Hit & Run

Can Neocons Learn? Cato's Justin Logan Reviews America in Retreat: The New Isolationism and the Coming Global Disorder


The Republican Party's misfortunes in the 2006 and 2008 elections had a lot to do with the unpopularity of neoconservative foreign policy. Yet the GOP's success in the 2014 midterms has made the party more neoconservative, with Republican hawks taking over major Senate committees. Much of the blame for this lack of accountability belongs to the conservative media—outlets that produced Iraq war propaganda have generally declined to evaluate or even acknowledge their mistakes. As the University of Chicago's John Mearsheimer remarked in 2004, on foreign policy "the Wall Street Journal is like Pravda. You don't want to underestimate the importance of the Leninist model. They don't tolerate dissent."

America in Retreat—the new book from the Journal's chief foreign affairs writer, Bret Stephens—shows perhaps even less introspection than Pravda did, writes Justin Logan, director of foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute. In one interview promoting the book, Stephens reports "having thought very seriously about my support for the Iraq War, and I've concluded it was still worth supporting." Stephens just can't let it go, pushing forward a gaggle of zombie arguments that do nothing to warrant a man-made catastrophe whose central justification he now rejects. The simple and by-now-obvious claim that nothing about the 2003 Hussein regime warranted thousands of American dead and wounded seems to escape him entirely.