OK I posted on the NJ thing.

2007-07-03_virginia-gettysburg-pennsylvania-5 You know where it is.  pl

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50 Responses to OK I posted on the NJ thing.

  1. Charles I says:

    attaboy, Pat

  2. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    How to talk about Israel?
    The most accurate and honest way to “talk” about Israel is a NIE.
    And it is of significance — some would say “probative value — that no consensus exists at the National Journal calling for such. Harking back to the distinction between nationalism and patriotism, little wonder the magazine is not called a Patriot’s Journal.
    A NIE, particular one under Chas Freeman, would have caused considerable discomfort among the think tank community, as the contents may have very well acted as spotlight — one that would have created a most uncomfortable glare for those who claim they are “thinking” on behalf of the United States.
    In my opinion, such an NIE should clearly establish that the apostles of Leo Strauss gutted Sherman Kent’s well-established methodology detailed in his seminal work, Strategic Intelligence for American World Policy. And by doing so, arguably a Freudian act of the highest magnitude, the Straussians were able to disconnect intelligence assessments from reality and therefore allow policymakers to “take off from the wish”, particularly as reflected in the desires of David Brooks and others.
    David Habakkuk, in his inimitable style, has revealed the extreme danger that arises when policymakers rely upon “hunches” and “intuitions” that are not based on knowledge but, instead, from ideologically driven worldviews. History has and will continue to vindicate the Habakkuk view, as presented in his highly recommended essays posted at SST.
    So it is only fair and actually demanded in the name of American World Policy (to borrow words from Kent’s title) to inquire if the Likud version of Zionism is ideologically driven. Moreover, one must inquire if the Likud view — dare I write weltanschauung — takes off from the Jabotinsky wish of ethnic cleansing on a grander and grander scale –a desire that may give us the Dimona Flame Deluge.
    So what to call such a NIE? Once saw a woman who was the waitress type at a Waffle House. On her hand was a tattoo with the words, Bad Company. Not sure even those who consider themselves from the school of realism would take note of the reality that presents itself at a Waffle House at 2am, but, alas, a five word title comes to mind with that image, and I issue a kindly challenge for anyone to top it:
    Bad Company: Bibi Bombs Iran.
    Dedicated, of course, to the blessed memory of Isaac Edward Leibowitz, who in all likelihood, would urge a NIE focusing Israel as well

  3. PL read your post and the others also. Clearly the issue has been winnowed to its essence. The influence of those domestically that believe that only if US and Israeli interests and efforts are aligned can Israel survive. Certainly not sure of that but if Israel’s only hope of survival is the Jewish Community in US then since 1948 its leadership and efforts have clearly led it into a box from which their is no exit. Admittedly, World Jewry is principally limited to less than a dozen countries now because unfortuately Hitler succeeded probably beyond his own wild ambitions in killing Jews. The problem is that look at US history. We signed formal treaties with the native americans. We let England dangle before the onslaught of Hitler. We did not do all that we could to help escapees from the holocaust. We abandoned Shites in Iraq after Desert Storm. We abandoned the Kurds many times. We almost lost S.Korea out of ineptitude. There are many many others. The real history of US foreign policy is probably never to trust the US to do what it or others think is the right thing, whatever that might be (usually eye of the beholder). The result, the lobbying by and behalf of foreign governments is completely outrageous. Up to an electing Presidents by campaign contributions although illegal (The NAZIs tried to swing the 1940 election against FDR we now know through huge amounts of money. We are a democracy (Republic)but we have now created a political system that literally goes to the highest bidder foreign or domestic. So blog on PL because at least at the moment the blogs house elements of the truth if not the entirety. Just look at the World’s non-democracy and see who represents them on K street? It looks like the real contest is not over the facts or the truth or the reality but who can raise the most campaign do-re-mi! National interests for sale in both the Executive Branch and Congress. Wall Street bribed and corrupted its way to financial collpase. Keep it up Israeli lobbyists. You have your history lesson in my comment. Don’t trust the US any further than you can throw it. Don’t argue over the spin on the facts but create new facts. If the US leadership is terrible and has been since most of WWII then Israeli is worst. Remember Lincoln–In victory magnaminity (sic) But I guess no victories for Israel since it was created just seeds of defeat in long term. The bottom line for the ARAB dictatorship is OIL. Perhaps Israel and Egypt should sub-divide some poor oil state that cannot defend itself.In the meantime, the real long-term interests of the US must focus on EAST and South ASIA.

  4. Mad Dogs says:

    In regard to your post on the NJ thing:

  5. PirateLaddie says:

    Good response. About as honest as one could hope, given the question & the “framing” of the issue. Scheuer’s in a different part of the bayou, and can speak “with the hair on.” From my cypress stump, I figure, if things don’t change, big time, the answer to “How to talk about Israel” will soon be in the past tense.

  6. Mongoose says:

    The truth distilled and uncommonly chilled. Bravo Colonel, Bravo.

  7. china_hand says:

    I’m happy to see you managed the feat, Colonel.
    Thank you for your service.

  8. Buzz Meeks says:

    Congratulations, a very well written and measured response. You didn’t even bring up the holocaust as the shill from Booze Allen did because he couldn’t figure another way out of twisting the parameters of how the Israel lobby could be discussed.
    Good going.
    Buzz Meeks.

