A Neocon manifesto for NATO

While we’re on the subject of neocons, I ought to mention the recent CSIS report entitled Towards A Grand Strategy for an Uncertain World: Renewing Transatlantic Partnership.

The report was ostensibly written by five former NATO generals, including Britain’s Lord Inge, the chairman of Aegis Defence Services.However, a postscript adds that "to assist in the writing process, the authors were joined by Benjamin Bilski, who lectures in philosophy at the Faculty of Law of the University of Leiden in the Netherlands; and by Douglas Murray, an author and Director of the Centre for Social Cohesion in Westminster."

Douglas Murray happens to be the author of Neoconservatism – Why We Need It, so it’s not surprising that the report reiterates familar neocon themes:

Concerning our capacities to assess and analyse threats and to predict behaviour or future events, another experience is that too much analysis is driven by our own Western logic – the problem of
‘mirroring’. That is, assuming rational behaviour on the basis of what we would do in a similar situation, rather than taking the opponent’s history, culture, behaviour and statements as a basis. Merely because we believe we are rational or well-intentioned does not make other actors so. In the Cold War, a rational opponent could be relied upon, to a large degree, to act in his own interests. Irrationality on a large scale, on the other hand, has become a feature of contemporary politics and geopolitics, and may include opponents
acting suicidally against their own interests, because this would cause greater damage to the West. (p.79)

Neoconservative threat analysis ought to be a joke at this stage. These are the people that gave the world the Missile gap in the 60s, Team B in the 70s, The Terror Network in the 80s, and Saddam Hussein’s WMD in the 21st Century.They were comprehensively wrong on every count, but apparently it’s our fault for not listening to them:

There are currently inadequate national and international capabilities to deal with these problems – and, more importantly, there is a lack of coordination among allies. There is, additionally, little public awareness, and thus little political will to address them. Such a lack of resolve is itself a vulnerability that increases risk.. The main reason for this attitude, from both the general public and their political leaders, is a heavy focus on social and domestic matters, and an unwillingness to face up to complex realities. Adequate institutional reform has only just begun in many Western countries, and it is still far from being accepted, let alone implemented. With the short attention span of the public, and the focus of politicians on little beyond the next election, it will be no small challenge to muster the necessary will to seriously tackle long-term challenges. This lack of awareness and political will has had strange results, not least in the flight towards the irrational, the condemnation of those who act, and praise of those who do nothing. (p.27)

For a fuller analysis of this alarming paper, which is due to be discussed at the NATO summit in April, see Paul Rogers at openDemocracy, and Moon of Alabama. The latter concludes:

A certain way to further proliferation of nuclear weapons is the threat of preemptive use of such against non-nuclear states. A certain way towards wider wars is NATO under "directorate" control dropping bombs wherever the "directorate" policies see advantage in doing so. And a certain way to madness is to get neoconned by this report.







8 responses to “A Neocon manifesto for NATO”

  1. WorldbyStorm avatar

    As it happens and I may have missed it if you mentioned it, there was an article in the last or second last Prospect arguing that nuclear disarmanent is actually more feasible now than ever before (in part because it’s now clear that only sophisticated state actors can actually assemble the tech to produce workable bombs and a stronger oversight regime could stomp on those who might tend that way). An interesting thought…

  2. Tom Griffin avatar

    I suppose it must be this article:
    I hadn’t seen it, and it is *extremely* interesting. Not for the first time, Prospect may have provided us with an insight into debates that are normally conducted out of public view.
    One of the things that emerges from Richard Aldrich’s book, The Hidden Hand is the high-level divisions about nuclear strategy in the West in the 1950s. Some of the feedback I’ve had from my Spinwatch articles suggests that there are even more profound differences today.

  3. WorldbyStorm avatar

    Yeah, that’s the one. That such things are being discussed at all, and by those discussing them makes entirely validates your point. I haven’t read Aldrich, but I’ll make a note of it. The model of a fractious and divided high-level policy creation/implementation model is a lot more interesting, if sometimes a lot more disturbing than the old ‘seamless monolith’ attitude a lot of the left adopts…

  4. guthrie avatar

    Speaking as someone who doesn’t know much about anything, I thought that in real life you usually (not always) have a divided high level policy. Just look at the debates that used to happen during WW2. However in recent years those in power have done everything possible to crush dissent. And the genius of modern propaganda is that it disarms such dissent by tailoring reasons for the action desired by one faction to suit the other factions. Eg invading IRaq. As far as I can tell, different people wanted to go in for different reasons (oil, removal of a dictator and spread of democracy, money).
    Then of course if you can keep debate going long enough, you can delay sensible action until something happens which can be used as an excuse by the extremists.

  5. jumbo jerry avatar
    jumbo jerry

    TG: at first glance your judgement of what the neons are seems off.
    Have you read this book:
    or this essay:

  6. Andrew Bartlett avatar
    Andrew Bartlett

    Douglas Murray has also deleivered a lecture entitled, “What are we to do about Islam?” You can read is for yourself, here: http://www.socialaffairsunit.org.uk/blog/archives/000809.php
    I argue that it his argument, both diagnosis and prescription, verges on the fascistic: http://bartlettsbizarrebazaar.blogspot.com/2006/03/neo-conservatism-neo-nazism-would-be.html
    Nothing makes me angrier than when I see his name as a commentator on Newsnight, or a discussant on Question Time. Unless Murray has abandoned the ideas he espoused in his Pim Fortuyn lecture, then he certainly fits the fascist bill much better than the thugs in the BNP.

  7. Tom Griffin avatar

    Thanks for the comments folks, It looks like I will be doing some more research on the neocons, so any info is helpful.
    Andrew,that lecture is very interesting on Murray’s intellectual influences: Strauss, Fukuyama etc. His obsession with ‘certainty’ as a social value is pretty creepy if you ask me.
    Jerry, I haven’t got Heilbrunn’s book. I will have to get hold of it. Where do you think I am going wrong? The main emphasis in the review is on the Israel-centric nature of the neocons, is that what you are referring to?

  8. DougtheDug avatar

    “Merely because we believe we are rational or well-intentioned does not make other actors so.”
    Judging by the tactical and strategic blunders of the US in both Iraq and Afghanistan it’s a sentiment which could be quoted by many countries, especially in the Middle East.
    From the CSIS report,
    “The only way to deal with these threats and challenges is through an integrated and allied strategic approach, which includes both non-military and military capabilities.”
    The base line is that the US needs to control NATO in order to use NATO troops and logistics to relieve the pressure on its own forces as it makes its bid to control the oil reserves and access to the oil reserves in the Middle East and Central Asia.

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