DLS: Talking about Neoconservatism

Shebli Khoury

After the Republican win in the last US Midterm Election, there is a growing possibility of the resurgence of a Neo-Conservative US foreign policy because of the increasing strength of the American right-wing. This is why journalist Jim Lobe’s lecture came at a propitious time.

His interactive lecture focused on the development of the neo-conservatism through its founding figures, ideology and writing.

The Sundial interviewed Mr. Lobe before his lecture about the developments that are affecting neo-conservatives and their views about various world events such as the relationship with Europe and the growth of ISIS.

  • What do you think will be the future for neocon’s especially after the Obama administration’s shift towards a more amiable relation with Iran?

The Midterms strengthened the Republicans and most of the Republican leaders adopted, more or less, a neocon foreign policy. Obama is not as strong as the last election and on Iran he wants an agreement and seems determined to get one. This stronger Republican Congress  will make it as difficult as possible.

  • How would you characterize the neocon’s relationship with China? And with emerging powers in general?

The neoconservatives believe in US global primacy. Emerging powers that show independence from the US and it’s system are a threat to US primacy. US became stronger after the Cold War and the emerging powers are challenging it. The neoconservatives are uncomfortable with these emerging powers unless they respect the US. They are hostile to China and also Russia. They also think a more nationalist India to oppose China is in their interest.

  • What about the neoconservative relationship with Europe especially given the TAFTA agreement and the defense of Ukraine and Europe from Russia and rhetoric about shared values?

Neoconservatives are ambivalent about Europe. If Europe complies with US policy, then they appreciate Europe. If Europe is independent, they do not like the EU and remind them of World War 2. For example, during Iraq, those that opposed the invasion were called collaborators. On the other hand, when Hollande intervened in Mali and questioned the November 13 deal with Iran, neoconservatives love France. It depends on Europe’s relation to the US.

  • I feel that there is a blanket term applied to anyone that calls for war especially in the Middle East as a neoconservative with negative connotations. Don’t you think that this hinders our ability to find solutions?

The word has become pejorative and misused. I do not consider Cheney or Rumsfield as neocons. They come from a different background which is aggressive nationalism. Neoconservatives are focused on Israel’s security, their core principle. The two sides work together, going back to the 70s and have adopted each other’s worldviews when politically efficient. Bush being a neocon is also incorrect given that he was angry about Israeli repression during the Second Intifada while neoconservatives were not.

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