Ten Years in the Right

By McConnell, Scott | The American Conservative, November 2012 | Go to article overview

Ten Years in the Right


McConnell, Scott, The American Conservative


A decade of The American Conservative - and its enemies

Ten years ago, The New Republic greeted news of The American Conservative's pending arrival with a mocking piece titled "Buchanan's Surefire Flop." Franklin Foer's article now seems an almost museum-quality exhibit of neoconservative and liberal hawk hubris - the beating heart of an elite consensus that suppressed meaningful discussion about the wisdom of invading Iraq.

Pat Buchanan and his partners "couldn't have chosen a worse time to start a journal of the isolationist right," wrote Foer. When President Clinton waged war on Serbia, some conservatives opposed foreign military interventionism. But "no one on the right is listening anymore" to anti-interventionist arguments. The 9/11 attacks had "produced a war on terrorism that has virtually ended conservative qualms about expending blood and treasure abroad."

Foer cited polls: 94 percent of Republicans supported Bush's foreign policy. A triumphant Norman Podhoretz was quoted: there really was no conservatism distinct from neoconservatism anymore. A magazine whose thrust would be to attack neoconservative foreign-policy prescriptions was doomed to fail.

A decade later, how can TACs impact be assessed? Clearly, the magazine did not flop - it has steadily expanded its readership and survived an economy extremely inhospitable to print media. But if the Iraq War was a "clarifier," it was unfortunately not a terribly strong one. If success is to be measured by influence on the conservative movement or the Republican Party, TAC still has a great deal of work to do: astonishingly, the neoconservatives - the group who sold the idea of the Iraq War to the last Republican president - are now if anything more entrenched in the GOP foreign-policy brain trust than in 2002.

Who might have predicted, seven years after it was clear that the Iraq War was one of greatest strategic disasters in American history, that Paul Ryan would be receiving foreign-policy tutoring from Elliott Abrams and two Kagans? To be a neocon in 21stcentury America is truly never to be held accountable for one's errors.

There is, to be sure, a much wider understanding among the attentive American public of TACs central message: of America's need for a conservatism distinct from the neocon version, more Burkean, more prudent, less remote from the concerns of average Americans, less tied to the Israeli right.

Foer's piece distilled the conventional wisdom of 2002: even conservatives who disliked the neoconservatives on other grounds - for their support of high levels of immigration, for example - shied away from frontal assaults on their foreign policy. Two months before the magazine's launch I dined with a young economics writer who would soon write brilliantly for TAG On the war, he advised a symposium - out-and-out opposition would only marginalize the magazine. Needless to say, his advice was not taken.

What Foer and the conventional wisdom missed was that the foreign-policy debate had already become three-sided by 2002. It had evolved considerably since 1991, when Buchanan was one of a handful of conservatives to oppose the first Gulf War. Opposition to that war was primarily "isolationist" in spirit, with Buchanan and a small cadre of others pitted not only against the neocons but a wide array of foreign-policy realists. The point is not to debate whether that war was necessary or strategically justified (though afterwards, the hawkish realist Robert W Tucker wrote in The National Interest wrote that bombing a more or less defenseless Iraqi army in the open desert violated just war precepts). Desert Storm was not in the main a neoconservative enterprise; it was planned and executed by an internationalist establishment, sanctified by UN resolutions, and backed by a broad allied coalition. George H. W. Bush had essentially followed the script that had governed American foreign policy since the early Cold War.

Several months after Desert Storm's conclusion, a memorandum produced under the guidance of undersecretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz was leaked to the New York Times. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Ten Years in the Right
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.