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Can a neocon change his spots (and come back as a liberal interventionist for Hillary Clinton)?

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Robert Kagan, from the Hertog Program

Robert Kagan, from the Hertog Program

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the neoconservatives are on the run. The latest upheaval in Iraq has further discredited them for destabilizing the country in the first place; and they are being called out in the mainstream media. Andrew Sullivan criticizes them all the time, so do Chris Matthews. The Washington Post has a column assailing the “neocon gang,” Eric Alterman has a column at Salon blasting Bill Kristol for banging the war drum again.

All good. But the neoconservatives’ partners in crime have gone largely blameless: American liberal interventionists and the Israeli right. When will they come in for criticism? Until they do, it seems that the neoconservative agenda is alive and well.

Here are some recent items that touch on the new status of the neoconservatives, and the blamelessness of their allies.

First, you may remember that neoconservative Robert Kagan got star treatment in the New York Times 10 days ago, as a “liberal interventionist” and a “Cocoa-Puffs” dad. Conservative columnist Diana West expresses outrage that Kagan has managed to slip the neoconservative label, and concern that he is going to come back to power soon, in the Democratic Party.

The Times describes Robert Kagan as “the congenial and well-respected scion of one of America’s first families of interventionism.”…

If there is something jarring about the “first families of interventionism” moniker — just think for a moment about the families of the soldiers who actually do the “intervening” — it doesn’t seem to be meant ironically. Kagan, in fact, says he prefers to call himself a “liberal interventionist,” not a neocon….

I can see it now: A new ship of state under Hillary Clinton sailing home, carrying a crew of neocons-turned-liberal-interventionists. And The New York Times will find it all Cocoa Puffs charming.

Sharp. Maybe that’s why Chris Matthews is careful not to bash liberal interventionists; they’re Hillary’s braintrust. But Kagan was Bill Kristol’s wingman all through the Project for a New American Century days, when they pressed Bill Clinton and then George W. Bush to invade Iraq.

At Foreign Policy, Steve Walt picks up on the liberal interventionist service to neocons. In a piece titled “Being a neocon means never having to say you’re sorry,” he says that one source of neoconservative persistence

is the continued support they get from their close cousins: the liberal interventionists. Neoconservatives may have cooked up the whole idea of invading Iraq, but they got a lot of support from a diverse array of liberal hawks. As I’ve noted before, the only major issue on which these two groups disagree is the role of international institutions, which liberals view as a useful tool and neoconservatives see as a dangerous constraint on U.S. freedom of action. Neoconservatives, in short, are liberal imperialists on steroids, and liberal hawks are really just kinder, gentler neocons.

The liberal interventionists’ complicity in the neoconservative project makes them reluctant to criticize the neoconservatives very much, because to do so draws attention to their own culpability in the disastrous neoconservative program. It is no surprise, therefore, that recovering liberal hawks like Peter Beinart and Jonathan Chait — who both backed the Iraq war themselves — have recently defended neoconservative participation in the new debate over Iraq, while taking sharp issue with some of the neocons’ position.

The neoconservative-liberal alliance in effect re-legitimates the neoconservative world view, and makes their continued enthusiasm for U.S.-led wars look “normal.”

Walt was promptly attacked by Chait at New York Magazine:

Walt’s column today is about how people who have been proven to be ignorant about foreign policy should no longer have prestigious outlets in which to disseminate their ill-informed beliefs.

Notice Chait’s emphasis on prestige, and Walt’s unworthiness of a prestige post. Elite opinion is what matters to neocons and liberal interventionists because it influences leaders. In a democracy, that is a highly unstable approach.

Chait cites an interview with Benjamin Netanyahu on National Public Radio as proving that Israel doesn’t want the U.S. to intervene in Iraq. But he doesn’t quote Netanyahu, because Netanyahu’s not saying that. He is still trying to remake the Middle East using American power. NPR gave the rightwing leader a seven-and-a-half-minute platform last week to spout propaganda about Iran being a “mortal enemy” of the U.S. that we shouldn’t cut a deal with.

And it sounds like Netanyahu wants unending war:

And my view is that when your enemies are fighting each other, you don’t strengthen either one of them. You weaken both. And in this case, that means that you take the action you deem necessary to counter ISIS forces in Iraq. But it also means not allowing Iran to dominate Iraq as it has dominated Lebanon and Syria….

I think that’s why we should be doing everything in our power to dismantle Iraq’s military capability. And I think that should remain the single, most important objective in the Middle East… 

Everything in our power to dismantle Iraq’s military capability: intervention.

In fact, it’s very hard to read Netanyahu’s words and not recall the famous neoconservative vision for the Middle East that three American neocons came up with for Netanyahu in 1996, before they went on to serve in the Bush administration. “A Clean Break” said, Let’s end the peace process, manage the conflict, and export the conflict to our neighbors. As Sidney Blumenthal once explained:

“A Clean Break” was written at the request of incoming Likud Party Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and intended to provide “a new set of ideas” for jettisoning the policies of assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Instead of trading “land for peace,” the neocons advocated tossing aside the Oslo agreements that established negotiations and demanding unconditional Palestinian acceptance of Likud’s terms, “peace for peace.” Rather than negotiations with Syria, they proposed “weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria.” They also advanced a wild scenario to “redefine Iraq.” Then King Hussein of Jordan would somehow become its ruler; and somehow this Sunni monarch would gain “control” of the Iraqi Shiites, and through them “wean the south Lebanese Shia away from Hezbollah, Iran, and Syria.”

