Glenn Greenwald
Politics • Writing • Culture
A Neocon Monster: The Ruinous Lies & Crimes of Bill Kristol, Now a Major Foreign Policy Thought-Leader in the Democratic Party
Video Transcript
June 20, 2023
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Good evening. It's Monday, June 19. Welcome to a new episode of System Update, our live nightly show that airs every Monday through Friday at 7 p.m. Eastern, exclusively here on Rumble, the free speech alternative to YouTube. 

Tonight, a neocon monster: the singular evil and deceit of Bill Kristol. 

One of the most extraordinary, alarming and baffling developments to witness in American politics is the complete rehabilitation of neoconservatives. Most Americans who know this term first learned of it in 2002 during the run-up to the American and British invasion of Iraq. The neocons were the most vocal and vehement advocates, not just of the invasion of Iraq, but more importantly, of the warmongering framework undergirding that attack, namely that the world is better off when the United States rules it, and especially the Middle East, through the application of superior military force, in essence, ordering all countries to do the bidding of the United States, always under the threat that failure to obey will result in attacks, invasions, bombings, regime change, coups and much more. This imperialistic and militaristic mindset was not exactly new.

This imperialistic and militaristic mindset was not exactly new. The U.S. fought wars, imposed tyrannies, and engineered coups all over the world, on every continent, during the Cold War and after but what distinguished neocons from standard warmongers and militarists were two qualities:  

First, they have no other politics beyond their quest for endless war. Many neocons in fact began as liberals or even leftists and were willing to morph into anything they needed to be as long as doing so served the only issue they really cared about: placing the US in a state of endless war, almost always fought by other people's families and children rather than their own. Starting with the war in Iraq, a war they were craving and loudly demanding long before the 9/11 attacks – that attack became the pretext for the war in Iraq – they have supported every new and proposed American war since then. "Neocons" is a polite euphemism for "bloodthirsty, sociopathic warmongers."

 Second, neocons, by definition, barely even pretend to care about the truth, whether they know it or not. The smarter ones do, the dumber ones don't. They are often followers of the German-American political philosopher Leo Strauss, and his belief in the “noble lie”, falsehoods propagated by those who are superior in society to deceive and mislead the peasants into acting contrary to their own belief system, for their own good as elites to find that concept for them. It was no accident that the war in Iraq, along with every U.S. war that followed, began – and then was sustained – with propaganda so intense and deceitful that calling them lies is a woeful understatement. Neocons do believe in lies. They believe in lies – and appear to derive arousal from them – almost as much as they believe in and find purpose and excitement in wars. 

Neocons were said to have reached the peak of their power during the Bush-Cheney administration when the trauma of the 9/11 attack and the fear and anger it inspired finally gave them the fuel to usher their demented agenda of endless permanent war. The utter failure of the Iraq War and the realization that it was based on lies told to the public through the corporate media, often led by neocons themselves, supposedly resulted in neocons finally being expelled from power and influence in Washington. They were discredited, we were told, finally unmasked as the deceitful sociopaths that they are. 

That should have been true, but it most definitely was not. The neocons went a bit underground after the Bush administration, but they never really went away and, in 2013 and 2014, they began to detect a shifting political reality: anti-war sentiment was growing in the Republican Party – as it was before 9/11 – as evidenced by Ron Paul's campaigns or George Bush's 2008 presidential campaign plank that the U.S. needed to have a more humble foreign policy. At the same time, Democrats were becoming increasingly enchanted with the promises, power and profit that war provides. In 2013, and 2014, neocons became especially enamored of Hillary Clinton. And though the narrative we're fed now claims that neocons only migrated back to the Democratic Party as a reaction to Trump – as the neocons are such honorable patriots and devotees of democracy that they simply could not abide Trump's anti-democratic impulses – the reality, as is easily demonstrated, and as we will show you, is the neocons who began maneuvering, reattached themselves to the Democratic Party long before Trump emerged, and they were especially excited by the prospect of a presidency led by Hillary Clinton, whose criticisms of Barack Obama was that – despite bombing eight different Muslim-majority countries – Obama was insufficiently aggressive, bellicose and militaristic.  

The neocons’ migration back to the Democratic Party is now complete. Virtually every major neocon from the Bush-Cheney era doesn’t even bother to brand themselves any longer as Never Trump conservatives. They're just Democrats like any other and are ardent admirers of Joe Biden. And why wouldn't they be? Their perception that the Democratic Party is the best vehicle for advancing their war-hungry pathology is correct. But the fact that they opportunistically morphed into loud opponents of Donald Trump and became Democrats – along with time, which means more and more people don't remember who they are or what they really did – means that neocons have reached a level of influence that is arguably greater than what they wielded back in 2002 and that it was. That is what makes it so urgent to document who they all are and why they are singularly menacing and demented. 

The most uniquely influential and illustrious neocon is almost certainly Bill Kristol. For years he edited a magazine, The Weekly Standard, founded in 1995, funded by Rupert Murdoch, and that was designed to push the United States to align with neoconservative ideology more and more by exerting influence within the Republican Party. Kristol now performs exactly the same role – contaminating our body politics with neoconservative sickness – but now operates within the Democratic Party and is now funded not by Rupert Murdoch, but by the liberal billionaire Pierre Omidyar. 

One could very effectively and persuasively make the case that Bill Kristol is the single most toxic, destructive and malign influence on American politics over the course of the last three decades. And that is exactly the case that we will make tonight, both as a reminder of what neoconservatives really are and have always been and to highlight how significant their influence continues to be, now, more than ever, in American politics, the Democratic Party and prevailing sentiments about war, militarism and chronic deceit from America's leading institutions of power. 

As a reminder, System Update is available as well in podcast form. You can follow us on Spotify, Apple and all major podcasting platforms where you can also rate and review each episode, which helps spread the visible visibility of this program.

For now, welcome to a new episode of System Update, starting right now.

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