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Dumb and Dumber: When Neocons and Obama Liberals Agree

How neocons and Obama liberals have created catastrophe by consensus in the Middle East

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Egyptian protesters, seen through a flag, march toward Cairo’s landmark Tahrir square during a demonstration against President Mohammed Morsi on May 17, 2013. (Gianluigi Guercia/AFP/Getty Images)
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By contrast, Israelis were overwhelmingly pessimistic about the outcome of the Arab revolts and aghast at the celerity with which Washington dumped Mubarak. “The message to the Middle East is that it doesn’t pay to be an American ally,” a former Israeli intelligence chief told me in 2012. Although the prominent Soviet refusenik-turned-Israeli-politician Natan Sharansky believed in a universal desire for democracy, the vast majority of Israeli opinion thought the idea mad. As Joshua Muravchik wrote in 2011, the Arab Spring:

precipitated a sharp split between neoconservatives and hard-headed Israeli analysts who had long been their allies and friends. While neocons saw democratization as a balm to soothe the fevered brow of the Arab world, Israeli strategists (with the notable exception of Natan Sharansky) thought this utterly naive. Their message in essence was this: you do not know the Arabs as we do. Difficult as their governments are to deal with, they are more reasonable than their populations. Democratization of the Arab world would lead to radicalization, which would be a bane to you and us.

The Israelis are accustomed to living with long-term uncertainty; Americans want movies with happy endings. The alternative to the Bush Freedom Agenda or Obama’s proposed reconciliation with the Muslim world would have been ugly: the strategic equivalent of a controlled burn in a forest fire, as Daniel Pipes proposed—prolonging conflict, at frightful human cost, as the Reagan Administration did during the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s. It was one thing to entice prospective enemies into a war of attrition in the dark corners of the Cold War, though, and quite another to do so under the klieg lights. The strategy might have been correct on paper, but Americans are not typically in the market for pessimism.

The American public fell in love with the young democracy activists who floated across the surface of the Arab revolts like benzene bubbles on the Nile. More precisely, Americans fell in love with their own image, in the persons of hip young Egyptians who reminded them of Americans. Conservatives and liberals alike competed to lionize Google sales manager Wael Ghonim. Caroline Kennedy gave him the JFK Profiles in Courage Award in May 2011. He made Time magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people. The conservative Lebanese scholar Fouad Ajami kvelled in the Wall Street Journal:

No turbaned ayatollah had stepped forth to summon the crowd. This was not Iran in 1979. A young Google executive, Wael Ghonim, had energized this protest when it might have lost heart, when it could have succumbed to the belief that this regime and its leader were a big, immovable object. Mr. Ghonim was a man of the modern world. He was not driven by piety. The condition of his country—the abject poverty, the crony economy of plunder and corruption, the cruelties and slights handed out to Egyptians in all walks of life by a police state that the people had outgrown and despaired of—had given this young man and others like him their historical warrant.

Republican hawks advocated the furtherance of the Arab Spring by force of arms, starting with Libya. On Feb. 25, 2011, a month after Mubarak’s fall, Kristol’s Foreign Policy Initiative garnered 45 signatures of past officials and public intellectuals “urging President Obama, in conjunction with NATO allies, to take action to end the violence being propagated by the regime of Muammar al-Qaddafi.” Three weeks later a NATO force led by the United States intervened. By September, the Qaddafi regime was beaten, and Robert Kagan lauded President Obama in the Weekly Standard: “By intervening, with force, the NATO alliance not only saved the people of Libya and kept alive the momentum of the Arab Spring … the end of Qaddafi’s rule is a great accomplishment for the Obama administration and for the president personally. Furthermore, the president deserves credit because his decision was unpopular and politically risky.” A month later the victorious rebels put the cadavers of Qaddafi and his son on public view.

The national consensus behind the Arab Spring peaked with the Libyan venture. Elliot Abrams was in a sense right: To intimate that democracy might not apply to Arabs seems to violate America’s first principle, that people of all background have the same opportunity for success—in the United States. It seems un-American to think differently. Isn’t America a multi-ethnic melting pot where all religions and ethnicities have learned to get along? That is a fallacy of composition, to be sure: Americans are brands plucked out of the fire of failed cultures, the few who fled the tragic failings of their own culture to make a fresh start. The only tragic thing about America is the incapacity of Americans to comprehend the tragedy of other peoples. To pronounce judgment on other cultures as unfit for modernity, as Abrams wrote, seems “a mockery of American ideals.”

The neoconservatives triumphantly tracked the progress of what they imagined was Arab democracy. After Iraq’s March 2005 elections, Max Boot wrote:

In 2003, more than a month before the invasion of Iraq, I wrote in the Weekly Standard that the forthcoming fall of Baghdad “may turn out to be one of those hinge moments in history—events like the storming of the Bastille or the fall of the Berlin Wall—after which everything is different. If the occupation goes well (admittedly a big if), it may mark the moment when the powerful antibiotic known as democracy was introduced into the diseased environment of the Middle East, and began to transform the region for the better.” Well, who’s the simpleton now? Those who dreamed of spreading democracy to the Arabs or those who denied that it could ever happen?

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julis123 says:

The fact that the Israelis were the only ones who got it right should be remembered by all of the “friends” of Israel who think that they know what is best for Israel

Poupic says:

Strange as it seems, some are finally joining my view that Iraq should not have been occupied but divided by ethnic and religious divides. It was a monstrosity created only for the benefit of Britain. Iraq was a danger to it’s neighbors. Syria is the exact same but created for the benefit of France, not the people inside this creation, Syria. Mubarak was the only brake preventing The Muslim Brotherhood from taking over and Barack Hussein got rid of him. Hamas is a US declared terror group yet Erdogan empowered Turkish Islamic terror to help Hamas while the same Barack Hussein considers Turkey “a friend and ally while their PM is about to visit Gaza in support of Hamas. Minimizing the killing of 4 Americans including an Ambassador in Benghazi by the same Barack Hussein… Isn’t a picture fast appearing clear as crystal?

Jacob Arnon says:

Goldman is right about the futility of our trying to bring democracy to the Middle East, but his framework is all wrong: it’s not that individual Arabs don’t yearn for “freedom” but it’s the social structures (legal systems, etc.) are not there to support the creation of democratic institutions.

Worse whatever social structures do exist (religions, family…) are foes of democracy and individual rights.

This is why I thought that the project for democratizing Iraq was all wrong as was the support and encouragement the US gave to those who toppled Mubarak.

ginzy1 says:

Instead of the pollyannish term “Arab Spring”, in Israel one increasingly hears the term “Islamist spring” as being a more accurate description of the current (and for the foreseeable future) reality in the middle east. I strongly suggest using the term.

And a thought experiment for all those progressobabbellian peace processors out there (including the many Tabletarians who seem to regularly calibrate their views to conform to the dictates of that ultimate arbiter of what is “correct”, the NY Times editorial board). Seeing how Arabs of various types and stripes gleefully slaughter each other in Syria, and how with the Lebanese Hezbollah added to the mix; seeing how excising the heart of ones slain enemy and then proceeding to take a bite to the chants of Allahu Akabar from your compatriots; seeing how rape is regularly used as a weapon throughout much of the Arab world, do you really think that a “peace agreement” be it with Syrian (at the cost of the Golan) be it with Hamas & the PLO (at the cost of most of Judea & Samaria & payoffs for the rest) will really bring peace to the region?

And I might add for the real hard-line lefty extremists who think that Israel should unconditionally grant the Palestinians the so-called “right of return”, what do you think would happen to the Israeli Jews embedded within a large minority (or majority according to some estimates) of Palestinians?

Even the much vaunted land (Sinai) for peace agreement with Egypt is slowly but steadily disintegrating (not that it was much of a peace but at least Mubarak wasn’t shooting or firing rockets at Israel or preaching that Jews are the descendants of apes and pigs). Have you learned anything in the past two years?

hg

Jerusalem / Efrata

Habbgun says:

If economic catastrophe is behind the Arab Spring then the policy of propping up the former regimes would be unworkable anyway. Authoritarian regimes don’t produce wealth they only protect what is already in place. The idea that we needed to democratize the ME became more popular because after 9/11 we had 3 options. We could give in, fight a total war or try to reform the region. The issues of the ME came to us and still do in the form of terrorism. Reform seemed the most humane way to go and we shouldn’t be ashamed we tried it.

We now have internal energy sources which can shield us from the ME and build our economy. This is good for the ME because it will force them to build real economies if they can. We forget that our democracy is a check and balance against the power of government. When we try to export it as a solution against dictators we fail because we are not remembering that it is a flawed system in and of itself. The solution is individual rights and that comes hard. If we choose the dictators always when do we make any advancement especially when the dictators can’t produce enough for their countries to live on?

