‘McCarthyism’ Is Wildly Overused—but this Higgins Memo Is the Real Deal

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tags: McCarthyism, Higgins Memo



Ronald Radosh, an adjunct fellow at the Hudson Institute, is author of a history of the Democratic Party and many other books.

On Thursday, Foreign Policy magazine released the full transcript of the famous memowritten last May for the NSC by Rich Higgins. Because of the leak of portions of it earlier, Higgins was fired from his position as director of strategic planning at the NSC.  His dismissal has become fodder for the alt-right and especially Breitbart.com, whose editors have used it to increase their demand that General H.R. McMaster be fired. In their eyes, that the general fired Higgins is proof that McMaster is a tool of the globalists and neocons, especially since he refuses to accept Higgins’ proposal for a “Political War,” which Breitbartdefines as “propaganda in battledress.”

The new demands that Trump get rid of McMaster is now a key part of the war against those working in the administration whom the Trump right-wing believe to be part of the very “swamp” Trump promised to destroy. As I argued elsewhere, they regard the general as an appeaser of Islamists, as anti-Israel, and as a perpetuator of Obama’s failed foreign policy. 

McMaster has recently been the recipient of harsh attacks from Breitbart and others, such as David Horowitz’s FrontPageMag.com, all of whom are calling for his head. Last week, Breitbart published almost a dozen headlines about McMaster, such as “McMaster ‘Deeply Hostile to Israel and Trump.’” The next day, FrontPageMag's main cover article  by Daniel Greenfield was “McMaster’s NSC Coup Against Trump—Purges Critics of Islam and Obama.” 

And Friday, Greenfield was back with another column, this time attacking Dina Habib Powell, who served in the Bush 43 administration and who he argues is the “Republican Huma Abedin.” All through the Bush administration, Abedin was called the conduit to the administration for the Muslim Brotherhood, who had infiltrated the government to push it toward the pro-Muslim policy they argue Obama held. Now that Hillary Clinton lost and Abedin was no longer near power, they are arguing that she has now been replaced by Powell. 

What truly irks Greenfield is that K.T. McFarland’s job at the NSC was taken away and given by McMaster to none other than Powell, hired only because she had “the right views on Islam,” meaning, supposedly, pro-Islamist and supportive of The Muslim Brotherhood. The Bannonites now claim that appointees like Powell will work against the President’s agenda from inside. As Greenfield boldly put it, she “represents McMaster’s vision for our approach to Islam.” And its purpose is to restore the failed policy toward the Arab world of the Bush and Obama administrations.

As a conservative historian, I know that the charge of “McCarthyism” is wildly overused and most often is a false analogy. When liberals use it, it is usually done to discredit conservative ideas they don’t like and don’t want to bother challenging. Instead, that all-purpose phrase is invoked to let people know that the ideas or people who hold them are beyond the pale. ...




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