The left lacks an analysis of the neocon rise

US Politics
on 44 Comments

The other night on CSpan, I watched Rachel Maddow give a lecture at Mount Holyoke College about her foreign policy book Drift. The speech was amusing, and her condemnation of Obama’s use of drones was excellent, as was her sympathy for military families who have borne the brunt of these wars inside the U.S. But the speech was singularly lacking in analysis. Why are we mired in Middle Eastern wars? Maddow’s analysis seems to be, That’s just us. We’ve got a military establishment. They do this stuff. They can’t be stopped. They build drones and like to fly ‘em.

The same aphasia is at work in Ari Berman’s piece on Romney’s neoconservative braintrust in the Nation. It’s a well-reported piece on the prevalence of neoconservatives in the Republican Party. And the Nation knows that neocon is now a curseword. It’s on the cover of the magazine in huge letters.

Americans don’t want to be stuck in these wars, Berman shows, citing polls. But why do the neocons have power? Berman draws a blank. It’s because of a vacuum in the Republican establishment. Or a “dangerously myopic” black and white worldview. “A cold war prism,” he says, quoting Joseph Biden. Though in a parentheses, Berman says that there is a domestic logic to Romney’s hires– “courting conservative elements of the Jewish vote.” As if the power Sheldon Adelson wields is his ability to waddle into a polling place in Nevada.

I can justly be accused of being a conspiracy theorist because I believe in the Israel lobby theory. I find it a more compelling conspiracy than the Chomskyan conspiracy, a Military Industrial Complex of Lockheed and Grumman and Halliburton that got us into Iraq. Certainly my theory has an explanation of the rise and influence of the neocons. They don’t have a class interest but an ideological-religious one. Like evangelical Christians who jam buses to vote on abortion, they don’t care about financial self-interest. They are rightwing Zionists. As I observed here — when Robert Siegel on NPR said it was anti-semitic to mention the Jewishness of the neocons– neoconservatism came out of the rightwing Jewish community. I quoted 7 Jewish writers on this point, including Dershowitz: “the recent neo-conservative movement in America has also been dominated by Jews.”

Neoconservatism is dominated by rightwing Jews because they are ultra-Zionists who believe in Israel’s militarism and have sought to import that ideology to the U.S. Part of their success was that they did their intellectual work. Over 25 years they elaborated a powerful idea about the way the world worked, with Zionist pedigree, and when the U.S. had a crisis, our leaders reached for those (misguided) ideas. As Francis Fukuyama has said about the neoconservatives’ ideological persuasion: “there was a very coherent set of strategic ideas that have come out of Israel’s experience dealing with the Arabs and the world community, having to do with threat perception, preemption, the relative balance of carrots and sticks to be used in dealing with the Arabs, the United Nations, and the like…”

Walt and Mearsheimer addressed this intellectual investment in The Israel Lobby when they said the “special relationship” had a hammerlock on US policy in the Middle East. Scott McConnell expressed it at the Middle East Policy Council:

The… special relationship [with Israel]… is at bottom a transmission belt, conveying Israeli ideas on how the United States should conduct itself in a contested and volatile part of the world. To a great extent, a receptive American political class now views the Middle East and their country’s role in it through Israel’s eyes.

Maybe McConnell is wrong. Maybe Walt and Mearsheimer and Fukuyama and I are wrong. But at least we are presenting a coherent analysis that seeks to explain the fact that the same thinktank-sponsored Americans who advised Netanyahu to make a “clean break” with the peace process 16 years ago, and who succeeded in that initiative, and who urged that the U.S. to invade Iraq, an initiative also crowned with success, and who are now pushing a war with Iran out of concern for Israel’s security, are still regnant in the American system. (And why are they regnant? Because of money, because of the usual springs of political power in this country– an issue that the conventional left is afraid to broach because it touches on uncomfortable issues, like the prevalence of conservative Jewish donors in our political system).

You can’t go forward without an analysis. As long as the mainstream left is being purposely vague about the causes of the neoconservative investment, it will be powerless to stop it.

44 Responses

  1. Kathleen
    May 15, 2012, 10:19 am

    “Why are we mired in Middle Eastern wars? Maddow’s analysis seems to be, That’s just us. We’ve got a military establishment. They do this stuff. They can’t be stopped. They build drones and like to fly ‘em.” Rachel Maddow is a well paid cog in the neocons wheel of misinformation. She has persistently repeated false claims about Iran. She has persistently avoided directly reporting about the the Israeli Palestinian issue honestly if at all. Oops must admit that she did have former President Jimmy Carter on ONCE to discuss the issue which was a big step for her. He of course stated facts that she will not go near. Rachel is no different than any other so called liberal MSM host or congress person who is moderate to liberal on health care, education, labor but turn hard right on Iran, the I/P conflict etc.

    • Krauss
      May 16, 2012, 2:13 am

      Yes, the Left(capital L as in a movement) has a tendency to get stuck on socio-economic analysis. We often forget cultural or even racial motives, at least when it comes to minorities.

      True, poor people tend to be more violent. But in the wake of Trayvon Martin, there were a rash of hatecrimes against innocent whites, ranging from 13 year olds to 72 year olds, but the left didn’t want to talk about it or when pressed, we reverted to “well it’s not hatecrimes, people are poor, frustrated etc”. If the colors had been reversed, had we rushed to the socioeconomic analysis? No, because whites are much more affluent and suddenly we can factor in race. That doesn’t mean that all gangattacks on blacks by whites are racially motived, sometimes it’s just thugs, but a significant section probably are. The same is probably true when the roles are reversed, but then the left is stunted.

