Irene Gendzier makes two main claims about US Middle East policy in the late 1940s in her book Dying to Forget. Oil, Power, Palestine and the Foundations of U.S. Policy in the Middle East. One is that there was no contradiction between US support for Zionism and its goal of establishing a Jewish state in Arab Palestine, and US interest in the region’s oil reserves. This claim is based on heretofore unexamined contacts between Max Ball, who headed the Oil and Gas Division of the U.S. Department of the Interior, and Eliahu Epstein, Washington representative of the Jewish Agency, the Jewish state in the making in Palestine. Gendzier argues that these contacts, outside official foreign policy, enabled the Jewish Agency to address US concerns about the impact of Zionism on US oil interests, and to insert its arguments into the discussion in the Truman White House. The “encounter between Max Ball and Eliahu Epstein in 1948 forms the basis of the ‘oil connection’ discussed in this book. The encounter. . . revealed that major U.S. oil executives were pragmatic in their approach to the Palestine conflict and were prepared to engage with the Jewish Agency and later with Israeli officials, albeit within existing constraints.” (xxi)
The second is that Israel’s military prowess in the 1948 war showed the Pentagon that Israel had changed the regional balance of power, and should be included in US military planning, and oriented toward the West and away from the Soviet Union. The USSR had supported partition of Palestine into Arab and Jewish states, and Czechoslovakia in the emerging Soviet bloc had supplied Israel with arms. These “strategic” concerns about Israel’s potential role, Gendzier claims, outweighed US concerns for the effects of the war that established Israel: the destruction of Arab Palestine, the creation of a large refugee population, the antagonism of the Arab world, and potential “instability,” the hegemon’s bugbear, with consequences for US interests. The Pentagon’s judgment about Israel’s military ability has been noted by other writers, but Gendzier makes stronger claims. These “strategic reasons,” she argues, “undermined Washington’s critical position on Israeli policy toward refugee repatriation and territorial expansion. These vital factors in the conflict between Israel-Palestine and the Arab world thereby assumed a subordinate position.” (xxii)
Here, then, is the logic of U.S. oil policy, which was responsible for the increasing deference to Israeli policies whose purpose was to ensure that Israel turned toward the United States and away from the USSR. This objective, in turn, was allied to Washington’s principal goal in the Middle East—protection of its untrammeled access and control of oil. (xxii)
Observers of US politics recognize the US-Israel “special relationship,” and the “strategic asset” and “Israel Lobby” conceptions of it. The “asset” concept holds that the relationship expresses fundamental “US interests” that are independent of any Lobby influence, that the Lobby is powerful only when it promotes those interests. The Lobby proponents see a quasi-sovereign force capable of defining or undermining US interests. This book is clearly intended to enhance the “strategic asset” view.
The first chapter is entitled “The Primacy of Oil,” and “oil” is a primary, even the dominant theme of the book. For all this emphasis, Gendzier does not fully address the nexus of US oil interests, Zionism, and Arab resistance. She overlooks pre-war Arab and oil industry opposition, an “oil connection” that predates hers, and doesn’t do justice to the Trans-Arabia Pipeline (Tapline), a key postwar project and US policy instrument. She depicts a natural, inevitable synthesis of Zionism and US oil interests that was disproven by events she omits.
In 1933 Saudia Arabia awarded an oil concession to Standard Oil of California, through a subsidiary, California Arabian Standard Oil Company, Casoc. Standard of California was eventually joined by three other major US oil companies. In 1938 oil in commercial quantities was found. The Saudi monarch, Abd al Aziz ibn Saud, decided to award another concession, and Casoc again won the bidding.
The potential conflict between American support for Zionism and US oil interests arose in 1936 and later, following increased Jewish immigration to Palestine, and ruthless British suppression of the Palestinian Arab revolt against British rule. This elicited strong protest, from Arabs to US diplomats, from at least one oil industry executive, and from King Saud himself. “King Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia made an eloquent appeal to President Roosevelt in a letter of November 29  criticizing the main points in the Zionist argument and pleading for justice for the Palestinian Arabs on the basis of self-determination.” Gendzier omits all of this.
World War II consolidated the position of Casoc and the US in Saudi Arabia, against potential British influence. The US extended Lend-Lease to Saudi Arabia to ease the financial crisis of the war, upgraded its diplomatic representation, and developed an air base at Dhahran near the oil fields. Casoc renamed itself Arabian American Oil Company, Aramco, and expanded the small oil refinery it had built.
Building a pipeline from the oil fields in eastern Saudi Arabia to the eastern Mediterranean was discussed during the war. Postwar, the Trans-Arabian Pipeline (Tapline) became a major instrument of US policy; it would support Saudi Arabia, assist the economies of the transit countries, fuel the recovery in western Europe, enhance “stability,” diminish Soviet influence, and profit the oil companies. Tapline was delayed and almost cancelled due to political complications in the Middle East, and also, despite its strategic importance, in the US.
The direct pipeline route led through Jordan and Palestine to the oil refinery and tanker terminal at Haifa, which was precluded by emphatic opposition from King Saud. The alternative led through Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. Terms were readily agreed with the Christian Maronite government in Lebanon, and with King Abdullah in Jordan, despite strong public opposition to Zionism.
In Syria, opposition was stronger still, but agreement was reached in September, 1947, after intervention by the CIA, Aramco, King Saud and US diplomats. Parliamentary ratification was suspended after the UN partition resolution in November, when a crowd of 2,000 stormed the US Embassy in Damascus, and snipers fired on Aramco survey teams. In February, 1948, the Arab League “prohibited its members from granting any new Western oil concessions ‘until the Palestine situation was clarified.’” Moreover, Arab League officials “were ‘studying nationalization precedents’ and claimed that even ‘Ibn Saud, in case of a showdown, would not oppose any oil resolutions, even suspension of American oil operations, if faced with united front of all Arab states.’”
The US steel export license needed for the pipe subjected Tapline to the opposition of the domestic oil companies. Executive departments approved licenses, but in late 1947 Congress began three months of hearings over allegations that Aramco overcharged the US Navy during the war, and that the pipeline would ruin the domestic oil industry. As violence in Palestine escalated prior to the British withdrawal in May, 1948, followed by the Arab-Israeli war, congressional critics asked why licenses for export to an unsettled region seething with anti-Americanism should be granted, when steel was urgently needed elsewhere. By mid-year, “some American officials doubted that the project would ever be completed, and others worried that the stalemate would play into the hands of the Kremlin, which was rumored to have designs on Saudi petroleum.”
Tapline finally cleared US politics, but a pipeline route was obtained in Syria only after the CIA, in March, 1949, engineered a coup. Zionism had forced the re-routing of Tapline, increased the cost, and held up completion by twenty months. Gendzier mentions the coup, but omits the US political wrangle, including American Zionism’s initial opposition to Tapline.
American Zionists were preternaturally sensitive to their potential conflict with US oil interests. In July, 1942, Emmanuel Neumann of the American Zionist Emergency Committee met with State Department officials. In November, 1943, Nahum Goldmann, of the Zionist Organization of America, met with Harold Ickes, Roosevelt’s wartime oil czar. In October, 1945, Eliahu Epstein, Washington representative of the Jewish Agency, met with Arthur G. Newmayer, public relations director of Standard of New Jersey. In 1946, Zionist officials met with James Terry Duce, vice-president of Aramco. In these meetings, the Zionist officials
voiced concern about the strengthening ties with Saudi Arabia that could push the Zionist movement outside the circle of America’s strategic interests. They stressed the importance of a strong and stable Jewish state, given the loyalty of the Jewish community in Palestine to allied interests during the war. Moreover, they denied categorically that a pro-Zionist policy would harm the status of American oil companies in the Middle East; because oil has no significance while in the depths of the earth, the oil-producing states would need American companies in order to profit from their resources even if the United States pursued a pro-Zionist policy. There were even veiled threats as Zionist representatives hinted at damage to the oil companies’ image, should they appear anti-Zionist after the Holocaust, in a decisive hour for continued Jewish existence.
As the debate over Tapline began late in the war, the renamed American Zionist Emergency Council “set up a subcommittee for oil. It prepared a series of position papers and memoranda to establish guidelines for Zionist policy.” The “campaign was designed to prevent the construction of the pipeline unless it went through the Jewish state.” At first Zionists denied a need for the pipeline, “assuming that not laying it at all was better than not laying it through the future Jewish state, and thus removing that state from the circle of American interests.” They “tried to exploit differences of opinion within the oil industry and to reinforce the opposition of companies without Middle East concessions and those not participating in the project.” They argued that tanker transport was cheaper and safer, that a pipeline was vulnerable to terrorist attacks. (In 1947, Jewish terrorists attacked the Haifa oil refinery and the pipeline from Iraq three times). As agreements were signed and work begun, they advocated a “route through areas likely to be under Jewish sovereignty in the future.” Zionist officials presented the pipeline through Palestine as a contribution to regional development, to the integration of the Jewish state into the region, and to peace. Gendzier omits this campaign, which pitted American Zionism against Tapline for a time, even as she cites the article that discusses it.
The Truman White House, against the judgment of its diplomats and military experts, supported the historic vote recommending partition in the General Assembly of the UN in November, 1947. Palestine, unsettled by the Zionist campaign against British rule, erupted into civil war. By early 1948, the US had begun to consider alternatives to partition, including UN trusteeship, and extending British administration. Oil interests were chief among US concerns, and Gendzier mentions a weaker version of the February, 1948 threat by the Arab League against American oil companies cited above.
In January, 1948 the Jewish Agency prepared a “Note on Palestine Policy,” for private circulation in Washington during Congressional hearings on US oil interests. (99-101) In February, Max Ball, head of the Oil and Gas Division of the Interior Department, met Eliahu Epstein of the Jewish Agency, through family relations. Drawing on the Note, Epstein argued that Zionism was a progressive economic and political force, and asserted the harmony of Zionist and US interests in that respect, and the dependency of the Arab oil producers on western oil companies.
Ball argued that oil development was a progressive force in the Arab world, and that it would also fuel Europe’s recovery and stave off Communism and chaos there. Partition would antagonize the Arabs and jeopardize this, hence was not in US interests. Epstein replied that “ ‘imposition of the will of the U.N. by the loyal implementation of the partition scheme would have a soothing effect on the Arabs and make them regain their right sense of proportion’ ” (105) about their weakness. Epstein cited Palestine Jewry’s support of the Allied war effort. He mentioned the oil prospects of the Negev (Naqab), the southern desert of Palestine, and Ball offered to introduce Epstein to oil company executives. Ball later advised Epstein that such meetings could happen “ ‘only when the Jewish state is established both de facto and de jure. The Oil Companies’ policies are based on practical advantages’ ” which could be pursued only “when the Jewish state becomes a reality.” (108) Ball thus implicitly endorsed partition, at least in the Jewish Agency’s account which Gendzier quotes, when his government was still debating it.
These “historic encounters” (101) of Epstein and Ball are the high point of Gendzier’s “oil connection.” “From this vantage point, the future of the Jewish state appeared more promising than expected. . . major oil companies were not categorically set against [Zionism], which was interpreted as an indication of fu- ture interest.” (111) She claims that the “Jewish Agency strategy developed in the ‘Notes’ appeared to be effective in addressing the fear of partition endangering U.S. oil interests,” when disseminated in the White House by Clark Clifford, special counsel to Truman and Zionist advocate. (111) Ball’s role in oil policy and wide contacts, Gendzier claims, made his belief that Israel had a place in the oil companies’ plans “of no small importance in the period leading up to Israel’s unilateral declaration of independence and. . . the reassessment of U.S. policy toward Israel.” (112)
Gendzier’s account of the Truman Administration debate over partition vs. trusteeship in spring, 1948 does not cite the Jewish Agency’s blandishments about oil-related development, or their assurances that the Arabs had no alternatives. They would have been quite out of place as Palestine was being destroyed, with atrocities reported, refugees fleeing, and US officials fearing the destruction of US interests with the disaster. The State Department would shortly despair of Tapline ever being built. In June, the US ambassador in Saudi Arabia reported King Saud’s warning that Saudi Arabia would conform with any Arab League actions, and that consequences could include “(a) transfer Dhahran air base to British; (b) cancellation ARAMCO concession; (c) break in diplomatic relations.” (178)
After reviewing the studies of US recognition of Israel on May 15, which all stress domestic politics, Gendzier notes the absence of “any reference to the interactions between Max Ball and Eliahu Epstein.” These contacts “seemed to open unforeseen possibilities. At least, they invited oil company executives. . . to think about pragmatic possibilities after independence.” They “may have figured in [Clifford’s] calculations.” (168-9, emphasis added) This speculation is Gendzier’s “oil connection.”
In her final chapter, “The Israeli-U.S. Oil Connection and Expanding U.S. Oil Interests,” Gendzier tries to thicken this tenuous connection with accounts of two meetings between oil executives and Israeli officials, US government discussion, Aramco’s growing Saudi interests, and Max Ball’s authorship of the petroleum legislation of Israel and of Turkey. She mentions in passing the Arab League boycott of Israel, which actually began in 1945, as a boycott of the Palestine Jewish economy.
Two Aramco partners also had operations in Palestine, utilizing the Haifa refinery, which continued in Israel. Gendzier cites Uri Bialer’s statement from his Oil and the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1948-1963 that “agreements with AIOC, Shell, Socony Vacuum and Standard Oil of New Jersey—made, in fact, in open defiance of the Arab boycott—did indeed open up opportunities for Israel.” After 1948 the Haifa refiners obtained crude oil mostly from Venezuela, though the British also procured from Kuwait via the Cape of Good Hope. Gendzier omits Bialer’s further history and his statement: “Within four years, from late 1954 through 1958, all British and American companies which had constituted the backbone of Israel’s oil supply system, ceased operations in the country. . . While commercial considerations certainly played a part. . . the overriding one was undoubtedly political. . . by late 1958 the Arab League had in fact accomplished one of its main objectives—to force the foreign oil companies out of Israel.”
The Arab oil producers attempted an embargo on the US, Britain and Germany during and after the June, 1967 war, but the supply-demand balance in the marketplace did not favor it. Between 1970 and 1973 oil prices doubled, and demand rose to 99% of production capacity. From the outbreak of Arab-Israeli war in October to December 1973, OPEC price increases and Arab production cuts and embargo on the US raised the oil price four-fold, causing supply dislocations, long lines and fights for gasoline, a deep recession, and discussion in Congress of nationalizing the oil industry. In 1976 Aramco and Saudi Arabia agreed on terms for nationalization. Gendzier’s augury of a natural, inevitable mixing of oil and Zion was not borne out by events.
A decade ago Professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt published their article “The Israel Lobby,”precursor to their 2007 book, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. They argue that the Israel Lobby is much more powerful than the oil lobby, and disagree that oil had much to do with the decision to invade Iraq, as does historian Stephen Sniegoski. In the 1940s, the US international oil companies (and the foreign policy executive) were weaker politically than the domestic oil industry, which held up Tapline over steel export licenses, and were also weaker than the nascent Israel Lobby.
Gendzier claims that Israel’s “strategic value” led the US to accept Israel’s refusal to repatriate Palestinian refugees, and its extension of sovereignty to conquered territory. This is no more persuasive than the “oil connection,” for similar reasons. Gendzier deprecates or omits US efforts to secure repatriation, misrepresents Israel’s access to arms sales and alliances, and exaggerates Israel’s role in US strategy.
