The ‘genius’ of neoconservatism | Stephen M. Walt

How can neocons wreck the US by getting it into wars it cannot afford nor need–and then maintain influence nonetheless in the corridors of power.  Bottom line? Its all about how you sell it.  (They appear to wielding disproportionate influence over Mitt Romney, hence foreign policy realist and professor Stephen Walt explains the strategy).

Interestingly enough, this tactic has some grounding in behavioral economics. In a justifiably famous experiment reported in the Journal of Marketing Research, Itamar Simonson and Amos Tversky showed that consumer choices were powerfully influenced by “framing effects,” and in particular, by the set of choices that the test subjects were given. When the subjects were offered a choice between a cheap camera with relatively few features and a more expensive camera with lots of them, their choices divided more-or-less evenly between the two. But when a similar group was given the same two options plus a third — an even more expensive camera with even more features — the percentage that preferred the middle choice rose dramatically. Why? Because being presented with the option of a really expensive camera made choosing the second most expensive seem less extravagant: It became the sensible “compromise” choice.

via The ‘genius’ of neoconservatism | Stephen M. Walt.


5 thoughts on “The ‘genius’ of neoconservatism | Stephen M. Walt”

  1. This was a very good read. But isn’t that how radicalism and fundamentalism is like all over the world. All fundamentalists are also remarkably uncompromising and notoriously unreluctant. Moreover, they also show imperviousness to contrary evidence and give outlandish policy recommendations. All I am trying to say is that they have the same way of thinking but a different set of values they believe in.

    This calls in a question, is radicalism and bold leadership required for progress?

  2. I don’t know as much about American politics as I should, but this article helped clear up my confusion about what a neoconservative is:

    The strategies Mr. Walt describes are fascinating, though I think he falls further to the left than I do. His arguments of what works and what doesn’t indicate as much, and with exception to his references on the war in Iraq, most seem unsubstantiated (depending on your perspective). I can’t help but wonder what strategies he implements himself to convey his own point of view.

  3. Walt has many good points in this article. One of the most convincing arguments, from my perspective, explaining why neoconservatives have had such a large impact on U.S. foreign policy is the use of American Exceptionalism, claiming to work to extend American style democracy to the world. Walt has strong opinions against this notion and the idea of American Exceptionalism as he describes here:

    Personally, I tend to agree with Walt believing that at times the infatuation that Americans have with the idea of being the best in the world leads to poor foreign and domestic policy decisions that hurt the world and the U.S. more than improve it.

  4. I must say that I was quite surprised at the debate over foreign policy. While I am liberal, I think Ron Paul has the best foreign policy, but I do like our President’s position for the most party. The reason I was surprised is that Romney didn’t sound so hawkish as he has before. Usually on any point that he started to sound a little Neo-con on, the President was sound similar. Of course in my opinion the President won hands down, but it’s interesting to see this break from the Neo-con attitude. However, while it was nice to see Governor Romney break with ideology I don’t know if it will continue to be as such. As the article pointed out he has surrounded himself with many of these men who follow the Neo-con way of thinking. I can’t figure out if this run for the middle is Romney’s actual position or just for votes. What I can say is I was pleasantly surprised as I think many were.

  5. I find it unsettling that Mr.Romney has chosen as his advisors on foreign policy such people as Dan Senor (a neocon form the Bush era). However, I tend to agree with the analysis provided by the Atlantic (in the link above) that American’s are tired of intervention and nation building and that would ultimately dictate President (potentially) Romney’s foreign policy choices. Mr.Romney may believe that America ought to intervene in Syria, but I find it doubtful that doing so will politically feasible in the near future.

    Here is an article about popular sentiment about the last war (the one in Libya):

    Do you think that a President Obama or President Romney will choose to intervene military in Syria post-election?

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