Heilbrunn Reviews Neo-Con Travails

Jacob Heilbrunn of The National Interest, which is related to the Nixon Center, has written two very interesting articles on the plight of the neo-cons after the Republican debacle in November that are well worth a read.

The first, published on the journal’s blog December 19, addresses the departure of Joshua Muravchik and Marc Reuel Gerecht, as well as that reported earlier of Michael Ledeen, from the foreign-policy ranks of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). Like Ledeen, Gerecht has found a new home at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), which, so far as I can tell, is basically a front for both Israel’s Likud Party and for the pro-Likud Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC). Muravchik, who, like Ledeen, had been associated with AEI for some 20 years, is apparently yet to find a new perch. Heilbrunn suggests that these departures are evidence of an ideological purge against neo-cons led by Danielle Pletka, who came to prominence as a staffer for the ultra-right Jesse Helms, but I find this a little difficult to believe if, for no other reason, than Pletka is as neo-conservative (and Likudist) as anyone I can think of. I understand from mutual friends that Muravchik had been worried about his position at AEI for at least the past year and a half due to withering pressure from above to write and publish more than he had. It is true as Heilbrunn points out, however, that Muravchik has been a bit more nuanced in his approach to the various “evils” that neo-cons have identified over the past two decades than some of his ideological colleagues; for example, Daniel Pipes (with whom Pletka has been close) has attacked him (and Gerecht) for entertaining the notion that the West should be willing to dialogue with and possibly even support non-violent Islamist parties in the Middle East, a notion that is anathema to Pipes. Perhaps AEI’s or Pletka’s aim is guided less by Republican loyalty than by Islamophobia, if indeed ideology — and not personality, as was reportedly more the case with Ledeen — is playing a role in these decisions.

The second article by Heilbrunn, whose book, They Knew They Were Right: The Rise of the Neocons I reviewed last year, is much longer and appears in the latest issue (Jan 12) of The American Conservative. It speculates on the internal splits that the neo-cons are going through as a result of the political campaign and Obama’s victory, and the possibility (I would say probability) that at least one major faction — headed by people like Robert Kagan, David Brooks and even David Frum — will seek to forge an alliance with liberal interventionists, presumably led by Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton (although Susan Rice also fits the bill), in the new administration, much as they succeeded in doing during the Clinton administration with respect to Balkans policy. As I’ve written before, the two movements have similar historical origins (inspired in major part by the “lessons” — “never again” — they drew from Munich and the Holocaust) and tend to see foreign policy in highly moralistic terms in which the U.S. and Israel are “exceptionally” good. While I don’t agree with everything in Heilbrunn’s analysis, it offers a good point of departure for watching the neo-cons as the Age of Obama gets underway.

Author: Jim Lobe

Visit Lobelog.com for the latest news analysis and commentary from Inter Press News Service's Washington bureau chief Jim Lobe.

22 thoughts on “Heilbrunn Reviews Neo-Con Travails”

  1. I don’t mean to doubt you on this, but do you have anything to back up your assertion that the FDD is a front for the Likud party?


  2. The neocons remain dangerous and need to be watched. They are like a cancer gone into remission.

    1. they’re more like a cancer that’s metastasized thoughout the body politic…

      …if obama’s loyalty oath to israel is to be taken seriously, not to mention his extension of our nuke umbrella to cover israel, not to mention his intent to expand the war in afghanistan, not to mention his silence on israel’s gaza campaign.

        1. no change.

