As John McCain and Lindsey Graham hector us to invade the Middle East once more, we might pause to reflect on a 2001 article published by Zev Chafets, an American-Israeli journalist who is currently the Likud Party’s unofficial spokesman.  (Chafets, as you may know, is the author of  A Match Made in Heaven: American Jews, Christian Zionists, and One Man’s Exploration of the Weird and Wonderful Judeo-Evangelical Alliance and the fawning Rush Limbaugh: An Army of One.  He’s also an especially smarmy FOX News contributor.)  In the days following the September 11 attacks, Chafets used his column in the New York Daily News to instruct his readers on what had to be done: “America’s first concern can’t be chasing after Bin Laden or invading Afghanistan.  Before that, it must disarm Axis countries that are on the verge of gaining unconventional weapons.  That means Iran, Iraq, Syria and whatever others are found to be getting close. . . . The U.S. must invade these countries (if there is time), dismantle their unlatched governments, disperse their armies and seize their arsenals.  Think of it as the German model.  If . . . one or more of the Axis regimes seems [sic]capable of attacking with nukes or germs before U.S. forces get there, these regimes and their infrastructure, arsenals and leadership will have to be destroyed by whatever means necessary: the Japanese model. . . . Only after America has done what it takes to protect itself from mass murder can it concentrate its full energies on achieving the one strategic goal that makes sense: total victory.”

At the time, I had no idea who Chafets was, but his column convinced me that, whoever he might be, he was a raving lunatic.  He was proposing America destroy the entire Muslim world, using nuclear weapons if necessary—the Japanese model, as he so coolly put it.  Only this, he assured us, would defend America.  He never once mentioned Israel, with whom it would have been logical to suppose he was just as concerned, if not more so.  After all, as I was later to learn, he had emigrated from America to serve in the Israeli army for ten years as director of its press office, and was Menachem Begin’s chief press officer for another five.

Without diplomatic niceties, Chafets had laid out for all to see the neoconservative plan inscribed in the Project for the New American Century’s 1996 Statement of Principles: America destroys Israel’s enemies, real and imagined.  I was reminded of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, in which Mr. Kurtz advises his employers in Brussels on how to handle the troublesome Congolese: “Exterminate the brutes!”  Despite the—shall we say—excessiveness of Chafets’ recommendation, no one in the media raised an alarm.

Well, who could have taken such warmongering seriously, right?  Quite a few in high places, as we’ve since found out.  Since 2001, America has invaded Afghan istan, Iraq, destabilized Libya, ousted Egypt’s Mubarak, and now we’re bombing Syria and Iraq to teach ISIS or ISIL or ISILN (no one seems to be able to get the name straight), a group of murderous Sunni fanatics comprising remnants of Saddam Hussein’s army, whom our sagacious ambassador Paul Bremer, presidential envoy to Iraq, casually cashiered out of their jobs in 2003.  We were determined then and now to show the wogs America is tough.

The neoconservative plan has almost entirely prevailed.  Of course, the costs have been steep.  Over 6,700 American troops dead, and more than a million wounded.  And let’s not forget the Iraqi and Afghan death toll.  They certainly won’t.  There are no reliable figures, but it almost certainly approaches a million.  And what has been achieved?  Raging jihadism throughout the region, countries turned into terrorist bases, the U.S. economy on the skids, and in the offing more terrorist attacks on our soil.

Still, it’s not enough for Chafets, the exterminator.  He now complains that we’re not bombing Iran.  Furthermore, Obama’s administration has had the temerity to scold Israel for planning 1,000 new settlements in East Jerusalem and, worse, has called Benjamin Netanyahu a chickenshit.  I don’t know why Chafets is in such a lather about this last grievance.  Many Israelis have called their prime minister far worse.

Israelis, as we know, are on the horns of a dilemma.  How do they ensure their safety without further provoking the militancy of their neighbors?  It’s a balancing act that Netanyahu and the Likud Party have arrogantly rejected, assuming that in a pinch America will come to their rescue as she always has, with more money and arms.  But clearheaded Israelis know there is a limit to what even the endlessly generous United States will bear.  These citizens—Chafets and friends excluded, naturally—recognize Netanyahu to be a danger to the future of their state and dearly want him to go on both moral and political grounds.

In the end, Chafets himself may not be so very important, but we should heed his words nonetheless.  They express in remarkably bald terms the desires and machinations of Likud, which have helped to instigate so much of our nation’s blundering in the Middle East.  We should be grateful to President Obama for trying to thwart this influence, but it’s unclear how long he can do so or if his resistance will be carried over to the administration that follows him.