Dual Loyalties

My opinion on the people who shape our world

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Author: GOP split over Iraq

Author: GOP split over Iraq: "Author: GOP split over Iraq
Thursday, September 30, 2004
cmeehan@kalamazoogazette.com 388-8412
Debate rages within the Bush administration over how hard to fight the ongoing war in Iraq, says Kalamazoo College's Gary Dorrien.

Instead of pulling back to let Iraqis take greater responsibility, such neoconservatives as Vice President Dick Cheney want the United States to beef up attacks on Sunni strongholds and to even consider invading Iran.

"This neoconservative faction within the Republican party has become the most powerful in the Bush administration and is having an enormous impact on American foreign policy," Dorrien said.

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Dorrien, Parfet Distinguished Professor at K-College, has just come out with a book titled "Imperial Designs: Neoconservatism and the New Pax Americana."

In the book, he sketches the history of the movement that, he says, is turning this country into an imperial power that is using pre-emptive military might to achieve its ends.

"The neocons don't have as much of a following in the Republican party as other factions, and yet they have been so much better at getting into power," Dorrien said.

Dorrien will lecture on the topics detailed in his book at 10:50 a.m. Friday in Stetson Chapel on the K-College campus.

He will then sign copies of his book and speak in coming days at locations across West Michigan.

His new book, he said, is an expansion of "The Neoconservative Mind: Politics, Culture, and the War of Ideology," which was published in 1993.

Neo-cons, he says, once saw the Soviet Union as the biggest threat to America's peace and security.

When the Soviet Union fell, this group, led by such people as Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, turned its attention to the world at large.

"It was a huge shock to them when the Soviet Union disbanded," Dorrien said. "When they developed their next idea, they decided they needed to think big."

During the Clinton administration when it was out of power, this group developed a doctrine that has led, in the wake of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to the war in Iraq.

"In order to enhance American power and standing in the world, they wanted to use this nation's immense military for purposes of good," Dorrien said.

A main thrust of their philosophy is to "to treat the whole world like it's America's geo-political neighborhood," he said.

Other factions in the Republican party today include the libertarians who want to cut way back on government spending and call for less involvement in other nations.

Then there are the "old right nationalists" like former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan who are "sort of isolationist" and are "bitterly opposed" to the war in Iraq, Dorrien said.

Finally, he said, there are the "conservative realists" such as Secretary of State Colin Powell and former Secretary of State James Baker who are "much more realistic and less ideological" in trying to force American values on other nations.

George W. Bush aligned himself to an extent with the conservative realists until the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. At that point, Bush needed a vision and the neo-cons had one, Dorrien said.

Even now, though, Bush straddles the fence on such questions as what to do about China and North Korea -- countries that the neo-cons would like to deal with much more harshly.

"If Bush loses the presidential election, there will be a war between the neo-cons and the conservative realists for power in the Republican party," Dorrien said."