Neoconservativism may never be dead while
Alexander Downer lives, but will he be the last of this dying breed?

Today’s Australian reports that Downer “has outlined an agenda that
mirrors
the US neoconservative approach that argued for the
invasion of Iraq on the grounds of the national self-interest in building
stability and democracy in the surrounding region”.

The article goes on
to report that foreign policy realist Owen Harries (a “Yes, Minister” fan
surely) thinks the Downer approach shows “boldness and courage”. That’s one way
of describing it, given events in Iraq and the rush of neoconservatives, and
their conservative and liberal hawk allies, to leave that particular burning
building.

The New York Times’ Frances
Fukuyama
famously got out in February, a move that
had Jacob Weisberg in Slate contemplating “the
neoconservative tragedy”. Buckley, Hari, Packer,
Sullivan and Will are just some of the better known names to have declared Iraq a
failed experiment.

On the same day that Downer is rushing back into the
flames, another vigorous supporter of the neocon’s Iraq misadventure, John
Derbyshire
in National Review Online, begs to be allowed
” … to eat crow”; former former speechwriter to
Ronald Reagan, SJ Masty, writes in The Times that the West is
losing the war on terror because of policies such as
those that Downer advocates; and Jonathan Rauch in Reason urges a return to foreign policy
“realism” of the type advocated, pre-invasion, by
Harries.

Perhaps Downer knows something no-one else does? If so, it’s a
secret he should share. Either that, or he is painfully slow to
learn.

Peter Fray

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