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Ron Radosh

Monthly Archives: June 2011

Can anyone doubt that Walter Russell Mead is now our country’s most authoritative and brilliant essayist? In a series of three lengthy columns — two of which are now out — Mead takes on and destroys any pretentions to credibility that Al Gore may still have had. They appear on Mead’s blog at The American Interest. You can read part I here, and part deux, as he calls it, here.

Let me whet your appetite by reproducing the best paragraph from his first entry. In part one, Mead takes up the issue of Gore’s well noted hypocrisy. He writes:

But you cannot be a leading environmentalist who hopes to lead the general public into a long and difficult struggle for sacrifice and fundamental change if your own conduct is so flagrantly inconsistent with the green gospel you profess. If the heart of your message is that the peril of climate change is so imminent and so overwhelming that the entire political and social system of the world must change, now, you cannot fly on private jets. You cannot own multiple mansions. You cannot even become enormously rich investing in companies that will profit if the policies you advocate are put into place.

Later he adds:

But grave as that danger is, Al Gore can consume more carbon than whole villages in the developing world. He can consume more electricity than most African schools, incur more carbon debt with one trip in a private plane than most of the earth’s toiling billions will pile up in a lifetime — and he doesn’t worry. A father of four, he can lecture the world on the perils of overpopulation. Surely, skeptics reason, if the peril were as great as he says and he cares about it as much as he claims, Gore’s sense of civic duty would call him to set an example of conspicuous non-consumption. This general sleeps in a mansion, and lectures the soldiers because they want tents.

In his second installment, Mead takes up the question of why Gore’s star has fallen so fast, and why very few people at present take him seriously — even his own previous followers. The answer, Mead reveals, is the complete failure of the green movement’s own political agenda. Mead explains:

Gore’s failures are not just about leadership. The strategic vision he crafted for the global green movement has comprehensively failed. That is no accident; the entire green policy vision was so poorly conceived, so carelessly constructed, so unbalanced and so rife with contradictions that it could only thrive among activists and enthusiasts. Once the political power of the climate movement, aided by an indulgent and largely unquestioning press, had pushed the climate agenda into the realm of serious politics, failure was inevitable. The only question was whether the comprehensive green meltdown would occur before or after the movement achieved its core political goal of a comprehensive and binding global agreement on greenhouse gasses.

That question has now been answered; the movement failed before it got its treaty, and while the media and the establishment have still generally failed to analyze these developments and draw the consequences, the global climate movement has become the kind of embarrassment intellectuals like to ignore.

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On Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace turned to his guest Michele Bachmann and asked her, “Are you a flake?” Later he apologized, explaining that he only meant to seek her answer to what others in the media and elsewhere were saying about her. But what Bachmann did in response helped establish the command she has in the Iowa caucus, and the growing respect of so many for her, including those who are her political enemies.

Instead of complaining about the question, aside from saying that it was an insult because she is a “serious person,” she used the opportunity to make it crystal clear why the very charge is more than insulting. Said Bachmann:

Well, I would say is that I am 55 years old. I’ve been married 33 years. I’m not only a lawyer, I have a post doctorate degree in federal tax law from William and Mary. I work in serious scholarship and work in the United States federal tax court.

My husband and I raised five kids. We’ve raised 23 foster children. We’ve applied ourselves to education reform. We started a charter school for at-risk kids.

I’ve also been a state senator and a member of United States Congress for five years. I’ve been very active in our business.

As a job creator, I understand job creation. But also I’ve been leading actively the movement in Washington, D.C., with those who are affiliated with fiscal reform.

Many of her detractors undoubtedly learned of her accomplishments at that moment, and must have been stunned to hear especially about her master’s degree in tax law from William and Mary. Readers of The Weekly Standard are not among those, however, who were surprised. The cover story this week by Matthew Continetti lays out in detail how Bachmann, whom he dubs the “Queen of the Tea Party,” got to where she is today. Despite the opposition of the Republican Party leadership, Bachmann is likely to beat Mitt Romney in the Iowa caucuses, as well as gain the mainstream credibility she has lacked up to now.

One can disagree with her politics and her approach to some issues, and still acknowledge that Bachmann is both serious and principled. As Continetti reveals, she is a talented fund-raiser, a woman who takes principled stands on issues she believes in and who knows what she is talking about on fiscal issues. I was surprised to learn that when she finished high school, Bachmann went to Israel to work on a kibbutz, driving on a flatbed truck at 4 am to cotton fields to pull out weeds, surrounded by IDF soldiers protecting the members.

