Where’s Joe McCarthy When You Need Him?

Thomas J. FlemingMany Americans are so disappointed with the Bush administration that they are tempted to vote for John Kerry.  Some Democrats who spent the past 80 years waiting for the Revolution to blow over may think theirs is still the party of “Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion,” as it was dubbed in 1884, but, by the 1960’s, the Democrats had become the party not of the three R’s but of the three S’s: Sex, Socialism, and Sedition, the enemies of every decent thing this country had ever done or stood for.  How did the party of William Jennings Bryan and Al Smith turn into the party of Bill Clinton and Barney Frank?

Democrats did not get out in front on the sex issue until fairly late.  In fact, Southern Democrats were, if anything, more conservative than Midwestern Republicans on questions of divorce, pornography, and abortion.  Beginning with Playboy President John Kennedy, however, Democrats have embraced sexual liberation, in every form and combination, with a passion.  Of course, their speeches still resound with the fine old Democratic rhetoric of free speech, civil rights, and the Tenth Amendment, but these days, free speech means the rights of pornographers to abuse children; the only important civil right is a mother’s right to have her living baby hacked to death as it is being born; and the rights of the states are reduced to providing fake marriage certificates for homosexuals who want to shack up for three days or more.

Socialism, as every American knows, was embraced by the Democratic Party in 1932, and, despite a few dissident voices in the South, the party has not looked back since FDR won reelection in 1936, and, although neoconservatives would like us to look back nostalgically at Harry Truman, FDR’s Vice President was nothing better than a coarse-mannered machine politician who defended Alger Hiss.

The Democratic Party’s protection of treason and sedition did not begin with the employment of Alger Hiss, Harry Dexter White, and other known communists and subversives.  Throughout World War II, the President had been protecting communists in America as part of his constructive engagement with Stalin.  Before Stalin, however, there was Churchill, and, partly as a result of FDR’s special relationship with Churchill, British agents were able to do as they pleased in the United States, and some agents assassinated their German counterparts in America; others kept tabs on influential American political figures who opposed U.S. entrance into the war.  Sen. Arthur Vandenberg, among the most prominent isolationists, was set up with a girlfriend and then blackmailed.

Far from blaming perfidious Albion for these activities, I salute the bravery and resourcefulness of patriotic Englishmen who helped to drag a reluctant America into the war.  Both interventionists and isolationists, however, should acknowledge that it was a mistake bordering on treason to allow foreign agents to ply their trade within the United States.

After the war, Democrats gave up their bellicosity and began slowly evolving into the party of appeasement.  By 1972, the imperialists had ceded control of the party to the appeasers, and, ever since, the American people have quite correctly regarded the Democratic Party as incapable of defending their interests or security.  On the one occasion in over 30 years that Democrats have gone to war—Mad Albright’s illegal bombing of the civilian population of Yugoslavia—they picked the wrong side.  American money was spent, and American lives risked, to put Islamic Albanian terrorists—the allies of Osama bin Laden—into power in Kosovo.

Small wonder that many patriotic Americans, who think that the Bush administration has simultaneously botched the “War on Terror” and the economy, are refusing to support the party of John Kerry.  Kerry is a study in deceit: a Catholic who supports infanticide and keeps mum on the subject of homosexual “marriage”; a soldier who returned from Vietnam and denounced his comrades-in-arms for political gain; a senator who voted for the Iraq War and yet reserves the right to attack the war without every changing his position.  So far from voting for such a representative of such a party, I would not even let him enter my house.

Then why not swallow hard and vote to give President Bush four more years?  He is no conservative, but the Republican Party has never been the conservative party that some of its members have wanted to believe in.  Of its presidential candidates since the election of 1940, only two would qualify as to any extent conservative by a reasonable definition: Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan.  Willkie and Dewey were clones of FDR; Eisenhower had no discernible political ideology.  Russell Kirk’s famous response to the Birchers—Ike’s not a communist, he’s a golfer—comes close to defining the prince of managers, whether as general or as statesman.  Nixon never claimed to be a conservative and believed that the only reason conservatives ever supported him was his prosecution of Alger Hiss.

