Friday, 19 May 2017

Diane Abbott MP on Immigration

It was to be expected that an ideological zealot and career anti-racist like Diane Abbott would have none of the old (pretend?) soul-searching of New Labour on immigration. (All this seems like a very long time ago now!) Predictably, then, this well-documented anti-white racist comes out with some sub-Trotskyist stuff which should have died in 1984 (or even well before that).

In the spirit of Gordon Brown (circa 2010), for example, Diane Abbot believes that even to open one's mouth for one second on the subject of immigration (unless to talk of its supreme and complete beneficence) is to do so from the “gutter”; not from, say, a large house in a leafy London suburb.

What if Diane Abbott is saying what many Labour MPs believe; though don't say? After all, if she were that at odds with Old Labour she'd have been kicked out a long time ago. (Yes, the Labour Party's a “broad church”; though there's broad and then there's broad.)

You see, because immigration is literally a non-issue to Ms Abbott, then any talk about it that the Labour Party actually manages to get around to must – it simply must! - be (as she puts it) “in response to the supposed electoral threat from UKIP”.

Diane Abbott also commits this howling non-sequitur in this Guardian article.

Some time back, and in response to Ed Miliband acknowledging the blindly-obvious fact that mass immigration is putting various kinds of pressure on many British people, Abbott said that there would be no N.H.S without immigrants working in it.

And keeping up with the Dave Spart logic, Diane Abbott then went on to (predictably) say that immigration is indeed all about race; just as all criticism of Islam and individual Muslims (according as the Guardian's Seamus Milne) is... yes, you guessed it... all about race.

So immigration isn't all about jobs after all - it's also about race?... Hold on a minute. Marxism/socialism is even more reductionist and essentialist than that. Yes, it's far more neat and tidy.

According to Marxist/Labour theory, people become racists (or, alternatively, become critical of mass immigration) simply because they don't have a job. Thus it's all about race because it's all about jobs. 

In other words, vote Labour and racism will disappear; as will unemployment, hate and bigotry. Well, it will do after Old Labour opens a Gulag for the millions of "far-Right racists" who infect our Diverse Land. And that'll only be after Labour has allowed in a few million more lovely, highly-skilled immigrants (mainly made up of neuroscientists and quantum physicists).

Vive la revolution!

Leftist Theories are Political Weapons

Most people are perplexed by the fact that Leftists/progressives don't believe that blacks can ever be racist. They're equally perplexed by the parallel claim that only whites can be racist. People are also baffled by the assertion that “capitalism invented racism”. Indeed there are hordes of ideas which baffle most people. These absurd ideas even baffle Leftists themselves. Or at least they do until they realise that such ideas are required to bring about radical change. This is the main theme of this piece.

As Marx himself put it:

The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it.”

These are a few examples of these beliefs: “capitalism is in crisis”, “Israel is an apartheid state”, “Donald Trump is a fascist”, “Islamophobia is racism”, “global warming caused the Syrian Civil War”, “the Daily Mail is fascist”, “blacks can't be racist”, “America is a Nazi state”, “the rich are rich because the poor are poor”....

So how are people made to believe these absurd things? Than answer to that question is simple. It can be summed up in a single word: theory.

What is Scientific Theory?

It can be seen that Leftist/progressive theories aren't scientific. (Marx and later communists, of course, believed otherwise.) It isn't scientific theory because its primary goal is to help give people the intellectual weapons required to bring about radical, revolutionary or “progressive” change. Thus such theories serve a political purpose. They aren't designed to explain or describe the world/society. They're designed to change the world/society.

Let the United States National Academy of Sciences define scientific theories:

The formal scientific definition of 'theory' is quite different from the everyday meaning of the word. It refers to a comprehensive explanation of some aspect of nature that is supported by a vast body of evidence.”

There are literally innumerable definitions and descriptions of theory. So bear with my simplifications. The following, after all, isn't supposed to be philosophy of science.

