Be not deluded, just because the United States goes to war with Iraq, that our leaders will not also extend to the entire Middle East the jihad on which President Bush and his court of neoconservative gurus and Zionist Weltpolitikers have embarked us. Well before any public announcement of whether we would actually make war on Iraq, the gaggle surrounding the President was plotting how they might escalate the war far beyond the “liberation” of Baghdad. That the most extreme of the cabal wanted an expanded war for their own ulterior reasons was not open to doubt—almost all of those crowing most loudly for a full-scale war in the Middle East were well-known partisans of Israel and her interests. What was of greater interest was the cabal’s use of the ideological chocolate sauce of “global democracy” to envelope their case for the most naked military aggression and warmongering.
In recent years, the world has heard little of Michael Ledeen, the gentleman who gave the United States the Iran-Contra scandal of the 1980’s when he helped arrange the secret deal by which Israel provided weapons to guerrillas fighting the Nicaraguan Sandinistas in return for a U.S. “tilt” toward Iran in its war with Iraq. By last summer, however, Mr. Ledeen was back in print in a long op-ed in the Wall Street Journal (September 4), in which he sounded one of the first and bluntest declarations of what he and his colleagues in the Washington field office of the Mossad expected of their colony.
“By all indications,” Mr. Ledeen lamented, the discussion of the impending war against Iraq “will be about using our irresistible military might against a single country in order to bring down its leader.” The real goal, however, should be the far loftier one of continental emancipation. “We should instead be talking about using all our political, moral and military genius to support a vast democratic revolution to liberate all the peoples of the Middle East from tyranny.” Needless to say, when Mr. Ledeen speaks of “liberating all the peoples of the Middle East,” he is not thinking of the Palestinians, any more than when he refers to “tyranny,” he is thinking of Israel.
The war “is not just a war against Iraq” but rather
against terrorist organizations and against the regimes that foster, support, arm, train, indoctrinate and command the terrorist legions who are clamoring for our destruction. There are four such regimes: in Iran, Iraq, Syria and Saudi Arabia.
And all this time, you thought we were going to wage a “war against terrorism” because of the September 11 attacks, that our enemy was Al Qaeda and its leaders and the Taliban regime that harbored them and refused to give them up. That, indeed, was the ostensible reason offered by administration spokesmen, and that is why the administration spent so much time and energy trying to concoct some “linkage,” however remote, between the Baghdad regime and Al Qaeda, if not the actual terrorist attacks of September 11. To date, all such “linkages” have proved far too opaque to incite any but the most belligerent of country-western patriots to thump their chests and strum their guitars for war against Iraq. Now, we learn that the real enemy is not Al Qaeda at all or even the despicable Saddam Hussein but the major Arabic and Muslim states of the Middle East, none of which has done much to antagonize, threaten, or harm the United States in the last decade.
Not to be outdone, the September issue of Commentary sported an article that outstrips even Mr. Ledeen’s zest for trans-continental conquest. The article, by the magazine’s retired editor, Norman Podhoretz, was titled “In Praise of the Bush Doctrine” and was ostensibly a good Republican cloth coat that boomed the genius of the incumbent chief executive. In fact, although Mr. Podhoretz touted the speeches written for the President as what he called “the heights of sublimity,” the article was really an elaboration of the “Bush Doctrine” of “preemptive war,” whereby the United States asserts the right to attack just about any other nation it wishes, regardless of the actual level of threat or harm the targeted country has offered us. Mr. Podhoretz, however, concluded his manifesto by calling for “pre-emption” well beyond anything Mr. Bush had thus far contemplated.
Mr. Podhoretz pondered the awesome problem of whether
the United States has the will to fight World War IV—the war against militant Islam—to a successful conclusion, and [whether] we then have the stomach to impose [italics his] a new political culture on the defeated parties. This is what we did directly and unapologetically in Germany and Japan after winning World War II; it is what we have indirectly striven with some success to help achieve in the former Communist countries since winning World War III; and it is George W. Bush’s ultimate aim in World War IV.
How Mr. Podhoretz knows that this is the President’s “ultimate aim” and why he, rather than some official spokesman, is the proper person to announce it to the public are not explained, but the foes with whom “we” have to deal in the coming global Armageddon exceed even those listed by the valiant Mr. Ledeen. “The regimes that richly deserve to be overthrown and replaced,” Mr. Podhoretz lectures,
are not confined to the three singled-out members of the axis of evil [Iraq, Iran, and North Korea]. At a minimum, the axis should extend to Syria and Lebanon and Libya, as well as “friends” of America like the Saudi royal family and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, along with the Palestinian Authority, whether headed by Arafat or one of his henchmen.
