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’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.