Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Great Comment on Walt and Mearsheimer Book

From David Bromwich:

the truth is that many new facts are in this book, and many surprising facts. By reconstructing a trail of meetings and public statements in 2001-2002, for example, the authors show that much of the leadership of Israel was puzzled at first by the boyish enthusiasm for a war on Iraq among their neoconservative allies. Why Iraq? they asked. Why now? They would appear to have obtained assurances, however, that once the "regime change" in Iraq was accomplished, the next war would be against Iran.

A notable pilgrimage followed. One by one they lined up, Netanyahu, Sharon, Peres, and Barak, writing op-eds and issuing flaming warnings to convince Americans that Saddam Hussein was a menace of world-historical magnitude. Suddenly the message was that any delay of the president's plan to bomb, invade, and occupy Iraq would be seized on by "the terrorists" as a sign of weakness. Regarding the correct treatment of terrorists, as also regarding the avoidance of weakness, Americans look to Israelis as mentors in a class by themselves.


Yet the chief orchestrater of the second neoconservative war of aggression is Elliott Abrams. Convicted for deceptions around Iran-Contra, as Lewis Libby was convicted for deceptions stemming from Iraq--and pardoned by the elder Bush just as Libby had his sentence commuted by the younger--Abrams now presides over the Middle East desk at the National Security Council.


How mad is Elliott Abrams? If one passage cited by Mearsheimer-Walt is quoted accurately, it would seem to be the duty of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to subject Abrams to as exacting a challenge as the Senate Judiciary Committee brought to Alberto Gonzales. The man at the Middle East desk of the National Security Council wrote in 1997 in his book Faith or Fear: "there can be no doubt that Jews, faithful to the covenant between God and Abraham, are to stand apart from the nation in which they live. It is the very nature of being Jewish to be apart--except in Israel--from the rest of the population." When he wrote those words, Abrams probably did not expect to serve in another American administration. He certainly did not expect to occupy a position that would require him to weigh the national interest of Israel, the country with which he confessed himself uniquely at one, alongside the national interest of a country in which he felt himself to stand "apart...from the rest of the population." Now that he is calling the shots against Hamas and Hezbollah, Damascus and Tehran, his words of 1997 ought to alarm us into reflection.



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