February 21, 2008

Once again I feel impelled to respond to my critics, and particularly to those who criticize me as a “€œZionist,”€ and as someone who worships at the altar of America the “€œsuperpower,”€ and endorses “€œunconstitutional wars,”€ being carried out against the will of the American people. If my respondent means by “€œZionist”€ that I have kind feelings toward the Israelis and would not want to see their Arab neighbors destroy them, I shall have to plead guilty. Although I deplore the slanderous rampage of AIPAC and its neocon allies, I do not blame the Israelis for their foreign cheering gallery, whom there is no evidence that they subsidize. Nor do I hold the Israeli government responsible for their Christian Dispensationalist friends, who began to proclaim the need for a vast Jewish empire in the Middle East to bring about the End Times even before Israel existed. But my pro-Israeli feeling does not mean that I am in favor of pouring tons of taxpayers”€™ dollars into the Middle East as foreign aid. In any case much of what is showered on the Israelis lands up back here, to pay for arms that come from American weapons producers. Needless to say, such types, who are typically Republicans, are big fans of foreign aid to spread democracy.
The neocons, moreover, are not automatons activated by Jewish politicians in Jerusalem. What they say about global democracy has no special appeal in Israel, and save for their limited media presence there, furnished by the English and French editions of the Jerusalem Post, the neocons can not claim the kind of influence among Israelis that they exercise here. One of Bush’s most beloved heroes Natan Scharansky has a reputation in Israel as a crackpot extremist. In the Jewish homeland Scharansky does not play the Wilsonian card but has an Orthodox nationalist following and calls for expelling the Palestinians. But, even more significantly, Scharansky does not enjoy the popularity among Israel’s political leaders that he does here among American Republicans.
As for the depiction of me as someone who hopes to preserve America’s role as a superpower, my critic seems to live in a fantasy world. One can no more change the fact that the US is a global power by calling it something else than one can turn Arnold Schwarzenegger into Woody Allen by giving each a different name. Given its material and economic power and its military technological advantages, the US is, for better or worse, a global power, and it is likely to remain that for the foreseeable future. The important thing is that the US does not employ its power recklessly, in pursuit of revolutionary ideological ends. 
As for the complaint that I have not exerted myself by stressing the unconstitutionality of the present conflict, again I shall have to plead guilty. It does not seem to me that this war has been a stealth operation taking place behind the backs of the virtuous “€œAmerican people.”€ Congress voted to fund the invasion; and both national parties gave it support in varying degrees. Like my critics I consider the invasion of Iraq to have been folly, but a folly that enjoyed widespread public backing before the enterprise began to go south.
The US stands out in the present age among “€œdemocracies”€ for its “€œhigh degree of popular trust in its government.”€ Every new edition of a US government textbook that I receive presents this fact, together with survey results that prove the obvious. I”€™ve no idea who among the “€œpeople,”€ except for Ron Paul partisans, would have viewed the invasion of Iraq as an attack on our constitutional framework. Our voters are almost all Republicans or Democrats and therefore complicit in the process that brought us the war in the first place. Our parties also bestowed on their electorates a bilateral foreign policy, when they endorsed the unprovoked bombing of Serbia in 1999, and if any of the present Democratic critics of Bush opposed that aerial violence, they are not sufficiently prominent to be noticed. Since that mayhem almost nine years ago, tens of millions of “€œpeople”€ have rallied to the present “€œconservative”€ government, which is now trying to occupy Iraq.  It goes without saying that the other party, for which tens of millions of people likewise regularly vote, is at least equally contemptible. Neither would have caused our Founders to feel anything but disgust for our present mass democracy.
That the people have nothing to do with our miserable electoral choices and with the type of managerial state that both of our institutionalized, tax-supported parties equally support is too silly to comment on. The American citizens I saw interviewed last week on network TV, coming out of a mall with their arms full of goodies who explained they were voting for Obama because “€œhe’s for change”€ were, to all appearances, American people. What they wanted was not real “€œchange”€ but lots more social programs from the government. But perhaps these individuals were not what they seemed but impostors from Mars.


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