Since I triumphantly declared that at last, the neocon Hitler-Stalin pact moment had arrived, the neocons have rushed headlong into insisting that the global democratic revolution lives. Each example is just such a spectacle to behold in itself that they must be listed one by one:
- Max Boot: “We’re all neocons now.” One is left speechless. Is the idea that a Straussian divination of the speeches of Hassan al-Banna shows his secret purpose to have been to promulgate the wit and wisdom of Partisan Review?
- Michael Ledeen makes a convoluted argument for a completely nonsensical premise – that we must re-engineer the Green Revolution in Iran, and then all will be right and the People’s Democracy will prevail in Egypt and beyond.
- Josh Muravchik is suddenly a believer in Obama’s magical power to sway the crowds to turn them toward his pet Egyptian Chalabi. One would conclude this is just a transparent attempt to urge Obama to do the worst possible thing he could do if the stakes weren’t so deadly serious. And check out this whopper lest there be any doubt of how completely divorced from reality Muravchik’s pet cause of Arab “democracy” is.
- But the unabashed chutzpah award has to go to Leon Wieseltier:
The bizarre irony of Obama’s global multiculturalism is that it has had the effect of aligning America with regimes and against peoples. This was the case with our response to the Iranian rebellion in 2009, and it was the case with our response to the Egyptian opposition until a few hours ago. The striking thing about Barack Obama’s “extended hand” is how utterly irrelevant it is to the epochal events in Egypt, and Tunisia, and Iran, and elsewhere.
Apparently, the United States had never once been engaged in propping up an unpopular autocrat against the wishes of his subjects before January 20, 2009. The very man who famously boasted of his magazine with respect to pro-Israel orthodoxy in American liberal opinion that “we’re the cops”, blames Obama for the consequences of the disastrous American policies of generations which he takes such pride in his large role in enforcing uncritical allegiance to.
But what else to expect from Wieseltier, who is now an island unto himself with even Marty Peretz out of the picture as the revolution unfolds which undoubtedly will mean the end of Israel as a Jewish state. And exactly who are the “American liberals” Wieseltier is righteously lashing out at for being apologists of Mubarak? The only one who comes to mind is Chris Matthews, who clearly has stopped caring whether or not anyone takes him seriously, being the only one on cable news to have a guest giving the strait-up AIPAC line, a sad task falling to B-lister Marc Ginsburg.
This development is highly significant in itself. Amazingly, Marty Peretz ran off to find redemption exactly in the nick of time, leaving Leon completely high and dry among those who actually care about Israel in facing the Egyptian uprising. For one can only conclude that the Israel Lobby is imploding when even the neocons can’t be counted on to try and save the Camp David regime, instead putting to undying shame Condoleezza Rice’s infamous pronouncement of the birth pangs of a new Middle East.
To be sure, one can yet find the expected ominous foreboding against the Muslim Brotherhood – Thomas Joscelyn of the Friends of Democracy Foundation for the Defense of Democracies leads the pack, with Jeffrey Goldberg also reliably in tow. But while it was one thing for the neocons to rush headlong into their “abandonment of democracy” line during the Iran uprising, when it was so clearly cynical, it is beyond shocking to see the degree to which they have started breaking out into The Internationale with no regard at all for the implications for Israel.
My father, who knew several of the neocon standard bearers at Harvard, always insisted to me that, with such obvious exceptions as Marty Peretz and Ruth Wisse, the neocons were ultimately not so deeply committed to Israel but rather simply saw it as a means to an end. I understood his argument academically, but never quite bought into it until the last couple of years. The first time I realized he was right was when I attended the J Street Conference in October 2009, where I had the most emotionally draining experience of actually encountering people who were deeply committed to the point of emotional investment in saving Israel as a Jewish state, only to behold the untrammeled fury set against them by the neocons.
Yet the rush to convince themselves and the world that all is well, and this is all the fire in the minds of men proclaimed by George W. Bush, is the most stunning proof one could hope for of this surprising truth about the neocons. One could simply reduce it to delusions arising from the shock that they have finally reaped what they have sown, but I believe there is a more abiding pathology at work.
I have written elsewhere of the Jewish self-hate at the heart of neoconservatism. But its actually worse than that, for at the end of the day what we’re dealing with here is a simple case of liberal white guilt gone off the rails. That is to say, like the white liberal pathologically determined to deny how he or she really feels about the “people of color”, the neocons are pathologically determined, in a remarkable homage to their Trotskyist roots, to insist that they remain true internationalists and deny that they share with Marty Peretz and the more unreconstructed Zionists any contempt for the brown people. So what else is to be expected when the uprising of scary brown people to end all uprisings of the same is shaking the world?