day [March 19] has been too too depressing. Not
only is the nation plunged into a horrific and unnecessary
war – a war that will kill many thousands of innocents,
bankrupt the country, and create a bloody chaos in the
Middle East but, to top it off, David Frum, the ex-White
House speechwriter and author of the "axis of evil"
just informed me that he's turning his back on me.
Am I to be spared nothing?
Say – what? Let me explain
another life, Frum might have been a Soviet-era commissar,
grimly ticking off the ideological deviations of his victims,
and stonily informing them that they would soon be taking
a one-way trip to Siberia. In his present incarnation, however,
being fired from his White House position, the author
Right, a polemical narrative about the evolution of
the conservative movement, and other books, has settled into
his role as chief political commissar of the "mainstream"
A more energetic enforcer of neoconservative
orthodoxy could hardly be wished for: If Bill Kristol
is the little Lenin of the neocons, and Norman Podhoretz
their Stalin, then Frum is their Felix
Dzerzhinsky, the much-feared founder of the Soviet
secret police. In Dead Right, Frum smears Russell
Kirk, the intellectual founding father of the modern
conservative movement, as a purveyor of anti-Semitic
"cracks" and similarly slanders Henry
Regnery, the pioneer
says Frum-Dzerzhinsky, "showed a curious partiality,
throughout his long career, for anti-interventionist,
anti-British, and anti-Israeli books." He darkly
hints that Regnery was a closet Nazi by informing us
that the premier conservative publisher "was a
student in Nazi Germany in the 1930s." What were
these "anti-Israeli books" Frum is so peeved
about? The "Protocols of the Elders of Zion"?
Hardly. Instead, the offending volume is probably Alfred
Price Israel?, which Regnery published in 1953:
the author, of the Jewish faith, argued against Zionism
from a religious perspective, and complained
that "the word 'Jew' is now being used simultaneously
to denote a universal faith and a particular nationality;
and the corresponding allegiances to religion and to
state have become confused."
is precisely this confusion that, today, allows Frum and his
fellow neocons to smear anyone and everyone who dares to so
much as look at Ariel Sharon cross-eyed as an "anti-Semite."
For the sin of having published a book by a Jewish author
that questioned the wisdom of conflating state and religion,
the man who also brought out William
F. Buckley, Jr.'s God and Man at Yale and Russell Kirk's
The Conservative Mind, among other classics, is
not to be forgiven.
same police-state methodology is utilized in Frum's
latest decree of banishment, which National Review
has decided to publish as their wartime cover story, in which
is a great clarifier. It forces people to take sides. The
paleoconservatives have chosen and the rest of us must choose
too. In a time of danger, they have turned their backs on
their country. Now we turn our backs on them."
Frum puts all of us antiwar conservatives in the dock, and
conducts the literary equivalent of the Moscow Show Trials,
with Pat Buchanan in
the role of Trotsky, the popular conservative columnist
J. Novak playing the
part of Bukharin, and various and sundry minor figures
equally deserving of a one-way trip to the frozen tundra:
"You may know the names of these
antiwar conservatives. Some are famous: Patrick Buchanan
and Robert Novak. Others are not: Llewellyn Rockwell,
Samuel Francis, Thomas Fleming, Scott McConnell, Justin
Raimondo, Joe Sobran, Charley Reese, Jude Wanniski,
Eric Margolis, and Taki Theodoracopulos."
We are guilty, says Frum, of nothing
less than sedition:
"They have made common cause
with the left-wing and Islamist antiwar movements in
this country and in Europe. They deny and excuse terror.
They espouse a potentially self-fulfilling defeatism.
They publicize wild conspiracy theories. And some of
them explicitly yearn for the victory of their nation's
own particular sins, it seems, extend even to the personal.
Describing the wide diversity of the paleo-conservative
tendency, Frum writes: "What connection could there
be between the devoutly Catholic Thomas Molnar and the
pagan Justin Raimondo?"
spite of the well-known, shall we say earthiness of
Sicilians, and Italians in general, I won't take this as an
ethnic slur that being the exclusive prerogative of certain
approved victim groups. It is, however, indicative of the
Seething beneath the surface of Frum's
polemic is a terrific sense of ethnic grievance, a victimological
slant that amounts to a veritable monomania. Frum is
the author of a peculiar conspiracy theory in which
all attacks on the War Party and especially those
coming from the right – are part of a Vast Anti-Semitic
Plot, with tentacles lurking in the most unlikely places.
