As Israelis and Palestinians die in an upsurge of violence, The New York Times fails once again to give readers an honest look at the causes of this agonizing conflict. Missing from its pages is any real exposure of the brutal and illegal occupation of Palestine that underscores every aspect of the current crisis.
Thus we find a story today that focuses on the abstract: how Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can “calibrate his response” to avoid provoking greater violence and satisfy his extremist opponents in the government. It is heavily weighted with Israeli punditry and refers to ongoing clashes and attacks, but it makes no effort to provide the essential context.
In this article by Jodi Rudoren and Isabel Kershner the word “occupation” appears only in a quote by PLO official Hanan Ashrawi. “Palestine,” she says, “has been subject to the systematic and escalating violence of the occupation, whether in the form of settler-terrorism or at the hands of the Israeli military using live ammunition.”
Times readers are likely to dismiss her words as little more than rhetorical flourishes of the opposition, given that the newspaper has consistently failed to show the full reality of life for Palestinians, glossing over violence by soldiers and settlers and giving prominence to Palestinian attacks.
For instance, today’s report states that a Palestinian teenager was shot after he tried to stab an Israeli youth early Sunday, but it omits any mention that videos show he was chased down by a mob, shot by police, was carrying no knife and did not pose a threat to anyone in the area.
The story also says nothing of settler rampages throughout the West Bank in recent days, which have left dozens injured and forced the Red Crescent Society to declare a state of emergency after numerous attacks on its ambulances by both settlers and security forces.
Times readers rarely receive even a brief glimpse of what occupation means to Palestinians. The newspaper largely ignores the constant reports emanating from alternative media, the United Nations and monitoring groups that show how a sophisticated military power oppresses a nearly helpless population lacking even the most basic weapons for defense.
Readers remain ignorant of the Israeli abuse of Palestinian child prisoners, a situation that has been documented and criticized in numerous reports. They are unaware of the frequent Israeli attacks on Gaza fishermen and farmers and a recent United Kingdom report that states Israel has violated the 2014 ceasefire some 700 times since August of last year.
They hear nothing of the ethnic cleansing of the Jordan Valley, where Israeli troops harass the poorest and most vulnerable communities, burning their crops, destroying their tents and water systems and repeatedly forcing them from their homes for “maneuvers.”
They are unaware of the huge disparity in water supplies between the illegal settlements in the West Bank and the indigenous Palestinian villages, and they were never informed when hundreds of animals died in the West Bank community of Kafr Qaddoum this summer as Israeli officials cut off water deliveries during a stifling heat wave.
These constant, daily cruelties find no place in the Times, and readers likewise find no historical backdrop for the occupation. It is rarely, if ever, reported that Israel is in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as a military occupying force and that the settlements are built in defiance of international law.
Without this backstory, it is not surprising when readers take Netanyahu’s claim at face value: that acts of resistance against the occupation are nothing but terrorist assaults arising out of a free-floating hatred of Jews.
Palestinians watch with dismay as Israel confiscates ever more land and resources, forcing the indigenous communities into poverty-stricken bantustans. This is the reality that is missing from the Times, deliberately obscured in the context-free reporting of Rudoren and Kershner.
Netanyahu’s response to kids throwing rocks
I have become weary of the dancing around by politicians and denial by Jewish organizations over what Israel has been doing to the Palestinians. That anyone can with a straight face deny that there is anything wrong with a nearly fifty year occupation and strangling of the Palestinians because they have been demonized as “terrorists” or possibly only because they are not Jews is abhorrent. A new United Nations report states that Gaza will be completely uninhabitable in five years. Palestinians get imprisoned by Israel and gassed or shot if they look sideways at their occupiers. Fanatical settlers tear up olive trees that have fed the locals for hundreds of years, steal their land, vandalize and burn their houses churches and mosques, even kill them and are only rarely pursued or punished. Israel is the ugly face of a fascist state and calling it apartheid is to minimize its criminality as it does not even necessarily seek to set up a parallel state for the Arabs it controls. A number of leading Israeli politicians and journalists seek to remove them completely.
All of that said, as a committed anti-interventionist, I have to believe both that what goes on between Israel and the Palestinians should pretty much be none of our business but for the fact that a powerful domestic lobby has forced us to be involved. Jews and Arabs probably would have resolved their differences by now if Washington had not coddled corrupt Palestinian leaders while simultaneously empowering Israel to make a lot of bad choices. To be sure our government should feel free to speak up whenever foreign governments behave badly, but the tendency to impose sanctions, which don’t work, intervene directly, or even invade to deal with regimes that do not conform to our standards has brought nothing but grief, most particularly over the past fifteen years. One might even reasonably argue that it is Washington’s lame brained interventions have themselves destabilized the Middle East and caused the terrorism and refugee problems emanating from that region to metastasize.
Which is not to say that Israeli politicians have not become adept at shooting themselves in their own feet before the court of world opinion, which is becoming increasingly engaged in what is going on. Just when one thinks that Benjamin Netanyahu cannot possibly morph into something more horrible he astounds the observer by doing just that.
Netanyahu’s most recent foray grew out of a late August incident on the West Bank. A series of photographs plus video footage from a protest in the Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh appeared in the media. They showed a masked IDF soldier trying to arrest a young boy accused of throwing stones, followed by scenes of his mother and teenage sister trying to rescue him. The pictures and video reveal a crying and struggling 11 year old Mohammed Tamimi, with his broken arm in a cast, being held in a headlock and sat upon by the soldier, armed with an assault rifle. The boy’s mother then intervened, pulling on the mask while Mohammed’s 15 year old sister joined in to bite the soldier’s wrist, compelling him to free the boy. The soldier released him, backed off and then threw a grenade at the family.
Predictably, Israel’s apologists complained that the Palestinians had attacked the soldier who was only defending himself and they quickly flooded the social media with claims that it was all a set-up, which they even dubbed “Pallywood.” And inevitably Benjamin Netanyahu joined in the debate, blaming the Arabs for what transpired, calling them “terrorists.” He stated that he would recommend that Israeli soldiers be authorized to fire live rounds to protect themselves in similar situations where children are throwing rocks. Netanyahu was reportedly responding to demands from settlers for more aggressive action against Palestinians, completely ignoring the reality that the Arabs have been defending themselves from settler harassment and worse and the soldiers represent an occupying army. Some in the Israeli media and government also advised that as the soldier had been “humiliated” by the Palestinian women he should have shot them, but Bibi did not go quite that far. At least not yet.
