“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful.”
“When the CIA goes to church, it doesn’t go to pray.”
— South American aphorism
Let’s be clear. Syria is invading nobody. North Korea is attacking damn all. And Russia is threatening zilch. But on the eve of the apocalypse these nations are the ones being stoned. The sanctimonious are having a field day crucifying the leaders of these countries and stomping all over the humanity of their peoples.
In a godless universe the tormentors of Syria, Russia and North Korea are behaving as if god is on their side. If god is another word for barbaric stupidity: they’re right. In that case, though – the universe ain’t empty – it’s full of fucking god.
The silver lining to this toxic theism is the fact that god has a habit of bringing down empires. That’s the point of Edward Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. It’s also the point of Friedrich Nietzsche’s The Genealogy of Morals. God tends to turn mighty empires and mighty individuals into junk.
In other words, piety and the hypocrisy that accompanies it – overtime undermines physical and political power. Let’s hope so. But do we have enough time? Because it’s beginning to feel like the end-time. The ‘mother of all bombs’ is preparing the way for the ‘mother of all suicides’.
The Bible Belt in America and the Koran Knot in Asia are being pulled so tight that the only ones who can breathe today are the Jewish and Islamic states. In the 21st century this doesn’t make sense. After a few hundred years of humanism and rationalism you’d think the world would know better.
In fact the world does know better. God is no longer an unknown entity. The Enlightenment and it’s revolutionaries revealed a long time ago that god is a human creation. “His” only purpose in the past was to create a distraction. And “His” only purpose now is to create chaos – cue the CIA.
Today’s world was created in the 1980s. After Vietnam, the gods living in and around Washington D.C. had a plan: zero taxes and zero standards for the rich. And god for everyone else. It was crude. But crude capitalism likes a crusade.
This proposal, however, wasn’t just for America but for the world. It reflected a mindset that was not only totalitarian but was also simplistic and vindictive. It sought to control life on earth at both the macro-level and the micro-level. And god help anyone who got in the way.
To cover up it’s profound imperialism, Washington D.C. around 1980 covered itself in religion: President Reagan mobilised the Protestants; his director of the CIA, William Casey, mobilised the Catholics; and Carter’s National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, mobilised the Moslems. The Jews were already mobilised so they just followed (or led) the pack. And the Hindus weren’t far behind.
As a result of all this Machiavellian metaphysics an almighty tsunami of religion washed over the earth during the 1980s (we’re still drowning in it). God became a weapon of mass destruction. And “He” was aimed at all those who criticised the rich and celebrated the victory of Vietnam. The popes, preachers and prophets were unleashed.
It was the imams however which became the heroes of Washington D.C. Because it was they who fatally wounded the USSR and Yugoslavia. In books like Devils Game by Robert Dreyfuss and The Lost Hegemon by F. William Engdahl, the Holy Alliance between Islamic fundamentalism and the CIA is laid out for all to see.
While Opus Dei (the Roman rapists) and the evangelicals (the gospel gangbangers) did god’s dirty work in the Americas, Africa and Europe – the jihadis did god’s filthiest work in the Orient. The horrendous Afghan jihad (Operation Cyclone) which Brzezinski started in 1979 became the template for US policy throughout the Orient (Algeria, Chechnya, Iraq, Libya, Mali and Syria). Indeed jihad emerged as Washington’s only answer to the rise of China. On the grand chessboard the White House was a thousand years behind it’s opponents. It had voluntarily abandoned reason in favour of religious terror.
Listen to the CIA deep thinker and RAND Corporation philosopher, Graham E. Fuller, speaking in the late 1990s:
“The policy of guiding the evolution of Islam and of helping them against our adversaries worked marvelously well in Afghanistan against the Russians. The same doctrines can still be used to what remains of Russian power, and especially to counter the Chinese influence in Central Asia.”
This is the guts of recent and current US strategy – straight from the horse’s mouth (or asshole). It’s not complicated – it’s completely nuts. Rather than being based on trade – it’s based on traditional ignorance. Instead of fanning the warm glow of international cooperation. It wilfully fans a conflagration of medieval mendacity. It’s not a pivot towards Asia but a pivot towards hell.
And the reason for this obscurantism? It’s to be found in the physical part of metaphysics. It’s to be found in the bowels of the earth. It’s the oil and gas and whatever else the US must steal and spoil to “keep America great forever”. As chief US strategist George F. Kennan wrote in 1948:
“We have about 50% of the world’s wealth but only 6.3% of its population…. Our real task in the coming period [the coming century] is to devise a pattern of relationships, which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity. To do so we will have to dispense with all sentimentality…. We should cease to talk about vague…. unreal objectives such as human rights [humanism, rationalism, secularism, modernism], the raising of living standards, and democratisation. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are hampered by idealistic slogans, the better.”
The straightest “power concept” of them all is: god. And the oldest “pattern of relationships” is also summed up in the word: god. “He” is up there and we are down here. And our job is to worship “Him”. Washington D.C. liked this model because after Vietnam it was the last model they had left in their reactionary political / philosophical arsenal. And around 1980 they used it with a vengeance. After 1980 Washington D.C. was Mecca, Jerusalem and the Vatican rolled into one. God’s word was and still is “the Washington Consensus” plus the Pentagon. And god help anyone who got in the way.
So who is in the way of the “Washington Caliphate”? Where is the current “axis of evil”? You guessed it: Syria, Russia and North Korea. The Arab Republic, the communist state and the ex-communist empire refuse to genuflect to the White House. And for committing this secular sin the mindless gods are mercilessly kneecapping them.
These three rebel states however continue to resist. In the face of almighty pressure each refuses to surrender their pride and sovereignty.
We’re witnessing a battle of wills like never before. This arc of resistance which stretches across the Eurasian landmass – from the Mediterranean Sea to the Sea of Japan – is Brzezinski’s worst nightmare come true. Indeed viewed as one instead of three it is a formidable barrier to the totalitarian ambition of the CIA. Viewed as one instead of three it can prevail.
Why can they prevail? Because they possess the fire of the gods. They possess that which made the gods in Washington D.C. great in the first place: independence and reason. Syria, Russia and North Korea harken back to a time when modernism meant something – a time when western imperialism was the problem rather than the solution. And for this reason alone their perspective is a thousand times more real than the perspective of the god-lovers who terrorise them.
And the fire? The ultimate fire which they possess and will protect them is the nuclear bomb. Good old fashioned science (Prometheus) has given Russia and North Korea – and indirectly Syria too – the key to freedom. Say what you like about the nuclear bomb but in the hands of the weak – the Empire must back down. And in the space created we can breathe. And recall the fact that god is dead. And the emperor in Washington is wearing no clothes.
Aidan O’Brien is a hospital worker in Dublin, Ireland.
Three Syrian forces have been killed in a fresh Israeli attack on a military camp near the southwestern city of Quneitra, a military official says.
The attack hit the al-Fawwar camp on Sunday, wounding two others, the unnamed official told the French news agency AFP.
It was not clear whether the assault was an airstrike or shelling. The attack comes after Israel struck a Syrian army position in the province of Quneitra on the Golan plateau on Friday, “causing damage.”
A Syrian military source told the official SANA news agency that the Israeli aggression came after an attempt by terrorists to infiltrate military positions in Quneitra was foiled and the assailants suffered heavy losses.
The Israeli military confirmed the raid in a statement, saying it was conducted shortly after three mortar shells allegedly fired from Syria hit an open area in the northern occupied Golan Heights.
The Tel Aviv regime regularly hits positions held by the Syrian army in the Golan Heights, claiming that the attacks are retaliatory. Syria says the raids aim to help Takfiri militants fighting against government forces.
In the past, the Syrian army has confiscated Israeli-made arms and military equipment from terrorists fighting the government forces. There are also reports that Tel Aviv has been treating the extremists wounded in Syria.
Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria after the 1967 Six-Day War and later occupied it in a move that has never been recognized by the international community.
The regime has built tens of illegal settlements in the area ever since and used the region to carry out military operations against the Syrian government.
Army advances against militants
Separately on Sunday, Syrian forces recaptured Halfaya town in the west-central Hama Province, the Lebanon-based al-Mayadeen TV channel reported.
Meanwhile, pro-opposition media reported fierce clashes between the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) militants and US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the northern countryside of Hama.
US defense officials also told Fox News that the Daesh terrorist group is now centered in the city of Dayr al-Zawr, some 144 kilometers southeast of Raqqah, the Takfiri outfit’s de facto capital in Syria.
They said that US military drones have watched hundreds of Daesh “bureaucrats” or administrators, leaving Raqqah in the past two months.
NABLUS – Israeli forces shot and injured four Palestinians with rubber-coated steel bullets, after residents in a Palestinian village south of Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank gathered to defend their homes from a mob of Israeli settlers that stormed the community. Hours later, two Palestinians were hospitalized when a group of settlers attacked Palestinians in a nearby village.
Ghassan Daghlas, an official who monitors settler activities in the northern West Bank, told Ma’an that some 100 “extremist settlers” from the illegal Yitzhar settlement entered the village of Urif from its east side and proceeded to smash windows of houses, included one belonging to resident Munir al-Nouri.
He added that the settlers were about to break into the house before Palestinian villagers gathered and forced them away.
According to a Facebook group for Urif, loudspeakers from the village’s mosque were used to inform residents of the incident and to urge them to help defend the homes from the “herds of settlers” attacking the village.
Minutes later, Daghlas said, a number of Israeli military vehicles stormed the village to protect the Israelis.
Clashes erupted between Palestinians youth and Israeli forces who “haphazardly” fired tear gas canisters, stun grenades, and rubber-coated steel bullets at Palestinians, according to Daghlas.
Daghlas said that four Palestinians were shot with rubber-coated steel bullets, one of whom was hit in the head. Medical sources said that Adel al-Safadi, Jihad Saad, Mustafa Fawzi, and Sharif Abd al-Hafith were taken to Rafidiya hospital to be treated for the gunshot injuries.
An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that a “violent dispute erupted between Israelis and Palestinians” who she said were “mutually throwing rocks at each other in an area around the village.” When Israeli forces arrived to “disperse the dispute, several Palestinians shot flares at (Israeli) forces.”
In response, Israeli forces used “riot dispersal means,” she said. No Israeli were reported injured
Later Saturday afternoon, Daghlas said that another group of Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian homes in the town of Huwwara, just a few kilometers away from Urif, on the southeastern edge of Yitzhar.
Daghlas said that dozens of settlers attacked Palestinians and their homes with stones and “sharp objects.” A 72-year-old woman, Badiah Muhammad Hamdan, and a young man identified as Ahmad Yousif Udah were hospitalized. Daghlas said Hamdan sustained head injuries.
A video shared on social media showed the woman, bloodied and incapacitated, being evacuated in an ambulance.
Separately, a young Palestinian man was run over by an Israeli settler later Saturday afternoon in al-Masoudiyya west of Nablus city, Daghlas said.
Daghlas told Ma’an that 19-year-old Asim Salim from Nablus city was evacuated to Rafidiya hospital, where doctors said he sustained moderate wounds. Daghlas added that Salim was trying to cross the road in al-Masoudiyya when a settler’s vehicle hit him and fled the scene.
An Israeli border police spokesperson could not be reached for comment on the reported hit and run.
According to the Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem (ARIJ), since the state of Israel confiscated land from Urif and other Palestinian villages to establish the illegal Yithzar settlement in the 1980s, “attacks and violence perpetrated by settlers has had a profoundly negative impact on Palestinian residents and their property,” stressing that Yitzhar “poses a daily threat to residents of the neighboring Palestinian villages.”
Settlers have also been known to steal crops, damage and burn trees and other plants, and attack places of worship in the area, in an attempt to intimidate Palestinian villagers and farmers from using their land.
On Friday, a video was released showing 15 masked Israeli settlers attacking Israeli activists in the central West Bank, throwing rocks and hitting the activists with clubs.
Many Palestinian activists and rights groups have meanwhile accused Israel of fostering a “culture of impunity” for Israeli settlers and soldiers committing violent acts against Palestinians.
In March, Israeli NGO Yesh Din revealed that Israeli authorities served indictments in only 8.2 percent of cases of Israeli settlers committing anti-Palestinian crimes in the occupied West Bank in the past three years.