Boychic says:

Excellent article. It seems to validate the opinion of the eminent Bernard Lewis, an authority on the middle east, that the Arab world, unless it embraces modern reforms, will slip back to its sixth century roots and eventually sink into irrelevancy.

RestrainedRealpolitik says:

There are such things as “growing pains” in the development of civilizations and societies. America could accomplish more in the way of peace and goodwill with humanitarian and economic aid instead of misguided military aid and meddling. There are and always will be unintended consequences from short-term interventions which are military, quasi-military, espionage and bribery. What have we done to build long-term goodwill with the PEOPLES of the Middle East? What have we done to deflect or avoid the wrath of the PEOPLES of the Middle East? What can we do to make it likely that, one day, the PEOPLES of the Middle East will find it difficult or impossible to blame America for the troubles of the Middle East?

President Obama did not “get rid of” Mubarak. The US has nothing to gain by propping up undemocratic authoritarian leaders against the will of the peoples of their countries. The US can only lose blood and treasure and create long-term hostility by doing so. The ridiculous anti-American and undemocratic policies of imposing and supporting dictators goes against everything our country should stand for. AndlLet us look at how that policy has served us so far.

In Vietnam, the US propped up corrupt authoritarian South Vietnamese leaders (several in succession) and only managed to kill about 50,000 Americans and untold numbers of Vietnamese, waste much treasure, and prolong instability in Southeast Asia.

In Iran, the US helped overthrow Mossadegh and then got a US puppet dictator for 26 years (1953-1979). It has now been MORE than 26 years that the US has had a hostile Iran. Our meddling encouraged and perhaps even created the conditions for the theocratic dictatorship in Iran.

In Iraq, the US supported a puppet dictator, Saddam Hussein, for a time. He launched a war against our self-created enemy Iran. He also kept one foot on the neck of the Shiite crazies and one foot on the neck of the Sunni crazies. Our meddling may yet have encouraged and perhaps even created the conditions for a theocratic dictatorship in Iraq. And, the US lost 5,000+ dead, countless wounded and traumatized, and wasted $3 Trillion.

How about Afghanistan? The USSR was attempting to secularize and modernize Afghanistan. Had the USSR succeeded, there might be more unity and less anti-American sentiment in Afghanistan. The US meddled to give the USSR its own “Vietnam” and that resulted in 9-11, a decade-long war and the US pouring more money into Afghanistan that that country is worth.

Maybe it is time to rethink the meddling and the short-term intervention in favor of long-term interests.

Beatrix17 says:

American’s system allows us to remain both free and powerful. The Mideast, after years of colonial rule is anxious to return to the time of its greatest power, which was the Middle Ages. Mideasterners are not going to adopt the democratic principals that they associate with European hegemony. Even Turkey’s freedom to vote allows the populace to maintain increasingly Islamist rule.

Mideastern rulers keep alive the memory of colonial rule by ascribing colonial aspirations to Israel. And Mideastern propagandists keep alive leftist hatred of Israel by ascribing to Israel all the crimes (racism, Apartheid) hated by the left in the 20th century.

It would be interesting to know how Mr. Goldman thinks the US might be “cultivating democracy at home” today apart from the question of our ability to engage in Machiavellian realpolitik abroad. As Daniel Pipes notes in the quote Goldman references, even despots can fill potholes and improve schools — but supposedly exceptional Americans are having serious difficulty finding the economic, political, and cultural resources to cope with or merely accept these basic domestic responsibilities. This points to foundational problems that make Goldman’s concerns about America’s ability to wield power effectively almost beside the point.

In his recent writings, Mr. Goldman reveals not only a concern about the naivete of US foreign policy and its ruling elite but also the morbid obsession with killing and death in the popular culture, especially among young people. In fact, in the Asia Times today Goldman describes the post-9/11 obsession with the horror genre as part of a “madness” we share with Syrians who are killing and literally cannibalizing each other. Goldman even claims the US “does not have and cannot train soldiers capable of intervening in the Syrian civil war.” This is because the kind of deliberate cruelty and horror Goldman sees in Syria would, in his estimate, overwhelm and corrupt not only our military but presumably the rest of us as well.

Evidently Goldman thinks Afghanistan, Iraq, and all prior theaters of conflict have been much tamer than Syria (who is being naive now?), and he seems unaware of how tightly connected are the Pentagon, the film and video game industry, and the culture of civilian and military “players.”

The US is far from being a bastion of the values Goldman idealizes; it is too naive abroad and too nihilistic at home. The two are interrelated, but the latter is probably the more consequential. I hope he continues to give it more attention.

CiporaJuliannaKohn says:

Let’s make it very clear: for the past four years, Obama has been the president. He is Commander-in-Chief and he is the decider.
Furthermore, it must be emphasized that Obama has surrounded himself with very young, mediocre and unqualified people. He has done so because he is incapable of dealing with smart people who might have different views from his own. His ego will not tolerate it. Hence, many experienced people were purged from the administration and the military, as well as from the CIA.
Obama has strong dictatorial tendencies. The image of him coming in front of international cameras and ordering a thirty year US ally to give up power, was a unique moment not to be forgotten. Yet, just a few months before, Obama flattered Mubarak by calling him a councilor, a close ally and friend, right there in the White House. Hence, already then one saw Obama’s duplicitousness and willingness to abandon allies without a second thought.
Obama does not care about democracy. Obama cares, if at all, about collective rights. Above all, Obama cares about Obama.
He agreed to the Lybian war because H. Clinton, S. Powers and S. Rice wanted to test the new UN invented “responsibility to protect.” Even more importantly, the Arab League wanted to get rid of the mercurial Qaddafi. It must be stated emphatically that Obama acted against the advice of the Secretary of Defence, the National Security Advisor, and the entire military establishment. Nor did Obama consult members of Congress either.
The Lybian war was not only illegal, but more importantly, it had catastrophic consequences. Qaddafi was killed, but no provisions were made to replace him with a strong central government. Lybia, which had supplied at least a quarter of Al Qaeda men in the war in Iraq, was left to its own devises and is now awash with Islamic terrorists. The huge stockpile of weapons were left behind to be looted by jihadists who then started wars in Mali and flooded the Sinai and subsequently Syria.
The Russians were livid that the UNSCR which called for a no-fly zone over Benghazi to protect the civilian population, was turned into an operation for regime change. As a result, no diplomatic initiatives have been successful to solve the Syrian quagmire.
Syria is Obama’s watershed moment. Assad is Iran’s closest ally. Iran is the premier terror state in the world, exporting terror worldwide, while building nuclear weapons. Obama has stated numerous times that Iran will not be allowed to have nuclear weapons. Obama has also stated that the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime would be a “red line.” But Obama is all talk and no action.
Had Obama taken out the terror regime of Iran, Syria would be at most a local problem. But Obama, who is not squeamish about killing jihadists, even if he refuses to admit to their existence, is incapable to make decisions which have large consequences. Obama does not like even the idea of possibly losing. In other words, Obama is not a risk taker.
Obama cares only about his legacy and his domestic agenda. Obama considers the US to be too big and too powerful, an imperial colonial state whose power must be curbed. Obama is an internationalist and a tiers mondist. He intervened in Lybia and in Egypt because he saw a chance to allow the repressed Muslim Brotherhood to take power, and he saw the Muslim Brotherhood as the voice of the masses. Obama, like so many cultural Marxists before him, does not care about individual freedoms, but about collective rights of the masses. If his agenda undermines the United States and its allies, he will not lose any sleep over the matter.
Obama cannot be compared to any president before him. Whatever any president’s flaws or mistakes, they all cared about democracy, individual rights and American exceptionalism. Obama is a different man, forged in a different milieu. For him, democracy must be tolerated but barely.

Oddstar7 says:

Social structures are the product of the people who live in them. It may very well be that individual Arabs yearn for freedom, but that’s not the issue. The question is, do individual Arabs yearn for freedom for others, even if those others will use that freedom to do things that they may not like. For example, one of the most basic freedoms is the freedom to choose one’s own religious faith, if any. Muslim Egyptians may have chafed under Mubarak’s repression, and therefore want freedom for themselves, but do they want freedom for other Egyptian Muslims to convert to other religions? Likewise, in Syria, do the Sunni Muslims who are rebelling against the Alawite-dominated state want every Sunni Muslim to have the right to leave Islam for some other religion, if they so choose? Those questions, frankly, all but answer themselves. Remember, freedom and democracy depend not on people wanting freedom for themselves, but freedom for others, or at least understanding that their own freedom depends on the freedom of others.