As Gendzier notes, US diplomats and the CIA were clear-eyed about Israel’s military superiority and aggressive proclivities, and about the atrocities and coercion that led to the expulsion of around 85% of the Palestinian Arab civilian population when hostilities finally ended, 750-800,000 souls. This was far more than the Jewish displaced persons population in Europe, the largest population displacement since the war. A March, 1949 State Department report stated:
Failure to liquidate or materially reduce the magnitude of the Arab refugee problem would have important consequences. The Arab states presently represent a highly vulnerable area for Soviet exploitation, and the presence of over 700,000 destitute, idle refugees provides the likeliest channel for such exploitation. In addition, their continued presence will further undermine the weakened economy of the Arab states, and may well provide the motivation for the overthrow of certain of the Arab Governments.
The issues of refugees and territory dominated US relations with Israel into late 1949. In mid-September, 1948, Swedish diplomat and UN mediator Folke Bernadotte proposed an armistice and settlement that accepted partition, but called for territorial exchanges, for Jerusalem to be under UN administration, and most critically, for the Palestinian refugees to be repatriated as early as practicable. Two days after releasing the plan, Bernadotte was assassinated by Jewish terrorists. When US secretary of state George Marshall endorsed Bernadotte’s plan three days after his murder, “the floodgates of domestic protest really burst.” In late October Truman told the State Department and Marshall expressly that he wanted no statements or votes at the UN on Palestine until after the election.
In late October and November, Israel conquered the Negev, in December the Galilee, and in late De- cember and January battled with Egypt, before the final cease-fire. After the election, as Lovett explained to Marshall, “ ‘the President’s position is that if Israel wishes to retain that portion of the Negev granted it under Nov 29 resolution, it will have to take rest of Nov 29 settlement, which means giving up western Galilee and Jaffa,’ ” with the proviso that changes “ ‘should be made only if fully acceptable to the State of Israel.’ ” (229) Gendzier attributes this to US “strategic interest” in Israel. Yet, while
Truman remained responsive to domestic political pressures to back Israel, after his re-election he demonstrated an unprecedented degree of impartiality. . . Truman appointed as secretary of state Dean G. Acheson, who had earned the president’s trust and confidence. . . Under Acheson, State Department officials obtained Truman’s explicit consent to their policies on Arab-Israeli issues, and he refrained from overturning their handiwork.
Or tried harder to refrain.
The UN established the Palestine Conciliation Commission in December, 1948, which led to a peace conference at Lausanne, Switzerland in May, 1949. In preparation, “Truman originally authorized the State Department to contest Israeli retention of land beyond the partition borders. . . Accordingly, Truman wrote King Abdullah of Jordan that ‘Israel is entitled to the territory allotted to her’ by partition, but ‘if Israel desires additions. . . it should offer territorial compensation.’” At Lausanne, Israel proposed to retain Jaffa and the western Galilee without giving compensation, angering the US delegate, Mark Etheridge, a personal friend of Truman. The State Department was angered by “evidence that ‘certain agents of the Israeli government’ had indirectly pressured Truman to relent,” and suggested “ ‘immediate adoption of a generally negative attitude toward Israel.’ ”
State presented Truman “with a choice between approving department policy ‘on behalf of our national interest’ or overruling it in light of ‘strong opposition in American Jewish circles.’” Truman warned Israeli prime minister Ben-Gurion that “his refusal to honor partition borders would force the U.S. to conclude ‘that a revision of its attitude toward Israel has become unavoidable.’” Initially, “the president decided ‘to stand completely firm.’” In August, Truman endorsed a plan “to remove the southern Negev from Israel, and declared that Israel ‘sh[ou]ld be left under no illusion. . . that there is any difference of view’ between the White House and the State Department.” Israel claimed that Arab aggression had invalidated the partition resolution, and that its security depended on occupying further territory. “The Foreign Ministry also intensified its indirect pressure on Truman by ‘recruiting everybody we’ve got. . . all the Baruchs, Crums, Frankfurters, Welles, young and old Roosevelts, etc., and making an all-out effort’ to change Truman’s mind.”
Israeli President Chaim Weizmann, Truman’s Zionist anti-conscience during the statehood campaign, wrote another eloquent, sentimental appeal. Eddie Jacobson, Truman’s old Army buddy, postwar business partner, and Zionist last resort, again visited the White House, at Israeli Ambassador Elath’s request, and secured a pledge that “ ‘no single foot of land will be taken from Israel in [the] Negev.’ ” “Truman’s change of heart forced Acheson to suspend pressure on Israel and adjourn the Lausanne conference.”
Gendzier’s account discusses the frustration of Etheridge and the State Department, and Zionist lob- bying, but downplays Truman’s support for State, which Zionism overwhelmed. (Chapter 12, “The PCC, Armistice, Lausanne and Refugees”) Her chronology of US policymaking is subsumed in August, 1949, at the height of tension over territory and refugees, by discussion of an alleged epiphany of Israel’s “strategic value” in the government. She claims that this, rather than the machinations of the Israel Lobby, led the US to accept Israel’s sovereignty over conquered territory, and its adamant opposition to refugee repatriation. “The importance of the changing assessments of Israel and the Middle East by the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) and the secretary of defense cannot be overestimated. . . the JCS concluded that Israel’s military justified US interest, and such interest merited lowering the pressure on Israel to ensure that it turned away from the USSR and toward the West and the United States.” (239)
Gendzier notes Acheson’s comment on an Israeli request in March 1949 for US military training. “ ‘Giving such permission could be one way of encouraging Israel towards a western orientation.’ ” (279) As Gendzier acknowledges, the Joint Chiefs turned down the request, “so long as a risk of war between Israel and the Arab states continued to exist. The Israeli army was not in dire need of foreign technical assistance, and the United States might become overtly involved if the Arab-Israeli conflict resumed. . . US strategic interests in the Middle East would unquestionably suffer under these circumstances” because of identification with Israel. Israel’s “orientation” was less important than US standing in Arab eyes.
Gendzier notes Acheson’s insistence to Israeli foreign minister Moshe Sharett in March, 1949, that “Israel consider accepting ‘a portion, say a fourth, of the refugees eligible for repatriation’.” (259) A State Department mission called for “Israel to repatriate at least 200,000 refugees” for any “satisfactory solution of the refugee problem” at the same time. (262) State rejected an Israeli offer to repatriate 100,000, and Truman supported Acheson’s decision to withhold $49 million of a $100 million loan. Yet “Israel used [Truman aide David] Niles as a conduit to complain about Acheson’s ‘coercion and blackmail,’ and Acheson, feeling pressured by the White House, capitulated,” releasing further sums, “even though Israel remained unyielding on the refugee issue.”
From 1949-52, the State Department proposed a mixture of development projects in the Arab countries and political initiatives, revisiting the 100,000 figure. All foundered on Israeli hostility, Congressional limits on funding, Arab aversion to implicit recognition of Israel, and the refugees’ desire to return home. “By 1951, officials in Washington concluded that large-scale repatriation would prove impossible in light of Israeli resistance, thus essentially embracing the Israeli view that resettlement on a grand scale provided the only realistic solution.”
The “realistic solution” proved to be the refugee camps, whose restive populations formed the guerilla factions that were the popular base of the Palestinian national movement of the 1960s, with all their political and social consequences. The State Department had foreseen this outcome and sought to ameliorate the conditions that produced it. Acheson’s withholding of the balance of the loan, until Israel reached Truman and countermanded him, and later efforts, strongly suggest that the Israel Lobby, not a concern for Israel’s orientation, was the decisive factor.
Gendzier notes that the Pentagon opposed partition, but argues that, after the Arab-Israeli war, it recognized Israel’s strategic value in the event of war with the USSR. The Soviet Union was expected to occupy the Middle East to prevent attacks on its southern regions from there, and to deny the Suez Canal, the Gulf and the oil fields to the Allies. The US declined to commit ground forces to the region in advance, but would station bombers at Britain’s Suez Canal bases to attack the USSR. The US had no plans to defend the oil fields, but would sabotage and bomb them.
In a brief memo titled “United States Strategic Interests in Israel,” in spring, 1949, the Joint Chiefs noted Israel’s harbor at Haifa, its network of bases and airfields (British legacies), both excellent but small and limited, and its battle-tested fighting forces. Israel flanked the Suez Canal, and dominated communications northward. The Chiefs did not view Israel as a potential base because it could not support large forces, nor was there need to develop facilities “because of the more highly developed and more accessible Cairo-Suez area some two hundred miles to the West.” Those British facilities “along the Suez Canal comprised 38 army camps and 10 airfields. In 1945 it was the single largest military base in existence, anywhere across the globe.”
Britain was charged with defending the Middle East, and US confidence in Britain’s ability to secure even the Suez Canal declined steadily after 1945. This culminated in the US abandoning the Middle East en- tirely, including the Canal, to concentrate its forces outside Britain in northwest Africa. The US announced this strategy at the ABC (American-British-Canadian) planners’ conference in fall, 1949 in Washington, and implemented it in the Offtackle plan, approved by the Joint Chiefs by year-end. US war planners viewed Israel as cannon fodder, which would expend itself defending a target they doubted could be held and would abandon.
The abandonment of Egypt for northwest Africa was in turn superseded by a “northern tier” strategy centered on Turkey, scene of early Cold War skirmishes. In 1947 the Truman Doctrine proclaimed the defense of Greece and Turkey. The US genuinely viewed Turkey as a “strategic asset,” and US policy was predictable. By the end of 1950 US military aid to Turkey totaled $271 million, with $154 million allocated in fiscal year 1951. By 1950, the US had trained Turkish troops in eight military schools, supplied the Turkish army with 50,000 tons of war materiel, and provided 11 surface vessels and four submarines to the Turkish navy. The Turkish air force received 314 World War II aircraft, with 25 jet fighters to be delivered in 1951, while numerous airfields were modernized or built outright. Turkey had remained neutral in World War II, and resisted being turned into an offensive base against the USSR without concrete assurances of western support. The US recognized this, and Turkey became an associate member of Nato in 1950, and a full member in 1951.
This was a total contrast with Israel. Gendzier cites the Pentagon’s statements about Israel as momentous portents, but concedes that the US refused Israel’s repeated requests for military ties. As noted, Gendzier acknowledged that the Joint Chiefs turned down the March, 1949, request for training. Gendzier also acknowledges that the Pentagon rejected a 1950 Israeli request for advanced weaponry, after Britain sold arms to Egypt. The Pentagon still found that “Israel had ‘the preponderance of striking power’ in the region and that additional arms acquisitions ‘would increase Israel’s offensive capabilities and give incentive to offensive planning.’”
Gendzier omits the denouement of this episode. Sharett decided to mount a major campaign in the US, and Truman yielded to crushing pressure and instructed the State Department “to formulate an arms supply policy that would satisfy the ‘many active sympathizers with Israel in this country.’” The “resourceful State Department” crafted the Tripartite Declaration with Britain and France, conditioning arms sales to Middle East states on a pledge of non-aggression, for purposes of “ ‘internal security and their legitimate self-defense’ ” and “ ‘defense of the region as a whole.’ ” Arab and Israeli reaction was guardedly positive, and the effect was to limit overall arms sales to the region.
Nor does Gendzier discuss military alliances. The Korean War in 1950 raised US concern about the Middle East, and to defend “against the Soviets and to assuage Arab anger about Israel, U.S. planners resolved to erect a security pact on Arab foundations.” The Middle East Command would be centered on Egypt, but exclude Israel “in light of Israeli neutralism and Arab-Israeli dynamics.” Israel in any event declined to join the pact, fearing obligations and compromises, and preferring direct relations with the US. Egypt rejected the MEC, abrogated its defense treaty with Britain, which ceded the bases in the Suez Canal Zone, and demanded that British forces leave Egypt. A successor proposal, the looser Middle East Defense Organization, foundered for the same reasons.
At the end of Chapter 13, “The View from the Pentagon and the National Security Council,” having strongly implied otherwise, Gendzier states that the “reassessment of Israel in 1949 cannot be interpreted as evidence that the JCS envisioned a ‘special relationship’ with Israel at this date.” (292)
What it signified was recognition of the potential value, in terms of U.S. strategy, of a state whose origins had originally aroused opposition due to the fear that U.S. support would imperil access to oil. Its reconsideration was in the context of U.S. calculations with respect to the overall assessment of “U.S. Strategic Position in the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East,” in which the exclusion of communist penetration into Greece, Turkey and Iran was paramount. (292)
At the end of the final Chapter 14, “The Israeli-U.S. Oil Connection and Expanding U.S. Oil Interests,” Gendzier claims that “after independence, Israel emerged as an asset,” which “led U.S. officials to reduce their pressure on Israel” over refugee repatriation, territorial exchange and Jerusalem. “The decision to defer to Israel on these core issues signified Washington’s subordination of the Palestine Question, and its legitimation of Israel’s use of force in its policy toward the Palestinians to considerations of US interest.” (301)
The first set of claims is greatly exaggerated, the second is unproven at best. Israel’s “potential value” in US strategy was negligible. The US declined to sell Israel arms or include it in regional alliances. It abandoned the only theater in which Israel would be useful, before settling on its northern tier strategy. The US was concerned about the Cold War alignment of the entire region, and certainly not more for Israel than for the Arab states. The authoritative “Report by the National Security Council on United States Policy Toward Israel and the Arab States” in October, 1949, is even-handed, not a brief for Israel, and referred to a settled policy of refugee repatriation, territorial exchange and the internationalization of Jerusalem. The US was concerned about the destruction of Palestine for its own strategic reasons, because it feared Arab resentment of Israel as an opening for Soviet influence, and because of the radicalizing potential of the refugee population. The US continued to seek both refugee repatriation and territorial exchange, but was overwhelmed by the Israel Lobby.
Gendzier is trying to make the Israel Lobby disappear, to insert the “strategic asset” argument in the 1940s, in the face of a large body of writing depicting the Lobby’s paramount influence in this period. The overriding lesson of the 1940s is not the “primacy of oil,” but the “primacy of Zion.” “The Zionist lobby came into its own during the Truman presidency.” The Israel Lobby was powerful enough to overwhelm the US diplomatic and military establishments, and major business interests, and their settled policy, and to force them to adapt to its imperatives, beginning, but certainly not ending, with the destruction of Palestine.
No reader with an interest in the period will be persuaded about Gendzier’s “foundations” of Middle East policy, but her account does show that the US made practical adjustments after Israel’s establishment. The US abandoned the idea of Palestinian sovereignty embodied in the partition resolution, and acceded to Jordanian control of the remainder of Palestine, which disappeared as a political subject, replaced by discussion of refugees and ameliorative economic development. Some US officials advocated population transfer and border revisions to make Israel more compact and homogeneous. This was practical accommodation to Zionist realities, not a “strategic” adoption of Israel. US policymakers advanced plans for a general settlement and joint Arab-Israeli projects, in pursuit of “stability,” against Zionism’s destabilization. In October, 1947 the CIA predicted that “ ‘no Zionists in Palestine will be satisfied with the territorial arrangements of the partition settlement. Even the more conservative Zionists will hope to obtain. . . eventually all of Palestine.’ ” (70)
Too much of the book is unoriginal, or too long and distant from Gendzier’s main claims. The book begins with four pages establishing that senior US government officials were drawn from business elites. A discussion of US immigration and refugee policy misnames Roosevelt confidante Morris L. Ernst as “Ernest Morris.” (37) Curiously, for a work with high ambitions, by a professor emerita at Boston University, from a leading academic press, there is no bibliography.
The reader will learn from this book, if not the expected lessons. It reveals perhaps most of all the level of discussion in the United States, ten years after Professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt tried to mainstream the issue of the Israel Lobby.
A PDF with notes of this article is at https://questionofpalestine.net/2016/04/21/dying-to-forget-the-israel-lobby/
A Lebanese charity network run by a Shiite Muslim cleric said it had been unfairly caught up in new U.S. financial sanctions against Hezbollah, accusing Lebanese banks of applying the restrictions too widely.