Because theories aren't themselves observations, readings from the facts, or data; then, by definition, they must go beyond observation, fact or data (or all of these things). Instead, theories account for the facts, or explain them. They do this by referring to things which are effectively unobservable. Theories are thus non-factual; which isn't the same as saying that they're untrue or incorrect.

Theories can also be problematic. Theories can be false; or at least partly false. And it's also the case that observation itself can be/is imbued with interpretation and theory. That means that there may not be any complete (or even possible) separation of fact from theory.

In any case, it's this going beyond the observable (beyond fact and data) where the trouble can hide.

Leftist Theory

From the beginning it can be seen that Leftist/progressive theories don't conform to standard definitions of scientific theory. And they're rarely consistent with scientific method. (For those who accept that such a thing exists.) In point of fact, they can be called normative (i.e., prescriptive) tools in that they guide actions and tell us what the theorist wants to be the case (or what he wants to happen). Hence Leftist theory is more like theology or ethics; rather than a systematic account of what is the case.

Nonetheless, there are distinctions between scientific theories and, for example, philosophical theories which partly correspond with the Leftist reality of theory. To generalise, scientific theories are seen as being descriptive. In philosophy, on the other hand, some theories are deemed to be normative (or prescriptive).

It's also said that that theories aren't about “gaols and values”. Because this is a rather idealised explanation of what theories are, Marxists, Leftists and progressives have jumped upon this idealisation. Many have said that theories “determine what we take to be the facts” and - in certain ways and to a limited extent - that's true. They also say that “so-called objective science” is “goal- and value-laden”. More specifically (as Oxford University's Marxist Professor Terry Eagleton put it), “all theories are political”. Indeed Fredric Jameson went one step further and said that “all life is political”.  

Now if you believe all that a strong way, then there's nothing to stop the theorist making his theories even more gaol-directed and value-laden. Or, more relevantly, more political. In other words, why beat around the bush? (Aristotle himself made a well-known distinction between theory and “practice” - from Greek praxis, πρᾶξις – doing.)

Leftists have of course said similar things about truth, morality, religion... and about everything else! Indeed, as stated earlier, some have literally said that all life is political. This is, of course, largely (though not entirely) psychological projection. (It can be seen, most explicitly, in movements like the “radical science movement” of the 1970s and beyond.)

Thus the theoretician is taking us way beyond what's observable and factual. And in so doing he often takes us vastly astray.

Now many Leftists think that their theories are sophisticated. They're sophisticated primarily because they show us what the murderer and Marxist Louis Althusser called “the unseen”. Theories also help scrape away what Marxists call “false consciousness”.

Marxists also think their theories are sophisticated for one other more basic reason: they're at odds with what “sheeple”, the middle classes, conservatives, etc. think. (Despite the fact that virtually all Marxist theorists have been middle- or upper-middle class.) Now if theories are at odds with what the plebs in the pubs, etc. think, then such theories must - by the Leftist's own definition - be sophisticated.

Whether or not a Leftist theory is accurate or true, it's still interpreting political events and realities; which all the commoners, of course, simply take at face value.

The Leftist Theory of Racism

The journalist and writer Kenan Malik says that scientific racism “justified the superiority of the capitalist class to rule over the black”. Most Leftists believe that racism is a European and capitalist invention.

Thus if racism was born in the 19th century (primarily, according to Malik, because of “racial science”), and modern (industrial) capitalism also largely began in the 19th century, then Leftists can forge a very tight link between capitalism and racism.

This results in a conclusion that's summed-up in an often-quoted phrase spoken by none other than Malcolm X. Thus: “You can't have capitalism without racism.”

That means that if racism is indeed a capitalist phenomenon, then it's well to distinguish racism (as found in all capitalist states and in the minds of all whites – except the Leftist ones) from “prejudice” (which even blacks are capable of). This is precisely what Leftists do.

