It is unusual for politicians to namedrop journalists. And so it should be; our job as reporters and commentators is to expose the harm done by the powerful, not to curry favor with them. One exception I recall was during a 2003 press briefing given by James Wolfensohn, then the World Bank’s president, most of which he spent listing his influential acquaintances. Among them was Thomas Friedman, who, Wolfensohn reminded his listeners, “belongs to your profession.”
After reading The Imperial Messenger by Belén Fernández, the thought of sharing a profession with Friedman revolts me. Fernández demonstrates meticulously how The New York Times columnist seeks to make racism respectable.
That racism is directed at one ethnic group: Arabs. In 2001, Friedman even implied that Arabs are innately backward, writing: “In an age when others are making microchips, you are making potato chips (116).”
The following year, he effectively advocated the mass slaughter of Palestinian civilians. Three days before Israeli troops went on their March 2002 rampage in a Jenin refugee camp, Friedman called on Israel to “deliver a military blow that clearly shows terror will not pay” (xv). Israel’s murder of 1,200 persons, mostly non-combatants, in Lebanon during 2006 was, in Friedman’s view, part of the “education of Hizballah” (142).
More Middle East than Minnesota?
Even though just one chapter is specifically focused on the “special relationship” between Israel and the US, Friedman’s commitment to Zionism is criticized throughout Fernández’s book.
While Friedman has claimed he learned he was “more Middle East than Minnesota” on his first visit to Jerusalem in 1968 (55), Fernández stresses that his refusal to analyze Zionism and its legacy from a critical perspective means that all his work on the region must be treated with circumspection (54).
In any event, his claim is a dubious one; a great deal of his travels are spent in the Westernized environments of golf clubs, luxury hotels or hamburger restaurants (Friedman’s most famous and ludicrous theory is that no two countries hosting a branch of McDonald’s have gone to war against each other (3)).
Perhaps the best thing about this book is how it highlights the shoddiness of Friedman’s research and how someone who has been lauded by Pulitzer Prize judges for his “clarity of vision” is frequently muddled and inconsistent.
Last year Friedman stated that “when widely followed public figures feel free to say anything, without any fact-checking, we have a problem” (135). Yet his own copy is known to rely on sources of questionable veracity, in particular the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), which, according to Friedman, offers “an invaluable service” by translating foreign-language articles written by Arabs and Muslims into English (61).
MEMRI is a somewhat shadowy neoconservative outfit, yet on its website it is candid about one of its goals: to aid the US government and military in their “war on terror.” By definition, then, the “invaluable service” is fighting a propaganda battle on behalf of American foreign policy.
Another telling example of why Friedman should not be trusted is that he concluded Yasser Arafat was a “bad man” based on a Google search, which yielded more hits when Arafat’s name was combined with “jihad” and “martyrdom” than when it was combined with “education” (106).
Meanwhile, Friedman’s view of Israeli settlements has veered from arguing their continued expansion was as irresponsible as drunk-driving (96) to dismissing them as “extraneous” to the underlying conflict (93) within the space of a seven-month period.
A strong indication that Friedman’s ego is out of control came in his 2002 collection of essays Longitudes and Attitudes. In it, he sought credit for the Saudi plan to establish relations with Israel in return for a withdrawal from the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Gaza. Friedman has convinced himself that the genesis of this initiative was a column he wrote on transforming Saudi Arabia “from terrorist factory to peacemaker.”
Fernández derides this self-important twaddle by querying its pertinence: Friedman’s boast was pointless, given how he recognized that Ariel Sharon was always determined to reject the Saudi offer (124).
My only complaint with this book is that it doesn’t go into much depth in examining how Friedman is symptomatic of a wider malaise in the mainstream media. A reader unfamiliar with the American press could come away with the impression that Friedman is a singular buffoon, when, in fact, his prejudices are shared by many of his senior colleagues. But that is a tiny gripe. I fully accept that this is a brief polemic targeting Friedman and does not purport to be the definitive history of an American institution.
