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Ron Radosh

Monthly Archives: March 2010

PJM seems to be the only website that has not had a single posting on the recent brouhaha over David Frum, and the reasons for his leaving — or being fired from — the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). So I have decided to join the fray.

First, on the issues of whether or not Frum was dismissed suddenly and without good reason, or whether he voluntarily left, I have no great insight on to what happened behind the scenes — only opinions derived from what Frum and others have recently said. There has been vitriolic comments on all sides, the most harsh coming from his former colleague and friend, Charles Murray. Frum’s own response can be found here on Frum’s own website. Readers can go to all the links and reach their own judgment about what happened.

I think we can all agree that if AEI decided to let him go for what they thought were valid internal reasons, the timing itself was quite bad. It took place immediately after Frum penned a piece arguing that Republicans could well have dealt with the Democrats in forging a different health care proposal, his now famous Waterloo column. That was followed by a rather unprecedented Wall Street Journal editorial condemning Frum as “the media’ s go-basher of fellow Republicans.” AEI President Arthur Brooks’ dismissal of Frum certainly made it appear that he was worried about donors contributing to his institute after Frum had been subject to such major condemnation from influential conservative figures and newspapers.

What has been forgotten in all of this is that if you regularly read Frum — and respect his serious analytical mind, his sharp insights and his willingness to go where he believes the evidence leads — what one can find is the judgement of a man who believes the Republicans must succeed in advancing alternatives to ObamaCare and other Democratic programs that he believes are ill founded and dangerous to the nation’s eventual health. What he is arguing about are really tactics — the question of how to reach a population that has serious grievances with the current Democratic agenda, but that is equally repelled by the rhetoric and approaches of what we might call the hard Right. This includes many conservative Republicans, moderates, and of course the centrists who are quickly making up a majority of voters and who do not register as either Democrats or Republicans.

Frum, along with John Avlon and others, regularly makes a strong argument that without obtaining the support of this center — a necessity for governing a center/right nation — it will become more and more impossible for Republicans to succeed in gaining both houses of Congress as well as the White House. Frum, Avlon and Scott McClellan made the case for this the other night on Larry King Live. You can see the video here, or read the entire transcript.

Frum explained himself in this way: “And what we’re hearing right now from a lot of people are our fantasies, delusions, things that can’t work. And that means — that opens the way to an easy run for Democratic and liberal success to expand government. We saw the catastrophic result of that with passage of this health care bill. I think that is not an effective way to proceed. I’m a competitor. I want to win.”

I happen to disagree with David in his judgement that “there were opportunities to deal [with the Democrats] on the Senate Finance Committee,” and thereby Republicans sought instead to “break” Obama, and failing in that goal, succeeded only in allow an Obama victory that led to “tremendous political success for the President.” But this is a judgement call, one in which good people can differ. I think that the Democrats never were serious in accommodating real Republican concerns, and preferred to gain a victory for their own agenda even if it meant trying to govern when half the country is against the bill they used reconciliation to pass.

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A Passover Message to Americans from Ed Koch

March 29th, 2010 - 12:55 pm

I have known Ed Koch since 1989, when he appointed me a member of his New York City mission to Central America.  The former very popular Mayor of New York City, Koch is a man of integrity, who always says what he thinks, even when it flies in the face of the current political orthodoxy. A lifelong liberal Democrat, Koch broke ranks and supported President George W. Bush on his policies after 9/11, going to the extent of campaigning for him after his first term in office.

In 2008, he returned to the traditional Democratic fold, and favoring Barack Obama, went to Florida to campaign among its elderly Jewish voters and to assure them that if President, Obama would be a strong friend of Israel. Those who were arguing differently, he told Jewish voters, were simply wrong, and responding to hysterical attacks from the Right-wing.

Now, on the eve of Passover and the first night’s Seder,  Ed Koch has released the following commentary to those on his blog list.  He urges that those who supported him as President, and believed that he would pursue a just foreign policy and especially one towards Israel, that “this is the time to speak out and tell the President of your disappointment in him.”

