Tablet: “Are the Neocons Still Republicans?”

In Tablet, a Jewish ethnocentric magazine, Chris Pomorski has a piece asking “Are the Neocons Still Republicans?”. Pomorski looks at that element of:

the Republican foreign-policy establishment, which has been dominated for several decades by the ideological clique known as neocons. A group with many Jewish members, and hence often the object of anti-Semitism from both the left and the right, they are best known today for advocating military interventionism and the pushing of American-style electoral democracy. (See: the Iraq War.) Now, it seems unclear whether many of them are still Republicans.

The absence of neocons in the Trump Administration is a clear statement of purpose by the reigning powers in the Trump White House…

It’s rather ironic that it’s simply taken for granted here that ‘Neocons’ are largely synonymous with Jews.

In any event, in the run-up to Nov 2016, Neocon angst about Trump led to them largely flocking to HRC. Pomorski writes:

The benching of the neocons by Trump may mean the end of the movement’s 40 years of influence in the Republican Party. Open hostilities between Trump and the neocons date to last March, when several dozen of them—strategists from the Bush and Reagan administrations, think-tank gurus, holders of prestigious professorships—signed a letter opposing Trump’s primary candidacy. When I spoke with several signers soon thereafter, many expressed two-pronged dismay. On one hand, Trump had made statements that were explicitly insulting—impugning the George W. Bush administration and denigrating the political professional class, celebrating Vladimir Putin, castigating allies, and suggesting a return to isolationism. On the other, he seemed to have no working framework for governing. For people who’d built their reputations on brainpower, and on the reliable political salability of a particular cast of mind, neither possibility looked promising.

Isn’t it a stereotype of Jews to say: “For people who’d built their reputations on brainpower…”? Oh, right, I forgot. It’s never a stereotype when uttered by a fellow Jew. In fact, in settings like Tablet, saying something like this is an acceptable display of racial pride.

Still, even if neocons like [Max] Boot and [Eliot] Cohen are unlikely to be welcomed back into the Republican fold anytime soon, their voices are unlikely to fade away so fast. “In the short term, it was a blunder,” Jacob Heilbrunn, the author of They Knew They Were Right: The Rise of the Neocons, told me. “They miscalculated. But at the same time, they have an infrastructure in place, and have survived for decades now.” In addition to think-tanks like the Hudson Institute and the American Enterprise Institute, conservative magazines including The Weekly Standard and Commentary provide them reliable shelter…

Pomorski then digresses into a primer on the birth of (Jewish) ‘Neoconservatism’, something the excellent documentary Arguing the World (1997) focuses on, which shows how Jewish former leftists like Irving Howe, Irving Kristol, Daniel Bell, and Nathan Glazer, launched ‘neoconservatism’ as we know it.

Indeed, the seeds of neoconservatism were planted, largely, in a kind of banishment, by Jewish students at the City College of New York, where they’d ended up in part due to the stringent anti-Semitic quotas that then guided Ivy League admissions offices. Writing for Tablet in 2010, Adam Kirsch characterized them as “mostly poor, first-generation American Jews, born in Brooklyn and the Bronx, who came of age during the Great Depression,” who trod a path from “early Marxist radicalism, through disenchantment with Stalinism… to the anti-Communist liberalism of the 1950s.” In a 1977 essay, Irving Kristol—a founding neocon and the father of Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol—recalled this youthful ferment nostalgically: “If I left City College with a better education than did many students at other and supposedly better colleges, it was because my involvement in radical politics … prompted me to read and think and argue with a furious energy.”

Born on the Left, neo-conservatism had, by the late 1970s, drifted right, where its home in the Republican Party was solidified largely as a result of Ronald Reagan’s confrontational stance toward the Soviet Union, which they also loathed. In a 1980 essay, Norman Podhoretz worried that the hostage crisis in Iran, and Soviet incursions in Afghanistan spelled “the final collapse of an American resolve to resist the forward surge of Soviet imperialism.” (It’s worth noting, perhaps, that for many American Jews born to European parents during and after the war, opposition to the advance of totalitarianism felt quite urgent; Dalliances with Stalin and his Cold War successors might have seemed not unlike the affection of elites in both parties for Hitler in the 1930s.)

No mention of their paramount concern with the health and well-being of the United States Israel.


Of the Neoconservatives’ fairly solid #NeverTrump stance:

It is tempting to see the counter-intuitive alliance of the neocons and their former tormentors in East Coast media outlets as a function of class—a bipartisan solidarity of the embattled urban elite. As Heilbrunn points out, though, the situation isn’t unique to the political moment. “The neocons are gifted polemicists and adept at forging alliances,” he wrote in an email. “They have always been prepared to attack the left or right. Patrick Buchanan, the lineal predecessor of Trump, in terms of style and policy, was frequently the target of neocon brickbats.” In the 1990s, he added, neocons aligned themselves with liberal hawks on interventions in Iraq and Bosnia.

Pat Buchanan, it should be noted, was (and is) someone who is not afraid to call out the dual loyalties issue by American Jews.


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