« Chinese censorship | Gene Expression Front Page | Tough love »
May 01, 2003

The neo-con con job?

This article documents the extent to which even some semi-respectable lefty intellectuals like Eric Alterman have descended into anti-neocon paranoia/hysteria. Let me say that I'm making this point as someone who has castigated what I regard as the utopianism of the neo-con foreign policy mavens on my own blog. I also have cited favourably Steve Sailer's criticism of the neocons.

However some of the recent examples of neocon bashing as documented in my first link are worrying because the implied story behind those kinds of criticisms is that there's this cunning Jewish neo-con cabal that has somehow Rasputin-like easily manipulated Bush, Cheney, Condi, et al into a foreign policy which is really about using US lives to destroy Israel's enemies. A more plausible take on events IMHO is that
i) firstly let's get it out of the way - most neocons are Jewish (unless you count Fukuyama and some others like that as neocons) but that's because public intellectuals are disproportionately Jewish. Libertarians are probably also disproportionately Jewish (Mises. Rothbard, Rand, Nozick, the Friedmans) so is libertarianism also a Jewish conspiracy?(there's probably some nut who'll say 'yes')
ii) everyone acts out of a mixture of motives and perhaps even in the process resolve various cognitive dissonances. Of course there are some Jewish neocons who probably do see a more aggressive Middle East strategy as facilitating the long term security of Israel by regime changing its neighbours into liberal democracies. But they probably also believe or have had their prejudices strengthened post S11 that the only way to avoid another S11 is to neutralise sources of terrorist support. Cheney, Condi, Rumsfeld probably also believe the same thing and are not Jewish, far as I know. Godless has made the same kinds of arguments on this blog. I am wary of a more ambitious US military strategy because of so many things that could go wrong but the kind of argument propounded by neocons is not so prima facie implausible that you need a goddamned conspiracy theory to explain its dominance in the Administration.

Finally it's worth noting that the kinds of sinister anti-neocon bashing I've been hearing from parts of the paleoright and the loony left (read: Atrios's comments facilities which while not necessarily referring to ancestry are also fond of this 'sinister cabal' characterisation) is reminiscent of that time not so long ago in Germany when a sinister Jewish cabal was blamed for pushing Germany into war and forcing it to pay reparations.

Update: A reader on the comments facility has accused me of smearing Atrios. Perhaps I was a little careless there - this post was originally inspired by some nutty and violent though not necessarily racist comments about 'sinister cabals pushing the US into war' Godless pointed out were on Atrios' comments facilities. I have amended my original sentence accordingly to refer to Atrios' comments facilities.

Posted by jason_s at 02:29 AM




Actually,
It isn't the right that has been hijacked by Neo-con Jews, it's the left that has been hijacked by Fundamentalist Islam. Notice the admiration that Sen Patty Murray has for UBL's work in the Mid-east and that one of the most influential intellectuals of the left, Edward Said. Also notice that a lot of Leftist speak against the war (war for Oil, imperialism, colonialism) is identical to radical islam. Just kidding ;)

Posted by: scott at May 1, 2003 10:48 AM


I am a paleoconservative who happens to believe that the war was fought primarily at the behest of Jewish neocons. I also consider that many ostensibly anti-war Jews share in the blame for the war because they participated in the villification of truth-speaking paleoconservatives, presumably because their is an inbuilt tendency of Jews to circle the wagon when any segment of Jewry is attacked (even rhetorically).

Paleo (i.e. real) conservatives have been expelled from mainstream (i.e. false) conservative circles and have come under heavy fire for merely *questionning* American support for Israel or merely *saying* that the Zionist lobby is powerful. Examples are Joe Sobran being expelled from National Review, Pat Buchannon's drubbing after mentioning the "amen corner" in Washington, and the recent vicious clobbering of Senator Moran for saying that powerful Jews were behind the war. As one honest Jew (Michael Kinsley) put it:

[From http://slate.msn.com/id/2080027 ]
"The thunderous rush of politicians of all stripes to denounce Moran's remarks as complete nonsense might suggest to the suspicious mind that they are not complete nonsense." Also Kinsley notes that some Jewish organisations publically boast about the the magnitude of their power on the web.

As a Paleoconservative I am getting increasingly sickened when I hear nonsense about the war being fought because of greedy white males lusting after oil. Essentially the Jewish neocons are calling the shots and *and* using gentile paleoconservatives as political cannon fodder by making the truth verbotten.

