How Conservatives Went Crazy
When I was associated with National Review, the
magazine understood that the
US Constitution and civil liberty had to be
protected from government. It was not considered
unpatriotic to take the side of the Constitution and
civil liberty against a sitting government, even if the
government were Republican. Some things were still more
important than party loyalty.
No more. Consider, for example, Byron York writing in
the February 13 issue. York doesn`t understand why
former US Representative Bob Barr lent his Republican
conservative credentials to former Vice President Al
Gore`s speech against President Bush`s transgressions
against law and civil liberty, or why Barr is
associating with liberals opposing the “Patriot”
Course | Some conservatives keep the strangest
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Barr is the former Republican member of the House of
Representatives who led the impeachment against
President Bill Clinton. Barr did so not out of political
partisanship. As a former prosecutor, Barr regards lying
under oath to be a serious offense. A president who
commits that offense must be held accountable.
Otherwise, presidents will go on to lie about greater
things–such as war.
In opposing Bush`s transgressions, Barr is simply being
consistent. For Barr, party loyalty takes a backseat to
defense of the Constitution, the rule of law, and civil
liberty. If the US had more leaders of Barr`s caliber,
Bush and Cheney would already have been impeached.
York cannot understand this, because he thinks party
loyalty and defense against terrorists are the
controlling virtues. York scolds Barr for letting
himself be used by partisan liberal organizations, but
York takes his own partisanship for granted. It is only
the other side that is partisan.
When I was on the Wall Street Journal`s editorial
page, the editorials were analytical and reformist.
Sometimes we broke news stories. The page`s attention to
Soviet Union was based on the rulers`
aggressive posture and
suppression of civil liberties. Today the editorial
page is a fount of neoconservative war propaganda. All
intelligence has vanished.
Review & Outlook of February 3, which declares
Iran to be “an intolerable threat.” Iran is
portrayed as a threat because the country`s new
president has used threatening rhetoric against Israel.
But, of course, Bush and Israel are constantly using
threatening rhetoric against Iran. To avoid being
regarded as a wimp by his countrymen and by the Muslim
world, the new Iranian president has to answer back. It
doesn`t occur to the editorialists that Iranians might
see the nuclear weapons of Israel and the US as
Unlike Iran, Israel does have nuclear weapons. In view
of this overpowering fact, it is difficult to see why
Bush and Wall Street Journal editorialists think
the US needs to protect Israel from Iran.
But what if Iran were to succeed in fooling the
International Atomic Energy Agency`s nuclear inspectors
and develop a bomb. Might not crazed mullahs drop it on
Israel or give it to an al Qaeda terrorist, who might
use it to blow up Washington DC or New York?
What would Iran gain aside from its own immediate
destruction? If mutual assured destruction worked for
decades against a powerfully armed communist state every
bit as hostile to American “bourgeois capitalism”
as Iran is to the “Great Satan,” why would it
fail against a state that is puny compared to Soviet
Iran does not require nuclear weapons in order to do all
the things the editorialists marshal in their case
against Iran. Indeed, a US or Israeli attack on Iran is
likely to precipitate the dire deeds that the
editorialists fear: a Shia uprising in Iraq, disruption
of oil supplies, closing of the Straits of Hormuz, and
terrorist attacks throughout the Middle East.
It is difficult to see the sanity in taking such risks
merely on the basis of the assumption that Iran intends
to make a weapon. Before attacking yet another Muslim
country on the basis of mere assertion and creating
further anger and instability that may unseat our
puppets in the Middle East, including nuclear armed
Pakistan, the US would do far better to drop its
threatening rhetoric, re-establish cooperation with
Iran, continue the IAEA inspections and wait until there
is real evidence of a nuclear weapons program.
The US rushed to war in Iraq based on lies. On PBS (Feb.
Lawrence Wilkerson, who was chief of staff to
Secretary of State Colin Powell, said that the Iraq
speech his boss was forced to give to the UN was “a
hoax on the American people, the international
community, and the United Nations Security Council.”
The consequences have been disastrous. The US invasion
force is tied down by a few thousand insurgents drawn
from a Sunni population of merely 5 million people, and
Iraq has become, according to the CIA, a recruiting and
training ground for terrorists. The invasion has ruined
America`s reputation and expanded the popularity of al
Qaeda, which has assumed the stand-up role against the
hegemonic Great Satan.
It is the untutored belligerence of the neoconservative
Jacobins that is likely to send the Middle East up in
smoke. The instability that Bush is creating serves al
Qaeda`s interest, not our own.
The US and Iran have common enemies in al Qaeda and
Middle East instability. Iran is Shia. Al Qaeda is a
movement drawn from Sunnis. The age-old Shia/Sunni
conflict may yet lead to civil war in Iraq.
When the Wall Street Journal editorialists
describe Iran`s current leaders as “possessed of an
apocalyptic vision” they could just as well be
describing Bush`s evangelical supporters and the neocon
Jacobins that are driving America to impose the neocon
will on the Middle East. This is the program of
lunatics. No conservative could possibly support it.
CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.
Paul Craig Roberts [email
him] is the author with Lawrence M.
for Peter Brimelow`s
Forbes Magazine interview with Roberts about the
recent epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct.