Thursday, May 27, 2010

Michael Scheuer: State Dept. should publish names and personal info of Americans with ties to Israel

I wrote in March about Michael Scheuer's grossly hyperbolic and ill-considered piece in the National Journal in which he advocated that the U.S. not only leave NATO, but that it entirely disengage from Europe.  (He headlined that piece ""Europe is a wheezing corpse". Read here.)  I wrote that piece in the knowledge that no significant observer of world affairs could take such extreme views seriously, but knowing that Scheuer is still interviewed by journalists as if he were a legitimate expert on foreign affairs.  To the television-viewing public, and apparently to the BBC, Fox News and NPR among others, he's the former CIA agent who had an impressive sounding role in the search for bin Laden in the 1990s.

In the course of writing my blog post, I discovered that Scheuer has started a blog which he calls  Scheuer is using that blog largely to write columns accusing American supporters of Israel of treason, and suggesting that the U.S. take harsh measures against both Israel and its supporters.  As I wrote earlier today, he's also using the blog to bizarrely call for armed rebellion against the federal government, albeit in a vocabulary so antique as to be ignored or misunderstood by most readers.  At the risk of having my blog become all-Scheuer, all-the-time, I've decided to share my thoughts about these proposals.  After that, no more Scheuer for a while.

Ignore oversees threats, fight illusory domestic enemies instead

In a column entitled "Turn Biden's Humiliation to America's Advantage" dated March 12 (read here), Scheuer advocates cutting ties with Israel and subjecting supporters of Israel to scrutiny verging on arbitrary punishment.  He also casts some very harsh words on those who are friendly to Israel: "abject and effete lickspittles" he calls them, and "Israel-firsters".  By this, Scheuer equates friendliness to Israel with disloyalty to the U.S. and, amazingly, treason.  (I realize that this seems hyperbolic, but I suggest that readers sample his blog posts before they conclude that it is.)  Scheuer makes several modest proposals for the Israeli-Arab conflict, all of them strangely oriented toward making a bad situation worse, as if Scheuer is not satisfied with predicting Armageddon, but is intent on bringing it about.  He writes:

"(L)eave the combatants solely responsible for fighting until one, the other, or both are destroyed, or peace is made".  

Characterizing this proposal to stoke the flames of conflict as "getting tough with Israel", Scheuer writes that "the war’s outcome is irrelevant to America".  He goes on to fantasize that, after such a war,

"Washington can consider requests for restored relations with each entity, or with whichever survives.  Palestine’s request would be mostly pro forma; it does not threaten America.  Israel is different story..."
Israel is different, he says, because its U.S. supporters are a domestic threat, a "neo-Copperhead fifth column".  With this bizarre phrase, Scheuer compares American Zionsits both to Civil War-era "domestic subversives" who supported the Confederacy (read here), and to covert supporters of Franco who threatened to undermine the Republic during the Spanish Civil War (read here).

Scheuer, having thus suggested pouring gasoline on a tinderbox and applying lit matches, proposes additional measures to further fix the world.  Here's what he writes:

Washington must insist that Israel take five actions to help destroy the U.S. citizen-led, Israel-First fifth column that has made Israel the most arrogant, avaricious, and treacherous U.S. ally.  Americans always have served God and Caesar, but they abhor fellow citizens who serve a foreign Caesar, as do those who subordinate U.S. interests to their assessment of Israel’s needs.  Four public Israeli government actions will focus loyal U.S. citizens on their disloyal countrymen, those who want their taxes spent and soldier-children killed in a religious war for Israel.

