Democratic Neocons

Today’s LA Times has a good piece by Jacob Heilbrunn about Democratic neocons.

They want, in essence, to return to the beliefs that originally brought the neocons to prominence, the beliefs that motivated old-fashioned Cold War liberals such as Democratic Sen. Henry “Scoop” Jackson.

Where will all this lead? To an internecine Democratic war, of course. Just as Republicans are being riven by debates between realists and Bush administration idealists, so the Democratic Party is about to witness its own battle.

Just as the old neocons wanted to expel the McGovernites, so the new ones want to rid the party of the Moveon.org types and move it to the right. As [Peter] Beinart puts it, “whatever its failings, the right at least knows that America’s enemies need to be fought.”

This is nothing new. Neoconservatism has always had adherents in the Democratic party, a lot of the neocons are former Democrats (who never cared for the Republican agenda of fiscal conservatism, anti-immigration and anti-civil rights). The New Republic, where Beinart worked, has been a hive of this thinking for the whole Iraq War. Senior editor Lawrence Kaplan rolled out the red carpet for the Iraq invasion in a book he wrote with Bill Kristol, The War Over Iraq. The issue is whether the Democratic Party base—left-liberals—can fight this battle openly. The only way to do so is to say, We stand for the peace process in Israel/Palestine and against the idea that the Arab world can be reformed by a bloody crusade against its dictators.