Saturday, February 07, 2004

Fareed Zakaria may be a centrist (and, by his own admission, a friend of one of the authors), but he gets in a few good digs in his New York Times review of David Frum and Richard Perle's An End to Evil:

While terror mounted, Frum and Perle say, the Clinton administration did nothing. They remind us that in one case (an anti-Semitic attack in Argentina) ''it opened negotiations with the murderers.'' Now one can make the case that America's halfhearted responses have egged on Middle Eastern terrorists. But one should surely begin this story where the terrorists do themselves, with their huge attack on the Marine barracks in Lebanon in 1983 and America's disastrous decision to pull out immediately. Nor do the authors mention the most important instance of the United States ''negotiating with murderers,'' which was, of course, the decision to trade arms for hostages in the mid-1980's. Both events took place during the Reagan administration, when Perle was in high office.

Moreover, the impression the authors give is that they and their confederates were outraged by Clinton's (weak-kneed) efforts against Al Qaeda. In fact neoconservatives were silent about Al Qaeda during the 1990's. One searches vainly through the archives of the Project for the New American Century, the main neoconservative advocacy group, for a single report on Al Qaeda or a letter urging action against it before 9/11. (There are dozens on the China threat, national missile defenses and Saddam Hussein's weapons.) Clinton may merely have lobbed missiles at terrorists, but the neoconservatives did not even launch a blast fax.


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