The Militant (logo)  
   Vol. 68/No. 24           June 28, 2004  
Jew-hatred, red-baiting: heart
of claims of ‘neocon’ conspiracy
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Over the past year there has been a spate of articles by liberal and middle-class radical commentators, as well as by rightists, that attack the Bush administration by claiming that today U.S. foreign and military policy is being orchestrated by a small group of “neoconservatives” in the Defense Department. They often point to Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith, former Pentagon advisor Richard Perle, and other high-ranking officials.

Some of these commentators go further, pointing to officials with Jewish names and implying or saying that a Jewish “neocon cabal” is involved.

All variations of these conspiracy theories are false and reactionary. They divert attention from the fact that the problem facing workers and farmers is capitalism, and that state power is in the hands of a class of billionaire families that exploits the labor power of working people. U.S. government officials—Democrats and Republicans alike—are simply servants of this ruling class and carry out policies in their interests.

For example the May 12 issue of New Yorker magazine ran an article by liberal journalist Seymour Hersh about the supposed “neocon takeover of the Pentagon,” which he blames for manipulating evidence “regarding Iraq’s possible possession of weapons of mass destruction and connection with Al Qaeda” as a justification for invading Iraq.

“They call themselves, self-mockingly, the Cabal—a small cluster of policy advisers and analysts now based in the Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans,” Hersh wrote. He claims that in the past year “their operation, which was conceived by Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, has brought about a crucial change in direction in the American intelligence community” and that they “have helped to shape public opinion and American policy toward Iraq.”

Hersh’s “exposé” relied in part on information from a retired Air Force intelligence officer. The same officer was cited as a source by Democratic senator Edward Kennedy in a March 5 speech at the Council on Foreign Relations. Based on information from this “intelligence source” Kennedy charged, “What happened was not merely a failure of intelligence but the result of manipulation and distortions of the intelligence and selective use of unreliable intelligence to justify a decision to go to war.”  
Reactionary conspiracy theories
Hersh and Kennedy’s source is Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski. After her retirement from a Pentagon intelligence job, she gave an interview to Executive Intelligence Review a publication of the fascist outfit headed by Lyndon LaRouche and authored several internet articles in which she alleges a “neocon” conspiracy in the Bush administration seeking to “leverage the full might of the United States to build a greater Zion.”

Related conspiracy themes are being promoted both on the ultraright and among layers of left-liberals, Stalinists, and other middle-class radicals—from Patrick Buchanan and his magazine, The American Conservative, and the Buchananite web site, on the right, to the liberal magazine The Nation in the United States and the daily Guardian and weekly New Statesman in the United Kingdom, on the left.

This campaign finds a resonance among Jew haters and sectors of the wealthy ruling classes in the United States and Europe and of their officer corps whose positions and chances for advancement are threatened by the policies being led by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to transform the U.S. armed forces into a lighter, more mobile force to wage Washington’s wars around the world. It also finds an echo among remnants of the Stalinist bureaucracy still interlacing the officer corps and “intelligence” agencies across Eastern Europe; insecure layers of the middle classes and better-off workers squeezed by the capitalist crisis; and Stalinist-influenced liberals and petty-bourgeois radicals worldwide.

The claim by Kwiatkowski, the fascist LaRouchite outfit, and others that U.S. officials who are Jewish are involved in a conspiracy on behalf of Israel is a classic anti-Semitic smear. It is related to claims of a “cabal” promoted by Anglo-American capital—often involving the British crown and, since the October 1917 Russian Revolution, the Bolsheviks.

One variant of the conspiracy articles that have appeared over the last year seeks to link a “Jewish neocon cabal,” at least in its historical origins, to Bolshevik leader Leon Trotsky and those who trace their political continuity to the communist movement he fought to build. U.S. liberal writer Michael Lind, for example, in an article in the New Statesman in April 2003, asserts that U.S. foreign policy is dominated today by a layer of “neoconservatives” who are “products of the largely Jewish-American Trotskyist movement of the 1930s and 1940s which morphed into an anti-communist liberalism between the 1950s and 1970s and finally into a kind of militaristic and imperial right with no precedents in American culture or political history.”

Lind claims this alleged group is part of an “Israel lobby” in the U.S. government whose ideology is “Trotsky’s theory of the permanent revolution mingled with the far-right Likud strain of Zionism,” referring to the Israeli Likud party. His liberal diatribe was picked up in the pro-Buchanan web site

Buchanan, in a March 24, 2003, article in The American Conservative, describes what he calls the first generation of “neocons” as “ex-liberals, socialists, and Trotskyites…who rafted over to the GOP at the end of conservatism’s long march to power with Ronald Reagan in 1980.”

Versions of this intermixed poison of Jew-hatred and Trotsky-baiting have appeared in the New York Times, Foreign Affairs, and numerous other publications and internet sites. They feature headlines such as: “Trotskycons?” “Bush-Trotsky Links: Let’s Count the Ways,” “Now It’s Trotsky’s Fault?” “Trotskyism to Anachronism: the Neoconservative Revolution,” and “Trotsky’s Ghost Wandering the White House.”

This kind of smear against Trotsky and the communist movement, including the Socialist Workers Party in the United States, is not new—from the opening days of the Bolshevik Revolution it has been used against communists by imperialist reaction, Social Democrats, and later the Stalinists. Such slanders and reactionary arguments will become more frequent as the capitalist crisis and conflicts between imperialist powers sharpen, heightening class tensions, political polarization, the politics of resentment, restrictions on rights, and the coarsening of bourgeois political discourse.

Smears about “Trotskycons” to the contrary, the fact is that no prominent figure among the so-called neoconservatives has ever been a member of the Socialist Workers Party. A few from the oldest generation—none of whom ever held government posts—were around the youth group of an organization led by Max Shachtman in the 1930s and 1940s. Shachtman and his supporters split from the Socialist Workers Party in 1940, breaking with Marxism. As they evolved, they dissolved their group into the Socialist Party in 1958, and accelerated their course by backing the Henry “Scoop” Jackson wing of the Democratic Party and filling the staffs of AFL-CIO unions.

It is also worth noting that in the current administration, the central architects of U.S. military policy, from the imperialist wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to Washington’s policies toward Israel, are above all Donald Rumsfeld and George Bush. They are not Jewish, and are as conventional in their records as capitalist politicians as anyone could be.  
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