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The McKelvy House Scholars invite the campus to join a dinner discussion of the “Neoconservative Movement” Wednesday evening.

The meal will begin at 6 p.m. at McKelvy House, 200 High Street. David Myers ’07 (Rockville Centre, N.Y.), a government and history major, will lead the discussion at 6:30 p.m.

“Having recently discussed the ‘religious right’ [Christian Right], it is important to consider the other component of the Republican ‘coalition’ currently in power, the neoconservatives,” says Myers. “This ideology, which arguably dates as far back as the 1950s-early 1960s in a slightly different form, has unquestionably taken an important position within Bush Administration foreign policy post 9/11.”

The definition of neoconservatism is controversial and has become so freely used that many reject the label, but is generally established as emphasizing preemptive action in foreign policy and installation of democracy after conflict.

Myers defines the term stating, “Consider the post 9/11 Bush Doctrine of preemptive war. It asserts that the United States has a right to wage preemptive war, with disregard for international law, should the U.S. become ‘threatened’ by a hostile regime. It also proclaims the right of the U.S. to engage in militarily enacted regime change, as we have witnessed in Iraq. Not coincidentally, founding intellectuals of the more modern neo-conservative movement hold key positions in the Bush Administration. These high-ranking officials include Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and especially Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, who has done much writing on the subject.”

In addition, he asserts that neoconservatism is not to be confused with the “religious right,” and seeks to demonstrate their relation and roles in our society and government.

For his discussion, Myers raises the following questions:

  • To what extent (if at all) is the neoconservative movement a social movement? If you feel it isn’t now, has it ever been?
  • Do you feel that the Bush Doctrine defeats itself? Do you feel that it is practical to take such a confrontational stance towards other sovereign states? If you don’t, what do you feel is a more effective way to approach such situations? Consider the “war on terrorism” and terrorist recruitment efforts.
  • Do you feel that the Bush Doctrine has any deterrent value, as the neoconservatives claim, or does it do exactly the opposite and result in more hostile “militarization” of more states?
  • Do you feel that the eroding public support for the Iraq war has or will affect the neoconservative movement? Does popular support even matter?
  • Do you feel that it is problematic that the general public is greatly uninformed about the neoconservative movement and what it stands for? Stemming from this, to what extent do you feel this Republican “coalition” featuring the neoconservatives and the religious right is confusing to the public? Is this positive or negative for them politically? Is a politically savvy public really in their best interests?

Myers will also touch upon the criticism of the movement raised by the baby boomers who claim neoconservatives cannot have authority on war if they have never served.

Links to websites on the discussion topics as well as more information about the McKelvy House Scholars program are available on the group’s blog website.

Since 1962, the McKelvy House Scholars program has brought together Lafayette students with a wide range of majors and interests to reside in a historic off-campus house and share in intellectual and social activities. Sunday dinner discussions that engage the students in debate and exchange of ideas are the hallmark of the program; several Wednesday discussions have been added this school year. Most members also contribute to the annual McKelvy Papers, written on a topic of each person’s choice. McKelvy Scholars participate in activities together such as field trips to plays, concerts, and exhibits, and sponsor events for the campus as well.

Previous discussions:
Oct. 30 – Christian Right
Oct. 26 – Social Groups
Oct. 23 – The Shape of Things
Oct. 19 – Women in Creating and Sustaining Peace
Oct. 16 – “Slow Food” Movement
Oct. 12 – Hugo Chavez
Oct. 9 – Molecular Nanotechnology
Oct. 5 – Folk Music as Vehicle for Social Change
Sept. 25 – Freedom and Other Remembrance Issues
Sept. 20 – The Powerful Thrust of Language on Civic Arousal
Sept. 14 – Apathy
Sept. 11 – Why Do We Care about One Another?

Categorized in: Academic News