A neoconservative clique seeks to ensnare our country in a series of wars
that are not in America's interest.
by Patrick J. Buchanan
Copyright, The American Conservative. March 24, 2003
The War Party may have gotten its war. But it has also gotten something it did not bargain for. Its membership lists and associations have been exposed and its motives challenged. In a rare moment in U.S. journalism, Tim Russert put this question directly to Richard Perle: "Can you assure American viewers ... that we're in this situation against Saddam Hussein and his removal for American security interests? And what would be the link in terms of Israel?"
Suddenly, the Israeli connection is on the table, and the War Party is not amused. Finding themselves in an unanticipated firefight, our neoconservative friends are doing what comes naturally, seeking student deferments from political combat by claiming the status of a persecuted minority group. People who claim to be writing the foreign policy of the world superpower, one would think, would be a little more manly in the schoolyard of politics. Not so.
Former Wall Street Journal editor Max Boot kicked off the campaign. When these "Buchananites toss around 'neoconservative'-and cite names like Wolfowitz and Cohen-it sometimes sounds as if what they really mean is 'Jewish conservative.'" Yet Boot readily concedes that a passionate attachment to Israel is a "key tenet of neoconservatism." He also claims that the National Security Strategy of President Bush "sounds as if it could have come straight out from the pages of Commentary magazine, the neocon bible." (For the uninitiated, Commentary, the bible in which Boot seeks divine guidance, is the monthly of the American Jewish Committee.)
David Brooks of the Weekly Standard wails that attacks based on the Israel tie have put him through personal hell: "Now I get a steady stream of anti-Semitic screeds in my e-mail, my voicemail and in my mailbox. ... Anti-Semitism is alive and thriving. It's just that its epicenter is no longer on the Buchananite Right, but on the peace-movement left."
Washington Post columnist Robert Kagan endures his own purgatory abroad: "In London ... one finds Britain's finest minds propounding, in sophisticated language and melodious Oxbridge accents, the conspiracy theories of Pat Buchanan concerning the 'neoconservative' (read: Jewish) hijacking of American foreign policy."
Lawrence Kaplan of the New Republic charges that our little magazine "has been transformed into a forum for those who contend that President Bush has become a client of ... Ariel Sharon and the 'neoconservative war party.'"
Referencing Charles Lindbergh, he accuses Paul Schroeder, Chris Matthews, Robert Novak, Georgie Anne Geyer, Jason Vest of the Nation, and Gary Hart of implying that "members of the Bush team have been doing Israel's bidding and, by extension, exhibiting 'dual loyalties.'" Kaplan thunders.
The real problem with such claims is not just that they are untrue. The problem is that they are toxic. Invoking the specter of dual loyalty to mute criticism and debate amounts to more than the everyday pollution of public discourse. It is the nullification of public discourse, for how can one refute accusations grounded in ethnicity? The charges are, ipso facto, impossible to disprove. And so they are meant to be.
What is going on here? Slate's Mickey Kaus nails it in the headline of his retort: "Lawrence Kaplan Plays the Anti-Semitic Card."
What Kaplan, Brooks, Boot, and Kagan are doing is what the Rev. Jesse Jackson does when caught with some
mammoth contribution from a Fortune 500 company he has lately accused of discriminating. He plays the race card. So, too, the neoconservatives are trying to fend off critics by assassinating their character and impugning their motives.
Indeed, it is the charge of "anti-Semitism" itself that is toxic. For this venerable slander is designed to nullify public discourse by smearing and intimidating foes and censoring and blacklisting them and any who would publish them. Neocons say we attack them because they are Jewish. We do not. We attack them because their warmongering threatens our country, even as it finds a reliable echo in Ariel Sharon.
And this time the boys have cried "wolf" once too often. It is not working. As Kaus notes, Kaplan's own New Republic carries Harvard professor Stanley Hoffman. In writing of the four power centers in this capital that are clamoring for war, Hoffman himself describes the fourth thus:
And, finally, there is a loose collection of friends of Israel, who believe in the identity of interests between the Jewish state and the United States. These analysts look on foreign policy through the lens of one dominant concern: Is it good or bad for Israel? Since that nation's founding in 1948, these thinkers have never been in very good odor at the State Department, but now they are well ensconced in the Pentagon, around such strategists as Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and Douglas Feith.
"If Stanley Hoffman can say this," asks Kaus, "why can't Chris Matthews?" Kaus also notes that Kaplan somehow failed to mention the most devastating piece tying the neoconservatives to Sharon and his Likud Party.
