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The Education of Paul Ryan

Don’t know who the “others” are, but why wouldn’t Ryan take his foreign-policy advice from the neocons? After all, is there any other perspective worth listening to in the Republican Party? Seriously, Elliott Abrams is a smart guy whose most interesting statement is that Jews, unless they live in Israel, should “stand apart” from the nation in which they live. Who better to interpret America’s national interests in the Middle East?

Frederick Kagan and his wife Kimberly come from the war-loving Kagan clan; most recently the two have lambasted Obama for pulling American troops out of Iraq. “Forever War” might as well be engraved on the family crest.

Paul. . . dear Paul, please pay attention. Of course there’s no reason not to know what the neocons are thinking and saying; they are beyond dispute an influential faction. But just as you put serious effort into learning about economics, try to put a comparable amount into figuring out how and why the neoconservatives have been so dramatically and tragically wrong. There are many good places to start: I would recommend Jacob Heilbrunn’s fine book, and some of the essays of Frank Fukuyama or Michael Lind, or the  books by Gary Dorrien, or Stefan Halper and Jonathan Clarke.

If you think the United States got its two trillion dollars worth out of the Iraq venture, you could just stay in your lane, look for new ways to squeeze savings out of Medicare, and leave the big picture thinking to the boys at the Weekly Standard. And of course if you’re interested in getting a different perspective on foreign policy, the books here, in a list prepared for your predecessor, would be an excellent place to start.

about the author

Scott McConnell is a founding editor of The American Conservative and the author of Ex-Neocon: Dispatches From the Post-9/11 Ideological Wars. Follow him on Twitter at @ScottMcConnell9.

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