The Commentary symposium on Podhoretz’s World War IV is not pleasant reading, at least not if you value sane reflection on the affairs of the world, but it does serve as a helpful summary of what leading neoconservatives and their allies actually claim to believe in their own words.  This can serve later as a useful resource should you need a quick refererence to explain what the dangerous interventionists hold to be true.  This is useful, since they will probably later try to say that their views have been distorted by their enemies.  

Here’s a taste of what I mean from Claudia Rossett:

In this context, Islamofascism is clearly the most virulent and immediate danger. But the threat hardly ends there. If I have a criticism of Podhoretz’s superb tour and analysis of the hot front in this new world war, it is that he underestimates the damage done to us in this war by some of the major non-Islamic despotisms, which in their own efforts to deflect democracy are only too pleased to strike back-scratching deals with Islamofascist regimes.

Along with such obvious candidates as the totalitarian munitions-merchant North Korea, or our near-neighbor Venezuela [bold mine-DL], these regimes include the two great powers of Russia and China. Lest that list sound too alarmist, or simply too overwhelming, let me add that I agree with Podhoretz’s warning that we cannot simultaneously tackle every villainous government on earth. But in understanding why we had to topple Saddam early on, and why democracy is the only real answer, I think we must keep in mind that behind Islamofascism is a brew of interests that, however disparate, have this in common: they shun democracy and in various ways tend to support each other in fighting and subverting its spread. Thus do we find China and Russia, our erstwhile allies against Islamo-terrorists, blocking one U.S. attempt after another to shut down or stymie the regimes that produce these killers and their medieval creeds [bold mine-DL].  

Naturally, Venezuela leaps to mind as one of the great threats of our time.  But she neglected Bolivia, which I think is a wildly irresponsible oversight.  When will we begin to fight the coca masters of La Paz?*   

This is almost as complete an expression of everything that is wrong with democratism and interventionism as you can get in two paragraphs.  The added hostility to Russia and China is what tops it off so well, since it is, of course, Russia and China that are doing the most to prop up the House of Saud and President Mubarak.  Oh, wait.

The symposium also shows a remarkable general consensus (with perhaps one or two mild dissents, including one actually from Bill Kristol) about the name “World War IV,” which virtually everyone contributing to the symposium thinks is either an acceptable or excellent name.  Even those who do not accept the name accept the basic assumptions about the war so described, which is just as unfortunate.  The amazing thing to me is that literally no one questions the word included in the subtitle, Islamofascism.  This word seems far more ridiculous than “WWIV,” which is saying something, so it is a far more damning statement about the paucity of neoconservative foreign policy thinking that not one of the participants raised an objection against such patent nonsense.  In my next TAC column I explain why it seems ridiculous and misleading to me.

* This is as close to a Ledeenesque vilification of Bolivia as I could get.