BBC News last night featured an interview about Iran with a highly-presentable young specialist at Hopkins, Trita Parsi. The interview was startling to me for a word that Parsi used. Now that the neocon moment seems at last to be over, and the U.S. is working with European countries, he asked whether the period of American “isolation” has ended?
Parsi was describing the neocons as isolationists. Not isolationists in the old sense, of refusing engagement. But in isolating America from the world. A similar point is made in the wonderful dissection of neocons America Alone: The Neo-Conservatives and the Global Order, co-authored by conservative thinktanker Jonathan Clarke.
The Parsi appearance is interesting for a couple of reasons. As head of the National Iranian-American Council, this scholar is a rising star. Parsi is even quoted in the Forward. He is highly critical of Israel, saying that it is using the crisis with Iran to seek to solidify its regional supremacy. And he is Francis Fukuyama’s student. Fukuyama thanks Parsi in America at the Crossroads, his fine book about his apostasy from neoconservatism. Indeed, I wonder how much Parsi has influenced Fukuyama in his own distancing from Israel. Parsi, Fukuyama, Jonathan Clarke, Walt, Mearsheimer—they all are realists. I.e., conservatives. Their advantage over the left in opposing the horrifying Iraq war is that they have made it a point to distinguish America’s interests from Israel’s (while firmly standing up for Israel’s existence). That has been important work. When will a politician show the guts to take them in?