In so doing,  Ed Koch has again shown that he is not only brave, but is putting conscience above politics.  I applaud him, and following I reproduce his blog:

Ed Koch Commentary                                   

March 29, 2010

TITLE:            Never Again Should We Be Silent

            President Obama’s abysmal attitude toward the State of Israel and his humiliating treatment of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is shocking.  In the Washington Post on March 24th, Jackson Diehl wrote, “Obama has added more poison to a U.S.-Israeli relationship that already was at its lowest point in two decades.  Tuesday night the White House refused to allow non-official photographers record the president’s meeting with Netanyahu; no statement was issued afterward.  Netanyahu is being treated as if he were an unsavory Third World dictator, needed for strategic reasons but conspicuously held at arms length.  That is something the rest of the world will be quick to notice and respond to.” 

            I have not heard or read statements criticizing the president by New York Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand or many other supporters of Israel for his blatantly hostile attitude toward  Israel and his discourtesy displayed at the White House.  President Obama orchestrated the hostile statements of Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, voiced by Biden in Israel and by Clinton in a 43-minute telephone call to Bibi Netanyahu, and then invited the latter to the White House to further berate him.  He then left Prime Minister Netanyahu to have dinner at the White House with his family, conveying he would only be available to meet again if Netanyahu had further information – read concessions – to impart.

             It is unimaginable that the President would treat any of our NATO allies, large or small, in such a degrading fashion.  That there are policy differences between the U.S. and the Netanyahu government is no excuse.  Allies often disagree, but remain respectful. 

             In portraying Israel as the cause of the lack of progress in the peace process, President Obama ignores the numerous offers and concessions that Israel has made over the years for the sake of peace, and the Palestinians’ repeated rejections of those offers.  Not only have Israel’s peace proposals, which include ceding virtually the entire West Bank and parts of Jerusalem to the Palestinians, been rejected, but each Israeli concession has been met with even greater demands, no reciprocity, and frequently horrific violence directed at Israeli civilians.  Thus, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s agreement to suspend construction on the West Bank – a move heralded by Secretary of State Clinton as unprecedented by an Israeli government – has now led to a demand that Israel also halt all construction in East Jerusalem, which is part of Israel’s capital.  Meanwhile, Palestinians are upping the ante, with violent protests in Jerusalem and elsewhere.  And the Obama administration’s request that our Arab allies make some conciliatory gesture towards Israel has fallen on deaf ears.

             Prior American presidents, beginning with Truman who recognized the State of Israel in 1948, have valued Israel as a close ally and have often come to its rescue.  For example, it was Richard Nixon during the 1973 war, who resupplied Israel with arms, making it possible for it to snatch victory from a potentially devastating defeat at the hands of a coalition of Arab countries including Egypt and Syria.

             President George W. Bush made it a point of protecting Israel at the United Nations and the Security Council wielding the U.S. veto against the unfair actions and sanctions that Arab countries sought to impose to cripple and, if possible, destroy, the one Jewish nation in the world.  Now, in my opinion, based on the actions and statements by President Obama and members of his administration, there is grave doubt among supporters of Israel that President Obama can be counted on to do what presidents before him did – protect our ally, Israel.  The Arabs can lose countless wars and still come back because of their numbers.  If Israel were to lose one, it would cease to exist.

             To its credit, Congress, according to the Daily News, has acted differently towards Prime Minister Netanyahu than President Obama.  Reporter Richard Sisk wrote on March 24th, “Congress put on a rare show of bipartisanship for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday – a sharp contrast to his chilly reception at the White House.  ‘We in Congress stand by Israel,’ House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told a beaming Netanyahu, who has refused to budge on White House and State Department demands to freeze settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.”

             But Congress does not make foreign policy.  It can prevent military arms from going to Israel, but cannot send them.  Congress has no role in determining U.S. policy at the U.N. Security Council.  The President of the United States determines our foreign policy – nearly unilaterally – under our Constitution.  So those Congressional bipartisan wishes of support, while welcome, will not protect Israel in these areas, only the President can do that.  Based on his actions to date, I have serious doubts.

             In the 1930s, the Jewish community and its leadership, with few exceptions, were silent when their coreligionists were being attacked, hunted down, incarcerated and slaughtered.  Ultimately 6 million Jews were exterminated in the Holocaust.  The feeling in the U.S. apparently was that Jews who criticized our country’s actions and inactions that endangered the lives of other Jews would be considered disloyal, unpatriotic and displaying dual loyalty, so many Jews stayed mute.  Never again should we allow that to occur.  We have every right to be concerned about the fate of the only Jewish nation in the world, which if it had existed during the 1930s and thereafter, would have given sanctuary to any Jew escaping the Nazi holocaust and taken whatever military action it could to save Jews not yet in the clutches of the Nazis.  We who have learned the lessons of silence, Jews and Christians alike, must speak up now before it is too late.

