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The Woeful Inadequacy of Never-Trumpism

In December, Susan Glasser, Politico’s chief international affairs columnist, interviewed Max Boot and Eliot A. Cohen [1] for her weekly podcast, The Global Politico.

The result is an extended lamentation of sorts, with Boot and Cohen expressing the angst that now afflicts what used to be called the Republican foreign policy establishment. Yet the exchange, moderated by Glasser, also helps us understand why that establishment was blindsided by the Trump phenomenon. Even today, its members are either unable or unwilling to acknowledge that the voters who repudiated their views by casting ballots for Trump might have had cause to do so.

Prior to its implosion, Boot and Cohen had achieved measures of prominence in that establishment. Boot is a prolific journalist and has served as foreign policy advisor to Republican presidential candidates who invariably lose. Cohen, who teaches at the Johns Hopkins University, is the author of several highly regarded books and was a high-ranking State Department official during the presidency of George W. Bush.

Glasser makes no effort to conceal her regard for her guests. In her introduction, she describes Boot as “fantastic” and Cohen as “great.” (Boot quickly insists that Cohen also merits the accolade “fantastic.”) Yet what really interests Glasser is that her guests represent, in her estimation, “the heart of the #NeverTrump foreign policy resistance.” Furthermore, they are no Johnny-come-latelies to the cause. They have resisted from the outset, their campaign dating back to the moment Trump entered the political arena, or, as Boot puts, it “from day one, when he rode down that damn escalator at the Trump Tower and started bashing Mexicans.”

Prodded by Glasser, Boot and Cohen heap obloquy on a president whom they describe as “incredibly erratic and unpredictable,” “blustery,” “terrifying” (twice), “reckless,” “appalling,” “ignorant,” and “dangerous.” Cohen decries Trump’s lack of character. His critique of Trump’s policies is sober, thoughtful, and relentless. By comparison, Boot comes across as slightly unhinged. Per Boot, Trump “kowtows to dictators and undermines American support for freedom and democracy around the world.” He engages in “the most blatant xenophobia, racism, and general bigotry that we have seen from the White House.” Although Boot fancies himself a historian, his grasp of America’s past is, to put it mildly, selective.

Stylistically, they differ: Cohen reasons; Boot hyperventilates. Yet substantively, they are on the same page.

I happen to admire Cohen as an analyst, writer, and thoroughgoing patriot, even when I disagree with his specific prescriptions for policy. As for Boot, to my mind, his ranking among members of the commentariat qualifies as something of a mystery. Even so, I confess to envying (even while finding inexplicable) his ability to publish in all the toniest outlets and to get himself on TV.

Yet when it comes to their finding Trump unfit for office, all I can say is #MeToo. I am in complete agreement.

Where I part company from Boot and Cohen is in understanding how we managed to find ourselves in our present fix. Why did so many of our fellow citizens vote for Trump in the first place? On this point, in their exchange with Glasser at least, Boot and Cohen, both self-described conservatives, settle for the sort of explanation you might expect from confirmed lefties: pervasive bigotry within the rank-and-file of the Republican Party. As Boot puts it, “There is a lot of prejudice, racism, homophobia, all sorts of dark impulses out there.”

True enough. Yet Boot and Cohen specialize not in dark impulses, but in America’s role in the world. Could popular unhappiness with the recent course of U.S. foreign policy have contributed to Trump becoming president? The possibility is one they seem unwilling to consider.

At one point, Glasser gently (or perhaps mischievously) tries to steer the discussion toward “the war in Iraq that you both supported” and that Trump claims (falsely) to have opposed. Might Iraq and its sequelae have had something to do with Trump’s amazing ascent? Boot and Cohen refuse to take the bait. Iraq should be the subject of a “separate podcast,” Cohen insists.

Mark that down as a missed opportunity.

While no single factor explains why Trump won the presidency, it would surely be a mistake to exclude foreign policy. To put it another way, along with whatever dark impulses the masses may harbor, the hubris to which foreign policy elites succumbed after the Cold War played a not-insignificant role. The 2003 invasion of Iraq represents the ultimate expression of that hubris.

Those who called for invading Iraq erred on at least five counts. They misconstrued U.S. security interests while completely disregarding the interests of other nations. They credited those charged with formulating and implementing basic U.S. policy with undeserved competence. They overestimated the efficacy of American military power. They wildly underestimated costs. And they failed utterly to anticipate the second- and third-order consequences.

Note, however: If those errors were on particularly vivid display in Iraq, they were by no means confined to Iraq. Indeed, they constitute the through-line of U.S. policy throughout the period from the end of the Cold War to the election of Donald Trump.

