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No to Corporate Neoconservatism, No to Paleo-Libertarian Anarchism, Yes to Augustinian Realism

David P. Goldman brings a spiritual view to name the new foreign policy school that overcomes the conflicts in this round-up of Thursday's news and culture headlines.

by
Dave Swindle

Bio

August 9, 2013 - 4:00 pm

104

For season 2 of the 13 Weeks Radical Reading Regimen each weekday I juxtapose excerpts from book readings with a selection of the previous day’s headlines and noteworthy excerpts. The goal is to make fresh connections between the events of the day and the bigger picture of humanity’s place in the universe.

This week I’ve counted down the PJ columnists who I turn to first to understand foreign policy: Michael Ledeen on Iran, Andrew C. McCarthy on Islamism, Barry Rubin on the Middle East, and Claudia Rosett on the United Nations. I was prompted to engage in this intellectual autobiography by a prominent news story at the beginning of the week, the alleged “civil war” in the Republican Party over foreign policy, symbolized by the harsh words exchanged between establishment East Coast neoconservative Chris Christie and paleo-libertarian grass roots favorite Senator Rand Paul. The way the mainstream narrative frames the fight on the Right is between “interventionists” continuing on the George W. Bush tradition of seeking to democratize the Muslim world, and the “non-interventionists” who tend to agree with many progressive democrats that the root cause of terrorism is that we’ve made Muslims rightfully angry at us by being biased toward Israel and perpetually intervening.

For the Neo-Cons it’s the opposite analysis: terrorism happens because we haven’t intervened enough! John McCain has met with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Prominent neoconservatives assert that the path to a more peaceful world is for democracy to run it’s course — they agree with Obama’s delusion that the Muslim Brotherhood will “moderate” if it comes to power.

Neo-cons vs Paleo-cons.

This fight has been a long time coming, but they’re not the only options available to those who consider themselves “conservatives” or “on the Right” and perhaps members of the Republican Party.

Here’s the problem: on foreign policy especially today’s “Conservative movement” is obsolete. And more importantly, a misnomer — I’ve written about this before and I’m going to keep harping on the point. The “Conservative Movement” is better understood as a political tool of the Anti-Communist movement. Defeating the Soviet Union is what animated William F. Buckley, Jr. and Ronald Reagan. The building of the Conservative Movement was just a means to that end.

The philosophy of Fusionism was developed by ex-Communist Frank Meyer in the pages of National Review in the 1950s. The goal: get national defense conservatives, business conservatives, traditionalist conservatives, libertarian conservatives, and religious conservatives to unite around the common threat of Communism. Over the course of decades this ideological movement grew until it elected politicians, took over the Republican party, elected Ronald Reagan as president, and then successfully implemented the strategies to defeat the Soviet Union, freeing the millions it enslaved and oppressed. Reagan spoke publicly of his debt to Meyer and how he implemented the strategy. But without the unifying threat of the Soviet Union the coalition came apart in 1992. The Chris Christie vs Rand Paul fight of a generation prior was George H. W. Bush vs Ross Perot. The result of that split in the coalition was 8 years of Bill Clinton and a Conservative Movement adrift without a purpose anymore.

Nowadays the three legs of the conservative stool squabble over which is the most important – foreign policy, economics, or social issues. There is no longer a consensus on who the enemy is or how to defeat them.

The foreign policy philosophy and its political coalition that served past generations so well in winning the Cold War is no longer useful. At the heart of both liberal and conservative foreign policy during the Cold War was Mutually Assured Destruction – MAD. We could trust the Soviet Union with nuclear weapons because we knew they didn’t want to commit suicide. The same cannot be said for the Jihadists waging war against us. Political calculations need to change dramatically when dealing with cultures that genuinely do worship death and do celebrate child sacrifice.

