Usually, Isolationists Aren't Just Bad on Foreign Policy

The recent cases of Richard Hanania and Pedro Gonzalez are a case in point

Richard Hanania and Pedro Gonzalez

Richard Hanania is a rising "scholar" and journalist hot on the libertarian right. He has a popular Substack, a podcast, and a handful of academic affiliations, including as a visiting professor at the University of Texas at Austin's Salem Center and as a fellow with the Koch-funded Defense Priorities, which argues for American military retrenchment.

Hanania doesn't like "the neocons." He says neocons like Doug Feith and Paul Wolfowitz got George W. Bush to invade Iraq and "didn't care about the consequences." He can't understand why neocons would cheer black performers at a Super Bowl halftime show. Responding to a Washington Free Beacon report on the list of foreign policy hands recommended to the Biden administration by a rogue's gallery of left-wing foreign policy groups, he responded: "I hope this is real and not just dumb Neo-con [sic] propaganda." (It was a Free Beacon report; of course it was real.)

On the road to his current life as a well-heeled libertarian, thinking big thoughts along the lines of "Putin has support" because "a lot of his arguments actually make sense," a HuffPost report last week revealed that, a decade ago, Hanania spent a lot of time on white nationalist websites like The Occidental Observer arguing in favor of eugenics and trying to solve for the fact that Hispanic people "don't have the requisite IQ to be a productive part of a first world nation."

Now that he's been caught, Hanania, like the right-wing provocateur, Ron DeSantis hype boy, and neocon-hater Pedro Gonzalez, says he has grown out of his reductive and racist world view. Gonzalez, for his part, told the Free Beacon that becoming a father made him snap out of his anti-Semitic beliefs.

Hanania protests that the sort of journalism to which he was subject is "not about informing the reader, or trying to bring understanding about something happening in the world. The entire journalistic endeavor revolves around the goal of 'unpersoning.'"

Au contraire. The Hanania fracas, and the Gonzalez episode that preceded it, are informative reports and useful reminders that isolationist foreign policy views usually go hand in hand with repellent racial and ethnic views. Charles Lindbergh didn't just advocate against American involvement in World War II, he accused the Jews of pushing the country into war. Pat Buchanan didn't just warn against "imperial overstretch" and describe World War II as an "unnecessary war," he inveighed against Israel's "amen corner" in the United States. And David Duke endorsed Tulsi Gabbard for president in 2020, arguing that she was "a candidate who will actually put America First rather than Israel First!"

As for Hanania's apology, here's hoping it was sincere, not some dumb white supremacist propaganda.