What accounts for their pervasiveness? I submit that members of the foreign policy elite, Democrats as well as Republicans, radically misread the implications of the Cold War’s end—all the nonsense about a “sole superpower” exercising “global leadership” as history’s “indispensable nation.”

It didn’t require dark impulses to persuade Americans in 2016 to disregard would-be presidents given to reciting such shibboleths. All they had to do was to inventory the number of ongoing and unsuccessful military campaigns of the past quarter-century.

We need the likes of Eliot Cohen and (even) Max Boot to help in identifying an approach to statecraft that is more realistic, more modest, and more effective—and that might offer an escape from permanent war. Yet a necessary first step will be to shed the delusions to which the end of the Cold War gave birth. And that’s not easily done.

Put yourself in poor Boot’s boots. Trump’s election, he tells Glasser, “has really shaken me to the core.” “Every day I wake up,” he sputters, “and I’m outraged by something that Trump has done.” Boot once “believed in that Reaganesque vision of America as a city on a shining hill” and he wants to do so again. It’s asking a lot for him to admit that it’s always been a crock of bull.

Andrew Bacevich is TAC’s writer-at-large.

50 Comments (Open | Close)

50 Comments To "The Woeful Inadequacy of Never-Trumpism"

#1 Comment By grin without a cat On January 2, 2018 @ 10:40 pm

Prodded by Glasser, Boot and Cohen heap obloquy on a president whom they describe as “incredibly erratic and unpredictable,” “blustery,” “terrifying” (twice), “reckless,” “appalling,” “ignorant,” and “dangerous.”

Sounds like what people were saying about Ronald Reagan!

#2 Comment By tz On January 2, 2018 @ 10:43 pm

Yet when it comes to their finding Trump unfit for office, all I can say is #MeToo. I am in complete agreement.

The problem is that with a few exceptions I can count on one hand (Republicans who weren’t nominated like Ron Paul), every one since Reagan has been unfit for office.

Democrats are 100% unfit.

But we have an office, a process, and Trump won.

Also considering what he accomplished in his first year, it all but convinces me to ONLY elect those “unfit” for office going forward. Look who Bush appointed to the Supreme Court – Meyers, oh, I mean Roberts. Mitt Romneycare wouldn’t do anything on Obamacare except make things worse.

So the fit are corrupt cronies who will sell out the American people.

Why do you say Trump is unfit?

#3 Comment By Lenny On January 2, 2018 @ 11:03 pm

The Southern strategy has achieved its goal.

#4 Comment By Anne Mendoza On January 2, 2018 @ 11:45 pm

Is the U.S. even capable of admitting to losing a war? So far, we haven’t been. Until we are, post Cold War fever dreams of our magnificence and invincibility will continue to drive our militarized statecraft from one ruinously expensive failure and disaster to another. Even now, after so many years of one abject failure after another in the Middle East, we have decided – without discussion, debate or public interest – to maintain a permanent, illegal military presence in Syria (also known as a foreign occupation) despite the irrefutable fact that we lost the war in Syria which war was never sanctioned by Congress or the U.N. This is pure lawlessness.

I have no confidence in our foreign policy leadership, military leadership, or Congressional leadership to break with the failed status quo. The same goes for the chattering class who appear incapable of original or independent thought with few exceptions. I also have no confidence in the American people to do more than reflexively thank the beleaguered troops for their service and otherwise briefly fetishize the U.S. military at professional sports events in garish patriotic displays.

#5 Comment By Bankotsu On January 3, 2018 @ 12:48 am

These two, Eliot Cohen and Max Boot shouldn’t even have jobs. They are total frauds and charlatans. Writing political garbage all day long and endless warmongering.

#6 Comment By Andrew On January 3, 2018 @ 1:43 am

Reading that interview is to understand, viscerally, that everything Paul Gottfried, Buchanan, the late Sam Francis and others have been saying about the Body Snatcher takeover of the Conservative movement of the last 40 years has been true, and, if anything, they undersold it. Does anyone believe these two leftwing-sounding snobs-after 8 years of Obama and all the bad faith racial stirring up he did, to now decide Trump is some spokesman of white bigotry and oh, how naive they were for not being cognizant of all the bigotry of a white voters GOP-can anyone imagine so-called “foreign policy experts” like these hanging around and advising the Eisenhower Administration or even the Nixon Administration? The real scandal of conservatism is how many phoney baloney left-wing intellectuals who have nothing but contempt for what is left of Anglo America have been given prominent places in the bureaucratic pyramid and now get to complain about how “they can’t be Republicans anymore”, boo hoo hoo. Both Cohen and Boot have been promoted by NRO and others as prominent conservatives; they sound indistinguishable from leftist academics in that Politico interview.