In the United States the hasbara jumped on both stories, notably in comments sections on Yahoo and on other sites using constant repetition of the same arguments, often to include repeated misspellings and poor syntax suggesting that their “information” came from a common source in the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The names the hasbara commenters use to post are characteristically American sounding, similar to the Anglo names used by employees of the obnoxious call centers in India and the Philippines when they interrupt you at dinner time. In the hasbara comments rocks thrown by the Palestinian children were repeatedly and improbably described as “football sized.” In other pushback, a Reuters account of the Netanyahu hard line, possibly acting under pressure from Jewish groups, changed the key word in its headline from “shoot” young Palestinians to “target” them.
But in this case, Benjamin Netanyahu’s horse has already left the stable. His new orders to shoot Palestinian children have been de facto operational for some time with punishments rarer than hens’ teeth for those Israeli Defense Forces commandoes who pull their triggers on six year olds. That kind of killing has been almost routine, exhibited dramatically during last July’s execution of four young boys playing soccer on a beach in Gaza. The boys were killed by Israeli rockets in full sight of a number of international and media observers. The Israeli government subsequently conducted an “extensive investigation” that nevertheless did not interview many eye witnesses, to include a Guardian journalist. Not surprisingly it absolved itself from blame for the deaths.
And beyond that singular bit of barbarity, numerous other Palestinian children have also been abducted, imprisoned and murdered by the Israeli Army and border police. International monitors reckon that 2,061 Palestinian children have been killed by Israel since September 2000 versus 133 Israeli children murdered in the same time frame by Palestinians. The body count is deplorable on either side but at some point Netanyahu has to come to recognize that the constant barrage of videos, photos and eyewitness testimony recording the mindless brutality of the occupation of the West Bank will influence public opinion to such an extent that Israel will become everyone’s pariah state.
Recently more than 100,000 Britons signed a petititon demanding that Benjamin Netanyahu be arrested for war crimes on an upcoming visit to the UK while Israel’s resistance to the Iranian nuclear deal, when subjected to a United Nations vote, resulted in Tel Aviv lining up against the entire rest of the world including the United States. Pictures of children being manhandled by two hundred pound soldiers create a lasting impression, one that inevitably influences how people react when the subject of Israel comes up. Netanyahu may think that he can maintain course forever with the uncritical backing of the United States but forever is a long time and even in the U.S. things can change.
More than 100,000 people in the United Kingdom have now signed a petition demanding the arrest of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for war crimes against Palestinians when he visits London later this month.
The petition, which was published on the website of the British Parliament on August 7, calls upon the British government to apprehend the 65-year-old chairman of Israel’s Likud party upon arrival in London next Wednesday for the massacre of thousands of Palestinians during the Israeli military’s 50-day onslaught against the blockaded Gaza Strip last year.
The petition garnered 100,021 signatures as of Saturday morning.
“Under international law, he should be arrested for war crimes upon arrival in the UK for the massacre of over 2,000 civilians in 2014,” the petition says, referring to the Israeli prime minister’s scheduled September visit.
After 10,000 signatures, the British government must respond to the petition, and after 100,000 signatures, it will be considered for debate in the parliament.
The British government has, in return, stated that “under UK and international law, visiting heads of foreign governments, such as Prime Minister Netanyahu, have immunity from legal process, and cannot be arrested or detained.”
Israel started its military campaign against the impoverished Gaza Strip in early July 2014. The offensive ended on August 26, 2014. Nearly 2,200 Palestinians, including 577 children, lost their lives in Israel’s war. Over 11,100 others – including 3,374 children, 2,088 women and 410 elderly people – also sustained injuries.
The appointment by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu of one of his most hawkish and outspoken rivals as Israel’s new ambassador to the United Nations has prompted widespread consternation.
As one Israeli analyst noted last week, Danny Danon’s appointment amounts to a “cruel joke” on the international community. The new envoy “lacks even the slightest level of finesse and subtlety required of a senior diplomat”.
Last year Netanyahu sacked Danon as deputy defence minister, describing him as too “irresponsible” even by the standards of Israel’s usually anarchic politics. Danon had denounced the prime minister for “leftist feebleness” in his handling of Israel’s attack on Gaza last summer.
Danon is a UN official’s worst nightmare. He is a vocal opponent of a two-state solution and has repeatedly called for the annexation of the West Bank.
Back in 2011, days before the UN General Assembly was due to vote on Palestinian statehood, Danon dismissed the forum as irrelevant: “Even if there will be a vote [in favour], it will be a Facebook state.”
On the face of it, Netanyahu’s timing could not be worse. Danon is to represent Israel as the Palestinians are expected to step up efforts at the UN to entrench recognition of their statehood. He will also be a leading spokesman as Israel tries to fend off war crimes investigations at the International Criminal Court in the Hague.
The generally accepted explanation is that Netanyahu’s move is driven by domestic, not diplomatic, calculations. Danon is the Israeli right’s poster boy, one who makes the prime minister look too cautious and conciliatory.
The two faced off for the Likud party leadership last November. Danon lost but Netanyahu doubtless fears, as his party and the Israeli public shift ever rightwards, that his rival’s time is coming.
The posting removes Danon as head of the Likud’s powerful central committee, dispatches him to a distant land, and should provide him with opportunities aplenty to self-harm.
But that is not the whole story. Danon’s appointment reveals something more significant about Israel’s deteriorating relations even with its international supporters.
It is hard nowadays to recall that Israel once took the UN very seriously indeed. It had to.
In the decade following 1948, Abba Eban, the country’s foremost diplomat, sought to carve out international recognition and respectability for Israel at the UN.
Eban often used deceit and misdirection – he is reported to have avowed that “diplomats go abroad to lie for their country”. But he never forgot the importance of creating a façade of moral justification for Israel’s actions, even as it launched wars of aggression in 1956 at Suez and again against Egypt in 1967.
Reality caught up with Israel when the UN adopted a resolution in 1975 equating Israel’s official ideology, Zionism, with racism. The resolution was only revoked 16 years later, after the Soviet Union collapsed and the United States emerged as the world’s sole superpower.
Washington arm-twisted the General Assembly with promises that Israel would engage in a peace process with the Palestinians, culminating a short time later in the Oslo Accords.
But as Oslo slowly unravelled, and Israel’s leaders – not least Netanyahu himself – were exposed as the true rejectionists, Israel was forced on to the back foot again.
Today, the consensus in Israel is not only that the UN is a bastion of anti-Israel prejudice but that it is an incubator of global anti-semitism, much of it supposedly spawned by Arab states. Israel is blameless, so this story goes, but the world has fallen under the haters’ spell.