Set aside the geopolitical exhortations offered by other members of the Zionist-neoconservative cabal and consider merely the war demanded by Mr. Ledeen and Mr. Podhoretz. The enemies’ list in their crusade includes not only Iraq, as well as Al Qaeda and Afghanistan, but Iran, Syria, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Egypt, and the Palestinian Authority (not to mention North Korea and, we may assume, eventually China). The mind reels at the scale of the world conflagration in which these armchair warriors are so eager to embroil America, yet at no time has either of them offered a single reason why the United States should regard any of these states as an enemy. Mr. Ledeen assures his readers that not all of the countries on his little hit list are Arabic (e.g., Iran); what all the targets do have in common, however, is that they are, in some sense, enemies of Israel, not of the United States. Lebanon and Egypt, the most improbable of the enemies listed by Mr. Podhoretz, seem to harbor such groups as the Syrian-backed Hezbollah and pro-Palestinian factions that Israel would like to see exterminated. Saudi Arabia, of course, is a major ally of the United States in the region, and even if her religious and political culture make her both an anachronism and a source of funds for anti-Israeli terrorists, she does not represent any serious threat to America or her interests. Indeed, we have every reason to ensure that the Saudi government endures and prospers, not to antagonize or overthrow it.
The Bush administration should not only ignore the advice of such characters as Mr. Ledeen and Mr. Podhoretz but consider placing them under surveillance as possible agents of a foreign power; the main purpose of the global war they are fomenting is simply to make the United States the perpetual enemy of the entire Arab/Muslim world, so that we will have no other “ally” in the region that reaches from Morocco to Indonesia but the small and increasingly desperate state of Israel. Embarking on outright wars with virtually every major Arab country in the region would not only expose this country to dangers it has no reason to court but would lock us into perpetual and bottomless support for Israel and the expansionist designs of the Sharon government. There would be no other state in the region with which we could balance our relationship with Israel, except for the inconsequential microstates of the Persian Gulf. That perpetual animosity between the United States and the Arab world is precisely what Mr. Ledeen, Mr. Podhoretz, and their fellow intriguers want, not the protection of Israel from any immediate danger and certainly not the safety and interests of the United States.
The ulterior purposes of neoconservative foreign policy ought to be transparent, but what is also noticeable in the rationalizing formulas that the neocon sages develop for their policies is their reliance on the rhetoric of global democratism that has been gushing abundantly from Beltway think tanks and publishers for the last two decades. The “vast democratic revolution” that we are going to construct in the Middle East is our real goal there, Mr. Ledeen assures us, and Mr. Podhoretz frankly urges the “imposing” of “a new political culture” on the vanquished. As I argued in last month’s column, what this really means is not so much “democracy” in any classic sense as the soft managerial regimes that have emerged in the Western world over the last century. The elites that run the West today would quickly meld with those that would emerge in the Middle East under the whip of a “MacArthur regency.” Yet even this kind of political and cultural engineering might prove difficult in the Arab/Muslim world, regardless of how many bayonets we are willing to sit upon there. As former secretary of the Navy James Webb pointed out in the Washington Post on the same day that Mr. Ledeen’s piece appeared in the Journal, war with Iraq alone would probably force us to occupy that country for the next 30 years. That, of course, is almost exactly what the neocons want.
Despite the fraudulence of the “democracy” that the neocons are demanding we “impose” on the Middle East, the global democratism to which they pay lip service does possess a life of its own. It is a direct descendant of the military “export of democracy” undertaken by the Jacobins of the French Revolution, an export that embroiled Europe in war, revolution, and social and political chaos for a generation before ending in the simple military dictatorship and naked imperialism of Napoleon Bonaparte. It is an ideology thoroughly appropriate for aggression and imperialism because it has long since convinced itself that it has a monopoly on virtue, that anyone or any institution that deviates from its model is devoid of virtue, and that its monopoly gives its high priests and holy warriors the absolute right to exterminate any deviation without mercy or restraint, to trample out the vintages all across the earth. Mr. Ledeen plainly says of the four states that he wishes to conquer that “all are tyrannies.” Some are, no doubt, but at least one (Saudi Arabia) is merely the kind of tribal monarchy that has flourished among nomadic peoples since before Muhammad’s time, while others are merely authoritarian regimes that allow the non-nations they rule to be held together at all. None is a “democracy” in any sense, classic or other, and that is clearly what Mr. Ledeen really means when he says “all are tyrannies.” The Jacobin mind is simply incapable of comprehending that “tyranny” is not the same as the absence of the kind of “democracy” it wants to “impose.”
Mr. Ledeen and Mr. Podhoretz may merely be exploiting the quaint and harm-less-sounding noises of “democracy” to justify and recruit support for a generation of chaos that would make that of the Jacobins seem placid, but there are some who seem really to believe such rhetoric and for whom the “export of democracy” really is important. In a clearly ghostwritten column in the Washington Times last September, the almost-forgotten Jack Kemp gasped out the clichés and sonorities behind which Mr. Podhoretz’s World War IV is lurking. “The globalization of peace, democracy and free markets has been the hallmark of America’s foreign policy,” Mr. Kemp chirped happily.
It is what Abraham Lincoln summed up as the predicate of his political philosophy when he said the Declaration of Independence is what “gave liberty, not alone to the people of this country, but hope to the world, for all future time.” The 21st century must not be an American century alone, but rather a century of liberal democracy and freedom for all.
It is hard to tell who is more dangerous, Mr. Ledeen and Mr. Podhoretz, with their cynical invocations of democratic banalities to justify war, conquest, and the interests of a foreign country, or such children as Mr. Kemp, who are unable to see beyond the banalities to the realities of power that lie beneath. After all, the capacity of those banalities to induce men to initiate wars and conquests makes such noises at least as dangerous as the men who seek to exploit them for their own purposes.