AMERICA IN IRAQ: A GLUTTON FOR PUNISHMENT

Colin Powell is making the rounds, trying to drum up European support for the U.S. occupation of Iraq: the Google headline for the story in the Macon Telegraph reads “U.S. Seeks Reinforcements for Iraq” – but when you click on it, you get a story with a new rather more abstruse head: “U.S. Seeks U.N. Help for Allies in Iraq.” Hmmm. Uh, what “allies”?

There’s the Brits, of course, and the Poles – but, um, maybe not. When the going gets tough, the Poles get going. The Spaniards, too, who made such a big show of their support, now seem to be going wobbly, after suffering exactly one casualty. Oh but wait: didn’t that list of the “coalition of the willing” also include Honduras? Yup, they’re sending 370 of their best peasant-killing brutes to help police Iraq. Now doesn’t that make you feel all warm and glowing inside?

At any rate, the U.S. is tired of using its own troops as sitting ducks for Al Qaeda wannabes in Iraq, and is now trying to interest UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in a new Security Council resolution that would presumably call for burden-sharing. “The president has always felt that the U.N. has a vital role to play,” burbled Powell. Yeah, suuuuuuure he has, but it is doubtful that the other members of the Security Council, notably France and Germany, would be much interested in playing the role of charwomen to the American mess-makers. Especially since, as Reuters reports, the U.S. is insisting on maintaining complete control of the occupation:

“Secretary of State Colin Powell said on Thursday he was exploring a new U.N. resolution that would encourage nations ‘to do more’ in Iraq but said Washington would not surrender military control.”

Mine, mine, mine! Precious, precious, precious: with Smeagol-like greed, the U.S. hoards all the world’s troubles for its own.

Not that the Euro-lefties and/or the UN are calling for the U.S. to leave, so the Iraqis can determine their own fate. They don’t want US troops to be withdrawn from anywhere. They just want political, military, and economic leadership to be European or UN – i.e., themselves. That’s why they liked Clinton. He used U.S. troops to do the dirty work, but left the military decision making to the NATO council in Bosnia/Kosovo, and let the UN kleptocrats run the place after “peace” had been declared. U.S. troops are still there.

With the Bushies, however, the Americans and their former allies have entered a stand-off. No one wants to see U.S. troops serving under foreign commanders, but then the reverse is also true: no French or German soldier wants to be commanded by the Americans. My guess is that the American bid to spread the misery of “victory” around is going to be met with not-so-polite refusals. You made your bed, George, Rummy, Wolfie, et al, and now you’re going to have to sleep in it.

Speaking of misplaced generosity, the Israelis are getting another $9 billion in loan guarantees, in spite of earlier rumblings about possible “deductions” if the Wall of Separation continues to go up. National Security advisor Condoleezza Rice soon quashed talk that Israel would pay a price for embarrassing the U.S., and the final agreement, recently inked, shows the power of the Israeli lobby to get away with anything and everything. According to Globes, the Israeli business journal,

“The deductions article is the most confidential article in last night’s agreement, due to its diplomatic repercussion on the implementation of the Road Map. The US reserves the right of flexibility and maneuvering room over actual deductions. Under the previous loan guarantees in 1993-97, the US deducted $800-900 million from the guarantees – two-thirds of the Israeli government’s spending beyond the Green Line. The US conceded a third of deduction, after it was shown that the money was used for the welfare of the Palestinians.”

Yeah, like gunning down stone-throwing Palestinian teenagers and inflicting hundreds of casualties. Surely this was U.S. tax dollars well-spent “for the welfare of the Palestinians.”

“The dry legal language of the agreement’s deductions article states that the US can deduct from the loan guarantees every shekel the Israeli government invests beyond the Green Line. Since the separation fence is situated beyond the Green Line, the US can, should it choose, deduct the cost of the fence from the loan guarantees.”

Oh, but there’s a catch, as there always is when it comes to the Israelis:

“Nevertheless, the US administration agreed to broad language, which gives it flexibility and maneuvering room in deciding how much to deduct. In any event, the final decision on the deduction from the loan guarantees will be taken only in 2006. By then, it is assumed that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will be resolved in line with President George W. Bush’s Road Map. If the US does not adopt the same lenient policy as it did under the first loan guarantees, it could deduct more than $2 billion from the current loan guarantees.”

If the U.S. does not adopt the same lenient policy it has always adopted when it comes to Israeli outrages against decency, then, presumably, the Road Map to the Second Coming will have been resolved in the End of the World as We Know It.

Speaking of the Israelis, one of their more voluble American supporters, Ilana Mercer, who claims to be a “libertarian,” is on the attack, again, with yours truly in her crosshairs. She alleges that “the hostility so many libertarians harbor toward Israel … has to do with an unfortunate guilt by association: "Libertarian animus against neoconservatives has translated into revulsion for Israel because so many prominent neoconservatives are pro-Israel Jews.”

Whether the neoconservatives are responsible for the loan guarantees – and the billions more in foreign aid – is highly doubtful: the Israelis asked, and, as usual, they received. This has more to do with the Christian Coalition than the neocons, but that doesn’t stop La Mercer from ascribing to me “an irrational belief system where ‘the Zionists’ are seen as the root of all evil.” If only Zionists were alone in agitating for the Israelis to be put at the head of the welfare line when it comes to foreign aid, then perhaps they wouldn’t be getting nearly $3 billion (plus “loan guarantees”) per year – more than any other single nation on earth. But Mercer never lets mere facts get in her way.

