Neoconservatism Today, Neoconservatism Tomorrow, Neoconservatism Forever!

Charles Krauthammer tries to refocus attention on national security issues:

The case for McCain is straightforward. The financial crisis has made us forget, or just blindly deny, how dangerous the world out there is. We have a generations-long struggle with Islamic jihadism. An apocalyptic soon-to-be-nuclear Iran. A nuclear-armed Pakistan in danger of fragmentation. A rising Russia pushing the limits of revanchism. Plus the sure-to-come Falklands-like surprise popping out of nowhere.

This is a common conservative conceit — that progressive approaches to national security might be good enough if you don’t really care, but in a dangerous world you need to turn to conservative ideas. Here it’s instructive to consider the record. Even if you engage in the conservative conceit that George W. Bush deserves no blame for 9/11 even though his administration came into office and explicitly chose to put al-Qaeda on the back-burner, it can’t be said often enough that more Americans — and orders of magnitude more people — have died as a result of invading Iraq than died on 9/11. In non-proliferation terms, the situation is worse in Iran than it was when Bush took office. And the situation is much worse in North Korea than it was when Bush took office. Russia starting to push the limits of revanchism isn’t something that “just happened” it was a predictable — and, indeed, widely predicted — consequence of the Bush administration’s approach to Russia and general embrace of unilateralism. America’s standing in the eyes of the world is at its lowest ebb ever. Our level of influence in Latin America has declined precipitously on Bush’s watch. Israel’s security is more at risk than it was eight years ago, and Palestinian suffering is more intense than it was eight years ago. Osama bin Laden remains at large.

In March of 2001, Charles Krauthammer laid out the argument for a new approach to the world, one he believed — rightly — that George W. Bush would embrace:


In the liberal internationalist view of the world, the U.S. is merely one among many — a stronger country, yes, but one that has to adapt itself to the will and the needs of “the international community.” That is why the Clinton Administration was almost manic in pursuit of multilateral treaties — on chemical weapons, biological weapons, nuclear testing, proliferation. No matter that they could not be enforced. Our very signing would show us to be a good international citizen.

This is folly. America is no mere international citizen. It is the dominant power in the world, more dominant than any since Rome. Accordingly, America is in a position to reshape norms, alter expectations and create new realities. How? By unapologetic and implacable demonstrations of will.

We’ve been following Krauthammer’s advice for years. Has it delivered a peaceful and secure world? No, it has not. Not just according to me, but according to Krauthammer himself. To Krauthammer the “solution” to the peace and prosperity of the Clinton years was neoconservatism. With neoconservatism having created a dangerous and insecure world, his solution is — more neoconservatism. And yet somehow it’s supposed to be the people who want to stop pursuing failed policies who are said to be blind to the troubled nature of the present.