      I find the same pattern, but on a larger meta-scale, when it comes to these issues. I’ve read bizarre texts that see everything through the prism of corporate interests. Apparently it’s the corporate sector which is propping up Israel, beside the fact that most of the Corporate America’s interests are in oil-rich Arab nations(it is true that companies like Apple or Intel have moved significant resources to Israel because of the technical intensity there, but it’s still minor compared to the vast oil interests Western companies have in Arab nations).

      The Left simply cannot deal with racial/cultural motivations, at least when it comes to minorities. It’s fine to say, white middle class voters sometimes don’t want welfare because they distrust blacks/latinos and want more for themselves, that’s an economical motivation for a single family but it becomes a racial pattern when it’s systematized. But the left simply cannot understand the wars in the middle east serve a purpose. To quote Walt the other day in his speech: “The Israel Lobby wasn’t the only power pushing for war in Iraq but absent it’s presence it is doubtful there had been a war, or at the very least there would have been a much more vigorous debate”.

      In the run-up to (possible) war with Iran it’s only the Israel Lobby which pushes it. American and Israeli security establishment chiefs are both against it. The public in America is skeptical. But the constant propaganda from people with a clear ethnic motivation keeps it up on the table, but the left cannot explain this. They are still stuck in the “corporate america wants all this and is the root of all evil”.

      But it’s true; it can be dangerous to push the ethnic line too far, but it can be a bit of a pandora’s box. Some people can keep a proper seperation, but some people can’t and it starts to evolve into a Jew-bashing fest. That’s always a danger, but the question is, do we mitigate the dangers or do we sacrifice a truthful analysis and babble on about Corporate America instead and vaguely talk about “that’s what we do” as if all these things happen by themselves. They don’t.

  2. pabelmont
    May 15, 2012, 10:50 am

    Phil: better get on board Chomsky’s analysis. USA’s “national interest” is determined by a CONVERGENCE of interests among Americans ruling class (which I call the “BIGs”: BIG-OIL, BIG-BANKS, BIG-PHARMA, BIG-ARMS (makers of arms), BIG-WAR (users, wasters, of arms), BIG-ZION, all the big international business such as the banana companies and oil companies and mining companies that depend on repeated use of USA’s imperialist military power to assure favorable (compliant) governments around the world for American corporations (and, nowadays, international corporations). This imperialism is quite old and its creation much predates WWII. Think of the Indian clearance project, the Mexican war whereby the USA got Tejas (later Texas), the Spanish-American war whereby the USA got Philippines and Puerto Rico, all before 1900. When Eisenhower warned against the Military-Indistrial-Complex, he was not confused but describing a growing reality. It had nothing to do with Israel (and Ike punished Israel w.r.t. Suez in 1956, before BIG-ZION found its way to a seat at the table of the BIGs).

    • Pamela Olson
      May 15, 2012, 11:56 am

      Maybe you can write a post about this, either for this blog or your own? It’s a fascinating debate, and one that’s too often overlooked. Either way, the convergence of Big Business needing imperalism to “thrive” and Big Zion needing imperialism to exist is certainly convenient for both. And devastating to all the rest of us.

    • Citizen
      May 15, 2012, 12:02 pm

      pabelmont, you forgot BIG-INSURANCE, which has always held an exemption to the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. Also, your comment is dated in that US enmeshment with Israel saturates contemporary Military-Industrial-Security Complex. It didn’t when Smedley wrote his condemnation War Is A Racket.

  3. Kathleen
    May 15, 2012, 10:56 am

    Some of the earliest folks to focus on the large percentage of right wing radical Jews involved in the neocon movement was Jason Vest in the Nation in 2002:
    The Men From JINSA and CSP | The Nationwww.thenation.com/article/men-jinsa-and-csp
    “Almost thirty years ago, a prominent group of neoconservative hawks found an effective vehicle for advocating their views via the Committee on the Present Danger, a group that fervently believed the United States was a hair away from being militarily surpassed by the Soviet Union, and whose raison d’être was strident advocacy of bigger military budgets, near-fanatical opposition to any form of arms control and zealous championing of a Likudnik Israel. Considered a marginal group in its nascent days during the Carter Administration, with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 CPD went from the margins to the center of power.
    Just as the right-wing defense intellectuals made CPD a cornerstone of a shadow defense establishment during the Carter Administration, so, too, did the right during the Clinton years, in part through two organizations: the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) and the Center for Security Policy (CSP). And just as was the case two decades ago, dozens of their members have ascended to powerful government posts, where their advocacy in support of the same agenda continues, abetted by the out-of-government adjuncts from which they came. Industrious and persistent, they’ve managed to weave a number of issues–support for national missile defense, opposition to arms control treaties, championing of wasteful weapons systems, arms aid to Turkey and American unilateralism in general–into a hard line, with support for the Israeli right at its core.

    On no issue is the JINSA/CSP hard line more evident than in its relentless campaign for war–not just with Iraq, but “total war,” as Michael Ledeen, one of the most influential JINSAns in Washington, put it last year. For this crew, “regime change” by any means necessary in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian Authority is an urgent imperative. Anyone who dissents–be it Colin Powell’s State Department, the CIA or career military officers–is committing heresy against articles of faith that effectively hold there is no difference between US and Israeli national security interests, and that the only way to assure continued safety and prosperity for both countries is through hegemony in the Middle East–a hegemony achieved with the traditional cold war recipe of feints, force, clientism and covert action.”
    —————————————————

    And Lt Col Karen Kwiatowski wrote about this group in the Pentagon that she watched first hand in “The New Pentagon Papers”:
    The new Pentagon papers – Iraq war – Salon.comwww.salon.com/2004/03/10/osp/Cached
    Mar 10, 2004
    “From May 2002 until February 2003, I observed firsthand the formation of the Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans and watched the latter stages of the neoconservative capture of the policy-intelligence nexus in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. This seizure of the reins of U.S. Middle East policy was directly visible to many of us working in the Near East South Asia policy office, and yet there seemed to be little any of us could do about it.

