Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Left blows a gasket over the ‘neocon resurrection’

One of most entertaining reactions to last week’s AEI/Heritage/CNN debate has been the shock and horror of the left on discovering that the advocates of a robust conservative engagement in the world have not all disappeared. As they watched many of the Republican candidates answer questions from AEI scholars, it began to dawn on liberals that a GOP victory in 2012 could mean the return of many national security policies—from robust defense spending to enhanced interrogation and preemption—they thought they had assigned to the dustbin of history.

The liberal hand-wringing over the “return of the neocons” is fun to watch, but it is also a caricature of the state of the foreign policy discussion in the GOP. After all, it was just a few months ago that we were all debating the resurgence of Republican isolationism. Now, we are told, the GOP candidates (save Paul and Huntsman) are all Bush neocon retreads.

This of course ignores the fact that many neoconservatives were deeply critical of the Bush administration during its time in office (for coddling Mubarak and Putin and mishandling post-liberation Iraq, among other policies). And while liberal commentators were quick to point out that Paul Wolfowitz was a key architect of the Iraq war, his question to the candidates was about continuing the fight against AIDS and malaria in Africa—and he found some in the GOP field less than enthusiastic.

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