The philosophy PJ Media columnist David P. Goldman names in his book How Civilizations Die (And Why Islam Is Dying Too) as Augustinian Realism recognizes this. The Christie Neo-Cons think terrorists murder us because they don’t have democracy. The Rand Paul paleo-cons think terrorists want to murder us because we have intervened and supported the “apartheid state” Israel. Spengler Augustinian Realists believe in the mold of Machiavelli and Moses that Ledeen elucidates — that mankind’s base nature is evil. The Jihadists will still want to conquer us when they have democracy and our bases out of “their land.”

Augustinian Realists derive their vision from earlier than secular political theory. Goldman names his approach after St. Augustine and it can be summarized very simply: we as a nation need to distinguish between countries that share our values and those that don’t. Both the neoconservatives and the paleo-libertarians refuse to do so. Because their visions are based in secularism they lack the most crucial tool in foreign policy, one Reagan employed against the Soviets: the will to name evil. Augustinian Realists eschew the false dualism of “interventionism” and “non-interventionism”. From an essay Goldman wrote at First Things in 2010 on “The Morality of Self-Interest”:

What we might call “Augustinian realism” is this premise, borne out in the world around us. To the extent that other nations share the American love for the sanctity of the individual, they are likely to succeed. To the extent they reject it, they are likely to fail. Our actions in the world can proceed from American interest—precisely because American interest consists of allying with success and containing failure.

Augustinian realism begins with the observation that civil society precedes the character of a nation. The American state can ally with, cajole, or even crush other states, but it cannot change the character of their civil society, except in a very slow, gradual, and indirect fashion—for example, through the more than 100,000 American Christian missionaries now working overseas. This realism insists that the state should not try to do what it cannot do.

It is not necessary to hold Augustine’s evangelical purpose to grasp the instrumental value of his observation. To take America as the measure of an Augustinian state, moreover, does not necessitate triumphalism, for America cannot take for granted that it will remain the only, or even the most important, instantiation of its own founding idea. Realism, though, requires a gauge by which to separate prospective success from incipient failure.

The Conservative Movement is coming apart, just as the parties are dividing and the government is going bankrupt. Now is the time to reassess these many conflicting philosophies and schools of thought and see what works. Augustinian Realism is just the tip of the iceberg with what Goldman has to offer. I plan to continue to explain more of his concepts along with those of other PJ columnists and important thinkers in the coming weeks. Defeating the Jihadist enemies who threaten America will be a multi-decade, perhaps multi-generational fight and it will require disassembling and reassembling our foreign policy assumptions. I argue that Ledeen, McCarthy, Rubin, Rosett, and Goldman should serve as the beginning of a new foundation for the fight ahead. What other thinkers and which of their ideas will also be crucial in some day electing our generation’s Ronald Reagan who will be able to implement the strategies to bring freedom to those living under Sharia slavery as others once lived under Soviet slavery?

Friday Book Reading:

From page 268, the conclusion of David P. Goldman’s How Civilizations Die (And Why Islam Is Dying Too):

augustinianrealism

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Thursday Morning News Round Up:

Lead PJM Stories:

Bridget Johnson: Obama Giving Presidential Medals of Freedom to President Clinton, Steinem, Oprah

Barry Rubin: MSM Lunacy: Supporting the ‘Peace Process’ and the Muslim Brotherhood

Bryan Preston: Say, Why Isn’t Rick Santorum the GOP 2016 Front-Runner?

Richard Fernandez: Words vs. Deeds: U.S. Expands, Concludes War on Terror

Stephen Green: Hasan May Remain His Own Counsel

Bryan Preston: Texas Lt. Gov. Dewhurst Blasts Obama Administration’s ‘Evil Mistakes’ on Benghazi, Fort Hood: ‘Incredible!’

PJ Lifestyle Featured on PJ Home Page:

Walter Hudson: How ‘Monopoly’ Perpetuates Myths About Capitalism

New at PJ Lifestyle:

Sarah Hoyt: When Two Publishing Giants Merge They Become Even More Incompetent

Hannah Sternberg: Bad Advice for Autistic Dating

Kathy Shaidle: Revived Whose Line… a Hit, But Something’s Missing

Paula Bolyard: Indians Fans Mock Tigers Fans and Players with ‘Detroit’s Bankrupt’

Becky Graebner: Pimp My Hybrid?

