Thursday, September 13, 2007

Gem of a Book Review

Wherein Peter Beinart, rips Michael Ledeen and Norman Podhoretz new a-holes. Read the whole thing, it's brutal (and sad that this kind of garbage actually gets serious play).

Each of the two neocons has new books: NP: World War IV--The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism and ML: The Iranian Time Bomb.

On Podhoretz:
The most astonishing part of “World War IV” is Podhoretz’s incessant use of violent imagery to describe American politics. Critics of the Iraq war represent a “domestic insurgency” with a “life-and-death stake” in America’s defeat. And their dispute with the president’s supporters represents “a war of ideas on the home front.” “In its own way,” Podhoretz declares, “this war of ideas is no less bloody than the one being fought by our troops in the Middle East.” No less bloody? That’s good to know. Next time I talk to my sister-in-law, an emergency medicine doctor serving at Camp Taji, north of Baghdad, I’ll tell her we have it just as rough here at home. Norman Podhoretz is practically dodging I.E.D.’s on his way to Zabar’s.
Not to mention that Pod. never really defines Islamofascism or how the two relate given Islam is a religion of myth/revelation, while Fascism is a worship of the state. And that Fascist parties in the Arab world, like the Baath (Hussein's party) was founded by a Christian.

Podhoretz turned against the left (as a former member thereof) as part of the original generation of neocons. (Paleo-neocons, if that makes sense). He has never forgiven the betrayal he senses from the left and is only out for revenge, seems to me. Podhoretz would only be some laughable crank--his son John still believes Saddam's weapons of mass destruction were sent off to Syria before the war--except for the fact that he is a, if not the, principal foreign policy adviser to Rudy Giuliani.

All of Giuliani's talk about the Democrats being for retreat and his policy being to stay on the offense (the great insight of Bush so he tells us) is straight Norman Podhoretz. Don't let facts get in the way of truth as they say.

On Micheal Ledeen, possibly in the short run an even more dangerous figure. His book, in essence, argues that everything terrorist wise stems from Iran. Heard this argument before? In the 1980s, the neocons said that all terrorism stemmed from the Soviet Union (fortunately Reagan was smart enough not to invade Russia). Then Wolfowitz promoted the views of a wack job conspiracy theorist named Laurie Mylroie who argued Saddam was behind all terrorism in the world, including al-Qaeda.

Here's Beinart:
“The Iranian Time Bomb” has its strengths. On the topic of Iran’s repression of women and ethnic minorities, for instance, it is genuinely moving. But Ledeen’s effort to lay virtually every attack by Muslims against Americans at Tehran’s feet takes him into rather bizarre territory. He says the 1998 bombings of the United States Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania “were in large part Iranian operations,” which would come as news to the 9/11 Commission, which attributed them solely to Al Qaeda. He says Shiite Iran was largely behind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a man famous for his genocidal hatred of Shiites. He claims that “most” Iraqi insurgents are “under Iranian guidance and/or control,” not just Shiite warlords like Moktada al-Sadr, but Sunni militants as well — the very people who say they are fighting to prevent Iranian domination. In Ledeen’s view, in fact, Sunni-Shiite conflict — the very thing that most observers think is tearing Iraq apart — is largely a mirage, because Iran controls both sides. And Al Qaeda is a mirage too, a mere front for the regime in Tehran. “When you hear ‘Al Qaeda,’ ” Ledeen writes, “it’s probably wise to think ‘Iran.’ ” Not surprisingly, he thinks the mullahs were probably behind 9/11.
This book I worry is part of a campaign that has been decided on in the halls of American Enterprise Institute among others, to sell a war with Iran. Just as was done with Iraq. [For the backstory on this read Hubris by David Corn and Michael Isikoff]. Within the White House we know that Cheney favors a bombing campaign against Iran and his minions do as well (e.g. David Addington).

Although to be fair, Ledeen himself does not favor (as Beinart notes) bombings of Tehran, but rather an aggressive attempt at regime change from within. Podhoretz does favor bombing Iran. Guess which Giuliani would likely follow.

And on the two strongest arguments against America pushing for regime change within Iran: 1)pro-reform elements will labeled American 5th column and discredited, jailed, and/or killed 2)democratic Iran will seek a nuclear weapon because what they are after is Persian nationalism and regional hegemony and protection of their regime against American overthrown/invasion/bombing----Ledeen has basically no response.

Beinart's conclusion:
One day, prominent conservatives will offer not merely new foreign policies for the post-Bush era, but a new style of foreign policy argument: lighter on character attacks and unsubstantiated generalizations, heavier on careful reasoning and empirical evidence. And when they do, they may find “World War IV” and “The Iranian Time Bomb” instructive, as object lessons in the kinds of books not to write.

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