Where is Joe McCarthy When You Need Him, Conclusion

Then why are so many conservatives in 2004 so reluctant to hold their noses one more time and vote Republican?  During the Summer an old friend came to my office and wanted my opinion on the election.  He had been a Republican all his life and had cast his first vote in a presidential election for Thomas Dewey.  This time he was ready to support Kerry, if only to rid the GOP of the pernicious influence of the neoconservatives.  Although he has always supported the American alliance with Israel, he was particularly disgusted with the obvious pressure that Israel’s government is able to exert on US foreign policy through such prominent neoconservatives as Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, and Douglas Feith.  I told him I did not think a man of good conscience could vote for Kerry.  He could, however, choose not to vote at all.  I have had the same conversation with not a few conservatives, some of whom are determined to vote for Kerry—or Nader, who has been denounced by the Christophobic ADL for describing George Bush as the puppet of Ariel Sharon.

My friend’s suspicions must have been aggravated a few weeks later, when it was revealed in the press that the FBI was engaged in a two-year investigation of Lawrence Franklin, of the Office of Special Plans in the Defense Department.  Franklin, who had served in the Defense Intelligence Agency and as military attaché at the US embassy in Tel Aviv, is suspected of passing secrets to the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and to the government of Israel.  Longtime neoconservative policy analyst Michael Ledeen calls the charge “nonsensical,” but then Ledeen—best known these days as the most hysterical imperialist at National Review Online--is widely rumored to be implicated in the leakage.  He is also a contractor hired by Doug Feith.

The real issue is not Franklin himself: He is only a small cog in a vast network of Israeli influence that extend to the highest circles of the Bush administration.  Franklin reports to Douglas Feith, Undersecretary for Policy and thus the number three man in the Defense Department.  It is Feith who put Franklin in a position to damage his country’s national security, and it is Feith who should be held accountable. (Note:  Feith resigned after Bush's reelection but only to live well off the fat of the jungle of think tanks and academic departments devoted to promoting corruption, lies, and slaughter.  Quite a career for a very unimpressive creep.)

Feith is typical of the charlatans of this age.  Like many American bureaucrats, he has gone through the usual revolving door between public and private, but Feith’s door has also opened on to Tel Aviv.  His law-firm, Feith and Zell, which  does the predictable lobbying for Israeli interests, allied itself with the Israeli firm Zell and Goldberg, in order to better serve their Israeli clients.

In 1996 Feith was one of the principle sources (along with Richard Perle, David Wurmser, Meyrav Wurmser, James Colbert, and Charles Fairbank) of a policy paper drawn up for President Netanyahu, the Likud Party extremist who continues to denounce the thug Ariel Sharon for his timidity.  The paper, “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm” advocates an aggressive, no-compromise approach to the Palestinians.  That was to be expected.  What is disconcerting, however, is the American authors’ decision to speak in the first person when describing Israeli interests:

"We have for four years pursued peace based on a New Middle East. We in Israel cannot play innocents abroad in a world that is not innocent. Peace depends on the character and behavior of our foes. We live in a dangerous neighborhood, with fragile states and bitter rivalries. Displaying moral ambivalence between the effort to build a Jewish state and the desire to annihilate it by trading "land for peace" will not secure "peace now." Our claim to the land —to which we have clung for hope for 2000 years--is legitimate and noble. It is not within our own power, no matter how much we concede, to make peace unilaterally. Only the unconditional acceptance by Arabs of our rights,  especially in their territorial dimension, "peace for peace," is a solid basis for the future."

Meyrav (Mrs. David) Wurmser is an Israeli national (like the wife of Douglas Feith), and she has a perfect right to lobby for Likud, but her husband David (Dick Cheney’s advisor on the Middle East), Douglas Feith, and Richard Perle are American citizens who have served the government of the United States as high level advisors on security and foreign policy, are not only advising Netanyahu to reject US policy in the Middle East but speaking as spokesmen for Israel and the Likud Party.  If they have been misrepresented, they have not apparently said so.