The idea goes along the lines that “when prejudice exists alongside political and economic power”, it is racism. Without power, on the other hand, all we have is “prejudice”. Thus when a black man says that he “hates honkies”, or even when he says that “whites are evil and subhuman” (sometimes heard from the Black Panthers, the Nation of Islam, etc.), that, according to Leftists, isn't racism. It isn't racism because Leftists must literally believe that all blacks lack political and economic power. (In their eyes, even the blacks who do have economic and/or political power... don't.)... Or do they believe that? If theories are political weapons, then it doesn't matter if they're true or if they reflect realities.

The problem is that you must accept a hell of a lot of Marxist theory before you can accept that black/Muslim/etc. racism is simply prejudice.

Despite the theories behind all this, the vast majority of times I've heard people say that “blacks can't be racist, only prejudiced”, it's never explained why that's the case. It's simply stated as some kind of theological diktat or religious catechism.


Now how can the idea that Leftist theories are political tools or weapons be tied to the specific theory of racism?

In simple terms, it isn't that black people can't be racist. It's more a case that it makes political sense (to the Leftist) to claim that blacks can't be racist. In other words, since racism is the major problem of society, then claiming that blacks can also be racist is bound to be counterproductive (i.e., from a progressive or radical point of view). It also makes political sense to tie racism to capitalism if one is a socialist or progressive. In other words, if you're an anti-capitalist anyway, why not say that say that capitalism and racism are essentially linked? That will work political wonders (as it has) for your cause.

Finally, to paraphrase Marx's words quoted at the beginning of this piece:

Philosophers have only been concerned with discovering truths about the world. The point, however, isn't truth: it's changing the world in a progressive direction.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Jeremy Corbyn's Facebook Red Guards


It can't be denied that a “We support Jeremy Corbyn” Facebook group has 56,327 “likes” (as of the 12th of May). That looks good until you realise two things: One, many Leftists are political activists; unlike the supporters of other parties. Two, you can't win an election with 40,000 Facebook activists alone.

That stats could mean anything anyway. Apart from the fact that activism is de rigour in revolutionary circles, it could mean that some people have double (or triple) profiles, etc.

The first point to realise is that many (perhaps most) Corbyn disciples on Facebook are controlled and led by a Marxist group called Momentum.

Thus, again, Corbyn seems to have such large support on Facebook simply because Leftists are obsessive activists. (The Socialist Workers Party, for example, send the members of its local branches onto Internet forums and newspaper discussion sites. They obey.) 

It's pretty sad anyway that people feel the need to measure political support by how many “likes” a politician gets on a Facebook page. Nonetheless, Corbyn's official Facebook page has more than twice as many likes as Theresa May. That is, Corbyn has 878,756 likes: May has 369,370 likes. As for Tim Farron, he has far less than both. (As of the 12th of May.)

On a similar theme, one Corbynite stressed the fact that the Labour Party has 600,000 members. That may be true. But it won't the election and all it shows us, again, is that Leftists are more likely to be political activists than the supporters of the Conservative Party, Ukip, etc. However, right-wingers and Conservatives become political activists on election day. That is, they vote!

What They Do

Even if Corbynistas were to take over the whole of Facebook, and then ban all opponents (from the Soviet Republic of Facebook), it would still be the case that the Labour Party lost 382 seats and 7 councils in the recent local elections.

In any case, these zealots and acolytes are so diligent that they supply us with updates of every facial movement of Corbyn's.

Other things the whores-of-Corbyn do is encourage his supporters to tick polls and vote – in order to create the impression that Corbyn is on the verge of a massive victory. This is called wishful thinking. It's also an attempt at a self-fulfilling prophesy. The more they say that Chairman Corbyn is going to win, the more the chances are (they think) that he will win. Faith can move mountains. Especially socialist faith.

What They Believe

Like National Socialists (i.e., Nazis), Corbyn's International Socialists claim  "to share ideas and fight back against media lies". It's obviously here that “media lies” is a euphemism for "criticisms of Corbyn". Such partisan views are inspired by their violent rage that the entire media isn't Marxist/socialist (as it once was in China, the Soviet Union, Cuba, etc.).

