"We charge that a cabal of polemicists and public officials seek to ensnare our country in a series of wars that are not in America¹s interests. We charge them with colluding with Israel to ignite those wars... We charge that they have alienated friends and allies all over the
Islamic and Western world through their arrogance, hubris, and bellicosity." - Pat Buchanan]
The American Conservative
March 24, 2003
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: ³Can you assure American
viewers ... that we¹re in this situation against Saddam Hussein and his
removal for American security interests? And what would be the link in terms
Suddenly, the Israeli connection is on the table, and the War Party is not
amused. Finding themselves in an unanticipated firefight, our
neoconservative 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 ³Buchananites toss around neoconservative¹and cite names like
Wolfowitz and Cohenit sometimes sounds as if what they really mean is
Jewish conservative.¹² Yet Boot readily concedes that a passionate
attachment to Israel is a ³key tenet of neoconservatism.² He also claims
that the National Security Strategy of President Bush ³sounds as if it could
have come straight out from the pages of Commentary magazine, the neocon
bible.² (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: ³Now 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. It¹s just that its epicenter is no
longer on the Buchananite Right, but on the peace-movement left.²
Washington Post columnist Robert Kagan endures his own purgatory abroad: ³In
London ... one finds Britain¹s finest minds propounding, in sophisticated
language and melodious Oxbridge accents, the conspiracy theories of Pat
Buchanan concerning the neoconservative¹ (read: Jewish) hijacking of
American foreign policy.²
Lawrence Kaplan of the New Republic charges that our little magazine ³has
been transformed into a forum for those who contend that President Bush has
become a client of ... Ariel Sharon and the neoconservative war party.¹²
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 ³members of the Bush team have been doing Israel¹s bidding
and, by extension, exhibiting dual loyalties.¹² 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? Slate¹s Mickey Kaus nails it in the headline of his
retort: ³Lawrence Kaplan Plays the Anti-Semitic Card.²
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 neoconservatives are trying to fend off critics by assassinating
their character and impugning their motives.
Indeed, it is the charge of ³anti-Semitism² 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 ³wolf² once too often. It is not working.
As Kaus notes, Kaplan¹s 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 nation¹s 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.
³If Stanley Hoffman can say this,² asks Kaus, ³why can¹t Chris Matthews?²
Kaus also notes that Kaplan somehow failed to mention the most devastating
piece tying the neoconservatives 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, ³The Likudniks are really in charge now.²
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 ³special closeness² to the Bushites,
Kaiser writes, ³For the first time a U.S. administration and a Likud
government are pursuing nearly identical policies.² And a valid question is:
how did this come to be, and while it is surely in Sharon¹s interest, is it
in America¹s 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 neocon 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, ³Nothing un-American can live in the
We charge that a cabal of polemicists and public officials seek to ensnare
our country in a series of wars that are not in America¹s interests. We
charge them with colluding with Israel to ignite those wars and destroy the
Oslo Accords. We charge them with deliberately damaging U.S. relations with
every state in the Arab world that defies Israel or supports the Palestinian
people¹s 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
neocons 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-Semitismi.e., a hatred of Jews for their faith,
heritage, or ancestry. False. The truth is, those hurling these charges
harbor a ³passionate attachment² 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, what¹s good for Israel is good for America.
Copyright, The American Conservative. March 24, 2003