          …but the whole thing starts making sense when you include global warming and peak oil in the situation… seeing as how israel has to be secured before their american armies run out of gas and/or america collapses from oil shortages and looting done by american oligarchs who see the peak oil handwriting on the wall.

          it’s no secret that crude oil production has been flat for the last four years despite a doubling of drills since january of 2002.

          it’s no secret that without the particulate emissions from emerging economies —emissions that shade the planet— we might be seeing global temps two degrees C higher than they are now, and it’s no secret that, if greenland and antarctica melt, we’d see an 70 or 80 meter rise in sea level, which would wipe out the 70% of the israeli population that lives on israel’s coastal plain.

          so israel must be secured now, before the oil runs out, by either (1) grabbing control of the remaining oil and rationing it out to emerging economies, or (2) grabbing high ground, aka the palestinians land in the west bank…

          …the basic problem being: particulates that shade the planet settle out in four or five years, but the co2 that’s causing the warming has an atmospheric lifetime of maybe 300 years.

          so in this context, even the iran war makes a little sense from an israeli point of view, since they need to close hormuz and build pipelines from the persian gulf to israel in order to control energy flows to emerging economies… a last ditch effort to control global warming by controlling energy consumption…

          …not to mention the fact that nobody in their right mind has much faith in the long-term survival of israel’s protector, america, because america’s been built from the ground up dependent on cheap oil… so peak oil is a threat to israel, at one remove.


          if you compile a list of suspects for 9/11, using the traditional “motive, means, opportunity and character” parameters, you’ve got to put israel, the israeli americans of the AEI and their exxon allies at the top of the suspect list.

          seeing as how netanyahu thought 9/11 was “very good”, seeing as how PNAC said, in september of 2000, that they needed “a new pearl harbor”, seeing as how PNAC signatories were installed in the 2000 election recount in florida —a state governed by a PNAC signatory and the brother of the president-elect— seeing as how the 9/11 oil acquistion project will be paid for by the american taxpayer instead of exxon —at a time when access to big oilfields is limited, and exploration and production costs are soaring…

          …well, all that is indication of “motive” to stage 9/11, and once the PNAC signatories were installed in high government positions, they had “means, opportunity and character” galore.

        2. We’ll probably never know the truth about what happened on 9/11. I do know that standard FAA procedures were violated.

        3. .

          historians will start looking for the truth some time or other…

          …and they’re gonna have a hard time swallowing the official 9/11 conspiracy theory if they use the traditional parameters —motive, means, opportunity, and character— to figure out exactly what happened, especially in view of the fact that peak oil and sea level rise will have become painfully obvious as motives for starting a land and oil acquisition project.

          the 9/11 operation was a necessity, to get the project started before the motives for starting the project became obvious.

          motive, means, opportunity, and character

          …and premeditation, as israelis and israeli americans have been agitating for decades to rearrange the middle east, and PNAC even confessed —a year before 9/11— that they needed “a new pearl harbor” to get their project started.

          not to mention the fact that the prime deniers of global warming are the AEI, exxon and CERA… the people with the most motive to deny that their motives for doing 9/11 exist.


          now, that’s how the historians are gonna see it …and if that’s not what’s happening, it would behoove the israelis, israeli americans, exxon and their fellow travelers to stop behaving as if that IS what’s happening.

        4. .
          correction: “not to mention the fact that the prime deniers of global warming and peak oil are the AEI, exxon and CERA…

    1. Yes… the only way to CURE the situation it seems… to wipe out Israel from the pages of History :-)
      But – one bit BUT in these plans – China does have common border with Russia. All these efforts would result in weaker Europe and stronger Russia/China alliance. Is THAT what will really benefit population and elite of US/Israel?

      1. that’s what “nuclear primacy” is about: the neocons figure they’ve got enough nuke weapons that they can do a nuke first strike on russia and/or china, and their “missile defense” systems, like that planned for poland, will be good enough to pick off any surviving russian/chinese retaliatory missiles.

        from the council on foreign relations foreign affairs March/April 2006…

        “the sort of missile defenses that the United States might plausibly deploy would be valuable primarily in an offensive context, not a defensive one — as an adjunct to a U.S. first-strike capability, not as a standalone shield. If the United States launched a nuclear attack against Russia (or China), the targeted country would be left with a tiny surviving arsenal — if any at all. At that point, even a relatively modest or inefficient missile-defense system might well be enough to protect against any retaliatory strikes, because the devastated enemy would have so few warheads and decoys left.”