Her support for Israel stems from that experience, and is not a politically motivated recent concern. Continetti writes:

“If you consider what it was like in 1948,” she said, “and literally watch flowers bloom in a desert over time — I don’t know if any nation has paralleled the rise of Israel since 1948.” A member of Christians United for Israel, she’s one of Israel’s strongest supporters in Congress. One Jewish Minnesota Republican has told me of speeches at local Republican Jewish Coalition events where Bachmann has brought cheering audiences to their feet.

She is a determined, strong woman who worked three jobs to put herself through college. Later she and the man who would be her husband endorsed and worked for Jimmy Carter in 1976, whom they saw as a fellow evangelical Christian, even driving to Washington to attend his inauguration. Quickly disillusioned by Carter’s policies, Bachmann proclaimed herself a Republican. She never looked back.

Once she got to Congress, Continetti writes that she eschewed what most freshman members of Congress do, which is to keep a low profile and build coalitions. Instead, she chose to use her position as a platform to expound the ideas she believed in. Often compared to Sarah Palin, Continetti explains the major difference between the two Republican women:

Whereas Palin makes emotional and cultural appeals to her supporters, Bachmann formulates an argument. She talks like a litigating attorney, and her speeches, op-eds, and interviews are littered with references to books and articles. Not all of her references are conservative. During our recent interview, Bachmann cited Lawrence Wright’s history of al Qaeda, The Looming Tower (“I love that book!”), to illustrate a point about the rise of radical Islam.

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Writing on his blog at the American Jewish Committee’s website, its director David Harris informs his readers of the following:

Nearly two years ago, I was invited by The Huffington Post (HuffPo) to become a blogger on their site. I was honored. It is one of the most heavily trafficked news sites anywhere, and it reaches an influential audience. Since September 2009, I have published nearly 50 articles there, and look forward to publishing many more. This week, for the first time, I was told by HuffPo that an article submitted was “not for us.” It’s below. I ask you to read it and decide for yourself. Apropos, the same article was published on my Jerusalem Post blog earlier this week.

The article that the quickly becoming anti-Israel website, beloved to the left and liberals, rejected was Harris’ hard-edged critique of the forthcoming flotilla, particularly of those Americans who are participating in their own ship, which they have named, as an affront to the President, “The Audacity of Hope.”

Comparing the sponsors of the event’s propaganda to that used by George Orwell in his novel 1984, Harris suggests that the rationale for it must have been composed by the group’s own “Ministry of Truth.”  They have the nerve to make an obscene comparison of their effort with the anti-segregation “Freedom Riders” of the 1960s civil rights movement in our own country, a comparison used by the best-selling African-American author Alice Walker, who is going on the U.S. ship and has written about it herself in various venues. Writes Harris: “George Orwell, where are you? You could have a field day with this story.”

He would have even been angrier had he read Walker’s own article, which appeared on CNN’s much traveled website. Comparing herself to Ghandi, Walker says she is “paying off a debt” to the Jewish supporters of the 60s movement who martyred themselves, especially Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner.  In other words, by seeking to delitigimize Israel and by supporting Hamas, which is pledged to the destruction of the Jewish state as well as the murder of Jews, she thinks she is somehow honoring the memory of the Jewish civil rights workers who came to the aid of American blacks decades ago.

Walker was answered brilliantly by British novelist Howard Jacobson, author of the prize-winning novel, The Finkler Question. Dissecting Walker’s arguments, he writes:

“If the Israeli military attacks us, it will be as if they attacked the mailman,” she says. Wrong on a thousand counts. As a writer, Alice Walker must understand the symbolic significance of words. The cargo is a cargo of intention. It is freighted with political sympathy and attitude. It means to blunder into where it isn’t safe, clothed in the make-believe garments of the unworldly, speaking of children and speaking like children, half inviting a violence which can then be presented as a slaughter of the innocents.

The flotilla, he argues, is meant by its sponsors to be a provocation. As he explains, “Whatever its cargo, by luring the Israeli military into action which can be represented as brutal, the flotilla is engaged in an entirely political act. To call it by any other name is the grossest hypocrisy.”

The truth, which Walker, Leslie Cagan,  Bernardine Dohrn, Bill Ayers, Michael Ratner and the other far left participants and sponsors of the American flotilla are really aware, is that, as Harris says,  its actual purpose is “to prop up the Hamas regime in Gaza and delegitimize Israel.” Since the 1967 war, if not earlier, the pro-Communist left-wing, of which all its leaders are part, have aligned themselves at that time with the Soviet Union and its Arab clients,  and after its demise, with reactionary Arab nationalism.  Years ago, I participated in a PBS television debate opposite Cagan, who, at the time, was voicing the views of the Communist front U.S. Peace Council, and backing Moscow’s position on all nuclear and foreign policy issues.