Despite their lack of principle and incoherence, Republican presidential candidates have typically represented the lesser of two evils.  On economic matters, Republicans have been uniformly better than their rivals.  Where the Democrats have always been good at spending money, Republicans have usually spent their lives making money, which is a far more difficult business.  Even when Republicans engage in deficit spending, it is not out of a desire to extend the socialist state.  Republican presidents are typically driven to extravagance by a Democratic Congress, by political necessity, or by a mistaken belief that “deficits don’t matter.”  Yes, it is true that the Republican Party’s free-trade ideology is destroying our manufacturing base, but the Democratic Party is in the grips of exactly the same ideology—if somewhat different lobbyists.  The same might be said of the two parties’ actual positions on immigration, as well as on most social and cultural issues.  There is hardly George Wallace’s dime’s worth of difference between them, and a dime does not buy what it did 35 years ago.  It was not, after all, a Democratic NEH chairman who wrote a pornographic lesbian novel: It was Lynne Cheney, the wife of the current Vice President.  Mrs. Cheney, who sold herself to the neoconservatives in her first year at the NEH, is just smart enough to block the republication of Sisters but not smart enough not to have written it.

And yet, for all the cowardice, vice, corruption, and lack of principle among Republican leaders, the Republican Party continues to represent the more nearly normal elements of American society, and, despite the trade policies that are throwing Americans out of work and the Iraq War that was apparently engaged without sufficient cause and continues to be fought without conspicuous success, I would be tempted to vote for George W. Bush: Kerry and Bush are both spoiled Yalies, but Bush’s bubba persona, whether real or feigned, is less hard to take than a stuck-up prig who talks through his nose down to ordinary Americans.

Then why are so many conservatives so reluctant to hold their noses one more time?  During the summer, an old friend came to my office and wanted my opinion on the election.  He had been a Republican all his life and had cast his first vote in a presidential election for Thomas Dewey.  This time, he was ready to support Kerry, if only to rid the GOP of the pernicious influence of the neoconservatives.  Although he has always supported the U.S. alliance with Israel, he was particularly disgusted with the obvious pressure that Israel’s government is able to exert on our foreign policy through such prominent neoconservatives as Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, and Douglas Feith.  I told him I did not think a man of good conscience could vote for Kerry.  He could, however, choose not to vote at all.  I have had the same conversation with not a few conservatives, some of whom are determined to vote for Kerry—or Ralph Nader, who has been denounced by the Christophobic ADL for describing George Bush as the puppet of Ariel Sharon.

My friend’s suspicions must have been aggravated when, a few weeks later, it was revealed in the press that the FBI was engaged in a two-year investigation of Lawrence Franklin, of the Office of Special Plans in the Department of Defense.  Franklin, who had served in the Defense Intelligence Agency and as military attaché at the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv, is suspected of passing secrets to the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and to the government of Israel.  Longtime neoconservative policy analyst Michael Ledeen calls the charge “nonsensical,” but then Ledeen—best known these days as the most hysterical imperialist at National Review Online—is widely rumored to be implicated in the leakage.  He is also a contractor hired by Feith.

The real issue is not Franklin himself: He is only a small cog in a vast network of Israeli influence that extends to the highest circles of the Bush administration.  Franklin reports to Douglas Feith, undersecretary for policy and thus the number-three man in the Department of Defense.  It is Feith who put Franklin in a position to damage his country’s national security, and it is Feith who should be held accountable.

Feith is an amazing character.  Like many American bureaucrats, he has gone through the usual revolving door between public and private, but Feith’s door has also opened on to Tel Aviv.  His law-firm, Feith and Zell, which does the predictable lobbying for Israeli interests, allied itself with the Israeli firm Zell and Goldberg, in order to better serve their Israeli clients.

