Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Grand Neo-Conservative Irony

Political ideology has always been an integral part of any national movement and direction. Without ideology to guide thought and action, politics would be an emasculated structure, devoid of progress and growth. The difference in ideological success and failure lies in the thorough understanding of the ramifications specific to the ideological structure involved in shaping opinion and discourse. There are no perfect platforms of thought and action, but with critical thinking, open mindedness, and a malleable belief that can change with added knowledge and insight, it's possible to successfully transition into a beneficial policy that encompasses many key values and decisions leading into further refinement and enlightenment.

The Neo-Conservative ideology that has evolved in the past two decades is certainly not one of the ideological successes to have been embraced in recent years. In fact, neo-conservative thought and policy has become an absolute failure, with very few positive outcomes to speak of. The current application of this failed ideology to world politics is a disaster that will take decades to sort and repair. Such abject ideological failures are a result of lack of foresight and narrow-mindedness. I shall endeavor to illustrate examples that have resulted in wounds running so deep in the current global environment, that only through many years, if not generations of hard work, can we finally extricate ourselves out of the mess that has surrounded us all.

During the Communist containment policies that were exercised throughout the Western World between the 60's and 80's, many ideological branches developed to deal with specifics of countering Soviet influence, and buffering the possibilities of Communism and Soviet style Socialism from spilling over into the West. Whether the policies involved backdoor diplomacy, stalemates, buffer regions, and proxy wars for control of influence, the tide finally turned in the late 80's, resulting in a general success over communism and its influence on the West. In fact, even the early 80's showed promise towards the goal of containment and influence, with the Soviet policies of Glasnost (openness). Those forays into some level of openness, as we now know, was the chinking in the armor that eventually lead to the Reunification of Germany, Collapse of the Soviet Union, and the Democratization of Eastern Europe. Those that were deeply involved in the containment policies knew no other ideology. Their success would be their eventual failure, because they were too far enmeshed in their given ideological agendas to change direction. Thus, the failure of the Neo-Conservative agenda as we have now.

Most of the Principle Spear headers of Neo-conservative thought, came from the School of Soviet Containment. Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, Perle, Wolfowitz, et al. were significantly and obstinately influenced by containment ideologies, and were thoroughly indoctrinated into those beliefs. Their training and experience, which were largely beneficial at the time for Soviet Containment, are now outdated, and severely hurt progress in the current global society. Containment policies, though they worked for Communism, cannot work for Islamic Fundamentalism. Although superficially, it may seem like a good application, upon further reflection, isolation strategies will not work with cultures, whose values and ideologies are so inherently different (from inception), that any policy without taking into account for the ideological variables and cultural ramifications, will be doomed for failure.

The Irony of the situation is that Islamic Fundamentalism strengthened due to the isolationist policies of containment exercised by the West. The overthrow of the Shah of Iran was mainly orchestrated by the CIA, through incitement of Islamic Fundamentalists. The thought at the time was that Islamic Fundamentalism, like the Taliban in Afghanistan, and Khomeini's Administration in Iran could be a useful tool in destabilizing the Soviet block. Since Soviet Central Asia (Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, etc) was Muslim in majority, perhaps, as the policy leaders in the West mistakenly thought, the populace in those nations would become aware of their religion, and fundamentalism would sweep through Central Asia with a force so strong, as to slowly degrade Soviet influence. As any moderately well versed individual understands, the Islamic Fundamentalist ideology backfired on the West. Instead of freedom from Communist yoke, those nations reverted to religious authoritative rule. Non-secular entities began popping up like mushrooms, some through Democratic Rule (electing Khomeini and other hardliners Democratically in Iran), and others through authoritarian dictatorship. The collapse of communism released the lid that was so tenuously held preventing the clash of civilizations as we see now.

The Neo-Conservatives, in their arrogant belief that the broad brush of containment could be applied to the modern Islamic Fundamentalist Menace (as they saw it), were too stubborn, ill-informed, and inflexible to apply new methods of diplomacy and selective Economic Pressure (not all-encompassing economic sanctions). Further elaboration on policies, such as pre-emptive war, and propaganda unseen since WWII, only further buried the neo-conservative agenda in the ground. Unfortunately, it will now take many years of struggle, trying to dig ourselves out of the hole we fought so hard to prevent.

As a further insult to the failed policies of the Neo-Conservatives, South America is now headed in a completely leftist direction, as the populace has had enough of the bullying tactics they see, by the United States Government. President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela has had moderate success in checking the balance of American power in South America, and because of the optimism generated by the population (especially the significant amount of poor and working class households), other countries, such as Paraguay, and now Chile have also elected leftist leaders, with socialist policies and agendas. Not only has America become isolated from the Middle East and Central Asia through terrible foreign policy, but South America has also become a bastion of containment against American power and influence. Even Europe, with historic ties to the United States has distanced itself from the grip of American influence. When Bush visited Europe, speaking of European values, his ideas of what constitutes those values were completely misunderstood and ill informed. Europe has abolished capitol punishment, they have moved ahead in scientific progress, and haven't allowed Religious fundamentalism, for the most part, to take a foothold in the region. Sure, there are conservative leaders recently elected, such as the Prime Minister in Germany, but even her stance is leftist compared to Bush's policies. Europe has retained its secular nature for the most part, which cannot be said of America today.

With a final, yet fitting cosmic Irony, those of us in America now find ourselves with far less freedom then we thought possible. Spending decades fighting the cold war, and sinking trillions of dollars into deficit spending to prevent authoritarian ideology such as communism from overtaking our notions, we now find ourselves being monitored and treated nearly as oppressively as those regimes we fought so hard to overcome. Religious fundamentalism and fervor has now overtaken American ideology. The erosion of education, and expansion of ignorance has reached epidemic proportions. Those in power have never, in the history of the United States, had easier control over the population as they do now. They have artificially divided the middle and working class, perpetuated outdated notions and fears about race, and blocked every attempt at critical thinking and the true freedom that the framers of the constitution had in mind. With all this in mind, one must not forget notions of hope and optimism. Broken political ideologies and systems are not like eggs, they can be fixed, and improved upon. It may take a great deal of hard work, dedication, and especially EDUCATION, but it is possible to rise above the torrent of failure, and benefit productively and efficiently. In a future blog, I will attempt to illustrate possible methods that can negate the downhill slide we're now experiencing, and hopefully, improve on concepts and ideologies that are beneficial.