Hamas, Harris writes, “celebrates violence. It joyously speaks of jihad, martyrdom, conflict, and the ultimate destruction of Israel. It has matched its fiery rhetoric with a sustained effort to import weapons, courtesy of Iran, smugglers in the Sinai, and tunnels from the Egyptian side of the border. In recent years, literally thousands of rockets and missiles have been fired from Gaza at Israel.” This is what the flotilla supports, not the Ghandian principles of non-violence and the morality of Martin Luther King, Jr., who always emphasized that he was a supporter of Israel.

Harris tells the truth. He writes: “The flotilla participants, whether they acknowledge it or not, are handmaidens of a terrorist regime. That regime, not Israel, is responsible for the conditions in Gaza, which may not be enviable, but are a far cry from the dire picture of starvation and stunted growth painted by the hyperbolic spokesmen.”

Walker and company do the opposite — and propagate the lies and anti-Semitism of Hamas. I do not think her late Jewish husband would be proud of her (unless he was a leftist self-hating Jew). They, as Harris puts it, serve “the interests of a regime that espouses terrorism, peddles anti-Semitism, and praises the memory of Osama Bin Laden. To portray themselves as the new wave of Freedom Riders is to trample grotesquely on the legacy of America’s civil rights struggle and rewrite history. Orwell’s Ministry of Truth is back.”

Not only is it back, but its handmaidens evidently include the editors of The Huffington Post, which is too cowardly to print a tough-minded rebuke to the Hamas supporters in America. Shame on them, and on the would-be new freedom riders who in truth are supporters of the worst proponents of oppression and terror.

A day ago, after a story in USA Today that has since been taken off its website, the Jewish community in the United States was enraged to evidently learn that Delta Airlines, which made Saudi Arabian Airlines one of its partner airlines, would not let Jewish passengers fly on Delta to Saudi Arabia.

As the newspaper noted, Delta immediately offered its own explanation written by Delta spokesman Trebor Banstetter. His statement proclaimed that “Delta does not discriminate,” but that questions had been raised “about whether Saudi Arabian Airlines’ membership in SkyTeam means Delta is adopting any type of policies that could present barriers to travel for some passengers, including Jewish customers.” Banstetter then noted that all restrictions to admission to any country are set by that country’s authorities, not by any airline, and that they apply to anyone entering the country in question, regardless of how they come. Any airline, he noted, has to comply by law with the constraints imposed upon it by a country, including Saudi Arabia.

Religion News Service noted that “Saudi Arabia bans anyone with an Israeli stamp in their passport from entering the country, even in transit. Many Jews believe the kingdom has also withheld visas from travelers with Jewish-sounding names.” The USA Today story notes that one rabbi informed them that many Jewish professionals engaged in business with the Saudis do go there regularly. (This is certainly true. I myself know many Jewish journalists and writers who have gone to Saudi Arabia on trips approved by the Saudi regime.)

Is Delta therefore off the hook? Not according to Rabbi Jason Miller, who aptly points out that the real issue is that Delta has added Saudi Arabian Airlines to its Sky Team Alliance of partner airlines — a step that obviously it did not have to take. This action means, in effect, that Jews who seek to fly there will in fact be taken off the plane. Delta says that if it did bring someone with an Israeli stamp in his or her passport or a Jewish American to Saudi Arabia on one of its flights, it could be fined a stiff penalty.

As Rabbi Miller correctly writes:

The issue here is one of principle. Delta isn’t being forced to include Saudi Arabian Airlines into its Sky Team Alliance. In fact, Delta could stand on principle and refuse to include Saudi Arabian Airlines based on its discriminatory policy. No, it’s not Delta’s fault that the Saudi government is anti-Semitic, but it doesn’t have to go along with it. It’s as if the Saudis are telling Delta that when it comes to Jewish passengers it’s name should become an acronym: “Don’t Even Let Them Aboard.”

All airlines tell passengers when they depart: “You have a choice, and we thank you for flying” United, or American, or Delta. In some major cities that are hubs, like Atlanta or now evidently Michigan, it’s hard not to get a flight other than Delta. So, as long as Delta allows an airline into its partnership alliance that does discriminate — even though Delta itself does not — I would suggest an appropriate measure.

