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Featured Blog: Is neoconservatism returning?

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American foreign policy was pretty much defined by a single word during the early 2000s: neoconservatism. After the tragic event of 9/11, then-Vice President Dick Cheney along with then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld started advancing positions starkly similar to those of neoconservative hawks of the 1960s and ‘70s.

With the start of the so-called Bush Doctrine after 9/11, the United States foreign policy was determined by hawks, and isolationists found no place for their ideas. This was evident with the American attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Resolution on Iraq especially tells us the importance of neoconservatism in the GOP, with only six Republican representatives and one senator voting against it. The representatives were Libertarian Ron Paul, moderates Connie Morella, Jim Leach and Amo Houghton, the paleoconservative and libertarian leaning Jimmy Duncan and “true” conservative in John Hostettler.

The other 215 GOP representatives supported the war, even if some of them were traditionally opposed to war in general. In the Senate, neoconservatives had an even greater influence. Lincoln Chafee was the only GOP senator who voted against the war, the same Chafee who this year briefly ran for president — as a Democrat.

Yes, everyone knows neoconservatism played a big role during the George W. Bush presidency. So why am I talking about neoconservatism now? Everyone knows it ended during the Obama years.

Or did it?

The policy taken by the Obama administration on invading Libya is very similar to the neoconservative policies of former President Bush. The person who advocated this decision to attack and overthrow Gaddafi in Libya the most was the current Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton.

Acting as Secretary of State under Obama, Clinton asked the Obama administration to respond to the so-called Arab Spring (which, by the way, failed miserably) and challenged the United States to overthrow the corrupt, monstrous dictator of the North African country.

Now, to be perfectly honest, Gaddafi was a crook with mixed opinions who had consolidated power in Libya. He had been ruling the nation for over three decades and had no intention of stepping down in the foreseeable future. But by toppling down Gaddafi, Clinton kicked the hornet’s nest, turning Libya into a warzone. Today, Libya is ruled by rival warlords, and the number of innocents being killed is unbelievable. And this is more than five years after the invasion.

With the election coming up and Clinton leading by a massive margin, it is possible that she will start a similar hawkish foreign policy. She recently suggested having a no-fly zone on Syria, a decision she had taken in 2011, just before the invasion of Libya.

Robert Kagan, a foreign policy hawk and one of the major proponents of the Iraq War, joined the list of a growing number of neoconservatives who have endorsed Clinton. He said, “I feel comfortable with her on foreign policy… If she pursues a policy which we think she will pursue, it’s something that might have been called neocon, but clearly her supporters are not going to call it that; they are going to call it something else.”

The fact that a Democratic candidate is a neocon is perplexing. This is the same party that gave us George McGovern and Adlai Stevenson as presidential candidates. But then again, the party which gave us Lincoln is currently offering Trump. 2016 is definitely a weird election year.

Varun Gajendragadkar is the author of the Opinionated Moderate blog.

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