The American Conservative’s (TAC) Scott McConnell lays out Donald Trump’s mandate.
Most international relations experts are not neoconservatives, and none of the best ones are. They realize America is protected by two large oceans, can’t be expected to solve every problem in the world, and shouldn’t bankrupt itself by trying. Many of them are not liberals of any sort; they are instead the sort of men and women who might in the past have worked for Ike, or Nixon, or Reagan. For lack of a better word, they are realists.
One good place to find them is in this advertisement, published in the New York Times in the fall of 2002. It’s signed by international-affairs experts who opposed the Iraq War as a quagmire and a strategic distraction from defeating al-Qaeda. Many professors might have agreed privately but preferred to hide in the tall grass—Bush’s neocon hawks then dominated public opinion. The most famous of the signers are Steve Walt and John Mearsheimer, who are brilliant, if controversial because of that Israel book they wrote a few years later. (Which, I should add, is widely—if quietly—admired by people with experience in foreign-policy circles.) There are many other important international-relations people on the list: Mike Desch, now at Notre Dame; Barry Posen, at MIT; Robert Pape, at University of Chicago; and many others.
Another person, closer to the center, is Jacob Heilbrunn, who has been editing the center-right foreign-affairs magazine The National Interest for the past several years. He knows everyone and all the issues, and he could be a good bridge between the realists—a lot of whom are pretty pissed off and disaffected—and what remains of the GOP establishment.
Also worth reaching out to is Andy Bacevich, a former Army officer, who went back to school and became a top international-relations professor and author after the first Iraq War. Andy is critical of the entire military-interventionist sweep of American foreign policy, perhaps more than is politically smart to be, but he’s full of ideas that your administration (and the country) can benefit from.
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