In a few months, it will be 15 years since Pat Buchanan, Taki, and I first met to talk about starting TAC. The need for a non-neoconservative voice on the right, beyond the estimable Chronicles, had been clear for quite some time, but the 9/11 attack and the establishment response crystallized it. It was then clear that almost the entirety of right-wing media, at least the media that anyone in Congress or a position of power saw, was going to, at least for a while, uncritically go along with the neoconservative agenda—which was, as Norman Podhoretz candidly put it in the Wall Street Journal, regime change in the Mideast from Teheran to Rabat. “We may willy nilly find ourselves forced to topple five or six or seven more tyrannies in the Islamic world,” he wrote, after first destroying the governments of Iraq and Iran.
This kind of thing was being broadcast all the time, and the voices of opposition were scant. There were paleocons, grouped around Chronicles and the important website antiwar.com, and plenty of normal or moderate Republican realists who under their breath voiced their doubts in the halls of the Council of Foreign Relations and (for a few) in Congress. But with Netanyahu receiving rapturous applause in the halls of Congress, the War Party seemed politically omnipotent and unstoppable.
At TAC, of course, we couldn’t stop it, but we could analyze the domestic and international situation and try to understand how we—as conservatives—had arrived at that tragic juncture. It may have taken far too many trillions of dollars wasted, and far too many lives of Americans (and Iraqis) destroyed, but there is now at least a solidly based party of skepticism beyond the left about the stupidity of regime change as a strategy. The evidence so far is that President-elect Donald Trump shares it too!
Of course now, 15 years later, the tasks of a realistic conservatism—and a journal and website seeking to aid and abet it—are different. It is clear that the concerns voiced in Pat Buchanan’s Death of the West, published the same year TAC began, have arrived at the forefront of conversation. In Europe especially, it is not clear that what we have always known as a Western space—culturally Christian, with separation of church and state and a high regard for individual rights—will survive at all. And multiculturalism in the United States is not always a day at the beach, and may possibly turn into a recipe for endless strife. At the same time, the voices calling for a militarized foreign policy, of challenging every conceivable foreign power all over the globe all of the time, are as loud and insistent as ever. So, as it did 15 years ago, it falls upon TAC to fight both these battles, for a realistic and restrained foreign policy, for the survival of an American nation not torn asunder by the ever-escalating demands of multicultural extremists. Guiding both a sense of the limitations of men (and women). No, everything is not possible.
TAC has found financial backers during its life, but it could never have survived without support from readers. That remains as true today as it did in October 2002, when our first issue appeared. We’ve been influential, but to remain so we need funds—to pay writers, to hold conferences, to get our (and your) message out. Please do what you can!
Scott McConnell is a founding editor of The American Conservative.