As I (along with just about every other armchair strategist in the Western world) correctly predicted last year, the United States launched her war against Iraq in the early spring of 2003, but by the time she did so, the path of treason along which this country had been dragged to war was plain to see.  A month before the war began, on February 23, Tim Russert of NBC’s Meet the Press asked Richard Perle, an advisor to former Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu and a Bush administration official, if the United States was trying to dethrone Saddam Hussein for American or Israeli interests.  Mr. Perle blandly asserted the former, but the Forward, America’s leading Jewish newspaper, noted a few days later that, if Mr. Russert could ask this question publicly of Mr. Perle, then “the toothpaste is out of the tube.”  The very day that President Bush issued his ultimatum to Saddam Hussein and his sons to get out of Baghdad in 48 hours, Paul Krugman wrote in the New York Times, “It’s a matter of public record that this war with Iraq is largely the brainchild of a group of neoconservative intellectuals who view it as a pilot project.”  Sir John Harrington, it seems, was wrong.  Treason doth prosper, and, at least on this occasion, a good many Americans are beginning to call it by its proper name.

If Harrington was wrong, Samuel John-son was right.  Patriotism is indeed the last refuge of scoundrels, and the cabal that had been exposed in the press as the traitors they are predictably began to wrap themselves in Old Glory and whine that those who had exposed them were the real agents of treason.  The carpet of “antisemitism” on which they usually tread had been worn so thin by repeated and irresponsible use that even the neoconservative Likudniks knew better than to stand on it alone, though they were unable to resist strutting on it one more time.  As American troops marched into the war they had caused, neoconservatives launched their own, considerably safer offensive against their principal enemies on the political right.

The main attack came from David Frum, the former presidential speechwriter who is usually credited with inserting the phrase “Axis of Evil” in President Bush’s 2002 State of the Union Address and the author of a recently published memoir of his adventures in the Bush White House.  The Frum piece appeared first on National Review Online on March 19, the very day the war started, but it was later published as the cover story of the April 7 issue of National Review.

The burden of Mr. Frum’s article is by now well known, and, within a few days of its appearance, any number of conservative responses, counterattacks, denunciations, satires, and parodies had appeared (including my syndicated column of March 28).  Nevertheless, because a good deal of his attack concerns me personally and the “paleoconservatism” with which Chronicles is associated, a further and rather more detailed discussion of its claims is in order.

Mr. Frum’s major claim, disclosed in the title of his article, “Unpatriotic Conservatives,” is that “Some of the leading figures” in the “antiwar movement” “call themselves ‘conservatives’” and, though “relatively few in number,” are aspiring

to reinvent conservative ideology: to junk the 50-year-old conservative commitment to defend American interests and values throughout the world—the commitment that inspired the founding of [National Review]—in favor of a fearful policy of ignoring threats and appeasing enemies.

Moreover, not only are these charlatans not real conservatives, they are also . . . well . . . enemies of the United States.

They have made common cause with the left-wing and Islamist antiwar movements in this country and in Europe.  They deny and excuse terror.  They espouse a potentially self-fulfilling defeatism.  They publicize wild conspiracy theories.  And some of them explicitly yearn for the victory of their nation’s enemies.

Much of the remainder of Mr. Frum’s article is an effort to substantiate these claims, but, first, he names names.  

Some are famous: Patrick Buchanan and Robert Novak.  Others are not: Llewellyn Rockwell, Samuel Francis, Thomas Fleming, Scott McConnell, Justin Raimondo, Joe Sobran, Charley Reese, Jude Wanniski, Eric Margolis, and Taki Theodoracopulos.

