Once More, Neocons, Into The Breach!

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Of course. Of course! “Unpatriotic Conservatives!” as David Frum said of the anti-Iraq War right in 2003. These people are shameless. I’m old enough to remember when Kristol predicted that the coming Iraq War would be “a two-month war”: My friend David Brooks — whose friendship I always state because I am loyal to my […]

Rod Dreher 

Dec 23, 2022

Of course. Of course!


« Unpatriotic Conservatives! » as David Frum said of the anti-Iraq War right in 2003. These people are shameless. I’m old enough to remember when Kristol predicted that the coming Iraq War would be « a two-month war »:

My friend David Brooks — whose friendship I always state because I am loyal to my friends, even when I disagree with them — writes of the Zelensky speech in today’s Times:

Sure, there were dissenters in the room, but they were not what mattered. Words surged into my consciousness that I haven’t considered for a while — compatriots, comrades, co-believers in a common creed.

Zelensky and his fellow Ukrainians have reminded Americans of the values and causes we used to admire in ourselves — the ardent hunger for freedom, the deep-rooted respect for equality and human dignity, the willingness to fight against brutal authoritarians who would crush the human face under the heel of their muddy boots. It is as if Ukraine and Zelensky have rekindled a forgotten song, and suddenly everybody has remembered how to sing it.

We never learn. To be clear, I don’t blame Zelensky for giving that speech. The man is a patriot, and he is brave. Nobody can fault him for playing the hand history has dealt him. But come on: we fell for Ahmed Chalabi on Iraq. We fell for Hamid Karzai on Afghanistan. We Americans are suckers for foreigners who know how to strike a resonant rhetorical chord within our breasts. They make us feel good about ourselves. We keep shoveling gobs of money at them, for the sake of Democracy™, never once stopping to consider whether or not their crusades are in America’s interests. 


Saddam Hussein was a bad man. The Taliban were bad men. Vladimir Putin is a bad man. But their badness is not the most important thing about them, when it comes to assessing America’s interests. Suddenly, the folly of the Iraq adventure we allowed ourselves to be talked into, and the Afghanistan democracy-building debacle, have all been memory holed. 

From Live Not By Lies, this passage referring to a Czech communist leader quoted by Milan Kundera:

“Not to know what happened before you were born is to remain a child forever,” said Cicero. This, explains Kundera, is why communists placed such emphasis on conquering the minds and hearts of young people. In his novel The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, Kundera recalls a speech that Czech president Gustáv Husák gave to a group of Young Pioneers, urging them to keep pressing forward to the Marxist paradise of peace, justice, and equality.

“Children, never look back!,” [cries Kundera’s character Husak], and what he meant was that we must never allow the future to collapse under the burden of memory.

A collective loss of historical memory—not just memory of communism but memory of our shared cultural past—within the West is bound to have a devastating effect on our future. It’s not that forgetting the evils of communism means we are in danger of re-creating precisely that form of totalitarianism. It’s that the act of forgetting itself makes us vulnerable to totalitarianism in general.

It was only twenty years ago that the neocons led our country into foolish wars and nation-building projects that cost us trillions, to say nothing of the lives of American and allied troops, and innocent people in those countries, and for what? Now some of these same people are banging the war drums again, using the same techniques that apparently were not discredited. Back in the day, Pat Buchanan, Bob Novak, and the other so-called « unpatriotic conservatives, » were not pro-Saddam or pro-Taliban. They were pro-America, and they pressed unpopular questions about whether or not the United States was right to spend blood and treasure on these particular foreign wars, following a messianic vision of global democracy. History has vindicated them.

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Here we go again. « Children, never look back! » say the neocon bigs to us today. If you ask for financial accountability, or question the wisdom of this endless war, well then, you are an unpatriotic conservative who simps for Putin. Simple as that. So say our neocons. And you know what? Evidently, the hustle still works. 

Here’s Unpatriotic Conservative 2022™ Tucker Carlson asking some rude but necessary questions. I could have done without the personal slams at Zelensky, but otherwise, Tucker is right on target. Thank God we have him to keep the heat on our politicians who care more about Ukraine than their own country. Whose unpatriotic now?




Rod Dreher

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By LiesThe Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Leming—as well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life.Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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