Charlie Martin: Climate Change: What Are the Real Questions?

 

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New at PJ Tatler:

Bridget Johnson: Senator: Deal Tough with Russia by Rescinding Unilateral Nuclear Cuts

Bryan Preston: State-Run Media Falls for Joke — And It’s Not Barack Obama!

Bridget Johnson: Amash: Snowden as Traitor or Whistleblower Just ‘Semantics’

Privacy advocate Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) said the labeling of NSA leaker Edward Snowden as a traitor or whistleblower is just semantics that distracts from the real issue of domestic surveillance.

Amash called President Obama’s comments that there is not a domestic spying program “highly misleading.”

“There is a program that the director of national intelligence has declassified. They’ve revealed it that collects the phone records of every single American in the United States, regardless of whether they are connected to any terrorist threat,” the libertarian congressman said last night on Fox. “So, when he says we’re tracking phone records and the e-mails of people who are just connected to terrorist threats. That’s not true.”

Amash’s prominence has risen after his effort to defund the NSA collection program, with the co-sponsorship of Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), came close to passage in the House.

“And the issue of whether Snowden is a traitor or not or a whistle blower I think that’s just debating semantics. He’s a lot of things. And one the things that he did was reveal an unconstitutional program that Congress did not know about. And the reason Congress did not know about is because we did not get the briefings that were acquired,” he said.

Bridget Johnson: Saudi King Donates $100 Million to UN Counterterrorism Center

Bryan Preston: NBC’s Chuck Todd: NBC’s Hillary Biopic a ‘Total Nightmare’

Bridget Johnson: DSCC Launches ‘GOP Tea Party Primary-Palooza’ Campaign

Bryan Preston: California Democratic Party Looked at Filner’s Progressive Politics, Gave Him a Pass on All the Harassment and Abuse

Bryan Preston: Breaking: Two Students Indicted in Boston Bombing

They should look on the bright side. Now they have the inside track to make next month’s cover of Rolling Stone.

Myra Adams: Photo Caption Contest Winners: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie — Hot or Not?

Bryan Preston:Battleground Texas? Eh, Not So Much

Bryan Preston: ‘In plain English, the IRS is still targeting Tea Party cases.’

Stephen Kruiser: Five Biggest Internal MSNBC Concerns About Potential Alec Baldwin Show

Stephen Kruiser: Some More Strange Bedfellows Support RNC’s Debate Ultimatum

Stephen Kruiser: Um, Comforting? NSA To Replace Human System Admins With Machines

 

Also Around the Web:

Via Drudge:

Fox News: Megyn Kelly reportedly taking over 9 p.m. slot in Fox News prime time lineup

Great for her!

Washington Examiner: More Dems than Republicans, 53% to 27%, say American Dream is dead

Fox News: ‘Elysium’ director Neill Blomkamp, star Matt Damon deny movie has political agenda

But the director of “Elysium,” Neill Blomkamp, begs to differ, as does the film’s star, Matt Damon.

Blomkamp, who rose to fame with the Oscar-nominated sci-fi hit “District 9” in 2009, said his highly-anticipated film has no agenda whatsoever, and claims he isn’t a political filmmaker.

“’Elysium’ doesn’t have a message,” Blomkamp told Wired Magazine, saying he found it unfortunate that critics were drawing parallels between his movie and the Occupy movement, a phenomenon he says wasn’t even a consideration.

The film’s star Matt Damon, too, insists that “Elysium” is not trying to push any political buttons

“I don’t think it is trying to say anything. It just presents the issue – the distinct difference between the haves and the have nots,” he told FOX411 while promoting the flick. “A science fiction film will work if it is a whole new world, but speaks to the world that we live in, but not in a heavy-handed way. The first order of business for a big summer popcorn movie is to make a kick-ass movie with great action.”

