Commentary Magazine


Topic: hysteria

Israel to Consider Law Allowing Deportation of Foreign Activists

Get ready for more hyperventilating over Israel’s alleged slide toward totalitarianism. Likud members are expected to introduce a bill before the Knesset that will allow the Israeli government to deport foreign activists or groups that are actively working against Israeli interests:

The bill would authorize the interior minister “to forbid entrance to Israel or to expel from Israel people defined as enemy agents who harm Israel’s security or image,” the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel said.

It details specific types of activities defined as harming Israel’s security, including denying the existence of the Holocaust, boycotting Israel or Israeli products, and working to hold international court proceedings against Israeli citizens because of activities carried out while serving in Israel’s security organizations.

This bill comes on the heels of another piece of controversial legislation recently passed by the Knesset that will allow lawmakers to investigate whether NGOs involved in the delegitimization campaign are funded by foreign governments. It’s unclear how much support this new proposal will garner, but the NGO bill passed with overwhelming support.

It sounds like this new legislation would go hand-in-hand with the NGO investigations. If the Knesset finds that some anti-Israel organizations are supported by foreign governments, the new bill could give Israel the power to bar these groups from operating within the country, or even to deport their members.

Israel has been struggling to combat the growing problem of “lawfare” and pro-divestment groups in the past few years, and these attempts to solve the crisis are understandable. But considering the amount of hysteria the recent NGO bill generated, it doesn’t seem like the most opportune time for this proposal. Not to mention, this new piece of legislation goes far beyond the concept of a Foreign Agents Registration Act, which was how Danny Ayalon defended the necessity of the NGO bill.

The idea of deporting foreign agents actively involved in seeking the destruction of Israel isn’t particularly offensive in itself — but the big question is how would these agents be defined? And where is the line between the legitimate defense of national security and a crackdown on speech rights and genuine democratic debate? Unless the Knesset comes up with clear answers to those questions, it’s hard to see this proposal as a step in the right direction.

Get ready for more hyperventilating over Israel’s alleged slide toward totalitarianism. Likud members are expected to introduce a bill before the Knesset that will allow the Israeli government to deport foreign activists or groups that are actively working against Israeli interests:

The bill would authorize the interior minister “to forbid entrance to Israel or to expel from Israel people defined as enemy agents who harm Israel’s security or image,” the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel said.

It details specific types of activities defined as harming Israel’s security, including denying the existence of the Holocaust, boycotting Israel or Israeli products, and working to hold international court proceedings against Israeli citizens because of activities carried out while serving in Israel’s security organizations.

This bill comes on the heels of another piece of controversial legislation recently passed by the Knesset that will allow lawmakers to investigate whether NGOs involved in the delegitimization campaign are funded by foreign governments. It’s unclear how much support this new proposal will garner, but the NGO bill passed with overwhelming support.

It sounds like this new legislation would go hand-in-hand with the NGO investigations. If the Knesset finds that some anti-Israel organizations are supported by foreign governments, the new bill could give Israel the power to bar these groups from operating within the country, or even to deport their members.

Israel has been struggling to combat the growing problem of “lawfare” and pro-divestment groups in the past few years, and these attempts to solve the crisis are understandable. But considering the amount of hysteria the recent NGO bill generated, it doesn’t seem like the most opportune time for this proposal. Not to mention, this new piece of legislation goes far beyond the concept of a Foreign Agents Registration Act, which was how Danny Ayalon defended the necessity of the NGO bill.

The idea of deporting foreign agents actively involved in seeking the destruction of Israel isn’t particularly offensive in itself — but the big question is how would these agents be defined? And where is the line between the legitimate defense of national security and a crackdown on speech rights and genuine democratic debate? Unless the Knesset comes up with clear answers to those questions, it’s hard to see this proposal as a step in the right direction.

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When Menachem Met Margaret

Under its “30-year rule,” the British National Archives has released a November 1979 cable quoting Margaret Thatcher telling French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing that she “never had a more difficult man to deal with” than Menachem Begin, whose West Bank policy was “absurd.”

But there was more to the 1979 meeting between Thatcher and Begin than is reflected in the cable, evidenced by Yehuda Avner’s account of the meeting in his extraordinary new book, The Prime Ministers.

Thatcher, with British Foreign Secretary Lord Peter Carrington, hosted Begin for a lunch in May 1979 that Avner attended as Begin’s note taker. The book is based on shorthand notes he transcribed at the time: “anything [in my book] in inverted commas are the words actually spoken.”

The lunch went well until Carrington suddenly confronted Begin about settlements:

“Your settlement policy is expansionist. It is intemperate. It is a barrier to peace. The settlements are built on occupied Arab soil. They rob Palestinians of their land. They unnecessarily arouse the animosity of the moderate Arabs. They are contrary to international law — the Geneva Convention. They are inconsistent with British interests.”

Begin responded that:

“The settlements, sir, are not an obstacle to peace. The Arabs refused to make peace before there was a single settlement anywhere. No Palestinian Arab sovereignty has ever existed in the biblical provinces of Judea and Samaria, where most of the new settlements are located, hence the Geneva Convention does not apply. Besides, we are building the settlements on state-owned, not Arab-owned land. Their construction is an assertion of our basic historic rights, not to speak of their critical importance to our national security.” Read More

Under its “30-year rule,” the British National Archives has released a November 1979 cable quoting Margaret Thatcher telling French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing that she “never had a more difficult man to deal with” than Menachem Begin, whose West Bank policy was “absurd.”

But there was more to the 1979 meeting between Thatcher and Begin than is reflected in the cable, evidenced by Yehuda Avner’s account of the meeting in his extraordinary new book, The Prime Ministers.

Thatcher, with British Foreign Secretary Lord Peter Carrington, hosted Begin for a lunch in May 1979 that Avner attended as Begin’s note taker. The book is based on shorthand notes he transcribed at the time: “anything [in my book] in inverted commas are the words actually spoken.”

The lunch went well until Carrington suddenly confronted Begin about settlements:

“Your settlement policy is expansionist. It is intemperate. It is a barrier to peace. The settlements are built on occupied Arab soil. They rob Palestinians of their land. They unnecessarily arouse the animosity of the moderate Arabs. They are contrary to international law — the Geneva Convention. They are inconsistent with British interests.”

Begin responded that:

“The settlements, sir, are not an obstacle to peace. The Arabs refused to make peace before there was a single settlement anywhere. No Palestinian Arab sovereignty has ever existed in the biblical provinces of Judea and Samaria, where most of the new settlements are located, hence the Geneva Convention does not apply. Besides, we are building the settlements on state-owned, not Arab-owned land. Their construction is an assertion of our basic historic rights, not to speak of their critical importance to our national security.”

Then Begin turned to Thatcher:

“Madame Prime Minister, your foreign secretary dismisses my country’s historic rights and pooh-poohs our vital security needs. So I shall tell you why the settlements are vital: because I speak of the Land of Israel, a land redeemed, not occupied; because without those settlements Israel could be at the mercy of a Palestinian state astride the commanding heights of Judea and Samaria. We would be living on borrowed time. And whenever we Jews are threatened or attacked we are always alone. Remember in 1944, how we came begging for our lives — begging at this very door?”

“Is that when you wanted us to bomb Auschwitz?”

“No, Madame, not Auschwitz. We asked you to bomb the railway lines leading to Auschwitz. In the summer of 1944, Eichmann was transporting to their deaths a hundred thousand Hungarian Jews a week along those lines to Auschwitz.”

Carrington abruptly challenged Begin again: “And what does this have to do with the settlements?”

“Lord Carrington, please have the goodness not to interrupt me when I am in the middle of a conversation with your prime minister. … As I said, whenever we are threatened or attacked, we have only our own fellow Jews to rely on.”

“Peter,” said Mrs. Thatcher softly, “I think an admission of regret is called for.” …

“Quite right, Prime Minister. … Somehow, your little country, Mr. Begin, evokes all sorts of high emotional fevers. Stirs up the blood, so to speak.”

Begin, his composure regained, smiled at him, the smile not reaching his eyes. “The story of our people is very much a tale of having to defend ourselves against bouts of irrationality and hysteria. It happens in every generation.”

In 1979, Begin signed a peace treaty with Egypt, returning land exceeding the size of Israel. He offered Palestinians a quasi-state autonomy; they rejected it. Thirty years later, we know, five times over, that settlements were not an obstacle to peace; to the contrary, their removal in Gaza resulted in a new rocket war.

In the West Bank, a holdover regime wants a state but repeatedly turns one down; refuses to recognize a Jewish state; insists that Israel retreat to the indefensible 1967 lines; demands a “right of return” to delegitimize it demographically; and demands compensation for Arab refugees from the 1948 war the Arabs commenced, but not for the larger number of Jewish refugees from Arab countries. The appropriate word for this collection of positions is “absurd.”

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RE: Shut Up, the Islamists Explained

Islamists have been mighty successful in propounding a Big Lie: America is a nation beset by Islamophobes. If anything, the religious bigotry problem both in America and in Europe is one of vicious anti-Semitism, which has become mainstream and even fashionable.

Unlike the concocted Islamophobia — based on hysteria over a single whacked-out pastor and legitimate objections to a mosque at Ground Zero — there is plenty of evidence that anti-Semitism enjoys newfound popularity. Time magazine feels confident that its “Jews only care about money” cover story will hit a chord with the public. European officials suffer no ostracism for hurling epithets at Jews speaking up in defense of the Israel. The Turkish foreign minister talks about a “final solution” and no one bats an eye. Now a new and important film, Crossing the Line, documents the prevalence of not simply anti-Israel activism but also violent anti-Semitism on college campuses. (A five-minute clip is chilling viewing.)