The U.S. act passed in December threatens to punish any organization providing significant finance to Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah, deemed a terrorist organization by Washington.
The Mabarrat foundation told Reuters that some Lebanese banks, scared of risking international isolation, had frozen some of its accounts, even though it had no political affiliation.
The foundation was established by the late Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah, a top authority in Shiite Islam who was an early mentor to Hezbollah but later distanced himself from its ties to Iran. He died in 2010.
Sayyed Ali Fadlallah, his son, declined to say which bank or banks had frozen the accounts.
“The foundation’s name was not mentioned in this law … what is happening now are precautionary measures taken by some institutions that are dealing with this matter far removed from the accuracy required to ensure no one is done an injustice,” Fadlallah told Reuters in an interview on Friday.
The foundation generates funding through individual donations and a network of businesses including hotels, restaurants and petrol stations.
“We felt from our meeting with some of the banks that they are afraid and wanted to take precautions that were greater than necessary,” said Fadlallah, whose charities include schools, hospitals and orphanages.
The U.S. Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act has ignited an unprecedented dispute between Hezbollah, Lebanon’s most powerful group, and the central bank.
The Shiite militia is Lebanon’s most powerful political and military group, has provided crucial support to the Syrian army, along with Iranian forces and the Russian air force. The group is estimated to have lost around 1,200 fighters in Syria’s five-year-old conflict. It has dealt serious blows to the Nusra Front, which is linked to al-Qaeda, and the Islamic State group.
The organization has said the law will lead to “a wide rift” between Lebanese citizens and the banks, suggesting many Shiites would stop dealing with banks for fear of being sanctioned.
The central bank has said the U.S. law must be applied to avoid the international isolation of Lebanon’s banking sector.
Central bank governor Riad Salameh said in a May 17 statement that banks that intended to close accounts of individuals or organizations considered to be in breach of the U.S. law must provide justification for that decision, and wait for a response from a central bank committee.
I believe I first read George Orwell’s essay, Politics and the English Language, as part of the reading list for an English 101 college class. I was a teenager at the time and I don’t believe I really understood what Orwell was getting at. I think my understanding was at the superficial level. I mostly just took it to be a screed against crappy writing — which it is, of course. But it is much more than that. Some of the ideas in that essay were later developed in his magnum opus, the dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, wherein the government of Oceania are designing a new language called Newspeak, which brings to mind the current-day scourge of “political correctness”. Come to think of it, Nineteen Eighty-Four is also something I first read around that time but did not fully understand.
Now, here we are, 66 years after Orwell’s untimely death and many of these ideas he explores in his writing are still topical and relevant. In fact, increasingly so. When it comes to understanding the pervasive propaganda matrix, one important aspect is seeing how language is manipulated to frame issues. Much of this is quite blatant. Anybody paying the slightest attention ought to notice how different words are used depending on the desired framing. Thus, Osama Bin Laden was a “freedom fighter” when he was fighting the Soviet Union, but when he started opposing the United States, he became a “terrorist”. Likewise, if an enemy uses a torture method like water-boarding, it is simply called torture and is utterly deplorable. When we do it, it is “enhanced interrogation”.
I wonder what Orwell would have made of what happened to the word “gay”. Surely, in his time, it was perfectly normal to say: “You seem in a very gay mood today!” Nowadays, not so much. Granted, language is a living, dynamic thing, and thus tends to evolve over time. However, I don’t think this particular change of meaning happened organically. It seems to be an example of deliberate framing. While there already was a perfectly good, neutral term, “homosexual”, and we still have that word, it seems there was a conscious attempt to promote “gay” as an alternative term with a more positive connotation, what with its normal meaning of “merry” or “cheerful”.
The case where Orwell would have had a field day, though, is with the word “conspiracy”. The official dictionary definition has not changed since Orwell’s day. From the Merriam-Webster dictionary online:
- a secret plan made by two or more people to do something harmful or illegal
- the act of secretly planning to do something that is harmful or illegal
By that definition, a conspiracy theory would just mean some theory that posits that two or more people planned in secret to do some shit. Nonetheless, the very same Merriam-Webster dictionary has a separate entry for “conspiracy theory”.
- a theory that explains an event or situation as the result of a secret plan by usually powerful people or groups
Truth told, I don’t think the above definition of “conspiracy theory” is really adequate, at least assuming that the purpose of a dictionary is to document how words are actually used. This definition comes nowhere near fully capturing to what extent this has become a term of derision. In popular usage, the person who believes in conspiracies, the conspiracy theorist, is taken to be self-evidently crazy and anything he says can be dismissed out of hand.
I assume that Orwell would note that the way this term is used contains built-in question-begging. By all means, tell me that what I am saying is absurd and crazy, be my guest. Except, now, you do have to demonstrate that it is!
Well, apparently not… When somebody says: “Oh, that’s just a conspiracy theory!” don’t hold your breath waiting for the explanation of why the theory is wrong. ‘Cause it ain’t coming! No, somehow the person who trots out this cliché is relieved of any obligation to demonstrate, using facts and logic, that an idea is mistaken. It’s enough to just say “Conspiracy theory!” like some sort of magical incantation that short-circuits all the necessary debate.
Actually, it is well established that this state of affairs did not come about on its own, but rather, was deliberately engineered by the CIA in the wake of the Kennedy assassination. Nonetheless, I do wonder whether they anticipated just how successful they would be in implanting this notion in the public mind — that believing in so-called “conspiracies” was the hallmark of a nutter.
We can read old novels and characters say things like: “I’m feeling a bit queer, it must be something I ate.” But nowadays, most of us find some other way to express the idea. Rage, by all means, that yet another perfectly innocent English word has suffered an identity theft. But know that it serves no purpose. Once you recognize that a word has become effectively unusable, you just have to look for an alternative term to use. In the case of “conspiracy”, I would propose that we talk more in terms of “deep events” and “deep politics”. Using that framing, the Kennedy assassination and 9/11 are quintessential “deep events” that require a “deep political analysis” to be properly understood. I think this is a good counter-framing of the question. If you say, quite correctly, that Lee Harvey Oswald was just a patsy and there was a high-level conspiracy to kill Kennedy, you’ve all but conceded the debate, given how the word “conspiracy” has been hijacked. If you say, on the other hand, that the JFK assassination was a “deep event” that requires a “deep political analysis”, you are implicitly saying that the people repeating this discredited “Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone” nonsense are not engaging in a deep political analysis, but rather a shallow analysis. I mean to say, there really is the need to think about how they manipulate language to frame these questions and to come up with a counter to that.
When it comes to this sort of framing, aside from the overloading of already existing words, like “conspiracy” or “gay”, there is also the invention of new words — neologisms to use the more academic term. For our purposes here, there is nothing particularly interesting about the cases where a new word is invented to describe something that really did not exist before and now does — like “smartphone”. What we need to examine are the cases where new words enter common usage for propaganda or framing purposes.
In this vein, the term “blowback” really merits some careful consideration. The aforementioned Merriam-Webster dictionary claims that the first known use of the word is from 1973, while the wikipedia page on the term cites CIA internal documents from 1954. Said documents expressed the concern that the CIA operation to overthrow the government of Mossadegh in Iran could lead to “blowback”. (Boy, did it ever!)
It seems that the discrepancy between Wikipedia’s first usage of the term in 1954 and Merriam-Webster saying that it was 1973 is that Merriam Webster was referring to public usage. It does not seem under dispute that “blowback” began as internal CIA shorthand that meant unintended (and undesirable) consequences of CIA covert operations.
The “Blowback” theory of terrorism
At this point in time, the term “blowback” seems to have gone from being internal CIA jargon to being a sort of shibboleth of the left-liberal intelligentsia. The basic idea is that the major terrorist events of recent history, such as 9/11 or 7/7 in London or the recent events in Paris and Brussels, are a natural (yet unintended) result of the brutal policies of Western governments in far off (largely Muslim) countries. Anybody listening to these people would surely conclude that this is a well established phenomenon. But what is odd is that when you step back and look at this with ample historical perspective, the whole concept looks pretty dubious. Let’s consider certain key facts:
The British Empire…
Some people look back on it fondly, but it is safe to say that a lot of people around the world really did not appreciate it; they had their reasons… So, if “blowback terrorism” is a real, important phenomenon, the British Empire should have had a huge “blowback” problem, no? Surely angry Indians or Africans or Arabs were plotting how they would make their way to London and kill some random Brits to express their dissatisfaction with British government policies, no? And surely, the local authorities in the home country of Britain were on constant guard against this “blowback”, right?
Well…. not exactly….
The police departments of American cities have been acquiring military grade weaponry to deal with an alleged terrorism threat, yet throughout the entire period of the British empire, English cops felt no need to even carry a firearm. Ain’t that something?
What is striking about this is that, not only were the authorities of the time not concerned about “blowback”, they did not even have a word for it! The very word had not been invented yet! This phenomenon, disgruntled people showing up in London or Paris or New York and carrying out terrorist attacks as a result of whatever meddling in their country — there was not even a word for it!
Well, the sun set on the British Empire a while back and it could be that something happened since then such that blowback terrorism became a big problem. Scan forward a bit…. the United States carpet bombed villagers throughout Southeast Asia, killing literally millions of innocents, yet I cannot recall a single “blowback” terrorism incident, where somebody who lost his entire family, entire village, decided to get even by blowing up some Americans in California. It never happened, I think not even once. There are large ethnic Vietnamese populations in the U.S. and all it would take is one embittered person, but no… nothing.
Fast forward to the 1980′s and we can make some similar comments about very brutal U.S. policies in Central America, the support for Nicaraguan contras or the Salvadoran death squads. Surely the U.S. suffered a wave of “blowback terrorism” as a result, no? Uh,.. no. There was a large population of refugees from those countries. Most of them, in my own personal experience, are very nice people, but out of hundreds of thousands of them, surely all it would take is one person with a grudge to do a suicide bombing or some such thing. But it doesn’t seem to have happened.
So, on the face of it, so-called “blowback terrorism” is a very dubious concept, no? There are so many situations where, by all rights, there should have been plenty of “blowback terrorism”, or some amount anyway, but it just never happened! And I don’t mean to say that it was rare. No, there simply was not a single case! I think it bears repeating: it was so rare that nobody had yet bothered to invent a word for it!
In the above, I referred to the term “conspiracy theory” as a magical incantation of a sort. Another way of putting this is that the use of the term contains built-in question-begging. The person using this loaded term is strongly implying that the so-called “conspiracy theory” is self-evidently crazy. However, that is precisely what needs to be demonstrated!
The term “blowback” is similar. It contains an implicit theory of events that there should be a need to demonstrate. Specifically, the concept of “blowback” is that a certain outcome is an unfortunate, and unintended consequence of whatever policy. Thus, the rise of these “jihadist” or “islamist” groups such as Al Qaeda or ISIS/Daesh was an unanticipated consequence of U.S. policy. Or to put it another way, this is a bug, as opposed to a feature.
But is that true? Well, maybe… but that is precisely what there is a need to demonstrate, no? The person using this “blowback” term is simply begging the question, assuming the proposition that needs to be proven, that whatever phenomenon is an unintended consequence of the government’s foreign policy — as opposed to it being an intended result.
Of course, more importantly, the people using the term “blowback terrorism” assume invariably that the people whom the authorities claim carried out the terrorist attacks in question actually did so! They always seem to be willfully ignorant of all of the independent research that shows that the people in question were just patsies. But hey, that’s what the other magical incantation, “conspiracy theory”, is for: to dismiss all of that independent research! Don’t even bother to look at any of that. Those are all just “conspiracy theories”.
Now, the foregoing discussion leads us two key questions — well, I think they are two separate questions, albeit rather entangled with one another:
- Given that the “blowback” theory of terrorism is quite tenuous at best (since in situations where there should have been a lot of blowback terrorism, there was none) then why is the entire American “intelligentsia” so invested in this explanation? In particular, figures such as Noam Chomsky and Chris Hedges and many others (practically anybody who writes for Counterpunch and other such “alternative media”) never tire of telling us that an event such as 9/11 is “blowback”. Likewise for the recent events in France and Belgium.
- The aforementioned people are not stupid. So, must we conclude that they are being consciously dishonest when they use these magical incantations such as “blowback” or “conspiracy theory”?
I think the first question can be answered with some level of confidence. As for the second question, whether these people are being consciously dishonest, it is hard, maybe impossible, to come to any determination on that. Possibly these various intellectual gatekeepers are not even being consciously dishonest for the most part. In their own minds, they are honest, but they have internalized a kind of tortuous mental gymnastics to such a degree that it has become second nature to them. This is the phenomenon that I shall now explore.
The HIQI revisited and introducing the concept of TITT
In a previous article, I introduced the concept of the HIQI, which is the “High IQ Idiot”. A HIQI is a person with a fairly high IQ and typically a high level of formal education (the two things usually go together obviously…) who has an abysmally low BDQ, Bullshit Detection Quotient.
Now, nobody really took much issue with the HIQI or BDQ concepts. I guess it corresponds to most people’s casual observation: somebody can have an arbitrarily high IQ and still be utterly incapable of seeing through political propaganda (a.k.a. bullshit). In fact, the bullshit can be really laughably absurd, cartoonish — hence my terminology of RRN, Roger Rabbit Narrative — yet the HIQI in question cannot see through it. So I made that observation in the article and I don’t think hardly anybody really disagreed with me, but what I didn’t do was make any attempt to explain why.
Well, actually, I don’t even presume to know fully the reasons why so many high IQ people are so easily taken in by absurd political propaganda. What I’ll attempt to do though is to lay some groundwork that could be useful in exploring the question. What I shall do now is go off on what looks like a tangent and introduce a sort of archetypal situation. My point may not be initially obvious but please bear with me.
Let us consider an intellectual figure in the Middle Ages, who has a great interest in understanding celestial phenomena. Let’s say this early astronomer has developed a theory to explain a certain phenomenon — the solar eclipse, let’s say. Let us call this theory A.
Theory A is a very clear, very elegant model of the solar eclipse. However, it has a very major problem. Theory A is based on the heliocentric model, i.e. the earth revolves around the sun. Well, that is not the problem precisely. After all, the earth does revolve around the sun. The problem is that, at this point in time, this was considered to be heresy. (Heresy, by the way, is the older term, what they used to call inconvenient truths, long before the CIA came up with the term “conspiracy theory”.)
Or, alternatively, the real problem is that our medieval astronomer does not fancy getting burnt at the stake, which is what they used to do to
conspiracy theorists heretics back then. (Medical knowledge was not as advanced as it is now, but it was generally understood that this was not good for one’s health.)
So what is one to do? Well, let’s say that the not so heroic hero of our story decides to tear up his elegant theory A and comes up with a new theory, theory B.
Theory B is very inelegant and complicated compared to theory A. It has a very contrived feel about it. Despite having invented the theory himself, our astronomer is not really very happy with it, thinking that it is actually kind of self-contradictory and doesn’t withstand very much scrutiny at all.
The advantage of theory B — actually its only positive point — is that it is not heretical. Theory B is based on the sun revolving around the earth, as Church doctrine claims. What happens now in the story is that, much to this person’s surprise, theory B is widely lauded and accepted by the leading minds of the day.
Okay, this is the story and we can make certain observations about it. First of all, we do not need to introduce any new terminology to describe theory A. Theory A is simply the correct explanation, the truth. Yes, it runs counter to Catholic Church dogma, but hey, guys, check out this radical concept:
Objective reality simply exists. It is not the slightest bit constrained by Catholic Church dogma… OR any other dogma!
