Are the neocons on the way out?


Richard Moore

Here's a view from a so-called progressive think tank.

What they interpret as 'progressive moves' are in reality 'realist damage 
control', but there are some interesting observations nonetheless.


Original source URL:

The Progressive Response

Institute for Policy Studies
Vol. 10, No. 10
July 24, 2006
Editor: John Feffer, IRC

Bush Doctrine Down?

In early July, the Bush administration didn't launch a preemptive strike against
North Korea's missile launchpad, as some prominent Democrats urged. It has 
continued to pursue a diplomatic approach with Iran over its nuclear program. It
has brokered a new nuclear deal with Russia. Have we entered a new era of a 
kinder, gentler Bush II foreign policy?

Time Magazine thinks so. In its July 8 issue, Mike Allen and Romesh Ratnesar 
proclaimed the end of the Bush administration's ³cowboy diplomacy.² Philip 
Gordon, in the July/August 2006 issue of Foreign Affairs has concurred with an 
obituary for the Bush doctrine in foreign policy. Gordon writes: ³The question 
is not whether the president and most of his team still hold to the basic tenets
of the Bush doctrine‹they do‹but whether they can sustain it. They cannot.² As 
the Washington Post reported last week, hardline commentators are aghast at this
turn toward moderation. Newt Gingrich blasted the Bush administration for 
subscribing to the ³lawyer-diplomatic fantasy² of using negotiations to solve 
world problems. Diplomacy, in the minds of Gingrich and his cohorts, apparently 
falls into the same category as ³old Europe.²

Have the reports of the death of the Bush doctrine been greatly exaggerated? At 
Foreign Policy In Focus, Ehsan Ahrari argues that it is premature to write the 
epitaph for cowboy diplomacy. ³The real test of whether the use of cowboy 
diplomacy as a modus operandi has ended or not will come if Iran rejects the 
comprehensive diplomatic package and continues with its uranium enrichment 
program,² he writes in his July 13 commentary.

Meanwhile, Israel's war against Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza has 
generated nothing but support from the Bush administration and Congress. FPIF 
commentator Col. Dan Smith argues that ³George Bush appears to be watching Gaza 
and Lebanon burn, hoping to rid the area of two surrogates of Iran and Syria and
thus create 'space' for his great project: a democratic Middle East.² Stephen 
Zunes, meanwhile, analyzes U.S. congressional support for Israel's actions and 
discovers ³a bipartisan consensus on the legitimacy of U.S. allies to run 
roughshod over international legal norms.²

The latest candidate for membership in the Preemptive Strike Club is key U.S. 
ally Japan. After North Korea's July 4 missile launches, leading Japanese 
government spokesman Shinzo Abe said, ³If we accept that there is no other 
option to prevent a missile attack, there is an argument that attacking the 
missile bases would be within the legal right of self-defense.² Given that Japan
has adhered to a peace constitution for the last half century, this move toward 
a more aggressive foreign and military policy is indeed shocking. For FPIF 
coverage of Japan and North Korea, see Michael Penn's report on Koizumi's new 
Middle East strategy and John Feffer's analysis of North Korea's missile 

Though it has lost the headline race to Lebanon and Israel, Iraq remains a 
prominent example of both the persistence and the failure of cowboy diplomacy. 
Raed Jarrar explores the civil conflict in Iraq and concludes that the U.S. 
military is responsible for an alarming number of civilian deaths and, perhaps 
more disturbing, for not interceding to prevent growing sectarian violence. Anas
Shallal, in an FPIF op-ed published in the Christian Science Monitor, critiques 
the U.S. compensation policy, comparing the $45,000 a Seattle woman received for
the wrongful death of her cat with the $1,600 that the families of the Haditha 
massacre victims have received.

At the recent Group of 8 (G8) meeting in St. Petersburg, the Middle East and 
North Korea certainly received much attention. What fell off the agenda, as Conn
Hallinan points out, was poverty reduction. The Millennium Development Goals, 
which aim to halve global poverty by 2015, ³are mired in a devil's brew of 
self-serving economic policies, lethargic bureaucracy, and outright 
disingenuousness,² he writes.

Are there any bright spots in the world today? The Mexican elections nearly 
carried Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the progressive mayor of Mexico City, into 
the presidency. The election remains tied up in a Florida-like vote recount 
controversy with street protests in support of Obrador still vibrant. Check out 
the analyses by Mark Engler and Laura Carlsen of the Mexican elections. Tom 
Barry, meanwhile, points out that a key neoconservative organization, the 
Project for a New American Century, seems to be running out of steam, a result 
of ³the global backlash against the imperial ambitions of Š the Bush 

So, is the Bush doctrine down for the count? Seymour Hersh continues to expose 
the Pentagon plans to bomb Iran. Israel and possibly Japan are stepping forward 
with their own versions of ³shoot first, talk later² foreign policy. And the 
administration seems far from a compromise on Iraq. Stay tuned.

PS: If you're in Washington, DC this summer, please join us at the FPIF film 
series at Busboys and Poets. The films are hot, the venue is cool Š

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Published by Foreign Policy In Focus (FPIF), a joint project of the 
International Relations Center (IRC, online at and the 
Institute for Policy Studies (IPS, online at ©2006. All rights 

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