The irony of it all, that a doofus like Donald Trump, not Pat Buchanan, is the elected Republican who exposed all this. It’s just mind boggling.

#7 Comment By MIKE MAUNEY On January 3, 2018 @ 6:57 am

I have lived in the core Trump territory for decades, the rural south. While I agree with most of Bacevich’s critics of neo-con policies and positions, he is dead wrong if he thinks these policies drove Trump voters to the polls. Boot got it right- Trump and before him, Jessie Helms, are not outliers but an expression of the core motivation of majority of Trump voters-” pervasive bigotry within the rank-and-file of the Republican Party”

#8 Comment By blackhorse On January 3, 2018 @ 7:06 am

“Could popular unhappiness with the recent course of U.S. foreign policy have contributed to Trump becoming president?” Yes. The pugnacious Jacksonian base (hit us, we’ll hit back)was never much for the elites (T) Rooseveltian adventuring. Trump inadvertently threaded the needle, appealing to the former (MAGA) while dissing the latter. Also would go a ways to explaining why arch-Wilsonian Clinton seen by some as a viable alternative.

#9 Comment By SDS On January 3, 2018 @ 9:26 am

“While no single factor explains why Trump won the presidency, it would surely be a mistake to exclude foreign policy.”

Gee…ya’ think? It was the ONLY reason I voted for him….precisely when he said that Iraq was a big mistake and a fraud….and Hillary and the parrots in the Republican party all supported it…

“Those who called for invading Iraq erred on at least five counts. They misconstrued U.S. security interests while completely disregarding the interests of other nations. They credited those charged with formulating and implementing basic U.S. policy with undeserved competence. They overestimated the efficacy of American military power. They wildly underestimated costs. And they failed utterly to anticipate the second- and third-order consequences.”

…not to mention the minor addition that they outright lied about the threat posed by Saddam….which was none at all…and the American people bought it..

#10 Comment By Field Cady On January 3, 2018 @ 9:41 am

Ross Douthat’s book Bad Religion has interesting thoughts about this “city on a a hill” delusion. He sees it as a form of heresy considering the pseudo-religious reverence toward the USA. It’s maybe the attitude that disgusts me the most in modern political discourse – it just reeks of hubris and willful ignorance.

#11 Comment By J Harlan On January 3, 2018 @ 10:04 am

How can you write a piece about why Trump won without mentioning the distrust and in many cases hatred Clinton engendered?

The voters were given two bad choices and many chose the one without a track record for failure in public office.

BTW it appears that the economy is improving and IS is largely rounded up. After a year in office what more could you ask for?

#12 Comment By Douglas Skinner On January 3, 2018 @ 10:58 am

As someone who spend about 17 years working inside the Beltway I came across folks like Cohen and Boot–not them precisely but in their mold–seemingly possessing an aura and catching every ear. Yet, upon close inspection one could legitimately ask “where is the there?” I never could see it. They weren’t smarter, wiser or even all that well spoken yet it was an unstated assumption that they were the “grownups” and we the strap hangers or “children”. Washington likes a certain kind of appearance and that’s about all. I’ve said to some of my young colleagues that it is a myth to think Washington is about politics–which includes some attempt to answer the question concerning how shall our society be properly ordered. Rather it is about getting positions and their rewards; about raw headcounts when it comes to elections and about how preferment is to be doled out after them. When Americans say they want to take politics out of Washington, I think that’s what they really mean. And the only solution is to “drain the swamp.” Go Trump!!!

#13 Comment By Lee Green On January 3, 2018 @ 11:00 am

“Those who called for invading Iraq erred on at least five counts. They misconstrued U.S. security interests while completely disregarding the interests of other nations. They credited those charged with formulating and implementing basic U.S. policy with undeserved competence. They overestimated the efficacy of American military power. They wildly underestimated costs. And they failed utterly to anticipate the second- and third-order consequences.

Note, however: If those errors were on particularly vivid display in Iraq, they were by no means confined to Iraq. Indeed, they constitute the through-line of U.S. policy throughout the period from the end of the Cold War to the election of Donald Trump.”

Agreed, but too narrow. The five errors you cite didn’t begin at the end of the Cold War. They go all the way back to the origins of the Vietnam War, in the late 1940s, when we abandoned our stated principles in favor of helping France regain its colonial holdings in SE Asia. We made the same five mistakes in the Middle East, with Operation TP-AJAX. We didn’t start making those errors (especially the fifth) after the Cold War, we made them all through it. Despite the undoubted intellect of the people involved, our post-WWII foreign policy has been remarkably immature and imprudent.

