I’m in a bit of a funk today . . .

April 24, 2008

With all the Hillary crowing, though nothing of substance has changed about the situation, and with the news of the promotion of the collaborator Petraeus, so I think I’m gonna try to write a novel.

I do want to comment though on this talk that Justin gave in Maine about the Israel Lobby.  (There are two separate links as the talk was published in two parts).

I’ve always felt that Justin misses an important point about the Israel Lobby which is the flip side of a point missed by a lot of the left-liberal critics of Walt-Mearsheimer.  Indeed I’ve found that most of the liberal critics tend to generally agree with the characterization of the Lobby itself but bristle at the idea that it bears the degree of responsibility for the Iraq War implied by Walt and Mearsheimer.

In fairness I myself struggled for a long time to arrive at a satisfactory answer to this question, and here it is:  It is undoubtedly true that Bush wanted to invade Iraq from Day One for Freudian reasons if for no other.  But the role of the Israel Lobby was a crucial one, and what it can be directly blamed for may well be an even worse indictment than to blame it for the Iraq War alone.

In the first year after 9/11, there was much hope that Bush would be a responsible statesman and make 9/11 a cause for international cooperation against terrorism and not for a clash of civilizations.  This very much included his largely balanced public statements on Israel/Palestine for much of this time.  But nonetheless threaded through all of this was Bush and Company’s consistent determination to attack Iraq.

What happened in my judgement sometime in the summer or fall of 2002 is that the Israel Lobby came to Bush and said “We’ll give you all the political support you need to invade Iraq, but in exchange you have to reorient the rhetoric around your ‘war on terrorism’, to make it in fact a clash of civilizations and not merely a rallying cry for the world community.”

One important point in this connection is how the “war on terrorism”, an already problematic formulation, became simply the “war on terror” of ghastly Orwellian implications.  It was the Israelis who first introduced this noxious totalitarian nostrum in the spring of 2002 by speaking simply of “terror” instead of “terrorism”, and it got stuck in the American lexicon ever since.

So, in short, no, Israel did not by itself get us into Iraq, but what it actually did may well have been much worse.


8 Responses to “I’m in a bit of a funk today . . .”

  1. just wondering what examples of crucial israel-lobby-bound support from fall ’02 or thereabouts you would point to.

  2. teageegeepea Says:

    I really don’t think Bush has attempted to make this a clash of civilizations. The neo-conservative vision was precisely what Samuel Huntington’s book was written against. I discuss it here.

  3. brooklyncopperhead Says:

    Absolutely, Huntington was not in favor of a clash of civilizations just because he was warning of the possibility, just as Malthus was not in favor of the depletion of the world’s food supply just because he warned of the possibility. Important though the point may be, its not germain to what I was trying to say.

  4. petey Says:

    “It is undoubtedly true that Bush wanted to invade Iraq from Day One for Freudian reasons if for no other.”

    thank you thank you thank you. this was never about oil, which saddam would have been glad to sell. it was worse: it was the use of the US armed forces for personal ends, which is even more debased than using it to get american companies easier access to oil.

  5. teageegeepea Says:

    I don’t mean to say that Huntington was simply opposed to the Clash of Civilizations (though he does encourage us minding our own business), I’m saying the idea of “the Clash of Civilizations” was counter to the neo-conservative one of Francis Fukuyama’s “The End of History and the Last Man”. In Huntington’s view the issue is no longer one of democracy, capitalism, fascism or communism. It is more one of civilizational identity, which is damned hard to change. He acknowledges a lot of violence in the islamic world, but he doesn’t focus on their disenfranchisement, unemployment, poor education, anti-semitism or some jihadist plot to take over the world as neo-conservatives might. He simply sees intra-civilizational conflict as being common, especially in border regions or when one group forms a minority within another, and muslim violence (including that which is strictly between muslims, as in Darfur) as being above average in that area.

  6. AreYouASpartacist? Says:

    It amazes me that those who so often rail against the Israel lobby so casually ignore the power of the Saudi lobby on U.S. foreign policy. The Saudis had just as much to fear from Saddam as the Israelis; their role in provoking US involvement after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait is undeniable. Fifteen out of 19 of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi, but we give their reacctionary government a 20 billion dollar arms deal. Why is Israel a unique target of ire?

  7. Glenn Condell Says:

    ‘So, in short, no, Israel did not by itself get us into Iraq,’

    ‘this was never about oil, which saddam would have been glad to sell… more debased than using it to get american companies easier access to oil.’

    Anyone who attempts to lay the blame for Iraq at only one door is limited in their thinking. It wasn’t just Israel any more than it was just oil, or just corporate boondoggles, or just Republican electioneering strategy, or just Oedipus Bush, etc.

    The whole point is the unique conjunction of those interests in time and space. Each of them being more or less necessary but none of them being sufficient on their own. Bush wanted Iraq to put on his legacy mantelpiece next to the bust of Churchill, leaving Poppy to eat his dust. The MI/contractor complex wanted windfall profits and the energy sector wanted security of supply at self-set prices – Cheney was point man for both efforts. (What do you think his secret Task Force talked about?)

    They say the war has cost a cool trillion, with another couple to come. Given that Iraq may sit on 30 trillion of reserves of the most crucial resource for all nations’ futures, that doesn’t strike me (or rather wouldn’t strike Cheney and co) as excessive. Retrospect might admire, or at least understand the idea of history’s biggest military establishing enduring bases around the dwindling supply of the stuff every nation needs, but only some can have.

    Remember, ‘the American way of life is non-negotiable’ and ensuring that means making it impossible for the emerging Asian economies (or anyone else) from imposing their will in terms of demand for energy, no matter how economically powerful they are, no matter how much of your debt they own.

    It’s hardball, but what do you expect?

    Israel-firsters have wanted to destroy Iraq (as a first step in disabling local opposition to Eretz Israel) at least since Oded Yinon’s work for the IDF in the early 80s. It’s all there in Clean Break and PNAC. They had a lock on Congress and own the major media and so yes, they said to Bushco, we can give you cover for what you want, if you come to the party for us.

    A marriage made in hell, and we are all paying for the divorce. More so than either partner will.

  8. […] point home in a simple affecting way. For a good story is more compelling than any investigation (let alone any great theory; check this one out). At long last, the chickens are coming home to roost. Before long the networks will be doing […]

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