Sunday Musings


steve and baby.jpg
(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.
More soon.
— Steve Clemons


13 comments on “Sunday Musings

  1. Americaneocon says:

    Great! Heilbrunn’s got a good piece up today at LAT. I’m going to check out his book! Thanks for the link!,0,1500804.story?coll=la-news-comment-opinions


  2. Sandy says:

    ….more building the case:
    Pentagon acted with little oversight in spying on Americans, documents show
    Nick Juliano
    Published: Monday October 15, 2007
    The Department of Defense has conspired with the FBI to “circumvent the law” in accessing hundreds of Americans’ telephone, e-mail and financial records, say two civil liberties groups that released reams of new documents obtained in a contested public records request.
    The American Civil Liberties Union, which has challenged the Bush Administration’s post-Sept. 11 spying authority, says the Pentagon has issued 455 National Security Letters in concert with the FBI to obtain Americans’ private information it is not entitled to receive….” (excerpt)


  3. Sandy says:

    (big grin) Peach!
    Carroll, Kathleen, et al….there’s a lot of intersting stuff over here today, too: (in case you hadn’t seen it…)
    Talk about building a case (for the Hague)!


  4. Kathleen says:

    Carroll… The point of the recent spate of whitewashes is exactly that… to whitewash.
    The moving finger having writ, has created a lot of unpleasant graffiti and when Jane Q. Citizen comes along and connects a bunch of dots, the picture gets quite ugly. Some would say criminal…sooo a goodf whitewash let’s you set a canvas for a whole new reality.
    Pretend you’re Alice and the Pretender to the Throne is yelling, “Clean script, clean script!” and Demz are scurrying around trying to figure out which discarded set of RepubliKlan Talking Points to snatch out of the wastebasket and run with.
    Meanwhile the newly whitewashed wall provides a whole new canvas for Jane Q. Citizen to put in all the important dots, connect them and leave out the bullshit red herrings. Cut to the chase, get to the bottom line, ASAP and skip all the jive-assed jive.
    Graffiti is the oldest form of public commentary.
    Thank you, Steve, for giving us a great virtual wall.
    So all you Moving Fingers out there, Give us A Writ, already. I’ll take mine in peach.


  5. Sandy says:

    You mean a “vision” like this one, Carroll?
    Juan Williams: Kristol Is Pushing For ‘The Next World War’
    On Fox News Sunday, right-wing pundit Bill Kristol continued to beat the war drums for a strike against Iran. “I hope the administration is willing to do what it takes to back Iran off,” he said, adding that “we may need to do stuff across the border.”
    NPR’s Mara Liasson claimed that the Bush administration could politically “withstand” an attack against Iran, and that a bombing raid inside Iran would not count as “an all-out war.”
    NPR’s Juan Williams noted that Liasson and Kristol were in effect condoning “the next world war”:
    WILLIAMS: I think what Bill Kristol is saying is he wants some action against Iran in a way that Israel apparently took action against Syria. And I think what you’re looking at then is the next world war. […]
    And if we now say the U.S. is going to take action against Iran, and it’s not as a result of some specific provocative action, then you’re talking about spreading war.
    Kristol responded by citing the recent Israeli airstrike on Syria as evidence for his claim that a strike on Iran would not have deeper consequences. “Has the Israeli action against Syria spread war? Has that destabilized the region?” Kristol asked. Watch it:
    Last year, Williams told Kristol:
    “You just want war, war, war, and you want us in more war. ”


  6. Carroll says:

    I feel like I am in the midst of history being re-written lately.
    What is with the sudden explosion of articles describing the neo’s as “do-gooders gone wrong”?
    As if they were really into human rights as a prior post article on TWN stated and then another one and now this one pretending they were misled by visions of Utopia for their fellow man? All of a sudden we are to think that Feith and Perele & group were moved by their compassion for mankind? Bolton isn’t a neo but an American Nationalist?
    There was nothing connected to human rights in this neo and Israeli group, nothing.
    So what is the reason or point for these new whitewashes?


  7. J says:

    When you search for Steve on facebook, did anyone notice the thumbnail picture of the guy directly above (the real) Steve Clemons??


  8. arthurdecco says:

    “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.” posted by Steve Clemons
    You make it sound like Judith Miller was an innocent, wide-eyed victim in her vicious and unrelenting campaign to create the conditions for war with Iraq – a country we all know had absolutely nothing to do with 911. We also know she was in on the conspiracy up to her elbows.
    Getting back to the principal story here, you can be assured that if there was any truth to these outrageous allegations whatsoever we would be buried under an avalanche of pictures, facts, times and dates, with updates every 5 minutes on FoxNews.
    This is the same MO used by the Times in the lead-up to the invasion and destruction of Iraq.
    I know you haven’t forgotten that fact but sometimes it’s necessary to repeat it.


  9. DonS says:

    Wouldn’t it be nice if Mssrs. Sanger and Mazzetti cared enough about abetting the script for WWIII that they actually followed up on ALL info and — if your sources are right Steve (and you don’t seem to shoot from the hip!) — and said follow up garnered the same front page space for a rebuttal that exposed the neocon con, as the original con job.
    “Judith Miller’d” indeed. That might be enough to wake them up!


  10. Sandy says:

    (Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t up to something….)


  11. David says:

    Sorry to be so paranoid, but has anyone considered this scenario?
    Cheney’s shop wants to move Bush to action on Iran. Or scuttle the Six Party talks with North Korea. So Cheney’s shop persuades their Israeli friends to hit a Syrian target. The resulting news, leaks and intel are spun in an effort to leverage their goal. Competing teams must debate and counterspin.


  12. easy e says:

    …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. –Steve Clemons
    Steve, you may want to convince Josh Marshall and his TPM crew otherwise. Appears the propaganda machine will be successful in snookering entire corporate media, not to mention key blogoshere outlets. Think Judith Miller.
    For further reading, check out “The Mother of All Pretexts” (posted previously by Kathleen)
    “The Sino-Russian Alliance: Challenging America’s Ambitions in Eurasia”
    As CC states above, the “more war” crowd will inevitably succeed.
    Enjoy the rest of your Sunday.


  13. Coddling Cornucopia says:

    Ah napalm, what a delightful manner in which to barbecue one’s enemies. Got to “love the smell of napalm in the morning.” Sanger/Mazzetti simply further the cries for “more war” in the Middle East. It’s inevitable. It’s war-profitable and wildly trendy and chic. Israel was playing a test run for Iran. Syria was merely a close convenience. Israel might not be able to “coax” the U.S. into doing it’s dirty bidding for this round. Maybe.
    Sanger “used” to be a reliably honest journalist. Sanger is just another propaganda shill for the Bush Reich. Sad but true. Mazzetti is hanging onto Sanger’s coat tails. The New York Times and the Washington Post are disgraced, discredited, and disgustingly dishonest. Sad but true.


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