The American Conservative; Buchanan's New Magazine Attacks Modern conservatism.(OPED)

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), September 25, 2002 | Go to article overview

The American Conservative; Buchanan's New Magazine Attacks Modern conservatism.(OPED)


Byline: Tony Blankley, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

A potentially important new political magazine - Pat Buchanan's the American Conservative - published its first edition this week. Vol.1, No.1 arrived in my mailbox yesterday. For those of us "movement conservatives" on the wrong side of 50 (as Mr. Buchanan's co-founding editor, Taki Theodoracopulos would say) both the timing and the mission statement of the new magazine strikes an ominous chord of memory. It was almost a half-century ago, at the high-point of American liberalism, that William F. Buckley Jr. founded National Review for the purpose of standing astride a liberally-driven history and shouting "Halt." And, it is against the current high-tide of a history driven largely by the conservative forces Mr. Buckley precipitated that Pat Buchanan has formed his magazine to "take our stand."

The American Conservative (AC, hereafter) is every bit as unbridled in its contempt for modern conservatism as National Review at its founding was for then-modern liberalism. In their mission statement, the editors of AC accuse "the array of conservative media outlets" of competing "over which can bray loudest for the widest war, the most ambitious expansion of an American imperium." The AC accuses modern conservativism of casting "aside every relevant American foreign policy tradition - from Robert Taft-style isolationism to prudent Dwight Eisenhower-style internationalism, in favor of go-it-alone militarism, where America threatens and bombs one nation after another, while the world looks on in increasing horror."

The magazine's editors will attack "the global free-trade economy, free the immigration debate from the prison to which it has been consigned . . . and reignite the conversation that conservatives ought to have engaged in since the end of the Cold War, but didn't."

The editors conclude their mission statement with this withering passage: "So much of what passes for contemporary conservatism is wedded to a kind of radicalism - fantasies of global hegemony, the hubrisitic notion of America as a universal nation for all the world's peoples, a hyperglobal economy. In combination with an increasingly unveiled contempt for America's long-standing allies, it is more a recipe for disaster. Against it, we take our stand."

As one of those who, in brother Patrick's nagging phrase, "brays" for war, I find much of his characterization of our modern conservatism disturbingly on point. Although I believe Mr. Buchanan dangerously underestimates the inevitable and mortal threat of terrorism (and thus he wrongly deprecates the need for a prompt, prolonged and assertive war against it), he is acutely accurate in his characterization of much of modern conservatism's inclinations. …

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