Anti-Imperialism/Foreign Policy

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine makes neocons — not national conservatives — look bad

But the problem is that the national conservatives are a front movement for the neocons, a controlled opposition from the right.

By W. James Antle III, The Week

There is a growing sense in some quarters that the Russian invasion of Ukraine has been a setback for national conservatism. Many on the right instinctively see the Kremlin’s war differently than the nascent populists do, and some of the latter have genuinely allowed reasonable criticisms of the West’s missteps, especially on NATO expansion, to bleed into credulity about Russia’s claims.

But it’s not entirely clear that anything going on in Ukraine particularly discredits the new nationalists’ ideas, at least in their higher-brow form, as opposed to perhaps some of their most vocal personalities. And that’s not just because the media is still full of commentators who sold the Iraq War to Americans, and who are now explaining the Russo-Ukrainian War to us, even at times leading the charge on the effort to dismiss rivals they brand as the new unpatriotic conservatives.

What the war shows, though, is the vital importance of national borders and sovereignty and the limits of well-intentioned supranational organizations to secure those goods. The Ukrainians defending their homes and families show the virtues of nationalism defined as loyalty to an actual place rather than just an idea, while Russian President Vladimir Putin’s bombardment of Ukraine’s cities illustrates how exploiting these natural sentiments for raw political power can transform it into a vice.


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