The New Republic is about the last place anyone would look for a fair reading of traditionalist conservatism. The magazine’s review pages are often outstanding, with such contributors as American historian Gordon S. Wood and classicist Peter Green, and its exposes of Republican crooks can provide almost as much satisfaction to principles conservatives as to liberals. But let’s be clear: The New Republic started out as Herbert Croly’s vessel for evangelizing the gospel of foreign interventionism and modern liberalism, and in the 93 years since then it has changed very little. The political environment has changed considerably, however, and Croly’s then-newfangled liberalism is nowadays hardly distinguishable from what’s called neoconservatism. The difference is that The New Republic continues to court the center-left, while the neocons have occupied the center-right. Lately TNR’s approach hasn”t been working out so well, as hard Leftists have decided that they”ve had enough of these hawkish liberals and have canceled their subscriptions in droves, resulting in a dizzying decline in the magazine’s readership.
A week before George W. Bush arrived in Rome for their first meeting, Benedict XVI put his signature to a document proclaiming the Austrian farmer Franz JÃ¤gerstÃ¤tter a Christian martyr for refusing to serve in an unjust war, such as Benedict and John Paul the Great insisted the Bush war against Iraq has been from the beginning. The beatification will take place on October 26 — just about the time that some observers expect a departing, lame-duck President Bush to launch a Pearl Harbor style pre-emptive attack (perhaps a nuclear one) against Iran.
Among its idiosyncrasies, the neocon imperial idea, which according to Gamble is especially tempting for Protestant Americans, assumes the inherent depravity of the Habsburg Empire, a regime that that paradigmatic neocon hero Woodrow Wilson had hated as authoritarian, and Teutonic. This hatred came to the fore in Wilson’s letter sent to the Empire’s “subject nationalities” on June 24, 1918, in which the American president looked forward to the “dismemberment” and “partition” of a structure that did not deserve to exist: “The Austro-Hungarian monarchy was organized on the principle of conquest and not on the principle of self-determination.” Moreover, by fighting with the German Empire, it added insult to injury by becoming “vassals of the Hohenzollerns.” Needless to say, the “peace treaty” that Wilson signed on to denied “self-determination” to all the historical nationalities that had bet on the wrong horse in the War. It also typically placed those minorities, including my Central European relatives, under far more oppressive regimes than those nationalities who had lived under the Empire.
“Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business.” This, it seems to me, displays the same mentality as exhibited in the rantings of the Virginia Tech killer: we have to terrorize people just because we can, just because we”re angry “ and just because it’s time to show them who’s boss. It’s pure sadism, in other words, that motivated Jonah Goldberg to stand on the sidelines and cheer as the greatest military disaster in American military history was launched.
Last week I spent some days in Washington, D.C. for a conference organized by Fran Griffin at the National Press Club. The subject was Sam Francis, and his terrific book, Shots Fired, about America’s culture wars. Alas, Sam Francis passed away two years ago.
Success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan. This explains why so many of those who leapt on the bandwagon, or led the parade, that marched American soldiers off to war in Iraq are now disclaiming paternity, or screaming for blood tests. (No matter that many of these same folks are priming the pumps for yet another war with Iran, using the same sort of dreary agitprop that lied us into the last one.) One particularly juicy case is that of blogger and author Rod Dreher…
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