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Islamism's No-Show at CPAC
by Andrew E. Harrod
At the fortieth annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) this past March 14-16, 2013 at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center just outside of Washington, DC, the Center for Security Policy's (CSP) Christine Brim complained of an "amateurish view" of national security "unworthy of CPAC." Brim and other CPAC attendees charged CPAC's organizers, the American Conservative Union (ACU), with neglecting national security issues, particularly those involving multiple interrelated global Islamist threats. This national security component, which along with economic freedom and family values comprises conservatism's traditionally-defined "three-legged stool," did not receive the attention merited by a still dangerous world.
Interviewed at CSP's booth in the exhibit hall, Brim attributed to CPAC 2013 a "deeply dangerous" outlook of living in the "best of all possible worlds" famously manifested by Voltaire's thinker Pangloss in Candide. Some CPAC panels even had "whether or not we should defend America" as a theme, something that before was "not a conservative question." In contrast, Brim wanted CPAC to return to discussing the "broader issue of US leadership in the world" according to Ronald Reagan's "peace through strength" formula.
In particular, Brim complained of a "token number" of national security discussions at CPAC. Indeed, the CPAC schedule reveals that only six panels (3% of the total, including one about military voting) had any relevance to national security, while 68 other panels covered assorted social, economic, and political organizing issues. Brim wished for 2014 a "much greater number" of national security panels on topics such as border control, asymmetric warfare, cyber security, transnational movements (e.g. Hezbollah), and legal efforts "to de-legitimate drones."
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