The United States has been at war with Iran for over thirty five years. Sometimes the war has been hot, sometimes cold, sometimes overt, and sometimes covert. Throughout this time period relations between the two countries have been hostile with very little diplomatic contact between officials of the two governments. In 2008, Barack Obama ran against Hillary Clinton on a platform of diplomatic engagement with Iran in opposition to her statements of being able to “totally obliterate Iran”.
Upon entering office, Obama, continuing America’s penchant for coercive diplomacy, doubled down on sanctions against Iran hoping that by causing economic hardship for ordinary Iranians he could pressure Iran to change its policies, particularly with respect to the development of nuclear capabilities. The strategy failed as Iran not only continued its peaceful nuclear development, but in many ways accelerated it. By his second term Obama, prioritizing addressing the nuclear proliferation issue, began negotiations with Iran on the nuclear issue in conjunction with Germany, France, United Kingdom, Russia and China. (EU3 + 3) The negotiations resulted in the signing in July 2015 of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) which limited Iran’s nuclear program in return for removal of economic sanctions. The agreement was endorsed by the UN Security Council in an action that requires member states to carry out the agreement.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has affirmed on numerous occasions that Iran has largely lived up to its obligations under the JCPOA. Obama has taken some executive action to live up the JCPOA by loosening the impact of the sanctions. The administration has approved the sale of aircraft and aircraft parts to Iran by Boeing and this week the US approved a license for Airbus to sell over 100 aircraft to Iran. However, the basic legal structure of sanctions remains in place. Obama has not moved as aggressively as he did in Cuba to increase U.S. business involvement in Iran, a step which would make the nuclear deal more difficult to reverse by engaging the business lobby in the issue.
With the current sanctions authorization legislation set to expire on December 31, 2016, House of Representatives and the Senate passed the Iran Sanctions Extension Act by an overwhelming majorities (419 -1 and 99-0). Opponents of the JCPOA in the U.S. have argued in justifying this action, which is a clear violation of the JCPOA, that Iran has engaged in other “nefarious” activities, such as supporting the Assad in Syria, supplying arms to Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthi tribe in Yemen, developing ballistic missiles and in general resisting U.S. influence in the Middle East. The Senate has said that it will take up this bill in the rump session of Congress in December. Although Obama has indicated that he will veto the bill, the bipartisan support in Congress for sanctions extension means that a veto override is likely. Obama’s best option for preserving the nuclear deal is to fight a delaying action to “kick the can” down the road to the next administration where a Republican controlled Congress may be reluctant to create a big foreign policy problem for President Trump so early in his administration.
As on many issues, it is unclear what President Trump’s position will be on the JCPOA. During the campaign he condemned the JCPOA as a “horrible contract”, but acknowledging that it was a contract, vowed to renegotiate it. Renegotiating the agreement is probably not possible. The JCPOA is the result of complicated, intertwined negotiations over a long period of time. Reopening talks in an atmosphere of mistrust and recriminations likely means that the whole agreement would collapse. A number of senior Congressmen and potential officials in a Trump led government, having received large speaking fees, are closely tied with the Mujahidin-e-Khalq (MEK), an exiled Iranian opposition group with an odd Islamist/Marxist ideology. The MEK, having allied with Saddam Hussein during Iran-Iraq war, has the distinction of being more unpopular in Iran than the U.S. They will push a hard line approach under a Trump administration..
The agreement, however, is not totally dependent on the U.S. Even if the U.S. withdraws from the agreement, Iran, under the administration of President Hassan Rouhani, and Russia, China and the EU have indicated that they will continue to abide by it. As it has in the past, the U.S. will likely use secondary sanctions on European companies to deter them from conducting business with Iran. This strategy will probably not be effective with Russia, India and China who have taken steps to disconnect their economy from the U.S. dominated and dollar denominated neo-liberal economic system. It remains to be seen how U.S. allies in Europe will react to being pressured to act against their own national interest.
The political situation in Iran will also have an influence on how U.S./Iran relations play out. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has said that if sanctions are extended Iran will “respond”. What the response will look like depends, in large measure, on the outcome of the May 2017 presidential elections. Incumbent President Rouhani has maintained a position that engagement with the West will benefit Iran diplomatically and economically. Because sanctions have, in large measure, remained in place and because Iran has been slow to reform its economic system, the benefits have not met public expectations. The opposition have attacked the policy of engagement with the West. Faced with these political threats, Rouhani may be forced to tack to the right and abandon the JCPOA, kick out the IAEA inspectors and expand the nuclear program. In that case the undeclared war with Iran will continue with all of the uncertainties and potential for disastrous consequences.
Don Liebich spent his work career with the US Navy Nuclear Submarine service and Sysco Corp. He and his wife, Marcia, have traveled to the Middle East numerous times in the past ten years. Mr. Liebich has conducted seminars and taught courses on Islam: God and his Prophet, Christian Fundamentalisms, US Middle East foreign policy and Iran. Don & Marcia live in Hailey, ID.
Will Iran be the target of the Trump regime?
One of the most discouraging aspects of the filling out of the Donald Trump cabinet is the array of Iran haters that seem to be lining up in the foreign policy and national security areas. Trump has been personally advocating sensible policies relating to Russia and Syria but he appears to have gone off the rails regarding Iran, which just might be attributed to those who are giving him advice. A reversion to the relationship that prevailed prior to last year’s signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA) between Iran and the so-called P5+1 consisting of the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain, and the European Union would be undesirable, to say the least, but that appears to be what is likely to develop. Or it could be even worse, finding bilateral support for “action” as a number of policy advisors in the presidential campaign from both parties were endorsing something like war against the Persians.
The irony is that the arguments made then and now for attacking Iran were based on the threat of Tehran deciding to build its own atomic bomb. With the JCPA agreement, however, most would agree that any remaining concerns that Tehran might even be considering the development of a nuclear weapons program were greatly diminished. Iran has since that time been in compliance with the agreement, possible nuclear proliferation has been avoided, and, apart from the fulminations of the inevitable anti-Iranian politicians in the United States, the signatories to the agreement have expressed their satisfaction with the outcome. It has been Washington that has failed to live up to its part of the agreement by easing remaining restrictions that are being imposed against Iranian financial institutions and regarding the purchase of some commercially available dual use technologies.
Candidate Donald Trump did not need much prompting to pick up on the prevailing anti-Iran sentiment. In a number of campaign speeches he denounced the JCPA as a bad deal and vowed to tear it up upon taking office. Some of that sentiment might well have been derived from his desire to distance himself from foreign policy positions promoted by President Barack Obama that were subsequently endorsed by Hillary Clinton so it is no surprise that since being elected he has somewhat modified his stance. He is now veering towards trying to renegotiate the agreement, which would likely be impossible given that it has multiple signatories. He could nevertheless disrupt it by continuing or increasing sanctions on Iran.
The thought of reverting to a state of unrelenting hostility towards Iran is disconcerting. One recalls joint CIA-Mossad operations between 2010 and 2012 that assassinated four civilian scientists connected to the country’s nuclear program as well as the creation of the Stuxnet virus that threatened to spread to other computers worldwide. It is generally accepted that Israel’s Mossad planned and prepared the killing of the scientists with a little help from the U.S., attacks which were almost certainly carried out by associates of the radical Marxist group Mujaheddin e Khalq (MEK), which is now being seen favorably by several Trump advisors even though the group is Marxist, cult-like and has killed Americans.
The assassinations were based on the false premise that Iran had a nuclear weapons program that could be disrupted by killing the scientists and technicians involved. Two comprehensive studies by the American government’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) conducted in 2007 and 2011 determined that no such program existed and that Iran had never taken any serious steps to initiate such research. Israel was also aware that there was no program. Nevertheless, the Israeli and American governments took steps to interfere with Iran’s existing and completely legal and open to inspection atomic energy program by identifying then killing its scientists and also introducing viruses into its computer systems. This was in spite of the fact that Iran was fully compliant with international norms on nuclear research and it was a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which Israel, possessing its own nuclear arsenal, had refused to sign.
The history of the Iran-U.S. relationship is significant because several Trump advisors appear to be locked into a time warp regarding the Mullahs and the threat to Americans that they allegedly constitute. Former Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) head Michael Flynn, who will be the Trump National Security Advisor, is the most prominent Iran hater and also the most outspoken.
Flynn, also an unapologetic Islamophobe, has said that Iran represents a danger to U.S. national security and that our friend and ally Israel “lives under the threat of total annihilation from Iran… something the United States must never allow.” He believes that Iran intends to build nuclear weapons as well as the ballistic missiles needed to deliver them on target and thinks that “regime change” is the only solution to the threat posed by the current government. And for Flynn, Iran is not alone, it is part of a “global alliance” that includes China and Russia which seeks to threaten the U.S. and its allies.
Flynn concludes that Iran is unmitigated evil and that Washington should have nothing to do with it, apart from recognizing the reality that it and its government must be destroyed. I personally attended a conference in Moscow last December at which Flynn asserted that Iran is solely responsible for nearly all the instability in the Middle East and is behind at least five wars in the region, an assertion that is just as ridiculous as it sounds.
One might suggest that Flynn is terribly uninformed about a subject regarding which he claims expertise. His comments would suggest that the capabilities of the DIA that he once headed were dangerously overrated, but reports from his former colleagues indicate that he was always guilty of serious overreach in his pronouncements, something they referred to as “Flynn facts”.
If Flynn were just one loud voice braying in the wilderness he would be bad enough since his job is important, particularly with a president who has no foreign policy experience, but the sad fact is that he is not alone. Congressman, West Point grad and former Army officer Mike Pompeo, who will head the CIA, is more-or-less on the same page when it comes to Iran. He supports new sanctions on the country and, regarding his appointment as Director, he had only one comment to make and it related to the JCPA, “I look forward to rolling back this disastrous deal with the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism.” As in the case with Flynn and DIA one has to wonder what kind of “objective” intelligence CIA will be producing under Pompeo.
Finally, there is retired Marine General James Mattis, who is being considered for a senior position in national security, possibly as Secretary of Defense. He is yet another Iranophobe who opposed the JCPA and calls Iran a rogue state that constitutes the “greatest threat” in the Middle East. As part of the evidence for that assessment he cites Iran’s alliance with Syria, which is at least in part directed against America’s enemy number one ISIS, demonstrating once again how Establishment Washington has difficulty in understanding what constitutes actual national interests. Mattis, in fact, denies that Iran is actually fighting ISIS.
The neoconservative kingpin Bill Kristol is gloating, headlining in his Weekly Standard publication that the “Iran Deal Is Doomed!” He should be pleased. Team Trump’s attitude towards an alleged Iranian threat is delusional, more in sync with Kristol and some Israeli thinking than with any actual American interests. Just as neoconservatives always believe that it is 1938 and we are in Munich, Flynn, Pompeo and Mattis likewise seem to think that it is 1979 and the United States Embassy in Tehran is still occupied.
