Two soldiers scan the area with rifles during a security stop on their convoy as members of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit drive to a forward operating base in southern Afghanistan. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
Peter Beinart wants everyone to stop talking about the neoconservatives. Perhaps, if we stop talking about them, they’ll go away? No, it’s not that. Beinart, of course, was once a fellow traveler of sorts with the neocons, as editor of The New Republic from the mid-1990s through the mid-2000s, when its publisher at the time, Marty Peretz, would reasonably qualify as a neocon or “quasi-neocon.” In that post, Beinart famously supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and then, even more famously—as that war degenerated into a catastrophic series of horrors—apologized for his support.
In a recent piece in The Daily Beast, Beinart takes several writers to task, including me, David Corn of Mother Jones, and Ann McFeatters of the Chicago Sun-Times for, well, talking about neoconservatives and their penchant for war—in particular because many of their tribe are among the loudest backers of war against Syria.
Writing in his usual supercilious style, Beinart first cites Corn:
Earlier this week, I Googled “neocons and Syria” and learned that the former want America to go war in the latter. The first story Google offered me was by David Corn in Mother Jones. “How to Be a Good Neocon When It Comes to Syria,” read the headline. The subtitle read: “With Obama moving cautiously, some hawks are angling for a US invasion.
Got it, I thought. “Neocon” is a synonym for “hawk.” But then, in the first sentence, Corn wrote that the “most hawkish neocons desire … a full US military presence in the air and on the ground.” Hmm. If some neocons are more hawkish than others, then “neocon” and “hawk” can’t be the same thing. Four paragraphs later, Corn referred to former Bush-administration ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton as a “neocon favorite.” Why just a “favorite,” I thought. Why not a “neocon” himself? Then, in the next paragraph, Corn explained that “real neocons, it seems, do not get squishy when the question is US troops on Syrian soil.” So there are fake neocons? How do you tell the difference?
He goes on to tackle a recent piece that I wrote for The Nation:
Bob Dreyfuss in The Nation made things worse. “Neocons, Hill Democrats Push for War Against Syria,” read the headline of his piece. So neocons can’t be Democrats or work on Capitol Hill? Three sentences later Dreyfuss made a distinction between “neoconservatives and right-wing military types,” which presumably means that you can’t be a neoconservative while in uniform.