Was Reagan the First Neoconservative? – by Pat Buchanan
None can say with certitude how Reagan would have responded to 9-11. Yet, it is hard to believe he would have invaded Iraq, absent hard evidence of Saddam’s involvement in Sept. 11. For, in spite of Reagan’s reputation as a cowboy, prudence, that most conservative of virtues, was a hallmark of his presidency in the Cold War conflict.
The point that NeoLib Buchanan misses is that Reagan wouldn’t have had to go to war with Iraq in 2003. You see, in 1991 when Iraq invaded and overran an ally Reagan would not have begged the UNs favor and made a deal not to go all the way to Baghdad. That’s not to say that he wouldn’t have pressed for international support, but he would not have subordinated our strategic aims to some desire for multilateralism in the face of unprovoked agression.
Buchanan also misses the point with regard to Jihadism and our response to it. He cites Reagan attacking the Soviet empire at its periphery in Grenada, Nicaragua and elsewhere. He says that Reagan was perfectly willing to deal with autocrats and kings as long as they sided with us against Communism. While it’s arguable whether that was a positive aspect of Reagan foreign policy, drawing a parallel that would leave the Taliban and Saddam Hussein in power is dead wrong. First, and most obviously, the Taliban and Saddam Hussein were not on our side against the Jihadists. Second, Reagan didn’t attack “at the periphery,” he took advantage of the enemy’s weakness and attacked at that point. Taking out the Taliban and Saddam Hussein was precisely that, attacking the weakest points supporting the Jihadists, a regime that hadn’t even been recognized by more than 3 or 4 Muslim countries and another regime so weakened that it collapsed quicker than we could move troops in to pick up the pieces. Let there be no doubt, if Reagan could have sent tanks into Moscow with such ease, bombing would have begun in about, oh, 5 minutes.
I’m not really sure what the article’s title had to do with Pat’s point, but I’ll answer the question anyway. Of course, Reagan wasn’t the first neocon. He was Irish and we all know that from the likes of Buchanan “neocon” is a codeword just like “zionist” and “international banker” before it.