    I saw a narrow and deeply flawed policy favored by some executive appointees in the Pentagon used to manipulate and pressurize the traditional relationship between policymakers in the Pentagon and U.S. intelligence agencies.

    I witnessed neoconservative agenda bearers within OSP usurp measured and carefully considered assessments, and through suppression and distortion of intelligence analysis promulgate what were in fact falsehoods to both Congress and the executive office of the president.

    While this commandeering of a narrow segment of both intelligence production and American foreign policy matched closely with the well-published desires of the neoconservative wing of the Republican Party, many of us in the Pentagon, conservatives and liberals alike, felt that this agenda, whatever its flaws or merits, had never been openly presented to the American people. Instead, the public story line was a fear-peddling and confusing set of messages, designed to take Congress and the country into a war of executive choice, a war based on false pretenses, and a war one year later Americans do not really understand. That is why I have gone public with my account. ”
    ——————————–

    Former Cia analyst Katheen and Bill Christison have written a fair amount about the neoconservatives:
    Bush’s Dual Loyalties » Counterpunch: Tells the Facts, Names the …www.counterpunch.org/2002/12/13/bush-s-dual-loyalties/
    “A Rose By Another Other Name The Bush Administration’s Dual Loyalties
    Bush’s Dual Loyalties
    by KATHLEEN And BILL CHRISTISON Former CIA Political Analysts
    Since the long-forgotten days when the State Department’s Middle East policy was run by a group of so-called Arabists, U.S. policy on Israel and the Arab world has increasingly become the purview of officials well known for tilting toward Israel. From the 1920s roughly to 1990, Arabists, who had a personal history and an educational background in the Arab world and were accused by supporters of Israel of being totally biased toward Arab interests, held sway at the State Department and, despite having limited power in the policymaking circles of any administration, helped maintain some semblance of U.S. balance by keeping policy from tipping over totally toward Israel. But Arabists have been steadily replaced by their exact opposites, what some observers are calling Israelists, and policymaking circles throughout government now no longer even make a pretense of exhibiting balance between Israeli and Arab, particularly Palestinian, interests.

    In the Clinton administration, the three most senior State Department officials dealing with the Palestinian-Israeli peace process were all partisans of Israel to one degree or another. All had lived at least for brief periods in Israel and maintained ties with Israel while in office, occasionally vacationing there. One of these officials had worked both as a pro-Israel lobbyist and as director of a pro-Israel think tank in Washington before taking a position in the Clinton administration from which he helped make policy on Palestinian-Israeli issues. Another has headed the pro-Israel think tank since leaving government.”

    Stephen Green wrote an important piece about the history of this group of individuals in 2004:
    Feb 28-Mar 01, 2004
    Two Flags
    Neo-Cons, Israel and the Bush Administration
    by STEPHEN GREEN

    Since 9-11, a small group of “neo-conservatives” in the Administration have effectively gutted–they would say reformed–traditional American foreign and security policy. Notable features of the new Bush doctrine include the pre-emptive use of unilateral force, and the undermining of the United Nations and the principle instruments and institutions of international law….all in the cause of fighting terrorism and promoting homeland security.

    Some skeptics, noting the neo-cons’ past academic and professional associations, writings and public utterances, have suggested that their underlying agenda is the alignment of U.S. foreign and security policies with those of Ariel Sharon and the Israeli right wing. The administration’s new hard line on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict certainly suggests that, as perhaps does the destruction, with U.S. soldiers and funds, of the military capacity of Iraq, and the current belligerent neo-con campaign against the other two countries which constitute a remaining counterforce to Israeli military hegemony in the region–Iran and Syria.

    Have the neo-conservatives–many of whom are senior officials in the Defense Department, National Security Council and Office of the Vice President–had dual agendas, while professing to work for the internal security of the United States against its terrorist enemies?”
    ———————————

    Congressman Findlay, former weapons inspector Scott Ritter, former US National Security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, fomer President Jimmy Carter, former Cia analyst Ray McGovern, former head of the CIA’s Bin Laden unit Micheal Scheuer and many others have written and spoken about the issue of a small radical right wing group of individuals and a disproportionate amount of this group being Jewish manipulating US foreign policy in a way that is ultimately destructive to US national security

  4. AllenBee
    May 15, 2012, 11:02 am

    Phil wrote:

    “But at least we are presenting a coherent analysis that seeks to explain the fact that the same thinktank-sponsored Americans who advised Netanyahu to make a “clean break” with the peace process 16 years ago, and who succeeded in that initiative, and who urged that the U.S. to invade Iraq, an initiative also crowned with success, and who are now pushing a war with Iran out of concern for Israel’s security, are still regnant in the American system.”

    might have a cart-horse problem here. The Netanyahus have been the vanguard of Israeli expansionism, militarism, supremecism, and the GWOT.

    -Benzion Netanyahu was Jabotinsky’s acolyte, doing Jabotinsky’s footwork in NYC in run-up to WWII. In other words, he’s been involved in embroiling the US government & military in the zionist project since at least early 1930s.

    -1979 Jerusalem Conference (book published 1982] International Terrorism, Challenge and Response

    -1986 Terrorism: How the West Can Win

    on the “expert” patina assumed by these books and numerous re-publications of them, Benj. Netanyahu has been lionized by U.S. Congress for over 25 years. In 2002, even as George Bush was speaking at the United Nations telling that body he planned to wage war on Iraq, Netanyahu was telling a Congressional committee chaired by Dan Burton that “Iraq was the keystone of the ‘terror network;’ Iran was a major element of the ‘terror network.’ Iraq should be taken down first and Iran would follow on its own, seeing the writing on the wall. Netanyahu urged Burton’s committee to endorse Bush in his proposal to wage war on Iraq.

    A few days ago Trita Parsi wrote an article using the word “Bibism” in the title. imo it’s astute to focus on the Netanyahu Crime Family — AND the neocons — and toss all matter of ammunition at them. An Alternative to Bibism: What Would Israel Gain?

  5. Les
    May 15, 2012, 11:33 am

    By ceding that criticism of occupation and ethnic cleansing by Israel can be interpreted as anti-Semitic, these would be analysts/critics, by default, silently assent to the crime against Palestinians. The criticsm of neo-con thinking by Madow, Berman, and the like, is shallow and vacuous because they choose to practice self-censorship.

  6. Dan Crowther
    May 15, 2012, 11:33 am

    Phil you got a hard on so big for members of the tribe you disagree with (rightfully so) Im not sure you can be objective here. Even walt and mearsheimer dont claim that the neo-cons were the chief reason behind the war – they were a key part, but their views had to align with other sects within the society and the government, and they did.

    This is not to say that maddow and berman arent full of it – they are. but to lay the war in iraq at the feet of “the jews” (which is what i think is really being said when “neocons” is uttered) is to me, pretty unfair and distasteful. To take these arguments to their logical conclusions is to kick jews out of the US (or worse). After all, I pledged to defend the constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic – surely people who get the US into bloody wars on behalf of another country (and an abstract political identity) are “enemies” – yes? Is this really what you’re saying? Sometimes it seems so.

    • Annie Robbins
      May 15, 2012, 11:51 am

      dan, you are making no distinction between the neocons and “the jews”. why? and where do you come up with kick jews out of the US ? there were a handful of very powerful neocons with undue influence. how does this translate into ‘the jews’?

      • Dan Crowther
        May 15, 2012, 12:17 pm

        I make the distinction – but Im not so sure most do. And yes, there have been a lot of times I’ve heard “neocons” be used as a substitute for “jews” – and I think its kind of understood that way. Its not just me.

        I think Phil wittingly or unwittingly is making sort of an eliminationist argument – he can say he wants to rehabilitate his community or whatever, but when one writes daily about a certain group of people who are hellbent on war and seemingly hellbent on destroying the US, a sense of “man, we need to rid ourselves of these people” takes over in the reader. Phil says it bothers him when he learns of anti-semites and racists citing him, well, I am just pointing out to him, that this is indeed an instance where he -in my opinion- is overemphasizing something (the role of the neocons/right wing jews) to the probable delight of those same bigots.

        Im just not an identity politics guy – I think we would all do well to shut the F up about our respective political identities and work in concert, not as jews, christians, whites, blacks and so on, but as people. i dont care that the neocons are jewish – they want war and I am against it. full stop. too many times we get tied up in discussing the abstract – 9/11 being a perfect example. People said “it was an inside job, because they want to start a war” – OK, but at that point the “who” (as in who did it?) should have been the least important thing to those who wanted to stop the war(s). Because no matter “who” committed the attacks, the plans for war were being made. For me, the background of the neocons is an abstraction in much the same way.

      • marc b.
        May 16, 2012, 9:47 am

        here you go, dan. sy hersh also lays blame for the neverending war on the catholics as well. from foriegn policy

        He then alleged that Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who headed JSOC before briefly becoming the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, and his successor, Vice Adm. William McRaven, as well as many within JSOC, “are all members of, or at least supporters of, Knights of Malta.”

        Hersh may have been referring to the Sovereign Order of Malta, a Roman Catholic organization commited to “defence of the Faith and assistance to the poor and the suffering,” according to its website.

        “Many of them are members of Opus Dei,” Hersh continued. “They do see what they’re doing — and this is not an atypical attitude among some military — it’s a crusade, literally. They see themselves as the protectors of the Christians. They’re protecting them from the Muslims [as in] the 13th century. And this is their function.”

      • PeaceThroughJustice
        May 15, 2012, 6:03 pm

        Annie, the only reason the neocons got away with it is because the so-called “liberal” Jewish community insulated them from attack. Think of the NYT in the run-up to the war, wringing their hands over whether it was “antisemitic” to even mention that all the neocons happened to be Jewish zionists. Think of Goldberg, Friedman, Pollack.

        “… is afraid to broach because it touches on uncomfortable issues, like the prevalence of conservative Jewish donors in our political system.”

        Phil, why do you hide behind “conservative”? Is Haim Saban conservative? The media bigwigs? The Hollywood community?
        And speaking of the media, I’d argue that a discussion of Jewish power in our media is an even more sacred taboo than discussing its role in campaign finance. Even at this site, the minute this topic is broached we’re back to accusations of “antisemitism” and talk of the Protocols.

      • Rusty Pipes
        May 15, 2012, 7:33 pm

        The Iraq War was supported across the Israel Lobby, not just by the neo-cons — a point that M&W make in their book. The neo-cons were the ideological movers behind the run-up to war, but it took the combined input of various components of the Israel Lobby to drum this country into the war, including neo-lib pundits and “liberal zionist” legislators. Many lobbies in Washington have strong influence with one party of even with moderates of the other, but M&W argue that the Israel Lobby is unique in that it has broad support on both sides of the aisle. No other lobby could have assembled the kind of congressional coalition that came together to support Bush in his push for the war with Iraq.

