|Works Discussed in This Essay:
Richard Gid Powers,
Robert M. Gates,
George F. Kennan,
The end of the Cold War has not been kind to the American left. As the opening of the Soviet archives has revealed, the Kremlin was, in fact, intent on conquering the globe to carry out a Marxist-Leninist revolution. Even in the United States, Yale University's new "Annals of Communism" series has demolished the revisionist pretensions of a band of New Left scholars who began contending in the 1980s that Moscow's hold over the American Communist Party was never as ironfisted as its foes had claimed.
Despite the efforts of a few redoubts such as the Nation to maintain the old faith, the torrent of archival revelations has resulted in a remarkable new genre on the left that might be called confessional journalism. One example came in the form of a March 19 New York Post column by Garry Wills, subtitled "It's time for the Left to admit that Richard Nixon was right" about Alger Hiss. Even more surprising, Nicholas von Hoffman, writing in the April 16 Washington Post, maintained that "enough new information has come to light about the Communists in the U.S. government that we may now say that point by point Joe McCarthy got it all wrong and yet was still closer to the truth than those who ridiculed him."
As might have been expected, the right greeted these mea culpas with a fresh round of Cold War triumphalism. An editorial in Hilton Kramer's New Criterion, for instance, concluded that Hoffman's essay "remains historically important as a statement of liberal guilt on the anti-anti-communist issue."
In fact, it was nothing of the kind. Before liberals begin paying homage to McCarthy, they would do well to recall that forgotten in the debate over the left has been another tradition: Cold War liberalism. Cold War liberalism played a leading role in the battle against communism when it was enunciated in the late 1940s by policymakers and intellectuals such as George F. Kennan, Walter Lippmann, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Reinhold Niebuhr, and Daniel Bell. It continued on with figures like Daniel Patrick Moynihan and in the pages of the Reporter, New Leader, and New Republic. Later, the neoconservatives usurped the traditions of Cold War liberalism and replaced them with illiberalism. Now that the neoconservatives are creating the new historical fiction that they singlehandedly won the Cold War, it is all the more urgent to reexamine the saga of American anticommunism.
THE ORIGINS OF ANTICOMMUNISM
Richard Gid Powers's Not Without Honor represents perhaps the most scholarly statement of the neoconservative case. Powers, a professor of history and the author of a fine biography of Herbert Hoover, traces the course of American anticommunism from the 1919 Red Scare to the rise of American communism in the 1930s to the emergence of neoconservatism in the 1970s. At times, his book resembles an encyclopedia entry when it delves into the anfractuosities of anticommunist movements. Lurking beneath the patina of scholarly reserve, however, is a book with a mission. That mission is to restore honor to the anticommunist tradition that Powers believes has been traduced by the left.
As Powers rightly observes, anticommunism had its origins in World War I in the clash between Leninist world revolution and Wilsonian liberal internationalism. Wilson had hesitated to join an alliance that included the autocratic Czar Nicholas II. After the first Russian revolution of March 1917 resulted in the creation of the democratic Petrograd government, however, Wilson could claim that America's partners were all fit for a "League of Honor." When the Bolsheviks seized power in October and bolted from the entente, Wilson was enraged: Russia, he declared, had become the "Judas of the nations."
For much of the American left, however, the Bolshevik revolution was the glorious revolution. "Powerless at home," writes Powers, "the American radical left was intoxicated with the sense of being part of an international movement that had won the revolution's first victory over the forces of capitalism, militarism, and imperialism." As Soviet communism was born, so was Ameri can anticommunism. Enraged by what they viewed as the disloyalty of the left, the young Justice Depart ment lawyer J. Edgar Hoover and his boss, Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer, launched the 1919 Red Scare.
Here Powers introduces his main theme: Anticommunism, sound at the core, was unfairly besmirched by the zealousness of some of its pro ponents. Through out, Powers's only concern is the damage that anticommunist excesses may have inflicted upon the cause itself rather than the harm it may have done to innocent individuals. Powers explains that the "most important consequence of Hoover's anticommunist campaign was to create that malevolent stereotype of anticommunism as an unconstitutional conspiracy against the left. After 1920, the history of American anticommunism was being written by its enemies, and myths about anticommunism were overshadowing the reality."