Few books on current affairs merit being called page-turners; because of Fernández’s witty and punchy style, this one does. Her conclusion turns to the urgent task of developing a counter-narrative to that of Friedman and other writers who pander to a corporate and political elite. The healthy growth of alternative publications on the Internet is certainly helping that task and hopefully this trend will continue.
Nonetheless, it is sobering to reflect on how Friedman remains something of a role model for aspiring journalists (at least, that is what I have gleaned from speaking to reporters younger than me). It is vital to explain that the high salary he commands is atypical of his trade and, the way newspaper sales are declining, is bound to become more so.
Even more fundamentally, it is vital to ask whether or not Friedman can really be considered a journalist. Fernández suggests that he has essentially become a copy-writer for big business, the US military and the State of Israel. Does America’s best-known columnist have trouble thinking for himself?
A piece in Foreign Policy by Randa Slim, “a scholar at the Middle East Institute”, on the Syrian opposition claims:
a critical mass of Syrians has clearly opted for regime change
It does not provide one fact to support that conclusion. Scanning the news from Syria my impression is that the opposition to Bashar Assad, which obviously never achieved critical mass over the last months, is now shrinking.
Indeed just two days ago the Wall Street Journal prominently headlined: Syrian Activists Say Assad Gains Advantage:
Last week, massive crowds gathered in several cities, including Damascus, to pledge their loyalty to Mr. Assad. Syria’s state television, broadcasting scenes of crowds chanting “The people want Bashar al-Assad,” said some two million people gathered at the capital’s Ummayad Square last Wednesday. It broadcast fresh scenes of a loyalist demonstration in the southern city of Suweida on Sunday.”At one point, what we call the silent majority came to be aligned with the street protests at least from a humanitarian and moral point of view. But now they’ve stepped back again,” Mr. Hussein said.
One can assess the quality of the propaganda messaged by that “scholar at the Middle East Institute” from this passage further down in the FP piece:
Most of the Syrian opposition agrees on a few basic principles: toppling the Assad regime, maintaining the national unity of Syria, and remaining committed to the peaceful nature of the Syrian revolution. But there are sharp disagreements over dialogue with the regime, foreign intervention, and the militarization of the opposition.
So they are committed to a “peaceful” revolution but can not decide whether they want NATO to bomb their country or continue the militant guerrilla war against the regime.
And the discussion about that shows their principle commitments to stay “peaceful”?
If such incoherent writing expresses the “scholar-”ship of Randa Slim and the “Middle East Institute”, readers are advised to dismiss everything coming from that source.
London — For a dozen years they had marched peacefully to the street containing the residence of Britain’s prime minister, asking the current occupant of #10 Downing Street to investigate the scourge ripping at the soul of this nation.
That scourge is the thousands of suspicious deaths occurring while in the custody of British police, in British prisons and in British mental health facilities.
Eight persons died in police custody just during the first nine months of 2011, according to official British government statistics. That’s more than double the custody deaths last year.
One of those deaths involved a 49-year-old reggae music singer who police claimed had committed suicide by plunging a butcher knife into his heart while making tea in his kitchen, allegedly for officers who were in his house conducting a drug investigation.
That knife contained no fingerprints of the dead singer.
This year, on their thirteenth march to Downing Street the demonstrators endured, for the first time — the very thing they were protesting against: abuse by police.
This year police responded to this annual march by the United Families and Friends Campaign (UFFC) by roughing up some demonstrators, and by denying them their desire to simply pin their demands to the gate blocking entrance to Downing Street as they’ve done without incident in past years.
“That the families of those who have died in custody can be treated in this way is an outrage,” wrote Lee Jasper, a respected social justice activist who served as the head steward for the latest march, on his blog.
UFFC personnel at the protest march passed out a broadsheet containing the names of 3,180 individuals compiled by UFFC as having died suspiciously since 1969 while in the custody of police, prisons, psychiatric units and immigration detention centers throughout Britain.
