By immediately following up his military victory in Iraq with a return to the catastrophic Israeli-Arab “peace process,” President Bush has disproven the accusation by Patrick Buchanan and some of his allies that America’s sole purpose in the war was to help advance the strategic interests of Israel. Far from getting rid of Israel’s enemies, Bush has given them a big boost and pushed Israel to the wall. The worst part of it is that he has dropped his previously stated position—reached at such a terrible cost—that the U.S. would have nothing more to do with helping the Palestinians get a state until they stopped their terrorism and until they stopped their incitements to Israel’s destruction. In reward to the Palestinians for merely picking a prime minister who is not Arafat, Bush has provided them with a whole new “peace process,” in which Israel must once again make vital material concessions while the Palestinians and other Arab leaders only need to mutter meaningless formulae about opposing “terrorism”—a word they define very differently from ourselves.
Meanwhile, instead of conceding that his “It’s all about Israel” view of the war has been wholly discredited by these events, instead of acknowledging that the neocons are not as powerful as he said they were, Buchanan has written an exceptionally mean-spirited article mocking the neoconservatives because, as he perversely puts it, now that the Iraq war is over and the “peace process” is being revived, their moment in the sun has passed. Buchanan doesn’t seem to be realizing what he’s saying. If Bush with his “road map” is now forcing Israel into further surrenders to the Arabs and is thus doing something so deeply unsettling to the neocons, that only proves a point that I and other critics of the antiwar right have made all along, that Bush’s war policy has been his own, not that of some pro-Israel cabal controlling his head. But Buchanan, all largeness of spirit gone, is too blinded by his hatred of the neoconservatives and of Israel to admit that.
If, by the way, there is anyone who doubts that Buchanan actually said that the sole or decisive purpose of the war on Iraq was to help Israel, here is the concluding sentence from a long cover article by him at his magazine The American Conservative, with the ominous title “Whose War?” (got it?), published on March 24th:
“Though we have said repeatedly that we admire much of what this president has done, he will not deserve re-election if he does not jettison the neoconservatives’ agenda of endless wars on the Islamic world that serve only the interests of a country other than the one he was elected to preserve and protect.”
Thus, just as President Bush was in the act of launching this mighty campaign against Iraq, Buchanan was charging that the president was being led by a mainly-Jewish group of advisors to fight a war that served ONLY the interests of Israel.
Such charges by Buchanan and his colleagues span the whole period of the war debate. Here is his managing editor Scott McConnell writing at Antiwar.com, February 19, 2002:
“Despite its success in inserting recklessly belligerent phrases into Bush’s State of the Union speech, the War Party occupies a vulnerable position in the broad geography of American politics. Its core members understand full well that the American rage against terrorists who attacked us is not the same as an American desire to take out every country that has ever looked cross-eyed at Israel.”
Now just mull over that passage for a moment. According to McConnell, Israel's problem with her Arab neighbors is not that they have ever harmed her or sought to destroy her. Oh, no, they’ve just been “looking cross-eyed” at her! And, furthermore, according to McConnell, the mainly-Jewish neoconservatives who controlled Bush’s brain were manipulating America into expending its treasure and the lives of its young men in a war the real purpose of which was not its stated purpose of protecting America and ridding the world of a dangerous tyrant, but the mainly-Jewish neocons’ hidden purpose of toppling those governments that had done nothing more offensive than look cross-eyed at Israel.
That's the kind of conspiracy that haunts the imagination and fuels the corrosive anger of more than a few people on the antiwar right. And, much like the left's fanatical hatred of Bush, the antiwar right's hatred of the neocons can never be appeased by facts that disprove the underlying charge. That's why Buchanan, far from admitting that his wild statements about the neocons were wrong, turns around and derides the neocons for losing their Svengalian control over President Bush that—as indicated by the recent developments in Bush's Mideast policy—they had never exercised in the first place.