In 1996, Feith was one of the principal sources (along with Richard Perle, David Wurmser, Meyrav Wurmser, James Colbert, and Charles Fairbank) of a policy paper drawn up for then-prime minister Netanyahu, the Likud Party extremist who continues to denounce Ariel Sharon for his timidity.  The paper, “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm,” advocates an aggressive, no-compromise approach to the Palestinians.  That was to be expected.  What is disconcerting, however, is the American authors’ decision to speak in the first person when describing Israeli interests:

We have for four years pursued peace based on a New Middle East.  We in Israel cannot play innocents abroad in a world that is not innocent.  Peace depends on the character and behavior of our foes.  We live in a dangerous neighborhood, with fragile states and bitter rivalries.  Displaying moral ambivalence between the effort to build a Jewish state and the desire to annihilate it by trading “land for peace” will not secure “peace now.”  Our claim to the land—to which we have clung for hope for 2000 years—is legitimate and noble.  It is not within our own power, no matter how much we concede, to make peace unilaterally.  Only the unconditional acceptance by Arabs of our rights, especially in their territorial dimension, “peace for peace,” is a solid basis for the future.

Meyrav (Mrs. David) Wurmser is an Israeli national (like the wife of Douglas Feith), and she has a perfect right to lobby for Likud, but her husband (Dick Cheney’s advisor on the Middle East), Douglas Feith, and Richard Perle—American citizens who have served the government of the United States as high-level advisors on security and foreign policy—are not only advising Netanyahu to reject U.S. policy in the Middle East but speaking as spokesmen for Israel and the Likud Party.  If they have been misrepresented, they have not apparently said so.

The provision of “A Clean Break” that has attracted most attention is the recommendation to oust Saddam Hussein:

Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria.  This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq—an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right—as a means of foiling Syria’s regional ambitions.

The authors also advised Netanyahu to make a “clean break” with American independence and to turn away from Israel’s status as American dependent to that of a mature ally, “formulating the policies and stress themes he favors in language familiar to the Americans by tapping into themes of American administrations during the Cold War which apply well to Israel.”  In other words, manipulate American opinion by appealing to Cold War anxieties.  This is exactly what Ariel Sharon did in the weeks following September 11, when he and his adherents rang endless changes on the theme: “Now Americans know what it is like to be Israelis.”

When Feith is not advising Israeli politicians on how to manipulate the United States, his supposed expertise is in areas of military intelligence: It was Feith who was in charge of setting guidelines for the new, more aggressive methods of interrogation used on Iraqi prisoners, and it was Feith who brilliantly suggested that the United States was not bound by the Geneva Convention—the two biggest p.r. blunders of the war in Iraq.  Feith also failed to deliver accurate intelligence to the commanders who led the invasion of Iraq.  Gen. Tommy Franks was so disgusted with the quality of the intelligence he received that he told Bob Woodward that Feith is “the f—ing stupidest guy on the face of the earth.”  Bush’s neoconservatives seem to elicit obscenity.  In the build-up to the war, Colin Powell, according to BBC reporter James Naughtie, referred to the lot of them as a bunch of “f—ing crazies.”

Feith hardly ever talks in public about Israel per se or about his own strong connections with the Likud Party; he justifies his total opposition to negotiating with the Palestinians on the grounds of their violations of human rights.  Israel’s denial of basic rights to Christians, however, never seems to come up.  In 1997, the Zionist Organization of America honored Douglas Feith along with his father, Dalck Feith.  Who is Dalck Feith?  A follower of Ze’ev Jabotinsky and a member of Jabotinsky’s fascist youth group, Betar.  Jabotinsky was no liberal Zionist or even a Likudnik like Ariel Sharon.  He boldly called for the elimination of Palestinian Arabs as a people.  Ridiculing the more moderate Zionists who hoped to live in peace with Arabs, Jabotinsky demanded that the Zionists emulate the Americans who destroyed the Plains Indians and eliminated their cultural identity.

In other words, Feith comes out of a Zionist tradition that even Begin and Sharon would rather not talk about, and, as a senior official in the Department of Defense, he has never ceased to advocate policies designed to promote Israeli, not American, interests.  In this, however, he is no different from Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Michael Ledeen, and the entire neoconservative network of think tanks and publications that have dominated the foreign policy of the Bush administration.  When Feith wanted to put out the disinformation that the CIA had clinched the connection between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda, he leaked his own memo to the Weekly Standard, whose bogus article was then quoted triumphantly by Dick Cheney—a disinformational triple play.  (See Laura Rozen’s “Ye of Little Feith,” American Prospect Online, May 18, 2004—though some caution may be needed in treating statements from Karen Kwiatkowski.)

