Blaming the cabal
In a way, we should be grateful to Jim Moran for opening his foolish mouth. After the Virginia congressman opined that "if it were not for the strong support of the Jewish community for this war with Iraq, we would not be doing this," the proverbial elephant in the room was unveiled. The notion that the war is really about Israel was out in the open. Yes, Moran apologized. And yes, he was chastised. But then it got ugly.
Predictably, none other than Pat Buchanan (he who coined the "amen corner" moniker for those in support of the first Gulf War) was happy to join the fray. This time, it was a polemic in his magazine declaring that a small cabal of neoconservatives with ties to the administration are willing "to conscript American blood to make the world safe for Israel." The names he names--Wolfowitz, Perle, Kristol, Podhoretz--are all Jewish. Thank goodness Buchanan assures us their Jewishness is not the issue. No, they just happen to be Jews who have single-handedly persuaded this administration to wage a war with Iraq "not in America's interests" after "colluding with Israel to ignite those wars." So they are traitors.
Bunch of hawks. In this conspiratorial worldview, these men have a master plan they connived years ago to do Israel's bidding and get rid of Saddam Hussein. Never mind that if it were up to the Israelis, the United States would be looking toward regime change in Iran or Syria. And never mind that this "cabal" is actually a bunch of predictable hawks who also urged action in Kosovo and Bosnia--on behalf of Muslims. Forget all of that.
Instead, let's believe that President Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, and Colin Powell are a weak crew who have been hypnotized by an all-powerful Israel lobby. Granted, this administration clearly finds Ariel Sharon preferable to the Palestinian Authority, although it last week committed to a "road map" for Mideast policy that called for an end to Israeli settlements. Still, doesn't Bush's longstanding preference for Sharon have more to do with his disgust with Yasser Arafat than his deep affection for Richard Perle? Let's face it: Bush is no conniving coconspirator. If anything, he's a deeply unsubtle man who forms visceral and stubborn assessments of leaders--and Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong Il are at the top of his bad-guys list. Did someone else place them there? Were the president's top advisers hoodwinked? "This is not just the result of a few individuals who are running loose, as some suggest," Powell said last week. Why not accept the obvious explanation without affirming the absurd?
But in Washington, the truth is never allowed to be simple. So when a White House aide suggests, as he did to me last week, that this president believes that confronting tyranny is in our interest and coincides with our values, we say there must be more to it. When the aide says that "in the councils of war, this discussion [of Israel] does not come up," we smirk. We know better. There must be an ulterior motive. Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, Saddam's alter ego, is happy to play that game: "The reason for this warmongering policy toward Iraq is oil and Israel," he explained to the New York Times. No fool, this Aziz. He has the arguments of the far left (oil) and the far right (Israel) down perfectly.