Ted Cruz Is Right to Attack the 'Neocons'

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Hillary Clinton has no record to run on. Family income is lower and the world is more dangerous. Donald Trump nailed it when he told Chris Wallace, “Hillary calls me ‘dangerous’? She’s killed hundreds of thousands of people with her stupidity.” Trump was referring to the Obama administration’s campaign to overthrow Arab dictators like Libya’s Qaddafi and Egypt’s Mubarak, which contributed to the chaos in the Middle East after the so-called “Arab Spring.” Marco Rubio can’t attack Hillary’s disastrous foreign policy record because–as Ted Cruz observes–Rubio supported all the same stupid policies. Picture a Cruz-Clinton presidential debate: Cruz denounces Hillary’s incompetence in promoting chaos in the Middle East. Hillary remonstrates, “But most Republicans supported me!” Cruz counters: “That’s right–I’m running against you and against the Establishment in my own party.” Game, set, match.

Here’s a word of consolation for my neocon friends: It’s not personal, just business. I’m a neocon too, an ex-lefty who went rightward with Reagan and carried my spear in the final phase of the Cold War. I was chief economist at Jude Wanniski’s supply-side consulting firm Polyconomics, which is as neocon as you can get, and I give the neocons all the credit for Reaganomics. I’ve published in Commentary Magazine and Irving Kristol’s Public Interest.  I traveled the world promoting the Reagan model between 1988 and 1993–Mexico, Peru, Nicaragua, and most of all Russia–and learned firsthand how Quixotic was the conceit that our model could be exported.

Every ideology has a use-by date and you’re long past yours. Henry Kissinger did great service to this country by opening relations to China, a necessary if not sufficient condition for winning the Cold War. But Kissinger couldn’t see past the dull calculus of detente, while Reagan foresaw unconditional American victory over Communism–and without you neocons, he never could have done it. You made a Gargantuan error, though, when you assumed that the Reagan Revolution could be exported to the Middle East, Russia and China, and you misplayed the strongest hand that any world power ever held. America went from only-hyperpower status when George W. Bush took office to a playing second fiddle to Vladimir Putin today. No-one wants to hear your claim that we really won in Iraq in 2008 and lost it all because Obama wouldn’t leave a few divisions there. And when the “Arab Spring” came along, you mistook the oncoming express for the light at the end of the tunnel. You and the Obama crowd played “Dumb and Dumber.” You both bought into the idea that Muslim democracy would arise from Islamist opposition to the old dictatorships.

So Ted Cruz has thrown you under the bus, just as you threw Henry Kissinger under the bus when Reagan came to office in 1981. Tim Alberta and Eliana Johnson record your outrage in National Review:

So when Ted Cruz, on the campaign trail in Iowa and again in an interview with Bloomberg News, recently pointed the finger at “neocons” in an attempt to defend his own understanding of American interests abroad, the response among some conservative foreign-policy experts — many of whom the term has been used to disparage — was of shock, anger, and dismay. “He knows that the term in the usual far-left and far-right parlance means warmonger, if not warmongering Jewish advisers, so it is not something he should’ve done,” says Elliott Abrams, a former Bush administration National Security Council official and a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

That’s chutzpah (like the man who murdered his parents asking the judge for clemency because he’s an orphan). “Neocon” became a term of opprobrium because it represented a coherent and well-defined body of thought that produced bad results. To suggest that Ted Cruz is stirring up bigotry against Jews is just nasty.

No, Cruz is doing the right thing: Just as Reagan sacrificed Henry Kissinger, Cruz will sacrifice you. It’s all for the greater good. For the past eight years the Republican Party has worn the sins of the George W. Bush administration like the chains on Marley’s Ghost. The American public doesn’t easily forget that it was stirred to sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan and has nothing to show for it. A break with the Bush past vastly increases the odds for a Republican victory. Rubio can’t do this, but Cruz can. Like Kissinger, you should glory in your past contributions and let other people take charge. Go with God. But go.