You’d think that the mainstream would be reexamining this neoconservative-Likudnik transnational manifesto now, but they steer clear. Chris Matthews spoke warningly of “Sabra and Shatilla” in Iraq if we go in there, but he didn’t explain to viewers that he was talking about an Israeli invasion and massacre. Matthews regularly cites Israel’s security needs, but does so approvingly.

Though last week, regardless of their affection for Hillary Clinton, Matthews and his guest David Corn both praised Republican Rand Paul’s populist rhetoric against any involvement in Iraq. Matthews played Paul’s statement about whose children should die for the next intervention:

You have to ask yourself, are you willing to send your son, am I willing to send my son to retake back a city, Mosul, that they weren’t willing to defend themselves?  I’m not willing to send my son into that mess.  

And Paul blamed the neocons:

“You know, were they right in their predictions? Were there weapons of mass destruction there? That’s what the war was sold on. Was democracy easily achievable? Was the war won in 2005, when many of these people said it was won? They didn’t really, I think, understand the civil war that would break out.”

And Paul opposed a liberal interventionist’s appointment as judge because he had favored killing Americans by drone overseas:

I’ve read David Barron’s memos concerning the legal justification for killing an American citizen overseas without a trial or legal representation, and I am not satisfied.

It’s a reminder that some of the strongest arguments against the reckless idea of remaking the Middle East have come from Republicans, and that leading Democrats were an essential part of the neoconservative coalition for the Iraq War.

Another Republican, General David Petraeus lately said that there must be a political solution in Iraq: 

“You cannot have 18 to 20 percent of the population feeling disenfranchised, feeling that it has no stake in the success of the country,” Petraeus added. “There has to be a government that is trusted by all elements of the society.”

Now what country could he be talking about? Israel has that very problem west of the Green Line– and let alone the disfranchisement of millions under occupation. The neoconservative agenda was always to export Israel’s conflict to the region, so that Israel’s troubles would look minor compared to the troubles of its bad neighborhood. Whatever the neocons call themselves, the media are still letting them get away with it.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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58 Responses

  1. annie on June 28, 2014, 10:45 am

    fantastic phil

  2. American on June 28, 2014, 11:02 am

    ”Another Republican, General David Petraeus lately said that there must be a political solution in Iraq:

    “You cannot have 18 to 20 percent of the population feeling disenfranchised, feeling that it has no stake in the success of the country,” Petraeus added. “There has to be a government that is trusted by all elements of the society.”

    Too funny.
    Going by the lowly 6% approval rating of the US congress by americans 94 % of us feel disenfranchised.
    There has been no ‘political solution’ to this in the US ‘democracy’.
    So what hope does Iraq have.

    • bilal a on June 29, 2014, 9:34 pm

      I understand Israel has access to gmail, Petraeus’ undoing, less likely to work on Walt.

      I would like to understand the rival underlying economics here. The neocons and liberal interventionists have always been one, just selling to a different constituency. But the realists, what economic interests are they representing?

      as in the past:

      Of course they don’t necessarily understand their ideological function

      Chomsky: … I’m saying what’s called “liberal” in the intelectual culture means highly conformist to power, but mildly critical. Like, say, Pravda in the 1980s, or the German general staff after Stalingrad. Higly conformist to power, but critical, maybe even sharply critical. Because it’s making a mistake, or it’s costing us too much, or it’s the wrong thing to do, or something. Yeah, that’s liberal, that’s what we call liberal. But when the people are answering that question, they mean something else. What they mean probably, you know, the polls don’t really inquire, so we don’t know, but guessing, my guess would be what they mean is, they are referring to their lifestly choices. So like they accept abortion, they are not religious, you know, they live more or less free lifestyle, not the traditional families, they believe in gay rights, and so on.

      What the polls don’t tell you is, though other polls do, is that if you do a study of CEOs, top executives in corporations, they’re liberal. Their additudes on these matters are about the same as the press.

  3. ritzl on June 28, 2014, 11:25 am

    Isn’t the [one sentence or less] genesis of the neocons, liberal interventionists looking for a political home? iirc, Irving Kristol was liberal and interventionist. He just found a better home in the Republican party for a while and changed the name of the ideology.

    What does that say about the Democrats that Kagan is coming back with the same ideology? Interesting (though hardly revelatory) that this appears to be a nakedly reversible process.

  4. HarryLaw on June 28, 2014, 11:31 am

    Robert Kagan of course the husband of Victoria “F-ck the EU” Nuland who was bragging about the US spending 5 billion dollars to effect regime change in the Ukraine and in that tapped telephone call with the US ambassador to Ukraine talked about who she would prefer as Prime Minister “Yats” what brilliant foresight she was right. It is a fact that the only people who get on prime time TV in the US, are those very people who were spectacularly wrong on Iraq, mainly Neocons. Phil, I think you meant Iran in that Netanyahu quote??

