Realist Republican Relics

Dan Drezner reflects on a “rogue states” conference he attended in California and reports that,

The most amusing moment for me was when AEI’s Danielle Pletka accused me of being on the far left — because I suggested some realpolitik approaches to foreign policy (like prioritizing counterproliferation over democracy promotion). When informed of my party status later, Pletka replied, “well, he’s not like any Republican I know!” Apparently, Brent Scowcroft, George H.W. Bush, George Schultz, and Henry Kissinger are now barred from entering AEI.

Nick Gvosdev is bemused as well but sympathizes somewhat with Pletka’s confusion, noting that he and Drezner share this foreign policy outlook with the likes of Amitai Etzioni.

Given that neoconservatism combines the worst elements of Woodrow Wilson’s and Jimmy Carter’s foreign policies, it continues to befuddle me that it has the word “conservative” as a root, let alone that it has seemingly co-opted the Republican Party. That’s all the more true given that its standard bearer was a man who got himself elected on a strict “no nation-building” pledge; oddly, his father lost the presidency largely over having violated his promise of “no new taxes.”

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. DC Loser says:

    Heh, that’s pretty funny for Pletka not to have heard of Drezner. But then she probably only communicates amongst the Kool-Aid drinkers at AEI and maybe Bill Kristol.

  2. Barry says:

    It’s amazing to me that, after this war, and after employing such ‘scholars’ as Kevin Hassett, Charles Murray, Paul Wolfowits, Lynne Cheney, John Yoo, and a long, long list of neo-con scum, that membership at AEI isn’t an automatic disqualification for attendance at any real sholarly conference. To me, it’d be like seeing Discovery Institute or Answers in Genesis people at a biology conference.

  3. Steve Plunk says:

    To borrow a phrase it “befuddles” me that people still don’t understand pre-9/11 statements are essentially null and void in a post-9/11 world. The dynamics have changed in so many ways.

    Those new complications are part of why the Republican party is working out what are the best foreign policy strategies. Neo-cons have their ideas and the realpolitik people have different ones. Don’t families squabble from time to time?

  4. I am to the point where I am not sure what “conservative” means to a lot of people these days to the point where I am not wholly comfortable anymore with being called one any longer–and on balance I don’t think that my views have changed all that much in the last several years. Although I will confess to having some of views becoming more libertarian as a result of certain actions of the Bush administration (which I initially supported, to my chagrin).

  5. Barry says:

    “Neo-cons have their ideas and the realpolitik people have different ones. Don’t families squabble from time to time?”

    And the neo-cons had their way (to the extent that any one faction gets their way). The result is a disaster. I don’t know about your family, but I count as ‘disfunctional’ the family who hasn’t realized that Uncles Joe, Jeff and Jim are stark staring mad, even after they gave pretty good proof.