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Look: I was hardly gung-ho about the Libyan intervention at the beginning--and I remain concerned about the long-term consequences and the perils of "mission creep"--but this comment by Scarborough, which has been echoed by some of the more disingenuous or less thoughtful critics of the Administration, is absurd. The argument that any military intervention in the world, whether or not it's done through the UN or in collaboration with other nations, is automatically the mark of neoconservatism is not only ahistorical and wildly simplistic but also gives neoconservatives far more credit than they deserve.

The neoconservative project was and is profoundly antipathetic to the UN and all other institutions of its kind. One of the fundamental premises of neoconservative foreign policy is the assertion that the United States, being by far the world's preeminent military power, has the unmitigated right and responsibility to attack whatever and whomever it deems contrary to its interests. It's not just that neocons advocated attacking Iraq even if the UN failed to go along--they didn't even want to ask.

A simple fact of American history is that from early on with the Monoroe Doctrine--which sprung from an ideological tradition that predated it considerably--the United States has advocated an interventionist foreign policy. There's a whole ocean of writing on this subject, so I'm not going to try to define why exactly that is, but it can't be ignored. The arguments presented by political leaders have very, very often been similar to what the President said this evening: that action was necessitated by a seamless melding of our material and metaphysical interests. In short, what Obama's done here is nothing new.

So it's fine to disagree with the President's argument that an atrocity in Libya and a reassertion of control by Gaddafi would have significant, unwanted consequences for the United States. But that's not what Scarborough and his ilk are doing with dumb responses like this. Instead, their argument is essentially reactionary, not much different than a parochial, myopic isolationism. That, in this instance, it's coming from someone who had previously crowed in the most laudatory terms about the brilliance of the Iraq misadventure is all the more grating.

People should by all means challenge the President's decision on Libya. There's much to dislike about the way it was implemented, and much to argue against concerning it being worth the risks. But calling him a neocon is not the way to do it. It misrepresents not only his position, but that of neoconservatives; and in the process demeans him while whitewashing their fundamental mendaciousness.

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