30 January 2014

The selective memory of Andrew Sullivan

Andrew Sullivan (Biased and Balanced), in his recent diatribe titled The Selective Secrecy Of Bill De Blasio is outing the slavish and unconditional adoration of Israel, displayed by the new left-liberal mayor of New York.

There is much to be said about the vehemence directed by the author at various institutions, related or unrelated to the subject. Starting with the omnipotent AIPAC, of course, that easily opened the industrial-sized bile eruption, proceeding with Israel that lately seems to trigger the most poisonous qualities of the Biased and Balanced and, of course, poor Bill De Blasio himself: a politician that does what any politician in his position (two million or so Jewish citizens in his mighty domain) - would do.

But this post is not about AIPAC or De Blasio*, rather about history, its reading and its lessons and Mr Sullivan's selective vision and memory, including the memory of his own political "evolution" (sorry for the deliberate choice of term). Here is his first (what he imagines as) blow inflicted on the Zionists:
How many troops did Israel send to fight with Americans in Iraq? None. Forty other countries did, led by the UK, Australia, and Poland. How many troops did Israel send to fight with Americans in Afghanistan? None. Fifty-nine other countries helped, also led by the UK.
Being handicapped by the rush of bile, Sullivan somewhat defangs his own attack, adding the following, rather thoughtlessly:
In both cases, this “greatest ally on earth” would have been extraordinarily counter-productive if it had been involved. That’s how useful an ally the country is in confronting our common enemies.
To remind those who grew up in the post-2003 years, US administration, exactly as in the Bush Senior years of the first Gulf war, has done its best not to use any overt Israeli assistance due to automatic Muslim displeasure in view of such assistance, and Sullivan must know it, letting it slip into his text, albeit in a abbreviated manner.

But this is only one side of the coin, and there is the other, more important one, obviously known well to Andrew Sullivan. When you read the tons of drivel produced by the usual "anti-Zionist" suspects on the invasion of Iraq of 2003, you will get an impression that Israeli PM of the time (Ariel Sharon), heading a huge crowd of Zio-neocons, practically planned the invasion from day one. Here is an article by late Ami Isseroff of 2005: The Jews started the war - Once again
More and more, we hear that the "Zionists" are responsible for the Iraq war. The germ of the idea was always there, especially since it was convenient for Saddam apologists to blame the war on Israel and the Jews. However, it was probably given respectability by Jason Vest's article in the Nation which asserted, with no evidence whatever, that all the war hysteria against Iraq was being generated by an obscure pro-Zionist thinktank, with the unfortunate name of Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, Vest's notions were soon parroted in the Guardian by Brian Whitaker. The coming Iraq war, according to Whitaker and Vest, would enthrone Israel and the US in the Middle East, and eliminate the need for Israel to come to terms with the Palestinians.
Yep, and later came the ubiquitous Juan Cole**, Mearsheimer/Walt and others, raising the dirty libel to the status of "scientific conclusion". As a result, any neo-Nazi website will tell you that the Zionists pushed naive and innocent Bush and the Pentagon into the war, with it (so far) 10 subsequent years of bloodshed in Iraq.

However, this version of history couldn't be farther from the truth. Here is what a Salon.com (not a very pro-Israeli outfit by any means) author has to say:
Another widely held belief regarding the administration's various motivations for starting the Iraq War was that Israel and its supporters pressured Bush to eliminate a threat posed by Saddam Hussein.
Unfortunately, the Iraq War has disrupted the entire region, emboldened and empowered Iran like never before and, as such, placed Israel in considerably greater peril.

As it turns out, countless Israeli politicians, military leaders and academics predicted this, and vigorously tried to warn Bush.

According to former administration official Lawrence Wilkerson, Israeli officials warned the Bush administration that an invasion of Iraq would destabilize the entire region and urged the United States to instead target Iran as the primary enemy.

Wilkerson, then a member of the State Department's Policy Planning Staff and later Chief of Staff for Secretary of State Colin Powell, revealed in a 2007 interview that the Israelis reacted immediately to indications the Bush administration was planning to invade Iraq.

Wilkerson noted that when the Israeli government picked up signs of that intention, "The Israelis were telling us Iraq is not the enemy. Iran is the enemy." Wilkerson described the Israeli message to the Bush administration in early 2002 as being, "If you are going to destabilize the balance of power, do it against the main enemy [Iran]."

Wilkerson described the warning against invading Iraq - conveyed to the administration by a wide range of Israeli sources, including political figures, intelligence and private citizens - as "pervasive."
There is much more in that Salon article on the subject, including Sharon's direct involvement, but here is what Alan Dershowitz adds to this (click on the picture below to read comfortably):

Not only did Sharon warn Americans on several occasions, he also kept it quiet, unlike some other leaders I wouldn't mention for now. I would like to see what kind of verbal trickery could Sullivan employ to explain away the fact that Israel was against the invasion of Iraq (which was another good reason for it not to take part in the adventure).

But Sullivan doesn't stop at that, being intent on producing more gifts of his bias and balance. And he doesn't disappoint, performing a pure miracle of a logical somersault:
But this preposterous bullshit is what a left-liberal mayor felt obliged to serve up. Then this:

"There is no deeper connection across boundaries than this connection we share."

