They just got a different tool to use than we do: They kill innocent lives to achieve objectives. That's what they do. And they're good. They get on the TV screens and they get people to ask questions about, well, you know, this, that or the other. I mean, they're able to kind of say to people: Don't come and bother us, because we will kill you. Bush - Joint News Conference with Blair - 28 July '06

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Karen Kwiatkowski: Nothing new in the neocon world

In July 2003, Karen Kwiatkowski retired as a lieutenant colonel from the U.S. Air Force, having served since 1978. From May 2002 until February 2003, Kwiatkowski served in the Pentagon's Near East and South Asia directorate. She teaches at James Madison University and writes regularly for

OK: Could you say something about your reasons for joining the Air Force some 20 years ago?

KK: Basically, they gave me a full ROTC scholarship, and I needed to go to college. That was the deal. I was happy to do it actually. I had applied for Navy and Army, and the one that I got was Air Force.

My dad had served in the Navy for four years in, I guess, the late 50s. And he used to always talk about how great the military was. So we were pretty disposed to the military, but I joined the Air Force because they're the ones that coughed up the money for college.

OK: How did you see whistleblowing, in terms of these values?

KK: Your oath is not to a political party, it's not to an institution, but to an idea: to a constitutional republic. So we have a president who serves for four to eight years.

And he has - according to the Constitution - limited duties that he takes care of. We have a legislature and a judiciary. So if you care about those things, and you're out to preserve that balance - to respect that balance rather than persons - you don't think of it as whistleblowing, you think of it as, you know, my loyalty is to what is right, to how these things are supposed to work.

OK: What do you mean when you characterize neoconservatism as a dead philosophy of anticommunism?

KK: In 2002, before I was actually working with people doing Near East policy and seeing and meeting these neoconservatives, I didn't even know what a neoconservative was. I began to look at who these individuals were, what they were doing before in our government, and what they cared about politically.

These are the same guys that are responsible for Iran-Contra. They don't care about the law. They are liberals at home, very much not a traditional conservative political perspective domestically, but closer to the more Social Democratic approach, somewhat like our Democratic Party used to be, domestically; but, in terms of foreign policy, very hawkish, extremely hawkish, extremely aggressive - black and white, murder, death, kill, basically. I hate to say that, but that's what it is: They have to die so we can live. Intervention-oriented foreign policy, which is not conservative either. This is kind of the political home of neoconservatives.

OK: What is your view of the legacy to which the neocons are heirs?

KK: The intellectual fathers of neoconservatism - what shapes their approach internationally - are the Bolsheviks; international revolution, international change, radical change, global revolution. And these same terms, these same ideas - of international change, revolution, transformation - these are the words of Michael Ledeen and some of the other articulators of neoconservatism. And the actual people, and they're not ashamed to really say this, but guys like Irving Crystal and other intellectuals of the 30s had actually been Bolsheviks

One of the characterizations of neocons today is that they are neo-Jacobins; philosophically, this idea that people are the same, all want the same thing, and should have the same thing. That "same thing" in a modern neoconservative view is this idea of "democracy." But is it really democracy that they want, or is democracy simply a Trojan horse? Read more