Almost amazing how clueless he is. In one sentence Damon claims the film is not trying to say anything. In the next he drops Saul Alnsky’s “have and the have nots.”

Nature World News: Dogs Yawn in Response to Owners’ Yawns

At Mediaite:

Andrew Kirell: This CNN Film Should Make Drug Warriors Rethink Their Position On Medical Marijuana

Scientific research could take cannabis and find new medical uses for it beyond what we’ve already discovered. But instead, the illegality of marijuana makes research funding near-impossible to secure. And government agencies that do obtain the grants have a clear incentive to vilify the drug in order to justify their existence.

Of course, marijuana is not a magic cure-all for everything under the sun — as alt-medicine quacks might believe — but that doesn’t negate the fact that cannabis contains easily-identifiable benefits, plus countless others we’ve yet to explore. That our government still considers marijuana to be a Schedule I narcotic, despite addiction rates lower than alcohol and tobacco, is baffling, enraging, and above all, an impediment to our medical progress.

Noah Rothman: Ron Paul Revolution TV: Former Congressman Launching Online Network

I’ll look forward to comparing the coverage of the Middle East to that of Al Jazeera’s America channel. Any guesses which will have a harder time hiding their antisemitism and conspiracism?

At Salon:

Michael Lind: Conservatives once ridiculed Ayn Rand

At the Daily Caller:

Paul Armentano: Medical marijuana efforts soldier on without Congress’ help

Legislation in the US House of Representatives to prohibit federal officials from prosecuting state-compliant medical cannabis patients and their providers – House Bill 689, the State’ Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act – remains stalled in committee and possesses a mere 20 sponsors. (No corresponding Senate legislation has been introduced.) This total equates to fewer than four percent of all federal lawmakers! By contrast, a March 2013 nationwide Fox News scientific poll reported that nearly nine out of ten Americans – including 80 percent of self-identified Republicans – believe that marijuana should be legal if a physician authorizes it. So why aren’t a greater percentage of Congressional members advocating on their behalf? Why aren’t the US representatives and senators who represent the 20 states that have enacted medical marijuana law reform openly and vociferously speaking out in defense on these programs and standing up for the rights and welfare of their constituents who depend on them?

Of course, it’s not just Congress that continues to ignore the reality of medical marijuana. In recent months, the Drug Enforcement Administration rejected an administrative petition that called on the agency to reconsider the plant’s present prohibited status – a status that illogically proclaims that the plant and its organic constituents lack medical value and possess real-world harms equal to those of heroin.

At The Blaze:

Sharona Schwartz: Oliver Stone’s Son Says 9/11 Was an ‘Inside Jon,’ Hezbollah Arent’ Terrorits, Israel is a ‘Crusader State’

Hollywood director Oliver Stone’s son Sean made news last year when he said he’d converted to Islam on Valentine’s Day while working on a film in Iran and that he believed then Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was “misunderstood.”

Now the 28-year old actor and director is voicing his opinions on the Quran (“a very sensible book”), 9/11 (“an inside job”), Hezbollah (“don’t consider them to be terrorists”) and Iran (a “very civilized people”).

The younger Stone, who says he is part Jewish and was baptized a Christian before converting to Shi’a Islam, shared his views in an interview last week with RT, the Russian government’s English-language television network.

The Quran is a very sensible book. If you read it, frankly it makes a whole lot of sense regarding their interpretation of Jesus who they look to as a prophet. And obviously the Abrahamic lineage from Abraham to Moses are all very much respected in the Quran,” Stone said (emphasis added).

At Twitchy:

‘Long may he wave’: Blogfather Instapundit celebrates 12 years of awesomeness

At the Daily Mail:

Revealed: How the NSA will spy on you if you just put the word Osama in an email, text message or Facebook chat

‘To conduct the surveillance,’ reads the report, ‘the NSA. is temporarily copying and then sifting through the contents of what is apparently most e-mails and other text-based communications that cross the border…[the] computer searches the data for the identifying keywords or other “selectors” and stores those that match so that human analysts could later examine them.’