Yet Powers's own subsequent depictions of anticommunists in the 1920s do not bear out this assertion. Among the militant anticommunists who enjoyed a high public profile were Abraham Cahan, founder and editor of the Forward; Georgetown University educator Edmund Walsh; and George S. Schuyler, who was editor of the country's leading black newspaper, the Pittsburgh Courier. Myth did not overshadow reality on their watch. What is more, Powers shows that the '20s spawned numerous conspiracy theories on the right, ranging from the "Spider Web chart," distributed by the American Defense Society, to Nesta Webster's Secret Societies and Subversive Move ments, which in turn supplied the basis for Pat Robertson's The New World Order.
Unfortunately, Powers fails to mention the role played by Menshevik exiles in shaping American anticommunism. Key figures such as Boris I. Nicolaevesky, the editor of the New Leader, and Joseph Shaplen and Simeon Strumsky, both editors at the New York Times, worked to counter the pro-Soviet lies disseminated by much of the New York intelligentsia in the 1930s. One can only wonder why Powers fails to devote any attention to the pro-labor New Leader, which was one of the most influential anticommunist magazines in the United States in the 1930s and 1940s. Perhaps it is because the New Leader and the social democratic Menshe viks helped set the stage for the Cold War liberals.
Powers is on stronger ground in discussing the inroads communism made among American intellectuals in the 1930s. No twist or turn of the Kremlin was too audacious for the popular front movement to follow. For example, after Sidney Hook and John Dewey exposed the fraudulence of the Moscow show trials, Corliss Lamont and 87 other fellow travelers signed an Open Letter to American Liberals declaring that the "demand for an investigation of trials carried on under the legally constituted judicial system of the Soviet Government can only be interpreted as political intervention in the affairs of the Soviet Union with hostile intent."
Though the popular front was smashed on the rock of the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, Soviet communism's prestige reached its high-water mark during World War II. United States government wartime propaganda transformed Stalin's Russia into a noble ally fighting for the same goals as America's democratic allies. As usual, however, Powers goes overboard in complaining that the "war ended with a Communist Party on the ascendant, and a fellow-traveling left that had perfected the use of the brown smear against an embittered anticommunist community. . . ." The Soviet Union may have been rehabilitated during World War II, but the American Communist Party was not.
THE RISE OF LIBERAL ANTICOMMUNISM
The compelling story that Powers fails to tell because it would not fit in with his depiction of neoconservatism is the emergence in the late 1940s of a vigorous liberal anticommunism. Alarmed by Soviet aggrandizement in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, Harry S. Truman, who had himself initially harbored warm feelings toward Stalin, reversed Roosevelt's accommodationist policy toward Stalin. The administration was already in the process of adopting a confrontational policy toward the Soviet Union when George F. Kennan supplied the doctrinal buttressing in his 1946 "Long Telegram" and his July 1947 article in Foreign Affairs, which he signed "X." As Kennan observed in his memoirs, the widespread distribution of his essays meant that in official Washington "my voice now carried."
As an obscure junior officer in the Moscow embassy during World War II, Kennan had chafed at FDR's personal diplomacy with Stalin, which he viewed as based on naive and dangerous assumptions about the Soviet dictator's true intentions. Steeped in realist precepts about power, Kennan was convinced that any postwar order would have to be based on a spheres-of-influence deal rather than a utopian peace with the Kremlin. His "X" article famously called for a "long-term, patient but firm and vigilant containment of Russian expansive tendencies"—whence the term "containment" to describe liberal policy toward the Soviet Union.
Two years later, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.'s The Vital Center reiterated the liberal faith in democratic freedoms and offered a coherent and eloquent restatement of the need to confront the communist menace. Schlesinger, along with Reinhold Niebuhr, had already established the Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) as a rival to Henry Wallace's pro-Soviet Progressive Citizens of America. The Vital Center amounted to a programmatic statement for the ADA. Schlesinger announced the arrival of a new New Deal generation free of the ideological baggage that weighed down the left: "History had spared us any emotional involvement in the Soviet mirage." Echoing Kennan's more florid conclusion that the Ameri can people ought to feel a "certain gratitude to a Provi dence" that presented the communist challenge, Schlesin ger concluded that communism has "made us reclaim democratic ideas which a decade ago we tended to regret and even to abandon."
If the ADA types had played an important part in staring down the Wallacites in 1947, they also sought to inoculate the American public against the virus of McCarthyism. Daniel Bell, Richard Hofstadter, Peter Viereck, and other leading intellectuals sought to examine the rise of what they called the "paranoid style" in their landmark The Radical Right (1954). Hofstadter and Bell argued that the rise of the radical right was largely the product of "status anxiety" and concluded that an indiscriminate anticommunism could snuff out the very liberties it professed to protect. In Powers's hands, these insights get transmogrified into a putative "Adorno-Hofstadter-Bell theory" that McCarthyism and anticommunism were both irrational forces. But perhaps even Powers may look with a kindlier eye on the idea of a "paranoid style" on the right in light of the recent revelations about militia activity in Arizona and elsewhere.