#14 Comment By Bobbyc On January 3, 2018 @ 11:07 am

>>> Those who called for invading Iraq erred on at least five counts

Well, six, really. That being that the US had no legal or moral reason to invade a sovereign country.

The inability to see, let alone discuss that point, is why Trump got elected. And he is doing exactly what people elected him to do.

#15 Comment By Paul De Palma On January 3, 2018 @ 11:10 am

Thanks, once again, for an important and thoughtful piece.

#16 Comment By Christian Chuba On January 3, 2018 @ 11:14 am

Both Trump and Boot agree that the United States are the sole world superpower, with Russia/China being revisionists, their only disagreement is how to handle the provinces.

The differences at this point are window dressing. Max Boot wants soaring rhetoric on spreading democracy but is fine with creating an Arab NATO to oppose Iran and doesn’t give a flip if the Saudis starve Yemen. Trump says he opposes nation building but is continuing our forever war in Afghanistan which is nominally a democracy that we created. Trump refuses to insult Putin but has expanded NATO, kept sanctions in place and is sending arms to Ukraine and keeping that front hot.

Both Trump and Max Boot believe that the U.S. has the right to act unilaterally anywhere in the world when we want to have have a hissy fit when someone opposes us (Trump bombed Syria within 48hrs). So where is this big disagreement?

Boot is just arguing around the edges, a formal recognition of the Kurds instead of a defacto one being enforced by our air force and 5,000 troops in Syria.

Talk about drama queens.

#17 Comment By EarlyBird On January 3, 2018 @ 11:25 am

Permanent war is where the “indispensible nation” nonsense gets us. Something scary happens in some corner of the world, and who is there to fix it? “Only” America, the indispensible nation! America rushes in and screws things up worse, and who is left to fix it? “Only” America has the capability of doing so, which rushes in…! And on and on.

For all of the criticisms I have for Obama’s foreign policy, he did try to break this model, yes, even in consideration of Lybia and Yemen and his endless drone campaign. In Iraq and Syria he may get low marks for style, but on substance, considering the enormous pressure there is on presidents to always “do something!,” and in regard to Syria from his own hawkish Sec of State, for the most part he stayed out of it and we’re better off for it. Many presidents would have us hip deep in that mess right now.

#18 Comment By Rick Johnson On January 3, 2018 @ 11:27 am

I believe that the reason so many voted for Trump was that they saw in him an expression of their resistance to being marginalized.

White middle and working class voters struck back to regain their perceived heritage as founders and sustainers of America and its people. They refused to stand by and be democided by elites. The elite’s favorite terms “divers nation” and multi-culture” are oxymorons,which the Trump supporters understood from deep within.

The elites, the two in the interview and Bacevich himself, are incapable of feeling this deep, visceral welling up reaction to being under existential attack. But as Bannon has stated: culture drives politics. Trump has taken down the media, Hollywood, mass sports, and soon academia.

On both foreign and domestic policy, they cannot comprehend that Trump could possibly be operating at several levels above their ability of perception. They inhabit a cloistered world of media and academia and exhibit clear evidence of provincialism.

#19 Comment By Rick Johnson On January 3, 2018 @ 11:30 am

I believe that the reason so many voted for Trump was that they saw in him an expression of their resistance to being marginalized.

White middle and working class voters struck back to regain their perceived heritage as founders and sustainers of America and its people. They refused to stand by and be democided by elites. The elite’s favorite terms “divers nation” and multi-culture” are oxymorons, which the Trump supporters understood from deep within.

The elites, the two in the interview and Bacevich himself, are incapable of feeling this deep, visceral welling up reaction to being under existential attack. And as Bannon has stated: culture drives politics. Trump has taken down the media, Hollywood, mass sports, and soon academia.

On both foreign and domestic policy, they cannot comprehend that Trump could possibly be operating at several levels above their ability of perception. They inhabit a cloistered world of media and academia and exhibit clear evidence of provincialism.

#20 Comment By Dan Phillips On January 3, 2018 @ 11:43 am

It is very much debatable that Trump did not oppose the Iraq War from the start as the author suggests. The evidence that he did, as far as I am aware, is an off-handed remark on the Howard Stern Show. This is vs. extensive on the record criticisms after the War began.