Until Delta drops Saudi Arabian Airlines from its roster of partners, let’s circulate a pledge that we will not fly Delta and will always seek other airlines first before going on Delta. And for those who have Delta cards for point accumulation, a nice letter to their management informing them of this would create a great deal of pressure for them to drop Saudi Arabian Airlines as a partner.

Update: 2:30 pm est

Our friends at National Review Online have received a further clarification, that you can read about here. They report that many other airlines have codeshare arrangements with Saudi Arabian Airlines. Moreover, Delta has now responded that it has only what it calls “a standard industry interline agreement,” which means that passengers can book tickets on multiple carriers. It is evidently similar to the arrangement of Alaska Airlines, American Airlines and United, all of which have partners that fly to Saudi Arabia.

So, a boycott of Delta will not do the job. Delta got the bad publicity, but clearly, most of our major airlines have the same policy and alliances with the Saudi airline as some form of partner. Perhaps all of our airlines should reevaluate any kind of such alliance. Hasn’t the coddling of the Saudis gone on far too long?

Judging from the responses to my blog post yesterday on foreign policy issues, 90 percent of those who have commented are furious; these respondents favor a complete non-interventionist foreign policy, a retreat to what in the 1930s was called the “Fortress America” position. The arguments are essentially that we cannot be the world’s policeman, that our country is in a major deficit crisis and we can no longer afford an interventionist foreign policy, and that it is wrong-headed and unnecessary. I suspect that if most of these commentators were voting back in 1972, they would have pulled the lever for George McGovern, whose slogan was “Come home, America” and who used similar arguments against standing up to the Soviet Union.

There always will be those who say that “the cost of one battleship or super airplane” would finance education in fifty school districts that desperately need money. So, they continue, let’s spend our money at home and let peoples in other lands worry about terrorist threats that could destroy them. Despite disavowals, the logic of the position leads eventually to the position of the Buchananite Republicans today.

Indeed, writing a few days ago in  New York Times, conservative columnist Ross Douthat let the cat out of the bag. After comparing the hawkish views of Florida’s Marco Rubio with those of Rand Paul, whom he calls an “antiwar” conservative, he says polls show that Rubio’s views are favored by the Republican Party elite, while Paul’s views are those of the “grassroots” and the Tea Party. Rubio’s views, he says, are “still tremendously appealing.” But when push comes to shove, Douthat too lines himself up with the isolationists. The idea that American can be a “great republic, armed and righteous,” he writes, is one that he wants to believe. Then the shocker of an ending: “Once, I believed it myself. But that was many years and many wars ago, and now I think Rand Paul is right.”

All of the above is bad news, both for the Republican Party and the nation. And no, I am not part of the Republican Party elite. So answers to the new non-and anti-interventionists are needed. Fortunately, two of them have appeared today.

The first is from the editorial page of the online New York Sun, and was most probably written by its editor-in-chief, Seth Lipsky. Speaking about John Boehner’s recent attacks on the president for violating the War Powers Act, the editorial asks: “For what kind of signal does it send to our adversaries to be talking publicly of cutting off funds for a war at a time when our forces are engaged?”

Invoking of that Act during Vietnam, it points out, led to collapse of our South Vietnam ally at a moment when it was on the verge of holding off the Communist onslaught. It continues:

The drama featured a Republican president, Gerald Ford, and a Republican state secretary, Henry Kissinger, pleading with a Democratic Congress to stay with the fight, even though American troops were no longer on the ground there. Messrs. Ford and Kissinger lost the battle but brought great honor to the Republican Party. The Democrats had long since followed Senator McGovern into the wilderness of appeasement and isolationism. When the Cold War was finally won, it was because of the leadership of a Republican president who, in Ronald Reagan, grasped that containment was inadequate, coexistence was unacceptable, but that communism could be rolled back and victory was possible.

Today, both sides in the Republican debate invoke the name of Ronald Reagan. But only one side is right to do that.  But the editorial notes that during the Reagan administration, the Democrats “spent the Reagan years counseling co-existence, disengagement, and retreat.” They made a brief turn-back during the Clinton presidency, when Bill Clinton intervened in Kosovo.

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In this strange pre-election season, when the Republican Party is trying to sort out to which candidate it might turn for the 2012 election, it seems that the Republicans and some conservatives are contemplating a dangerous return to the old pre-World War II isolationism, as well as to the Robert A. Taft neo-isolationism of the early Cold War years.

The result is hypocrisy on all sides. A group of Republicans has been condemning the president for violation of the War Powers Act — a law put into effect in the waning days of Vietnam, and which the Nixon administration argued was unconstitutional and an attempt to limit presidential power. Last week, Speaker John Boehner — who actually voted for repeal of the Act — criticized President Obama for making the argument that his actions in Libya were not a violation of the Act’s statutes, since it was only a limited skirmish and not a war.

