Chris Matthews Says We Conflate Israel’s Interests and Our Own in the Middle East

Chris Matthews is on fire these days. Joe Lieberman’s loss has freed him to offer pitiless critiques of Democrats who voted for the war. Last night he said that they knew it was a bad decision in 2002 but went along with it out of political fears when they should have displayed “courage”—so let them twist in the wind now.

And Monday night (8/14) Matthews used an interview with Seymour Hersh to attack the administration for conflating Israel’s interest with our own in the Middle East. Yep, he used the conflate word, even as he turned the voluble Hersh into a potted plant:

MATTHEWS: Let me cut you off here, because we always conflate these issues. Does [Bush] see Iran as a regional threat to countries who are on our side, like Israel and the other so many Arab countries, or does he see it as a strategic threat? Because this was the whole fight over Saddam Hussein. Of course he was a regional pain in the butt, of course he was a problem to some tactical extent to Israel—he wasn’t a strategic threat to Israel. But is Iran a strategic threat to the United States? Does he believe that?

HERSH: I don’t know what he believes.

MATTHEWS: How could it be a strategic threat to the United States?

HERSH: I don’t know what he believes…

MATTHEWS: You know what it brings into question? Here’s an administration that for political or other moral reasons or historic reasons—maybe because his father was pro-Arab—is the most openly pro-Israeli administration in history, in terms of the P.R. And you have to ask yourself, has the loss of our power brokering ability in that region been a bigger loss for Israel than anything we could have done for them?

If anyone can mainstream this issue, Matthews can. In foreign policy circles, what he’s talking about is Realism—letting states figure out their relationships by themselves, not messing with their internal politics, doing a little off-shore balancing. As I’ve said before, and echoed now by the Nation, the left is turning more and more to realism.