The parting shot of Danon’s predecessor, Ron Prosor, last week was to accuse yet again a leading UN official, Jordan’s Rima Khalaf, of anti-semitism for pointing out the untold misery caused by Israel’s near-decade blockade of Gaza.
Earlier this year, after stepping down as Israel’s ambassador to the US, Michael Oren went further, arguing that the plague of anti-semitism had infected even America’s leading Jewish journalists. Their critical coverage of Israel was proof of self-hatred, he claimed.
The need for such desperate diplomacy has grown as Israel’s moral image has tarnished, even for its allies. But the hectoring and intimidation by seasoned diplomats like Prosor and Oren has produced diminishing returns.
Danon’s posting is part of a discernible pattern of recent appointments by Netanyahu that reflect a growing refusal to engage in any kind of recognisable diplomacy. Confrontation is preferred.
The trend started with Netanyahu’s decision in 2009 to let the thuggish Avigdor Lieberman lead the foreign ministry and Israel’s diplomatic corps.
Notably, Netanyahu picked Ron Dermer, a high-profile partisan of the US Republican party, to replace Oren in 2013. Dermer is widely credited with engineering Netanyahu’s provocative address earlier this year to the US Congress, in an undisguised effort to undermine President Barack Obama’s talks with Iran.
Danon’s appointment, like Dermer’s, indicates the extent to which the Israeli right has abandoned any hope of persuading the international community of the rightness of its cause – or even of working within the rules of statecraft.
Just as Dermer has turned Obama’s White House into a diplomatic battlefield, Danon can be expected to barrack, abuse and alienate fellow ambassadors at the UN in New York.
An Israel that has no place for negotiations or compromise wants only to tell the world that it is wrong and that Israelis don’t care what others think. Danon is the right man for that task.
After the burning alive of 18-month-old Ali Dawabsheh by a fanatical Zionist settler, the world has reacted with outrage.
The attack was so horrendous that even Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu distanced himself from it, calling it an act of terrorism.
But on today’s show we will be asking to what extent Israel is responsible for the activities of its extremists. Are these fanatical terrorists really just a few bad apples, as Netanyahu would have us believe?
Or are they the product of decades of deliberate Zionist policy to colonize stolen land?
The petition entitled “Benjamin Netanyahu to be arrested for war crimes when he arrives in London” is available at a petitions website set up by the UK government and parliament.
“Benjamin Netanyahu is to hold talks in London this September. Under international law, he should be arrested for war crimes upon arrival in the UK for the massacre of over 2,000 civilians in 2014,” the petition reads.
More than 26,000 people had signed the petition until GMT 1100 on Monday with the number of signatures dramatically on the rise.
The British government is expected to respond to the demand as all petitions that get more than 10,000 signatures should be seen into, according to law.
Rules governing the petition site also stipulate that any petition that receives in excess of 100,000 signatures must be considered by the UK parliament for debate.
The deadline for signing the petition is on February 7, 2016. … Full article
In The Joys of Yiddish, Leo Rosten defined chutzpah as “that quality enshrined in a man who, having killed his mother and father, throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan.” Today we have a new paradigm for chutzpah: the Israeli government’s demand for “compensation” from the American taxpayers for the Iran nuclear agreement.
Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon told the Times of Israel that during U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s visit the Israeli government would discuss “the compensation that Israel deserves in order to maintain its qualitative [military] edge” over Iran. The Obama administration of course is amenable.
Why does Israel deserve compensation (in addition to its $3 billion in U.S. aid every year)? If anything, Israel should compensate American taxpayers!
Iran is not — and was not going to become — a nuclear threat. American and Israeli intelligence have said so repeatedly.
But even if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were right about Iran’s intentions, he should be rejoicing at the agreement, under which Iran will get rid of nearly all of its enriched uranium and two-thirds of its centrifuges. Its nuclear facilities will be open to even more intrusive inspections than they have been under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Even its non-nuclear military sites will be subject to inspection, an intrusion no other government — particularly the United States — would accept. And that is just the beginning. Uranium-enrichment research will be restricted, and construction of a heavy-water reactor, which would yield plutonium, will be scrapped.
The term for these various restrictions begin at 10 years and lengthen from there, but this does not mean that Iran will later be free to do what it wants. As an NPT party (unlike nuclear monopolist Israel), it will always be subject to inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which certifies that Iran has not diverted uranium to military purposes.
What did Iran get in return for those concessions? Iranian money frozen since the 1979 Islamic revolution will be released and the economic warfare perpetrated by the United States and the rest of the world — euphemistically called “sanctions” — will eventually be ended.
In other words, Iran can rejoin the world economy — its people relieved of cruel economic warfare — if it gives up a weapons program it never had, never wanted, and did not plan to pursue. Those crafty Iranians! They acquired thousands of centrifuges as bargaining chips to be traded away for peaceful commercial relations with the world.
Israel’s rulers, like their American supporters, say they have another reason to hate the agreement. (For my own far different reservation, see this.) “Giving” Iran all that cash (it belongs to Iranians) will let the Islamic Republic pursue its aggressive aims in the Middle East, which include helping Israel’s enemies, Hamas and Hezbollah.
Balderdash. Iran is not pursuing an aggressive policy in the Middle East, and it is sheer projection for an American or Israeli to make that charge. George W. Bush handed Shia-majority Iraq to Iran when he overthrew Iran’s nemesis, Saddam Hussein. Barack Obama is siding with Iran against the Islamic State in Iraq. Iran’s ally, Bashar al-Assad of Syria, is under assault by ISIS, al-Qaeda, and the United States. And the Houthis in Yemen, who get some Iranian help and are fighting al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, have long struggled against the central government for self-rule, in response to which U.S.-backed Saudi Arabia is waging a bloody war of aggression.
Iran has supported Hamas, although the Palestinian group (like Israel) opposes Assad. But Hamas exists to resist Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands. Likewise, Hezbollah arose to resist Israeli occupation of and periodic attacks on southern Lebanon. While some of Hamas’s and Hezbollah’s tactics have indeed been atrocious, their raison d’être is opposition to Israeli aggression — not terrorism.
There is no Iranian imperialism.
Nuclear Israel faces no threat. In the current turmoil it sides with Sunni Arabs, including al-Qaeda affiliates, against Iran, because turmoil serves Israel’s interests and Iran is a ready-made bête noire. Why does Israel need a manufactured threat? Because if Americans knew the truth, they might focus on the Palestinians’ plight. Israel and its Lobby cannot have that.
