I am not a neoconservative myself, but that doesn’t stop me from being displeased over the way in which neoconservatives have been attacked and parodied for purely political purposes. It is one thing to take on the neoconservatives and their vision of the world in a straightforward and honest manner, and to use criticism to sharpen neoconservative thinking so as to ensure the most vibrant, and intellectually stimulating foreign policy discussions possible. It’s quite another to simply make the movement into one giant piñata for the purpose of thrashing it, thereby gaining partisan advantage.
Fortunately for the neoconservatives, Steven Cook has come out with a more honest appreciation. He is not a neoconservative either, and he criticizes the neoconservatives for various issues, but at least he is a good faith critic. And he acknowledges that the image of neoconservatives as a group that has gotten everything wrong simply doesn’t match the reality. As Cook writes, the neoconservatives got Syria, Iran, and democracy right, and they ought to be given credit for that.
The jury should still be out on the neoconservatives; not enough time has passed in order to properly judge their legacy. But in many ways, the neoconservatives have gotten a bad rap, and the bad rap has come from people who want to be able to profit politically from the perceived misfortunes of the neoconservatives. That’s unfair and dishonest, and it only serves to degrade the general foreign policy debate. Kudos to Steven Cook for resisting the temptation to just mindlessly pile on the neoconservatives. Hopefully, his writing on this issue will serve as an example to the rest of the punditocracy.