David Frum and the hypocritical dogma of neo-conservative foreign policy
By Peter Lee
It is November 4th, 2008 and Barack Obama has just become the president-elect of the United
States. Because his election campaign focused largely on the economy, which was the top
priority of the American people following the credit crisis and financial meltdown, there is hope
that the focus of this new administration will be detracted somewhat from the military
interventionst approach taken by virtually every adminstration since the second world war. This
was echoed by media sources in the
New York Times on November 7th, 2008, titled Jihadi Leader says Radicals Share Obama victory,
Ghassan Charbel writes in the Saudi owned Pan-Arab daily newspaper Al-Hayat:
Obama’s election was a message against such destruction, against unjustified wars, wars that
are fought with ignorance and rashness, without knowledge of their arenas or the shape of their
Also, Barack Obama’s campaign effectively tied his opponent, John McCain to the Bush
Administration, which is characterized as an utter failure by even much of the mainstream media.
Probably the paramount item of all the failures of the Bush Administration was the handling of the
terms of militay intervention.
Not everyone is hopeful that the tides have turned however with respect to
tradition of military intervention. John Pilger, an investigative journalist and strong critic of
American foreign policy says in an article he wrote on his website on July 2, 2008 entitled In the
great tradition, Obama is a Hawk, the following:
Understanding Obama as a likely president of the
understanding the demands of an essentially unchanged system of power.
However, there is evidence that, while there may not be a radical shift in the American approach
to foreign policy, the Obama campaign has brought more people into the political process than
ever before by organizing at the grass-roots level. Voter turnout for this election was the second
highest it has been in 50 years. Furthermore, there is evidence that the social conscience of
traditions that have made up a large part of American foreign policy since the second world war.
The next phase of this evolution of a social conscience might be characterized by how this shift
becomes contentious with the nature of the system of power that Pilger is referring to. This is
because the providence of this power system is contingent on a world order that has been
carefully maintained by American military power, the seeds of which were planted well before the
second world war by such foreign policy initiatitves as the
Let’s look at a key figure in the contemporary neo-conservative movement who is a complicit
architect and dogmatic supporter of the most recent unlawful war – the
views of the world are fundamentally dangerous and hypocrtitical.
Conversations with history are a series of televised interviews with well known figures in which
they discuss their lives and work with the host of the show, Harry Kreisler, who is the executive
for considerably more elaboration than conventional television with respect to the interviewees
work and life but also his/her attitudes and views. Harry Kriesler refrains wholly from introducing
his own opinions in to the discussion by asking rather objective questions which tend to identify
the essence of the interviewees personality and views. In this way, startling revelations about the
individual may be made as was the case in an invterview with David Frum, a neoconservative
and former speechwriter for president George W Bush on January 20th, 2004. This despite having
seen him speak in more conventional televised contexts such as broadcast news media. The
phrase ‘Axis of Evil’ is credited to him although he himself states that it’s coinage was a collective
When the topic of terrorism was brought up in the interview, he had this to say:
Where the right and left differ is that the left says: … if someone is mad at us, he must be right
[‘right’ meaning ‘correct’ in this context] so we need to understand him, so we can give him want
he wants. The right says: we need to understand him so we can find him and kill him
So here he is making it clear that the neo-conservative approach is to kill people that are mad at
this is the right (as in the correct) thing to do.
He goes on to say the following:
The American political system is extremely practical. It is kind of inspiring that the flip side of all of
this talk about interests in
constantly enganged in the process of mutual compromise unlike some other political systems in
which the only recourse is to kill eachother.
Even though in the second statement when he says to kill eachother, he is referring most
probably to politicians who have no other recourse than to kill eachother in some hypothetical
rogue state if they have a disagreement, it would seem that his and the adminstration which he
represents approach is identical to this one. He demonstrates this quite clearly by saying we
need to understatnd him so we can find him and kill him. This statement is crystillazed in his
words in right-wing neo-conservative idealogy.
On Islamic terrorism:
Frum: when people say ‘that’s ridiculous – Islamic terrorists aren’t concerned about our freedom’.
They forget they are very concerned not just about the freedom of our men, but of our women
and it is profoundly offensive. They get MTV, and they see a culture which accords a position to
women that they find profoundly offensive and threatening.They look at the place of religious
minorities – Jews, Christians, non-muslims in our society and find it profoundly offensive and the
responses to those things largely inspires them. And they feel profoundly threatened, I say this
not as an excuse, the soviets also felt profoundly threatened. When authoritarian people feel
profoundly threatened, they respond with profound aggression. What threatens them ? what
makes them feel that the west is coming after them in their havens ? it is precisly the dynamism
and creativity of the west. That the things they want to change, there is a suggestion that all of
this would go away if we were to create a disarmed, neutralized Palestinian state on a few
acres…. In the West Bank in
be true that muslims would feel that their civilization was under question and jeopordy from an
outside world that was more dynamic and was surpassing them in ways that were profoundly
offensive to them.
Kriesler: and you are speaking of the muslims that are terrorists and not necessarily the whole
Frum: I think we need to think of this as concentric circles.That there are those who are terrorists,
there are those who support and assist terrorists, then there is a larger culture which is much
bigger of Islamic extremism no all of who’s members resort to terrorist violence, but were there is
a large climate of opinion in the Islamic world that are very sympathetic to what terrorists do and
it creates the intellectual framework that justifies and condones it.
Thus, Frum makes such a generalizing about all Muslims that invokes a question from Krielser,
asking Frum if he is referring to the entire Muslim world in his statement about how the Muslim
world feels that their civilization was under question and jeopordy from an outside world that was
more dynamic and surpassing them in ways that were profoundly offensive to them.
Furthermore, if Frum would still not be happy if
disarmed and a state on a ‘few acres’ of land on the
them out ? Furthermore, is it not hypocritical to say: When authoritarian people feel profoundly
threatened, they respond with profound aggression ? It would be quite difficult to argue that the
may make the inference that the
Perhaps Frum is correct in saying that there are elements of the Muslim wold that appear
backwards and that in contrast to American society, there is a lack of dynamism. And he is
correct in saying that there is hatred in the Muslim world and (and at a minimum distrust) towards
inferior people that need to be educated through agression as Frum would have you believe ?
That we need to kill them because they are ‘mad’ at us ?
Infereneces like those of Frum should warrant further investigation to say the least
Here are some examples that might help one understand these patterns, the backwardness and
lack of dynamism in the Muslim world. The fact that over the last 60 years, the ZNetwork is funded solely through the generosity of its readers.
ZNetwork is funded solely through the generosity of its readers.Donate