Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Whither the Arabists?

Pat Buchanan quotes Bill Kristol:

“The big story in the Republican Party over the last 30 years, and I’m very happy about this,” said Kristol, is the “eclipsing” of the George H.W. Bush-James Baker-Brent Scowcroft realists, “an Arabist old-fashioned Republican Party ... very concerned about relations with Arab states that were not friendly with Israel ... .”

That Bush crowd is yesterday, said Kristol. And not only had the “Arabists” like President Bush been shoved aside by the neocons, the “Pat Buchanan/Ron Paul type” of Republican has been purged.

I can’t speak to 30 years ago, but 20 years ago I distinctly remember despising the Baker-Scowcroft vision of “realism” myself.  I was thoroughly under the influence of NR at the time (although a different NR, perhaps), so I remain ready to be persuaded otherwise, but . . . remind me what were the wonderful victories for American values and interests achieved by the Arabists?

I can’t think of any, except that the damage done by their entanglements (Lebanon, Gulf War I) was smaller than that done by the entanglements of their successors.  But “We Suck Less!” is hardly inspiring.

Hindsight being 20/20, I can’t think of any involvement with the Middle East in the last 40 years that hasn’t come to a bad end.  And I will admit that we should have heeded the warnings of Paul and Buchanan.  But let’s face it:  Buchanan was a leading light of the Republican Party in the early 90s, and yet he had zero impact on our Middle East policy.  So really, what difference did purging him actually make?

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