“Too many have died in questionable circumstances,” stated a message on that broadsheet. “Too many killed unlawfully…and pitifully too few held to account for the deaths of those we name here.”
Jasper criticized London’s conservative Mayor Boris Johnson and the capital city’s new Police Commissioner Hogan Howe for the aggressive policing. Jasper served as the policy Director for Policing and Equalities for the mayor Johnson replaced in 2008.
Jasper, blasting police for attacking peaceful protesters, including children and the elderly, characterized police-black community relations as being at a “historic low,” and he warned that the police fracas during that protest march will make an “already bad situation much worse.”
The fatal police shooting of Mark Duggan in August 2011 ignited days of rioting that rocked London and other British cities.
In 1985, in the same North London area as the Duggan shooting, the death of Cynthia Jarrett during a police raid at her residence sparked the ‘Broadwater Farm Riot.’
That Broadwater Farm earlier upheaval followed a riot days before in the South London community of Brixton, which arose from the fatal shooting of a woman by police. Fatalities from police acctions also triggered the 1981 and 1995 riots in Brixton.
The urban riots that erupted across the United States during the mid-1960s were all rooted in instances of police abuse, according to the 1968 report that followed an investigation conducted by the presidentially appointed Kerner Commission. America’s worst riot – 1992 in Los Angeles – followed the acquittal of four officers charged with the videotaped beating of black motorist Rodney King.
Mark Duggan’s brother, Shaun Hall and Cynthia Jarrett’s son, Patrick, participated in the UFFC march to Downing Street.
Both Hall and Jarrett criticized police abuse in England and the failure to thoroughly address this misconduct by authorities ranging from the Independent Police Complaints Commission to the offices of two successive Prime Ministers.
“The police have no accountability for their actions,” Patrick Jarrett said at the march, describing how those errant officers involved in his mother’s death faced neither discipline nor prosecution, despite an official review that faulted their actions.
A few days after the UFFC march, police officials in London announced that six officers involved in smashing a taxi cab with baseball bats while arresting the cab’s driver would keep their jobs despite overly aggressive behavior which government oversight authorities had contended was unreasonable.
The bat-wielding officers received minor reprimands despite authorities having found no evidence supporting the officers’ explanation for their assault.
Police abuse ranging from verbal insults to fatal incidents is not exclusive to Britain, of course.
Recently, for example, a British tourist visiting Dubai died inside a police station following a severe beating after an arrest for swearing in public.
In America, vicious police assaults in cities across the country, from New York City to Oakland on anti-corporate-greed-Occupy-demonstrators have again thrust the issue of brutality by American police into the news.
An Iraqi War veteran hit in the head by a police projectile–most likely a tear gas cannister fired at close range during a police assault on an Occupy encampment in Oakland, CA–remains hospitalized and is unable to speak.
Downing Street protest marchers included Marcia Rigg and Stephanie Lightfoot Bennett.
Rigg’s brother died suspiciously in August 2008 while in police custody, and Bennett’s twin brother died under similar suspicious in-custody circumstances in 1992.
“They treated my brother like less than a dog,” Marcia Rigg often says about the death of her brother Sean, an aspiring musician who died on the ground inside an outdoor holding area of a London police station after being taken into custody following a mental-related emergency.
Rigg’s referencing dog-like treatment isn’t hyperbole, because British police have been convicted of cruelty to police dogs, too. (No surprise in dog-loving Britain.)
In 2010 a British policemen received a six-month suspended sentence for the death of two police dogs he left inside a vehicle on a sweltering day. In 1998 two British policemen received convictions for cruelty to police dogs, one receiving a four-month jail term, later reduced to three months.
The first and still only conviction of British police for an on-duty killing of a human being occurred in 1969, when two policemen received guilty verdicts for killing a black man.