Mr. Frum then adduces a series of quotations from some of these gentlemen that are supposed to corroborate the very serious charges he has just made.  The quotations range from insinuations of an Israeli role in the September 11 attacks to insightful comments on the crisis in the Middle East; not a single one, however, supports Mr. Frum’s charges.  Making common cause with the “left-wing and Islamist antiwar movements,” for example, turns out to be nothing more than that some “paleo” antiwar websites link to some antiwar websites of the left.  (Frum cites no instance at all of any links to “Islamist” sites or any other “connection” with “Islamist” causes.)  So what?  Websites often link to others with whom they disagree, merely for information-sharing purposes and to attract the readers who know about one site to check out another; no one thinks that such links constitute sympathy or agreement, let alone any substantive “connection,” and they hardly constitute “making common cause” with anti-American forces, even if that is an accurate description of some of the individuals or organizations to whom the links are connected.

In any case, Mr. Frum, while routinely denominating all of the “unpatriotic conservatives” he names as “paleoconservatives,” manages to lump in several people of substantially distinct points of view: establishment Republican Bob Novak; libertarian isolationists Lew Rockwell and Justin Raimondo; ex-neoconservative Scott McConnell; and plain-vanilla liberal Eric Margolis.  Whatever the merits of these men’s commentary on the Iraq crisis, Frum is entirely inaccurate when he says that “the writers I quote call themselves ‘paleo-conservatives.’”  Some do, but several don’t, and most soi-disant paleoconservatives themselves would not call them such.

The remainder of Mr. Frum’s article consists of a deeply flawed account of the emergence of paleoconservatism, and it is evident that he either has not consulted or has contrived to ignore almost all the standard accounts of the same subject—Thomas Fleming and Paul Gottfried’s The Conservative Movement, Dr. Gottfried’s revised monograph of the same title, and Joseph Scotchie’s recent Revolt From the Heartland.

Mr. Frum quotes my review (in the American Conservative) of Scotchie’s book to prove that we are all newcomers to the right.  “While paleos sometimes like to characterize their beliefs as merely the continuation of the conservative thought of the 1950s and ’60s,” I wrote,

and while in fact many of them do have their personal and intellectual roots in the conservatism of that era, the truth is that what is now called paleoconservatism is at least as new as the neoconservatism at which many paleos like to sniff as a newcomer.

My point was that, as a movement, paleoconservatism is relatively new and, as such, postdates neoconservatism, although the principal paleo writers are mostly old conservatives with the roots I mentioned.  Mr. Frum has essentially committed the fallacy of division—attributing to the members of a group (paleoconservatism as a movement) a trait (newness) that properly is an attribute of the group itself.

Mr. Frum also boasts that “I happen to have been in the room when ‘paleoconservatism’ first declared itself as a self-conscious political movement,” a moment he identifies with a speech criticizing the neoconservatives as “modernists” by conservative historian Stephen Tonsor at the Philadelphia Society in 1986.  Sorry, but I was there too, and that was not the kick-off for the paleos.  Paleoconservatism had already emerged in embryonic form in reaction to the neoconservative smears against M.E. Bradford during the controversy over the chairmanship of the National Endowment for the Humanities.  That was in 1981.  Its second big step was the acquisition of Chronicles in 1984-85, and its third and most defining moment was probably the spontaneous formation of a united paleo opposition to the Gulf War of 1991.  As for Professor Tonsor’s speech, Gottfried and Fleming wrote in The Conservative Movement (1988) that “the Christian Aristotelianism—or neo-Thomism—that Tonsor considered essential to the intellectual Right had never been more than a minority position among postwar conservatives.”  In any case, it was National Review, not Chronicles, that eventually published Dr. Tonsor’s speech, now tagged as “antisemitic” by the neocons.