As defense expert Max Book argues, “The hypocrisy of Democrats who once damned Bush for his supposed misuse of presidential powers — in spite of the fact Bush won Congressional approval for his wars — while now defending Obama’s flagrant power grab is stunning. But no more disturbing than the hypocrisy of Republicans like Speaker John Boehner who in the past called the War Powers Act unconstitutional and voted to repeal it, but are now blasting Obama for refusing to abide by its terms.”

The speaker once understood how our constitutional system works. He said:

A strong presidency is a key pillar of the American system of government — the same system of government our military men and women are prepared to give their lives to defend. Just as good intentions alone are not enough to justify sending American troops into harm’s way, good intentions alone are not enough to justify tampering with the underpinnings of American democracy.

Now the speaker tells the president:

You took an oath before the American people on January 20, 2009, in which you swore to “faithfully execute the Office of President” and to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” The Constitution requires the President to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed,” and one of those laws is the War Powers Resolution, which requires an approving action by Congress or withdrawal within 90 days from the notification of a military operation. … I sincerely hope the administration will faithfully comply with the War Powers Resolution and the requests made by the House of Representatives, and that you will use your unique authority as our President to engage the American people regarding our mission in Libya.

So the man who once decried “tying the hands of future presidents” and favored a strong executive who could act decisively to implement our nation’s foreign policy is speaking in the manner of left-wing Democrats in the Vietnam era.

On the other side, the neo-conservative Foreign Policy Initiative convened a group of foreign policy experts, who urged House Republicans to not only support the NATO operation in Libya, but who argued that the action should be waged relentlessly and without hesitation. As they put it,

The United States should be leading in this effort, not trailing behind our allies. We should be doing more to help the Libyan opposition, which deserves our support. We should not be allowing ourselves to be held hostage to U.N. Security Council resolutions and irresolute allies.

The problem, they said, “is not that the president has done too much, however, but that he has done too little to achieve the goal of removing Qaddafi from power.” Their conclusion is sharp:

For the United States and NATO to be defeated by Muammar al-Qaddafi would suggest that American leadership and resolution were now gravely in doubt — a conclusion that would undermine American influence and embolden our nation’s enemies.

The statement includes the names of experts who are Republicans and Democrats, and thus harks back to the kind of bipartisan foreign policy that helped win the Cold War against the Soviet Union. The signers include William Kristol, Elliott Abrams and Tod Lindberg on the Republican side, and Robert Lieber, R. James Woolsey and Martin Peretz on the Democratic side.

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Last week,  Eli Lake of the Washington Times reported that “[t]he White House is pressing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to publicly adopt President Obama’s view that Israel’s pre-1967 borders should be the basis for future peace talks.” As Lake explained, “Mr. Obama’s position would effectively reopen border negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority that had been mostly settled in the last round of peace talks that ended in 2008.”

While the Obama administration has given Israel an ultimatum — negotiate with the Palestinians on the basis of the 1967 borders as a starting point - Andrew Sullivan cites a poll to argue that while Americans are pro-Israel, the same Americans who support Obama believe that the president is also.

That isn’t good enough for Sullivan. In an astounding blog post, Sullivan makes it more than clear that in his eyes, the American people are wrong, and that it is time for the United States to put an end to the special relationship with Israel that all American presidents, despite ups and downs, have essentially maintained since Israel’s creation in 1948. “There is no likelihood,” he writes, “that the US will do the logical thing and vote for Palestinian statehood in the UN this fall.”

Why is it logical that the US vote for Palestinian statehood, since the Palestinians, from the start of Israel’s existence, have made it quite clear that they have rejected any chance given them over and over to actually form a state that would live in peace side by side with Israel? Instead of supporting negotiations with the Palestinians that would result in an actual two-state solution, Sullivan accuses the U.S. of being an “enabler of Israeli intransigence.”

In his eyes, there is no intransigence from the Palestinians; only from the Israelis. The Arab Spring, he writes, “is a reckoning for the U.S.-Israel relationship.” Actually, as the crowds demanded the upsetting of rulers who have tyrannized them for decades; they acted without any mention of Israel. Their motivation was local and based on the forces the people considered oppressors. For years, their rulers used Israel as a wedge to keep them from rebelling. It no longer worked.