Now, theory B is, of course, not the correct explanation. In fact, it only comes into existence because the correct explanation, theory A, is taboo, heresy. And that, obviously, is why the leading thinkers of the day rush to endorse theory B and disavow theory A. Theory B is not a very good theory, it doesn’t withstand much serious scrutiny, but it won’t get you burnt at the stake!
Now for some new terminology. The phenomenon that the above story illustrates is Taboo Induced Tortuous Thinking (or Theorizing) which we can call TITT for short. Such tortuous thinking leads to Taboo Induced Tortuous Theories, or TITTs, of which theory B above is an example. (As for the approved pronunciation of TITT, I’m not going to be very prescriptive. I always assumed that the pronunciation of HIQI was pretty clearly “hickey”. As for TITT, if the final T is pronounced separately, it is Tit-Tee. If the term really catches on, we could have a vote. It does not strike me as such an important matter to resolve in any case. For example, if British readers prefer to think that BDQ stands for “Bollocks Detection Quotient”, I have no particular objection. A native speaker of Spanish would tend to pronounce TITT more like “teat”, which also seems appropriate. So I’m willing to leave this up to the reader.)
Now, once you understand this concept, then (as per Doctor Freud) you start seeing TITTs everywhere! You open the op-ed page of the New York Times or some such mainstream publication and you just see nothing but TITTs — explanations for events that are very tortuous and contrived and you realize they are necessary because the correct, simpler explanation is a taboo. It dawns on you that many of the conventional explanations of events that you were taught as part of your (mis)education are actually just examples of Taboo Induced Tortuous Thinking. Thus:
- The mainstream history of the Second World War is chock full of TITTs.
- The Warren Commission explanation of the Kennedy assassination is a TITT.
- The 9/11 Commission Report is a TITT.
- All the mainstream media explanation of what happened in Ukraine in the past few years is TITT.
- The theory of “Blowback Terrorism” is a TITT.
This is a very incomplete list, of course…
Yes, WW2, a.k.a. the “Good War”. I was hesitant to go there for obvious reasons, but aspects of the conventional history are such major examples of TITT that I think we really need to examine it a moment. So here goes:
On 22 June 1941, Germany launched an invasion of the Soviet Union. Some months later, the German army was occupying a large part of the country, had encircled major Soviet army groups, taking millions of prisoners. And not long after that, German troops were on the outskirts of Moscow and Leningrad. So, at this historical juncture, when this country, the Soviet Union, the flagbearer of international communism, was on the verge of collapse, what did the major capitalist countries do?
- Simply stay out of it and hope that Hitler’s Germany would finish off the USSR, and thus remove the specter of communism for good
- Actively join in with Germany to make sure they finished off the USSR
- Pull out all the stops in order to save the USSR, economic aid, lend-lease, sending supplies and equipment…
Well, it’s a silly question, right? You all know the answer. (I hope to hell you know the answer. If you don’t, go get some remedial education…) What happened is number 3. The question to consider, though, is this: let’s say you didn’t know that the answer was 3, let’s say you are Rumpelstiltskin and you went to sleep on 21 June 1941 and just woke up. And now you are catching up on the last 75 years of history, what would you guess?
I put it to you that option 3 is very surprising. In particular, why would the United States, the pre-eminent capitalist power in the world, be so intent on saving the Soviet Union? My own guess would be that option 1 is the most likely as there is no strong reason for the U.S. in particular to want the Soviet Union to survive. Surely the owners of the country, the capitalist corporate elite, would very much like to the see the Soviet Union destroyed.
Now, option 2 seems less likely than option 1 because, okay, they may not like the German regime that much either, not enough to actively ally with it. In any case, in principle, you need a positive reason to actually get involved in a fight; simply remaining neutral in a conflict so far away is the default option, no? So option 2 seems less likely than option 1. However, a priori, option 3 seems even less likely, since it is very hard to understand why the capitalist elite of the U.S.A. would prefer Stalin over Hitler, certainly not enough to get involved actively on Stalin’s side.
Yet we know what happened: option 3. But why? It is pretty well established that Hitler never had any designs against the West and his war aims were in the East. In 1941, Hitler would have been delighted to make a separate peace with Churchill, thus freeing him to concentrate on smashing the Soviet Union. He hated the idea of a two-front war which had been Germany’s downfall in the previous war. No, certainly after Germany invaded the USSR, Britain was, effectively, staying in the war against Germany specifically to save the USSR, to save Stalin.
Well, the intent of this essay is not to be a lesson in World War 2 history any more than to discuss medieval astronomy. I just want to make a simple point here.
If you believe that you can explain this episode of history without any reference to the political power of world Jewry, I believe you have your work cut out for you.
I suppose few readers need it explained to them that Jewish power generally is a very major taboo. To engage in “conspiracy theories” is one thing, but to engage in “anti-semitic conspiracy theories”? Hardly the way to advance your academic career if you are an ambitious historian, eh?
So, again, just like the medieval astronomer who does not want to be branded as a heretic, you must come up with an alternative explanation that avoids the taboo. So you engage in some “Taboo Induced Tortuous Thinking”. You publish some TITT. Pass Go, collect tenure….
Now, okay, if you were up to that, and you’ve come up with your TITT explanation of why Britain and the U.S. helped Joe Stalin in his hour of need, it’s time for the next exercise in TITT and… boy, it’s a doozy:
Explain how, some 60 years later, the same countries basically, America and Britain, got embroiled in something called the Global War on Terror, all of these disastrous military adventures in Muslim countries — Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria…. (Actually, one should mention Iran, where they have tried but not been successful in getting something going. Yet….)
Explain how we got into this huge mess BUT:
- WITHOUT any mention of the Jewish lobby, a.k.a. the Zionist Power Configuration (ZPC, to use the term of James Petras)
- WITHOUT any mention of false flag terrorism (specifically as a tool to manipulate public opinion in favor of the disastrous wars)
I welcome you to have a go at it, but I am pretty sure that any explanation that you come up with which fails to mention both the ZPC and false flag terrorism will be yet another example of pure TITT.
Earlier, I posed the question: given how tenuous and implausible the blowback theory of terrorism is when you examine it, why is the the left-liberal intelligentsia in the U.S.A. so committed to it? Well, I think the foregoing analysis basically answers the question. “Blowback” is a perfect example of TITT in action, Taboo Induced Tortuous Thinking. The correct explanation is taboo so there is a need to come up with an alternative. The “Blowback” theory of terrorism is a TITT but there are many other examples of TITT as well.
Doublethink, Cognitive Dissonance, and the Emperor’s New Clothes
When you reach a certain adult understanding of the world, sometimes you look back on stories you heard or read as a child with a much greater understanding. We all probably heard some version of the Hans Christian Andersen story “The Emperor’s New Clothes” in our childhood. We have the little naive child who just says: “That man is naked”. And we have the adults in the story, courtiers… sycophants… who fulsomely praise the emperor’s fine new clothes. I suppose that the idea is that the sycophants in the story know perfectly well that the king is naked but pretend that he is clothed. What I wonder nowadays is whether the courtiers, at least some of them, actually believe somehow that the king is clothed despite the fact that their own eyes tell them that he is not! In Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell introduces doublethink, the capacity of the indoctrinated person to hold contradictory views at the same time.
So, applying it to this story, doublethink would allow somebody to see a naked man right in front of him with his own two eyes and simultaneously believe — I mean sincerely believe — that he is dressed in a fine set of clothes! In light of this, I now wonder whether some of the courtiers really possess this Orwellian doublethink capability and thus believe (on some level, somehow) that the king really is wearing clothes, while others are just pretending.
In this whole doublethink/emperor’s new clothes vein, consider a video that I found quite appealing, entitled “This is an Orange”:
I later learned that the man who created that video, the late Anthony Lawson, was a retired advertising professional. It shows. In just over two minutes, he really gets to the heart of the issue. At the end, he shows the viewer an orange and basically says: “Are you going to believe somebody if they say this is an apple?” That is a rhetorical question obviously, but I guess the retort could be: “Damn right. I’ve gotten so good at doublethink that you can show me an orange and I can sincerely believe it is an apple.” (Okay, I know these people would never really say that. They aren’t that self-aware!)
The other question I posed above is whether the people pushing the “blowback” and the other TITT explanations are being consciously dishonest. This is a tough question. How many people, for example, really believe in “gender fluidity”? Do so many people sincerely believe that Bruce Jenner is really, somehow a woman? I have no idea, it’s mind-boggling. There really is this problem when you live in a society that is so utterly suffused with… drenched in… bullshit; it can be very hard to know who really believes all of it and who is just playing along. There can be massive rewards for going along with all the bullshit, and though they no longer burn people at the stake, the personal cost people pay for going against it can be very high. My own speculation is that, in most cases, somebody whose entire career in academia or as a commentator is based on espousing TITTs is never going to admit even to himself that he is basically a charlatan. That is simply too disturbing. If so, this means that many people really have mastered doublethink. The problem is that doublethink produces a lot of mental tension. In fact, there is a technical word in psychology for this: cognitive dissonance.
TITT Monger Tactics (TMTs)
Now, regardless of whether they are being consciously dishonest or really have mastered Orwellian doublethink, the various intellectual gatekeepers, the TITT mongers, do not debate in an intellectually honest manner. Their discourse is invariably chock full of all manner of illegitimate argumentation: straw men, arguments from ignorance, you name it. Especially question-begging. They just constantly assume as a given the proposition that they need to demonstrate.
The basic problem they have is that they are espousing an explanation of events that does not really fit the available facts. Not only that, but there is usually a competing explanation (the taboo explanation like the earth going round the sun) that does fit the facts. In my last article, I wrote a section about how the most basic HIQI approach to defending ridiculous stories (WOP, Wings on Pigs narratives) is that they simply never cede the initiative. So there is always an onus on you to respond to them, but they never have to respond to you. I got a fair bit of positive feedback about that and I think that it is maybe the most practically useful part of the article.
As infuriating as it is, one should probably not take it too personally. When somebody is up bullshit creek without a paddle, they must resort to illegitimate tactics. They have no other option. So, as a public service, it could be useful to outline the basic tactics they use. Also, I find it useful, just for myself, to sit down and delineate it all.
So, let’s look at it from their point of view. If you are committed to your TITTs, you will typically resort to a set of basic tactics. These, we can call “TITT Monger Tactics” or TMTs for short:
- Guard the Gate! Suppress or disallow the competing explanation that actually does explain the facts.
- The Memory Hole. Suppress or ignore the facts that do not conform to your explanation.
- Coincidence Theory. Also Lower the Bar. Recognize the facts that do not fit your theory but attribute it all to “coincidence”. What you will typically need to do is to “lower the bar” such that you no longer need to prove that your theory is true, just that it is possible.
- Blowhard Tactics. This is a grab-all category, a varied repertoire of bullying methods — pseudo-intellectual browbeating, hyper-emotionalism… Also, never concede a debating point.
The first tactic above, guard the gate, is self-explanatory. Actually, it’s not really a debating tactic per se; you just don’t let the other people into the debate. Typically, you just say that’s a “conspiracy theory” and it’s like: “We’re a respectable venue, we don’t discuss conspiracy theories here!” Well, if they do discuss a so-called “conspiracy theory”, it’s some sort of hit piece in which a straw-man version of the theory is presented and then lampooned. The actual independent researchers (whom they call “conspiracy theorists”) will never be allowed to present and defend their case in an open, intellectually honest setting.
The next TMT, the memory hole, comes from Orwell of course. The protagonist of Nineteen Eighty-Four, Winston Smith, works in the Ministry of Truth (sic) and when he comes across some item, like a photo or news clipping that contains one of these pesky facts that do not support the current official dogma, it goes down the memory hole. I think the single most glaring example in recent history of this is the collapse of the third building, WTC7, on the day of 9/11. How do they explain the fact that a third building collapsed into its own footprint and was definitely not hit by a plane? The most important component of the establishment strategy is simply to suppress the fact, just never mention it. In fact, the 9/11 Commission issued a report and simply never mentioned the third building.
Another example of the memory hole in action is when the coup in Ukraine against the constitutional, elected government, is presented as some sort of popular revolution. People who depend solely on Western mainstream media for their information are not likely to know about this:
Yes, two American functionaries discussing who will form the next Ukrainian government after the
U.S. instigated armed coup popular revolution.
In this vein, “doublethink” (again from Orwell) can be understood as a fallback. Let’s say some pesky little fact, like the above video, pops out of the “memory hole” and you are confronted with it. (Poor little things, they must hate it when that happens.) Now, if you are one of these TITT mongers, obviously you never concede that this pesky little fact refutes your TITT. For example, in this case, the TITT you would be embracing is that there was a popular revolution in Ukraine and that the new government was put in there by the Ukrainian people. Say you are shown the above video, two unelected American officials deciding who will be in the next Ukrainian government, with no input from any Ukrainian. Of course, you will never admit that it is what is clearly is, proof that “Yatz” is an American-installed puppet leader of a puppet regime. No, you just keep hanging onto the TITT. When shown the orange, you maintain that it is an apple. Maybe you can give way a tiny bit to appear reasonable. “Okay, I know it looks a little bit like an orange, and yeah, I can see why an uneducated person such as yourself would be duped into thinking that it is, but I’m a Harvard-educated expert and I can assure you that this is definitely an apple.” So, there, you make a show of being open-minded and reasonable while still maintaining the appropriate arrogant condescending tone. Anyway, you can vary the parameters on all that a fair bit, but of course, I’m sure you understand, whatever you do, you never admit that the orange actually is an orange! “The collapse of building 7 does look a tiny bit like a controlled demolition and those “conspiracy theorists” try to make a big deal out of that, but we know those people are all whack jobs….”
The other major approach to pesky facts is coincidence theory; you explain away the pesky fact by saying that it is some sort of “coincidence”. Well, of course, what that really means is that your TITT offers no explanation of the fact. Now, in a normal, non-corrupted intellectual process, if a theory doesn’t fit the facts and another theory does, you eventually must abandon the first theory in favor of the second one. But that doesn’t happen here. (Surprise, surprise…) No, if you’re committed to your TITT — “blowback” or “lone nut gunman who self-radicalized” — you never let go of it. But you do have a problem. What you need to do now is you need to drastically lower the bar. Rather than having to prove that your theory, your TITT, is true — or even likely — you only need argue that it is within the limits of the possible. That’s a great trick because all kinds of utterly far-fetched things are still possible. For example, if I told you that a monkey banged away at a keyboard randomly and produced a Shakespeare sonnet, you would (quite reasonably) say that this is impossible. But no! It’s not absolutely impossible! So in a mode of absolute logical rigor, we cannot say it is impossible. The problem is that the probability, while not a true absolute zero, is so infinitesimal that, in terms of everyday common-sense use of language, it is perfectly reasonable to say that this is simply impossible!
So if your TITT, to be viable, requires some event of a very low order of probability, you simply argue that it is possible, i.e. it is not absolutely impossible….
So…. therefore it happened.
(Did you catch the sleight of hand there?)
And then you dance your victory dance, chant your victory chant: “I really showed those conspiracy theorists, kicked their asses!”
The classic example of “lowering the bar” would surely be the “single bullet theory”, which is part of the Warren Commission report on the assassination of President Kennedy. The JFK research community tends to call this the “magic bullet theory”, to emphasize the far-fetched nature of the story, one bullet causing seven different wounds on two men.
In any case, this “single/magic bullet theory”, proposed by an ambitious young lawyer by the name of Arlen Specter, is really an archetypal TITT. The task of the Warren Commission was to issue a report saying there was only one shooter, Lee Harvey Oswald, who was acting alone. They had some thorny problems though. Oswald’s alleged murder weapon was a cheap Italian-made WW2 surplus bolt action rifle. Given the very short window of time, Oswald could only have fired at most three shots (and even that is in dispute) yet they had to explain eight wounds on two different men, Kennedy and John Connally. The utterly obvious explanation is that, in fact, there were other people shooting. However, that is the theory that could not be admitted, it’s the taboo, thus the need for this very contrived explanation, the TITT, the magic bullet theory.