By now, it should be reasonably clear that Mr. Frum, in fact, knows virtually nothing about the people he is attacking.  He commits several factual errors about the history of The Rockford Institute (it was not Fleming who “sacked” Pastor Richard John Neuhaus in 1989; Fleming would not become president of The Rock-ford Institute for another eight-and-a-half years) and the Bradford NEH controversy (Bradford had been a Wallace supporter in 1968 but had supported Reagan in 1980 and had brought many Wallace Democrats over to the Republican victory of that year—one reason he deserved a substantial appointment).  At no point in Frum’s article is there even a glimmer of an effort to understand the intellectual substance of paleoconservatism, its critique of both neoconservatism and conventional conservatism, or the variations within the paleoconservative fold.  He cites a passage from a 1991 essay to sneer at my argument that Old Right intellectuals were “isolated from America’s grassroots.”  My point was actually somewhat different—that Northeastern WASPs, who had constituted the core ethnic and religious group in American history, had begun to embrace the triumphant liberalism of the New Deal (la famille Bush is a case in point) and that it was figures from such historically marginal groups as Catholics, Jews, and Southerners who were the main voices of intellectual conservatism after World War II.  For Mr. Frum, the passage is merely an occasion for snideness: “No wonder then that these fringe characters were able to achieve nothing more impressive than the election of Ronald Reagan and victory in the Cold War.”  In fact, “these characters” did not elect Reagan.  It was such “characters” as Mel Bradford and the Reagan Democrats he helped to bring into the GOP who accomplished that.  As for the Cold War, most conservative intellectuals of the 60’s were dead or long retired by the time the Soviet Union collapsed.

Aside from the factual boo-boos that expose his lack of familiarity with his subject and his obsession with “exposing” the paleos as merely a pack of hatemongers, Mr. Frum is mainly concerned to show that what calls itself “paleoconservatism” is, in fact, not really conservative at all.  Here, his article actually becomes funny.

Chronicles, Mr. Frum writes,

advocated protectionism for American industry and restrictions on nonwhite immigration.  It defended minimum-wage laws and attacked corporations that moved operations off-shore.  And it championed the Southern Confederacy of the 1860s and the anti-civil rights resistance of the 1960s.

Whether or not Chronicles formally endorsed these positions, Mr. Frum is (for once) correct that most of them more or less represent what most paleoconservatives did and still do believe (though I couldn’t tell you where he got the minimum-wage laws).

Paleos support most of the things Mr. Frum mentions here for a fairly simple reason: We are conservatives, in tune with the roots of conservatism in ancient, medieval, and modern thought, and most of us began learning our conservatism from the masters who taught it at National Review in the 1950’s and 60’s.  Protectionism, while not much of an issue in that era, is the historic policy of the Republican Party; its opposite, free trade, is the policy of such liberals as Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt and has been associated with the political left since the days of Immanuel Kant.  Immigration control (including restrictions to preserve the nation’s ethnic balance) was supported by all conservatives until the 1980’s.  The 1965 Immigration Act that created our current flood of Third World immigrants was a child of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, and its main Senate floor manager was Ted Kennedy himself.

As for the Southern Confederacy, Southern conservatives such as Richard M. Weaver and M.E. Bradford were always welcome at National Review in better days, and several of its leading editors rejected Lincoln and his legacy.  Such major conservative intellectual figures as Russell Kirk (who called himself a “Northern Agrarian”) respected and praised the Confederacy and the Southern tradition.  The states’ rights and strict constructionism to which the Confederacy and her forerunners adhered was the principal conservative theory of the Constitution in that era—and still is among real conservatives.

It was National Review itself (along with Barry Goldwater) that championed resistance to civil-rights legislation in the 1960’s.  “The central question that emerges,” National Review stated in a 1957 editorial,

is whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not prevail numerically.  The sobering answer is Yes—the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race.  It is not easy, and it is unpleasant, to adduce statistics evidencing the cultural superiority of White over Negro: but it is a fact that obtrudes, one that cannot be hidden by ever-so-busy egalitarians and anthropologists.  National Review believes that the South’s premises are correct. . . . It is more important for the community, anywhere in the world, to affirm and live by civilized standards, than to bow to the demands of the numerical majority.

Today, no one would advocate legally enforced racial segregation, but the principle to which the editorial subscribed—that the preservation of civilization should take precedence over democratic majoritarianism and liberal abstractions—remains as valid now as it was then.  European-Americans of the future will do well to remember that principle when the mass immigration the neoconservatives have supported has made us a minority in our own country.

