Our assumptions about country roles and intentions shape our foreign policy. One view of late–that represents what was not a well-known view until the administration of George W. Bush–is that of neoconservativism. Although a political view of this era may be a series of unmitigated disaster, this approach has a much longer history than may be apparent–and represents a viable idea, even if it was ineffectively implemented, as noted by Francis Fukuyama in After the Neocons: America at the Crossroads.
One idea driving neoconservative thought comes from an assumption about enemies:
KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: Is there still an Axis of Evil?
MICHAEL LEDEEN: Yes, and it’s growing. It lost Iraq, but now counts Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Russia.
LOPEZ: Are we an “Accomplice to Evil”?
LEDEEN: That’s the whole point of my book. We have once again failed to see evil — Iran is the prime example — when it was right in front of us, and we have deliberately blinded ourselves to the war that the Islamic Republic has been waging against us for 30 years.
The inability of neoconservatives to achieve their stated goals in Iraq has cost them social, political, and economic capital over past nine years, as Amy Chua writes in the NYT Week in Review:
Enter neoconservatism. At its core, the neoconservative program was premised on the aggressive, interventionist use of American military force, with or without international approval, to effect regime change and nation building. If 9/11 sent neoliberalism into a tailspin, the Iraq quagmire did the same for neoconservatism.
Then came the financial meltdown of 2008, which dealt the deathblow to both. Neoconservative power depended on immense disposable wealth to finance American military might abroad. Neoliberal economics assumed that American capitalism would produce that wealth. Today the dreams of both lie shattered, and policy makers are at sea.
What comes next? She guides us toward the idea of a Roosevelt revolution–or rather, a return to his approach:
And what of the Obama administration? Richard Posner, most recently the author of “A Failure of Capitalism,” sees in current policy a case of “Roosevelt envy.” There may be some truth to this. Like the Roosevelt White House, the Obama administration seems committed simultaneously to renewing internationalism, overhauling regulation and spending its way out of economic crisis.