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 Friday, March 24, 2006

Commentary: The Harvard Study on the Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy


Justin Raimondo

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Read here related article on the "The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy" by Justin Raimondo on

  • Click here to read related article in News Compass

  • An edited version of this paper was published in the London Review of Books Vol. 28, No. 6 (March 23, 2006), and is available online at

  • Click here to read the FULL article "The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy"

  • Click Here to DOWNLOAD FULL article "The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy" (in MSWord document)

  • Click here to read "The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy" from Harvard University website (in .pdf format. Requires Acrobat Reader download)

  • "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy," a study by John J. Mearsheimer, the doyen of foreign policy realism, and Stephen M. Walt, dean of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, has blasted the scales from our eyes.

    While not falling into the trap of identifying the efforts of "the Lobby" as the sole reason for the radicalization of U.S. foreign policy in the post-9/11 era, their research clearly shows that this was the decisive factor.

    I have to say that this conclusion was fairly obvious early on: after all, if all the other rationalizations – WMD, Iraq's alleged links to al-Qaeda, uranium-pilfering in Niger – were pure bunk, then, by means of a simple process of elimination, we come to the geopolitical explanation as the only logical alternative.

    If the U.S. is systematically dismantling regimes from Baghdad to Beirut to Tehran – and perhaps beyond – then the primary geostrategic beneficiary leaps out at any objective analyst. As I put it way back in 2003:

    "The Iraq war, as we are beginning to discover, had nothing to do with 'weapons of mass destruction,' zero to do with al-Qaeda, and zilch to do with implanting 'democracy' in the inhospitable soil of Iraq.

    The first phase of the second Yom Kippur War is revealing, in action, the strategic doctrine at the heart of U.S. Middle Eastern policy: the installation of Israel as regional hegemon."

    I am glad to see the Kennedy School is finally catching up to the level of analysis long available here at it's a good sign, albeit long overdue.

    Another good sign is the wellspring of hysteria that has arisen in the wake of the study's publication.

    Already Alan Dershowitz has smeared the distinguished authors as anti-Semites, and the Usual Suspects have launched a deafening chorus of caterwauling.

    Among the "arguments" raised by the study's detractors: David Duke has praised it, the Washington office of Fatah is handing out copies, and the Muslim Brotherhood likes it, too.

    None of which proves anything – except for the thesis, advanced by the study's authors, that the role of the Lobby is to prevent any objective analysis and rational discussion of the very "special relationship" Israel enjoys with key U.S. policymakers.

    The Mearsheimer-Walt study is an important step in identifying how and why we are bogged down in the Iraqi quagmire, but it is only a first step.

    The second, third, and fourth steps will come as we unravel the complex web of lies that lured us in on a variety of pretexts. What were the sources of the phony "intelligence" that made U.S. policymakers believe – or pretend to believe – Iraq had "weapons of mass destruction" primed to launch at a moment's notice?

    More importantly, how did this ersatz data get pumped into the U.S. intelligence stream, and who injected it? As I wrote two years ago:

    "The concept of the Iraq war as a successful Israeli covert operation is altogether plausible.

    It would hardly be the first time a foreign government made a concerted effort to drag us into war on their side. "

    Those who are crying the loudest about this study are the same people who, when confronted with the news of an FBI raid – two of them! –on the headquarters of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the powerful pro-Israel lobby that has long dominated the debate of Middle East policy on Capitol Hill, were either uncharacteristically silent or else in total denial.

    The arrest of Pentagon analyst Larry Franklin, and charges of spying on behalf of Israel lodged against longtime AIPAC leader and spark plug Steve Rosen, and his associate Keith Weissman, should have alerted even the most loyal pro-Israel stalwarts that where there's so much smoke there has to be some real fire.

    Seen as background to the mid-April trial of Rosen and Weissman, the Mearsheimer-Walt study throws some real light on a situation that has long been untenable and may now be finally coming to a head.

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     Wednesday, March 22, 2006

    MUST READ !! Pro-Israel Lobby in U.S. under attack.


    Other Breaking News
    Spy for Israel Loses US Supreme Court Appeal

    The US Supreme Court refused Monday to give Jonathan Pollard, now serving a life sentence for spying for Israel, access to records that could bolster his case for a presidential clemency. Pollard sold military secrets to Israel while he worked at the Defense Department's Pentagon headquarters. He was arrested in 1985 and pleaded guilty. The Israeli government granted Pollard citizenship and repeatedly has pressed for his release .
    here for more

    Read here original article in UPI Newswire

    Read here related article "Study alleges US sets aside own security interest for Israel's" in Christian Science Monitor

    1. Click here to read related article in News Compass

    2. An edited version of this paper was published in the London Review of Books Vol. 28, No. 6 (March 23, 2006), and is available online at

    3. Click here to read the FULL article "The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy"

    4. Click Here to DOWNLOAD FULL article "The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy" (in MSWord document)

    5. Click here to read "The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy" from Harvard University website (in .pdf format. Requires Acrobat Reader download)

    Two of America's top scholars have published a searing attack on the role and power of Washington's pro-Israel lobby in a British journal, warning that its "decisive" role in fomenting the Iraq war is now being repeated with the threat of action against Iran.