Witness his bizarre explanation for
23 edition of Tim Russert's "Meet the Press,"
during which Russert was so bold as to ask Richard
Perle: ""Can you assure American viewers
. . . that we're in this situation against Saddam Hussein
and his removal for American security interests? And
what would be the link in terms of Israel?"
This question oh, the impertinence!
was motivated, not by Russert, but by the sinister
influence of us antiwar conservatives, who somehow implanted
this meme in his mind. "Perle rebutted the allegation,"
avers Frum, without saying how, "but what a grand
victory for the antiwar conservatives that Russert felt
he had to air it." We forced him to do it: we put
a gun to Russert's head, and said: Ask it, or you're
a goner. I suspect there are many conservatives who
dream of doing just that to Mr. Russert only imagining
it, of course. From the gale force of Frum's wrath,
however, one gets the impression that he would've really
liked to have pulled the trigger. But since Russert
is rather beyond his range, Frum has instead directed
his fire at an imaginary cabal that he endows with near
question is a perfectly natural one to ask: it was no doubt
motivated, not by some conspiracy of anti-Semites, but by
a natural curiosity as to what Perle's answer would be. The
President has said that we are invading Iraq because it threatens
its neighbors: yet Israel is the only nation in the neighborhood
calling for war. Even Turkey, our longtime ally and Israel's
good friend, refused to let U.S. troops use its territory
as a launching pad. Sharon recently announced to a group of
visiting congressmen that he expected the U.S. to move on
Iran, and Libya next. Perle, after all, has worked for
the Israeli government; he prepared a policy
paper for former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling
for regime change in Iraq; and he is widely known as the chief
advocate of spreading the war throughout the Middle East,
even unto Egypt.
Given this confluence of interests and
ideology between Sharon's Likud party, an extremist
movement by any standard, and a highly placed official
in the Pentagon, why shouldn't Russert ask such
a question? Unless, of course, the conflation of ethnicity
and nationhood that Lilienthal bemoaned is a device
that Frum uses to smear his political enemies.
Topping the list of our crimes, Frum's
indictment accuses antiwar conservatives and libertarians
of making "common cause" with The Enemy: no,
not by raising money for the Taliban but because "the
websites of the antiwar conservatives approvingly cite
and link to the writings of John Pilger, Robert Fisk,
Noam Chomsky, Ted Rall, Gore Vidal, Alexander Cockburn,
and other anti-Americans of the far Left."
Oh, the horror! To actually approve
of anything these people might say, even in part, is
impermissible in the police state universe of the neocons'
top political commissar. But Gore
Vidal is hardly a leftist: he is closer to the Old
Right than the so-called far left. He is also a patriot,
as any reader of his wonderful historical
novels is aware.
Cockburn may be a man of the left, but he is also a writer
of talent, and his leftism is idiosyncratic. Cockburn was
much harder on the Clinton administration and Janet Reno when
they murdered 80 or so Christians at Waco than National
Review: he defended the right-wing militia movement as
a popular upsurge, while the neocons disdained them as they
despise all populist movements.
I have my criticisms
Chomsky, who, for all his fearsome reputation, seems
to me to be a bit of a pussy-cat. Chomsky's critique
of the U.S., as the major terrorist actor in the world
refers to the U.S. government, which, for neocons,
is synonymous with the American people. It is
odd for an alleged "conservative" to equate
the two, but Frum, at least by Russell Kirk's lights,
is no conservative.
and Fisk are
reporters, albeit with opinions, but since Frum doesn't
tell us why they are supposed to be beyond the
pale, the reason for their inclusion in the Axis of
Journalistic Evil must remain a mystery. Every movement
has its hate-objects, as well as its heroes, and the
Chomsky-Fisk-Pilger trinity serves that purpose in the
self-referential world of the neocons. The mere mention
of their names is like a curse, an incantation of evil.
is a party-lining mentality, narrow and dogmatic, that
can only be called Soviet, an archaic and boring attitude
that cannot be credibly maintained on the internet.
A website is not a political party. If, as editorial
director of Antiwar.com, I only posted links to material
that I approved of, in toto – or even
for the most part – our readers would find the
site far less interesting, and would visit less often.
More importantly, however, Frum misses the whole point
of internet journalism: its great advantage over the
dead-tree variety is that the writer is given the opportunity
to document what he is saying: a link is an extended
footnote, often purely informational, sometimes polemical,
or maybe just plain humorous. This gives writers (and
editors) a tremendous freedom, and, with it, a responsibility
to document their claims by providing links. It's harder
to lie on the internet.