The three Trumpsmen are not stupid, far from it, but the problem appears to be that they cannot comfortably assess two or more conflicting concepts at the same time, which might be due to the linear thinking derived from their military backgrounds. The Middle East is awash with players, all of whom have separate agendas, few of which coincide with actual American interests. If one is fixated on or obsessed with Iran as the sole disruptive force in the region it becomes difficult to see how Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Israel are also problems. It is decidedly neoconnish to look at a complex foreign policy issue and only see black and white, but that is what the Trump national security team seems to be prone to do.
Hopefully someone will convince Donald Trump that the real answer to eliminating the “Iranian threat” is not war. It requires building on the relationship established by JCPA to bind Iran more closely to the international community, both economically and culturally. By all accounts, young Iranians, a majority of the population, are dismissive of the rigidity of their own government and are very open to Western ideas and lifestyle. Change will come to Iran if the United States and its European allies encourage more rather than less non-threatening contact. It will not come at the point of a bayonet as Flynn, Pompeo and Mattis appear to be promoting.
An Israeli court has handed down prison sentences to two Syrians living in the occupied Golan Heights for blocking an Israeli ambulance transporting militants operating in Syria for treatment.
The military court on Thursday sentenced Amal Abu Saleh to seven years and eight months in jail and a fine of more than 3,000 dollars, Syria’s official news agency SANA reported.
Bashira Mahmoud, the other Syrian, was sentenced to 22 months in prison. She was also fined 1,000 dollars.
According to the report, Israeli forces arrested the two along with 24 others in June 2015, when residents of the village of Majdal Shams blocked the ambulance and prevented it from transporting two injured terrorists with the Takfiri Jabhat Fateh al-Sham militant group, formerly known as al-Nusra Front.
The Israeli regime later released the detainees except the two. Bashira has been under house arrest since July 2016.
Sheikh Nazih Abu Saleh, Amal’s uncle, said the court ruling was “hostile.” He added that the residents of the occupied Golan Heights have the right to block the transport of al-Nusra terrorists for treatment in Israeli hospitals.
Ahmed Sheikh Abdul Qader, the governor of the city of Quneitra in southwestern Syria that borders Golan, slammed the “provocative” court ruling, calling on human rights organizations to force the Israeli regime to release Syrians held in its prisons.
Syria says Israel and its Western and regional allies are aiding Takfiri terrorist groups operating inside the Arab country.
In December 2015, the Daily Mail said the Israeli regime had saved the lives of over 2,000 Takfiri militants at the cost of about 13 million dollars since 2013.
The Syrian army has several times seized huge quantities of Israeli-made weapons and advanced military equipment from the foreign-backed militants inside Syria.
In February 2014, photos of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were released, showing him visiting injured militants at a field hospital in Israel.
Hawks pass HR5732
Late in the day Tuesday November 15, Congress convened in special session. With normal rules suspended, they passed House Resolution 5732 the “Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act”. The resolution calls for intensifying already harsh sanctions on Syria, assessing implementation of No Fly Zone in Syria and escalating efforts to press criminal charges against Syrian officials. HR5732 claims to promote a negotiated settlement in Syria but, as analyzed by Friends Committee for National Legislation, imposes preconditions which would actually make that more difficult.
There was 40 minutes of “debate” with six representatives (Royce, Engel, Ros-Lehtinen, Kildee, Smith, and Curbelo) speaking in favor of the resolution. There were few other Congressional representatives present in Congress. The House Foreign Affairs Committee stated that the resolution was passed “unanimously” without mentioning the special conditions.
The “Non Controversial” Resolution that could lead to World War III
According to wikipedia “Suspension of the rules is a procedure generally used to quickly pass non-controversial bills in the United States House of Representatives …. such as naming Post Offices…” In this case, the resolution calls for evaluating and developing plans for a “No Fly Zone” which is an act of war. This is obviously controversial and it seems clear the resolution should have been debated and discussed under normal rules with a normal amount of Congressional presence and debate.
The motivation for bypassing normal rules and rushing the bill through without debate was articulated by the bill’s author and ranking Democrat Eliot Engel: “We cannot delay action on Syria any further…. if we don’t get this legislation across the finish line in the next few weeks, we are back to square one.” The current urgency may be related to the election results since Trump has spoken out against “regime change” foreign policy. As much as they are critical of Obama for not doing more, Congressional neoconservatives are concerned about the prospect of a President who might move toward peace and away from war.
The Caesar Fraud
HR5732 is titled the “Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act”. Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Ed Royce (R-Ca) explained that the resolution is named after “the brave Syrian defector known to the world as Caesar, who testified to us the shocking scale of torture being carried out within the prisons of Syria.”
In reality, the Caesar story was a grand deception involving the CIA with funding from Qatar to sabotage the 2014 Geneva negotiations. The 55,000 photos which were said to show 11,000 torture victims have never been publicly revealed. Only a tiny number of photos have been publicized. However, in 2015 Human Rights Watch was granted access to view the entire set. They revealed that almost one half the photos show the opposite of what was claimed: instead of victims tortured by the Syrian government, they actually show dead Syrian soldiers and civilian victims of car bombs and other terror attacks! The “Caesar” story, replete with masked ‘defector’, was one of the early propaganda hoaxes regarding Syria.
False Claims that the US has been doing nothing
One of the big lies regarding Syria is that the US has been inactive. Royce says:
The administration has decided not to decide. And that itself, unfortunately, has set a course where here we sit and watch and the violence only worsens. Mr. Speaker, America has been sitting back and watching these atrocities for far too long. Vital U.S. national security interests are at stake.
The ranking Democrat Eliot Engel said:
Four years ago I thought we should have aided the Free Syrian Army. They came to us in Washington and begged us for help… they were simply looking for weaponry. I really believe if we had given it to them, the situation in Syria would have been different today.
This is nonsense. The US was actively coordinating, training and supplying armed opposition groups beginning in late 2011. When the Qadaffi government was toppled in Fall 2011, the CIA oversaw the theft of the Libyan armories and shipment of weapons to Syrian armed opposition as documented in the Defense Intelligence Agency report of October 2012.
These weapons transfers were secret. For the public record it was acknowledged that the US was supplying communications equipment to the armed opposition while Saudi Arabia and Qatar were supplying weaponry. This is one reason that Saudi purchases of weapons skyrocketed during this time period; they were buying weapons to replace those being shipped to the armed opposition in Syria. It was very profitable for US arms manufacturers.
Huge weapons transfers to the armed opposition in Syria have continued to the present. This past Spring, Janes Defense reported the details of a U.S. delivery of 2.2 million pounds of ammunition, rocket launchers and other weaponry to the armed opposition.
Claims that the US has been inactive are baseless. In reality the US has done everything short of a direct attack on Syria. And the US military is starting to cross that barrier. On September 17 the US air coalition did a direct attack on the Syrian Army in Deir Ezzor, killing 80 Syrian soldiers and enabling ISIS to launch an attack on the position. Claims that it was a “mistake” are highly dubious.
The claims by Congressional hawks that the US has been ‘inactive’ in the Syrian conflict are part of the false narrative suggesting the US must “do something” which leads to a No Fly Zone and full scale war. Ironically, these calls for war are masked as “humanitarian”. And never do the proponents bring up the case of Libya where the US and NATO “did something”: destroyed the government and left chaos.
Congress as a Fact-Free House of Propaganda
With only a handful of representatives present and no debate, the six Congress members engaged in unrestrained propaganda and misinformation. The leading Democrat, Eliot Engel, said “We’re going into the New Year 2017, Assad still clings to power, at the expense of killing millions of his citizens.” That number is way off anyone’s charts.
Rep Kildee said “The world has witnessed this terrible tragedy unfold before our eyes. Nearly half a million Syrians killed. Not soldiers – men, women, children killed.”
The official text of the resolution says,
It is the sense of Congress that–
(1) Bashar al-Assad’s murderous actions against the people of Syria have caused the deaths of more than 400,000 civilians…
The above accusations – from “millions of citizens” to “half a million” to “400,000 civilians” – are all preposterous lies.
Credible estimates of casualties in the Syrian conflict range from 300,000 to 420,000. The opposition supporting Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimates the documented 2011-2016 death toll as follows:
killed pro Syrian forces – 108,000
killed anti government forces – 105,000
killed civilians – 89,000
In contrast with Congressional and media claims, civilians comprise a minority of the total death count and the largest casualty group is those fighting in defense of the the Syrian state. These facts are ignored and never mentioned because they point to the reality versus the propaganda narrative which allows the USA and allies to continue funding terrorism and a war of aggression against Syria.
The Congressional speakers were in full self-righteous mode as they accused the Syrian government of “committing crimes against humanity and war crimes against civilians including murder, torture and rape. No one has been spared from this targeting, even children.” A naive listener would never know that the Syrian government is primarily fighting the Syrian branch of Al Qaeda including thousands of foreigners supplied and paid by foreign governments.
The Congressional speakers go on to accuse the Syrian military of “targeting” hospitals, schools and markets. A critical listener might ask why they would do that instead of targeting the Al Qaeda terrorists and their allies who launch dozens and sometimes hundreds of hell cannon missiles into government held Aleppo every day.
The Congressional propaganda fest would not be complete without mention of the “White Helmets.” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce said:
We (previously) heard the testimony of Raed Saleh of the Syrian White Helmets. These are the doctors, nurses and volunteers who actually, when the bombs come, run towards the areas that have been hit in order to try to get the injured civilians medical treatment… They have lost over 600 doctors and nurses.
This is more Congressional nonsense. There are no nurses or doctors associated with the White Helmets. The organization was created by the USA and UK and heavily promoted by a “shady PR firm.” The White Helmets operate solely in areas controlled by Nusra and associated terrorist groups. They do some rescue work in the conflict zone but their main role is in the information war manipulating public opinion. The White Helmets actively promote US/NATO intervention through a No Fly Zone. Recently the White Helmets has become a major source of claims of innocent civilian victims in east Aleppo. Given the clear history of the White Helmets, these claims should be treated with skepticism. What exactly is the evidence? The same skepticism needs to be applied to video and other reports from the Aleppo Media Center. AMC is a creation of the Syrian Expatriates Organization whose address on K Street, Washington DC indicates it is a US marketing operation.
What is really going on?
The campaign to overthrow the Syrian government is failing and there is possibility of a victory for the Syrian government and allies. The previous flood of international jihadi recruits has dried up. The Syrian Army and allies are gaining ground militarily and negotiating settlements or re-locations with “rebels” who previously terrorized Homs, Darraya (outer Damascus) and elsewhere. In Aleppo the Syrian army and allies are tightening the noose around the armed opposition in east Aleppo.