Redditor who admitted having sex with 13-year-old girl faces court for statutory rape after being outed by other users

Computers could soon work like the HUMAN BRAIN: IBM unveils groundbreaking new PC chip

At CNN:

Dr. Sanjay Gupta: Why I changed my mind on weed

Medical benefit

While investigating, I realized something else quite important. Medical marijuana is not new, and the medical community has been writing about it for a long time. There were in fact hundreds of journal articles, mostly documenting the benefits. Most of those papers, however, were written between the years 1840 and 1930. The papers described the use of medical marijuana to treat “neuralgia, convulsive disorders, emaciation,” among other things.

A search through the U.S. National Library of Medicine this past year pulled up nearly 20,000 more recent papers. But the majority were research into the harm of marijuana, such as “Bad trip due to anticholinergic effect of cannabis,” or “Cannabis induced pancreatitits” and “Marijuana use and risk of lung cancer.”

In my quick running of the numbers, I calculated about 6% of the current U.S. marijuana studies investigate the benefits of medical marijuana. The rest are designed to investigate harm. That imbalance paints a highly distorted picture.

At National Review:

Victor Davis Hanson: America as Pill Bug

Charle Krauthammer: Obama’s Lexicological War

Nidal Hasan proudly tells a military court that he, a soldier of Allah, killed 13 American soldiers in the name of jihad. But the massacre remains officially classified as an act not of terrorism but of “workplace violence.”

The U.S. ambassador to Libya and three others are killed in an al-Qaeda-affiliated terror attack — and for days it is waved off as nothing more than a spontaneous demonstration gone bad. After all, famously declared Hillary Clinton, what difference does it make?

Well, it makes a difference, first, because truth is a virtue.

Second, because if you keep lying to the American people, they may seriously question whether anything you say — for example, about the benign nature of NSA surveillance — is not another self-serving lie.

And third, because leading a country through yet another long twilight struggle requires not just honesty but clarity. This is a president who to this day cannot bring himself to identify the enemy as radical Islam. Just Tuesday night, explaining the U.S.-embassy closures across the Muslim world, he cited the threat from “violent extremism.”

Thursday Evening Book Reading:

All antisemitic slave states will someday be obliterated and their people freed. Page 128 of Accomplice to Evil: ‪‎Iran‬ and the ‪‎War‬ Against the West by Michael Ledeen

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See the first five weeks of round-ups:

David Swindle is the associate editor of PJ Media. He writes and edits articles and blog posts on politics, news, culture, religion, and entertainment. He edits the PJ Lifestyle section and the PJ columnists. Contact him at DaveSwindlePJM @ Gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @DaveSwindle. He has worked full-time as a writer, editor, blogger, and New Media troublemaker since 2009, at PJ Media since 2011. He graduated with a degree in English (creative writing emphasis) and political science from Ball State University in 2006. Previously he's also worked as a freelance writer for The Indianapolis Star and the film critic for WTHR.com. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and their Siberian Husky puppy Maura.

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All Comments   (9)
All Comments   (9)
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This is my new favorite book. Read it a few months ago and was recently trying to extrapolate it's core message to someone - who then looked at me like I had two heads.
Thanks for elucidating the core philosophy or Mr. Goldman so well. I agree with both your observations that fundamentally there is a spiritual war going on in the world. (thx to B Lawrence below) It hasn't changed much since we have recorded history, but it is real and I have seen people in my family struggle with it up close and personal.
The challenge is that naming evil scares people (if there is evil there must be 'good' or how would we know what is 'evil') and those concepts point to a fundamental moral order/sense that to many presupposes there is a God. That's scary, especially to the atheists and secular theorists. So we fall back into the Chris Cristie/Rand Paul paradigm and no one wins. Both fail to articulate what Mr. Goldman does so well.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You are making a point that needs to be made.

Communism is dead -- at least as far as it being a military threat. To paraphrase Bowling for Soup many conservatives are still preoccupied with 1985.

