Buckley has died ideologically. It is a disappointment.
Or maybe he has reverted from the neo syndrome.
"Real" conservatives like Mr. Buckley, who is credited for the 'invention' of modern conservatism (and who also wrote in defense of a fella named McCarthy) have always been not just suspicious of of the neo invasion, but skeptical, head shaking cynics.
Well, the cynic side of me always has an eyebrow raised, but frankly the 'real' conservative ethos is to act in foreign affairs only in the best interest of the USA (who can disagree?) and to do so in the most expedient means possible and to the devil with the hindmost. The latter portion, which would make the USA no WORSE than anyone else remains disquieting (maybe that's liberal?). Are we really going to be no worse?
The preeminent example of this is the fairly elected Mossadegh in 1953, and the advent of the Shah(i.e., if you threaten the oil and might give a warm warter port to the USSR, out you go) It is the american branch of the 'great game' which we can see being practiced right now by China and Russia with regard to Iran.
Is that all there is?
We look left and we see the permanently traumatized, dizzying pessimism and crushed liberal hopes of the democratic party, yielded now to bitter whining and a clear lack of understanding.
On the other hand what Buchanan et al have deemed "neo" all proceeds from one idea.
The long term security interests of the USA are best served by promoting freedom and democracy everywhere.
Buckley has abandoned this idea in favor of what? Friendly strongmen like Mubarak, whose army had to CLOSE voting booths because the Muslim Brotherhood was preferable to more of the same? He said that it's time to admit the Iraq experiment is complete failure. They cannot govern themselves/are not ready.
Were the long term security interests of the USA served by the destruction of the Mossadegh government and the insertion of the Pahlevis as Shah? A friendly, western oriented autocrat heralded for decades as a forward looking benevolence who would bring persia into the modern age? What was the result? A bunch of black hats in a circle around a well, building nukes, denying the reality of history, waiting for the Mahdi to crawl out after provking armageddon. Leaders who stated point blank that as long as they kil the jews, 350+? Million muslims could die, and it would be worth it (Rafsanjani and Khamenei). Does that sound like an improvement?
It doesn't work. It didn't work in Iran, Iraq (hashemites in the 50's), Libya (where once we had the largest airbase outside the USA ...Wheelus...under a friendly king), and we can see how 'stable' the other 'friends' are in KSA and Jordan. Just name a friendly autocrat and we see problems. After 9/11 we pal'd up with Uzbekistan in the person of the arch SOB Karimov for bases to get at the Taliban. We couldn't even hold our nose for 4 years, and have left AND been kicked out. It doesn't work.
Not only is the promotion of democracy and freedom in the best interest of not just american security (which means you and me) but it also benefits those freed, and by the way, WE GET TO LOOK IN THE MIRROR. Besides, anyone have a better idea? Saddam is still alive you know. So are many think alikes who would be happy to shake our hands and 'receive' Iraq, and would probably make a real slick deal (oil, bases).
Buckley had better tighten his belt and take good look at the massive tide of history. The days of the Somoza's and Pahlevi's for the USA is done.
Looks like one of my long-time idols has stopped "standing athwart history, yelling stop".
Why has Buckley taken this position?
I agree that Buckley's latest assertion that "Iraq is lost" did not sit well. However, he is not a paleoconservative, but more of a traditional conservative. The paleos (like Lew Rockwell and Pat Buchanan) are just plain nuts, IMHO. They would sell out Israel and often join forces with the Far Left.
I suspect that Buckley is hesitant to undertake nations-building except in isolated cases if even then. I'm sympathetic to such a modest posture but I also respect the more ambitious policy, shall we call it enlightened self-interest, that sees investing in a extensive rebuilding as an investment in long-term change for the better. I’d prefer a more modest policy of removing the regime that was a threat and sending a loud message (which obviously was loud enough to be hear in Libya) that threats will not be tolerated.
However, what worries me about Buckley is the way he is expressing his policy preference. Debating a policy change while under fire is always difficult. You want to make sure you’re just not overcome with or encouraging defeatism.
PS. Agreed about Lew & Pat
Buckley has rarely been on the side of nation-building. The concept is not in his line, nor is it in mine. However, I want to see what more he's saying on this. I'm quite sure he'll be saying a lot more in the next print edition of National Review. He usually does.
Stogie-I may be comparatively young, and therefore not quite a "paleo-conservative" as my upbringing and age in which I grew up did not lend the same issues to my political thoughts. I do not, however, see how you would think that Buckley and his crowd (quite different IMHO than Buchanan, and especially Buhanan LATELEY, who seems to have blown a few fuses) would ever sell out Israel or have much in common with the left at all.
I need to read all of these comments a bit more. Buckley is causing quite a storm and I'm not sure what has gotten into him.
What has bothered Buckley, as what has bothered many conservatives that were a part of the Reagan revolution, is that this Iraq war was not necessary. They were not an imminent threat and the whole escapade was a diversion from the places that really needed our attention.
We all know that Iran and N. Korea were the more important threats. But I am not saying we needed to attack either of them. Why was there a need for a war in any of these named countries?
Ah, we have a real paleo among us. Saddam, of course, was a threat by his very nature. True, with better intel we could have contemplated a wider courses of strategies; but, it took only 200 fatalities to rid the world of Saddam and stop the Arab nuclear program (which had been moved to Libya.)
On the other hand, nations-building has cost 2000 fatalities so far and it has diverted our attention from the Iranian threat. As I said a few weeks ago, FDR wouldn’t have stopped the war after invading Italy to construct a model state. But that hints at my preference in limiting warfare to dealing with threats and establishing a deterrent.
Two items you need to address to make your argument convincing:
1) Carter's foriegn policy at time of Iranian revolution (good luck proving it followed the conservative ideals of Buckley).
2) Success of Taiwan, Chile, S. Korea in becoming democracies after passing through dictatorial rule.
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