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[casi] Whose War? 1

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Copyright March 24, 2003 The American Conservative

Whose War?

A neoconservative clique seeks to ensnare our country in a series of
wars that are not in America's 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 we're 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 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 "Buchananites toss around 'neoconservative'-and cite names like
Wolfowitz and Cohen-it sometimes sounds as if what they really mean is
'Jewish conservative.'" Yet Boot readily concedes that a passionate
attachment to Israel is a "key tenet of neoconservatism." 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 neocon 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. It's just that its
epicenter is no longer on the Buchananite Right, but on the peace-movement

  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 'neoconservative' (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 'neoconservative 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.'" Kaplant hunders:

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 neoconservatives 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.


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