The provision of  “A Clean Break” that has attracted most attention is the recommendation to oust Saddam Hussein: “Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria. This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq — an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right — as a means of foiling Syria’s regional ambitions.  The authors also advised Netanyahu to make a “clean break” with American independence and to turn away from Israel’s status as American dependent to that of a mature ally, formulating the policies and stress themes he favors in language familiar to the Americans by tapping into themes of American administrations during the Cold War which apply well to Israel.” In other words, manipulate American opinion by appealing to Cold War anxieties.  This is exactly what Ariel Sharon did in the weeks following September 11, when he and his adherents rang endless changes on the theme: “Now Americans know what it is like to be Israelis.”

When Feith is not advising Israeli politicians on how to manipulate the United States, his supposed expertise is in areas of military intelligence: It was Feith who was in charge of setting guidelines for the new more aggressive methods of interrogation used on Iraqi prisoners, and it was Feith who brilliantly suggested that the United States was not bound by the Geneva Convention—the two biggest PR blunders of the Iraq War.  Feith also failed to deliver accurate intelligence to the commanders who led the invasion of Iraq.  General Tommie Franks was so disgusted with the quality of intelligence he received that he told Bob Woodward that Feith is “the f—st stupidest guy on the face of the earth.”  Bush’s neoconservative seem to elicit obscenity.  In the build-up to the Iraq war Colin Powell, according to BBC reporter James Naughtie, referred to the  lot of them as a bunch of “f—ing crazies.”

Feith hardly ever talks in public about Israel per se or his own strong connections with the Likud Party; he justifies his total opposition to negotiating with the Palestinians on the grounds of their violations of human rights.  Israel’s denial of basic rights to Christians, however, never seems to come up.  In 1997, the Zionist Organization of America honored Douglas Feith, along with his father Dalck Feith.  Who is Dalck Feith?  A follower of Ze’ev Jabotinsky and a member of Jabotinsky’s fascist youth group, Betar.  Jabotinsky was no liberal Zionist or even a Likudnik like Ariel Sharon.  Jabotinsky boldly called for the elimination of Palestinian Arabs as a people.  Ridiculing the more moderate Zionists who hoped to live in peace with Arabs, Jabotinsky demanded that the Zionists emulate the Americans who destroyed the Plains Indians and eliminated their cultural identity.

In other words, Feith comes out of a Zionist tradition that even Begin and Sharon would rather not talk about, and as a senior official in the Defense Department he has never ceased to advocate policies designed to promote Israeli, but not American interests.  But in this he is no different from Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Michael Ledeen, and the entire neoconservative network of think-tanks and publications that have dominated the foreign policy of the  Bush administration. When Feith wanted to put out the disinformation that the CIA had clinched the connection between Saddam Hussein and Al Quaeda, he leaked his own memo to the Weekly Standard, whose bogus article was then quoted triumphantly by Dick Cheney.  A disinformational triple play. [Laura Rozen, “Ye of Little Feith,” American Prospect Online 18 May 2004, though some caution may be needed in treating statements from Karen Kwiatkowski.]

Ronald Hatchett, retired US Air Force colonel and arms negotiator, worked under Feith from 1984-88 and had an opportunity to know him well. In an interview Hatchett describes Feith as pure Machiavellian. "He is almost Straussian in his contempt for the public. Tell them whatever is necessary, he would say, all we need is plausible denial.  The important thing is to win.  The public always supports a winner."  Hatchett added that Feith was completely devoted to two things: surrounding himself with likeminded associates (whom he referred to as "true patriots") and promoting the security of Israel. "He did believe that America should be kept strong, but the main reason was to support the security of Israel."