By the late 1950s, a few liberals, such as the founding father of historical revisionism, William Appleman Williams, began to blame the United States for the Cold War. Had the United States, so the argument went, catered to Soviet sensitivities and apprehensions, the Cold War might never have begun. The Vietnam War gave credibility to the idea that the United States played the provocative role.
Vietnam was, of course, the great failure of Cold War liberalism. A moralistic self-confidence, which had its sources in the Kennedy administration's insistence on bearing any price for freedom, ended up plunging the United States into the jungles of Vietnam. Not until mainstream liberals such as Eugene McCarthy joined the antiwar movement did liberalism begin to divorce itself from the war. It was liberals, not conservatives, who finally recognized that the war was a disaster, and liberals rather than radicals who finally turned public opinion against it. But liberals had already inflicted a body blow to liberalism by dismissing the realist precepts of power as the fundamental ingredient in international relations. By confusing a peripheral with a vital American interest, junior Wise Men such as Dean Rusk and Robert McNamara ended up squandering the patrimony their elders had bequeathed them.
The result was nothing less than the intellectual collapse of the anticommunist consensus and its replacement by a more highly polarized left and right. One of the prime culprits was, in fact, Norman Podhoretz's Commentary, which was the first highbrow journal to begin running Cold War revisionist articles by the historians Staughton Lynd and H. Stuart Hughes. Podhoretz himself summarized the results of his September 1967 symposium "Liberal Anti-Communism Revisited" by observing, "Virtually all seem to agree that the American effort to contain Communism by military means cannot be justified either politically or morally in the double context of a polycentric Communist world and an unstable underdeveloped world seething with nationalist aspirations." In 1972, when George McGovern captured the Demo cratic presidential nomination, his adversaries charged that isolationism and anti-anticommunism appeared to have displaced liberal internationalism in the Democratic Party.
By that time, what might be called a counter-counterestablishment had begun to coalesce. Alarmed by the turn of black radicals against Israel during the 1967 war as well as the publishing threat posed by the appearance of the leftist New York Review of Books, Commentary moved back to anticommunism. "One man," Powers tell us, "summoned the will, the strength, and the imagination to commence the giant task of rebuilding the anticommunist coalition. This was Norman Podhoretz. . . ."
At this point the reader will do well to close Powers's elephantine book with a sigh and turn to John Ehrman's The Rise of Neoconservatism. Ehrman, a lecturer in history at George Washington University, writes in a lively and engaging manner. His book seeks to chronicle the impact on American foreign policy of Cold War liberals-turned-neoconservatives and offers a particularly penetrating account of Daniel Patrick Moynihan's intellectual odyssey. Though Ehrman does go astray at a few points, it is something of a relief to discover history rather than hagiography.
Initially, Podhoretz and his allies in the crusade against the New Left did not think of themselves as any shade of conservative. And they weren't. They were liberal anticommunists who looked upon the New Deal welfare state with approval. Their presidential candidate was Senator Henry M. Jackson. Like Jackson, they viewed both the left and right with misgivings, attacking Henry Kissinger's detentist brand of realpolitik as defeatist and indifferent to human rights. Some of the old-line liberal writers who joined Podhoretz were Irving Kristol, Ben Wattenberg, Penn Kemble, Midge Decter, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Theodore Draper, Walter Goodman, Seymour Martin Lipset, Walter Laqueur, Robert W. Tucker, Roger Starr, and Nathan Glazer.
Perhaps the most influential figure was Moynihan, who first gained notoriety in 1965 with the release of an internal government report he had written about the decline of two-parent black families and a decade later caught the public spotlight as Gerald Ford's ambassador to the United Nations. Moynihan was the first U.N. ambassador to use the General Assembly as a pulpit from which to become a media star. The duty of American liberals, Moynihan argued, was to resist the depredations of Third World communist regimes: "It is on the Democratic Left that we are most likely to find both informed and unintimidated advocates of a vigorous Ameri can role in world affairs, and equally unashamed partisans of American performance."
