DEFINING NEOCONSERVATISM UP.

Max Boot claims "Charlie Wilson's War" for his team, describing "neocon movies" thusly:

Movies...that support active American intervention in the world in support of our ideals as well as our strategic interests.

Now, of course, that's not neoconservatism, that's just plain good old liberal internationalism. Neoconservatism, as practiced by actual neoconservatives, is more accurately characterized as appropriating the language of values and ideals to give political cover to the vigorous pursuit of our strategic interests. Though I do take attempts by once-proud neocons like Boot to redefine their ideology so broadly and innocuously as to include everyone other than Ron Paul as a sign that they understand that it has not aged well.

As for "Charlie Wilson's War" being a neocon movie, consider: The film seriously underplays the brutality of U.S. allies, while stressing the viciousness of our enemies. The strategy of arming Afghan warlords is presented as a wonderful plan whose wonderfulness was marred by the lack of follow-up by Congress. And the possible negative effects of U.S. intervention are blithely ignored in favor of a rosy scenario in which everyone waves little American flags. You know, I think Boot may have a point.

--Matthew Duss

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