What Mr. Frum has essentially accused paleoconservatives of being, then, is National Review conservatives of the 1960’s.  It is not surprising that he finds these professions strange, since he and his neocon cronies have never been conservatives at all.  In one passage of his attack essay, he accuses me, after what seems to be an entirely fabricated quote, of arguing that “the time had come for conservatives to jettison their old commitment to limited government.”  I have repeatedly written in defense of limited government both in Chronicles and in my syndicated column, but the plain truth is that the neoconservatives champion “Big Government conservatism” (a phrase popularized by neocon Fred Barnes, now of the Weekly Standard, and applied in veneration to Jack Kemp, Newt Gingrich, Phil Gramm, and Dan Quayle).  In 1997, liberal Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne could find nothing but praise for neoconservative Bill Kristol’s embrace of liberal big government: “New Dealism doesn’t bother Kristol,” Mr. Dionne rejoiced.  “Franklin Roosevelt and John Kennedy and, for that matter, Lyndon Johnson are big facts in American history,” Mr. Kristol told him.  “Are we willing to say that the country is worse off because of FDR or JFK or LBJ?  I’m not willing to say that.”  Neither is Mr. Frum, but the old National Review was, and paleos today still are, even as Mr. Frum serves up his lies about the paleos jettisoning the conservative commitment to limited government.

Mr. Frum’s original complaint about the paleos was that they were “reinventing” conservative ideology by abandoning “the 50-year-old conservative commitment to defend American interests and values throughout the world—the commitment that inspired the founding of [National Review].”  Again, he is simply lying when he claims to be voicing the commitment of National Review at its founding.  His views are not the conservative and anticommunist internationalism of James Burnham and similar National Review editors of that era but the liberal globalism of Woodrow Wilson.  As Mr. Frum told the Boston Globe a few days after his National Review article appeared, “The big story, it seems to me, is the ascendancy of neo-Wilsonianism on the political right, not neo-imperialism.” His fellow neocons prefer the franker word imperialism, as Max Boot and Charles Krauthammer made clear in the same article; call it what you will, however, it is not what National Review originally stood for; it is not conservative; and it is not American.

Had he done any real research, Mr. Frum might have learned that I happen to be the author of a study of the political thought of James Burnham, the principal architect of conservative Cold War anticommunist foreign policy and strategy, and that Burnham, a founding editor of National Review, remains a major mentor of mine.  (A full-scale sympathetic biography of Burnham was published last spring, but only in December did National Review finally get around to reviewing it.)  I could have explained to him, as I do in the new edition of my book, that Burnham’s and National Review’s interventionism was predicated on the war against international communism, and that war is over; moreover, Burnham himself often altered or adapted the policies he advocated to the changing circumstances of his era.  To boast, as Mr. Frum does, of adhering to the same foreign policy that was appropriate in the 1950’s nearly 60 years later is both stupid and dangerous to this country.

But then, to a Likudnik like Mr. Frum, what happens to this country is largely irrelevant.  It is Israel that he really cares about, and, if Americans have to die for her interests, if our traditional allies in Europe come to despise us, if Turkey bolts from granting us airspace, if the Arab peoples come to hate us and wage a generation of terrorism against us, so what, as long as Eretz Israel survives and the Likud fascism of Ariel Sharon flourishes?  After all, as his fellow Likudnik Michael Ledeen brayed soon after the war with Iraq started, “I think the level of casualties is secondary.”  We all know where their primary loyalty lies.  As Robert Novak, reviewing Mr. Frum’s recent self-serving account of his White House speechwriting experience, commented, much of the book is merely “a brief for Sharon’s Israeli policy.” 

Mr. Frum’s own agenda is obvious enough, and it includes a desperate and dishonest attempt to discredit the only authentic school of conservatism that challenges the degradation and perversion to which neoconservative dominance has delivered both the American right and the American nation.  The ideological bloodletting for which Mr. Frum is lusting is long overdue, but, when the mass of real conservatives who remain authentic patriots understand what he and his pseudoconservative cronies really want and what they have really done, the blood that will spill is more likely to be theirs.