The Free State
"Man, in a word, has no nature. What he has is - history."

Thursday, September 03, 2009

George Will Rediscovers Paleoconservatism

George Will, digging in on his call to leave Afghanistan, now has the same prescription for Iraq.

He notes the comment of one WaPo journalist who claims the presence of U.S. soldiers "serves as a check on Iraqi military and political leaders' baser and more sectarian instincts." To this he responds:

After almost 6 1/2 years, and 4,327 American dead and 31,483 wounded, with a war spiraling downward in Afghanistan, it would be indefensible for the U.S. military -- overextended and in need of materiel repair and mental recuperation -- to loiter in Iraq to improve the instincts of corrupt elites. If there is a worse use of the U.S. military than "nation-building," it is adult supervision and behavior modification of other peoples' politicians.

Did the surge work? Will violence increase? Either way, Will wants the boys home: "If, in spite of contrary evidence, the U.S. surge permanently dampened sectarian violence, all U.S. forces can come home sooner than the end of 2011. If, however, the surge did not so succeed, U.S. forces must come home sooner." All roads lead to home it seems.

This isn't the typical conservative response, mind you. Most conservatives, both the base and the intellectuals, appear to support the Afghanistan escalation although their position on Iraq is less clear. Here is a breakdown of some of the conservatives who have written against Will on Afghanistan. Most are limited to putting on their best best Churchill and MacArthur impressions. Fred Kagan deals with some specifics although he puts a lot of faith in the Afghan National Army.

The best and worst criticism I think is from Peter Wehner. In "Will's Loss of Nerve" he both basically attacks Will's manhood and quite rightly points out that he is a total flip-flopper. In the past 8 years, one could scarcely have found a better proponent of war in the name of both freedom and security (America's and everyone else's).

Will's shift is characteristic of American Conservatism. It has always lurched violently from decade to decade from stubborn isolationism to fervent crusade and back. It is a schizophrenic tendency I find quite disturbing and, historically, disastrous. I suspect we will see many more conservatives disown "Wilsonian idealism" and "nation-building" to return to their 90s-era soft isolationism. Today, incidentally, I don't think that would be such a bad thing.

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Blogger Wyatt said...

Is it just me, or does he look like Himmler?

7:19 PM  
Blogger CJWilly said...

It's you.

10:25 AM  

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