One day, Saddam Hussein was sitting in his office in one of his palaces in Baghdad, when he heard voice shouting outside, "New lamps for old! New lamps for old!" Knowing full well what this meant, Saddam rushes outside with an old lamp, offering to exchange it with the beggar. He rushes back inside with the new lamp and rubs it. Sure enough, a genie appears.
"I know," Saddam says, in anticipation. "I have three wishes."
"That’s right," says the genie. "What are they?"
So Saddam says, "I wish Iraq had the biggest army in the Middle East."
The genie waves his wand, and whoosh, there it is, a gigantic, well-equipped army.
"Next?" the genie asks.
Saddam nods: "I want to have fortunes of money and gold in my treasury."
Whoosh, again, and sure enough, Saddam has piles and piles of dollars, euros and huge mountains of gold bullion.
"O.K." says the genie, "One more to go."
So Saddam says, "I wish that the State of Israel were destroyed."
All of a sudden, there is a huge crash and the bombs start falling. Saddam’s palace is reduced to rubble and Iraq is totally demolished. Saddam, his clothes in tatters and covered with ashes, emerges to see the genie shaking a finger at him:
"You never know," the genie scolds him, "when you’re going to run into a Jewish genie."
If I could get my hands on one of those lamps, my first wish to the genie would be for the guys at The National Review to come clean about their motives for denouncing Lew Rockwell and those whose writing appear on LRC as un-American. If they did, everything would come crashing down around them and the hoax would be over. Because The National Review, like Saddam Hussein, is not what it appears to be.
Following the publication of Buckley’s book, God And Man At Yale, William Buckley with James Burnham founded The National Review, supposedly to be a dissenting voice on the right. But Buckley’s attack on Yale as a bastion of left wing, anti-American intellectualism, was really a cover, for him and for Yale. Yale was, as Robin Winks documented so brilliantly in Cloak & Gown, under the aegis of Sherman Kent, one of the prime theorists of American intelligence, the major recruiting ground for the CIA. William Buckley was one of those the CIA recruited, along with another Yalie, who would become famous as the architect of American counterintelligence, James Angleton. Angleton, who went from the OSS to the CIA and who was regarded, along with Allen Dulles and Kent as one of the three leading American theorists of intelligence, stayed close to Yale’s intellectual circles that participated in the CIA’s recruitment efforts. Another of its prizes at Yale was Peter Matthiessen, nephew of Harvard literary critic F.O. Matthiessen. Patsy Southgate, Matthiessen’s ex-wife, told me before her death that she and Peter were "swept off" by the CIA to Paris to engage in literary covert action.
Kent, Dulles and Angleton all understood the cultural cold war and its ramifications, leading them to establish the Congress of Cultural Freedom. Who Paid The Piper, by Frances Stonor Saunders, is the leading history of this effort. Angleton, who was a poet and a Joyce scholar, appreciated the need to combat the Communist threat that had taken hold of a good portion of the international intellectual community. The Paris Review was his natural baby. Another key player was Robie Macauley, who served as head of the CIA’s southern Africa desk while working as a literary editor at American publishing houses. Matthiessen related to his close friend, novelist and playwright John Sherry, the founding publisher of The Paris Review, Prince Sadruddin Kahn, never put up a penny for the publication and that the prince was the conduit for the CIA money that funded it. Indeed, one wonders where the anonymous gift of five hundred thousand dollars came from to buy The Paris Review archives, so they could be donated to the Morgan Library in New York. Was this for past services or future? James Linville, the former editor of The Paris Review (it is now "edited by a sort of commune, including Matthiessen and George Plimpton, who was the editor recruited by Matthiessen out of Kingu2018s College, Cambridge, after Harold Hume, the actual founder of The Paris Review, was ousted by Matthiessen and Plimpton when the CIA took it over as Matthiessen’s cover) is now conveniently in London at a time when anti-American sentiment is rampant amongst British literary circles, including John Le Carre and Harold Pinter, both of whom have issued spirited denunciations of Bush’s war policy in Iraq. Since Linville’s arrival, The London Review of Books, which has spearheaded the British literary assault on American foreign policy, as gone volte-face and printed Perry Anderson’s "The Casuistries of War," (LRB 6 March 2003), a brilliant rationale for getting rid of Saddam Hussein. Anderson concludes: "Mewling about Blair’s folly or Bush’s crudity, is merely saving the furniture. Arguments about the impending war would do better to focus on the entire structure of the special treatment accorded to Iraq by the United Nations, rather than wrangle over the secondary issue of whether to continue strangling the country slowly or to put it out of its misery quickly." It’s amazing how things change once The Paris Review crowd gets busy.
Where does this leave us, or rather, take us, with regard to The National Review, which really should be looked at as The Paris Review’s rightwing sister? George Plimpton and William Buckley are cut from the same cloth. Both are witty, erudite, elegant, well connected and, most of all, are forever there. On limited budgets, they have managed to produce magazines of immense influence. And whereas Peter Matthiessen allegedly left the CIA to become a fisherman in the Hamptons (do I hear howls of laughter at that one), only to receive assignments all over the world to write about birds, Buckley became the leading light of American conservatism. But who was his partner in this effort, but former Trotskyite, James Burnham. Can anyone imagine the CIA letting this fish loose? Like the former Marxists at the Partisan Review like William Phillips, who took the money and turned right, James Burnham became one of American’s leading rightwing spokesmen.
