Tony Judt on the Collapse of the Liberals

The brilliant ‘n bold Tony Judt has again put it all together. In the latest London Review of Books, he demonstrates how the liberal intelligentsia have provided crucial support and cover for Bush’s misadventures in Iraq and the “war on terror.”

In today’s America, neo-conservatives generate brutish policies for which liberals provide the ethical fig-leaf. There really is no other difference between them.

Judt traces the malady in part to its obvious source, a liberal “blind spot” about Israel.

Historically, liberals have been unsympathetic to ‘wars of choice’ when undertaken or proposed by their own government. War, in the liberal imagination (and not only the liberal one), is a last resort, not a first option. But the United States now has an Israeli-style foreign policy and America’s liberal intellectuals overwhelmingly support it.

Apart from Judt’s intellectual leadership, the piece seems to me remarkable on two points. First, it lists New Yorker editor David Remnick in the ranks of those Judt calls “useful idiots.” Which is very gutsy for a writer to do. Second, he describes all of Israel’s wars with the exception of the Yom Kippur war as wars “of choice.” ’67? That, too. Even gutsier.