If the neoconservatives have their way again, U.S. ground troops will reoccupy Iraq, the U.S. military will take out Syria’s secular government (likely helping Al Qaeda and the Islamic State take over), and the U.S. Congress will not only kill the Iran nuclear deal but follow that with a massive increase in military spending.
Like spraying lighter fluid on a roaring barbecue, the neocons also want a military escalation in Ukraine to burn the ethnic Russians out of the east and the neocons dream of spreading the blaze to Moscow with the goal of forcing Russian President Vladimir Putin from the Kremlin. In other words, more and more fires of Imperial “regime change” abroad even as the last embers of the American Republic die at home.
Much of this “strategy” is personified by a single Washington power couple: arch-neocon Robert Kagan, a co-founder of the Project for the New American Century and an early advocate of the Iraq War, and his wife, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who engineered last year’s coup in Ukraine that started a nasty civil war and created a confrontation between nuclear-armed United States and Russia.
Kagan, who cut his teeth as a propaganda specialist in support of the Reagan administration’s brutal Central American policies in the 1980s, is now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a contributing columnist to The Washington Post’s neocon-dominated opinion pages.
On Friday, Kagan’s column baited the Republican Party to do more than just object to President Barack Obama’s Iranian nuclear deal. Kagan called for an all-out commitment to neoconservative goals, including military escalations in the Middle East, belligerence toward Russia and casting aside fiscal discipline in favor of funneling tens of billions of new dollars to the Pentagon.
Kagan also showed how the neocons’ world view remains the conventional wisdom of Official Washington despite their disastrous Iraq War. The neocon narrative gets repeated over and over in the mainstream media no matter how delusional it is.
For instance, a sane person might trace the origins of the bloodthirsty Islamic State back to President George W. Bush’s neocon-inspired Iraq War when this hyper-violent Sunni movement began as “Al Qaeda in Iraq” blowing up Shiite mosques and instigating sectarian bloodshed. It later expanded into Syria where Sunni militants were seeking the ouster of a secular regime led by Alawites, a Shiite offshoot. Though changing its name to the Islamic State, the movement continued with its trademark brutality.
But Kagan doesn’t acknowledge that he and his fellow neocons bear any responsibility for this head-chopping phenomenon. In his neocon narrative, the Islamic State gets blamed on Iran and Syria, even though those governments are leading much of the resistance to the Islamic State and its former colleagues in Al Qaeda, which in Syria backs a separate terrorist organization, the Nusra Front.
But here is how Kagan explains the situation to the Smart People of Official Washington: “Critics of the recent nuclear deal struck between Iran and the United States are entirely right to point out the serious challenge that will now be posed by the Islamic republic. It is an aspiring hegemon in an important region of the world.
“It is deeply engaged in a region-wide war that encompasses Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, the Gulf States and the Palestinian territories. It subsidizes the murderous but collapsing regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, and therefore bears primary responsibility for the growing strength of the Islamic State and other radical jihadist forces in that country and in neighboring Iraq, where it is simultaneously expanding its influence and inflaming sectarian violence.”
The Real Hegemon
While ranting about “Iranian hegemony,” Kagan called for direct military intervention by the world’s true hegemonic power, the United States. He wants the U.S. military to weigh in against Iran on the side of two far more militarily advanced regional powers, Israel and Saudi Arabia, whose combined weapons spending dwarfs Iran’s and includes – with Israel – a sophisticated nuclear arsenal.
Yet reality has never had much relationship to neocon ideology. Kagan continued: “Any serious strategy aimed at resisting Iranian hegemony has also required confronting Iran on the several fronts of the Middle East battlefield. In Syria, it has required a determined policy to remove Assad by force, using U.S. air power to provide cover for civilians and create a safe zone for Syrians willing to fight.
“In Iraq, it has required using American forces to push back and destroy the forces of the Islamic State so that we would not have to rely, de facto, on Iranian power to do the job. Overall, it has required a greater U.S. military commitment to the region, a reversal of both the perceived and the real withdrawal of American power.
“And therefore it has required a reversal of the downward trend in U.S. defense spending, especially the undoing of the sequestration of defense funds, which has made it harder for the military even to think about addressing these challenges, should it be called upon to do so. So the question for Republicans who are rightly warning of the danger posed by Iran is: What have they done to make it possible for the United States to begin to have any strategy for responding?”
In Kagan’s call for war and more war, we’re seeing, again, the consequence of failing to hold neocons accountable after they pushed the country into the illegal and catastrophic Iraq War by selling lies about weapons of mass destruction and telling tales about how easy it would be.
Instead of facing a purge that should have followed the Iraq calamity, the neocons consolidated their power, holding onto key jobs in U.S. foreign policy, ensconcing themselves in influential think tanks, and remaining the go-to experts for mainstream media coverage. Being wrong about Iraq has almost become a badge of honor in the upside-down world of Official Washington.
But we need to unpack the truckload of sophistry that Kagan is peddling. First, it is simply crazy to talk about “Iranian hegemony.” That was part of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s rhetoric before the U.S. Congress on March 3 about Iran “gobbling up” nations – and it has now become a neocon-driven litany, but it is no more real just because it gets repeated endlessly.
For instance, take the Iraq case. It has a Shiite-led government not because Iran invaded Iraq, but because the United States did. After the U.S. military ousted Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein, the United States stood up a new government dominated by Shiites who, in turn, sought friendly relations with their co-religionists in Iran, which is entirely understandable and represents no aggression by Iran. Then, after the Islamic State’s dramatic military gains across Iraq last summer, the Iraqi government turned to Iran for military assistance, also no surprise.
Back to Iraq
However, leaving aside Kagan’s delusional hyperbole about Iran, look at what he’s proposing. He wants to return a sizable U.S. occupation force to Iraq, apparently caring little about the U.S. soldiers who were rotated multiple times into the war zone where almost 4,500 died (along with hundreds of thousands of Iraqis). Having promoted Iraq War I and having paid no price, Kagan now wants to give us Iraq War II. [III!]
But that’s not enough. Kagan wants the U.S. military to intervene to make sure the secular government of Syria is overthrown, even though the almost certain winners would be Sunni extremists from the Islamic State or Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front. Such a victory could lead to genocides against Syria’s Christians, Alawites, Shiites and other minorities. At that point, there would be tremendous pressure for a full-scale U.S. invasion and occupation of Syria, too.
That may be why Kagan wants to throw tens of billions of dollar more into the military-industrial complex, although the true price tag for Kagan’s new wars would likely run into the trillions of dollars. Yet, Kagan still isn’t satisfied. He wants even more military spending to confront “growing Chinese power, an aggressive Russia and an increasingly hegemonic Iran.”