This has caused alarm among neoconservative lawmakers devoted to Israel, Saudi Arabia and U.S. empire. They are desperate to prevent the Syrian government from finally eliminating the terrorist groups which the West and allies have promoted for the past 5+ years.
“Pro Israel” groups have been major campaigners for passage of HR5732. The name of Simon Wiesenthal is even invoked in the resolution. With crocodile tears fully flowing, Rabbi Lee Bycel wrote “Where is the Conscience of the World?” as he questioned why the “humanitarian” HR5732 was not passed earlier.
Israeli interests are one of the primary forces sustaining and promoting the conflict. Syria is officially at war with Israel which continues to occupy the Syrian Golan Heights; Syria has been a key ally of the Lebanese resistance; and Syria has maintained its alliance with Iran. In 2010 Secretary of State Clinton urged Syria to break relations with Hezbollah, reduce relations with Iran and come to settlement with Israel. The Syrian refusal to comply with these Washington demands was instrumental in solidifying Washington’s hostility.
Congressional proponents of HR5732 make clear the international dimension of the conflict. Royce explains “It is Russia, it is Hezbollah, that are the primary movers of death and destruction… it is the IRGC fighters from Iran.” Engel echoes the same message: “Yes, we want to go after Assad’s partners in violence… along with Iranian and Hezbollah forces”.
These statements are in contrast with the analysis of some writers who believe Israel is not deeply opposed to the Damascus government. For example, Phyllis Bennis recently wrote that belief in an “arc of resistance” has been “long debunked” and that “the Syrian regime …. often plays a useful role for US and Israeli interests.”
It’s remarkable that this faulty analysis continues to be propounded. In words and deeds Israel has made its position on Syria crystal clear. Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren explained in an interview:
We always wanted [President] Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran … the greatest danger to Israel is by the strategic arc that extends from Tehran, to Damascus to Beirut. And we saw the Assad regime as the keystone in that arc.
What Will Happen Now?
If the Syrian government and allies continue to advance in Aleppo, Deir Ezzor, outer Damascus and the south, the situation will come to a head. The enemies of Syria – predominately the USA, Gulf Countries, NATO and Israel – will come to a decision point. Do they intervene directly or do they allow their regime project to collapse?
HR5732 is an effort to prepare for direct intervention and aggression.
One thing is clear from the experience of Libya: Neoconservatives do not care if they leave a country in chaos. The main objective is to destabilize and overthrow a government which is too independent. If the USA and allies cannot dominate the country, then at least they can destroy the contrary authority and leave chaos.
What is at stake in Syria is whether the USA and allies Israel, Saudi Arabia, etc. are able to destroy the last secular and independent Arab country in the region and whether the US goal of being the sole superpower in the world prevails.
The rushed passing of HR5732 without debate is indicative that:
* “regime change” proponents have not given up their war on Syria
* they seek to escalate US aggression.
* the US Congress is a venue where blatant lies are said with impunity and where violent actions are advanced behind a cynical and amoral veneer of “humanitarianism” and crocodile tears.
Rick Sterling is an investigative journalist and member of Syria Solidarity Movement. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo by thierry ehrmann | CC BY 2.0
If there is one hopeful sign in the Presidency of Donald Trump, it is his pledge to ‘drain the swamp’ as it relates to those special insider interests who run the show and those outsider interests who own the show.
It is a hugely ambitious task and hardly achievable in four short years but there is a branch of the Federal government where the President-elect (PE) would find immediate results and bring the satisfaction that American foreign policy would no longer be dependent on globalization or spreading unwinnable wars on wasteful adventurism overseas. If the PE is, in fact, favorable towards a non-interventionist role, the opportunity for a thorough housecleaning and a reshape of the State Department is Now. According to current reports, the struggle is underway within the transition team for the soul of the State Department and ultimately the Trump Administration.
As HRC continued her crazed war talk about Syria and defended NATO encroachment on Russian borders while uttering unprovoked attacks on Russian President Vladimir Putin, there was every reason to believe that minutes after concluding her inaugural address, HRC would have walked off the stage and signed the order initiating a No-Fly Zone over Syria, right then and there. And bingo-bango-bongo, Putin would have responded. I knew it as sure as I know my own name. At some point it became clear, as Green Party candidate Jill Stein said so precisely, HRC would be more dangerous than Donald Trump.
Even as he talked about modernizing the US military, Trump’s campaign rhetoric about disentangling from foreign entanglements, making NATO nations pay their fair share and dialogue with Putin rather than the usual “Blame it on the Russians” bombast, struck a chord; there was reason for hope. Unlike Bernie Sanders who has proven to be just another Democrat, Trump dared to question whether there were any ‘moderate’ rebels (aka terrorists) in Syria, the mythical existence of which justified the Obama administration’s lust to overthrow the Assad government. Trump’s positions, limited elucidation though there was, were always far more reasonable than HRC’s inflammatory saber rattling and aggressive militarism that stirred justified fears of WW III. If anyone bothered to listen, Trump was voicing foreign policy concerns that not one Democrat in Congress has dared to articulate in the last eight years.
While I am in the ‘wait and see’ category of pragmatists regarding the PE, I agree with Robert Parry’s point that Trump has the opportunity to be a truly great president IF, and it’s a big IF, he uses his inner grit and a street savvy to break the globalist/neoliberal/neocon stranglehold (with its links to shadow government) on foreign policy at the State Department, a concept that President Barack Obama never understood or even aspired to. The PE appointment for Secretary of State which is currently an intense subject of debate within the transition will indicate which direction the PE will take US foreign policy.
In the early days after the election Trump communication advisor Jason Miller offered reassurance with the following:
“There will be non-traditional names, a number of people who have had wide-ranging success in a number of different fields; wide-ranging success in business … People will be excited when they see the type of leaders the President-elect brings into this administration.”
One not so non-traditional and not so exciting appointment is that of Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), a member of the House Intelligence Committee and the Select Committee on Benghazi, as Director of the CIA. Pompeo, who graduated first in his class at West Point and then Harvard Law School and was a backer of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fl) during the primaries, would hardly qualify as anything more than the ‘same old’ school of CIA Directors that have dominated the agency for decades under the Republicrats. Pompeo, known as a rabid political ideologue, is not expected to break with the past and can be expected to continue the agency’s widespread unconstitutional violations with an unabashed torture program as if that ever revealed reliable ‘actionable intelligence’ or curtailed dedicated terrorists. So what message does that appointment send?
During their interview, it would be interesting to know if there was discussion that PE Trump’s opposition to the Iran nuclear treaty has been largely based on non-inclusive trade concerns. If, in fact, the PE’s view of foreign policy includes trade as a legitimate tool for negotiations, the House of Representatives recent party-line vote in rejection (a plum for Israel) of the sale of Boeing and Airbus commercial jets to Iran would be considered a diplomatic setback (under a Trump Administration).
Yet to be determined is whether Trump will roll over and appoint his good friend Rudy Giuliani who has no diplomatic experience whatsoever to qualify him and will inevitably be utterly lost in the State Department’s bureaucracy and political snake pit – or will the President-elect allow himself to be pressured to accept former Bush UN Ambassador, the wacky conniving John Bolton who will owe his allegiance to the professional warmongering neocons. Sen. Rand Paul (R-SC) who frequently shows some good Libertarian common sense on foreign policy issues, has announced his intention to block either nomination.
While former Presidential candidate Mitt Romney who has been recently added to the list for Secretary of State would add a certain gravitas, he is another not non-traditional name with little first hand, on the ground knowledge of today’s foreign policy complexities. More importantly, does Romney know how to clean house?
As soon as the votes were counted, certain neo-cons jumped Clinton’s sinking ship without so much as a fond adieu and, being shy, retiring types, sought to elbow their way onto the Trump Ship of State. More recently, Eliot Cohen’s attempts at a tryst soured as he expressed displeasure after having ‘made the case that young conservatives should volunteer to serve” now concluded he ‘was wrong’.
Other neo-con names floating as transition team members have been the especially slimy, Richard Perle known appropriately as the Prince of Darkness, foreign policy analyst Michael Ledeen who supports the use violence to spread democracy and noted Islamaphobe Frank Gaffney, who denied he was on the transition team and had ever been contacted.
If the PE and his closest aides are naïve enough to believe that a conciliatory gesture will engender cooperation from the foreign policy establishment, they are woefully misguided. If Trump fails to rein in the neocons and war hawk neolibs (including assistant secretaries, deputy assistant secretaries and lower level staff) with dispatch, they will quickly discover that if you get into the swamp with alligators, you had better be prepared to wrestle alligators.
At the same time, the reality is that the estimated hundreds of embedded neocons and neolibs at State have the potential, as they clean out their desks, to pilfer (an ultra serious legal violation) the last decade worth of top secret and confidential memos, notes and reports, contacts and network names and other vital information necessary for the transition of foreign policy to the Trump administration. It would not be surprising for a situation to develop similar to some months ago when fifty plus State mid level careerists ‘leaked’ an internal memo criticizing President Obama’s policy on Syria without any apparent repercussions. If the Trump Administration takes foreign policy in a new, improved direction, how will the new President deal with being subtly, or not so subtly, undermined by his own staff? There is no reason to believe that the most virulent elements of the US foreign policy establishment closely tied to Israel will ‘go quietly into that good night.’
Less than a week after the election, PE had his first phone conversation with Putin and they reportedly talked extensively about Syria and promised a face-to-face in the near future. Moscow reported that Putin told Trump he was ready for “dialogue of partnership based on principles of equality, mutual response and non-interference in the internal affairs of each other.” The Trump transition team statement said that the PE told Putin ‘he is very much looking forward to having a strong and enduring relationship with Russia and the people of Russia” which is considerably more encouraging than what HRC would have told Putin if she had been elected.
In a Wall Street Journal interview three days after the election, Trump suggested a shift from Obama’s foreign policy objectives regarding support for the Syrian opposition and its insistence on ousting Syrian president Bashar al Assad. “We’re backing rebels against Syria and we have no idea who these people are.”
Not unexpectedly, Trump named retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (2012-2014), as his National Security Adviser succeeding Obama NSA Susan Rice. Flynn resigned or was pushed out of the DIA because of a public difference of opinion regarding the Obama Syria strategy which was to support those mythical ‘moderate’ Syrian rebels to oust Assad rather than focus on the destruction of ISIS. Flynn is being portrayed by the NY Times and others as ‘hotheaded’ and irresponsible with ‘poor judgment’ as well as an “alarming pick” for NSA.