  5. Boomer on June 28, 2014, 11:53 am

    The liberal interventionists can cause plenty of trouble on their own, as Juan Cole explains:

    Given the bios of some of these people, I’m not sure it makes sense to distinguish them anyway.

  6. piotr on June 28, 2014, 1:17 pm

    Wrecking countries by fomenting civil wars is definitely cheaper and does not cost the blood of American soldiers, so it is a much more “liberal tool of international statecraft”, but it remains a depraved and stupid practice.

    Most recently, I almost got hiccups when I read that Obama wants to bestow a modest amount of 0.5 G$ (0r 0.0005 T$) on “armed Syrian opposition, vetted for moderate inclination”. From my readings it appears that the basic ideological division among armed groups in Syria is between religious fanatics (more prone for executing common folks for incorrect religion, deficient adherence to Sunni rules as they see them, and so on) and common brigands (kidnapping for ransom seems to be a notable line of business). So we can carefully check that weapons and cash will be delivered to brigands rather than fanatics, but the brigands are less organized and can loose or sell weapons to the fanatics.

    Most importantly, fanatics are coalescing a large coalition, and the opponents are short of cash, men and charisma (Maliki is exhibit 1 of low charisma). Tilting the scales for their victory is utterly disastrous idea. And American aid is truly modest, real money are from the Gulf and Turkey (perhaps Turkey is just a conduit, and I would not be surprised if some hands are greased with a modest percentage of billions that cross their borders). The most important aspect of American aid is that it gives blessing and green light to Turkey and Gulfies.

    This is a classic imperialist approach, going back at least to banana wars in Central America in 1950s, so criticizing it is a bit like going against beloved texts for 1-st graders (nursery rhymes?). Figuring out who are “our bastards” and who are “their bastards” and finding ways to support our guys is the standard workout, something that US government does almost by instinct. But back in the good days of banana wars, leftist radicals were clearly ” theirs, and military fascist and local petty plutocrats were reliably ours. Nowadays we pay cash to the same people whom we shoot at when they cross a border, so win or loose, it is a given that they will hate us (for our freedoms, of course), and that they will be valiant, experienced in battle and superbly trained in making improvising bombs, and very neurotic (PSD). They alumni of those crazy war seem to have some penchant for shooting at Jewish religious at cultural institutions (and they shoot well). But even non-denominational pasttimes like Maraton races can be targetted as well.

    • ritzl on June 28, 2014, 6:58 pm

      Yep, piotr. I almost puked, literally, when I heard that about sending direct military aid to the Syrian “moderate” rebels. I mean what can these people be thinking (if they are thinking at all)?

      Seems to me that the spread of ISIS is the A#1+++++ problem in the region, Israel aside, and here we are wringing our political hands about what to do about that and in the very same breath making it worse by weakening their natural enemy, the Syrian government. It’s like they like to see the bodies pile up. It must make them feel more self-important than solving a problem through the use of common sense. Or it’s a trade between placating Israel and constructive engagement with Iran.

      I just don’t get it. Our/US behavior really makes no sense whatsoever.

      • Citizen on June 28, 2014, 10:53 pm

        “I just don’t get it. Our/US behavior really makes no sense whatsoever.”

        I believe that’s precisely what the US State Department said about Truman’s support of his Zionist constituency (once they handed him a big bag of cash for his whistle stop campaign).

        US diplomacy seems cloned from the Mafia–bribe them or whack them.

      • seafoid on June 30, 2014, 2:43 am

        They only intervene in the Middle East where there is oil.
        The oil situation is very shaky. Demand is rising and production in a lot of dependable countries is falling.

        If oil goes to $200 a barrel the US economy is in big trouble.

        BTW liberal interventionist sounds real cuddly. Warmonger is the correct term.

      • geokat62 on June 30, 2014, 10:31 am

        “They only intervene in the Middle East where there is oil.”

        This lie was dispelled by Profs. Mearsheimer and Walt (see The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy). As you and most hasbarists well know Bush and Cheney supported the Wolfowitz Doctrine of remaking the Middle East (by draining the swamp to rid the ME of “terrorists”) to make the jungle a little safer for the villa…. Bush because of his religious beliefs (to hasten the Second Coming) and Cheney because of his shares in Haliburton (which obtained the sole source contract to rebuild the ME after the US military destroyed it by shock and awe). Since its birth, Israel has been threatened with being “swept into the Sea” by the Arabs. They also have been living with the constant threat of Palestinian suicide bombers blowing themselves up on buses, cafes or in nightclubs. To survive in a region with over 100 million Muslims, Israel has been attempting to secure peace agreements with some of its Arab neighbours (Egypt and Jordan), economic and military agreements with others (Turkey), and US assistance in dealing with those nations that refuse to abandon the Palestinians in their struggle to end the occupation (Iran, Iraq, and Syria). Saddam was on Israel’s hit list because he had dropped 27 scud missiles on Israel during the first Gulf War and was underwriting the family members of suicide bombers to the tune of $25,000. So Iraq and Afghanistan was Part 1, which strengthened Iran. Part 2 is the “Sunni turn” which will pit the Sunnis against the Shia crescent. The idea is to create perpetual strife among Israel’s Muslim neighbours while they eat the rest of the Palestinian pie. That’s why the strategy is referred to as The Clean Break. So which explanation is more compelling, oil or enhancing Israel’s security?

