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Why Looney Anti-Semites Remain Respectable

This week, the New York Times ran an op-ed by Lawrence Wilkerson—who served as Colin Powell’s chief of staff during his term as secretary of state—alleging that the Trump administration and its supporters are attempting to seduce America into war with Iran, much as the George W. Bush administration had done with Iraq. In the original version of the article, which appeared online on February 5, it named the Jewish billionaires Paul Singer and Sheldon Adelson as the secret forces behind these efforts. Liel Leibovitz argues that, although these references have since been edited out, Wilkerson has no place in a supposedly respectable publication:

Wilkerson is no stranger to conspiratorial thinking: in a May 2013 interview with Current TV, [the now-defunct channel then owned by Al-Jazeera], he suggested that the genocide in Syria “could’ve been an Israeli false-flag operation,” with Bashar al-Assad being a puppet of the Zionist government in Jerusalem. This mad rant was covered widely, including by the Times, when Wilkerson became a leading adviser to Bernie Sanders. The retired colonel also frequently fulminates about Israel being an apartheid state, has claimed in a 2016 interview that it will eventually have to be “eliminated” by either the Arabs or the international community, and has called Republican senators who took a hawkish position on Iran “traitors” who were somehow under the Jewish state’s sway.

To be plain, the problem with Lawrence Wilkerson has nothing to do with his “controversial” views on Syria, or the particular wording of any of his repugnant public statements about Israel. It is that he is an unhinged conspiracy theorist, of the kind that one most often finds muttering to himself in public libraries about Masons, Illuminati, and, of course, the Jews. There are . . . hundreds of videos of Wilkerson following weird trains of logic and causality that make one wonder about his hold on reality. . . .

Why the paper of record would give such a man a spot on its vaunted op-ed page is anybody’s guess, though it’s hard to believe that kooks of other stripes would’ve been welcomed so warmly. . . . Why, then, Wilkerson? . . . The answer is simple and scary: it’s because many on the well-groomed left, even if not subscribing to the classical definitions of anti-Semitism, inherently believe things about Israelis and Jews that are, at their very essence, absolutely and absurdly insane. This includes everything from the conviction that a small cabal of Jewish men are forever using their unending wealth and their mystical sway over Congress to lead generations of innocent American soldiers into needless wars to the belief that Israel’s imperial appetites constantly lead it to meddle in the affairs of its neighbors in murderous and malicious ways.

Thankfully, most people on the left today are sensible enough to understand these ideas are patently lunatic and deeply hateful. Sadly, they can’t seem to shake them off. This is where “experts” like Wilkerson come in handy, flashing their credentials, however flimsy, to say what “everyone already believes.”

Read more at Tablet

More about: Anti-Semitism, Iran, New York Times, Politics & Current Affairs

In Dealing with Iran, the U.S. Can Learn from Ronald Reagan

When Ronald Reagan arrived at the White House in 1981, the consensus was that, with regard to the Soviet Union, two responsible policy choices presented themselves: détente, or a return to the Truman-era policy of containment. Reagan, however, insisted that the USSR’s influence could not just be checked but rolled back, and without massive bloodshed. A decade later, the Soviet empire collapsed entirely. In crafting a policy toward the Islamic Republic today, David Ignatius urges the current president to draw on Reagan’s success:

A serious strategy to roll back Iran would begin with Syria. The U.S. would maintain the strong military position it has established east of the Euphrates and enhance its garrison at Tanf and other points in southern Syria. Trump’s public comments suggest, however, that he wants to pull these troops out, the sooner the better. This would all but assure continued Iranian power in Syria.

Iraq is another key pressure point. The victory of militant Iraqi nationalist Moqtada al-Sadr in [last week’s] elections should worry Tehran as much as Washington. Sadr has quietly developed good relations with Saudi Arabia, and his movement may offer the best chance of maintaining an Arab Iraq as opposed to a Persian-dominated one. But again, that’s assuming that Washington is serious about backing the Saudis in checking Iran’s regional ambitions. . . .

The Arabs, [however], want the U.S. (or Israel) to do the fighting this time. That’s a bad idea for America, for many reasons, but the biggest is that there’s no U.S. political support for a war against Iran. . . .

Rolling back an aggressive rival seems impossible, until someone dares to try it.

Read more at RealClear Politics

More about: Cold War, Iran, Politics & Current Affairs, Ronald Reagan, U.S. Foreign policy