      • aiman
        May 16, 2012, 2:23 am

        “… the only reason the neocons got away with it is because the so-called “liberal” Jewish community insulated them from attack.”

        That’s a point on target, PeaceThroughTarget, for to take away liberals from the equation makes it rather moot. Liberals, like conservatives, enforce the boundaries of discourse. Chris Hedges has done some great work on this topic.

      • aiman
        May 16, 2012, 2:37 am

        Oops, I meant PeaceThroughJustice. My apologies.

    • Kathleen
      May 15, 2012, 11:54 am

      ” they were a key part” A KEY PART And Lt Colonel Karen Kwiatowski in the “New Pentagon Papers” as well as others explain how the neo cons came to be such a destructive influence.

      “but their views had to align with other sects within the society and the government, and they did.” Neo, oil, theo cons helped fix the intelligence around the Bush/Cheney/Wolfowitz policies.

    • libra
      May 15, 2012, 4:19 pm

      DC: Even walt and mearsheimer dont claim that the neo-cons were the chief reason behind the war – they were a key part, but their views had to align with other sects within the society and the government, and they did.

      Dan, here’s the money quote from the Walt and Mearsheimer article “The Israel Lobby – London Review of Books” 23 March 2006:

      “Instead, the thrust of US policy in the region derives almost entirely from domestic politics, and especially the activities of the ‘Israel Lobby’. Other special-interest groups have managed to skew foreign policy, but no lobby has managed to divert it as far from what the national interest would suggest, while simultaneously convincing Americans that US interests and those of the other country – in this case, Israel – are essentially identical.”

      I’d say that Phil’s post ties in with this completely. Far from Phil not being objective, I’d say on this issue he is the one with both the intellectual ability and, crucially, the intellectual honesty to dispassionately analyse the evidence and go with where it points.

  7. Bumblebye
    May 15, 2012, 11:34 am

    How many of the multiplicity of ‘think’tanks’ were founded post 1980? They’ve always seemed to me to be largely right wing, founded, funded and often staffed from the same small groups. They became the go-to guys for both the politicians and the journos, so the views presented on any issue/subject became very narrow, any views they did not approve were scorned – and dutifully copied by pols and papers. But are they a form of rightist consolidation, or spread? Do we ‘get’ any views not pre-approved by one or more of the think-tanks presented with any seriousness? Or are they the corporate owners/producers of political ideas permitted to the pols and the public?

  8. Scott
    May 15, 2012, 11:35 am

    It really is an “Emperor’s New Clothes” situation, in that your point seems to me hardly even debatable. And yet I can understand the fear of “stirring up” antisemitism which accounts for the reluctance to face facts. Which is why it’s so important to be laser-like precise in identifying the problem, and what the problem is not.
    On this topic, amused by this piece in the Forward, a conference on Jews and the Left, where a big complaint was the New Left’s “anti-Zionism” :
    A line running through the conference, from the papers of Cohen and Postone to Michael Walzer’s keynote lecture and Mendelsohn’s closing reminiscences, was the argument that future Jewish involvement in leftist politics would hinge on building another New Left, one more open to religion and spirituality, more defined by advocacy for social justice than by opposition to Zionism.

    Read more: link to forward.com

  9. Annie Robbins
    May 15, 2012, 11:37 am

    Over 25 years they elaborated a powerful idea about the way the world worked, with Zionist pedigree, and when the U.S. had a crisis, our leaders reached for those (misguided) ideas. As Francis Fukuyama has said about the neoconservatives’ ideological persuasion: “there was a very coherent set of strategic ideas that have come out of Israel’s experience dealing with the Arabs and the world community, having to do with threat perception, preemption, the relative balance of carrots and sticks to be used in dealing with the Arabs, the United Nations, and the like…”

    there’s something glaringly missing from this analysis, and missing from the mcConnell blockquote too.

    an important aspect of the strategy of turning american minds, something coupled with the promotion of islamophobia, is creating a personal fear in the minds of americans, an actual threat..of criticizing anything jewish. there is a psychological component embedded thru pr. remember that the rise of psychoanalysis and public relations and the state of israel was all on the rise last century. (watch the movie ‘the century of the self’ about Edward L. Bernays).

    the use of the accusation of anti semitism is probably the number one tool of the lobby. to create an inner fear within the individual of speaking out, of making them believe it is their own mind that is corrupt and not the vision they are seeing. whats white is black and whats black is white. it’s public relations. it’s the psychology at work behind the scenes. the think tanks always include the psychology of the masses.

    • Annie Robbins
      May 15, 2012, 11:46 am

      in case i was not completely clear

      strategic ideas that have come out of Israel’s experience dealing with the Arabs and the world community, having to do with threat perception

      there’s the perception of threat against arabs/muslims.. AND there’s the perception of ones self as being bad or wrong or anti semitic for blaming any jew, anything jewish or israel. they work hand in hand..but what is more powerful psychologically? always fear of ones self. it is more powerful than the threat of the other, it’s the idea of oneself as being the threat. and that is how the fear of being an anti semite is used as a powerful tool. that is partly why the rise of the neocons was allowed to grow, because of people’s reluctance to call them out for promoting or protecting israel… for fear of being perceived as racist.

      • Scott
        May 15, 2012, 12:14 pm

        Annie, I think you’re partly right and mostly wrong. But raising an interesting and important point. Frustrated that your footnote is to a movie about Edward Bernays, in that the thought footnoted deserves a more comprehensive footnote, or should be presented more comprehensively.
        I think there is a pattern of gentile deference towards Jews, a sense that Jews lived more thoroughly in the century (defined by communism and fascism/Nazism) combined with a sense that people who grew up with a sunny nativist American sensibility had it too easy, by comparison. So a readiness to defer to what was perceived as deeper historical experience , (unwarranted, at least to the degree it occurred) is not the same as a fear of anti-semitism, though the results might be similar.