  9. Gene says:

    Very good post indeed, Colonel! You did a good job at delegitimizing the whole shebang on ‘how to talk about Israel’ … which it most certainly deserves!
    I like how they are trying to minimize the level of political toxicity of the Israel Lobby by surreptitiously suggesting a parallel with other types of lobbies: “We try to avoid sloppy, loaded phrases like abortion lobby, gun lobby, Christian lobby or China lobby.” Even with the China lobby, there IS no similarities. This lobby is like none other!
    As Professor Walid Khalidi wrote in the ‘Introduction’ of From Haven to Conquest with regard to the historical transfer of the power centre of the Lobby from London to Washington:

    The picture that emerges is that of one decision-making centre (London), being of two minds … with regard to a decision (support of Zionism). The official pro-decision pressure group in this centre uses the intermediary of a non-official pressure group (Weizmann and his Zionist circle), which is the potential beneficiary of the decision to solicit the help of the counterpart of this pressure group (Brandeis and his Zionist circle) in the decision-making centre of another allied country (Washington). The object of this solicitation is to bring pressure through the counterpart group on the foreign decision-making centre in favour of the contemplated decision, so that this foreign centre would throw its weight behind the official pro-decision faction in the first centre and so tip the scales against its own official opposition. In other words London, acting for reasons of her own, uses “British” Zionists to recruit American Zionists to pressure Washington to pressure herself in favour of Zionism. This interpretation indicates that, contrary to popular conception, the Zionists did not themselves set the pace, at the time, in either London or Washington nor was Washington the pace-setter as yet. This was indubitably, in the editor’s opinion, London. What this interpretation also indicates is the metropolitan status of the Zionist pressure-groups in both London and Washington – a status which was to grow parallel to the growth of the Zionist venture in the field (Palestine), until it became a pace-setter in its own right, first in London, then in Washington and, finally, in both simultaneously and cumulatively. This metropolitan status of the World Zionist Movement has not been unique for “white” lobby acting on behalf of settlers overseas; the French Algerian, British Rhodesian and Portuguese Angolan lobbies have had a similar metropolitan status. But the unique advantage enjoyed by the World Zionist Organization was that it was an internationally organised movement based on the scattered Jewish communities of the world, and commanded incomparably vaster resources (see Appendix V, p. 850, for American Jewry’s financial contributions to Zionist institutions in Palestine), and more diversified political leverage than any enjoyed by the others, in addition to the halo of morality, however meretricious, that it alone sported as well. [my emphasis]

    See also In the shadow of “god’s sun-dial”

  10. johnf says:

    EXCLUSIVE: Israel’s national security aide barred from U.S.
    Former Israeli spy linked to Pentagon leak
    Uzi Arad, who is expected to serve as national security adviser in the next Israeli government, has been barred from entering the United States for nearly two years on the grounds that he is an intelligence risk.

  11. johnf says:

    Congratulations on your post, Colonel.

  12. johnf says:

    Coalition deal tasks Lieberman with Iran issue
    The coalition agreement that the Likud signed with Israel Beiteinu at 1 a.m. on Monday not only makes party leader Avigdor Lieberman foreign minister, it also puts him in charge of Israel’s strategic dialogue with the United States on issues such as Iran, according to a draft of the deal obtained by The Jerusalem Post.

  13. MRW. says:

    Dov S. Zakheim’s response was exhausting to read. The yammer, yammer, the holocaust, and how the Jews still can’t get over it if you bring it up after 60 years, so we’re not allowed to. The Russians could get over 75 million civilians and military slaughtered; the Vietnamese could get over it; ditto the Koreans. But not Jews, whose parents or grandparents perished, fueled by accounts like those of Elie Wiesel, who claimed 10,000 a day were burned in open pits at Buchenwald.
    [I just realized: assuming you can maintain a count of one person per second, it would take a minimum of 2.8 hours to count 10,000 people a day. Did Wiesel have continual daily access outside the barracks to do this? I thought he was in the infirmary with a bad foot. It takes two hours at 900-1100 C, or 1652-2,000 F, to cremate a body down to the bone — thin or cachectic takes longer than obese. The fuel expenditure must have been extraordinary to keep that high temperature going day and night, and the pits enormous to supply the necessary oxygen and hold the bones. I only did the math for the first time ever just now. The official Nazi camp records, however, put the number of victims at Buchenwald at 56,545. No wonder some Jews get touchy about people questioning holocaust facts. Accounts like this dont add up.]
    Posts like Zakheim’s concern themselves with the menu, not the meat; they’re screeds to vilify logic, probity, and our first amendment rights. The National Journal editors pandered as much as Zakheim obfuscated with his worn-out tribal memes. It’s exhausting to be asked continually to accept this as, or pretend its, honest debate.

  14. Babak Makkinejad says:

    William R. Cumming:
    I think you need to give equal weight to Mexico & Brazil as to China.
    South Asia (Pakistan, India, Ceylon, Bengladash) are marginal to US.

  15. Leanderthal says:

    Well said.
    Are folks like Roger Cohen and M.J. Rosenberg sprung from the trap because they are Jewish?
    They are two who brave the fury of the Likudniks.

  16. curious says:

    2007 entry
    Question: so Israel high ranking intel honcho is running around in tight aipac circle and tangled with nato, pentagon spying (Iran policy creation) and now he is running the show in Israel high intelligence? We should move Congress and Pentagon to Tel Aviv to reduce cost and simplify the game already.
    Arad sat in on last year’s “Track II” (non-governmental) discussions between Israeli and Syrian representatives, then bugged out when he apparently felt there wasn’t enough in Israel—Syria rapprochement for his country.
    What Uzi Arad cares about today is Iran’s nuclear program.
    One might argue that Arad’s concern is reactive, driven by the failure of previous policies he’s supported—and his unwillingness to accept that these policies were fundamentally flawed.
    What might in retrospect be seen as the Big Mistake was the decision to take a bite of the fatal apple offered by the neocons, discard the framing of the Palestinian problem as the root of Israel’s difficulties with its neighbors, and, assured of unwavering U.S. support, escalate Israel’s confrontation with its antagonists to the regional level.
    It appears that Arad saw the PNAC “Clean Break” strategy as a way out of the Palestine cul de sac by declaring that the problem wasn’t the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza but those undemocratic and unnecessarily confrontational Islamic powers.