             So I ask again, where are our Senators, Schumer and Gillibrand?  And, where are the voices, not only of the 31 members of the House and 14 Senators who are Jewish, but the Christian members of the House and Senate who support the State of Israel?  Where are the peoples’ voices?  Remember the words of Pastor Niemoller, so familiar that I will not recite them, except for the last line, “Then they came for me, and by that time, there was no one left to speak up.”

             Supporters of Israel who gave their votes to candidate Obama – 78 percent of the Jewish community did – believing he would provide the same support as John McCain, this is the time to speak out and tell the President of your disappointment in him.  It seems to me particularly appropriate to do so on the eve of the Passover.  It is one thing to disagree with certain policies of the Israeli government.  It is quite another to treat Israel and its prime minister as pariahs, which only emboldens Israel’s enemies and makes the prospect of peace even more remote.

There is no doubt, as Politico’s Laura Rozen writes today, that “an intense debate inside the Obama administration about how to proceed with Netanyahu to advance the Middle East peace process has grown more heated.” As her sources tell her, the internal debate revolves around Dennis Ross’s argument that the WH has to be sensitive to Benjamin Netanyahu’s domestic concerns, “while other officials including some aligned with Middle East peace envoy George Mitchell are arguing Washington needs to hold firm in pressing Netanyahu for written commitments to avoid provocations that imperil Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and to preserve the Obama administration’s credibility.”

Ross, it seems, is bravely putting forth an alternative view he wants the President to consider. Instead of listening to him, his opponents are arguing, as one unnamed person tells her, that “he [Ross] seems to be far more sensitive to Netanyahu’s coalition politics than to U.S. interests and he doesn’t seem to understand that this has become bigger than Jerusalem but is rather about the credibility of this Administration.”

To put it bluntly, Ross’s opponents are painting him as anti-American, subject to the old canard about “dual loyalties” to Israel rather than to his own country. Ross’s goal, one that is hardly opposed to our own national interest, is to develop  “an international and regional alliance including Arab nations and Israel to pressure and isolate Iran.” But it seems that the Obama administration is quickly backing away from taking any meaningful action to curb Iran, and instead is spending its energy in condemning the Israelis for seeking to build 1600 apartments in Jerusalem.

Joining those who want Obama to primarily keep up the pressure on Israel is the mainstream of American liberal journalists, most of them Jewish, who evidently see a need to reinforce Obama (not that he needs it) in his decision to get tough on America’s most loyal ally in the Middle East.

Writing in the March 29th New Yorker, its editor-in-chief David Remnick attributes Obama’s unpopularity in Israel only to “right-leaning Israelis,” ignoring all the polls that show our President’s unpopularity extends across the board and exists among all political tendencies in Israel.  As for the recent housing crisis, Remnick sees  Biden and Obama as the ones who were humiliated by the Israelis, which he attributes to “a deep Israeli misreading of the President and an ignorance of the diversity of opinion among American Jews and in the United States in general.”

Next, Remnick mentions the ploy I discussed yesterday — that Obama’s bona fides re Israel are proved by all the “Jewish mentors” and friends he has. Why, it turns out, Obama even served as a shabbos goy for Ira Silverstein, an Orthodox Jew with whom he shared an office suite at the Capitol.  I guess turning lights on and off on Saturdays is proof definitive of what he thinks about the Arab-Israeli dispute.

As for the fact that he was friends with Rashid Khalidi, he argues, why shouldn’t he be? After all, one can be pro Israel while opposing “the platform of Likud and the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank.” Israel, of course, is no longer in Gaza, and their voluntary evacuation led not to peace, but to the renewal of Hamas and to rocket attacks against Israel on a daily basis.

Next comes the J-Street ploy. If we needed proof that J Street exists only as a cover for Obama to say “the Jews who represent most American Jews favor my policy,” Remnick provides it. As he writes, Likud and its supporters “overlook younger, more liberal constituencies, which for years have been more questioning of Israel policy.” Remnick does not stop to inform his readers that J Street opposed Israel’s retaliation against Hamas, condemned Israel for construction in Jerusalem, and regularly goes out of its way to oppose actual Israeli policies taken to defend the country’s interests.  And the mainstream of American Jewry in fact does not support the positions J Street has taken.