In an interview with Fareed Zakaria in 2015 which was replayed on CNN since his appointment, Flynn spoke about threats from ISIS: “We are not winning, we are participating. We need to do more to defeat this problem than just go kill a couple more radical Islamists.” Flynn took the discussion beyond a military solution citing the need for an “economic transformation beyond building schools” while creating “other aspects of energy to achieve that economic transformation” and the use of “water as a means to increase the economic health of the region.”
Zakaria debunked Flynn’s thoughts with “that would require a huge transformation of the whole region” and would be “incredibly costly, laborious and generational. I think the Obama Administration would say it’s not worth the effort; not the kind of existential threat to the US that would warrant that massive expenditure of time, money and resources.” As if the US war-related $20 trillion deficit is peanuts.
Currently, Flynn is being criticized for comments referring to radical Islamists as ‘a political ideology hiding behind the notion of it being a religion” which brings to mind a discussion re the true tenets of Islam that I had with a Florida Imam. His comparison was that as certain fundamental Christians have distorted Christianity to suit their political agenda; so too have certain Moslems used their religion to justify their ideology. The fact that Flynn sees that distinction is encouraging.
Renee Parsons has been a member of the ACLU’s Florida State Board of Directors and president of the ACLU Treasure Coast Chapter. She has been an elected public official in Colorado, an environmental lobbyist and staff member of the US House of Representatives in Washington DC. She can be found on Twitter @reneedove31
Two weeks after Donald Trump’s shocking upset of Hillary Clinton, the imperious and imperial neoconservatives and their liberal-interventionist understudies may finally be losing their tight grip on U.S. foreign policy.
The latest sign was Trump’s invitation for a meeting with Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, on Monday. The mainstream media commentary has almost completely missed the potential significance of this start-of-the-work-week meeting, suggesting that Trump is attracted to Gabbard’s tough words on “radical Islamic terrorism.”
Far more important is that Gabbard, a 35-year-old Iraq War veteran, endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries because of his opposition to neocon/liberal-hawk military adventures. She starred in one of the strongest political ads of the campaign, a message to Hawaiians, called “The Cost of War.”
“Bernie Sanders voted against the Iraq War,” Gabbard says. “He understands the cost of war, that that cost is continued when our veterans come home. Bernie Sanders will defend our country and take the trillions of dollars that are spent on these interventionist, regime change, unnecessary wars and invest it here at home.”
In the ad, Gabbard threw down the gauntlet to the neocons and their liberal-hawk sidekicks, by accusing them of wasting trillions of dollars “on these interventionist, regime change, unnecessary wars.” Her comments mesh closely with Trump’s own perspective.
So, the surprise election results on Nov. 8 may have represented a “trading places” moment for the neocons and liberal hawks who were eagerly counting the days before the “weak” President Barack Obama would turn over the Commander-in-Chief job to former Secretary of State Clinton who had made clear that she shared their hawkish agenda of escalating the war in Syria and ratcheting up the New Cold War with Russia.
There was even speculation that one of Clinton’s neocon favorites within the State Department, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, might be rewarded with State’s top job for her “regime change” in Ukraine that sparked the start of the New Cold War in 2014.
Nuland, the wife of arch-neocon Robert Kagan, sabotaged President Obama’s emerging strategy of collaborating with Russian President Vladimir Putin on sensitive global issues. In 2013-14, Putin helped orchestrate two of Obama’s brightest foreign policy successes: Syria’s surrender of its chemical weapons arsenal and Iran’s guarantee that it would not develop nuclear weapons.
But those agreements infuriated the neocons who favored escalating both crises into direct U.S. bombing campaigns aimed at Syria and Iran – in accordance with the desires of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Saudi monarchy. Yet. there was perhaps even greater alarm at what the next move of the Obama-Putin tag team might be: demanding that Israel finally get serious about a peace deal with the Palestinians.
So, the neocons took aim at Ukraine, which neocon National Endowment for Democracy President Carl Gershman identified as “the biggest prize” and an important stepping stone to an even bigger prize, a “regime change” in Moscow removing Putin.
While Gershman’s NED funded (with U.S. taxpayers’ money) scores of projects inside Ukraine, training anti-government activists and journalists, Nuland took the point as the key organizer of a putsch that removed elected President Viktor Yanukovych on Feb. 22, 2014, and replaced him with a fiercely anti-Russian regime.
Given the geopolitical sensitivity of Ukraine to Russia, including its naval base on the Crimean peninsula, Putin had little choice but to react, supporting a referendum in Crimea in which 96 percent of the voters favored leaving Ukraine and rejoining Russia – and assisting ethnic Russian rebels in the east who resisted the violent ouster of their president.
Of course, the mainstream Western news media presented these developments as simply a case of “Russian aggression” and a “Russian invasion.” And, faced with this new “group think,” Obama quickly abandoned his partner, Putin, and joined in the chorus of condemnations.
Nuland emerged as a new star inside the State Department, a hero of the New Cold War which was expected to funnel trillions of tax dollars into the Military-Industrial Complex.
But Trump surprisingly adopted the position that Obama shied away from, a recognition that Putin could be an important asset in resolving major international crises. The real-estate-mogul-turned-politician stuck to that “outside-the-mainstream” position despite fierce attacks from rival Republicans and Democratic presidential nominee Clinton, who even mocked him as Putin’s “puppet.”
After Trump’s upset victory on Nov. 8, many pundits assumed that Trump would fall back in line with Washington’s hawkish foreign-policy establishment by giving top jobs to neocons, such as former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton and ex-CIA Director James Woolsey, or Netanyahu favorites, such as former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney or ex-New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
So far, however, Trump has followed a different course, more in line with the libertarian thinking of the Koch brothers – not only the more famous ones, Charles and David, but also their long-estranged brother William, who I’m told have become behind-the-scenes advisers to the President-elect.
Though Trump did offer high-profile meetings to the likes of Romney and Giuliani, he has yet to hand over any key foreign-policy job to the Republican neocon wing. His one major announcement in that area has been naming as National Security Advisor retired Gen. Michael Flynn, who led the Defense Intelligence Agency when it produced a prescient warning that U.S. policy in Syria would lead to the creation of an “Islamic State.”
Though Flynn is regarded as a hardliner in the fight against Islamic jihadist terror, he is seen as an independent thinker regarding how best to wage that war. For instance, Flynn has objected to the notion that drone strikes, i.e., killing off individual jihadists, is a route to success.
“We’ve tended to say, drop another bomb via a drone and put out a headline that ‘we killed Abu Bag of Doughnuts’ and it makes us all feel good for 24 hours,” Flynn said. “And you know what? It doesn’t matter. It just made them a martyr, it just created a new reason to fight us even harder.”
That leaves open the possibility that a President Trump might eschew the “whack-a-mole” approach that has bedeviled the “war on terror” and instead go after the “mole nest” – if you will – the Saudi monarchy that has long financed Islamic extremists both through the fundamentalist Wahhabi brand of Sunni Islam and by supplying money and weapons to jihadists dating back at least to the Afghan mujahedeen in the 1980s, the origin of modern Islamic terrorism.
Traditional U.S. politicians have recoiled from facing up to the hard reality that the Saudi monarchy is the real “terror central” because of Saudi Arabia’s enormous riches and influence, which is now enhanced by its quiet alliance with Israel in their joint campaign against the so-called “Shiite crescent,” from Iran through Syria to Lebanon’s Hezbollah.
Taking on this Saudi-Israel nexus has long been regarded as political suicide, given Israel’s extraordinary lobbying power and Saudi Arabia’s exceptional wealth. But Trump may be assembling a team that is “crazy” enough to take on that mission.
So, while the fight over the future of U.S. foreign policy is far from over – the neocons will surely flex their muscles at the major think tanks, on the op-ed pages and inside the halls of Congress – the Trump transition is showing some creativity in assembling a national security team that may go in a very different direction.
Much will become apparent in Trump’s choice of Secretary of State. If it’s someone like Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, or Rep. Gabbard or a libertarian from the Kochs’ world, that would be bad news for the neocons. If it’s someone like Romney, Giuliani, Bolton or Woolsey, then that will mean that President-elect Trump has blinked and the neocons can breathe a sigh of relief.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s.
US leaders almost always justify their foreign policy with words about “democracy” and “human rights.” Especially when talking about the Middle East, the insincerity of such words are blatantly obvious. While US leaders criticize Iran and Syria for alleged human rights violations, the entire world can see that the US allies in the region are serial human rights violators.
Israel has been widely condemned for its treatment of Palestinians. Saudi Arabia is a country where even the basic notion of human rights does not exist. The Kingdom is an absolute monarchy where people can still be executed by beheading or crucifixion in the 21st century. Crimes punishable by death under the Saudi regime include “sorcery” and “insulting the King.” Under Saudi law, the people are not citizens with rights, but rather “subjects” who are essentially the King’s property.
Qatar is yet another repressive regime. Like Saudi Arabia, it is an absolute monarchy, where a King serves as the unelected autocrat.
Bahrain is known not only for its lack of democratic structures, but for its repression of the Shia Muslim majority who frequently take to the streets, demanding their rights.
The United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Jordan, and almost every other US-aligned regime in the Arab world has a primitive political system, centered on an autocratic monarchy. These regimes are known to torture, behead, flog, repress free speech, oppress religious minorities, and do all kinds of things US leaders claim to oppose.
This does not prevent the United States from selling weapons to these regimes, or from purchasing their oil. This also does not prevent the USA from establishing military bases on their soil, and otherwise coddling them.
In fact, the Financial Times describes how the United Arab Emirates is becoming a beloved “tax haven” for the rich and powerful in the western world. While western leaders love to talk about human rights, they have no problem with autocratic emirates handling their money.
The Roots of Wahabbi Terrorism
More shockingly, the involvement of these regimes in terrorism has not deterred US support. It took 15 years for the classified 28 pages of the 9/11 Commission report to be released. The pages revealed that Saudi government officials had collaborated with the 9/11 hijackers. It furthermore revealed that Saudi Arabia had been uncooperative and offered minimal support to US officials with their investigations during the aftermath of the attacks.
The Saudi Royal family owes its reign to the British Empire. During the 1900s the British discovered that the House of Saud were useful allies against the Ottoman Empire, and were more than willing to sell their oil at a reasonable price. The Saudi monarchy professes a particularly conservative brand of Islam known as “Wahabbism.”
While not every Wahabbi has been involved in terrorism, Al-Queda, ISIS, Al-Nusra, Osama Bin Laden, Omar Mateen, and nearly every Middle-Eastern or Central-Asian terrorist who has menaced the world in recent years has been an adherent of Wahabbism. Wahabbism is particularly anti-Western and anti-American. Opponents of the Saudi ideology often call it “Takfirism,” a term that refers to Wahabbi’s willingness to kill other Muslims with whom they disagree.