So Sullivan concludes as follows: “if Israel continues to refuse a 1967-based partition, the US should, in my view, end this dysfunctional relationship, until it can be re-established on saner lines. Ideally, as a warning sign, the US should abstain in September’s vote, unless settlements are frozen and talks begun.”

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The sons of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, Michael and Robert Meeropol and their supporters, seem unable to give up the ghost believing in their parents’ essential innocence. Perhaps their own trauma serves as an excuse for their behavior, but it does not explain the behavior of those who continue to try and keep the old Communist cause of the Rosenbergs’ innocence alive.

So their delusional behavior continues to this day. As each anniversary of the couple’s execution approaches, the die-hard believers in their innocence hold a memorial meeting in New York City. This year, the event takes place at NYU’s Tamiment Center, a venue which as I have pointed out many times, serves as the single center for celebrating the past of the American Communists and their fellow-travelers.

As their announcement reveals, the major speaker will be the Rosenbergs’ youngest son Robert, who will present what he calls “the eulogy I was unable to give,” since at the time of their death, he was only about five years old. The meeting will also try to show the relationship between the spy trials of the 50′s and the war on terror today, since their argument will be that in both cases, the excuse was a phony scare set up by the “ruling class” in order to institute a wave of repression. And they will show a screening of a reading of the Rosenbergs’ “Death House Letters” by the late Howard Zinn and the former African-American Communist Party leader and hero of the 60′s New Left, Angela Davis.

I mention all this because on June 22, a truly impartial and important conference on “The Rosenberg Case, Soviet Espionage and the Cold War,” will take place beginning at 9 a.m. at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. As you look at the schedule and the speakers, you can immediately see that the sponsors have invited a prestigious group of scholars who have worked on the issue of Soviet espionage, and a group whose participants do not all see things the same way.

Let me reproduce one panel, the one on which I will participate, as a good example:

PANEL 2, 11:00 PM to 12:45 PM
“The Rosenberg Case and the Historiography of Soviet Espionage in America”
Chair: Max Holland, Editor, Washington Decoded
Panel:
Bruce Craig, Assistant Professor of History, University of Prince Edward Island
John Earl Haynes, Modern Political Historian, Manuscripts Division, Library of Congress and Harvey Klehr, Professor of Political Science, Emory University
Ronald Radosh, Adjunct Senior Fellow, The Hudson Institute, and Professor of History Emeritus, CUNY
Ellen Schrecker, Professor of History, Yeshiva University

Aside from myself, Harvey Klehr and John Earl Haynes, the latter two who have written Spies:The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America, the definitive book about Soviet espionage, the other members of the panel are Bruce Craig and Ellen Schrecker, both of whom do not share our point of view. Indeed, Schrecker has argued in many places that the American agents of Stalin had a loyalty to a higher authority than their own country, and represented a universalist loyalty to the cause of a progressive future for humanity, and hence were victims of American repression, despite their actions. At the conference, we intend to have a civil but sharp exchange of views, in which we can each confront our opposites and hence let the audience who listens judge for themselves who are correct about the meaning of Soviet espionage for America.

It is clear, however, that those in charge of waging the campaign for the couple’s innocence, are not willing to participate. We invited both Miriam Schneir, who with her late husband, wrote the most influential book arguing the case for their frame-up,  and Michael Meeropol, the Rosenbergs’ eldest son. Both declined to attend.  Others invited who refused to come include the noted Columbia University historian Eric Foner, who although he has written about the case many times and even wrote an introduction to the Meeropol’s own book, said he would not attend because he doesn’t consider himself an expert on the case. That did not stop him in the past from writing that they were innocent victims of a frame-up, and in particular regularly attacking my own book, The Rosenberg File, as a fraud.

Obviously, the most outspoken partisans like Miriam Schneir and Eric Foner are afraid to debate their own positions in public, obviously because they know they would be intellectually defeated, and want to be spared the embarrassment. Schneir and Michael Meeropol in particular are advocates for a cause- that of reopening the case- as if there is any doubt about the Rosenberg’s actions at this late date. They prefer to only speak in the intellectual cocoon of their own New York City left-wing circles, where they will be continually celebrated, honored and catered to, as if they had reason and evidence on their own side.

Many years ago, after publication of The Rosenberg File in 1983, when the left-wing went on an assault against the book, the most interesting and revealing comment came from the late head of the American Communist Party, Gus Hall. In an official statement of the CPUSA condemning the book, Hall referred to the Rosenbergs as “the sacred couple,” whom he accused my co-author Joyce Milton and I of defaming their memory.

