Daniel, I was also drawn to paleoconservatism because I opposed the NATO intervention in the Balkans. You write,
I have always understood the general paleo sympathy for the Serbs to have been based in first of all a respect for truth and a sense of fairness.
How high-minded of us! Fine as it goes. But then you say this:
It is therefore somewhat ironic that those defending the Serbs against unfair and malicious criticism and urging non-interference in the Balkans were, by and large, traditional Catholics who had no obvious confessional reason to sympathize with the Serbs, except that they saw that the people that had fought on the Allied side in two world wars was no enemy of America and no American interest could possibly be served by mauling and dismembering our historic ally. If that kind of argument is unattractive to the MARs, I’m not sure what can be done about it.
This distorts the point I was trying to make. The strongest paleoconservative argument was not that Serbs had been an ally in two world wars. Or that their plight deserved our sympathy, even if Milosovic was an opportunistic thug. MARs were not interested in protecting ancient Orthodox monasteries from molestation, because that’s just the right thing to do. MARs wouldn’t shed a tear if American bombers wiped every single one of these off the face of the planet if they thought it was in the legitimate security interests of the United States. MARs (and many others) were more concerned that American kids were being involved in a war that no one seemed to understand, in a country they didn’t care about, and didn’t pose a threat to Americans.
I have less connection to Serbia than I do to Ghana (I’ve at least known priests who work in Ghana). I never want to see the United States conduct an air-campaign against a political faction in Ghana. But if it ever came to that, my biggest concern would be for our troops (and whatever blowback might result), not Ghana’s historical landmarks. The attractive thing about paleoconservatism is that it doesn’t constantly involve my sympathies in the affairs of other nations — even if I could determine, upon study and reflection, the justice of their grievances.
Ultimately, I believe that paleos in the late 90s were right on the merits. I just believe they put too much into their defense of Serbia in itself. The fact that the intervention jeopardized American blood and treasure for no good reason is enough. If you asked one of Sam Francis’ MARs in 1998 what they thought of Serbians you would have received no answer at all or something that sounded vaguely hostile like: Who the hell cares? You call it “ironic” that paleo-intellectuals came to defend Serbia. I think MARs, their supposed social base, would have found it a little weird.