The relationship between Wahabbi fanatics and Britain’s wealthy has not ended. A recent article in the Financial Times describes how British Houses of Finance now specialize in “Islamic Banking.” While many Islamic scholars describe the very concept as fraudulent, many financial institutions are accommodating sultans, emirates, and princes who adhere to strict Wahabbi laws. Islam forbids lending money for interest, so many financial institutions have invented loopholes with hidden fees, investment returns, and other mechanisms that can accommodate strict adherents.
During the 1980s, the CIA worked with the heir of a wealthy Saudi construction dynasty to build a Wahabbi army. Osama bin Laden was sent to Afghanistan to build an army of “Mujihadeen” to topple the People’s Democratic Party. The US worked closely with the fanatical Wahabbi terrorists to battle the Marxist government of Afghanistan and their Soviet allies.
Currently, the United States works with Saudi Arabia to fund a Wahabbi insurgency against the secular Syrian Arab Republic. ISIS and Al-Nusra are known to be terrorists inspired by the Saudi ideology. The Saudis have been caught directly helping them out. Among the US backed “moderate rebels,” many Wahabbis can also be found.
Most of the various US-aligned autocracies in the Middle East can be linked to the Wahabbi forces in Syria. Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, and other regimes have made the goal of “regime change” in Syria a priority, and many ISIS fighters have emerged from their respective populations.
Is The Tide Turning?
While the past three presidencies of Bush, Obama, and Clinton have involved massive coddling of the Saudi regime, Donald Trump often spoke against Saudi Arabia during his Presidential campaign. Furthermore, in a recent move, the US Congress dramatically overrode Barack Obama’s veto, and passed the controversial JASTA bill, allowing victims of terrorism to sue the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in US courts.
While Trump often appealed to ignorant and Islamophobic sentiments among Americans, he also appealed to an isolationist desire to stop meddling around the world. Trump made fighting ISIS, the Wahabbi extremist group unleashed amid US-Saudi regime change efforts, a key plank of his campaign.
Will Trump live up to his words? Will the USA end its alliance with Pro-Wahabbi autocratic regimes that are linked to terrorism?
Though Trump spoke against the Saudis and talked of fighting ISIS, his campaign included reckless denunciations of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Trump’s speeches often seemed to lump Iran in with ISIS, ignoring the fact that Iranian Revolutionary Guards are on the battlefield each and every day, risking their lives to defeat ISIS.
Iran is greatly threatened by ISIS terrorism. ISIS and most Wahabbis consider the Islamic Republic of Iran to be led by “Shia Apostates.” ISIS and other anti-government forces in Syria have recruited fighters from around the world on the basis of toppling Syrian President Bashar Assad because of his Alawi faith, which Wahabbis consider to be a variation of Shia apostasy.
Contradictory Middle East Positions
For too long, the USA has been targeting secular, nationalist governments like the Baathist regimes of Iraq and Syria, the Islamic Republic of Iran, or Gaddafi’s Libya. In doing so they have been passively helping and strengthening the bloodthirsty Wahabbi fanatics who these regimes have held back, and whose ideological foundation is promoted by Saudi Arabia.
If Trump is serious about stopping ISIS and the surrounding wave of Wahabbi terrorism, he will immediately end the US financial and military relationship with the Saudi regime, as well as the nearby, pro-Wahabbi autocracies.
Furthermore, Trump will need to end his irresponsible demonization of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and join with the Iranians, the Russians, the Syrian government, and China in the fight against ISIS terrorism.
If Trump were to do this, it would be one of the most dramatic shifts ever seen in US foreign policy.
During his campaign, Trump has taken two somewhat contradictory positions in relation to the Middle East. While he has denounced Saudi Arabia and talked about how US “regime change” policies have strengthened terrorism, he has also repeated the anti-Iranian talking points of Netanyahu, and spoken with great admiration for Israel.
Israel has been the greatest direct beneficiary of the US policy in the Middle East. Each regime the US has targeted in the region–Syria, Iraq, and Iran–have been outspoken opponents of Israel who directly support Palestinian resistance. Meanwhile, the Wahabbi-linked autocrats denounce Israel in words, but do very little to threaten its existence or strength.
Israel’s primary enemies, Iran and Syria, are also the primary target of the Wahabbi fanatics and the Saudi monarchy. Israel and Saudi Arabia may denounce each other, but their foreign policies both center on hostility to what the Saudis call “the Shia crescent.”
Regarding the Middle East, the new President will be forced to decide whether he seeks to continue aligning US and Israel foreign policies, and targeting Iran and Syria, or whether he wants to end Wahabbi terrorism, and stop cooperating with the regimes actively linked to it.
Trump is often perceived as quite unpredictable. Whichever choice he makes, it is likely to surprise many people.
Caleb Maupin is a political analyst and activist based in New York. He studied political science at Baldwin-Wallace College.
On Wednesday, for the first time, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei expressed his views on the US elections of November 8. The Tehran Times quoted Khamenei as saying,
- Unlike some of those in the world who have either been bemoaning or celebrating the results of the American elections, we are neither bemoaning nor celebrating because the results make no difference to us. Nor do we have worries, and by the grace of God, we are ready to encounter any likely incident.
Khamenei said that from a historical perspective,
- We have no judgment about this election because America is the same America, and over the past 37 years either of the two parties which has been in office not only has done no good (to the Iranian nation), but has always been an evil to the Iranian nation.
Khameini downgraded the significance of the US election and stressed that Iran’s focus should be on promoting and preserving the “internal strength of the establishment” and nurturing and preserving the “revolutionary spirit and orientation.”
The Supreme Leader’s remarks come amidst furious speculations in the American media, driven mostly by pro-Israeli Jewish lobby, to the effect that the Iran nuclear deal (known as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA) faces the prospect of sudden death any moment after January 20. The Israeli intelligence website DebkaFile, which routinely disseminates sensational items on Iran, even reported that Trump is contemplating a military attack on Iran as soon as he moves into the Oval Office.
Therefore, Khamenei’s indifference is striking. It must be noted, though, that Khamenei made no reference to US president-elect Donald Trump, directly or indirectly. What does that imply?
Simply put, Iran is not worried, since Iran does not expect anything dramatically different in the US policies toward Iran. The ‘psy war’ by the Israeli lobby has failed to have an effect. The Iranians would know that Israelis habitually create larger-than-life image of themselves, but the plain truth is that Trump has not been a candidate sponsored by the Jewish lobby in America. In fact, Jewish circles have attributed to him traces of ‘anti-semitism’, Trump’s son-in-law’s Jewish ethnicity notwithstanding.
Can it be that Iran has lines of communication open to Trump’s transition team? Now, that isn’t such an outrageous thought as it may seem at first sight, because, simply put, that is the way Iranian diplomacy always worked. Iran is a tireless communicator. A clutch of ‘red lines’ apart (such as the ‘Zionists’ or Daesh and al-Qaeda), Iran’s diplomacy is willing to engage even adversaries or detractors.
What must be noted in this context is that two key personalities in the Iranian regime, both enormously prestigious and powerful within Iran and in the outside world, have hinted in the recent days that Tehran keeps an open mind on Trump – Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the Speaker of the Majlis (parliament) Ali Larijani.
Zarif said on November 11 that in his estimation, the Trump administration will eventually accept the landmark nuclear deal “once the dust has settled and people are briefed about the realities of the region and the world.” He added, “It will be in the interest of everybody to remain committed in practice to the JCPOA. But if there are doubts about the implementation, then Iran will have its own options as well.”
Zarif is a highly experienced career diplomat who served for long years in New York and enjoys extensive contacts with American political elites and the foreign-policy community. Zarif implied here that Tehran is inclined to take much of what Trump had said on the campaign trail regarding Iran as the stuff of grandstanding and politicking, and far from the final word on the subject.
Equally, the speaker of the Iranian Majlis Ali Larijani’s remarks in Tehran last Sunday to a big gathering of some 100 parliamentarians merits even more careful attention. Larijani cautioned the Iranian religious and political elites against making intemperate remarks about the US president-elect. In a highly nuanced remark, he counselled,
- Analyses and remarks about the U.S. president-elect should be more mature, and hasty remarks and premature judgments should be avoided until the Foreign Ministry takes a transparent stance.
No doubt, Larijani made a hugely significant remark. Larijani is a veteran diplomat and statesman of many battles with ‘Great Satan’, and chooses his words with utmost care. In effect, he pleaded for patience till such time as when Zarif could take a “transparent stance”.
Larijani spoke in the context of some flippant remarks attributed to influential clerics lately scoffing at Trump. Evidently, he has restrained them from muddying the waters and cautioned them against making “premature judgments”. Larijani is close to Supreme Leader Khamenei.
The salience of what Larijani said is that it is critically important that Zarif gets a free hand to conduct diplomacy optimally in a dynamic situation in a high-stakes game when the contours of the transition in Washington are far from crystallized.
A senior Israeli official says Tel Aviv should be concerned about deepening disconnect with Moscow over Russia’s role in the Syria conflict.
Avi Dichter, chairman of Israel’s foreign affairs and military committee and the former head of the Shin Bet intelligence agency, says Russia’s interests in the region by no means coincide with Israel’s.
“The gap between us and them is large and disturbing,” he told Reuters news agency after returning from a visit to Moscow where he held high-level meetings last week.
Dichter said Russia’s views on Iran, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the Lebanese group Hezbollah were in sharp contrast to Israel’s and a growing source of potential conflict.
Russia does not view Iran and its allies “according to the level of threat they pose or broadcast towards Israel,” he said.
The Russians, he said, “view Hezbollah positively” and are backing the group’s assistance to the Syrian government in the war against Takfiri and other terrorists.
“Russia thinks and acts as a superpower and as such it often ignores Israeli interest when it doesn’t coincide with the Russian interest,” Dichter said.
Israel is believed to have been assisting militants fighting to topple President Assad in Syria. The Israeli regime’s worries have risen as Takfiri terrorists have suffered major setbacks over the past few months.
Tel Aviv’s main concern is to be able to attack Hezbollah, with which it fought a war in 2006. Over the past two years, Israeli artillery and warplanes have carried out several strikes against alleged weapons convoys in southern Syria that Israel claimed were destined for Hezbollah.
The occupying regime’s freedom of movement in the area is now more restricted because of the presence of Russian jets and advanced anti-aircraft batteries that Moscow has put in place.
With Russia becoming more deeply involved in the Syria conflict, Tel Aviv has sought to keep lines of communication with Moscow open to avoid an accidental confrontation.
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has visited President Vladimir Putin three times this year, apparently in an effort to persuade him to drop Russia’s engagement in Syria.
But Dichter said Russia thinks Assad should stay in power, that Iran is a stabilizing force and that the nuclear deal the word powers struck with Tehran was largely positive.
