Andrew Sullivan has decided that he now knows the truth about neoconservatism:
We patiently listened as neocons told us that the Palestinians are too dysfunctional a people ever to have democratic rights or their own state, but that the the ancient sectarian warfare of Iraq can be transformed in a few years!…I took neoconservatism seriously for a long time, because it offered an interesting critique of what’s wrong with the Middle East, and seemed to have the only coherent strategic answer to the savagery of 9/11. I now realize that the answer – the permanent occupation of Iraq – was absurdly utopian and only made feasible by exploiting the psychic trauma of that dreadful day. The closer you examine it, the clearer it is that neoconservatism, in large part, is simply about enabling the most irredentist elements in Israel and sustaining a permanent war against anyone or any country who disagrees with the Israeli right.
Now let us see how many errors there are in this darling little passage.
First: neoconservatives told Sullivan Palestinians could never have their own state. In fact, neoconservatives were and remain the most determined supporters of George W. Bush’s June 24, 2002 speech in which he said specifically that the United States would accept a Palestinian state just so long as that state was a democratic one. Indeed, some of the most violent attacks against neoconservatives have come from hard-line Israelis who do believe what Sullivan claims neoconservatives believe — and who believe COMMENTARY betrayed them and Israel because it published work supporting the Israeli disengagement from Gaza. In Israeli political terms, an American neoconservative would fall somewhere in the soft center, and would be roundly despised by the “Israeli right” he thinks has the neoconservatives in its thrall.
Now, as to Iraq. Seems to me the original complaint against some neoconservatives wasn’t that they wanted “permanent occupation,” but that they wanted no occupation at all — that Richard Perle, to take one example, argued we should put an Iraqi protectorate in place in the first few weeks and get out while the getting was good. What was the rap against the supposedly diabolical neocons circling Donald Rumsfeld like a monstrous set of phylacteries in Andrew Sullivan’s lurid imagination — Wolfowitz, Shulsky, Zackheim, Feith, and six others to form an evil minyan on E-Ring — but that they refused to prepare adequately for a long occupation?
Others — Bill Kristol and Bob Kagan most prominently — did argue that we had prepared inadequately for the occupation, and that we needed far more troops. That was the claim as well of General Shinseki, who has been lionized for his honesty and supposed martyrdom by Andrew Sullivan over the years. Was he a neoconservative? The fact that Kristol and Kagan were in disagreement with Wolfowitz and Perle and Feith and many others over the course of the first few years of the war should give the lie to the notion that the “neoconservatives” were driven by a single strategy. We did all have a single goal — victory rather than defeat. Because, as patriots, we believed and believe it would be better for this country, and for the world, if we actually won the war in Iraq.
Andrew Sullivan no longer is interested in winning in Iraq, in fact is probably quietly eager for a defeat there, doubtless out of a combination of a certain degree of conviction, a ravenous hunger for leftist Web traffic, and because having decided a few years ago he’d picked the wrong horse in supporting it, he finds it unbearable to imagine that the wrong horse may prove to be the right horse after all.
So he must hold the neoconservatives to blame, first, for gulling him into support — you know, we Jews are fiendishly clever, with our Svengali hypnotic powers overcoming the will of poor, weak-minded Catholic bloggers — and must now be held to account for holding views about Israel and Iraq and democracy we never held and have, in fact, been attacked by some of our oldest friends who do hold them. But of course, those attacks by our old friends aren’t real, nor are the divisions among neoconservatives real. Because we Jews are all in it together.
At least Henry Ford knew how to make a car.