Police abuse, particularly fatal abuse, is a problem across Britain, however the extent of the problem remains clouded by contradictory figures.
In London, for example, the government watchdog Independent Police Complaints Commission issues figures stating that 16 persons died in police custody between 2006 and 2009, citing data supplied to it by London’s Metropolitan Police.
Yet, London’s Metropolitan Police itself issues figures stating that 59 have persons died in their custody during that same time.
Inquest, a non-governmental agency that monitors police abuse, states that 35 black minority ethnic persons died in the custody of police in London between the years 2006-2009.
However, the Metropolitan Police state their custody death figure for non-whites during that period is 28.
Britain’s Association of Chief Police Officers issued a statement decrying every death in custody as “a tragedy,” but he says he sees encouraging signs in a decreasing number of such deaths in recent years, a claim rejected by others.
“We need to see changes in legislation. We want to see those doing this misconduct held to account,” said Matilda MacAttram, Director of Black Mental Health UK during a public meeting on black deaths in custody that was convened by BMH-UK at the prestigious London School of Economics two days before that UFFC protest march.
A report last December from the Independent Police Complaints Commission challenged the widespread belief that blacks comprise the majority of in custody deaths. According to that report, whites comprised 75 percent of the custody deaths during the years 1998-2009, with blacks for seven percent.
Family members of many white victims of in custody deaths participated in the UFFC march.
“My son was treated in the most appalling way,” said Patricia Cocker, whose son Paul died inside a police station in 2005.
Cocker, echoing the interracial unity among participants in the custody deaths protest march, said, “They may break our hearts but they won’t break our spirits.”
The Keynesian view that the government can fine tune the economy through “appropriate” fiscal and monetary policies to maintain continuous growth at or near full employment is based on the idea that capitalism can be controlled by the state and managed by professional economists from government departments, that is, capitalism run by “experts” in the interest of all. Economic policy making according to this view is largely a matter of technical expertise or economic know-how, that is, a matter of choice.
The effectiveness of the Keynesian model is, therefore, based largely on a hope, or illusion; since in reality the power or control relation between the state and the market/capitalism is usually the other way around. Economic policy making is more than simply an administrative or technical matter of choice; more importantly, it is a deeply socio-political matter that is organically intertwined with the class nature of the state and the policy making apparatus.
The Keynesian illusion has been nurtured or masked by two major myths. The first myth stems from the perception that attributes the implementation of the New Deal and Social Democratic economic reforms that followed the Great Depression and WW II to the genius of Keynes. This is a myth because those reforms were more a product of the fierce class struggle and overwhelming pressure from the grassroots than that of the brains of experts like Keynes. The harrowing socio-economic turbulence of the 1930s generated momentous social upheavals and extensive working class struggles. The ensuing “threat of revolution,” as FDR put it, and the “menacing” pressure from below prompted reform from above—independent of Keynes.
As a relatively well-known academic/economist, however, Keynes provided the theoretical or intellectual rationale for the badly-needed reforms in order to save capitalism by fending off revolution. The auspicious coincidence of the publication of his famous book, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1936), with the implementation of the New Deal-type economic reforms in the US and Western Europe provided Keynes with much more credit for those reforms and the subsequent economic recovery than he deserved.
The second myth is based on the view that attributes the long economic expansion of the 1948-1968 period in the US and Europe to the efficacy or success of Keynesian policies of economic management. While it is certainly true that expansionary government policies of the time played a big role in the fantastic economic developments of that period, other factors contributed even more to the success of that expansion. These included the need to invest and rebuild the devastated post-war economies around the world, the need to supply the vast post-war global demand for consumer as well as capital goods, lack of competition for US products and capital in global markets—in short, the fact that there was enormous room for growth and expansion in the immediate post-war period.
