Heated talk of neo-cons and Israel fuels debate
By GARY MULLINAX
From news of key Pentagon adviser Richard Perle's resignation to the comments of a caller on a WDEL radio talk show, we were reminded Friday that response to the course of the war can be influenced by our view of the processes leading to it.
President Bush probably did not decide on war by himself. Who caught his ear? Discussion about that has raged in political publications.
One faction that recommended war to Bush: the neoconservatives. Any reader of the Weekly Standard (weeklystandard.com) or The New Republic (tnr.com) knows the neo-con position. These magazines have been expressing it for months.
Perle is a non-journalist neoconservative. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz is another. Neoconservatives do not constitute a formal group.
Perle resigned amid criticism of a possible conflict of interest between his government position and business interests. News accounts said little about his role as an architect of foreign policy. For that, we can go to Pat Buchanan.
Yes, Buchanan. Though sometimes regarded as a crackpot, Buchanan is capable of insight. Of course, since it's Buchanan, his position includes a healthy dose of controversy beyond his anti-war views. He raises the Jewish question.
Buchanan makes his case in his new magazine, The American Conservative (amconmag.com). Yes, he too is a conservative; but not "neo." He shares his view of the war with many liberals. Politics and wartime make strange bedfellows.
He believes neoconservatives - many of them Jewish - have long been determined that the United States will dominate the Middle East militarily. "The War Party's plan ... had been in preparation far in advance of 9/11. And when President Bush, after defeating the Taliban, was looking for a new front in the war on terror, they put their pre-cooked meal in front of him. Bush dug into it ... if he did not follow their war plans, he would be charged with surrendering to terror."
Buchanan accuses this group of putting the interests of Israel - making the Middle East safe for that country - ahead of American interests. He is accused of anti-Semitism.
Couldn't Buchanan leave Israel out of it and make essentially the same point about misguided influence? Does discussion have to end as soon as Israel is introduced, as Lawrence Kaplan has suggested in the New Republic? He called Buchanan's argument "the nullification of public discourse, for how can one refute accusations grounded in ethnicity?"
In her column for worldnetdaily.com, Ilana Mercer writes, "The blueprint for [American] empire is way bigger than any petty Israeli plot."
The mainstream has gotten interested. Buchanan quotes NBC's Tim Russert asking Perle on "Meet the Press": "Can you assure American viewers . . . we're in this situation against Saddam Hussein and his removal for American security interests? And what would the link be in terms of Israel?"
The headline on a Mickey Kaus column in slate.com: "Lawrence Kaplan Plays the Anti-Semitic Card."
The caller to Rick Jensen at WDEL-AM (1150) echoed some of these sentiments. He referred to Wolfowitz "and all these crazy men" who "when Bush got in found a stupid man to agree with them."
The pro-war side didn't have long to wait. The next WDEL offering was the syndicated Dr. Laura show. She announced at the outset, "I call the peaceniks morons," then she took a call about stepchildren.
Reach Gary Mullinax at 324-2888 or gmullinaxdelawareonline.com.