The Neo-Conservatives, episode MCLVII: Bret Stephens, Anne Applebaum & John Bolton. Political Observer comments

How should Neo-Conservatism be described? How might it be defined? by its political/philosophical myth-making, its relentless mendacity and its political schisms?
Bret Stephens, in his latest essay in the New York Times, comments upon John Bolton’s Trump Tell-All. I read the whole essay and I recommend to the reader that she skip to this last paragraph:

I write all this as someone who shares many of Bolton’s hawkish foreign-policy views. I’m also someone who urged Bolton, while he was still in office, to resign on principle. It’s a shame he didn’t do so while he still had a chance to preserve his honor, but it isn’t a surprise. Only the truly gullible can act totally cynically and imagine they can escape history’s damning verdict.

Bret Stephens is a typical Neo-Con, a dedicated Drawing Room General with no military experience. Though he is generous, with his accounts of Israelis being blown to bits, by Palestinian Terrorists in a small cafe, as his military credential.

In his column Stephens links to his political fellow traveler Anne Applebaum’s essay in The Atlantic:

Headline: History Will Judge the Complicit

Sub-headline:  Why have Republican leaders abandoned their principles in support of an immoral and dangerous president?

Her essay begins in ‘The Cold War’, with the story of Wolfgang Leonhard in 1949 East Germany, Markus Wolf, Stanley Hoffmann, Czesław Miłosz, Marianne Birthler, Lindsey Graham, John McCain, Mitt Romney, Donald Trump, ‘“America First”,  the cast of characters, becomes an avalanche of names as sketches, place holders for political/moral  positions etc.  At more than six thousand words: this the epitome of Neo-Conservative strategy of exhausting the readers critical faculty, as the in-order-too of advancing their political mendaciousness. This the operative strategy of Leo Strauss and of Fukuyama. I fled to the  final two paragraphs of her essay:

Or perhaps the only antidote is time. In due course, historians will write the story of our era and draw lessons from it, just as we write the history of the 1930s, or of the 1940s. The Miłoszes and the Hoffmanns of the future will make their judgments with the clarity of hindsight. They will see, more clearly than we can, the path that led the U.S. into a historic loss of international influence, into economic catastrophe, into political chaos of a kind we haven’t experienced since the years leading up to the Civil War. Then maybe Graham—along with Pence, Pompeo, McConnell, and a whole host of lesser figures—will understand what he has enabled.

In the meantime, I leave anyone who has the bad luck to be in public life at this moment with a final thought from Władysław Bartoszewski, who was a member of the wartime Polish underground, a prisoner of both the Nazis and the Stalinists, and then, finally, the foreign minister in two Polish democratic governments. Late in his life—he lived to be 93—he summed up the philosophy that had guided him through all of these tumultuous political changes. It was not idealism that drove him, or big ideas, he said. It was this: Warto być przyzwoitym—“Just try to be decent.” Whether you were decent—that’s what will be remembered.

The New Democrats, The Republicans and The Neo-Conservatives are the Midwives of Trump! The public moralizing of Stephens and Applebaum cannot forestall the judgement of history, that they so maladroitly attempt to rewrite. In that rewrite these two propagandists pass themselves off  as political paragons. Such is the state of America’s Political Class, while the Monuments and Statues of the Heroes of another Age are toppled, an echo of 1989? 

Political Observer






About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.'
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