    • aiman
      May 16, 2012, 2:15 am

      “an important aspect of the strategy of turning american minds, something coupled with the promotion of islamophobia, is creating a personal fear in the minds of americans, an actual threat..of criticizing anything jewish. there is a psychological component embedded thru pr. remember that the rise of psychoanalysis and public relations and the state of israel was all on the rise last century. (watch the movie ‘the century of the self’ about Edward L. Bernays).”

      I was introduced to Bernays while attending a John Pilger lecture. In his doc The War on Democracy, Pilger talks about how Bernays got social debutantes in London to start smoking by calling it “torches of freedom” and manipulating feminism. PR runs through the modern life, from advertisements about “the good life” to all countries, both democratic and otherwise, using propaganda to control the public mood. Saudi Arabia runs this PR in how it translates religious texts even. You’re right about how Israel uses it, there’s the usual talking point about a democracy surrounded by barbarians (dehumanising entire people living in the region), promoting Islamophobia (even Amos Oz is not exempt, perhaps relying on Bernard Lewis), and talks about a Western axis (routinely stated by conservatives and implied by liberals).

      • marc b.
        May 16, 2012, 8:57 am

        aiman, an integral part of the evolution of the permanent war ethic is public relations, and what public relations has managed to do is to invert the matter of national security. the distinction between a specific, discrete threat, and general existential dread has been erased. you can hear part of it here, the not so subtle argument that zionism is a necessary response to anti-semitism, which, in any event, is ineradicable. even the anti-semitic thoughts of some ineffectual, pimply-faced adolescent constitute an existential threat. when generalized fear replaces specified threats, an ethic of permanent war is the ‘logical’ response. (‘even one death from a terrorist threat is one too many.’) paola virno, channeling kant, explains the distinctions, though i don’t agree with his subsequent conclusion.

        I have mentioned Kant for one specific reason: because he offers a very clear model of the world in which the dialectic of dread/refuge has been conceived in the last two centuries. There is a sharp bifurcation here: on one hand a particular danger (the snowslide, the malevolent attentions of the Department of the Interior, the loss of one’s job, etc.); on the other hand, there is the absolute danger connected to our very being in this world. Two forms of protection (and of security) correspond to these two forms of risk (and of dread). In the presence of a real disaster, there are concrete remedies (for example, the mountain refuge when the snowslide comes crashing down). Absolute danger, instead, requires protection from… the world itself. But let us note that the “world” of the human animal can not be put on the same level as the environment of the non-human animal, or rather, of the circumscribed habitat in which the latter animal finds its way around perfectly well on the basis of specialized instincts. There is always something indefinite about the world; it is laden with contingencies and surprises; it is a vital context which is never mastered once and for all; for this reason, it is a source of permanent insecurity. While relative dangers have a “first and last name,” absolute dangerousness has no exact face and no unambiguous content.

        The Kantian distinction between the two types of risk and security is drawn out in the distinction, traced by Heidegger, between fear and anguish. Fear refers to a very specific fact, to the familiar snowslide or to the loss of one’s job; anguish, instead, has no clear cause which sparks it off. In the pages of Heidegger’s Being and Time (Heidegger, S 40) anguish is provoked purely and simply by our being exposed to the world, by the uncertainty and indecision with which our relation to this world manifests itself. Fear is always circumscribed and nameable; anguish is ubiquitous, not connected to distinctive causes; it can survive in any given moment or situation. These two forms of dread (fear and anguish), and their corresponding antidotes, lend themselves to a historical-social analysis.

        link to generation-online.org

      • aiman
        May 17, 2012, 9:02 am

        Interesting. Thanks for sharing, Marc B.

  10. Sin Nombre
    May 15, 2012, 12:00 pm

    You know why the Left gets all quiet and gets absorbed into examining its fingernails when talking about the neo-con rise? It’s because the neo-cons came from the Left, many, but for their enthusiasm for what now passes for the Right’s view on ME policy, still *are* of the Left and are just pretending otherwise, and many who never put on the false mask of being a neo-con and being of what passes for the new “Right” are still of the Left.

    If, that is, because of some gamma-ray cloud or etc. passing over us in the night, the Right recovered even a few of its pre-George Bush I.Q. points and traditional values, and suddenly woke up and said “hey that’s right, we don’t belong involved in a conflict in which we have no interest,” by the very *next* night there wouldn’t be a neo-con left on the Right or in the Republican party.

    They’d all be back where they will end up back which is among the Democrats and Progressives and the Left. And you know what? They’d fit right in with the Democrats as can be seen from how the Democrats (including Obama) have marched in lockstep with Netanyahu and Sheldon Adelson and etc. and so forth.

    And you are wondering, Phil, why the Left suddenly gets quiet about the neo-cons? You are forgetting that, not just figuratively but in a number of cases *literally* these guys fathers were just oh so in love with good old Lev Trotsky and his ideas about, say, slaughtering 99% of a population if that’s what was needed to fulfill his ideas of goodness? (With those same people now piously if not nauseatingly talking about how taken they are with allegedly home-grown American ideas and democracy how much they love Alexander Hamilton and etc.)

    You are forgetting that neo-condom (to coin an apt word) really started in the late ’60’s with stalwart Democrats and Lefties realizing—via either Podhoretz Sr. or Kristol Sr., I forget—that gee, the Left was going too far in opposing U.S. militarism and military adventuring and etc. because this could hurt the U.S.’s ability to be the arms depot of Israel.

    And since, on *what* other “conservative/Right” issue—*aside* from keeping the U.S. armed to the teeth, hegemonic over everyone else sufficient to keep anyone from helping the arabs, and liking military adventurism in the Mideast—does anyone associate with neo-condom? None. Why, because *overwhelmingly* they *have* none, period.

    Some restraint on the welfare state? Oh, maybe insofar as it might endanger military expenditures and abilities. Some restraint on immigration? Oh, maybe to the extent that hispanics don’t seem to accept the idea that the Holocaust makes them responsible for everything Israel wants. The classical conservative/Right idea (“isolationism” versus FDR; Eisenhower versus Truman on Korea; JFK and LBJ being really responsible for Vietnam) that the U.S. should absolutely *not* be the world’s policeman? What a joke. Of *course* that’s *the* huge thing that they hate.

    And on and on and on.

    The Left doesn’t lack an analysis of neo-condom; the Left knows that the neo-cons are *of* them, and once again if conservatives/the Right ever regain their sanity *will* be them again. And the Left knows the money that goes with neo-condomization too, and won’t mind it a bit when it comes back to them.

    • Kathleen
      May 15, 2012, 12:20 pm

      The left and others have been writing and talking about this issue in the last 10 years more than ever before.

  11. Nevada Ned
    May 15, 2012, 12:16 pm

    Phil (and others):

    In your examination of US interests and strategy in the Middle East, you should get some perspective by examining the US policy towards Latin America.
    The US Empire took shape as long ago as the 1800’s in Latin America. Many times US marines invaded some Latin American countries. Pro-US dictators were installed. Leftists and nationalists tried to get their Latin American countries out from under the US thumb. Rarely, they succeeded.
    All the policies that you find in the Middle East – we support dictators! Shocking! – happened many decades or even centuries ago in Latin America.

    US policymakers saw several types of threats to the US empire: if Latin American countries went their own way in military or political or economic affairs, or if they restricted or eliminated capitalism, then they were the enemy. Latin American countries were – formally – independent countries, but in fact they were US colonies in everything but name. The CIA has fomented coups to oust leaders that are threats to the US Empire: Guatemala 1954, Chile 1973, Cuba (failed invasion attempt) 1961, Venezuela (coup attempt failed), and many many other examples.
    There is A LOT in common between Latin America and the Middle East.
    All of this is well documented by Chomsky and others.
    There are plenty of reasons for the US to try to repress resistance movements by the natives.
    All these factors are *in addition to* the influence of the Israel Lobby.
    It’s doesn’t have to be either/or. Either the US empire OR the Israel Lobby. It’s both.

    • Philip Weiss
      May 15, 2012, 12:29 pm

      apart from the military relationship and the testing of weapons, which yes our miltary loves, there really is no National Interest here, per the National Interest types, the same people who perceived a National INterest in subjugating the Americas, then geopolitics involving communism… as there is no national interest in adhering to policies that caused 9/11

      • Dan Crowther
        May 15, 2012, 12:51 pm

        You left out secular arab nationalism; there isnt much in the way of that surrounding israel, I have to think thats the way the US likes it

      • thetumta
        May 15, 2012, 8:42 pm

        My, my, the hasbara is getting polished here. Definitely caught their attention.
        Not much left of secular Judeo/Christian nationalism in the Zionist project or the US either?
        So what’s your point, Crowther.
        We secular Americans seem to be trapped by these Neo-Con Kool-aide drinkers and their apologists(you).
        Perhaps we need a wider application of the Constitutional expert in chiefs, Yemen policy? A drone over the next AIPAC conference? Netanyahoo’s plane lost at sea? No, I don’t think this is what the American people want. They’ve been deceived or silenced.

        Hopefully in the end, everyone will get what they deserve.

        Yes, it will be ugly. It has been so far. The struggle. Removing an advanced cancer couldn’t be otherwise.

        I am impressed with Phil finding himself and I think he has, but it may be just 10 days too late? Been there, done that. I don’t recommend it.
        Hej!
        P.S. Anyone see Julian on RT tonight? Very reasonable, aren’t they?

      • Dan Crowther
        May 16, 2012, 11:41 am

        so im a hasbaraist now? hahaha…. thats awesome.

        i was just pointing out that (I personally think) the US doesnt want independent, secular nationalism in this resource rich region – and israel “helps” in that effort – i am very far from supporting the US position, just pointing out what is a pretty obvious fact

  12. lysias
    May 15, 2012, 12:17 pm

    To blame the “military establishment” is a cop-out. No doubt firms in the military-industrial complex welcome wars, as do officers whose chief concern is advancing their own careers. But a lot of officers put the welfare of their troops and their country above any selfish concern, as do an overwhelming proportion of the enlisted ranks, and they want nothing to do with further unending, unwinnable wars in the Middle East. That explains the extent of their donations to Ron Paul’s campaign, and now to Obama’s.

    I speak as a retired naval officer who has put time in in the Pentagon.

    • homingpigeon
      May 16, 2012, 10:22 am

      I agree. I speak as a dropped out naval officer who was the sorriest excuse of an Ensign to ever walk the decks of a warship.

  13. DICKERSON3870
    May 15, 2012, 4:20 pm

    RE: “Americans don’t want to be stuck in these [Middle Eastern] wars, Berman shows, citing polls. But why do the neocons have power? Berman draws a blank. It’s because of a vacuum in the Republican establishment.” ~ Weiss

    ALSO SEE: Why is there so little accountability in foreign policymaking? ~ by Stephen M. Walt, foreignpolicy.com, 5/15/12

    (excerpt)…as U.S. neoconservatives have long demonstrated, the best defense is sometimes a good offense. No influential political faction in America is more willing to engage in character assassination and combative politics than they are, in sharp contrast to most liberals and even most realists. I’m not talking about spirited debate over the issues — which is a key part of effective democratic politics — I’m talking about the tendency to accuse those with whom they disagree of being unpatriotic, morally bankrupt, anti-semitic, or whatever. Their willingness to play hardball intimidates a lot of people, which in turn protects them from a full accounting for their past actions. . .