Harboring these myths and illusions, many Keynesian economists envisioned a silver-lining in the 2008 financial meltdown and the ensuing economic crisis. For, in the “crisis of Neoliberal economics,” they saw an opportunity for a new dawn of Keynesian economics, or the coming of a second New Deal. Well-known Keynesians such as Paul Krugman, Joseph Stiglitz and Dean Baker wrote (and continue to write) passionately on the need to revive Keynesian policies, to implement extensive stimulus packages, to reinstate the Glass Steagall Act and other regulatory measures that were put in place in response to the Great Depression. The excitement on the part of many Keynesians about the prospects of what they perceived as an almost automatic switching of policy gears from Neoliberal to Keynesian economics led George Melloan of the Wall Street Journal to write (sarcastically) “We’re all Keynesian’s Again.”
More than three years later, it is abundantly clear that Keynesian policy prescriptions are falling on deaf ears, as Neoliberalism continues to keep Keynesianism at bay. Indeed, even the nominally socialist and Social-Democratic economies of Europe have adopted the unbridled austerity policies of Neoliberalism.
Shunned, Keynesian hopes and illusions have turned into disappointment and anger. For example, using his New York Times’ column, Professor Paul Krugman frequently lashes out at the Obama administration for ignoring the Keynesian policies of economic expansion and job creation and, instead, following policies that are not very different from those of Neoliberal Republicans. “The truth is that creating jobs in a depressed economy is something government could and should be doing. . . . Think about it: Where are the big public works projects? Where are the armies of government workers? There are actually half a million fewer government employees now than there were when Mr. Obama took office.”
Let me repeat the essential part of Professor Krugman’s statement: “The truth is that creating jobs in a depressed economy is something government could and should be doing.” This is exactly what I call Keynesian illusion: the belief in the ability of government to control and/or manage capitalism; the perception that government “could and should” invest in job creation but, somehow, does not do it now. Yes, a government could and should invest in job creation; but that would be a different government, a disinterested government independent of special interests, not the Obama administration (or the US government more broadly) that is beholden to the big money for its election/reelection. It is true that a capitalist government may occasionally invest in economic growth and job creation; but those would be occasions when such policies are perceived to be also serving the interests of the ruling class (as in the aftermath of the Great Depression and WWII).
It is obvious that the Keynesians’ disgust with the Neoliberal policies of the government of big business is misplaced. At the heart of their frustration is the unrealistic perception that economic strategies and policies are largely intellectual products, and that policy making is primarily a matter of technical expertise and personal preferences: economists and/or policy makers who are far-sighted, good-hearted, or better equipped with “smart” ideas would opt for “good” or Keynesian-type capitalism; while those lacking such admirable qualities would foolishly or misguidedly or heartlessly choose “bad” or “Neoliberal capitalism” .
As I have pointed out in an earlier critique of Keynesian economics, it is not a matter of “bad” vs. “good” policy; it is a matter of class policy. Keynesians are angry because they tend to be oblivious or shy away from the politics of class, that is, the politics of policy making. Instead, they seem to think that economic policy making results mainly from a battle of ideas and theories, and they are disappointed because they are losing that battle.
Professor Krugman passionately writes, “Where are the big public works projects? Where are the armies of government workers?” What he fails to mention is that those “armies of government workers” were put to work not courtesy of FDR, or because of Keynes’ brilliant ideas (in fact, when the FDR administration initially embarked on the implementation of the extensive public works projects it did not even know Keynes was alive), but because much larger armies of workers and other grassroots threatened the capitalist system by persistently marching in the streets and demanding jobs. It is interesting that many Keynesian economists admirably fight (of course, in the realm of ideas) for the rights of workers but shy away from calling on them to rise up to demand their rights.
It is not enough to have a good heart or a compassionate soul; it is equally important not to lose sight of how public policy is made under capitalism. It is not enough to repeatedly bash Ronald Reagan as a wicked king and praise FDR as a wise king. The more important task is to explain why the ruling class ousted the wise king and ushered in the wicked one. Government policy makers are certainly not stupid. Why, then, did they switch from the policies of Keynes and New Deal economics to those of Reagan and Neoliberal economics?
The US capitalist class pursued the Keynesian-type policies in the immediate post-war period as long as political forces and economic conditions, both nationally and internationally, rendered those policies effective. Top among those conditions, as mentioned earlier, were nearly unlimited demand for US manufactures, both at home and abroad, and the lack of competition for both US capital and labor, which allowed US workers to demand decent wages and benefits while at the same time enjoying higher rates of employment.
By the late 1960s and early 1970s, however, both US capital and labor were no longer unrivaled in global markets. Furthermore, during the long cycle of the immediate post-war expansion US manufacturers had invested so much in fixed capital, or capacity building, that by the late 1960s their profit rates had begun to decline as the capital-labor ratio of their operations had become too high. In other words, the enormous amounts of the so-called “sunk costs,” mainly in the form of fixed capital, or plant and equipment, had significantly eroded their profit rates .
More than anything else, it was these important changes in the actual conditions of production and the realignment of global markets that precipitated the gradual abandoning of Keynesian economics. Contrary to the repeated claims of the liberal/Keynesian partisans, it was not Ronald Reagan’s ideas or schemes that lay behind the plans of dismantling the New Deal reforms (in fact, steps to hammer away at those reforms had been taken long before Reagan arrived in the White House). Rather, it was the globalization, first, of capital and, then, of labor that rendered Keynesian or New Deal-type economic policies no longer attractive to capitalist profitability, and brought forth Ronald Reagan and Neoliberal austerity economics .
Karl Marx argued long ago that dreams of an egalitarian socialist society to supplant capitalism could not be realized unless (a) conscious political actions are taken toward that end (i.e., there is not such a thing as automatic collapse of capitalism), and (b) such actions are carried out on a global level. In light of the relentless Neoliberal austerity race to the bottom that globalization has unleashed in recent years and decades, it is obvious that Marx’s provisos for meaningful social change applies not only to radical socialist ideals but also to reformist capitalist programs a la Keynes.
 Many progressive/Keynesian economists call the protracted crisis that started in 2008 the crisis of “Neoliberal capitalism,” not of capitalism per se—see, for example, David M. Kotz, “The Financial and Economic Crisis of 2008: A Systemic Crisis of Neoliberal Capitalism,” Review of Radical Political Economics, Vol. 41, No. 3 (2009), pp. 305-317.
 For a relatively thorough discussion of this issue see Anwar Shaikh’s “The Falling Rate of Profit and the Economic Crisis in the U.S.”; in The Imperiled Economy, Book I, Union for Radical Political Economy, Robert Cherry, et al. (1987).
 For an informative analysis of this transition see Harry Shutt’s The Trouble with Capitalism: An Enquiry into the Causes of Global Economic Failure, Zed Books (1998).
Ismael Hossein-zadeh is Professor Emeritus of Economics, Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa. He is the author of The Political Economy of U.S. Militarism
GAZA — Israeli occupation authorities opened water dams at Sanati to the east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip causing the flooding of Palestinian homes in the town of Abasan al-Kabira.
The mayor of Abasan, Mustafa al-Shawwaf, told Safa news agency 8 homes in the town were flooded to a height of 70 to 90 cm, and that residents of those homes are being evacuated.
Many streets in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, were also flooded as a result of torrential rain that fell all night in the area.
Medical sources that nine homes were badly flooded in the Amal neighbourhood and that residents of those homes were rescued.
PIC correspondent said that a medical centre near the Red Crescent headquarters in the city was also flooded.
No casualties were reported until the preparation of this report, while the civil defence department said that its teams are helping in pumping the water out of the affected homes.
British military chief General Sir David Richards has secretly visited Tel Aviv earlier this week, the Israeli daily The Jerusalem Post quoted the regime’s military sources as saying.
Richards who is Britain’s Chief of the Defense Staff reportedly held several meetings with the senior commanders of the Israeli regime’s army though there are no details on the subject of his talks.
