And the fact is that the neocon crowd that took far too easily the helm of the foreign policy establishment away from the realist and liberal internationalist players in this game are almost entirely responsible for the dramatic erosion of America’s national security portfolio. ~Steve Clemons

Well, with the exception of rare figures such as Mr. Clemons himself, “the realist and liberal internationalist players in this game” allowed the neocons to take the helm or did very, very little to stop them from taking the helm, because at the time that the neocons were taking the helm in 2002 and 2003 “the realist and liberal internationalist players in this game” were largely on board with the general goals of the neocons with respect to the “war on terror” and Iraq policy specifically.  Certainly, concerning Iraq there were differences over methods, timing and process, which is why “the realist and liberal internationalist players in this game” lost control, because they had no fundamental and essential objections to what the neocons were proposing to do.  On Iran policy, where are “the realist and liberal internationalist players in this game” right now?  What are they doing to thwart an escalation of conflict with the Iranians?  Which presidential candidates (besides, naturally, Ron Paul) are challening the neocon line on Iran?  As of right now, none of the major candidates is firmly opposed to military action against Iran.  How did the neocons begin dictating the terms of the debate?  It was easy–almost everyone (with honourable exceptions such as Mr. Clemons) in the foreign policy establishment already accepted most of what the neocons were saying, or remained silent if they did not accept it.  

As the neocons have overreached again and again, there has been some resistance to executive usurpation, policies of detention and torture and the like.  However, I fear that as long as most of “the realist and liberal internationalist players in this game” accept so many of the same assumptions about America’s role in the world and approve of so many of the same means to reinforce American hegemony, there will never be a time when the neocons–or people just like them–will have been “purged from the American soul.”  When this particular group passes from the scene, we will find ourselves set upon by another and yet another group of hegemonists, because “the realist and liberal internationalist players in this game” are evidently unwilling to change very much about the way the United States government conducts foreign policy.

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