Now, I do not know offhand precisely how unlikely the magic bullet story is — assuming that it even is possible. However, I think it is quite safe to say that it is pretty damned unlikely — sufficiently unlikely that a reasonable, honest person, given the available facts, would conclude that Oswald could not have acted alone. What you’ll notice when you look at the arguments of people who defend the Warren Commission story is that they have set the bar very low for themselves. They don’t even try to argue that the single bullet theory is particularly likely, or that it is more likely than the alternative theory of more than one shooter. They simply set out to argue that it is possible. Nothing more. It’s possible, therefore it happened, so I win the argument…. And, of course, you should know that, not only do they set the bar very low for themselves, but they also set the bar impossibly high for anybody on the other side of the debate.
With so many of these deep events, they are running a drill of the event on the same day. If this were a crime mystery from Agatha Christie, surely something like this would be a very big clue. For example, with the Sandy Hook shooting, Adam Lanza (for no obvious reason) decides to get a gun and shoot his momma and then go to the nearest primary school and shoot a bunch of cute little kids. On the very same day, they are running a “live shooter drill” which is a simulacrum of the event that actually happens. This was also the case with 9/11. The actual attacks coincided with large-scale drills in which a scenario being drilled is multiple plane hijackings.
Here is an article I came across a couple of years ago and I think I belly laughed when I read it.
The author of the article, one Mike Rothschild, outlines a large number of cases in which a terrorist attack coincides with a drill, at a level that it is beyond belief that this is a pure coincidence, and then argues that the so-called “conspiracy theorists” are crazy because they do not accept that all this is just a coincidence. It’s a funny article because the author seems so oblivious to the fact that what he has written refutes itself! In any case, it’s the same sort of thing. The rock-solid chain of reasoning goes something like this: “It is possible that the conjunction of drills and real events is a coincidence, therefore it is, therefore people who suggest otherwise are crazy.”
What I call blowhard tactics is really a set of different things. I already outlined some of them in my previous essay. One is simply never relinquishing the initiative. Now, any game or sport with formalized rules is structured in a fair manner. Consider tennis. The serve (the initiative) alternates: if I play a tennis match with you, and in this game, I am the one serving, then the next game, you serve. Well, needless to say, to the people we are talking about here, a fairly structured situation like that is anathema. They need to play a rigged game. So, for them, it’s more like a tennis match in which they always get to serve, and even if their opponent executes a perfect return of serve, they don’t recognize any need to respond to that. They just grab another ball and serve again and never concede the previous point. Actually, this is what characterizes the blowhard tactics in a debate generally speaking: never, ever concede a point. Like so:
Monty Python meant this as a comedy skit, but little did they know that it would prove to be invaluable training material for participants on Sunday morning talk shows.
Actually, thinking of Sunday morning talk shows, this immediately brings to mind another major blowhard tactic, the resort to hyper-emotionalism. Basically, you affect that you are infuriated at the person who brings up whatever uncomfortable fact. For example, somebody asks legitimate questions about 9/11 and you angrily claim that they are dishonoring the memory of the victims of that day. Don’t concern yourself that it doesn’t make any sense. (Does it have to? Does it make sense to say that an orange is an apple?) The idea is that if somebody’s brother or best friend died in some murky incident, then a person who investigates and tries to get to the bottom of what happened is dishonoring their loved one’s memory. Or, conversely, the people who are trying to cover up the circumstances of the death of one’s spouse or family member are honoring them?! Go figure that one out.
The key thing to understand here is that if you can say something, even something nonsensical, with enough emotional intensity, it somehow becomes convincing — for weak-minded people, I suppose, but that is most people and is good enough. They’ll tell you as much in any sales training course: emotional intensity sells… excitement… So this is well understood by sales people. It is less well understood by bookish, intellectual types.
Counter-Tactics, Turning the Tables, Fighting Fire with Fire
While I think it is already somewhat empowering to outline all the illegitimate tactics these people use, the real question is now how to counter this. I don’t presume to have all the answers. It’s easier to say what not to do than what to do. The old adage that the best defense is a good offense has a real core of truth to it. As I said in my previous essay, regardless of the game or contest, a passive, reactive stance is almost never a winning strategy — in any activity. Another way of putting this is that we must be on the lookout as to how to seize the initiative — to turn the tables. What this amounts to, I think, is not accepting the preset framing of the issue and finding the appropriate counter-framing.
Take the JFK assassination, which is really the canonical “conspiracy”. After all, the whole weaponized “conspiracy theory” construct was created by the CIA as part of the subsequent cover-up. What has happened is that they have managed to create such a stigma around the term “conspiracy” that, as I point out earlier, we probably should do our best to avoid using the very word — just like we avoid using “gay” or “queer” for their original meanings.
One does have to hand it to them. They really have created a bizarro inverted world. A HIQI can fall for any bullshit and there is really no attached stigma. He can believe in the magic bullet that caused seven wounds on two people. He can find it perfectly normal that a reporter announces the collapse of a steel-framed skyscraper (from fire) before it happens. He can believe that cartoon characters portrayed by actors, like Jihadi John and Jihadi Joseph, are real people. He can fall for any crude hoax and nobody questions his sanity. But if you say that there was a “conspiracy” to kill Kennedy (when there obviously was) then you are crazy. Go figure…
I guess the perceptive reader will have noticed that I have invented some rather… well… silly sounding terminology. The High IQ Idiot, the HIQI… or, a Taboo Induced Tortuous Theory, i.e. a TITT. And saying that somebody who espouses such theories however badly they fit the facts is “grasping TITTs”. This is not just sophomoric humor (though, okay, there is a bit of that) but rather, an attempt to turn the tables. They say: “You’re crazy, you believe in conspiracies”. Now we can say: “Get real, you HIQIs. Let go of the TITTs.” So, yes, I am very consciously inventing terminology to cast these people in a ridiculous light. If they are going to have these question-begging magical incantations, like “conspiracy theory” to smear us as crazy for telling the truth, then it’s high time we fight fire with fire. Rather than deal with the truth, that these are Deep State false flag operations, they invent these pathetic silly theories like “blowback”. To call their silly explanations TITTs and refer to these people as “TITT mongers” seems right and proper to me. Who knows? Maybe other people feel the same way and my terminology will catch on.
In my last essay, I started with the Matrix, and developed the idea of the Roger Rabbit mental world, in which cartoons are superimposed on reality. In this essay, I started by riffing on George Orwell and ended up developing the idea of magical incantations and TITT. Somehow this reminds me of the proverb of the blind men and the elephant. Are we not all blind men groping at the same creature and reporting different things? Or finding different terms to describe the same thing? There is Orwell with “doublethink” and the “memory hole”. Ron Unz refers to “American Pravda”. Here I am with Roger Rabbit narratives and Taboo Induced Tortuous Theories. Well, hey, there is nothing wrong with having more than one term to refer to roughly the same thing — slime, ooze, goo… twaddle, nonsense, bullshit, bollocks… Whether you call it the Matrix or the Roger Rabbit mental world, or American Pravda, there is this feeling of a need to reclaim reality.
We live in a world of great specialization. Given the vastness of human knowledge at this point in time, few people can have expert domain knowledge in more than one or two fields. The optimal career strategy for most people (assuming they have the capacity and the follow-through) is to develop deep expertise in some fairly narrow field. This means that, when it comes to anything outside that narrow field in which you are a specialist, you would defer to the corresponding experts in that domain. In principle, that sounds right, but as we see, there really is a need to be able to detect bullshit, to be able to discern when the alleged experts are bullshitting you. But how can you tell if you are not an expert in the relevant field (or fields)?
For example, suppose we are watching CNN and some general or expert on military affairs is on there explaining how they had to incinerate some isolated village in the Hindu Kush, using a drone or cruise missile or whatever…. in order to defend America. I ask you: do we need domain expertise to know that this is absolute bullshit?! (Criminally insane bullshit to boot…)
Or suppose some economist from Harvard or some place comes on espousing “austerity economics”, telling us, essentially, that the way a country gets rich is by impoverishing itself. Can a non-specialist, a generalist, figure out that the prestigious professor is, in fact, talking shit?
Obviously, I think the answer to the above two questions is yes. Yes, I believe that, armed with only generalist knowledge and a certain baseline BDQ level, we can state that the aforementioned “experts” are full of shit. (Shout after me: Yes, we can!) It occurs to me that some of what I’m talking about here, the HIQI/BDQ concept, is reclaiming the ability of the generalist to come to some understanding of the world. We need not (and must not) be so utterly defenseless against all this pompous bullshit.
If we were to form a new 12-step group, HIQIs anonymous, the redemption of the chronic HIQI must start with some first step, and what would that be? Well, I guess like with Alcoholics Anonymous, it would start with a recognition of the problem.
HIQI: Hi, my name is Jon and I’m a HIQI.
Group: Hi, Jon. (in unison)
HIQI: You know, I used to read the New York Times every morning.
Group: OMG! (collective gasp)
HIQI: Yeah, and I believed every word of it.
Group: (another collective gasp)
HIQI: Yep, I ate up all that shit with a spoon — every morning with my corn flakes. etcetera, etecetera
Step by step. Reclaim reality. There are things one can know without being a specialist. Pigs cannot fly. If a naked man is standing in front of you, you believe what you see. If somebody tries to tell you otherwise, he’s bullshitting you. If somebody tries to tell you that an orange is an apple, it doesn’t matter how many phD’s he’s got, he’s talking shit… Just tentatively, these might be some initial steps towards reclaiming reality.
When they show you something that is basically a cartoon and ask you to accept that this is real, you do not need domain expertise to reject it. This is for a very simple reason: a grownup knows that the real world ain’t a cartoon. And getting back to a main theme of this essay, TITT issue, a theory is a TITT if the only reason for its existence is to avoid a taboo, i.e. it’s taboo-induced. So another rule could be:
If you can see that something is a TITT, then you don’t need specialized domain knowledge to know that the theory is not correct.
Or, to put it more succintly, TITTs are always bullshit. (A Brit would say that TITTs are always bollocks, which, I know doesn’t make a lot of sense to the uninitiated, but never mind…)
I must make a point about one aspect of this essay. I’m quite aware that I broke a major taboo by alluding to the revisionist history of the Second World War. Asking people to reconsider the conventional analysis of WW2 is akin to heresy. Well, actually, it is not akin to heresy. It is heresy! The History Channel Atlanticist version of WW2 is, to all intents and purposes, a secular religion at this point in time.
Arguably, I did not have to go there at all. There are so many examples of what I call Taboo Induced Tortuous Thinking, TITT, that I did not need to use this one. But, finally, I think I did have to go there because it makes no sense to decry all these taboos and then consciously skirt around one, especially when it is the biggest taboo of them all.
Now, if you want to attack what I am saying, feel free. However, I would dissuade you from one particular line of attack (that I already anticipate). I anticipate people asking me (quite aggressively) why I think I am such an expert on the Second World War. Since I anticipate the question, I answer it in advance.
No, I do not consider myself very knowledgeable about WW2. In fact, many people who comment on this very website have a much more detailed knowledge of the history of that period. But, you see, that is a completely invalid critique of my point in this article. My first example of what I call TITT was the medieval astronomer. Was I implying at all that I myself have any expertise in astronomy? No, actually, I was implying the opposite! I was saying that, even given my lack of expertise, I can say with absolute confidence that an explanation of the solar eclipse that is based on the sun going round the earth cannot be correct.
So, if your line of attack is that I am not an expert in WW2 history, or that I lack expertise in whatever other thing, then you might as well save us both the bother. In fact, such a critique would mean that you don’t understand what I am saying. You see, I’m not claiming any particular expertise in anything. I am reclaiming the ability of the generalist, with a certain level of BDQ, to come to some understanding of the world. We have to stop being so defenseless against all the bullshit, stop being such HIQIs. Truth told, all the right/left sorts of debates are starting to bore me. I now tend to believe that the central front in the battle for the future is…. Roger Rabbit!!!
Now, when it comes to all these various big honking issues — capitalism versus socialism, religion versus secularism, ethno-nationalism versus multiculturalism, right to bear arms versus gun control, spank your kids or don’t spank your kids… — I don’t mean that these various debates are not important. The problem is that I have this growing, gnawing sense that one cannot really debate these things or anything else if one does not escape from the Roger Rabbit mental universe. In other words, when people end up allowing the various debates to be framed for them by the MSM via Roger Rabbit narratives, the situation is hopeless from the get-go. Whatever your mix of views on these issues, if you insist on believing in cartoons, you can really only be part of the problem, not any solution. Not to say that taking the red pill or putting on the sunglasses solves things on its own. It’s not sufficient, but it is a necessary initial step.
On or around September 11 of every year, we have articles that come out, especially in the left-liberal media, decrying what has happened since that fateful day over a decade ago. What has become of the country: the loss of basic constitutional freedoms, the perpetual paranoia and state of warfare, the criminality, the wars, the torture… But such articles will still pretend that the official Roger Rabbit narrative is true — the bearded religious fanatic in the cave and the nineteen suicide hijackers.
Well, guys, if you really care so much, really care — I mean care more about it than about your career in the commentariat — maybe it’s time to let go of all the TITTs and grow yourselves a pair of bollocks.
Fan mail (as well as hate mail) can be directed to revusky at gmail.
Why did the US government destroy evidence in the Guantanamo Bay trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed?
Mastermind of 9/11?
The so-called “mastermind of 9/11” is appearing before the kangaroo court at the US Torture Chamber and Concentration Camp in Guantanamo Bay Cuba. The main defendant appearing before the secretive military proceedings is a person the US government says is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, aka KSM.
In 2003 the Asia Times highlighted the controversy over the actually status of the entity said to be KSM. A person by this same name was earlier reported to have been killed by Pakistani authorities in Karachi. Sayed Saleem Shahzad reported for AT, “Clearly, no one has the final word on whether Khalid is dead, was captured earlier, or is still free.”
In 2003 and 2004 the US government depended heavily on the real or concocted personae of KSM as a major source of “evidence” in the Philip Zelikow-authored fable known as the 9/11 Commission Report. An expert in the engineering of public mythology to secure popular consent for so-called pre-emptive warfare, Professor Zelikow was one of the key point persons responsible for pinning the false flag terror extravaganza of 9/11 on CIA asset Osama bin Laden.
Interestingly bin Laden’s homies in al-Qaeda have reverted back to a role similar to that assigned them by the US government during the presidency of Ronald Reagan. Along with its offshoot, al-Nusra, al Qaeda is part of the so-called “moderate rebels” engaged in Syria in something of a repeat of the US-backed operation in Afghanistan in the 1980s. As in Afghanistan and now in the Syrian theatre of superpower confrontation, al-Qaeda is part of a US proxy army put together by the CIA to bring about violent regime change. The current target is the Syrian government of Bashir al-Assad.
Once cast in the role of #3 jihadist in the staged drama associated with al-Qaeda, KSM was assigned an important part in Zelikow’s fictionalized narrative of 9/11. KSM was alleged to be the primary source of “evidence” that pinned the 9/11 debacle on Islamic jihadists rather than on a closely knit group of Zio-American Israel Firsters including Zelikow himself. A growing body of evidence has exposed this neocon clique, many of whom are dual Israeli and US citizens, as the primary group that led the planning, execution and attempted cover up of the 9/11 crimes.