Such a technology is naturally not conducive
to the neocons' party-lining Soviet mentality, and it
is telling that Frum's piece, which appeared on the
internet before it ever saw print, contains not a
single link. That's because most of it is lies:
he pulls quotes out of context, without linking to the
original, and is liberal in his use of ellipses. Readers
who bother to check the original not, one will have
to sadly admit, your typical National Review
reader will find that he's distorted the meaning of
the original beyond recognition.
In my own case, at least, the facts
are easily checkable, since most of my articles and
columns are online, and the record is there for all
to see. Yet Frum stupidly insists on creating a fiction
out of whole cloth, ironically accusing me of "conspiracy-theorizing,"
"Justin Raimondo, an Internet
journalist who delivered Pat Buchanan's nominating speech
at the Reform party convention in 2000, alleged in December
2001 that Israel was implicated in the terror attacks
of 9/11: 'Whether Israeli intelligence was watching,
overseeing, collaborating with or combating the bin
Ladenites is an open question. . . . That the Israelis
had some significant foreknowledge and involvement in
the events preceding 9/11 seems beyond dispute.' Raimondo
has also repeatedly dropped broad hints that he believes
the October 2001 anthrax attacks were the work of an
American Jewish scientist bent on stampeding the U.S.
he fails to mention is the subject of the piece he quoted:
four-part series on Fox News by Carl Cameron in which
Cameron, a top-notch investigative reporter, made the following
is no indication that the Israelis were involved in the 9-11
attacks, but investigators suspect that they Israelis may
have gathered intelligence about the attacks in advance, and
not shared it. A highly placed investigator said there are
– quote 'tie-ins.' But when asked for details, he
flatly refused to describe them, saying, quote 'evidence
linking these Israelis to 9-11 is classified.'" –
[December 11, 2001].
based his series on the Israeli connection to 9/11, in part,
on a leaked report
compiled by the Drug Enforcement Agency's internal security
service, documenting an extensive spy operation in the U.S.
Salon, the internet magazine,
took up the story in a
fascinating piece by Christopher Ketcham, and the German
magazine Die Zeit, co-edited by the distinguished
"Apparently the [Israeli] agents
were not interested in military or industrial facilities,
but were shadowing a number of suspects, who were later
involved in the terrorist attacks against the US."
Zeit cites a report of the French intelligence agency:
to the FBI, Arab terrorists and suspected terror cells lived
in Phoenix, Arizona, as well as in Miami and Hollywood, Florida
from December 2000 to April 2001 in direct proximity to the
Israeli spy cells. According to the report, the Mossad agents
were interested in the leader of the terrorists, Mohammed
Atta and his key accomplice, Marwan al-Shehi. Both lived in
Hamburg before they settled in Hollywood, Florida in order
to plan the attacks. A Mossad team was also operating in the
leader, Hanan Serfati, had rented several dwellings' that
were "Next Door to Mohammed Atta," as the title
of the article by Oliver Schrom put it. 'Everything indicates
that the terrorists were constantly observed by the Israelis.'
chief Israeli agent was staying right near the post office
where the terrorists had a mailbox. The Mossad also had its
sights on Atta's accomplice Khalid al-Midhar, with whom the
CIA was also familiar, but allowed to run free.'"
In detailing these allegations, I was
not "conspiracy-theorizing," but merely reporting
facts. Are the edtiors at Fox News, Salon, and Die
Zeit in on some sort of plot to defame the state
of Israel? Are they all, along with Tim Russert, part
of a Vast Anti-Semitic Conspiracy?
for my "broad hints" that the anthrax attacks were
the work of "an American Jewish scientist" with
political views similar to Frum's, he is here referring to
a number of columns I wrote on the
strange career of Colonel Philip Zack, the subject of
in the Hartford Courant. Zack worked at Ft.
Detrick's U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious
Diseases, had accesss to bio-engineered toxins, and was
videotaped sneaking into the facility at night with the aid
of an accomplice, according to the Courant [January
21, 2002] Zack, in addition, had a problem with Arabs, and
of a clique that harassed Arab employees of the facility,
according to a lawsuit filed by one of the victims, Dr.
I have no knowledge of Dr. Zack's religious
or ethnic identity, and did not raise the subject.
