Max Boot

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Max Boot

Max Boot (born September 12, 1969) is an American author, consultant, editorialist, lecturer, and military historian. He has been an advocate of American values in foreign policy. He once described his ideas as "American might to promote American ideals." He identifies as a conservative. Boot worked as a writer and editor for Christian Science Monitor and then for The Wall Street Journal in the 1990s. He is now Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. He has written for numerous publications such as The Weekly Standard, The Los Angeles Times, and The New York Times, and he has also authored books of military history. Boot's most recent book, titled Invisible Armies which came out in 2013, is about the history of guerrilla warfare.


  • Trump is a fascist. And that’s not a term I use loosely or often. But he’s earned it.

What the Heck Is a ‘Neocon’? (December 30, 2002)[edit]

"What the Heck Is a ‘Neocon’?". (The Wall Street Journal). December 30, 2002. 
  • What the heck is a neocon anyway in 2003? A friend of mine suggests it means the kind of right-winger a liberal wouldn't be embarrassed to have over for cocktails. That's as good a definition as any, since the term has clearly come unmoored from its original meaning. ... In social policy, it stands for a broad sympathy with a traditionalist agenda and a rejection of extreme libertarianism. Neocons have led the charge to combat some of the wilder excesses of academia and the arts. But there is hardly an orthodoxy laid down by Neocon Central. I, for one, am not eager to ban either abortion or cloning, two hot-button issues on the religious right. On economic matters, neocons--like pretty much all other Republicans, except for Mr. Buchanan and his five followers--embrace a laissez-faire line, though they are not as troubled by the size of the welfare state as libertarians are.
  • I haven't been mugged lately. I haven't even been accosted. I like to think I've been in touch with reality from day one, since I've never been a Trotskyite, a Maoist or even a Democrat. There's no "neo" in my conservatism. I don't deserve much credit for this, I might add, since I grew up in the 1980s, when conservatism was cool.
  • Patrick Buchanan, for one, claims that his views represent the true faith of the American right. He wants to drive the neocon infidels from the temple (or, more accurately, from the church). Unfortunately for Mr. Buchanan, his version of conservatism--nativist, protectionist, isolationist--attracts few followers, as evidenced by his poor showings in Republican presidential primaries and the scant influence of his inaptly named magazine, the American Conservative. Buchananism isn't American conservatism as we understand it today. It's paleoconservatism, a poisonous brew that was last popular when Father Charles Coughlin, not Rush Limbaugh, was the leading conservative broadcaster in America.
  • Pretty much all conservatives today agree on the need for a strong, vigorous foreign policy. There is no constituency for isolationism on the right, outside the Buchananite fever swamps. The question is how to define our interventionism.
  • Inside the administration are Vice President Dick Cheney and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. Their agenda is known as "neoconservatism," though a more accurate term might be "hard Wilsonianism." Advocates of this view embrace Woodrow Wilson's championing of American ideals but reject his reliance on international organizations and treaties to accomplish our objectives.
  • During the 2000 campaign, President Bush sounded very much like a realist, with his suspicions of "nation building" and his warnings about American hubris. Then along came 9/11. The National Security Strategy that he released in September--which calls for "encouraging free and open societies on every continent"--sounds as if it could have come straight from the pages of Commentary magazine, the neocon bible. I suppose that makes George W. Bush a neocon. If it's good enough for the president, it's good enough for me.

The Republican Party is dead (May 8, 2016)[edit]

. The Republican Party is dead. Los Angeles Times (May 8, 2016).
  • I have been a Republican as long as I can remember.
  • Reagan was what John F. Kennedy had been to an earlier generation: an inspirational figure who shaped my worldview. Reagan had his faults, like JFK, but he was optimistic and gentlemanly. He was pro-free trade and pro-immigration. He believed in limited government at home and American leadership abroad. That's what I believed in too — and that's what I thought the Republican Party stood for.
  • John McCain in 2008, Mitt Romney in 2012 and Marco Rubio this year. All of those candidates, different as they were, recognizably represented Reagan Republicanism.
  • Republican Party is dead. It was wounded by the tea party absolutists who insisted on political purity and rejected any compromise. Now it has been killed by Donald Trump.
  • Trump is an ignorant demagogue who traffics in racist and misogynistic slurs and crazy conspiracy theories. He champions protectionism and isolationism — the policies that brought us the Great Depression and World War II. He wants to undertake a police-state roundup of undocumented immigrants and to bar Muslims from coming to this country. He encourages his followers to assault protesters and threatens to sue or smear critics. He would abandon Japan and South Korea and break up the most successful alliance in historyNATO. But he has kind words for tyrants such as Vladimir Putin. There has never been a major party nominee in U.S. history as unqualified for the presidency. The risk of Trump winning, however remote, represents the biggest national security threat that the United States faces today.
  • Hillary Clinton is a centrist Democrat who is more hawkish than President Obama and far more principled and knowledgeable about foreign affairs than Trump, who is too unstable and erratic to be entrusted with the nuclear triad he has never heard of. Even in his prepared foreign policy speech couldn't pronounce “Tanzania.” For all her shortcomings (and there are many), Clinton would be far preferable to Trump.
  • Bernie Sanders, a self-professed socialist who is almost as extreme in his own way as Trump is. I don't “feel the Bern” and I can't make common cause with those who do. Nor do I support Obama and his “lead from behind” foreign policy, which has created an opening for predators like Russia, Iran and Islamic State — dangers that would only grow under a Trump presidency.
  • I only know one thing for sure: I won't vote for Trump. My hope is that he will lose by a landslide, and the Republican Party will come to its senses, rejecting both his ugly, nativist populism and the extreme, holier-than-thou conservatism represented by Ted Cruz.
  • There is no shortage of Republican leaders today.

How the ‘Stupid Party’ Created Trump (August 2, 2016)[edit]

. How the ‘Stupid Party’ Created Trump. The New York Times (August 2, 2016).
  • It’s hard to know exactly when the Republican Party assumed the mantle of the “stupid party.” ... After decades of masquerading as the “stupid party,” that’s what it has become. But if an unapologetic ignoramus wins the presidency, the consequences will be no laughing matter.
  • Many Democrats took all this at face value and congratulated themselves for being smarter than the benighted Republicans. Here’s the thing, though: The Republican embrace of anti-intellectualism was, to a large extent, a put-on. At least until now.
  • There is no evidence that Republican leaders have been demonstrably dumber than their Democratic counterparts. During the Reagan years, the G.O.P. briefly became known as the “party of ideas,” because it harvested so effectively the intellectual labor of conservative think tanks. ... In recent years, however, the Republicans’ relationship to the realm of ideas has become more and more attenuated as talk-radio hosts and television personalities have taken over the role of defining the conservative movement that once belonged to thinkers.
  • Donald J. Trump, a presidential candidate who truly is the know-nothing his Republican predecessors only pretended to be. ... It is genuinely terrifying that someone who advances such offensive and ridiculous proposals could win the nomination of a party once led by Teddy Roosevelt, who wrote more books than Mr. Trump has probably read. It’s one thing to appeal to voters by pretending to be an average guy. It’s another to be an average guy who doesn’t know the first thing about governing or public policy. The Trump acolytes claim it doesn’t matter; he can hire experts to advise him. But experts always disagree with one another and it is the president alone who must make the most difficult decisions in the world. That’s not something he can do since he lacks the most basic grounding in the issues and is prey to fundamental misconceptions.
  • Catering to populist anger with extremist proposals that are certain to fail is not a viable strategy for political success.

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