Just this week, the lack of support for J Street was shown by what has taken place in Philadelphia, where Democratic congressional candidate  Doug Pike, who previously took campaign contributions from J Street and accepted their endorsement, returned the $6000 he got from them and denounced their backing. Facing a primary challenger who argued that Pike was not sufficiently supportive of Israel, he found his poll numbers quickly falling.

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If one needs any more proof of the animus towards Israel coming from the editors of The New York Times, look no further than today’s editorial — which marks a new low for the paper. Perhaps they were merely lazy and decided to plagiarize editorials appearing regularly in the pages of The Nation. Or perhaps they just realize that most of their readers don’t subscribe to the official publication of the far Left, and need to get the message out on their own.

Whatever the explanation, the editors felt the need to both chastise Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel for defending his country’s interests, and to praise to the skies President Barack Obama for his highly extraordinary and rude treatment of Netanyahu two days ago. According to their account, “the Obama administration had hoped Mr. Netanyahu would give it something to work with.” But instead, he unceremoniously would not condemn the very legal building in Jerusalem that all previous administrations had not contested. Instead, Netanyahu’s firm stance is interpreted by them as an assault on the supposed but really non-existent “peace process,” and a barrier to reaching a “two-state solution” for the Middle East.

As usual, the editors call the government “right-wing,” which means to the Times readers it is evil personified. Moreover, by insisting on the right to build in an area which everyone knows will be part of Israel once peace is attained, somehow to the editors it is to take place in an area “which Palestinians hope to make the capital of an independent state.”  So by refusing to accept Obama’s demands, the editors assert that Obama “has been understandably furious at Israel’s response.”

Meanwhile, just a few days after Secretary of State Clinton told AIPAC that the U.S. would demand  “sanctions that bite” on Iran, we have all learned that instead, U.S. policy is to soften any talk of sanctions in the vague hope that Russia and China will work with us to convince Iran to move away from its program for a nuclear bomb capacity. But while the U.S. can play nice with Iran, the announcement that an apartment complex will be built someday in Jerusalem means to the Times that the administration has to get even tougher with Israel.

As they see it, the Palestinians are “justifiably worried” that the land they hope to obtain will be nibbled away. The paper forgets to ask why their leaders have rejected virtually every settlement offered them in recent years that would have given them almost everything they want. Such an offer was made to Mahmoud Abbas by the previous Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert before he left office, and was turned down to his great consternation. Don’t expect that from the Times editors, who only ask that Israel be “pressed” by the Obama team to “halt building in East Jerusalem.” Only one side to the issue, it seems, is to be subject to pressure.

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As the Obama administration and its supporters cheer the passage of ObamaCare — the disastrous health care bill pushed through both houses of Congress by stealth, sleazy deals and perhaps unconstitutional measures — President Obama has received congratulations on the accomplishment from a most unlikely source who should know what America’s health care system is likely to look like in the near future — Fidel Castro.

The Associated Press reports that “Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro on Thursday declared passage of American health care reform ‘a miracle’ and a major victory for Obama’s presidency, but couldn’t help chide the United States for taking so long to enact what communist Cuba achieved decades ago.” The report continues: “‘We consider health reform to have been an important battle and a success of his (Obama’s) government,’ Castro wrote in an essay published in state media, adding that it would strengthen the president’s hand against lobbyists and ‘mercenaries.’”

As Castro explained, “It is really incredible that 234 years after the Declaration of Independence … the government of that country has approved medical attention for the majority of its citizens, something that Cuba was able to do half a century ago.”

As for el jefe himself, he was not about to trust the Cuban health care system that he and Michael Moore love so much for his own treatment. When he was stricken three years ago with a serious intestinal disorder, he had a top Spanish physician flown into Cuba to treat him. When that doctor’s schedule proved inflexible, the British press reported, Castro was then flown into Spain where he received treatment in a private restricted wing of the Gregorio Maranon Hospital in Madrid.

The problem, of course, is where will we go for treatment when in a few years, our new system goes into effect. My my wife just got back from having lunch with an old friend who  recently received some shocking news.  She received a letter in the mail from her trusted primary care doctor who informed her — and all of her patients — that from now on, she would not be able to treat patients on Medicare.

It does not pay enough to make it possible for her to stay in practice and accept patients who rely on it any longer. Hence all her patients who wish to use her services, would have to pay her full fee out of their own pockets. Our friend promptly called over ten other recommended doctors to see if she could see them. The answer: None would treat her. They simply could not take on Medicare patients.

