This morning we post the last of the three items from the Fall issue of the Claremont Review of Books (subscribe here). The review/essay by CRB editor Charles R. Kesler addresses three new books on the war. As our situation and strategy in Iraq change, Professor Kesler asks, “Will we have learned anything?” Continuing his series on the intellectual assumptions behind the war, Professor Kesler examines three important new works by conservatives whom Kesler describes as of the neo variety (he also acknowledes the demonology at work in the polemics regarding neoconservative influence on American foreign policy, and it is an adjective that I resist using).
Under consideration in Professor Kesler’s essay are Norman Podhoretz’s World War IV (it should be noted that Podhoretz describes Kesler as the “more temperate” of his CRB critics when measured against the “eloquent and fiery polemicists” Mark Helprin and Angelo Codevilla, to whom Podhoretz responds in his chapter on “Defeatism on the right”) and the late Jeane Kirkpatrick’s posthumous Making War to Keep Peace. Podhoretz and Kirkpatrick are two former Democrats who reached opposite conclusions about the war. Despite their somewhat adversarial positions on the issues under discussion, Kesler pays tribute to Podhoretz:
He does not have “any doubts about the leadership of George W. Bush,” and thinks he will someday be considered a great president, alongside Harry Truman, to whom Podhoretz frequently compares him. Written before Bush announced that the previous strategy in Iraq was not working and switched to the “surge,” World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism betrays no hint that the war is off-course or that democratization is anything but central to the struggle. In fact, it is a better book for it. Podhoretz set out to write the strongest possible case for the Iraq War on its original grounds