IrateScientist says:

Allow me to compliment you on a particularly incisive analysis.

BrennusBains says:

To paraphrase Lenin, democracy is the best shell for imperialism.

Both liberals and neocons share the same vision of U.S. imperialism in the world.

They have been gaming both major parties for decades.

A strategy that flows from the oil industry’s own infiltration of U.S. political processes.

And Israel’s ongoing manipulation of U.S. politics to server their own interests.

I’m positive that if Iran were to obliterate Israel, and Israel countered and obliterated Iran……………… The news cycle in the U.S. would not last longer than 2 weeks.

Heartland Americans who provide the infantry to fight wars are tapped out.

The middle east be damned.

Kate HA says:

Thank you for such clarity. I have studied your president in some detail. It is not fantastical to reference the film ‘The Manchurian Candidate’. Where is the evidence of Obama’s much-vaunted academic and intellectual achievement? I can find no ‘learned papers’ in relevant academic journals. I see a man obsessed with power and ego mania. A man whose early tutoring was in a faith far removed from the just principles of our Judaeo-Christian foundations. A man of mixed race who self-identifies with only one side of that ‘mix’ – the side most under-educated, prone to self-inflicted violence and most vulnerable to ‘entitlement’ rabble-rousing.

A little education is a dangerous thing. Whilst agreeing that the relativist Obama “does not care about individual freedoms”, I would aver he only preaches “collective rights of the masses” inasmuch as such ideology grants him personal power and privilege. So it was with Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot and dictators throughout history.

Nico Bester says:

Israel remains the only bastion of sanity, democracy and rule of law in a bad neighbourhood. No nation is better qualified to assess the risks of Middle Eastern instability than Israel. The trouble with Western politicians is that they all think they know better, but it is Israel which is closest to the consequences of Western interference. We must learn to make common cause with Israel.
See http://www.amazon.com/dp/b00c61zeo8

Well put, but the problem that comes up again and again with Mr. Goldman’s writings is that he wants to treat “Arabs” collectively, at least at the national level, picking and choosing those he deems incompatible with western modernity and who therefore must be cordoned off until they fade away or destroy themselves. He seems to imagine western civilization as a lifeboat where it’s become necessary to throw some people overboard and chop grasping hands off the lifeboats. He wants to acknowledge both the spiritual values of the west and promote their defense them with a harsh Machiavellian realpolitik that is their utter antithesis. I don’t think he’s ever adequately addressed the tragedy of doing that — he tends to focus on necessity and suggests it is a game that can be played to a simple “last man standing is the winner” type of victory.

Mark Mealey says:

This is unfair to Goldman. He knows there is at least one fountain for liberty, or one lifeboat. Perhaps there are more, perhaps not. Goldman does not deny Muslim culture entrance into western civilization, the lifeboat, when he argues that Muslim culture has demonstrably decided not to enter it. What is more, Ignorance of the existence of other lifeboats is not an intellectual crime. For example, how could he know whether Islam will find a lifeboat that is still Islam, when no one in the public and political life of Islam has found it yet? if they do not know of its existence, how can he know?

honeymoonie says:

Nice try,Davey,but you’re wrong:neo-conservatism is most certainly a Jewish movement;to be more precise,a Jewish-American movement.Almost every neo-con you cite in your article is Jewish.And the founding father of neo-conservatism is Billy Kristol’s daddy Irving Kristol.And the neo-cons’ godfather is mass-murdering bolshevik Lev Davidovich Bronstein.Again,nice try,trying to blame Americans for a Jewish-American revolutionary movement of war,violence,bloodletting,torture,tribalism,creative destruction,false intelligence used to invade and occupy countries,ethnic favoritism among other neo-con dirty tricks.

honeymoonie says:

The best common cause for America in the Middle East is to stop its unconditional support and favoritism towards your beloved Israel.If you have such love and affection for your beloved Israel,then encourage them to make common cause with themselves and stop taking advantage of America.

Oddstar7 says:

Aren’t you contradicting yourself when you say that he “treat[s] ‘Arabs’ collectively” and “pick[s] and choos[es] those he deems incompatible with western modernity”? For that matter, Goldman seems to see most Western societies as incompatible with modernity; he consistently argues that most Western countries have, for all intents and purposes, grown tired of life and are now going extinct. Furthermore, I would submit that he sees modernity not as the lifeboat, but as the ocean. Religion, for Goldman, is the boat. But not every religion is seaworthy in the modern world. As for having to defend liberty and civilization with illiberal, barbaric means, Goldman seems quite alive to the tragedy of it. He discusses it at length in one of his books, It’s Not the End of the World, It’s Just the End of You.

I do not understand the argument. Let me start by agreeing that whoever expected a happy ending, whether in the far right, far left, or far center, was wrong.

That said, the Obama administration’s actions were varied and adapted to the different circumstances. In Tunisia, support democracy quietly. In Egypt, pressure the military to avoid violence against civilians. In Libya, armed intervention. In Syria, diplomacy without much hope it will work. In Bahrain, continued support for the repressive government.

Now one may point out that none of the other countries turned out like worst-case Syria to support the administration. Or you may say that the US should have done something different in each case, specially Syria, though no one seems to know what. Or you may criticize the details of the conduct in Libya or Bahrain. Or that the US should have invaded Syria and left Libya alone, put pressure on Bahrain but not on Mubarak. Or perhaps that the president should have simply washed his hands.

I am not sure there is much in favor of these possibilities, but an argument is possible. What you cannot do is point to a range of completely different decisions as an example of rigid decision making driven by ideological consensus. It is simply untenable.

I’ve read his online columns for a long time and am stalled about halfway through the books. I have not hit anything I would consider an ethically oriented meditation on the tragedy and challenge of “defend[ing] liberty and civilization with illiberal, barbaric means.” In fact he now seems to think we cannot do this ourselves without becoming more illiberal and barbaric. (See his latest Spengler column in Asia Times, where he considers a need for a “foreign legion” of mercenaries.)

I was being unclear and you’re right it does sound contradictory. I should have said something like “Goldman generalizes about Arabs at the national level, picking and choosing those he deems incompatible with western modernity.” This is problematic for several reasons, including his own admission of the mistake of treating countries like relatively stable, unified, modern European nation-states when their boundaries and political systems were imposed by foreign powers with the intent of preventing the development of a unified national culture along the tribal and religious lines.

I don’t think it’s accurate to say Goldman sees “most Western societies as incompatible with [western] modernity.” You’re assuming compatibility with modernity” implies sustainability or survivability as well, but that is not so, specifically in the European cases you mention, or at least in Goldman’s view of them. Those he believes have lost the will to live have not done so because they are incompatible with modernity. They are compatible with it — after all, they created it. They just can’t sustain themselves in it for long without religion.

Modernity is most definitely not the ocean. The ocean is the ocean — raw indifferent nature whose existence will swallow all ships and outlast all life. Human societies are boats upon the ocean, but they requires people to navigate, row, steer, and plug leaks. Religion provides the impulse to do these things, especially when all hope seems lost to the people in a boat. Modernity is the biggest boat, a luxury ship you can live on and forget all about the ocean, the steering, etc. No more rowing — you’re a passenger now, and even the crew thinks that way. They turn on the autopilot, watch the radar — or not. There are icebergs ahead. To prevent disaster, the religious impulse is needed. During disaster, it’s needed. It is ultimately what is driving every boat and the only thing left, if anything is, when each ship and person eventually goes under the waves.

I should stress this is my view of what Goldman’s view is. I think it’s a reasonable but simple model that provides some good insights but doesn’t go very far. It is an extraordinarily limited, even irreligious view of religion. It makes Goldman come across as being religious in the Corleone sense. (I’m thinking of the famous Godfather scene where all the assassinations are taking place during a baptism and Michael is renouncing the devil.) This is highly problematic, maybe particularly from a Christian perspective. If damning things need to be done so the family can live and flourish, they are still damning. I have not seen Goldman approach that. He seems to do what most people do, especially religious conservatives: they try to deny or justify the immorality, and this is what really poisons people, calling evil not just necessary but good. They get a taste for it then and lose all restraint.

Kavanna says:

Thanks, Mr. Spengler, for saying something that was obvious to many of us since 2003, that Israelis thought the whole “freedom agenda” daft. How the “Israel lobby”
was supposed to be behind was always a mystery to me. Total disconnect with every Israeli I know. And of course, the Obama “reboot” has been a bust as well.

It may be that the “freedom agenda” might work in a generation — there are certainly forces in the Middle East that are in tune with it. But they’re not a majority and not in the driver’s seat, sad to say.

