The Corner

Stephen Walt — McCarthyite

I’m not going to spend a lot of time on Walt’s really dimwitted attack on me (at least not here, I’m going to write about it elsewhere!). But I love the staggering hypocrisy of it all. He writes:

Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s infamous witch hunt against alleged communists in the U.S. government relied primarily on lies, innuendo, and intimidation. Then, at a particularly odious hearing, after McCarthy had falsely accused a young Army officer of being a communist agent, Army counsel Joseph Welch turned on the senator and shot back: “At long last, Senator McCarthy, have you not a shred of decency?”

I am reminded of that moment as I watch the all-too-predictable smear campaign against Charles Freeman’s appointment as chairman of the National Intelligence Council. As soon as the appointment was announced, a bevy of allegedly “pro-Israel” pundits leapt to attack it, in what The Nation’s Robert Dreyfuss called a “thunderous, coordinated assault.” Freeman’s critics were the usual suspects: Jonathan Chait of the New Republic, Michael Goldfarb at the Weekly Standard, Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic, Gabriel Schoenfeld (writing on the op-ed page of the Wall Street Journal), Jonah Goldberg of National Review, Marty Peretz on his New Republic blog, and former AIPAC official Steve Rosen (yes, the same guy who is now on trial for passing classified U.S. government information to Israel).

So he begins with the same Joseph Welch story. Original stuff there! The upshot: Walt’s on the side against McCarthyism — or what he imagines McCarthyism was. What a brave and serious man he must be!

Then he goes on to name names. It’s a long list of “usual suspects” which includes Steve Rosen (a man I’ve never met, spoken to or, for all I know, seen in a room I was in) who Walt casually mentions is on trial for something that sounds like espionage against the US. Some people might call this guilt-by-association. He agrees that this attack on Charles Freeman is a “thunderous, coordinated assault,” without providing any proof whatsoever about such a conspiracy (that’s what coordination means in this context). And, if you go on, you’ll see that he thinks this assault is being carried out by people not wholly or sufficiently loyal to the United States of America. You might even say that he suggests Freeman’s critics are agents of a foreign power. He spends almost no times on the facts, but simply casts innuendo and canned outrage.

But, ah yes, Walt stands foursquare against McCarthyism. He is a pillar of decency.

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