Jonah Goldberg: Seeking the Moral High Ground

July 24, 2007
One of the features of Jewish intellectual and political movements I noticed in my research is a strong tendency to claim the moral high ground (See Culture of Critique, passim). The neocons, of course, are no exception to this, and Jonah Goldberg's
"In Iraq Liberals Flip on Genocide" (L. A. Times, July, 24, 2007) is a great example. It is now widely known that the neocons, including Goldberg, were the main force leading us into the war in Iraq and that the motivations of many of the principal neocons were firmly rooted in their ethnic ties to the interests of Israel. The public rationale for this disastrous policy was based on a whole series of lies about weapons of mass destruction and strong ties between Saddam Hussein and El Qaeda. It was also based on an illusory desire for democracy and Western-style social and political institutions on the part of the Iraqi people.

So what we have here is a huge moral abyss in which the ethnic interests of a narrow segment of the American population have resulted in a huge loss of many thousands of American and Iraqi lives as well as hundreds of billions of dollars of unnecessary expenditures. Goldberg nevertheless tries to seize the moral high ground by saying that those who want to leave Iraq are condemning the Iraqis to an ocean of bloodshed. Ergo, the U.S. has a moral obligation to remain in Iraq.

The problem with this from a moral perspective is it was well known prior to the invasion that Iraq was deeply divided along sectarian religious and ethnic lines, and that toppling Hussein might well unleash a nightmare of violence not only on the Iraqis but also the U.S. troops. (Click here for Vice President Dick Cheney's prescient 1994 video clearly stating all the reasons why invading Iraq would be a bad idea..) The idea that the invasion would lead to a society remotely resembling Western societies was a fundamental lie promoted by respected neocon academics like Middle East expert Bernard Lewis of Princeton. (IMO, Lewis should be a prime candidate for the Franz Boas Award for Using Academic Credentials to Advance an Ethnic Agenda. Close runner-up: Alan Dershowitz of Harvard for his multi-faceted activities in defense of Israel, but more on that another time.) And Israeli strategists have long proposed downsizing Arab regimes along ethnic and sectarian lines so that they are less powerful and pose less of a threat to Israel. See "Neoconservatism as a Jewish Movement."

So I can just see the denouement: Goldberg and his ilk will pose as morally pure defenders of continued U.S. presence in Iraq, and when that becomes politically or militarily untenable, they will wring their hands publicly, and condemn the liberals and anyone else who advocates withdrawal. But privately, they and the Israelis will be crying some very big crocodile tears.