Illiberal Zionism Update: Beinart Nails It


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Peter Beinart is exactly the sort of liberal necessary to win the GWoT. He correctly realized that the American right is not credible in its claims to defend Western liberalism against salafi illiberalism, because too much of the GOP base is too illiberal now and sees the GWoT exactly as Bin Laden does – a theological clash of civilizations – only they are on the other side. The increasingly Christianized and fundamentalist (Protestant mostly) GOP wants to ‘win’ the GWoT as a triumph of Christianity and/or American power. They are, as Walter Russell Mead correctly notes, ‘Jacksonian Zionist,’ not liberal. No Muslim, correctly, will believe US power to be neutral, serving universalist liberalism, when Bush needed to be told that the GWoT had biblical justification and Sarah Palin insists that Israel be allowed to do whatever it wants in the Occupied Territories.

In the same vein, he makes a good case here for the growing illiberalism of Zionism and the increasing inability of liberal countries to support its religio-nationalist, rather than liberal, opposition to Islamism and Arab authoritarianism. I made exactly the same point a year ago. (It is always nice to be confirmed in one’s prejudices I suppose, but Beinart does a better job of it than I did.) Sullivan adds his usually biting and gloomy commentary.

All sides seem to be sliding toward a clash of civilizations paradigm. All the more reason for the US to focus on the battle of ideas against salafism and get out of the Middle East in the medium-term

5 thoughts on “Illiberal Zionism Update: Beinart Nails It

  1. But the GOP is not in power so what is the problem? The Democrats control the Executive, Congress and the Senate. Last I checked, Sarah Palin has NO power. The woman has no power. She can’t make policy nor can she start or war. Futhermore, President Bush has been out of office since 2008. Are you insinuating that the GOP is still making and running US foreign policy?

    Lets start from now and move on.

  2. “The increasingly Christianized and fundamentalist (Protestant mostly) GOP wants to ‘win’ the GWoT as a triumph of Christianity and/or American power.”

    If McCain were the President of the US, this might be relevant. But it isn’t. The GOP can wish all it wants, it doesn’t control the US National Security or Foreign Policy apparatus.

    Are you saying that United States Marine Corps General James Jones is a GOP agent? That he is taking dictation from Christian Fundamentalists?

  3. Dr. Bob:

    The next time that you are in the US, you should really think about visiting Washington DC. You will discover that the Democrats really run the government (including US National Security) and not the GOP. Seriously, just go to Foggy Bottom ask where their direction comes from.

    Your post really baffled me. Plus I don’t believe in this clash of civilization stuff. Seyyed Qtub and Salafism didn’t start at cause to a clash of civilizations. These phenomenons were the direct result of internal affairs. President Anwar Saddat wasn’t killed by the Moslem Bortherhood at cause to a clash of civilizations. Study the reasons behind Saddats assination (M.B. with the help of Gaddafi) and the execution of Seyyed Qtub (by Nasar).

  4. PS: I used to believe in this “Clash of Civilizations” talk until a friend of mine who is also the Director of Near/Middle East Studies at a major US University explained why this not the case and where/why/how this talk came to be.

  5. Think abou it like this. India has faced more jihadists attacks than the US. Is it because of a “Clash of Civilizations”?

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