After Jimmy Carter defeated Henry M. Jackson in the 1976 Democratic primaries, the neoconservatives turned to Moynihan as their standard-bearer. At first, Moynihan seemed to fulfill the hopes the neoconservatives reposed in him. He decried the Carter administration's failure of nerve in confronting the Soviet Union and its Third World client states. Unlike his fellow neoconservatives, Moyni han, however, refused to abandon the center for the right. Quite the contrary. Moynihan, who sensed that the Soviet empire was coming apart at the seams, began to attack Reagan administration nuclear arms policy. Others such as Theodore Draper had already distanced themselves from the increasingly shrill edge of neoconservatism and returned to writing for the New York Review of Books. Podhoretz simply kept moving to the right: a resurrection of detente, he warned in 1980, "would signify the final collapse of an American resolve to resist the forward surge of Soviet imperialism" leading to nothing less than "the Findlandization of America." As Ehrman astutely observes, the neoconservatives "had hoped to find a new Truman to rally around, a Democrat to promote their liberal ideas at home while fighting the Cold War abroad. Not finding one, they embraced the Republican party and Ronald Reagan as the best alternative."
REAGAN AND THE NEOCONSERVATIVES
Jay Winik is the court historian of neoconservatives and the Reagan era. This is not necessarily a crippling handicap. On the Brink does contain much inside information on the role that neoconservatives played in the early years of the Reagan administration. Winik shrewdly notes that they formed a new counterestablishment and reveals the inner workings of the various Cold War organizations of the neoconservatives.
Unfortunately, Winik, who worked at the Coalition for a Democratic Majority, has taken Walter Isaacson's and Evan Thomas's The Wise Men as his model. His book shares the flaws of The Wise Men but lacks its stylistic sheen. On the Brink teeters precipitously as the narrative progresses. It lacks a context and suffers from a dutiful tone as it attempts to tell the story of the end of the Cold War through four figures: Richard Perle, Elliot Abrams, Jeane Kirkpatrick, and Max Kampelman. In his zeal to imitate The Wise Men, Winik devotes such minute attention to his characters that the reader may, for example, come away knowing more about Perle's culinary tastes than about the details of arms-control negotiations. Nor does Winik grapple with the ideas that Kirkpatrick espoused, such as her distinction between authoritarian and totalitarian regimes or her Moynihanian performance at the U.N. Instead, Winik devotes excessive time to such minor figures as Max Kampelman, transforming them into Periclean statesmen though they cannot possibly bear the narrative weight that he places upon them. Surprisingly, Winik makes scarcely any reference to Reagan and his senior advisers; Caspar Weinberger and William Casey play mere walk-on parts. To be sure, Winik concludes that "ultimately, the vision and the triumph decisively belong to Reagan and his counterestablishment." But Reagan might well ask, where's the rest of me? In Winik's rendering, the neoconservatives were the main actors.
Robert Gates will have none of this. Gates, who was director of the CIA from 1991 to 1993, has spent a lifetime in Washington, D.C., working either in the CIA or on the National Security Council (NSC). At first glance, his book might appear to be an exercise in self-exculpation masquerading as memoir. Nothing could be further from the truth. Gates may have been trained to keep secrets, but he has drawn on his three decades of government service to write a cracking good read. He keeps his eye firmly trained on the main characters and offers a potent antidote to the neoconservative version of the Cold War.
Though Gates is concerned to defend the overall record of the CIA, he admits that it completely failed to foresee the massive Soviet effort to surpass the United States in strategic missile numbers and capabilities. This Soviet effort became the basis for attacks on detente by the right. The fear was that detente was permitting the Soviet Union to gain a first-strike capability—that is, the means to wipe out enough of the American land-based missile force so that retaliation would be suicide. Yet Gates contends that the picture was more complicated: The American military buildup that did take place beginning in the mid-1970s was achieved only because new arms were sold to a hostile Congress as future bargaining chips: "It would be one of history's little ironies that detente—flawed in so many ways—would play a major role in saving America's strategic modernization programs."
Another target of the right was the 1975 Helsinki Declara tion on human rights signed by the Ford administration. Con servatives saw any agreements with communists as a sellout—"Jerry, don't go" editorialized the Wall Street Journal—but, as Gates notes, it turned out to be the Soviets who committed a historic blunder. By signing the Helsinki Declaration, the Soviet Union and its East European satellites legitimized the efforts of their own citizens and the West to push for human rights inside the Iron Curtain. Gates has it right: "The Soviets desperately wanted CSCE [the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe], they got it, and it laid the foundations for the end of their empire. We resisted it for years, went grudgingly, Ford paid a terrible price for going—perhaps reelection itself—only to discover years later that CSCE had yielded benefits to us beyond out wildest imagination. Go figure."
