It’s only natural that citizens of foreign nations should take an interest in who aspires to the White House: after all, we’ve announced our "right" to launch a preemptive attack anywhere, under any circumstances, in order to prevent a perceived threat to our "national security," vaguely defined. It helps to know if you should start digging a bomb shelter or not.
Fortunately for the people of Iran, and the entire Middle East, it looks like Rudy Giuliani‘s strategy of simply proclaiming himself the front-runner, without deigning to actually compete in any of the primaries until Florida, has succeeded only in letting Ron Paul stomp all over him, much to the unrestrained glee of the Paulistas. Unfortunately, the new media-anointed front-runner is John "Boots on the Ground" McCain, who has managed to consistently project the most militaristic agenda through every U.S. intervention, whether launched by a Republican or a Democrat, from Kosovo to the second Iraq war.
Furthermore, it’s all too plausible that the war-weary American people are going to be presented with a distinctly unpalatable "choice" come November between the two most hawkish presidential aspirants of their respective parties: McCain and Hillary.
But that isn’t enough for some people. The mere presence, in the primaries, of candidates who espouse a foreign policy based on cooperation rather than conquest is an affront to some. And there is a well-orchestrated campaign to knock them out of the running, to discredit and smear them by any means necessary. The Smear Bund would much rather argue about their latest calumny than debate the pros and cons of our interventionist folly in the Middle East and around the world. Divert the conversation, control the narrative, and fling as much mud as possible as quickly as you can in hopes that at least some of it will stick that is the methodology of the War Party in dealing with a threat to their hegemony on the electoral front.
As I said, foreigners take an understandable interest in our presidential elections, and that’s because they’re under threat of attack. Yet that isn’t the only reason the rest of the world watches and even participates in, albeit only journalistically the race for the White House with as much focus as the average American voter, if not more.
One such case is that of Caroline Glick, a well-known Israeli rightist whose column for the Jerusalem Post is a veritable bellwether of Likudnik opinion, and who takes occasional jabs at America for what she views as slights or even betrayals. In this instance, she’s miffed that we’ve even allowed the race to get this far without a front-runner, while including "candidates and policies that would have previously never made it out of the starting gate." Those candidates deemed substandard by Glick all have one thing in common: the perception, on her part, that Israel would be worse off if they ever made it to the White House. What’s more, it isn’t good for Israel that they’re even being allowed to discuss their foreign policy views in a public forum, such as the presidential debates.
Number one on Glick’s list of undesirables is, of course, Ron Paul, the Texas country doctor and 10-term Republican congressman whose anti-interventionist views have made him the War Party’s favored target and a hero to a growing constituency on the Right as well as the Left, as Glick sourly acknowledges. Bringing out the knives, she writes, "At the same time, his campaign’s quest for mainstream respectability has been stymied repeatedly by the fact that neo-Nazi Web sites have embraced Paul’s candidacy." Yes, but has he embraced them? Glick doesn’t say and doesn’t care, nor does she identify the Web site in question.
Like her neoconservative soul-mates in America, Glick is focused like a laser on the issue of "respectability": it’s important that she and her ideological confreres get to determine who’s "legitimate," and who to put it in Bill Kristol’s terms is "a crank." This latter category includes anyone who, like Paul, wants to abandon as futile the Bushian project of "transforming" the Middle East into nascent "democracies" while taking out Israel’s enemies one by one.
Glick is worried by Paul, who, she thinks, should have been taken out by Jamie Kirchick’s crude hatchet job in The New Republic, yet "Paul’s showing in Nevada was particularly impressive." Why, just a week previously, Kirchick’s "in-depth" attack "showed that the neo-Nazis’ support for him is not unjustified." According to Glick,
"Paul has spoken in warm support for the slave-owning Confederacy and the militia men who believe they must defend themselves against the Federal government and a web of global governance conspirators. He has also praised former Ku Klux Klan Imperial Wizard David Duke."
As I showed here, all of these statements are lies: rather than endorse slave-owning, Paul raised the idea of decentralism as a central principle of the pro-freedom philosophy he espouses and pointed out that Lincoln was no civil libertarian. His newsletter addressed the concerns of anti-government "militias," whose support for the Second Amendment and belief that the federal government has become too overbearing reflect mainstream conservative themes. Nor did the newsletter have any "warm words" for racist ideologue and sometime politician David Duke: the newsletter writer merely reported Duke’s electoral success in Louisiana and discussed ways to address the issues he raised in his campaign affirmative action, crime, etc. in a manner consistent with the freedom philosophy and the concept of individual rights, rather than letting Duke and his racist confreres exploit them. The "warm words" Glick heard were only the echoes of her own twisted mind, which espies "fascists," "racists," and numerous "anti-Semites" under every American bed.
Pushed along by the "cosmopolitan" faux libertarians at Reason magazine and the Cato Institute, the Paul-is-a-Nazi meme has circulated among those for whom Fox News is the fountainhead of political wisdom: indeed, one of the supposedly libertarian perpetrators, Radley Balko, has a gig with Fox News writing a column. Now the Jerusalem Post has taken up the same smears, with little regard for either accuracy or nuance, and the New Republic/Reason libels go international.
"Before Kirchick’s report," wails Glick, "Paul outpolled Giuliani threefold in the early primary states. And after the report, he had his best showing to date in Nevada." What are the Thought Police (Foreign Division) to do? (And when are they going to realize that few read the New Republic, and even fewer take it seriously?) It’s particularly grating for the pro-Israel crowd that their preferred candidate, Giuliani, is being humiliated by Paul at the polls: time to get out the smear brushes and get to work!
But it isn’t just Paul who raises Glick’s ire. Mike Huckabee, surprisingly enough, also gets the same treatment. According to Glick:
"Huckabee targets evangelicals by calling for the strengthening of America’s Christian identity. Interestingly, in his bid for Christian support, Huckabee has not embraced evangelical advocacy of hawkish foreign policies and defense of Christian communities in the Muslim world. To the contrary, like former president Jimmy Carter, Huckabee advocates an emasculated foreign policy based on being nice to other countries. He likens disputes with foreign countries to family squabbles that can be solved by better communications. Following from this, Huckabee claims that America’s problems with Iran are the result of America’s lack of diplomatic relations with Iran."
I don’t know where Glick gets her information. You’ll note there are no citations, no links, nada just her arbitrary assertions, backed up by zilch. The reality is that Huckabee is as hawkish as any of the Republicans, as I pointed out recently. It seems that it’s a matter of the degree of intensity with which one wishes and works for war that impresses the Glicks of this world, and nothing short of Giuliani-esque grotesqueries, such as his formulation that he wouldn’t rule out using nuclear weapons against Iran, will appease her and her co-thinkers.
Glick hints that Huckabee just might be a bigot after all, what’s all this "Christian identity" business? but gets explicit when it comes to her real bête noire, Barack Obama. Here she employs all the dirty tricks we have come to expect from American neoconservatives and the Israel lobby: guilt-by-association and false charges of "racism" and "anti-Semitism," all in the service of what people like Glick consider to be Israel’s best interests.
After reiterating the Clinton/right-wing mantra that Obama was "educated in Muslim schools in Indonesia" and noting that his "father and stepfather were Muslims" falling just short of referring to him as "Barack Hussein Obama" Glick points to Obama’s alleged "spiritual adviser," one Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr., as a "bigot," a "black supremacist," and an "anti-Semite."
These are serious charges. What is her evidence? A report by the same obscure Web site the "American Thinker" that early on played up the phony charges against Ron Paul. What a coincidence! And what, exactly, is the American Thinker? It’s a place where the war in Iraq is a holy crusade, where President Bush is given the same status the Daily Worker, circa 1930, gave to Uncle Joe Stalin, and where any slight to Israel is immediately denounced as a vile act of anti-Semitism, whether it is committed by the American government or by private citizens.
Their "proof" that Rev. Wright is a black Nazi is as follows: "Wright has called for divestment from Israel and refers to Israel as a ‘racist’ state. Theologically, he believes that the true ‘Chosen People’ are the blacks." Not very convincing: after all, Jimmy Carter has called Israel an "apartheid state" is he a Nazi? The president himself is calling for the establishment of a Palestinian state, much to Glick’s outraged chagrin. And as for who, exactly, has the rightful claim to being the Chosen People, doesn’t every people believe it is specially chosen by God to carry out some mission?
Israel is a state, not a religion: to support divestment of public funds, or to exert any other form of economic or social pressure on the Israeli government to moderate its policies to stop the IDF from killing civilians in Gaza or halt the building of new settlements, for example is the only way for U.S. citizens to peacefully protest morally reprehensible actions unconditionally supported by Washington.
Glick marshals her "evidence" that Obama is an anti-Semite by identifying his foreign policy adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, as "one of Israel’s greatest foes in Washington." No reason is given, but one assumes it’s Zbig’s endorsement of the thesis advanced by professors John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt that unconditional support for Israel harms both the U.S. and Israel.
The two distinguished professors, one the dean of the "realist" school of international relations and the other the former academic dean of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, join the growing ranks of "anti-Semites" including Obama, Paul, Carter, Huckabee, and anyone else who looks cross-eyed at Israel or its American lobby. This is the "new" anti-Semitism, one that has nothing to do with advocating legal sanctions or violence against Jews, and everything to do with opposing the foreign and domestic policies of whatever government happens to be in power in Jerusalem.
There is something unseemly about a foreign observer trying to stir up racial and religious resentments in America, turning Christians against Muslims and "pro-Arab" policymakers while accusing both of anti-Jewish bigotry. Such accusations come tripping off Glick’s lips with promiscuous regularity: she has accused the U.S. Justice Department of conducting an anti-Semitic pogrom in prosecuting the AIPAC defendants and convicted spy-for-Israel Larry Franklin, a former top Pentagon analyst who worked at the DoD’s Iran desk. Franklin was caught red-handed stealing U.S. secrets and handing them over to Israeli officials and AIPAC employees. Yet Glick characterizes the arrest and prosecution of the AIPAC defendants as anti-Semitic "persecution." They should only do to Franklin, Steve Rosen, and Keith Weissman what the Israelis did to Mordechai Vanunu.
I have to add that the Smear Bund has reached a new low with the Glick piece, especially with regard to the whole Kenyan issue. Glick takes Obama to task for his support of Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga, who recently had an election stolen from him by incumbent President Mwai Kibaki. Every international organization of note, including the European Union, has condemned the brazen election fraud that took place in Kenya, and Odinga has called for protests, which have been met with savage repression.
Ah, but according to Glick, Odinga who claims to be a cousin of Obama’s is "an ally of Islamic extremists." Kibaki, on the other hand, "is a close ally of the U.S. in the war against Islamic terror." Gee, that’s funny, it sure doesn’t look like Kibaki is all that pro-American, but then again, what does the Voice of America know?
From Glick we get unsourced allegations that Odinga would impose Sharia law, although we are told in the same breath that he’s an Anglican. Oh, and he also "scorned Christians as ‘worshippers of the cross.’" That’s clear as mud, now isn’t it?
The Israel lobby in America is well-acquainted with the methods utilized by Glick: smearing, guilt-by-association, seeing "bigotry" under every rock, and maximizing racial and religious tensions and divisions are key tactics of the War Party, and always have been. The antiwar movement is a "fifth column" in the service of terrorism it’s "anti-Semitic" because it opposes a crusade to "transform" the Middle East and occupy the region for decades. So-and-so is a "friend" or is known to have associated with a known "white nationalist" (or, in Obama’s case, a "black supremacist," whatever that is). And didn’t you know that David Duke opposes the Iraq war? The alleged links, however tenuous, with marginal bigots are emphasized and "connections" are made.
The Thought Police, both foreign and domestic, are always on the job, cleansing American politics of the "taint" of anti-interventionism or the merest suggestion of a more evenhanded approach to the Israeli-Arab conflict. The War Party and it’s indispensable ally, the Israel lobby seek desperately to change the subject whenever anyone introduces a new element into the bipartisan imperialist consensus that dominates the scene in Washington.
Obama, Ron Paul, former President Carter, foreign policy maven Brzezinski, professors Mearsheimer and Walt, Tony Judt, anyone with the slightest insight into the debilitating effects of the Lobby’s baleful influence on policymaking and public debate is going to be smeared. What the smear artists don’t seem to realize, however, is that their attentions are increasingly considered a badge of honor.
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
The definitive refutation of the Jamie Kirchick/New Republic/Reason smear campaign against Ron Paul is here. More blogging over at Taki’s Top Drawer here and here. That’s the spicy stuff they don’t let me run on Antiwar.com don’t miss it!