a.) Israel must list all U.S. intelligence and technology it has given or sold to third countries.
b.) Israel must identify all U.S. citizens who have or are serving its military and so have sworn allegiance to a foreign power.
c.) Israel must admit sponsoring anti-U.S. espionage by Pollard and others, and publicly name all U.S. citizens and front companies it has paid in the past or is now paying or assisting to commit treason against the United States.
d.) Israel must list all U.S. citizens, living and dead, to whom it has issued passports, in the following categories: (a) Senators, Congressmen, Cabinet members, and senior political appointees; (b) federal civil servants, especially diplomats and intelligence officers; (c) civilian and uniformed Pentagon employees; (d) journalists, academics, and entertainers; and (e) other citizens.
–The fifth Israeli public action is simple justice.
e.) Israel must publicly admit that it deliberately attacked the USS
Liberty in 1967.
So Scheuer, as starting points, would have Israel confess to subverting the U.S. government and deliberately attacking a U.S. ship.  The possibility that  these outrageous charges are false is not considered by Scheuer.  He would have Israelis in the U.S.and Americans with dual citizenship singled out as suspects -- forced to reveal all their personal and business information to the State Dept. -- then have the State Dept. make these private record public.  That such a gross violation of the Fourth Amendment should be advocated by someone who regards himself, like his candidate Ron Paul, a radical "Constitutionist", indicates just how distorted this movement's view of the document it claims to support really is.  These people would destroy the constitution in order to save it, like a Vietnamese village.  They would undo our liberties based on paranoid suspicions, all in the name of promoting liberty.

Oremus et pro perfidis Judaeis

What could be more offensive, more deliberately offensive, to Jews than the invocation of that phrase in a debate on Israel?  To state that Israel equals Nazi Germany, as some opponents of Israel do?  Yes, that's more offensive.  To state that Israel kills Palestinians as Jews killed Christ, as the Palestinian Protestant  group Sabeel (among others) does?  Yes... that's worse.  The invocation of the traditionalist Catholic charge of Jewish perfidy isn't quite at that level, but it's close.  It's especially offensive in the context of  a column accusing Obama of being a "toady" to the Jewish state, and arguing that support for Israel is unpatriotic (read here).  Here's the money quote:

He (i.e. Obama) ... should make a clear presentation to Americans about Israel’s perfidy.
What are the crimes Scheuer believes Israel to be guilty of?  First and foremost, he fears that Israel subverts U.S. sovereignty by exercising undo influence on our foreign policy via a covert yet all-powerful conspiracy.  His evidence?  That's where things get shaky.  This kind of fear is always based largely in paranoia and Scheuer's is no exception, hence his reversion to traditional ways of poking fingers in the Jews' eyes.  Here's his proof of the grand conspiracy:

Israel-Firsters ... weaken U.S. security from positions in the Congress, the federal bureaucracy, the media, and many Christian evangelical churches, as well from the pages of leading Israel-First journals like Commentary, the Weekly Standard, the National Review, and the Wall Street Journal...
That's it.  In Scheuer's world, support for Israel by definition equals putting Israeli interests before those of the U.S., and this, by definition, equals disloyalty and subversion.  The fact that the federal government includes many supporters of Israel means for Scheuer that agents of a nefarious foreign are working to subvert the government from within.  That few in the media share his paranoia indicates to Scheuer that the press too is part of the conspiracy.  What he makes of the fact that the vast majority of U.S. citizens support Israel, one can only speculate.  Those are the people who elect the Congress and President, who read the periodicals he cited, and who think his views are the ones that seem foreign.  Are they a part of the conspiracy or its victims?   Again, one can only speculate.  Scheuer presumably would call the American electorate victims of Israel-First conspiracy until after election time, then, after they vote down the tea party candidate, resort to accusing them of being part of the problem.  Of course, if the tea party candidate wins, all bets are off.

