So the majority of America seems to think this is a total dead-end. Iraq is crashing and burning, the Arab Spring is spiralling into sectarian violence, and back home in America almost everyone, liberal and conservative, is washing their hands of neo-conservatives. The liberals (sensitive to post-colonialism and Lenin’s Imperialism) always thought this was a bad idea, and now the conservatives have given up on it too. The two leading contenders in the GOP are currently Trump–who is just another liberal masquerading as a conservative–and Ted Cruz, who is a real conservative–but of the old isolationist variety.
I see why.
Our Bush Administration attempts at the democratic experiment in Muslim populations has failed absolutely.
So…the question is, why did it fail so bad?
The liberals have it easy. They can say they were always against the war before they were for it, or were conned by the evil Bush machine of lies, because after all evil-America-was-just-after-the-oil. It’s a comfortable myth: democracy hasn’t failed, just nefarious American greed. And if you are into Marxism, you can tweak this to be just another case of capitalist imperialism.
But the conservatives have it hard. We know we weren’t after the oil. We know the Bush administration had integrity and competence, we know we tried. So what happened?
Well… as a grey-haired Russian Israeli told the confident highschooler me years ago (during the Bush administration): “They are Muslims. Freedom and democracy will never work with them. Their culture is too different. They are not capable of it.”
I just smiled at him, with a smile that meant “you’ll see.” I was so sure he was wrong…. And here we are.
And so have the conservatives concluded, by and large. The Neo-conservative experiment is over, George W Bush’s legacy is thrown under the bus, and “it’s time to just stay away from those Muslim folks. We are through with them. We’ve packed up and gone home and are trying to recover from that traumatic affair the best we can, and by golly, we don’t want them coming here. Because, if they really are so incapable of democracy, then we need to keep them out to at least preserve this corner of the world. We tried to save theirs and failed, now let us just defend our own!”
And the liberals jump up and down and say, “see, we told you so, we knew you always were a bunch of xenopobic racists!”
But everyone is giving up too soon. We had a 15 year experiment, and now everyone is sure it was a failure. Fifteen years is a very short time. I’m only 28, and I vividly remember this whole GWOT from start to finish. I remember the twin towers like it was yesterday, the political wrangling in the senate, the interminable declarations, the invasions, the giddy victory, the elections and the purple fingers, the delirious happiness, and then it all crashing down. OK, so we learned you can’t set up a democracy cowboy style, with a quick hit and run, smashing the dictator and riding off into the sunset. We should have stayed (like Bush wanted to!), we should have stayed for a few more years. Because we did not give them a long enough chance. Can’t we just try it a little longer?
I can’t give up. Liberal non-interference (like the western anthropologist who watched the African woman get eaten by a crocodile) is not an option. Conservative isolationist nationalism is not an option.
The conservative response to the Syrian refugee crisis struck a raw nerve in me. I am an absolute, extreme conservative. And here I was disagreeing with my own people. Because the Syrian refugees… Look, refugees, that is what my family was. On my mother’s side — they were Koreans who owed their lives to American intervention not once but twice. First they were Koreans living under a brutal Imperialist Japanese occupation, which only ended because of WWII. And then they were Koreans running from the “North-Korean”(really, mostly Chinese) communists. If America hadn’t sent her men into “some foreign damn-fool war” as the isolationists yapper about, millions more would be dead or in slave labor camps. My Korean relatives fled from communists. And (in contradiction to western elites with their romantic marxist illusions) the communists were damnably brutal, they preached a creed of hate and treated men like animals.
And that is just on my mother’s side. On my father’s side– my grandfather was Jewish (though he converted to Christianity as a teenager). His mother’s family had fled from Russia/Ukraine at the turn of the century during the antisemitic pogroms (the same world as Fiddler on the Roof). And–if America hadn’t let them in–they certainly would have all been gassed by Hitler’s SS in the 1940s when the Third Reich took the Ukraine and Poland.
So if it weren’t for American intervention–multiple times–my ancestors would all likely be dead, or in some slave labor camp. When I see the image of the American Marines raising the flag over Iwo Jima, I see my saviors, who literally bought my freedom by their blood.
Look, I’m not being romantic here–in some ether land of ideals–this is a literal, physical fact. American soldiers bought my freedom by their blood.
Do you understand? Do you understand why I can’t accept the death of the neo-conservative movement? America, the world needed you and it still needs you. America, don’t give up now.