        1. Oh, God! I hadn’t seen that article. It’s bad enough that these people are so incredibly crazy, but it’s downright frightening that they can publish this crap in the most prestigious journal in the field.

        2. And their crazy enough to do it too. And evil enough as well. What do they care if a “few” million Americans die. The neocons are a strange crazy cult like the Manson family was.

  3. The neocons seem to want WW3, they won’t be happy until the planet is blown up. It almost makes me think, that there isn’t much hope, that any of this will get better in my lifetime.

  4. Cheer up Its a NEW YEAR & there is SOME hope !! We are rid of the Bush Crime Family or if not

    rid of them, then at least He’z NOT in our FACE after 1/20……. Yeah…… The Gates thing

    SUCKS BIg-time….but Eric Holder may turn out 2B O.K.. See him walk and talk…..on youtube

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mk3tKaEvFZ4&feature=channel I like the looks of Eric Holder. I

    like what he says AND how he says it……Is he telling us what he REALLY thinks ?? Well, who

    can know that ?? But if you need a YARDSTICK to measure the difference between..say… Bush &

    E.H…You can watch the Booker School video of Bush while 911 is unfolding…and compare it to

    the three six minute E.H. Vids of him speeking at ACS.. NPR says its a counter organization to

    the Federalist Society…. Have a look…It may cheer ya up……..!!!!!! Its soon time to

    go prospecting in the bush SECRETS mine…. So many secrets…..so FEW time…..!!!!!!

    Rather than do resolutions this New Year, I’m makin a list of BUSH secrets…Checkin it TWICE!

    1. America may be rid of Bush, but AIPAC, the military-industrial-congressional complex and the various lobbies and special interest groups are all still there. They will continue to deform American politics.

  5. In my lifetime – going from feeling a patriotism so strong that the sight of our flag and the sound of our national anthem brought tears to my eyes to the point where I can no longer recite the Pledge of Allegiance without a feeling of disgust. May God damn the bloody Zionists, the greedheads, the slicksters, the liars, and the ignorant. This country, once so great, has been sucked dry and has no honor left.

  6. The US military machine has been hijacked by AIPAC. AIPAC did this by funding only pro-AIPAC Congressmen and the Presidency. The neo cons are not vanishing, they are playing chameleon. They were never ‘Republicans’ and certainly are not ‘conservatives’ at all. This is why all the AIPAC-neo con complex is totally indifferent to US trade and budget deficits.

    Israel, for example, has had a trade surplus with the US for many years while collecting the biggest slice of US foreign aid. Per capita, it is much greater than China’s trade surplus. China’s surplus is less than 50¢ per person and Israel’s is over $10 per person. So there is no will power to stop the US trade deficit since it benefits Israel. The theology of free trade is pushed relentlessly by many neo cons.

    And the US military spending is pushed very hard by them. The alarming statistics of our gross misspending in military matters leaves AIPAC and the neo cons utterly indifferent. So what, they think. So long as they get to use this system, the amount it costs us is immaterial. Japan and Europe, the G7 nations, also want wild US military spending.

    It puts us at a great disadvantage in trade since they all can concentrate on civilian matters and it is a great tool to use when negotiating with Russia and China. The neo cons believe that our military is a club to be used to get some leverage with Russia and China and this club is obviously used quite openly against assorted Muslims.

    All this interfaces with the many Muslim despots who hate populist movements. These guys work with AIPAC and the neo cons to oppress and suppress any smidgen of true democracy that might be based on nationalism, not tribalism. Many tribes can be controlled easily by despots if the despots are backed by US military power. They don’t care if we go bankrupt.

    Worse, the revolutionaries and religious fanatics LOVE the fact that Israeli-first Jews and Muslim despots are jointly forcing the US into bankruptcy to China! This is the cold irony of the situation.

    Elaine Supkis, emsnews.wordpress.com

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