Share This Page

Neocons returning to Democratic Party?

| Friday, June 27, 2014, 8:57 p.m.

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.

Diana West blogs at dianawest.net, and she can be contacted via dianawest@verizon.net.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.