But the chattering class and the media mavens aren’t much concerned with all that. To the contrary, CAIR’s darling Helen Thomas operated comfortably in the Washington press corps until she erred by speaking candidly to a rabbi with a video camera. And while Mayor Bloomberg tells us to hush up about the mosque, and the left blogosphere shouts “bigots” at New Yorkers who’d like the mosque moved, the impresarios of political correctness are mute when a journalist is forced into hiding by Islamic radicals. The Washington Examiner‘s editors explain:

Last week, the Seattle Weekly announced that Molly Norris, its editorial cartoonist, had “gone ghost.” Put another way, she went into hiding. The FBI told her she had to because otherwise it couldn’t protect her against death threats from Muslims she’d angered. Earlier this year, Norris started “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” to protest radical Muslims’ violently stifling freedom of speech and conscience. Incredibly, her plight has drawn precious little media attention, even though it is infinitely more newsworthy than, say, a fundamentalist preacher in Florida threatening to burn Qurans.

When The Examiner asked the American Society of News Editors for a statement on the issue, none was forthcoming. This despite the fact that the first sentence of ASNE’s Web site describes its mission as supporting “the First Amendment at home and free speech around the world.” We got a similar response from the Society of Professional Journalists, despite its dedication “to the perpetuation of the free press as the cornerstone of our nation and liberty.”

From the New York Times to TNR (which I had hoped under the headline “Atonement” was going to come clean on misguided support for the “pro-Zionist” candidate Barack Obama, who turned out to be anything but), journalists fall over themselves to apologize for affronts to Muslims.

But then, what can we expect when the president proclaims himself Explainer in Chief on behalf of Islam, chants in Cairo the trope of Palestinian exploitation, and dispatches his advisers to pronounce that opposition to the Ground Zero mosque is reminiscent of European anti-Semitism in the 1930s?

What started out as a widespread effort to delegitimize Israel has now morphed into a war on defenders of Israel and critics of Islamic radicals. So far they are winning the war — with the help of liberal American elites.

Islamists have been mighty successful in propounding a Big Lie: America is a nation beset by Islamophobes. If anything, the religious bigotry problem both in America and in Europe is one of vicious anti-Semitism, which has become mainstream and even fashionable.

Unlike the concocted Islamophobia — based on hysteria over a single whacked-out pastor and legitimate objections to a mosque at Ground Zero — there is plenty of evidence that anti-Semitism enjoys newfound popularity. Time magazine feels confident that its “Jews only care about money” cover story will hit a chord with the public. European officials suffer no ostracism for hurling epithets at Jews speaking up in defense of the Israel. The Turkish foreign minister talks about a “final solution” and no one bats an eye. Now a new and important film, Crossing the Line, documents the prevalence of not simply anti-Israel activism but also violent anti-Semitism on college campuses. (A five-minute clip is chilling viewing.)

But the chattering class and the media mavens aren’t much concerned with all that. To the contrary, CAIR’s darling Helen Thomas operated comfortably in the Washington press corps until she erred by speaking candidly to a rabbi with a video camera. And while Mayor Bloomberg tells us to hush up about the mosque, and the left blogosphere shouts “bigots” at New Yorkers who’d like the mosque moved, the impresarios of political correctness are mute when a journalist is forced into hiding by Islamic radicals. The Washington Examiner‘s editors explain:

Last week, the Seattle Weekly announced that Molly Norris, its editorial cartoonist, had “gone ghost.” Put another way, she went into hiding. The FBI told her she had to because otherwise it couldn’t protect her against death threats from Muslims she’d angered. Earlier this year, Norris started “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” to protest radical Muslims’ violently stifling freedom of speech and conscience. Incredibly, her plight has drawn precious little media attention, even though it is infinitely more newsworthy than, say, a fundamentalist preacher in Florida threatening to burn Qurans.

When The Examiner asked the American Society of News Editors for a statement on the issue, none was forthcoming. This despite the fact that the first sentence of ASNE’s Web site describes its mission as supporting “the First Amendment at home and free speech around the world.” We got a similar response from the Society of Professional Journalists, despite its dedication “to the perpetuation of the free press as the cornerstone of our nation and liberty.”

From the New York Times to TNR (which I had hoped under the headline “Atonement” was going to come clean on misguided support for the “pro-Zionist” candidate Barack Obama, who turned out to be anything but), journalists fall over themselves to apologize for affronts to Muslims.

But then, what can we expect when the president proclaims himself Explainer in Chief on behalf of Islam, chants in Cairo the trope of Palestinian exploitation, and dispatches his advisers to pronounce that opposition to the Ground Zero mosque is reminiscent of European anti-Semitism in the 1930s?

What started out as a widespread effort to delegitimize Israel has now morphed into a war on defenders of Israel and critics of Islamic radicals. So far they are winning the war — with the help of liberal American elites.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Israel can bank on the Tea Partiers (but the “pro-Israel left” — an oxymoron if there ever was one — not at all): “Now that the congressional supporters of the Tea Party movement have formed their own caucus, their policy positions are becoming easier to track. Expanding their foray into foreign policy, 21 members of the new caucus have now come out explicitly endorsing Israel’s right to strike Iran’s nuclear program.”

You can’t take any “facts” in an E.J. Dionne column to the bank. Quin Hillyer reads (and demolishes) Dionne’s latest so you don’t have to.

You can bank on Sen. Joe Lieberman to see through the hysteria on the Afghanistan war-documents leak: “The disclosure of tens of thousands of classified documents on the Afghanistan war is profoundly irresponsible and harmful to our national security. The Obama administration is absolutely right to condemn these leaks. ‘Most of these documents add nothing to the public understanding of the war in Afghanistan. The materials –which cover the period from 2004 to 2009 — reflect the reality, recognized by everyone, that the insurgency was gaining momentum during these years while our coalition was losing ground.'”

I guess the Palestinians can’t bank on Obama to deliver up Israel on a platter: “A senior U.S. envoy warned the Palestinian president that he must move quickly to direct talks with Israel if he wants President Barack Obama’s help in setting up a Palestinian state, according to an internal Palestinian document obtained by The Associated Press on Monday.”

Democrats banking on Obama or the capping of the BP oil leak to lift their poll numbers are going to be disappointed: “Republican candidates now hold a 10-point lead over Democrats on the Generic Congressional Ballot for the week ending Sunday, July 25, the widest gap between the two parties in several weeks.”

You can’t bank on the liberal media even to advertise their own leaks accurately these days. Peter Feaver: “Another week, and another Big Bombshell Story in the national security press, this time a series of stories based on the leak by Wikileaks of over 90,000 classified cables and reports from the Afghan theater. (A sidebar: The word “leak” just doesn’t seem adequate for a data dump and security breach of this magnitude. This is not so much a leak as a gusher.) … There does not appear to be any bombshell revelation here. Perhaps the more interesting and damning revelations are to come, but presumably the newspapers led with their best stuff.”

The Obama-Reid-Pelosi troika can’t even bank on a First Amendment–stomping win on campaign-finance “reform”: “Despite some last-minute prodding from President Barack Obama on Monday, Senate Democrats still are scrambling to find the remaining few votes needed to overcome a filibuster of a campaign finance bill that appears destined to fail Tuesday.”

Child rapists? Anti-Semites? You can always bank on Hollywood to support their own.

Israel can bank on the Tea Partiers (but the “pro-Israel left” — an oxymoron if there ever was one — not at all): “Now that the congressional supporters of the Tea Party movement have formed their own caucus, their policy positions are becoming easier to track. Expanding their foray into foreign policy, 21 members of the new caucus have now come out explicitly endorsing Israel’s right to strike Iran’s nuclear program.”

You can’t take any “facts” in an E.J. Dionne column to the bank. Quin Hillyer reads (and demolishes) Dionne’s latest so you don’t have to.

You can bank on Sen. Joe Lieberman to see through the hysteria on the Afghanistan war-documents leak: “The disclosure of tens of thousands of classified documents on the Afghanistan war is profoundly irresponsible and harmful to our national security. The Obama administration is absolutely right to condemn these leaks. ‘Most of these documents add nothing to the public understanding of the war in Afghanistan. The materials –which cover the period from 2004 to 2009 — reflect the reality, recognized by everyone, that the insurgency was gaining momentum during these years while our coalition was losing ground.'”

I guess the Palestinians can’t bank on Obama to deliver up Israel on a platter: “A senior U.S. envoy warned the Palestinian president that he must move quickly to direct talks with Israel if he wants President Barack Obama’s help in setting up a Palestinian state, according to an internal Palestinian document obtained by The Associated Press on Monday.”

Democrats banking on Obama or the capping of the BP oil leak to lift their poll numbers are going to be disappointed: “Republican candidates now hold a 10-point lead over Democrats on the Generic Congressional Ballot for the week ending Sunday, July 25, the widest gap between the two parties in several weeks.”

You can’t bank on the liberal media even to advertise their own leaks accurately these days. Peter Feaver: “Another week, and another Big Bombshell Story in the national security press, this time a series of stories based on the leak by Wikileaks of over 90,000 classified cables and reports from the Afghan theater. (A sidebar: The word “leak” just doesn’t seem adequate for a data dump and security breach of this magnitude. This is not so much a leak as a gusher.) … There does not appear to be any bombshell revelation here. Perhaps the more interesting and damning revelations are to come, but presumably the newspapers led with their best stuff.”

The Obama-Reid-Pelosi troika can’t even bank on a First Amendment–stomping win on campaign-finance “reform”: “Despite some last-minute prodding from President Barack Obama on Monday, Senate Democrats still are scrambling to find the remaining few votes needed to overcome a filibuster of a campaign finance bill that appears destined to fail Tuesday.”

Child rapists? Anti-Semites? You can always bank on Hollywood to support their own.

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Democrats Panic over Israel

Former Journolist participant, now Politico reporter Laura Rozen was deployed to send around talking points for House Democrats defending themselves against — shocker! — the accusation that they and Obama have been less-than-stalwart-friends of Israel. (Have you noticed that she gets documents, blind quotes, etc. only from the left? Nothing to do with her Journolist background, mind you. Nothing to see. Move along.)

It is clear that this clumsy attempt at damage control is a matter of domestic politics, not foreign policy. (Ben Smith might well have had a jaundiced take on it, so he’s not the ideal reporter to give the lead if you need an uncritical release of your talking points.) Rozen’s comrades on the left are in a knot over the appearance of the Emergency Committee for Israel (my comments in brackets):

“I think you will find it useful to make the case that House Democrats and the president are as good if not better than any Congress or Administration that has come before,” [Howard] Berman wrote. [Not a good case, but a case. Really, didn’t the administration have to launch a charm offensive to abate the anger in the ranks of American Jewry?]

Among the points the memo highlights, Obama has “repeatedly talked about the importance of the Palestinians recognizing the quote ‘Jewish’ state of Israel,” as well as the U.S. leading the international effort to pressure Iran about its nuclear weapons program. [If all he can proffer as evidence for Obama’s Israel bona fides is that the president talked about the need for Palestinians to recognize Israel, you get the idea how weak the case really is.] …

The memo comes after a new conservative pro-Israel group has formed and criticized Pennsylvania Senate Democratic candidate Joe Sestak and associated him with Obama’s Middle East policy. [The ECI folks are no doubt high-fiving each other. She doesn’t mention that J Street’s ad also did a bang-up job of tying Sestak to Obama.]

Well, panic is the highest form of political flattery. And getting arguably the top House Democrat on the issue to take on the ECI suggests hysteria. At any rate, it’s plain that Democrats feel vulnerable after shilling for Obama’s Israel policy. They should have thought about that before they put partisan loyalty above principle. That’s water under the bridge, but now they really do need better talking points.

Former Journolist participant, now Politico reporter Laura Rozen was deployed to send around talking points for House Democrats defending themselves against — shocker! — the accusation that they and Obama have been less-than-stalwart-friends of Israel. (Have you noticed that she gets documents, blind quotes, etc. only from the left? Nothing to do with her Journolist background, mind you. Nothing to see. Move along.)

It is clear that this clumsy attempt at damage control is a matter of domestic politics, not foreign policy. (Ben Smith might well have had a jaundiced take on it, so he’s not the ideal reporter to give the lead if you need an uncritical release of your talking points.) Rozen’s comrades on the left are in a knot over the appearance of the Emergency Committee for Israel (my comments in brackets):

“I think you will find it useful to make the case that House Democrats and the president are as good if not better than any Congress or Administration that has come before,” [Howard] Berman wrote. [Not a good case, but a case. Really, didn’t the administration have to launch a charm offensive to abate the anger in the ranks of American Jewry?]

Among the points the memo highlights, Obama has “repeatedly talked about the importance of the Palestinians recognizing the quote ‘Jewish’ state of Israel,” as well as the U.S. leading the international effort to pressure Iran about its nuclear weapons program. [If all he can proffer as evidence for Obama’s Israel bona fides is that the president talked about the need for Palestinians to recognize Israel, you get the idea how weak the case really is.] …

The memo comes after a new conservative pro-Israel group has formed and criticized Pennsylvania Senate Democratic candidate Joe Sestak and associated him with Obama’s Middle East policy. [The ECI folks are no doubt high-fiving each other. She doesn’t mention that J Street’s ad also did a bang-up job of tying Sestak to Obama.]

Well, panic is the highest form of political flattery. And getting arguably the top House Democrat on the issue to take on the ECI suggests hysteria. At any rate, it’s plain that Democrats feel vulnerable after shilling for Obama’s Israel policy. They should have thought about that before they put partisan loyalty above principle. That’s water under the bridge, but now they really do need better talking points.

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Conservatives Should Stay Smart

Some conservatives have latched onto the news that Tony West, the assistant attorney general for the Civil Division, is the lead lawyer on the Justice Department’s case regarding Arizona’s immigration law. West previously represented al-Qaeda terrorists and, as I have written about at length, thereby raised a thicket of ethical issues insofar as he now is in charge of Gitmo litigation. But the criticism of his role in the Arizona litigation is misplaced.

No conservative administration would have hired West, but the reason why Obama was wrong to do so is that it introduced a potentially crippling ethical issue with regard to terror cases and raised real concerns about how vigorously the administration would litigate on key national-security issues in which West’s sympathies clearly were with the detainees.

None of this has anything to do with the Arizona case. And as I previously argued, conservatives who are delighted by a 50-state onslaught against illegal aliens should rejoice that they can now test their position. So what  is their beef?

On this issue, some conservatives risk appearing unhinged as they rail against the latest scrap of news. When I explained to an otherwise sensible conservative that the Obama administration had a plausible and indeed potentially winning argument on preemption grounds, he snapped back, “The Constitution is not an suicide pact among the states.” This is simply nonsense. It’s bad for a system of immigration enforcement to be this wildly flouted, and we certainly need to secure the borders. But there is no national suicide remotely at issue, and opposing the Arizona law doesn’t mean you want America to drop dead.

It is this sort of hysteria and overheated blather that conservatives should be wary of. Political winds are blowing at the right’s back, but the quickest way to be knocked off course is to propound ill-conceived arguments and give voters the idea that conservatives are unsober and unserious. Let’s get focused, guys.

Some conservatives have latched onto the news that Tony West, the assistant attorney general for the Civil Division, is the lead lawyer on the Justice Department’s case regarding Arizona’s immigration law. West previously represented al-Qaeda terrorists and, as I have written about at length, thereby raised a thicket of ethical issues insofar as he now is in charge of Gitmo litigation. But the criticism of his role in the Arizona litigation is misplaced.

No conservative administration would have hired West, but the reason why Obama was wrong to do so is that it introduced a potentially crippling ethical issue with regard to terror cases and raised real concerns about how vigorously the administration would litigate on key national-security issues in which West’s sympathies clearly were with the detainees.

None of this has anything to do with the Arizona case. And as I previously argued, conservatives who are delighted by a 50-state onslaught against illegal aliens should rejoice that they can now test their position. So what  is their beef?

On this issue, some conservatives risk appearing unhinged as they rail against the latest scrap of news. When I explained to an otherwise sensible conservative that the Obama administration had a plausible and indeed potentially winning argument on preemption grounds, he snapped back, “The Constitution is not an suicide pact among the states.” This is simply nonsense. It’s bad for a system of immigration enforcement to be this wildly flouted, and we certainly need to secure the borders. But there is no national suicide remotely at issue, and opposing the Arizona law doesn’t mean you want America to drop dead.

It is this sort of hysteria and overheated blather that conservatives should be wary of. Political winds are blowing at the right’s back, but the quickest way to be knocked off course is to propound ill-conceived arguments and give voters the idea that conservatives are unsober and unserious. Let’s get focused, guys.

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International Outrage, Please

There are stories in the news right now that in most of their themes are similar to stories that recently set off waves of condemnation and hysteria in much of the world, especially in the delicate global conscience of “the international community.”

In the Gaza Strip, many of the residents have been left without electricity because of a fight that shut down the Strip’s power plant. Palestinians are suffering, with nothing to relieve the daytime heat and the nighttime darkness — but the world yawns.

In a nearby part of the Middle East, an unprovoked and disproportionate attack against civilians destroyed a building and damaged others. The EU has not called for an investigation, and currently the UN Security Council has not been convened to discuss this act of war. Remarkably, this aggression is not even mentioned on the front pages of British newspapers, which normally cover attacks on civilians in this region with great attentiveness.

Also in the Middle East, a repressive regime is razing the homes of a persecuted minority. According to reports, 90 percent of the buildings owned by this minority group have been destroyed in these acts of discrimination and ethnic cleansing. Surprisingly, the UN secretary-general and the Obama administration — which have both publicly and repeatedly criticized Israel for legally demolishing buildings that were constructed in violation of zoning laws — have said nothing about this grave offense.

Elsewhere, it has been discovered that a major figure in a spy ring that has just been broken up had been using a forged British passport for her travels — and we all know what happens when someone is accused of using a forged British passport: two weeks of utter pandemonium in the British media; journalists, politicians, and concerned citizens become profoundly shocked and appalled; the foreign secretary promises investigation, punishment, and diplomatic fallout; the intelligence relationship with the offending country is downgraded; and so on.

But today the denunciations are absent, the criticism muted, the calls for investigation nonexistent, and the world’s attention fixed firmly on other issues. Why could this be?

There are stories in the news right now that in most of their themes are similar to stories that recently set off waves of condemnation and hysteria in much of the world, especially in the delicate global conscience of “the international community.”

In the Gaza Strip, many of the residents have been left without electricity because of a fight that shut down the Strip’s power plant. Palestinians are suffering, with nothing to relieve the daytime heat and the nighttime darkness — but the world yawns.

In a nearby part of the Middle East, an unprovoked and disproportionate attack against civilians destroyed a building and damaged others. The EU has not called for an investigation, and currently the UN Security Council has not been convened to discuss this act of war. Remarkably, this aggression is not even mentioned on the front pages of British newspapers, which normally cover attacks on civilians in this region with great attentiveness.

Also in the Middle East, a repressive regime is razing the homes of a persecuted minority. According to reports, 90 percent of the buildings owned by this minority group have been destroyed in these acts of discrimination and ethnic cleansing. Surprisingly, the UN secretary-general and the Obama administration — which have both publicly and repeatedly criticized Israel for legally demolishing buildings that were constructed in violation of zoning laws — have said nothing about this grave offense.

Elsewhere, it has been discovered that a major figure in a spy ring that has just been broken up had been using a forged British passport for her travels — and we all know what happens when someone is accused of using a forged British passport: two weeks of utter pandemonium in the British media; journalists, politicians, and concerned citizens become profoundly shocked and appalled; the foreign secretary promises investigation, punishment, and diplomatic fallout; the intelligence relationship with the offending country is downgraded; and so on.

But today the denunciations are absent, the criticism muted, the calls for investigation nonexistent, and the world’s attention fixed firmly on other issues. Why could this be?

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Obama’s Iran Policy Is Producing Arab Fallout

A key concern of those who believe a nuclear Iran would be disastrous is that it would prompt “moderate” Arab states to switch into the Iranian camp — due to fear that America would be unable to protect them against a nuclear-armed neighbor and a desire to align themselves with the “strong horse,” which succeeded in going nuclear despite American opposition, rather than the “weak horse,” which proved unwilling or unable to prevent this development. But it now seems Iran won’t even need to obtain the bomb to make this happen: the growing realization that Washington has no real stomach for stopping it is enough.

This conclusion emerges from two incidents reported by Haaretz Arab affairs analyst Zvi Bar’el. First, Iran’s military exercises in the Persian Gulf this week were observed by “a high-level military delegation from Qatar. It was headed by Admiral Abed al-Rahim al-Janahi, who said his country wants to benefit from the Iranian experience, and that he was planning joint exercises for the two armies.”

This is particularly noteworthy given a fact that Bar’el didn’t mention: U.S. forces used Qatar’s Al Udeid Air Base for their campaigns in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Indeed, Qatar originally upgraded the base to lure the U.S. military. Now it’s planning joint military exercises with Iran.

Bar’el also quoted an Al-Arabiya interview with Turki al-Faisal, head of the King Faisal Institute of Global Strategic Studies — and also a former head of Saudi Arabian intelligence, a former ambassador to London and Washington, the Saudi foreign minister’s brother, and King Abdullah’s cousin. As such, Bar’el wrote, al-Faisal most likely represents the ruling family’s views.

And what are those views? Hitherto, Riyadh has considered Tehran its chief regional rival. But al-Faisal termed the Gulf states’ ties with Iran “historic ties that are built on interests, blood relationships and proximity.” He also opposed sanctions on Tehran, saying he prefers “dialogue,” and said Israel posed a far greater threat to the region than Iran does.

The prospect of a shift in Saudi Arabia’s allegiance ought to alarm even the Obama administration. Saudi Arabia is not only one of America’s main oil suppliers; it’s also the country Washington relies on to keep world oil markets stable — both by restraining fellow OPEC members from radical production cuts and by upping its own production to compensate for temporary shortfalls elsewhere.

Granted, Riyadh is motivated partly by self-interest: unlike some of its OPEC colleagues, it understands that keeping oil prices too high for too long would do more to spur alternative-energy development than any amount of global-warming hysteria. And since its economy depends on oil exports, encouraging alternative energy is the last thing it wants to do.

Nevertheless, the fact remains that Saudi Arabia has been generally effective as stabilizer-in-chief of world oil markets and has no plausible replacement in this role. And since the U.S. economy remains highly oil-dependent, a Saudi shift into Iran’s camp would effectively put America’s economy at the mercy of the mullahs in Tehran.

That’s a prospect that ought to keep Washington policymakers awake at night.

A key concern of those who believe a nuclear Iran would be disastrous is that it would prompt “moderate” Arab states to switch into the Iranian camp — due to fear that America would be unable to protect them against a nuclear-armed neighbor and a desire to align themselves with the “strong horse,” which succeeded in going nuclear despite American opposition, rather than the “weak horse,” which proved unwilling or unable to prevent this development. But it now seems Iran won’t even need to obtain the bomb to make this happen: the growing realization that Washington has no real stomach for stopping it is enough.

This conclusion emerges from two incidents reported by Haaretz Arab affairs analyst Zvi Bar’el. First, Iran’s military exercises in the Persian Gulf this week were observed by “a high-level military delegation from Qatar. It was headed by Admiral Abed al-Rahim al-Janahi, who said his country wants to benefit from the Iranian experience, and that he was planning joint exercises for the two armies.”

This is particularly noteworthy given a fact that Bar’el didn’t mention: U.S. forces used Qatar’s Al Udeid Air Base for their campaigns in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Indeed, Qatar originally upgraded the base to lure the U.S. military. Now it’s planning joint military exercises with Iran.

Bar’el also quoted an Al-Arabiya interview with Turki al-Faisal, head of the King Faisal Institute of Global Strategic Studies — and also a former head of Saudi Arabian intelligence, a former ambassador to London and Washington, the Saudi foreign minister’s brother, and King Abdullah’s cousin. As such, Bar’el wrote, al-Faisal most likely represents the ruling family’s views.

And what are those views? Hitherto, Riyadh has considered Tehran its chief regional rival. But al-Faisal termed the Gulf states’ ties with Iran “historic ties that are built on interests, blood relationships and proximity.” He also opposed sanctions on Tehran, saying he prefers “dialogue,” and said Israel posed a far greater threat to the region than Iran does.

The prospect of a shift in Saudi Arabia’s allegiance ought to alarm even the Obama administration. Saudi Arabia is not only one of America’s main oil suppliers; it’s also the country Washington relies on to keep world oil markets stable — both by restraining fellow OPEC members from radical production cuts and by upping its own production to compensate for temporary shortfalls elsewhere.

Granted, Riyadh is motivated partly by self-interest: unlike some of its OPEC colleagues, it understands that keeping oil prices too high for too long would do more to spur alternative-energy development than any amount of global-warming hysteria. And since its economy depends on oil exports, encouraging alternative energy is the last thing it wants to do.

Nevertheless, the fact remains that Saudi Arabia has been generally effective as stabilizer-in-chief of world oil markets and has no plausible replacement in this role. And since the U.S. economy remains highly oil-dependent, a Saudi shift into Iran’s camp would effectively put America’s economy at the mercy of the mullahs in Tehran.

That’s a prospect that ought to keep Washington policymakers awake at night.

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Broder Leaves Obama Out of the Immigration Culprits

David Broder thinks the Arizona immigration law is a very bad law. He goes looking for those responsible:

What has been missing from the discussion is any apparent recognition of those responsible for killing the last effort at comprehensive federal immigration reform that would have headed off the need for this kind of punitive state action.

And he finds a list of conservative opponents of immigration reform, finding “the blame for this mess rests with those who killed that bill.” But hmm. Who is missing from this tale of irresponsibility? Let’s recall what Chicago Sun Times reporter Lynn Sweet wrote in  2008:

Obama “did not absolutely stand out in any way,’’ said Margaret Sands Orchowski, the author of “Immigration and the American Dream: Battling the Political Hype and Hysteria,” and a close follower of the legislation.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a McCain ally and a key player on immigration, said Obama was around for only a “handful” of meetings and helped destroy a 2007 compromise when he voted for making guest worker visa programs temporary. A permanent guest worker program was to be a trade for a legalization program to cover many illegal immigrants.

“When it came time to putting that bill together, he was more of a problem than he was a help. And when it came time to try to get the bill passed, he, in my opinion, broke the agreement we had. He was in the photo op, but he could not execute the hard part of the deal,” Graham said,” Graham said.

So will Broder add Obama to the list of culprits? Well, here’s an easy way for Obama to redeem himself: have the McCain-Kennedy bill reintroduced and fight for its passage. After all, there is a large Democratic majority now. Or does Obama want an issue, and not a bill? We’ll find out whether he’s up to his old tricks — or whether he really is interested in solving the immigration problem, which Arizona and the other states must cope with.

David Broder thinks the Arizona immigration law is a very bad law. He goes looking for those responsible:

What has been missing from the discussion is any apparent recognition of those responsible for killing the last effort at comprehensive federal immigration reform that would have headed off the need for this kind of punitive state action.

And he finds a list of conservative opponents of immigration reform, finding “the blame for this mess rests with those who killed that bill.” But hmm. Who is missing from this tale of irresponsibility? Let’s recall what Chicago Sun Times reporter Lynn Sweet wrote in  2008:

Obama “did not absolutely stand out in any way,’’ said Margaret Sands Orchowski, the author of “Immigration and the American Dream: Battling the Political Hype and Hysteria,” and a close follower of the legislation.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a McCain ally and a key player on immigration, said Obama was around for only a “handful” of meetings and helped destroy a 2007 compromise when he voted for making guest worker visa programs temporary. A permanent guest worker program was to be a trade for a legalization program to cover many illegal immigrants.

“When it came time to putting that bill together, he was more of a problem than he was a help. And when it came time to try to get the bill passed, he, in my opinion, broke the agreement we had. He was in the photo op, but he could not execute the hard part of the deal,” Graham said,” Graham said.

So will Broder add Obama to the list of culprits? Well, here’s an easy way for Obama to redeem himself: have the McCain-Kennedy bill reintroduced and fight for its passage. After all, there is a large Democratic majority now. Or does Obama want an issue, and not a bill? We’ll find out whether he’s up to his old tricks — or whether he really is interested in solving the immigration problem, which Arizona and the other states must cope with.

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Israel Derangement Syndrome in the British Press

At this point, the most interesting thing about the Dubai assassination isn’t what happened in that hotel room; it is a hysteria about the story in the British press that is bordering on mob lunacy.

Few new details are emerging, so the press is engaged in an increasingly unconvincing attempt at propelling the story along by self-generated outrage. Here is a perfect example from the UK Times. It begins ominously:

David Miliband will press his Israeli counterpart today to explain what his Government knows about the use of stolen British identities in the Mahmoud al-Mabhouh killing.

Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli Foreign Minister, will meet separately with his British, French and Irish counterparts in Brussels, in a diplomatic showdown over Mossad’s use of fraudulent European passports.

The Israelis are in big trouble! Well, maybe not. Down at the very bottom we read:

Mr Lieberman’s meetings in Brussels with the British, French and Irish foreign ministers have been long planned.

The writer of this piece, someone named Catherine Philip, actually has no idea whether there will be a “diplomatic showdown” in Brussels. There will probably be pro forma words exchanged about the passport issue, and the Europeans will grumble and complain, as they do on an almost daily basis these days about Israel. The piece is littered with other unproven claims, all written in the passive voice: “There is speculation that” the Israelis are in deepening trouble, and something else “has raised the possibility” of the trouble getting even deeper, all written in the smarmy tone of someone with serious unspoken resentments. Does Israel’s willingness to take risks and act boldly on behalf of its own security shame British elites, who show no such courage today?

Philip’s contribution to the larger campaign of speculation and innuendo is no worse than most of the others. What a spectacle Britain is making of itself these days.

At this point, the most interesting thing about the Dubai assassination isn’t what happened in that hotel room; it is a hysteria about the story in the British press that is bordering on mob lunacy.

Few new details are emerging, so the press is engaged in an increasingly unconvincing attempt at propelling the story along by self-generated outrage. Here is a perfect example from the UK Times. It begins ominously:

David Miliband will press his Israeli counterpart today to explain what his Government knows about the use of stolen British identities in the Mahmoud al-Mabhouh killing.

Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli Foreign Minister, will meet separately with his British, French and Irish counterparts in Brussels, in a diplomatic showdown over Mossad’s use of fraudulent European passports.

The Israelis are in big trouble! Well, maybe not. Down at the very bottom we read:

Mr Lieberman’s meetings in Brussels with the British, French and Irish foreign ministers have been long planned.

The writer of this piece, someone named Catherine Philip, actually has no idea whether there will be a “diplomatic showdown” in Brussels. There will probably be pro forma words exchanged about the passport issue, and the Europeans will grumble and complain, as they do on an almost daily basis these days about Israel. The piece is littered with other unproven claims, all written in the passive voice: “There is speculation that” the Israelis are in deepening trouble, and something else “has raised the possibility” of the trouble getting even deeper, all written in the smarmy tone of someone with serious unspoken resentments. Does Israel’s willingness to take risks and act boldly on behalf of its own security shame British elites, who show no such courage today?

Philip’s contribution to the larger campaign of speculation and innuendo is no worse than most of the others. What a spectacle Britain is making of itself these days.

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Re: Not an Easy Time for Obama Worshipers

Pete, one feels discomfort watching liberal pundits twist and turn, straining to come up with explanations for the decline in their once beloved Obama’s fortunes. It is embarrassing at times. Jill Lawrence is a case in point. She goes so far as to argue that none of the bad polling is really the Obami’s fault:

So where did they go wrong? What could they have done to avoid what many analysts see as portents of doom for the 2010 House and Senate elections? Probably nothing. In fact, they’d be in even worse shape if they had made different choices.

Really? He’d be in worse shape than if he hadn’t made the choices he made? Frankly, that’s poppycock.  Hard to imagine on foreign policy Obama would be in worse shape if he hadn’t played footsie with the mullahs for a year, engaged in a monumentally stupid settlement freeze gambit in the Middle East, done his best to offend the Brits, yanked missile-defense systems from allies, shoved human rights under the rug, and bowed and scraped before many a monarch. All of those choices have led to widespread criticism from across the political spectrum.

Then there are Obama’s choices on the war on terror. If he hadn’t decided to end enhanced interrogations, go after the CIA, shutter Guantanamo, move the detainees to Illinois, and give KSM a civilian trial, would he really be worse off? The public hates all of these moves, after all.

Then there is the spending binge, the debt accumulation, and the ultra-liberal domestic agenda. Had he not delegated the stimulus plan junk-a-thon drafting to Nancy Pelosi and backed a huge energy tax and regulatory bill just when the public was losing patience with global-warming hysteria, would Obama’s poll numbers be lower than they are now? And had he not backed a health-care plan that Americans despise, could he have been worse off? It seems as though Obama’s recent decline in polling has tracked the plunge in support for Obamacare. To borrow a phrase, he’s fallen off the precipice and is now below 50 percent approval in virtually every poll.

Liberal pundits are reluctant to admit that Obama is increasingly unpopular because his extreme liberal agenda is unpopular — and because he’s proven to be a cold and huffy personality. During the campaign and the opening months of the administration, the liberal spinners alternately told us that he wasn’t that liberal or that the policies would neatly fit with the public’s shift leftward. But the public didn’t shift Left. And after telling us that Obama was a “sort of God,” the media cheerleaders are now hard pressed to cheer for a president who has managed to be both ubiquitous and unlikable.

So they spin and contort, disregard available evidence, and suggest that Obama is not really responsible for his own unpopularity. But the excuses are lame, not even George W. Bush can be tagged for Obama’s policy choices and the public has wised up. Most of the country doesn’t seem to buy the notion that it’s all someone else’s fault.

Pete, one feels discomfort watching liberal pundits twist and turn, straining to come up with explanations for the decline in their once beloved Obama’s fortunes. It is embarrassing at times. Jill Lawrence is a case in point. She goes so far as to argue that none of the bad polling is really the Obami’s fault:

So where did they go wrong? What could they have done to avoid what many analysts see as portents of doom for the 2010 House and Senate elections? Probably nothing. In fact, they’d be in even worse shape if they had made different choices.

Really? He’d be in worse shape than if he hadn’t made the choices he made? Frankly, that’s poppycock.  Hard to imagine on foreign policy Obama would be in worse shape if he hadn’t played footsie with the mullahs for a year, engaged in a monumentally stupid settlement freeze gambit in the Middle East, done his best to offend the Brits, yanked missile-defense systems from allies, shoved human rights under the rug, and bowed and scraped before many a monarch. All of those choices have led to widespread criticism from across the political spectrum.

Then there are Obama’s choices on the war on terror. If he hadn’t decided to end enhanced interrogations, go after the CIA, shutter Guantanamo, move the detainees to Illinois, and give KSM a civilian trial, would he really be worse off? The public hates all of these moves, after all.

Then there is the spending binge, the debt accumulation, and the ultra-liberal domestic agenda. Had he not delegated the stimulus plan junk-a-thon drafting to Nancy Pelosi and backed a huge energy tax and regulatory bill just when the public was losing patience with global-warming hysteria, would Obama’s poll numbers be lower than they are now? And had he not backed a health-care plan that Americans despise, could he have been worse off? It seems as though Obama’s recent decline in polling has tracked the plunge in support for Obamacare. To borrow a phrase, he’s fallen off the precipice and is now below 50 percent approval in virtually every poll.

Liberal pundits are reluctant to admit that Obama is increasingly unpopular because his extreme liberal agenda is unpopular — and because he’s proven to be a cold and huffy personality. During the campaign and the opening months of the administration, the liberal spinners alternately told us that he wasn’t that liberal or that the policies would neatly fit with the public’s shift leftward. But the public didn’t shift Left. And after telling us that Obama was a “sort of God,” the media cheerleaders are now hard pressed to cheer for a president who has managed to be both ubiquitous and unlikable.

So they spin and contort, disregard available evidence, and suggest that Obama is not really responsible for his own unpopularity. But the excuses are lame, not even George W. Bush can be tagged for Obama’s policy choices and the public has wised up. Most of the country doesn’t seem to buy the notion that it’s all someone else’s fault.

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Threatening and Scaring Americans

Obama told us we were on the precipice. That seemed rather, well, scary. People fall off such things and sometimes die. Then we heard that health care had to pass now — or never. No president will ever try this again, although Obama did so after Bill Clinton failed. Now Obama says we have to pass it or go bankrupt. Or he’ll hold his breath and pass out. Or he’ll go on all the Sunday talk shows again. Enough already. Let’s put aside that no one, not even Christina Romer, thinks we’re spending less with this bill. The cost-control provisions are nonexistent, and we’re constructing an unsustainable new entitlement. But aside from the absence of any support for this hooey, it’s the tone that, once again, is striking and so very unpresidential.

Obama has excoriated his opponents for lowering the tone of debate and for scaring their fellow citizens. But really, the flood of invective and hysteria coming from ObamaCare supporters has been unprecedented. Town-hall protesters were “un-American,” according to Harry Reid, and confused or misinformed, according to the president. Now Obama seems to be channeling the global-warming crowd in his never-ending stream of dire predictions. And that’s telling. As George Will summed up: “Rushing to lock the nation into expensive health-care and climate-change commitments, Democrats are in an understandable frenzy because public enthusiasm for both crusades has been inversely proportional to the time the public has had to think about them.”

When liberal elites want to replace private decisions with government mandates, impose massive new costs, give unprecedented powers to government bureaucrats, and generally mess up your life, they must do two things: convince you that the consequences are dire if nothing is done and create a sense of urgency so that thoughtful reflection is replaced by a herd mentality. That’s what the White House and Democratic congressional leadership is reduced to doing now in order to jam through a noxious bill.