Indeed, in Gates's telling, Jimmy Carter emerges as one of the heroes of the Cold War. Gates, who served on Carter's NSC under Zbigniew Brzezinski, devotes much of his memoir to redressing the image of Carter as a weakling who failed to stand up to the Soviets. Gates argues that Carter's efforts to promote human rights, support dissidents, and stir up nationalities went far beyond presidential rhetoric. Early in the administration, says Gates, Brzezinski initiated, and Carter approved, an unprecedented White House effort to attack the internal legitimacy of the Soviet government. Gates writes: "Carter had, in fact, changed the long-standing rules of the Cold War. Through his human rights policies, he became the first president since Truman to challenge directly the legitimacy of the Soviet government in the eyes of its own people. . . . The Soviet leaders knew the implications for them of what Carter was doing, and hated him for it." What Gates overlooks, of course, is that Carter's incessant vacillation between the Vance and Brzezinski wings of his foreign policy team created an atmosphere in which the Soviet Union could invade Afghanistan with impunity. Carter's inability to reconcile the tensions among foreign policy advisors haunted him during his failed re-election bid in 1980.
Whatever Carter's rhetoric on defense spending, he continued the strategic modernization program for the air-launched cruise missile, the MX, and completed the MIRVing of Minuteman missiles and the Trident ballistic missile submarine. In addition, Carter made another crucial move that contributed to the demise of the Soviet empire: the decision to place medium-range missiles in Western Europe should the Soviet Union fail to remove or curtail the new SS-20 missiles it was stationing in Eastern Europe. Gates concludes that "the perception of new U.S. strategic power and strength that emerged in the first half of the 1980s as new weapons were built and deployed was, in fact, Ronald Reagan reaping the harvest sown by Nixon, Ford, and Carter" (emphasis in original).
Gates is also at pains to show that Carter relied on covert action to counter Soviet encroachments into the Third World. Perhaps Gates is exaggerating the extent of Carter's role in signing presidential findings in order to legitimize the Reagan administration's later forays into Central America, but he does show that Carter ordered covert action in Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Grenada, and El Salvador. According to Gates, the "CIA ended up as the administration's primary weapon in trying to cope with Soviet and Cuban aggression in the Third World and as an important asset in challenging Soviet abuses at home."
Under the Reagan administration, the role of the CIA became even more central as William Casey developed an entire independent foreign policy at the Langley compound. Gates calls the CIA "Reagan's sword." Casey swung it with abandon. As Gates notes, Casey modeled himself on the swashbuckling World War I hero William J. Donovan. Donovan, who had created the precursor of the CIA, the OSS, had also been an Irishman and a Wall Street lawyer. "The preeminent place on Casey's office wall as DCI [Director of Central Intelligence]," writes Gates, "was reserved for an autographed black-and-white photograph of Donovan. You couldn't go in or out without seeing it. He couldn't move without passing it." The only question was whether methods appropriate to fighting the Nazis were applicable to combating the evil empire.
As Casey's machinations in Central America helped lead to the Iran-contra scandal, the consequences of those methods could be dire. So cavalier was Casey about running the CIA that Gates reports that when Brzezinski, long since out of office, complained that funding had been cut off for a favorite project in Poland, Casey simply asked how much it would take to remedy the problem. "About $18,000," Brzezinski replied. Later that day a man showed up at Brzezinski's office without an appointment and handed him a briefcase full of cash, which a nonplussed Brzezinski passed on to a visiting Pole associated with the project. "This," Gates writes, "was indicative of Casey's penchant for 'action this day.'"
By the mid-1980s, however, the hard-liners had outlived their usefulness. Reagan, who had started out political life as a New Deal liberal, came full circle. As the superpower that had initiated the Cold War ended it—for it was the Soviet Union, not the Soviet Union and the United States, that had divided Europe—Reagan astutely reached out to Gorbachev. Gates quotes Henry Kissinger as observing about Gorbachev during a fall 1989 CIA briefing, "If you were setting out to destroy the Soviet Union, would you do it any differently?"
For most neoconservatives and conservatives, however, Gorba chev was simply another nefarious communist carrying out a gigantic deception. The new Soviet overtures meant that the Kremlin had become even more sophisticated at lulling the West into a false sense of security. In a stunning error, Podhoretz decried Reagan administration policies as "appeasement by any other name," even though it was Gor ba chev who ended up appeasing Reagan and Bush. As Ehrman observes, "[A]lthough Podhoretz was not the only foreign policy commentator overtaken by events and quickly confused, his long record of strident statements marked by a tone of absolute certainty left him with little cover for his misinterpretations."
