(Steve Clemons and future TWN blogger)
OK. . .it’s a great morning in Washington, DC — and I’ve been spending it at the newly refurbished 17th Street Cafe in Dupont Circle. I used to hang out at the old cafe — CyperStop (where Al Gore stopped once during his 2000 campaign to show he was internet savvy) because of the free wireless and tolerable coffee — but it always felt as if it was about to structurally implode. This place is fantastic now.
I’ve just made my way into the “Facebook” world — and linked up with pals Josh Marshall, Dave Meyer, Matt Stoller, Garance Franke-Ruta, Arianna Huffington, Eli Pariser, and a few dozen others. I’m sort of airport pals with Wes Clark — but his facebook entry has too many connections and the system won’t allow him to connect with any more folks. This is a really interesting network I’ve been slow to get into. I even have a few blog readers who have booked me. I like the interactivity.
I love Jacob Heilbrunn’s new book that I have just ripped through. I have galleys — not the real book which neocon junkies should definitely buy. It’s titlted They Knew They Were Right: The Rise of the Neocons. It’s a superbly done treatment of the deep roots of this movement, and the consequence of its rise.
But what is also interesting is the fairness of Heilbrunn’s acknowledgments. In about a page and a quarter of not gushing but thoughtful appreciation to various personalities, he thanks Chris Buckley, William F. Buckley Jr., Norman Podhoretz, Midge Decter, Kenneth Adelman, Douglas Feith, Peter Rodman, Walter Berns, Mark Blitz, and Kenneth Weinstein. He continues with Jeane Kirkpatrick (the late Ambassador), John Bolton — about whom Heilbrunn said was “affabile, witty, and direct discussing his career” — Gary Rosen, Nicholas Gvosdev, Kukula Glastris, Joan Wohlstetter, Peter Berkowitz, William Kristol, Melvin Lasky, Daniel Bell, Steven Clemons, Michael Lind, Jonathan Rauch, Lawrence F. Kaplan, Adam Bellow (yes. . .Saul’s son), and in-laws John and Gina Despres, and his brilliant Henry Waxman-staffing significant other, Sarah Despres. Oh yes, and child Oscar.
The book is great — but there will probably not often be a list of such names — given who they are — that hangs together with such comfort and poise. This is an interesting book that draws from interesting people.
I sent in a blurb for the book this morning, which will most likely be edited (or perhaps rejected as i was late getting it in) — but here it is:
America’s first steps into 21st century foreign policy will forever be marked by the stunning rise to power of a small group of utopia-by-force idealists called neoconservatives. Jacob Heilbrunn’s They Knew They Were Right: The Rise of the Neocons is not only the essential primer to the origins, the rise, and the not yet fallen of the neocon movement, but it’s the story of America’s own evolution as a self-sure, do-good nation that wants to assist other peoples to look like us — or if that proves complicated, wipe them out or wall them off. Heilbrunn has written the most important and revealing profile of the deep roots of neoconservatism available today.
On other fronts, David Sanger’s and Mark Mazzetti’s piece on Syrian nuclear plant activities does disturb. Mostly because I don’t buy it. . .at least not yet. My intel sources don’t concur that this was a nuclear plant — but rather that it was a machine tool operation to modernize Syrian scud missiles with air burst capacity warheads. Such warheads could ‘eventually’ be outfitted with some nasty kinds of things — including chemical, bio, and nuke warheads.
I hate to be at odds with Sanger and Mazzetti as I admire them both a great deal — but they need to make sure that they are not being “Judith Miller’d”. I leave open the door that my sources could be wrong, but bombing a nuke site as opposed to a machine operation to raise the level of potential terror that Syria could rain on Israel (far more cheaply) are vastly different in scale.
Daniel Levy sent me this piece this morning as a bit of a counter point to the Sanger/Mazzetti article. My one difference with the “War in Context” piece is that while I also doubt that Syria is stockloading a lot of chem weapons (in the broadest sense) — it is awash in napalm (which is designated chemical) and which Israel has a zillion vats of as well.
— Steve Clemons