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The annual AIPAC conference is over, and the major speeches have been presented. Hillary Clinton, despite receiving a most courteous reception by the audience — who all stood — upon taking the podium, found, as Dana Milbank wrote in The Washington Post, that her reception had “little of their past enthusiasm.”  One has to recall the context of her speech. A scant week earlier,  Secretary Clinton held a forty-five minute telephone scolding of Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu after learning of the announcement that Israel was preparing 1600 new housing units in East Jerusalem.  As most everyone knows by now — or should know — the announcement was made without Netanyahu’s knowledge, and the Prime Minister quickly apologized to Vice-President Biden for the bad timing of the announcement and for any embarrassment it may have caused him.

Even more important, as Mortimer Zuckerman has pointed out, “After all, the housing contemplated is to be in a section of Jerusalem occupied almost exclusively by the Jewish community, about five blocks from the pre-1967 border. It’s in an area where Israel’s eventual sovereignty has been taken for granted in round after round of two-state negotiations, including President Clinton’s ‘parameters,’  in which Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem would remain under Israeli sovereignty and Arab neighborhoods would be under Palestinian sovereignty. Every peace negotiation has contemplated the formal inclusion of this area under Israeli control, much as Arab enclaves within Jerusalem have been envisioned remaining under Palestinian control. And the 1,600 units in question are urgently required to house a growing local population that has nowhere to go. An overwhelming number of Israelis support accommodation for the normal growth of the Jewish population in their sacred city.”

To put it as bluntly as possible, these 1600 units were never a point of contention, and it was the Obama administration that made them so, and both Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton were ordered by the President to read the riot act to Netanyahu. So when Secretary Clinton told AIPAC that “the Obama administration has worked to promote Israel’s security and long-term success,” as Milbank reported, “there was only silence in the room.”

The audience’s silence was most telling. And quite deserved. When the delegates to AIPAC cheered, it was when its Executive Director, Howard Kohr, told the audience that when Clinton had called Israel’s attitude towards Biden “insulting,” it reflected poorly on one who should have, as Israel’s friend, resolved differences privately, “as is befitting close allies.” And as for those 1600 units, he added, “Jerusalem is not a settlement.” At that point,  the over 7000 delegates attending all jumped up and applauded.

In another part of her speech, Clinton’s would-be tough words about Iran received applause. One has to ask, however,  just how meaningful they really are.  Clinton told AIPAC:

And for Israel, there is no greater strategic threat than the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran. Elements in Iran’s government have become a menace, both to their own people and in the region. Iran’s president foments anti-Semitism, denies the Holocaust, threatens to destroy Israel, even denies that 9/11 was an attack. The Iranian leadership funds and arms terrorists who have murdered Americans, Israelis, and other innocent people alike. And it has waged a campaign of intimidation and persecution against the Iranian people.

The question is what the Obama administration will do about Iran. To that question, the Secretary said the following:

In addition to threatening Israel, a nuclear-armed Iran would embolden its terrorist clientele and would spark an arms race that could destabilize the region. This is unacceptable. It is unacceptable to the United States. It is unacceptable to Israel. It is unacceptable to the region and the international community. So let me be very clear: The United States is determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons

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In the past few days, there have been many sharp, biting and on target comments about the fabricated crisis Obama has manufactured between Israel and its most important ally, the United States. If you go to this link, check out the Daily Alert for March 19th, and read the links to the articles by Marty Peretz, Bret Stephens, Charles Krauthammer, Jackson Diehl, Elliot Abrams, Dan Senor, Jonathan Schanzer, Lanny Davis, Mitchell Bard and Clifford May. All of these writers, each in their own distinct way, show how the Obama administration has chosen this moment to appease the Palestinians, who have done little of content to show any real desire for a peace agreement, and to pressure our major ally in the Middle East and to push them to the wall at a time of great peril in the region.

Among all these writers, there is major agreement on the following: 1: All of Israel knows that the contemplated building is not controversial. The settlement freeze announced earlier did not apply to building in this area of Jerusalem, a stone’s throw from the Knesset.  2: While the Israelis have time and time again shown a commitment to obtaining peace with the Palestinians, both Fatah and Hamas have not produced any movement of substance to match very real Israeli moves of compromise. To the contrary, any movement by Israel has been met instead by more intransigence.  3: By singling out Israel alone for tough talk, and ignoring any similar harshness towards any of  the Palestinian factions, the administration has made it harder for Mahmoud Abbas to accept any of  Israel’s offers, since it would make him look weaker than the American President. 4: The President is clearly revealing that he is moving along the path announced last year in Cairo, when his words indicated an overwhelming desire to tilt in the direction favored by the Arab nations.

