[Paleopsych] NYT: Battle Splits Conservative Magazine
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Thu Apr 14 19:15:11 UTC 2005
Battle Splits Conservative Magazine
March 13, 2005
By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK
FOR the decade since its founding by the neoconservative thinker
Irving Kristol, The National Interest has been a central forum for the
most influential conservative foreign policy thinkers of all stripes
to hash out their differences. It launched ideas that entered the
public policy vernacular, like "the end of history," "the West and the
rest," and "geo-economics," and for the last six months it has played
host to a closely watched intramural conservative debate over the
wisdom of the war in Iraq.
Now, however, a philosophical disagreement within its editorial board
has put its future in turmoil. On Friday, 10 well-known board members,
including the conservatives Midge Decter, Samuel P. Huntington and
Francis Fukuyama, announced their resignations, saying they disagreed
with the narrowly realist foreign policy of its new owner, the Nixon
At issue is the perspective laid out in the most recent issue by
Robert F. Ellsworth, vice chairman of the Nixon Center, a "realist"
foreign policy research group that acquired sole control of the
journal last year, and Dimitri K. Simes, president of the center and
co-publisher of the journal. In an editorial headlined "Realism's
Shining Morality," they wrote: "Overzealousness in the cause of
democracy (along with a corresponding underestimation of the costs and
dangers) has led to a dangerous overstretch in Iraq," arguing that
United States interests may sometimes require cooperation with
The mass resignation is the latest round in a fierce debate on the
right over the invasion. It is also the latest high-profile fight
picked by Mr. Fukuyama, a prominent neoconservative and the author of
"The End of History."
Last fall, he helped set off that debate with an essay in The National
Interest calling his fellow neoconservatives "strangely disconnected
from reality" for their continued celebration of the Iraq occupation
as a success. Foreign policy realists, who question the necessity of
the war, cheered his apparent defection.
In leading the defections from The National Interest, however, Mr.
Fukuyama is aiming in the other direction: he is accusing its
publishers of squeezing out liberal or neoconservative arguments about
the universal appeal of democracy and the importance of spreading
democracy to America's self-interest.
"What we liked about the old National Interest was the variety of
viewpoints that it published," Mr. Fukuyama wrote in a letter signed
by all 10 departing board members. "We do not have confidence that
this kind of editorial policy can long be retained by a magazine with
a mandate to represent the interests of the Nixon Center."
Upon receiving the letter, the publishers of the journal sent their
own letter dissolving the advisory board, which had two remaining
members, the neoconservative columnists Charles Krauthammer and Daniel
Pipes. "I think this group, frankly, belongs to the past, and we
wanted to have some changes," said Mr. Simes, adding that there was no
plan to narrow the range of contributors.
Mr. Simes accused Mr. Fukuyama of self-aggrandizement, saying he had
previously offered to bring new financing to the journal if he could
take control. "To me, it looks like a failed takeover," Mr. Simes
In an interview, Mr. Fukuyama said that, to carry on the debate about
the war in Iraq and American foreign policy, he now planned to start
another journal, The American Interest, with three others from the
National Interest board: Zbigniew Brzezinski, a liberal and President
Carter's former national security adviser; Eliot A. Cohen, a military
scholar and neoconservative, and Josef Joffe, a leading German editor.
"In the wake of Iraq, I think there is going to be this fight over
what a certain conservative foreign policy is, and I personally don't
want to see the realists walking about with a lot of moral authority
at this point," Mr. Fukuyama said.
But he said the new journal would not hew to any ideological line;
instead, it will try to look at American actions in a global context.
"It's about America in the world, how it ought to behave and what the
consequences of its actions are," he said. "Everyone in the world is
preoccupied with the United States, and they feel they don't
understand it, and we want to help them with that."
He said the new journal, which will initially be financed by a Boston
venture capitalist, will also publish perspectives on American
policies from foreigners who may feel the effects of American actions.
William Kristol, editor of the neoconservative Weekly Standard and son
of Irving Kristol, said he welcomed the planned journal. "My father
said many times, the more journals, the better," he said. "Soon there
are going to be more neoconservative magazines than there are
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