In his combination of arrogance and incompetence, Feith is just another neoconservative policy expert.  One thing does distinguish Feith from his colleagues: He lost his first job, working at the NSC in the first Reagan administration, when he fell under suspicion of passing secrets to Israel.  National Security Advisor Richard Clark gave as grounds of dismissal that Feith "had been the object of an inquiry into whether he had provided classified material to an official of the Israeli Embassy in Washington."  In speaking with Pentagon officials from those days (and others in the Reagn administration), they were shocked to learn that Feith’s disgrace was only a temporary setback, since his mentor Richard Perle, another Netanyahu advisor, got him rehired at the Defense Department six months later.  This proved, as one Pentagon source told me, that Perle was virtually omnipotent.  Ever since, Feith has been obsequious in his obedience to Perle.

I do not at all blame the Israelis for the espionage and treason instigated by them in the United States.  On the contrary, I salute them for their bravery and their patriotism.  In Israel I met many solid supporters and advisers of the Likud Party.  They love their country the way Crockett and Travis loved America, and they would, as they say in Texas, rather fight than run.  I think they are quite wrong, but I can only admire them.

Most governments, from time to time, practice espionage against foes and keep tabs on their friends.  There is this difference, however.  Israel depends upon the United States for its very existence, and the Mossad is not an occasional eavesdropper on diplomatic conversations.  Israel has been spying on its principal benefactor for decades, counting on the fact that American governments will not retaliate by cutting off the aid and loans that subsidize Israel’s lavish welfare state—and her expensive war machine.  A few years ago I spoke with a CIA agent who retired from the agency decades ago, because of the steady leakage to Israel.  The worst part of it, he said, was not the treason committed by agents more loyal to Israel than to the United States, but the fact that Israel used some of its stolen intelligence as bargaining chips with countries that were enemies of the United States. Such deals could ruin an operation and put agents at risk, but after repeated complaints he concluded that the CIA was never going to stop the leaks.  That was four decades ago, and the problem is worse.

But why blame Sharon for crimes committed by American citizens and ignored by the American government?  If the Mossad is more effective than the CIA, so much the better for the Israelis.  When we discover their agents—like Jonathan Pollard or, if he is guilty, Lawrence Franklin—they should be prosecuted exactly the same as if they were agents of China or Iran.  We should also consider punitive measures against any country caught spying on the United States.  We should not, however, fall into the trap of blaming “the Jews” for the crimes committed by a few ultra-zionists nor should we allow the lunatic fringe at Commentary and the ADL to get away with the claim that they represent Jewish Americans.

On the other hand, espionage and influence-peddling are a very serious matter. People like Douglas Feith and Richard Perle have time after time displayed their loyalty to a foreign power, and even if their activities may fall short of treason and espionage, such men are clearly unfit to be trusted with any important position in government.

But instead of weeding out these agents of influence, the Bush administration continues to rely on them for guidance on the Middle East.  First Iraq, then Iran, then Syria.  And even when the FBI was on the verge of arresting Lawrence Franklin, Attorney General John Ashcroft has apparently decided to postpone the arrest and to reduce the charge to something less than espionage. Ashcroft’s reluctance to antagonize AIPAC two months before the election may be justified, but Republicans cannot expect the support of patriotic conservatives until they clean out the nest of vipers in the Defense Department.  If President Bush would only promise to fire, in order, Franklin, Feith, and Wolfowitz—along with the man who hired them and bungled the Iraq war—he would have their support. Until then, I do not see how he can even look them in the eye.

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Thomas Fleming

Thomas Fleming is president of the Fleming Foundation. He is the author of six books, including The Morality of Everyday Life and The Politics of Human Nature, as well as many articles and columns for newspapers, magazines,and learned journals. He holds a Ph.D. in Classics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a B.A. in Greek from the College of Charleston. He served as editor of Chronicles: a Magazine of American Culture from 1984 to 2015 and president of The Rockford Institute from 1997-2014. In a previous life he taught classics at several colleges and served as a school headmaster in South Carolina