Dan McCarthy writes:
Right now it’s fashionable to bash the right as too anti-statist and downright Randian. Francis Fukuyama hops on the bandwagon in a recent Financial Times op-ed calling for a more Hamiltonian, Theodore-Rooseveltian Republican Party. But isn’t that just what George W. Bush gave us?
Compassionate conservatism. Faith-based initiatives. Medicare Part D. No Child Left Behind. Bush tried to help the middle class and blue-collar Americans by using government to ensure they could all own homes and invest in the stock market — the “ownership society.” If you wanted a Republican who had made its peace with the welfare state and promised to be a uniter, not a divider, the last occupant of the Oval Office was just that.
On foreign policy, Fukuyama seems to counsel the GOP to adopt a different course from the one it’s lately followed. But not really. He wants “continuing investments in US military power” — i.e., high levels of defense spending — “and engagement in the world to maintain a balance of power” but not “costly wars.” Note the adverb: “costly.” As if cheap wars — drones, assassinations, cruise missiles? — are really just “engagement.” This too is not in fact so different from what George W. Bush promised in 2000, a “humble foreign policy” that in practice meant maintaining the Cold War military-industrial complex and at the earliest opportunity morphed into quite costly wars indeed.