#21 Comment By Gary Rose On January 3, 2018 @ 11:50 am

The last time Ron Paul ran for President, during the debates he would assert that it was time for the US to bring troops home, and stop being the world’s policeman. And he received loud cheers from Republican audiences. I said at the time it appeared the seed was planted for someone to take up that frustration.
Trump began his campaign criticizing the catastrophic decision to invade Iraq, and placed blame squarely, at least in the primaries, on Bush, claiming the stunning costs would have been spent on U.S. needs. This distinguished Trump as a truth-teller in the face of Republicans’ refusal to acknowledge the obvious.
And there is research suggesting that those voting districts with high war casualties tended to support Trump over Clinton, [2] and many Bernie folks could not stand Clinton for her hawkish foreign policy on Iraq, Libya, Syria, etc. and fawning over Netanyahu and Israel. I’m sure it cost her votes on the left.

#22 Comment By Michael Sheridan On January 3, 2018 @ 11:55 am

My worldview and that of Max Boot differ widely, although our opinion of Trump would definitely make up part of the narrow Venn diagram intersection.

I probably do put too much emotional stock in the America as a shining “city on a hill” myth. However, whatever Max Boot thinks he believes, he has not been a proponent of this ideal in his written work. No one who is as fond of foreign intervention as Boot (like most of our politicians–left or right) truly understands what that figure of speech represents, either in the Bible or in the usage of past American orators and statesmen. It means doing good at home and setting an example for the world to admire and hopefully follow. It doesn’t mean imposing our vision of an improved world by force. Past Presidents who have used this imagery have not been consistent in their actions. Kennedy got us into Vietnam, for instance. Reagan’s foreign policy was mostly admirably restrained when it came to use of the military (one of the few things I thought was genuinely conservative about his Presidency), but was still far too prone to illegal “covert” actions designed to destabilize nations we disliked. However, the fact that the actions of leaders do not always live up to their rhetoric doesn’t mean that because we deplore the action we must therefore reject the rhetoric, at least as an ideal.

#23 Comment By LouisM On January 3, 2018 @ 12:19 pm

Its only a mystery why Trump won for those who cannot see past Bill and Hillary Clinton’s and Obama’s façade.

For many, Hillary was despised from the day she said that she wasn’t the type of woman to “stay home” and bake cookies “standing by her man.”

Many people in political circles and in Arkansas who knew of this power couple despised them then but it didn’t take long for Hillary’s condescending and shrill personality to be displayed before the nation.

For more than a generation, Hillary has manipulated herself from First Lady to a Senator and from Senator to Secretary of State (and secretly owner and financier of the DNC). She invaded Libya to justify her resume not because it was a threat. It has been over 20 years of lies, denials, collusion, corruption, subterfuge and unproven associations with murders and coverups.

One denial more brazen and shrill than the last.

If you didn’t like Hillary Clinton then it wasn’t a middle of the road ambivalent dislike as one dislikes Broccoli. If you didn’t like Hillary then it was a visceral deep in the gut vitriolic hatred, even those who wouldn’t say it in public wanted her “locked up.”

Its as if there was a magnetic field or Hillary (Obama) were made of Velcro. People started to see the victimization minorities felt, the accusations of racism and prejudice, the campus riots, the violent organizations of Antifa and Black Lives Matters, the urban riots in Baltimore and Ferguson, etc etc etc as manipulations to get out the minority vote for the democratic party. The real victims (men, whites, poor and working class, Christians, conservatives, etc) were tired of being demonized and targeted by the DNC machine.

On Hillary’s book tour she claimed Trump was in her space giving acting as a mysogenist but watch the video. Hillary crossed into Trumps personal space during the debates every chance she got in an attempt to unnerve Trump. She (Hillary) was the abuser and manipulator.

Consciously or unconsciously people saw thru Hillary as she (and Obama and Bill) revealed themselves. Trump surged because he did not play the game by leftist terms. Trump did not follow politically correct speech which would have constrained his narrative and Trump went for blood when he hit back. There was no wimpy diplomatic nice guy response. Trumps verbal retorts were pure masculinity and testosterone. His retorts were the verbal equivalent of the WWF slam down and people were exhilarated. The shackles of defensiveness the DNC had put on non-minorities (men, whites, poor and working class, Christians, etc) fell away by Trump setting the example of sheet in your face bravado. I saw it everywhere. The left crying fascist and racist and bigot while others now shrugged it off as the ravings of a mentally emotionally deficient.

History will tell us whether Trump was a good president and what his failings were but in a matter of days, weeks Trump changed the cultural dynamic and is still changing the cultural dynamic. With nothing more than confidence and biting succinct retorts to leftists not seen since Reagan Trump changed the culture. You could easily say Romney or any of the other 17 candidates would make a better president and would be more qualified but none of the other candidates could have battled Hillary Clinton, the DNC and Obama…and now that we know the real degree of collusion and corruption within the DNC the accomplishments of Trumps battles are nothing short of genius if not miraculous.

