The Corner

Muravchik On Neocons

I’ve only now finished Josh Muravchik’s dissection of the neocon conspiracy buffoonery that overcame so many otherwise intelligent people in recent times. It’s on the web at Commentary’s web site, but for a fee.

It is an amazingly well done piece, much better than <a href="

” target=”_blank”> my own three part opus on the subject, I hate to say, though mine gave more historical background. Here’s something I didn’t know. The 1996 “paper” allegedly prepared by influential neocons which advocated the toppling of Iraq for Israel’s sake, was not a paper at all. Rather, it was merely little more than the collected minutes from a conference. From Murachik’s piece, discussing how the BBC misused the “report”:

The BBC claimed to have found a smoking gun one that others have pounced on as well. Bradshaw “In 1996, a group of neocons wrote a report intended as advice for incoming Israeli Prime Minister Benny [sic] Netanyahu. It called for … removing Saddam Hussein from power, an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right.” Perle and Douglas Feith, the latter now a high official in Bush’s Defense Department, were among those who had “contributed” to this paper.

Yet even if the BBC had characterized the document accurately, it would not imply what the BBC (and not the BBC alone) suggested it did. The Americans whose names appeared on the paper had long sought Saddam’s ouster, an objective that was already, in 1996, the declared policy of the Clinton administration. It would thus make more sense to say that, in preparing a paper for Netanyahu, they were trying to influence Israeli policy on behalf of American interests than the other way around. Indeed, most Israeli officials at that time viewed Iran, the sponsor of Hizballah and Hamas, as a more pressing threat to their country than Iraq, and (then as later) would have preferred that it be given priority in any campaign against terrorism.

To make matters worse, the BBC fundamentally misrepresented the nature of the document. Contrary to Bradshaw’s claim, no “group of neocons” had written it. Rather, it was the work of a rapporteur summarizing the deliberations of a conference, and was clearly identified as such. The names affixed to it were listed as attendees and not as endorsers, much less authors.


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