After years of proudly calling themselves "neoconservaties", neoconservatives are now saying that the term "neoconservative" is an "anti-semitic smear". See
http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=7550
for an example taken from Front page magazine, edited by David Horrowitz, who only recently would refer himself a "neoconservative" in his own columns.

I've written enough for now. I don't know if I wish to debate this ad nauseum. I am just outlining the paleoconservative position on this issue.

See

Posted by: Sporon at May 1, 2003 11:07 AM


I think the neocon-Jew hypothesis is largely a straw man. Cheney is a necon, the most important in the Bush administration. Jay Garner is one too. No-one, apart from a few nuts and Eric Alterman, is saying this has much to do with Jews.

(This issue has also been covered in Slate.)

There is a argument for a neocon takeover of US foreign policy, but it has about as much to do with Judaism as Kissenger's realist foreign policy of the Nixon era (which neocons abhor) has to do with Judaism.

(The article's argument that the idea of a 'cabal of masterminds' can take over a country is one also levelled at Pierre Trudeau in 1968.)

So I agree wth you, there is nothing particularly Judaic about Neocon foreign policy. I aslo agree that the grand neocon plan is quite optimistic, and may fail disastrously.

(There have also been articles about how US foreign policy's drift towards imperialism has been drive by foreigners -- David Frum, Niall Ferguson, even Andrew Sullivan. I've had posts about the non-American wanna-be imperialist on my blog.)

Posted by: Ikram Saeed at May 1, 2003 11:11 AM


I also consider that many ostensibly anti-war Jews share in the blame for the war because they participated in the villification of truth-speaking paleoconservatives

Damn, jews just can't win with you.

... David Horrowitz, who only recently would refer himself a "neoconservative" in his own columns.

Sporon, the entire Frontpage archives are still online, please find me the one where Horowitz refers to himself as a neo-con.

Posted by: Jason M. at May 1, 2003 01:15 PM


Atrios has been pretty clear that he doesn't use neocon as a synonym for Jew. Certainly, there are a few racist or conspiracy-theory types who do - I've never seen any evidence that Atrios is one of them. And I don't think many on the left think that the current US administration was pushed into the Iraq war.

If you're going to accuse people of anti-semitism you really should provide some sort of evidence.

As for Alterman, it certainly sounds like he's going off the deep end. Accusing Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, et. al. of being part of a 'Jewish conspiracy' is ridiculous, offensive, and ignores the rational (if misguided, IMO) reasons for their preferred foreign policy.

Posted by: Skarl at May 1, 2003 02:31 PM


Ho hum. The old Patty Murray story again. It's not what people think it is, but rather than show you that, why don't I just post a list of right-wing links to the Islamofascists? Just click on my URL, there are a ton of them.

Posted by: zizka at May 1, 2003 03:19 PM


Alterman is Jewish and tells stories about his Jewish summer camps. He was just trying to inject a little common sense into the discussion. Some of the political neo-cons are not Jewish, but the first wave of intellectual neocons, who were the ones who gave the movement its name, mostly were.

There's been this long messy argument: "Jews are more loyal to Israel than to the U.S. // Anyone who opposes Israel is a Nazi". Alterman was trying to clear the air. So was Atrios.

American Jews care more about Israel than other Americans, probably, but who cares? Polish- and Cuban-Americans care more about Poland and Cuba than most Americans, and are thus more anti-Communist. Likewise African-Americans and apartheid, though no one here will accept that example,

Oddly enough, very oddly indeed, I was recruited to be a neocon while I was in high school (before the word existed). At a summer school I actually met Paul Wolfowitz, who even then had success and ambition written all over him. I didn't make the cut, but a guy I knew pretty well is a major spokesman for the intellectual side of the movement. (Still more oddly, my grandfather's cousin was the first Libertarian Presidential candidate. Now you know why I'm so weird).

Posted by: zizka at May 1, 2003 03:31 PM


godlesscapitalist wrote:
Sporon, the entire Frontpage archives are still online, please find me the one where Horowitz refers to himself as a neo-con.

You have scored a point, because I ended up doing a web search, and could not find a single instance of Horowitz refering explicitly to himself as a "neocon".

That being said, Horowitz is refered to as a neoconservative everywhere on the web. He's one of the columnists featured at Neoconservatism Online[1], for example.

[1]http://www.homestead.com/neoconservatism/

Posted by: Sporon at May 1, 2003 04:24 PM


Sorry to break the news to you people, but there are NO Neoconservative Jews. Zero.

You cannot be both a Zionist and a Jew, and all Neoconservatives are pro-Zionist. Authentic Jews, such as the Neturei Karta, believe that the formation of Israel is both morally wrong for the Jews and a terrible calamity for the Palestinians.

