A New York Times op-ed piece by David Brooks titled "The Era of Distortion" made a puzzling reference, as well as what I believe to be an erroneous conclusion.

In dismissing as irrelevant the influence of ultraconservative and borderline fascist Project for the New American Century, Brooks writes:

"... To hear these people describe it, PNAC is sort of a Yiddish Trilateral Commission, the nexus of the sprawling neocon tentacles. ...

"In truth, the people labeled neocons (con is short for "conservative" and neo is short for "Jewish") travel in widely different circles and don't actually have much contact with one another. The ones outside government have almost no contact with President Bush. There have been hundreds of references, for example, to Richard Perle's insidious power over administration policy, but I've been told by senior administration officials that he has had no significant meetings with Bush or Cheney since they assumed office. If he's shaping their decisions, he must be microwaving his ideas into their fillings."

Funny stuff.

In my letter to Brooks, I mention my puzzlement about "neo" as shorthand for "Jewish." (What, then, would the term "neo-Nazi" mean?) Included in the letter was the following definition from Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

Main Entry: ne-
Variant(s): or neo-
Function: combining form
Etymology: Greek, from neos new -- more at NEW
1 a : new : recent b : new and different period or form of : in a new and different form or manner c : New World d : new and abnormal
2 : new chemical compound isomeric with or otherwise related to (such) a compound

Semantics aside, there's another point.

Brooks argues that PNAC was irrelevant in the Bush administration's argument for war against Iraq, yet members of the group ARE part of the Bush administration, namely Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Deputy Defense Secretary L. Paul Wolfowitz and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage.

A PNAC letter to President Clinton dated Jan. 26, 1998, makes their views well known. In it, they and others write:

"... The only acceptable strategy is one that eliminates the possibility that Iraq will be able to use or threaten to use weapons of mass destruction. In the near term, this means a willingness to undertake military action as diplomacy is clearly failing. In the long term, it means removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power. That now needs to become the aim of American foreign policy."

With PNAC members Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Armitage writing the rules, that has become American foreign policy.


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