Clash of the Elites

A titanic power struggle is being waged within the policy elite or power elite, or more simply the U.S. ruling class. The clash is taking place over the war on Iraq, U.S. policy toward Israel–and ultimately over the best way to run the U.S. empire. The war on Iraq is shaping up as such a disaster for the empire that it can no longer be tolerated by our rulers in its present form. The struggle is as plain as the nose on your face; nevertheless it draws little comment. One reason is that we are taught to view matters political through the prism of Democrat versus Republican, whereas this struggle among our rulers cuts across party lines. On the “Left,” few so much as allude to this internecine war, much less use it to good effect. This is apparently due to a very rigid, very dogmatic view of how empires function, indeed how they “must” function, and due to a fear of being labeled anti-semitic and thus running afoul of the Israeli Lobby. In many cases this silence reflects an actual sympathy among “liberals” for neocon foreign policy, either out of a latter day do-gooder version of the White Man’s Burden, or an attachment to Israel.

This struggle is in no way hidden and definitely not a secret conspiracy. It is out in the open, as it must be, since it is in great part a battle for the hearts and minds of the American public. This fact makes the absence of commentary about it all the more chilling. The fight among our rulers sets the neocons against other very important elements in the establishment: the senior officer corps, represented by Jack Murtha and Colin Powell; the old money like Ned Lamont; the oil men, like James Baker (With Baker against the war, how then can oil be the only reason for the war?); those who want to see the American imperium run effectively, like Lee Hamilton and Robert Gates of the Iraq Study Group; many in the CIA, both active duty and retired; policy makers like Zbigniew Brzezinski who has long opposed the war which he has ascribed to the influence of certain “ethnic” groups; and even former presidents Gerald Ford who kept his mouth shut and Jimmy Carter who has not and whose frustration with Israel and the neocons is all too clear in his book “Palestine, Peace Not Apartheid.”

Influential voices tied to the ruling circles include some writers for the militantly anti-war publication of the Old Right, The American Conservative.
On the other side are the neocons, based in the Washington “Think” Tanks, in the civilian leadership of the pre-Gates Pentagon, in Dick Cheney’s office, in large parts of both parties in Congress, and in the editorial and op-ed pages of the print media. Most of the House and much of the Senate is still under the control of the neocons thanks to the fund-raising exertions and threats from AIPAC and its minions. Hence, the most powerful political allies of the neocons are the leading Democrats, who indulge in the most intense and shallow anti-Bush rhetoric but are reliable allies in the neocon crusades in the Middle East. The neocon side has relied heavily on the power of ideas,. This in turn hinges on the second rate level of those writing for the mass media who think little for themselves and go along with whatever framework for policy discussion is put forward by the neocons. Good examples of this are most op-ed pages, TV programs like the Sunday morning talk shows,

John V. Walsh can be reached at John.Endwar@gmail.com. He is a founding member of “ComeHomeAmerica.US”.