As the liberal Democrat Lanny Davis asked,  referring to the recent announcement that the “settlement” construction had to be condemned, “How could the U.S. government use such language about a democracy that has been America’s most loyal ally in the world on virtually all issues, a nation that shares our core values — protecting civil rights, women’s rights, due process and free speech — not only for Israeli citizens, but for over 1 million Israeli Arabs as well?”

It is the question, and one answer comes from Marty Peretz, editor in chief of The New Republic, who both endorsed and campaigned for Obama during the campaign, and assured his readers Obama was a keen supporter of  Israel and its alliance with the United States.  Peretz makes the following startling statement. Rather than hope that the condemnation was a “temporary aberration,” as Davis thinks it might be, Peretz writes:

That the president and his team should now take up this old Arab formula for disguising reality demonstrates the poverty of their grasp of the problem at hand. In fact, Obama seems to think that he is the superego of the conflict and that his function is to hand out dicta on how to end it. But he has no dicta for the Palestinians and plenty for the Israelis. The Jewish state has many conditions under which it would be prepared to give more rather than less. Alas, the president can’t bring himself to publicly acknowledge this. The fact is that he does not particularly like Israel. Which is why it is so frightful to have his messenger running between Jerusalem and Ramallah making demands on the Jews.

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In 2003, when the United States under the helm of President George W. Bush, when the United States went to war against the thugocracy of Saddam Hussein, I wrote a briefing paper for The Center for the Defense of Democracy. I warned therein about the attempt to create a new Left-Right coalition opposed to a centrist and mainstream American foreign policy. It was, I argued, reminiscent of  “the blending together of opposition to a forceful American foreign policy by remnants of both the Old and New Left and the Old Right” in the 1930s.

The original attempt to unite both Old Left and Old Right took place on the eve of World War II, when right-wing isolationists and classical liberals in The America First Party, and left-wing isolationists in the pacifist movement and in Norman Thomas’ Socialist Party, joined hands and argued that FDR’s Presidency was moving America to fascism at home and war abroad. During the years of the Nazi-Soviet Pact between August of 1939 and June of 1941, these forces were joined by the cadre of the American Communist Party.

The next reincarnation took place during the emerging Cold War with the Soviet Union that broke out in the early1950’s. One of Harry S. Truman’s advisors, Joseph P. Jones, warned  that “most of the outright opposition” to Truman’s new bi-partisan interventionist foreign policy came from “the extreme Left and the extreme Right…from a certain group of ‘liberals’ who had been long strongly critical of the administration’s stiffening policy toward the Soviet Union, and from the ‘isolationists,’ who had been consistent opponents of all foreign-policy measures that projected the United States  actively into World Affairs.”

During the Iraq War, a disparate group of similar contemporary types, from Alex Cockburn on the Left to Pat Buchanan on the Right, tried once again to forge such a new alliance in opposition to the Bush foreign policy, and even before that, to the Clinton administration’s humanitarian intervention in Bosnia against the monstrous regime in Belgrade of Slobodan Milosevic. One of the group’s stalwarts, a writer for The American Conservative, Justin Raimondo, even wrote that it was false to claim that “America is a civilized country,” and referring to World War II, wrote that “the wrong side won the war in the Pacific.”

I argued that as the United State moved to assert its world responsibility as a major power, that the new attempt to create a Red-Brown alliance (named after the alliance in Russia of old Soviet era communists with fascists and Russian nationalists) would not disappear, and would only gain new adherents.

Now, as the confused and dangerous foreign policy of the Obama administration continues on, yet another attempt is now being created to build anew such a Left-Right alliance. The cast of characters is more than familiar. I understand the temptation. During the Vietnam War era, I myself was part of a similar small attempt at just such a strange alliance. Working with my friend, the late libertarian economist Murray N. Rothbard, I wrote often for his small and largely unknown journal of opinion, aptly titled Left and Right.  Rothbard, whom William F. Buckley Jr. pushed out of the pages of National Review, saw Buckley’s successful project of creating a new conservative movement as the right-wing of Establishment liberalism. It was not surprising that before long, Rothbard himself was penning articles in the pages of the far left magazine, Ramparts.