      • seafoid on June 30, 2014, 12:28 pm

        I can’t buy the notion that the Yanks spent $5 tn in Iraq to secure Israel. If Israel’s time is up, its time is going to be up.

      • geokat62 on June 30, 2014, 1:25 pm

        “I can’t buy the notion that the Yanks spent $5 tn in Iraq to secure Israel. If Israel’s time is up, its time is going to be up.”

        Perhaps you require a little more evidence. Read this:

        Here’s a small excerpt from this piece:
        On August 12, 2002, Sharon told the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee of the Knesset that Iraq “is the greatest danger facing Israel.”

      • geokat62 on June 30, 2014, 2:44 pm

        Another relevant excerpt from the link I posted:

        Israel’s enthusiasm for war eventually led some of its allies in America to tell Israeli officials to damp down their hawkish rhetoric, lest the war loo like it was being fought for Israel. In the fall of 2002, for example, a group of American political consultants known as the Israel Project circulated a six-page memorandum to key Israelis and pro-Israel leaders in the United States. The memo was titled “Talking about Iraq” and was intended as a guide for public statements about the war. “If your goal is regime change, you must be much more careful with your language because of the potential backlash. You do not want Americans to believe that the war on Iraq is being waged to protect Israel rather than to protect America.”

      • James Canning on June 30, 2014, 6:26 pm

        Great post. The Israel lobby made the idiotic US invasion of Iraq possible, but it did not want blame if the thing “went sideways”.

  7. ToivoS on June 28, 2014, 1:33 pm

    Openly recognizing that the neocons and liberal interventionists are different symptoms of the same disease is very healthy. The pathology is deeply embedded in the Obama administration. It has made its appearance on at least three occasions.

    The first was the Nato war against Libya. That was carried out with Hillary’s enthusiastic backing. At the time many progressives and leftists were duped into supporting that action because they saw it as part of the Arab spring that bring forth ‘people’s revolution’. Today no one is defending that fiasco, but most of the progressive critics of Bush’s war in Iraq remain silent about it now.

    The second was support for the rebels in Syria. Now that Iraq has blown up progressives are on a campaign blaming Bush and his neocons for starting the process that has led to that. They seem strangely silent that the jihadists fighting in Iraq today are the same forces we supported in Syria and before that in Libya.

    The third is the Obama administration is helping to undermine the legally elected Yanukovich government in Ukraine, backing the neo-nazi infested coup government and currently urging the current Poroshenko regime to militarily suppress the eastern Ukrainian uprising.

    It is time to stop just blaming Bush and his neocons. We need to openly admit that Obama is a big part of the problem. We can’t ignore that and just jump to Hillary and say that the disease is reappearing in her re-election campaign. The neocons/liberal-interventionists remain alive and well with Obama in the form of Vic Nuland, Samantha Power and Susan Rice.

    • seafoid on June 30, 2014, 10:05 am

      Obama’s admin looks like 8 years wasted. They won’t be able to sell another Obama to the people.

  8. Citizen on June 28, 2014, 1:55 pm

    Yeah, you’re right, PW. But Ron Paul is a joke now, and his son is becoming one. The 1% control the air waves.

    • ritzl on June 28, 2014, 7:03 pm

      Joke or not, Citizen, if Rand Paul becomes the R nominee, for the first time in my life I’ll cross over and vote for him. It’s the only hope, and that tells you how little hope there is, at least in the near term.

      • Citizen on June 28, 2014, 10:57 pm

        @ ritzl
        Females and blacks will determine the next POTUS; it’s gonna be Hillary.

      • ToivoS on June 28, 2014, 11:31 pm

        I agree ritzl. Rand is hard to take. He will obviously run against SS, medicare and medicaid. Maybe against public education. That does not worry me too much because if he became president and tried to reverse those programs he would create a political backlash that would stop him in his tracks.

        The antiwar program he could represent is something else. As Gore Vidal said years ago the US is a one party state — the war party — that is divided into two factions the Democrats and Republicans. He might be the first politician in 60 years that could break that pro-war monopoly. George McGovern made a play at doing so in 1972 but he was crushed once the pro-war factions in the Democratic Party refused to support him. Maybe Rand could build a coalition that included left wing Democrats, libertarian Republicans and that vast center of undecideds who are sick of more war.

        I could see voting and even working for him in that case.

      • ritzl on June 29, 2014, 10:37 am

        Well said, ToivoS.

      • earfirst on June 29, 2014, 2:45 pm

        ritzl, ToivoS et al —

        A coalition, in sophisticated Europe where they have experience in multi-party legislation, is a coalition of parties. Can one pol build a coalition? The last amazing upstart pol we put our hopes on lacked the bottom and conduct.

        I could go along with the project of Rand Paul building a coalition. What makes me doubtful is the sorry example in the late sixties when liberals (before we had to re-register as “progressives”) hoped the same from — (what was his name again? Thoughtful bellwether of ecology damage — ahhh, YOU remember, declined to be drafted but got some write-in votes for US President anyway — NO, not Alfred E. Neuman of MAD Magazine, the real guy. Not Pat Paulson either (“Picky, picky, picky”), though my friends and I would have trusted him way more … COME ON, you remember! …)

        I’d rather see the bi-goofus US system broken by some strange-bedfellow coalition of Libertarians, Laborites, Whigs, Socialists, Communists, Peaceniks, Survivalists and Mugwumps. Yeah, some poor sacrificial shlub would have to draw the lightning. Rand Paul? Meh.