I will have to take Frum's word for it that Zack is
Jewish. But, so what?
all monomaniacs, Frum always returns to his
of his favorite targets is Bob Novak, who is accused
of "terror denial" (you know, kinda like "Holocaust
denial") for contradicting Condolezza Rice's odd
contention that Hezbollah is "the world's most
dangerous terrorist organization." Surely that
dubious honor must go to Al Qaeda, Novak rightly points
out: but this is "terror denial," according
to Frum, who references the 1983 Beirut bombing that
killed 241 servicemen: Novak, he avers, "did not
bother" to mention that. But is it really necessary
to remind Frum of that little contretemps on 9/11? The
poor little man is so wound up with his own hyperbole
that he seems to have forgotten all about it. Novak
notes that, from an Israeli point of view, Hezbollah
is the main danger: he cites a Hezbollah leader to the
effect that his group has no intention of attacking
the U.S., which one might think would be good news
to an American. But Frum's viewpoint is not that of
an American: he is, after all, a Canadian, one who,
to be sure, seems to believe that Israel is the fifty-first
state. "Outside this fight [against Israel], we
have done nothing," says Sheik Hassan Nasrallah,
Hezbollah's secretary-general. One can't help thinking
that Frum finds this disappointing.
great sin of which we antiwar conservatives and libertarians
are guilty is "defeatism." Pat Buchanan comes in
for some criticism on this question for saying
"We remain unrivaled in material
wealth and military dominance, but these are no longer
the components of might. . . . Our instinct is the strongman's
impulse: hit back, harder. But like British Lobsterbacks
dropped in a colonial wilderness, we don't know this
battle, and the weapons within our reach are blunt."
Frum is so psyched up by the prospect
of this war, so high on the triumphalism that is now
energizing the War Party, that he can no longer distinguish
between treason and realism or else, doesn't care
to. Novak, too, is targeted as a "defeatist"
for having said:
"The CIA, in its present state,
is viewed by its Capitol Hill overseers as incapable
of targeting bin Laden. That leads to an irresistible
impulse to satisfy Americans by pulverizing Afghanistan."
news that we are launching a new and major operation in Afghanistan,
specifically to capture the still elusive Osama
bin Laden & Sons which are still quite active in
conquered country punctures the hectoring Frum like
the hot-air balloon he is, and validates the saturnine Novak's
skepticism. Good old Bob may he live forever!
As far as the high crime of "defeatism"
goes, I am apparently the worst offender:
"Raimondo was more explicit
still on March 12, 2003. Speaking of the negative consequences
he foresaw of even a successful American campaign in
Iraq, he wrote: 'It is a high price to pay for 'victory'
– so high that patriots might almost be forgiven if
they pine for defeat.'"
old cut-and-paste technique tearing a single sentence out
2,000-word essay is on stark display here. Again, although
Frum's screed appears on the internet, there is no link
to the material he is discussing. Frum's contempt for his
readers may, perhaps, be deserved, but I can't help thinking
that at least some of them resent it. In any case, the theme
of that particular column was that the U.S. military is going
to be blamed, as usual, for the failure of the civilians'
grandiose postwar plans. This is hardly the perspective of
a "defeatist," since, for one, it assumes an American
military victory. Does anybody doubt it? To be a "defeatist"
in this war is to assume the impossible – that Iraq's
dilapidated military, shrunken by at least 30 percent since
the last Gulf war, is a match for the world's mightiest army.
So what does "defeatism" mean,
in this context? Frum wants it to mean skepticism in
the face of the hopeless crusade undertaken by this
administration, which is to implant "democracy"
in a region that has never known it. If opposition to
the fruitless and thankless task of "nation-building"
is "defeatism," then the President himself
is guilty of it at least in his incarnation as a candidate
in the 2000 elections, when he disdained the very idea
as an expensive and inherently dangerous delusion.
all that, however, Frum's odd translation of my skepticism
a profoundly conservative skepticism of all social engineering
schemes, whether hatched by liberals or "neo"-conservatives
into "defeatism" is rooted in a peculiar psychology.
Seen through the prism of a neocon ideologue or any sort
of fanatic the phrase "might almost be forgiven"
blurs and morphs into treason. The ideologue cannot see ambiguity,
and is immune to irony. Any sort of subtlety eludes him. He
paints a portrait of the world that is all broad brush strokes,
bereft of detail and without shades of color and meaning,
one-dimensional and unreal. This is the great disability of
the ideologue yes, even one of the libertarian persuasion!
and Frum seems to have a really bad case of it, so bad that
he can't see or think straight.
Worst of all, the robotic mentality
of the ideologue cannot perceive or understand emotions.
That's why the neocon concept of patriotism – in their
flat, one-dimensional world – takes on the hectoring Soviet
tone that recalls the
leftist origins of Frum's faction. Frum's antennae
can't pick up the ineffable sadness in my tone: he is,
in a literary sense, completely tone-deaf. It's sad,
really, to contemplate, and more than validates Russell
Kirk's 1991 warning to the rising generation of conservatives:
"Conservatism is the negation
of ideology. Ideology is an attempt to govern all life
by political slogans; while American conservatives believe
that no mere political formulas can make a people content.
