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Not all conservatives are the same. In fact, many of them are terrible in their own unique ways. But in recent weeks, Washington Post opinion writer Max Boot has proven that, when it comes to foreign policy, no one is as bad as the Boot.
Those who aren’t familiar with the work of Max Boot, perhaps America’s greatest civilian warmonger—who cheerleaded the Iraq War throughout the George W. Bush administration—likely learned about him by watching him get mercilessly dunked on by Twitter’s leftists numerous times over the last month or so, after his very public defenses of Afghanistan and intervention in Latin America.
It's truly funny how little work @maxboot & co. are required to do. They spend 5 minutes plugging in names to their little pre-programmed regime change template and then I guess they spend the rest of the day playing miniature golf or getting blackout drunk or whatever. pic.twitter.com/O6PFTxgPz7— Jon Schwarz (@schwarz) February 15, 2019
This Max Boot parody account is so lifelike and really captures his essence. https://t.co/WkQzIlbJlX— jeremy scahill (@jeremyscahill) February 13, 2019
“Wow. Nice ad hom.” — Eichmann in Jerusalem.— Matt Christman (@cushbomb) February 13, 2019
We’ve reached: MAXIMUM BOOT pic.twitter.com/0HL1qwvyx8— Bernie/Nina 2020 🌹 (@mikemoran2010) February 13, 2019
genocide denier with a stupid hat— Dollars Horton Official (@crushingbort) February 15, 2019
max boot’s incredible journey to Old Timey Hat Guy, in pictures pic.twitter.com/1Ulbw0bvAE— KT Nelson (@KrangTNelson) February 13, 2019
ad hominem would be if i asked what's under the hat @MaxBoot— covfefe watchdog (@AllezLesBoulez) February 13, 2019
You could tell the Iraq War was the right thing to do when both Sunni and Shia militias started planting IEDs https://t.co/nya16SMR0Y— Tom Scocca (@tomscocca) February 15, 2019
Everyone from fans of Chapo Trap House to subscribers to The Intercept took to Twitter to call him “Maximum Boot,” “Minimum Boot,” or “The Guy With the Dumb Hat.” [Disclosure: The author believes the hat isn’t that bad.] And it wasn’t just the rakish hat that aligned everyone on the left from rose emoji shitposters to respected academics against Boot.
When the war drum beats, Boot is there to pound along, penning essays justifying any invasion a Republican administration sets its mind to. When wars are in the news, the boot drops, and a wild-ass take involving invading some nation most American’s haven’t thought about in a while graces the esteemed WaPo opinion page.
Recently, the news has been more about domestic injustice than foreign atrocities, so Boot has rebranded from neoconservative war hawk to self-righteous Never Trumper. He recently published a book titled The Corrosion of Conservativism: Why I Left the Right: one of many books conservatives have published to cash in on this grift. Though the book was a hit, it was only a matter of time until the boot stepped in it once again.
Boot’s resurgence as the right-wing opinion writer leftists love to hate started at the end of January, when Donald Trump suggested pulling troops out of Syria and Afghanistan. Boot was quick to condemn Trump for a proposal than many progressives saw as a “broken clock right twice a day” moment. In his piece “Why Winning and Losing Are Irrelevant in Syria and Afghanistan,” Boot argued that while it may be impossible to win the wars we started in the Middle East, we should stay there forever.
While there is a lot of spicy stuff in the piece, the section that drew the most ire compared America’s involvement in the Middle East to the U.S. genocide against Native Americans, asserting that American troops are “policing the frontiers of Pax Americana.”
Max Boot wants genocidal war to be our model. https://t.co/aVCdHBlL4d— Stephen Wertheim (@stephenwertheim) January 30, 2019
To no one’s surprise, except perhaps Max Boot, left-wing groups, academics, and writers focusing on anti-colonialism and anti-imperialism were not happy with this piece. Most Republicans have the decency to call for empire without literally comparing America to the Roman Empire or lovingly recalling Native American genocide, but not so with Boot.
Did Boot find a moment for meaningful self-reflection amidst this criticism? Of course not. He published a piece whining about the severe owning he received online, aptly titled, “On Wednesday, The Twitter Mob Came For Me.”
