By Ami Eden

Published April 18, 2003, issue of April 18, 2003.
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Now It’s Trotsky’s Fault? Conspiracy theories about a clique of Jewish neoconservatives hijacking U.S. foreign policy got bumped up a notch or two this month, when the celebrated Washington policy wonk Michael Lind published his version in the British journal New Statesman. Writing in the April 7 issue of the fabled Fabian sheet, Lind claimed American foreign policy is set by a neoconservative “clique that is unrepresentative of either the U.S. population or the mainstream foreign policy establishment.”

At the center of the clique, Lind writes, is Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, “the defense mastermind of the Bush administration; Donald Rumsfeld is an elderly figurehead who holds the position of defense secretary only because Wolfowitz himself is too controversial.” Other key players in Lind’s playbook: “Douglas Feith, No. 3 at the Pentagon; Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby, a Wolfowitz protege who is Cheney’s chief of staff; John R. Bolton, a right-winger assigned to the State Department to keep Colin Powell in check; and Elliott Abrams, recently appointed to head Middle East policy at the National Security Council.”

Lind is a onetime executive editor of the neoconservative magazine National Interest who caused a stir in the early 1990s with his conversion to liberalism. His piece mentions other constituencies and events that helped produce the Iraq war, but insists his onetime neocon allies are mainly to blame. The neocons, he writes, “are at the centre of a metaphorical ‘pentagon’ of the Israel lobby and the religious right, plus conservative think-tanks, foundations and media empires.” In the latter category he cites “Rupert Murdoch (who may be part Jewish himself)” and “the South Korean messiah (and ex-convict) the Rev. Sun Myung Moon.”

Lind’s most creative innovation is his claim that these neocons are “products of the largely Jewish-American Trotskyist movement of the 1930s and 1940s, which morphed… finally into a kind of militaristic and imperial right with no precedents in American culture or political history.” The reference appears to be to the aging group of onetime Trotskyites from New York’s City College, including Irving Kristol, Nathan Glazer and others — none of them currently in government — who founded the original neoconservative movement that spawned today’s conspirators. Tracing his conspiracy to the CCNY cafeteria allows Lind to make the intriguing claim that the neocons are not really motivated by the Wilsonian vision they like to invoke. Such idealism is really a cover for a potent brew of Trotskyite “permanent revolution,” somehow combined with the “far-right Likud strain of Zionism.”

Another high-concept endorsement of the neocon-spiracy theory, if more generous in its reading of their motives, comes from Israeli journalist Ari Shavit. Shavit’s April 3 Ha’aretz article “White Man’s Burden” places much of the responsibility for the war at the feet of about 25, mostly Jewish, neoconservatives. Not for him, though, is the notion that they were driven by Likud ideology. “They believe that the right political idea entails a fusion of military and force, human rights and grit,” Shavit writes. “The philosophical underpinnings of the Washington neoconservatives are the writings of Machiavelli, Hobbes and Edmund Burke. They also admire Winston Churchill and the policy pursued by Ronald Reagan. They tend to read reality in terms of the failure of the 1930s (Munich) versus the success of the 1980s (the fall of the Berlin Wall).”

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