With Donald Trump’s historic victory in the US Presidential Election this week it is appropriate to pause and take a moment to reflect about what the incoming President of the United States needs to do in order to Make American Great Again.
1) Trump has proposed restrictions on lobbyists acting for foreign governments and more specifically for former elected officials seeking or being offered employment by organizations such as these after leaving office.
He needs to implement and expand this restriction in order to curb the well-documented activities of the partisans of Israel as the principle abusers of the lobby system. To do this he needs to focus on the flow of capital between domestic jewish organizations (such as AIPAC, NORPAC, the Zionist Organization of America and the Anti-Defamation League), international Jewish organizations (such as Birthright Israel and the World Jewish Congress) and the Israeli government itself. In addition to requiring the Israel Lobby’s plethora of legal entities register as representatives of a foreign government (i.e. Israel) in compliance with current legislation.
This will help prevent the widespread abuse of the lobby and donor system by Israel’s partisans in the United States and abroad. In addition to making it difficult for Israel’s political agents to continue ring fence 3.8 billion of US taxpayer’s money to balance its own domestic budget deficit. (1)
2) Trump has stated that he intends to take China to task for its repeated violations of US intellectual property laws. This is laudable indeed, but Trump needs to expand this mandate to include other major violators of US intellectual property laws such as Israel. (2)
3) Trump has repeatedly affirmed that he intends to take a hatchet to all Free Trade Agreements that do not provide a net benefit to America. He has targeted NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement) and TPP (the Trans-Pacific Partnership) in particular, but he also needs to address ILFTA (the United States-Israel Free Trade Agreement) which has been running a deficit since it began in 1985. The latest figures available on the US trade deficit with Israel caused by ILFTA stand at $8 billion in goods and $466 million in services. (3)
4) Trump has repeatedly expressed his desire to convene a special prosecutor to look into the charges that Hillary Clinton used an unsecured private email server to deal with official government business while she was Secretary of State in addition to her activities, along with her husband Bill, in regards to the Clinton Foundation.
He must do this, because if he does not then the neo-Conservatives – the avowed enemies of a foreign policy that puts America first in addition to being the strident partisans of Israel – will rally around Hillary and attempt to subvert Trump’s populist revolution for their own ends.
Further Trump must not limit the glaring light of judicial scrutiny to Hillary Clinton alone, but expand that focus across the whole pro-Hillary framework of think tanks, non-profits and media companies. Whose corruption and anti-American treason has been so decisively documented by the emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee and published by Wikileaks.
5) Trump must distance himself from Israel and treat it as any other country with whom the United States has diplomatic relations. Unless he does so and stops treating Israel as a special case in terms of United States foreign policy. Then he will face difficult headwinds in his diplomatic relations within the Middle East and allow the Israel Lobby to rebuild its powerful grip on American foreign policy in the future.
None of these policy prescriptions are difficult to implement and indeed they come with a significant prize. Whether that be in diplomatic and moral capital, economic advantage and/or domestic security.
Without implementing these policies however Trump runs the very real risk that his populist revolution will be co-opted and infiltrated by the very establishment that he was elected into the highest political office to purge once and for all.
In short Donald Trump has to address the problem of Israeli power and influence in the United States in order to Make America Great Again.
It is that simple.
(2) Cf. Grant Smith, 2009, ‘Spy Trade: How Israel’s Lobby Undermines America’s Economy’, 1st Edition, Institute for Research: Middle East Policy: Washington D.C.
Castigating the US electorate as accomplices and facilitators of wars, or, at best, dismissing the voters as ignorant sheep-people (‘sheeple’) herded by political elites, describes a partial reality. Public opinion polls, even the polls overwhelmingly slanted toward the center-right, consistently describe a citizenry opposed to militarism and wars, past and present.
Both the Right and Left have failed to grasp the contradiction that defines US political life: Namely, the profound gap between the American public and the Washington elite on questions of war and peace within an electoral process that consistently leads to more militarism.
This is an analysis of the most recent US public opinion polls with regard to outcome of the recent elections. The essay concludes with a discussion of the deep-seated contradictions and proposes several ways in which these contradictions can be resolved.
A major survey of public opinion, sponsored by the Charles Koch Institute and the Center for the National Interest, conducted by the Survey Sampling International, interviewed a sample of one thousand respondents.
The Results: War or Peace
More than half of the American public oppose any increase in the US military role overseas while only 25% back military expansion.
The public has expressed its disillusionment over Obama’s foreign policy, especially his new military commitments in the Middle East, which have been heavily promoted by the state of Israel and its US domestic Zionist lobby.
The US public shows a deep historical memory with regard to the past military debacles launched by Presidents Bush and Obama. Over half of the public (51%) believe that the US has become less safe over the past 15 years (2001-2015), while one eighth (13%) feel they are more secure.
In the present period, over half of the public opposes the deployment of ground troops to Syria and Yemen and only 10% favor continued US support for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
With regard to specific US wars, over half believe that Bush’s invasion of Iraq made the US homeland less secure, while only 25% believe it didn’t increase or decrease domestic security. Similar responses were expressed with regard to Afghanistan: 42% believe the Afghan War increased insecurity and about a third (34%) felt it did not affect US security.
In terms of future perspectives, three quarters (75%) of the American public want the next President to focus less on the US military operations abroad or are uncertain about its role. Only 37% are in favor of increased spending for the military.
The mass media and the powerful financial backers of the Democratic Presidential candidate have focused on demonizing Russia and China as ‘the greatest threats in our time’. In contrast, almost two thirds (63.4%) of Americans believe the greatest threat comes from terrorism both foreign and domestic. Only 18% view Russia and China as major threats to their security.
In regard to the Pentagon, 56% want to reduce or freeze current military spending while only 37% want to increase it.
Wars and Peace: The Political Elites
Contrary to the views of a majority of the public, the last four US Presidents, since the 1990’s, have increased the military budget, sending hundreds of thousands of US troops to launch wars in three Middle Eastern countries, while promoting bloody civil wars in three North African and two European countries. Despite public opinion majorities, who believe that the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq have increased threats to the US security, Obama kept ground troops, air and sea forces and drone operations in those countries. Despite only 10% public approval for his military policies, the Obama regime has sent arms, advisors and Special Forces to support the Saudi dictatorship’s invasion of tiny Yemen.
Obama and the Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton pushed a policy of encircling Russia and demonizing its President Putin as the greatest threat to the US in contrast to US opinion, which considers the threat of Islamist terrorism as five times more serious.
While the political elite and the leading Presidential candidates promise to expand the number of US troops abroad and increase military spending, over three quarters of the American public oppose or are uncertain about expanding US militarism.
While candidate Clinton campaigned for the deployment of the US Air Force jets and missiles to police a ‘no fly zone’ in Syria, even shooting down Syrian and Russian government planes, the majority of US public opposed it by 51%.
In terms of constitutional law, fully four-fifths (80%) of the US public believes the President must secure Congressional approval for additional military action abroad. Nevertheless, Presidents from both parties, Bush and Obama launched wars without Congressional approval, creating a precedent which the next president is likely to exploit.
Analysis and Perspectives
On all major foreign policy issues related to waging war abroad, the political elite is far more bellicose than the US public; they are far more likely to ignite wars that ultimately threaten domestic security; they are more likely to violate the Constitutional provisions on the declaration of war; and they are committed to increasing military spending even at the risk of defunding vital domestic social programs.
The political elites are more likely to intervene in wars in the Middle East, without domestic support and even in spite of majoritarian popular opposition to war. No doubt the executives of the oligarchical military-industrial complex, the pro-Israel power configuration and the mass media moguls are far more influential than the pro-democracy public.
The future portends a continuation of militarism by the political elites, and increase in domestic security threats and even less public representation.
Some Hypothesis on the Contradiction between Popular Opinion and Electoral Outcomes
There is clearly a substantial gap between the majority of Americans and the political elite regarding the role of the military in overseas wars, the undermining of constitutional prerogatives, the demonization of Russia, the deployment of US troops to Syria and deeper US entanglement in Middle East wars for the benefit of Israel.
Yet it is also a fact that the US electorate continue to vote for the two major political parties which have consistently supported wars, formed military alliances with warring Middle East states, especially Saudi Arabia and Israel and aggressively sanctioned Russia as the main threat to US security.
Several hypotheses regarding this contradiction should be considered:
1. Close to 50% of the eligible voters abstain from voting in Presidential and Congressional elections. This most likely includes many among the majority of Americans who oppose the expansion of the US military role overseas. In fact, the war party ‘winner’ typically claims victory with less than 25% of the electorate – and threats this as a mandate to launch more wars.
2. The fact that the mass media vehemently supports one or the other of the two war parties probably influences a minority of the electorate who decide to actually participate in the elections. However, critics have exaggerated the mass media’s influence and fail to explain why the majority of the American public disagree with the mass media and oppose the militarist propaganda.
3. Many Americans, while opposed to militarism, vote for the ‘lesser evil’ between the two war parties. They may believe that there are greater and lesser ‘degrees’ of war mongering and choose the less strident.
4. Americans, who consistently oppose militarism, may decide to vote for militarist politicians for reasons besides those of overseas wars. For example, majoritarian Americans may support a militarist politician who has secured funding for local infrastructure programs, or protected farm and dairy subsidies, or who promises jobs programs, lowers public debt or opposes corrupt incumbents.
5. Americans, opposed to militarism, may be deceived by the pronouncements of a demagogic presidential candidate from one of the war parties, whose promise of peace will give way to escalating wars.
6. Likewise, the emphasis on ‘identity politics’ can deceive anti-war voters into supporting a proven militarist because of issues related to race, ethnicity, gender, sexual preferences or loyalties to overseas states.
7. The war parties work together to block mass media access for anti-militarist parties, especially preventing their participation in national electoral debates viewed by tens of millions of voters. War parties collude to set impossible restrictions against anti-militarist party participation in national level elections, banning citizens with non-violent police records or former convicts who have served their sentences from voting. They reject poor citizens who lack photo identification, limit access to transport to voting sites, limit the number of polling places in poor or minority neighborhoods and deny time-off for workers to vote. Unlike other countries, US elections are held on a work day and many workers are unable to vote.
In other words the electoral process is ‘rigged’ and imposes ‘forced voting’ and abstention: Collusion between the two war parties limits voter choice to abstention or casting a ballot for the ‘lesser evil’ among the militarists.
Only if elections were open and democratic, where anti-militarist parties were allowed equal rights to register, participate and debate in the mass media, and where campaign financing were made equal would the contradictions between the wishes of the anti-militarist majorities and votes cast for pro-war elites be resolved.
