It is no coincidence that Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney led the revolt of a group of Republicans against Trump, voting in favor of his second impeachment along with Nancy Pelosi. The daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, known best as one of the most aggressive hawks in U.S. history, is trying to rehabilitate her father’s discredited ideology.
Disregarding the advice of those who predicted a more visible position in the Senate, Elizabeth Lynne Cheney aspires to become the first GOP woman to lead the House of Representatives. With a discreet trajectory and no other endorsement than that of her last name, the politician is now being compared -risum teneatis- even to the Iron Lady. But what exactly are the principles she defends?
Exceptional: Why the World Needs a Powerful America
Near the end of Obama’s presidency, Dick and Liz Cheney published a joint book that sharply criticizes his foreign policy. It is entitled Exceptional: Why the World Needs a Powerful America. Sprinkled with justifications for some of the more controversial aspects of counterterrorism, such as “enhanced interrogation techniques,” the book (especially in its final chapter) outlines the road map the United States must follow to regain the global influence that “appeasers” are supposedly depriving it of. Their prescription, in a word, could be summed up as neoconservatism.
Perhaps the most comprehensive genealogy of neoconservative thought is offered by philosopher Paul Gottfried in Leo Strauss and the Conservative Movement in America. Neoconservatism – to paraphrase Gottfried – is a progressive imitation of conservatism, where socialist internationalism mutates into a kind of democratic universalism. It may sound like a caricature, but the neocon rarely misses an opportunity to promote regime change or war.
If there are political currents that err on the side of economism, neoconservatism definitely errs on the side of interventionism and militarism. The movement arose in the 1960s among a clique of New York intellectuals (several of them former Trotskyist militants) who, despite supporting many of the social reforms of the Democratic Party (civil rights, war against poverty, etc.), rejected its soft policy towards the USSR.
George W. Bush’s presidency was the moment of greatest influence of neoconservatism. Bush used the horrendous situation of 9/11 to attack civil liberties (see, for example, the NSA’s massive espionage program) and to monopolize power through the “Theory of the Unitary Executive.”
If politics is judged by results and not by intentions, the neoconservative pretension of “exporting democracy” can only be considered a resounding failure. The nation-building that the Bush Administration tried out in Iraq has cost the lives of more than four thousand American soldiers, while the Mesopotamian country is nothing more than a collection of ruins punished by sectarian violence.
When it comes to foreign policy, it is better to follow Sir Roger Scruton’s prescriptions than those of Irving Kristol. In Conservatism: An Invitation to the Great Tradition, the late British philosopher refutes the American by reminding us that nations are not built, least of all by an external agent, but are the result of long and complex historical processes.
A perfect excuse
Trump’s blunt and confrontational style is far from the tempered character with which conservatives are usually associated, but it is what our historical moment required. However, even if he delayed the inevitable for months, it cannot be said that he has made insurrectionary calls. The actions of a small group of violent people, which he unequivocally condemned, is the perfect excuse to demonize the MAGA movement that was able to win over 74 million voters.
The assault on the Capitol was not a false flag operation (despite occasional infiltrations), but it was an episode grossly magnified by those who seek both the political disqualification of the outgoing president and his moral assassination. The progressives who encouraged the destruction of “Antifa” and “BLM” today have no credibility to present themselves as enemies of political violence.
Sadly, the worst thing is that this was not only exploited from the Democratic side. Neoconservatives, who, despite what their name suggests, are neither new nor conservative, want to use the events of January 6 to put their noxious ideas back at the center of the GOP.
From Cheney to Romney to members of the Lincoln Project, the ideological realignment (marked by a return to prudence on the Old Right’s international stage) that occurred over the past four years seeks to be erased. The war party is back on its feet.