        A superb manager like JFK is what’s really needed. Someone able to recruit the best regardless of party, listen all around the table, decide, require timely reporting. How do you find a world-class manager outside established party apparatus? Someone from the MIC or other job downsizer gets bored with making too much money? That leaves us with what? Pretty close to the bought-and-paid-for Plutublican party anyway. More hopes dashed, more cynics on the scrap heap like this correspondent.

        The Tea “Party” hasn’t the gumption or breadth of message to bolt the Plutublican party. Maybe true splinter parties (labor? peace? socialist? secularist?) would be bolder, just for the sake of negotiating coalition among Libertarians and splinters with other agenda emphases.

        Read my lips. Do you see me holding my breath?

      • on June 30, 2014, 7:50 am

        You really think Paul will be allowed to be the GOP nominee if he is not willing to go along with the Israel uber alles camp? You saw what was done to Ron Paul in 2012 by both the media and the GOP.

      • ritzl on June 30, 2014, 3:02 pm

        Hi Giles, I think Paul has an interesting dynamic going on. He’s one part tea party (primary success) and one part more-or-less consistent [civil?] libertarian which speaks to foreign policy. It’s hard to tell where all the roiling politics falls out within those two bookends, but there’s at least a chance that it: A) minimizes Israeli influence in US politics; and B) points to some big/critical issue commonality between left and right that might just be electorally exploitable (see Eric Cantor).

        He’s not my first choice by a long shot but he’s different and as Bill Murray said in “Groundhog Day”: “Something different is good.”

  9. HarryLaw on June 28, 2014, 1:59 pm

    The Neocons and Liberal interventionists have got the US into the shameful position it finds itself in Iraq today, now confronted by the so called “Arc of extremism” Iran, Iraq, Syria and Hezbollah in Lebanon, the US are funding Sunni extremists to attack the Arc, with the isolation of Iran the goal, notice how when Maliki asked Kerry to supply those F16,s [already paid for] he would not do so, also Kurdish intelligence told the US and UK about the planned ISIS attack on Iraq 6 months ago, they ignored the warning [very convenient] US intelligence [its very small] also said they were taken by surprise by ISIS, how is it possible for them to read a car number plate from space, but fail to see 10,000 Jihadis driving many hundreds of pick up trucks across hundreds of miles of desert and kicking up tons of dust into the atmosphere. The bottom line is the US want the Jihadis to attack the “arc of extremism” but not their friends in Jordan, Israel or the Gulf countries, that’s how cynical US foreign policy is, I hope it fails, as I think it will, and blows back on the GCC dictators.

    • Walid on June 29, 2014, 1:12 am

      Kuwait is starting to look like it’s ISIS’ next target.

      • seafoid on June 30, 2014, 2:52 am

        How would ISIS get to Kuwait, Walid? Wouldn’t they get stuck in Shia territory between Basra and Baghdad ?

      • Walid on June 30, 2014, 3:54 am

        seafoid, they’d do it from within. All the areas that it now controls were Sunni areas ripe for a takeover, otherwise, ISIS would still be next to anything of importance and Kuwait and Jordan are ripe. Whether in Syria or Iraq, ISIS is welcomed as a replacement for current regimes without people there being necessarily pro-ISIS. People from within the Gulf states have been funding ISIS and these same people would welcome it into their country. Jordan is simmering in both the northern Ma’an area and the south at Zarqa, that was Zarqaoui’s home town. The map issued by ISIS shows Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon and Israel as being in the caliphate that’s being set up. Yesterday, Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi was named Caliph for all Muslims and Abdel Salaam al-Ordoni as Prince for Lebanon. This is getting nutty.

      • seafoid on June 30, 2014, 4:54 am


        I was reading about the Abbasid caliphate recently. Went from Morocco to east of Baghdad. Estimated population 4 million.
        Very different world. Egypt alone has 90 million now.
        How are the Caliphatis on macroeconomics ?
        Oil is running down and the region can’t grow enough food to feed itself.
        What did the Sunni wise men back in the day say about overpopulation ?

      • Walid on June 30, 2014, 7:27 am

        seafoid, for their economy, I don’t think they see any farther that their next prayers. There was a misconception that these guys were broke until they got hold of the oil of northern Syria ($50 to $60 million a month) and that they got filthy rich when they took over Mosul. They have been adequately funded and armed from way back and before they had their hands on any oil by fundamentalist Muslims in most Arab countries and by Western governments. Now that ISIS has become a runaway train, the West doesn’t know what to do about it. They don’t want it to be so powerful but at the same time they don’t want it out of the picture either. It’s the Taliban all over again. When you see that a NATO member country is buying oil from ISIS, it tells you who are its sponsors.

      • seafoid on June 30, 2014, 12:38 pm


        Afghanistan is a broken country after 40 years of war. I don’t see how Syria even remotely compares. The Taliban could flourish in a feudal society like Afghanistan but not in Jordan, even if the Malik is venal. The ISIS story doesn’t make sense.