    And they say that the Lobby is so strong that they doubt their article would be accepted in any U.S.-based publication.

    The article, which is already stirring furious debate in U.S. academic and intellectual circles, also explores the historical role of the Lobby.

    Professor John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago, author of "The Tragedy of Great Power Politics" and Professor Stephen Walt of Harvard's Kenney School, and author of "Taming American Power: The Global Response to U.S. Primacy," are leading figures American in academic life.

    They claim that :

  • the Israel lobby has distorted American policy and operates against American interests,

  • it has organized the funneling of more than $140 billion dollars to Israel and "has a stranglehold" on the U.S. Congress, and

  • its ability to raise large campaign funds gives its vast influence over Republican and Democratic administrations,

  • its role in Washington think tanks on the Middle East dominates the policy debate.

    And they say that the Lobby works ruthlessly to:
    • suppress questioning of its role,

    • blacken its critics and

    • crush serious debate about the wisdom of supporting Israel in U.S. public life.

    They argue that far from being a strategic asset to the United States, Israel "is becoming a strategic burden" and "does not behave like a loyal ally."

    They also suggest that Israel is also now "a liability in the war on terror and the broader effort to deal with rogue states."

    The article focuses strongly on the role of the "neo-conservatives" within the Bush administration in driving the decision to launch the war on Iraq.

    Walt and Mearsheimer wrote in the 12,800-word article published in the latest issue of The London Review of Books:

    "Silencing skeptics by organizing blacklists and boycotts -- or by suggesting that critics are anti-Semites -- violates the principle of open debate on which democracy depends.

    The inability of Congress to conduct a genuine debate on these important issues paralyses the entire process of democratic deliberation.

    Israel's backers should be free to make their case and to challenge those who disagree with them, but efforts to stifle debate by intimidation must be roundly condemned."

    The main driving force behind the war was a small band of neo-conservatives, many with ties to the Likud. Given the neo-conservatives' devotion to Israel, their obsession with Iraq, and their influence in the Bush administration, it isn't surprising that many Americans suspected that the war was designed to further Israeli interests.

    The neo-conservatives had been determined to topple Saddam even before Bush became president. They caused a stir early in 1998 by publishing two open letters to Clinton, calling for Saddam's removal from power.

    The signatories, many of whom had close ties to pro-Israel groups like JINSA (Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs) or WINEP (Washington Institute for Near Eastern Policy), and who included Elliot Abrams, John Bolton, Douglas Feith, William Kristol, Bernard Lewis, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz, had little trouble persuading the Clinton administration to adopt the general goal of ousting Saddam.

    But they were unable to sell a war to achieve that objective. They were no more able to generate enthusiasm for invading Iraq in the early months of the Bush administration.

    They needed help to achieve their aim. That help arrived with 9/11.

    Specifically, the events of that day led Bush and Cheney to reverse course and become strong proponents of a preventive war.

    For the past several decades, and especially since the Six-Day War in 1967, the centerpiece of US Middle Eastern policy has been its relationship with Israel.

    The combination of unwavering support for Israel and the related effort to spread 'democracy' throughout the region has inflamed Arab and Islamic opinion and jeopardized not only U.S. security but that of much of the rest of the world.

    This situation has no equal in American political history.

    Why has the U.S. been willing to set aside its own security and that of many of its allies in order to advance the interests of another state?

    The thrust of U.S. policy in the region derives almost entirely from domestic politics, and especially the activities of the 'Israel Lobby'.

    Other special-interest groups have managed to skew foreign policy, but no lobby has managed to divert it as far from what the national interest would suggest, while simultaneously convincing Americans that U.S. interests and those of the other country - in this case, Israel -- are essentially identical.

    Saying that Israel and the U.S. are united by a shared terrorist threat has the causal relationship backwards: the US has a terrorism problem in good part because it is so closely allied with Israel, not the other way around.

    Support for Israel is not the only source of anti-American terrorism, but it is an important one, and it makes winning the war on terror more difficult. There is no question that many al-Qaida leaders, including Osama bin Laden, are motivated by Israel's presence in Jerusalem and the plight of the Palestinians.

