The Arrogance of the Hawks

When you hear that some folks are starting up a "pro Israel, pro peace" lobby organization to provide an alternate voice on Middle East questions to the neoconnish one that bizarrely prevails at the moment in most American Jewish institutions, you don't expect the most neocon-dominated of American Jewish institutions to applaud. So it's by no means shocking to read Noah Pollack at the Commentary blog dumping on the new J Street organization.

What is consistently shocking to me, however, is the arrogance and tone of disdain that Pollack and his ilk are capable of mustering for this sort of thing.

Obviously, the background for all kinds of progressive mobilization on foreign policy issues -- be it J Street or the National Security Network or the rise of Barack Obama or, indeed, Heads in the Sand -- is that there's been this appalling failure of the hawkish approach. In response to 9/11, the hawks launched a war that's killed more Americans than Osama bin Laden ever could, at the cost of over 1 trillion dollars; they've done nothing to impede nuclear proliferation, nothing to build democracies in the Middle East, failed to kill or capture al-Qaeda's top leadership, made Hamas and Iran more powerful than ever before, and brought American prestige and influence to a new low ebb.

Now obviously a lot of the folks who adhere to the ideas that have brought all this about somehow think they're right anyway. And fair enough; there's just no accounting for some people. But the attitude of thoughtless, unreflective scorn that you see from the Pollacks and Kirchicks and Goldfarbs of the world is like it comes from some weird alternative reality where their ideas have generally been deemed vindicated, rather than one where 178% of the public says we're on the wrong track.

What is the counterproposal to an effort at diplomatic engagement with the existing non-AQ powers in the Middle East? More of the same? Because the last five years have worked out so great? Because lazily drifting toward war with Iran is going to make Israel safer? It's hard to take this kind of point of view seriously.