In his conclusion, Kagan mocks the Republicans for not backing up their tough talk: “So, yes, by all means, rail about the [Iran] deal. We all look forward to the hours of floor speeches and campaign speeches that lie ahead. But it will be hard to take Republican criticisms seriously unless they start doing the things that are in their power to do to begin to address the challenge.”
While it’s true that Kagan is now “just” a neocon ideologue – albeit one with important platforms to present his views – his wife Assistant Secretary of State Nuland shares his foreign policy views and even edits many of his articles. As she told The New York Times last year, “nothing goes out of the house that I don’t think is worthy of his talents. Let’s put it that way.” [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Obama’s True Foreign Policy ‘Weakness.’”]
But Nuland is a foreign policy force of her own, considered by some in Washington to be the up-and-coming “star” at the State Department. By organizing the “regime change” in Ukraine – with the violent overthrow of democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014 – Nuland also earned her spurs as an accomplished neocon.
Nuland has even outdone her husband, who may get “credit” for the Iraq War and the resulting chaos, but Nuland did him one better, instigating Cold War II and reviving hostilities between nuclear-armed Russia and the United States. After all, that’s where the really big money will go – toward modernizing nuclear arsenals and ordering top-of-the-line strategic weaponry.
A Family Business
There’s also a family-business aspect to these wars and confrontations, since the Kagans collectively serve not just to start conflicts but to profit from grateful military contractors who kick back a share of the money to the think tanks that employ the Kagans.
For instance, Robert’s brother Frederick works at the American Enterprise Institute, which has long benefited from the largesse of the Military-Industrial Complex, and his wife Kimberly runs her own think tank called the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).
According to ISW’s annual reports, its original supporters were mostly right-wing foundations, such as the Smith-Richardson Foundation and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, but it was later backed by a host of national security contractors, including major ones like General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman and CACI, as well as lesser-known firms such as DynCorp International, which provided training for Afghan police, and Palantir, a technology company founded with the backing of the CIA’s venture-capital arm, In-Q-Tel. Palantir supplied software to U.S. military intelligence in Afghanistan.
Since its founding in 2007, ISW has focused mostly on wars in the Middle East, especially Iraq and Afghanistan, including closely cooperating with Gen. David Petraeus when he commanded U.S. forces in those countries. However, more recently, ISW has begun reporting extensively on the civil war in Ukraine. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Neocons Guided Petraeus on Afghan War.”]
So, to understand the enduring influence of the neocons – and the Kagan clan, in particular – you have to appreciate the money connections between the business of war and the business of selling war. When the military contractors do well, the think tanks that advocate for heightened global tensions do well, too.
And, it doesn’t hurt to have friends and family inside the government making sure that policymakers do their part to give war a chance — and to give peace the old heave-ho.
[For more on this topic, see Consortiumnews.com’s “A Family Business of Perpetual War.”]
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).
There is a madness in how the mainstream U.S. media presents the world to the American people, a delusional perspective that arguably creates an existential threat to humanity’s survival. We have seen this pattern in the biased depiction of the Ukraine crisis and now in how Official Washington is framing the debate over the Iranian nuclear agreement.
In this American land of make-believe, Iran is assailed as the chief instigator of instability in the Middle East. Yet, any sane and informed person would dispute that assessment, noting the far greater contributions made by Israel, Saudi Arabia and, indeed, the United States.
Israel’s belligerence, including frequently attacking its Arab neighbors and brutally repressing the Palestinians, has roiled the region for almost 70 years. Not to mention that Israel is a rogue nuclear state that has been hiding a sophisticated atomic-bomb arsenal.
An objective observer also would note that Saudi Arabia has been investing its oil wealth for generations to advance the fundamentalist Wahhabi sect of Sunni Islam, which has inspired terrorist groups from Al Qaeda to the Islamic State. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were identified as Saudis and the U.S. government is still concealing those 28 pages of the congressional 9/11 inquiry regarding Saudi financing of Al Qaeda terrorists.
The Saudis also have participated directly and indirectly in regional wars, including encouragement of Iraq’s invasion of Iran in 1980, support for Al Qaeda-affiliate Nusra Front’s subversion of Syria, and the current Saudi bombardment of Yemen, killing hundreds of civilians, touching off a humanitarian crisis and helping Al Qaeda’s Yemeni affiliate expand its territory.
Then there’s the United States, which has been meddling in the Middle East overtly and covertly for a very long time, including one of the CIA’s first covert operations, the overthrow of Iran’s elected government in 1953, and one of U.S. foreign policy’s biggest overt blunders, President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq in 2003.
The Iran coup engendered a deep-seated hatred and suspicion of the U.S. government among Iranians that extends to the present day. And, the Iraq invasion not only spread death and destruction across Iraq but has spilled over into Syria, where U.S. “allies” – Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Israel – have been seeking another “regime change” that is being spearheaded by Sunni terrorist groups, including Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front and the Islamic State.
The U.S. government has further aided in the destabilization of the region by flooding U.S. “allies” with powerful military equipment, including aircraft that both Israel and Saudi Arabia have used to bomb neighboring countries.
Yet, in the fantasy land that is Official Washington, the politicians and pundits decry “Iranian aggression,” parroting the propaganda theme dictated by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he spoke before an adoring audience of senators and congressmen at a joint session of Congress on March 3.
This Iranian “bad behavior” includes helping the Iraqi government withstand brutal attacks by the Islamic State and assisting the Syrian government in blocking a major victory for Islamic terrorism that would follow the fall of Damascus. Iran is also being blamed for the Houthi uprising in Yemen although most informed observers believe the Iranian influence and assistance are minimal.
In other words, the neoconservatives who dominate Official Washington’s “group think” may detest Iran’s regional activities since they are not in line with Israeli (and Saudi) desires, but less ideological analysts might conclude that – on balance – Iran is contributing to the stability of the region or at least helping to avert the worst outcomes.
A Lost Mind
The question becomes: Has Official Washington so lost its collective mind that it actually favors Al Qaeda or the Islamic State raising the black flag of Islamic terrorism over Damascus and even Baghdad? Is Iranian assistance in averting such a calamity such a terrible thing?
Apparently yes. Here’s how The Washington Post’s foreign affairs honcho David Ignatius – in a column entitled “Will Tehran Behave?” – describes the geopolitical situation following Tuesday’s signing of a deal to tightly constrain Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for lifting sanctions:
“The problem isn’t the agreement but Iran itself. Its behavior remains defiantly belligerent, even as it signs an accord pledging to be peaceful. Its operatives subvert neighboring regimes, even as their front companies are about to be removed from the sanctions lists. The agreement welcomes Iran to the community of nations, even though its leader proclaims that Iran is a revolutionary cause.
