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  We charge that a cabal of polemicists and public officials seek to ensnare our country in a series of wars that are not in America's interests. -- Pat Buchanan
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The American Conservative

New York, March 24, 2003


Whose War?

A neo-conservative clique seeks to ensnare our country in a series of wars that are not in Americas interest.

by Patrick J. Buchanan

The War Party may have gotten its war. But it has also gotten something it did not bargain for. Its membership lists and associations have been exposed and its motives challenged.


IN a rare moment in U.S. journalism, Tim Russert put this question directly to Richard Perle: Can you assure American viewers ... that were in this situation against Saddam Hussein and his removal for American security interests? And what would be the link in terms of Israel?

Suddenly, the Israeli connection is on the table, and the War Party is not amused. Finding themselves in an unanticipated firefight, our neo-conservative friends are doing what comes naturally, seeking student deferments from political combat by claiming the status of a persecuted minority group.

People who claim to be writing the foreign policy of the world superpower, one would think, would be a little more manly in the schoolyard of politics. Not so. Former Wall Street Journal editor Max Boot kicked off the campaign.

When these Buchananites toss around neo-conservative -- and cite names like Wolfowitz and Cohen -- it sometimes sounds as if what they really mean is Jewish conservative.

President, flagYet Boot readily concedes that a passionate attachment to Israel is a key tenet of neo-conservatism. He also claims that the National Security Strategy of President Bush sounds as if it could have come straight out from the pages of Commentary magazine, the neo-con bible. (For the uninitiated, Commentary, the bible in which Boot seeks divine guidance, is the monthly of the American Jewish Committee.)

David Brooks of the Weekly Standard wails that attacks based on the Israel tie have put him through personal hell:

Now I get a steady stream of anti-Semitic screeds in my e-mail, my voicemail and in my mailbox. ... Anti-Semitism is alive and thriving. Its just that its epicenter is no longer on the Buchananite Right, but on the peace-movement left.

Washington Post columnist Robert Kagan endures his own purgatory abroad:

In London ... one finds Britain's finest minds propounding, in sophisticated language and melodious Oxbridge accents, the conspiracy theories of Pat Buchanan concerning the neo-conservative (read: Jewish) hijacking of American foreign policy.

Lawrence Kaplan of the New Republic charges that our little magazine has been transformed into a forum for those who contend that President Bush has become a client of ... Ariel Sharon and the neo-conservative war party.

Referencing Charles Lindbergh, he accuses Paul Schroeder, Chris Matthews, Robert Novak, Georgie Anne Geyer, Jason Vest of the Nation, and Gary Hart of implying that members of the Bush team have been doing Israel's bidding and, by extension, exhibiting dual loyalties.

Kaplan thunders:

The real problem with such claims is not just that they are untrue. The problem is that they are toxic. Invoking the specter of dual loyalty to mute criticism and debate amounts to more than the everyday pollution of public discourse. It is the nullification of public discourse, for how can one refute accusations grounded in ethnicity? The charges are, ipso facto, impossible to disprove.


AND so they are meant to be. What is going on here? Slate's Mickey Kaus nails it in the headline of his retort: Lawrence Kaplan Plays the Anti-Semitic Card.

What Kaplan, Brooks, Boot, and Kagan are doing is what the Rev. Jesse Jackson does when caught with some mammoth contribution from a Fortune 500 company he has lately accused of discriminating.

He plays the race card. So, too, the neo-conservatives are trying to fend off critics by assassinating their character and impugning their motives. Indeed, it is the charge of anti-Semitism itself that is toxic.

For this venerable slander is designed to nullify public discourse by smearing and intimidating foes and censoring and blacklisting them and any who would publish them. Neocons say we attack them because they are Jewish.

We do not. We attack them because their warmongering threatens our country, even as it finds a reliable echo in Ariel Sharon. And this time the boys have cried wolf once too often. It is not working.

As Kaus notes, Kaplan's own New Republic carries Harvard professor Stanley Hoffman. In writing of the four power-centers in this capital that are clamoring for war, Hoffman himself describes the fourth thus: And, finally, there is a loose collection of friends of Israel, who believe in the identity of interests between the Jewish state and the United States.

These analysts look on foreign policy through the lens of one dominant concern: Is it good or bad for Israel?

Since that nation's founding in 1948, these thinkers have never been in very good odor at the State Department, but now they are well ensconced in the Pentagon, around such strategists as Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and Douglas Feith. If Stanley Hoffman can say this, asks Kaus, why can't Chris Matthews?

Kaus also notes that Kaplan somehow failed to mention the most devastating piece tying the neo-conservatives to Sharon and his Likud Party. In a Feb. 9 front-page article in the Washington Post, Robert Kaiser quotes a senior U.S. official as saying, The Likudniks are really in charge now. Kaiser names Perle, Wolfowitz, and Feith as members of a pro-Israel network inside the administration and adds David Wurmser of the Defense Department and Elliott Abrams of the National Security Council. (Abrams is the son-in-law of Norman Podhoretz, editor emeritus of Commentary, whose magazine has for decades branded critics of Israel as anti-Semites.)

Noting that Sharon repeatedly claims a special closeness to the Bushites, Kaiser writes, For the first time a U.S. administration and a Likud government are pursuing nearly identical policies.

And a valid question is: how did this come to be, and while it is surely in Sharon's interest, is it in America's interest? This is a time for truth. For America is about to make a momentous decision: whether to launch a series of wars in the Middle East that could ignite the Clash of Civilizations against which Harvard professor Samuel Huntington has warned, a war we believe would be a tragedy and a disaster for this Republic. To avert this war, to answer the neo-con smears, we ask that our readers review their agenda as stated in their words. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

As Al Smith used to say, Nothing un-American can live in the sunlight. We charge that a cabal of polemicists and public officials seek to ensnare our country in a series of wars that are not in America's interests. We charge them with colluding with Israel to ignite those wars and destroy the Oslo Accords.

President, wallWe charge them with deliberately damaging U.S. relations with every state in the Arab world that defies Israel or supports the Palestinian peoples right to a homeland of their own. We charge that they have alienated friends and allies all over the Islamic and Western world through their arrogance, hubris, and bellicosity. Not in our lifetimes has America been so isolated from old friends.

Far worse, President Bush is being lured into a trap baited for him by these neo-cons that could cost him his office and cause America to forfeit years of peace won for us by the sacrifices of two generations in the Cold War. They charge us with anti-Semitism -- i.e., a hatred of Jews for their faith, heritage, or ancestry. False.

The truth is, those hurling these charges harbor a passionate attachment to a nation not our own that causes them to subordinate the interests of their own country and to act on an assumption that, somehow, what's good for Israel is good for America.


Copyright, The American Conservative. March 24, 2003


Related file:

Arab sources tie US General Jay Garner, candidate for Governor of Iraq, to ruling Likud party in Israel


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