Here are two superb pieces on neoconservatism, its ascension and its central concern, Israel. First, Jim Lobe at lobelog:
For those, particularly in the timid or intimidated U.S. foreign-policy elite, who still pretend or somehow make themselves believe that Israel is not absolutely central to the neo-conservative worldview, I commend this week’s Thanksgiving editorial by Bill Kristol, scion of one of the movement’s two founding families, in The Weekly Standard, entitled “The West Fights Back”. While it deserves to be read — and deconstructed — in full, here’s the meat:
“For what the West stands against is terror—whether the terror of modern secular totalitarianism or the terror of an older, and now revitalized, religious fanaticism. From the Great Terrors of Stalin and Hitler to the attacks on New York and Tel Aviv, and on Madrid, Bali, and Mumbai, terrorists of all stripes know who their enemies are. They attack across the world and kill Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike—but they grasp that the centers of resistance, the nations that stand most squarely in their path, are the United States and Israel.
“And so these two very different nations—Christian and Jewish, large and small, new world and old (though the new world nation is older than its newly reborn old world counterpart)—find themselves allied. More than allied: They find themselves joined at the hip in a brotherhood that is more than a diplomatic or political or military alliance. Everyone senses that the ties are deeper than those of mere allies. Israelis know that if the United States fails, so shall Israel. Americans sense, in the words of Eric Hoffer, ‘as it goes with Israel so will it go with all of us. Should Israel perish the holocaust will be upon us.’”
This argument has been around for some time, but it’s not something that neo-cons and their allies like to talk about too openly lest they be accused, in a very literal sense, of dual loyalty — that is, both to the U.S. and to Israel. Of course, Kristol co-founded the thoroughly obnoxious Emergency Committee for Israel two years ago. And it was his Project for a New American Century (which morphed in 1009 into the Foreign Policy Initiative, subsequently becoming Romney’s neo-con brain trust) that pushed precisely the same line back in its post-9/11 heyday: even as U.S. troops were pouring into Iraq for what would be a disastrous adventure, Kristol and his fellow-neo-cons were advising Bush that “Israel’s fight against terrorism is our fight.” …
The point here is “Kristol” clear: On foreign policy issues relevant to both countries, the U.S. and Israel should be “joined at the hip”, even in ways that other historic U.S. allies, like Britain or Canada or France are not or never can be. This is Kristol’s vision; this is his goal. If Bibi Netanyahu wants to expand settlements, invade Gaza, attack Iran, the U.S. should remain, in his words, “loyal and steadfast.”
Again, I will leave it to others (hopefully our own Daniel Luban) to deconstruct Kristol’s latest meditation on Western civilization, modern liberalism, Leo Strauss, Israeli democracy, the restoration by the “Almighty” of the Jewish homeland, and the relationship of Thanksgiving to Hebraicism. But to the degree that the Kristol family, now headed by Bill, has played a leading role in the neo-conservative movement over the last more than 40 years, I think it’s way past time for the centrality of Israel to the movement’s foreign-policy worldview to be openly recognized, acknowledged, and discussed by the foreign-policy elite, as well as a public that is sick and tired of Middle Eastern wars.
Note the reference to dual loyalty. This is what allowed the Democratic Party’s Israel lobby to separate from the Republican Israel lobby in the campaign– over the question of whether attacking Iran was in the US’s interest. It isn’t. And then the election helped to maroon the neoconservatives.
Now here is Scott McConnell at The American Conservative reflecting on the ten year anniversary of the magazine and the triumph of the neoconservatives, which he also links with the Israel lobby:
Realists, including those with Republican leanings, remained influential outside Washington, in the major universities: in the fall of 2002, several dozen prominent international relations scholars published an advertisement decrying the rush towards war. But they lacked Beltway power. Unlike their neocon rivals, they had no network of think tanks and echo-chamber outfits, no Fox News or talk radio to disseminate their views, no columnists to advance their ideas or undermine their opponents’. Rather like the vanished WASP establishment to which many of them were culturally and temperamentally linked, realists seemed ill-suited to the contemporary rules of political conflict. But if the realist retreat was bad for the country, it would help secure TAC [American Consrvative]’s philosophical foundation.
…In 1990, when Buchanan made an off-the-cuff remark on “The McLaughlin Group” that Capitol Hill was “Israeli-occupied territory,” it was seized upon by his foes as evidence of anti-Semitism. To speak in such a way was to break the most serious of taboos. Since then, two of America’s leading political scientists, John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, have published The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, which systematically explored the phenomenon Buchanan alluded to—and became a national and international bestseller. Tom Friedman, the bellwether centrist New York Times columnist, has written that Benjamin Netanyahu’s ovations in Congress are bought and paid for by the Israel lobby, and while some people complained, there was wider acknowledgment that he was simply stating a fact. That neoconservatism and the Israel lobby are now openly and widely discussed inside and outside the beltway is a major victory.