“Obama argues that dealing with a menacing Iran will be easier if the nuclear issue is off the table for the next 10 years. He’s probably right, but the Iran problem won’t vanish with this accord. Iranian behavior in the region becomes the core issue. Having played the dealmaker, Obama must now press Iran to become a more responsible neighbor.”
By the way, I always thought that the United States proclaimed itself “a revolutionary cause.” But here is Ignatius, who is regarded as a “big thinker,” setting the parameters of the acceptable debate about the Iran nuclear deal. It’s all about Iran’s “behavior.”
Ignatius even quotes Netanyahu decrying the danger that, after 10 years, the agreement will give Iran “a sure path to nuclear weapons.” Of course, Ignatius doesn’t bother to note that Israel already has taken its own path to nuclear weapons. That context is almost never mentioned.
Nor does Ignatius admit how he and many of his fellow pundits supported Bush’s invasion of Iraq, which in a normal, parallel universe would disqualify Ignatius and his friends from lecturing anyone about how to “behave.” But in today’s Official Washington, a pre-war endorsement of the Iraq disaster is not a disqualifier but a prerequisite for being taken seriously.
Similarly, The Washington Post’s editorial page, which in 2002-03 eagerly backed Bush’s invasion and routinely asserted as flat fact that Iraq possessed hidden WMD stockpiles, now says the real risk in the Iran deal is, you guessed it, “Iranian behavior.”
The Post says the deal could unleash “a dangerous threshold nuclear state that poses a major threat to the United States and its allies.” And, the Post warns that Iran’s “leaders will probably use” the money from the sanctions relief “to finance wars and terrorist groups in Iraq, Syria, the Gaza Strip, Yemen and elsewhere.”
Step into Crazy Land
Again, to appreciate the Post’s thinking, you have to step into crazy land. In the real Iraq and the real Syria, the Iranians are supporting internationally recognized governments battling against terrorist groups, Al Qaeda’s affiliate and the Islamic State.
In Yemen, Iranian involvement is probably minor at most. Plus, the Houthis are not a terrorist group, but rather an indigenous popular movement that has been fighting Al Qaeda’s terrorist affiliate in Yemen.
While it’s not clear what the Post thinks that Iran is doing in the Gaza Strip, which is under a tight Israeli military blockade, only fully committed neocons would think that the long-suffering people of the Gaza Strip don’t deserve some outside help.
Still, the larger issue for the American people is what to do with this insane political-media system that dominates Official Washington. Either these powers-that-be are detached from reality or they are deceitful propagandists who think they can manipulate us with lies and distortions.
Yet, by creating a false reality, whether from madness or cynicism, this system guides the nation into terrible decision-making. And, given the immense military power of the United States, this long national detour into a dark psychosis of delusion must be addressed or the future of humankind will be put into serious jeopardy.
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).
In a rare rebuke to his bullying, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to stop the United States and five other world powers from reaching an agreement to constrain but not eliminate Iran’s nuclear program. Yet, Netanyahu still is dominating how the U.S. public and congressional debate is being framed, with Iran accused of regional “aggression” in four countries.
On Tuesday, a recurring theme on U.S. news broadcasts, such as Andrea Mitchell’s MSNBC program, was that any lifting of economic sanctions against Iran will give it more money to engage in trouble-making in the Middle East with references to four nations – Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen – a central theme in Netanyahu’s speech on March 3 to a joint session of the U.S. Congress.
To repeated standing ovations from U.S. senators and congressmen, Netanyahu declared: “In the Middle East, Iran now dominates four Arab capitals, Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sanaa. And if Iran’s aggression is left unchecked, more will surely follow. So, at a time when many hope that Iran will join the community of nations, Iran is busy gobbling up the nations. We must all stand together to stop Iran’s march of conquest, subjugation and terror.”
Netanyahu’s reference to “Iran’s aggression,” which is now becoming a conventional-wisdom talking point in Official Washington, was curious since Iran has not invaded another country for centuries. In 1980, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq – at the urging of Saudi Arabia – invaded Iran. But Iran has not invaded any of the four countries that Netanyahu cited.
One of Netanyahu’s citations of Arab cities supposedly conquered by Iran was particularly strange: Baghdad, which is the capital of Iraq where the U.S. military invaded in 2003 to overthrow Saddam Hussein and his Sunni-dominated government, on Netanyahu’s recommendation. In other words, Iraq was conquered not by Iranian “aggression” but by U.S. aggression with the support of Israel.
After the Iraq invasion, President George W. Bush installed a Shiite-dominated government which then developed friendly ties to Iran’s Shiite government. So, whatever influence Iran has in Baghdad is the result of a U.S. invasion that Netanyahu personally encouraged.
More recently, Iran has helped the embattled Iraqi government in its struggle against the murderous Islamic State militants who seized large swaths of Iraqi territory last summer. Indeed, Iraqi officials have credited Iran with playing a crucial role in blunting the Islamic State, the terrorists whom President Barack Obama has identified as one of the top security threats facing the United States.
So, in the current Iraqi fight against the head-chopping Islamic State, Iran and the United States are on the same side. Yet, Netanyahu calls Iran’s help “aggression” – and American talking heads repeat that refrain.
Netanyahu also cited Damascus, where Iran has aided the Syrian government in its struggle against the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front. That means that Iran is assisting the internationally recognized government of Syria hold off two major terrorist organizations. By contrast, Israel and Saudi Arabia have provided direct and indirect help at least to Nusra. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Did Money Seal Israel-Saudi Alliance?”]
The Israeli prime minister also mentioned Beirut, Lebanon, and Sanaa, Yemen, but those were rather bizarre references, too, since Lebanon is governed by a multi-ethnic arrangement that includes a number of religious and political factions. Hezbollah is one and it has close ties to Iran, but it is stretching the truth to say that Iran “dominates” Beirut or Lebanon.
Similarly, in Sanaa, the Houthis, a Shiite-related sect, have taken control of Yemen’s capital and have reportedly received some help from Iran, but the Houthis deny those reports and are clearly far from under Iranian control. The Houthis also have vowed to work with the Americans to carry on the fight against Yemen’s Al-Qaeda affiliate, which has benefitted from a brutal Saudi bombing campaign against Houthi targets, an act of real aggression that has killed hundreds of civilians and provoked a humanitarian crisis.