Mitchell says:

American Jews have thrived in a political culture that has embraced a multi-ethnic concept of nationality, but Goldman writes — in words eerily reminiscent of Pat Buchanan and David Duke — “Our democracy is the product of a unique set of precedents… brought here by radical Protestants, the traditions of Anglo-Saxon democracy, and the far-reaching wisdom of our founders.” My familiarity with Goldman’s other work is highly limited — and it may be far more nuanced than this article — but he appears to be playing with fire here. What makes him think that “in cultivating our democracy at home while acting elsewhere in tough-minded pursuit of our security interests,” Israel won’t get thrown overboard as yet another primitive relic of Semitic theocratic chauvinism? In fact, political Zionism’s contention of Jewishness as a nationality (and of the need for an ethnosupremacist “Jewish State”) puts it on a collision course with the American notion of multi-ethnic nationality, and with Jewishness (in that context) as a religion and an ethnicity. It risks inflaming an already-incipient backlash against American Jews, coming from both left and right, and managing to bring together (however otherwise improbably) the heirs of both Torquemada and Hadrian in a grand populist coalition, an all-too-familiar (national) socialism of fools. Ironically, by embracing the religious right, the neocons — whom Goldman criticizes as too “American” — have come almost (but not quite) as close as Goldman (along with his ideological kinsmen Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman) to baiting the same beast. Indeed, the road to Jewish identity (even as ethnicity) has always led through Jerusalem, but not necessarily via Herzl’s 19th Century notion of an ethnically-based, European-style nation-state. As the West goes broke, when the break with Israel comes, rest assured, Israel will make its peace with Islam (one that held for over a millennium before 1948), maybe even opting for a truly multi-ethnic state (and jump-starting the Middle East economy in the bargain). Meanwhile, where will the heirs of Spinoza (and even Paul Goodman or Allen Ginsberg) make their home? Where will secular American Jews go when the other shoe drops — when it becomes all-too-obvious that the Israelis aren’t merely waiting around for the Second Coming so that they can convert to Christianity? Judea and Samaria? Thanks a lot — but no thanks (at least not while I can help it be otherwise)!

Unlike California, Israel is not part of “the West.” Israel may have to adjust to life in its neighborhood, and when it comes to living among unfamiliar neighbors, perhaps it can start learning the right lessons from the American experience, instead of trying so hard to teach Americans the wrong ones. As a venerable American folkie said in an old song (inserted amongst lines of our Scripture), “I swear it’s not too late.” As I did in Aleppo four years ago, on the way to Jerusalem, before the mosque was destroyed, I still hope and pray for such a happy ending. Am I a fool, or are the fools those whose hopes are otherwise?

Mitchell says:

Amen!!!

Mitchell says:

American Jews have thrived in a political culture that has embraced a multi-ethnic concept of nationality, but Goldman writes — in words eerily reminiscent of Pat Buchanan and David Duke — “Our democracy is the product of a unique set of precedents… brought here by radical Protestants, the traditions of Anglo-Saxon democracy, and the far-reaching wisdom of our founders.” Oy!

My familiarity with Goldman’s other work is highly limited — and it may be far more nuanced than this article — but he appears to be playing with fire here. What makes him think that “in cultivating our democracy at home while acting elsewhere in tough-minded pursuit of our security interests,” Israel won’t get thrown overboard by the US (on Christian and humanist grounds) as yet another primitive relic of Semitic theocratic chauvinism?

In fact, political Zionism’s contention of Jewishness as a nationality (and of the need for an ethnosupremacist “Jewish State”) puts it on a collision course with the American notion of multi-ethnic nationality, and with Jewishness (in that context) as a religion and an ethnicity. It risks inflaming an already-incipient backlash against American Jews, coming from both left and right, and managing to bring together (however otherwise improbably) the heirs of both Torquemada and Hadrian in a grand populist coalition, an all-too-familiar (national) socialism of fools.

Ironically, by embracing the religious right, the neocons — whom Goldman criticizes as too “American” — have come almost (but not quite) as close as Goldman (along with his ideological kinsmen Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman) to baiting the same beast. Indeed, the road to Jewish identity (even in Diaspora, as ethnicity) has always led through Jerusalem, but not necessarily via Herzl’s 19th Century notion of an ethnically-based, European-style nation-state.

As the West goes broke, when it (inevitably) breaks with Israel, rest assured, Israel will make its peace with Islam (a peace that held for over a millennium before 1948), maybe even opting for a truly multi-ethnic state (and jump-starting the Middle East economy in the bargain). Meanwhile, where will the heirs of Spinoza (and even Paul Goodman or Allen Ginsberg) make their home? Where will secular American Jews go when the other shoe drops — when it becomes all-too-obvious that the Israelis aren’t merely waiting around for the Second Coming so that they can convert to Christianity? Judea and Samaria? Thanks a lot — but no thanks (at least not while I can help it be otherwise)!

Unlike California, Israel is not part of “the West.” Israel may have to adjust to life in its neighborhood, and when it comes to living among unfamiliar neighbors, perhaps it can start learning the right lessons from the American experience, instead of trying so hard to teach Americans the wrong ones. As a venerable American folkie said in an old song (inserted amongst lines of our Scripture), “I swear it’s not too late.” As I did in Aleppo four years ago, on the way to Jerusalem, before the mosque was destroyed, I still hope and pray for such a happy ending. Am I a fool, or are the fools those whose hopes are otherwise?

I don’t think you understood my point, and you’re being careless to the point of inaccuracy with Goldman’s views. Even his generalizations don’t extend to “Muslim culture,” as if there is just one. He thinks no Muslim *state* at present or in the foreseeable future can function at a level remotely comparable to western countries — or eastern ones for that matter. He also seems to think no other conceivable model for statehood stands a chance of coming into being or surviving if one is imposed. Maybe some as yet unknown “answer” will emerge, but Goldman and history make a strong case. I think he’s probably right, but I see something wrong with stopping at the recognition that some countries are going to be slaughterhouses of innocents and we just have to stay out and contain them. That may be a necessary calculation of political morality, but people who also adhere to a spiritual morality can’t stop there or they will have only a political morality. Goldman knows the political depends on the spiritual, and he wants to have both, but here is the dilemma coming to a crisis for him.

Habbgun says:

Spiritual morality? I know of no spiritual morality that says you to have work with violent nations and cultures against your own safety and security. You are contradicting yourself by saying that we are wrong to believe Moslems can’t create peaceful and successful societies but if they don’t we must throw ourselves into the fire with them. You are advocating military action and that is inherently political. If you are not advocating military action you are then isolationist. No way to contain violence by going tsk-tsk even if that tsk-tsk is at the United Nations.

Habbgun says:

America is multi-ethnic yes but based on shared values, individual rights as the bedrock of society and a recognized Constitution with balance of powers and federalism. Therefore simply to say can’t we all get along and if not it is because of some sort of racist belief is (probably purposefully) missing the point.

This idea of a ethnosupremacist Jewish state is a product of yours (and a lot of euro-socialist imaginations). Most states in the world have an ethnic and religious basis to them along with actual political boundaries. Of course the Islamic nations do. Arabs, Persians, Kurds, Indonesians and so forth. Saudi Arabia is as ethnosupremacist as they come. Asian nations such as Japan, China, Vietnam, Korea, etc….etc….. all have shared cultures, racial characteristics and religious beliefs. Even European nations such as England, France and Germany had these characteristics (and they fought over them). Israel exists so that Jews have the same opportunities to nationhood as others. If anything it is a long overdue equality and not your ethnosupremacist nonsense.

And you do realize that if America decays and Europe gets on top again all this sensitivity and anti-imperialism will go out the window? You are actually on the side of the people who were the imperialists, set up the ghettos and started a few world wars.

I made no such prescriptions. “Military action” can be a lot of things short of invasions and occupations, but not using military assets as your primary or exclusive tool for maintaining peace is hardly “isolationism.” It could include effective diplomacy.

I did not say Muslims can’t create peaceful and successful societies. I said Goldman’s view is that Muslim states in the mideast have no practical prospects for greater freedom, prosperity or stability, and I think he is probably right.

Here is what is meant by a spiritual versus a political morality: Politically, if you’re shot at, you must shoot back to defend yourself and others. Spiritually, it’s a near universal recognition that it’s worse to do evil than have it done to you. These are two truths in conflict.