That give-away term, “the sacred couple,” made it clear that for the Communists, the innocence of the Rosenbergs was a religious cause, not simply a political one. Like Communism itself, the claim of innocence was part of the religious faith they adhered to. That was over 25 years ago, but yet today, the faith of the deluded deniers continues to live on.

For those who wish to do their part in returning sanity to academia, I urge those of you in the D.C. area to consider attending on June 22nd. Admission is free, and the event is open to the public. Just arrive early to make sure you can get a seat.

 

 

The latest issue of The New York Review of Books contains a strange article by none other than George Soros, chairman of Soros Fund Management and of the Open Society Foundations and, although the literary review does not see fit to mention, funder of scores of different left-wing institutes and foundations. Although Soros writes apparently to let his audience know what his hopes are for his work to endure after his death — the title of his article is “My Philanthropy” — he explains that his one hope is to make sure that in our own country “the government upholds the right of all people and adheres to the restrictions on state power established by the Constitution.”

For a brief moment, Soros sounds like a rock-ribbed conservative, concerned with fidelity to the Constitution and curbing the power of big government. But have no fears — that is not Soros’s intention. In Eastern Europe in the age in which the nations there were under Soviet captivity, Soros notes that he started “with supporting critical thinking or dissident activity.” Certainly, even he must know that the United States has little resemblance to the nations held under the realm of Soviet power in the Cold War days. Indeed, as he writes, “The United States has been a democracy and open society since its founding,” and the idea that it might cease to be “seems preposterous.”

In his very next sentence, however, Soros writes that, in fact, the end of democracy in America “is a very likely prospect.” How? Some might think he would be about to suggest the bypassing of Congress by the executive; the move to institute unpopular programs that extend the power of government by stealth means, like ObamaCare, or to issue executive edicts that accomplish what the president desires and what Congress opposes. But no, this is not the danger to which Soros points.

Rather, it is the fragility of the Open Society of which philosopher Karl Popper wrote. Unlike Popper, Soros says he has learned that free speech does not lead to better laws. The reason he advances is one I call Chomsky lite — a version of Noam Chomsky’s belief that consent can be manipulated by the media and the ruling class, as explained in his book Manufacturing Consent. Soros is too wise to acknowledge any debt to Chomsky, who is regarded today as such an extremist that he has not appeared in the pages of the NYRB for decades.

However, his analysis greatly resembles the argument of Chomsky and his co-author Edward Herman. He puts his theory this way in a rather remarkable paragraph:

People like me, misguided by that fallacy, believed that the propaganda methods described in George Orwell’s 1984 could prevail only in a dictatorship. They [the Bush administration]knew better. Frank Luntz, the well-known right-wing political consultant, proudly acknowledged that he used 1984 as his textbook in designing his catchy slogans. And Karl Rove reportedly claimed that he didn’t have to study reality; he could create it. The adoption of Orwellian techniques gave the Republican propaganda machine a competitive advantage in electoral politics.

Anyone who read this, except for the journal’s own readers who are almost entirely self-proclaimed leftists and liberals, must be stunned at the theory’s simplicity. Even if one acknowledges that Republicans, like Democrats, engage in propaganda, everyone knows that most of the media — including The New York Times, NPR, PBS, MSNBC, CNN, Time, Newsweek, Slate, The Daily Beastusually speaks in unison on the most critical issues of the day. At times they have some independent commentators and writers, but they are few among the many. There are fifty writers or broadcasters like Jonathan Alter and Fareed Zakaria for five like George Will or Peggy Noonan. If viewers choose to turn to Fox News, that is their choice. No one forces them to watch Hannity or O’Reilly instead of Rachel Maddow or Anderson Cooper.

Nevertheless, Soros argues that “deliberately misleading propaganda techniques can destroy an open society. Nazi propaganda methods were powerful enough to destroy the Weimar Republic.” Putting aside the point that there were many other factors that led to the collapse of Weimar, Soros — like Chomsky — essentially believes the people are stupid, and will not follow his enlightened views when they can be misled so easily by the likes of Frank Luntz.

His words appear just as we have all seen how Andrew Breitbart was vindicated, after so many of Sorors’ favorite media types were arguing that it was Breitbart himself who fabricated photos to destroy Rep. Anthony Weiner. The result was not only that Breitbart was vindicated — and he would be case no.1 for Soros’s example of a propagator of misleading propaganda — but even the MSM’s main morning news program, the Today show, had to feature him in an exclusive one-on-one interview with Matt Lauer.

So Soros argues that in the U.S. today, the  Right is using “different but in some ways similar [Nazi] methods,” although of a “refined” character.  Even in a nation in which democracy has “deep roots,” he writes, our citizens are “not immune to deliberate deception.”