Indeed, Iran and these various Shiite-linked movements have been among the most effective in battling Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, while Israel’s Saudi friends have been repeatedly linked to funding and supporting these Sunni terrorist organizations.
So, there is little truth and much exaggeration to Netanyahu’s depiction of what is going on in the Middle East. Yet, the U.S. mainstream media mindlessly reprises Netanyahu’s falsehood about Iran “gobbling up” nations.
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).
It seems as if Israel is about to regurgitate the script which reads that it is debating whether or not to retain its membership in the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). Following the publication of the council’s inquiry report on last year’s Operation Protective Edge, which deemed that both Israel and Palestinian resistance factions may have committed war crimes, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared, during a closed meeting held on Monday, that a re-evaluation of Israel’s membership of the UN organisation will take place. “As a result of the report, we will consider whether to remain or to leave the council,” he was quoted by the Times of Israel.
The UNHRC report, which Israel slammed as biased, employed the usual diplomatic jargon that absolved, rather than accused, the settler-colonial state of war-crimes, despite the extensive destruction, targeted killings and massacres committed by the Israeli military in Gaza last summer (and on previous occasions).
In March 2012, former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced the decision to cut ties with the UNHRC, citing Palestinian “diplomatic terrorism” when the council announced a probe into Israel’s settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. The move was supported by the US, which was the only country that had voted against the UN proposal to investigate Israel’s illegal colonial expansion. Since then, Israel has utilised the UNHRC as part of its propaganda campaign to enhance its self-victimisation; an extension of what Zionism has accomplished historically to embark upon the colonisation process in Palestine.
Last week, Netanyahu uttered ridiculous words that portray clearly the extent of Israel’s contempt even for those organisations that do everything in their power to exonerate Israel through language that is based upon hypothesis: “The report is biased. Israel is not perpetrating war crimes but rather protecting itself from an organisation that carries out war crimes.”
Israel’s fabricated state is built upon a constant litany of war crimes, necessitating violence to sustain its existence, as well as the presence of international organisations that pretend colonialism has been rendered obsolete. As for bias, one need only take note of how the UNHRC attempted to criminalise Palestinian resistance, aiming to propagate an illusion of near-parity in military power between the world’s 4th best equipped army and civilians with not a tank or aircraft to their name. The obviously asymmetric nature of the conflict resulted in a much higher death toll of Palestinian men, women and children due to Israel’s persistent bombardment of Gaza.
The report’s publication has simply confirmed all that unravelled before our eyes during last year’s colonial massacre, albeit leaving space for manipulation in order to retain Israel’s untouchable status. Israel’s pondering whether or not to remain in the council is nothing new. Rather, it should be viewed as another, integral, part of its colonial project, as well as wilful subjugation on behalf of the international community. With every sliver of condemnation, despite the absence of severe repercussions, Israel embarks upon creating hypothetical conflicts which always result in it reaping rewards for its aggression against the Palestinian people.
Whether Israel remains in the council or not is irrelevant. On the contrary, the focus should be on the failure of the UN and other organisations to act according to international law and hold Israel’s very existence accountable for the horrors it has perpetrated against the indigenous population. However, that would require the UN to unravel its disseminated myths, including its denial of the existence of Zionist colonisation, which would in turn deal a blow to an organisation thriving upon the permanence of violence and murder.
It now appears that the longest drawn out negotiations in history since the Treaty of Westphalia ended the Thirty Years War will again be prorogued. I am, of course, referring to the P5+1 talks in Vienna seeking to come up with a peaceful resolution to the problem of Iran’s nonexistent nuclear weapons program. Today represents the third deadline as the negotiations have already been extended twice, ostensibly to permit further discussion of details of timing for the lifting of sanctions as well as verification and inspection procedures.
I refer to a “nonexistent” program as the frequently cited intelligence suggesting that a weapon was being developed has turned out to be based on forgeries provided by the Israelis. Currently, both the CIA and Mossad agree that no such program exists though both Washington and Tel Aviv persist in suggesting that Iran might change its mind and therefore must not even be able to develop relevant technologies in the future.
In theory an agreement should have been reached long ago as the two basic elements are well understood: Iran wants an end to sanctions and the United States plus its negotiating partners want a verifiable end to existing and potential programs in Iran that could possibly produce a nuclear weapon. The devil would appear to be in the details but that is not necessarily the case as the real problem is political. The talks have in fact been subject to a relentless media campaign by Israel and its friends in the U.S. to derail any possible agreement, to include a number of appearances by none other than Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before both the United Nations and the U.S. Congress. Netanyahu has been warning that an Iranian weapon is imminent since 1996 and he has even produced a cartoon showing a bomb with a ticking fuse to illustrate his thinking on the issue.
The intensity of the anti-Iran campaign has increased to a boiling point as the end of June deadline has approached, to include full page ads in newspapers and a rash of editorials, op-eds and letters to the editor. If you read an article about the negotiations on an unmoderated site like yahoo you will see numerous comments trashing Iran using the same misspellings and phrases, suggesting that they originate in the banks of paid students organized and directed by the Israeli Foreign Ministry.
In order to avoid constantly rehashing the same material, the well-funded and highly creative exploration of Persian perfidy has meant in practice that the media and punditry are constantly raising new issues that have nothing to do with the nuclear weapons themselves. These have included demanding that a contrite Iran confess that it once sought a weapon, addressing the state of possible missile delivery systems in the discussions, assessing Iran’s intentions as a regional power, critiquing the country’s human rights record and examining Tehran’s support of organizations that critics choose to describe as terroristic. Congress is on record calling for the prevention of Iran’s “capability” to construct a weapon, a threshold that it already has passed. Presidential wannabe Senator Marco Rubio has even demanded that Iran recognize “Israel’s right to exist.” The latest wrinkle is to insist on assurances over what might happen in ten years’ time when any agreement negotiated currently will presumably expire.
Assuming that the neocons’ other pet projects to go to war with Russia and eventually also China do not actually materialize and that we will all still be here in a decade, it has to be recognized that what is occurring in Vienna this week is already a war. On one side are the serious players, including Secretary of State John Kerry acting for the president as well as the Russians, Germans, Chinese, British and French, all of whom understand that no agreement leaves armed conflict as the only remaining option. They realize that a major explosion in the Persian Gulf would be disastrous for all parties and potentially even for the world economy. On the other side are the naysayers from Israel and its formidable amen section, deeply embedded in the media and among politicians at all levels. Many believe that, as Israel firster mega billionaire Sheldon Adelson has recommended, all Iran really needs is an admonitory nuclear strike to show the Mullahs that we are serious about the military option.
