Homo Neoconus

Everyone knows about Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan. But what about their intellectual godfather? A look at the original democracy-promoting liberal defense hawk, JFK and LBJ advisor Walt Rostow.

Issue: July-Aug 2008

David Milne, America's Rasputin: Walt Rostow and the Vietnam War (New York: Hill and Wang, 2008), 336 pp., $26.00.

Andrew Preston, The War Council: McGeorge Bundy, the NSC, and Vietnam (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006), 334 pp., $49.95.

 

THOUGH IT has been over for decades, the Vietnam War continues, more often than not, to loom large in American presidential campaigns. In 1980 Ronald Reagan promised to end the Vietnam syndrome and raised liberal hackles by calling the war a "noble cause." Bill Clinton was pummeled by the conservative press in 1992 for being a draft dodger. Dan Quayle and George W. Bush were fiercely questioned about their war records, or lack of one. John F. Kerry, who actually saw combat and declared that he was "reporting for duty" at the Democratic convention in 2004, was Swift-boated as a traitor. Now, as the 2008 presidential campaign heats up, Vietnam promises to be the subject of contention once more.

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