What Goldman is advocating for these days is some kind of enforced isolation imposed on hopelessly self-destructive states. If it’s a matter of self-defense, that makes sense. But when we’re talking about rebels and government troops slaughtering civilians, including children, an ethic of reciprocity makes us think that if we were in the position of those victims, we would not want to be abandoned by the world. That is not an argument for “military action,” it is simply a recognition that doing nothing for victims cuts at the heart of the values we find most civilized and worth protecting. There’s not an easy solution to the dilemma, and maybe there is no solution. Goldman’s solution is to refuse reciprocity to save that ethic for ourselves; to turn away from the bodies of murdered children so we can protect and cherish our own. It sounds like a gain the world / lose your soul type of proposal.

Habbgun says:

I would be a little more impressed if the usual suspects were more upset about the shooting of protestors in Iran but that didn’t happen. They had a different calculus for those victims as opposed to Syrian and I don’t know why. It is never a question about turning your backs on victims, it is simply why some and not others and if there is violence you are either stopping it or you are not. Effective diplomacy is a meaningless phrase (it is only effective if it achieves the objective but obviously when the shooting starts or continues it has by definition already failed, It is not a method it is a description of an outcome). What Goldman and others are saying is that the cultural differences are huge (it is very hard to imagine non-Islamic American suicide bombers or kamikazes for that matter yet in the Islamic world they are common and Japan could readily recruit suicide warriors) and that means there is no ready prescription and we can’t reorder the world to our liking. We are outsiders to their way of thinking.

You are not offering a form of morality (spiritual or otherwise). You want something that makes you feel good and that seems to be the underlying denominator. If you felt that enough had been done and someone else didn’t how would you resolve the question? If a refugee stated that what you are doing is a mere band-aid and demanded American airstrikes what would you do? If the airstrikes didn’t stop the violence and another refugee demanded ground troops what would you do? Your definition of isolation is that we are ignoring victims. Others that we have drawn a line against being sucked in.

Not everyone believed in the “Arab Spring” as a positive development. I thought (and wrote many letters to the press) that it most likely would follow the Iran model. There the original revolt led by liberals,such as Bani Sadr and Bachtiar, were quickly overthrown by Khomeini and the hateful Islamists. That has happened as the hateful Muslim Brotherhood has taken control of Egypt. Our President and the former Sec. of State are clueless on how hateful the Muslem brotherhood is of America.

No I’m not upset about anything, and I’m not looking for some kind of goodfeeliness. You’re correct I’m not offering anything but an observation of a significant ethical dilemma in Goldman’s thinking — is that a problem? I’m not particularly concerned with pointless killing of civilians in Syria because they are Syrian — it’s simply that they are people undergoing horrors that Goldman has been writing about, particularly in his Asia Times piece that is a kind of counterpart to this article here.

My own views would likely be called “isolationist” by those who favor US foreign policy since the Powell doctrine was scrapped with the man’s own complicity and religious conservatives decided invading Iraq over diddlysquat satisfied the ethical requirements of a just war. I understand and agree with the view that societies and governments cannot be remade along European or American models when they are nothing alike. (Even if they were alike, I do not see how democratic revolts orchestrated by foreign powers would be anything like the French, English, or American revolutions. People have to do these things for themselves.) But just because that is so, and just because some societies may be hell bent on destroying themselves and anyone else they can lash out at, I don’t see how that obligates us to restrict our moral concern to being glad we are not them.

My understanding of an ethic of reciprocity (to say nothing of the idea that human life and bodies have the highest value and reflect the divine image) is that we ought to feel empathy for and responsibility to the victims of violence and especially injustice. I don’t spend much time thinking about that, and I don’t follow world affairs very much, but when my attention is directed to terrible things taking place and then I hear the idea offered that we just have to turn our backs so we can protect ourselves and our values, my values object. As a matter of foreign policy, I definitely do not want the US military invading any new countries, but that does not mean as a nation we can have nothing else to say or do about criminal, evil acts. Since this is a religious and not a foreign policy publication, I should think it’s not too startling to entertain this line of thinking — one that never shows up in Goldman’s writing.

Habbgun says:

Fair enough but its fairer to simply question David Goldman about what he is trying to accomplish. If he is looking for a moral solution as opposed to political solutions than he would have a different set of ideas for the first as opposed to if he were primarily concerned with the latter. Hopefully he’ll clarify.

As for turning our backs, we never really do. We have asylum in place and for many that is the best option. It upset me when the Boston bombers abused asylum since there are no shortage of people who really need it and now may not get it. Of course there are always people skilled at gaming bureaucracies so no surprise there. Doing right on an individual level and letting the world be the world is probably always the best solution but hardest to believe when the results are visibly small at least to us. Faith is hard.

davidpgoldman says:

http://www.firstthings.com/article/2010/05/the-morality-of-self-interest

I refer you to the linked essay.
As for adjusting to life in the neighborhood: You call that a life? What do you want to adjust to? Israel’s two big Arab neighbors are in chaos.

davidpgoldman says:

Dan, I argued in the piece you cited that our morbid fascination with horror jumped after 9/11. The question I raised was: why are we more horrified by the wars of the last 10 years than we were, say, by World War II? And I suggested that the answer lay in the dilution of our own identity. The essay is here:

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/MID-02-200513.html

When I talk about cultivating our democracy at home, I am thinking about our spiritual and cultural condition as well as our political institutions.

davidpgoldman says:

It’s an old canard to bring up the youthful Trotskyite affiliation of some of the neocons to disparage their views. As for the Jewish side: it’s true that Irving Kristol coined the term, but your definition would suprise Michael Novak, George Weigel and a lot of Christian neo-conservatives.

Beatrix17 says:

You’ve been thoughtfully trying to express your moral concerns and how you differ with Mr. Goldman, and I’ve been giving you pluses because you have well thought out, intelligent statements, and you’re being ignored. But now, I have to say, “wait a minute.” You admit you’re neither interested in nor well read on today’s issues, mainly in the Mideast, and Mr. Goldman is, but you are critical of him because you don’t feel he’s fully representing your moral perspective. “Hey, if I had been at bat, I could have hit a home run.”

By now, everyone should know that responding to a 21st century terror act with two, huge 20th century wars was overkill. And that Hussein didn’t have WMD. He was a barbaric dictator who attacked Kuwait, fought a war with us, had two slime ball sons whose hobby was raping and killing woman. But he didn’t have WMD. And the world is a better place because he and his sons are gone. (Thank you Neocoms).

That said, we should have found a way to keep a footprint in the country to prevent more wars We are retaining a footprint in Afghanistan, but we’re so weak it may not make a difference. (By the way when we supported Afghans against the Soviets, we supported Osama ben Ladin’s side).

America is different. Some of our leaders have made mistakes, which I’ve pointed out. (I’ve been here a long time and I’ve lived through most of their mistakes). But we have more to offer than most countries, and if any area needs our attention today, it’s the Mideast. Remember, if it’s not us, it will probably be China.

CiporaJuliannaKohn says:

Kate,
He is not exactly my president.
I have myself searched the internet for any publication by Obama, but have found none. I have not found a single law article, even though he taught at the University of Chicago, known for its demands and rigors. He only published an article on a nuclear free world in the student newspaper while at the Columbia University. A nuclear free world was advocated by people who were Marxists. The idea was implanted by the Soviets. Catherine Ashton was also involved in the same project and there was a debate about her suitability to hold her present position on account of her past activities since she now has access to very highly classified secrets.
Cultural Marxists, as I call them, are defined by their strong belief that all nations are equal and all cultures are equal. They confuse the notion of personal equality under the law with equality among nations. Hence, they are unable to name enemies as such since they think that the US and its allies are as guilty of crimes as are other nations, such as the USSR or Muslim states. They therefore believe, for example, that the Cuban missile crisis was the fault of the US since there were nuclear missiles in Turkey. By the same token, they believe that Muslims when they carry out terror attacks are simply retaliating against Western imperialism.
Such people lack the moral clarity to understand that while the West is not perfect, the other side is truly evil and poses a mortal danger to the entire world. Simply put, they cannot differentiate between a functioning democracy and totalitarian regimes.
Thank you for your post.

CiporaJuliannaKohn says:

Thank you very much for your post.

Thanks. I didn’t mean to suggest I don’t care about world affairs or know very little about them. I am sure I know less than Mr. Goldman, which is partly why I read him, but mainly I disregard most news and commentary for the waste of time it generally is for the average person. Even if you are confident a source and its sources are credible, if it’s not analysis based in a long, historically or anthropologically informed view, it’s likely superficial. If it does take that broader, longer view it may be serious but it will also be seriously ideological, or philosophical if you prefer. It’s on that level that I think Mr. Goldman’s writing engages the most people; at least it does for me. My reaction is philosophical and not about a particular issue, country, or policy area.