In a February 9 front-page article in the Washington Post, Robert Kaiser quotes a senior U.S. official as saying, "The Likudniks are really in charge now." Kaiser names Perle, Wolfowitz, and Feith as members of a pro-Israel network inside the administration and adds David Wurmser of the Defense Department and Elliott Abrams of the National Security Council. (Abrams is the son-in-law of Norman Podhoretz, editor emeritus of Commentary, whose magazine has for decades branded critics of Israel as anti-Semites.)
Noting that Sharon repeatedly claims a "special closeness" to the Bushites, Kaiser writes, "For the first time a U.S. administration and a Likud government are pursuing nearly identical policies." And a valid question is: how did this come to be, and while it is surely in Sharon's interest, is it in America's interest?
This is a time for truth. For America is about to make a momentous decision: whether to launch a series of wars in the Middle East that could ignite the Clash of Civilizations against which Harvard professor Samuel Huntington has warned, a war we believe would be a tragedy and a disaster for this Republic. To avert this war, to answer the neocon smears, we ask that our readers review their agenda as stated in their words. Sunlight is the best disinfectant. As Al Smith used to say, "Nothing un-American can live in the sunlight."
We charge that a cabal of polemicists and public officials seek to ensnare our country in a series of wars that are not in America's interests. We charge them with colluding with Israel to ignite those wars and destroy the Oslo Accords. We charge them with deliberately damaging U.S. relations with every state in the Arab world that defies Israel or supports the Palestinian people's right to a homeland of their own. We charge that they have alienated friends and allies all over the Islamic and Western world through their arrogance, hubris, and bellicosity.
Not in our lifetimes has America been so isolated from old friends. Far worse, President Bush is being lured into a trap baited for him by these neocons that could cost him his office and cause America to forfeit years of peace won for us by the sacrifices of two generations in the Cold War.
They charge us with anti-Semitism-i.e., a hatred of Jews for their faith, heritage, or ancestry. False. The truth is, those hurling these charges harbor a "passionate attachment" to a nation not our own that causes them to subordinate the interests of their own country and to act on an assumption that, somehow, what's good for Israel is good for America.
The only weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East are in Israel, a U.S. protectorate. What is not being reported is that, as Israel's hawks fail to put down the Palestinian uprising, their leader, Ariel Sharon, may well remove the country's nuclear arsenal from its nominal strategy of "last resort."
This prospect is raised in the Covert Action quarterly (www.covertactionquarterly.org) by John Steinbach, a nuclear specialist whose previous work includes the mapping of deadly radiation hazards in the UnitedStates. He quotes Israel's former president Ezer Weizman: "The nuclear issue is gaining momentum [and the] next war will not be conventional."
From the 1950s, writes Steinbach, "the U.S. was training Israeli nuclear scientists and providing nuclear-related technology, including a small 'research' reactor in 1955 under the 'Atoms for Peace' program." It was France that built a larger uranium reactor and plutonium reprocessing plant in the Negev desert, called Dimona. The Israeli's lied [saying] that it was a 'manganese plant,' or a 'textile factory.'
In return for uranium, Israel supplied South Africa with the technology and expertise that allowed the White supremacist regime to build the "apartheid bomb."
[Note: The Sunday Times of London reported on 15 November 1998, that Israel was developing an "ethno-bomb." Their scientists were trying to exploit recent medical advances by identifying a gene carried by Arabs. They intended to create a genetically-modified bacterium or virus that would attack only Arabs, leaving Jews unharmed. ed.]
In 1979, when U.S. satellite photographs revealed the atmospheric test of a nuclear bomb in the Indian Ocean off South Africa, Israel's involvement, writes Steinbach, "was quickly whitewashed by a carefully selected scientific panel, kept in the dark about important details." Israeli sources have since revealed "there were actually three tests of miniaturized Israeli nuclear artillery shells."
It was at Dimona that the heroic Mordechai Vanunu worked as a technician. A supporter of Palestinian rights, Vanunu believed it was his duty to warn the world about the danger Israel posed. In 1986, he smuggled out photographs showing that the plant was producing enough plutonium to make 10 to 12 bombs a year, and that at least 200 miniaturized bombs had been built.
Vanunu was subsequently lured to Rome from London by Mossad, the Israeli dirty tricks agency. Beaten and drugged, he was kidnapped to Israel, where a secret security court sentenced him to 18 years in prison, 12 of which were spent in solitary confinement, in a cell barely big enough for him to stand.