Between 500,000 and 600,000 Israelis live in Jewish-only settlements across occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank in violation of international law, with recent announcements of settlement expansion provoking condemnation from the international community.
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), there were a total of 221 reported settler attacks against Palestinians and their properties in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem in 2015, and 107 in 2016.
US Defense Secretary General James Mattis has arrived in Israel for talks expected to focus on Iran and Syria as well the strategic relations between Tel Aviv and Washington.
Mattis arrived in Tel Aviv Thursday afternoon from Cairo on the third leg of a week-long tour of the US allies in the Middle East.
Marking the first time he has visited Israel as the Pentagon chief, Mattis was greeted by an official honor guard at army headquarters in Tel Aviv on Friday morning.
He then met the Israeli minister for military affairs, Avigdor Lieberman, and is scheduled to hold talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin.
Mattis hopes to hear directly from Israeli leaders their concerns about regional issues, with Iran’s influence topping the list.
‘No doubt Syria has chemical weapons’
The conflict in Syria, where the US and Israel seek to remove President Bashar al-Assad from power, is also on the agenda, according to the prime minister’s office.
Israel was one of the first US allies to salute President Donald Trump for a recent missile strike on a Syrian airbase, where they alleged a suspected chemical attack originated.
Speaking during a press conference with Lieberman on Friday, Mattis said there can be “no doubt” that Syria has retained some chemical weapons and warned President Assad not to use them.
“There can be no doubt in the international community’s mind that Syria has retained chemical weapons in violation of its agreement and its statement that it had removed them all. There is no longer any doubt,” he said.
The US, Israel and Saudi Arabia have been pushing to overthrow the Syrian government through the use of proxy militant forces in the country.
Iran has been lending advisory support to Syria in its battle against the foreign-backed militants, but has avoided direct military involvement in the conflict.
Known as the “Mad Dog,” Mattis has famously said the three gravest threats to US national security were “Iran, Iran, Iran.”
While in Riyadh on Wednesday, the Pentagon chief reiterated the Trump administration’s position that Iran seeks to “destabilize” the region.
He told reporters after meeting with senior Saudi officials that “everywhere you look if there is trouble in the region, you find Iran.”
US-Israeli ties reached a low point over the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers, including the United States.
Former President Barack Obama pushed for the agreement, to the dismay of Netanyahu who argued it would only strengthen Iran in the region.
Israeli leaders were emboldened by the election of Donald Trump, who has described the nuclear accord as “the worst deal ever negotiated” and threatened to “rip it up.”
In his latest criticism on Thursday, Trump blasted the deal as “a terrible agreement” that “shouldn’t have been signed,” and accused Iran of “not living up” to its spirit.
WASHINGTON – US intelligence remains in a high-level of confusion about the capabilities of the Islamic State terror group (Daesh), including its chemical weapons arsenal, retired US Air Force Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski told Sputnik.
“The level of confusion in the US intelligence community is extremely high,” Kwiatkowski said on Thursday. “The political product from the US intelligence community seems incomplete and inaccurate, and likely not the result of an honest consensus among the intelligence agencies.”
The White House has accused Syrian President Bashar Assad of being responsible for the April 4 chemical attack in the village of Khan Shaykun in Idlib province because it alleges that no one else could have done it.
However, Kwiatkowski dismissed this reasoning as superficial and false.
“The White House is clearly wrong with ‘no one else could have done it.’ While it is not completely clear what type of chemical exploded in Idlib last week, we have known about Islamic State and rebel group possession of chemical agents and production of them for several years,” she pointed out.
Daesh and other forces in the region certainly have the capabilities and resources to mount limited chemical weapons attacks such as the one carried out in Khan Shaykhun, Kwiatkowski observed.
“They, as well as other state players or intelligence operations of various states are also capable of ensuring a chemical release pretty much anywhere in the region,” she said.
President Donald Trump and his advisers were misguided in imagining that Assad could have had any motive to use chemical weapons at a time when his army and air force had established a clear ascendancy over Daesh forces and were rolling them back without need to use such weapons, Kwiatkowski pointed out.
“To suggest that Assad had a motive to use a chemical weapon against civilians at this stage of the win is beyond comprehension, and that logic alone should lead to a broad investigation of cui bono, and how it happened,” she remarked.
The US government remains handicapped because it does not have a consistent Syria or Iraq policy, nor does it have a consistent Daesh policy, Kwiatkowski explained.
“Airstrikes launched in the absence of an intelligence consensus and of an actual military and political strategy are pointless,” she stated.
Daesh could have received chemical weapons from several sources, Kwiatkowski also said.
“We know or suspect that various parts of the Islamic State are resourced by Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Qatar, Turkey, Kuwait, Israel and the United States. We know that the Islamic State had been selling Iraqi oil on a black market, and this activity could have included funds to buy chemical weapons and their precursors,” she noted.
The use of chemical weapons by Daesh could now be blamed on Iraqi forces or on Assad’s forces, Kwiatkowski concluded.
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu making opening remarks at a joint White House press conference with President Donald Trump on Feb. 15, 2017. (Screenshot from White House video)
The other day, I asked a longtime Democratic Party insider who is working on the Russia-gate investigation which country interfered more in U.S. politics, Russia or Israel. Without a moment’s hesitation, he replied, “Israel, of course.”
Which underscores my concern about the hysteria raging across Official Washington about “Russian meddling” in the 2016 presidential campaign: There is no proportionality applied to the question of foreign interference in U.S. politics. If there were, we would have a far more substantive investigation of Israel-gate.
The problem is that if anyone mentions the truth about Israel’s clout, the person is immediately smeared as “anti-Semitic” and targeted by Israel’s extraordinarily sophisticated lobby and its many media/political allies for vilification and marginalization.
So, the open secret of Israeli influence is studiously ignored, even as presidential candidates prostrate themselves before the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both appeared before AIPAC in 2016, with Clinton promising to take the U.S.-Israeli relationship “to the next level” – whatever that meant – and Trump vowing not to “pander” and then pandering like crazy.
