Home/Daniel Larison/The Last Thing Republicans Need Is a “Neocon Revival”

The Last Thing Republicans Need Is a “Neocon Revival”

David Brooks imagines what a “neocon revival” could do for Republicans:

The conservatism that Kristol was referring to is neoconservatism. Neocons came in for a lot of criticism during the Iraq war, but neoconservatism was primarily a domestic policy movement. Conservatism was at its peak when the neocons were dominant and nearly every problem with the Republican Party today could be cured by a neocon revival.

Brooks tries to rehabilitate neocons by mostly ignoring the one thing that now distinguishes them from everyone else on the right, namely their disastrous foreign policy views. He talks about the “peak” of conservatism while failing to mention the ignominious collapse of the political fortunes of both Republicans and movement conservatism when neoconservatives exercised their greatest influence. Thanks in large part to the Iraq war debacle that neoconservatives eagerly demanded, Republicans lost a decades-old advantage on foreign policy that predated the Reagan era, and most conservatives mistakenly wasted eight years supporting a disastrous war because they followed the neoconservatives’ lead. Most neoconservatives defend that war even now, putting them bitterly at odds with the American public in a way that few others are.

Since the failures of “big government conservatism” in the last decade, there is nothing that neoconservatism has to offer today that would ameliorate any major Republican problem. Neoconservatives’ biggest blind spot and greatest obsession–support for a needlessly aggressive and overly militarized foreign policy–is itself one of those problems, and a “revival” of this would exacerbate the GOP’s woes rather than remedy them. If the GOP is to revive and reform into a competent governing party once more, a neocon revival is the last thing it needs.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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