military intervention.
With their statements about postmodernism, S[chmitt]&S[hulsky] reveal their awareness of the implications that deceptive statements have for democracy. But they neither renounce their own brand of deceptive statement nor do they posit an alternative to democracy. And in the context of this awareness, they argue for a different kind of intelligence. Given this background, it seems S&S are arguing for an active, intelligence-producing role rather than intelligence gathering and analysis, no matter the method. And given what Shulsky's OSP produced (literally, produced), this seems to be the more accurate reading.
Fukuyama admits that the second generation of Neo-Conservatives espouses coercive change. But he doesn't recognize (or doesn't admit) how that coerciveness makes them at fault. Instead, he tries to persuade that the backlash against such over-reaching is as harmful as the over-reach itself.
By ignoring the true nature of his PNAC comrades, Fukuyama is trying to divorce ideology from personnel. Fukuyama, the reformed Neo-Con, says,
Now that the neoconservative moment appears to have passed, the United States needs to reconceptualize its foreign policy in several fundamental ways. In the first instance, we need to demilitarize what we have been calling the global war on terrorism and shift to other types of policy instruments. We are fighting hot counterinsurgency wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and against the international jihadist movement, wars in which we need to prevail. But "war" is the wrong metaphor for the broader struggle, since wars are fought at full intensity and have clear beginnings and endings. Meeting the jihadist challenge is more of a "long, twilight struggle" whose core is not a military campaign but a political contest for the hearts and minds of ordinary Muslims around the world.
Frankly, I don't disagree with most of his points--or, really, with many of the prescriptions Fukuyama goes on to describe. But the easy statement, "the neoconservative movement appears to have passed," ignores the real and ongoing power of its practitioners. Have Dick or Rummy disavowed Neo-Conservatism, like Fukuyama? If so, it's no more than a ploy. And whether or not they have, they will continue to pursue the same goals they have from the start of this administration: ongoing American hegemony, preferably under the guise of idealism, but by means of pure force, if need be.
It's one thing to say you've disavowed Neo-Conservatism, as Fukuyama claims he has. It's another thing to take the steps to make sure we move beyond it.
Here's one place Fukuyama could start. You see, Scooter Libby, one of those original PNACkers who deliberately gamed the intelligence and therefore caused the failures that Fukuyama is now so embarrassed to be associated with, is soliciting endorsements in the form of legal defense contributions. As I've said, his legal defense fund reads like the Who's Who of Neo-Conservative insiders (true believers, even after Fukuyama declared Neo-Conservativism "passed"). Yet, rather than separating himself from this purportedly defunct ideology, Fukuyama recently reiterated his defense of Libby's career, in word and money, by joining Libby's Defense Fund.
Francis Fukuyama, you can't disavow Neo-Conservatism while trying to help someone avoid the consequences of the lies and politicization that disgraced Neo-Conservatism. You can't claim to disavow Neo-Conservatism if you're still investing money and your good name in defending Scooter Libby.
Before, you may have been too naive or credulous to understand that the democracy myths were just that, myths. An ignoble lie. But now, only self-deception prevents you from understanding that. Your ongoing support of Neo-Conservatism--in money and name--now comes with the culpability of knowing better. You've forsworn these lies, but not forgone them.