#24 Comment By Professor Nerd On January 3, 2018 @ 12:23 pm

@Mike Mauney-
Completely agree. I live in Trumptown, Ohio. I truly wish that Trump voters had a critique of American foreign policy. They do not.
At the gym I frequent, the Trumpistas are afraid of going downtown. In the next breath they are eager to send young Americans to the Middle East. They literally say things like “let’s turn that sand into glass.” It is all macho posturing, much like their Orange Hero.

#25 Comment By Hersh On January 3, 2018 @ 12:43 pm

Whats really mystifying is how anyone can think “bashing Mexicans” is worse than starting the full scale invasion of Iraq on lies (Yes, they lied) and destroying civil life in Libya. What kind of people think Trump has a worse character than Bush and Obama? Bad people.

#26 Comment By Hersh On January 3, 2018 @ 12:51 pm

@Dan Phillips – One of the clues to how childish NeverTrumpers and AntiTrumpers are was how big a deal they made of “Eh, I guess so” on the Howard Stern show. In their childish minds, “Eh, I guess so” was the equivalent of Hillary Clinton having access to the special evidence room and not going, making speeches in support of the invasion, and voting for it. Lester Holt used up a lot of the first debate heroically nailing Trump to the mat about “Eh, I guess so.” I don’t think he asked Clinton about her vote, nor any tough question about anything.

And the voters saw it. Trump voters are not eager to invade any where. He’ll have the biggest problem with his own supporters if he wants to start any more wars. He should have packed up and gotten out of both Afghanistan and Korea.

#27 Comment By RVA On January 3, 2018 @ 1:04 pm

This is an old story, the ending of which was told by Sun Tzu, circa 500 BC, in the Art of War. No state has ever benefited from protracted war. We are witnessing the crumbling of America, on many many fronts, as the resources for renewal are squandered and hemorrhaged abroad in military adventures. Boot and Cohen are simply employees, paid by the MIC to explain to us unwashed masses why thousands of years of experience and common sense are untrue. Elite mismanagement, as they profit-seek, brings the crises, for which they need cheerleaders like Boot and Cohen. And now, after being continually wrong for decades, they are mystified why they are disregarded. We are all living long lives. There may yet be time for them to be sent to the countryside to grow vegetables, and be re-educated into becoming human, with regard for same.

#28 Comment By connecticut farmer On January 3, 2018 @ 1:24 pm

Contributor LouisM is on target. I was, and remain, no fan of Trump but the Clinton woman was simply unacceptable, a “congenital liar” in the immortal words of the late William Safire, whose main accomplishment was marrying a POTUS and who, aided and abetted by a fawning media, catapulted herself into prominence essentially on the basis of name recognition and little else (does anyone seriously believe that she had any qualifications whatsoever to serve as Sec’y of State?). Though it’s become a cliche’ by now the statement has to be repeated again: Trump was the middle finger from Middle America to The Beltway Culture.

And in the end Boot, Cohen etal. have no one but themselves to blame.

#29 Comment By Jeeves On January 3, 2018 @ 1:31 pm

Nothing to add except to say that I enjoyed the article and (nearly) all the comments. Makes me feel my contribution to TAC was money well-spent.

#30 Comment By EarlyBird On January 3, 2018 @ 2:25 pm

@Rick Johnson, you have it mostly right. Trumpets were tired of being told that they had to apologize for being white, male, straight and Christian by those who wrap themselves in the rhetoric of tolerance and diversity. It is the Social Justice Warriors on campuses, media and popular culture, and professional Democrats who cynically and divisively abetted them (see Hillary’s stupid use of girl power anthems at every rally), who brought us Trump. He is an atrocious leader, but an outstanding demagogue who really took hold of and gave expression to the zeitgeist.

#31 Comment By David Nash On January 3, 2018 @ 2:33 pm

I don’t know what these doofus goofuses are so mad about.
Trump is coming around to their way of thinking, that “they never saw a country they didn’t want to invade.” By the time Twitty-bird gets through his first round of insulting every nation we have ever been either an ally or an enemy of, we will have lots of conflict for these clueless cognoscenti to manage.
Bobbyc said it well, by what right do we presume to invade other nations which have not attacked us?

#32 Comment By Elizabeth Burton On January 3, 2018 @ 3:04 pm

“Even today, its members are either unable or unwilling to acknowledge that the voters who repudiated their views by casting ballots for Trump might have had cause to do so.”