Conservatives take for their guide in politics what
Edmund Burke called 'the wisdom of the species': that
is, the experience of human beings in community, extending
over many centuries. Thus, American conservatism is
a cast of mind and character, not a neat body of political
abstractions. Ideology is political fanaticism, an endeavor
to rule the world by rigorous abstract dogmata. The
dogmata of an abstract 'democratic capitalism' may be
mischievous as the dogmata of Marx."
We watch, in horrified fascination,
as Bush's centurions pour into Iraq, and the dangerous
mischief Kirk feared is all around us. Skeptics are
"defeatists." Prudence is "terror denial."
An internet link is evidence of a conspiracy to commit
rest of Frum's essay is an inside-baseball blow-by-blow description
of the faction fights that have plagued the Right over the
past decade, and, as such, are of minimal interest to my readers.
Suffice to say that, here, too, the conspiracy theorist in
Frum comes to the fore: he even manages to drag in an obscure
writer of anti-Semitic tracts, Kevin
MacDonald, whom he admits "does not quite belong
to the paleoconservative club." I had never heard of
MacDonald until I read a negative review of one of his books
The American Conservative!
The author of the review was Frum's fellow National Review
columnist John Derbyshire, who sure was a lot softer on MacDonald
than I would have been. And yet MacDonald is portrayed as
a member of a "movement" in which I am supposed
to be a major figure. What a load of malarkey!
does not even confront the essential argument made by paleoconservatives
and libertarians against this war: that its consequences on
the home front are going to be the worst of it. Yet Frum is,
himself, the best evidence that we are right, for war has
surely brought out the worst in him. Not only are his arguments
completely lame, but the viciousness that motivates them is
truly ugly. Which is why, in answer to his announcement that
he and his fellow neocons have turned their backs on us, one
can only say: Thank God for that!
slimes a good number of conservative and libertarian opponents
of this war, including Lew
Rockwell and Chronicles editor Tom
Fleming, who are quite capable of defending themselves.
Suffice to say that Frums hatred for anyone who dares
to question the neoconservative orthodoxy on any question,
from war to the proper conservative view of Abraham Lincoln,
is so coruscating that the reader is instinctively repulsed
not by the slandered, but by the slanderer. Something
else, the reader feels, is going on here.
going on is that the neoconservatives have been caught
off guard by the extent and intensity of antiwar sentiment
on the Right. They thought they had a monopoly on the foreign
policy stance of thinking conservatives, but this turned out
to be far from true. Patrick Buchanans new magazine,
The American Conservative, has challenged their hegemony
on this front, and resentment of the neocons is rife, not
only on the Right, but pretty much universally. Ive
been writing about them since long before the Kosovo war broke
out as the nucleus of a malevolent intellectual cancer, the
Politboro of the War Party, but it is only recently, with
the long build-up to this latest war, that this meme has traveled
far and wide. It is now almost a daily occurrence to read
a new article by some commentator that this war is the demon
child of the neocons. Analysts, left and right, have been
tracing the paper trail all the way back to a seminal 1996
essay by Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan, in which they propose
world hegemony" as the goal of American foreign policy
in a unipolar world.
attack, and on the defensive, the neocons are now claiming
that to even use the term "neoconservative" is to
commit an anti-Semitic act. As
Jonah Goldberg puts it:
who want to denounce the influence of Jews get to use the
word 'neocon' when they really mean 'Jewish conservatives'
without being held accountable."
absurd Jacobinism of this approach should be all too apparent
to virtually everyone on the Right, no matter what prefix
precedes their conservatism. With a single pronunciamento
from the self-appointed Lord High Executioner of the Right,
of books, and many more academic dissertations, are now
hurled into the furnace as "hate speech." Peter
Neoconservatives, Gary Dorriens The
Neoconservative Mind, not to mention Madness
and Ruin: Politics and the Economy in the Neoconservative
Age, by Mel Watkins, all these authors were using
the term neoconservative as a code-word for Jew, must now
be held "accountable."
is the neocons, however, who will be held accountable. They
are now getting high off the triumphant march of American
troops as they race toward Baghdad, and will no doubt get
quite a rush celebrating their great "victory,"
but when the bill comes due when the real costs begin
to mount, and the natives get restless -- they will slip quietly
toward the door. Having made the world well aware of their
key role in all this, Antiwar.com and this columnist
can take some pride in the certainty that they will
not sneak out unnoticed.
is what scares the neocons, and enrages Frum and his cohorts
and isnt that just tough. Learn to live
with it, guys, and enjoy your moment in the sun while
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