Anthony Zinni, formerly chief of Central Command, who voted
for George W. Bush in the last election and describes himself
as a "Hagel-Lugar-Powell Republican," has been among the most
vocal and visible of the military critics of the Iraq war.
Last year, he spoke for many top military personnel when he
an invasion of Iraq would unleash forces
that could prove
difficult if not impossible to control:
could inherit the country of Iraq, if you're willing to do
it if our economy is so great that you're willing to put
billions of dollars into reforming Iraq. If you want to put
soldiers that are already stretched so thin all around the
world and add them into a security force there forever, like
we see in places like the Sinai. If you want to fight with
other countries in the region to try to keep Iraq together
as Kurds and Shiites try and split off, you're going to have
to make a good case for that. And that's what I think has
to be done, that's my honest opinion."
was right. So
was Gen. Merrill A. McPeak.
was Marine Gen.
John J. Sheehan. So was Gen. Norman
Schwartzkopf. So was former Navy Secretary and much-decorated
Marine veteran James
Webb. So was Commander Maj.
Gen. Patrick Cordingley. So were a host of other top
officers, both retired
and active duty, who saw another Vietnam or worse in
the neocons' plans for postwar Iraq. They no doubt cringed
whenever they heard neoconservative
agitator and war
profiteer Richard Perle describe the coming conquest of
Iraq as a "cakewalk."
Here was another brilliant idea dreamed up by civilian national
security intellectuals soon to turn into a living nightmare
for the grunts on the ground.
War Party was never all that worried about opposition coming
from the Left, which is all too easy to mock and marginalize.
Antiwar conservatives posed a more complex but less immediate
problem, since these amounted to a small if vocal minority
on the Right. But when American military leaders began to
against their imperial adventure, the neocons had a major
conniption. Claiming that the sacred principle of civilian
control of the military was being violated, the neocons ordered
the soldiers to go back
to their barracks and never return to the public square.
Yet they have returned, to wonder aloud why they were
not listened to. A recent Washington Post profile
of General Zinni cites him attempting to answer this question:
more he listened to [Deputy Defense Secretary Paul] Wolfowitz
and other administration officials talk about Iraq, the more
Zinni became convinced that interventionist 'neoconservative'
ideologues were plunging the nation into a war in a part of
the world they didn't understand. 'The more I saw, the more
I thought that this was the product of the neocons who didn't
understand the region and were going to create havoc there.
These were dilettantes from Washington think tanks who never
had an idea that worked on the ground.'"
goal of transforming the Middle East by imposing democracy
by force reminds him of the 'domino theory' in the 1960s that
the United States had to win in Vietnam to prevent the rest
of Southeast Asia from falling into communist hands. And that
brings him back to Wolfowitz and his neoconservative allies
as the root of the problem. 'I don't know where the neocons
came from that wasn't the platform they ran on,' he says.
'Somehow, the neocons captured the president. They captured
the vice president.'"
Iraq degenerates into a maelstrom of violence and warring
ethno-religious enclaves, Lebanon writ large, the neoconservatives
who schemed for years to drag us into this disastrous war
have been flushed out of the shadows and
thrust into the spotlight. And they
it one bit. Monsters love the dark.
bloody failure of their policy has forced the neocons out
into the open, and they are screeching in pain, like Dracula
pulled from the tomb. We can hear in their shrieking
cadences, their whiny shrillness, their
what it means to be a cornered rat. The sound is music to
my ears. But don't get too close: rats are often rabid,
and they bite, as in the case of Joel Mowbray's
recent column smearing General Anthony Zinni as an anti-Semite:
the Iraq war with the Washington Post last week, former General
Anthony Zinni took the path chosen by so many anti-Semites:
he blamed it on the Jews. Neither President Bush nor Vice-President
Cheney nor for that matter Zinni's old friend, Secretary
of State Colin Powell was to blame. It was the Jews.
They 'captured' both Bush and Cheney, and Powell was merely
being a 'good soldier.'"
in the style of a bathroom-wall scrawl "General Zinni, what
a ninny" is the title of this juvenile screed Mowbray's
ravings amount to a kind of political pornography. Pornography
is, after all, wish-fulfillment, and don't the neocons dearly
wish they could get away with marginalizing their most formidable
opponents in this way. As the conservative scholar Claes
Ryn has pointed out, conceit is the one defining characteristic
of the neocons, whose political platform is the embodiment
They can get away with anything, or so they believe, even
a vicious smear campaign directed against a man of unimpeachable
Mowbray doesn't have any, as he readily admits, except the
rather odd linguistic revisionism that translates "neocon"
to mean a person of the Jewish faith:
the former head of the Central Command in the Middle East
didn't say 'Jews.' He instead used a term that has become
a new favorite for anti-Semites: 'neoconservatives.' As the
name implies, 'neoconservative' was originally meant to denote
someone who is a newcomer to the right. In the 90's, many
people self-identified themselves as 'neocons,' but today
that term has become synonymous with 'Jews.'"