Much to the eventual chagrin of even the figure heads set up to be co-chairs of the 9/11 Commission, the concocted evidence on which Philip Zelikow drew was obtained in torture sessions at secret CIA dark sites where the entity know as KSM was supposedly locked away until he was delivered to Guantanamo Bay in 2006. Even by the government’s own accounting of this torturing of KSM included 183 waterboardings over the period of a single month.
Like a New Pearl Harbor
George W. Bush’s war-cabinet-in-waiting signaled its plans for the global coup d’é·tat a year prior to the 9/11 false flag terror event. In a report of the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), the Israel Firsters laid out a plan whose real aim was to transform the Jewish state’s dispossessed regional enemies into one part of a worldwide Islamic enemy said to be posed against the so-called “West.” In order to build up the military muscle of the US Armed Services so it could act as an enforcer of the interests of a “Greater Israel,” public consent for this agenda would have to be engineered through the manufacturing of a surprise attack “like New Pearl Harbor.”
On 9/11 the United States was delivered its new Pearl Harbour. In 2004 the Zelikow Report, also known as The 9/11 Commission Report, formalized officialdom’s adoption of the Israeli Firsters’ cover story of what transpired on September 11, 2001. The 9/11 Commission helped reify as supposed fact an engineered fable purposely saturated with evocative religious symbolism. This religious fable attributed the strikes on the major architectural icons of US military and commercial might to a globalized Islamic fighting force said to be acting with self-directed independence.
Within the flash of a single news cycle the military-industrial complex and its attending national security apparatus were supplied with precisely the kind of malleable global enemy required to maintain and grow the business of aggressive warfare abroad, police state intervention at home. Obsolete Cold Warriors like Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney immediately walked into new and prestigious roles as czars of an open-ended War on Terror.
The vast military and intelligence establishment formerly built up as an instrument of US-directed anti-communism was thereby turned to the task of anti-terrorism. Old elites and pyramids of power were thereby preserved. Many of those at the heights of these structures of privilege were further empowered, entitled and entrenched, all in the name of a specious Global War on Terror.
In the course of this process the entity said to be KSM became an important prize and asset for those engaged in cashing in on the lucrative privatized growth of the national security business. Through the intervention of White House operative Philip Zelikow, KSM’s supposed testimony was transferred from a torture chamber in Eurasia to serve the interests of insiders buzzing in and around the Washington Beltway. One of the patsies had to be singled out to incriminate the other patsies and the entity know as KSM was inducted to serve that strategic function.
The shape of things to come was foreshadowed on the morning of 9/11 with the BBC’s extension to Ehud Barak, a former Prime Minister of Israel, of full license to finger on world television the targets for post-9/11 revenge. Without any formal investigation at all, the former Israeli General and intelligence officer named as probable culprits Osama bin Laden, Yasser Arafat, Iraq, Iran and Libya. Barak provided this list only minutes after an aircraft was pictured not even slowing down as it cut into the South Tower like a hot knife slicing through butter.
Some of the most basic laws of physics were apparently defied by the televised spectacle of an aluminum plane smashing seemingly unobstructed through thick steel beams; of massive skyscrapers plunging symmetrically down to earth through the course of maximum resistance at near free fall speeds. What was the exotic technology that transformed three massive steel-frame WTC Towers into huge plumes of vapor and toxic dust clouds? Such a dramatic change in the composition of gargantuan masses of matter could not have been realized without the igniting of energy sources far more explosively powerful than some combination of jet fuel fires, melted metal and the pancaking effects of gravity.
The demise of a third structure, sometimes known as Lucky Larry Silverstein’s World Trade Center 7, poses its own unique set of questions. It is completely impossible that an office fire caused this 47-story steel-frame structure not hit by any airplane to instantly collapse late in the afternoon of 9/11. The only credible explanation is that of the late Danny Jowenko, Europe’s leading expert in controlled demolition before he died under mysterious circumstances in 2011. In his filmed response to a 9/11 researcher Jowenko insisted that only a group of pros would be in a position to wire the Building 7 in a way that would make it plunge to the ground as it did on 9/11.
9/11 and the US Government’s Destruction of Damning Evidence
It was the 9/11 Commission Report that bestowed on the real or constructed personae of KSM his title as “the mastermind of 9/11.” Gradually even the figure heads that co-chaired the 9/11 Commission have tried to distance themselves from their own study, one that they have asserted was “set up to fail.” And fail it did in very consequential ways. As Benjamin DeMott explained in his review in Harper’s Magazine of The 9/11 Commission Report, it’s a “whitewash” and a “fraud” that “dangerously reenergizes a national relish for fantasy.”
As they came to understand the deceptiveness to which they had been subjected, the co-chairs became especially chagrined that they were not permitted to question KSM and the other “witnesses” whose supposed damning evidence was derived from illegal torture. The resort of key US officials to criminal acts of internationally outlawed torture became the subject of a major report of the US Senate Committee that presented in 2014 a very damning account of Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program.
Chaired by Diane Feinstein, the Senate investigation came in response to news that CIA officials had destroyed about 100 videos recording the intelligence agency’s ghastly extremes in extracting supposed information from those it so violently abused. Among the destroyed tapes were some on which the 9/11 Commission based some of its key conclusions.
The massive and systematic destruction of state evidence has itself become something of a smoking gun exposing the fraud and deception integral to the Global War on Terror that originated in the false flag events of 9/11. An early example of the rush to destroy evidence was marked by the actions at Ground Zero of the Federal Emergency Measures Agency, FEMA. The FEMA agents’ priority was to cart away the remnants of the three steel frame structures mostly pulverized into dust clouds on 9/11. The physical evidence of the high-tech takedown of the three WTC structures was whisked out of Manhattan and then out of the USA to be sold at discount prices to Chinese firms.
Now the US government’s already highly problematic prosecution of KSM for the crimes of 9/11 is running into telling revelations that key evidence in the case has been destroyed without so much as a notice to KSM’s lawyers, David Nevin and Marine Corp Major Derek Poteet. The result is that these jurists are asking the judge, Army Colonel James Pohl, and the prosecutor, Army Brigadier General Mark Martins, to withdraw themselves from the proceedings. “There’s at least the appearance of collusion between the prosecution and the judge,” Poteet said.
As reported in The Guardian, “Nevin and Poteet said that they were ultimately seeking the end of Mohammed’s military commission, even if Pohl recuses himself in favor of a different available military judge and a new prosecution is appointed. ‘The effect is there would be no further prosecution,’ Nevin said.”
We Need Trials of the Real Culprits, Not the Patsies
The withholding of the much-publicized 28 pages from the Joint Congressional Report on the events of September 11, 2001 is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the destruction and secreting away of evidence about what really happened on 9/11. Before the Twin Towers were pulverized, Ehud Barak floated the fiction that Osama bin Laden was the chief culprit. Then it was made to seem that the main imperative flowing from the events of 9/11 was for the US Armed Forces to invade and overthrow the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein.
The disinformation that Saddam’s government possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction is just one piece of a vast complex of lies involving 9/11 and its aftermath. The growing awareness of millions of citizens the world over of the extent of these lies and subsequent cover up has long been eroding the credibility of many major institutions starting with the US government and the mainstream media outlets that regularly report on its operations.
After the administration of Barack Obama decided to take over the neocon lies and deceptions first disseminated on the very day of 9/11, the focus of public attention was shifted onto Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. It seemed for a time that the Obama administration would conduct in New York a public criminal trial of KSM as its way of commemorating the tenth anniversary of 9/11.
That concept, however, was shelved in favor of concocting a fake hunting down of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. This way of shutting down the contemporary life of a fabricated myth from the Bush era was meant as a way for President Obama to begin engineering his own specious justifications for the Democratic Party’s extension of 9/11 Wars.
There have been many reports that KSM is a very unstable individual wanting to take credit for dozens and dozens of terror attacks. Some reports claim he has a martyr complex and covets the possibility of being executed by the US government. Among the violent actions he claims as his own is the beheading of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. Bernard-Henry Levy, the neocon propagandist who is France’s leading Israel First advocate, put great emphasis on KSM in advancing his favored political agenda in his volume, Who Killed Daniel Pearl?
The breakdown of due process even in the rigged system of military-style jurisprudence at the Guantanamo Bay Concentration Camp helps illuminate the latest chapter in the task of trying to keep the 9/11 scam alive. Fortunately there is now a large and growing body of genuine scholarship subjecting the lies and crimes of 9/11, including those contained in fraudulent 9/11 Commission report, to skeptical scrutiny.
Surely the US government’s destruction of yet more evidence in the prelude to the long-delayed trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, or whoever it is that is currently cast in the part, is yet another indication that there is much for authorities to hide when it comes to 9/11. What will it take to force some genuine reckoning with the role of 9/11 and the long series of false flag terror events that will continue to accelerate in frequency unless and until the corrupt core of this vile psychological operation is exposed? When will the real culprits rather than the patsies of 9/11 be brought to justice?
Professor Tony Hal is Editor In Chief, AHT and Co-Host of False Flag Weekly News
It sure trumps Hillary
Coming off a string of victories in the so-called Acela state primaries two weeks ago, GOP presidential candidate presumptive Donald J. Trump made what he described as a major foreign policy speech. Critics have blasted the effort as being short on details and long on generalities but, as ever, one’s perspective pretty much depends on what one expects or wants to hear. I admire Trump for two reasons. First is his uncompromising stance on illegal immigrants, which I fully support, and second is his willingness to challenge Republican orthodoxy on foreign policy by condemning the Iraq War and opposing nation building and military intervention overseas.
I wanted to hear two things on foreign policy: that Donald Trump is indeed committed to military non-intervention in other countries except in those rare instances where vital national interests are at stake and also that the United States would pursue a course of positive engagement with Vladimir Putin and Russia. I was not disappointed.
Trump actually used the words “peace” and “peaceful” a number of times, something that has been missing from GOP rhetoric for many years. He said that he would “view the world through the clear lens of American interests,” something that he went on to describe as “America First,” adding “Our goal is peace and prosperity, not war and destruction… war and aggression will not be my first instinct.” Paraphrasing John Quincy Adams, Trump concluded that “The world must know that we do not go abroad in search of enemies, that we are always happy when old enemies become friends, and when old friends become allies.”
Trump observed that there has been a fixation with policies that are both “foolish and arrogant” that have “led to one foreign policy disaster after another” in places like Iraq, Syria, and Egypt. “It all began with the dangerous idea that we could make western democracies out of countries that had no experience or interest in becoming a western democracy. We tore up what institutions they had and then were surprised at what we unleashed: civil war.”
This is all good common sense, lambasting the twin plagues of military intervention and democracy promotion, the two false idols that have respectively driven the foreign policies of the GOP and the Democrats. Trump’s comments in those specific areas could have been made by Ron Paul.
Trump went on to observe that “our actions in Iraq, Libya and Syria have helped unleash ISIS.” I would have added that the power vacuums that we have created actually gave birth to ISIS. Regarding Russia and China, he said “We desire to live peacefully and in friendship with Russia and China. We have serious differences with these two nations and must regard them with open eyes. But we are not bound to be adversaries. We should seek common ground based on shared interests…I believe an easing of tensions and improved relations with Russia…is possible.”
On the negative side, Trump took obligatory swipes at Iran and the nuclear agreement negotiated by the Obama Administration, but he did not say that he would seek to terminate the arrangement and the only line he drew was that “Iran cannot be allowed to have a nuclear weapon,” far less vitriolic than the neocon and conventional Republican demand that Tehran not have the “capability” to do so, which is a threshold that has already been passed and which many have viewed as a carte blanche justification of an immediate attack by the U.S.
Regarding Israel, Trump engaged in the usual American politician speak regarding “the one true democracy in the Middle East” that also serves as a “force for justice and peace.” He also has stated that he would be “neutral” in negotiating peace between the Israelis and Palestinians and turned around to endorse continued expansion of Israeli settlements on Arab land. Hopefully he knows better about what is going on in the Middle East or will have advisers who know better and are not afraid to speak the truth. At least he didn’t invite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to move in down the hall in the White House on Inauguration Day, which Hillary Clinton has de facto done.
And speaking of Hillary, comparing her record and promises with the Trump speech demonstrates the differences between the two. David Stockman has noted that Hillary “wants to use government to make government great again” while The Donald wants “to use government to make America great again.” Hillary is indeed the favorite candidate of the Welfare-Warfare State Leviathan, a monster that seeks to dominate overseas while simultaneously stripping Americans of their liberties at home.
Hillary’s record is one of unmitigated belligerency. She enthusiastically supported her President-husband’s devastation of the Balkans in the 1990s, a “police action” in which she repeatedly lied about being “under fire” when she arrived on a visit. And she also signed on to the invasions of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003 carried out by the George W. Bush Administration.
As Secretary of State, Hillary was the driving force behind “surges” of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, in demanding the attacks on Libya and the overthrow of its leader and in the arming of jihadis in Syria to bring about regime change. Bombing Libya was indeed a Hillary project, initiated at her insistence in spite of misgivings by President Barack Obama. The Libyan fiasco led to government arsenals being looted with the weapons making their way to arm local militias and also to Islamic militants in Central Africa. It is widely believed that the four Americans killed in Benghazi in 2012 were killed while arranging for weapons transfers to the “moderate rebels” in Syria. If success as a diplomat is measured by the ability to destabilize entire regions, Hillary certainly takes center stage as the finest Secretary of State since Madeleine Albright, who famously declared that killing half a million Iraqi children through sanctions was “worth it.” Albright is currently regarded as Hillary’s closest foreign policy adviser.
Like several of the other women who have surrounded the president as top level advisers, Hillary is an enthusiastic advocate of the “R2P” doctrine, “responsibility to protect.” That means that the Washington can intervene in a foreign country even if that nation’s government in no way threatens the United States. The intervention is based on humanitarian grounds, allegedly to protect the local citizens against their own leaders, but it ironically and inevitably winds up killing mostly civilians in far greater numbers than would have otherwise been the case if there had been no military action. Libya and Syria are perfect examples of R2P on steroids.
Hillary has a team of strongly pro-Israel foreign policy advisers and she has frequently expressed her hostility towards Iran, which she has threatened to “obliterate.” One of her campaign videos includes “Iran seeks the destruction of Israel, Iran is a leading sponsor of terror in the region, Iran is flouting international law with its ballistic missile tests and its threats against our allies and partners.” None of the assertions are actually true.
Regarding the threat from Russia, Hillary has inevitably likened President Vladimir Putin to Adolph Hitler. She and her neocon acolyte Victoria Nuland were the driving forces behind cranking up the unrest in Ukraine, which eventually exploded into yet another pastel revolution that quickly became mired in corruption before dissolving into something approaching anarchy, which prevails to this day. She nevertheless wants to provide lethal arms to Kiev and also wants to expedite both Ukraine and Georgia joining NATO, even though it is a given that such action would provoke a major crisis with a nuclear armed and militarily quite capable Russia.
Hillary sees the conflict in Syria as an additional opportunity to confront Moscow, just like in the heady days of the Cold War, so she advocates a no-fly zone as a way for American and Russian flyboys to go head to head and is firm in her demand to replace Bashar al-Assad no matter what. She is one tough lady and she wants to make sure than everyone knows it. And of course her role model is Benjamin Netanyahu, who, she has promised, will be invited to join her in Washington as soon as her administration begins work in January.
So if one is concerned with foreign policy the choice between Donald and Hillary is no choice at all. Hillary may have the resume but it is essentially a bad one. If Trump does even a little of what he pledges to do he is a much better deal for the American people, as well as for most of the world, than is Hillary Clinton.
