By SOHRAB AHMARI –
Martin Peretz helped return the Democratic Party from its anti-Vietnam excesses to the foreign-policy center. Now he laments that the president he supported in 2008 gets the U.N., the Arab world and Israel all wrong.
‘I bought the New Republic to take back the Democratic Party from the McGovernites,” the legendary editor and publisher Martin Peretz says. Now, he fears, George McGovern’s ideas may be back in vogue within the party.
The 1972 election and the domestic drama surrounding the Vietnam War caused a major schism between Democrats. On one side were supporters of Mr. McGovern, the U.S. senator and presidential candidate who preached engagement and accommodation with communism. On the other were those who thought the rise of the McGovernites spelled disaster for Democrats and the nation, and who were determined to return the party to a responsible center on foreign policy.
Mr. Peretz, then a Harvard University lecturer and a veteran of the antiwar movement, was in the latter camp. Two years after Richard Nixon thumped Mr. McGovern in the election, he purchased the New Republic, the flagship liberal magazine founded in 1914. Under Mr. Peretz’s ownership the magazine promoted a set of foreign-policy ideas that gradually reconquered the Democratic mainstream. Chief among these were a willingness to deploy military power to advance national interests and values, plus an abiding commitment to Israel as a mirror of American ideals in an unfree Middle East.