Back to the Future?

Byron York has been too modest in not bringing our attention to his article “Same Old Party: Tranquility in the Ranks” on the state of the of the GOP’s intraparty debate in the new issue of World Affairs (perhaps because only the abstract is available to non-subscribers), but it is worth noting and pondering. On the surface, Byron notes that the fault line between neoconservatives and other varieties seems not to be opening up as many have predicted (and hoped). Byron wonders whether the seeming reluctance to think more openly and critically about the Iraq War is a good thing.  

I detect another subtext in his article that he may not have intended. Byron notes that on the campaign trail last year, most rank-and-file Republicans (and some candidates, especially Huckabee) were distinctly uninterested in foreign affairs. Is this simply a function of war weariness over Iraq, or might it be a sign that a large part of the Republican base is reverting slowly back to its isolationism of the pre-Cold War era? In the late years of the Cold War, it was liberals and Democrats who were uninterested or unserious about foreign affairs. Is the shoe now on the other foot?

Back in 1985 John P. Roche wrote (in my mind) one of the most memorable features in NR’s history lamenting the decline of liberal internationalism. It would be a pity if someone a few years hence has to write the companion feature on the decline of conservative internationalism.

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