Several days ago, I discussed Joshua Muravchik’s piece in Commentary called the Neoconservaive Cabal (not yet available on the net, to my knowledge). My discussion at that time was confined to some shocking (but not surprising) factual errors in a New York Times piece about neoconservatives and their alleged connection to the philosopher Leo Strauss. Actually, Muravchik spends several pages documenting the “sheer sloppiness” of mainstream press coverage of the neocons, particularly the attempts to link neoconservatism with Strauss and Leon Trotsky. Some of the neocons may be good dialecticians, but not good enough to have synthesized Strauss (the lover of contemplation and of classical antiquity) and Trotsky (the lover of violent revolution).
Muravchik notes that the one thing Strauss and Trotsky have in common is that both were Jews. So too are many neoconservatives, a fact that gives rise to what may be the left’s primary quarrel with neoconservatives — the charge that they are rabid Zionists at least as interested in promoting Israel’s interests as those of the U.S.
Muravchik destroys this charge. He notes that the neocons as a group have been hardliners on the USSR, China, Nicaragua, Bosnia, and North Korea. “Is there any wonder,” he asks, “that they held a similar position toward Saddam Hussein’s Iraq? If Israel did not exist, which of them would have favored giving Hans Blix’s team still more time, or leaving the whole matter in the hands of the U.N.?”
The main evidence cited by the BBC and others of its ilk that neocons are doing Israel’s bidding is a report written by several neocons, including Richard Perle, in 1996 to incoming Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu advising him that the removal of Saddam Hussein from power should be an important Israeli objective. As Muravchik points out, however, Saddam’s ouster was, at that time, the declared policy of the Clinton administration. Thus, “it would make more sense to say that, in preparing [the] paper for Netanyahu, [the neocons] were trying to influence Israeli policy on behalf of American interests than the other way around. Indeed, most Israeli officials at that time viewed Iran, the sponsor of Hizballah and Hamas, as a more pressing threat to their country than Iraq.”
But one should never let the facts stand in the way of a good anti-semitic story. And so the BBC and others are treating us to a 21st century version of the Protocols of Zion, the “blood libel.”
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