Congress is no different. It has given Israel’s controversial Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a record-tying three invitations to address joint sessions of Congress (matching the number of times British Prime Minister Winston Churchill appeared). We then witnessed the Republicans and Democrats competing to see how often their members could bounce up and down and who could cheer Netanyahu the loudest, even when the Israeli prime minister was instructing the Congress to follow his position on Iran rather than President Obama’s.
Israeli officials and AIPAC also coordinate their strategies to maximize political influence, which is derived in large part by who gets the lobby’s largesse and who doesn’t. On the rare occasion when members of Congress step out of line – and take a stand that offends Israeli leaders – they can expect a well-funded opponent in their next race, a tactic that dates back decades.
Well-respected members, such as Rep. Paul Findley and Sen. Charles Percy (both Republicans from Illinois), were early victims of the Israeli lobby’s wrath when they opened channels of communication with the Palestine Liberation Organization in the cause of seeking peace. Findley was targeted and defeated in 1982; Percy in 1984.
Findley recounted his experience in a 1985 book, They Dare to Speak Out: People and Institutions Confront Israel’s Lobby, in which Findley called the lobby “the 700-pound gorilla in Washington.” The book was harshly criticized in a New York Times review by Adam Clymer, who called it “an angry, one-sided book that seems often to be little more than a stringing together of stray incidents.”
Since then, there have been fewer and fewer members of Congress or other American politicians who have dared to speak out, judging that – when it comes to the Israeli lobby – discretion is the better part of valor. Today, many U.S. pols grovel before the Israeli government seeking a sign of favor from Prime Minister Netanyahu, almost like Medieval kings courting the blessings of the Pope at the Vatican.
During the 2008 campaign, then-Sen. Barack Obama, whom Netanyahu viewed with suspicion, traveled to Israel to demonstrate sympathy for Israelis within rocket-range of Gaza while steering clear of showing much empathy for the Palestinians.
In 2012, Republican nominee Mitt Romney tried to exploit the tense Obama-Netanyahu relationship by stopping in Israel to win a tacit endorsement from Netanyahu. The 2016 campaign was no exception with both Clinton and Trump stressing their love of Israel in their appearances before AIPAC.
Money, of course, has become the lifeblood of American politics – and American supporters of Israel have been particularly strategic in how they have exploited that reality.
One of Israel’s most devoted advocates, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, has poured millions of dollars in “dark money” into political candidates and groups that support Israel’s interests. Adelson, who has advocated dropping a nuclear bomb inside Iran to coerce its government, is a Trump favorite having donated a record $5 million to Trump’s inaugural celebration.
Of course, many Israel-connected political donations are much smaller but no less influential. A quarter century ago, I was told how an aide to a Democratic foreign policy chairman, who faced a surprisingly tough race after redistricting, turned to the head of AIPAC for help and, almost overnight, donations were pouring in from all over the country. The chairman was most thankful.
The October Surprise Mystery
Israel’s involvement in U.S. politics also can be covert. For instance, the evidence is now overwhelming that the Israeli government of right-wing Prime Minister Menachem Begin played a key role in helping Ronald Reagan’s campaign in 1980 strike a deal with Iran to frustrate President Jimmy Carter’s efforts to free 52 American hostages before Election Day.
Begin despised Carter for the Camp David Accords that forced Israel to give back the Sinai to Egypt. Begin also believed that Carter was too sympathetic to the Palestinians and – if he won a second term – would conspire with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat to impose a two-state solution on Israel.
Begin’s contempt for Carter was not even a secret. In a 1991 book, The Last Option, senior Israeli intelligence and foreign policy official David Kimche explained Begin’s motive for dreading Carter’s reelection. Kimche said Israeli officials had gotten wind of “collusion” between Carter and Sadat “to force Israel to abandon her refusal to withdraw from territories occupied in 1967, including Jerusalem, and to agree to the establishment of a Palestinian state.”
Kimche continued, “This plan prepared behind Israel’s back and without her knowledge must rank as a unique attempt in United States diplomatic history of short-changing a friend and ally by deceit and manipulation.”
But Begin recognized that the scheme required Carter winning a second term in 1980 when, Kimche wrote, “he would be free to compel Israel to accept a settlement of the Palestinian problem on his and Egyptian terms, without having to fear the backlash of the American Jewish lobby.”
In a 1992 memoir, Profits of War, former Israeli intelligence officer Ari Ben-Menashe also noted that Begin and other Likud leaders held Carter in contempt.
“Begin loathed Carter for the peace agreement forced upon him at Camp David,” Ben-Menashe wrote. “As Begin saw it, the agreement took away Sinai from Israel, did not create a comprehensive peace, and left the Palestinian issue hanging on Israel’s back.”
So, in order to buy time for Israel to “change the facts on the ground” by moving Jewish settlers into the West Bank, Begin felt Carter’s reelection had to be prevented. A different president also presumably would give Israel a freer hand to deal with problems on its northern border with Lebanon.
Ben-Menashe was among a couple of dozen government officials and intelligence operatives who described how Reagan’s campaign, mostly through future CIA Director William Casey and past CIA Director George H.W. Bush, struck a deal in 1980 with senior Iranians who got promises of arms via Israel in exchange for keeping the hostages through the election and thus humiliating Carter. (The hostages were finally released on Jan. 20, 1981, after Reagan was sworn in as President.)
Though the evidence of the so-called October Surprise deal is far stronger than the current case for believing that Russia colluded with the Trump campaign, Official Washington and the mainstream U.S. media have refused to accept it, deeming it a “conspiracy theory.”
One of the reasons for the hostility directed against the 1980 case was the link to Israel, which did not want its hand in manipulating the election of a U.S. president to become an accepted part of American history. So, for instance, the Israeli government went to great lengths to discredit Ben-Menashe after he began to speak with reporters and to give testimony to the U.S. Congress.
When I was a Newsweek correspondent and first interviewed Ben-Menashe in 1990, the Israeli government initially insisted that he was an impostor, that he had no connection to Israeli intelligence.
However, when I obtained documentary evidence of Ben-Menashe’s work for a military intelligence unit, the Israelis admitted that they had lied but then insisted that he was just a low-level translator, a claim that was further contradicted by other documents showing that he had traveled widely around the world on missions to obtain weapons for the Israel-to-Iran arms pipeline.