She is unapologetic in her smear of libertarian scholar Sheldon Richman, whom she insists on coupling with an anti-Semitic group in spite of his Jewish heritage: tying him to the Institute for Hysterical Review (as I call it) is, in her words, “a legitimate literary device.” It is? Yeah, if you’re a literary thug, without a conscience or a rational basis for your arguments. Otherwise, it’s below the belt, which is about par for the course for the Amen Corner.

Mercer whines that “libertarians loathe Israel,” but it isn’t true: we loathe the tactics and arrogance of Israel’s rabid partisans on the American scene, exemplified by her contemptible screeds. Of all the old-time libertarians of my generation, Richman is among the most rational and thoughtful: certainly he is the nicest. Even when we didn’t agree, he was always courteous (unlike me), kind, and open to hearing another view (again, quite unlike me). To see this witch reiterate her rotten smears against him is just too much for any decent person to bear.

In a disgusting display of tribalism, Mercer revels in “the nationalistic nature of the Hebrew civilization” – all the while claiming to be a “libertarian”! Like hell she is. The minute her “libertarian” principles contrast with her tribal-ethnic loyalties, the latter win out – it’s no contest. How else do we explain her enthusiasm for the politicization of Judaism, the most profound and ancient of the world’s three great religions, into a fanatical political cult known as “Zionism,” which was rightly disdained as a freakazoid fringe movement in the first decades of its existence?

Mercer’s rantings are just plain dumb, and not really worth going into at any length. For example, she writes:

“By the way, I’ve had the odd exchange with Mark Weber, director of the [Institute for Historical Review]. He is a pleasant and polite fellow, which is more than I can say about Justin Raimondo. It would no more occur to me to accuse Weber of anti-Semitism than it would cross my mind to so accuse Richman (or Raimondo).”

We already know I’m not a polite fellow, but really, Ilana: if an “Institute” that puts out a journal and sponsors conferences denying the Holocaust isn’t anti-Semitic, then what the heck is? Of course, I can see why she would get along with Weber. La Mercer and her ilk would just love it if the only opposition they had was embodied in a band of anti-Semitic nutballs.

When she is through with her “blood and soil” Zionist rant, and finished re-smearing Richman, she finally gets around to me, and that is where she completely loses it, writing:

“He conceals his inability to address an argument – much less to interpret text or understand an analogy – with flamboyant flare.”

She can’t spell – it’s “flair,” as any fifth grader would know, not “flare” – any better than she can reason. Mercer avers that she couldn’t possibly be anything like David Frum, the Vyshinsky of the neocons, because they’re for military “gallivanting,” and she’s against it, they love Martin Luther King, and she no like, and they go pale at the mere mention of State’s Rights. But the one thing – the essential thing – they do have in common is not just a penchant for smearing their opponents by conjuring associations that aren’t there, but also an overriding concern for the well-being of a foreign country, namely Israel. The Wall, the ongoing ethnic cleansing, the militaristic arrogance – Mercer, like her neocon cousins, doesn’t just tolerate it, she loves it, it makes her proud. “I can’t see myself remaining more than persona non grata in that cave,” she writes, to which I can only add: give it time. But bone up on your spelling….

Mercer reiterates her claim that Israel doesn’t really need all that foreign aid from the U.S., that it hurts them more than it helps them. Yeah, but then they keep asking for it – and they keep getting it. Why do you suppose that is? Mercer says that Israel would only have to be more “efficient” militarily: but then, murdering all the Palestinians would also be “efficient.” It would certainly save on bullets. Is that what the fervently “nationalistic” La Mercer is advocating? I wouldn’t put it past her.

Oh, but the kicker comes when she defends her comments on the Wall of Separation from my accusation that this is a device by the Israelis to steal even more Palestinian land:

“I was very plainly defending the idea of a mechanical barrier. To the extent that property has unjustly been incorporated en route, this must be remedied. If the Israelis don’t fix the property injustices Raimondo alleges, then I share his outrage.”

Oh really? Then surely La Mercer will join with me in calling for those portions of the Wall to be torn down a.s.a.p., no ifs, ands, or buts about it – which means, if you look at a map, that nearly all of it would have to come down.

Face it, Ilana: the Wall is indefensible, from a libertarian perspective. You have to choose: libertarianism, or tribalism.

Which will it be?

NOTES IN THE MARGIN

Ok, so I was being just a trifle on the cranky side in my remarks on Reason magazine in the last edition of this column. Fortunately, editor Nick Gillespie is a really nice guy (not to mention kinda cute), and took it all in stride, as you can see from this entry in Reason‘s “Hit and Run” blog. My buddy Jim Henley also took me to task, wondering if I had “gotten into Andrew Sullivan’s stash of hormone pills or something.” Well, uh, not quite, but, in my own defense, I have to admit that I’ve been writing with a fever of 100-plus for the past few days, and my blood pressure is inching toward the Danger Zone. Aside from that, however, it could be that the occasional neoconnish rumblings over at Reason (Cathy Young, who prissily objected to poets protesting the war at a White House event because "poetry transcends politics," Charles Paul Freund, and especially Ron Bailey come to mind) stand in such stark contrast to the good stuff that it just sets me off. But then, it isn’t all that hard to set me off, now is it?

I’m going to be speaking at the 14th annual meeting of the John Randolph Club, sponsored by the Rockford Institute and Chronicles magazine, in gaudy old New Orleans, in the heart of the French Quarter, of course, at the Saint Louis Hotel, November 14-15. Chronicles editor Tom Fleming, Peter Brimelow, and the rest of us paleoconservative "bad boys" of the American Right will be having a grand old time – and so will you, if you show up. To register, call Cindy Link at 815-964-5813.

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Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of Antiwar.com, and a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He is a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and writes a monthly column for Chronicles. He is the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].