Neocons envision a near-static population of terrorists, and prescribe an aggressive policy of killing them in order to rid the world of terrorism. Liberals see a dynamic population of terrorists and prescribe broad policies meant to blunt their popular appeal and deprive them of public support. Neocons looks at the liberal prescription and say, essentially, "you're not killing enough of them." And liberals look at the Neocons and, aghast, say, "stop making so many more."I don't think anyone with even a modicum of intelligence believes the population of terrorists to be static, but the conservative approach towards terrorisism is, as Klein says, one of eradication. The dynamism of the terrorist population, however, prevents a policy of eradication from being viable. I think the key difference between the conservative and liberal approach lies in their respective differences of who (or what) the enemy is. For all the conservative hard-talk about "radical islam," and "islamofascism," conservative policy indicates that conservatives believe the enemy to be individual people, not extremist ideology. Terrorism cannot be eliminated by going after individuals - in fact, it will probably be augmented. Instead, the causes of extremist ideology must be identified and eliminated. As has been proved time and time again, it is not bombs that eliminate extremism, it is tackling what Samantha Power calls "climates of fear." Bombs inspire fear, fear inspires terrorists. This, apparentely, is too complex for conservatives to grasp.
Friday, March 28, 2008
Ezra Klein sums up the ideological differences in foreign policy approach pretty well: