Re "Bush Pulls 'Neocons' Out of the Shadows," Jan. 22: With the departure of such experienced, independent and critical thinkers as Colin Powell, Richard Clarke and Paul O'Neill, President Bush's second term will be characterized by unfettered neocon groupthink.
Given that most of the neocons have no firsthand military experience and their mismanagement of the Iraq war led to Abu Ghraib and the current chaos in that country, the prospect of four more years under their administration is terrifying.
The neocons maintained there was a connection between Saddam Hussein and 9/11.
They told us Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and that we knew where they'd be found.
They claimed we'd be greeted as liberators, that it wouldn't require more than 100,000 U.S. troops, and that the war would help stabilize the Middle East.
They dismissed suggestions that the occupation would cost more than $60 billion, and asserted that Iraqi oil revenues would cover most of the costs.
The neocons have been grossly wrong on all counts. And yet, they're "ascendant again."
The manner in which the Bush White House weaves arrogance and deception into an overall pattern of incompetence is nothing short of astounding.
Your story quoted an anonymous senior Bush aide as saying, "I've never understood what that neoconservative label means, anyway." We can help him. "Neoconservative" is a euphemism used by people who know that they won't get elected under the full and accurate description "warmongering, borrow-and-spend reactionary."
It's time for the press to call them what they are.
The idea that actively helping oppressed people everywhere, regardless of direct national interest, represents the epitome of neocon philosophy is laughable.
President Reagan, cited in the article, advocated direct intervention on the side of oppressed people only when doing so coincided with his philosophical and strategic interests (just like President Johnson). He praised Ferdinand Marcos as a friend of democracy.
He said that the Contras in Nicaragua were the moral equivalents of our founding fathers, ignoring the fact that fighting against a dictatorship doesn't automatically make one democratic (remember Fidel Castro against Fulgencio Batista, Ayatollah Khomeini versus the shah of Iran, and the Taliban against the Soviets in Afghanistan).
Jesse Helms and some other conservatives supported South Africa under apartheid and Jonas Savimbi in Angola as bastions against communism. Our fights against dictators are likely to continue to be selective.
Silver Spring, Md.
Most of us would be pleased if democracy became more widespread in the world, and we would favor diplomatic efforts in that direction. But do we want -- or did we understand that candidate Bush envisioned -- a continuing succession of new neocon wars like the one in Iraq?