A point for the Israel lobby theory, from Panetta
‘Defense’ Secretary Leon Panetta
One of the big arguments against the Israel lobby theory is that our Middle East policy is driven by the military industrial complex. And so the Iraq war was a war for oil and military spending. This cynical materialist theory (spawned by Eisenhower in ’61) dismisses my cynical theory of history (spawned by realists in 2006), which turns on ideology and religion– that many of the war’s proponents wanted to make Israel safer by invading a country that had attacked Israel.
Well when I was in Cairo recently Issandr El Amrani, who largely agrees with me, said that if American corporate interests really were driving policy in the region, why not have a robust arms race among all the feuding countries there? Why not foster an arms race between Israel and Iran and Egypt– that would be great for profits! End the treaty between Israel and Egypt, let Egypt militarize itself even more…
But we don’t foster an arms race. And Leon Panetta explicitly does not want an arms race. From the Defense Secretary’s conversation with Kenneth Pollack at the Saban Forum Friday:
MR. POLLACK: …What do you think the consequences of Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapon would be and why do you – (inaudible)?
SEC. PANETTA:… once Iran gets a nuclear weapon, then they’re not – you will have an arms race in the Middle East. What’s to stop Saudi Arabia from getting a nuclear weapon? What’s to stop other countries from getting nuclear weapons in that part of the world? Suddenly we have an escalation of these horrible weapons that, you know, I think create even greater devastation in the Middle East.
So a key for all of us – for all of us is to work together – together – to ensure that that does not happen. We have made good progress in these efforts. We continue to make good progress in these efforts. That’s where we ought to continue to put our pressures, our efforts, our diplomatic, our economic, experts working together to make sure that that does not happen.