Scowcroft and the Other GOP
Brent Scowcroft has been grumbling quietly in the background about the Iraq War, and with good reason. Amy Davidson interviewed Jeff Goldberg about his article in the current New Yorker about the Scowcroft/Bush 43 split. Here's a telling quote:
Are the conservatives turning against the neoconservatives?
They’ve been doing so for some time. Just read George Will. Their complaint is that neoconservatives aren’t conservative; they’re liberals with guns. Conservatives tend to take Scowcroft’s more jaundiced view of human nature. Paul Wolfowitz, on the other hand, is a liberal, but a liberal who believes that transformation can be brought about by force, not just persuasion. Obviously, there are other breaches within the Republican Party, on the Harriet Miers nomination, on spending, and on and on.
They're liberals with guns.
The enlightenment/liberal political project has long seen its ultimate end as a world government--from the League of Nations, to the UN, to the EU. The purpose is noble enough--to sublimate human conflicts from war into political/legal discourse. As Joseph Ellis notes, the greatest success story of channelling regional discord from potential war into a stance of 'agree to disagree' political tumult was the adoption of the US Constitution.
But Russell Kirk, intellectual father of 20th century conservatism, clearly enshrines "recognition of the need to cultivate affection for the multiplicity and variety of traditional life and custom, in opposition to the narrow and reductionist ideologies of equalitarian and utilitarian social schemes" (Link) as one of the bedrock principles of conservatism. A policy of serially injecting democracy into traditional societies from the outside is not consistant with a comprehensive conservative outlook. And a liberal certainly would not be so cavalier about the use of force. The neoconservatives have managed to combine the worst tendencies of each end of the political spectrum.
GW Bush is not a conservative, he is an evangelical; American political, economic, religious and cultural norms are his gospel. As president, he has the military means to be a crusader. We need to check any other adventures into Syria or Iran, before his disjointed and ungrounded policies do more harm.
Hat tip to Charging RINO