[Paleopsych] NYT: Battle Splits Conservative Magazine

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Battle Splits Conservative Magazine
March 13, 2005


    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
    undemocratic regimes.

    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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