Inevitable post-war problems in Iraq have given some in the antiwar coalition -- liberals, paleoconservatives and Libertarians -- new vitality and increased anxiety. Their opposition was undeterred by our resounding military victory and, if anything, is even more strident than it was before the war.
But here I want to focus on the opposition of the paleoconservatives (think of Pat Buchanan -- no disrespect intended) because of a recent column I read by one of its foremost pundits. Generally speaking, the paleocons were opposed to the war primarily because they oppose excessive foreign entanglements and don't perceive Iraq as a threat.
But even more important, they think that President Bush is a neoconservative -- a reckless, nation-building warmonger hell-bent on making the world safe for democracy and the Middle East safe for Israel. They point to certain major players in and close to the Bush administration as card-carrying members of this ideology and couple that with Bush's Axis of Evil terminology and invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and voila: Bush is a neoconservative.
To the contrary, I think the paleocons' assumptions about President Bush and his war effort are in error and thus at least part of the reason for their opposition is based on their misunderstanding of Bush's motivations. A few characteristics in common with neoconservatives does not make President Bush one of them. If he's not, then the paleos ought to lighten up on him a bit.
Bush, I think, does not fall into any of the above categories. For purposes of America's War on Terror -- as opposed to certain domestic policy issues -- the president is closer to a mainstream conservative -- except for his approach toward the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
Contrary to liberal talking points, President Bush did not plan this comprehensive war against the "Axis of Evil" before 9-11 and use it as an excuse to justify his preplanned "imperialism." But for 9-11, I dare say, there would be no full scale, comprehensive War on Terror. Obvious, you say? I agree, but not to many of Bush's opponents.
Again, the rap against neoconservatives is that they are imperialists who want to export democracy by force and prop up Israel at almost any cost. In other words, they are intermeddling nation builders with a strong pro-Israel bent.
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