The Corner

Joe Klein’s “Divided loyalties”

Time magazine political columnist and blogger Joe Klein has posted his reaction to a column today by David Brooks of the New York Times.

Brooks credits President Bush for his decision, in the face of enormous political pressures, to embrace the so-called surge strategy in Iraq. Klein chalks this up not to President Bush’s knowledge of tactics or strategy but to Bush’s stubbornness — while Klein, who presents himself as a man in possession of enormous knowledge and sophistication about counterinsurgency doctrine, merely happened to be wrong in his fierce opposition to it. In any event, Klein admits he was wrong in opposing the surge and has proper praise for General Petraeus, which is admirable.  

But then Klein goes on to say this:

The notion that we could just waltz in and inject democracy into an extremely complicated, devout and ancient culture smacked–still smacks–of neocolonialist legerdemain. The fact that a great many Jewish neoconservatives–people like Joe Lieberman and the crowd over at Commentary–plumped for this war, and now for an even more foolish assault on Iran, raised the question of divided loyalties: using U.S. military power, U.S. lives and money, to make the world safe for Israel.

Put aside the fact that Klein himself, swept up in the success of democratic elections in Iraq in 2005, was quite sympathetic to what he now refers to as “neocolonialist legerdemain.” The “divided loyalties” charge is an ugly smear, one that ignores, among other things, the vast non-Jewish and non-neoconservative support for the Iraq war. (For example, the use of force resolution passed with 77 votes in the Senate – the overwhelming majority of which were cast by non-Jews and non-neoconservatives).

And on the matter of Iran: isn’t it reasonable to assume that if Iran possessed a nuclear weapon it will pose an enormous threat not simply to Israel but to the region (including other Arab states) and the interests of America? And doesn’t it matter that Israel is among our closest allies, a nation of extraordinary achievements and virtues, and one with whom we have security agreements? This doesn’t necessarily lead one to support U.S. military strikes against Iran in order to prevent Ahmadinejad, Khamenei, & Company from possessing a nuclear weapon. If Klein is against that, fine; he should make the argument on prudential and policy grounds. But arguing that those who favor using military force against Iran and happen to be Jewish are driven by “divided loyalties” is despicable and libelous.

Joe Klein appears to be a man who cannot control his anger and even hatred toward those with whom he has policy disagreements. It is a sad thing to witness. And those who care for Klein should do him a favor and urge him to give up blogging, which allows his unfiltered rage to make its way into print and embarrass him and the magazine for which he writes.

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