The problem with American conservatism up to this point was really summed up in one person: Robert Taft. "Mr. Conservative," he was unalterably opposed to American’s interventionism and its vision of empire that Andrew Bacevich documents in his American Empire. With the perceived Communist threat, Taft and Taftism simply had to go, to be replaced by a "conservatism" that supported intervention and empire. Enter William Buckley, who, one has to hand it to him, has done an amazing job. When was the last time The National Review wrote anything serious about Robert Taft? And one has to remain suspicious about Buckley’s institutional affiliation, even now. When I was researching my biography of Allard Lowenstein, The Pied Piper, I interviewed Theo Ben-Gurirab, now the foreign minister of SWAPO, and then, head of SWAPO’s Observer Mission to the United Nations. In his office, which was filled with Marxist, anti-colonialist claptrap and with staff running around in SWAP designer T-shirts, Ben Gurirab told me his closest American "friend" was William Buckley! What? That simply never made sense, except that Buckley was no doubt his case officer.
The current anti-war movement of the right is a throwback to Robert Taft, whose ghost has returned to haunt the neo-cons. So, of course, this movement has to be discredited. The attacks on LRC remind me of the attacks on me when Grove Press first published The Pied Piper, my Lowenstein biography, in which I revealed Lowenstein’s CIA connection. Participating in that attack was William Buckley, one of Lowenstein’s closest "friends." The CIA’s history of disrupting and subverting publications opposing the Vietnam War is well known. It was done in violation of the legislation setting it up. When I helped Barney Rosset, the publisher of Grove Press and Evergreen Review, to decipher his CIA files, what I found was a systematic attempt to put Grove and Evergreen out of business because of their politics, including opposition to the Vietnam War. Following Grove’s publication of Kim Philby’s memoir, that effort accelerated, until a union-led strike of editors demolished Grove, leading to its ultimate demise.
At the time of the strike, Jay Lovestone, the founder of the American Communist Party, was still head of the AFL-CIO’s international division. Ted Morgan, in his biography of Lovestone, A Covert Life, discloses that Lovestone, who was expelled from the Communist Party personally by Stalin and escaped from Moscow before he was to be assassinated, became a key CIA operative, whose case officer and close friend was none other than James Angleton.
The American unions were strongly for the Vietnam War, which should come as no surprise considering their source of funding. Both George Meany and Lane Kirkland were feeding at the CIA trough. I had heard Ted Shackley, the legendary "blond ghost" of the CIA (Angleton was the "gray ghost") speak in support of the Iraq war shortly before his death, saying that Vietnam was the natural precursor to this war, only now the American military technology was much better. He argued that had this technology been available in Vietnam, the outcome would have been different.
But as during the Vietnam era, the big fear is an anti-war movement that could upset the political balance. It would be natural for the CIA to find a vehicle to attack the anti-war right. That vehicle would, of course, be The National Review. If there is a serious opposition that leads to a credible anti-war candidacy on the right by Ron Paul and a revival of Taftism, the vote on the right would be split and the Democrats would win. Of course, William Buckley, who entered the arena, not to defeat the left so much as to defeat Taftism on the right, understands this, and this is why The National Review has gone after LRC. And don’t forget, it was Pappy Bush, a Yalie also, who ran the CIA. Boolah! Boolah! But it could all blow up. You never know when you’re going to run into a genie who went to Podunk.
But talk about bizarre. Richard Perle, the architect of the war policies The National Review has backed and who is their darling, is now a paid consultant to Global Crossing, to get the Defense Department to lift its ban on its sale to Hong Kong billionaire Li Kashing that would turn its fiber optic technology over to China, even as he continues to serve as chairman of the influential Defense Policy Board, a position that makes him, by law, a "special government employee." He denies any conflict of interest even though he can’t remember what was in an affidavit he signed. Perle spoke recently, as reported by The New York Times, in a conference call sponsored by Goldman Sachs, the firm that was headed by Bush’s current economic advisor, Stephen Friedman, in which he advised participants on possible investment opportunities arising from the war. The conference title was "Implications of an Imminent War: Iraq Now. North Korea Next?" There’s nothing like business as usual according to The National Review, is there?
Richard Cummings [send him mail] taught international law at the Haile Selassie I University and before that, was Attorney-Advisor with the Office of General Counsel of the Near East South Asia region of U.S.A.I.D, where he was responsible for the legal work pertaining to the aid program in Israel, Jordan, Pakistan and Afghanistan. He is the author of a new novel, The Immortalists, as well as The Pied Piper — Allard K. Lowenstein and the Liberal Dream, and the comedy, Soccer Moms From Hell. He holds a Ph.D. in Social and Political Sciences from Cambridge University and is a member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers.