The Mid-Atlantic Blog

January 27, 2006

Foreign Policy And Neoconservatism

ToryDiary today has a piece on the Oborne comments in the Spectator, and about appropriate links between the UK and the US.

A couple of points.

First, what is neoconservatism? This is something that has been debated again and again, but there is a core truth that I think is missed on this side of the Atlantic: neocons are often liberals mugged by reality (shades of Mrs Thatcher's "the facts of life are conservative"). In many ways neo-conservatism is not of the right, but is armed free-market liberalism with an overtone of morality. At heart, neo-conservatism is often simply a belief that the rule of law, democracy, free speech and the free market (in that order) are universal goods, that they are the best approach both for the individuals concerned and for the rest of the world, and that it is in all of our interests to promote them.

Second, truth matters. The difference between the Clinton and Bush White House approach to foreign policy in the Middle East and elsewhere could well be seen as focusing on this precise point. To the left, the truth underlying Arafat's behaviour (and expressed in his speeches in Arabic, and his behaviour) was less important than what he said in English in negotiations. To the Bush White House what matters is what they do: the actual facts on the ground. This is why the Hamas victory in some ways is good - it makes it very clear what the actual views of the Palestinians are, and gives Hamas the responsibility of moving forward.

Consistency with the rest of Cameron's behaviour, then, is to be found in a move towards this neo-conservative agenda, not by a move towards "realism". The same motivations behind a global poverty agenda, and behind a social justice agenda are behind a neo-conservative agenda.

This is, I know, a somewhat contentious summary of the issue - that'll teach me for trying to write a post on such a complex topic before rushing out the door. No doubt the comments on this thread at ToryDiary will prompt a much longer and more rational post from me this evening.

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