      • Walid on June 30, 2014, 12:48 pm

        ” The ISIS story doesn’t make sense.”

        Of course it doesn’t, but keep in mind that the majority of Palestinians voted for Hamas for no other reason than to get Fatah away from their faces. Desperate people act funny.

      • Walid on June 30, 2014, 1:28 pm

        Today, ISIS changed its name to simply “Islamic State” and revealed its map showing the countries it intends to rule within 5 years: All of North Africa, all of the Arabian peninsula, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, Spain in Europe.

        In Mosul, still no word on the 2 abducted nuns and 3 orphans. A woman that was raped set herself on fire and died.

        From the London Mail with the map and photo of mass executions:

        The ISIS map of the world: Militants outline chilling five-year plan for global domination as they declare formation of caliphate – and change their name to the Islamic State
        Sunni militants have announced formation of Islamic state in Middle East
        They demand Muslims around the world swear allegiance to the caliphate
        Claim leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi now has authority over all Muslims
        Group has also now changed its name from ISIS to just the Islamic State
        Announcement described as ‘most significant development in international jihadism since 9/11’.

      • seafoid on June 30, 2014, 3:42 pm

        “BEIRUT — Eight rebel fighters have been crucified in Syria by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) because they were considered too moderate, a monitoring group said Sunday.
        The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on contacts on the ground in Syria, said the men were crucified Saturday in Aleppo province. It added that their corpses were still on view.”

        I bet the bots will use this as hasbara when they start the killing spree to avenge the 3 settlers.

      • Walid on July 1, 2014, 4:16 am

        seafoid, the ISIS continues to post Youtubes of its daily mass assassinations to spook people. These gory videos are being shown on Arab newscasts that aren’t into “sensitive viewers” concerns, which plays perfectly into ISIS’ game plan as their successes are more PR-driven than from military prowess. Yesterday, ISIS dynamited a huge border station building between Iraq and Syria, lined up the 15 or so customs/border agents and shot them dead. 30,000 Shia have volunteered and are being trained militarily to protect the holy city of Karbala as ISIS has swore to blow up all the Shia shrines in that city.

        American help to Iraq is still coming piecemeal with a second group of 300 American commandos being sent to secure Baghdad’s airport. Obama is playing cat-and-mouse games with Maliki who is playing dumb at not understanding that he’s the cause of ISIS’ current successes in Iraq. Its best recruiters are current Arab leaders.

        Speaking of American help, a lot of it is being shown in helping the Lebanese authorities nab terrorists. About 15 would-be suicide bombers have been caught with US help.

  10. HarryLaw on June 28, 2014, 2:23 pm

    Russian Deputy Foreign Minister said Russia won’t sit idly by as terrorists press Iraq assault, Asked about Washington’s decision to support “moderate rebels” in Syria, Ryabkov said: “There can be no alternative to a political solution.” He added: “We reject this US policy. It is in everybody’s interest, including the Americans, to act responsibly on Syria.”

  11. traintosiberia on June 28, 2014, 3:40 pm

    Neocon has been turned into an abstract term that does not map to the faces like Kagan ,Liberman,Guliani Wolfowitz,!Krauthammer,Kristol, Pletka,Perle or their protege at all in American awareness. The media is responsible for this dissonance. The war fiasco is blamed on Bush and Obama without pointing to the pressure from the behind . The power behind this is dispersed but interconnected . The neocon has become another abstract term like military industrial complex which any one can blame but can’t punish and can’t locate both in time and space
    The threat of terrorism and visceral hatred of Al Qida could never achieved the permanence and could never have been a constant modifier and specifier in the evolution of all the anti liberty laws,secrecy in trial ,keeping of Guantnamo open, frequent demand for more war if Alquida were left as some invisible letter head organization . The successful demonization and use of the propaganda based on that demonization resulted from 24/7 constant visual presentation of the caves of Afghanistan,hooded figures with guns,pictorial presentation of the atrocities against children and women and superimposed images of 911.
    Americans need to be given the pictorial presentation of the neocons figures and the devastation of wars on US and Middle East alike to prevent these neocons to hide and to exert same toxic influence . Until then, they will have a job and will have the same job in future as well

  12. joemowrey on June 28, 2014, 4:35 pm

    “Eric Alterman has a column at Salon blasting Bill Kristol for banging the war drum again.”

    Even though we know Eric Alterman is a wack-job pro-Zionist zealot, as revealed on this site repeatedly, people continue to site his opinions about other issues as if they mean something. It’s this kind of inconsistency that hurts our strategy. Either we acknowledge and reject lunacy or we embrace it and enable it. You can’t have it both ways. Any use of the New York Times as a “journalistic” outlet falls into the same category. On and on and on we go. And so the truth becomes relative rather than relevant.

  13. Daniel Rich on June 29, 2014, 8:45 pm

    Unfortunately those are glibber filter liver spots, so the answer is a profoundly “Hell, no.”

    Mr. Shield looks like he’s on his way to a triple-bypass and thus will miss the moment Rotham shoots through the overpass.

    I want a real female POTUS not just another COTUS.