[Note: Former Mossad operative, Victor Ostrovsky, also revealed the behind-the-scenes tactics of Israel's spy and assassination agency in his book By Way of Deception. He had to flee the country, and in 1995 an Israeli TV executive publicly called for his assassination. Ostrovsky writes: "To put it as charitably as possible, (Israel) is a country that does not have America's best interests at heart." ed.]
Steinbach says that, whatever "deterrent effect" the founders of the Israeli nuclear program may have intended, "today, the nuclear arsenal is inextricably linked to and integrated with overall Israeli military and political strategy."
While Israel has ballistic missiles and bombers capable of reaching Moscow, and has reportedly launched a submarine-based cruise missile, "a staple of the arsenal are neutron bombs [which are] miniaturized thermonuclear bombs designed to maximize deadly gamma radiation while minimizing blast effects and long-term radiation -- in essence designed to kill people while leaving property intact."
These are the same "limited" nuclear weapons the Reagan administration seriously considered using in Europe and which Ariel Sharon's zealots may use as a "demonstration" that they have no intention of relinquishing the occupied territories. "Arabs may have the oil, but we have the matches," said Sharon before he became prime minister. Steinbach says such a threat could be used to compel the Bush administration to act exclusively in Israel's favor were it to waver in the face of growing international support for the Intifada.
Francis Perrin, the former head of the French nuclear weapons program, wrote: "We thought the Israeli Bomb was aimed at the Americans, not to launch it at the Americans, but to say, 'If you don't want to help us in a critical situation [when we] require you to help us ... we will use our nuclear bombs." Israel used this blackmail during the 1973 war with Egypt, forcing U.S. President Richard Nixon to re-supply its badly shaken military.
[Note: Israel is not the only "shitty little country" (as the French ambassador to England so aptly put it) to thumb its nose at Uncle Sap by threatening to use its nuclear weapons; North Korea has been extracting enormous concessions from the Keystone Kops in Washington by essentially using the same tactics. Meanwhile, not to be outdone by the Israelis and the Koreans, there is talk in Greece about how our own home-grown "statesmen" are threatening to cut off all shipments of worry beads, feta cheese, and ouzo to the United States unless America starts saying nice things about them. ed.]
The Israeli nuclear threat is seldom raised in this country, in parliament and the media, and is a non-issue in the United States. This is in line with a news agenda on Palestine that is still set by Israel. However, since the election of Sharon, who has presided over massacres of Palestinian civilians since 1953, this may be changing. Television pictures from Gaza and the West Bank ought to leave little doubt that Israel is a terrorist state, with a policy of state murder.
One of the most impressive critics of his own government I met in Israel more than 25 years ago is Israel Shahak, then professor of organic chemistry at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, a survivor of the Warsaw ghetto and the Bergen-Belsen death camp. As Israeli society becomes more and more polarized, Shahak's courage and wisdom endure. Three years ago he said: "The wish for peace, so often assumed as the Israeli aim, is not in my view a principle of Israeli policy, while the wish to extend Israeli domination and influence is." He added this prophecy of which all but one element has so far proved correct: "Israel is preparing for war, nuclear if need be, for the sake of averting domestic change not to its liking [and is] clearly prepared to use for the purpose, all means available, including nuclear ones."
Fifty thousand years ago, a lush landscape greeted the first Australians making their way towards the south-east of the continent. Temperatures were cooler than now. Megafauna giant prehistoric animals such as marsupial lions, goannas and the rhinoceros-sized diprotodon were abundant. And the freshwater lakes of the Willandra district in western NSW were brimming with fish. But change was coming. By the time the people living at Lake Mungo ceremoniously buried two of their dead, 40,000 years ago, water levels had begun to drop.
A study of the sediments and graves at Lake Mungo, published this week in Nature, uncovers the muddy layers deposited as the lake began to dry up. Twenty thousand years ago Lake Mungo had become the dry dusty hole we know today, but 20,000 years before that it had been a refuge from the encroaching desert, the study shows. Families clustered around the lake left artifacts, 775 of which researchers used to determine that the number of people living there peaked between 43,000 and 44,000 years ago, with the first wanderers arriving between 46,000 and 50,000 years ago.
This treasure-trove of history was found by the University of Melbourne geologist Professor Jim Bowler in 1969. He was searching for ancient lakes and came across the charred remains of Mungo Lady, who had been cremated. In 1974, he found a second complete skeleton, Mungo Man, buried 300 metres away.
The comprehensive study of 25 different sediment layers at Mungo a collaboration between four universities, the CSIRO, and NSW National Parks and Wildlife and led by Bowler concludes that both graves are 40,000 years old.
