30 Years Ago, Neocons Were More Candid About Their Israel-Centered Views

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A little while ago I blogged about Norman Podhoretz’s
statement in 1979
that neoconservatism arose in part out of a Jewish concern that the
Democratic Party wanted to scale back the military, and this represented a direct threat to Israel’s
security.  Yesterday I discovered a similar
statement from neocon godfather Irving Kristol, writing in 1973 (in Congress Bi-Weekly, a publication of the American Jewish Congress):

Senator McGovern is very sincere when he says that he will try to cut
the military budget by 30%. And this is
to drive a knife in the heart of Israel… Jews don’t like big
military budgets. But it is now an
interest of the Jews to have a large and powerful military establishment in the United States…
American Jews who care about the survival of the state of Israel have to say, no, we
don’t want to cut the military budget, it is important to keep that military
budget big, so that we can defend Israel.

Fascinating. Such dramatic language; and there is no quibbling or
circumlocution about the fact that American Jews have the responsibility of
protecting Israel.  Compare Irving Kristol’s comment to that of
his son, William Kristol, when he was pushing–successfully–for the greatest disaster in recent American history, the war in Iraq. In The War Over Iraq, the book he wrote (with Lawrence F. Kaplan), Kristol made a similar point to his father’s, but in more careful terms. In reference to Saddam’s attacks on Israel, he said that the United States
must "act as if threats to the interests of our allies are threats to us,
which indeed they are… act as if the flouting of civilized rules of conduct
are threats that affect us with almost the same immediacy as if they were
occurring on our doorstep."

I sense that Bill Kristol and Irving Kristol have the exact same view
of the role of the US
military when it comes to Israel’s
national security.  The difference here is rhetorical. Irving was writing for a
Jewish audience in 1973, and doing so as a mere New York intellectual, a professor and editor. Bill was addressing a wider, gentile
audience, and doing so from a far more empowered position. He had been Dan Quayle’s chief of staff, he was in Washington, he had the ear of policymakers. 

The moral? It took 30 years for neoconservatives
to get all the way inside, and as they did so they became less explicit about
their agendas.


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