Angelo Codevilla, Christian philosopher who predicted the failures of


Afghans gather by the roadside near the military section of Kabul airport on August 20, 2021, in hopes of fleeing the country after the Taliban took military control of Afghanistan. |

One of our country’s greatest public intellectuals, Angelo Codevilla, passed away on Monday evening. Codevilla was one of the last titans of the art of government and one of the most insightful and powerful analysts in American politics and culture. In addition to his years serving the country and teaching international relations, he was a prolific writer and analyst, defining a truly conservative foreign policy. He was almost a decade ahead of the failures of our ruling class. Somehow he also found the time to produce a translation of Machiavelli’s work. The prince.

I don’t want to give the wrong impression: I didn’t know him personally, and I am wholly inadequate for the task of praising a man I have never even spoken to – although I have a vague memory that he was courteous enough to answer my emails in 2013, when I would have been 16. My father, however, knew him, interviewed him and prayed with him. At that time, he directed me to one of Codevilla’s many books on international politics and the history of American foreign policy, as a kind of little nudge to move on from my obsession with WWII. to what would end up being the basis for most of my writing – international politics.

By 2013, the international relations establishment had been deeply penetrated by the philosophy of neoliberal internationalism, expressed in the impenetrable language of academia that we all now know intimately. I first encountered terms like “post-modernism”, “neoliberalism” and “critical theory” in publications on international relations. Codevilla showed another way, a philosophy of nations and their relationship between them that was uniquely Christian.

Today we tend to see foreign policy as a choice between two poles: on the one hand, “isolationism”, the supposed refusal to use force in virtually any scenario; on the other, “interventionism”, the operating mode of Clinton, Bush and Obama. Codevilla showed us that this is an illusion, a false dichotomy that portrays any opposition to the latter as being a variation of the former, and vice versa.

Codevilla’s foreign policy puts the national interest at the center. She did not fall into the trap of neoconservatism and liberal internationalism, which see America’s role in the world as promoting democracy and / or human rights in distant lands. Nor has it fallen into the trap of isolationism, which opposes military action in virtually all scenarios, regardless of the national interest. Writing on Iraq and Afghanistan, he urged us “to leave other people’s affairs to them, while doing a better job of looking after our own.” Given the recent collapse of Afghanistan, caused by the utter incompetence of our elites, it would be difficult to challenge his point of view. Following the biblical standard of the self-determination of nations and the doomed nature of empires, Codevilla opposed the neo-imperialism of the Bush-Obama era. (And the Wilson era, to this.)

He is probably best known for his premonitory critiques of the ruling class, which informed his critique of the foreign policy establishment. In an essay that later became the basis of a book, Codevilla explained how our so-called “elites” truly lack an elite. It was in 2010, 6 years before Trump was elected. In the aforementioned interview, Codevilla compared the coming populist wave to an abused horse: “This country, our wonderful horse, has had a bunch of bad riders and the horse is going to crack. May the next rider be worthy of the horse.

Unlike many of today’s recent populist pundits, Codevilla was detailed and consistent in his criticisms of the ruling class, while simultaneously warning of what might replace them. Despite his scathing criticism from elites and his long history of defending conservatives in the country it flies over, Codevilla has not jumped on the Trump bandwagon, criticizing the president despite enormous pressure not to – a principled stance that he deserves. still worth the vitriol even after its death. But, unlike many other conservatives who criticized Trump, he did not give up his principles for a job at MSNBC or CNN.

He dubbed the Democrats, as an institution of and for the elites, the “Court Party” and the GOP the “Campaign Party”. This was at a time when the GOP was still considered Mitt Romney’s party. As Michael Brendan Dougherty pointed out in his excellent obituary in National Review, Codevilla saw what the real political divisions were in the country in 2009, when many believed the main dividing line was the size of the welfare state. . Codevilla foresaw the problems the Iraq war would face before it broke out, at a time when the vast majority of the country favored the invasion. Again, not falling into the instinctive anti-war isolationism, or the foreign policy of GI Joe of the Bush years, he emphasized the folly of launching an invasion without a clear enemy, goal and victory condition. He made the same criticism of the then popular war in Afghanistan.

Codevilla stuck to its principles despite pressure to change, criticizing mistakes when they were made, regardless of the cost to its prestige and public esteem. He has been and is attacked by both failed “elites” and diehard Trump supporters, but has not stopped telling the truth. He was way ahead of his time when it came to foreign policy and the populist-elitist divide that defines modern American politics. He was one of the few public intellectuals of the modern era to deserve the name. I did not know him personally, but his work contributed to the development of my writing and analysis of foreign affairs, and for that I am indebted to him. By now I’m sure many readers are looking at his work, whose worldview is challenged and altered by the vast catalog of his excellent writings, just as I did when I was 16.

Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine, and lux perpetua luceat eis.

Charles is a risk analyst and columnist at TownhallFinance. He has written for National Review Online, AsiaTimes, RealClearMarkets, and Theopolis Institute. @charlesgbowyer


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