The re-emerging neoconservative-Democratic party alliance

The neoconservatives in the US have been responsible for the most disastrous turn of events in modern history, wreaking havoc in the Middle East and creating the basis for the blowback the west has experienced as a result. They got the foothold in power they had long wanted during the Bush-Cheney era but then guessed wrong during the last election when they harshly turned against Donald Trump because (at that time at least) he did not seem to want to pursue their goal of imposing US military might around the globe.

As Glenn Greenwald writes, they are now creeping back into the warm embrace of the Democratic party establishment that has adopted the old Cold War rhetoric.

With the full-scale discrediting and collapse of the Bush presidency, these war-loving neocons found themselves marginalized, without any constituency in either party. They were radioactive, confined to speaking at extremist conferences and working with fringe organizations.

All of that has changed, thanks to the eagerness of Democrats to embrace them, form alliances with them, and thus rehabilitate their reputations and resurrect their power and influence. That leading Democratic Party foreign policy officials are willing to form new Beltway advocacy groups in collaboration with Bill Kristol, Mike Rogers, and Mike Chertoff, join arms with those who caused the invasion of Iraq and tried to launch a bombing campaign against Tehran, has repercussions that will easily survive the Trump presidency.

Perhaps the most notable fact about the current posture of the establishment wing of the Democratic Party is that one of their favorite, most beloved, and most cited pundits is the same neocon who wrote George W. Bush’s oppressive, bullying and deceitful speeches in 2002 and 2003 about Iraq and the War on Terror, and who has churned out some of the most hateful, inflammatory rhetoric over the last decade about Palestinians, immigrants, and Muslims. That Bush propagandist, David Frum, is regularly feted on MSNBC’s liberal programs, has been hired by the Atlantic (where he writes warnings about authoritarianism even though he’s only qualified to write manuals for its implementation), and is treated like a wise and honored statesman by leading Democratic Party organs.

One sees this same dynamic repeated with the world’s most militaristic, war-loving neocons. Particularly after his recent argument with Tucker Carlson over Russia, Democrats have practically canonized Max Boot, who has literally cheered for every possible war over the two decades and, in 2013, wrote a column entitled “No Need to Repent for Support of Iraq War.” It is now common to see Democratic pundits and office-holders even favorably citing and praising Bill Kristol himself.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with discrete agreement on a particular issue with someone of a different party or ideology; that’s to be encouraged. But what’s going on here goes far, far beyond that.

What we see instead are leading Democratic foreign policy experts joining hands with the world’s worst neocons to form new, broad-based policy advocacy groups to re-shape U.S. foreign policy toward a more hostile, belligerent and hawkish posture. We see not isolated agreement with neocons in opposition to Trump or on single issue debates, but a full-scale embrace of them that is rehabilitating their standing, empowering their worst elements, and reintegrating them back into the Democratic Party power structure.

This romance with some of the worst warmongers who have the blood of hundreds of thousands of innocent people on their hands is why the Democratic party is such a mess. The party leadership is beholden to the same war loving big business interests as the Republicans and thus can never bring itself to become a true alternative to the Republicans, instead offering mealy-mouthed pieties that have long worn thin. With people like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton (who really should be labeled as part of the conservative spectrum rather than as liberals) still very influential in the party and determined to keep true progressives out of the leadership (as we saw with their determined effort to prevent Bernie Sanders supporting Keith Ellison from becoming the Democratic Party chair) things are not going to get better soon, even as Trump wreaks havoc and tarnishes the Republican brand and presents the party with a wide opening to win elections.


  1. cartomancer says

    I’m not sure what’s supposed to be so “neo” about these Neoconservatives. Their warmongering is entirely of a piece with US foreign policy from the beginning. There hasn’t been a time when the US wasn’t trying to install client dictators, undermine democratic nationalist movements and seize natural resources.

  2. says

    I don’t know if you’ve ever made this observation before, Mano, but I feel, as someone who is slightly involved in my local Democratic party, is there are a lot of party members — so I’m talking about your “everyday” people…your “common Joe’s” (or Jane’s, etc), not the leadership — that just don’t care, or don’t seem to care, one damn bit about foreign policy. I see a lot of Democrats that are much, much more worried about domestic policy. And I get it. I don’t fully blame them for doing so, but…yeah, the consequence is they’ll champion people that they feel meet their qualifications on those domestic policies who are hideous on the foreign policy. This then divides those of us who care a bit more about foreign policy.

    I’ve just been seeing a lot of people on Twitter thinking the Republican party is in shambles because they seem to have a premise that the voters are better people than the politicians. I reject this premise when it comes to Republicans and I will reject it for anyone who suggests the same for Democrats. The party leaders get away with being warhawks or pandering to corporate interests because the base lets them.

    I’m also a bit frustrated right now because, well, I’m looking at the candidates for IA-01 (currently held by a Tea Party member…oh, right, they’re the “Freedom Caucus” now) and, so far, I’m not impressed. (Granted, primaries are over 10 months away.)

  3. Mano Singham says

    cartomancer @#1,

    I believe that the term ‘neoconservatives’ was coined to distinguish them from the old-style conservatives (now sometimes called ‘paleo-conservatives’) who used to favor a more cautious foreign policy, using soft power and covert means and avoiding reckless military adventures. The neoconservatives, by contrast, urged the muscular use of US military force to impose hegemony on the world, especially the Middle East where in the short term they wanted regime change in every country that was seen as an enemy of Israel. They have already invaded Iraq and destabilized Syria and Libya and still have a grand plan to go to war with Iran.

  4. jrkrideau says

    Given that the USA has not won a war on its own since the Spanish-American war, I am not terribly optimistic about any success with Iran.

    Iran is a country with about 50 million citizens and they may not be all that welcoming of US war crimes.

    “Invading” Panama is not exactly the same thing.

  5. Mano Singham says


    The problem is that the DNC tends to choose people as candidates who share their conservative outlook and these are not the ones who inspire the party’s base.

  6. hyphenman says

    @cartomancer No. 1
    I highly recommend Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States for an overview of American foreign policy.

    We pretty much stayed out of First World (Eastern Hemisphere/European) politics, at least giving a nod to President George Washington’s admonitions in his Farewell Address to stay out of foreign intrigues.

    All of that was made much easier, of course, because we were so frantically busy with our own genocide and domination of First Peoples to our West that we had little time, until near the end of the 19th century, to become involved with politics and peoples beyond those borders demarcating our manifest destiny.

    Jeff Hess
    Have Coffee Will Write

  7. Mano Singham says

    I see the prefix ‘neo-‘ as signifying the undermining the basic tenets of what follows it, so neoliberal would be consistent with what you say.

  8. says

    I’m with cartomancer -- I don’t see what the value of the prefix “neo-” is, in this context. They’re not any different than Churchill or Thatcher, as far as I am concerned: stealth nationalists and imperialist corporate capitalists.

    I second hyphenman’s recommendation of Howard Zinn. Though readers of Zinn should keep their eyes open; it’s “revisionist history” done right but he’s not ashamed to flog an agenda.

  9. Pierce R. Butler says

    From my scattered observations, it seems the label “neo-con” once served to distinguish the “bomb-anyone-who-defies-us” warmongers from the “bomb-the-commies” warmongers.

    “Neo-liberal”, I suspect, identifies those who feel snobby enough to claim the heritage of laissez-faire capitalists along with traditional rapacious capitalism -- think East India Company.

  10. cartomancer says

    I can sort of see how US foreign policy has become more directly interventionist over the last thirty years. It’s true that when the US was interfering in Central America in the 60s, 70s and 80s it tended to do so by arming the worst people it could find on the local scene until a compliant tyrant was installed and any hint of rebellion was tortured out of the people at large. And during the 80s that was the policy in the Middle East too -- funnel arms into Israel, fund the radical Islamists in Afghanistan, fellate the House of Saud until the oil comes out.

    But it’s not like there weren’t major military interventions during that period. Korea and the invasion of Vietnam chief among them. Of course, nobody in America called Vietnam and invasion. No doubt that’s what it was though. And it’s not like there aren’t manipulations of a non-military sort now -- Clinton pretty much railroaded Yeltsin into power in Russia in the 90s, and there are dozens of African states that have been practically handed over to US corporate interests -- mainly oil and rare metal mining. Israel continues to be America’s enforcer in the Middle East.

    Though the terminology has certainly become popular. I wonder at that. Whose interests does it serve to distinguish between warmongers now and warmongers then? The cynic in me suspects that by labeling one group as the new warmongers everyone else gets a free ride. We’re not those horrid, belligerent “neo” cons, oh no -- we’re the much more reasonable kind. We’ll pay someone else to stamp on your face in private, as is traditional and honourable, rather than doing it in full view like the gauche Arnaud Amalric crowd with the flags and the banners.

  11. militantagnostic says


    we had little time, until near the end of the 19th century, to become involved with politics and peoples beyond those borders demarcating our manifest destiny.

    You are forgetting the unsuccessful attempt to invade Canada in the early 19th century.

    Obligatory Arrogant Worms Song

  12. Mano Singham says

    cartomancer @#11,

    The Republican paleo-conservatives differ from the neoconservatives in foreign policy and you can see this in the website that is run by the former. For nearly the last three decades they have opposed US military action, whether by Clinton or by Bush or by Obama and now by Trump. Right now they are warning about the belligerence towards Iran and Russia which they fear may be a precursor to war and they oppose the bloated military budgets. So while they are undoubtedly Republicans, they are strongly opposed to the neoconservatives so the differences are not cosmetic.

    The Vietnam war was really escalated by Democrats Kennedy and Johnson though Nixon went along with it.

  13. KG says

    Given that the USA has not won a war on its own since the Spanish-American war -- jrkrideau@4

    Nonsense! What about that titanic and heroic struggle with Grenada?

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