I can't believer the twitter mob silenced Max Boot. Now up on the Washington Post.— David M. Perry (@Lollardfish) February 1, 2019
Man, I just remembered that Max Boot wrote an article that America should be planning for centuries of imperial conquest and all the bloodshed that entails, then when he rightly got dragged for it, he wrote another one that "the mob" came for him. What a narcissistic psychopath.— Friar Ruck of the Bernard Brothers (@RuckCohlchez) February 9, 2019
If there is one thing that Never Trumpers love as much as war abroad, it is civility and status quo at home. After all, you can’t expand your empire if you are worried about pesky things like domestic inequality. Rather than engage meaningfully with the criticism he received (the piece does include a brief tacked on apology), Boot largely dismissed his critics as a product of Twitter’s hot take culture, and even went so far to blame Russian trolls for the attack.
To show just how little Boot learned from this experience with the “Twitter mob” (aka readers), he made sure to double down in a piece in early February titled, “Trump Doesn’t Get It: America Pays A Cost For Betraying Allies.” Here, Boot argues, in less extreme but no less certain language, that Trump needs to send more troops in the Middle East.
Lest you think that Boot’s interest in American empire is only contained to one hemisphere, he then finally found common ground with Trump, when the administration made it clear they plan to work towards regime change in Venezuela.
In his recent article, “Democrats Need to Beware Their Loony Left,” Boot argues that Democrats are in danger of becoming too extreme. What sort of extremist views does he critique? Not staging a coup. He writes, “Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and academic luminaries such as Noam Chomsky warn against the United States ‘interfering in Venezuela’s internal politics.’”
I'm sure Abrams whitewashing more right wing death squads in the name of American capital interests will be really great for human rights and democracy in Venezuela— Rob Rousseau (@robrousseau) February 13, 2019
Following this article, Boot once again doubled down, wading into the controversy around Rep. Ilhan Omar’s (D-Minn.) criticisms of Elliot Abrams, who has been named as an envoy to Venezuala by President Trump.
First, Boot took to Twitter, to defend Abrams’ long history of involvement in Central American conflicts in which America supported right-wing forces were often characterized as death squads. Abrams is most notorious for the allies’ involvment in the El Mozote massacre in El Salvador, a mass killing of hundreds of civilians which Abrams not only never received meaningful punishment for, but is said to be proud of.
Disgraceful ad hominem attacks by @IlhanMN on my @CFR_org colleague Elliott Abrams. She doesn't seem to realize he is a leading advocate of human rights and democracy--not a promoter of genocide! More evidence of the loony left I caution Democrats about: https://t.co/dyVdVOS7PY https://t.co/yjeLJksYCj— Max Boot (@MaxBoot) February 13, 2019
Remember folks, for people like Max Boot and Elliott Abrams, having their own bloodsoaked resumes and grotesque quotations read back to them is considered a "disgraceful ad hominem attack."— Nima Shirazi (@WideAsleepNima) February 13, 2019
Abrams’ allies in the region have been found guilty of genocide, and so, it is not a stretch to assert that Abrams himself is a war criminal. He was convicted of lying to Congress for his role in these conflicts, but was pardoned by President George H.W. Bush.
Rep. Omar pointedly asked Abrams during a House Foreign Affairs hearing, “Would you support an armed faction within Venezuela that engages in war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide, if you believe they were serving U.S. interests, as you did in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua?” Abrams seemed surprised that anyone would dare question him about anything.
Reminder that in the present instance Max Boot is defending years and years of torture and massacres, and illegal arms sales to Iran, and the executive branch lying to Congress about its lawbreaking, and the corrupt use of the presidential pardon power https://t.co/1WTGEE4UY2— Tom Scocca (@tomscocca) February 13, 2019
Boot then wrote a piece taking Rep. Omar to task for the grave sin of asking Abrams to defend his record. In the piece, featuring the pithy title, “Why Ilhan Omar’s botched interrogation of Elliot Abrams got just about everything wrong” Boot critiques Rep. Omar for “badgering and berating Elliot Abrams.” H
e also dismisses the concerns of the left with generous use of scare quotes and the assertion that America, under Trump, will “restore democracy” in the country (despite of course, dedicating much of his work to how bad Trump is as president).
This piece combined all the worst aspects of Boot’s work, offering both the whiny self-righteousness of his “Twitter Mob” piece and the bloodlust and fantastical empire building of his recent work on withdrawal from Afghanistan and Syria.
In other words, it’s time to strap in for another round of Boot.
Brenden Gallagher is a politics reporter and cultural commentator. His work has been published by Motherboard, Complex, and VH1. He’s the co-founder of Beer Money Films, an indie production company. Based in Los Angeles, he works in television drama as a writers assistant.