Rouhani made the conclusion that the US and Israel are to blame for regional terrorism.
“We propose that the fight against terrorism be incorporated into a binding international document and no country be allowed to use terrorism for the purpose of intervention into the affairs of another country,” Rouhani said in an address to the UN General Assembly.
Moving to Iran’s relationship with the international community, Rouhani stated that he was “proud” to start a “new chapter” of engagement with the world.
He then praised the Iran nuclear deal and the negotiating partners involved. Rouhani appreciated that the deal was unanimously approved by the UN Security Council.
David Hirsh (left) and Jeremy Corbyn (right)
In an open letter published in the Jewish Chronicle, notorious hard core Zionist David Hirsh advises the opposition leader what to do if he seeks ‘the trust of Jewish voters.’ As usual, Hirsh has produced an obscure document that reveals little other than the delusional level of Judeo-centrism symptomatic of Hirsh and his ilk.
Hirsh lists Corbyn’s ‘crimes:’ “You worked for Press TV, the Iranian regime’s propaganda channel and you recommend Russia Today, Putin’s version. You appear in cosy pictures with Hugo Chavez, with Hamas, with Gerry Adams (days after the Brighton bombing) and with Hezbollah. You said that Nato is the aggressor in Ukraine and that Daesh is no worse than the USA. You were the national chair of Stop the War even when it appeared to endorse the killing of British soldiers. You celebrated the anniversary of the Iranian revolution.”
Yet, despite this roster, Corbyn won the Labour leadership in a landslide victory that left the Blairites and the usual Sabbos Goyim far behind, isolated and humiliated. How did this happen? Simple, for the vast majority of Labour members, Corbyn’s ‘crimes’ were not a problem, quite the opposite. Labour party members made Corbyn their leader because they agree with the rationale behind his arguments and affiliations. They chose Corbyn as their leader because they are not happy with the Jewish Lobby hijacking their country’s politics.
Hirsh cites Fascism as a prime concern; but you would expect a Jewish academic to know what Fascism was and is. “You don’t have to be for starting a war with Daesh and Assad; but you do have to make it clear that in principle you side with those struggling against fascism and for democracy.” To this Jewish academic both Asad and Daesh are ‘Fascists.’ I guess that within the solipsistic kosher universe, Fascism is basically everything that Jews hate. But the true definition of Fascism is slightly more nuanced. Fascism is a pretty clear worldview. It is secular, nationalist, socialist and led by a strong government that is often authoritarian. Daesh, or any other Islamic system of government, can never be Fascist by definition.
The fact that Hirsh doesn’t understand Fascism is a little surprising, but let us see what anti Semitism means to the Jewish academic. “There has always been a temptation to imagine Jews as powerful, selling the oppressed to the exploiters for silver. The image of Jews as enablers of injustice, twisters of words and doers of evil runs deep.”
I don’t see how Corbyn is involved with any of the above, and, from an intellectual perspective, I can’t understand why is it more ‘conspiratorial’ to say that Jews are ‘too powerful’ than to claim that Jews are not powerful at all. The question of whether Jews are powerful can easily be measured statistically and demographically. However, if Jewish power is defined as the power to prevent us from looking into Jewish power then the ‘anti Semitism slur’ is the means used to effectuate such power.
“Antisemitism” Hirsh continues, “mobilises around vile myth instead of around rational critique.” I am puzzled again, is it really ‘irrational’ to examine or criticize the politics and culture of the most powerful people in our society? Was Max Weber’s search into the role of Protestants in capitalism irrational? Would examination of the cultural and ideological roots of the British aristocracy be irrational? Zionism was a promise to make Jews like all other people. At a minimum, Zionist Jews should insist that Jewish culture and politics be subject to the same criticism and scrutiny as other cultures.
Hirsh wants Corbyn to show that he understands “the distinction between criticism of Israel and antisemitism.” But this is a false distinction. The Jewish Chronicle that published Hirsh’s letter and rallied against Corbyn for two months claimed to speak in the name of the “majority of British Jews.” But the Jewish Chronicle is not exactly an Israeli paper, it is actually a Jewish paper. The BOD that also claims to represent British Jewry and was highly critical of Corbyn is not an Israeli body either, it is a British Jewish institution. Hirsh’s false distinction ignores the fact that Israel actually defines itself as the Jewish State and it seems that the vast majority of Jewish institutions support Israel and its existence as the Jews only State. The distinction between Jews and their state is far from obvious. In fact, the only person to offer a useful tool to address the topic by making categorical distinctions among Jews, Judaism and Jewishness is yours truly (The Wandering Who?, Zero Books).
Hirsh’s missive seems to express the wish that Corbyn becomes a Zionist Jew like Hirsh: “you say you hate antisemitism. So support those who fight for peace, not Hamas and Hezbollah who fight for victory over the Jews rather than peace with Israel.”
Corbyn won the Labour leadership in spite of a vile Jewish campaign against him run by the Jewish Chronicle and other Jewish outlets. Corbyn won the Labour leadership in part because he sees friends in Hamas and Hezbollah.
Seemingly, Hirsh wants to reinstate to role of the Jews in the party. “At the moment, lots of Jews feel locked out of the party; both the Labour Party and also the carnival of joy and optimism. Your new Labour Party does not feel like a safe place for Jews.”
I suppose that Hirsh may be correct in his observation. But Corbyn has nothing to do with it. The Jewish sense of rejection is clearly self-inflicted and a direct outcome of the usual pre-traumatic stress syndrome (Pre-TSD). British Jewish community leaders may want to look in the mirror and admit to themselves that once again they have managed to corner themselves.
Hirsh writes to Corbyn “you can bring lots of us back,” but he knows that this is a lie. Corbyn cannot bring anyone back. The Jewish hate fest against Corbyn and Labour is not going to stop or fade. However, Corbyn’s victory does indicate a sharp decline of Jewish power. Jewish history teaches us that when Jewish power declines, it happens very fast and the consequences are often tragic. Let us hope that this time things will be different, but for that to happen Jews must learn to self reflect. Instead of telling Corbyn what to do in order to appease the Jews, Hirsh and Jewish community leaders ought to ask themselves why the opposition to Jews is growing. If Jewish community leaders fail to find the answers, I would be happy to make my way to Golders Green and give them a brief lecture in exchange for a bag of shekels.
In late August 2013, the Obama administration lurched to the brink of invading Syria after blaming a Sarin gas attack outside Damascus on President Bashar al-Assad’s government, but evidence – reported by investigative journalist Seymour M. Hersh – implicates Turkish intelligence and extremist Syrian rebels instead.
The significance of Hersh’s report is twofold: first, it shows how Official Washington’s hawks and neocons almost stampeded the United States into another Mideast war under false pretenses, and second, the story’s publication in the London Review of Books reveals how hostile the mainstream U.S. media remains toward information that doesn’t comport with its neocon-dominated conventional wisdom.
In other words, it appears that Official Washington and its mainstream press have absorbed few lessons from the disastrous Iraq War, which was launched in 2003 under the false claim that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was planning to share hidden stockpiles of WMD with al-Qaeda, when there was no WMD nor any association between Hussein and al-Qaeda.
A decade later in August and September 2013, as a new war hysteria broke out over Assad allegedly crossing President Barack Obama’s “red line” against using chemical weapons, it fell to a few Internet sites, including our own Consortiumnews.com, to raise questions about the administration’s allegations that pinned the Aug. 21 attack on the Syrian government.
Not only did the U.S. government fail to provide a single piece of verifiable evidence to support its claims, a much-touted “vector analysis” by Human Rights Watch and The New York Times – supposedly tracing the flight paths of two rockets back to a Syrian military base northwest of Damascus – collapsed when it became clear that only one rocket carried Sarin and its range was less than one-third the distance between the army base and the point of impact. That meant the rocket carrying the Sarin appeared to have originated in rebel territory.
There were other reasons to doubt the Obama administration’s casus belli, including the irrationality of Assad ordering a chemical weapons strike outside Damascus just as United Nations inspectors were unpacking at a local hotel with plans to investigate an earlier attack that the Syrian government blamed on the rebels.
Assad would have known that a chemical attack would have diverted the inspectors (as it did) and would force President Obama to declare that his “red line” had been crossed, possibly prompting a massive U.S. retaliatory strike (as it almost did).
Plans for War
Hersh’s article describes how devastating the U.S. aerial bombardment was supposed to be, seeking to destroy Assad’s military capability, which, in turn, could have cleared the way to victory for the Syrian rebels, whose fortunes had been declining.
Hersh wrote: “Under White House pressure, the US attack plan evolved into ‘a monster strike’: two wings of B-52 bombers were shifted to airbases close to Syria, and navy submarines and ships equipped with Tomahawk missiles were deployed.
“‘Every day the target list was getting longer,’ the former intelligence official told me. ‘The Pentagon planners said we can’t use only Tomahawks to strike at Syria’s missile sites because their warheads are buried too far below ground, so the two B-52 air wings with two-thousand pound bombs were assigned to the mission. Then we’ll need standby search-and-rescue teams to recover downed pilots and drones for target selection. It became huge.’
“The new target list was meant to ‘completely eradicate any military capabilities Assad had’, the former intelligence official said. The core targets included electric power grids, oil and gas depots, all known logistic and weapons depots, all known command and control facilities, and all known military and intelligence buildings.”
According to Hersh, the administration’s war plans were disrupted by U.S. and British intelligence analysts who uncovered evidence that the Sarin was likely not released by the Assad government and indications that Turkey’s intelligence services may have collaborated with radical rebels to deploy the Sarin as a false-flag operation.
Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Erdoğan sided with the Syrian opposition early in the civil conflict and provided a vital supply line to the al-Nusra Front, a violent group of Sunni extremists with ties to al-Qaeda and increasingly the dominant rebel fighting force. By 2012, however, internecine conflicts among rebel factions had contributed to Assad’s forces gaining the upper hand.
The role of Islamic radicals – and the fear that advanced U.S. weapons might end up in the hands of al-Qaeda terrorists – unnerved President Obama who pulled back on U.S. covert support for the rebels. That frustrated Erdoğan who pressed Obama to expand U.S. involvement, according to Hersh’s account.
Hersh wrote: “By the end of 2012, it was believed throughout the American intelligence community that the rebels were losing the war. ‘Erdoğan was pissed,’ the former intelligence official said, ‘and felt he was left hanging on the vine. It was his money and the [U.S] cut-off was seen as a betrayal.’”
‘Red Line’ Worries
Recognizing Obama’s political sensitivity over his “red line” pledge, the Turkish government and Syrian rebels saw chemical weapons as the way to force the President’s hand, Hersh reported, writing: “In spring 2013 US intelligence learned that the Turkish government – through elements of the MIT, its national intelligence agency, and the Gendarmerie, a militarised law-enforcement organisation – was working directly with al-Nusra and its allies to develop a chemical warfare capability.
“‘The MIT was running the political liaison with the rebels, and the Gendarmerie handled military logistics, on-the-scene advice and training – including training in chemical warfare,’ the former intelligence official said. ‘Stepping up Turkey’s role in spring 2013 was seen as the key to its problems there. Erdoğan knew that if he stopped his support of the jihadists it would be all over. The Saudis could not support the war because of logistics – the distances involved and the difficulty of moving weapons and supplies. Erdoğan’s hope was to instigate an event that would force the US to cross the red line. But Obama didn’t respond [to small chemical weapons attacks] in March and April.’”
The dispute between Erdoğan and Obama came to a head at a White House meeting on May 16, 2013, when Erdoğan unsuccessfully lobbied for a broader U.S. military commitment to the rebels, Hersh reported.
Three months later, in the early hours of Aug. 21, 2013, a mysterious missile delivered a lethal load of Sarin into a suburb east of Damascus. The Obama administration and the mainstream U.S. press corps immediately jumped to the conclusion that the Syrian government had launched the attack, which the U.S. government claimed killed at least “1,429” people although the number of victims cited by doctors and other witnesses on the scene was much lower.
Yet, with the media stampede underway, anyone who questioned the U.S. government’s case was trampled under charges of being an “Assad apologist.” But we few skeptics continued to point out the lack of evidence to support the rush to war. Obama also encountered political resistance in both the British Parliament and U.S. Congress, but hawks in the U.S. State Department were itching for a new war.
Secretary of State John Kerry delivered a bellicose speech on Aug. 30, 2013, amid expectations that the U.S. bombs would start flying within days. But Obama hesitated, first referring the war issue to Congress and later accepting a compromise brokered by Russian President Vladimir Putin to have Assad surrender all of his chemical weapons even as Assad continued denying any role in the Aug. 21 attacks.
Obama took the deal but continued asserting publicly that Assad was guilty and disparaging anyone who thought otherwise. In a formal address to the UN General Assembly on Sept. 24, 2013, Obama declared, “It’s an insult to human reason and to the legitimacy of this institution to suggest that anyone other than the regime carried out this attack.”
Suspicions of Turkey
However, by autumn 2013, U.S. intelligence analysts were among those who had joined in the “insult to human reason” as their doubts about Assad’s guilt grew. Hersh cited an ex-intelligence official saying: “the US intelligence analysts who kept working on the events of 21 August ‘sensed that Syria had not done the gas attack. But the 500 pound gorilla was, how did it happen? The immediate suspect was the Turks, because they had all the pieces to make it happen.’
“As intercepts and other data related to the 21 August attacks were gathered, the intelligence community saw evidence to support its suspicions. ‘We now know it was a covert action planned by Erdoğan’s people to push Obama over the red line,’ the former intelligence official said. ‘They had to escalate to a gas attack in or near Damascus when the UN inspectors’ – who arrived in Damascus on 18 August to investigate the earlier use of gas – ‘were there. The deal was to do something spectacular.
“‘Our senior military officers have been told by the DIA and other intelligence assets that the sarin was supplied through Turkey – that it could only have gotten there with Turkish support. The Turks also provided the training in producing the sarin and handling it.’
“Much of the support for that assessment came from the Turks themselves, via intercepted conversations in the immediate aftermath of the attack. ‘Principal evidence came from the Turkish post-attack joy and back-slapping in numerous intercepts. Operations are always so super-secret in the planning but that all flies out the window when it comes to crowing afterwards. There is no greater vulnerability than in the perpetrators claiming credit for success.’”