Yet another example of how we really only have one political party these days, given that’s pretty much the “reason” the DNC uses for why HRC lost. Well, when they aren’t screeching about Russians.

#33 Comment By Bert Powers On January 3, 2018 @ 3:10 pm

I will tell you the main reason that I like Trump is because he has turned around the economy in a way that none of the other candidates could have. He has shrunk the size of the federal government. He appointed a true conservative to the Supreme Court.
He has created wealth and understands that the government does not. He defeated IS in one year. He cut taxes and aid to the UN and tried to roll back Obamacare…….

#34 Comment By One Guy On January 3, 2018 @ 4:44 pm

Hey, Bert Powers, don’t forget that Trump has made commercial air travel safe again!!

#35 Comment By Hyperion On January 3, 2018 @ 4:52 pm

Here are some of Cohen’s wisdom on Iraq (from Wiki): After Afghanistan, what? Iraq is the big prize… One important element will be the use of the Iraqi National Congress to help foster the collapse of the regime, and to provide a replacement for it. The INC, which has received bad, and in some cases malicious treatment, from the State Department and intelligence community over the years, may not be able to do the job with U.S. air support alone.

I had forgotten the Iraqi National Congress. That was Chalabi’s shop. Sheesh. Cohen should be laughed off the stage for that. But he continues to fail upward.

#36 Comment By VikingLS On January 3, 2018 @ 5:10 pm

“I came across folks like Cohen and Boot–not them precisely but in their mold–seemingly possessing an aura and catching every ear. Yet, upon close inspection one could legitimately ask “where is the there?” I never could see it. They weren’t smarter, wiser or even all that well spoken yet it was an unstated assumption that they were the “grownups” and we the strap hangers or “children””

@Douglas Skinner

This is my impression as well, and as someone who actually had hands on, not a press junket or talking to expats, experience of parts of the world they were speculating on, pretty much the response they had to being told they were wrong was to name call.

#37 Comment By Cynthia McLean On January 3, 2018 @ 5:10 pm

It sure would be nice to claw back the billions$$$ Trump just passed on to the Pentagon/Defense Department/Home Land Security/military industrial complex for — roads, hospitals, schools, clean water etc etc. Too many have too many fingers in this honey-money pot to drop or even oppose US perpetual wars.
And that includes the mainstream media like WaPo and the NYT who cheerleaded us into Iraq 2003.

#38 Comment By wise_pharaoh On January 3, 2018 @ 5:27 pm

“-after 8 years of Obama and all the bad faith racial stirring up he did,”
“BTW it appears that the economy is improving and IS is largely rounded up. After a year in office what more could you ask for?”

“Trumpets were tired of being told that they had to apologize for being white, male, straight and Christian by those who wrap themselves in the rhetoric of tolerance and diversity.”

And then there is this
“I will tell you the main reason that I like Trump is because he has turned around the economy in a way that none of the other candidates could have. He has shrunk the size of the federal government.
He has created wealth and understands that the government does not. He defeated IS in one year. He cut taxes and aid to the UN and tried to roll back Obamacare…….”

As I read through this thread, I have had to pinch myself as I thought I was in an alter universe.

#39 Comment By JonF On January 3, 2018 @ 6:23 pm

Re: The elites, the two in the interview and Bacevich himself, are incapable of feeling this deep, visceral welling up reaction to being under existential attack.

Words have meaning and “Existential attack” is an attack that threatens one’s existence. Having snobbish elites say rude about you may injure your pride and self-worth, but it is not remotely a threat to your existence.

#40 Comment By Tyro On January 3, 2018 @ 6:31 pm

Could popular unhappiness with the recent course of U.S. foreign policy have contributed to Trump becoming president?

No. Americans love all the foreign policy muscle-flexing bluster of George W Bush types. Boot was a conservative golden boy, and I defy you to find an essay of his from the 00s that Trump voters would disagree with.

#41 Comment By RR On January 3, 2018 @ 9:36 pm

Trump is a real piece of work and is completely unqualified to serve as president. Still, Bacevich is correct that folks such as Cohen and especially a diehard ideologue such as Boot are utterly clueless as to how Trump was elected in the first place. While there were indeed many reasons, what ultimately paved the way for the rise of Trump was a loss of faith by so many Americans in our elites. This is largely due to their incompetence and in some cases outright criminality (which of course has gone unpunished) in disasters such as the Iraq War and the 2008 economic crash, disasters which have disproportionately hurt the middle and working class. The contempt that elites hold for middle and working class people doesn’t help either. As others have pointed out, many people have a deep hatred for Hillary Clinton because of her long history of lies and immoral behavior. In addition, she epitomizes the failure of the elites with her support for unnecessary wars and Wall Street.