As in any war it is important to know what the enemy is doing. That generally requires massive mobilization of resources to collect intelligence, but in this case we are fortunate in that our enemies write for the Washington Post, The Weekly Standard and the Wall Street Journal when they are not, collectively speaking, busy appearing on the Sunday morning talk shows and on Fox.
My favorite Queen of Mean among the pro-Israel shock troops is Jennifer Rubin, who writes a blog appropriately labeled “Right Turn” for the Washington Post. In previous incarnations before she found her niche with editorial page chief Fred Hiatt at the Post Jennifer wrote for neocon house organs Commentary, Human Events and Bill Kristol’s The Weekly Standard. Jenn has ungraciously referred to President Barack Obama as the “most anti-Israel president ever.” Ben Smith at Politico describes her as “caustic and single minded” possessing an “intense and combative interest in foreign affairs and politics in general, and in Israel in particular – the sole bumper sticker on her gray Honda Pilot reads, “JERUSALEM IS NOT A SETTLEMENT. It’s Israel’s Eternal And Undivided Capital.” A recent comment on one of her pieces observed “Science is wrong. The world revolves around Israel. Jennifer knows it to be true. Bibi told her.”
Rubin writes about Iran frequently. Between June 16th and the 26th she penned no less than seven articles attacking the Mullahs – “Obama ignores Iran’s human rights atrocities,” “The Iran missile mistake,” “Democrats, Republicans, neutral experts reject Iran sellout,” “The Iran debacle unfolds,” “Iran appeasement relies on self-delusion,” “Can these forces stop a rotten Iran deal?” and “Iran sanctions back on the table.” All of her writing on Iran beats to death the same theme, i.e. that Iranians are both evil and liars and are out to destroy Israel. Driven by her obsession with Israel, she is constantly at work finding connections and seeing things that the rest of us cannot discern, appreciating as she does that there is always an Israeli angle as well as an evil Muslim narrative hidden somewhere as long as one looks long and hard enough. One of her most recent gems “Can these forces stop a rotten Iran deal?”, which appeared on June 25th, does a good job recounting recent commentary by all her friends in the Israel Lobby who are opposing a nuclear deal, which to her mind represents objective opinion. As is always the case, I searched in vain for any real evidence that Iran in any way threatens the United States but that does not appear to be on her agenda. She does, however, quote a number of Israeli politicians.
And Rubin is far from a lonely voice crying in the wilderness. The New York Times featured a story last Wednesday revealing that “former members of President Obama’s inner circle of Iran advisers” had written a letter advising caution on the possible Iran agreement. The article describes in some detail the objections of Dennis Ross, David Petraeus, Robert Einhorn, Gary Samore, Stephen Hadley and General James E. Cartwright. The signatories, who are accepted at face value in the article, should give one pause. Ross is chairman of the Jewish People Policy Institute (which opposes intermarriage of Jews with non-Jews) and has been described as “Israel’s lawyer” while Hadley, a National Security Adviser for George W. Bush, believes that Iran is intent on dominating much of the Middle East and has a nuclear program that “…is a complex threat to international peace and stability.” Einhorn, who helped “devise and enforce the sanctions against Iran,” and Gary Samore have been persistent critics of the ongoing negotiations. Samore is a fixture at the Harvard Belfer Center, a neocon stronghold, and heads United Against Nuclear Iran. Petraeus is probably the best known of the signatories but I will leave it up to the reader to judge his integrity.
If one were looking for someone who might just entertain the thought that Iran has a legitimate point of view it would not be found in the letter nor in the Times coverage. But the most astonishing thing about the article is what the editors chose not to mention, an omission that would appear to constitute deliberate obfuscation of the letter’s intent. The Times notes towards the end of the article that the letter was commissioned by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), but it does not reveal that WINEP is a spin-off of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). AIPAC is an organization that is de facto opposed to any agreement with Iran that is not endorsed by Benjamin Netanyahu, which means no deal at all.
Interestingly, Israel is not mentioned even once in the letter nor in the Times coverage of it even though it certainly loomed large in the mind of Ross in particular and likely for all of the other co-authors. One might also note that the arguments against the possible agreement made by the signatories is based on the reader’s acceptance of the view that Iran is some kind of global threat, though they make no attempt to explain how that is so and they also assume that its rulers are not to be trusted without an intrusive inspection regime directed against all military facilities in the country, something that no government anywhere could possibly accept. The five signatories of the letter all claim to support a negotiated settlement with Iran but they are just not happy with what Obama has come up with, which is a characteristic line for many of those who in reality want no agreement at all.
Finally, in a completely bizarre instance of the Israel Lobby’s unwillingness to miss any opportunity in its campaign against Iran, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft traveled to Israel last week with an entourage of 20 Hall of Fame football players. They met with Prime Minister Netanyahu who lectured the players, attired in their Hall of Fame gold Jackets, all about Iran by using a football metaphor: “Iran is one yard away from the goal line. If they get nukes, the preeminent terrorist regime of our day will be armed with nuclear weapons. That’s dangerous for the United States and for Israel and for the entire world. And our effort today is to make sure that we block them and push them back.” The appreciative players gave Bibi a game jersey, a helmet and a signed football in return.
And so the enormous smear campaign against Iran goes on, though I suppose we can always hope that Obama will show a little intestinal fortitude and go ahead with an agreement. I will most certainly never watch the New England Patriots again, but I made that decision some time ago based on their win at any cost ethos. Indeed, since the Israel Lobby is very much in the game of punishing critics as it is doing with its odious website Canary Mission perhaps it is past time for a little pushback coming from Americans who would like to take their government back. Folks like myself who object to the Lobby’s overweening influence over our foreign policy might initiate personal boycotts of the products and business interests of those billionaires who are the most enthusiastic supporters of Benjamin Netanyahu and who are the enablers of Israel’s crimes against humanity. It would be partial payback for nearly seventy years of systematic abuse of America’s true interests. Don’t attend their sporting activities, don’t buy their products, don’t watch their films and don’t stay in their hotels or play in their casinos. Such a reckoning would certainly include people like Robert Kraft, Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, as well as Hollywood moguls Haim Saban and Arnon Milchan. Milchan notoriously spied against the U.S. for Israel and is still walking around free, which I don’t quite get. I won’t suggest any additional names but other over the top friends of Likudnik Israel are easily identifiable through Google. As the Mikado’s Lord High Executioner once put it, “I’ve got a little list.”