Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam have used recent pieces by Peter Berkowitz and Mark Lilla as a jumping-off point for a discussion of neoconservatism. While neoconservatism is frequently described as an ideology — of democratism, of hard Wilsonian foreign policy, of abstract Americanism — the early neocons, as both Douthat and Salam point out, were actually a very pragmatic lot. In fact, the neocons were most of associated with another ism: empiricism.
The first generation of neocons questioned the left’s domestic-policy utopianism and emphasized the unintended consequences of government action. On foreign policy, they could also be uncompromising realists, unsentimental about Carter-era burbling about human rights that ignored the larger realities of the Cold War. Of course, the more idealistic strain of foreign-policy neoconservatism also existed as well, in addition to the neocons’ high level of confidence in the efficacy of American military power.
For all the reasons Douthat lists, “over time the messianic and apocalyptic strands in neoconservatism have tended to crowd out the pragmatic and the realist strands.” But perhaps after the Bush years, we’ll see the pendulum swing back a bit, heroic conservatives notwithstanding.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?