Not with France, the oldest ally of the US?
Leaving aside the superlatives freely dispensed by De Blasio: a second ago you have read Mr Sullivan rain verbal fire and brimstone on Israel for not taking part in invasion of Iraq. Now he uses as a (contrary?) example the "oldest ally of US", France. Interesting that, ain't it? Here is the Wiki report on Multi-National Force deployed in Iraq - these 40 countries that Mr Sullivan counts. I dare you to find France in the list.

Now, after you failed, this Wiki entry contains another list, that of the countries that protested the invasion of Iraq. Check out France. And, while you are at it, Germany, Greece, New Zealand etc. So much for good old allies Mr Sullivan so ineptly mentioned. I wonder whether the terms Dominique de Villepin and Freedom Fries ring a bell in Sullivan's head.

I hope that, even if the reader of this post is as hard-headed as Andrew Sullivan, he/she will see the difference between the attitude and behavior of Ariel Sharon and that of "the oldest ally"... 'nuff said.

Now we could turn to the second part of the (rather longish by now) fisking: Mr Sullivan's own views. To start with - on Iraq:
Sullivan supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq by the United States, and was initially hawkish in the war on terror, arguing that weakness would embolden terrorists. He was "one of the most militant" supporters of the Bush counter-terrorism strategy immediately following the September 11 attacks in 2001.
But then came a turnaround:
On 27 October 2006 edition of Real Time with Bill Maher, he described conservatives and Republicans who refused to admit they had been wrong to support the Iraq War as "cowards." On 26 February 2008 he wrote on his blog: "After 9/11, I was clearly blinded by fear of al Qaeda and deluded by the overwhelming military superiority of the US and the ease of democratic transitions in Eastern Europe into thinking we could simply fight our way to victory against Islamist terror. I wasn't alone. But I was surely wrong."
One can't and shouldn't hold against the man the fact that his political outlook changed with time. We learn as we live. But how come an objector to Iraq war uses the fact that a nation didn't take part in it as a negative, instead of as a positive one? You tell me. Or, if you don't mind, let's take a look at Mr Sullivan's view of Israel:
Sullivan states that he has "always been a Zionist".
However, later:
In February 2010, Leon Wieseltier in The New Republic suggested that his former friend and colleague Sullivan had a "venomous hostility toward Israel and Jews", and was "either a bigot, or just moronically insensitive" towards the Jewish people.
I am not a former (or current) friend or colleague of Mr Sullivan and can't drill down to his inner bigotry or sensitivity. But that part about "venomous hostility toward Israel and Jews" checks out fully, at least in the article we are discussing here. It may also explain the total absence of elementary logic (or decency, one might remark) in his stream of vehemence.

So much for Biased and Balanced and for "preposterous bullshit"...

(*) It is highly indicative that the leading anti-Zionists, such as Weiss of Mondoweiss, M.J. Rosenberg, Juan Cole and several others jumped on the Sullivan's piece as proverbial flies on fresh excrement. Slow day for anti-Zionists or what?

(**) Here comes a brilliant example of scientific spirit displayed by prof Cole in his research of Zionist depravity: Israeli PM Sharon Threatened Bush with Nuking Iraq (Mearsheimber & Walt vindicated). In this shining pinnacle of scientific inquiry, prof Cole takes the sentence, probably ascribed to Sharon: "Sharon had said that if Iraq hit Israel, their response would ‘escalate’...", with the addendum referred to Bush "...which he took to mean go nuclear" and... but you have already seen the headline... These are your educators, American youngsters!

P.S. I am still wondering whether Sullivan is that stupid, regarding his question about Bill Blasio covert approach to his own speech: "What would he have to hide?". I consider Sullivan to be many things, but stupid is not one of them. Why indeed Bill Blasio, a left-wing politico, invested in hard left-wing and Muslim voters, would be so shy about his pro-Israeli speech? Beats me... nah.


SnoopyTheGoon said...

Intelligence and personality disorder can be present in the same human. Jeff Goldberg has also written about Sullivan's bat shittiness in his old Atlantic blog.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Yep, bat shittiness will be a fitting diagnosis.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Gosh, the Manhattan Hilton!! In my day, it was a graveyard in Prague after dark. I do love the way though the way this guys knows what he is about to say is standard antisemitism and so tries to deflect it from the start - 'it might sound antisemitic, it may smell of antisemitism but it is True!' On this point he stands in the great US tradition of Linbergh, who also said (and I paraphrase here); one can't spout antisemitism these days, without being called an antisemite.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Sullivan is a flake. Has been forever.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

That true, but I prefer to leave the subject out of the discussion, cause it automatically raises the noise level and makes other issues pale in comparison.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Can't say I am very familiar with his output, this piece of his got at me accidentally.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

In a decade, he's been all over the block: first a conservative, then a liberal, first supporting bush, now supporting Wormtongue. He's an opportunist is what he is. He flips and flops so often, I stopped bothering to keep up a long time ago.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Yep, he certainly gets around a lot. Let's see where he goes from here.