Wednesday, August 04, 2010

JONATHAN CHAIT AND THE NEW PARTY LINE


This will be short.

As you may know, ‘The New Republic’ has for some years fallen under the influence of persons most solicitous for the success of Our Staunch Ally Sans Treaty*. (One of the reasons I head straight past politics and current events to the back of the magazine, where the literary and philosophical pieces are reliably worthwhile.)

Anyhoo, in a piece in the August 10 edition, Jonathan Chait quietly lays out the new party-line for friends and lovers of the SAST. Treacherous or duped former friends and lovers, the readership is informed, have recently taken to forming an ‘Emergency Committee for Israel’.

The treacherous or duped consist of neoncons, dinosaurs (Chait would have it known) of a former age. It is perfectly possible, he hints darkly, that they have put together a new committee because in their movement’s declining years they need some fresh income and there’s nothing like an emergency-committee for bringing in donations (sorta like, I guess, the easiest way to separate Boomers from their folding money is to have the Stones do a concert).

Chait scoffs – and this is where the whiskers of the friends and lovers will twitch appreciatively – at the neocons’ pretext for forming the Committee: the Obama Administration is “the most anti-Israel Administration in the history of the United States”.

And this is where it gets positively interesting.

Phooey-baloney, Chait slyly implies to the Correct. Obama is the most friendly in a long time. Quickly, Chait ticks off the reasons (and talking points) for this new Correctness (i.e. neocons BAD, Obama GOOOOD): 3 billion ‘dollars’ (as the term currently applies) a year in ‘aid’; diplomatic support (Biden the Bloviator dropping in like itnerant birdplop); and most especially as such “support” was deployed recently by America’s official refusal to condemn Israel’s Achtung-adventure with the Gaza flotilla (no mention, nicely, of what the flotilla was trying to accomplish with its relief supplies).

And the howler: “This would seem to make Obama more pro-Israel than, at the very least, Lyndon Johnson who took a neutral stance when Israel faced potential annhiliation in 1967, and Dwight Eisenhower, who condemned Israel’s 1956 joint raid with Britain and France on the Suez Canal”.

My, my.

In between the former and the latter Adminstrations – oddly unmentioned by Chait – there was John F. Kennedy, who was even more adamant than Ike that Israel should not – NOT – try to develop atomic weapons and thereby introduce them into the Middle East. And he let them (at this point in American history not yet an ‘ally’ in any sense whatsoever) know in no uncertain terms that they would not be carrying out their nefarious scheme on his watch.

But then, suddenly, by the most remarkable coincidence, JFK’s watch was over, ended by a bullet – it is famously asserted – that had the properties formerly ascribed only to Jovian thunderbolts and Martian ‘ray-guns’ (this was several years before Star Trek phasers ). The bullet, by the way, was hypothesized by a very young gentleman named Arlen Specter of the Warren Commission; a young man who would go on to represent the Great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on Capitol Hill – and bear that in mind for a couple of minutes here.

And along came LBJ, who from his earliest moment as President meditated on two profound realities: first, the electoral death that might well come quickly and semi-permanently to pols who break up long-standing political arrangements such as the New-Deal coalition of northern industrial states and the Jim Crow South.

And second, the physical death that might come, quite permanently, to Presidents who do stuff certain interests don’t like.

By the strangest coincidence, within a short time after assuming office – We now know – LBJ’s Administration blocked all efforts by government agencies to investigate the loss of between a quarter and a half-ton of atomic material, by a Pennsylvania corporation chartered to deal in processing such hugely dangerous stuff; the corporation was run by a gentleman with well-known sympathies for and connections to co-religionists in a certain Middle Eastern statelet to which Chait’s magazine is now rather firmly indentured.

Thus, LBJ helped said statelet – nowadays morphed into Our SAST – to get nuclear weapons.

There was an official investigation in 1978 – six years after LBJ died – and its official report is here.

Apparently a number of Beltway types had figured by then that a public that could swallow the ‘magic bullet’ could accept that it was all just a bunch of lost stuff that had fallen into the cracks in the building (a rickety old factory, of course) and that it could only indicate verrrry baaaad attitudes to think that perhaps some international skullduggery, involving the President of the United States, had actually gone on.

At some point back there said Specter had formally asked the Report-writers to officially clear him of any wrong-doing in the matter; we can’t, they replied, because with all the missing evidence and vague answers from so many involved, we can’t actually confirm that no skullduggery was committed.

That skullduggery would have risen to treason, given the circumstances and the probable recipient of the nuclear material. Certainly, the stuff did not go to an Ally.

You can read all about it here and here

So LBJ went a lonnnnnng way to help his ‘frens’ over there in the Middle East in that no-treaty-signing statelet. Possibly he committed treason.

And that was years before the 1967 war when the same statelet attacked the USS Liberty, a clearly marked large US Navy electronic intelligence ship in international waters, repeatedly, in the bright light of day, machine-gunning life-rafts and killing more US sailors than anybody since Imperial Japan, claiming that it looked to them like a 55 year-old Egyptian horse-transport ship half the Navy ship’s size.

Although its radio antennas were almost immediately blasted away, the ship’s plucky radiomen managed to rig an antenna and got out a distress call to the carrier USS America, which immediately launched fighters to assist. And it was those fighters that were personally re-called via orders transmitted from LBJ by Robert McNamara, the Secretary of Defense, directly to the carrier on a radio-telephone (not how Navy orders are usually transmitted at all, then or now).

It was a case of ‘mistaken identity’, surely, said LBJ. And just in case the word and judgment of the man who was already losing Vietnam wasn’t respected, the surviving sailors were ordered to shut-up or face court-martial and the Navy lawyer-admiral assigned to ‘investigate’ was told what he was to find – to wit, the aforesaid ‘mistaken identity’. (At that time, very few knew thgat LBJ was also the big man who squelched any investigation into how the statelet got its first big hit of nuclear material.)

You can read up on the USS Liberty incident here and here.

Long afterward, Robert McNamara, who in his memoirs could recall what busty bedizened bimbos said to compliment him at long-cold A-list Georgetown dinner parties, claimed that he – ummmmm – couldn’t recall a single thing about what he was doing that day that high-ranking Naval officers claimed to get a radio-telephone message from him that stopped US Navy fighters from going to the rescue of a US Navy ship attacked by a non-allied nation in international waters.

Nor, apparently, was there anything in the files – long before Nixon’s secretary ‘accidentally erased’ 18 minutes of a tape of Presidential phone calls that were claimed to involve him in a crime, McNamara had also ‘lost’ a bunch of his records. A chunk of a day in the official life of the Secretary of Defense of the then-hegemonic United States simply disappeared, and nobody in the vicinity seemed to be particularly upset about it.

So I’d just like to say that I think it’s a damned shame that poor LBJ, who went about as close to the border of treason as an American citizen, and a President, could possibly go, in order to help the SAST statelet, is now posthumously dissed as a bum who did nothing for said statelet.

It is an outrage, suh! A damned outrage, plain and simple.

And the author thereof is either an imbecile or a poltroon, suh!

NOTES

*’Sans’ as meaning ‘without’. Israel refuses a defense treaty of alliance with the U.S. because it has never wanted to put itself in the difficult position of either admitting that it will never settle for anything less than everything geographically or committing itself to declaring enforceable national boundaries that at any point are LESS than everything. Helpfully, the Beltway – well remunerated in divers ways – has solved this stunning bit of a problem by simply trumpeting ‘ally’ at every opportunity. By amazing coincidence the American media never really spend much time on it.

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