Nevertheless, the Israeli government along with sympathetic American reporters and members of the U.S. Congress managed to shut down any serious investigation into the 1980 operation, which was, in effect, the prequel to Reagan’s Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages scandal of 1984-86. Thus, U.S. history was miswritten. [For more details, see Robert Parry’s America’s Stolen Narrative; Secrecy & Privilege; and Trick or Treason.]
Looking back over the history of U.S.-Israeli relations, it is clear that Israel exercised significant influence over U.S. presidents since its founding in 1948, but the rise of Israel’s right-wing Likud Party in the 1970s – led by former Jewish terrorists Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir – marked a time when Israel shed any inhibitions about interfering directly in U.S. politics.
Wanted Poster of the Palestine Police Force offering rewards for the capture of Stern Gang terrorists: 1. Jaacov Levstein (Eliav), 2. Yitzhak Yezernitzky (Shamir), 3. Natan Friedman-Yelin
Much as Begin and Shamir engaged in terror attacks on British officials and Palestinian civilians during Israel’s founding era, the Likudniks who held power in 1980 believed that the Zionist cause trumped normal restraints on their actions. In other words, the ends justified the means.
In the 1980s, Israel also mounted spying operations aimed at the U.S. government, including those of intelligence analyst Jonathan Pollard, who fed highly sensitive documents to Israel and – after being caught and spending almost three decades in prison – was paroled and welcomed as a hero inside Israel.
Convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard in the photo from his U.S. Naval Intelligence ID
A History of Interference
But it is true that foreign interference in U.S. politics is as old as the American Republic. In the 1790s, French agents – working with the Jeffersonians – tried to rally Americans behind France’s cause in its conflict with Great Britain. In part to frustrate the French operation, the Federalists passed the Alien and Sedition Acts.
In the Twentieth Century, Great Britain undertook covert influence operations to ensure U.S. support in its conflicts with Germany, while German agents unsuccessfully sought the opposite.
So, the attempts by erstwhile allies and sometimes adversaries to move U.S. foreign policy in one direction or another is nothing new, and the U.S. government engages in similar operations in countries all over the world, both overtly and covertly.
It was the CIA’s job for decades to use propaganda and dirty tricks to ensure that pro-U.S. politicians were elected or put in power in Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa, pretty much everywhere the U.S. government perceived some interest. After the U.S. intelligence scandals of the 1970s, however, some of that responsibility was passed to other organizations, such as the U.S.-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
NED, USAID and various “non-governmental organizations” (NGOs) finance activists, journalists and other operatives to undermine political leaders who are deemed to be obstacles to U.S. foreign policy desires.
In particular, NED has been at the center of efforts to flip elections to U.S.-backed candidates, such as in Nicaragua in 1990, or to sponsor “color revolutions,” which typically organize around some color as the symbol for mass demonstrations. Ukraine – on Russia’s border – has been the target of two such operations, the Orange Revolution in 2004, which helped install anti-Russian President Viktor Yushchenko, and the Maidan ouster of elected pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014.
NED president Carl Gershman, a neoconservative who has run NED since its founding in 1983, openly declared that Ukraine was “the biggest prize” in September 2013 — just months before the Maidan protests — as well as calling it an important step toward ousting Russian President Vladimir Putin. In 2016, Gershman called directly for regime change in Russia.
Another key issue related to Israeli influence inside the United States is the role of the neocons, a political movement that emerged in the 1970s as a number of hawkish Democrats migrated to the Republican Party as a home for more aggressive policies to protect Israel and take on the Soviet Union and Arab states.
In some European circles, the neocons are described as “Israel’s American agents,” which may somewhat overstate the direct linkage between Israel and the neocons although a central tenet of neocon thinking is that there must be no daylight between the U.S. and Israel. The neocons say U.S. politicians must stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel even if that means the Americans sidling up to the Israelis rather than any movement the other way.
Since the mid-1990s, American neocons have worked closely with Benjamin Netanyahu. Several prominent neocons (including former Assistant Defense Secretary Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, David Wurmser, Meyrav Wurmser and Robert Loewenberg) advised Netanyahu’s 1996 campaign and urged a new strategy for “securing the realm.” Essentially, the idea was to replace negotiations with the Palestinians and Arab states with “regime change” for governments that were viewed as troublesome to Israel, including Iraq and Syria.
By 1998, the Project for the New American Century (led by neocons William Kristol and Robert Kagan) was pressuring President Bill Clinton to invade Iraq, a plan that was finally put in motion in 2003 under President George W. Bush.
But the follow-on plans to go after Syria and Iran were delayed because the Iraq War turned into a bloody mess, killing some 4,500 American soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. Bush could not turn to phase two until near the end of his presidency and then was frustrated by a U.S. intelligence estimate concluding that Iran was not working on a nuclear bomb (which was to be the pretext for a bombing campaign).
Bush also could pursue “regime change” in Syria only as a proxy effort of subversion, rather than a full-scale U.S. invasion. President Barack Obama escalated the Syrian proxy war in 2011 with the support of Israel and its strange-bedfellow allies in Saudi Arabia and the other Sunni-ruled Gulf States, which hated Syria’s government because it was allied with Shiite-ruled Iran — and Sunnis and Shiites have been enemies since the Seventh Century. Israel insists that the U.S. take the Sunni side, even if that puts the U.S. in bed with Al Qaeda.
But Obama dragged his heels on a larger U.S. military intervention in Syria and angered Netanyahu further by negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program rather than bomb-bomb-bombing Iran.
Showing the Love
Obama’s perceived half-hearted commitment to Israeli interests explained Romney’s campaign 2012 trip to seek Netanyahu’s blessings. Even after winning a second term, Obama sought to appease Netanyahu by undertaking a three-day trip to Israel in 2013 to show his love.
Still, in 2015, when Obama pressed ahead with the Iran nuclear agreement, Netanyahu went over the President’s head directly to Congress where he was warmly received, although the Israeli prime minister ultimately failed to sink the Iran deal.
In Campaign 2016, both Clinton and Trump wore their love for Israel on their sleeves, Clinton promising to take the relationship to “the next level” (a phrase that young couples often use when deciding to go from heavy petting to intercourse). Trump reminded AIPAC that he had a Jewish grandchild and vowed to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Both also bristled with hatred toward Iran, repeating the popular falsehood that “Iran is the principal source of terrorism” when it is Saudi Arabia and other Sunni sheikdoms that have been the financial and military supporters of Al Qaeda and Islamic State, the terror groups most threatening to Europe and the United States.
