Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Memo to Moon Chung-in

Prominent Neocon?
(Image from Wikipedia)

Professor Moon Chung-in, a genuinely charming fellow whom I met a couple of years ago at an international conference on political science held here in Seoul, has recently published an article in the Joong Ang Daily's "Opinion" section:
"The Syrian nuke connection" (Joong Ang Daily, November 26, 2007, page 10)
Moon argues that the ongoing six-party talks over Northeast Asian security concerns and the US-North Korean diplomacy aimed at normalizing relations between the two nations are being undermined by American concern about alleged North Korean nuclear technology being supplied to the Syrians.

Moon acknowledges that if this turns out to be true, it would threaten the nonproliferation of WMDs, but he turns his more serious attention to something else:
The reason U.S. political circles are so focused on these alleged links between Syria and North Korea is, if true, they pose a major threat to both the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and to Israel's security. American neocons and the Israeli lobby have significant influence over U.S. diplomatic policies, and they tend to categorize American and Israeli security under the same heading.
Apparently, Moon sees a putative Israeli influence on American foreign policy as the rock upon which might founder the trial run of a milder American policy toward North Korea before that ship has even left the harbor.

Whatever position that one might take on the relative weight of Israeli influence versus fear of WMD proliferation as the reason for American concern, I feel that I ought to correct one misstatement by Moon:
According to Russell Kirk, a neocon theorist, Israel serves as a crucial link between the neocons.
Moon may be thinking of Kirk's remark in his 1988 Heritage Foundation lecture that:
... not seldom it has seemed as if some eminent Neoconservatives mistook Tel Aviv for the capital of the United States -- a position they will have difficulty in maintaining, as matters drift in the Levant. ("The Neoconservatives: An Endangered Species," Heritage Lecture #178, December 15, 1988)
Tel Aviv, of course, is the capital of Israel, and Kirk was suggesting -- as does Moon himself -- that Israel has too much influence on American foreign policy.

Russell Kirk was certainly no "neocon," despite jokingly referring to himself as having been a 'neoconservative' back in the early 1950s, for by his jocular acceptance of that term first applied to him by his critics way back in the 1950s, he meant a revival of old conservatism. Kirk was as paleoconservative as one can get, an old-style Burkean conservative in the Catholic mold who believed in the older traditions of Western Civilization and distrusted American intervention in foreign affairs.

Either Professor Moon has mistyped "paleo" as "neo," or he has mistyped Russell Kirk altogether by misreading a jocular remark.

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At 7:37 AM, Blogger Iosue Andreas Sartorius said...

Well said.

At 7:47 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Joshua (or Iosue). I wanted to be especially courteous in wording this 'correction'.

Jeffery Hodges

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