November 17, 2007

Words mean something...

From City Journal, on the term "neocon."

...The term "neoconservatism" has undergone a number of shifts in meaning. It was coined in 1973 by the socialist intellectual Michael Harrington to deride liberal thinkers such as Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Nathan Glazer, who had begun to criticize the welfare state's excesses. By the 1980s, its meaning expanded to include a small group of former liberal intellectuals who hewed to a strong anti-Soviet line and had defected from the Democratic Party to support Ronald Reagan. They were motivated in part by an increased awareness of, and distinctive moral clarity about, human rights in international affairs, a worthy tradition whose liberal incarnation found embodiment in figures such as Senator Scoop Jackson, labor leaders George Meaney, Lane Kirkland, and Al Shanker, and intellectuals Bayard Rustin and Michael Walzer. None of these people held traditionally "movement conservative" views on economics or social issues�far from it; some of them were outright socialists. Neoconservatives had not been content with the detente policies of Richard Nixon, because they wanted not to coexist with communism, but to end it�a more ambitious goal that Reagan shared.

After September 11, the "neocon" label, which had fallen into disuse, came back into vogue as a way to categorize the intellectual godfathers behind the Bush Doctrine, which of course has advocated both military responses to terrorist threats and promoting liberty around the world via "regime change" (not all necessarily through military means). According to the leftist narrative, the neocons got us into the Iraq war�never mind the widespread assumption among intelligence services around the world that Saddam Hussein did have WMDs, or that large segments of the Democratic Party and liberal opinion leaders supported the invasion of Iraq, etc., etc.

By now, "neocon" has mutated into a political curse word to discredit not just those who happily accept their status as neoconservatives, but also anyone who merely believes that the West should respond in muscular fashion to national security threats, such as those posed by the cooperation of Iran, Syria, and North Korea on nuclear weapons technology and the equipping of terrorist groups around the world....

I'm not a neocon, but if people want to call me one I'll not get angry.

Posted by John Weidner at November 17, 2007 3:41 PM
Weblog by John Weidner