Ronald Hatchett, retired U.S. Air Force colonel and arms negotiator, worked under Feith from 1984 to 1988 and knew him well.  In an interview, Hatchett describes Feith as pure Machiavellian.  “He is almost Straussian in his contempt for the public.  Tell them whatever is necessary, he would say, all we need is plausible denial.  The important thing is to win.  The public always supports a winner.”  Hatchett added that Feith was completely devoted to two things: surrounding himself with like-minded associates (whom he referred to as “true patriots”) and promoting the security of Israel.  “He did believe that America should be kept strong, but the main reason was to support the security of Israel.”

In his combination of arrogance and incompetence, Feith is just another neoconservative policy expert.  One thing does distinguish Feith from his colleagues: He lost his first job at the National Security Council in the first Reagan administration when he fell under suspicion of passing secrets to Israel.  National Security Advisor Richard Clark gave as grounds for dismissal that Feith “had been the object of an inquiry into whether he had provided classified material to an official of the Israeli Embassy in Washington.”  Pentagon officials from those days (and others in the Reagan administration) told me they were shocked to learn that Feith’s disgrace was only a temporary setback, since his mentor Richard Perle, another Netanyahu advisor, got him rehired at the Department of Defense six months later.  This proved, as one Pentagon source told me, that Perle was virtually omnipotent.  Ever since, Feith has been obsequious in his obedience to Perle.

I do not at all blame the Israelis for the espionage and treason they have instigated in the United States.  On the contrary, I salute them for their bravery and their patriotism.  In Israel, I met many solid supporters and advisors of the Likud Party.  They love their country the way Crockett and Travis loved America, and they would, as they say in Texas, rather fight than run.  I think they are quite wrong, but I can only admire them.

Most governments, from time to time, practice espionage against foes and keep tabs on their friends.  There is this difference, however: Israel depends upon the United States for her very existence, and the Mossad is not an occasional eavesdropper on diplomatic conversations.  Israel has been spying on her principal benefactor for decades, counting on the fact that American governments will not retaliate by cutting off the aid and loans that subsidize Israel’s lavish welfare state—and her expensive war machine.  A few years ago, I spoke with a man who retired from the CIA decades ago, because of the steady leakage to Israel.  The worst part of it, he said, was not the treason committed by agents more loyal to Israel than to the United States but the fact that Israel used some of her stolen intelligence as bargaining chips with countries that were enemies of the United States.  Such deals could ruin an operation and put agents at risk, but, after repeated complaints, he concluded that the CIA was never going to stop the leaks.  That was four decades ago; now, the problem is worse.

Why blame Sharon for crimes committed by American citizens and ignored by the American government?  If the Mossad is more effective than the CIA, so much the better for the Israelis.  When we discover their agents—like Jonathan Pollard or, if he is guilty, Lawrence Franklin—they should be prosecuted exactly the same as if they were agents of China or Iran.  We should also consider punitive measures against any country caught spying on the United States.  We should not, however, fall into the trap of blaming “the Jews” for the crimes committed by a few ultra-Zionists, nor should we allow the lunatic fringe at Commentary and the ADL to get away with the claim that they represent Jewish-Americans.

On the other hand, espionage and influence-peddling are very serious matters.  People such as Douglas Feith and Richard Perle have time after time displayed their loyalty to a foreign power, and, even if their activities may fall short of treason and espionage, they are clearly unfit to be trusted with any important position in government.

Instead of weeding out these agents of influence, however, the Bush administration continues to rely on them for guidance on the Middle East.  First Iraq, then Iran, then Syria.  And even when the FBI was on the verge of arresting Lawrence Franklin, Attorney General John Ashcroft apparently decided to postpone the arrest and to reduce the charge to something less than espionage.  Ashcroft’s reluctance to antagonize AIPAC two months before the election may be politically justified, but Republicans cannot expect the support of patriotic conservatives until they clean out the nest of vipers in the Department of Defense.  If President Bush would only promise to fire, in order, Franklin, Feith, and Wolfowitz—along with the man who hired them and bungled the war in Iraq—he would have their support.  Until then, I do not see how he can even look them in the eye.

This article first appeared in the November 2004 issue of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture.

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