One observer remarked:

In Washington, when major bills near final passage, an inside-the-Beltway mentality takes hold. Any bill becomes a victory. Clear thinking is thrown out the window for political calculus. In the heat of battle, decisions are being made that set an irreversible course for how future health reform is done. The result is legislation that has been crafted to get votes, not to reform health care.

Bill Kristol or Sen. Mitch McConnell? No, Howard Dean. And when he has become the voice of sanity and decorum, you know how badly off track we’ve gotten.

Obama told us we were on the precipice. That seemed rather, well, scary. People fall off such things and sometimes die. Then we heard that health care had to pass now — or never. No president will ever try this again, although Obama did so after Bill Clinton failed. Now Obama says we have to pass it or go bankrupt. Or he’ll hold his breath and pass out. Or he’ll go on all the Sunday talk shows again. Enough already. Let’s put aside that no one, not even Christina Romer, thinks we’re spending less with this bill. The cost-control provisions are nonexistent, and we’re constructing an unsustainable new entitlement. But aside from the absence of any support for this hooey, it’s the tone that, once again, is striking and so very unpresidential.

Obama has excoriated his opponents for lowering the tone of debate and for scaring their fellow citizens. But really, the flood of invective and hysteria coming from ObamaCare supporters has been unprecedented. Town-hall protesters were “un-American,” according to Harry Reid, and confused or misinformed, according to the president. Now Obama seems to be channeling the global-warming crowd in his never-ending stream of dire predictions. And that’s telling. As George Will summed up: “Rushing to lock the nation into expensive health-care and climate-change commitments, Democrats are in an understandable frenzy because public enthusiasm for both crusades has been inversely proportional to the time the public has had to think about them.”

When liberal elites want to replace private decisions with government mandates, impose massive new costs, give unprecedented powers to government bureaucrats, and generally mess up your life, they must do two things: convince you that the consequences are dire if nothing is done and create a sense of urgency so that thoughtful reflection is replaced by a herd mentality. That’s what the White House and Democratic congressional leadership is reduced to doing now in order to jam through a noxious bill.

One observer remarked:

In Washington, when major bills near final passage, an inside-the-Beltway mentality takes hold. Any bill becomes a victory. Clear thinking is thrown out the window for political calculus. In the heat of battle, decisions are being made that set an irreversible course for how future health reform is done. The result is legislation that has been crafted to get votes, not to reform health care.

Bill Kristol or Sen. Mitch McConnell? No, Howard Dean. And when he has become the voice of sanity and decorum, you know how badly off track we’ve gotten.

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Oh No! It’s Civil War! Except It Isn’t.

Watch the pundits bite their nails and fear for the future: Oh, how awful this continuing battle in the Democratic party is! What a nightmare! Hillary is taking the low road! Obama is Adlai Stevenson redux! Fault lines are being exposed that could lead to an earthquake which might swallow up Democratic ambitions this year!

Nonsense.  There has never been a primary process with this kind of involvement. More than 30 million votes have been cast so far for Obama and Clinton combined. Every one of those voters is a committed Democrat, by virtue of his participation in the primary. Once there is a nominee and the dust settles, that nominee will have a base of primary voters larger and more passionate than anyone has ever seen. One thing surely unites them, and that is a desire to see a Democrat in the White House and an end to Republican rule.

The campaigns are echoing this hysteria, and for a reason. Obama needs superdelegates to believe his fresh and dandy new voters and the party’s African-American base will be so enraged if Hillary actually becomes the nominee that they will firebomb the Denver convention and subvert the party’s chances for victory because hope will have been murdered in its cradle. Hillary needs superdelegates to believe that Obama’s victory is going to make ethnic whites flee to McCain’s side.

 Obama and Hillary are going to have an equal amount of difficulty, for different reasons, appealing to independents (McCain will have problems too, because he’s running on the Republican line), but my guess is neither of them has to worry very much about fellow Democrats.

Watch the pundits bite their nails and fear for the future: Oh, how awful this continuing battle in the Democratic party is! What a nightmare! Hillary is taking the low road! Obama is Adlai Stevenson redux! Fault lines are being exposed that could lead to an earthquake which might swallow up Democratic ambitions this year!

Nonsense.  There has never been a primary process with this kind of involvement. More than 30 million votes have been cast so far for Obama and Clinton combined. Every one of those voters is a committed Democrat, by virtue of his participation in the primary. Once there is a nominee and the dust settles, that nominee will have a base of primary voters larger and more passionate than anyone has ever seen. One thing surely unites them, and that is a desire to see a Democrat in the White House and an end to Republican rule.

The campaigns are echoing this hysteria, and for a reason. Obama needs superdelegates to believe his fresh and dandy new voters and the party’s African-American base will be so enraged if Hillary actually becomes the nominee that they will firebomb the Denver convention and subvert the party’s chances for victory because hope will have been murdered in its cradle. Hillary needs superdelegates to believe that Obama’s victory is going to make ethnic whites flee to McCain’s side.

 Obama and Hillary are going to have an equal amount of difficulty, for different reasons, appealing to independents (McCain will have problems too, because he’s running on the Republican line), but my guess is neither of them has to worry very much about fellow Democrats.

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Where Hysteria Rules

Yesterday, Andrew Sullivan took me to task for my delusional “complacency” about America’s image in the eyes of the world. (Earlier in the day, I had written of Camille Paglia: “If Ms. Paglia finds the U.S.’s ‘reputation in tatters,’ she’s describing some internal or personal state of perception.”)

America’s commitment to a drawn-out, asymmetrical, multi-theater war with a global enemy has thrown up an array of sticky challenges. One of them is securing the ongoing commitment of allies. But Paglia’s (and Sullivan’s) hysteria is another matter.

Among whom, exactly, has the U.S.’s reputation taken this alleged dramatic downturn? Spain; Iran and Syria, the enjoyment of whose friendships would be both a disgrace and a functional liability; the totalitarian Hugo Chavez, whose loathing the U.S. should wear as a badge of honor.

Canada’s conservative government continues to pledge troops to the Afghanistan fight, though there are some grumblings there about creeping American fascism. Yet these come from the same quarters that hold state-sponsored censorship hearings in the name of human rights.

There is, of course, the case of Vladimir Putin and Russia. But can the chill emanating from Moscow really be chalked up to cowboy diplomacy? If anything, George Bush has been too trusting and deferential towards the Russian president.

North Korea is everyone’s problem, and will remain so no matter who is in office, even if it’s Barack Obama.

It’s worth pointing out who likes us, too. The Brits under Brown are still fighting with us. France under Sarkozy has taken an unprecedentedly pro-American stance, even upping its contribution to active NATO forces in Afghanistan. Germany’s Angela Merkel is no longer cringing away from George Bush, as she was a couple of years back. Eastern Europe seems fairly content to have the U.S. erecting a protective missile shield there. Bush’s decision to share nuclear technology with India has ushered in a new age of economic and diplomatic comity with the sub-continent. U.S. aid to Africa over the past seven years has made Bush an adored personage continent-wide.

Yet unless you admit the sky is falling, Sullivan diagnoses you as delusional and moves on to the next Obama convert who “gets it,”who understands that Obama’s willingness to talk to everyone (and trade with no one) will repair America’s tattered image.

This is the bi-polar political impulse that’s characterized Sullivan’s work since 9/11. The Iraq War was the bravest, most thoughtful, most promising exercise of military might in modern history–until it was the biggest moral and strategic catastrophe America had ever seen. To find yourself in the path of Sullivan’s hyperbolic pendulum only means that you’ll find yourself there again when it swings from the other direction. In time, even I will presumably “get it.”

Yesterday, Andrew Sullivan took me to task for my delusional “complacency” about America’s image in the eyes of the world. (Earlier in the day, I had written of Camille Paglia: “If Ms. Paglia finds the U.S.’s ‘reputation in tatters,’ she’s describing some internal or personal state of perception.”)

America’s commitment to a drawn-out, asymmetrical, multi-theater war with a global enemy has thrown up an array of sticky challenges. One of them is securing the ongoing commitment of allies. But Paglia’s (and Sullivan’s) hysteria is another matter.

Among whom, exactly, has the U.S.’s reputation taken this alleged dramatic downturn? Spain; Iran and Syria, the enjoyment of whose friendships would be both a disgrace and a functional liability; the totalitarian Hugo Chavez, whose loathing the U.S. should wear as a badge of honor.

Canada’s conservative government continues to pledge troops to the Afghanistan fight, though there are some grumblings there about creeping American fascism. Yet these come from the same quarters that hold state-sponsored censorship hearings in the name of human rights.

There is, of course, the case of Vladimir Putin and Russia. But can the chill emanating from Moscow really be chalked up to cowboy diplomacy? If anything, George Bush has been too trusting and deferential towards the Russian president.

North Korea is everyone’s problem, and will remain so no matter who is in office, even if it’s Barack Obama.

It’s worth pointing out who likes us, too. The Brits under Brown are still fighting with us. France under Sarkozy has taken an unprecedentedly pro-American stance, even upping its contribution to active NATO forces in Afghanistan. Germany’s Angela Merkel is no longer cringing away from George Bush, as she was a couple of years back. Eastern Europe seems fairly content to have the U.S. erecting a protective missile shield there. Bush’s decision to share nuclear technology with India has ushered in a new age of economic and diplomatic comity with the sub-continent. U.S. aid to Africa over the past seven years has made Bush an adored personage continent-wide.

Yet unless you admit the sky is falling, Sullivan diagnoses you as delusional and moves on to the next Obama convert who “gets it,”who understands that Obama’s willingness to talk to everyone (and trade with no one) will repair America’s tattered image.

This is the bi-polar political impulse that’s characterized Sullivan’s work since 9/11. The Iraq War was the bravest, most thoughtful, most promising exercise of military might in modern history–until it was the biggest moral and strategic catastrophe America had ever seen. To find yourself in the path of Sullivan’s hyperbolic pendulum only means that you’ll find yourself there again when it swings from the other direction. In time, even I will presumably “get it.”

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Hysteria Doesn’t Vote

Barack Obama is being conned into a false sense of assurance by the hysteria of his supporters. If the Beatlemania shriek has become the call of the Obama fan, perhaps Hillary voters can be identified by the chirps of their electronic car locks. Though less impressive in a youtube sense, it’s this “pantsuit army” (as described by Mark Hemingway at NRO) that can be counted on to deliver in the long run.

Hysteria has a hard time finding its way to the polls. First, you have to stop quivering with exctiement long enough to fill out a voter registration form. Then you have to show up at an appointed place and time. And then—in an unthinkable turn of events for Obama’s click-crazed thirty-and-under legions—probably wait on a slow-moving line. Amber Lee Ettinger, for example, found the challenge of step two insurmountable. Better known as “Obama Girl” for her viral video serenade, Ettinger never got around to pulling the lever for the object of her affections last Tuesday. “I didn’t get a chance to vote today because I’m not registered to vote in New York,” she said. It turns out she would have had to travel all the way to New Jersey to do her civic duty, and the poor girl was too ill to make the trek .“I was in Arizona for the Super Bowl — every time I get in the airplane I get sick,” she explained. (There’s also the example of the Green Party/Jerry Garcia voter who showed up for a good time at the Grateful Dead Obama rally.)

It’s hard to imagine a soldier in Hillary’s pantsuit army getting sidelined by the sniffles. These working or single moms with a Sharpied “vote Hillary” on their refrigerator calendars are not likely to be deterred. There’s a clipboard efficiency to that demographic, not unlike the facts-and-figures campaign talk of their candidate. This affinity continues to grow, Hemingway reports, as Hillary seems to be gaining support among women voters. Similarly, Obama’s free-floating rhetoric seems to resonate most deeply with the feckless and leisured, who have better things (not) to do than show up on election day. This may be why his pre-primary poll numbers always seem to overstate the significance of his gains. Meanwhile, Hillary’s growing forces continue to hide in plain sight. And then actually vote.

Barack Obama is being conned into a false sense of assurance by the hysteria of his supporters. If the Beatlemania shriek has become the call of the Obama fan, perhaps Hillary voters can be identified by the chirps of their electronic car locks. Though less impressive in a youtube sense, it’s this “pantsuit army” (as described by Mark Hemingway at NRO) that can be counted on to deliver in the long run.

Hysteria has a hard time finding its way to the polls. First, you have to stop quivering with exctiement long enough to fill out a voter registration form. Then you have to show up at an appointed place and time. And then—in an unthinkable turn of events for Obama’s click-crazed thirty-and-under legions—probably wait on a slow-moving line. Amber Lee Ettinger, for example, found the challenge of step two insurmountable. Better known as “Obama Girl” for her viral video serenade, Ettinger never got around to pulling the lever for the object of her affections last Tuesday. “I didn’t get a chance to vote today because I’m not registered to vote in New York,” she said. It turns out she would have had to travel all the way to New Jersey to do her civic duty, and the poor girl was too ill to make the trek .“I was in Arizona for the Super Bowl — every time I get in the airplane I get sick,” she explained. (There’s also the example of the Green Party/Jerry Garcia voter who showed up for a good time at the Grateful Dead Obama rally.)

It’s hard to imagine a soldier in Hillary’s pantsuit army getting sidelined by the sniffles. These working or single moms with a Sharpied “vote Hillary” on their refrigerator calendars are not likely to be deterred. There’s a clipboard efficiency to that demographic, not unlike the facts-and-figures campaign talk of their candidate. This affinity continues to grow, Hemingway reports, as Hillary seems to be gaining support among women voters. Similarly, Obama’s free-floating rhetoric seems to resonate most deeply with the feckless and leisured, who have better things (not) to do than show up on election day. This may be why his pre-primary poll numbers always seem to overstate the significance of his gains. Meanwhile, Hillary’s growing forces continue to hide in plain sight. And then actually vote.

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Lewis v. Franklin

The trouble with shock-horror revelations is that they can be made only once before they lose a good deal of their shock-horror quotient. For this reason I was surprised when, browsing in the current issue of The New Republic, I came across a piece by Ruth Franklin promising readers the “nasty truth about a new literary heroine.” Just how new? The hardcover edition of Suite Française, translated by Sandra Smith, was released by Knopf in Spring 2006. It was in Autumn of that year that Tess Lewis, writing in The Hudson Review, delivered most of the dirt piled up in Franklin’s essay on Némirovsky. Here’s Lewis:

By now most readers have heard the dramatic story of Irène Némirovsky’s unfinished epic, Suite Française. Against all odds, the manuscript, a leather-bound notebook, survived World War II hidden in a suitcase the author’s adolescent daughter, Denise Epstein, carried faithfully from one hiding place to another in tiny villages, convents, and cellars throughout occupied France. . . . As an adult, Denise had occasionally tried to decipher her mother’s miniscule handwriting—paper was hard to come by in Vichy France . . .

Here’s Franklin:

The writer: a Jew who had fled to the French countryside seeking refuge from occupied Paris, eventually deported to Auschwitz, where she would die in a typhus epidemic soon after her arrival. The book: scribbled in minuscule letters, so as to conserve paper and ink, in a leather-bound journal that would be carried into hiding by the writer’s eldest daughter. She would survive the war and keep it as a memento of her mother, once a well-known novelist, daring to read its contents only sixty years later.

Lewis:

Yet few readers outside of France are aware of a disturbing side to Irène Némirovsky’s story. The English translation of Suite Française . . . includes a shortened version of the scholar Myriam Anissimov’s preface to the French edition with Anissimov’s detailed account of Némirovsky’s tragedy, but not her discussion of the extent to which Némirovsky’s previous novels were riddled with anti-Semitic stereotypes. Jewish characters in her books are marked, with few exceptions, by hooked noses, flaring nostrils, flaccid hands, sallow complexions, dark, oily curls, hysteria, avarice, unscrupulous business practices, and an atavistic ability to trade in commodities and goods. The list goes on.

Franklin:

The real irony of the Suite Francaise sensation is not that a great work of literature was waiting unread in a notebook for sixty years before finally being brought to light. It is that this accomplished but unexceptional novel, having acquired the dark frame of Auschwitz, posthumously capped the career of a writer who made her name by trafficking in the most sordid anti-Semitic stereotypes.

And so on. Both pieces are well worth reading. There’s no harm in bringing this unpleasant and complicating truth to new readers—I can’t imagine The Hudson Review has half the circulation of The New Republic—but Franklin ought to have acknowledged that Lewis beat her to this earth-shaking discovery by somewhere in the neighborhood of a year and a half.

The trouble with shock-horror revelations is that they can be made only once before they lose a good deal of their shock-horror quotient. For this reason I was surprised when, browsing in the current issue of The New Republic, I came across a piece by Ruth Franklin promising readers the “nasty truth about a new literary heroine.” Just how new? The hardcover edition of Suite Française, translated by Sandra Smith, was released by Knopf in Spring 2006. It was in Autumn of that year that Tess Lewis, writing in The Hudson Review, delivered most of the dirt piled up in Franklin’s essay on Némirovsky. Here’s Lewis:

By now most readers have heard the dramatic story of Irène Némirovsky’s unfinished epic, Suite Française. Against all odds, the manuscript, a leather-bound notebook, survived World War II hidden in a suitcase the author’s adolescent daughter, Denise Epstein, carried faithfully from one hiding place to another in tiny villages, convents, and cellars throughout occupied France. . . . As an adult, Denise had occasionally tried to decipher her mother’s miniscule handwriting—paper was hard to come by in Vichy France . . .

Here’s Franklin:

The writer: a Jew who had fled to the French countryside seeking refuge from occupied Paris, eventually deported to Auschwitz, where she would die in a typhus epidemic soon after her arrival. The book: scribbled in minuscule letters, so as to conserve paper and ink, in a leather-bound journal that would be carried into hiding by the writer’s eldest daughter. She would survive the war and keep it as a memento of her mother, once a well-known novelist, daring to read its contents only sixty years later.

Lewis:

Yet few readers outside of France are aware of a disturbing side to Irène Némirovsky’s story. The English translation of Suite Française . . . includes a shortened version of the scholar Myriam Anissimov’s preface to the French edition with Anissimov’s detailed account of Némirovsky’s tragedy, but not her discussion of the extent to which Némirovsky’s previous novels were riddled with anti-Semitic stereotypes. Jewish characters in her books are marked, with few exceptions, by hooked noses, flaring nostrils, flaccid hands, sallow complexions, dark, oily curls, hysteria, avarice, unscrupulous business practices, and an atavistic ability to trade in commodities and goods. The list goes on.

Franklin:

The real irony of the Suite Francaise sensation is not that a great work of literature was waiting unread in a notebook for sixty years before finally being brought to light. It is that this accomplished but unexceptional novel, having acquired the dark frame of Auschwitz, posthumously capped the career of a writer who made her name by trafficking in the most sordid anti-Semitic stereotypes.