Yes, Corbynistas and Leftists generally are always complaining about “the Media”. Yet pro-Corbyn blogs like The Canary have their pieces more widely and extensively distributed than that evil “mainstream media”. This, again, shows the Leftists' desire for total control of the media. It's also been said that The Canary is one of the biggest recipients of posts on Facebook itself. It compares equally the the much-hated Media (with a capital 'M'). And all this is to forget the Guardian, the New Statesman, the Independent, Red Pepper and the hundreds of Leftist blogs and journals to be found all over the bleeding place.

To sum up.

The Corbyn agenda is fuelled by a strong belief in class war and a vicious hatred of both the “Tories” and Theresa May herself. Despite that, most Leftists/socialists claim to keep their virulence for what they now call the “far right”, the “populist Right” or the “alt Right”. However, their true and perennial violent hatred is for the Conservative Party. Coming in a close second (in this Leftist festival of hate) is just about everyone outside the Radical Left; including the 17,410,742 people who voted for Brexit and the millions who support the Conservative Party, Ukip, ad infinitum... It's not surprising, then, that the “Theresa May has dementia” meme has flooded Facebook and social media generally.

Stand up to Leftist hate, censorship and violence!

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Interventionism, Non-interventionism, and Syria

On the 7th of April, 2017 (less than a month ago), President Donald Trump authorised the firing of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles (from the Mediterranean Sea) into Syria. These missiles were aimed at the Shayrat Airbase; which is controlled by the Syrian government. The strike was an immediate retaliation for the Khan Shaykhun chemical attack; which had occurred three days before - on the 4th of April. (It is far from conclusive that Assad actually carried out a chemical attack.”

This, fairly predictably, started a recurring debate about the rights and wrongs of intervening in the affairs of foreign countries. Many/most Americans think it's best not to interfere. Neocons, on the other hand, believe that we should intervene left, right and center. (See my 'Against FrontPage's Neocon Interventionism' @ SydneyTrads.) I personally would class the position of non-interventionism as a happy medium between interventionism and isolationism; though I may be wrong. In any case, as we shall see, it all depends on definitions, history and the facts on the ground.

American non-interventionism dates back to the 18th century. So does interventionism. Nonetheless, it seems, in retrospect, that interventionism has been the default mode of American governments; whereas non-interventionism has been the default mode of the American people. But this is tricky. Most Americans, for example, were in favour of the initial military actions in Iraq in 2003. Though, almost immediately after that, most Americans were against further foreign interventions.

This issue isn't an easy case of either/or.


Here's a simple account of non-interventionism offered by Henry Hodges in 1915. He said that non-interventionism is against the "interference by a state or states in the external affairs of another state without its consent, or in its internal affairs with or without its consent".

Non-interventionism doesn't of course mean that our leaders should forgo diplomacy with other countries. Unlike isolationism, neither does it mean that no foreign wars can be fought either.

A broad statement of the theory called “political realism” also puts the non-interventionist position in that it stresses the “national interest” and downplays the moral condemnations, etc. of foreign regimes which result in military interventions. According to political realism, the main two issues are national security and, ultimately, survival. That means that nations need to be prepared for possible conflict in the sense of having the military means to deter all aggressors.

On the other hand, it's been said that the Bush Doctrine promoted unilateral foreign interventions. That doctrine was purportedly based on neoconservatism and what it called “democratic peace theory”. That theory justified and even encouraged military action against non-democracies. This would clearly fit the bill in the case of Iraq in 2003; as well as Syria today.

What the American People Think

What is the position of the American people, rather than of its political leaders?

According to the Pew Research Center (in a poll conducted in December 2013 (as cited in the Washington Examiner), 52% of those who responded said that the United States "should mind its own business internationally and let other countries get along the best they can on their own." However, that percentage was radically different only ten years before - just before the Iraq War in 2003! (Again, according to the statistics of Pew.)