Readings in the Jewish Zionist Control of the United States: Interviews with Francis Boyle, James Petras, and Kim Petersen
Part 1: Introduction
For the last 30 years, I have witnessed and experienced the severe restraints on any free and balanced discussion of the facts. This reluctance to criticize any policies of the Israeli government is because of the extraordinary lobbying efforts of the American-Israel Political Action Committee and the absence of any significant contrary voices.
— Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter 
How the Interviews Came About
The Marxian thesis that the dominant culture and ideology of a society (here referred to as Social Base or just Base) are those of the dominant class (here referred to as System) is a sharp tool to probe how political systems work and how they stay in power. Does this tool work in the U.S. model? Certainly, in the United States, the relation between the System and its Social Base has been regular since the inception of the thirteen colonies. Because of that sustained regularity, System and Base acted in convergent patterns of dependency. In historical perspective, it was not possible for the System to transform those colonies into states, and thereafter expand its conquests to form a continental empire without a solid social base that shared its purpose and visions for expansion. From that time onward, an ideological symbiosis ran between the System and the Base. Not only that, but each time the System modifies direction, philosophy, or ideology, the Base would adapt by modifying its attitudes and perception.
The patterns of ideological association between the U.S. System and its Social Base extended into modern times, and the yardstick to measure them is the presidential elections. If you look at voters’ turnout since 1960, you will notice that a relative-to-large majority of Americans had voted in those elections. My interpretation of the vote in relation to Marx’s thesis is the following. Voting for a system that is known for its aggressive imperialist policies, crimes around the world, overthrowing foreign governments not in line with Washington, and countless military interventions and invasions that left millions of people dead means one thing: Voting for that system while knowing its attributes, policies, and actions amounts to active sharing in its ideology, culture, and violence.
Caveat! That does not necessarily mean that all voters share the System’s imperialistic values of violence and destruction of foreign peoples. The pertinent meaning of voting interpreted in relation to the System’s foreign policy objectives versus the objectives of the Base resides in two concepts. Discarding immediately the notion that the Base has been cohabitated by the system, the first concept has it that the Base has given a mandate to the System to carry out its ideology of empire and imperialism based on the undeclared condition to spare the people from the horrors of foreign wars. A dichotomy sets in here. The System has its way of life, and the Base has its own. The second concept has to do with the basic tenets of colonialism. Meaning, if the System could be successful to obtain unspecified benefits through wars, then the base could share in these benefits despite aversion to violence and opposition to the institution of war as a means to resolve problems between nations.
A question: Would abstaining from voting resolve the issue of “active sharing” in the policies of the system? This subject is open for debate . . .
The relation between the American System and its Base was uniform up to a certain point in history (late 1920s). Until that point, the American state was still busy completing its structural transformation into a big power status. That uniformity, however, managed to keep the patterns of the political power unchanged. To be exact, despite persistent immigration that should have altered the relations between the Base and government, as well as the composition of the latter, the dominance of the traditional ruling elites was 1) not open for challenge, and 2) shaped by an exclusive American Anglo-Saxon experience.
But when Franklyn D. Roosevelt showed signs of surrender to the Zionist pressure on the issue of establishing a “Jewish” state in Palestine, he opened a large crack in the System. That was the first time in U.S. history where the powerful American imperialist state yielded to a foreign ideology that was not part of its basic project. With that, a movement with a limited religious social base began penetrating the files and ranks of the U.S. power. The rest is history. As a result, the unrelenting entrenchment inside the political structures of the United States coupled with accumulated changes in the configuration of the U.S. power, the dominant American System itself fell under the domination of one of its social factions—American Jewish Zionists.
When Franklyn D. Roosevelt showed signs of surrender to the Zionist pressure on the issue of establishing a “Jewish” state in Palestine, he opened a large crack in the System.
As a group, American Jewish Zionists have all attributes of an independent establishment. They possess efficient organizational structures, have a monolithic political presence across the American system, and they know how to finance their activities with U.S. tax money. I must note that their alignment with the global agenda of U.S. imperialism is a two-point expedient. The first is focused on being recognized as earnest operators at the service of America’s interests. The second is tactical. To reap, on behalf of Israel, the benefits of alignment with slogans such as “Israel is our only trusted ally in the Middle East”.
The American Jewish Zionist experience is agenda driven. As such, their domestic and foreign agendas have precedence over any other Jewish-related consideration.
On the domestic front, the focus could not be more evident: to consolidate Zionism in the United States and turn it into a means to 1) perpetuate Israel as an American national issue, and 2) make of them the principal factor in defining American politics. You can notice the endeavor clearly during U.S. elections when the Zionist media question whether this or that candidate is good for the Jews, and for Israel. Today, voicing dissent against the policies of American Jewish Zionism or criticizing Israel amounts to crime. Jimmy Carter experienced this firsthand. When he published his book: Palestine: Peace not Apartheid, American Jewish Zionists unleashed the fire of hell upon him.
As for the Jewish Zionist foreign agenda, this is clear-cut and leaves no space for misunderstanding. It aims to induce, control, or lead the United States to 1) adopt hostile policies toward the Arab nations because due to their rejection of the Zionist state, and 2) undertake military actions against any country that appears as posing a potential or direct threat to Israel. Equally important, it demands that the United States keep denying the Palestinians rights for nationhood through American diplomacy. What is the rationale? Recognition of the Palestinian national rights means the invalidation of the Zionist state and its claim on Palestine.
Because the Jewish Zionist control of the U.S. System is real and dominant, how does the American society figure vis-à-vis this dominance? Based on observations of the American society and its multiple cultural and ideological patterns, there can be but one answer: Zionism is not the dominant culture and ideology of the American people. It is, however, the dominant culture and ideology of the U.S. political system.
First, despite gargantuan Zionist propaganda apparatuses directed to the American people, Jewish Zionists have consistently failed to create interest or sympathy for Zionist issues and for Israel,
Second, due to historically developed indifference to foreign issues, a majority of Americans have only vague ideas on what Zionism is,
Third, to establish roots for their political dominance, Jewish Zionist activists invariably focus not on the American people, but on ways to control the American system from inside by controlling first the institutions that matter: White House and Congress.
Fourth, this control did not happen because of elections. It is preponderantly due to the practice of appointing Jewish Zionists to important positions inside the administrations,
Fifth, among the stratagems employed by Zionists when they run for elective offices, one was particularly effective: Take advantage of the reverence of the population for the idea of election. To do that, Jewish Zionist candidates rarely, if ever, talk about Israel or Zionism. Instead, they only debate matters of interest to the voters. Once elected though, promoting Israel via American legislations becomes the top hidden agenda,
Sixth, and to conclude this particular argument, the fact that one administration after another succumbed to the diktat of Jewish Zionists (thus indirectly to Israel) in matters of foreign policy and wars proves that the culture and praxis of those administrations are those of the dominant ideology and culture—Zionism.
Another point to discuss is the expansion of the Jewish Zionist power. By all accounts, such an expansion is not a phenomenon but an incremental process. In his book, The Arabists: The Romance of an American Elite, Robert D. Kaplan defined the issue that I framed as a process in terms of gradual replacement of traditional diplomatic elites with new ideological elites that had no interest in the ways of the old school of diplomacy. Kaplan was unambiguous. He called these new elites by their names: Irish-Americans and Jewish-Americans.
Kaplan’s viewpoint on this replacement is important to our discussion. He argued that the old elites approached the U.S.-Arab relations with an open mind and readiness for dialog, all while keeping an eye on the U.S. imperialist interests. His argument opens the door for a veritable conclusion. The two groups of post-WWII American society that Kaplan mentioned had in fact changed the dynamics of U.S. foreign policy. (It is public knowledge that both groups are known for their hostility toward Arabs and Muslims—each for his own set of religious, political, and ideological rationales.). As for the successive shares of African-Americans and Hispanics in the making of the national policy of the United States, this is another argument.
As a witness to history, in early 2012, I began drafting a comprehensive analysis on the role of American Jewish Zionists in the making of U.S. policies and wars in the Arab world. In May of that year, as my work became broad in scope, I decided to seek more views on the subject. I came up with the idea to conduct several interviews where I pose the same questions. While some of the prospective interviewees declined, and others accepted but then withdrew, three prominent thinkers acclaimed for their knowledge, scholarship, and outstanding political activism graciously gave me their views.
They are Francis Boyle, a professor of international law, University of Illinois, College of Law; James Petras, a professor emeritus, University of Binghamton, New York; Canadian writer and former co-editor of the online publication of Dissident Voice Kim Petersen. Professors Boyle and Petras answered my questions via phone conversations, and, Petersen via email correspondence.
However, in the weeks following the interviews, my work swelled up to such a length that it became unsuitable for internet publishing. In short, I was unable to honor my commitment to publish the interviews as planned. Today, as I thank Prof. Francis Boyle, Prof. James Petras, and Kim Petersen for sharing their invaluable insight, I apologize to them for the delay in putting the interviews out there to read.
The turning point in the emergence of Jewish Zionism as a dominant American political force came about when Iraq invaded Kuwait. (Discussing the origins and strategic complications of that invasion goes beyond the scope of this introduction.) The Jewish Zionist establishment seized the occasion, mobilized its omnipresent propaganda operatives, and led colossal media campaigns to promote military actions against Iraq. To bring their war mania to fruition, they unleashed their “experts” in all directions. They talked about Iraq’s “formidable” military capabilities and about Saddam’s one-million-man standing army ready to invade Saudi Arabia and seize its oil. They told stories about Saddam Hussein’s personal life, his bunkers, and his mortal “nuclear threats” to Israel. And they talked about Iraq’s threats to U.S. interests and “allies” in the Middle East. . . . Here is a brief account of those events.
On July 25, 1990, Iraqi president Saddam Hussein met with U.S. ambassador to Iraq, April Glaspie. It is on record that Glaspie gave Hussein an unambiguous but indirect greenlight to resolve Iraq’s problems with Kuwait militarily. On August 2, Iraq invaded Kuwait. On August 3, George H. W. Bush ordered the freezing of Iraqi and Kuwaiti assets and immediately placed Iraq under hermetic embargo. Considering the prompt, extraordinary anti-Iraq measures that the United States took in the first 24 hours of that invasion, one wonders what was pushing the U.S. to move so quickly on Iraq knowing that only two days earlier, this was conducting a U.S. proxy against Iran. The observation that the U.S. did not take similar actions when Iraq invaded Iran in 1980, or when Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982 raises many questions. What were the U.S. rationales in taking such measures? Who conceived them? Did the U.S. entrap Iraq? Why? . . .