An American Original: John Kerry – From His Remarkable Recent Commencement Address At Northwestern University To The Remarkable Career That Made It Possible
By John Chuckman | Aletho News | May 9, 2016
John Kerry is, besides many other unpleasant things, a rather ridiculous man, and he has managed to prove that proposition time and time again.
He used his recent commencement address at Northwestern University to attack Donald Trump. It is difficult to understand why young graduates at one of America’s better universities would want to hear political boiler plate from a key member of a failed and dying administration, rather than the usual vaguely inspiring stuff about the future, but that is what the graduating class got for their student fees.
I suppose, as so often is the case in America, the empty prestige of having someone with a big job speak, even when they have nothing to say, mattered. After all, Hillary Clinton has collected countless millions doing exactly the same thing for audiences at investment banker and defense contractor banquets in recent years.
Well, the part of Trump on which Kerry focused was his proposal for a wall with Mexico.
I don’t like walls myself, and it is my belief that even if elected Trump, for many reasons, will not succeed in emulating the Emperor Hadrian. Still, you might expect from the point of view of a Secretary of State, supposedly gazing upon the world’s countries with an impartial, god-like eye, that if it is okay for Israel to keep building walls, and it has several new ones underway right now, all built on other people’s property, why can’t others? The reasoning in both cases, and in all other cases such as those in Kerry’s contemporary Europe where new walls of various forms are frantically being built, is the same: we need to stop unwanted people crossing the border.
Can anyone even imagine Kerry – this man who, once not long ago, reminisced over Champagne toasts about some distant relative or another of his who was allegedly part-Jewish (truly, has grovelling by a Secretary of State reached such levels before? I would have expected his entire audience either to choke or throw up) – ever saying a single word to Israel about its walls, walls which go far beyond serving Israel’s border fears to literally chopping up and destroying the land which supports millions of other people? It would be as though Trump were demanding a series of walls inside Mexico to balkanize the entire country and then set about building them himself with America’s armed forces. Now that would be utterly ridiculous, not to say criminal, but Israel’s doing just that is never called ridiculous or criminal, and it certainly is never questioned by Kerry.
And then, as though in an effort to reclaim the stature of his address from just political campaign boiler plate, Kerry’s rhetoric drifted off to the subject of a future borderless world.
Now that is an old idea that appeals greatly to me, but I know very well that Kerry is being dishonest here. The world in fact, not all that long ago, pretty much was borderless. It was precisely the rise of the modern nation state in the 19th century which killed off that amiable concept requiring no passports or visa or permissions for moving about. Of course, we are talking about precisely the kind of modern nation state which Kerry has lovingly served in expanding its power and influence over others for his entire adult life.
Kerry’s dishonesty extends into what he even means by a “borderless world.” Now, I have always believed the Apostle Paul in emphasizing deeds rather than words, so If we are to judge by Kerry’s actual acts and those of predecessor Secretaries of State such as Hillary Clinton or Madeleine Albright or Henry Kissinger, and not by the State Department’s regularly-broadcast, doubtful advertising claims, John Kerry’s concept of a “borderless world’ is one in which the United States runs everyone’s affairs, rendering the borders of individual countries meaningless.
Now, that is a concept which very much does not appeal to me, nor does it appeal, I suspect, to a great many of the world’s seven billion people and their governments.
Just recently, this dishonest and generally unpleasant man has put an ultimatum to the government of Syria, making threats that if he doesn’t see what he wants by the beginning of August, there will be serious consequences. That certainly sounds to me like a Mafia Don speaking, demanding payment of protection money from some business, or else.
John Kerry has no business telling the government of Syria to do anything, much less to dissolve itself. It is, and has been, a reasonably popular government, one which receives the support of a majority of Syrians in polls and elections. Among other reasons for its popularity is President Assad’s defence of religious minorities. Syria’s citizens form an elaborate quilt of various religions, and they know their rights to worship as they please are protected in a region of the world where that is not common. Some of Mr. Kerry’s closest working associates in the region cannot say the same thing, and indeed they include associates who are quite violent towards people of differing faiths.
The proxy forces which Kerry and his predecessor, Hillary Clinton, have supported for five years in tearing Syria apart consist literally of various gangs of intolerant extremists and cut-throats. Boy, when it comes to double-speak, John Kerry is your man.
By what right does he do this? None, except that might makes right. America has supported terror in Syria, supplying weapons, platoons of cut-throats, and training while supporting the thugs of Turkey and Saudi Arabia in their logistics of destruction, all while pretending in State Department advertisement after advertisement that it opposes terror. And we’ve only just learned that Hillary Clinton supported the transfer of supplies of deadly Sarin nerve gas from Gadhafi’s stockpiles in wrecked Libya (another stunning State Department achievement) through a secret pipeline (read: Turkey) to the cut-throats in Syria where it was promptly used to kill civilians in the hope of blaming Assad and creating a casus belli for the United States (or, as Obama put it in his elliptical language, responding to Assad crossing a red line).
But John Kerry still hasn’t got what he wants in Syria, so now we have a new threat. Why is Kerry so determined to topple the government of Syria? Because Assad is an independent-minded leader, one who does not immediately say “yes, sir,” to every whim of Washington’s, and if there is anything which recent history teaches us, it is that the outfit Kerry serves has no tolerance for the independent-minded. So as to emphasize the point, Washington has left behind a trail of death and destruction in the region – perhaps a million dead and millions made refugees – all of it aimed at getting rid of inconvenient independent leaders.
This intolerance by Washington of independent-mindedness is strongly supported – supported is actually much too feeble a word, demanded being more apt, and demanded regularly over heated phone lines – by the government of America’s colony in the region, the same government to whom Kerry fears even saying so much as a word about its many walls criss-crossing other people’s land.
Quite a disgusting business I think which somehow manages to be converted by our press into “foreign policy,” just as one of its authors, John Kerry, manages to be converted into a “diplomat.’
Kerry was a rich boy who, after graduating university, started his political ascent by spending four months in Vietnam, busying himself with shooting peasants in the back from an armored speedboat racing up and down rivers. He wanted to gain some war “creds” for an anticipated political career. Apart from his killings in Vietnam, he made such a muck of things, leaving behind colleagues who had only contempt for his false heroics and self-promotion. Then our man Kerry, having returned home and seeing how badly the Vietnam War was regarded by people, decided to add some new “creds” to his resume, anti-war ones. So, no matter how the political winds turned in the future, John-boy was covered. He appeared with some anti-war demonstrators, once throwing his filthily-earned medals into a bin, from which they were later quietly retrieved for him.
As to Kerry’s actual attitude towards America’s dirty colonial wars, we have the testimony of his whole career in the Senate, as a Presidential candidate, and finally as Secretary of State, faithfully serving and supporting them.
Kerry’s campaign, in running for President in 2004, was so unbelievably dreary and empty of all meaning, that the American people actually re-elected the most disliked president in the country’s history, George Bush. That feat stands as a remarkable testimonial to John Kerry’s talents.
The only big thing Kerry seems ever to have done that was genuinely successful was marrying the woman who inherited the Heinz Ketchup and Pickle Fortune. That made him wealthy beyond his dreams, perhaps planting in his brain fanciful thoughts of an ambitious young George Washington marrying the widow, Martha Custis, said to have been the wealthiest woman in the American colonies.
When John Kerry says anything on any topic, his listeners would be wise to consider the source, for even though he walks around in the appointed robes of America’s Secretary of State, he is pretty much a life-long, ambitious, and dishonest failure.
Three US Republican lawmakers are pushing the American aerospace giant, Boeing, to refrain from getting into any deal with Iran.
In a letter to Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg, the Illinois Republican congressmen asked the company no to business with Tehran for any supply of planes and other services.
Congressmen Peter Roskam, Bob Dold and Randy Hultgren referred to a last July nuclear agreement between Iran and the permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany (P5+1) that removed anti-Iran sanctions in return for curbs on Tehran’s nuclear program, saying in their letter that any Iran deal with Boeing would be legal but “not right,” according to Fox News.
“This is not about doing what is legal – it is about doing what is right,” the letter said.
The Republican lawmakers reiterated US allegations of Iranian support for terror, telling Boeing that Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) can turn the planes into combat aircraft.
“We urge you not to be complicit in the likely conversion of Boeing aircraft to IRGC warplanes,” said the lawmakers.
Congressman Roskam, chairman of the US House Committee on Ways and Means Oversight, has been particularly vocal in his anti-Iran position, previously pushing for Europe’s multinational plane-maker Airbus to scuttle its $25 billion deal to sell 118 planes to Iran.
Roskam on Friday introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, which would prohibit the US Department of Defense from awarding contracts to any entity that does business with Iran.
This is while Boeing is not alone in its interest in Iranian ventures. General Electric Co., among others, is also reportedly exploring business opportunities in Iran.
“Should any agreements be reached at some future point, they would be contingent on the approval of the US government,” Boeing said in a statement in April.
Last month, Iranian officials said Boeing had proposed to sell new models of its 737, 777 and 787 aircraft to Iran and promised after-sales support.
In late January, Iran’s Deputy Transport Minister Asghar Fakhrieh-Kashan said the country was planning to purchase over 100 planes from Boeing.
The official noted that Iran’s order list from the American company included 737s for domestic flights and two-aisle 777s for long-haul routes.
Iranian officials have already emphasized that the country will need to buy 500 commercial jets of various models for various short-, medium- and long-distance routes.
Although the era of US global hegemony is coming to a close, the Middle East – more than most regions – is still reeling from the nasty last jabs of that Empire in decline.
It is little wonder, then, that the US presidential election season is scrutinized carefully in all corners of the Mideast.
Over here, the debate over the likely victor is less about economic, political and social projects than it is about which candidate is least likely to launch wars against us.
Anecdotally, there seems to be a consensus that Hillary Clinton would be the worst for the region, though of course – like in the United States – that perception changes dramatically when the conversation is with regional elites and ‘liberals.’
And just like their American counterparts, Middle Easterners get bogged down in arguments about Donald Trump’s ‘racism,’ Bernie Sanders’ ‘viability’ and Clinton’s ‘hawkishness.’ Media, after all, has never been more uniform in its pronouncements – we all, universally, receive the same talking points.
But US Presidential Election 2016 means a lot more than US polls in decades past. From the Levant to the Persian Gulf to North Africa, borders have never been so frayed, terrorism so pervasive, security and resources so threatened.
The Middle East is a wretched mess. And at the heart of each and every one of these quagmires stands the United States, imposing itself, its military ‘expertise’ and its humanitarian ‘do-gooding’ into our suffering. Ironically, perhaps, there are few problems in the Mideast that have not been caused or exacerbated by the destructive hand of US foreign policy.
The last playground
The Middle East is the last global playground where the US can act with impunity. Part of the reason for this is that most of the two dozen states that make up the region are still headed by US-backed dictators and monarchs – American proxies that prioritize Washington’s interests over those of its citizenry. The US plays hard in this region because it wishes to maintain this remarkably favorable status quo, which it has lost virtually everywhere else.
Even as the Cold War was drawing to a close – vanquishing the old Soviet bloc proxy leaders in the Mideast and replacing them with US-friendly ones – the 1979 Iranian Revolution flipped the region once more, ushering in a new framework for independence from the ‘Anglo imperialist.’
In the aftermath of Iraq’s war with Iran, which had placed Iranian aspirations on hold for eight long, destructive years, Tehran began to forge regional relationships that formed the underpinnings of a new Axis of Resistance to US and Western hegemonic ambitions.
The US expanded its military role in the Middle East mainly to eradicate this ‘Shia’ thorn in its side – but it has not only failed to do so with each consecutive US administration, it has willfully unleashed the well-contained demons of sectarianism to achieve this goal.
Hello, Sunni Wahhabi fundamentalism. Hello, Al Qaeda. Hello, ISIS.
Why even get into this recent history? It’s important for one main reason. Even as the US now turns its guns on the Frankenstein monster it created from its invasions of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and now its intervention in Syria… Washington also has its guns aimed at Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and other entities that are fighting this very terrorism.
When Trump debuted his foreign policy vision earlier this week, he pointed out that current US policy was “reckless, rudderless and aimless” – “one that has blazed the path of destruction in its wake.”
It’s all we’ve heard in recent years – certainly since the start of the Arab ‘uprisings’ – with pundits and commentators alike scratching their heads in confusion over US goals in the region.
American policy is not confused – it is very deliberate. Get your head around this: Washington seeks to thwart the Iranian-led axis by unleashing sectarian, Wahhabi-influenced extremists into parts of the region viewed as Iran’s strategic depth, AND it seeks to counter the proliferation of these extremists by reaching out to Iran, tactically – hence the sudden P5+1 nuclear deal in the midst of all this conflict.
This is what I call America’s “strategic dissonance” – playing both sides to engineer protracted conflict in an effort to gradually drive the two sides into extinction.
Only problem is the unpredictability of it all – and the ensuing chaos, destruction and terrorism that has now poured over these borders into Europe and beyond.
Mr. America versus Ms. Beltway
It is clear that this strategic dissonance has once more led to an American “unintended consequence.” It is equally clear that it will take nothing less than a sledgehammer to alter the destructive bent of US foreign policy.
What’s interesting about this election year is that voters have put their backs behind unlikely candidates Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, mostly, it seems, to buck the establishment.
The two long-shot candidates have delivered scathing reviews of Beltway politicos and the ‘interest groups’ that prop them up – foreign and domestic, both.
By contrast, Hillary Clinton – the ‘deserving’ establishment candidate who was a shoo-in until a few short months ago – has had to fight for every vote in her contests with Democratic Party newcomer Sanders.
And the easiest blows against Clinton have been in the foreign policy arena, where the Beltway hawk has a long record of backing the wrong plan – in Iraq, in Libya, in Syria.
In the Mideast, Clinton’s militaristic leanings scuttle any goodwill one would otherwise have for a Democratic Party candidate. Egyptians lobbed tomatoes, shoes and water bottles at her motorcade when the then-secretary of state made an appearance after the ousting of longtime US ally President Hosni Mubarak.
It was under her stewardship at the Department of State when “foreign hands” began to make their marks on the Arab uprisings – none to the benefit of the Arab masses.
Her support for the ill-conceived US invasion of Iraq, which led to the establishment of Al Qaeda in that country, is a constant refrain here in the Mideast – much as it is in the United States. And her refusal to acknowledge the disastrous consequences of US military intervention in Libya remain proof that she never learned from Iraq.
Like him or not, Clinton’s maniacal laughter over Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s violent death as she sanguinely declared “We came, we saw, he died,” has been forever imprinted on our collective memories.
We have since learned that US President Barack Obama’s decision to militarily intervene in Libya came down to her vote. Libyan blood cannot be washed off those hands.
And now Clinton wants to escalate in Syria by carving out a “safe zone” – which is how her Libyan adventure started.
If Clinton suffers from a likeability problem in the US, she is downright reviled in the Mideast – except among the usual suspects which include dictators, monarchs and other super-wealthy elites who have either contributed to the Clinton Foundation or are desperate to maintain their cushy positions within a US-dominated region.
Then there’s Trump
The highly controversial billionaire businessman Donald Trump has been roundly bashed in this region for his prejudicial comments against Muslims, but there’s a quiet parade of thinkers in the Mideast – from Arab nationalists to progressives to intellectuals – who have been casting coy second glances his way.
“Trump can turn the system upside down,” says a leading Lebanon-based Arab nationalist. “He’s his own man, he will not be dragged into the trappings of the deep state,” says an influential writer.
“Who else is willing to put the brakes on NATO, disengage from lousy alliances, hook up with Putin and others to fight terrorism the right way, prioritize diplomacy over military options? Not Clinton, no way,” a college student rants.
There is that.
