Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Horowitz's Foreign Policy Indictment

It was in the summer of 2003, David Horowitz writes in National Review, that Democrats broke the post 9/11 consensus and started the "Bush Lied" meme.
The moment when Republicans lost the national-security narrative — and abandoned their role as defenders of the homeland — came in June 2003, just six weeks after the Saddam regime fell. That month, the Democratic party launched a national television campaign claiming that Bush lied to the American people to lure them into a war that was “unnecessary,” “immoral,” and “illegal.”
It was a meme that carried Barack Obama into the White House and built the Democratic majorities in Congress that could pass Obamacare.  Only, of course, if Bush had "lied" then the Democrats had lied too, because they had access to the same intelligence.
Bush could not have lied to Kerry or the congressional Democrats about WMDs in Iraq, because Kerry and other Democrats sat on the Senate and House Intelligence Committees and had access to the same intelligence data that Bush relied on to make his case for the war. When the Democrats authorized and supported the war, they knew everything that Bush knew. The claim that he lied to get their support was itself the biggest lie of the war. Its only purpose was to hide the Democrats’ own perfidy in abandoning the nation’s mission for partisan gain, and to discredit the president and turn the country against him, at whatever cost, in the hope of winning the 2004 election.
In Horowitz's view Republicans lost their right to be taken seriously as defenders of the homeland when they failed to push back on the "Bush lied" meme.  So here we are ten years later and Republicans just lost an election where no Republican candidate made national security a big issue.  Indeed, when Michele Bachmann and others made an issue of Hilary Clinton aide Huma Abedin's family ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, even Republicans sat on her.

Why won't the Republicans fight, asks Horowitz?

The answer is, because they don't want their army to get demolished.  For warriors like Horowitz it is always time to fight.  But Republicans understand that they must pick their fights.  They cannot, like the Democrats, inject their memes into the public square and expect them to find their way into the mind of every American.  In the summer of 2011 Republicans could not have won the hearts and minds of Americans with complaints about a "jobless recovery".  They just don't have the cultural power.  Sometimes they just have to retreat.

Let's look at the political cultural scene from 30,000 feet.  On the one hand there are the liberals, who don't really like capitalism and don't really like western cultural hegemony.  They see themselves as an educated elite with the moral right to rule America.  Their political power is based on identity politics and the distribution of free stuff by the welfare state.

On the other hand there are the conservatives, who believe in capitalism and believe in an aggressive defense of western culture, from the nation state as a solvent for tribal animosities to the idea of limited government, civil society, traditional religion, and traditional families.

But the American people are right in the middle.  They don't really like capitalism although they like personal achievement; and they like the free stuff from the welfare state.  They are patriotic, but also tribal.  They are traditional, but they like to kick over the cultural traces.  And they vacillate between isolationism and making the world safe for democracy.

In other words, liberals and conservatives have to dissemble.   Liberals have to pretend that they like a strong growth economy and the flag of the United States and "working families."  Conservatives have to pretend that they support Social Security and Medicare and "our teachers."

You can only win as Ronald Reagan when liberals have been messing things up royally for a few years.  You can only win as Barack Obama and bring the troops home when the American people get tired of war.

But if the facts of life are conservative, as Margaret Thatcher may have said, then the facts will eventually win.

Liberals had a chance to adopt the broad outlines of a new political consensus in the 1980s to replace the Keynesian administrative welfare state consensus of the post-WWII years.  But they didn't.  They didn't buy supply-side economics, they didn't buy the reduction of administrative regulation, and they didn't buy the idea that the US should oppose totalitarianism.

The Obama years are the full-dress trial of whether America can flourish with a return to Keynesianism in economics, regulation in government, and "leading from behind" in foreign policy.

In my view, given the liberal refusal to learn the lessons of the Reagan years, we are bound to learn the Reagan lessons the hard way, in economic distress, in cultural decay, and in an advance of Iranian-led Islamism.

When the American people have had enough they will tell us, and there will be plenty of Republican politicians ready, willing, and able to lead us to the sunny green uplands of conservative prosperity and civil society cooperation.

But until then, we must learn to wait.


  1. There is waiting and there is waiting. There is not giving ground or compromising principles, and there is education by parents and what few teachers that remain conservative, and there is engaging in direct conflict daily over the massive troubles the progressives have wrought on the nation. Developing the facts in crystal clear form for the voters to grasp easily is most certainly called for while we "wait", as is developing a cadre of articulate, principled conservatives to be ready with name recognition when the wait is over.

  2. More than anything else we need a comprehensive game plan that all can buy into.

  3. I suppose Bush tax cuts and two wars which Republicans refuse to pay for have nothing to do with Illinois & U.S. bankruptcy?

    To blame Democrats & liberals for American problems is folly. It is President GW Bush and the GOP who are to blame for many of the problems facing America today. In foreign policy for example, Bush falsely claimed that "WE KNOW" Saddam has WMD, and now the American military remains in Iraq years after the start of the war, Iran now runs wild in the Mideast free of Saddam’s threat, the Afghan war that was won is now up for grabs, and American contractors in Iraq are rolling in illicit dough thanks to waste, fraud, and no bid contracts – as noted in the following:

    Oct. 24, 2005 “Money for Nothing” (The American Conservative)

    June 10, 2009 “U.S. War Privatization Results in Billions Lost in Fraud, Waste, and Abuse” (www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=13943);

    And dozens more at Iraq Archives – Foreign Contractors (www.comw.org/warreport/iraqarchivecont.html)

    A 11/26/09 Forbes article, "The Cost of War," says: “Republicans have been characterized by two principal positions: They like starting wars and don't like paying for them. (http://www.forbes.com/2009/11/25/shared-sacrifice-war-taxes-opinions-columnists-bruce-bartlett.html).

    Moreover, a nonprofit Costs of War project based at Brown University's Watson Institute for International Studies first released in 2011 a Costs of War report (http://costsofwar.org/) which found:
    "* (The) tally of all of the war’s recorded dead... shows that over 330,000 people have died due to direct war violence, many more indirectly.
    * The US federal price tag for the Iraq war — including an estimate for veterans' medical and disability costs into the future — is about $2.2 trillion dollars."