  17. VietnamVet says:

    This comment is totally subjective and prejudice but the American outlook on Israel has changed since 1947. Initially, Israel was a separate country but democratic and much the same as the USA. If foreign, Israel seemed to be in the same tradition.
    What has changed in the last two decades is that the IDF and Israel has been corrupted by the occupation of Palestine. The hardening of attitudes and using the easy way to control others is a natural outcome of occupation. If the USA continues its occupations through the rest of the Obama Administration, all the hatreds and blood poisons will infect our culture as well. Jews and Christians will have their never ending Holy War.

  18. par4 says:

    You got it Col. Screw tip-toeing that’s best left to ballerinas.

  19. David Habakkuk says:

    Sidney Smith,
    Thanks for the kind words.
    Recalling the contempt of the Straussians for the ‘liberal’ approach to intelligence recommended by Sherman Kent prompted some thoughts on the use of that term — as also did a comment on this blog by ‘Highlander’ on a BBC report about the IDF deliberately targeting women and children.
    ‘It is purely my personal opinion,’ Highlander wrote, ‘but I think the BBC like a lot of liberals are closet anti semites. (oh,the irony of it all)’
    Much could be said against the BBC — in particular, that large areas of it are obsessed by political correctness. But one of the things its kind of ‘liberal culture’ patently is not is anti-semitic. I might as well say: ‘It is purely my personal opinion, but I think that AIPAC are a bunch of closet Hitler worshippers, who sing the Horst Wessel song and make clenched fist salutes. (oh, the irony of it all)’
    As to the notion of liberals in general as ‘closet anti semites’, it may be worth recalling that the Nazis well knew who their enemies in Britain were. They were listed very thoroughly in a handbook intended for distribution to the occupation forces, which was put together under the direction of SS-General Walter Schellenberg. It was published a few years back, under the title Invasion 1940.
    (See http://www.amazon.com/Invasion-1940-Britain-General-Schellenberg/dp/0953615138.)
    Among British universities, the handbook explained, ‘Oxford, Bristol and London have been specifically active in political propaganda’ — by which it meant propaganda directed against Germany, as was made clear in its discussion of the series of ‘Oxford Pamphlets’. Pride of place here went to the pamphlet on Mein Kampf by the liberal journalist and historian R.C.K. Ensor, who Schellenberg’s researchers regarded — very fairly — as ‘one of the toughest opponents of national socialism in England’.
    What then about the neocon guru Leo Strauss? In May 1933, as we now know, he explained that ‘only from the principles of the right, that is from fascist, authoritarian and imperial principles, is it possible with seemliness, that is, without resort to the ludicrous and despicable appeal to the droits imprescriptibles de l’homme, to protest against the shabby abomination.’
    (See http://balkin.blogspot.com/2006/07/letter_16.html.)
    I wait with bated breath to see some Straussian draw out the logical implications of the master’s position: that pathetic anti-Nazi liberals like Ensor should have realised that they had no intellectually respectable grounds for their opposition to Hitler, and gone off and joined the British Union of Fascists, and tried to cure it of its anti-Semitic tendencies.
    I do not think it would have been a very promising political strategy, somehow, but then, I am not possessed of ‘esoteric wisdom’, or any very pronounced desire to behave with ‘seemliness’.
    One young man who was deeply influenced by Ensor’s pamphlet, and as a result read Mein Kampf in the full — original — text, was a young historian called Hugh Trevor-Roper. Before the war, he got himself an attachment to the Life Guards, but was — fortunately — torn away from his intended role as a cavalryman by a physicist colleague, who had been a 1914-18 wireless intelligence officer.
    Together the two were responsible for the initial cracking of the hand ciphers of the Abwehr, the German military intelligence service, which provided the starting point for the great deception operations that did so much to facilitate the Allied victory in Europe.
    And had Churchill not chosen to ignore Trevor-Roper’s attempts to get him to take the overtures from the Abwehr chief Admiral Canaris seriously — in making which Trevor-Roper bypassed his superiors, risking court-martial — there might been a successful military coup in Germany in the spring of 1943, rather than an unsuccessful one in June 1944. The Holocaust might have been prevented from running its terrible course.
    At the end of the war, Trevor-Roper was in charge of the inquiry into Hitler’s death. The book that resulted, The Last Days of Hitler, remains an incomparable vision of the degenerative potentialities of ‘fascist, authoritarian, and imperial’ ideas.
    As with the Founding Fathers of the American Republic, a principal inspiration is eighteenth-century thinking about despotism, and the intellectual trail leads back ultimately to the savage portraits of the corrupting effects of absolutism by Tacitus.
    My point in going back over this history is not simply to reemphasize how ludicrous the intellectual pretensions of American neoconservatives are.
    There is an old saying, according to which England and America are two countries divided by a common language. The use of the word ‘liberal’ is certainly different on the two sides of the Atlantic. And there are ideas held by people who call themselves ‘liberal’, be they American or British, which I would have no desire to defend.
    But there is one sense of ‘liberal’ which I would defend, very strongly. It is the belief that rational argument between people genuinely concerned to get at the truth is an indispensable basis for a healthy polity.
    Attempts to suppress rational argument, be they by intimidation of one kind or another, smear tactics, or emotional blackmail, make for an unhealthy polity, and can ultimately be ruinous, as the history of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union illustrates, if in very different ways.
    In that sense, the Israeli Lobby is indeed a profoundly ‘illiberal’ institution, in a way which makes dangerous for the United States, for Israel, and for Jews. And this blog is a very ‘liberal’ one!

