Monday, May 18, 2009

NeoCons Find a New Home in Jerusalam

Neoconservatives, the guys who brought you the Iraq war and deregulation of the finance sector under George Bush, are in deep retreat in America. And in Canada, if polls are correct, the Conservatives will lose the next election despite having already retreated from many of there most egregious excesses. But in Israel the neocons are going from strength to strength.

According to this article in Ha'aretz:

[Two years ago] economist Omer Moav, a senior fellow at the center's Institute for Economic and Social Policy, was still busy writing an article for the Shalem journal, Azure, called "Who Needs Employment Security," which argues that worker protections sometimes hurt weaker segments of society. Now he heads the Finance Ministry's Council of Economic Advisers. Another senior fellow, historian Michael Oren, [picture above] was busy critiquing "You Don't Mess with the Zohan," an Adam Sandler movie about an Israeli soldier who fakes his death and becomes a hair stylist in New York, which Oren, the author of "The Making of the Modern Middle East," described as a complete renunciation of the Zionist idea. He has been selected as Israel's ambassador to Washington. And Shalem distinguished fellow Moshe Ya'alon, a former Israel Defense Forces chief of staff who wrote a recent Azure article whose Hebrew title was "The diplomatic process can wait," is now the minister for strategic affairs. Natan Sharansky, another distinguished fellow and the chairman of the Shalem Center's Institute for Strategic Studies, is awaiting his appointment as chairman of the Jewish Agency. His 2004 book "The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror," which was published through the center, hit the headlines when George W. Bush publicly recommended it. The book was co-written with Ron Dermer, who now heads the information directorate in the Prime Minister's Office.
And Netanyahu himself is a neocon of the first order: long obsessed with global terrorism and the need for the democracies to band together to fight the scourge of intolerant Islam (where "intolerant" is a descriptor of Islam in general, not a delimiter indicating a sub-set.)

Is it a wonder then that the Israeli government is so obsessed with the Iranian threat and its weapons of mass destruction soon to be in the hands of "cruel madmen." Or that it is is telling anyone who will listen that peace between Israel and Palestinians (not Palestine, god forbid) is only possible if we first stop Iran's support of radicals in Lebanon and Gaza. Its an almost exact match for the justifications of the war in Iraq.

The difference is that an attack on Iran could have even worse consequences, for Israel and the West, than the war in Iraq. Iran has thousands of short and medium range missiles, and hundreds maybe thousands of long range ones. If Israel bombed Iraqs nuclear facilities, it is virtually certain that Iran would unleash missiles on Israel - most probably on Israel's nuclear reactor in Dimona (and who knows who much damage the fallout from that would cause) and probably on its big cities too. It has the ability also has the ability to destroy virtually every oil port on the Persian Gulf, and might be tempted to do that too if it felt that Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States had been complicit.

How did we get so lucky as to get these guys in power, just when they are in total disrepute in the rest of the world?


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