Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Chris Hughes to Neocons: “Don’t Worry”

I hope I’m wrong, but I fear the War Party got a lot stronger with Chris Hughes’s decision to bring back Franklin Foer to edit The New Republic. Hughes is a young, very rich Facebook founder who understands that owning an opinion magazine is a great way have a political impact. TNR was owned by Marty Peretz, and then by some hedge fund friends of Peretz, and was steadfastly neocon on all the foreign policy issues that mattered. In the end Peretz made himself a laughing stock with repeated anti-Arab racist outbursts, but along with apparently tenured-for- life literary editor Leon Wieseltier, nothing was so certain as the fact that on Mideast issues, the “liberal” TNR would march in lockstep with Commentary and The Weekly Standard. This unfortunate fact was important in Washington, for it gave a false impression of intellectual bipartisan unanimity in foreign policy — the sense that anyone who questioned the need for serial wars against Israel’s adversaries or spoke in favor of the Palestinian human rights was some sort of marginal outlier.

I had hoped the coming of Hughes would change that. He is young (which isn’t necessarily relevant) and gay (which isn’t either, there is after all uberhawk Jamie Kirchik.) And an Obama supporter. The combination gave the ever-hopeful reason to think that the magazine might be open to more realist perspectives. It wasn’t a stretch to think that — after all both Andrew Sullivan, who has in the last five or six years become very wise on foreign policy, and Peter Beinart, now a vocal and effective critic of Israeli expansionism and of the American globalist foreign policy he once advocated, are former TNR editors.

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