By contrast to Israel’s long history of playing games with U.S. politics, the Russian government stands accused of trying to undermine the U.S. political process recently by hacking into emails of the Democratic National Committee — revealing the DNC’s improper opposition to Sen. Bernie Sanders’s campaign — and of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta — disclosing the contents of Clinton’s paid speeches to Wall Street and pay-to-play aspects of the Clinton Foundation — and sharing that information to the American people via WikiLeaks.
Although WikiLeaks denies getting the two batches of emails from the Russians, the U.S. intelligence community says it has high confidence in its conclusions about Russian meddling and the mainstream U.S. media treats the allegations as flat-fact.
The U.S. intelligence community also has accused the Russian government of raising doubts in the minds of Americans about their political system by having RT, the Russian-sponsored news network, hold debates for third-party candidates (who were excluded from the two-party Republican-Democratic debates) and by having RT report on protests such as Occupy Wall Street and issues such as “fracking.”
The major U.S. news media and Congress seem to agree that the only remaining question is whether evidence can be adduced showing that the Trump campaign colluded in this Russian operation. For that purpose, a number of people associated with the Trump campaign are to be hauled before Congress and made to testify on whether or not they are Russian agents.
Meanwhile, The Washington Post, The New York Times and other establishment-approved outlets are working with major technology companies on how to marginalize independent news sources and to purge “Russian propaganda” (often conflated with “fake news”) from the Internet.
It seems that no extreme is too extreme to protect the American people from the insidious Russians and their Russia-gate schemes to sow doubt about the U.S. political process. But God forbid if anyone were to suggest an investigation of Israel-gate.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s.
What would a just U.S. foreign policy look like? This faux bill lays forth a vision regarding one pillar of such a policy: justice for Palestinians.
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
1 June 2017
To express the sense of Congress regarding the United States-Palestine relationship, to direct the President to submit to Congress reports on actions to enhance this relationship, and to assist in the defense of Palestinians everywhere.
Congress finds the following:
From 1948 to the spring of 2017, United States Presidents and both houses of Congress, in accordance with their own histories of supporting violence against Natives in North America and beyond, repeatedly prioritized the interests of extremist Zionist lobbies and the U.S. weapons industry over the interests of the Palestinians and the U.S. citizenry.
The U.S. National Security State boasts a coherent track record of supporting undemocratic regimes, among them: Sisi in Cairo, Abdullah II in Amman, the House of Khalifa in Al-Manama, Al Thani in Doha, Al Nahyan in Abu Dhabi, the House of Saud in Riyadh, and Sultan Qaboos in Muscat. In recent years, the people have risen up in Bahrain, Egypt, Yemen, and elsewhere, only to be crushed by the full might of anti-democracy forces. The response from the U.S. National Security State has been consistent: overt and covert aid to undemocratic regimes via the provision of weaponry, diplomatic support, intelligence, and military training and advisors.
Israel, which has engaged in ethnic cleansing against the Palestinian people for decades and which continues its sordid history of fomenting instability in the Middle East, is now exploiting regional discord in order to entrench its occupation of Palestine. Israel’s actions violate the United Nations Charter, the Geneva Conventions, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Israel has possessed nuclear weapons since the 1960s. It refuses to sign and ratify the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons is a destabilizing criminal enterprise.
Israel is a strategic burden on the United States. Ardent Zionists will insist that Israel provides the U.S. Government with “valuable intelligence.” That is a ruse. When giving “intelligence” to the U.S. Government, Israel always demands more access to U.S. capabilities in return. Furthermore, the “intelligence” that Israel gives the U.S. Government is politicized, designed to steer U.S. foreign policy in a direction consistent with Zionist goals for the Eastern Mediterranean.
Over the past several decades, with the assistance of the United States Government, Israel has increased its stockpiles of state-of-the-art military weaponry. Israel uses a substantial portion of the U.S. tax dollars it receives – now up to $3.8 billion annually – to purchase weapons from the U.S. war industry. Such weapons include, but are not limited to: Boeing Apache attack helicopters, Raytheon PATRIOT missile systems, General Electric jet engines, Pratt & Whitney turbines, Colt rifles, Rockwell Collins helmets, and Lockheed Martin F-35 aircraft. Israel also boasts a lucrative arms industry of its own. It is now armed to the teeth.
This status quo is unjust and unsustainable.
Statement of policy
It is now the policy of the United States:
(1) To commit to the security of Palestine.
(2) To void prior lip service regarding the so-called “unbreakable” bond between Washington, D.C., and the Zionist State. The United States Government has ended the lopsided relationship it once had with Israel.
(3) To classify the American Israel Public Affairs Committee as an Agent of a Foreign Power. Counterintelligence operations have been increased against Mossad in New York, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and across the United States.
(4) To schedule a national summit featuring leaders from African American, Native American, and Palestinian human rights groups for this summer, 2017. These leaders will chart the way forward. U.S. Congress will learn from them.
(5) To provide the Palestinian people the capabilities necessary to deter and defend themselves against any threats. This includes assistance in tearing down the apartheid wall as well as the oppressive Palestinian Authority’s security apparatus, which Israel has long used to outsource subjugation of the Palestinian people.
(6) To no longer use the United States’ position on the United Nations Security Council to benefit Israel. Henceforth, the U.S. Government will use its position on all international bodies to respect human rights and abide by International Law. Palestinian self-determination is the overriding priority.
(7) To support the Palestinian people’s inherent right to self-defense. It is not terrorism to defend oneself against an occupying, colonizing military force that is armed to the teeth.
(8) To pursue avenues of cooperation with Palestine, emphasizing technology, agriculture, medicine, health, and energy sectors. The U.S. Congress looks forward to engaging in cultural exchanges with representatives from Ramallah, Nablus, Gaza, Hebron and other cities.
(9) To work tirelessly in order to get Israel to lift the barbaric siege of the Gaza Strip, to expedite humanitarian aid to Gaza and the West Bank, and to push Israel to accept Palestinians’ Right of Return in accordance with longstanding principles of International Law.
