July 18, 2006

George Will is sick of Bill Kristol's Weekly Standard:

Will writes in "Transformation's Toll:"

The administration, justly criticized for its Iraq premises and their execution, is suddenly receiving some criticism so untethered from reality as to defy caricature. The national, ethnic and religious dynamics of the Middle East are opaque to most people, but to the Weekly Standard -- voice of a spectacularly misnamed radicalism, "neoconservatism" -- everything is crystal clear: Iran is the key to everything.

"No Islamic Republic of Iran, no Hezbollah. No Islamic Republic of Iran, no one to prop up the Assad regime in Syria. No Iranian support for Syria . . ." You get the drift. So, the Weekly Standard says:

"We might consider countering this act of Iranian aggression with a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities. Why wait? Does anyone think a nuclear Iran can be contained? That the current regime will negotiate in good faith? It would be easier to act sooner rather than later. Yes, there would be repercussions -- and they would be healthy ones, showing a strong America that has rejected further appeasement."

"Why wait?" Perhaps because the U.S. military has enough on its plate in the deteriorating wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which both border Iran. And perhaps because containment, although of uncertain success, did work against Stalin and his successors, and might be preferable to a war against a nation much larger and more formidable than Iraq. And if Bashar Assad's regime does not fall after the Weekly Standard's hoped-for third war, with Iran, does the magazine hope for a fourth?

As for the "healthy" repercussions that the Weekly Standard is so eager to experience from yet another war: One envies that publication's powers of prophecy but wishes it had exercised them on the nation's behalf before all of the surprises -- all of them unpleasant -- that Iraq has inflicted.

The only thing that matters to the Weekly Standard, though, is whether Rupert Murdoch gets sick of Bill Kristol. Murdoch pays something like $3 million per year to subsidize the Weekly Standard's loss. (Just about all political magazines lose money, although the leftist Nation, which is stuffed with adds, has been profitable lately.) I suspect that Murdoch, who is a level-headed businessman, must be wondering when exactly to dump the neocons. Murdoch made a lot of money off the Iraq War in 2002-2004 by promoting war fever on Fox News, and the Weekly Standard boys generate a lot of the talking points for Fox News, but I imagine Murdoch can sense that this business strategy is headed downhill. Fox News ratings have been down.

And while Murdoch's personal views are no doubt broadly conservative, I've never seen much evidence that they are particularly neoconservative. My impression is that Kristol just seemed like the Bright Young Thing of 1995 when Murdoch was looking for an editor. Murdoch told Scott McConnell, "“Well, it might not have been a good idea to create it [Israel], but now that it’s there, it has to be supported.” As Scott commented, "A splendidly ambiguous statement—perfectly consistent with a strong pro-Israel position, but not the sort of thing an American neoconservative would ever say."

Murdoch's Sun tabloid famously switched from Tory to Labour for the 1997 election (as Martin Kelly notes), so it's hardly impossible that Murdoch will shift with the wind.

By the way, I finally read how much Iran is believed to give Hezbollah annually: $100 million, which, while it would buy Iran just about every political magazine in America, really isn't very much on the scale of global geopolitics. If Hezbollah is really a wholly owned subsidiary of Iran, couldn't somebody just outbid Iran? On the other hand, maybe Hezbollah isn't so much being used by Iran as it's using Iran's money for its own purposes?

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

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