Staying the Course

The Unintended Consequences

There are many critics of the flaws in the U.S. approach to the “War on Terror” and the merits of our interventionist war in Iraq.  Much of the criticism predictably comes from liberals, but the most important, in challenging the status quo within a Republican administration, comes from traditional conservatives and libertarians asking why a reputedly conservative White House and conservative-dominated Congress have pursued Wilsonian liberal internationalist goals—interventionism, preemption, and expanded global commitments.  Such criticism has centered on the President’s neoconservative advisors, who have played major roles in shaping and implementing these policies.  Genuine conservatives disdain the neocons’ pseudoconservative attributes, which stem from their liberal Democratic heritage, their acceptance of spendthrift big government, and their interventionist affinity for the legacy of Wilsonianism and Stimsonianism in international affairs.  Compounding the irony is the way in which a majority of liberal critics, aligned with the Democratic Party in opposition to the Bush administration’s hegemonic policies, treat these criticisms as the result of archconservatism run amok, which aggravates traditional conservatives and libertarians all the more.  That frustration motivates their quest to clarify what warrants the label “conservative” in U.S. foreign and...

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