Soros does not see fit to provide one example to prove his assertion. So let me raise one. The Democrats have in the past few weeks engaged in their new propaganda tactic of “Mediscare,” in which they have offered a TV commercial of a Paul Ryan look-alike throwing Granny off a cliff, and generally argued that with Republican rule, Medicare would be destroyed and all health care lost for senior citizens.

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The June 6 issue of the New Yorker offers a lesson in how the groupthink of editors, writers, and journalists on the East Coast takes place. It reveals how they all have developed the same mindset about Israel, their view that the Jewish state bears the responsibility alone for all the travail in the Middle East.

The lead “Talk of the Town” article by one of its editors, Hendrik Hertzberg, reeks of self-righteousness, arrogance, and an overall know-it-all attitude. It is filled with the platitudes repeated so many times these days by the likes of Hertzberg, Joe Klein, and scores of their lesser-known imitators.

One can easily sum up the argument in the following words: Israel, a great country, is its own worst enemy. The best example of this is that the Israeli people elected Benjamin Netanyahu their prime minister, and his popularity in the country is growing. If you don’t get this, the editors title Hertzberg’s article “O’bama Vs. Netanyahoo.” Get it? Isn’t that so clever? (They took that from a tweet by Chuck Grassley as he was waiting to hear Netanyahu speak.)

Don’t the Israelis know they should make all the concessions to the Palestinian Authority that Obama wants them to make? Israel should start with giving up all settlements in Jerusalem — yes, the Jewish presence in East Jerusalem is a settlement — and of course, agree in advance of peace negotiations to going back to the 1967 borders.

Above all, have nothing but contempt for the Israeli PM. As Hertzberg writes:

The Prime Minister sounded more like a Fox News “contributor” than like the leader of an ally dependent on the United States for its survival.

Fear not, our president quickly corrected Netanyahu, claims Hertzberg:

“Since my position has been misrepresented,” Obama said, “let me reaffirm what ’1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps’ means: by definition, it means that the parties themselves — Israelis and Palestinians — will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967.”

Obviously, Hertzberg must be ranked among those who have neglected to read — as I have pointed out twice already in other blogs — the explanation of what the issue really is that appeared in the “Fact Checker” column in the Washington Post written by Glenn Kessler, here and here. Kessler does real research; Hertzberg and his kind of leftist journalist simply repeat their own version of the facts as if their saying it makes it accurate. After all, how could anything Benjamin Netanyahu says be the truth?

So to cover Netanyahu, you next commence with many paragraphs putting down anything he says in a tone of utter contempt. Here are Hertzberg’s comments:

The Prime Minister ladled on the bonhomie. “Mr. Vice-President,” he said, turning to Joe Biden, “do you remember the time that we were the new kids in town?” (Biden was more likely to be remembering another town and another time: last year in Jerusalem, when his arrival to promote peace talks was greeted with the announcement of a vast new housing project for ultra-Orthodox Jews in the occupied eastern part of the city.) Bibi took it upon himself to spike the football that Barack had carried into the end zone: “Congratulations, America. Congratulations, Mr. President. You got bin Laden. Good riddance!” He served up chestnuts — about Israeli democracy, Israeli stability, Israeli pro-Americanness — that have been roasted for many an Israel Bonds dinner. He had kind, if slightly patronizing, words of praise for the Arab Spring. He reiterated his verbal acceptance of the idea of a Palestinian state. He glided away from his Oval Office misrepresentations. (“As President Obama said, the border will be different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967.”) He praised Salam Fayyad, the technocratic modernizer who serves as the Palestinian Authority’s chief administrator.

Notice the little term “occupied” when Hertzberg refers to east Jerusalem. He might look at Omri Ceren’s post appearing today at Contentions. Ceren points out that to call East Jerusalem a settlement, which Obama does and Hertzberg says is “occupied” territory:

… ignores how Jews have indisputably been the majority in Jerusalem since at least 1853, to saying nothing of the ancient heritage of Jewish Jerusalem. Instead, it picks out the brief period between 1949 to 1967, when Jordan ethnically cleansed East Jerusalem of Jews to interrupt a continuous 1,000-year Jewish presence.

The Jordanians destroyed the Jewish quarter in East Jerusalem, and as Ceren explains:

Because they succeeded in doing that for almost 20 whole years — in contrast to 1,000 years of continuous Jewish life — the Obama administration insists that the Jewish State needs to cede portions of East Jerusalem to a future Palestinian entity on demographic grounds.

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