When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

02 December 2005

My man Bill

I am a devoted weekday reader of the Wall Street Journal, but I haven't gotten into the habit of reading it on weekends, despite their aggressively hyped recent launch of a weekend edition.

So I am just now--thanks to Reason Magazine's "Hit and Run" blog--seeing this November 12th interview with William F. Buckley (via OpinionJournal.com, so the link will work for everyone whether you subscribe to WSJ or not.)

These are interesting and dangerous times for conservatives.

Once upon a time, being anti-Communist was enough to bring you into the Big Tent of the conservative movement. But as conservatives have achieved near-total ideological victory in American politics, and since old-style Soviet Communism has for the most part withered and died on the vine (yes, I know, China - but they're looking less Communist, though not less authoritarian, every day) the fragile coalition of pro-business conservatives, defense hawks, libertarians and social conservatives that united to form "the conservative movement" is starting to fray badly around the edges.

A few interesting observations by WFB:
Does he believe the war on terror to be the same kind of "long twilight struggle" as the Cold War? "Well," he says, "it lacks the formal face. It's detached from national dimensions. As such, it legitimately inquires into two things. No. 1: To what extent does this society elect to fight it? Because if it doesn't care that much about it then to hell with it. No. 2: Is this society pliant enough to come up with a formula to defend itself that nevertheless acknowledges the ancient restrictions on ideas? If I'm correct, there hasn't been an act of terrorism in the U.S. for four years, and that bespeaks not the absence of will by terrorists to damage but a lack of resources. How much of that is owing to their own institutions or to a sense that resistance is here remains to be seen."

This last is a glancing way of referring to the U.S. enterprise in Iraq, which Mr. Buckley calls "anything but conservative." "Conservatism," he says, "except when it is expressed as pure idealism, takes into account reality, and the reality of the situation is that missions abroad to effect regime change in countries without a bill of rights or democratic tradition are terribly arduous. This isn't to say that the war is wrong, or that history will judge it to be wrong. But it is absolutely to say that conservatism implies a certain submission to reality; and this war has an unrealistic frank and is being conscripted by events."
Old School (Wall Street Journal Weekend) - Nov 12, 2005

Hat tip: Hit and Run

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