there are signs that that this victory could soon turn rancid. One
can hear the beginning of murmurs for fresh blood for campaigns
directed not against those who plotted and abetted the 9-11 terror,
but against all Arabs, even all Muslims. They are, so far, only murmurs.
But they come not from the America's patriotic working class or vast
middle class, but from the society's highly educated elite. Were they
ever to be translated into American policy, they would set this country
on a course that in another time and place led those in charge of
a nation similarly filled with a belief in its own destiny and the
need for strong measures to be put on trial at Nuremberg.
other day a friend described to me a dinner party he had attended.
Present were prominent editors, publishers, businessmen some
with names easily recognizable to the general public. In the course
of the evening a guest suggested, as a joke of course, that American
planes could bomb the Aswan Dam, flooding and killing millions of
innocent Egyptians. Chuckles all around. One hopes that at least
one person spoke up to say that it was not all that funny, or even
point out that many of the millions of Egyptians who would die have
no more connection to the 9-11 attacks than Gilligan and the Skipper.
But if so, it didn't penetrate the mood of general amusement and
chin-stroking satisfaction that contemplation of such an attack
afforded the guests. And the company, remember, was not tattooed
yahoos from the American heartland those whose moral imagination
is so often sneered at by Manhattan sophisticates but men who
would be welcome in any New York City boardroom.
participate in several e-mail lists. One of them is particularly
ideologically diverse. Its participants include several prestigious,
even famous, professors, most men far more learned than I. The other
day, someone, in a fit of irritated sarcasm, posted a retort to
someone else who was making the case for a wider war "Phase 2"
as it is now known. Arming the "Iraqi opposition" and overthrowing
Saddam Hussein, the satirist wrote, wouldn't be nearly enough. Instead
we could use nuclear bombs over much of Arabia, and then smallpox
to thin out the major population areas a small price to pay for
gas at 25 cents a gallon.
satire, almost anything can be said. But what was shocking to me
was that some on the list apparently did not recognize the post
as satire. They responded "well, maybe we don't need to go so
evening, I am descending in my apartment's elevator. Another family
gets on, a young guy with his wife and two kids in tow. He is talking
excitedly. "Wipe out all the Arabs," he is saying to his wife as
he enters the car. "I heard Netanyahu on TV," he goes on, in a softer
voice now that he sees he is not alone, "and he said we could do
just like America does." I stifle the rebuke rising in my throat,
at least until the young man and his family are out of earshot.
THE TWO WARS
two streams are now flowing closer and closer together in the minds
of much of the American establishment: America's war against terror
and Israel's war against the Palestinians. Combined, they are generating
a synergy of emotion, in which anger, adrenaline, the senses of
hubris and self-justification are not doubled, but squared or cubed.
the two wars, Israel's and our own, are not symmetrical not logically,
not morally. Indeed, if there is a moral symmetry, it is to be found
in Israel's war on the Palestinians and the Palestinians' war on
General Zinni is right to describe Saturday's suicide bomber attacks
on Jerusalem and Haifa as absolute evil, what words adequately summarize
the Israeli antipersonnel booby trap which killed five Palestinian
boys on the way to school in Gaza a few days earlier? The death
toll was only five, not twenty-five not nearly as bad. Indeed,
the children were probably not the intended targets of the Israeli
weapon, simply the people most likely to be destroyed by it, if
you took a moment to think about it. And, who knows, perhaps the
kids might have, in the past, thrown rocks at the Israeli guard
tower that oversees the settlement planted in their midst. It is
clear that their parents, friends, relatives will never be convinced
that their death was justified. Israel has not apologized for the
killings, denounced them (it could hardly denounce itself) or admitted
error. The moral calculations become more difficult.
enough, that the best one might do is to pray for the wisdom of
President Bush and his advisors in the weeks to come pray with
the full knowledge that they are hearing now, and will continue
to hear, plenty of dark and morally obscene counsel from some of
this country's most influential citizens.
printable version of this article
As a committed
cold warrior during the 1980's, Scott McConnell wrote extensively
for Commentary and other neoconservative publications. Throughout
much of the 1990's he worked as a columnist, chief editorial writer,
and finally editorial page editor at the New York Post. Most
recently, he served as senior policy advisor to Pat Buchanan's 2000
campaign , and writes regularly for NY Press/Taki's Top Drawer.
columns on Antiwar.com
in the Land
Sneering at Powell, Flacking for Sharon
of the War Party
Hearts and Minds
Strategic Withdrawal Option
Open Letter to Arab Readers
Push for A Wider War
Bushes and the Palestinians: Act 2
Struggle Over War Aims
They Hate Us
Many Arabs Hate America
is Still Right
Real Plan for the Mideast
Just Mideast Peace
Liberalism on the March