I don’t know what standard you would use to determine whether I am competent to comment on middle eastern issues, but it is not really relevant for the kind of points I was making, which were not really about middle eastern issues per se. It has more to do with the logic of Mr. Goldman’s larger argument and perhaps the idea of morality and religious faith. That at least is what I was trying to say.

If Judaism and Christianity at their core have an ethic of reciprocity and a tendency to align “the Other” with God and the living human body in its freedom and dignity as God’s image, one cannot ultimately draw lines about where obligation to the Other ends, so there is bound to be a collision of religious morality with pragmatic politics — a collision that is central and thematic in Jewish and Christian scriptures, teachings, the development of traditions, and so on. How does Mr. Goldman himself deal with this collision, and how does he suggest others should? So far I have only understood him to say uphold the religious values and avoid their collision with pragmatic politics by not applying them as they always have been and seem to want to be applied — in openness toward the Other who is most difficult to embrace. It need not be a question of military intervention at all; everyone might agree that putting soldiers into foreign countries to “help” them is foolish and misguided for many reasons. Mr. Goldman does not want to argue just that; he has argued for a kind of spiritual closure toward people he feels are likely doomed.

In response to this, my criticism can be reduced to a question of how one may advocate preserving values in one place by transgressing them in another, especially when there is no meaningful separation of “place” within a connected, globalized, pluralistic nation.

I would also ask how if it’s Judaeo-Christian religious beliefs, values, etc. that keep us moving forward, what is their content that allows this but would also be compromised by prolonged exposure to warfare and atrocity?

Based on Mr. Goldman’s recent writings, my understanding is that he thinks European civilization lost its unity and nominal Christian status when it saw the darkness within itself, in it’s treatment of Jews, heretics, “witches,” and finally colonized peoples — all in the name of true religion and justice. It was all downhill from the Inquisition on, or thereabouts, in this not unconventional and compelling spiritual survey of the west. But for the US, Goldman has always assumed more than argued there is a special exception — until very recently. The highly idealized view he holds of American Protestants has (without exaggeration) imaged them as Tolkien’s sturdy Hobbits, or Hobbits as can-do American Methodists and upper middle-class Evangelicals.

There are many reasons now why he should be adjusting this view, but he’s deflected most of them. The Tea Party, Ron Paul’s allure on the one hand and Santorum on the other–the manic-depressive swings from hawkish internationalism to depressed isolationism. I haven’t seen Goldman ever consider flat-earth fundamentalism either and what kind of separatistic, theocratic, and anti-intellectual, anti-science material is common for upwards of 30% of the country. Apparently the threats to the foundations of Judaeo-Christian values comes mainly from TV and movies that have made an impression on Mr. Goldman for their hyperrealistic violence and obsession with the undead. From this scene he has started to consider that perhaps the core culture is seriously compromised. I would say this is a better track for him to pursue — the evil within at least as much as the monsters abroad.

Beatrix17 says:

Not competent so much as articulate, thoughtful and interesting.

Our religions didn’t not come to us in times of peace and tranquility. Moses received the 10 Commandments escaping from Egyptian slavery after he had murdered a man. Jesus formed Christianity when Israel was under the boot of the Romans, as much hated in their time as the Nazis and the Jews were not only fighting the Romans, but each other.

I’ve known some lovely Muslim people, but when you’re opening your doors to people, how do you differentiate those who will make peaceful contributions to our society from the Boston Bombers and those who attacked the World Trade Center? During WW2, how did we differentiate peaceful European refugees from Nazi spies? The answer is that we didn’t. It became a moot point only because we won the war.

And no matter how peaceful an individual is, we are a Judeo-Christian nation. Are we prepared to be a Judeo-Christian-Muslim nation? This is something Europe is dealing with more than we are and eventually we’ll need to know if Europe is capable of remaining Western and our ally. This doesn’t mean that the new order won’t be peaceful, and maybe the countries will even be better, but how much are we and they willing to sacrifice of our heritage in the name of peace?

There are great upheavals coming in the Mideast at a time when America is stalled, but America will be included if only because my people, the Jews, have been a part of the Mideast for 4,000 years and the Israelis are our allies. Little Israel may play a role similar to that of England in WW2. America tried to pretend neutrality, but everyone knew that we and the English believed in Western style freedoms, and so the war eventually involved us, which led to our becoming the world’s greatest power for over 50 years.

But we tried two huge 20th century-type wars in the 21st century and they were totally out of place. New leadership (neither Obama nor Romney) may now lead us to a more authentic role in the world.

Beatrix17 says:

Not competent so much as articulate, thoughtful and interesting.

Our religions didn’t not come to us in times of peace and tranquility. Moses received the 10 Commandments escaping from Egyptian slavery after he had murdered a man. Jesus formed Christianity when Israel was under the boot of the Romans, as much hated in their time as the Nazis and the Jews were not only fighting the Romans, but each other.

I’ve known some lovely Muslim people, but when you’re opening your doors to people, how do you differentiate those who will make peaceful contributions to our society from the Boston Bombers and those who attacked the World Trade Center? During WW2, how did we differentiate peaceful European refugees from Nazi spies? The answer is that we didn’t. It became a moot point only because we won the war.

And no matter how peaceful an individual is, we are a Judeo-Christian nation. Are we prepared to be a Judeo-Christian-Muslim nation? This is something Europe is dealing with more than we are and eventually we’ll need to know if Europe is capable of remaining Western and our ally. This doesn’t mean that the new order won’t be peaceful, and maybe the countries will even be better, but how much are we and they willing to sacrifice of our heritage in the name of peace?

There are great upheavals coming in the Mideast at a time when America is stalled, but America will be included if only because my people, the Jews, have been a part of the Mideast for 4,000 years and the Israelis are our allies. Little Israel may play a role similar to that of England in WW2. America tried to pretend neutrality, but everyone knew that we and the English believed in Western style freedoms, and so the war eventually involved us, which led to our becoming the world’s greatest power for over 50 years.

But we tried two huge 20th century-type wars in the 21st century and they were totally out of place. New leadership (neither Obama nor Romney) may now lead us to a more authentic role in the world.

DiaKrieg says:

“Large portions of the Arab world have languished
so long in backwardness that they are beyond repair. After the dust of
the popular revolts dissipated, we are left with banana republics, but
without the bananas.”

One of the themes we’ve been hearing from both the American left and right is that we need to “wean ourselves off foreign oil.” I’ve always wondered how this weaning would improve the Middle East situation. David’s point above, of course, applies to both the West’s enthusiam for the Arab Spring and its enthusiasm for new domestic energy and/or a green revolution. Yes, energy independence would be good for us and for the environment. But how will it impact the ME economies? No one ever goes there…

OscarShank says:

Israel has over 50 main laws that discriminate against Arab citizens; and Israel rules over the OT, giving only illegal settler Jews their full Israeli rights, while the natives are subject to military law rule. In short, Israel is a full democracy in the American sense, but only for its Jewish citizens despite the fact Arabs make up 20% of Israeli citizens within the green line.

The Arab despots don’t claim to be democracies as Israel does, and as US politicians keep repeating to the ignorant American masses, nor do they get anything free from the USA, either in $ or UN SC veto protection. Israel gets $3B-$4B in direct aid alone annually from the US, with interest. US sole vetos in the UN SC continually block holding Israel accountable for its pernicious deeds.

ajmacdonaldjr says:

The Islamist Spring is an Israeli-US destabilization plan, orchestrated through various NGOs, US State, CIA, Mossad, etc… Clear the deck of the Middle East by getting rid of strong Muslim nations that threaten Israel,by plunging them all into chaos, hedge in Russia, and control the oil, using Sunni Jihadists as mercenaries to do the really dirty work, as in Libya and Syria. US Christians are stupid enough to fall for the New Crusade ideology by fearing and hating Muslims, who are not a real threat, and are only cannon fodder in the greater geostrategic game of getting rid of the Russian threat.

Beatrix17 says:

$3 billion for Israel, all of which is spent on arms, 3/4 of which have to be purchased in the US. Almost 2 billion for Egypt (both countries got money from US when they made peace), 3 billion to Pakistan, almost 4 billion to Afghanistan, 387 mi to Nigeria, and almost 1 million in pro-American propaganda to Russia and Cuba, plus 12 million to China.

All Israeli citizens vote whether Arab or Jew. The Palestinians are not Israelis and do not vote in Israel. The Palestinians vote in the West Bank and Gaza, hence Abba and Hamas.

OscarShank says:

The phrase “judeo-Christian” values, foundation is a newbie in American history. It is code for an #AIPAC dominated US foreign policy.

