Norman Podhoretz on BookTV

You can watch him here.

It’s received some play in the blogosphere bc (near the end around minute 45 or so) when asked why after being attacked on 9/11 by al-Qaeda President Bush (and Congress and the media) lead the US into war in Iraq?  His response–when the US was attacked by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor we immediately declared war on Germany and fought in North Africa.  Er, never mind that those two countries had an actual ALLIANCE and that Germany declared war on the United States.  Wouldn’t want the facts to get in the way of our argument on this one.

The entire interview is completely fascinating.  If only to enter the world through the lens of fear.

Podhoretz would be somewhat laughable and mostly sad—you see him struggling at points with his age, looking for answers, his view crumbling before reality, doing anything he can to keep it together–except for the fact that he is the primary foreign policy consultant for Rudy Giuliani.  i.e. If Giuliani is elected (if not before under Bush), it will be bombs over Tehran.
McCain has certainly endorsed such a position, which Podhoretz approvingly quotes multiple times throughout the interview (“the only thing worse than bombing Iran, is a nuclear Iran”).  When McCain wasn’t signing “Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran” to a Beach Boys tune that is.

NP’s WWIV is a war against Islamo-fascism and here he actually and quite literally sees the Fascist “secular” side (i.e. Baath party of Saddam Hussein and Bashar al-Assad of Syria) in complete alignment with the Islamist radical side (al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Iran’s Mullahs, Taliban, Moqtada al Sadr, Hamas, Muslim Brotherhood).

The fear comes in in that Podheretz actually believes the US is threatened to its core by these groups.  How?  Why?  Because they will get a nuke?  And how does he get to that idea?  Because Iran will give one to the terrorists.

Never mind as Charles Pena (the interviewer) asks (rationally) there has never been any proof that a regime would give nukes away to terrorist organizations.  Why would the Iranians do such a thing?  (Assuming they get a bomb).

Answer:  Because they are Muslims and are willing to sacrifice their entire country to destroy Israel because they care more about Islam than Iran.  Hence traditional deterrence won’t work.  Never mind (as Pena points out) that Mao was bat s–t crazy and he had a nuke.  And hell Kim is even more wacked out than Mao and he gets a deal.

No concept of the differences between these groups.  No study of the history of US foreign policy in the region (which is what bin Laden always says is what motivates his actions).

The generational part of WWIV (like the Cold War, i.e. WWIII in this analogy) is correct.  But there is no united movement like either the fight against the Axis Powers of Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany nor the Soviet Communist empire.  These are not groups by and large with states.  The Iranians have a state and therefore of all groups would be most likely to protect themselves and act based on their own interest/search for power.

No Shia-Sunni split.  No difference between Islamo-nationalists (as Olivier Roy, the best commentator on the subject calls them) like the ruling party in Turkey even Hezbollah which is running a mini-state in southern Lebanon and trans-national caliphate seeking groups like AQP (al-Qaeda in Pakistan).

Does Moqtada al Sadr really want to attack the United States soil?

Again, the point though is that rationality is not at play here.  Neo-conservatism believes strongly in the need to create a cosmic drama, a story that induces fear and unifies a people against a common enemy.  A secularized apocalyptic mythology is what neo-conservatism more than anything else is.

First in the 80s is what the Soviets who were menacingly behind all world terrorism.  Turns out they couldn’t keep the factories running and the country was a sham and fell apart under its own flaws.

Then Hussein was behind all world terrorism.  That’s why hardliner types and their mouthpieces (like Stephen Hayes in the Weekly Standard) spent so much time and effort (wasted) to prove that Saddam had close links with al-Qaeda.  Then he fell. Turns out he didn’t have nukes—er except that Podhoretz believes Saddam did have nukes but their hidden in Syria (wow—cucoo, cucoo….anybody else hear the little birdies?).

So now its the Iranians.  Podhoretz, Daniel Pipes, Michael Ledeen.  The usual cast of characters.  The Iranians are behind the Taliban, al-Qaeda, Moqtada al Sadr, the Sunni insurgents in Iraq as well.  He interestingly doesn’t mention that Prime Minister Maliki’s party (Da’wa) and the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (Hakim’s party) not to mention the Kurds have strong and historical links (anti-Saddam) with the Iranians.

We realize that within Iraq there are multiple actors/groups with multiple agendas, a black market trade, people playing both sides.  But suddenly when it comes to Iran, the mullahs strictly control everything and everything is top-down from them and them alone.  Couldn’t be I don’t know the Iranian equivalents of Blackwater running around in Iraq?  Individual Iranian citizens trading (say guns) through the black market?

This unified theory of evil flaw that is neoconservatism also fails in that everything is predicated upon states.  When in reality much of what is occurring is the result of the breakdown of states or more precisely the breakdown of global cities (e.g. Baghdad).

The real threat is not nuclear but for the future open-source bio-terror.  And states are not necessarily perhaps even likely to be behind that reality.

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Published in: on October 3, 2007 at 9:53 pm  Leave a Comment  
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