The atmosphere that followed the invasion was surrealistic. Like a lightning bolt, U.S. imperialist and Zionist forces instantly mobilized their media, talking heads, retired generals, and bogus experts on the Middle East. The deafening uproar they made and all lies they told about atrocities committed by Iraq in Kuwait hid a definite scheme: Incite for war. In the period August 2, 1990 – January 14, 1991, Israelis and Jewish Zionists from all fields appeared en mass and in every possible medium available to urge the Bush regime to give up diplomacy in favor of war. On January 15, 1991, a 30-member “coalition” in which the U.S. had the lion share—ninety-seven percent of the total force—attacked Iraq. By every standard and minutia of details, the war on Iraq in 1991 was an American War.
At the end of a war that destroyed one of Israel’s Arab adversaries, George H. W. Bush might have thought of himself as America’s “laureate hero”. He did not predict though that his temporary freezing of the U.S. loan guaranties to Israel, would have unleashed the Jewish Zionist establishment against him. The fact that he lost to Bill Clinton (who opposed Bush’s freeze, and who stated that Israel was the “only country that paid back its debts”) indicated that American Jewish Zionists had finally reached their objective: To perfect ways to control the U.S. politics from the inside. In retrospect, it can be said that George H. W. Bush was the last non-Zionist American president. From Bill Clinton forward, U.S. presidents and their vice president became pawns in the Jewish Zionist play of power.
Now, as the United States was preparing for war with Iraq to “liberate” Kuwait, thousands of antiwar activists and intellectuals from a wide spectrum of political convictions spoke loudly against it. But no one could have ever beaten Patrick J. Buchanan’s memorable words about how American Jewish Zionists and Israel were pushing for that war. He said, ”There are only two groups that are beating the drums for war in the Middle East – the Israeli Defense Ministry and its amen corner in the United States.”  With that, Buchanan hit the proverbial nail on the head. A.M. Rosenthal, a ringleader of U.S. Zionist journalism could not bear what he heard. In a rebuttal, he unleashed an acerbic attack against Buchanan. His weapon of argument, so to speak, was the stale and trite accusation of “antisemitism”.
Whining, Rosenthal twisted Buchanan’s clear words and went on to imply that Buchanan was in effect engaging in an “anti-Jewish” tirade. He re-interpreted Buchanan’s words and cast them in a standard Zionistic fashion. He wrote that Buchanan’s intention was ”The Jews are trying to drag us into war. Only Jews want war. Israeli Jews want war to save Israel’s hide. American Jews who talk of military action against Iraq want war because it would suit Israeli interests. They are willing to spill American blood for Israeli interests.” 
By inserting the word, “Jew” in his reply, Rosenthal and the New York Times behind him spat on the face of U.S. political reality under the tight grip of Zionism. We need not waste our breath on Rosenthal’s petty tactic. His clear objective was to distract from the central issue, which is, Buchanan’s opposition to the planned war against Iraq was unrelated to the religious denomination of those who were promoting it. Rather he was unmistakably referring to their political identity.
Still, Buchanan was honest. He pointed the finger to Israel and its “Amen corner” because that was the truth. The fact that most Israelis and “Amen corners” happened to be of Jewish faith was nonissue. To conclude, it is evident that Buchanan, a dreamer of an American “republic” not “empire”, could not stand by idle while seeing the United States sheepishly fastened to the yoke of Zionism and gutlessly prostrating before a tiny settler state, Israel.
Buchanan did not stop there. Truthful and resolute, he dared to describe in categorical terms the pitiful condition of the U.S. Congress vis-à-vis Israel and American Jewish Zionists. He dubbed it as “An Israeli-occupied territory” . Buchanan powerfully hit the target in such a way that countless cowardly American politicians would dare not think, let alone say. Notice that Buchanan had placed Israel before its U.S. “amen corner”. I view this as a statement. He clearly implied that Israel is the primary decision maker. Did that also imply that U.S. Zionist groups (amen corner) are puppets moved by Israel? Most likely, if so, which has more power in setting the U.S. world agenda and policies: Israel or American Jewish Zionists? Dialectically, the answer should be Israel by means of its “amen corner’.
Now, in December 1991, Jim Lehrer (a former co-anchor of The Macneil/Lehrer NewsHour, and later sole anchor of The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer) interviewed Pat Buchanan. It is important to mention, that Jim Lehrer has monopolized a significant position funded by federal tax money for over 30 years starting in 1975. Is that an issue? Yes, and to debate it, the following applies. Whenever a specific group of people, be they Christian, Muslim, Jewish, atheist, duopoly party apparatchiks, etc., keeps an important public post for such a long duration, the implication is unescapable: the group controls that post because of its embedded importance. . . . But more important, they have the power to keep it.
Nonetheless, when a specific group continues to hold, throughout time, important positions inside public corporations, agencies, and branches of the U.S. government, a paradigm emerges. Either the group controls said corporations directly—that is why it is able to do what they want. Or, it controls them indirectly by controlling first who appoints the board of trustees and sets corporate policies and appointees. At any rate, considering this type of control, the assumption that such group has power over the government and its public corporations is reasonable.
Additionally, the issue of monopoly of news is critical in another respect. It means that someone within the context of U.S. imperialism has decided that the U.S. public discourse must conform to predetermined patterns. In these patterns, issues such as Israel, Zionism, Palestine, U.S. imperialism in the Middle East, wars, etc., are designed to move only on linear grounds without ever touching the core of the matter.
Before continuing, I must state that Lehrer’s political views are not a subject to discuss vis-à-vis his program. For one, the NewsHour program is not about the personal views of presenters—it is about information prepared for the public from a public corporation. Second, whether Lehrer had sympathies for Israel or Zionism is nonissue because most viewers expect neutral discussions regardless of who delivers them. Nevertheless, a situation such as this has a consequence affecting the special relations between the narrated news/comments, the people who deliver them, and the people who hear them.
Firstly, planning news delivery to attain specific results is a good technique for those in the business of indoctrination. Psychology and perception are the areas of expertise that news planners depend on to disseminate certain news and analyses. To be sure, these planners know that most viewers have no special or personal stakes on events happening in other countries. Still, the immediate consequence that controlled news and commentaries could generate is easy to predict. They also know they can seep to the viewers pre-conceived ideas through pleasant dialogs, affable manners, appearance of neutrality, and clever circumlocutions.
To be fair to Lehrer, he was consistent in making intelligent questions. However, he was also consistent at doing something else. He would calibrate his questions in such a way as not to reveal new truths or solicit critical replies that could go beyond boundaries deliberately conceived so as not to be crossed. It is pragmatic to say that the observance of these boundaries would nicely serve the Zionist and imperialist discourse. In essence, a practice thusly followed is a preemptive mechanism of control cloaked as a professional presentation.
Now, in his interview, Lehrer played dumb when he asked Buchanan about his bold characterization of the Congress. He phrased his question as follows, “You have also said that Congress is an Israeli-occupied territory. Now, what do you mean by that?” [Italics are mine]
COMMENT: Semantically as much as politically, Buchanan’s figure of speech was terse and unequivocal. He plainly meant that the Congress observes Israel’s agenda and acts accordingly. There was no need for Buchanan to say anything further because what he said had (and still has) basis in verifiable facts. With a question such as, “what do you mean by that” Lehrer was not seeking a rational reply from Buchanan. The form and content of the question had the objective of wanting to entrap Buchanan, make him retract, or at least contradict himself to show inconsistency. In essence, Lehrer had simply tried to deny that Israel controls the Congress through its “amen corner” because his “what do you mean” indicated astonishment rather than request for explanation. 
To wrap up the issue, without exclusion, any denial of the Jewish Zionist control of the United States is a farce. Take Abraham H. Foxman of the infamous Anti-Defamation League as an example. Foxman authored a master‑deceptive propaganda book that he called, “The Deadliest Lies: The Israeli Lobby and the Myth of Jewish Control. [Italics are mine]. First, Foxman lied. He knew very well that the Jewish [Zionist] control is not a myth but a pervasive reality. Second, but most important, the problem is not the abstract “Jewish control” but the specific—Jewish Zionist control. This can be explained using a current universal truth: hundreds of thousands of Jews from all nationalities actively oppose Zionism on political, religious, ethical, historical, and ideological grounds.
Foxman’s denial means one of two things. Either he is a parochial charlatan when the subject is the undisputed power of American Jewish Zionism, or he is very ignorant of the history of Zionism in the United States, which is impossible. Either way, Foxman’s business is propaganda, demagogy, and deception. Incidentally, Foxman’s denial looks very similar to what some Arabs do in the Middle East. Villagers—but even some city folks—try to fend off “envy” by following an eon-old superstition. They fix a drawing on a wall in their shops or homes showing the palm of an open hand with an open eye in its center. It appears that Foxman and his associates have their own superstition. By decrying the “deadliest lies” against American Jewish Zionists, they try to fend off the accusation or the “envy” that Jews—specifically, Jewish Zionists—have power and influence.
Of substance, did Foxman not learn or did anyone inform him about what John Foster Dulles told William Knowland (a pro-Zionist senator from California) back in February 1957? In an exchange about the proposed sanctions to get Israel out of Egyptian territory occupied by Israel in the Suez War, Dulles pronounced these prophetic words, “We cannot have all our policies made in Jerusalem . . .” . That was in 1957. Today, all those who deride or deny the charge that Israel has a say on U.S. foreign policy and wars in the Middle East must prove that those who are making this charge are misinformed or just lying.
Interestingly, years after Buchanan made that statement, the successive events proved his sharp assessment and political perspicacity. Two people vindicated his characterization of Capitol Hills as an Israeli-occupied territory” and both used his words to make the point. The first is a former CIA officer Philip Giraldi, and the second is Philip Weiss, founder of MondoWeiss website. In an article he wrote in 2011, Giraldi pointed to the Congress as, “It’s Still Occupied Territory“. Weiss titled a piece he wrote in 2015 as such: “Capitol Hill — still Israeli-occupied territory“.
At this point, do American Jewish Zionists control the United States? Do they control it as polity or only the political system? Do they have real influence in setting U.S. foreign policy and wars against the Arab and Muslim nations? Or maybe all this talk is no more than baseless allegations?
Part 2: Discussion
Part 3: Interview with Francis Boyle
Part 4: Interview with James Petras
Part 5: Interview with Kim Petersen
- Jimmy carter, Speaking frankly about Israel and Palestine, Los Angeles Times, 8 December 2006
- Pat Buchanan, The McLaughlin Group, Aug 26, 1990, quoted in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, What They Said: Israel and Its “Amen Corner”, February 1992
- ON MY MIND; Forgive Them Not, The New York Times, 14 September 1990
- Quoted in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Is Congress an Israeli-Occupied Territory?, July 1995
- The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, What They Said: Israel and Its “Amen Corner”, Feb. 1992
- David Tal, editor, The 1956 War: Collusion and Rivalry in the Middle East, Frank Cass Publishers, 2001, p. 40