According to the thinking of Turkish intelligence, Hersh reported, “Erdoğan’s problems in Syria would soon be over: ‘Off goes the gas and Obama will say red line and America is going to attack Syria, or at least that was the idea. But it did not work out that way.’”
Hersh added that the U.S. intelligence community has been reluctant to pass on to Obama the information contradicting the Assad-did-it scenario. Hersh wrote:
“The post-attack intelligence on Turkey did not make its way to the White House. ‘Nobody wants to talk about all this,’ the former intelligence official told me. ‘There is great reluctance to contradict the president, although no all-source intelligence community analysis supported his leap to convict. There has not been one single piece of additional evidence of Syrian involvement in the sarin attack produced by the White House since the bombing raid was called off. My government can’t say anything because we have acted so irresponsibly. And since we blamed Assad, we can’t go back and blame Erdoğan.’”
Like the bloody U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, the near U.S. air war against Syria in 2013 is a cautionary tale for Americans regarding the dangers that result when the U.S. government and mainstream media dance off hand in hand, leaping to conclusions and laughing at doubters.
The key difference between the war in Iraq and the averted war on Syria was that President Obama was not as eager as his predecessor, George W. Bush, to dress himself up as a “war president.” Another factor was that Obama had the timely assistance of Russian President Putin to chart a course that skirted the abyss.
Given how close the U.S. neocons came to maneuvering a reluctant Obama into another “regime change” war on a Mideast adversary of Israel, you can understand why they are so angry with Putin and why they were so eager to hit back at him in Ukraine. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “What Neocons Want from Ukraine Crisis.”]
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).
“An agent of influence is an agent of some stature who uses his or her position to influence public opinion or decision making to produce results beneficial to the country whose intelligence service operates the agent.” So goes the book definition but any experienced intelligence officer will note that there are degrees of cooperation and direction in such a relationship. The agent might be fully controlled and on a salary or he or she might be very loosely guided, ideologically motivated but cautious and reluctant to receive any favors in return. The key is that the agent has to be acting on behalf of the interests of the foreign government, which will at least some of the time mean working directly against the interests of his own.
I thought of how an agent of influence operates on the morning of September 9th when I opened the Washington Post and read two letters to the editor, both written by constituents, regarding Maryland Senator Benjamin Cardin’s refusal to support President Barack Obama’s Iran deal.
The first, from Carole Anderson of Bethesda said that “my U.S. senator, Benjamin L. Cardin, has forgotten that he represents Maryland — not the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, not a portion of the Jewish community, not Israel. His constituents expect him to vote based on the best interests of the United States, which in this case also is in Israel’s long-term interest, not based on what his rabbi says. He has demonstrated that he is incapable of doing his job.”
The second, from Stephen O. Dean of Gaithersburg observed that “Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin’s plan to oppose the Iran nuclear deal is an embarrassment to the people of Maryland. Though a Democrat, he allied himself with the Republicans in Congress, the Republican presidential contenders, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the powerful pro-Israel lobby. He turned his back on President Obama and rejected the long, difficult work of Secretary of State John F. Kerry and his counterparts from five other major countries. The alternative he offered is a bill he will introduce to send more U.S. taxpayer money to Israel. One wishes he took the path to peace with Iran, instead of to potential war.”
Cardin’s position was not unexpected even though he is reliably liberal on any issue but Palestine and a solid Democratic Party water boy. As an elected official, Cardin has frequently framed himself as being personally responsible for delivering benefits to his Jewish constituents. He sponsors the Senator Ben Cardin Jewish Scholars Program and also has been active in steering Department of Homeland Security (DHS) grants to what he calls “high risk” Jewish organizations in Baltimore. Due to the assiduous efforts of Congressmen like Cardin fully 97% of all DHS grants go to Jewish groups.
But as complete deference to Israel is all too common inside the beltway, I was, to put it mildly, shocked that two letters expressing such dissident views regarding Cardin actually appeared in the Post, a haven of neoconservatism on its editorial page. One might enthuse that it is perhaps a welcome sign that popular views on the extremely damaging Israel relationship really have begun to shift.
I have previously written that the so-called Corker-Cardin bill that reportedly gave Congress a chance to safely vent over the Iran deal was actually a Trojan horse in that it was intended to lead to eventual defeat of the agreement. I noted at the time that Cardin was the snake in the woodpile as he was pretending to give a lifeline to his party and president while all the time intending to vote no and do everything in his power to overturn any rapprochement with Iran.
Now what I predicted has come about. And Cardin has even admitted that he discussed with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) how he should vote. AIPAC, for all its posturing about American interests, is not a source of objective information on the Middle East as it often pretends to be. It actively and aggressively lobbies on behalf of the Israeli government and would be listed under the Foreign Agent Registration Act of 1938 but for the fact that it is politically powerful and no White House has been willing to take it on. Cardin was also heavily lobbied by his rabbi, who called him repeatedly.
Cardin justified his opposition to the agreement based on alarmist talking points that could have been, and maybe were, written by AIPAC to include, “…there cannot be respect for a country that actively foments regional instability, advocates for Israel’s destruction, kills the innocent and shouts ‘Death to America.’” And Cardin has also gone on record pledging to back up his “no” vote by introducing legislation that he is already working on that will allow congress to overturn the agreement while also sending 30,000 pound penetrator bombs to Israel that will enable Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to attack Iran, which would clearly not be in America’s interest.
The Cardin supported initiative to undermine the Iran agreement through further congressional meddling and delaying tactics is being referred to in some circles as “Plan B.” There are a number of aspects to it, but it involves creating new legislation and imposing other conditions that will permit additional congressional review of both the deal itself and, more particularly, Iran’s compliance. It has become axiomatic to refer to Iranians as “liars and cheaters,” setting the stage for any number of contrived revelations about their behavior.
As has often been the case in the past where friends of Israel have sought either military action or other punitive measures, the planned new congressional initiatives will likely seek to create red lines or tripwires that will mandate congressional or presidential action. In the past, these red lines have been described in a way that permits them to be interpreted subjectively, meaning that there will be a push to find fault with Tehran and that evidence might easily be manufactured to suit or even provided by Israel. Cardin appears to be the driving force behind this effort if one is to go by his own words and the praise that has been heaped upon him by organizations like Christians United for Israel.
So who does Cardin actually represent? I would suggest that he fits the mold of the classic agent of influence in that his allegiance to the United States is constrained by his greater loyalty to a foreign nation. I do not believe that he does it for money or other material favors and I would not imagine that Mossad actually gives him his marching orders, but I would bet that his contact with the Israeli Embassy and AIPAC to both obtain and synchronize with their views is frequent and ongoing. One has to hope that Cardin will both fail in his new legislative efforts on behalf of Israel and also that he will be turned out of office in the next cycle by his constituents for his failure to support actual American and Marylander interests.
