The new administration should not listen to neoconservatives like Eliot A. Cohen, who enthusiastically led America into fiascos such as the Iraq War.
November 16, 2016
by Blake Franko
The National Interest
George Orwell once famously observed that Western intellectuals, more often than not, harbor a dirty secret. For all their pious talk about democracy or equality, their true temptation is to “usher in a hierarchical society where the intellectual can at last get his hands on the whip.” Orwell was talking about James Burnham, who went from being a prominent Trotskyist in the 1930s to a columnist at National Review espousing the rollback of Soviet Communism. But the force of his dictum applies to today’s neoconservatives, and perhaps to none better than Eliot A. Cohen.
Cohen, who is the Robert E. Osgood professor of strategic studies at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, was, of course, among the foremost proponents of the Iraq War. His forthcoming book The Big Stick: the Limits of Soft Power & the Necessity of Military Force, as the title suggests, is not the work of someone who has had any serious second thoughts. On the contrary, it is an unabashed plea for a revival of American militarism. As Talleyrand remarked about the Bourbons, Cohen has learned nothing and forgotten nothing.
Perhaps, then, it should not be surprising that Cohen has been at the forefront of the “Never Trump” campaign. Cohen is not a traditional conservative but a crusading neocon. Writing in the American Interest, he observed, “The Republican Party as we know it may die of Trump. If it does, it will have succumbed in part because many of its leaders chose not to fight for the Party of Lincoln.” Then, after Trump won, Cohen apparently changed his mind. He suggested that younger conservatives might consider serving in the new administration.