This is much younger than the 62,000 years Mungo Man was attributed with in 1999 by a team led by Professor Alan Thorne, of the Australian National University. Because Thorne is the countrys leading opponent of the Out of Africa theory that modern humans evolved in Africa about 100,000 years ago and then spread around the globe the revision of Mungo Mans age has refocused attention on academic disputes about mankinds origins.
Dr Tim Flannery, a proponent of the controversial theory that Australias megafauna was wiped out 46,000 years ago in a blitzkrieg of hunting by the arriving people, also claims the new Mungo dates support this view.
For Bowler, however, these debates are irritating speculative distractions from the studys main findings. At 40,000 years old, Mungo Man and Mungo Lady remain Australias oldest human burials and the earliest evidence on Earth of cultural sophistication, he says. Modern humans had not even reached North America by this time. In Europe, they were just starting to live alongside the Neanderthals.
At Lake Mungo we have a cameo of people reacting to environmental change. It is one of the great stories of the people of the world.
The modern day story of the science of Mungo also has its fair share of rivalry. In its 1999 study, Thornes team used three techniques to date. Mungo Man at 62,000 years old, and it stands by its figures. It dated bone, teeth enamel and some sand.
Bowler has strongly challenged the results ever since. Dating human bones is notoriously unreliable, he says. As well, the sand sample Thornes group dated was taken hundreds of metres from the burial site. You dont have to be a gravedigger to realize the age of the sand is not the same as the age of the grave, says Bowler. He says his terms results are based on careful geological field work that was cross-checked between four laboratories, while Thornes team was locked in a laboratory in Canberra and virtually misinterpreted the field evidence.
Thorne counters that Bowlers team used one dating technique, while his used three. Best practice is to have at least two methods produce the same result. A Thorne team member, Professor Rainer Grün, says the fact that the latest results were consistent between laboratories doesnt mean they are absolutely correct. We now have two data sets that are contradictory. I do not have a plausible explanation.
Two years ago Thorne made world headlines with a study of Mungo Mans DNA that he claimed supported his idea that modern humans evolved from archaic humans in several places around the world, rather than striding out of Africa a relatively short time ago.
Other scientists have expressed scepticism. But Thornes old age for Mungo Man was also regarded as evidence for his theory. Homo sapiens would have had to move pretty fast to get from Africa to NSW by 62,000 years ago.
Now, however, Thorne says the age of Mungo Man is irrelevant to this origins debate. Recent fossils finds show modern humans were in China 110,000 years ago. So he has got a long time to turn up in Australia. It doesnt matter if he is 40,000 or 60,000 years old.
In 2001 a member of Bowlers team, Dr Richard Roberts of Wollongong University, along with Flannery, director of the South Australian Museum, published research on their blitzkrieg theory. They dated 28 sites across the continent, arguing their analysis showed the megafauna died out suddenly 46,000 years ago.
The conclusion has been challenged by other scientists, including Dr Judith Field of the University of Sydney and Dr Richard Fullager of the Australian Museum, who pointed to the presence of megafauna fossils at the 36,000-year-old Cuddie Springs site in NSW.
Flannery praises the Bowler teams research on Mungo Man as the most thorough and rigorous dating of ancient human remains. He says the finding that humans arrived at Lake Mungo between 46,000 and 50,000 years ago was a critical time in Australias history. There is no evidence of a dramatic climatic change then, he says. Its my view that humans arrived and extinction took place in almost the same geological instant.
Bowler, however, is skeptical of Flannerys theory and says the Mungo study provides no definitive new evidence to support it. He argues that climate change at 40,000 years ago was more intense than had been previously realized and could have played a role in the megafaunas demise. To blame the earliest Australians for their complete extinction is drawing along bow.
Different dating methods
Based on decay of carbon 14 isotope present in living tissue. Gave age of about 25,000 years for Mungo Lady (1976).
Based on amount of radiation sand grains have absorbed since they were last heated. Gave date of 42,000-45,000 years for Mungo Man sediments (1996).
Based on amounts of uranium and thorium isotopes in bone. Gave dates of 50,000-80,000 years for Mungo Man (1999).
Electric Spin Resonance
Measures number of electrons from radioactive decay that are trapped in crystal. Used on Mungo Man teeth enamel. Gave age of 63,000-78,000 years (1999).
Optically Stimulated Luminescence
Based on a light-sensitive internal clock in sand grains which starts ticking when they get buried. Sand samples 300 metres from Mungo Man gave date of 62,000 years (1999). Latest results on 25 sediment samples date Mungo Man and Mungo Lady at 40,000 years old (2003).
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