The Mix

Neocons as a "foreign import"

A very familiar narrative emerges on who to scapegoat for Iraq
So Iraq is a "failure." Everyone on the right from conservative godfather Bill Buckley Jr. to Reagan's National Security Agency chief William Odom have said it.

But who do we blame? That's the question that a lot of political figures on the right's margins and traditional center have answered with increasingly transparent references: Jewish "neocons," or at least ones with a "passionate attachment to Israel," as Patrick Buchanan put it.

I don't track the conservative press for this stuff, but I do read around, and I've watched the Jews-as-scapegoats argument evolve from old-fashioned "Mein Kampf"-style conspiracy theories into something that at first glance sounds pretty mainstream, following the lines of how ole' fashioned trade protectionists railed against NAFTA and CAFTA. Here's the most recent entry, March 20. Paul Craig Roberts, a former Reagan Treasury official, whose column is picked up on the xenophobic and anti-immigration site Vdare as well as Nation columnist Alexander Cockburn's online mag, CounterPunch, and Justin Raimondo's Antiwar.com:

"[Neocons] are a foreign import and do not share our American values... It is our duty to defend our country and to oppose these evil people." Much like Hondas and chinese-manufactured deck chairs that flood American markets, neocons are an import, apparently. Shall we protect ourselves from these "imports" and raise tarriffs, or, more to the point, set quotas on our H1-B visas we grant to a certain country abroad? That's where the Jews-as-neocons-as-Iraq-scapegoats argument looks to be moving.

And believe me, it's moving. Watch it push marginal far-right characters into more traditional conservative channels. Here's a clear example. When was the last time you saw David Duke appear in anything close to the mainstream media? I saw him just a few days ago on MSNBC's Scarborough Country:
Joe Scarborough: ...[A]re you surprised, Mr. Duke, that Harvard, one of the most liberal universities, certainly the most esteemed universities in America is now agreeing with your position?
David Duke: Well, I see many people converging on this. I see conservatives like Patrick Buchanan and myself converging on this one issue. We see — I’m against the Iraq war because I’m a patriotic American. I don’t like the idea of American soldiers being maimed, killed, blinded, crippled, and disfigured, for a lie. And this war was for a lie. It was not about America.
Scarborough: You say it’s not about America. You say it’s about Israel. You say it’s -
Duke: This is the war for Israel.
Scarborough: You say this Jewish conspiracy led us into war, and I tell you a lot of people in Washington, DC were saying that also. How do you explain — you have George Bush, a gentile, Dick Cheney a gentile, Condi Rice, a gentile and you got Rumsfeld. I mean, these were the four people that led us into this war. Were they just gentile -- Jewish cabal?
Duke: How do you explain this? I think -- in fact Ralph Nader said that once. I think they are puppets. I think that George Bush knows which side of the bread it’s buttered on. I think he knows what the political power in this country is economically in terms of campaign contributions. The Wall Street Journal itself talked about 50 percent of the contributions for Republicans and even more for Democrats, come from Jewish sources.