Return of the Neocons | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED


Return of the Neocons

Two years ago, as Donald Trump ascended to the presidency, you might have thought that, if nothing else, neoconservatives had finally been put out to pasture. In the campaign, Trump had blasted the neocons’ signature policy, the war in Iraq, as a “big fat mistake,” and repudiated their ostensible program of turning nations into liberal democracies. He paid no political price with voters, and probably the opposite, as white evangelicals once drawn to George W. Bush’s “freedom agenda” flocked to Trump in record numbers.

Even allowing for Trump’s opportunism and inconsistencies, his election victory appeared to deal a double blow to the neoconservative persuasion. It not only broke the neocons’ hold on the Republican Party, but also, in the same stroke, revealed that they lacked a popular constituency. There they were, free-floating pundits, alone and exposed—neither intellectually credible nor politically representative.

Why, given this development, would Republican politicians respond by once again seeking out the neocons’ counsel? Why, far less, would Democrats? And why would much of the news media, grappling with historic levels of public distrust, accept neoconservatives and neoconservatism as the baseline for foreign policy analysis?

Yet exactly this has happened.

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