At The Daily Beast, James Kirchick blasts the new Ron Paul Institute for being “comprised of anti-Semites, 9/11 truthers, and dictator lovers.” Kirchick goes astray on a number of claims, but at one point he links to a piece by former CIA official Michael Scheuer published at Antiwar.com in 2008. Since this is our turf, I thought I’d point out that Kirchick pretty blatantly distorts what Scheuer wrote.
Also on Paul’s board are prominent former government officials who claim that American Jews constitute a “fifth column” aimed at subverting American foreign policy in the interests of Israel. Michael Scheuer, a former CIA intelligence officer, has used this precise phrase, alleging that a long list of individuals, organizations, and publications are “intent on involving 300 million Americans in other people’s religious wars.”
This re-litigates the controversy in the lead up to Chuck Hagel’s confirmation over his comments about “the Jewish lobby” intimidating legislators on Capitol Hill. That opened up a can of worms about whether it should instead be called the “Israel lobby.” That’s a fine debate to have, but Kirchick makes it seem like Scheuer wrote/believes that “American Jews” constitute a fifth column aimed at promoting a pro-Israel foreign policy. This is a distortion.
Here is Scheuer’s quote in full:
American Israel-firsters have long since dropped any pretense of loyalty to the United States and its genuine national interests. They have moved brazenly into the Israel first, last, and always camp. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, Norman Podhoretz, Victor Davis Hanson, the Rev. Franklin Graham, Alan Dershowitz, Rudy Giuliani, Douglas Feith, the Rev. Rod Parsley, Paul Wolfowitz, James Woolsey, Bill Kristol, the Rev. John Hagee, and the thousands of wealthy supporters of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) appear to care about the United States only so far as Washington is willing to provide immense, unending funding and the lives of young U.S. service personnel to protect Israel. These individuals and their all-for-Israel journals –Commentary, National Review, the Weekly Standard, and the Wall Street Journal – amount to nothing less than a fifth column intent on involving 300 million Americans in other peoples’ religious wars, making them pay and bleed to protect a nation in which the United States has no genuine national security interest at stake.
Half of the names Scheuer mentioned are not Jewish, and last time I checked, one doesn’t need to be Jewish to donate to AIPAC. Scheuer even criticizes the predictable habit of his detractors to “identify their critics as anti-Semites.” Kirchick no less predictably satisfies that propensity five years after the piece was written.
Scheuer’s argument is clear enough without being distorted by Kirchick – namely, that the pro-Israel lobby is one of the most powerful, influential, and effective in Washington. Realists like Scheuer, as well as equally highly respected academics like John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, among countless others, merely point out that the systematic compliance with Israel’s interests in US foreign policy and American politics generally conflicts with core US interests.
That is a political argument. It is an academic argument. It is not some spooky, anti-Semitic conspiracy theory, as Kirchick might have us believe.