View Full Version : Wolfowitz And Podhoretz: Jewish Neocons And The Idea Of Entitlement

06-10-2007, 08:37 PM
Wolfowitz and Podhoretz: Jewish neocons and the idea of entitlement



Two Jewish neocons have been in the news the past few days, seemingly involved in two discrete stories: Paul Wolfowitz, soon to be the ex-president of the World Bank, and Norman Podhoretz, the long-time editor of Commentary.

Wolfowitz has been forced to resign due to allegations of corruption and Podhoretz has made headlines by saying that he is praying that the US bombs Iran. I see these stories as pieces of a larger whole, united by the Jewish idea of entitlement, which in its neocon version has a violent expression. There is no reason to spend time on Podhoretz. He is an anti-Muslim, anti-Arab racist. Wolfowitz is much more interesting, if only because he is a more intelligent and complex figure. In a sense Wolfowitz is entitlement-lite; Podhoretz, entitlement-heavy. Wolfowitz is a complex racist; Podhoretz a simple one. Complexity requires some analysis.

A series of recent books, published in the US and some cited below, which describe the inner workings of the Bush administration agree that Paul Wolfowitz was one of the most important, if not the most important advocate of the Iraq war. As undersecretary for defense, he was the highest ranking of the Jewish neocons, who were unrelenting in their efforts to reshape the Middle East.

Long before 9/11, Wolfowitz and other neocons authored the doctrine of pre-emptive war. As is well known, the fundamental purpose of the doctrine was to create regimes friendly to Israel. Failing that, regimes hostile to Israel would be weakened. What is not so well-known is how Jewish neocons convinced non-Jewish neocons that eliminating Saddam Hussein was essential. Their assertion was simply that Saddam Hussein was an Iraqi Hitler and that failure to remove him would lead to another Holocaust.

Foreign policy analysts typically employ a rough choice when facing a threat: confront or negotiate. Those who favor confrontation, including the use of military force, generally try to associate the would-be negotiators with the appeasement model. The British and French approach to the Nazi threat has been called “appeasement,” a label which is intended to disparage those as misguided, weak or cowardly, who would talk rather than fight. One would expect the neoconservatives, who almost always default to military rather than diplomatic activity, to use the word, “appeasement” regularly. Instead, they use the word “Holocaust.” This equivalency is based on the implicit allegation that appeasement implies Holocaust. When the Holocaust model is invoked to justify war against the Middle Eastern enemies of Israel, it amounts to a Jewish jihad. I realize this claim may seem farfetched or inflammatory. An analysis of Wolfowitz’s zeal to invade Iraq, no less than Podhoretz’s obsession with Iran, however, will demonstrate its truth. Moralistic, idealistic and religious convictions formed the basis for the destruction of an Arab and predominantly Muslim country, one which did not threaten the US. To get Americans to comply, Iraq had to be fitted to the Holocaust model.

It is important to realize that not all the zealots for the Iraq war are Jews. Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and Bush are Christians, along with many others. One need not be Jewish to employ the Old Testament’s perspective that the world is divided between good and evil, an idea that is, in fact, the premise of Christian fundamentalism. Jewish jihadism is a state of mind, one which takes its cue from the Old Testament’s penchant for Armageddon, but should not be identified with all forms of Judaism. It is typical of, but not limited to, the most ultra-nationalist Israeli parties. Nevertheless, Paul Wolfowitz and other Jews in the Bush administration, including among others, Douglas Feith, Richard Perle and Kenneth Adelman, have most often played the Holocaust card to shame those who were reluctant to confront Saddam. This approach is reinforced by the presumed foreign policy expertise and authority of Holocaust survivors: “Elie Wiesel,” according to Bob Woodward, “told the president [Bush] that Iraq was a terrorist state and that the moral imperative was for intervention. If the West had intervened in Europe in 1938, he said, World War II and the Holocaust would have been prevented.”

Wolfowitz, along with many other neoconservatives, was disturbed by the end of the first Gulf war. They believed that the stunning military victory was squandered by an unwillingness to follow it up with a dismantling of Iraq and the removal of Saddam. They held the postwar policy of “containment” in contempt. According to Thomas Riggs, the author of “Fiasco,” “Wolfowitz came to believe that the policy of containment [of Iraq] was profoundly immoral, like standing by and trying to contain Hitler’s Germany. … Some observers of Wolfowitz speculate that another lesson he took from the Holocaust is that the American people need to be pushed to do the right thing, because by the time the United States entered World War II it had been too late for millions of Jews and other victims of the Nazis.”