Unlike Clinton, there’s not much we know about Trump. He has no foreign policy record, except of course his non-stop reminder that he opposed the US invasion of Iraq and warned that it would be a “disaster.”
But if you’re going to take a chance on a candidate – if you’re going to try to read between the lines of campaign promises – I suggest taking the unconventional, risky declarations more seriously than predictable, voter-friendly platitudes like “I support the state of Israel unconditionally.”
And Trump has some doozies.
On key US ally Saudi Arabia, arguably ground zero for the militant extremism rampant in the region – and a country that former Defense Secretary Robert Gates says was prepared to “fight the Iranians to the last American” – Trump warns that he might halt purchases of Saudi oil unless Riyadh commits ground troops to the ISIS fight. His comments mirror those of Gates – as disclosed in a 2010 Wikileaks cable – who said of the Saudis that it “is time for them to get in the game.”
“If Saudi Arabia was without the cloak of American protection, I don’t think it would be around,” suggests Trump, quite correctly.
On Russia, Syria and US support of rebels: “Putin does not want ISIS. The rebel groups… we have no idea who these people are. We’re training people, we don’t know who they are… we’re giving them billions of dollars to fight Assad… If you look at Libya, look what we did there, it’s a mess. If you look at Saddam Hussein, with Iraq, look at what we did there, it’s a mess…”
In what seemed like a swipe at US support of questionable militants in Syria and elsewhere, Trump says: “We need to be clear sighted about the groups that will never be anything other than enemies. And believe me, we have groups that no matter what you do, they will be the enemy. We have to be smart enough to recognize who those groups are, who those people are, and not help them.”
Asked if the Mideast would be more secure if Saddam and Gaddafi were still around and Assad were stronger, Trump boldly declares: “It’s not even a contest… Of course it would be.”
And this: “I like that Putin is bombing the hell out of ISIS. Putin has to get rid of ISIS because Putin doesn’t want ISIS coming into Russia.”
Trump is an unknown quantity, but he is delivering some home truths to restive voters in an unconventional election year.
Clinton is the quintessential establishment candidate, the sure-thing that voters wish they could like, who is running for president at the wrong time for a beltway insider.
Trump has defied all the odds thus far, and there is no reason he can’t continue to do that all the way to the White House. Whether or not he can keep surprising once he is there is anyone’s guess. Will he become co-opted by the system? Will he strike down entrenched Washington dogmas with his trademark arrogance? Nobody knows.
If Trump runs against Clinton, his campaign mantra has to be “Clinton: tons of experience, no judgment.” It’s pretty much the only way he can compete with a seasoned politician who is sure to throw his inexperience back in his face at every opportunity.
For the Mideast, this is not the time to pick the ‘devil we know.’ We know how that story ends every single time: destabilization, chaos, terrorism.
Trump is definitely the lesser evil, whichever way one looks at it. He simply cannot be worse than her.
But there is one solitary upside to a Clinton presidency. If Hillary Clinton is the next president of the United States… we will see the world shift decisively into a new multi-polar order. The battle over Syria became a red line for the Russians, Chinese and Iranians, and they placed protective arms around key states, in turn forging closer relations with each other – some of these, military dimensions – and with a number of other ‘middle powers’ that threatened to up-end US hegemonic ambitions once and for all.
Imagine then, the reactions of Russia, China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa and other states irked by US-backed destabilizing campaigns, if a hawk like Clinton is ensconced in the White House.
We’ll slip into a new world order faster than you can say ‘Goldman Sachs.’
Follow Sharmine Narwani on Twitter at @snarwani
Believe nothing politicians say. They all lie. Trump sent mixed messages in delivering his first foreign policy address. His worldview is more nightmarish than visionary.
His America first agenda features uni-polarity, nativism and US military supremacy while claiming to “want to live peacefully with Russia and China.”
Absent was urging respect for and adherence to rule of law principles along with wanting mutual cooperation among all nations.
He failed to denounce America’s imperial agenda, its phony war on terrorism as a pretext for endless aggression against nonbelligerent states threatening no others.
On the one hand, he called “(o)ur foreign policy… a complete and total disaster.” On the other, his “administration will lead a free world (sic) that is properly armed and funded…”
He lied about the Iran nuclear deal, calling it “disastrous.” In earlier comments, he vowed to rescind it, ignoring the obligation of P5+1 countries to observe agreed on principles – Iran in full compliance.
Saying Tehran “ignor(ed) its terms even before the ink was dry” was willful deception. America alone continues violating terms it agreed to observe.
Stressing “Iran cannot be allowed to have a nuclear weapon” ignores its peaceful program with no military component or indication it seeks one – along with failing to denounce Israel as the region’s sole nuclear armed and dangerous regional state, threatening its peace and stability.
Trump shamelessly called the Jewish state “the one true democracy in the Middle East… a force for peace and justice” – ignoring its longstanding anti-Palestinian genocidal agenda, ongoing viciousness as he spoke.
His address was a litany of misinformation, distortions and Big Lies.
Obama “watches helplessly as North Korea increases its aggression,” he blustered.
“China… continue(s) its economic assault on American jobs and wealth…” It’s waging cyberwar “to steal government secrets…”
“If President Obama’s goal had been to weaken America, he could not have done a better job.”
“We’re a humanitarian nation… (T)he legacy of the Obama-Clinton interventions will be weakness, confusion and disarray, a mess… We left Christians subject to intense persecution and even genocide.”
All of the above twists reality demagogically. North Korea threatens no one. For decades, Washington spurned its efforts to normalize relations with the West.
China doesn’t steal US jobs. Corporate America offshores them to numerous low-wage countries, bipartisan US policy doing nothing to stop the transformation of industrial America into a third world nation.
Trump conveniently ignored post-9/11 Bush wars of aggression, bipartisan complicity supporting them.
Clinton’s 1990s Balkan wars preceded them, raping and dismembering the former Yugoslavia.
Obama’s imperial agenda is more of the same, exceeding the worst of George Bush – Hillary Clinton as secretary of state orchestrating naked aggression on Libya and Syria.
Muslims, not Christians and Jews, are at risk in today’s dangerous world. Post-9/11, US foreign policy left millions dead, endless carnage continuing, Congress permitting it with outsized military appropriations for permanent war on humanity.
Who knows what Trump means about everything changing if he becomes president. “America is going to be strong again,” he ranted.
Claiming he wants “radical Islam” halted ignores its US creation and support. Surely he knows, but won’t say, perpetuating the myth of war on terrorism – failing to explain ISIS and similar groups can’t exist without foreign support.
“(W)e have to rebuild our military and our economy,” he blustered. Annual defense authorizations should be greatly reduced at a time America has no enemies.
Billions saved should be invested domestically to create jobs for the one out of four working-age Americans without them – and better ones for the millions of underemployed.
Trump shamelessly calls increasing America’s military strength “the cheapest, single investment we can make…Our military dominance must be unquestioned, and I mean…by anybody and everybody.”
At the same time, he stresses not wasting “one single dollar.” Pentagon policy is a longstanding sinkhole of waste, fraud and abuse. Trump bluster won’t change things.
Putting America first sounds like demanding other nations operate by US rules or else. Saying “I will not hesitate to deploy military force when there is no alternative” is no different from current imperial policy.
Insisting he wants “peace and prosperity, not war and destruction” suggests a pledge to be breached straightaway in office, continuing dirty business as usual.
Trump differs from rival candidates largely in style. If elected to succeed Obama, expect deplorable continuity, not responsible change.
Stephen Lendman can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.
Longstanding US/Israeli plans call for redrawing the Middle East map – including partitioning Iraq and Syria, installing pro-Western/Zionist puppet regimes.
Turkey wants a Syria buffer zone to annex border areas between both countries. Weeks earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov blasted the idea, saying creating one would “violate every principle of international law and will lead to a substantial, qualitative escalation” of tensions.
In February, John Kerry told Senate Foreign Relations Committee members that establishing a buffer or safe zone in Syria would require up to 30,000 troops to enforce it, according to Pentagon estimates.
Last November, Trump endorsed the idea, saying “(b)uild a big, beautiful safe zone, and you have whatever it is so people can live, and they’ll be happier.”
Hillary Clinton earlier urged establishing a no-fly zone, the same scheme she used to wage US-led NATO aggression on Libya.
Merkel supported the idea. Now she seeks creating “safe zones” on the phony pretext of protecting internally displaced Syrians, saying:
Establish “zones where the ceasefire is particularly enforced and where a significant level of security can be guaranteed.”
Syria and Russia categorically reject the idea, a thinly veiled partition plan, flagrantly violating international law, also aiming to stem the refugee flow caused by Obama’s war – NATO and regional rogue states complicit in his high crime.
On Friday, Syrian chief peace talks negotiator Bashar al-Jaafari minced no words blasting Western and regional regimes for supporting “organized networks of international terrorism,” continuing to send them cross-border into Syria, “sabotaging the rules of international law,” while claiming to support diplomatic conflict resolution.
War without resolution continues. Peace prospects are unattainable as long as Washington demands regime change.
Stephen Lendman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof has offered a curious defense of Hillary Clinton’s “honesty,” refuting the public’s widespread view that she is a liar by narrowly defining what it means to be “honest” and arguing that she is less dishonest than she is a calculating and corner-cutting politician.
Kristof writes, “as we head toward the general election showdown, by all means denounce Hillary Clinton’s judgment and policy positions, but let’s focus on the real issues. She’s not a saint but a politician, and to me this notion that she’s fundamentally dishonest is a bogus narrative.”
Kristof cites, for instance, that half of her campaign statements, as evaluated by PolitiFact, were rated either true or mostly true, comparable to how the group assessed statements by Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Ted Cruz and much better than Donald Trump’s 22 percent. Leaving aside the “conventional wisdom” bias of this mainstream media organization, Kristof does seem to have a point. In a narrow definition of “honesty,” former Secretary of State Clinton may be “truthful” or kind of truthful half the time.
But Kristof misses the larger point that the American people are making when 56 percent of them rate her negatively and many call “crooked” and “dishonest.” They seem to be commenting on her lack of authenticity and perhaps her resistance to sincerely acknowledging major errors in judgment. She only grudgingly apologized for her pro-Iraq War vote and still insists that her bloody “regime change” scheme for Libya was a good idea, even as the once-prosperous North African nation slides into anarchy and deprivation – with the chief beneficiary the head-choppers of the Islamic State.
A Nixonian Quality
Many Americans sense that there is a Nixonian quality to Hillary Clinton – her excessive secrecy, her defensiveness, her rigidity, her unwillingness to acknowledge or learn from mistakes. Even when she is forced into admitting a “mistake,” such as her violation of State Department rules when she maintained a private email server for official correspondence, she acts as if she’s just “apologizing” to close off further debate or examination. As with Richard Nixon, there’s a feeling that Clinton’s apologies and rationales are self-serving, not forthcoming.
Yet, while it’s true that Nixon was a deceitful character – his most famous lie being when he declared “I am not a crook” – I would argue that he had some clear advantages over Clinton as President. He was a much more strategic thinker than she is – and sometimes went against the grain of expectations as encapsulated in the phrase “Nixon goes to China,” meaning that Nixon could open up to communist China precisely because he was viewed as such a hardliner who would never do such a thing but who finally judged that the move was in America’s interests.
While it’s impossible to say whether Clinton would seize unexpected openings as President, she showed none of that creativity, subtlety and courage as Secretary of State. She marched down a straightforward neocon line, doing precisely what Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wanted in the Middle East.
Clinton tried to sabotage President Barack Obama’s diplomatic outreach to Iran and favored military solutions to Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. She also followed a rightist approach in backing the 2009 coup in Honduras that ousted an elected progressive president who had offended some of the Honduran oligarchs and outside corporate interests.
Lack of Self-Criticism
In addition, Clinton appears to have learned nothing from her support for the catastrophic Iraq War and has argued against “conflating” her Iraq decision with her Libya decision. But that suggests that she is incapable of learning a lesson from one mistake and applying it to a similar situation, an almost disqualifying characteristic for someone who hopes to become President.
Being a successful President requires extracting painful lessons from one mistake and making sure you don’t make the same mistake again. But Clinton’s personal arrogance or defensiveness (it’s hard to figure out which is dominant) prevents her from that sort of self-criticism.
Indeed, her ritualistic (and politically timed) apology for her Iraq War vote in 2006 came across less than an honest recognition that she had done something horribly wrong than that she had to say something to appease a furious Democratic electorate as she mounted her first run for President against anti-Iraq War candidate Obama.
After losing to Obama and becoming his Secretary of State, she privately hedged her Iraq War apology by saying privately that she thought that President George W. Bush’s “surge” in Iraq was successful and admitting that she had only opposed it in 2007 for political reasons, according to former Defense Secretary Robert Gates in his memoir, Duty.
On Oct. 26, 2009, as Gates — a holdover from the Bush administration — and Clinton joined forces to pressure Obama into approving a similar “surge” for Afghanistan, Gates recalled a meeting in which Clinton made what he regarded as a stunning admission, writing:
“The exchange that followed was remarkable. In strongly supporting the surge in Afghanistan, Hillary told the president that her opposition to the surge in Iraq had been political because she was facing him in the Iowa primary [in 2008]. She went on to say, ‘The Iraq surge worked.’
“The president conceded vaguely that opposition to the Iraq surge had been political. To hear the two of them making these admissions, and in front of me, was as surprising as it was dismaying.” (Obama’s aides disputed Gates’s suggestion that the President indicated that his opposition to the Iraq “surge” was political, noting that he had always opposed the Iraq War. The Clinton team has not challenged Gates’s account.)
But the exchange, as recounted by Gates, indicates that Clinton not only let her political needs dictate her position on an important national security issue, but that she accepts as true the superficial conventional wisdom about the “successful surge” in Iraq, which claimed the lives of about 1,000 American soldiers and a much larger number of Iraqis but failed its principal mission of buying time for the Iraqis to resolve their sectarian differences.
So, when one considers Hillary Clinton’s “honesty” more should be in play than simply whether she accurately describes her policy positions half the time. Honesty, as most people would perceive it, relates to a person’s fundamental integrity, strength of character, readiness to acknowledge mistakes and ability to learn from them. On that measure, the American people seem to have sized up Hillary Clinton pretty well.
[For more on this topic, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Yes, Hillary Clinton Is a Neocon.“]
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).
The US Supreme Court has upheld Congress and President Barack Obama’s actions to hold Iran financially responsible for the 1983 bombing that killed 241 Marines at their barracks in the Lebanese capital city of Beirut.
The 6-2 ruling on Wednesday allowed the families of the Marines and victims of other attacks that courts have linked to Iran to seize some $2 billion in assets held in New York’s Citibank, belonging to Bank Markazi, the Central Bank of Iran (CBI), which has been blocked under US sanctions.
The Supreme Court determined that a law passed by Congress did not dictate to the courts how to handle the dispute despite appeals by the CBI.
In 2012, Congress passed a law that specifically directed the American bank to turn over the Iranian assets to victims’ families. Obama also entered the battle in an effort to force the payments on Iran.
Iran, however, argued that Obama and Congress were intruding into the business of federal courts, a practice banned by the US Constitution.
“The US judicial apparatus, with the support of the country’s administration and Congress, has been issuing and enacting rulings against the Islamic Republic of Iran for years, violating basic principles of international law with recourse to unsubstantiated and baseless allegations,” Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari said in December last year.
Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court Ruth Bader Ginsburg rejected the view on Wednesday, saying the legislation “does not transgress restraints placed on Congress and the president by the Constitution.”
Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented, with Roberts stating that “the authority of the political branches is sufficient; they have no need to seize ours.”
The case involves over 1,300 plaintiffs, who have demanded compensation over several attacks, namely the Beirut bombing, and the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia.