Charles Krauthammer’s column (May 27) attempts to distinguish between contrasting approaches to foreign policy. It is misleading, however, when he equates conservatism with a school of thought called neoconservatism.
Traditionally, conservatives have been realists in relation to foreign policy, which means that they believe that our country’s actions in relation to the rest of the world ought to be guided by our national interests and not by ideology. In an earlier generation, Hans Morgenthau and George Kennan were among the leading realist thinkers on foreign policy.
After the 1970s, a group of neoconservatives exerted growing influence in American politics. They urged that our foreign policy should seek to achieve certain goals based on ideology that traditionally had been promoted by liberals, such as the spread of democracy. The neocons enthusiastically supported the invasion of Iraq.
That attempt at regime change brought disastrous results. The neocons had abandoned the realism of genuine conservatism and embraced the naïve idealism that had characterized liberalism. They coupled that form of idealism with a bid for American dominance of the world. Their position should not be identified with conservatism.
Alfred Evans, Fresno