There was another poll (by POLITICO) in July 2014. This was said to be a poll of “battleground voters” in the United States. This poll found that

"77 percent in favor of full withdrawal from Afghanistan by the end of 2016; only 15 percent and 17 percent interested in more involvement in Syria and Ukraine, respectively; and 67 percent agreeing with the statement that, 'U.S. military actions should be limited to direct threats to our national security.'"

Despite these results, it surely could never be said that the same non-interventionist logic (if that's what it is) can be equally applied to Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria in 2017. It all depends.

Historical Non-Interventionism

Britain's Robert Walpole – the first Whig Prime Minister - had the following to say (in 1723) on the matter of non-interventionism:

"My politics are to keep free from all engagements as long as we possibly can."

The clause “as long as we possibly can” is admittedly a little vague. Though, in politics, it's been argued that we can't - or even that we shouldn't! - be anything else but vague when it comes to matters of war. After all, to take one example, non-interventionism doesn't mean no interventions ever. And even isolationism has never meant (in practice) complete isolation. What's more, those who can be called neocon interventionists (to take one example) don't want to intervene in every single place where there are “innocents dying” or a lack of democracy. Thus Realpolitik (as almost always) is a reality of politics.

In any case, 18th century Americans picked up on Walpole's position.

Nonetheless, during the American Revolution, the Second Continental Congress debated about forming an alliance with France. In so doing it rejected non-interventionism. Still, an alliance with France during the American Revolution isn't on par with, say, military interventions in Syria; or even, formerly, interventions in Iraq. Despite that, American non-interventionism trumped interventionism when George Washington declared neutrality during the Britain versus France war of 1792. Washington had the complete support of his cabinet and the 1779 treaty with France was annulled.

Consequently, the continuing case for non-interventionism was put by Washington, in his Farewell Address of 1796. He said:

The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. Europe has a set of primary interests, which to us have none, or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves, by artificial ties, in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.”

Now if that's true of Europe, how much truer must it be of Syria? This isn't to say that everything that Washington said is perfectly applicable to the case of Syria; though it is to say that American non-interventionism (along with the reasons for that position) dates back to the late 18th century.

If we now take a long jump to the first half of the 20th century, we can see that there was still a strong non-interventionist strain running through America's politics. Thus the United States had a non-interventionist policy in the case of both World Wars; as well as in, for example, the Spanish Civil War. Of course the U.S. did eventually intervene in both world wars; though only when there was a direct threat to – or an attack upon - the U.S. itself. All this begs the question as to whether, at these times, the United States would have militarily intervened in these disputes/wars if American itself wasn't under threat. (The direct threat to the United States was much less clear in the case of World War One than it was in the case of World War Two.)

The UN and Interventionism

Perhaps it's slightly ironic (at least for sections of the Right) that non-interventionism - when such a thing was embodied in the United Nations - once became part of international law. It was then argued (not just by those in - and sympathetic to - the U.N) that non-interventionism was responsible for post-World War Two peace. Peace? That depends on where and when. In Europe, sure. Elsewhere, that wasn't the case.

It's also ironic that the United Nations and many “humanitarians” reversed this position at the end of the Cold War. It was then that such institutions and people began calling for interventions in foreign affairs. Before long, they were calling for interventions left, right and center. This is the period in which the notion of a “responsibility to protect” came into being. (Years later, it was much stressed by Tony Blair and the neocons.)

To put their position basically, if a foreign state abuses its people (or doesn't “protect” them), then the United States and other Western countries have both a moral and political duty to help them. This is the terrible reality we must face because there must be dozens of foreign states which fulfil the humanitarian's criteria. Can we intervene in all these states? Of course not. Therefore should we only intervene when the situation is truly genocidal? Alternatively, perhaps we should only intervene with there's a domestic reason to do so. Altruism, in other words, has and never will rule okay.

All the above bore the fruit of interventions in Iraq in 1991 and in Somalia from 1992 to 1995. Later NATO interventions occurred in Kosovo in 1999 and in Libya in 2011. However, after Black Hawk Down (in Somalia), the United States refused to intervene in Haiti and Rwanda. Though, as just stated, it did intervene in other countries later.