  20. The beaver says:

    Thank You, Colonel. One should never be bullied by a minority.

  21. fnord says:

    Sir, you might want to send a email to Kåre Willoch, Norways former PM from the conservatives, who turned 180 degrees on the Israel question and got accused of anti-semitism as well. He is a very rational old fighter, and has been there.

  22. fnord says:

    MRW: Stop with the planting of holocaust-apologies already. If you read Eichmans logistical papers, you will find the true size of the extermination program.Its only slightly lower than the most extreme. My grandfather served down there in the German brigade we provided, and they were real. Wich of course causes a national trauma, wich we gotta acknowledge. But it still doesnt excuse Gaza. Wrong is wrong even when the psychological excuses are valid.

  23. euclidcreek says:

    Maybe someday folks will comment on how to save Cleveland or Detroit, rather than Israel.

  24. Eric Dönges says:

    I remember when I first discovered the joys of (Ab)Usenet in 1992, there was the very same discussion on the newsgroup alt.revisionism, which nominally dealt with any form of historical revisionism, but was practically all about Holocaust denial (yes, as a student I had way too much time on my hands). What many people on both sides of the issue fail to see is that it matters not one bit if six million or five million or “only” one million Jews where murdered. That is only a matter of scale, not of morality.

  25. Jackie Shaw says:

    Sometimes. it’s just plain interesting hanging out here!
    Sir, thanks for commenting on this topic. I would have been disappointed if you held back.

  26. MRW. says:

    fnord: I’m not denying or promoting. I wasn’t even born then. But I retain my right not to abdicate my judgment or common sense even if I ask dumb questions as well as rude ones and useful ones. And I resent, as an American, being told that I have no right to question historical events that transpired outside this country before my time, but for which I pay indirectly, because I am not part of the group victimized.
    I knew Billy Wilder in BH. He told me he created the most famous images of post 1945 Germany. He told me that the German army wanted Hitler vilified pronto among the German people. So they called him up in Hollywood, because he had worked in film in Germany before the war, and he arranged some of the most gruesome film of skeletons on tables with military officials walking from table to table to witness the horror. They wanted the Germans to think these specific people on these tables were gassed, and revile everything about Hitler. The German army wanted to get across the idea that they were victims of Hitler too. He said they used typhoid victims on those tables who had been deloused. He told me this in the summer of 1991 in his 2nd floor office in downtown Beverly Hills. It was the Soviets who liberated Auschwitz, and there was a fierce PR campaign going on between the Soviets and their German enemies to win the PR campaign after the war was over. One of the reasons why the Soviets grabbed all the camp records they could and never released them until 1989.

  27. Babak Makkinejad says:

    David Habakkuk:
    Strauss was correct – there is no rational argument against fascism. That is, without God and the predication of the worth of an individual human life in Him, no Reason exists upon which a liberal order could even be based.
    Your readers might also be interested to know that the discourses about Jews, Shoah, etc. are very much reflecting a Euro-American view point (inclusive of the Orthodox). In this view, Jews are occupying a special & unique place with the Christian society and would be considered special people – in some sense.
    This view, however legitimate in the course of European history, does not obtain in the world of Islam. There Jews are in the company of other “people of the Book” such as Sabeans, Zoroastrians, Christians whose earlier revelations have been made obsolete by the Quran. There is no special or privileged place there for Jews or anyone else.
    To many Muslims, the European and American discourse about Jews – having been made for centuries – is incomprehensible and it borders on obsession.

  28. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Their “Big Mistake” was to covet the West Bank.
    Kissinger tried to start them on a course that could eventually end the occupation in 1970s but Israelis would have none of it.

  29. Ian says:

    This thread is about how groundless accusations of antisemitism are used to stifle debate. I think that one way to combat such false accusations is to contrast the discourse proper to a democratic society with genuine cases of antisemitism.
    For example, let’s look at the comments MRW posted on this thread (March 16 @6:20)
    Some of what he says is transparently dishonest. “I just realized…” — no you didn’t. You’ve clearly put a lot of thought into this. “I only did the math for the first time ever just now” — do you really expect us to believe you?
    MRW then argues that the holocaust death toll was really not all that bad. His argument is pitifully weak; I don’t know why he thinks Wiesel needed to literally count heads in order to form an accurate estimate of the death toll. Contrast MRW’s argument with the eyewitness evidence of fnord’s grandfather. Being a holocaust denier is kind of like believing that the earth is flat, in that it requires a willful blindness to easily available evidence.
    I can only conclude that the holocaust denying argument MRW made is not the real reason why he’s mad that “the Jews still can’t get over it.” Look, it’s not just the holocaust that’s the problem: two millenia of Christian pogroms, 1.5 million Jews killed by the Romans in the Jewish war, etc. Apart from the history, there really are lots of people on earth right now who are viscerally disgusted by all things Jewish. These haters might become killers if they had the chance. That is why it is perfectly rational for “prevent another holocaust” to be line item one on the grand strategy of the state of Israel. Their means for pursuing that goal can be criticized (at the extreme, having a state of Israel rather than a diaspora might be increasing the risk of mass murder) but unless we acknowledge why this goal matters to Israelis we can’t understand Israeli policy at all.
    To sum that up, MRW has lied to us, distorted evidence when it suited his prejudices, and is blind to what’s driving Israeli policy. He is an unreliable interlocutor on these issues.
    I don’t want to be too hard on MRW. I’ve known him to make useful contributions on this blog, and I’m sure I could find lots of points where I agree with his conclusions. However, I do not trust his judgment on matters related to the Israeli government. Until he acknowledges that the holocaust was and is a big deal, I have to consider his arguments suspect.