The battle has always been a spiritual one, the terms have just changed and the dangers of victory are being ignored.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Thanks Bill. Yes, it is a spiritual battle -- the masks change but the idols remain much the same as what the Bible describes...
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It's tough I suppose.

Conservatism has offered nothing to the Conservative who wants to restore the country except the idea that they are tough on terror while everyone else isn't. On every other policy position of the day, it offers what Liberalism does, just more 'cost effective' and 'smarter' as we say. "compassionate conservatism" we called it.

Meanwhile a pack of 'kooks' have grown in popularity. They actually take this small government crap seriously, and that constitution thing. They think building moral fiber via the force of law produces no morals at all. However they do hold on to that idea that maybe a declaration is need before going to war (that constitution thing). They also hold to the idea that entangling alliances with foreign powers can be dangerous and backfire...of course it was irrelevant figures such as George Washington that thought of things that way...what does he know?

So the latter side definitely looks like 'conservatism' and the former really looks like something we call 'almost liberal' or 'neo-con' but you don't want to be shackled with the kooks so you and a few other pull a new philosophy out of nowhere, give it a name and claim some superior middle ground. You are wrong and you and your buddy need to wake up to reality.

There is something that still holds 'Neo-cons' and Peleo-libertar-anarcho-whatever folks together and unfortunately, pundits like you either can't see it or are actually trying to undermine it: Patriotism. They still love what this country was built for, what it can be and what it's founding documents mean. Liberals hate America and thier 'patriotism' is a form of self-loathing. Conservatism isn't fractured, one side has clearly failed and an attempt to adjust to changing times is being sabotaged out fear and ignorance.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
What have I written that you believe seeks to undermine patriotism?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
" they agree with Obama’s delusion that the Muslim Brotherhood will “moderate” if it comes to power."

Balderdash. It's not that we think the Brotherhood will moderate, it's that we realize that the Muslim population is operating under the delusion that the Brotherhood will improve their lives. We saw that allowing the Brotherhood to take power would result in people's standard of living decaying, destroying the illusion and leading to their rejection of the Brotherhood. And Egypt shows we were right.

Human nature is fundamentally self-interested, not evil (and there's no reason a secularist cannot label and identify evil. You may need a supernatural framework to define good and evil. Do me the courtesy of not projecting your philosophical infirmities onto me). It is no secret that life in totalitarian states sucks, and that we have done quite a bit to maintain some of those states. Islamism offers the promise to alleviate the suck, so people are attracted to it. They also don't trust us, for good reason. The only way to defeat the Islamists is to improve the standard of living in Muslim countries, and the only way to improve the standard of living is free markets and free people.

"Augustinian realism begins with the observation that civil society precedes the character of a nation. The American state can ally with, cajole, or even crush other states, but it cannot change the character of their civil society, except in a very slow, gradual, and indirect fashion"

Which is why Germany and Japan are both militaristic dictatorships to this day. Oh, wait.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The totalitarian ideologies of Germany and Japan were both refuted when we defeated them militarily. They fall under the "crush other states" that Goldman refers to in that quote.

"It's not that we think"
Who do you claim to be speaking on behalf of?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The militarism of Prussia and Japan were cultural and independent of the totalitarianism. The military defeat certainly aided the process of cultural reform, but the US intervention was critical, especially in Japan, in moving those countries from a military-centered culture to a business-centered one.

I speak for myself as a neo-conservative (though there's nothing terribly neo about my conservatism. And to be honest there isn't much conservative in my conservatism, I'm a rational pragmatist, but neo-con is an accurate enough description of my foreign policy views). Which is a damned sight more relevant than the straw-men you seem to take so much pleasure in attacking.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
What straw men? I'm specifically talking about the mainstream foreign policy of the Republican Party, symbolized most today by John McCain and Lindsay Graham but also embraced by Chris Christie. It's not a straw man to point out that they choose to legitimize the Muslim Brotherhood.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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