    Entire commentary – link to walt.foreignpolicy.com

    • Rusty Pipes
      May 15, 2012, 7:16 pm

      Thanks to the link to a good article. Your quote is from point five out of six. The others highlight various ways that it’s more convenient for insiders to go along to get along. This one highlights the flip-side — the price, way beyond inconvenience, paid by those who get on the wrong side of neo-cons.

  14. Citizen
    May 15, 2012, 5:22 pm

    Our Ilyse Hogue takes on the treasonous 1% who only care about themselves after gaining great riches from exploiting every advantage given by US taxpayers. Here she takes on Eduardo Saverin as a prime example–without ever mentioning he’s from a very wealthy Brazilian immigrant family who happen to be Jewish: link to thenation.com

    Who knows, maybe she will write an opinion for the Nation about the likes of Sheldon Adelson? How about, in her patriotic fervor for Old Glory, an actual analysis of the rise of the neocons and her favorite peoples’ large share in that really foreign “American” foreign policy strategy?
    Don’t hold your breath.

  15. aiman
    May 16, 2012, 1:57 am

    Phil gets to the heart of the matter here. There is nothing anti-Semitic about pointing this out, in fact it is necessary and brave because these facts are instrumental to making the change. The neocons do not represent Jewish morality, they are more like heretics. Also I think Phil’s critique is specific to how he sees his role in the world, this has always been how thinkers operate, tilling their own fields.

    Some Muslim thinkers have pointed out and labelled the upper echelons of the Islamist movement for who they are, that does not make them anti-Islamic. Thinkers like Abduh and others spent their lives in the service of good, and were even labelled as infidels.

    Chomsky’s conspiracy theory is too broad. He has done some good work, but I don’t take Chomsky without applying my own brain, which is what we are all gifted with. The cult of intellectuals on the Israel-Palestinian conflict is wearing thin, and people are taking control of a non-hierarchical movement that wants to make this world a better place for all people.

  16. homingpigeon
    May 16, 2012, 10:20 am

    Habibis, (aHbaab), resist the temptation to argue about whether the military industrial complex, the neo cons, or the corporate empire is to blame. In any disaster, there are several events which occur simultaneously, many of which would be innocuous if occurring in isolation, and together they combine to cause illness, storms, or plane crashes. In the case of airplane crashes, (which I have to study professionally), there are an average of seven such events occurring, which we refer to as “links in the disaster chain,” leading to the accident. If any one were to have been removed, the crash would not have happened. The causes presented for the Zionist disaster in this discussion are all correct. The only error in any analysis is when there is insistence that one is the cause and the other isn’t.

    Remember that there are millions of Americans who believe they are hastening the return of Christ – or his first arrival – by supporting Israel. That is one more link in the disaster chain. There are at least a dozen more we could think of.

  17. Kathleen
    May 16, 2012, 11:43 am

    “Remember that there are millions of Americans who believe they are hastening the return of Christ – or his first arrival – by supporting Israel. That is one more link in the disaster chain. There are at least a dozen more we could think of.”

    I talked with some of these fundamentalist as I held a sign at Univ of Colorado during Obama’s visit which said ” Cut US aid to Israel” or something like that. These three folks came up and questioned the sign. Had quite the conversation with them. They were quoting the Bible I was quoting international laws, agreements, UN resolutions etc. At one point I said “well clearly we disagree” They talked about the return of Christ, ascension to heaven, those who would get to go and those who would not. I responded politely “you can believe in myths if you want to. But “I am into the law, international agreements” It went down hill from there. Cut it off because it was going no where fast.

  18. Kathleen
    May 16, 2012, 12:05 pm

    “You can’t go forward without an analysis. As long as the mainstream left is being purposely vague about the causes of the neoconservative investment, it will be powerless to stop it. ”

    Such a powerful statement. Driving me crazy how often Obama, Republicans and Dems alike keep repeating “forward, next chapter, turn the page, don’t be about retribution, vengeance” FORWARD FORWARD. Not going to work. Because under the surface are piles of dead bodies, destroyed lives all based on that “pack of lies” No way to really move forward without analysis and accountality. No way

  19. sardelapasti
    May 17, 2012, 1:08 am

    Excellent paper, Mr. Weiss; better and more concise summary than by most people. But you don’t need my praise. You are short of the goal, though: “Neoconservatism is dominated by rightwing Jews” …. No, they are not necessarily “rightwing” by your own criteria; do you know Perle’s views on monetary policy, Wolfowitz’s on abortion, Abrams’ on corporate personhood? No, these guys are practically single-issue Zionists and some of them may well be on the “left” as per most so-called liberals’ admittedly ludicrous criteria.
    “because they are ultra-Zionists who believe in Israel’s militarism…” why “ultra”? They are Zionists, and the most tepid of that ilk has to believe in the essential tenet’s corollary: Israel’s militarism. They wouldn’t have achieved anything if all other Zionists, including non-ultra (and most all so-called non-Zionists) had not collaborated with them. “Part of their success was that they did their intellectual work.” I have seen the word “intellect” dissed and demeaned very often, but almost never to that point. What’s intellectual in instituting a reign of terror by using oodles of money and total control of the media ownership in the most corrupt country on earth?

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