crimes against both nature and society are so awful or otherwise
memorable that the transgressors have their transgressions
named after them, such as Sadism,
and now mowbraying, which means telling a lie so brazen
as to make every decent person within earshot cringe with
from deterring the mowbrayer, however, such a response only
emboldens him to raise the decibel level:
if anybody should know better, it's Gen. Zinni. It is well-known
that those who are labeled 'neocons' within the administration
whether the number-two official at the Pentagon, Paul
Wolfowitz, or undersecretary of Defense Doug Feith
are almost always Jews.
yet Cheney and Secretary of Defense
Donald Rumsfeld neither one Jewish [are described]
as simply 'key allies.' Policy beliefs and worldviews were
not different between these two groups; only religion distinguishes
begin with, the Business Week piece
doesn't focus on the Jewishness of neoconservatives in high
office, it merely names them. Are we supposed to understand
these officials are above criticism because they are
there are significant differences between the neocons
and Rumsfeld, as Max
Boot writing in the January issue of Foreign Policy
magazine, not online yet and the Weekly Standard/Project for a New American
Century crew have recently made clear. Rummy and a growing
chorus of grumbling Republicans in Congress want an expedited
exit strategy, which is one reason for the neocons' increasing
Goldberg once tried to pull this same "neocon = Jew" card
trick, at more length but without much more success. According
to the former editor of National Review Online, neoconservatism,
having become the conservative mainstream, is a relic
of the past: "We're all neoconservatives
now," as David Brooks once put it. But Goldberg's argument
fell apart soon after it was made, when Irving
Kristol announced the neocons' revival in the pages the
Weekly Standard, and we haven't heard a peep from him
on the subject since then.
a mode of self-denial, the neocons, it seems, have discovered
the joys of Neocon Liberation. As various neocons have began
to come out of the closet, so to speak, and identify themselves
with the love (of war, of Israel, of "national greatness" and "big
government conservatism") that usually didn't dare speak
its name, Mowbray's contention that neocon the
n-word is an ethnic slur just isn't with
it. Look at this list of luminaries standing up to declare
for Neocon Pride: "godfather"
Irving, Max Boot, Richard
Perle, who proudly
defended the neocons in a recent debate with Joshua Marshall,
Schwartz, the Michelangelo
Signorile of the neocon set in Washington, who "outed"
Wolfowitz as part of a group of closet neo-Trotskyites (or
as National Review dubbed them).
answer to an email query from me, Mowbray qualified his argument:
know there are still many self-identified 'neocons,' but I
also know that in many, if not most, contexts, it has become
a code word. Zinni knows that for inside-the-beltway types
(which he is), 'neocon' has become synonymous with 'Jew.'
But it wasn't just that; it was the way he used the term that
I take issue with. Please note that I did not take Zinni to
task for criticizing 'neocon' policies or even 'neocons' generally;
I have no problem with that. What he did was take a known
code word and combine it with a classic anti-Semitic conspiracy
theory that Jews rule the world by acting as Puppetmasters.
(Remember, he said that both Bush & Cheney had 'somehow'
been 'captured' by the 'neocons.') That's a far cry from critiquing
particular policies or even specific individuals."
interesting about this response is that he acknowledges that
there is such a thing as a neoconservative policy,
after all: so the word isn't an ethnic slur, as presented
in his original piece. His contention that neocon is
a "code word" known only to Washington "insiders" (such as
himself) decades of scholarly books
on the subject of neoconservatism
as a distinct
to the contrary notwithstanding is hardly convincing.
for the "context" of Zinni's remark somehow transforming the
formal meaning of "neocon" into a hate crime: why couldn't
the adherents of an ideology neoconservatism proselytize
and capture the allegiance of the President, the Vice President,
and other high officials, especially in the wake of 9/11?
Zinni's attack on those who pined for war with Iraq has nothing
to do with the ethno-religious obsessions and persecution
complexes of Mowbray, and everything to do with the neocons'
destructive and dangerous policies.
for Mowbray's bald assertion that "everybody knows" what they
don't know, there is not a single shred of evidence to back
up the claim that Zinni is a Hitlerite. But the idea of mowbraying
is that you don't need any but the most tenuous and improbable
proof to slime the object of your attention: it is the political
equivalent of Tourette's
Please Support Antiwar.com
1017 El Camino Real #306
Redwood City, CA 94063
or Contribute Via our Secure
Credit Card Donation Form
Your contributions are