Sent to you by Sean McBride via Google Reader: Heilbrunn Reviews
Neo-Con Travails via by admin on 1/1/09
Jacob Heilbrunn of The National Interest, which is related to the Nixon
Center, has written two very interesting articles on the plight of the
neo-cons after the Republican debacle in November that are well worth a

The first, published on the journal’s blog December 19, addresses the
departure of Joshua Muravchik and Marc Reuel Gerecht, as well as that
reported earlier of Michael Ledeen, from the foreign-policy ranks of
the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). Like Ledeen, Gerecht has found
a new home at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), which,
so far as I can tell, is basically a front for both Israel’s Likud
Party and for the pro-Likud Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC).
Muravchik, who, like Ledeen, had been associated with AEI for some 20
years, is apparently yet to find a new perch. Heilbrunn suggests that
these departures are evidence of an ideological purge against neo-cons
led by Danielle Pletka, who came to prominence as a staffer for the
ultra-right Jesse Helms, but I find this a little difficult to believe
if, for no other reason, than Pletka is as neo-conservative (and
Likudist) as anyone I can think of. I understand from mutual friends
that Muravchik had been worried about his position at AEI for at least
the past year and a half due to withering pressure from above to write
and publish more than he had. It is true as Heilbrunn points out,
however, that Muravchik has been a bit more nuanced in his approach to
the various “evils” that neo-cons have identified over the past two
decades than some of his ideological colleagues; for example, Daniel
Pipes (with whom Pletka has been close) has attacked him (and Gerecht)
for entertaining the notion that the West should be willing to dialogue
with and possibly even support non-violent Islamist parties in the
Middle East, a notion that is anathema to Pipes. Perhaps AEI’s or
Pletka’s aim is guided less by Republican loyalty than by Islamophobia,
if indeed ideology — and not personality, as was reportedly more the
case with Ledeen — is playing a role in these decisions.

The second article by Heilbrunn, whose book, They Knew They Were Right:
The Rise of the Neocons I reviewed last year, is much longer and
appears in the latest issue (Jan 12) of The American Conservative. It
speculates on the internal splits that the neo-cons are going through
as a result of the political campaign and Obama’s victory, and the
possibility (I would say probability) that at least one major faction —
headed by people like Robert Kagan, David Brooks and even David Frum —
will seek to forge an alliance with liberal interventionists,
presumably led by Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton
(although Susan Rice also fits the bill), in the new administration,
much as they succeeded in doing during the Clinton administration with
respect to Balkans policy. As I’ve written before, the two movements
have similar historical origins (inspired in major part by the
“lessons” — “never again” — they drew from Munich and the Holocaust)
and tend to see foreign policy in highly moralistic terms in which the
U.S. and Israel are “exceptionally” good. While I don’t agree with
everything in Heilbrunn’s analysis, it offers a good point of departure
for watching the neo-cons as the Age of Obama gets underway.

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