Wanderer Logo

Joseph Sobran’s
Washington Watch

Side by Side

(Reprinted from the issue of April 12, 2007)

Capitol Bldg, Washington Watch logo 
for Side by SideOn his web site takimag.com, my old friend Taki Theodoracopulos has written a powerful attack on “our war criminals,” the neoconservatives, who are not only impenitent about having promoted the disastrous Iraq war, but are now, with incredible audacity and utter impunity, promoting the forthcoming Iran war — the next stage in what they call World War IV, though I think of it as NC III: Neocon War Three.

Over 20 years ago, I began waving my arms frantically to warn America that these folks were determined to get us into a needless war in the Middle East. Looking back, I must say I was naive: I didn’t know, or even suspect, the half of it. I had little inkling of the power of this tiny faction, or of its ruthlessness.

One day around 1988 I ran into Irving Kristol, whom I always liked personally, at a small conservative gathering. He gave me what sounded like a friendly, if blunt, piece of advice: “Joe, stop writing about the Jews. Write about the Catholics. Them, you know something about.” He sounded a bit sarcastic, but I didn’t take it as a threat.

This wasn’t the Mafia, after all; true, Irving was called “the Godfather of neoconservatism,” but that was a joke. And I’d gotten much the same advice from Bill Buckley. Threat? It was more like a suggestion that I not lie down on the railroad tracks when that whistle was tooting.

What really drove me was not hate but fear: the fear that my two sons, both in their teens, would be drafted to die in a needless war in the Middle East. Didn’t the neocons have similar fears for their own sons? (I guess not.)

What I also discovered in those days was an astounding fear of the Jews, nearly always disguised as fear for the Jews, as if Nazism were a perpetual threat. The people most terrified of the Jews pretended to be defending them from powerful enemies — such as me. A certain Lutheran pastor turned Catholic priest was especially adroit at playing this game in his new house. Because I opposed war for the sake of the state of Israel, he suggested that I was indifferent to the slaughter of millions of Jews!

The neocons’ chief weapon has been their readiness to accuse their opponents of anti-Semitism. Before the 1991 Gulf war they used this one on Pat Buchanan, Sam Francis, and me, among others. “Isolationism” was one of their gentler charges against us. To this they have added the contradictory charge that we “hate America.”

Here Bill Buckley lent a hand, “asking” whether we were anti-Semites — a bit like “asking” whether we were pedophiles. (The question remains like a stain when the answer is long forgotten.) When he later asked me if I thought he’d been fair to me, I looked at him incredulously. “It wasn’t something I’d do to a friend,” I said quietly.

Within a few years he had given virtual if not nominal ownership of National Review to the neocons and their chipmunk helpers.

And yet, Bill has finally begun to come around. He now opposes the Iraq war, denies that George W. Bush is a conservative, and has developed a belated wariness of the neocons he once embraced.

But what good can it do him at this point? How it must grieve him in his last days to see what they have done to the magazine he created. It must be like having a child kidnapped and raised by strangers of some crazy pagan cult.

By sheer coincidence, I just bought an old Sing along with Mitch Miller and the Gang record. As I was reading Taki’s piece, my stereo was booming “Side by Side,” an old song when Mitch revived it 50 years ago. What a perfect anthem for us paleoconservatives:

When they’ve all had their quarrels and parted
We’ll be the same as we started,
Just a-travelin’ along,
Singin’ our song,
Side by side

Did Someone Say “Defense”?

The brainiest of the neocons, or their Dr. Strangelove, anyway, is surely Charles Krauthammer, who can justify any war he takes a shine to. In a way I have to admire him. He doesn’t always listen to himself too closely, though.

Read Joe Sobran's columns the day he writes 
them!In a recent column he notes in passing that “the world’s one superpower,” the United States, “spends more on defense every year than the rest of the world combined.

Dumb question: When you have that much defense, is it all really just defense?

Sure, we can wipe out anything on the planet. No igloo or mud hut can safely defy us. But I can think of other names for that besides “defense.” In the Orwellian propaganda of the democratic age, “defense” and “war” mean pretty much the same thing. It is part of our conventional wisdom that to have peace you must be prepared for war. I used to believe that was self-evident. I also thought I was a good Christian!

The more nukes, the surer the peace. That was the crazy logic of it. I’ve come to suspect that if you’re really prepared for war, you may just get war.

Money, Politics, and Honor

Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign has reportedly raised the staggering sum of $26 million.

At least they say that’s a staggering amount. I can’t tell anymore. Isn’t that about what big-league infielders make these days?

Don’t ask me. I go back to the days when a hundred bucks was a lot of dough. The word “trillion” was still mostly hypothetical. Nobody thought Congress would ever get drunk enough to spend a trillion simoleons in a single year.

I just read that in 1955 Sandy Koufax agreed to pitch for the Brooklyn Dodgers for $14,000 — hardly a staggering sum even then. When other teams offered him far more, he politely declined on the quaint grounds that he’d already given the Dodgers his word.

That’s the kind of young man he was. To him a handshake was an ironclad contract. His talent was exceeded only by his honor. The same can’t be said for the Dodgers, alas.

The proportion between honor and money (especially the government’s paper money) remains elusive. The government giveth and the government taketh away (that’s how it giveth), but in any case, the government seldom leaveth alone.

“If William Shakspere of Stratford was ‘William Shakespeare,’ isn’t it odd that he didn’t even write a sonnet when his little boy died?” Regime Change Begins at Home — a new selection of my Confessions of a Reactionary Utopian — will provoke thoughts and smiles. We’ll send you a free copy when you subscribe to SOBRANS. If you have not seen my monthly newsletter yet, give my office a call at 800-513-5053 and request a free sample, or better yet, subscribe for two years for just $85. New subscribers get two gifts with their subscription. More details can be found at the Subscription page of my website.

Already a subscriber? Consider a gift subscription for a priest, friend, or relative.

Joseph Sobran

Copyright © 2007 by The Wanderer,
the National Catholic Weekly founded in 1867
Reprinted with permission

Washington Watch
Archive Table of Contents

Return to the SOBRANS home page
Send this article to a friend.

Recipient’s e-mail address:
(You may have multiple e-mail addresses; separate them by spaces.)

Your e-mail address

Enter a subject for your e-mail:

Mailarticle © 2001 by Gavin Spomer


The Wanderer is available by subscription. Write for details.

SOBRANS and Joe Sobran’s columns are available by subscription. Details are available on-line; or call 800-513-5053; or write Fran Griffin.

FGF E-Package columns by Joe Sobran, Sam Francis, Paul Gottfried, and others are available in a special e-mail subscription provided by the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation. Click here for more information.

Search This Site

Search the Web     Search SOBRANS

What’s New?

Articles and Columns by Joe Sobran
 FGF E-Package “Reactionary Utopian” Columns 
  Wanderer column (“Washington Watch”) 
 Essays and Articles | Biography of Joe Sobran | Sobran’s Cynosure 
 The Shakespeare Library | The Hive
 WebLinks | Books by Joe 
 Subscribe to Joe Sobran’s Columns 

Other FGF E-Package Columns and Articles
 Sam Francis Classics | Paul Gottfried, “The Ornery Observer” 
 Mark Wegierski, “View from the North” 
 Chilton Williamson Jr., “At a Distance” 
 Kevin Lamb, “Lamb amongst Wolves” 
 Subscribe to the FGF E-Package 

Products and Gift Ideas
Back to the home page 

This page is copyright © 2007 by The Vere Company
and may not be reprinted in print or
Internet publications without express permission
of The Vere Company.