Now, as the Obama administration and the President himself goes around the world apologizing for America’s past evils, the adherents of a Left-Right alliance have sensed that perhaps the moment is propitious for yet one more try at creating what they see as a new and effective movement, that will help push the President further towards adoption of a non-interventionist and self-proclaimed “anti-imperialist” direction.

Almost a  month ago, their supporters met at a largely unreported conference in Washington DC, at a meeting that included old Rightists, conservatives, libertarians and leftists. A report was posted at a site called Front Porch Republic by Jeff Taylor, under the McGovernite title of “Come, Home, America:Prospects for a Coalition Against Empire.”  The meeting, Taylor reports, was composed of supporters of George McGovern’s disastrous 1972 presidential campaign,  Pat Buchanan’s 1992 campaign, and one from Ralph Nader’s 2004 campaign. None of the participants, evidently, see the irony of how vast divergent viewpoints on domestic issues fall by the wayside as the group united around the overarching theme of anti-Americanism.

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If you wonder how people on the left deal with their critics, look no further than this new lengthy interview with Prof. Peter Kuznick, the co-writer and co-director with Oliver Stone of the forthcoming Showtime ten-part documentary on the 20th century. I first blogged about the projected series last January.

Based on what Kuznick and Stone said about their concepts, I presented a tough and cogent argument about how it promises to be one of the most ill-advised and dangerous treatments of our history by the media. I also addressed what I thought Kuznick was bringing to the documentary. I called him “yet another of the politically correct tenured radicals; a man of far left sympathies who considers Oliver Stone a man of great insight and profound truths.” And I called him a “left-wing activist whose concept of education verges on indoctrination, not scholarly inquiry.”

Now, in his new interview, Kuznick inadvertently confirms every one of the charges I made, and if anything, indicates that perhaps I was not even tough enough in my critique. First, I note that evidently my first blog hit home. Kuznick, instead of dealing with any of the specific criticisms I made, makes the following gratuitous comment:

I knew that participating in such a project would make me a target for the Ron Radoshes and David Horowitzes of the world, but that was a small price to pay for reaching such a vast audience of people eager to gain a deeper and more critical understanding of U.S. history.

To those on the left, for whom my name and David Horowitz’s name are both anathema, he manages to score a cheap point by informing his left-wing base that anything either of us says holds no weight, and he is boldly going ahead while ignoring any of our criticisms, even if they might have merit. Anyone familiar with Oliver Stone’s anti-Americanism, his profound love for every leftist dictator from Fidel Castro to Hugo Chavez, and his distortion of history revealed in all his fictional treatment of the Kennedy assassination, the Nixon presidency, and the rest of his work knows that one thing viewers will not receive is a “deeper and more critical understanding of U.S. history.”

In his lengthy interview, Prof. Kuznick again returns to his own student past, as he shows readers how he combined his scholarship and his activism, and never made a separation between the two. He notes that he went to Rutgers because of those “exciting scholars” he studied with, when what he means are a group of Marxist and left-wing scholars who were at Rutgers in that period. I know most of those he puts on his list. He mentions the very distinguished historian Eugene D. Genovese, but neglects to inform his readers that unlike Kuznick himself, Genovese long ago left the ranks of the left, and became one of the most critical thinkers who openly reevaluated his old premises. In a pathbreaking essay he wrote for Dissent in 1994, called “The Question: The Fall of Communism and the North American Left,” Genovese tore apart the evasions and obfuscations of the pro-Communist and anti-American left-wing, thereby showing that even an old Leninist was able to learn from history and leave the world Prof. Kuznick still is part of.

The omission is strange, since Kuznick writes that he is “very interested in understanding the process of political transformation.” Evidently, his understanding, however, goes only one way — from those who started out conservative or mainstream and became radical. Those whose thought process led them to reach very different conclusions and to hence take different paths, he either ignores or simply condemns with snide comments.

As for his own motivations for the new Showtime series, Kuznick makes it very clear that rather than anything new, what he really welcomes is the ability to reach a new mass mainstream TV audience with more left-wing and neo-Communist analysis in a well made visual format, under the auspices of an acclaimed master of cinema, Oliver Stone. As he puts it, the project was “right up my alley from the start,” since the film, like his own work, deals with “American militarism, the Cold War, and the history of the nuclear arms race.” It will be, he says, a “film series on the history of the American empire and national security state.” So anyone expecting nuance and balance with talking heads offering different interpretations are clearly not going to get any of that nonsense. This is to be  propaganda expertly done, meant to influence a new generation. Kuznick notes that some of his own efforts in this regard have so far “proved futile.”

