September 27, 2007

This account by William R. Hawkins of the debate on the Iraq war held at the recent meeting of the John Randolph Club, in Washington, D.C., is hilarious, albeit unintentionally. That he somehow managed to write a 1000-word-plus article about that event without once mentioning that Peter Brimelow, the editor of, and a staunch conservative of the paleo persuasion, was one of three debaters on the “€œout now”€ side, is really quite an achievement.

The reason he did so, I imagine, is to buttress his thesis that labels me a “€œleft-libertarian,”€ a sinister “€œanarchist,”€ who, along with co-debater Kirkpatrick Sale (who really is coming from the left), is “€œshouting about how patriotism is a dirty word because America is the source of all evil in the world.”€ Gee, that’s funny, but Frontpage’s last smear-job on me insisted I”€™m a “€œfascist,”€ i.e. an extremist of the far right. These people are so crazed by their venomous hatred of anyone who disagrees with them that they can”€™t remember from one moment to the next what calumny they”€™ve hurled “€“ they just keep slinging slurs in the hope that some of it will stick.

The great problem, for them, is … the internet. They can smear to their heart’s content, and misrepresent the facts about a particular incident, but the new technology makes lying about these kinds of things nearly impossible.

Hawkins can drop out Peter Brimelow from his account of the debate, but we can re-insert him by posting the audio of that exciting performance: Go and listen, and hear for yourself if “€œthe audience was about evenly divided”€ “€“ as Hawkins claims—when it came time to vote on the question (which was, by the way, “€œAmerica should immediately withdraw her armed forces from Iraq”€). The yeas had it by several decibel levels.

Hawkins starts out his patently dishonest account by expressing his impatience with the wording of the question, complaining that nobody but nobody in Washington was even considering such a course: he even cites Hillary Clinton to buttress his case. Which, of course, neatly underscores the theme of my talk at the conference: the great yawning divide between the agenda of the Washington-New York elites and popular opinion in the rest of the country. For the ordinary American, outside the Beltway, this widening gap is cause for concern, if not alarm. For Hawkins, and his fellow neocons, popular opinion doesn”€™t even come into it.

In any case, the real question, as I put it in the debate, is not about “€œimmediate”€ withdrawal versus gradual redeployment (which was Srdja Trifkovic’s position), but between getting out as soon as possible and colonizing Iraq as the first phase of building an American protectorate “€“ an empire “€“ in the Middle East. When I framed the issue in terms of the danger of imminent war with Iran, no one on the other team objected to that prospect “€“ and, if you listen to the debate, they implicitly endorsed it. That’s when “€“ and why “€“ they lost, at least in front of that staunchly antiwar audience.

Hawkins is shocked that the “€œanti-American”€ Justin Raimondo is allowed to speak at a conservative gathering, but I have been going to the John Randolph Club meetings since the second gathering: the JRC, after all, was founded largely on account of the libertarian-paleoconservative convergence over the question of Gulf War I. Both were naturally opposed to that war, just as they oppose this latest one.

Yet Hawkins stupidly berates his audience, whose “€œpatriotism”€ he challenges, as well as questioning the JRC’s conservative credentials. According to him, there is no conservative tradition of peace and noninterventionism: anyone who doesn”€™t want to colonize Iraq and conquer Iran in the process belongs on “€œthe left, along with Sale and Raimondo.”€ Brimelow got quite a laugh out of the audience when he prefaced his opening remarks by exclaiming (in his understated British way) “€œthat’s the first time I”€™ve ever been called a leftist.”€

Hawkins had no real arguments to offer, other than smearing Sale, Brimelow, and myself as “€œwishing for an American defeat,”€ and accusing us of being agents of Al Qaeda. That didn”€™t go over very well with the audience, either: the shock was audible in their silence. No one applauded. The only time they got a positive reaction was with demagogic calls to set up a religious test for immigration by banning all Muslim immigration to the US. (And they criticized me for proposing a course that isn”€™t even “€œon the table”€!)

