The GOP’s Neoconservatives Are the Establishment

Abcarian: Steve Bannon discovers the hard way that defying Congress is no joke.

It’s that time of year when the GOP’s neoconservative base is in flux. The neocons are still in power, just as they have been for the past two decades, but the Trump Administration now faces a challenge to their power from an unexpected quarter: the Washington establishment.

As much of mainstream media and liberal think tanks continue to downplay the Iran nuclear deal despite the deal’s benefits for the United States and its allies (e.g. avoiding the re-imposition of sanctions that had been lifted under the deal), the Trump Administration must seek to respond to that criticism and defend the deal, or else it will lose the support of its core constituency — the neoconservatives — who continue to push the idea of an Israeli first foreign policy even as that policy is being vindicated by history.

And their success could be short lived. A new study from the American Enterprise Institute, the think tank founded by neoconservative George W. and Charles Koch, provides a window on the current dynamic within the GOP, in which the neoconservatives, who dominate the party’s policy circles as well as its leadership, have begun to push back against the party’s establishment.

The Washington Post called the study, which was presented at the Heritage Policy Conference in Washington, “an insider’s guide to understanding today’s GOP.” It’s not really an insider’s guide to understanding today’s GOP. The Post described it as a “bombshell” of sorts.

The study is by the AEI’s Daniel E. Kaplan. It examines what the Party of Lincoln, and America’s bipartisan establishment, actually stands for. It shows that the neocons are the establishment in the GOP. They’re not part of its leadership (most of them do not serve in the national-security councils or key political offices at the White House) but are instead the establishment’s chief defenders and defenders of

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