  30. Ingolf says:

    Babak Makkinejad:
    Would you care to elaborate on what you mean by saying “there is no rational argument against fascism”? And, for that matter, on why notions of individual worth must lean on God to have any validity?

  31. MRW. says:

    Eric Dönges,
    I completely agree with you. It’s self-evident that it’s a matter of morality. But why the need to paint me with the dreaded “historical revisionism?”

  32. MRW. says:

    Some of what he says is transparently dishonest. “I just realized…” — no you didn’t. You’ve clearly put a lot of thought into this. “I only did the math for the first time ever just now” — do you really expect us to believe you?
    You’re wrong. I have never done the math before now. Not once. Not ever.
    MRW then argues that the holocaust death toll was really not all that bad.
    Where did I do that?
    I don’t know why he thinks Wiesel needed to literally count heads in order to form an accurate estimate of the death toll.
    Because Wiesel wrote it. And got a Nobel prize as a result.
    I can only conclude that the holocaust denying argument MRW made is not the real reason why he’s mad that “the Jews still can’t get over it.”
    Mad? No, I’m not.
    Look, it’s not just the holocaust that’s the problem: two millenia of Christian pogroms, 1.5 million Jews killed by the Romans in the Jewish war, etc.
    Hyperbolic. Inaccurate. One recent clarification:
    Shlomo Sand, professor of history at Tel Aviv here: http://mondediplo.com/2008/09/07israel

    Then there is the question of the exile of 70 AD. There has been no real research into this turning point in Jewish history, the cause of the diaspora. And for a simple reason: the Romans never exiled any nation from anywhere on the eastern seaboard of the Mediterranean. Apart from enslaved prisoners, the population of Judea continued to live on their lands, even after the destruction of the second temple. Some converted to Christianity in the 4th century, while the majority embraced Islam during the 7th century Arab conquest.

    To sum that up, MRW has lied to us, distorted evidence when it suited his prejudices, and is blind to what’s driving Israeli policy. He is an unreliable interlocutor on these issues.
    You mistake dispassion for prejudice.
    Until he acknowledges that the holocaust was and is a big deal, I have to consider his arguments suspect.
    Do you feel the same way about the Armenian genocide, and the recent, but much smaller, destruction of Gazan lives? That they are just as big a deal in terms of the lives lost needlessly? How about the persecution of Muslims currently just because they are Muslims? How is that any different than what was done to the Jews in WWII? Because what made it a holocaust was that Jews were persecuted just for existing as Jews. It wasn’t the number. It was the hideous and odious persecution because of their existence on planet earth that made it wrong. I object to making it melodramatic.
    a two state solution is the only endgame to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that isn’t nightmarish
    Too late. Single state with rights for all. I subscribe to Avrum Burg’s view. Agree with the rest of your points of disclosure.

  33. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Any critique of fascism must begin, in my opinion, with the proposition that men are inherently free to exercise their judgment in pursuing their own interests – within the Law.
    The problem is analogous to the problem of other minds in the philosophy of the mind; how do we know other human beings have minds? It turns out that there are no logical reason to conclude so.
    Likewise, how can we conclude that other human beings value their own lives? Well, there is no logical argument that can sustain this proposition – to my knowledge.
    This proposition assumes that the life of the individual (that specific person at that time at that place – that unique person in the history of Life on Earth) has intrinsic worth since men are created “in the image of God” or “God’s vice-regent on Earth”. Thus, it is God that has endowed men with worth.
    This idea of Freedom in God was explored very thoroughly in Christianity.

  34. Robert Murray says:

    Dear Col. Lang,
    You have and will always have my utmost respect. Remember this? (Regarding someone we both admire and respect, Anthony Zinni.)
    “I think it’s (Israeli pressure for invading Iraq) the worst kept secret in Washington, everybody I talked to in Washington has known and fully knows what their agenda was and what they were trying to do; because I mentioned the Neo-Conservatives who describe themselves as Neo-Conservatives, I was called, Anti-Semitic.”
    Robert Murray aka taters

