Why I Am Not a Neo-Conservative

David Horowitz was one of the founders of the New Left in the 1960s and an editor of its largest magazine,Ramparts. He is the author, with Peter Collier, of three best selling dynastic biographies: The Rockefellers: An American Dynasty (1976); The Kennedys: An American Dream (1984); and The Fords: An American Epic (1987). Looking back in anger at their days in the New Left, he and Collier wrote Destructive Generation (1989), a chronicle of their second thoughts about the 60s that has been compared to Whittaker Chambers’ Witness and other classic works documenting a break from totalitarianism. Horowitz examined this subject more closely in Radical Son (1996), a memoir tracing his odyssey from “red-diaper baby” to conservative activist that George Gilder described as “the first great autobiography of his generation.”

Twitter: @horowitz39
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When George Bush launched the military campaign to remove Saddam Hussein and enforce Security Council resolution 1441 and sixteen other Security Council resolutions he had defied, I was for it. I would be for it today. It was a necessary war and a just war. By toppling a monster who had defied international order and was an obvious threat, Bush did the right thing. When he named the campaign Operation Iraqi Freedom, I was also an enthusiast. It put the Democratic Party, which soon betrayed the war, and the political left, which instinctively  supports America’s enemies, on the defensive. When he said he was going to establish democracy in Iraq, I almost believed him. And that seemed to put me in the camp of the neo-conservatives for whom democracy in Iraq was not only a wish but an agenda. In any case, people labeled me that not least because I am a Jew and “neo-conservative” functions for the ominously expanding anti-Semitic Left as a code for self-serving Jews who want to sacrifice American lives for Israel.

But whatever I wrote about the war in support of the democracy agenda, inside I was never a 100% believer in the idea that democracy could be so easily implanted in so hostile a soil. I wanted to see Saddam toppled and a non-terrorist supporting government in its place. I would have settled for that and a large U.S. military base as well. But I allowed myself to get swept up in the Bush-led enthusiasm for a democratic revolution in the Middle East. I remained on board until the Beirut spring began to wither and got off when election results in Gaza came in and put a Nazi party into power. That spelled the end of my neo-conservative illusions.

It looks like we are headed for the same result in Egypt, where the Muslim Brotherhood is poised to win the September elections. The reality is that a totalitarian Islam is the vibrant and increasingly dominant movement in the Arab world. Any elections likely to take place will be on the order of one man, one vote, one time. Neo-conservatives are now cheering on the Obama administration’s reckless intervention in Libya, as though the past ten years have taught them nothing. The nation building effort in Iraq led to a squandering of American resources and a weakening of American power. Putting a man who is hostile to American power in the White House is not the least aspect of this American decline. Because of these nation-building delusions we are still mired in Afghanistan — now the longest war in American history. And now we have been plunged into the Middle Eastern maelstrom with no clear agenda or objective.

The Obama Administration, in my view, is the most dangerous administration in American history, and conservatives need to be very clear about the limits and objectives of American power so that they can lead the battle to restore our government to health. To accomplish this, neo-conservatives need to admit they were wrong, and return to the drawing board. They should give up the “neo” and become conservatives again.

  • Zivkov3000

    Wow, Horowitz attacks Obama for being a neo-conservative. I never thought id see the day.

  • Amused

    Gingrich March 7

    Exercise a no-fly zone this evening. … We don’t need to have the United Nations. All we have to say is that we think that slaughtering your own citizens is unacceptable and that we’re intervening.

    Gingrich on the Today Show, March 23:

    GINGRICH: The standard [Obama] has fallen back to of humanitarian intervention could apply to Sudan, to North Korea, to Zimbabwe, to Syria this week, to Yemen, to Bahrain. … The Arab League wanted us to do something. The minute we did something, the Arab League began criticizing us doing it. I think that two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is a lot. I think that the problems we have in Pakistan, Egypt — go around the region. We could get engaged by this standard in all sorts of places. I would not have intervened. I think there were a lot of other ways to affect Qaddafi. I think there are a lot of other allies in the region we could have worked with. I would not have used American and European forces.

    Neo-cons ,make upo your minds .

    • QSuzy

      That's the problem when those like Gingrich are more loyal to their party than their country.

  • david

    I did not have high hopes because I am not a lover of democracy! Democracy is the tyranny of the majority! It always has been that way. What if 51% of the people vote to exterminate the other 49%? Oh duh? Yet that is democracy. Even worse it gives tyranny an air of legitimacy. Well gee, we’re just doing what the majority of people want. If you doubt what I say learn American history. Slavery, Jim Crow, today’s racism masquerading as “diversity” it is all a product of the Democrats and their philosophy of who cares what the Constitution says as long as we can get some majority somewhere to give our tyranny the legitimacy we need. And that is in the west! Who could honestly believe that a just system could be installed in some third world nation with a tribal based power structure?

