Saturday, February 07, 2009

Sullivan on necons

Every day I check out the Daily Dish blog of my friend Andrew Sullivan. When the Iraq war started in 2003 I told him in no uncertain terms that he was mistaken in offering fervent support to the enterprise. Gradually he has found his own way to a better understanding of this, and a number of other matters. Contrary to the usual impression people do learn.

But one must reckon on brickbats. For his pains Andrew is now undergoing the same penalty that I and other forthright commentators have suffered: the allegation that he is an anti-Semite. (The assertion is more damaging to him, a member of the media establishment, than it is to me, just a franc-tireur.)

Of course the position of Larry Summers, Alan Dershowitz and others of their persuasion is that any criticism of the state of Israel is prima facie evidence of anti-Semitism. If this is the case, Andrew and I are in the same boat as billions of other people. With our controlled media, of course, one would never know that Israel has, deservedly, become a pariah state in most of the world.

Perhaps I should not be too quick to name Andrew as a fellow thinker. At all events, here is his brief statement from a couple of days ago.

"I took neoconservatism seriously for a long time, because it offered an interesting critique of what's wrong with the Middle East, and seemed to have the only coherent strategic answer to the savagery of 9/11. I now realize that the answer - the permanent occupation of Iraq - was absurdly utopian and only made feasible by exploiting the psychic trauma of that dreadful day. The closer you examine it, the clearer it is that neoconservatism, in large part, is simply about enabling the most irredentist elements in Israel and sustaining a permanent war against anyone or any country who disagrees with the Israeli right. That's the conclusion I've been forced to these last few years. And to insist that America adopt exactly the same constant-war-as-survival that Israelis have been slowly forced into. Cheney saw America as Netanyahu sees Israel: a country built for permanent war and the "tough, mean, dirty, nasty business" of waging it (with a few war crimes to keep the enemy on their toes).

"But America is not Israel. America might support Israel, might have a special relationship with Israel. But America is not Israel. And once that distinction is made, much of the neoconservative ideology collapses."

Parenthetically, I would note that the neoconservatives do not accept that America is not Israel. They assume that the interests of the two countries are always in accord. This means in practice that American foreign policy is a prisoner of the Israel's. See my previous posts.



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