  14. Egbert on June 30, 2014, 6:50 am

    Their policy remains the same whatever their name – Israel first and foremost

  15. Dan Crowther on June 30, 2014, 10:45 am

    “I support the bombing of Libya.”

    – Phil Weiss.

    And I’d bet you said the same about the bombing of Yugoslavia by the Clinton regime.

    Phil the neocon.

    • DICKERSON3870 on June 30, 2014, 2:50 pm

      RE: “I support the bombing of Libya.” – Phil Weiss – from above

      MY COMMENT: I initially supported the “humanitarian” intervention in Libya, but very soon afterwards I began to very much regret it after seeing the way the U.S. and its allies flagrantly, grotesquely, and shamelessly abused the UN Security Council resolution on Libya (authorizing member states to establish and enforce a no-fly zone) in order to instead pursue their own “regime change” agenda.
      Frankly, it was disturbingly reminiscent of Israel’s illegal, interventionist, bait-and-switch invasion* (under false pretenses**) of Lebanon in the summer of 1982.

      Consequently, as I see it, the U.S. and its NATO allies absolutely cannot be trusted to intervene in Syria in a responsible manner.
      Because the U.S and its NATO allies so badly abused “responsibility to protect” (R2P or RtoP) in regards to Libya (much like they abused the right to “defend” themselves by invading Iraq), I simply cannot support any intervention under any circumstances on their part no matter how seemingly deserving the purported beneficiaries of such intervention might be.

      * FROM WIKIPEDIA [Lebanese Civil War]:

      [EXCERPT] . . . Israel launched Operation Peace for Galilee on 6 June 1982, attacking PLO bases in Lebanon. Israeli forces quickly drove 25 miles (40 km) into Lebanon, moving into East Beirut with the tacit support of Maronite leaders and militia. When the Israeli cabinet convened to authorize the invasion, Sharon described it as a plan to advance 40 kilometers into Lebanon, demolish PLO strongholds, and establish an expanded security zone that would put northern Israel out of range of PLO rockets. In fact, Israeli chief of staff Rafael Eitan and Sharon had already ordered the invading forces to head straight for Beirut, in accord with Sharon’s blueprint dating to September 1981. . .
      . . . By 15 June 1982, Israeli units were entrenched outside Beirut. The United States called for PLO withdrawal from Lebanon, and Sharon began to order bombing raids of West Beirut, targeting some 16,000 PLO fedayeen who had retreated into fortified positions. . .
      . . . The fighting in Beirut killed more than 6,700 people of whom the vast majority were civilians. . .

      SOURCE –

      ** SEE: “The War of Lies” , by Uri Avnery, gush-shalom.org09/06/12

      [EXCERPTS] Thirty Years ago this week, the Israeli army crossed into Lebanon and started the most stupid war in Israel’s history. It lasted for 18 years. About 1500 Israeli soldiers and untold numbers of Lebanese and Palestinians were killed.
      Almost all wars are based on lies. Lies are considered legitimate instruments of war. Lebanon War I (as it was later called) was a glorious example.
      From beginning to end (if it has ended yet) it was a war of deceit and deception, falsehoods and fabrications.
      THE LIES started with the official name: “Operation Peace in Galilee”.

      If one asks Israelis now, 99.99% of them will say with all sincerity: “We had no choice. They launched katyushas at the Galilee from Lebanon every day. We had to stop them.” TV anchormen and anchorwomen, as well as former cabinet ministers have been repeating this throughout the week. Quite sincerely. Even people who were already adults at the time.
      The simple fact is that for 11 months before the war, not a single shot was fired across the Israeli-Lebanese border. A cease-fire was in force and the Palestinians on the other side of the border kept it scrupulously. To everybody’s surprise, Yasser Arafat succeeded in imposing it on all the radical Palestinian factions, too.
      At the end of May, Defense Minister Ariel Sharon met with Secretary of State Alexander Haig in Washington DC. He asked for American agreement to invade Lebanon. Haig said that the US could not allow it, unless there were a clear and internationally recognized provocation.
      And lo and behold, the provocation was provided at once. Abu Nidal, the anti-Arafat and anti-PLO master terrorist, sent his own cousin to assassinate the Israeli ambassador in London, who was grievously wounded.

      In retaliation, Israel bombed Beirut and the Palestinians fired back, as expected. The Prime Minister, Menachem Begin, allowed Sharon to invade Lebanese territory up to 40 km, “to put the Galilee settlements out of reach of the katyushas.”
      When one of the intelligence chiefs told Begin at the cabinet meeting that Abu Nidal’s organization was not a member of the PLO, Begin famously answered: “They are all PLO”.
      General Matti Peled, my political associate at the time, firmly believed that Abu Nidal had acted as an agent of Sharon. So do all the Palestinians I know.
      The lie “they shot at us every day” has taken such a hold on the public mind that it is nowadays useless to dispute it. It is an illuminating example of how a myth can take possession of the public mind, including even of people who had seen with their own eyes that the opposite was true.
      NINE MONTHS before the war, Sharon told me about his plan for a New Middle East. . .
      . . . His design for the region, as told me then (and which I published nine months before the war), was:
      • To attack Lebanon and install a Christian dictator who would serve Israel,
      • Drive the Syrians out of Lebanon,
      • Drive the Palestinians out of Lebanon into Syria, from where they would then be pushed by the Syrians into Jordan.
      • Get the Palestinians to carry out a revolution in Jordan, kick out King Hussein and turn Jordan into a Palestinian state,
      • Set up a functional arrangement under which the Palestinian state (in Jordan) would share power in the West Bank with Israel.Being a single-minded operator, Sharon convinced Begin to start the war, telling him that the sole aim was to push the PLO 40 km back. . .


