Neocons returning to Democratic Party?
Are the neocons going home?
By “neocons,” I refer to followers of the hawkish foreign policy school that began to coalesce in the 1970s around New York writers and academics who had rejected their communist or socialist lodestar to become vocal anti-communists. A generation or so later, from Kosovo to Georgia, from Afghanistan to Iraq, from Libya to Syria, from Ukraine and now back to Iraq, they consistently advocate the use of American power, often American troops, to establish and enforce a “liberal world order.”
By “going home,” I mean returning to the Democratic Party.
The question took shape while I was reading a profile in The New York Times about neocon-light Robert Kagan — brother of Iraq “surge” architect Frederick Kagan, son of Yale professor Donald Kagan, and husband of State Department diplomat Victoria Nuland. The Times describes Robert Kagan as “the congenial and well-respected scion of one of America's first families of interventionism.”
Kagan says he prefers to call himself a “liberal interventionist,” not a neocon. This may indeed be more appropriate for the Brookings Institution fellow and New Republic contributing editor that he is, but there's nothing “conservative,” or even “neo,” about it.
The Times reports: “Both Mr. Kagan and his brother are taking considerable pains to describe their advocacy as broadly bipartisan. ‘The urgent priority is to unite internationalists on both sides of the spectrum,' said Fred Kagan, while his brother, Robert, mentioned his briefing of a bipartisan congressional delegation at Davos and his good relations with top White House officials, including the national security adviser, Susan E. Rice.”
Davos? Susan E. Rice? Why not Samantha Power and Valerie Jarrett while we're at it? These are odd selling points — unless you're seeking Democrat brownie points.
The Times continues: “But Exhibit A for what Robert Kagan describes as his ‘mainstream' view of American force is his relationship with former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who remains the vessel into which many interventionists are pouring their hopes.”
Do I hear an SOS? “Shipwrecked neocons seeking vessel to pour interventionist hopes into. Will deploy troops anywhere.”
The Times: “Mr. Kagan pointed out that he had recently attended a dinner of foreign-policy experts at which Mrs. Clinton was the guest of honor, and that he had served on her bipartisan group of foreign-policy heavy hitters at the State Department, where his wife worked as her spokeswoman. ‘I feel comfortable with her on foreign policy,' Mr. Kagan said, adding that the next step after Mr. Obama's more realist approach ‘could theoretically be whatever Hillary brings to the table' if elected president.”
“‘If she pursues a policy which we think she will pursue, it's something that might have been called neocon, but clearly her supporters are not going to call it that; they are going to call it something else.'” How about calling it “liberal interventionism”?
I can see it now: A new ship of state under Hillary Clinton sailing home, carrying a crew of neocons-turned-liberal-interventionists.
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