OscarShank says:

Israel is only a full democracy akin to the USA or any EU country as to its Jewish citizens. Over 51 main Israeli laws discriminate against Arab citizens, and, of course, the Palestinian natives in the WB and Gaza live under corrosive Israeli military law.

OscarShank says:

The US does not allow any other country to keep 1/4th of US military aid to fund that country’s competive arms industry. Israael gets the biggest chunk of US aid with no strings attached. Egypt gets the next biggest, but only so long as it makes nice with Israel. Pakistan and Afghanistan aid is totally dependent on the US wars with boots on the ground in the vicinity. If the Palestinians are not Israelis, then what are the 20% of Israeli citizens behind the green line? They are not Jews.

OscarShank says:

The Israel Lobby agenda is always to split the Arab demography by any means. Divide and conquer. Many israeli leaders are on record as saying so.
So long as any Arab despot goes along with US desires, which are always Israel’s desires thanks to AIPAC, they will be supported. The last thing the US or Israel want it a fulfilled Arab Spring, where the masses get to put in their two cents. Just like in America. That’s why Manning and Snowden stick out now.

OscarShank says:

The Arab Street is totally against what Israel has been doing to the Palestinian people for many decades. The Arab Spring scares the crap out of US and Israel because it entails informed consent of all citizens as part of governance. For the same reason, the US government is scared of Manning and Snowden. Dick and Jane are not different than Mohammed, they just don’t know it/

OscarShank says:

It’s not really either/or. You can be for defense, but not for intervention under the usual imperial excuse of selective humanitarianism. Ron Paul anyone? Kucinich?

OscarShank says:

And so you are in favor of BDS?

OscarShank says:

Every tyrant that ever lived justified his imperialism to save the natives.

OscarShank says:

So we have the ever present adage, “Is it good for the Jews?”

OscarShank says:

So, consider the old adage, played out by AIPAC daily, “Is it good for the Jews?”

OscarShank says:

Why don’t you stand in the shoes of an Iranian, fully aware of US historical intervention in Iran? The Shah? The 8 year support of Iraq against Iran, including chemical warfare? That Iran aided the US intial incursion into Afganistan?

OscarShank says:

Yes.

OscarShank says:

During WW2 we did not have instant data communication as we have now via the internet, and to a lesser extent, cable TV. And what data was available bac in the WW2 Era was government propaganda in print, and on the radio.

OscarShank says:

I guess you thank god for Manning and Snowden. Me too.Obama the messiah is not different than Bush Jr, the cowboy…

OscarShank says:

The Jews have been a part of the Middle East for 4,000 years? Anybody who cares to can see the demography of Palestine through the decades since, say 1880. America should not be supporting the decades old land-grabbing of Israel down to this day. Lebensraum was not right when Germany did it, and it’s not right now. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Americans need to know about the Nakba; they already know about the Shoah.

OscarShank says:

Oil companies have never agreed with US policy for regime change in the Middle East.
Why should they? They make more money with a balanced policy in the Middle East. The screwy factor is Israel. But this won’t change due to the US political campaign system. The minutely focused AIPAC agenda, with such big dollars, controls the show. Just google a video of the US Congress giving so many standing ovations to Bibi Netanyahu. No POTUS has ever got so many.

OscarShank says:

One Obama decision I find contemptible is that he made his Cairo Speech, and then, I assume after discussion with his Zionist handlers like Axlerod and Immanuel and Ross and Pritzker, at the time of his backtracking, he stuck that speech in the closet, never to bring it out again.

OscarShank says:

The POTUS regime in USA, whether Obama or Shrub Jr, is always focused on the short term, not the long term. Shrub Jr even declared he’d do what he wanted and history’s scribblers could say what they want–he was the doer, not them. Obama is less crass and more subtle. But his actual doing is identical.

OscarShank says:

The oil biggies have never supported the US rubber-stamping of Isael. They think a more balanced stance in the ME is more profitable.

OscarShank says:

We all know that the Hagee type Christian Zionists rubber stamp Israel’s whims. It’s not a canard to birng up the youthful Trotskyite sympahties of Commentary pundits. What we need is an english Translation of 200 Years Together by the famous Russian novelist, but, even after a decade, in the semianl “free speech” America, we can’t get it. God forbid we apply it to AIPAC now.

OscarShank says:

I notice you don’t care what happens to America as it continually rubber-stamps Zionist Israel.

Beatrix17 says:

Arab Israelis are called Israelis. Palestinians, like the Jews, lived in the territory called Palestine.The UN created two nations. The Jewish Palestinians called their land Israel; the Arabs went to war losing their land to Jordan and Israel. The Jews are now offering the Palestinians a homeland in the West Bank and Gaza (land they won in the 6 day war from Jordan and Egypt) but are requiring a peace agreement which neither Arafat nor Abbas have agreed to.

Both Egypt and Israel get funds based on their continued peace agreement. Israel is constrained to spend ¾ of her money in the US and must spend it on munitions, which helps the American economy. Israel is the only one who has this requirement.
Pakistan is an important ally and will continue to receive American funds. Afghanistan will probably continue to need
our help.

OscarShank says:

Zioinism as implemented in Israel, and funded by the US, and given diplomatic cover by the US veto in the UN SC, is the cancer on the body politic of humanity.

Nico Bester says:

There is simply no comparison between Arab despotism and Israeli law; Israeli Arabs are treated according to their behaviour. Hostile behaviour will result in restrictive treatment. Israel deserves to be back within its historic scriptural borders. To succumb to anything else will simply bring down more mayhem and butchery on the region. There is nothing pernicious about political self-interest and the protection of national sovereignty. Ultimately Israel will survive because its Arab neighbours will continue to tear each other apart in sectarian butchery. 100 000 and counting in Syria? Long may they continue to do so……

OscarShank says:

Jews commenced the Nakba in 1947, and 300,000 Palestinians were terrorized to flee their homeland before Israel declared itself a state in 1948, by which time another 300,000 or more Palestinians had fled the Zionist terror agents. They remain refugees to this day.

The ’48 war was fought nearly entirely on that portion of the former Mandate that was to be partitioned for the Palestinians. The Arab armies, much weaker, and smaller than the Zionists, and less well equipped, were fighting merely to keep the Zionists from taking yet more land. The Israelis initiated every war they have been in, except for the ’73 war, which was initiated to take back the Land stolen by Israel in ’67. Nixon saved Israel’s ass in that war, and the illegal Israeli settlers have been taking more land from the Palestinians every year since ’67. This on-going land-grabbing is the key obstacle to peace. Israel pretends to want divide the land as it grabs it. The peace process has therefore been a charade all these decades. Same thing is going on now, as Kerry chases his tail while more Israeli settlments spring up daily.

OscarShank says:

Israeli Arabs are treated as second class citizens merely because they are not Jews. Natives in the WB and Gaza are ruled by IDF and suject to Israeli military court jurisdiction. Ultimately israel’s continued lebensraum activity will create a backlash as it violates international law.

Kate HA says:

What an extraordinary confession of historical ignorance fuelling contemporary paranoia! I am neither Jewish nor American. I am though, historically informed and hopefully write from an objective, non-partisan perspective.

Of the 49 who gathered to formulate the Constitution,28 were Episcopalian, eight were Presbyterians, seven were Congregationalists, two were Lutherans, two were Dutch Reformed, and two were Methodists.

Whilst some were ‘anti-clerical’ all agreed to principles, ethics and morality laid down in the Old and New Testaments. That is my basis for the use of the term ‘Judeao-Christian values’. A very common term used across the Western Hemisphere to identify the theological, political, philosophical principles underpinning the Constitution of the USA (and elsewhere).

Perhaps you have an alternative historical perspective? Or is this just further evidence of the power of propaganda which deems ‘them Joos’ guilty for? everything that has gone wrong in the world since Goebbels published the first anti-Semitic canard. Have you any rational evidence to substantiate your allegations “AIPAC dominated US foreign policy”? Have you any notion of the power of Saudi Arabia et al in ‘dominating’ US foreign policy.

OscarShank says:

Read Mearsheimer & Walt’s The Israel Lobby, for starters. When Bibi Netanyahu spoke to the US Congress he got more standing ovations than any POTUS ever has. Israel is the top recipient of US foreign aid in all US history, although it’s the size of NJ. The annual AIPAC conference is the most attended by US congress persons. AIPAC members and spokes folks have often bragged their lobby is the most influrential of any. Not all Jews are Zionists. Israel is not the same as “all Jews.” Many Jews are critical of Israeli policy and conduct, and don’t feel the state of Israel represents them.