The question of what to do about the Cardins of this world is, of course, clouded by the broader issue of “dual loyalty,” a label that has rightly been of particular concern for many diaspora Jews because it often is employed as a classic anti-Semitic canard. Those who promote it think that some or even most Jews can never be truly loyal to the country that they reside in, that they will always have a higher allegiance to their tribe. Since the founding of Israel that alleged supranational allegiance has also embraced the Jewish state, with questions raised regarding whether it is possible to actively promote all-too-often uncritical support for a foreign nation while living and working in another country that will inevitably have quite different national and international interests.
In reality, of course, it is not so simple. Some Jews will relate to their “tribe” more than to their non-Jewish fellow citizens but most will not and many will even regard that kind of sentiment as completely unacceptable. But all of that given, the issue of where one’s loyalty as a citizen of a nation should lie and to what degree is something that just will not go away. Nearly all of the neoconservatives who cajoled Americans into the disastrous war against Iraq were Jews and they were at least in part motivated by perceived Israeli interests. Bush Administration senior official Philip Zelikow subsequently even claimed that the Iraq war was primarily fought to eliminate a threat to Israel. And if that is not convincing enough, there is the “Clean Break” policy document that was presented to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 1996 recommending inter alia the systematic break-up of Israel’s Arab neighbors into tribal groups to “secure the realm” of Israel. Many of the signatories were the very same American Jews who later promoted the war with Iraq and are now orchestrating the agitation vis-a-vis Iran, which itself is being overwhelmingly funded by Jewish groups.
Because of the potential problem posed by divided loyalty, many Americans now believe that no citizen should hold any foreign passport in addition to that of the United States. An increasing number are beginning to understand that competing parochial loyalties of various kinds have been detrimental to the viability of the United States as a nation and destructive of Teddy Roosevelt’s once proud assertion that it doesn’t matter where we came from but “we are all Americans.”
The dual loyalty question becomes more serious when one is considering the roles of government officials, both elected and as members of the federal bureaucracy, as they are in a position where they can actually do damage. The United States is currently wrestling with problems posed by Christian officials who believe that what they are told by God preempts what they are obligated to do as bureaucrats. This type of deference to tribe and culture is also where Cardin is both tone deaf and dissimulating. He is the stereotype of what has frequently been disparagingly described as an “Israel firster.” There is absolutely no reasonable argument to be made against the Iran agreement from a U.S. perspective and the mere fact that it is opposed by Israel should have no weight, but Cardin clearly does not see things that way.
One might reasonably object that Cardin is far from unique and to be sure there are many in Washington that are feckless in their relationships with Israel’s government. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, who has declared himself to be the “shomer” or guardian of Israel in the U.S. Senate, is a case in point and undoubtedly many of the criticisms leveled against Cardin would fit just as well with Schumer. One might also note the unanimous Republican opposition to the Iran deal but that is a bit of a red herring. In many cases the attachment is more likely than not based more on politics than on any genuine affinity towards Israel. A frequently cynical kowtowing to perceived Zionist and evangelical demands is coupled with the expectation that Israel’s most powerful and wealthy backer in the U.S. Sheldon Adelson will shower his billions on the GOP and its preferred presidential candidate as long as the whole campaign is in key areas subordinate to Israeli interests. The Republican hard line is also a reflexive rejection of Obama foreign policy to create a wedge issue for 2016 and is not linked to any rational assessment of the merits of the Iran agreement.
On balance, Senator Ben Cardin in his apparent collusion with both the Israeli government and its powerful domestic Lobby appears to cross lines that should not be crossed by any American elected official. My contention that he may be a de facto agent of influence for Israel is, of course, somewhat conjectural. I would imagine that Cardin rationalizes his behavior by choosing to believe that Israeli and American interests are identical, which is, of course, not true. If he claims that he is not in fact preemptively guided by Israeli interests it would be interesting to have him reveal full details of the frequency and nature of his encounters with Israeli officials and also with the components of the Israel Lobby, most particularly AIPAC, which are established conduits for relaying Israeli perspectives to accomplices in the U.S. government. I would also be interested in hearing Cardin’s views on how a war with Iran would possibly benefit the people of Maryland.
Senator Bernie Sanders taped a PBS show at the University of Virginia on Monday. I had corresponded with the host Doug Blackmon beforehand, and offered him ideas for questions on military spending and war, questions like these:
1. People want to tax the rich and cut military spending, which is 54% of federal discretionary spending according to National Priorities Project, but you only ever mention taxing the rich. Why not do both? What — give or take $100 billion — is an appropriate level of military spending?
2. Do you agree with Eisenhower that military spending creates wars?
3. Can you possibly be serious about wanting to keep the wars going but have Saudi Arabia play a bigger role? Do you approve of Saudi Arabia dropping U.S. cluster bombs on Yemen?
4. Would you approve of John Kerry promising Israel $45 billion of free weapons over the next decade?
5. Jeremy Corbyn was just elected leader of the Labour Party. He wants to pull out of NATO. Do you? He wants to unilaterally disarm of nuclear weapons? Do you? He wants to end drone murders and wars. Do you? Are you both socialists?
Blackmon at the very end asked Sanders to say something about foreign policy. Sanders replied with the 2002 Iraq vote. Then Blackmon mentioned Saudi Arabia, including its slaughter in Yemen, but rambled on until it became an unrelated softball. Sanders nonetheless brought it back to Saudi Arabia and insisted that Saudi Arabia should “get their hands dirty” and take a much bigger role in a war against ISIS and generally lead the wars with U.S. support.
Who has dirtier hands than Saudi Arabia? Is this some kind of a sick joke?
After the taping of the show, a member of the audience asked “But how will you pay for it?” What the “it” was went unstated, but presumably it wasn’t the military which is considered cost-free in such discussions. Sanders answered with progressive taxation. No mention of the military.
Later in the audience Q&A, Sanders brought up Eisenhower without mentioning the military.
Here are tips for future interviewers of Bernie Sanders:
As you know, Bernie Sanders focuses on money issues, taxing the rich, spending on the poor, but has thus far been permitted to engage in the general practice of speaking only about the 46% of federal discretionary spending that it not military.
Nobody has asked him about the 54% that by the calculation of National Priorities Project is military. Nobody has asked him if Eisenhower was right that military spending produces wars. Here are 25,000 people who want to know whether and how much Sanders would want to cut military spending.
He’s silent on the public support for two, not one, great sources of revenue: taxing the rich (which he’s all over) and cutting the military (which he avoids).
When he is asked about wars and says Saudi Arabia should pay for and lead them, nobody has followed up by asking whether the wars are themselves good or not or how the theocratic murderous regime in Saudi Arabia which openly seeks to overthrow other governments and is dropping US cluster bombs on Yemen will transform the wars into forces for good. Since when is THAT “socialism”?
If you go to Bernie’s website and click on ISSUES and search for foreign policy it’s just not there. He recently added the Iran agreement, after the fact, in which statement he says that war should “always be on the table” even though the U.N. Charter ban on threatening war makes no exception for candidate websites.
If Senator Sanders were to add anything about war in general to his website, judging by his standard response when asked, it would be this:
The military wastes money and its contractors routinely engage in fraud. The Department of Defense should be audited. Some weapons that I won’t name should be eliminated. Some cuts that I won’t even vaguely estimate should be made. All the wars in the Middle East should continue, but Saudi Arabia should lead the way with the U.S. assisting, because Saudi Arabia has plenty of weapons — and if Saudi Arabia has murdered lots of its own citizens and countless little babies in Yemen and has the goal of overthrowing a number of governments and slaughtering people of the wrong sect and dominating the area for the ideology of its fanatical dictatorial regime, who cares, better that than the U.S. funding all the wars, and the idea of actually ending any wars should be effectively brushed aside by changing the subject to how unfair it is for Saudi Arabia not to carry more of the militarized man’s burden. Oh, and veterans, U.S. veterans, are owed the deepest gratitude imaginable for the generous and beneficial service they have performed by killing so many people in the wars I’ve voted against and the ones I’ve voted for alike.
He’s silent on how much he’d cut the military, even within a range of $100 billion. He’s silent on alternatives to war. He’s usually silent on U.S. subservience to Israel. (Does he favor $45 billion in more free weapons for Israel paid for by the U.S. public whom he usually wants to spare lesser expenses than that?)
Jeremy Corbyn just won leadership of the Labour Party in England by promoting socialism at home and actively opposing wars and seeking peace. What is Bernie afraid of?
As the United States Congress debates whether or not to accept an agreement that the U.S. and five other nations reached with Iran, regulating that nation’s nuclear program, the media keeps a less-than-rapt public informed. Each day, news pundits first speculate on how this or that senator may vote, and then when some senator announces his or her position, it is tallied up as a ‘yes’ or ‘no’, and a victory or defeat for President Barack Obama.
As all this takes place, some odd but revealing statements have been made. Let us first look at just two, both from Democrats, one from a senator voting for the deal, and one who opposes it, and see what they tells us.
Colorado Senator Michael Bennett, in endorsing the deal, made this astonishing statement: “Our primary objectives are to prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon, make sure Israel is safe and, if possible, avoid another war in the Middle East.”
As this writer is wont to do, let us break this statement down to its component parts. We will look at Mr. Bennett’s ‘primary objectives’.
“Prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon”. Well, the fewer nuclear weapons in the world, the better. But why are some countries allowed to have them, and others not? The only nation in the world ever to have used nuclear weapons, the U.S., has a large stockpile, and has done nothing to reduce it. Please note that the U.S. has been at war with one country or another for most of its long and bloody history, so the fact that it has nuclear weapons is certainly a great risk to the world. Former President Richard Nixon is said to have considered using nuclear weapons in Vietnam. Why is Iran being singled out as not allowed to have such weapons when the U.S. can have them?
“Make sure Israel is safe”. See how quickly we get to the crux of the matter? Israel’s safety, for Mr. Bennett, is of paramount importance. And if Iran were to develop nuclear weapons, then Israel wouldn’t be the only Middle East country with them.
There is always so much concern about Israel’s safety! Does the U.S. not care about the safety and security of other Middle Eastern nations? We know that Iraq’s security is not of any interest to the U.S., or it wouldn’t have destabilized Iraq by invading it in 2003. And with Israel assassinating Iran’s nuclear scientists, there can’t be too much concern about that nation’s internal security.
And what about Palestine? Israel increasingly steals Palestinian land, but no U.S. politician ever talks about the national security of Palestine.
U.S. spokespeople always proclaim that Israel is the U.S.’s only ally in the Middle East. Perhaps if the U.S. would stop bombing the men, women and children of other Middle Eastern countries, and would be a little more equitable in its foreign aid distribution (currently, Israel gets more foreign aid from the U.S. than all other countries combined), it might find that it suddenly would have more friends in the Middle East. It has been said that before the bloody, murderous and genocidal establishment of Israel in 1948, the U.S. had no enemies in the Middle East.
Why, then, might Mr. Bennett be so concerned about Israel? Could it be the $108,766.00 in donations from Israeli lobbies that he received between 2009 and 2015? Perhaps we will dismiss that notion, and say that Mr. Bennett is a statesman, rising above such petty things as campaign contributions, and only doing what he feels, in his heart of hearts, is best for the U.S. citizenry, come what may. When pigs fly.
“If possible, avoid another war in the Middle East.” So, as an afterthought, after concerns about Israel’s security have been addressed, perhaps avoiding a war isn’t such a bad idea. This is not the usual U.S. way; diplomacy isn’t high on the list of characteristics held by most of Congress. There isn’t a lot of muscle-flexing and chest-thumping involved in diplomacy, and what’s a little blood of U.S. citizens, and lots of it of foreign citizens, when such macho displays of power are to be demonstrated?
Now, to the opposition. Democratic Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland, who greatly distrusts Iran, said this: “There cannot be respect for a country that actively foments regional instability, advocates for Israel’s destruction, kills the innocent and shouts ‘Death to America.’” Again, we will look at the component parts.
Mr. Cardin is critical of nations that
1 ‘Actively foment regional instability’. The U.S. is causing untold suffering and ‘regional instability’ through drone strikes and support for repressive regimes or rebel groups throughout the region. One would like to hear Mr. Cardin oppose such active fomenting of regional instability.
2 ‘Advocate for Israel’s destruction’. Once again, Israel is foremost in the mind of another senator, as he looks at the nuclear agreement with Iran. Israel, of course, acts to destroy Palestine with full U.S. support, but that, as mentioned above, isn’t a concern.
Between 2009 and 2015, Mr. Cardin received $241,293.00 from Israeli lobbies. We will wonder again if this, perhaps, didn’t factor in strongly in Mr. Cardin’s deliberations.
As might be expected, the multitudinous Republican presidential candidate wannabes were universally opposed to the agreement. Oddly (not!), Israel was a major factor in their criticisms. The following are just a few of their comments.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker: “The deal rewards the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism with a massive financial windfall, which Iran will use to further threaten our interests and key allies, especially Israel.” No, Mr. Walker, by any objective means, it is the U.S., not Iran, that is the world’s leading state sponsor of terror.
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee: “As president, I will stand with Israel and keep all options on the table, including military force, to topple the terrorist Iranian regime.” It sounds as if Mr. Huckabee wants ‘regime change’: when have we heard this before? Oh yes, that was President George W. Bush’s mantra when he sent soldiers in to ‘fix’ Iraq. We all know how well that turned out. Mr. Huckabee further said: “A threat to Israel is a threat to America.” No, it simply is not. Also, preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons doesn’t seem to constitute a threat to any nation, with the possible exception of Iran.
Senator Lindsay Graham weighed in with these pearls of wisdom: “You’ve put Israel in the worst possible box. This will be a death over time sentence to Israel if they don’t push back.” It is interesting to note that between 2009 and 2015, Mr. Graham received $286,350.00 from Israeli lobbies.
It is no secret where this great anxiety for Israel originates; money talks in the U.S., and Israeli lobby groups speak loudly. What is disturbing is how it takes precedence over every other concern, to the point where elected officials are willing to wage war to protect an apartheid nation, censured more by the United Nations than any other country on the planet. This is the nation whose interests the U.S. puts front and center, before its own. This is the nation that receives billions of dollars in U.S. aid annually, as U.S. cities decay. This is the nation for which the U.S. will jeopardize the lives of its young citizens, by disdaining diplomacy and using war as the dominant means of ‘leading’ in the world.
That leading politicians so blatantly state their adoration for Israel should give every U.S. citizen cause for concern. It is time for justice and human rights to be enshrined as the hallmarks of U.S. foreign policy. As that has never been the case, it will be difficult to introduce it now. But it must be done; the world has suffered for too long because of the U.S.
“The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”
—Queen Gertrude, Hamlet.
Whenever someone insists too strongly about something not being true, we tend to suspect that maybe it is. In their denials of involvement in 9/11, do Israel’s apologists “protest too much”?
While it would take a small book to adequately document the Israeli connection to 9/11—as Antiwar.com editor Justin Raimondo attempted to some extent in The Terror Enigma—let us briefly recall some of the more intriguing facts as reported in the mainstream media, involving dancing Israelis, Odigo warnings, and Zim’s timely move.
The story of the five Israelis who were seen celebrating and filming as the Twin Towers burned and collapsed was investigated by Neil Mackay in Scotland’s Sunday Herald. The so-called “dancing Israelis” worked for Urban Moving Systems, later deemed to be a Mossad front by the FBI. Despite failing numerous polygraph tests, the young men were deported to Israel two months later. Back home, several of the men appeared on a TV chat show, in which one of them amazingly said, “Our purpose was to document the event.”
Two employees of Odigo, an Israeli instant messaging service, received messages two hours before the World Trade Center attack on September 11 predicting the attack would happen, Ha’aretz reported.
Zim-American Israeli Shipping Co., part-owned by the Israeli government, moved their North American headquarters from the 16th floor of the WTC to Norfolk, Virginia one week before the 9/11 attacks, incurring a $50,000 fine for breaking its lease, according to the Jerusalem Post.
Despite being in the public domain, none of these relevant facts are mentioned in the 9/11 Commission’s 567-page report.
Moreover, Philip Zelikow, the executive director of the 9/11 Commission, is concerned about the spread of such inconvenient facts to the wider public. “Our worry,” he says, “is when things become infectious…. [then] this stuff can be deeply corrosive to public understanding. You can get where the bacteria can sicken the larger body.”
But was Zelikow speaking here as an American government official or as a pro-Israeli insider?
In the same month that he authored the so-called “Bush Doctrine” of preemptive war, which provided the justification for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Zelikow made this candid admission: “Why would Iraq attack America or use nuclear weapons against us? I’ll tell you what I think the real threat (is) and actually has been since 1990—it’s the threat against Israel.”
Yet, instead of investigating the Israeli connection, Zelikow used the 9/11 Commission to sell the Israeli-inspired Iraq war to the American people.
Zelikow’s “bacteria” quote is cited in a 2008 paper entitled “Conspiracy Theories.” Co-authored by Cass Sunstein, who went on to head President Obama’s White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, the main focus of the paper “involves conspiracy theories relating to terrorism, especially theories that arise from and post-date the 9/11 attacks.”
Rather than attempting to debunk such theories, Sunstein and Vermeule claim that those who suspect Israeli involvement in 9/11 suffer from a “crippled epistemology.” This, the authors argue, is due to “a sharply limited number of (relevant) informational sources.” In other words, “they know very few things, and what they know is wrong.”
To counter these suspicions, Sunstein recommends “cognitive infiltration of extremist groups, whereby government agents, or their allies (acting either virtually or in real space, and either openly or anonymously) will undermine the crippled epistemology of those who subscribe to such theories. They do so by planting doubts about the theories and stylized facts that circulate within such groups, thereby introducing beneficial cognitive diversity.”
It could, of course, be argued that Sunstein’s work also suffers from a crippled epistemology—his research relies heavily on pro-Israeli sources, most notably the notorious Islamophobe Daniel Pipes.
Pipes is a bit of an expert on conspiracy theories, having written two books on the subject. “Conspiracism provides a key to understanding the political culture of the Middle East,” Pipes opines in The Hidden Hand: Middle East Fears of Conspiracy. “It helps explain much of what would otherwise seem illogical or implausible, including the region’s record of political extremism and volatility, its culture of violence, and its poor record of modernization.”
Like Sunstein, Pipes is concerned that many in the region suspect Israeli involvement in 9/11. “The implications in the Middle East are quite profound,” Pipes told the LA-based Jewish Journal. “It’s one more brick in the edifice of fear and loathing of Israel and the Jews.”
In the absence of a proper 9/11 investigation, there remains a broad range of opinion about the precise nature of Israeli complicity. In The Terror Enigma, Justin Raimondo tentatively concludes that the Israeli connection to 9/11 amounts to “foreknowledge and passive collaboration with Bin Laden’s jihad.”
It’s hardly surprising then that some of the most obsessive critics of 9/11 “conspiracy theories” have ties to Israel. If Americans ever find out that their “staunchest ally” had anything to do with the mass murder of their fellow citizens on September 11, 2001, the would-be conspiracy debunkers have good reason to be afraid.
A version of this article was first published on April 3, 2010.
In part 2 of the “ISIS Conspiracy” series, Brandon Martinez of Non-Aligned Media unravels the intricate web of deceit and double-dealing that lies behind the manufactured ISIS phenomenon, and shows how the US and Israel have for decades plotted behind the scenes to implode the Middle East.
*Editor’s Note: Read an accompanying post to this article here.
A number of readers have complained that I buried the important news in my last post marking Mikulski’s announcement Wednesday. So I’m reposting below that part of the Mikulski piece that dealt with what appears to be AIPAC’s and the opposition’s most likely “Plan B” for congressional action, aimed chiefly at those Democrats who feel queasy about their decision to support the White House and vote against the pending resolution to reject the JCPOA.
A summary of a draft bill, which I obtained from a source who asked to remain anonymous, is circulating that is designed (almost certainly by AIPAC) to appeal to those Democrats eager to “kiss and make up” after their defiance of the most powerful Israel lobby group (whose reputation for omnipotence just took a very heavy hit) and its donors. Although most of the bill appears to be innocuous and consistent with the administration’s own intentions, it also contains a number of “poison pills,” which, if approved, appear calculated to raise new obstacles to implementation and Tehran’s confidence that the U.S. will fully comply with both the spirit and the letter of the JCPOA.
With proposed banking sanctions, for example, it appears to do what Kagan and the policy director of the neoconservative Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI), Juan Zarate, have urged with respect to codifying existing non-nuclear sanctions and reducing or eliminating the president’s waiver authority. It also would set up a process for “expedited procedures” for Congress to pass new terrorism sanctions against Iran under certain circumstances, and also create a coordinator for compliance whose responsibilities would not only be to oversee Iran’s implementation of the JCPOA but also report on non-nuclear issues outside the scope of the agreement.
Yet another provision would authorize the delivery to Israel of Washington’s most powerful Massive Ordinance Penetration munitions (MOPs) and the means to deliver them against Iran’s nuclear facilities, a move that administration officials have long said they strongly oppose. This would be one part of a much- enhanced package of military assistance for Israel.
Other provisions appear designed to “renegotiate” certain provisions of the JCPOA; for example, by eliminating the exemption of any contracts agreed to between Iran and foreign companies during the implementation phase in the event that sanctions are “snapped back.” It also requires Iran to abide by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty’s (NPT) Additional Protocol as of “adoption day,” even if the Iranian parliament has not yet ratified the Protocol.
We hear that the sponsors intend to push this through Congress as a companion to the disapproval resolution. The idea is to enable nervous Democrats to demonstrate their strong support for Israel and their undiluted distrust and hostility toward Iran. The fear is that if this measure isn’t passed now, then it could prove much more difficult to pass once Iran begins to implement the agreement.
Here is a summary of the draft bill which, as I understand it, is still very much a work in progress.
The Iran Policy Oversight Act of 2015
Building on the bipartisan commitment to oversight outlined in the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 – PL 114-17
Sets the U.S.’s going-forward Iran policy regarding the nuclear issue: The United States will never permit Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon, and all options available to the United States, including the military option, remain available.
Clarifies key interpretive issues in the JCPOA, which would also apply to subsequent agreements, including:
No sanctions relief will be provided to Iran until it meets its commitments related to resolution of PMD [possible military dimensions] issues.
Any production of HEU by Iran would be a violation of the JCPOA.
Nothing in the JCPOA limits or curtails Congress’ ability to pass sanctions legislation addressed to legitimate foreign policy purposes, including sanctions related to terrorism, human rights, and Iran’s ballistic missile activities.
There is no “grandfather clause” that would shield ongoing sanctionable activities by foreign firms in the event of a snap-back of Iran sanctions.
The JCPOA commits Iran to abide by all the provisions of the Additional Protocol of the NPT as of “adoption day,” regardless of whether the Iranian parliament approves the Additional Protocol.
Requires the Administration to submit:
A ten-year regional strategy for Countering Conventional and Asymmetric Iranian Activity and Threats in the Middle East and North Africa within six months, and every two years thereafter,
Report[s] detailing Iran’s use of funds received through sanctions relief and changes in funding for regional activities and support for terrorism,
Reports detailing Iran’s R&D activities as well as estimated nuclear weapons capability breakout time, and
A report addressing the IAEA’s resolution of the PMD issue.
Explicitly authorizes additional, specific security assistance to Israel, including bunker-busting MOPs, to ensure the President can and should take all necessary and appropriate measures to ensure Israel has the means and capacity to defend itself against nuclear and other threats from Iran.
Continues in effect banking sanctions addressed to ballistic missile proliferation and terrorism sanctions, unless the President certifies that designated financial institutions have ceased their support for missile proliferation and terrorism. Also continues in effect sanctions related to human rights abuses.
Requires the President to seek multilateral arrangements to both maintain control of exports related to conventional arms and ballistic missiles to Iran, and ensure an effective snap-back policy to respond to any non-compliance incidents as well as breach of the JCPOA by Iran.
Puts into place expedited procedures for consideration of new terrorism sanctions against Iran if Iran:
1) directs or conducts an act of terrorism against the U.S., or
2) substantially increases its operational or financial support for a terrorist organization that threatens U.S. interests or allies.
Requires the President to appoint a Coordinator for Compliance within the Department of State to:
1) coordinate all activities related to implementation of the JCPOA and any subsequent related agreements, and
2) monitor human rights abuses and activities relating to support for acts of international terrorism by the government of Iran.
One of the most depressing things about watching — even from a distance — the quadrennial race for the White House is seeing what passes for debate on the one area where the president does have some Constitutional authority: foreign policy.
Candidates who have spent little or no time studying or traveling to the rest of the world, and, in the fashion of many Americans in the age of Empire, see the rest of the world as just a series of US colonial outposts, apparently consider foreign policy unworthy of serious consideration.
So little do Republican candidates care about foreign policy that most of them have “outsourced” their foreign policy to a single neocon-dominated foreign policy shop called the “John Hay Initiative.” If you wonder why most Republican candidates sound exactly the same on foreign policy, it’s because they are nearly all getting their advice from the same people.
When nearly all candidates look to someone like Eliot Cohen, a founding member of the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), to provide an off-the-shelf foreign policy, it should be no surprise that the “debate” in the Republican party is only over which country to attack first.
Any candidate who thinks so little about something so important as America’s place in the world should be automatically disqualified.
But the neocons love it! The “experts” who brought us the 2003 Iraq war and the Libya “liberation” are still in the driver’s seat when it comes to foreign policy.
“Jeb!” has John Hay Initiative members Michael Chertoff and Michael Hayden (remember those crooks?) on board as his advisors.
Marco Rubio reportedly draws from Hay Project member Roger Zakheim, the son of GW Bush administration “vulcan,” Dov Zakheim. Zakheim père, we remember, joined with his fellow neocons to lie the US into war with Iraq, enriching the military-industrial complex, before absconding to the “private sector” to make his millions from the same military-industrial complex. Zakheim quickly and quietly left his position as the Pentagon’s chief financial officer after a trillion dollars went missing and the Government Accountability Office was critical of his handling of matters.
Scott Walker, a soporific candidate who nevertheless still gives neocons like Bill Kristol the vapors, also shops the neocon Walmart of foreign policy, the John Hay Initiative. It should be no surprise, then, that at his big foreign policy coming out speech at the Citadel military college Friday, he unveiled an “aggressive” foreign policy — crying out “America will not be intimidated. And neither will I” — as he promised more war and vowed that “the retreat is over!”
Is this the retreat he is talking about?
Walker reportedly taps into the McCain Institute’s David Kramer, a John Hay member, for his foreign policy wisdom. Kramer is another PNAC alumni, also putting in time at the CIA-affiliated Freedom House and as director of the Bush State Department’s Office of Policy Planning. This must explain Walker’s obsession with taking out Iran. He vowed to “roll back the theocrats in Tehran,” but in fact unlike the US, Tehran has not invaded another country in hundreds of years. What’s to “roll back?”
If Walker actually paid any attention to the quality of advice he gets from his PNAC/John Hay gang he might call for his money back. Walker’s speech was peppered with macho language about “defeat[ing] the barbarians of ISIS,” while also vowing to destroy the two forces actually fighting ISIS — Syria and Iran! In fact, his vow to use the US military to overthrow the Syrian government would without question result in the greatest ISIS victory to date — control of Syria. One need not sympathize with Assad to recognize that he is literally the only thing keeping the whole of Syria out of the hands of ISIS.
John Hay Initiative “experts” also wrote the foreign policy speeches of candidates Carly Fiorina and Chris Christie. No doubt they were behind Fiorina’s astonishingly ignorant vow to make her first call as president to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to “to reassure him that we stand with the state of Israel” and to make her second call to Iran to “to tell him that whatever the deal is that he signed with Obama, there’s a new deal and the new deal is this: Until you submit every facility [where] you have nuclear uranium enrichment to a full set of inspections, we’re going to make it as hard as possible for you to move money around the global financial system.”
These neocons should be in jail, not still deeply ensconced in the Beltway foreign policy halls of power, dining in sumptuous splendor while the rest of America is impoverished by the destructive wars they push. Their lies have cost millions of innocent lives overseas as well. They are a cancer on the country. Any candidate who cares so little about the issues as to accept a “virtual staff” of foreign policy “experts” from those who have gotten every single major foreign policy issue of our time totally and catastrophically wrong has no business holding any elected office.
John Hay? I’d rather shop for a foreign policy expert at Walmart.
In the first part of a series, Brandon Martinez of Non-Aligned Media unravels the murky origins of ISIS and unveils how the group’s meteoric rise in Iraq and Syria is a continuation of US psychological warfare designed to facilitate the Zionist-Neocon agenda of toppling seven sovereign Middle Eastern and North African States.
If Congress derails the hard-won “P+5” nuclear deal with Iran, much blame will fall to powerful New York Sen. Charles Schumer, the first Senate Democrat to join the partisan Republican congressional majority in opposing President Obama’s landmark foreign policy achievement.
Schumer’s insistence on maintaining economic sanctions against Iran supports the undisguised neoconservative agenda of regime change in Iran. Critics of Schumer’s position have demonstrated that his arguments against the deal are disingenuous and misleading. So were his arguments for regime change in Iraq, starting with his bogus claim that Saddam Hussein’s “vigorous pursuit of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons” made him a “terrible danger to the people to the United States.”
Less well known is the fact that Schumer began almost a quarter century ago to push dubious arguments for aggressive regime change in the Middle East to serve the interests of Israeli hard-liners. His focus then was on Syria, led by Hafez Assad, the father of today’s president. And the issue, then as now, was framed around economic sanctions.
In 1990, Israeli officials and their American allies confronted a potential crisis: a thaw was developing in U.S.-Syrian relations under President George H. W. Bush. That spring, Damascus won Washington’s gratitude by obtaining the release of two American hostages held in Lebanon. Later, Syria earned major credit as one of three Arab nations to commit troops to the multinational coalition in the first Gulf War. In November 1991, following the coalition victory, Syria attended a U.S.-sponsored Middle East peace forum in Madrid and announced its willingness to negotiate a settlement with Israel.
Washington rewarded Assad by granting him a meeting with President Bush, the first between the two countries’ heads of state in 13 years. Syria continued its diplomatic offensive by releasing thousands of political prisoners and providing exit permits to Syrian Jews wishing to emigrate to Israel.
Israel and its close allies — including Schumer — fought back by trying to implicate Syria in one of the most emotionally loaded issues of the day: drug trafficking. As one American official observed at the time, “It is in the Israelis’ interest to spin the drugs claim in order to keep Syria on the U.S. State Department list of countries involved in drug trafficking.”
As I describe in my book The Lebanese Connection: Corruption, Civil War and the International Drug Traffic, no one questioned the fact that large amounts of drugs were cultivated in and shipped out of Syrian-occupied lands in Lebanon in the 1980s. At the time, during the height of the Lebanese civil war, Syrian troops occupied a section of Lebanon that included the fertile Beka’a Valley, a region long notorious for growing cannabis and opium poppies. Syria had been invited into Lebanon in 1976 by a Christian-led government to help maintain peace on terms favorable to the country’s Christian population.
The Reagan administration invoked a section of the Foreign Assistance Act to bar aid to Syria on grounds that it failed to cooperate fully with the United States in the war on drugs. But after President George H. W. Bush took office, State Department and Drug Enforcement Administration officials stated that they had no evidence that Syrian forces were running drugs as a matter of state policy, although some individual commanders were corrupt.
Their agnosticism riled Israeli officials and their U.S. allies. In 1990, the American adviser to the Israeli mission at the United Nations, writing in The Washington Post, lamented that “Washington ignores Syrian complicity in the drug trade,” which he claimed was being directed by “the inner circle of Syria’s government.” Later, pro-Israeli sources such as the controversial “terrorism expert” Steven Emerson and Michael Widlanski, who would become a “strategic affairs adviser” to the Israeli Ministry of Public Security, launched a major publicity campaign to implicate Syria’s regime in drug trafficking.
The same campaign included an undocumented but searing public indictment of Syria issued in December 1992 at the request of Rep. Charles Schumer by the Democratic staff of the House Subcommittee on Crime and Criminal Justice, which he chaired. The report, which was not endorsed by the full committee, had a partisan as well as an anti-Syria slant, as suggested by its title: “Syria, President Bush, and Drugs: The Administration’s Next Iraqgate.”
Schumer’s political indictment declared that the Bush administration “simply refuses to admit the extent to which drug corruption has been institutionalized in the Syrian military forces now occupying Lebanon.” Without specific evidence, it claimed that the Syrian government and military were collecting upward of a billion dollars a year “from those who seek to peddle their poison in the United States.”
Based on Syria’s “continued support of terrorist groups based in Lebanon,” its “repeated attempts to acquire weapons of mass destruction” and “its persistent involvement with known drug traffickers,” the report insisted that “Syria has the capacity to become as great a threat to American interests in the Middle East as Saddam Hussein’s Iraq ever was.”
It added, with a nod to the Bush administration’s invasion of Panama to oust the Noriega regime in late 1989, “The Justice Department must prosecute not only ‘corrupt, crooked and rotten cops’ from Panama, but also the unscrupulous Syrian generals who conspire to put dope on American streets.”
Such inflammatory language foreshadowed Schumer’s rhetoric about Saddam’s “weapons of mass destruction” to justify the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The charge of Syrian military complicity had at least some substance, in that some commanders undoubtedly had unclean hands. But more credible authorities than Schumer pointed out that Syria actually had limited control over the portions of Lebanon that it occupied and thus had chosen not to provoke further armed conflict by cracking down on heavily armed drug clans. In much the same way, NATO forces in Afghanistan consciously decided not to eradicate opium fields for fear of driving peasants into the arms of the Taliban.
As President Assad himself told an interviewer in 1993, “our real fear was for our soldiers, who live among the people in Lebanon where drugs have for a very long time been a source of income.” In the Beka’a Valley, he said, Syria had intervened “to solve a political problem and end the civil war,” not to “chase smugglers.” Nonetheless, he maintained, Syria was helping Lebanon to eradicate drugs, though “of course smuggling is something which continues.”
Assad’s efforts bore fruit. The State Department reported in 1996, six years after the end of the civil war, that Lebanon had worked a near miracle against drug production with Syria’s help:
“Lebanon appears to have won the fight against illicit crop cultivation to the joint Lebanese-Syrian eradication efforts since 1992. There appears to be no cultivation of opium poppy and cannabis (for hashish production) has all but disappeared. . . The joint Syrian-Lebanese effort since 1992 to eradicate the cultivation of cannabis and opium in the Beka’a Valley is a significant accomplishment which has been confirmed by a variety of sources.”
Despite tough lobbying by Israel, the Clinton administration removed Syria from the State Department’s list of major drug producers in late 1997. Chuck Schumer’s attempt to destroy bilateral relations with Syria using the drug issue had failed.
However, efforts by Israeli hardliners and U.S. neoconservatives to derail warming relations with Syria succeeded once again after George W. Bush took office. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “The US Hand in the Syrian Mess.”] We are today living with the ghastly human and economic costs of their violent efforts to “remake the map of the Middle East.”
The Iran nuclear deal offers the first clear opportunity in years to shift U.S. policy toward a more constructive and peaceful role in the region. To make that possible, the American people must repudiate the latest round of fear-mongering by Schumer and fellow hawks.