Although I wish someone else besides Trump were president, I see no reason to mourn Hillary Clinton’s loss. Nor does it bother me that Trump’s election has shaken Boot “to the core” and causes him to “wake up every day outraged by something Trump has done.” All of that is rather fitting punishment that is self-inflicted in more ways than one.

#42 Comment By Mick On January 4, 2018 @ 2:50 am

Been TAC since beginning, have every issue, read every article, since Trump I sense a panic, anyhow.Trump won to punish the neo-lib-con war mongers not in our name, Syria, Lybia Iraq, Afgan, Yemen, now they want Iran, Russia, millions dead treasure gone, scary thing is democrats are more intent on world domination than republicans, Lybia was Hillary NATO State Dept. war of genocide.

#43 Comment By E On January 4, 2018 @ 3:01 am

MIKE MAUNEY says:
January 3, 2018 at 6:57 am
I have lived in the core Trump territory for decades, the rural south. While I agree with most of Bacevich’s critics of neo-con policies and positions, he is dead wrong if he thinks these policies drove Trump voters to the polls. Boot got it right- Trump and before him, Jessie Helms, are not outliers but an expression of the core motivation of majority of Trump voters-” pervasive bigotry within the rank-and-file of the Republican Party

No one takes this “pervasive bigotry” stuff seriously except the fools who repeat it.

#44 Comment By Fred On January 4, 2018 @ 8:19 am

Unable to find military service records for either of these two neocons. Honestly Washington, at least stop trotting out chickenhawks to do your war mongering.

#45 Comment By Brendan Sexton On January 4, 2018 @ 8:19 am

LouiseM said, “Trumps verbal retorts were pure masculinity and testosterone. His retorts were the verbal equivalent of the WWF slam down and people were exhilarated. The shackles of defensiveness the DNC had put on non-minorities (men, whites, poor and working class, Christians, etc) fell away by Trump setting the example of sheet in your face bravado.”
I understand and am sympathetic to many reasons Trump voters have brought forward for why they support(ed) him–including some of the strong objections to HRC–but this ‘reason,’ NOT. To have put our great experiment in self-government in the hands of a WWF-style, macho-blusterer and to have done so ON PURPOSE, this is to me unforgivable.
And I think this ‘reason’ explains millions of votes. Not all Trump votes, of course (although listening to them now, maybe one hell of a lot of them), but certainly enough to provide victory. Many too many.
Sorry–meaning no disrespect to LouiseM or other Trump supporters here, but this is not how to choose the leader of the Free World as we used to call this job.
It is disheartening.

#46 Comment By Dieter Heymann On January 4, 2018 @ 8:39 am

It is the very first rant of Trump on the campaign trail which provides much of the answer. His voters were not activated by white supremacy but by white angst.

#47 Comment By Brendan Sexton On January 4, 2018 @ 10:04 am

E said, “No one takes this “pervasive bigotry” stuff seriously except the fools who repeat it.”
I have never repeated it before this post, but i surely take it seriously. The GOP has *at best* done nothing at all to tame or better, expel those within the party who espouse or even act on bigotry. At less-than-best, and in very real instances, such as with Moore in Alabama or LePage in Maine, the party has done a great deal to celebrate and exploit bigotry for political gain.
So, some of us believe that the ‘pervasive bigotry’ stuff is a very real problem for the GOP especially but not only for them. It is a serious American problem.
And, one can believe this is an important element in the current voter trends and still have a serious discussion about the other stuff that bothered the folks who voted for DJT (as Donald Jr. calls him).

#48 Comment By Moi On January 4, 2018 @ 12:20 pm

Surprised the writer made no note of the fact that both Boot and Cohen are ardent Zionists always looking out for the welfare of Israel. But then again, perhaps that was obvious.

#49 Comment By Dave Sullivan On January 5, 2018 @ 6:10 am

It’s not difficult to see how trump got elected. There are still people who believe he was against the Iraq war, yet neglect to remember trump never was in a position where his opinion mattered, beyond a common voter. The only skin in the game for him, was in the dressing rooms at his pageants at the time. The trump vote is a repudiation of literacy, experience and manners. White victimhood has its’ day. The only thing on the mans’ resume was white privilege.

#50 Comment By my little pony On January 9, 2018 @ 9:36 pm

Max Boot and Eliot Cohen, eh? You’d hardly know it was 2018 …