Posted by: fredrik at May 1, 2003 04:30 PM


Sorry to break the news to you people, but there are NO Neoconservative Jews. Zero.

You cannot be both a Zionist and a Jew, and all Neoconservatives are pro-Zionist. Authentic Jews, such as the Neturei Karta, believe that the formation of Israel is both morally wrong for the Jews and a terrible calamity for the Palestinians.

Posted by: fredrik at May 1, 2003 04:30 PM


It's probably not worth getting into the topic because passions run so high, but let me point out that much of the criticism of neocon influence on foreign policy in recent weeks has been coming not just from the left and from paleocons, but from highly non-hysterical centrist Jews, most notably the ever-sensible Mickey Kaus. One neocon attack on "conspiracy theories" about neocon influence identified as one of the main offenders the ultra-goo-goo (i.e., good government technocratic reformist) Washington Monthly! It's hardly surprising that neoliberals like Joshua Michah Marshall and Michael Kinsley have been attacking neoconservatives, but that's a big part of what's happening. I think we can safely say that judging from the first three weeks of our occupation of Iraq, that nobody has much of a clue about what to do with the place now that we own it, especially the folks who were so adamant that we conquer it. That being the case, I think it's crucial that free and vigorous debate be encouraged, and that as part of it, all sides should refrain from dropping the nuclear bomb of political smears on the opposite side: i.e., accusing them of "anti-Semitism."

Posted by: Steve Sailer at May 1, 2003 05:15 PM


For those who think this war has nothing to do with Jews/Israel, I would recommend the article A Clean Break which was written in 1996 by a number of prominent Jewish neocons, including several (Feith, Wurmser, Perle) in the Bush administration. The article states:

"Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria. This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq — an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right — as a means of foiling Syria’s regional ambitions."

So clearly it's not just the paleocons or the left who believe that this war is about Israel, but also the very Jewish neocons in the Bush administration who led us into this war against Iraq (and soon, Syria).

Posted by: Bob at May 1, 2003 10:33 PM


There was some nut who said "yes." I've seen Ayn Rand described as a "Soviet-trained Jewess."

Posted by: Joseph Hertzlinger at May 1, 2003 11:36 PM


>> I've seen Ayn Rand described as a "Soviet-trained Jewess."

Well, she was Jewish, and she did go to college in the Soviet Union. So, that statement is in fact true.

Posted by: Dienekes at May 1, 2003 11:42 PM


"American Jews care more about Israel than other Americans, probably, but who cares? Polish- and Cuban-Americans care more about Poland and Cuba than most Americans, and are thus more anti-Communist. Likewise African-Americans and apartheid, though no one here will accept that example"

I'm missing what you are trying to communicate with that? Wouldn't accept it why?

Actually I made your exact same comment in Yglesias' comment box, including the same examples of Cuban-Americans and American blacks re: communism and apartheid. It's not controversial to me to understand the role jews can play as an American ethno-religious group with some ethnic self-interest and political muscle. What is curious to me is the idea of reducing complex issues down to easily digestable intrigues (i.e. this war is about oil, jews, election 04, etc.). I see the "neo-con" thing taken over-board to the point of scape-goating.

godlesscapitalist wrote:

Sporon, it's bad enough when people confuse me and Jason Soon; in the future please look more carefully at the name of who is speaking.

Posted by: Jason M. at May 2, 2003 12:17 AM


Maybe I was wrong about the board. Can we have a straw vote on apartheid?

Talk about a cabal looks bad. However, it's been notable from the beginning that, while there is a rational justification for the war, it isn't what was being offered to the public. As far as cabals go, it wasn't a secret group, but the cases was not argued on the front pages of newspaper or on TV where the average American could see what was being proposed.

Before the war I was in a bind. The public argument on the war was pretty much on false pretenses. I had a pretty good understanding of what was really going on (a kind of imperialism, a kind of colonialism, the proactive projection of American power) but that wasn't being argued in public. A Never-never Land experience. Since the victory, there's been a bit more frankness, though the "liberating the Iraqis" meme is probably getting more play now than it will be getting in a year.

Got a bunch of links at my URL.

Posted by: zizka at May 2, 2003 10:21 AM


http://www.dailytelegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2003/05/04/ndaly04.xml&sSheet=/news/2003/05/04/ixnewstop.html

(Richard Perle is on the board of the Hollinger Group, who own the Daily Telegraph)

Posted by: fredrik at May 4, 2003 05:04 AM