  35. David Habakkuk says:

    Babak Makkinejad,
    But there was a rational argument against fascism. It was that modern ‘Caesarism’ would not produce the order, prosperity and power that its advocates expected from it, but total catastrophe.
    What Strauss hoped for is indicated by the continuation of the letter from which I quoted, in which he remarked that he had been ‘reading Caesar’s Commentaries with deep understanding, and I think of Virgil’s Tu regere imperio… parcere subjectis et debellare superbos.’
    The lines come from Virgil’s great apologia for the empire of Augustus, in the Aeneid. In John Dryden’s translation:
    ‘But Rome! ’tis thine alone, with awful sway,
    To rule mankind, and make the world obey:
    Disposing peace and war thy own majestic way.
    To tame the proud, the fettered slave to free,
    These are imperial arts, and worthy thee.’
    Almost a century earlier, in Democracy in America, Tocqueville had produced a nightmare vision of what might happen to a modern European country that succumbed to ‘Caesarism’:
    ‘The annals of France furnish nothing analogous to the condition in which that country might then be thrown. But it may be more aptly be assimilated to the times of old, and to those hideous eras of Roman oppression when the manners of the people were corrupted, their traditions obliterated, their habits destroyed, their opinions shaken, and freedom, expelled from the laws, could find no refuge in the land; when nothing protected the citizens, and the citizens no longer protected themselves; when human nature was the sport of man, and princes wearied out the clemency of Heaven before they exhausted the patience of their subjects.’
    Like Strauss, the novelist Thomas Mann was deeply rooted in German conservative thinking. Following the murder of the (Jewish) Foreign Minister Walter Rathenau in June 1922 by two extreme nationalists, Mann came round to an essentially Tocquevillian view of the dangers of the ‘Caesarist’ option. And his unsuccessful attempts to argue with people like Strauss are described in detail in Mann’s great novel about Germany’s self-destruction, Doktor Faustus. Key discussions recalled in the novel are framed in terms of Tocqueville’s views on ‘democratic despotism’.
    To my mind Mann was simply right, Strauss was simply wrong. Likewise, to my mind, those who want the United States ‘to rule mankind, and make the world obey’, are simply wrong. Dreams of unlimited power are disastrous for any country.

  36. Eric Dönges says:

    maybe I’m reacting too strongly here, but in my experience, the only people who argue about the exact death toll of the Holocaust aren’t really interested in historical facts; they are interested in painting the Jews as liars, implying that the entire Holocaust was a hoax. If that doesn’t apply to you, I apologize – but then I wonder, what exactly is your point ? If we assume Mr. Wiesel simply made up a lot of his claims, what would that change ?

  37. Babak Makkinejad says:

    David Habakkuk:
    I must confess that I was not familiar with that line of reasoning; that fascism will bring not Prosperity, Order, and Power but Catastrophe.
    Can you breifly state how fascism was expected to do so?
    Historical record is mixed; Nazis certainly ended in Catastrophe but to me that did not seem pre-ordained.
    And Mussolini, had he joined the Allies, or remained neutral, could have maintained order, power, and some modest prosperity at the end of WWII.
    And could point to Franco’s Spain as a testament to constututional cesarism, no?

  38. Nate Miller says:

    I never assumed that disagreements with Israel or her supporters in the US constituted an anti-Semitic point of view. But reading here Holocaust apologetics in your comments section, I now must wonder if I had been naive…

  39. David Habakkuk says:

    Babak Makkinejad,
    On Franco. Some remarks from an essay by Hugh Trevor-Roper on the Abwehr chief Admiral Canaris are I think to the point. The essay is, I have come to think, unfair to Canaris — but this partly reflects the bitterness of a conservative Englishman at German conservatives who rather than try to make a liberal order work chose to make a devil’s pact with millenarian revolutionaries. And this leads Trevor-Roper to dwell on the differences between Franco and Hitler:
    ‘May not Canaris have admired Franco while hating Hitler for the same reason for which Goebbels, who admired Hitler, hated Franco: because Franco, fundamentally, is a conservative? Between Hitler and Franco there are indeed superficial resemblances: resemblances of style — they spoke the same political language; resemblances of method — they both used violence and persecution and concentration camps. But their ultimate aims were opposite. Franco used that language and those methods to preserve, isolated behind seas and mountain barriers, in a sort of European Tibet, a form of society elsewhere obsolete, an unchanging feudal dominion of landlords and priests. Hitler, after 1935, used them to destroy the last vestiges of that old society, whose agent he had once appeared to be, and to set up instead of it, in the industrial centre of Europe, the dictatorship of the lower middle class.’
    As to why fascism was inherently fraught with catastrophic potential, this is a large question indeed. Reasons why the self-worship of a national collective, incarnated in a semi-deified leader, was inherently likely to lead to the kind of outcomes that it did in fact lead to were set out in a classic discussion at the Société Française de Philosophie in November 1936. This discussion is reproduced in English in a collection of essays by the figure whose communication opened it, Élie Halévy, entitled ‘The Era of Tyrannies’.
    A notable contribution by Marcel Mauss referred to the ideas of the French thinker Georges Sorel, which are also fundamental to Mann’s recollections of German arguments of the Twenties in Chapter XXXIV of ‘Doktor Faustus’. With Sorel we can add in another element — the vision of the proper form of mass politics being one in which groups of intellectuals manipulate their fellows with mythical fictions.
    Both Halévy and Mauss stressed the convergence between nationalist and socialist forms of ‘Caesarism’ — had others grasped this better, the British government might have acted to forestall the Nazi-Soviet Pact.
    These are the intellectual worlds from which neocon luminaries like Irving Kristol and Strauss and Irving Kristol came, and from which in my view they never really escaped. So as far as I am concerned, in neoconservatism the red-brown alliance rides again. And Trevor-Roper’s arguments about the need not to be fooled by revolutionaries pretending to be conservatives remain as relevant as ever.
    I am not, incidentally, treating the question of whether a valuation of the individual rooted ultimately in metaphysical beliefs can survive without those metaphysical beliefs as irrelevant to an understanding of the disasters of modern European history. I think it is very relevant indeed, and I also think the question remains an open one.