  • truthin

    Thank you to Amused, for his frank recognition of the failure of Horowitzian politics, whatever they might be.

  • truthin

    Remember, Amused said both Republican and Democrat got us 'into' the war and 'kept us there' for too long. Actually, history tells us that the war included 5 presidents, including Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, LBJ, and Nixon. It was a broad-based, criminal, mis-guided enterprise that led nowhere fast. No, I was NOT with Bush when he said, 'You're with us or against us'. I KNEW WMD's were a lie (The only bright spot is that the CIA didn't bring some of our own chemical weapons to Iraq and plant them). In terms of the Middle East, we ALREADY have the military on the ground in ARABIA (hence, 9/11 as a result). Iraq was a 3rd rate military, we strafed Saddam's 'elite' forces who traveled in pickup trucks with rifles with our F-16s. Hardly a real war…

  • Anthony

    If Horowitz could make two big blunders in judgement, e.g., subscribing to the ideology of the left for years, and subscribing to “democracy building”, which he now sees in a new light, could it then be said hat Mr. Horowitz is not a person who sees things clearly, who lacks insight?

    • Frank

      Some people never make mistakes or change their minds, ever. That might be you, Anthony?

      Actually DH was born into leftism, so that can’t fairly count. People pick up their family’s politics.

      Re Iraq and bringing democracy he’s become skeptical only because it was so badly mishandled by both the American civilian and miltary authorities. Few have any idea how that should be handled and think it cannot be handled because they have see no examples of it being done, but the only people that have tried have had zero qualifications for the task.

      As far as the Iraq “lesson”,

  • conservative4ever

    Mr. Horowitz I have to disgree with you on Iraq. I did not believe for one minute Hussein had WMD's. Nor did I think it was necessary or just. Sure, the man was a monster. If we were going to do this why didn't we do it during Desert Sform?

    Are we to interject ourselves in every Middle Eastern country? Lately we've done that in yet more such as Egypt and now Libya. Maybe we should mind our own business more and get our own house in order.

  • Amused

    Then go live in chaos David . Democracy =majority rules .No not to exterminate the minority .Your argument is SIMPLISTIC , for to have a Democracy there must be a Constitution by which both majority and minority live by .And to ensure a fair Constitution a Bill of Rights .Democracy isn't perfect , but maybe you';d like to suggest , and go and live under another system .Any one either Democrat or Republican can propose anything they choose , however it must past muster before the Constitution …that's why we have a Supreme Court .Jim Crow and Slavery are gone , just like the corporal punishment by the Pilgrims , so too burning accused witches .Democracy only works with peoples who WANT it .You might know history , but you're lacking in common sense.

  • Amused

    The whole problem with "20/20 hindsight " and "learning your lesson "…is that people get killed , other people , during your learning process /.It didn't take rocket science to figure out that the Bush Admin. was making a run upto war in Iraq ., there was already enough proof that the CIA was incompetent and its info undependable on 9/11. So what was the "epiphany " that several here have allegedly experienced ?

    • vlparker

      The lesson I learned is that when you oust a tyrannical dictator, the people whom you have liberated should be somewhat grateful. I found out that they are not. Once you remove their tyrant you become their enemy. As far as WMDs are concerned British intelligence, French intelligence and German intelligence also said they were there as well as Hillary Clinton and many democrats on the Senate intelligence committee. And Georges Sadr, one of Saddam Husseins generals also said they had them but moved them to Syria. I guess all those Kurds just gassed themselves to make Saddam look bad.

  • Amused

    Saddam gassed the Kurds before the invasion of Kuwait , and before the Kurds Iraq used gas on the Iranians during the Iran Iraq War . So what happened we got a revelation ?

  • DickVanDyke

    SO lets look at this:
    "But whatever I wrote about the war in support of the democracy agenda, inside I was never a 100% believer in the idea that democracy could be so easily implanted in so hostile a soil."
    And on March 19th 2009 Horowitz wrote:
    "The surge that Bush launched and Democrats opposed has been successful and, as a result, Iraq has become a Middle Eastern democracy, an anti-terrorist regime, and an American ally."

    According to the Democracy Index Iraq scored the minimum score not be labeled a totalitarian regime (4.00 out of 10. Afghanistan failed to make even that.) Also both countries show up in the top 10 list of failed states. Horowitz seems to be indicating he will write things in to the degree that he does that are not very accurate predictions.
    So I guess to the degree he backed the war for democratic futures he was wrong in his predication and to the degree he know says he never believed it he is confessing to lying. Not sure why his opinion would be valuable going forward as it is likely to be either wrong if he is honest or he may later say he didn't really believe it.
    Or did I miss something?

  • vgf

    Just admit it: not a communist or a neoconservative or a conservative at all: just a jew loyal to Israel, like the rest.

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