And so on. Both pieces are well worth reading. There’s no harm in bringing this unpleasant and complicating truth to new readers—I can’t imagine The Hudson Review has half the circulation of The New Republic—but Franklin ought to have acknowledged that Lewis beat her to this earth-shaking discovery by somewhere in the neighborhood of a year and a half.

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No Hysteria on Syria

On Andrew Sullivan’s website, guest blogger Gregory Djerejian (whose normal home is The Belgravia Dispatch) bemoans what he calls “Syria Hysteria.” The supposed hysterics in question include Senator Joe Lieberman, former Bush speechwriter (and my current colleague at the Council on Foreign Relations) Mike Gerson, and yours truly, who is dubbed “our favorite Rudyard Kipling-lite.” That’s pretty distinguished company, even without the flattering comparison to one of the greatest writers in the history of the English language.

Djerejian, a lawyer who works at a financial services company in New York, is aghast that all of us have been sounding the alarm about Syria’s role in facilitating the infiltration of dozens of jihadists into Iraq, where they are responsible for carrying out some of the worst terrorist outrages. The fact that dozens of jihadists are entering Iraq from Syria every month is incontestable; this has been stated publicly by General David Petraeus and numerous other officials, who have based their claims on interrogations of captured terrorists and other hard intelligence.

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On Andrew Sullivan’s website, guest blogger Gregory Djerejian (whose normal home is The Belgravia Dispatch) bemoans what he calls “Syria Hysteria.” The supposed hysterics in question include Senator Joe Lieberman, former Bush speechwriter (and my current colleague at the Council on Foreign Relations) Mike Gerson, and yours truly, who is dubbed “our favorite Rudyard Kipling-lite.” That’s pretty distinguished company, even without the flattering comparison to one of the greatest writers in the history of the English language.

Djerejian, a lawyer who works at a financial services company in New York, is aghast that all of us have been sounding the alarm about Syria’s role in facilitating the infiltration of dozens of jihadists into Iraq, where they are responsible for carrying out some of the worst terrorist outrages. The fact that dozens of jihadists are entering Iraq from Syria every month is incontestable; this has been stated publicly by General David Petraeus and numerous other officials, who have based their claims on interrogations of captured terrorists and other hard intelligence.

Djerejian tries to wave away Syrian guilt by pointing to the recently released National Intelligence Estimate, which states, “Syria has cracked down on some Sunni extremist groups attempting to infiltrate fighters into Iraq through Syria because of threats they pose to Syrian stability, but the IC now assesses that Damascus is providing support to non-al-Qaeda-in-Iraq groups inside Iraq in a bid to increase Syrian influence.” That’s not much of an exoneration. Note the word “some”; Syria obviously has not cracked down on most Sunni extremist groups. And although the NIE says that Bashar Assad is not “providing support” to al Qaeda in Iraq (what’s the definition of “support”?), it is silent on whether the Syrian strongman is looking the other way as would-be suicide bombers transit his soil.

Djerejian naively imagines that the Damascus regime would have nothing to do with such Islamic radicals, since in 1982 Bashar’s father crushed an Islamist uprising in the Syrian city of Hama. This is, of course, the same mistake made by those who imagine that, evidence to the contrary, Saddam Hussein would never have made common cause with Islamic radicals. In fact, both the Baathist regime in Baghdad in its later years, and now the Baathist regime in Damascus increasingly rely on Islamic imagery to cement their authority.

For all Assad’s claims that he doesn’t want to allow an Islamic takeover of Syria, the evidence is overwhelming that he is deeply complicit with Islamic radicals operating against neighboring states. Damascus, after all, is the headquarters of Hamas, led by Sunni radical Khalid Meshal. Damascus has also established a very close alliance with the Shiite radical regime in Tehran. Syria, in fact, acts as principal middleman between Iran and the Shiite radicals of Hizballah in Lebanon. Imagine that—a supposedly secular Baathist regime led by Alawites (a Shiite sect) making common cause with both Sunni and Shiite radicals. Since all of this is common knowledge, the only surprise here is that Djerejian is surprised.

Given Djerejian’s stubborn unwillingness to grasp the fact that Syria has been waging war on the U.S. and our allies (viz., Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, and, in the past, Turkey), correspondingly he is agape at the arguments made by Lieberman, Gerson, and me to get tough with the Damascus regime. I suggested in contentions, for instance, that we might use our airpower to close Damascus airport until Assad cuts off the flow of foreign fighters, who mostly travel to Iraq through that same airport. Writes Djerejian, with heavy-handed irony: “A peachy idea! Save that using airpower against a sovereign nation’s airport is an act of war, you know.”

So is providing support to terrorist groups that are operating in another nation’s sovereign territory. Our inexplicable failure to respond accordingly does not change the fact that Syria (and Iran) is waging war on us. To speak bluntly about these matters does not constitute, as Djerejian huffily has it, “ignorance and adventurism.” It is no more than an acknowledgment of reality.

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Brzezinski’s Paranoia

Writing in the Sunday, March 25 Outlook section of the Washington Post, Zbigniew Brzezinski claims that “The ‘war on terror’ has created a culture of fear in America.” Moreover, he says, “the vagueness of the phrase was deliberately (or instinctively) calculated by its sponsors [to] stimulate . . . the emergence of a culture of fear. Fear obscures reason, intensifies emotions, and makes it easier for demagogic politicians to mobilize the public on behalf of the policies they want to pursue.” The “fear-mongering” of President Bush has been reinforced, says Brzezinski, “by security entrepreneurs, the mass media, and the entertainment industry.” As a result, the American people have been subjected to “five years of almost continuous national brainwashing on the subject of terror.”

This, Brzezinski continues, has “stimulate[d] Islamophobia.” In particular, the “Arab facial stereotypes, particularly in [American] newspaper cartoons,” remind Brzezinski of the “Nazi anti-Semitic campaigns.” The people who do such things are “apparently oblivious to the menacing connection between the stimulation of racial and religious hatreds and the unleashing of the unprecedented crimes of the Holocaust.”

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Writing in the Sunday, March 25 Outlook section of the Washington Post, Zbigniew Brzezinski claims that “The ‘war on terror’ has created a culture of fear in America.” Moreover, he says, “the vagueness of the phrase was deliberately (or instinctively) calculated by its sponsors [to] stimulate . . . the emergence of a culture of fear. Fear obscures reason, intensifies emotions, and makes it easier for demagogic politicians to mobilize the public on behalf of the policies they want to pursue.” The “fear-mongering” of President Bush has been reinforced, says Brzezinski, “by security entrepreneurs, the mass media, and the entertainment industry.” As a result, the American people have been subjected to “five years of almost continuous national brainwashing on the subject of terror.”

This, Brzezinski continues, has “stimulate[d] Islamophobia.” In particular, the “Arab facial stereotypes, particularly in [American] newspaper cartoons,” remind Brzezinski of the “Nazi anti-Semitic campaigns.” The people who do such things are “apparently oblivious to the menacing connection between the stimulation of racial and religious hatreds and the unleashing of the unprecedented crimes of the Holocaust.”

Brzezinski’s goal, he says, is an end to “this hysteria . . . this paranoia.”

How to react to this? Would that one could say simply that it is sad to see a former high official go off the rails, and leave it at that. But the very fact that the Post chose to give the man such prime space shows that he will be taken seriously, although he no longer deserves to be. So here are a few comments.

It is rather rich to decry hysteria and paranoia in the same breath that one likens the slights to Arabs in the American news media to the depiction of Jews by the Nazis, and to imply that these slights may be the prelude to another Holocaust.

It is also rich to hear Brzezinski sneer at “security entrepreneurs.” How, exactly, would Brzezinski describe his own career? The Encyclopedia of World Biography’s entry on him reminds us that “Brzezinski was openly eager to be appointed assistant to the President for nation security affairs and delighted when President-elect Carter offered him the position in December 1976.”

It is amusing to be lectured that “America today is not the self-confident and determined nation that responded to Pearl Harbor” by the national security adviser of the President who delivered the infamous “malaise” speech, telling Americans that our problems arose from “a crisis of the American spirit” and a “los[s of] confidence in the future.” Aside from being rich, Brzezinski’s claim is false. Fear of the enemy is not the opposite of determination and confidence in ultimate victory. There was much fear of the enemy in 1941, including some that was quite hysterical. The main difference in regard to self-confidence between World War II and the war on terror is that after Pearl Harbor, one no longer heard voices like Brzezinski’s claiming that the real enemy was ourselves.

In a further sneer, Brzezinski writes: “President Bush even claims absurdly that he has to continue waging [the war on terror] lest al Qaeda cross the Atlantic to launch a war of terror here in the United States.” Quite a fool, that Bush. Terror here in the United States? Absurd, indeed! How could al Qaeda cross the Atlantic? In airplanes? Ha, ha.

Between sneers, Brzezinski waxes professorial. “Terrorism is not an enemy but a technique,” he explains. Quite so. The enemy might more precisely be described as jihadism, a political ideology that claims that the Christian and Jewish worlds are at war with Islam and that the Islamic world must make war on them. This ideology traces its roots to the Muslim Brotherhood, founded in the 1920’s. But it only took wing after a jihadist government seized power in Iran in 1979, much as Communism only emerged as a major force after a Communist government was established in Russia. And where was Brzezinski when this enemy was taking shape? At the very pinnacle of the American government, flapping about pathetically, pursuing policies that enabled this strategic disaster to happen. His qualification for instructing us about how to deal with jihadism is therefore clear: there are few Americans who did us much as he to create the problem.

* Editor’s Note: You can read Gabriel Schoenfeld’s response to one of Muravchik’s critics here.

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