Wednesday, February 16, 2011


As Adam Serwer has been pointing out, it's somewhat odd that the political establishment (right as well as left) is criticizing Glenn Beck's nutball theories about what's going on in the Middle East, given the fact that those nutball theories are extremely similar to what's promulgated these days by right-wingers who are part of the political establishment. Here's Adam's latest:

Todd Gregory and Terry Krepel [of Media Matters] incredulously ask, How can Glenn Beck now be alleging that the State Department is complicit in the worldwide MOOZLEM conspiracy?
Perhaps most unbelievable: The State Department under the Bush administration was "in bed" with the "radical Islamists, communists, and socialists" who are working together against Israel and capitalism, and to overthrow stability. Why? Because the State Department under Bush helped start the Alliance for Youth Movements.
Oh man! That's totally crazy go nuts! I wonder where you'd get an idea like that? Maybe from
National Review columnist Andy McCarthy:
Islamists were sent on State Department junkets and recruited to indoctrinate our agents and our armed forces in Islamic sensitivity. The State Department became transparently pro-Palestinian and pro-sharia -- even helping establish sharia’s centrality to the new constitutions of Iraq and Afghanistan. The Clinton and Bush administrations regarded Islamist regimes like Saudi Arabia and Yemen as "strong allies" of the U.S. Clinton and Bush sought the holy grail of a grand deal with Iran, all the time overlooking or rationalizing the mullahs’ killing of Americans.....

Adam's correct, of course. All I want to add is that accusing the State Department of appeasement, fifth-column-ism, and outright treason is a favorite sport of the right. Recall Newt Gingrich in 2003:

In a speech at the conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI), Gingrich accused the State Department of being responsible for the global unpopularity of U.S. policies in Iraq....

The State Department "failed ... to such a degree that 95 percent of the Turkish people opposed the American position," Gingrich said. "Despite a pathetic public campaign of hand wringing and desperation," he said, the department failed to gain the votes it needed for a second United Nations Security Council resolution paving the way for war in Iraq.

As was noted at the time in an L.A. Times editorial:

Republicans, after all, have a long history of complaining about the State Department. In the early 1950s, Sens. Joseph McCarthy, William F. Knowland, William E. Jenner and Patrick McCarran all fulminated about Secretary of State Dean Acheson and what they saw as a lily-livered department that was soft on Red China. The result was a purge in 1953, carried out by Dwight D. Eisenhower's secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, that reminded Acheson of the worst days of the Red Scare. In the 1970s, Ronald Reagan led denunciations of Henry Kissinger for allegedly selling out on arms control agreements to the Kremlin. Gingrich is only following suit, calling for "transforming" the department.

Gingrich depicts the State Department as riddled with Middle East experts who have a "propensity for appeasing dictators" that is undermining Bush foreign policy. The list of sins could hardly have been more sweeping: State Department bunglers mismanaged the diplomacy leading up to the Iraq war; Secretary of State Colin L. Powell's planned visit to Damascus, Syria, in May is "ludicrous." But nothing stirs up the hawks more than the Middle East "road map" that President Bush reluctantly adopted under pressure from British Prime Minister Tony Blair before the Iraq war.

Adam cites Bill Kristol's recent tut-tutting about Beck. Back during the run-up to the Iraq War, Kristol referred to the State Department as part of an "axis of appeasement," in response to news reports that some at State weren't sufficiently enthusiastic about the war (or, to use Kristol's euphemism, about "setting American foreign policy on a course of moral clarity and global leadership").

Here's Richard Perle, back in those days, accusing State of disloyalty because of inadequate cheerleading for Ahmed Chalabi and the Iraqi National Congress; here's Robert Spencer, in 2004, calling State a "Ministry of Truth" because a department press release credited an Arab navigator with helping Columbus; here, in 2008, is the Heritage Foundation speaking of "textbook appeasement" because State wasn't condemning textbooks at the Islamic Saudi Academy in Virginia; here's Ralph Peters in spring '09, writing about dialogue between President Obama's outreach to the Turkish prime minister:

What was Obama thinking? He wasn't. He relied on advice from State Department appeasement artists who understand neither Turkey, Islam nor the crises raging between the Bosporus and the Indus. State's answer is always "More love, more humility, more aid."

Note the emphasis on "always" -- it's just an article of faith on the right that State is both hapless and treasonous. Beck didn't go much further than credentialed conservative mandarins always have.

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