Beatrix17 says:

The American Jews who supported Obama were fully supportive of his Cairo speech. (Did you think he kept it a secret?) He simply didn’t get the response he expected from the Arab world. After years of being under the colonialist yoke, Arabs aren’t looking for strong Western leaders. And Obama is great at speeches, less capable at leadership.

Beatrix17 says:

Out of all the neo-cons in Bush’s administration, three were Jewish and much influenced by Chalabi who insisted the Iraqis were suffering under Hussein and would welcome liberation by the Americans.

Beatrix17 says:

What baloney! Israelis( 7 1/2 million today) outnumbered the 350 million Arabs, and 150 million Turks and Persians who supported the Arab Palestinians? The UN gave both peoples a country. Jews rolled up their sleeves and today have a successful, if small nation. The self-pitying Palestinians lost their land in war with Jordan and Israel. Wars they started. The land the Jews are building on, but are willing to give to the Pals, belonged to Jordan and Egypt. Israel has a right to build settlements all over that area. But they’ve offered it to the Pals with Israeli land equal to the land Israel has already built on.
There’s never been a country of Palestine, and if the Palestinians don’t want to wind up as extinct as the DoDo, they better get a move on and start establishing a nation.

Beatrix17 says:

They’re not 2nd class, they were exiled by Jordan to the West Bank and they refuse to make a peace agreement with the Israelis who won the land in war with Jordan and Egypt. That’s why people get occupied. They stupidly refuse to make peace with the victors.

Beatrix17 says:

“Corrosive” military law that allows Palestinians free elections, their own police force, electricity and water supplied by Israel, free trade with Israel, and millions in taxes that Israel collects and hands over to them. Why should Abbas make peace with Israel? Israel runs his land better than he could.

Beatrix17 says:

Americans weren’t scared of the Arab Spring. We just idealized it.

Beatrix17 says:

Israel has been Jewish for thousands of years whether it was called Israel or re-named Palestine by the Romans. The only reason the Arab Palestinians think that they whole country should belong to them is that they predominate in the
surrounding countries. Arabs will not allow minorities, whether
Jews, Kurds or Copts to form a nation. The UN had to do it.

The Arabs only tolerate the Persians and the Turks because they’re so big.

AIPAC is neither big nor rich. They’re just right.

Beatrix17 says:

I don’t thank god for Manning and Snowden, but I’m not against them. While I respect both Bush and Obama, I don’t think either one is a good President.

Beatrix17 says:

You’re obsessed with AIPAC. They have neither the manpower or money to run the world. You’re own obsession with Jews, the tiny Jewish nation of Israel, and our organizations is why we seem so powerful to you. BOO!

Dying and dying Syria and Egypt. What would that mean?

Dying and dying Syria and Egypt. What would that mean?

jobardu says:

Oscar, I have read Mearsheimer and Walt, as have many others. It has been characterized as a prosecutorial brief that consists of one-sided and inaccurate statements that are belied by verifiable facts. Your comments betray your emotional committment to the demonizaton of AIPAC and Israel. Your statements about AIPAC are not, to my knowledge verfiable. Mearsheimer and Walt have gone on speaking tours sponsored by Islamist and anti-Israeli groups and their works are sponsored by those groups. In essence, you are quoting lobbyists as scholarly sources of credibility.

jobardu says:

It isn’t only Mideastern propagandists. It is American liberals who support the hatred using techniques perfected by the Nazi propagandists. What is truly incredible is their support of people dedicated to genocide and then claiming it is the moral high ground. Columbia University invited Ahmadinejad to speak and had their President give a him a fawning introduction. It is really a betrayal of 500 years of hard-won tolerance, equal rights for all citizens and opposition to religion based slaughter and genocide. The left is giving enlightenment attitudes and progressive ideas a bad name.

jobardu says:

Gee guys, are facts out of order here? Some of them may bring light to all the heat you are providing to this discussion. After 1947 the Arabs killed or exiled 1.92 million Jews living in Arab lands (this from Arab sources, other sourced are higher). The Jewish population of all Arab countries is now around 10,000 total, with most of them living isolated and treated like zoo animals.

By way of contrast, after 1947 majority of the Arabs living in Palestine were allowed to stay and become Israeli citizens. Around 500,000 refused to become citizens and were exiled in the partition. That was not uncommon at the time, since India and Pakistan exhanged citizens living in common areas (most of the Jews mentioned above lived in areas not directly adjacent to the contested territories). The UN has not increased the refugee count to 4.5 Million, one reason why the UN is humanities last, worst, hope for peace.

Oscar, below, is very hysterical in his description of the situation. He has no sympathy for the two million Jews killed by real Arab Nazi sympathizers and allies right after the WWII Holocaust, and blames the Israelis for expelling sworn enemies. To this day the Islamists like Ahmadinijad swear genocide against the Israelis, to the cheering audiences of Western liberals.

I was brought up in classical liberalism, and I don’t get the denial of verifiable facts and the renunciation of Western Civilization and its values.

northernobserver says:

You’ve encapsulated it very well and it is also modern Judaism’s existential dilemma – doing what vile things are necessary to secure what I call the third temple (the state of Israel). The most neutral perspective you can take is that as the chosen people this is the burden of the Jewish people to shoulder and that as Christians we do not need to participate but should not judge them as their election is not something we can judge. Better that we concentrate on our own work of bringing the message of Christ to all – including the Muslims who have never had the opportunity to convert as they have never been offered the freedom to choose their religion.

northernobserver says:

Zionism can be ugly but what nation had not done these things? For cancer on the body politic of humanity I think the trophy needs to go to Salafist Islam and its followers.

OscarShank says:

The backlash by the “pro-Israel” lobby, under the umbrella of AIPAC and its donation base, is what made Obama put his Cairo Speech in the dustbin. “The Arabs,” including both the Arab Street, and even the oil regimes, would love to see Obama put his leadership where his mouth was in Cairo.

Beatrix17 says:

How is what I’m saying in any way contradicting what you’re saying. You’re talking about one aspect of my history and I’m talking about another. What the hell are you attacking me for? You moron,

jobardu says:

Just because I was replying doesn’t mean I was disagreeing with you. A person can reply and add facts to support your comments.

You sound like a PC liberal in your comment about me being a moron. Perhaps you can enlighten me on why you feel entitled to curse and disrespect other people? Are you prepared to get the same back?

jobardu says:

Very emotional and counter-factual. Hard to say where to begin since just about every statement is false. If you review military history of the 1948 war you will find that the entire war was fought in the Israeli part of the partition. The Arabs far outnumbered the Jewish settlers and, as a newly formed country, Israel had no armed forces other than irregular guerrillas to fight Arab armies. Also, those people exiled were a combination of Arabs who fought to exterminate the Jews, just as the Nazis, their allies in WWII, did and those who chose to leave because they didn’t want to live in a Jewish neighborhood. More Arabs were allowed to remain in Israel than were exiled.

All the exiles were done after the War of 1948. That war was declared by the Arabs with the express purpose of killing the Jews. During the same period the Arabs killed all but a few of the nearly two million Jews that were living in Arab countries. Today, any Jews found in Arab countries are subject to the death penalty.

Speaking of the death penalty, your conflation of Jews, Israelis, Zionists and terror agents passes the duck test for virulent antisemitism. . I wouldn’t be surprised if you wrote your article while wearing your WWII Nazi SS uniform while fantasizing about killing Jews and raping Jewish women.

Beatrix17 says:

You sounded disrespectful as though you were taking me to task and straightening me out or worse, that I wasn’t handling the response to Oscar adequately and so you had to roll up your sleeves and do the job for me.

I didn’t disagree with your comments, simply with your directing
them at me. Had you directed them at Oscar, as I did mine, you would have been fine.

And I’m not a liberal, but I’m a little PC about men patronizing
women.

jobardu says:

I’m sorry if I seemed patronizing and disrespectful. I certainly meant no offense. Thanks for pointing that out to me so I can be more aware of it in the future.

I really take issue with Oscar’s comments. I hope that came across.

Beatrix17 says:

Your apology was very kind—I had overreacted. And your comments to Oscar were excellent.

jobardu says:

Thank you, your comment provides me with closure.

JC Vaughan says:

There was something true in that last paragraph about the exceptionalism of the founders of America. And now I have message for you and you’re not going to like it. The current generations in America comprise very little more than the shit of diseased whores and should properly have gone nowhere but into the dumpsters behind abortion clinics. This is bitterness and I hope you like it.

Beatrix17 says:

Republicans retained a belief in America’s exceptionalism even when they believed that Mideasterners yearned for democracy, just as most Americans believed in our exceptionalism after WW2 when we were sure that despotic powers such as Germany and Japan could be democratic, and we were right.

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