Among the magazines that engaged in the battles of the Cold War, the New Leader, New Republic, and New York Review of Books recognized that fundamental changes were taking place in the Soviet empire. The only neoconservative magazine that emerged from the Cold War with a new sense of mission was the National Interest, whose brilliant editor, Owen Harries, advocated classical realist principles. And in retrospect, the sometime neoconservative who comes off looking good is Moynihan, who has observed in his sprightly 1993 book Pandaemonium that during his early service in the Senate he came to realize that his former allies "wished for a military posture approaching mobilization; they would create or invent whatever crisis were required to bring this about."
As George F. Kennan notes in his beautifully rendered At A Century's Ending, there was a widespread belief among hard-liners during the Cold War that the Soviet system had reduced entire peoples to a permanent state of abject and cowering subordination. Kennan knew better. He observes, "Political systems supporting great personal tyrannies, such as those of Hitler, Stalin, and Mao, share in the mortality of the tyrant himself. They become the victims of—in effect, the participants in—his illnesses, his aging, and his death." With his sensitivity to European culture, Kennan was also acutely aware that the division of Europe itself was a historical aberration and could not last. Indeed, in a 1987 address in Berlin (included in his new book), Kennan prophetically concluded, "I have not lost hope that I may yet see the day when this city can again breathe a normal breath and resume its place among the great cultural centers of Germany, of Europe, and of the world." It has, and he has.
For Kennan's neoconservative critics, that day could never arrive; tyranny wouldn't simply die. On the contrary, they harbored a certain contempt for liberal democracy, exemplified in Jean-Francois Revel's How Demo cracies Perish. Rather than being a source of political endur ance, liberalism seems to them synonymous with weakness. This strain of illiberalism, as John Patrick Diggins has observed in Up From Communism (1975), was always present among intellectuals such as Will Herberg and James Burnham who, whether from the left or right, always held "liberalism responsible for all that had gone wrong in the modern world."
Now, in the post-Cold War era neoconservatives such as Irving Kristol have taken up the sword against the liberal tradition they once upheld. The real Cold War, Kristol has declared in the pages of the National Interest, is just beginning on the domestic front against liberalism itself. Contrary to popular belief, the ideological odyssey of the neoconservatives suggests that, far from coopting conservatism, they have been coopted by it. Commentary has been reduced to running articles on the "Deniable Darwin," while the Weekly Standard, run by two members of the neoconservative peerage, William Kristol and John Podhoretz, attempts to mainstream conservatism. As the Gingrich forces remake the Republican Party, neoconservatism itself will most likely end up as a footnote in future histories of the Cold War, a relic of old battles as obscure as the struggles over the true nature of the Trinity in the waning days of the Roman empire.
In The Rise of Neoconservatism, Ehrman concludes that intellectuals such as Foreign Affairs editor Fareed Zakaria "signaled the ascendancy of a new generation of thinkers who could take over from Tucker, Kirkpatrick, and the other neoconservative leaders of the 1970s and 1980s. . . . [I]t appears there will be a renewal of neoconservative foreign policy thinking in the mid-1990s." This is mistaken. Writers on foreign policy such as Zakaria and Michael Lind, who could have created a revival of neoconservatism, are in fact traditional realists, while the former neoconservatives are searching for new crusades. There are exceptions such as Jeane Kirkpatrick, who has moved towards realism and remains the most penetrating and shrewd of the neoconservative writers. But consider William Kristol and Robert Kagan's "Toward a Neo-Reaganite For eign Policy" in the July-August 1994 Foreign Affairs, which calls upon a President Dole to add $80 billion to the defense budget and to "educate the citizenry" about the virtues of the military.
For President Clinton the failure of the Republican Party to go beyond warmed-over Reaganism presents a second chance. In his first term, Clinton spurned hard-nosed Democrats such as Samuel Huntington who signed a foreign policy statement in the New York Times supporting his candidacy against George Bush. The war in Bosnia, however, has now created the basis for a new Demo cratic consensus on foreign policy as the Vietnam syndrome has faded before the specter of ethnic genocide. In a second term, Clinton could do worse than work to create a new vital center that steers a course between the Charybdis of left-wing isolationism and the Scylla of right-wing jingoism.
The debate continues in the November-December issue of The American Prospect.