There are of course alternatives to the interventionism-versus-noninterventionism binary opposition (or bifurcation). One alternative is the isolationism-versus-interventionism opposition instead. Or, alternatively, isolationism-versus-non-interventionism.

In any case, many of those whom cite these opposing positions have quoted George Washington's well-known Farewell Address as a rationale for their positions. Which basically means that it's all pretty complicated.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Against FrontPage's Neocon Interventionism

The word 'FrontPage' is used in the title because praise for Donald Trump's recent military attack on Syria is the editorial position and the consensus view of that website magazine. It also seems to be the case that FrontPage generally has a neoconservative view on military intervention.

For example, FrontPage's editor, David Horowitz, makes something (as Bruce Thorton does later) of Democrat support for Trump's action against Syria. He writes (in his 'A Game Changer for Syria – but also for Trump'):

Trump’s surgical strike against Syria’s chemical weapons base has also had the effect of moving Trump towards the center of American politics. It has received praise from such unlikely Democrats as Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, vitriolic leaders of the anti-Trump demolition squad.... Even leftwing Congressional Progressive Caucus member Louise Slaughter agreed that Trump’s strike was 'a proportionate response to Assad’s barbaric use of chemical weapons against innocent civilians'.”

Most recently we've also had 'Obama claimed that 'all' Syria's chemical weapons had been eliminated', by Larry Elder (13th of April, 2017). Here one argument seems to be that because Obama lied about Assad's chemical weapons, then Trump's air attack was justified.

Yet despite what FrontPage says about Barack Obama's cowardice, the then president - and various members of the U.S federal government (including John Kerry) - did consider intervening in the Syrian Civil War. All the same, the majority of the U.S. public was against such a thing. One poll (dated April 2013), for example, claimed that that 62% of Americans thought that the "United States has no responsibility to do something about the fighting in Syria between government forces and antigovernment groups.”

It's here that it's to cite a helpful distinction between non-interventionism and isolationism. According to Stephen Walt (though I fault some of the reasons he gives for reaching his conclusion), the following distinctions need to be made:

"[T]he overwhelming majority of people who have doubts about the wisdom of deeper involvement in Syria—including yours truly—are not 'isolationist.' They are merely sensible people who recognize that we may not have vital interests there, that deeper involvement may not lead to a better outcome and could make things worse, and who believe that the last thing the United States needs to do is to get dragged into yet another nasty sectarian fight in the Arab/Islamic world."

In conclusion, in this piece, and regardless of the references to FrontPage as a whole, I'll be concentrating on Bruce Thorton's FrontPage article, 'Trump Bombs Syria. Now What?'.

Facts About Assad's Attack

Let's then think about the town which Syria's Bashar Assad attacked. It was the town of Khan Shaykhun in the Idlib Governorate of Syria. The town was under the control of Tahrir al-Sham. Which groups is that? It's an Islamist group which used to be called the al-Nusra Front; which is itself an off-shoot of al-Qaeda. Indeed Tahrir al-Sham is still called Al-Qaeda in Syria by many. That means that Assad attacked an al-Qaeda stronghold. Nonetheless, there were at least 74 people killed and more than 557 injured; at least according to the Idlib health authority. (Is that authority also under al-Nusra/Tahrir al-Sham control?)

Russia has suggested that the warehouse "may have contained a rebel chemical arms stockpile". Assad's regime denied that it carried out a chemical attack.

To slightly change tack for a moment, Obama was indeed a weak and highly suspect President; especially regarding Syria. One way he was suspect was in his support for the so-called Opposition in Syria. That Opposition is primarily Muslim Brotherhood. It also includes the al-Nusra Front (under its new name: Tahrir al-Sham), whose stronghold Assad admitted to bombing on the 3rd of April. Tahrir al-Sham is currently the single-largest anti-Assad group in Syria after ISIL . It has 31,000 fighters. Thus it's no surprise that Democrats (according to David Horowitz and Bruce Thorton) have “praised” Trump's retaliation.

