Sunday, April 03, 2005


I am sometimes amazed by how little history even my fellow conservatives seem to know. Lawrence Auster is of course well-known for the way he joins Leftists in his paranoia about the "neocons" so I guess that helps us understand his latest lapse. He has put up a post consisting mainly of a letter from an historian claiming that Winston Churchill was NOT a neocon. In the narrow sense that Churchill was not Jewish and that the term "neocon" is only a recent invention, that does, of course, have to be true.

In the broader sense -- a neocon being a former Leftist who favours foreign military intervention in favour of democracy -- however, to say that Churchill was not a neocon betrays no knowledge of history whatever. He joined the British LIBERAL party in 1904 and served as Colonial Under-Secretary under Campbell-Bannerman and as president of the Board of Trade and Home Secretary under Asquith. So he was in his early years a promininent Leftist in terms of British politics at the time. But, like the neocons, he later (1925) changed his tune and became a prominent Conservative.

And as for foreign interventions in favour of democracy, who was Secretary of War under Lloyd George when Britain sent troops to join the "white" Russians in fighting the Bolsheviks in 1919? It was Winston Churchill! And there is no doubt that Churchill did not repent doing so. One thing he never changed was his fierce opposition to Communism -- an opposition that is also characteristic of the neocons.

And though Churchill was not Jewish, he was at least philosemitic. As Auster notes, Churchill once said: "Where the Jew goes there is oasis. Where the Arab goes there is desert."

So on the four primary neocon identifiers -- Jewishness, anticommunism, Leftist early life and support for military intervention in the cause of promoting democracy -- Churchill scores 3 out of 4 -- and on the Jewishness angle he might be said to have done his best! I gather that not all neocons are Jewish anyway -- particularly if you include the Straussians in what is after all a pretty loose classification to begin with. Some people also say Churchill was a neocon because he was an unabashed defender of the British Empire but for that to be relevant we have to accept that the neocons want an American empire -- which is in my view a brain-dead claim. The idea of America as an empire is antithetical to all American values and traditions and the neocons are far too smart to be unaware of something as basic as that.

Auster does not link to it but the article which started the recent discussion about Churchill as a neocon is here


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