Former New Republic editor Peter Beinart does some good work, but I remember feeling pangs of cognitive dissonance earlier this year when I started hearing about The Icarus Syndrome, his book on foreign-policy hubris. I thought I must have Beinart confused with the guy who wrote The Good Fight, a manifesto for liberal hawks, four or five years ago. In the latest National Interest, David Rieff has an excellent essay on the two Beinarts, who are really one — a smart but superficial pundit who tracks conventional center-left wisdom:
Beinart has done nothing if not follow the times. In his new book, The Icarus Syndrome: A History of American Hubris, Cold War liberalism as the key to victory over totalitarianism abroad and a fairer and more humane society at home, has gone the way of Bukharin in a Stalin-era Soviet encyclopedia. It has been replaced by a new explanatory key, radically different from but no less simplistic than the one Beinart put forward in The Good Fight, which, reading his latest offering, one would barely know he had ever written.