Hawkins doesn”€™t know how to argue, and he didn”€™t make any arguments in his peroration: name-calling doesn”€™t qualify. Yet that’s the only way he and his fellow neocons can bolster their sagging support, even among their own hardcore followers. As the folly of this war becomes ever more apparent by the day, and the dark prospect of yet another and even bloodier conflict rears its ugly head, the deserters from the ranks of the War Party are beginning to outnumber the remaining stalwarts. Especially in view of the electoral drubbing the GOP faces, the rats will be deserting that sinking sink in droves by the new year.

Finally, I don”€™t know whether Hawkins is stupid, or just plain nutty, but I don”€™t know how else to account for the following:

“€œWriting from Tehran in May, 2006, he argued, “€œthe prospect of Iran acquiring nukes does not mean the end of the world. It means that the natural tendency of nations to achieve a balance of power will, in this case, be fulfilled, and that the Middle East will muddle along, just as the East bloc and the West did for all those years.”€

Writing from Tehran? If you follow the link he provides, it takes you to a May 2006 column, “€œLetter from Tehran,”€ in which I wrote about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s open letter to George W. Bush.

What is this guy smoking?

Whatever it is, it causes him to similarly misperceive or deliberately mischaracterize my views: thus, in correcting the deliberate mistranslation of Ahmadinejad’s statement about Israel, which was wrongly reported as expressing a desire to “€œwipe Israel off the map,”€ I am “€œspinning statements by Iran’s president.”€ Hawkins also cites my booklet, The Terror Enigma, and descries its thesis “€“ that Israeli intelligence had wind of the 9/11 terrorist plot and neglected to warn us in time “€“ without mentioning that much of it was based on a four-part report by one of his very favorite news outlets: Fox News. Was Carl Cameron “€“ who reported that story—engaged in “€œthe most vile and heinous tactics of the Left”€ when he stated:

“€œThere is no indication that the Israelis were involved in the 9/11 attacks, but investigators suspect that they Israelis may have gathered intelligence about the attacks in advance, and not shared it. A highly placed investigator said there are “€˜tie-ins.”€™ But when asked for details, he flatly refused to describe them, saying, “€˜evidence linking these Israelis to 9/11 is classified. I cannot tell you about evidence that has been gathered. It’s classified information.”€™”€

Hawkins”€™ outrageous smears are directed not only at me, but at Murray Rothbard, and include even that old canard about how Rothbard “€œphysically applauded”€ Nikita Khrushchev on his visit to the US in the 1960s “€“ an act that, I can assure you, never occurred. The very idea of Rothbard rushing down the stairs for anything short of a four-alarm fire is laughable to anyone who knew him.

It’s funny that Hawkins describes me and my “€œilk”€ as “€œcancer cells within the conservative movement,”€ because that is precisely the role that has always been played by the neocons, historically, a faction that came from the extreme Left. Indeed, there is at least one such ideological immigrant who proudly waves the banner of the “€œTrotsky-cons.” If this is the tradition of “€œauthentic”€ conservatism, as Hawkins claims, then we might as well forget about the entire history of the American right before 1955 “€“ which Hawkins, and his fellow neocons, would certainly like us to do.

The only problem with that is the revival of the Old Right, as exemplified by the candidacy of Ron Paul, the relatively recent founding of the American Conservative magazine, the longtime existence of Chronicles magazine “€“ and, last but hardly least, the founding and 18-year history of the John Randolph Club, which, at its most recent meeting, roundly rejected the belligerent posturing of Hawkins, and, in a foreshadowing of the coming conservative repudiation of neoconservatism, voted that we ought get out of Iraq immediately. 

The neocons are getting mighty nervous: even the right is turning against them. That accounts for the desperate tactics: the name-calling, the appeals to authority, and the hiding behind largely outmoded political labels. They”€™re losing “€“ and they know it. A cornered rat is likely to take a final flying leap at its adversary, baring its teeth and hoping for the best. Such desperate tactics, however, are not going to save the neocons from the fate they so richly deserve.  Before this is over, they”€™ll be totally discredited, and run right out of the conservative movement—if not run out of Washington on a rail.


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