Isolationist Paranoia Redux

The isolationist impulse is not a new one in this country.  It has a history, a track record, and common features which place it in a political tradition of a sort.  In the post-World War II era, the isolationist right, which had fallen into disrepute after Pearl Harbor, made a resurgence.  Looking both for a reason for being and for scapegoats for their failures, they targeted the domestic left: disproportionately Jewish, well-educated, and urban.  This focus was convenient for the later-day isolationists who wanted to fight Communism without intervening overseas.  McCarthyism met the political requirements of those who followed the Republican right into sort of foreign policy blind alley.  They were led to that dead end by domestic political considerations, found themselves without a mission, then had that political vacuum filled by ideologues like McCarthy and his ilk.  McCarthyism let the right punish those who led the United States into fighting Nazism instead of Communism; and let them look backward and falsely place blame for "who lost China" without addressing the real issues of the then ongoing Cold War.  The fact that this was a counter-productive, irrational, arbitrary, and cynical manipulation of real concerns somehow escaped the attention of a significant portion of the American public for many years. Now, many years later, this history has faded from memory -- hence the resurgence of John Birch Society paranoia, and of classic isolationism in the form of the Ron Paul campaign, the tea party movement and the paleo-conservative/libertarian/far-left coalition which advocates (at least in part) for a neo-McCarthyite response to support for Israel, conflating such support with neo-conservativism, elitism, Hollywood,Wall Street and, as Scheuer makes clear, Jewishness, albeit Jewishness of the current generation, not of the 1950s.

Michael Scheuer is a foreign policy advisor to Ron Paul (although Ron Paul supporters have complained in comments on this blog that I drawing attention to this fact is somehow unfair to Ron Paul)..  As I've written in the past, Paul (like Scheuer) advocates isolationism, and even goes so far as to praise the isolationist movement of the early World War II era.  He explicitly praises figures such as Charles Lindbergh, whose opposition to war verged on support for the Nazis (who they certainly helped by delaying U.S. opposition to Nazi aggression), and who explicitly scapegoated American Jews for drawing the U.S.into the war.   Moreover, Ron Paul and other neo-isolationist supporters of Lindbergh completely overlook Lindbergh's associations with a cabal of far-right, anti-Roosevelt military officers, his close friendship with Nazi collaborators such as Alexis Carrel and his private expressions of admiration for the Nazis.  Ron Paul goes so far as to say that Lindbergh and the isolationists were the truly patriotic Americans of their era -- just don't call them isolationists.  Paul prefers that both he and his historical heroes be called "non-interventionists" and that this movement be regarded as being of a piece with George Washington's opposition to "foreign entanglements", a seemingly overarching principle which Washington clearly intended to avoid U.S. involvement in conflict between Britain and France.  Scheuer has wrapped his isolationism in the mantle of Thomas Jefferson in his writings, apparently forgetting that Jefferson was a strong advocate of the idea that human rights were universal, and that Jefferson involved the United States in conflict with the Barbary pirates, and pursued what was, for its era, a robust foreign policy which made both allies and enemies.  Washington and Jefferson were hardly the monolithic and doctrinaire ideologues Paul and Scheuer see them as.  They weren't the isolationists of their era.  That's what psychologists would call a projection.  Paul and Scheuer see Washington and Jefferson as their mirror image, as Paul and Scheuer in powdered wigs.  Such a distortion requires correction by an objective third party.  Someone to tell Ron Paul and Michael Scheuer just how badly they misunderstand U.S. history.  That could be alled an intervention.

UPDATE (June 4, 2010):

Scheuer has apparently taken his entire blog offline.  I'm not sure why he did this, or whether it's permanent.  I can see why he might want to cover his tracks by deleting the columns I've discussed here from the record.

I'm looking for cached/archived versions of his columns and will update the links in this post as soon as I find them.

UPDATE #2 (June 5, 2010):

At the currently cached homepage for Scheuer's website (here), there's an "Account Suspended" page. Why?  

I've replaced the dead link in the article (the one that goes to Scheuer's now suspended blog) with a link to a cached version.  While doing this, I noticed another post (cached version here) predicting a sort of "race war" scenario of Jews fighting Muslims on U.S. streets, this by way of pleading to end the U.S.-Israeli alliance before it's too late.  This prediction was based on his viewing a video of the Israeli ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, being shouted down by Muslim students while trying to address an audience at a California university.  If Scheuer can leap from that to predicting war in the streets of this country, he gives Glenn Beck's fevered imagination a run for its money.

