Monday, March 05, 2007

Angry right-wingers?

Comment is Free carries a piece by Kevin Baker about how right-wingers are reverting to some kind of primal state thanks to an inability to adjust to the questions Iraq raises about their lust for war. Now, I'm not going to deny that Iraq raises some serious questions about the assumptions and analysis of many right-wingers and the right is doing some serious thinking about what went wrong; was it purely incompetence, was it a problem with nation building, was it a more general problem with the deployment of military power? However, it clearly does not invalidate the entire right-wing project and has not seriously changed the right's tone (Ann Coulter said plenty of angry things before Iraq).

The evidence in this article is laughable. Ann Coulter is about as representative, possibly less, of right-wingers as Michael Moore or George Galloway are of the left and about as angry. Dinesh D'Sousza has been emphatically denounced from across the right-wing movement in the strongest of terms; "appeaser". Extreme opinions are often angry as they are further from the centrism that usually rules.

The analysis is just as weak. The mainstream right has had plenty of power in the twentieth century and yet curiously enough none of the policies Baker holds up as the essence of conservatism have been implemented. Reagan is about as close as it comes to the right's favourite President and his policy was to face down the Soviet Union. This isn't the simplistic jingoist enthusiasm for war which Kevin Baker describes. It is a recognition that Western military power is often important to the defence of the interests of ourselves and the rest of the world.

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