FrontPage's Neocon Interventionism

Throughout his article ('Trump Bombs Syria. Now What?'), Bruce Thorton sounds like he's attacking a regime which has only just attacked the United States itself; or, at the least, attacked a close ally.

Thorton castigates Obama's lack of action on Syria and says that such a position “damages a state’s credibility and prestige, emboldening other aggressors”. One result of this, he thinks, is that it's “been a huge success for Russia, Iran, Hezbollah”. But what about Sunni militants? What about Tahrir al-Sham/al-Nusra Front? In the past FrontPage has frequently told us - and it's been correct to do so - that Obama supports the Sunni militants; especially the many members of the Muslim Brotherhood. So is it that FrontPage deems the Shia Islamic front (Hezbollah, Iran and Syria) more of a threat to the United States and Israel than the Sunni Islamic front (ISIS, the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Nusra, al-Qaeda, etc.)? I personally think that a victory for Sunni Islam in Syria will be more of a danger than Assad's Syria. Assad has been virtually no threat to the United States - and only a minor threat to Israel - in recent years. Many in the Sunni front, on the other hand, would see the destruction of the United States and Israel as their first priority.

And if the Shia front is more of a threat than the Sunni front, then why not attack Iran rather than Syria? It can of course now be said that Iran hasn't just gassed its own population. True. Though was that the real or absolute reason for Trump's attack on Syria? After all, Thorton seems to think that it's just as much about “credibility and prestige” as it is about punishing the sins of Assad.

In any case, in terms of Realpolitik, it may not be deemed advisable to attack Iran (which is strong), rather than Syria (which is relatively weak at this moment in time).

Of course, if Assad's regime were to be destroyed, and then the Sunni Front took over, FrontPage will attack that regime too. And it will no doubt similarly call for an attack on a new Sunni regime in Syria.

Intervene... Sometimes

This isn't only about conservatives versus progressives. (Though that's how FrontPage seems to see it.) It's also about conservatives/the Right versus conservatives/the Right.

Bruce Thorton puts the two-part position of “modern progressives” on this. He says that

i) “modern progressive thinking holds that the use of force represents a foreign policy failure...”
ii) And such uses of force “usually makes things worse by entangling the U.S. in escalation and quagmires”.

We can say that i) is indeed an example of “progressive thinking”. Though what about ii)? Patriotic isolationists and non-interventionists aren't against the “use of force” in principle – it depends on why, and where, force is being used.

One can believe that it's okay to go to war and even to intervene in foreign countries and yet, at the same time, believe that Syria is not a good place to do these things. Yes, “American prestige is undoubtedly important”; though that doesn't automatically come by virtue of any intervention in any country. It all depends.

Why Did Trump Attack Syria?

Bruce Thorton admits that Trump's attack had little or nothing to do with the immorality of chemical attacks. Thorton gives us his reasons why. He writes:

... in the 60’s Nasser attacked Yemenis with chemical weapons, in the 70s Cuban mercenaries used them against Angolans, and in the 80s Iraq inflicted 50,000 casualties on Iran with chemical weapons during the Iraq-Iran war. No one seemed to think a military response was necessary to deter further such heinous act and to uphold 'international norms'.”

Thus the attack was also about “prestige”.

Indeed Thorton himself puts this position when he asks the following questions:

We all deplore the killing of “beautiful babies,” as Trump said, but children across the globe are being killed every day. Half a million people, thousands of them children, have died in the Syrian conflict so far. Why is it that 23 children being killed by sarin gas is beyond the pale and requires us to act, but thousands more being obliterated by bombs or riddled by AK-47s or tortured to death by Assad’s goons aren’t? Heart-rending optics shouldn’t be the arbiter of our interventions.”

The problem is that Thorton chose the “thousands of children” who've been killed in Syria. He wasn't referring to the many other wars which plague the world at this moment in time. Thus what about the thousands of civilians who've died in the Sudan, Congo, Yemen, Libya, Nigeria, etc.?

