Contra Philip Klein, I don’t need a “Bat Signal” to find the latest attacks on critics of Israel or U.S. Israel policy–I just need to read his blog entries, which are disproportionately filled with such criticism. If I didn’t read AmSpec‘s blog regularly, I might never have seen Joe Klein’s post, and were it not for the over-the-top responses to the post I wouldn’t have seen much reason to comment on it. Joe Klein did write a follow-up post after I had written mine, and he does indeed make the charge of “divided loyalties.” That’s unfortunate, it shows I was wrong about that part of my earlier post, and I think it’s not true for reasons I’ll explain in a moment, but even this charge is far short of accusing someone of “treasonous disloyalty” (as one response put it) or anything of the kind. Treason is giving aid and comfort to the enemy, and neither Joe Klein nor, for that matter, any critic of the war has claimed that any war supporters have aided America’s enemies (except perhaps in terms of unintended consequences that resulted from the blunder of the invasion).
The hyperventilating about Joe Klein’s posts (and the rather absurd refusal to refer to him by his last name) does come back to the broader problem that it is apparently still unacceptable to say that Iraq war supporters supported the war to some significant degree because they believed it would make Israel more secure. Yet back in late 2002 and early 2003, one often heard far-fetched but presumably sincere claims that toppling Hussein would make it easier to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict. It is, as Sullivan says, an “increasingly obvious fact that the Iraq war was in part launched to assist Israel.” Obviously, I don’t think we should be fighting wars even partly for other countries and I don’t think we should be starting wars at all, but why would staunchly “pro-Israel” war supporters who do believe this find such claims so troubling?
It is disgusting to impugn others’ patriotism, which is why I’m sure Philip Klein was as disgusted by and vocal about the attack on the patriotism of Pat Buchanan et al. in 2003 for having supposedly “turned their back” on America. The problem is not one of divided loyalties, as if Israeli interests are being put first and American interests second, but the mistake of seeing the interests of both states as largely or entirely complementary and almost identical. When Anglophiles made this mistake in 1917 and plunged the U.S. into WWI, they were not exhibiting “divided loyalties,” but had a fundamentally mistaken understanding of what the American interest was. Talk of “divided loyalties” comes up because the interests of any two states are not nearly so close or complementary, and those who conflate the interests of two states can end up making poor judgements about what the national interest of their country really is. In the case of the Iraq war, you did have people, including neoconservatives of various backgrounds, making such a poor judgement because they misunderstood what was in the interest of both the United States and Israel. It is not a question of loyalty, but of judgement. Having first misunderstood and then identified the interests of the two states too closely, they ended up harming both. The real issue is not motives, but the effects of terrible policies.
Update: This response by Robert Stacy McCain doesn’t even make sense as an insult. If one were inclined to stupid conspiracy theories, wouldn’t the Mossad be trying to crash my blog?