As Kuznick notes, his intention is now to reach “an audience of tens of millions,” not just his captive students at American University. Now let me turn to how Kuznick deals with what he says is one of his expert areas: why the United States used the A-bomb to end the war against Japan. He writes that Truman used it, “despite knowing that important Japanese leaders were looking for a face-saving way to end the war and that the Soviet invasion, which Japanese leaders dreaded, was about to begin and would likely prove decisive.”  Now Kuznick should know that in fact, every point he makes in that sentence has been challenged decisively by some of the most important recent scholarship. Indeed, even when I participated in the History News Network debate a few years ago about whether or not Truman was a war criminal, much had already appeared to effectively refute what Kuznick says about the use of the A-bomb by Truman.

A definitive judgment on this was made by the historian Wilson D. Miscamble in his Truman Institute prize-winning 2007 book, From Roosevelt to Truman: Potsdam, Hiroshima and the Cold War. Miscamble writes that when Kuznick and others protested the Smithsonian’s plan to display the plane Enola Gay and demanded instead an exhibit that “held that the atomic bomb was neither necessary to end the Pacific war nor to save American lives,” that was stopped by members of Congress, WWII veterans of the Pacific war, who forced the Smithsonian to back down. Kuznick’s group (as he writes proudly in his own piece ) then argued, as Miscamble summarizes their charges, that “blatant political pressure essentially had censored a well-researched, historical interpretation.” Miscamble comments that “viewed through the perspective of the most accurate historical research of the past decade, it is clear that the veterans’ groups saved the Smithsonian from the embarrassment of highlighting a deeply flawed interpretation.” These veterans, he adds, had a view that “holds up much better than the initial view offered by…the scholars who advised” the Smithsonian curators.

As for the Alperovitz theory that Kuznick subscribes to, Miscamble writes:

Alperovitz built his approach on a quicksand of faulty assumptions especially as regards the likelihood of an early Japanese surrender, and so contributed handsomely to a generation of confusion and misunderstanding regarding the use of the atomic bomb. The time has come to move beyond him and his distorted “thesis” once and for all.

To which I add not only a hearty amen, but ask Kuznick the following question: Since your own interview rehashes the discredited theory of Alperovitz and others as if it still holds up, will your and Oliver Stone’s film continue to advance it and condemn Truman for using the bomb and not considering what he calls “other options” that in fact were never really present as a viable alternative?

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Because Israel is holding a trial tomorrow about Rachel Corrie, discussed today in PJM by Lenny Ben-David, I thought it appropriate (while I am preparing a blog on another topic) to call attention to something I wrote a long time ago about Corrie for PJM.

The article may be found here. In this blog, I call Corrie an “Endless Martyr for Anti-Israel Hatred,” which she is indeed. If anything, the new trial instituted by her parents proves that point. When all else fails, Corrie will be resurrected to serve this purpose once again. The Open Letter to the producer of the Shepherdstown WV Theater Festival, which I reproduce in the blog, contains information from various sources about what led to Corrie’s death.

Most important of all, I think, is that the investigative reporter for the leftist monthly Mother Jones, much to his surprise, concluded that Corrie was not intentionally murdered by the IDF, as Corrie’s comrades in the International Solidarity Movement argue, and as the play about her charges, as do Corrie’s parents.

A scurrilous left-wing website I previously have not heard of, called “Just Foreign Policy,” is heralding tomorrow’s trial. It concludes: “They murdered her, and yet she dogs them. It’s almost as if she were alive.”  As we know, the IDF did not murder her. Despite the fact that this has been established by various investigations, Corrie’s supporters continue to make this spurious charge as if it has been proven true.

This is a tactic the Left always uses: repeat the lie enough times, and anyone will hopefully believe it, especially if the target is Israel or the United States.  Let us hope that if as the British Guardian asserts, Israel allowed the trial to take place because of pressure from the United States, that the Israeli government takes Lenny Ben-David’s advice: arrest and try those testifying against the IDF after they are through with their court appearance. These ISM activists got into Israel in the first place under false pretenses, and were useful idiots whose activity in Gaza was taken on behalf of Israel’s sworn enemies, and with their cooperation.

Let them get their day in court before Israeli judges, and let us see what they decide is their verdict. I bet that is something they will not look forward to.