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Onward, Wesley, Ho!

The stupidity of Wesley Clark's recent statement to a Huffington Post journo about "New York money people" (i.e. powerful Jews) exerting pressure on Israeli politicians for a military confrontation with Iran is made absurd by this defense of the general by Matt Yglesias:

This, of course, is true. I'm Jewish and I don't think the United States should bomb Iran, but Thursday night I was talking to a Jewish friend and she does think the United States should bomb Iran. The Jewish community, in short, is divided on the issue. It's also true that most major American Jewish organizations cater to the views of extremely wealthy major donors whose political views are well to the right of the bulk of American Jews, one of the most liberal ethnic groups in the country. Furthermore, it's true that major Jewish organizations are trying to push the country into war. And, last, it's true that if you read the Israeli press you'll see that right-wing Israeli politicians are anticipating a military confrontation with Iran. (For example, here's an article about the timing of the selection of a new top dog in the Israeli Defense Forces; Benjamin Netanyahu is quoted as saying that the new leader "will have to straighten the army out, rebuild Israel's deterrence and prepare the defenses against threats, first and foremost, against Iran.")

Everything Clark said, in short, is true. What's more, everybody knows it's true. The worst that can truthfully be said about Clark is that he expressed himself in a slightly odd way. This, it seems clear, he did because it's a sensitive issue and he worried that if he spoke plainly he'd be accused of trafficking in anti-Semitism. So he spoke unclearly and, for his trouble, got … accused of trafficking in anti-Semitism.

I hadn't realized until now that the Jewish community consists of Yglesias and his hawkish friend. And might coughing out a reminder of one's tribal affiliation at the get-go be for another purpose than to confirm one of Clark's objective points? (Nice try, Matt. If that was all it took to preempt the Foxmans, Clark could have cited his matrilineal bubbe instead of instantly recanting and groveling in apology.)

And mentioning influential Jewish organizations — with AIPAC of course leading the implied pack — is a non sequitur here, given that most of these organizations with any say on U.S. foreign policy are centered in Washington, D.C., not in New York. So we're still left with Clark's imputation that rich Jews who lives in the Big Apple wield disproportionate power over peace-loving Jews everywhere, and further have the ability to spark wars overseas. Not a bad day's work, all told, in just a short bull-session with the bien-pensant rag of the blogosphere.

Do I think Clark's comment was made with sinister motive? No. He's shown himself to be as susceptible to idiotic judgment as any candidate for president — especially one who thinks that epaulets confer on him some status as commander-in-chief-in-waiting. I knew this when I first saw that notorious photograph of him swapping chapeaus with Ratko Mladic at the height of the Balkan crisis. (Quite a few "money people" had some saying in putting the Nato Supreme Allied Commander on the scene in the first place.)

Of course, admitting there was something more than simply "odd" about Clark's phrasing is well beyond the ken of the American Prospect writer who has an award for ideological self-criticism named after himself on Andrew Sullivan's blog.

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