He also visited the northern parts of the Israeli occupied territories at the regime’s borders with Lebanon.
The secret visit comes as Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are reportedly making efforts to rally enough support in the cabinet to launch a military attack on Iran though an Israeli minister has dismissed a conflict as imminent.
“This issue [of military attack on Iran] should be discussed by the cabinet and put to the vote. But this event has not been taking place yet,” said the minister, who is a member of the eight-member ‘intracabinet’ group opposed to an attack on Iran.
The British media have also reported that Britain is developing plans for military action against Iran through deploying cruise missile-armed submarines and warships near the country’s waters to help a possible US strike.
This comes as it is widely believed that the media hype about an imminent attack on Iran is part of the psychological warfare over Iran’s peaceful nuclear program.
Nevertheless, Iranian officials have repeatedly pledged that any attack on the country will be costly to the aggressors.
The Israeli-Occupied Hearing on Alleged Iranian Terror
In the wake of the much-heralded FBI sting that supposedly foiled a dastardly plot by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard elite Qods Force – involving a bumbling, failed used-car salesman’s botched attempt to hire a reportedly Mossad-trained Mexican drug cartel – to blow up the Saudi ambassador in a crowded but fictitious Washington D.C. restaurant, a duly alarmed U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security convened an urgent hearing on “Iranian Terror Operations on American Soil.” As evidence of Tehran’s supposed threat to the Homeland, the Committee heard testimony from “expert witnesses” who could best be described as propagandists for Israel. Commenting on the partisan line-up, an expert on U.S.-Israeli relations remarked, “If it wasn’t so serious, it would be satire.”
Among the five witnesses, two were from “conservative” think tanks closely aligned with the Israel lobby, while a third represented a supposedly more “progressive” pro-Israeli position. The first think-tanker to speak was Reuel Marc Gerecht, who cited his authority on the subject to explain away the Hollywood B-movie nature of the ludicrous murder-for-hire plot. “I might make a slight digression and just say all intelligence services aren’t as good as you think they are. And the Iranians are no exception. They make a lot of mistakes,” claimed the former Middle East specialist in the CIA’s Directorate of Operations. “So do not, for a moment, buy the argument from those who said it cannot be because this is too sloppy. This is the nature of the game. This is how it is done.” Gerecht, currently a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, went on to advocate an escalation of “the war and terror” [sic] against a supposedly emboldened Iran. “If they think they can get away with it, they will push forward, and they did get away with it,” he asserted. “Now, the only way that I would argue that you are going to stop that type of mentality and attitude is that you have to convince them that you will escalate. You don’t want to run away from that word, you want to run towards it.” In a July 19 report on the funding of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Eli Clifton observed that “its hawkish stance against Iran … is consistent with its donors’ interests in ‘pro-Israel’ advocacy.”
Next up was Dr. Matthew Levitt. “It is too early to tell what the consequences of Iran’s assassination plot may be,” he told the hearing, “but there should be no doubt the plot lays bare the myth that sufficient carrots – from offers of dialogue to requests for an emergency hotline to reduce naval tensions in the Gulf – can induce the regime in Tehran to abandon its support for terrorism, part with its nuclear weapons program, or respect human rights.” Instead, Dr. Levitt recommended applying the sticks of diplomatic pressure, pressing regional bodies to expel Iranian diplomats, building an international consensus against Tehran, military pressure, customs controls, financial pressure, and coordination with European and other allies “to allay their fears over the possible unintended consequences” of the latter. Levitt is the director of the Stein Program on Counterterrorism & Intelligence at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a think tank created by AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, to “do AIPAC’s work but appear independent.”
