Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Neocons: where did these creatures come from?

If you're like me, you're a little uncomfortable with the notion that John Bolton, Douglas Feith, Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle qualify in any way as "intellectuals." And yet many accounts of the rise of neoconservatism describe them as products of an intellectual lineage tracing back to University of Chicago politial theorist Leo Strauss.

In "Midnight Ride: Origins of the Species Neo-Con," Roger Morris makes a much more convincing case that the neocon all-stars should really be seen as no more than garden-variety thugs, opportunists, hatchet-men and profiteers. Morris' article also provides a good deal of background on "hawk's hawk" Scoop Jackson, a hugely important figure in the Senate for many years and someone who shoulders a good deal of the blame for the current insane militaristic state of affairs in our government.
A middle-of-the-road, pro-labor Democrat on domestic issues and an early champion of environmental causes, Jackson was chairman for nearly two decades of the Interior Committee (later Energy and Natural Resources) and sat on the Government Operations Committee and Joint Committee on Atomic Energy -- all major fiefdoms in dispensing federal money and wielding influence in politics and policy. One of Capitol Hill's more vigorous legislators, he was a main author and driving force of the legislation creating the Environmental Protection Agency, major wilderness preservation and other landmark acts. With another local prosecutor raised to Senate power, Seattle's Warren Magnuson, Jackson also saw to it that generous appropriations and contracts were sluiced to his home state. "Scoop" especially would be known scathingly in congressional corridors as the "Senator from Boeing" for being on-call to the increasingly powerful, increasingly corrupt corporate giant.

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