  40. johnf says:

    I think its possible to hold both the Christian and “pragmatic” view. Morality is rooted both in religion and self-interest. Societies can only evolve from primal chaos if both are involved.
    Fascist and proto-fascists societies seem to me to have been notorious for their inner incoherence and inability to survive. As a fascist Hitler believed that man naturally fought man and so set up his state as a sort of anarchy of perpetually feuding fiefdoms. It was no match for the inner coherence which a liberal democracy like Britain – when united by a common danger and common cause – could bring to the table in the terms of innovation, policy development, and policy execution. A liberal society means a society in which men are free not only to disagree but in times of danger to unite and bring all their varying gifts to the table.
    The second world war fascists – after their initial surprise pre-emptive aggression – did not have much idea about how to survive. One might say the same of Likud and American neo-conservatives, their successors today. Great at opposition and denunciation, when they gain power they are much at the mercy of each others’ enormous egos and their implementation of policy is usually incoherent and disastrous. They are not used to dealing with facts on the ground – something people in a free society have to deal with everyday of their lives.

  41. Babak Makkinejad says:

    David Habakkuk:
    I accept Trevor-Roper’s statements regarding Franco.
    That still leaves Mussolini.
    And I think that had Hitler not attacked USSR the Reich would still be alive and kicking today.
    I will try to trace “The Era of Tyrannies” and read it.
    The European Union, with its various cults: Shoah, Human Rights, Representative Government, Liberty etc. is a testament to the empirical phenomenon that rejecting God leads to the emergence of gods.
    I know that until at least 1970s the German education in gymnasia gave a positive portrayal of Rome. How far back this went – this idealization of a rapacious empire of antiquity? Do you know?

  42. Babak Makkinejad says:

    In fact, it was not the liberal democrats that defeated Germany [Autria, France, Hungary, Romania, Finland, Italy] but USSR – a non-liberal, un-democratic state and polity.
    And certainly Rome lasted for hundreds of years, as did the Ottoman Empire.

  43. Ingolf says:

    Babak Makkinejad,
    For now at least, with apologies, I’d prefer to bow out of our part of this conversation. Your interest in a more abstract approach to some of these issues (as per your question “how do we know other human beings have minds?”) isn’t one that I share, nor one to which I feel I have much to contribute.

  44. euclidcreek says:

    Reading all the comments on Sic Semper confirms your opening statement on how to talk about Israel: “The basic answer to this question is that there is no way to talk frankly about Israel and its relationship to the United States that does not expose the speaker to accusations of tribal hatred and affinity to various fascist and/or medieval groups that have persecuted Jews through the ages.”
    Talk about walking into a a minefield.

  45. Eric Dönges says:

    Babak Makkinejad,
    I know that until at least 1970s the German education in gymnasia gave a positive portrayal of Rome. How far back this went – this idealization of a rapacious empire of antiquity? Do you know?
    I don’t know what German school you went to, but at the ones I went to, Rome was not “idealized”, nor where all aspects of Rome (like slavery) portrayed in a positive light. The positive portrayal is of those parts of Roman culture that found their way into and are the basis of German culture – like religion, law, philosophy, literacy, and the idea of Republican government (though that one took a very long time to become popular here).
    In fact, it was not the liberal democrats that defeated Germany [Autria, France, Hungary, Romania, Finland, Italy] but USSR – a non-liberal, un-democratic state and polity.
    True, but the USSR itself has also ceased to exist. (By the way, what is France doing in that list ? The rest where all German allies during WWII, but France certainly wasn’t).
    And certainly Rome lasted for hundreds of years, as did the Ottoman Empire.
    And both where destroyed because internal corruption became so great they could no longer protect themselves against existential threats. Which leads me to my rational reason against overly authoritarian governments – since the only negative feedback available in such a system is insurrection, the ruling classes loose touch with reality and allow widespread corruption to take hold. The result is a weakened system that can no longer defend itself against internal or external threats.

  46. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Eric Dönges:
    My basis was what I heard about what was taught at the Friedrich Ebert Gymnasium.
    French were collaborateurs par excellence. Yes, there were the Free French & La Resistance but both constituted a minority of the Frenchmen.
    I think that these empires collapsed because they were also subject to the Second Law of Thermodynamics; i.e. disorder accumulated until the system brokedown. You can witness the same thing in the periodic collapse of the central government in dynastic China. Or in Ancient Egypt.
    I think the Third Reich could have lasted a lot longer had it not attacked USSR.

  47. curious says:

    “Their “Big Mistake” was to covet the West Bank.
    Kissinger tried to start them on a course that could eventually end the occupation in 1970s but Israelis would have none of it.
    Posted by: Babak Makkinejad | 18 March 2009 at 10:15 PM ”
    Greater Israel is their national goal. I think that’s pretty obvious to everybody.

