THE WANDERER, APRIL 12, 2007

JOSEPH SOBRAN'S
WASHINGTON WATCH

Side by Side

     On his web site takimag.com, my old friend Taki 
Theodoracopulos has written a powerful attack on "our war 
criminals," the neoconservatives, who are not only 
impenitent about having promoted the disastrous Iraq war, 
but are now, with incredible audacity and utter impunity, 
promoting the forthcoming Iran war -- the next stage in 
what they call World War IV, though I think of it as 
NC III: Neocon War Three.

     Over 20 years ago, I began waving my arms 
frantically to warn America that these folks were 
determined to get us into a needless war in the Middle 
East. Looking back, I must say I was naive: I didn't 
know, or even suspect, the half of it. I had little 
inkling of the power of this tiny faction, or of its 
ruthlessness.

     One day around 1988 I ran into Irving Kristol, whom 
I always liked personally, at a small conservative 
gathering. He gave me what sounded like a friendly, if 
blunt, piece of advice: "Joe, stop writing about the 
Jews. Write about the Catholics. Them, you know something 
about." He sounded a bit sarcastic, but I didn't take it 
as a threat.

     This wasn't the Mafia, after all; true, Irving was 
called "the Godfather of neoconservatism," but that was a 
joke. And I'd gotten much the same advice from Bill 
Buckley. Threat? It was more like a suggestion that I not 
lie down on the railroad tracks when that whistle was 
tooting.

     What really drove me was not hate but fear: the fear 
that my two sons, both in their teens, would be drafted 
to die in a needless war in the Middle East. Didn't the 
neocons have similar fears for their own sons? (I guess 
not.)

     What I also discovered in those days was an 
astounding fear of the Jews, nearly always disguised as 
fear =for= the Jews, as if Nazism were a perpetual 
threat. The people most terrified of the Jews pretended 
to be defending them from powerful enemies -- such as me. 
A certain Lutheran pastor turned Catholic priest was 
especially adroit at playing this game in his new house. 
Because I opposed war for the sake of the state of 
Israel, he suggested that I was indifferent to the 
slaughter of millions of Jews!

     The neocons' chief weapon has been their readiness 
to accuse their opponents of anti-Semitism. Before the 
1991 Gulf war they used this one on Pat Buchanan, Sam 
Francis, and me, among others. "Isolationism" was one of 
their gentler charges against us. To this they have added 
the contradictory charge that we "hate America."

     Here Bill Buckley lent a hand, "asking" whether we 
were anti-Semites -- a bit like "asking" whether we were 
pedophiles. (The question remains like a stain when the 
answer is long forgotten.) When he later asked me if I 
thought he'd been fair to me, I looked at him 
incredulously. "It wasn't something I'd do to a friend," 
I said quietly.

     Within a few years he had given virtual if not 
nominal ownership of NATIONAL REVIEW to the neocons and 
their chipmunk helpers.

     And yet, Bill has finally begun to come around. He 
now opposes the Iraq war, denies that George W. Bush is a 
conservative, and has developed a belated wariness of the 
neocons he once embraced.

     But what good can it do him at this point? How it 
must grieve him in his last days to see what they have 
done to the magazine he created. It must be like having a 
child kidnapped and raised by strangers of some crazy 
pagan cult.

     By sheer coincidence, I just bought an old SING 
ALONG WITH MITCH MILLER AND THE GANG record. As I was 
reading Taki's piece, my stereo was booming "Side by 
Side," an old song when Mitch revived it 50 years ago. 
What a perfect anthem for us paleoconservatives:

         When they've all had their quarrels and parted
         We'll be the same as we started,
         Just a-travelin' along,
         Singin' our song,
         Side by side.


Did Someone Say "Defense"?

     The brainiest of the neocons, or their 
Dr. Strangelove, anyway, is surely Charles Krauthammer, 
who can justify any war he takes a shine to. In a way I 
have to admire him. He doesn't always listen to himself 
too closely, though.

     In a recent column he notes in passing that "the 
world's one superpower," the United States, "spends more 
on defense every year than =the rest of the world 
combined.="

     Dumb question: When you have that much defense, is 
it all really just defense?

     Sure, we can wipe out anything on the planet. No 
igloo or mud hut can safely defy us. But I can think of 
other names for that besides "defense." In the Orwellian 
propaganda of the democratic age, "defense" and "war" 
mean pretty much the same thing. It is part of our 
conventional wisdom that to have peace you must be 
prepared for war. I used to believe that was 
self-evident. I also thought I was a good Christian! 

     The more nukes, the surer the peace. That was the 
crazy logic of it. I've come to suspect that if you're 
really prepared for war, you may just get war.


Money, Politics, and Honor

     Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign has 
reportedly raised the staggering sum of $26 million.

     At least they say that's a staggering amount. I 
can't tell anymore. Isn't that about what big-league 
infielders make these days?

     Don't ask me. I go back to the days when a hundred 
bucks was a lot of dough. The word "trillion" was still 
mostly hypothetical. Nobody thought Congress would ever 
get drunk enough to spend a trillion simoleons in a 
single year.

     I just read that in 1955 Sandy Koufax agreed to 
pitch for the Brooklyn Dodgers for $14,000 -- hardly a 
staggering sum even then. When other teams offered him 
far more, he politely declined on the quaint grounds that 
he'd already given the Dodgers his word.

     That's the kind of young man he was. To him a 
handshake was an ironclad contract. His talent was 
exceeded only by his honor. The same can't be said for 
the Dodgers, alas.

     The proportion between honor and money (especially 
the government's paper money) remains elusive. The 
government giveth and the government taketh away (that's 
how it giveth), but in any case, the government seldom 
leaveth alone.

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                                        --- Joseph Sobran

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