Still more.  In this column he writes

In the ongoing debate over the seven attorneys hired by the Department of Justice after working pro bono to defend terrorists is drifting away from what I think is the main point of the issue — the ardent desire of Barack Obama to surround himself with people who either hate America or are intent on fundamentally changing everything America has traditionally respected and honored.


(President Obama) appointed as his chief of staff, Rahm Emmanuel, a man who deserted America to stand with Israel’s armed forces during the 1990-91 Gulf War, and has now given this man access to the nation’s most sensitive national security information....
wanted to appoint a self-avowed communist to work on his staff in the White House... appointed a woman to the Supreme Court who out of her own mouth admitted she was a bigot — Latina’s are better judges then white guys... (and) sent Cass Sunstein to the Department of Justice, a man who the media report champions legal representation for dogs in court; regards unborn human beings as a “handful of cells”; and believes the government should decide about who and who does not get life-preserving health care.

That's a whole lot of demonstrably false right wing talking points wrapped in a whole lot of paranoid crazy.

Then there's the hysterically titled column The Tea Party vs. Blind Arrogance (read here), in which he states the following, thus demonstrating that the Tea Party (at least in his case) is blind arrogance.

(President Obama) and all recent presidents have conducted a war on Christianity in America under the banner of the “separation of church and state.” Falsely claiming that they are doing the Founders’ work, these men and women, through their actions and appointments, have aided — or at least have done nothing to stop — the creation of “rights” that are nothing less than attacks on Christian beliefs. Whether by eradicating the term “Christmas” from our public lexicon; by championing nearly every kind of sexual deviance, or by facilitating the murder of 45-plus million unborn Americans by defending and perpetuating a Supreme Court decision even more merciless, anti-human, and lethal than Dred Scott, our political leaders have a message that can only read: “To hell with American Christians, we regard them as out-dated simpletons, we hate their God, and we will create a federal government that takes His place.” [NB: Other religions of course are exempt from the “separation of church and state” sanction. They are, rather, to be favored by our national government and with our tax money. Tyrannical Islamic theocracies are protected by the U.S. military and Islam is called a “religion of peace” whose young men just happen to be killing our soldiers and Marines, and the “Jewish state” receives tens of billions of dollars annually to help maintain its theocracy and involve our soldier-children in its expansionism and endless religious war.

In January, Scheuer infamously claimed in a C-SPAN interview that he was fired from a prestigious position with the Jamestown Institute as the result of a conspiracy by "Israel-firsters". He has gone on since that time to demonstrate in very stark terms why no self-respecting foreign policy think tank would want to be associated with his crackpot ideas. His employment troubles don't stem from a Jewish conspiracy, but from the distorted nature of his thinking about the world.  It makes perfect sense that he can't understanding that.  He can't understand a lot of things.


Anonymous said...

I think Scheuer is a bit over the top, but has it basically right: we need a less interventionist F.P. Also I don't see why we should send any $ to Israel -- it is a separate country. 2% of the US population is Jewish and maybe <0.5% is militantly Likudnik so I have no affinity for Israel.

Adam Holland said...

Arguments for a "less interventionist F.P." coming from the right are always a bit confusing. On the one hand, Scheuer worked to create "extraordinary rendition", opposes the U.S. being subject to international law, and promotes a unilateralist foreign policy based only on U.S. interests. On the other hand, he claims to be "non-interventionist", rejects all alliances as "foreign entanglements" (quoting Washington, who had something very different in mind), and promotes conspiracy theories about Europe, Israel, the World Bank, IMF, etc. That's a very schizophrenic view of "F.P."

The U.S. acts in its own strategic interests. Scheuer's view (and yours?) that what happens to Israel is of no interest to the U.S. is not widely shared by foreign policy experts. His fantasizing about Israel's destruction and planning for a subsequent purge of U.S. Zionists is shared by none.

I don't know the methodology of your facts and figures, but I do know that Scheuer's views are not supported by the American public. Care to comment on that?


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