For decades, The Public Interest was a penetrating and groundbreaking journal. Commentary in the 1970s—when it turned hard against the countercultural '60s—was brave and forceful. Nathan Glazer may never have written anything void of wisdom. To see the movement that spawned this grow into something bloated, stupid, and ultimately dangerous to America is to see the terminus of a vital part of our intellectual history.Certainly they're in rough shape now:
A main dilemma for the neoconservatives is their relationship to Bush’s lame-duck presidency. [...] Veteran pamphleteer Joshua Muravchik recognized the larger problem, that the current neocon brand—now defined by Bush, the Iraq War, and American global hegemony—has become broadly unpopular.
And so it gets ugly: Michael Ledeen blames the ladies, Perle says he's "damn tired of being described as an architect of this war," and David Frum gives us this gem, which says a lot about the way the neoconservative movement works:
'I always believed as a speechwriter that if you could persuade the president to commit himself to certain words, he would feel himself committed to the ideas that underlay those words. And the big shock to me has been that although the president said the words, he just did not absorb the ideas.'That's right: Bush is dumb.
Despite the obituaries now being written, neoconservatism will not soon be over with and certainly won’t disappear in the way that American communism or segregation have. The group has always been resilient and tactically flexible.But who will be their patron now?
[I]f Bush has failed them, what options remain? Joe Lieberman has less national appeal than Henry Jackson did [no kidding! -eds.].Maybe there's one hero left:
John McCain is another matter, and if Americans can be persuaded that the solution to their Middle East, terrorism, and other diplomatic dilemmas lies in more troops and invasions, neoconservatism will have springtime all over again.With all the problems their agenda has run into, what should we expect from the next wave of neoconnery?
[O]ne can look forward to neoconservative agitation on two fronts: a powerful campaign to draw the United States into a war to eliminate Iran’s nuclear potential and an equally loud effort in support of maintaining Israeli dominance over the West Bank and denying the Palestinians meaningful statehood.In case you doubt them, consider this:
Perhaps most importantly, neoconservatism still commands more salaries—able people who can pursue ideological politics as fulltime work in think tanks and periodicals—than any of its rivals. The millionaires who fund AEI and the New York Sun will not abandon neoconservatism because Iraq didn’t work out. The reports of the movement’s demise are thus very much exaggerated.
The Bush administration ... will be tempted to do what small men have done throughout history when in trouble: try to escalate their way out of it.A little problem: this time the Iranians "have 140,000 American hostages, in the form of U.S. troops in Iraq." All they have to do is cut our supply line, and we could lose an entire army.
It would be our Adrianople, our Rocroi, our Stalingrad. American power and prestige would never recover.The only hope? Since the Democrats won't do it on their own, the Joint Chiefs should force their hand by speaking out publicly - compelling the Democratic Congress to pre-emptively forbid an attack on Iran.