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Kommissar Kristol | The Nation

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Katrina vanden Heuvel

Katrina vanden Heuvel

Politics, current affairs and riffs and reflections on the news.

Kommissar Kristol

William Kristol's April 7 editorial in The Weekly Standard denouncing critics of the war on Iraq as "anti-American" is startlingly reminiscent of the menacing directives issued for decades by the Soviet Communist Party's Department of Ideology.

Any literate person of Kristol's generation surely remembers the repressive charges of "anti-Sovietism" leveled by the pre-Gorbachev Kremlin against domestic opponents, including the great pro-democracy (and, yes, pro-peace) dissident Andrei Sakharov. Now Kommissar Kristol lays down the line that all critics of the White House's war are guilty of holding "anti-American" opinions. According to Kristol, the "anti-Americans" include "the Teddy Kennedy wing of the Senate Democrats, the Nancy Pelosi faction of the House Democrats, a large majority of Democratic grass-roots activists" and the "bulk of liberal columnists, the New York Times editorial page, and Hollywood."

No doubt Kristol, with his censorious, antidemocratic instincts, would have risen high in the apparat of the old Soviet Communist Party. But there may be a larger, more ominous parallel here: Once upon a time, the Kremlin also used force to try to remake the world in its own image.

Conservatives claim to learn from history. Kristol's outburst--one of many such dissent-is-unpatriotic statements issued by pro-White House cheerleaders in the media--is more evidence that the people who now control America's national security policy are not really conservatives but extremists.

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