An Afghan Anniversary


Andrew Sullivan looks at today's Drudge Report, with its photos of soldiers' coffins and its headline "8 Years, 800 Heroes Killed," and makes a prediction:

Drudge is a leading indicator on the populist right just as George Will is a leading indicator on what now passes for the intellectual right. Before too long, the GOP will, in my view, come back to the conservative idea that we should withdraw from Afghanistan and Iraq as soon as we responsibly can, even at some risk. You cannot return to limited government without unwinding the empire. The neocons will fight very hard and try to find some pliable hood-ornament to maintain their Christianist base for neo-imperial expansion. Watching these forces fight will be fascinating. Hagel could take on the neocons; maybe Huntsman. Ron Paul's conservatism is not dead. It's one of the few signs of life out there.

I hope he's right, but I'm not optimistic that the opponents of empire will win that fight. Anti-interventionism blossomed on the right in the '90s not just because a Democrat was in the White House but because we were in that interregnum after the fall of the Berlin Wall and before the fall of the World Trade Center, a time when it was hard to base a campaign on the fear of an external threat. Ron Paul's positions on foreign policy are more popular among conservatives now than they were two years ago, but his party's preeminent voices still seem eager to out-hawk Obama instead. It's true: You can't return to limited government without unwinding the empire. But that's no guarantee the GOP won't do what it usually does and choose empire over limited government.

Still. If anyone wants to launch a libertarian insurgency against the Republicans' pro-war, pro-bailout leadership, this is your moment.