In my previous article, I highlighted how Moazzam Begg and his ordeal signalled the death knell of the counter terrorism and counter extremism agenda. His presence, words and actions were and still are a thorn in the side of the neocon government’s intentions.
Que Alan Henning’s death. However saddening and condemnable it is, from a government point of view, frankly it’s the best thing that can happen for the neocons to continue the onwards march of the war on human rights, and continuation of the foreign policy agenda. It is a means of accelerating the recuperation from the damage dealt by the release of Moazzam Begg.
Neoconservatism – a “Mode of thinking”
Douglas Murray – supported American policies like drone attacks and waterboarding
Neoconservative policies are driving much of British politics today, but aside from a light mention of what neocons really stand for on this blog, the understanding of the intricate play of neoconservatism with the politics and the people requires a deeper analysis of the writings of the neocons and the sources from which they derive. I have already mentioned Douglas Murray, a man who does exert an influence over the current direction of UK’s frankly absurd policies. Murray in his book cites Leo Strauss, and academics like Shadia Drury have described their thoughts as “Machiavellian”, abusing democracy to achieve their own ends. For many, this serves little meaning in terms of everyday life. In order to fully understand the implication of the neoconservative mind-set, one needs to delve further into the neocon “mode of thinking”.
The Henry Jackson Society, which is a key influence on UK domestic and foreign security policy, proudly imports (and exports) the American neoconservative “persuasion”. The focus on America is why Douglas Murray has passionately spoken in defence of American policies, for instance defending the use of US drone attacks and shockingly, even torture in the form of water-boarding. It is also why William Shawcross has defended Guantanamo Bay and the Iraq war and why Michael Gove pursued his “ideological” military-esque foray into the Muslim minority vis-à-vis Trojan Hoax, and why now the ground has been prepped for the neocons in Government to pull the plug on the Human Rights Act, to the disdain of various rights groups such as Liberty and Amnesty.
The “fathers of neoconservatism” are Irving Kristol and Leo Strauss. I will focus on Irving Kristol and other contemporary “leading lights” like David Brooks as it was Kristol who brought out the writings of Strauss and wrote in defence and promotion of neocon “persuasions” (as opposed to principles) whilst contemporary neocon thinkers have built upon what has been written.
Neocons and the Acquisition of Power
The aim of the neocons is to firstly get into power, and once in power, stay there. They fundamentally do not believe in liberal “principles” as they do conservative ones. This notion allows for the easy dispelling of other principles, such as the rule of law. As Kristol explains, there are moments when it is “wrong to do the right thing”,
“There are occasions where circumstances trump principles. Statesmanship consists not in being loyal to one’s avowed principles (that’s easy), but in recognizing the occasions one’s principles are being trumpeted by circumstances…”