Neocons Are Back — and Worse Than Ever! Debunking Their Unthinkable New Defense
There are two major planks to Salam’s argument, and they will ring familiar to anyone who lived in the immediate post-9/11 world: that America must have an aggressive and powerful army, first because our strength is required to bring stability to a vulnerable world, and second because there is so much evil in the world, we are required to defeat it. These are not, let’s say, the freshest of arguments when it comes to the defense of neoconservatism. But since he’s brought them back up, they should be addressed.
In essence, both arguments can be refuted with three words: should implies can. For the argument towards stability, I ask simply: we have endured a war in Iraq, we still have thousands of troops in Afghanistan, we have waged secret wars in Pakistan and Yemen. I ask you: how stable do you find the world? How stable was the world at the height of the Bush Doctrine? What possible evidence can be offered that neoconservatism brings stability in fact, rather than merely in rhetoric?
Nor is it clear that the enduring American military dominance Salam advocates for can be achieved. I would certainly oppose American military hegemony even if I thought such a thing were still possible, but it’s irrelevant, because I don’t. To quote Matthew Yglesias, relative decline is not a choice. That the United States cannot maintain its status as unipolar power forever should be obvious to anyone who has studied history and anyone with a newspaper subscription. The rapidly developing economies and massive populations of countries like China and India make that plain enough. That’s not to say that there will necessarily be a new dominant superpower, but it’s a reason you should bet on the field.