In an article titled "Where do the neocons go from here?" Richard Dunham attempts to explain to a lay audience what a neocon is and where the "movement" is headed. As anyone who's participated in various political and policy struggles inside the Beltway over the past few years can attest, this is no small feat, as the word neocon has meant many things to many people at many different times. It wasn't too long ago, lest we forget, that to be a neocon meant supporting John McCain for president in 2000, which could have led a casual observer to conclude that the "neo" part meant "moderate."
But in the current era, there seems to be a strong tendency to use neocon as a label for someone who strongly supported the war in Iraq or to describe someone who is, well, Jewish. Mr. Dunham's Business Week piece at first only seems to be doing the former. Using neocon interchangeably with "superhawk," he further writes, "The close-knit intellectuals who make up the neoconservative movement have been called extremists, warmongers, American imperialists -- and even a Zionist cabal." Eschewing the traditional news reporting practice of countering criticism with praise, Mr. Dunham allows those shockingly harsh adjectives to go unchallenged.
After laying the groundwork of neocons as superhawks, the Business Week piece informs readers that the key members of the movement who advise President Bush are "Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Pentagon policy chief Douglas J. Feith and Defense Policy Board member Richard N. Perle." Fair enough. All three have, at various times, been labeled neocons. But then, Mr. Dunham draws an interesting distinction. He describes Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney as "key allies," but not as "neocons." In the remainder of the article, former Reagan administration official Ken Adelman and Weekly Standard editor William Kristol are identified as other "neocons."
Joel Mowbray, who got his start with Townhall.com, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.
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