July 9, 2004

"because Alexander had stood for moral and religious principles..."

I've been re-reading Rise of the Vulcans. One thing that I find fascinating is how far back many of our current arguments go. The battles waged now against "Realists," who want to cozy-up to dictators for the sake of stability, were also being fought in the 1970's...often by the same people! The Ford Administration started with Henry Kissinger having absolute control over foreign policy. No one else, not even the SecDef, could talk to the President about foreign affairs. Who fought him over this monopoly, and won? A couple of then-young guys named Rumsfeld and Cheney! That makes me appreciate them more than ever—they were fighting the good fight back when I was pondering whether longish hair was perhaps not really my style...

And here's another fellow we know:

...Wolfowitz was young, and his opinions attracted little attention at the time, but they were representative of the developing intellectual challenge to Kissinger from the political right.

During the summer of 1976, while still working at the arms control agency, Wolfowitz invited two Harvard graduate students to work for him as interns. One of them was Francis Fukuyama. Over dinner in his home one night, Wolfowitz gave the interns a critique of Kissinger's academic work A World Restored, an admiring portrait of how the Austrian statesman Metternich had established a durable balance of power in Europe in the early nineteenth century. It was a good book, Kissinger's best, Wolfowitz told the students, yet Kissinger had missed the point: The hero of this history was not Metternich, the realist. It was Tsar Alexander I of Russia, who had pushed for stronger action against Napoleon, because Alexander I had stood for moral and religious principles...(page 75)

I've heard critics sneer that the neocons were once among those who wanted to support authoritarian dictators as a bulwark against communism. (As if changing ones mind invalidates ones ideas. Silly) In fact, the story is only half-true. Straussians like Wolfowitz never thought that way. And those who did, most notably Jeanne Kirkpatrick, were Democrats. It was Ronald Reagan who wooed them, and put them in positions of power in his administration. Where their ideas then evolved into something very different. and stunningly successful.

It's a mark of the utter intellectual bankruptcy of their opponents, that we still have thrown at us, frequently, that "America supports dictators/death-squads/murder-of-nuns, etc. in Chile...Guatemala...El Salvador...blah blah blah." 30 years out-of-date!!! Dinosaurs! The neocons changed the policy 180° during Reagan's time, but the left still clings pathetically to the fable.

Posted by John Weidner at July 9, 2004 9:20 AM
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