The Facts Machine

"And I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide"

Thursday, May 20, 2004

THE WANDERING TRIBES OF CONSERVATISM

Daniel Drezner, in the process of discussing a subscribers-only article from the New Republic, outlines the various "tribes" of conservatives and where they currently stand on the Iraq war. He also ponders, now that Chalabi and the Bushies have had a significant falling-out*, whether the hard-ass neocons will gravitate towards George or Ahmed. The 2nd update at the end of his post could be the answer to that question.

The four groups of conservatives he points out are:
1) "The Neo-Paleos: We Shoulda Known": Burkean conservatives who never bought the democracy-building line, but did by the "Iraq has WMD" line (George F. Will, Tucker Carlson, Fareed Zakaria);

2) "The Neo-Neocons: Operation Chalabihorse": True-blue believers convinced that Colin Powell is the devil and Ahmed Chalabi is the answer to all of the troubles in Iraq (Michael Ledeen, Richard Perle, Michael Rubin, David Frum, Laurie Mylroie).

3) "The Standard Neocons: Dude, Where's My Neo-Reaganite Foreign Policy?" Cared more about democracy-building than WMD but are flummoxed by the Bush/Rumsfeld insistence on insufficient troops strength, suspecting that this is due to an aversion to casualties that impairs the mission (William Kristol, Robert Kagan, David Brooks, Andrew Sullivan, and yes, Daniel Drezner).

4) "The Neo-Imperialist: Bush Gets the Boot from Boot": Gung-ho empire-builders that share the Standard Neocons' discontent with the Bush administration -- but unlike them, believe that constructive engagement with the Bush administration is pointless, and have gone full frontal with their criticism (Max Boot, Niall Ferguson)
I don't think that group #1 fully encapsulates paleo-conservatism regarding Iraq though. So I'll add a group or two, since I have mastered the art of numbering paragraphs as well...
5) "The Boom-Boom Hybrid Neocons: Democracy from Parking Lots": Neocons with paleo-conservative impulses (or vice versa) who argued frequently that a large component of our success in Iraq would hinge on a large, iron-fisted show of force, because blowing stuff up is respected in the Arab world, or something like that, and other local countries would be scared into democratizing (VD Hanson maybe?).

6) "Unreformed Paleos: Nuke the Sunni Triangle!": Far-righties, possibly isolationist conservatives, who weren't necessarily down with either the WMD angle or the democratization angle, but now that we are there, wouldn't mind us blowing up some stuff while we're at it (Buchananites, Trent Lott in his own words, and plenty of talk-radio types)
And escaping the confines of the Washington establishment,
7) "Horribly Misinformed Conservatives: Avenge September 11th!"
(note: I do intend to continue being snarky during this experiment, so don't worry)

* - Something tells me Chalabi has gone to his last State of the Union address.

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