In contrast to reading the Nazi threat through the prism of the Holocaust, the realist school of international relations condemns appeasement because it did not deal with the danger of Nazi Germany to the security of the West. Hitler needed to be stopped, by war if necessary, because the domination of Europe by any single nation-state imperiled the security of the rest of the world, as it imprisoned Europeans. Morality did not need to add to the already sufficient reasons for stopping Hitler and the Nazis. Appeasement was wrong because it did not work, not because it was immoral. It is precisely this sort of reasoning that the Jewish jihadists reject. Morality, as they conceive it, properly comes first. If something is right to do, then a way must be found to do it. Realism, its prudential calculations and its willingness to deal with devils like Hitler and Saddam are what have been wrong with American foreign policy. Wolfowitz and his associates, long before 9/11, were dedicated to correcting this “immoral” approach.

To place morality or idealism or any other absolute value in the forefront of foreign policy is to make policy formation an offshoot of a religious commitment, whether it is acknowledged or not. All absolutes are religious, for they make a direct appeal to authority that is not tested by reason or evidence. There are countless references by associates of Wolfowitz and other Jewish jihadists that they were dedicated zealots impervious to reason and evidence which tended to erode their absolute conviction that they and only they were right. Halper and Clarke’s, brilliant analysis in “America Alone,” makes this clear: Neoconservatives (1) “believe, deriving from religious conviction, that the human condition is defined as a choice between good and evil and that the true measure of political character is to be found in the willingness of the former (themselves) to confront the latter; (2) assert that the fundamental determinant of the relationship between states rests on military power and the willingness to use it; (3) [believe in] the primary focus of the Middle East and global Islam as the principal theatre for American overseas interests.” Realists, like Halper and Clarke and I, believe that international politics are largely determined by national self-interest and that its chief instrument is military power. Realists also believe that this state of affairs, as awful as its can sometimes be, is preferable to international politics driven by any absolute, moral or religious value. Such values are the breeding grounds of fanatics, of those who believe that their actions, regardless how horrific, are ordained by God or some other form of the Absolute. Jewish jihadists, like other jihadists, are ready to destroy the world rather than let it persist in sin.

It perfectly understandable that Jews, particularly those like Wolfowitz and Feith, who lost relatives in the Holocaust, should have their views determined by the Nazi murders. It is impossible for this searing experience not to inform their value orientation. No one expects policy analysts to be machines. However, it is not permissible for any single personal experience, no matter how important, to determine the policy of a nation-state. It is not permissible to allow any personal conviction, however deeply held, to place other people in harm’s way, independent of compelling evidence that their national security is at stake.

When such experiences and convictions determine policy, it is hardly surprising that catastrophe results. This is how the Iraq war was summed up by Gen. Zinni: “I don’t think the neocons really give a shit what happened in Iraq and the aftermath. … I don’t think they thought it would be this bad. But they said: Look if it works out, let’s say we get Chalabi in, he’s our boy, great. We don’t and maybe there is some half-ass government out there, maybe a strong man emerges, it fractures, and there’s basically a loose federation and there’s really a Kurdish state. Who cares? There’s some bloodshed and it’s messy. Who cares? I mean, we’ve taken out Saddam. We’ve asserted our strength in the Middle East. We’re changing the dynamic. We’re off the peace process as the centerpiece and we’re not putting pressure on Israel.” Catastrophe results, because only personal conviction counts and only personal experience matters. “Who cares about the consequences?” This phrase is the leitmotif of all absolutist positions. It is the mantra of all jihadists. What matters is the ideal, the holy purpose, the absolute truth. The Jewish jihadists believe the debacle in Iraq is worth it, regardless of how many more lives, American and Iraqi, are lost, no matter how much property is destroyed or money spent. The Jewish jihadists believe the war in Iraq is justified, because it made the point that Evil will not be tolerated. ‘Never again!’ is the determining mantra. If the Middle East is destroyed in the bargain, “Who cares?”

06-10-2007, 11:01 PM
Funny how the Israeli army is noticably absent everywhere but Israel.