In his testimony, Dr. Lawrence J. Korb counselled against military action, recommending instead that “[t]he Obama administration should use the Iranian plot to convince our allies to recommit themselves to enforcing the current sanctions on Iran.” Concluding by saying that “Iranian aggression toward the United States cannot be tolerated,” the Center for American Progress senior fellow advised the hearing that “it is important that the U.S. response to the Iranian plot furthers our long-term goals: deterring Iranian aggression and protecting U.S. national security.” Dr. Korb’s stated concern for American national security, however, has to be weighed against the two decades the former assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration has devoted to working for the release of Jonathan Pollard, the Israeli agent who “did more damage to the United States than any spy in history.”
Sandwiching the testimony by the three think tank fellows were two former U.S. military officers known to be supportive of the hawkish Israeli line on the Middle East. Hyping Iran as “our number one strategic enemy in the world,” retired U.S. Army Gen. Jack Keane suggested “we put our hand around their throat right now.” In 2007, Keane co-authored with Frederick Kagan the American Enterprise Institute-sponsored policy paper entitled “Choosing Victory: A Plan for Success in Iraq” which proposed the so-called “surge” beloved of America’s Israel partisans. Retired Marine Corps Col. Timothy J. Geraghty, who has been echoing all the standard Israeli propaganda against Tehran ever since the 1983 attack on the 24th Marine Amphibious Unit in Beirut under his allegedly negligent command, didn’t hesitate to blame Iranian-backed Hezbollah for the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish centre in Buenos Aires. The U.S. ambassador to Argentina at the time, however, has said, “To my knowledge, there was never any real evidence [of Iranian responsibility]. They never came up with anything.”
During the hearing, the Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, Peter King, called for all Iranian diplomats at the UN to be “kicked out” of the United States for spying. That evening, his provocative statement was given traction through a live interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, who apparently just wanted to know “what’s goin’ on here?” The sincerity of Blitzer’s seemingly ingenuous concern about Iranian espionage on American soil is undermined somewhat by the fact that he was once editor of Near East Report, AIPAC’s bi-weekly newsletter, before serving 17 years with the Jerusalem Post, during which time he authored a sympathetic book on Jonathan Pollard. The title of that “slick piece of damage control” – Territory of Lies – would be a fitting description for the Israeli-occupied hearing on alleged Iranian terror.
Maidhc Ó Cathail is a political analyst and editor of The Passionate Attachment.
Israeli naval vessels have intercepted a Gaza-bound international aid flotilla seeking to break the crippling blockade of the Palestinian territory.
According to a Press TV correspondent on-board one of the ships, the two vessels were shadowed by Israeli warplanes and naval vessels in international waters on Friday as they approached the besieged Gaza Strip.
Eight Israeli warships made radio contact with the ships, calling on them to change course towards Egypt or to turn around.
URGENT REPORT FROM IRISH BOAT: WARSHIPS APPROACHING / BOAT IS 48 NAUTICAL MILES FROM GAZA
(time of call: 10:58 am Irish time)
EMERGENCY ACTION IN NYC: 5pm to 6:30pm tomorrow, Friday, November 4th
WESPAC, Code Pink – NYC and other Palestine Solidarity groups are organizing an emergency support vigil for the passengers on the Saoirse and the Tahrir. This vigil will take place from 5pm to 6:30pm Friday, November 4th across the street from the Israeli Consulate in mid-town Manhattan located at 800 2nd Avenue between 42nd Street and 43rd Street. Denise Rickles, with Code Pink NYC, will be the point person for this support rally. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Please bring appropriate signs with you such as:
END THE SIEGE OF GAZA NOW!
OCCUPY WALL STREET NOT GAZA
END U.S. FUNDING OF ISRAELI ATTACKS
Chicago area prepares emergency response if Israeli forces target the Tahrir and the Saoirse on their way to Gaza
“In the event that Israel attacks our ships, there will be an Emergency Response protest at the Israeli Consulate in Chicago at 5:00 PM on the following work day (Monday-Friday). Please bring Palestinian flags and appropriate posters. “
E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to tell us about any actions you plan in your local area.