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November 30, 2006


State Department officials who supervised the TV crew's two-week multistate trip say they got apprehensive phone calls wherever the real Kazakhs went.

Um, does the state department "supervise" foreign journalists' trips to the U.S. regularly? And isn't the correct term "minders"?

Even the FBI called them to make sure the crew was legitimate.

And when I first read this post I read that passage "Even the FBI [was] called ... to make sure the crew was legitimate."

WTF does the FBI care?

And yes I will continue to begin sentences with "And" until I d*mn well please.

Is this an open thread?

To quote someone pilloried here earlier today:


S.O.D.: Look within your heart, Grasshopper! It's an open thread if you want it to be an open thread.

OK, my heart is speaking in tongues and I am not familiar with this heavenly language, so I’m going to wing it.

Here is some interesting reading I found.

Neoconservatives and the Dilemmas of Strategy and Ideology, 1992-2006

In all the discussions of neoconservative foreign policy that have taken place over the past couple of years --- some more informed than others, some more disapproving that others --- there is one abiding perception that seems to unite critics and proponents alike: that a neoconservative foreign policy is distinct from other strands of conservatism because of its emphasis on democracy promotion and that, in fact, exporting democracy for strategic and moral reasons --- and through hard power if necessary --- is one of the central defining purposes of contemporary second generation neoconservatism.

This paper will challenge the dominant view that neoconservatism prioritises democracy promotion. It will examine the nature of the neoconservative foreign policy strategy articulated during the 1990s --- which, it is argued, has been widely misinterpreted --- and will discuss the strategic and ideological tensions inherent within the strategy. Though the George W. Bush administration has not followed a neoconservative strategy in every respect, his administration has been strongly influenced by it and so some of these strategic and ideological tensions have also emerged since 9/11. It is my belief that the central cause of this tension is that the most important priority of the neoconservative strategy has always been to preserve the post-cold war ‘unipolar moment’ by perpetuating American pre-eminence and this clashes with the purported emphasis on democratization. The strategy also risks imperial overstretch and, for the most part, it fails to consider matters that are not state-based economic or state-based military issues.

At the end of the cold war, the first generation of neoconservatives that had emerged in the early seventies, was replaced by a second, younger generation that began to gravitate around the idea of American unipolarism.1 (This is the group that will be the subject of our discussion here.) It is important to clarify from the beginning that although this younger group was organised and led primarily by neoconservatives such as William Kristol and Robert Kagan, it was not their exclusive domain; rather it was a mix of neocons and other conservatives, such as Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, who all shared a vision of a unipolar America, a vision of global dominance. Gary Dorrien refers to this group collectively as “unipolarists”.2 In the main, neocons were the most important organisers and theorists within this network, but their ideas enjoyed some wider support.3 How much of a difference there, in fact, is between neocons and their other conservative sympathisers is an issue we will return to.

In terms of strategy, this group embraced the concept of unipolarism.4 At the end of the Cold War, American found itself, to use Charles Krauthammer’s famous phrase, in a “unipolar” position. It no longer had to accept the existence of a competing superpower, so rather than following a defensive strategy, like the one put forward by the first generation of neocons in the 70s, the US could now project power offensively to shape the world and construct an American imperium.5

This was captured in the 1992 Defense Planning Guidance document, written for then Secretary of Defense, Dick Cheney, by staffers Zalmay Khalilzad and Lewis Libby, who worked for the undersecretary of defence, Paul Wolfowitz.6 In contrast to the first generation of neocons, they now had the freedom to develop a strategy that rejected coexistence with any rival power and actively sought to prevent the emergence of a new competitor. This was the essence of the neoconservative strategy that was built upon by their think tanks and advocacy groups during the nineties.

In preventing the emergence of a rival power, Washington would be constructing --- in the words of Kristol and Kagan ----a “benevolent global hegemony”.7 While this would not solve every problem in the world, American hegemony would be better than any conceivable alternative. Joshua Muravchik wrote in 1992 of “the soothing effect” of American power because it could maintain order in the world and reassure those feeling threatened by other states.8 Moreover, according to Kristol and Kagan, “most of the world’s major powers” “welcome…and prefer” American hegemony to any other alternative because they are much better off under Washington’s tutelage since it looks after their interests too9 and thus discourages them from seeking to challenge American power.

According to most of the neoconservatives, the “benevolence” of this “empire” --- to use Kagan’s words --- was assured by the fact that moral ideals and national interest almost always converge.10 What is good for American preponderance is, de facto, good both morally and strategically for most of the rest of the world too. As Wolfowitz wrote in Spring 2000: “Nothing could be less realistic than… the ‘realist’ view of foreign policy that dismisses human rights as an important tool of American foreign policy.”11

Neoconservatives and the Dilemmas of Strategy and Ideology, 1992-2006 [pdf]

Hmm. I was reading something less deep and more funny. Marty Peretz wrote, apparently with a straight face, this sentence:

"You may think that I am obsessed with Israel and the Middle East."

Me: (Pause)

Naaaaaah -- what ever gave you that idea?

Um, does the state department "supervise" foreign journalists' trips to the U.S. regularly?

Typical pre-9/11 mindset ;-) Me, I assume not only that the federal government "supervises" many foreign journalists but that the federal government intercepts and records, as a matter of course, most of the conversations that foreign journalists have with their overseas offices.

OT in case this is an OT: Had the TV on for a while today and it turns out that the "Jamie Kennedy Experiment" TV show is, as I was told by some unremembered blog commenter at some point, pretty dang funny.

Borat. funny funny movie. funniest movie since the South Park movie.

yes, i'm 14 - on the inside.

I love South Park, the movie and the TV show. The Borat clips on youtube haven't blown me away.

Anyhoo, her'es a great blog post about Cohen's scumbag behavior, via the The Bad Plus blog

I myself thought Borat much overrated and, fuddy-duddy that I am, thought that his mocking of others went too far.

A 30-second Candid Camera joke is fine, but there are limits.

I myself thought Borat much overrated and, fuddy-duddy that I am, thought that his mocking of others went too far.

a reasonable point of view. at least you didn't see it as the end of western civilization as we know it.

I'm a little baffled. The guy should be bothered by the fact that someone else has another name, apparently. And, in fact, Kazakhstan shouldn't be proud of itself, but should be insulted by a comedian. Or something.

Don't get it.

I mean, I think it's great if Kazakhstan folks recognize that Mr. Cohen isn't actually making fun of them; but apparently I'm wrong, and they should, in fact, be upset, according to Hilzoy.

This is just completely wrong.

I have about 30 posts I've not made about Borat, but making fun of Kazakhs for not being offended isn't one of them.

That's so wrong.

Good to see you're out and about, so to speak, Gary.

By the way, the link "Rosie" inserted under its handle looks very like a spam site.

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