(10) To demand Israel remove all of its colonists from beyond the 1967 borders, and to assist Palestine with its on-going efforts to forge a peaceful end to Israeli occupation and oppression. The Palestinian people deserve to live free from an occupying power, free from the meddling of any intelligence apparatuses, and free from the scourge of Western weaponry, whether made in Tel Aviv suburbs or the United States of America.
United States actions to assist in the defense of Palestine and protect U.S. interests
It is the sense of Congress that the United States should take the following actions to assist in the defense of Palestine, the termination of Zionism and its inherent racism, and the promotion of human rights in the region:
End military cooperation with Israel. This includes ending the annual $3.8 billion gift from U.S. taxpayers to the Israeli government, the majority of which is used to purchase weaponry from the U.S. war industry. The U.S. Government will also no longer help Israel develop military technology, including rocket and missile designs. Israel is no longer allowed to make purchases under the Foreign Military Financing program.
Support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement. Provide Palestine with the full resources of the U.S. State Department in order to: encourage boycott of any company that aids or abets Israel’s violation of Palestinian human rights; encourage investment vehicles and financial institutions to divest from Israeli companies that profit from occupation; and expand international, national, regional, and local sanctions across the global community against Israel until it meets its obligations as stipulated by International Law.
Retrieve and rescind defense articles and defense services from Israel through such mechanisms as appropriate. Weapons include but are not limited to air refueling tankers, armored vehicles, missile defense capabilities, specialized munitions, jet aircraft, stolen nuclear triggers, and satellite technology. This includes retrieval, decommissioning, and disposal of munitions from any and all forward-deployed United States stockpiles located within Israel. The U.S. National Security State will no longer share raw Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) with the Israeli regime.
Renege on any training and exercises that the Israeli military undertakes within the United States. Israeli military personnel have three duty days to leave U.S. territory.
Enhance economic cooperation between the United States and Palestine as directed by Palestinian civil society.
Report on progress
Statement of policy
It is the policy of the United States (A) to force Israel respect International Law and Palestinian human rights; and (B) to impose sanctions on Israel until it conforms to international law and ends its militant behavior as a rogue state.
Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the President shall submit to the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate a report on the status of Israel’s relative progress meeting human rights obligations and adhering to the Geneva Conventions. Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the President shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report on the following: (1) Terminating cooperation between the United States and Israel in matters of war, energy, cyber, and other appropriate areas, especially in light of the extensive espionage efforts against U.S. interests and persons conducted by Mossad and Unit 8200; and (2) Taking all financial and diplomatic steps to help Palestine recover from decades of abuse, ethnic cleansing, and colonization at the hands of Zionist extremists.
The chair of the “Friends of Israel” caucus of Britain’s UK Independence party (UKIP) apologized recently for tweeting a picture of himself burning a New Testament.
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) reports that Shneur Odze, a candidate for mayor of Manchester, found the New Testament in his synagogue.
He took the offending volume outside and set it on fire, then posted photos of the book burning and wrote on Twitter: “Grateful to whoever put a missionary bible amongst our synagogue’s books. Was wondering what I’d burn my Chametz with.”
According to JTA, Odze “felt he had no choice but to burn the book because he did not want to pass on what he believes is false religion to someone else and said that throwing a religious text in the garbage was distasteful, especially because it also contains the Five Books of Moses.”
The Times of Israel reports that the New Testament was in a Hebrew-English Bible published by the Society for Distributing Hebrew Scriptures, and had been placed in the synagogue without permission by a member of the Christian group.
JTA reports that Odze, a former city councilman for north London for the Conservative Party, is a rabbi and member of Chabad-Lubavitch.
Parliament Today reported in 2014 that at a UKIP Friends of Israel reception, Rabbi Odze said: “UKIP doesn’t just talk the talk on its support for the people of Israel. Only last week UKIP Councillors in Dudley blocked an attempt by Labour to impose a sanctions policy on the Council. It was UKIP Councillors in Dudley that had this proposal quashed. And it is UKIP Councillors who are leading the fight against anti-Semitism in town halls across the country.”
BETHLEHEM – Palestinian security forces briefly detained two undercover Israeli army soldiers who were conducting a military raid in the Rafidiya area of the northern occupied West Bank city of Nablus on Saturday evening, according to official Palestinian and Israeli sources.
The two were taken to a Palestinian police station in Nablus. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed the incident to Ma’an, saying that during an Israeli army “activity,” the officers were “briefly questioned by Palestinian security forces,” adding that in coordination with the Israeli Civil Administration, the soldiers were returned to Israeli custody.
According to Israeli daily Haaretz, the two soldiers — members of an Arabic-speaking unit of the Israeli army known as the “Mustarabeen” in Arabic, who are responsible for infiltrating and carrying out detentions in Palestinian communities — “scuffled” with Palestinian police officers for some time before they were returned to Israeli forces.
Their gear and weapons, as well as the car they were driving in, was also also reportedly returned.
The incident represented a rare standoff between Palestinian and Israeli forces, as the Palestinian Authority (PA) regularly allows Israeli forces to enter PA-controlled areas in the West Bank to conduct daily detention raids and other military operations, in contravention of the Oslo Accords.
Defense Secretary Mattis welcomes Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman to the Pentagon, March 16, 2017. (DoD photo by Sgt. Amber I. Smith)
The Trump administration’s growing use of military force in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen has neoconservative hawks rooting for armed confrontation with what they view as the root of all evil in the Middle East: Iran.
Many of these armchair warriors recently cheered President Trump’s decision to take on the Assad regime — and Moscow — by firing 59 Tomahawk cruise missile at a Syrian air base alleged to be the source of a chemical weapons attack. But they urged him to do more.
Weekly Standard editor William Kristol tweeted, “Punishing Assad for use of chemical weapons is good. Regime change in Iran is the prize.”
Kristol co-founded the infamous Project on the New American Century in 1997 to promote American “global hegemony” and “challenge regimes hostile to our interests and values.” It began lobbying for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein as early as 1998, but always kept Iran in its sights as well.
With Saddam dead and Syria’s Assad stripped of much of his power, Iran is now at the center of neocon crosshairs. Kristol linked his recent tweet to a Washington Post column by two stalwart advocates of ousting the mullahs in Tehran: Reuel Gerecht and Ray Takeyh.