      P.S. ALSO SEE: “Three years after Gaddafi, Libya is imploding into chaos and violence”, by Patrick Cockburn,, 3/16/14
      World View: Its government has no real power; militias are ever more entrenched, and now the state itself is under threat
      LINK –

      P.P.S. AND SEE – “‘Violent chaos’: Libya in deep crisis 2 years since rebels took over”, (Russia Today), 8/26/13
      LINK –

      • James Canning on June 30, 2014, 6:30 pm

        Interesting fact re: 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon. Israel gave advance notice to Alexander Haig Jr. but not to Caspar Weinberger. Former was Sec of State, latter Sec of Defense.

      • Keith on July 1, 2014, 5:39 pm

        DICKERSON 3870- “I initially supported the “humanitarian” intervention in Libya, but very soon afterwards I began to very much regret it after seeing the way the U.S. and its allies flagrantly, grotesquely, and shamelessly abused the UN Security Council resolution on Libya (authorizing member states to establish and enforce a no-fly zone) in order to instead pursue their own “regime change” agenda.”

        In view of the consistent history of empire, one would have thought that the outcome was somewhat predictable. Perhaps you have some examples of empire expending blood and treasure to bring the benefits of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to Third World peoples?

    • Keith on July 1, 2014, 5:26 pm

      DAN CROWTHER- “Phil the neocon.”

      Nope, Phil is a liberal interventionist. Difference? Neocons bomb and destroy countries and kill people for the worst of intentions, whereas, liberal interventionists bomb and destroy countries and kill people for the best of intentions. See the difference?

  16. Dan Crowther on June 30, 2014, 11:27 am

    It’s going to be hilarious to read the “I’m for Hillary” posts and comments, that are sure to come, a few months from now. And if there’s a “Enlist Bernie” post, I’ll just laugh and then vomit. Oh, “liberals” how naive thou art……

    • weindeb on June 30, 2014, 1:01 pm

      Alas, you make sense.

    • DICKERSON3870 on July 1, 2014, 10:46 am

      RE: “And if there’s a ‘Enlist Bernie’ post, I’ll just laugh and then vomit. Oh, ‘liberals’ how naive thou art……” ~ Crowther

      MY REPLY: I’m certainly not going to advocate enlisting Bernie Sanders, but if he runs I intend to make monthly contributions to his campaign. I will be contributing to help defray the costs of his trying to educate the public on issues of importance, calling out the other candidates when they avoid discussing the important issues and confronting them when they obfuscate, prevaricate or fabricate.
      I do not believe it is naive to believe that if he were to somehow become president, he would be more likely than Hillary Clinton to push back against the entrenched special interests like Wall Street, the neocons, the defense contractors, etc.
      As to my being a liberal, in the last presidential election, I voted for Ron Paul in the Republican primary and Jill Stein in the general election.
      I do strongly support universal human rights, and I also very much oppose U.S. hegemony/hubris/empire.

      “Bernie Sanders Tees Off On Dick Cheney and Vows To Adamantly Oppose Any New War In Iraq” –

      • Dan Crowther on July 1, 2014, 1:39 pm

        “I do not believe it is naive to believe that if he were to somehow become president, he would be more likely than Hillary Clinton to push back against the entrenched special interests like Wall Street, the neocons, the defense contractors, etc.”

        I do. I think it’s incredibly naive. I think Alex Cockburn had him pegged the best, he called him the “brass-lunged armchair bomber of Vermont” – you should look into his record. The guy is the Defense Dept’s point man. Just shameful the way “liberals” convince themselves of the good intentions of politicians they “like.”

      • Keith on July 1, 2014, 5:56 pm

        DAN CROWTHER- “Just shameful the way “liberals” convince themselves of the good intentions of politicians they “like.”

        I have come to believe that self-deception is the rule, not the exception, and that most folks spend their entire lives lying to themselves.

  17. James Canning on June 30, 2014, 2:27 pm

    I think Robert Kagan is a neocon. Neocons work together to manipulate the levers of American power to “protect” Israel. Foolish liberal interventionists too often play the same game, and in that way foster the insane colonisation programme run by Israel in the West Bank.

  18. traintosiberia on July 1, 2014, 12:11 pm

    Kagan is on the left side of the spectrum and Michael Ledeen is on the right side of it. They mirror the parallel positions undertaken by the liberal interventionists and right wing warmongers of the war parties in academics,media,military,and the two political parties The established framework saves the neocons from figuring out how to advance the causes of Israel. Pinkwashing will work on some occasions. Fight against terrorism is to be applied on other occasions. The aims don’t diverge . It was well articulated by Michael Ledeen in 2002. ” One can only hope that we turn the region into a cauldron, and faster, please. If ever there were a region that richly deserved being cauldronized, it is the Middle East today.”

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