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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Joe Klein Vs. the NeoCons

Ever since Joe Klein wrote this rather confrontational piece accusing the so called Neocons of having a foreign policy stance that favored Israel at the expense of the United States, we have seen an adult version of third grade shouting match. Peter Wehner has weighed in. John Podhoretz did as well. Of course, Joe Klein also sat down with Jeffrey Goldberg for an interview to discuss the situation.

In many ways, it feels like all of them have egos that are larger than they should be. Writers and pundits have decided to make the story about themselves rather than about the policymakers they are supposed to cover. On some level, I think everyone should have tried to be the bigger person.

I am also very aware of attempting to stay objective even though my natural instinct is to side with the NeoCons. Still, I can't help but side with the neocons. The insidious thing from Klein's part is two fold. First, let's look at the comments that started it all.

The notion that we could just waltz in and inject democracy into an extremely complicated, devout and ancient culture smacked—still smacks—of neocolonialist legerdemain. The fact that a great many Jewish neoconservatives—people like Joe Lieberman and the crowd over at Commentary—plumped for this war, and now for an even more foolish assault on Iran, raised the question of divided loyalties: using U.S. military power, U.S. lives and money, to make the world safe for Israel.

Assigning religion to this policy is downright shameful. I assume that Klein, himself Jewish, thought that he was in a position to offer credibility to such an attack. In fact, he was not. By making this about the Jewish religion, he could then naturally move toward making a machiavellian attack on their motives vis a vis Israel.

Of course, what Klein is really doing is deciphering motive. That is impossible unless one can read minds. In fact, he can't and so his assertion that neocons make policy for the benefit of Israel is nothing more than rank speculation. He is using this rank speculation to assign to most insidious motives to some people. For instance, Paul Wolfowitz is among the NeoCons that Klein believes was making policy for the benefit of Israel. In other words, in the mind of Klein, Wolfowitz was working in the Bush administration and the whole time making policy to benefit Israel and not the United States, his employer.

This is not only nonsense but slanderous. Had Klein limited his criticism strictly to policy he would have been on perfectly fine footing. He didn't and instead assigned a motive he couldn't possibly know. By doing it, he turned a legitimate attack into a slanderous character assassination. On that level, I can see where some of the attacked felt they needed to defend themselves. They did.


Anonymous said...

You're being foolish. Guessing at someone's motive is only possible by mind reading....that may work as a one-off incident.

But you cannot deny that the neocons have made MANY moves and each one reinforces their core principles. It is no longer guessing, you would have to be blind NOT to see it.

Get your eyes checked.

mike volpe said...

Well, you have to be a little more specific than some cryptic reference to many moves that say something about their motives.

Of course, the neo cons have a philosophy. Liberals have a philosophy. Moderates have a philosophy. Conservatives have a philosophy. Everyone has a philosophy, well, almost everyone but you get the point.

That doesn't mean you can fairly assign a nefarious motive to their philosophy.