  48. David Habakkuk says:

    Babak Makkinejad,
    As to how long Mussolini could have lasted, the question is unanswerable, but I see no reason why it could not have lasted a long time. It is not necessary for my argument to argue that all ‘Caesarist’ regimes are necessarily condemned to self-destruct, simply that the risks of their doing so are sufficiently great to constitute a rational argument against fascism.
    Likewise, while the question as to what would have happened had Hitler not attacked Russia is a fascinating and important one, my argument would be that it was inherent in the nature of Hitler’s regime that it was likely to take military risks which — sooner or later — were going to produce catastrophe. And this was indeed precisely what the ‘realists’ in the General Staff and Foreign Office who attempted to topple him believed.
    As to the durability of the Roman or Ottoman Empires, certain differences in the historical situation are worth drawing out — as they bear upon the dangers of trying to imitate the imperial systems of the past in modern conditions.
    One element in common between modern European tyrannies and the Roman Empire is what Halévy referred to as ‘anthropolatry’ — the worship of human beings. In the modern instances, one could certainly describe this as an instance of the ’empirical phenomenon that rejecting God leads to the emergence of gods.’ In the case of Rome, it had its origins, I think, in Greek notions of sacred kingship.
    But it also important to note that while Rome coerced, frequently with the utmost brutality, it also seduced. Becoming a member of the Roman elite was very much to do with the kind of rigorous training in Roman language and literature provided by the grammarian. And there were no ethnic barriers to acquiring this training — the elites in conquered countries could and did buy into the Roman ethos and adopt it as their own.
    In an age of nationalism, this kind of imperial project is difficult to imitate. And Hitler’s imperial project made no attempt to seduce at all. It rested upon coercion pure and simple, involving the physical liquidation alike of the educated elites of the Slav peoples and also of the Jews — many of whom, ironically, had enthusiastically bought in to a German ethos. It also threatened the vital interests alike of Russia and Britain, thereby making allies out of two countries both of which would have far preferred alliance with Germany to alliance with each other.
    An imperial project which would necessarily entail conflict with both Russia and Britain — and involved clear risks of bringing in the United States on the side of Britain — was necessarily a massive gamble.
    Ironically, perhaps, a far more intellectually coherent project for a fascist new world order was put forward in Germany in the Thirties — but this involved an approach to Russia diametrically opposite to that Hitler adopted. It most committed representative was a Prussian aristocrat, Friedrich Werner, Count von der Schulenberg, who was German Ambassador in Moscow from 1934-41.
    Crucial to the thinking behind this project was the conviction — which Schulenberg shared with Halévy — that the Soviet regime was increasingly becoming a ‘national socialist’ one. Putting it another way, Schulenberg would have agreed with Trotskyists like Irving Kristol that Stalin had betrayed the Revolution — but simply thought that this was an excellent state of affairs, and that with a judicious mixture of sticks and carrots, he could be encouraged to betray it some more.
    In Schulenberg’s view, accordingly, there were no fundamental conflicts between Germany, Japan, Italy, and the Soviet Union, and the proper goal for German policy was a ‘continental bloc’ uniting them.
    But Schulenberg’s problem was that the Nazis radicalised everything. So in the hands of Joachim von Ribbentrop, the idea of a German-Soviet entente became an ambitious vision in which these four powers would slake their thirst for territorial expansion by dismembering the British Empire.
    What Schulenberg failed to grasp was that the pact between Germany and the Soviet Union for which he had worked tirelessly would precipitate a war between Germany and the Western democracies. What this meant was that unless Stalin was prepared to join in the war against Britain on German terms, the prospect facing Hitler was a war of attrition in which Stalin could stand aside while the European powers destroyed each other.
    Even the — generally unanticipated — fall of France did not get Germany out of the problem, in that while Britain was not in itself highly dangerous, it was acutely dangerous as a potential bridgehead on which the truly massive military-industrial potential of the United States could be deployed in Europe — an eventuality which was becoming increasingly likely.
    When Molotov visited Berlin in November 1940, he made quite clear Stalin’s reluctance to play his assigned role. If Hitler was going to fight the Soviet Union, it was clear that he had to do so sooner rather than later. Throughout the months that followed, Schulenberg fought a rearguard action to try to prevent the invasion, which he thought would be suicidal.
    Certainly Germany’s prospects would have been far better, had Hitler listened to Schulenberg. But Hitler was fatally in the grip of a propensity at once to exaggerate the long-term danger from the Soviet Union, and to underestimate the problems of trying to cope with this danger by military means.
    Looking back years later, Schulenberg’s junior colleague Hans von Herwarth — a crucial informant for the United States in 1939-41 — suggested this was because of the propensity of myth-makers to get imprisoned by their own myths. Having described Stalin as the ‘liquidator of Communism’, he went on to regret that the National Socialists, ‘prisoners of their own anti-Communist propaganda’, had not realized the impact of the changes going on in the Soviet Union.’
    Apologies for the length of this comment — but I think the issues involved are interesting ones.

  49. Babak Makkinejad says:

    David Habakkuk:
    Thank you for your comments.
    I think that historical development is contingent. And in the absence of a true science of theoretical history, one cannot ascribe probabilities to these contingencies with any degree of certainty.
    I can, in principle, agree to the argument that certain tendencies inhere in a particular system of government or polity; admitting on the basis of the physicality of such a system of human organization. However, these inherent tendencies, in my opinion, are constantly subject to the contingency of the particular time, place, and human beings.
    I would argue that the NAZI-Soviet Pact was a contingency that was realized because a number of very influential and un-elected Englishmen (and women) decided to torpedo Litvinov mission to forge a Soviet-French-British entente; rendering that contingency improbable. Thus, I would argue, WWII could have been prevented since the Third Reich would have been stalemated on all fronts.

  50. David Habakkuk says:

    Babak Makkinejad,
    I would largely agree with your last comments.
    The notion that the social sciences — in which I would include history, sociology, and economics, as well as the science of military strategy — can produce the kind of generalisations found in the harder sciences seems to me patently false.
    What they can generate are tentative generationalisations about probabilities — and also an ability to make relevant analogies, and avoid irrelevant ones.
    The diplomacy of the period leading up to the Second World War is a large can of worms. But yes, I would agree that if there was any hope of ‘deterring’ Hitler, it depended upon the alliance between Britain, France and the Soviet Union which Litvinov worked tirelessly, and unavailingly, to obtain, and while one cannot be certain, it is quite likely that a different British policy could have averted the war.
    Incidentally, Litvinov had a British wife — the very formidable Ivy Low, granddaughter of a Jewish refugee from Hungary and an Indian army colonel. They were both quite extraordinarily brave people.

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