Titled “How Trump Can Help Cripple the Iranian Regime,” their article called for putting the nuclear arms deal with Iran at risk in order to “stoke the volcano under Tehran and to challenge the regime.” The centerpiece of their bizarre argument was that the Iranian people would gratefully welcome the United States imposing “crippling sanctions” to destroy their economy in the name of “human rights.”
The authors were vague as to the details, but suggested that Iran’s ruling clerics would quickly succumb to a “popular rebellion” by “Iranian dissidents,” particularly if the United States sent “more American troops [to] both Syria and Iraq” to reinforce its message.
Gerecht, a died-in-the-wool neocon, was a former director of the Project for a New American Century’s Middle East Initiative. In 2001, he wrote, “Only a war against Saddam Hussein will decisively restore the awe that protects American interests abroad and citizens at home.”
In 2002, he further touted a U.S. invasion of Iraq as a way to “provoke riots in Iran — simultaneous uprisings in major cities that would simply be beyond the scope of regime-loyal specialized riot-control units.” Instead, the subsequent U.S. invasion backfired by putting a pro-Iran regime into power in Baghdad.
Iran in the Crosshairs
Today Gerecht is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a neocon think tank dedicated to waging war against “militant Islam,” with a focus on Iran. Heavily funded by gambling magnate Sheldon Adelson, the Foundation was originally created to promote the agenda of hardline Israeli hawks.
The Foundation fought bitterly against the Iran nuclear deal, lest it open the door to a rapprochement between Washington and Tehran. Gerecht in particular demanded that the United States attack Iran rather than pursue diplomacy. “I’ve written about 25,000 words about bombing Iran,” he boasted in 2010. “Even my mom thinks I’ve gone too far.”
Gerecht’s side-kick, Ray Tayekh, is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and was (briefly) an Iran adviser to Dennis Ross in Hillary Clinton’s State Department. A fierce critic of the nuclear deal, Tayekh joined the Iran Task Force of the right-wing Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, which considers itself “the most influential group on the issue of U.S.-Israel military relations.” Tayekh has advocated covert support to Iranian dissidents, as well as to “Kurdish, Baluch, Arab, and other opposition groups fighting the regime.”
Regime change in Iran is the open goal of Prime Minister Netanyahu and other Israeli rightists. That’s why they consistently rejected findings by Israel’s intelligence community about the benefits to Israel’s security from the nuclear deal with Iran. By stoking opposition to the deal among their supporters in Congress, they aimed to kill any chance of cooperation between the United States and Iran.
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, said candidly, “the goal of our policy must be clear: regime change in Iran.”
Today the hardline Israeli/neocon agenda is still being pursued by hawks in Congress, who have introduced bills in both houses to ratchet up economic sanctions against Iran and designate a major branch of the country’s armed forces as a terrorist organization. If enacted — against the wishes of other signatories to the Iran nuclear deal — such measures could put the United States and Iran on a war footing.
Trump’s Team of Hawks
President Trump is unlikely to stand in their way. Ignoring the role of major Arab states in supporting such terrorist groups as al-Qaeda and ISIS, Trump named Iran “the number one terrorist state” and warned during his campaign that if Iranian patrol boats in the Persian Gulf continue to “make gestures that our people — that they shouldn’t be allowed to make, they will be shot out of the water.”
Trump has surrounded himself with anti-Iran hardliners who may be only too eager to give war a chance. His first national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, co-authored a 2016 book with Michael Ledeen, a confidant of Israeli hawks and colleague of Gerecht at the Foundation for Defense of Democracy, on “How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies.” Iran, of course, was their enemy number one.
Even with Flynn’s ouster, plenty of hawks remain. In recent congressional testimony, Army Gen. Joseph Votel, Commander of the U.S. Central Command, called Iran “the greatest long-term threat to stability” in the Middle East. He declared, “We need to look at opportunities where we can disrupt [Iran] through military means or other means their activities.”
Defense Secretary General James Mattis told a conference at the conservative Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington last year, “Iran is not a nation-state; it’s a revolutionary cause devoted to mayhem.” The New York Times reported that Mattis “was so hawkish on Iran as head of United States Central Command from 2010 to 2013 that the Obama administration cut short his tour.”
Mattis reportedly came close to ordering an act of war against Iran in early February — the boarding of an Iranian ship to look for weapons headed for Houthi rebels in Yemen. Such an incident could escalate rapidly out of control if Iran chose to retaliate against U.S. vessels in the Persian Gulf.
Alternatives to Conflict
The United States has better policy options than continuing to treat Iran as part of the Axis of Evil. A report issued last fall by the National Iranian American Council recommended that Washington build on the success of the Iran nuclear deal by drawing Iran into regional peace settlements, deescalating our military presence in the Persian Gulf, and encouraging Iran and Saudi Arabia to resolve their differences without superpower intervention.
The report echoed the advice of a prominent neocon heretic, Zalmay Khalilzad, former U.S. ambassador to both Afghanistan and Iraq.
“As someone who has negotiated with Iran over the years perhaps more than any other U.S. diplomat,” he observed last year, “I disagree with those who argue that talks with Iran are akin to capitulation. I have seen little evidence that isolation has or will alter Tehran’s behavior in the right direction. Nor do I share the view that it is impossible to negotiate win-win deals with the Iranians.”
Noting Iran’s cooperation with the United States against Al Qaeda after 9/11, and its help brokering political compromises in Afghanistan and Iraq until the Bush administration refused further engagement, Khalilzad wrote, “Under the right conditions, which must include a hard-headed approach and tough actions to check Iran’s ambitions, Washington can benefit from bringing Iran into multilateral forums where the United States and its partners have the opportunity to narrow differences, create rules of the road and solve problems. Moreover, today we have little choice but to engage Iran on these broader issues, because no factor is shaping the order of the Middle East as much as the rivalry between Iran and its Sunni Arab neighbors.”
“If we do not undertake this work,” he warned, “the problems of the region — extremism, terrorism and regional conflict — will continue to bleed over into our part of the world, particularly if the Westphalian state system disintegrates even further into sectarian morass.”