It must be PNAC op-ed week. If you didn’t have enough fun with Kagan/Daalder, Tod Lindberg has arrived to repeat (in The Weekly Standard, of course)the standard “centrist” charge: the evil antiwar liberals are wrongfully attacking the “serious” people in the Democratic foreign policy establishment and the DLC more generally. “Serious” people such as, oh, maybe Michael O’Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack, whom Lindberg naturally defends against attacks from the blog left. Of course, disdain for the DLC is also held up as an example of some sort of perfidy, when it is probably the main proof that even the Kossacks can get some things right in spite of themselves.
Lindberg is right about one thing: the DLC isn’t going away, or at least it isn’t going quietly. They represent a dying ideology that is already unsuited to the times, but they retain enough institutional clout to live on despite this for many years. The DLC continues to have an outsized influence on Democratic foreign policy thinking, if such a word can used in this context, and its think tank, the Progressive Policy Institute, counts as its members several of the Democratic presidential candidates, naturally including Clinton. If none of the candidates showed up at the latest DLC event, it is not because the candidates have abandoned liberal interventionism, nor have they all repudiated some of the lessons that the DLC taught to the party about appealing to middle-class and “moderate” voters. On the contrary, the major candidates seem more wedded to the horrid interventionist idea than ever, and the main three candidates have been practically falling over themselves to remind people that they, too, believe in God. Where the party and the DLC now disagree strongly is over Iraq, and, at least as far as foreign policy goes, they really disagree only over Iraq. Once the war there is over (as it will be, eventually, one day), the Kossacks and the like may be horrified to discover that New Democrats, or those who have learned to follow in their footsteps, continue to dictate the terms of the debate on foreign policy for the foreseeable future. This is because, despite all of the whining about “purges” in the Democratic Party, there have not actually been any effective purges of the foreign policy intellectuals who signed on for the Iraq war or who embrace activist foreign policy more generally. While the Kossacks wield more influence today than in past cycles, they will not be filling out the ranks of a future Democratic administration. The wonks tied to this foreign policy establishment will be the ones shaping and implementing policy. In fact, in the future the Kossacks, ever a party-oriented group interested mainly in having Democrats win elections, will almost certainly endorse the bad policies of a “centrist” Democratic President, even if these policies are nothing more than a refined or slightly modified version of what is being done today. This is a shame, since hardly anyone deserves the blog left’s attacks more than these “centrists.”