The Old—and Incoherent—Foreign Policy of the New Right

Last week, “national conservatives” Sohrab Ahmari, Patrick Deneen, and Gladden Pappin published a guest essay in the New York Times titled “Hawks Are Standing in the Way of a New Republican Party.” I have read this article carefully and I would like to offer a few observations. But first, allow me to briefly articulate the argument laid out by the authors.

A Painful Contradiction

The authors claim that too many on the so-called “new right” are undermining the project of a Republican realignment by holding onto a foreign policy of “liberal imperialism”—“the aggressive push to impose progressive values often joined to corporate power.” These hypocritical Republicans reportedly “oppose liberal imperialism in the United States” but are “contriving to spread the same order to the ends of the earth.” This “contradictory vision,” they argue, “presents a major stumbling block” because “hawkish ideologues”—specifically neoconservatives—pursue foreign policies that immiserate the “working-class,” unnecessarily provoke “revanchist powers like Russia and China,” create ungoverned spaces around the globe, and, most importantly, siphon precious resources and energy away from domestic renewal.

The authors cite the ongoing crisis in Ukraine as proof of this critique:

“Even Republicans sympathetic to the new right haven’t been able to resist the hawkish temptation. Among the loudest voices calling for escalation were Republican Senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Marco Rubio of Florida, politicians who have otherwise tried to articulate a more populist domestic vision for their party. Senator Rubio resorted to inapt Churchill-Hitler parallels (though he later said he opposes deploying troops to Eastern Europe); Senator Cotton lambasted President Biden for ‘appeasing Vladimir Putin’ … Even on the new right, then, the goal of securing America by ‘making the world safe for democracy’ refuses to die.”

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