When Joe Lieberman lost the Democratic primary in Connecticut, a prime loser was the Lobby. Like the Israeli army in Lebanon, the Israel Lobby in Connecticut was exposed as a paper tiger. Joe Lieberman is AIPAC’s boy; when he speaks at the yearly AIPAC convention in Washington, he elicits wild cheers, standing ovations, shouts of “Go, Joe, Go.” Only the considerably less sanctimonious Dick Cheney does as well with that crowd. If the Lobby is on your side, you are supposed to win elections, and if it is not, down you go. But that did not happen in Connecticut despite the full exertion of the Lobby. In the final days of the campaign 1.5 million dollars poured into Lieberman’s coffers, and virtually the entire Dem establishment was ordered into the fray on his side. Lieberman’s opponent, Ned Lamont, had his name dragged through every mud puddle in Connecticut and of course was accused of being an anti-Semite. But that was all to no avail; Lamont won and Lieberman lost. A lot of politicians must now wonder whether the Lobby can deliver victories reliably any longer.
This is the second major hit that the Lobby has taken recently. The first was the paper on the Lobby’s role in drumming up the war on Iraq by Mearsheimer and Walt, Professors at Chicago and Harvard, respectively. What was the celebrated Mearsheimer and Walt paper all about anyway? There was no new information in it. With all due respect to M and W, a college student could have quickly produced the same tract for a term paper. But since it was authored by recognized figures of the Establishment the Mearsheimer and Walt paper made it respectable to go after the Lobby; and therein lies its significance. It broke the ice and opened the Lobby to attack; at last the truth about the Lobby could be told and the inevitable epithet of anti-Semitism slung at its critics could be tossed aside. That in itself was a great aid to the peace movement.
Walt had been a Dean at the Kennedy School at Harvard, and one does not get to be a Dean there simply because of sterling scholarship. Mearsheimer is a buddy of Zbigniew Brzezinski who has made known his feeling that the War on Iraq is an unmitigated disaster for the Empire, which he has served so diligently for so many years. Was the M and W paper the first serious blow that the Empire struck at the Lobby for engineering the disastrous war on Iraq? Is the Empire striking back?
Just a few blocks from Professor Walt’s office at Harvard stands the main library for undergraduates. It is named the Lamont Library after Ned Lamont’s great grandfather, Thomas William Lamont, Jr., whose benefaction built the library. As Wikipedia reveals, Thomas was a representative of the U.S. Treasury Department at the Treaty of Versaille, and in 1920 went to Japan on a semiofficial mission to look after American interests in Asia. On Black Tuesday, 1929, he was acting head of J.P. Morgan and became its Chairman in 1943. Thomas William Lamont, Jr., was at the center of the action when the U.S. Empire was entering its heyday. He begat Corliss Lamont (see below) and Thomas Stillwell Lamont, vice chairman of Morgan Guarantee Trust and a fellow of the Harvard Corporation. Thomas Stillwell begat Edward Lamont, Sr., aka Ted, who was an economist with the Marshall Plan and later worked in Housing and Urban Development for Richard Nixon, the last “liberal” president. And Ted begat Ed, Jr, aka Ned, who trounced the vicious warmonger, Joseph Lieberman. Ned Lamont is heir to the whole kit and kaboodle of the Lamont fortune and worth hundreds of millions. For his own exercise in begetting, Ned chose Ann Greenlee Huntress one of the quartet of senior managers in Oak Investment Partners, a venture capital firm, with $8.4 billion in committed capital. The Lamonts do not have to scrimp to put the kids through college in a way they own the college. And they are old hands at Empire.
Ned’s dad, Ted, the one who worked for Nixon, has not voted Republican since 1988, complaining to the Hartford Courant that “Eastern moderates no longer have a place in the GOP.” And in this he is reminiscent of another side of the Lamont family, the side represented by Corliss Lamont, Ned’s great uncle. Corliss was a long-time socialist and also a director of the ACLU for many years. While Senator Prescott Bush, father of Bush I, was trending right and falling in love with the Nazis during the near mortal crisis of Capitalism, the Lamonts were drifting “left.” They apparently saw Roosevelt as the system’s savior and no doubt had some socialist sympathies as many thinking, decent persons did. But they remained within the bounds of respectability, and Corliss authored a tract, “Why I Am Not A Communist.” The Lamonts appear to represent “enlightened capitalists,” as they were once called.
When the neocons struck back at Ned, it was Corliss who seemed to agitate them most. Neocon Martin Peretz’s anti-Lamont diatribe on the editorial page of the WSJ (August 7) is riddled with terms like “Stalinist,” “fellow traveling habits,” “Stalin’s agents,” etc. These neocons seem to live in inexplicable fear that Joe Stalin will rise from the dead, pick up an ax and come after them. But after the Red-baiting (in 2006!), Peretz gets down to the brass tacks of foreign policy and he faults Lamont on four counts, all having to do with Israel of course. First is the war on Iraq, which Peretz assures us, is “a just cause.” Second come the Palestinians where Peretz’s words are especially interesting: “Almost every Democrat feels obliged to offer fraternal solidarity to Israel and Mr. Lamont is no exception. But here he blithely assumes that the Palestinians could be easily conciliated.” And worse, after his primary victory Lamont had a private dinner with Shimon Peres in NYC. Who knows, Rabin too may rise from the dead with Oslo in tow when the neocons thought they had put a stake through the heart of that beast with the murder of Rabin that they engineered. Third comes Iran and to this Martin Peretz devotes most space. Here he quotes Lamont disapprovingly: “We should work diplomatically and aggressively to give them (the Iranians) reasons why they don’t need to build a (nuclear) bomb, to give them incentives. We have to engage in very aggressive diplomacy. I’d like to bring the allies in when we can. I’d like to use carrots as well as sticks to see if we can change the nature of the debate. Lieberman is the one who keeps talking about keeping the military option on the table.” Horror of horrors: end the war on Iraq, devise a peace between Palestinians and Israelis and forget about war on Iran. Sounds like a Commie to me.
For the moment the Lobby and the neocons have suffered a setback, but they are nothing if not dogged. It took them over a decade after the first Gulf War to foist upon us the occupation of Iraq for which they yearned. And they will try to make a comeback in Connecticut. To weaken the Lobby for 2008, Lieberman must be defeated in Connecticut in the Fall. In itself that will be sweet. Failing that, we may all be one step closer to a worldwide conflagration sparked in the Middle East. I would say that Lamont needs a good mushroom cloud advert.
JOHN WALSH can be reached at John.Endwar@gmail.com