Know Your Enemy: Why the Right Loves Foreign Dictators

Know Your Enemy: Why the Right Loves Foreign Dictators

Matt and Sam talk to Jacob Heilbrunn about his new book, America Last: The Right’s Century-Long Romance with Foreign Dictators.

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin in 2018 (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Know Your Enemy is a podcast about the American right co-hosted by Matthew Sitman and Sam Adler-Bell. Read more about it here. You can subscribe to, rate, and review the show on Apple Podcasts and Stitcher, and receive bonus content by supporting the podcast on Patreon.

The right’s romance with odious foreign dictators didn’t start with Putin or Viktor Orbán, and their profound contempt for democracy long predates January 6. In his new book, America Last: The Right’s Century-Long Romance with Foreign Dictators, Jacob Heilbrunn traces this tradition on the right—in many ways their most deeply rooted and enduring tradition in foreign affairs—back over a century to the embrace of Kaiser Wilhelm during the First World War. In this discussion, Matt and Sam ask Heilbrunn about the connection between race science and fear of democracy in the early twentieth century, what the right saw in Italian fascism, the machinations of the right’s pivot from Nazi revisionism to the onset of the Cold War, Jeane Kirkpatrick and the supposed distinction between authoritarianism and “totalitarianism,” the profound consequences of the failure of neoconservatism, the coming disaster of a second Trump term, and more.

Sources and further reading:

Jacob Heilbrunn, America Last: The Right’s Century-Long Romance with Foreign Dictators (2024)

The Knew They Were Right: The Rise of the Neocons (2008)

RJB Bosworth, Mussolini (2010)

J. Valerio Borghese, Sea Devils: Suicide Squad (1954)

Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, Dictatorships & Double Standards, Commentary (1979)


The American Right’s Hungary Hearts,  (w/ Lauren Stokes and John Ganz), Know Your Enemy

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