In any case, in Thorton's eyes, the “best way to deter such behavior is to completely destroy the capacity to indulge it”. In other words, interventionism must achieve something big. And in order to do that, there'll inevitably be many civilian causalities. However, in the long term (so the argument must go) it'll save lives and protect the West. Yet it's precisely because such actions cause so many civilian causalities that no regime has done such a thing in recent years. And it seems possible (or even likely) that Trump won't do so either.

Let Tony Blair Define 'Neocon'

In all the above it doesn't actually say what the word 'neocon' means. Indeed
some people will take issue with my use of the term. Perhaps it won't help matters using Tony Blair (the former British Prime Minister) as a very good example of a neocon interventionist. Nonetheless, in terms of interventionism (if not everything else), Blair was, and still is, the perfect neocon. And that alone should tell us why neoconservatism ain't really conservatism.

FrontPage can hardly have too many problems with what Blair says. After all, much of what Blair argues (in his autobiography A Journey) has been replicated in FrontPage.

In any case, Blair first questions the word “neoconservatism”. He then fully endorses the concept (or doctrine) neoconservatism.

Blair has a problem with the word 'neoconservatism' because he can't see how neoconservatism is deemed to be conservative in any respect. Nonetheless, Blair does tell us what others mean by the term. This: “It means the imposition of democracy and freedom...” To many, I suspect, the idea of the imposition of democracy and freedom almost amounts to a contradiction in terms. Indeed it's similar to Rousseau's notorious mantra: “You shall be forced to be free.” Apart from that, in order for democracy and freedom to germinate, they have to be placed in the right political, social and moral environment. If that's not the case, democracy and freedom will simply wilt and die.

Blair goes into greater detail about the seemingly nonsensical nature of the word 'neoconservatism'. He writes:

It [his position on foreign policy] also utterly confused left and right until we ended up in the bizarre position where being in favour of the enforcement of liberal democracy was 'neoconservative' view, and non-interference in another nation's affairs was 'progressive'.”

In other words, the interference in other nations' affairs is progressive; whereas non-interventionism is, in fact, a conservative position (at least according to Blair himself). What's more,

what [neoconservatism] actually was, on analysis, was a view that evolution was impossible, that the region [the Middle East and elsewhere] needed a fundamental reordering.”

Neoconservatism is actually revolutionary in nature; at least when applied to foreign countries. In terms of recent history, we can see that Blair completely endorsed the position articulated above.

Tony Blair also argues for a “new geopolitical framework”. And that means “nation-building”. Moreover, it

requires a myriad of interventions deep into the affairs of other nations. It requires above all a willingness to see the battle as existential and to see it through, to take the time, to spend the treasure, to shed the blood....”

Yes, Blair is in favour of “myriad [ ] interventions deep into the affairs of other nations”. That would require a Western state to be permanently on a war footing. It would also require the lives of very many Western soldiers. We must, in other words, be prepared to “shed the blood”.

Historically, Blair dates the rebirth of neoconservatism to “George Bush's State of the Union address in January 2002”. It was then that George W. Bush made his “famous... 'axis of evil' remark, linking Iran, Iraq, Syria and North Korea”. Interestingly enough, that axis remains the same today (minus Iraq); with an added emphasis on Syria.

In a speech given in 1999 to Congress, Blair also said the following:

I had enunciated the new doctrine of a 'responsibility to protect', i.e. that a government could not be free to grossly to oppress and brutalise its citizens.”

Clearly this applies to the purported chemical attack on the Syrian people by Assad's regime. Though, it must be stated, it could in principle be applied to literally dozens of other regimes throughout the world.

No government or military can live up to this doctrine. There are far too many “oppressed and brutalised” groups. Thus, as with Trump's attack on Syria, neocons (as well as others) simply end up arbitrarily choosing the peoples they want to protect and then forget about the rest.

This is at the heart of the neocon problem: too many interventions and too little moral and political consistency.