Senator Rand Paul exposes the flawed foreign policy approach of the neocons with particular emphasis on the thinking of William Buckley.
In a 2005 interview with Joseph Rago for the Wall Street Journal, Buckley said of conservatives who want to spread democracy, “The reality of the situation is that missions abroad to effect regime change in countries without a bill of rights or democratic tradition are terribly arduous.”
In fact, according to Jeffrey Hart’s assessment , Buckley was quite strident in his belief that the Iraq War was inconsistent with conservatism. Hart wrote in a 2008 column that Buckley “saw it as a disaster and thought that the conservative movement he had created had in effect committed intellectual suicide” by uncritically supporting the war.
As for neoconservatives, Buckley was, as always, succinct and insightful when hetold the New York Times in 2004: “I think those I know, which is most of them, are bright, informed, and idealistic, but that they simply overrate the reach of U.S. power and influence.”
Buckley discussed neoconservatives in another interview two years later and said the following: “The neoconservative hubris, which sort of assigns to America some kind of geo-strategic responsibility for maximizing democracy, overstretches the resources of a free country.”
In his 2005 interview of Buckley, George Will put in his two cents about some conservatives’ belief that the Middle East could be remade in America’s image. “Conservatism seems to be saying government can’t run Amtrak, but it can run the Middle East,” he argued.
Reagan himself was sometimes castigated for not intervening around the world enough. According to Peter Beinart, Norman Podhoretz, one of the founding neoconservatives, wrote that “in the use of military power, Mr. Reagan was much more restrained” than his more hawkish fans had hoped.
So as today’s young aspiring Buckleyites sharpen their knives to carve up conservatives who propose a more realist and nuanced approach to foreign policy, they should realize they’re also pointing daggers a
t some of their own.