For many years I declared that the neoconservative moment is over, and every time I was wrong. The neocons hung around, they kept their status and influence. There were enough liberals who were tarred by having bought into the neocons' chief mistake, Iraq, that the neocons could maintain an intellectual protection racket. This is surely how establishments work: they maintain a system of rewards and punishments and secrets so that no one steps out of line-- even after they've driven the bus into the gorge.
The neoconservative moment is over.
It ended when the best of the neocons, the most nuanced and presentable, shot himself in the foot twice in recent weeks. David Brooks of the New York Times and NPR first called the children of mixed marriages "mutts" and then after a tidal wave of readers protested, insisted disingenuously that he didn't mean that negatively. And just so we understood his real meaning, a few days later he wrote that Egyptians lack the "basic mental ingredients" to have a democracy-- and that Islamists are missing "intellectual DNA" and "mental equipment."
Brooks "let his veil slip" on bigotry. Such statements are widely considered offensive in modern American culture; and Brooks was at once provoking that culture and taking it on. He seems to have thought that he would find a safe refuge in elite liberal opinion.
But he doesn't have that anymore; in fact he has damaged himself, irrevocably.
We are too far out from the Iraq mistake at this point for the protection racket to work; and we are simply too multicultural a society to tolerate such raw expressions of racial arrogance on the part of entitled media figures.
And yes there's a Jewish piece. Brooks and I both grew up with the belief that Jews are smarter. And maybe we were smarter, back when we were driven outsiders. But we're not smarter anymore. In fact, a lot of us are stupider. And inasmuch as we are missing the new multicultural reality, and offering aid and comfort to Islamophobia, we're history.
Goddamn the neocons. The sooner they are expelled from the American establishment the better. As George Soros said: because of the Iraq War mistake, the U.S. has to undergo a "a certain de-Nazification process," that is to say, it must purge a party of bad thinkers that is all over the Establishment.
Am I too harsh? Here is another Brooks whopper that I missed, in a NYT dialogue about Syria with Gail Collins on June 12 that completely slipped under my radar:
Brooks: Then there is the pure realpolitik reason to do something. We should be trying to turn the Syrian civil war into Iran’s Vietnam. We should make them waste money and effort trying to back their client. For all these reasons, I’m thinking that maybe it’s time for a more active U.S. role.
His interlocutor Gail Collins treated that line as a throwaway. People need to ask Collins: Why are you having a sporting dialogue with someone who makes such repellent statements, and you don't have a response? Turning Syria into Iran's Vietnam! Millions of people died in Vietnam.
And is this the neocons' version of the great game, ten years after they destroyed another great Arab capital?
Michael Ledeen in National Review, back in 2002:
[Brent] Scowcroft... fears that if we attack Iraq "I think we could have an explosion in the Middle East. It could turn the whole region into a caldron and destroy the War on Terror."
One can only hope that we turn the region into a cauldron, and faster, please. If ever there were a region that richly deserved being cauldronized, it is the Middle East today. If we wage the war effectively, we will bring down the terror regimes in Iraq, Iran, and Syria, and either bring down the Saudi monarchy or force it to abandon its global assembly line to indoctrinate young terrorists.
That's our mission in the war against terror.
The most dangerous course of action is Scowcroft's: Finesse Iraq, and squander our energies fecklessly trying to broker peace between Israel and the terrorists.
That is the neoconservative great game. Turn the Middle East into a cauldron of fire, or another Vietnam, for the sake of Israel. Goddamn the neocons.