This morning leading neoconservatives such as William Kristol and Robert Kagan held a meeting at the Mayflower Hotel -- in support of President Obama's Afghanistan policy. Kristol and Kagan, as Foreign Policy's Laura Rozen has reported, have formed a successor organization to the Project for the New American Century, which came into disrepute for its advocacy of the Iraq War. The new one is called the Foreign Policy Initiative. Its contention is that America remains, in the words of Madeleine Albright, the "indispensable nation"and, furthermore, that neocons can play a valuable role in coming years in ensuring that it remains one.
At the Mayflower, the neocon pilgrims huddled around John McCain and other conservative stalwarts who spoke at the conference. But California congressman Jane Harman was also a speaker. It's clear that that neoconservatives are staking out a new course and want to retain an influential voice in foreign policy. Their latest strategy is to move closer to Obama. Kagan has already expressed his admiration for what he sees as Obama's determination to ensure that America remains No. 1 around the globe.
The idea that the intellectual champions of the Iraq War are now trying to reach an alliance with Obama is certainly a tribute to neocon audacity. But it's also an inevitable development. The neocons have always been interventionists first, then conservatives. In fact, many traditional conservatives argue that there isn't much that's conservative about neoconservatism. In any case, the neocons aren't going away.
For now, the founding of the Foreign Policy Initiative suggests that there will be a fierce battle for the soul of the Obama administration between liberal hawks and neocons, on the one side, and between anti-interventionist progressives, on the other, over policy towards Afghanistan, Russia, China, and Iran.
Who's going to win it?