    Unconditional support for Israel makes it easier for extremists to rally popular support and to attract recruits."

    They question the argument that Israel deserves support as the only democracy in the Middle East, claiming that :

    "...some aspects of Israeli democracy are at odds with core American values.

    Unlike the US, where people are supposed to enjoy equal rights irrespective of race, religion or ethnicity, Israel was explicitly founded as a Jewish state and citizenship is based on the principle of blood kinship.

    Given this, it is not surprising that its 1.3 million Arabs are treated as second-class citizens."

    The most powerful force in the Lobby is AIPAC, the American-Israel Public affairs Committee, which Walt and Mearsheimer call "a de facto agent for a foreign government," and which they say has now forged an important alliance with evangelical Christian groups.

    The bulk of the article is a detailed analysis of the way they claim the Lobby managed to change the Bush administration's policy from "halting Israel's expansionist policies in the Occupied Territories and advocating the creation of a Palestinian state" and divert it to the war on Iraq instead.

    They write:

    "Pressure from Israel and the Lobby was not the only factor behind the decision to attack Iraq in March 2003, but it was critical.

    Thanks to the lobby, the United States has become the de facto enabler of Israeli expansion in the Occupied Territories, making it (US) complicit in the crimes perpetrated against the Palestinians."

    and conclude that :
    "Israel itself would probably be better off if the Lobby were less powerful and U.S. policy more even-handed."

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       Sunday, March 19, 2006

      Must Read !! Harvard University Study:"The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy"


      John J. Mearsheimer, Department of Political Science
      University of Chicago

      Stephen M. Walt, John F. Kennedy School of Government
      Harvard University

      HARVARD UNIVERSITY, John F. Kennedy School of Government
      Faculty Research Working Papers Series, March 2006

      Other Breaking News

      Image hosting by Photobucket

      JENIN: An eight-year-old Palestinian girl was shot dead by the Israeli military in the northern West Bank last night.Iqbar Zayed was riding in a car driven by her uncle in Yamun, east of Jenin, when she was hit, Palestinian hospital sources said. Her uncle was wounded.
      here for more

      An edited version of this paper was published in the London Review of Books Vol. 28, No. 6 (March 23, 2006), and is available online at

    1. Click here to read the FULL article "The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy"

    2. Click Here to DOWNLOAD FULL article "The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy" (in MSWord document)

    3. Click here to read "The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy" from Harvard University website (in .pdf format. Requires Acrobat Reader download)

      U.S. foreign policy shapes events in every corner of the globe. Nowhere is this truer than in the Middle East, a region of recurring instability and enormous strategic importance.

      Most recently, the Bush Administration’s attempt to transform the region into a community of democracies has helped produce a resilient insurgency in Iraq, a sharp rise in world oil prices, and terrorist bombings in Madrid, London, and Amman.

      With so much at stake for so many, all countries need to understand the forces that drive U.S. Middle East policy.

      The U.S. national interest should be the primary object of American foreign policy.

      For the past several decades, however, and especially since the Six Day War in 1967, the centerpiece of U.S. Middle East policy has been its relationship with Israel.

      The combination of unwavering U.S. support for Israel and the related effort to spread democracythroughout the region has inflamed Arab and Islamic opinion and jeopardized U.S. security.

      This situation has NO equal inAmerican political history.

      Why has the United States been willing to set aside its own securityin order to advance the interests of another state?

      One might assume that the bond between the two countries is based on shared strategic interests or compelling moral imperatives.

      As we show below, however, neither of those explanations can account for the remarkable level of material and diplomatic support that the United States provides to Israel.

      Instead, the overall thrust of U.S. policy inthe region is due almost entirely to U.S. domestic politics, and especially to the activities of the “Israel Lobby."

      Other special interest groups have managed to skew U.S. foreign policy in directions they favored, but NO lobby has managed to divert U.S. foreign policy as far from what the American national interest would otherwise suggest, while simultaneously convincing Americans that U.S. and Israeli interests are essentially identical.1

      In the pages that follow, we describe HOW the (Israel) Lobby has accomplished this feat, and how its activities have shaped America’s actions in this critical region.

      Given the strategic importance of the Middle East and its potential impact on others, both Americans and non-Americans need to understand and address the Lobby’s influence on U.S. policy.

      Some readers will find this analysis disturbing, but the facts recounted here are not in serious dispute among scholars.

      Indeed, our account relies heavily on the work of Israeli scholars and journalists, who deserve great credit for shedding light on these issues.

      We also rely on evidence provided by respected Israeli and international human rights organizations.

      Similarly, our claims about the Lobby’s impact rely on testimony from the Lobby’s own members, as well as testimony from politicians who have worked with them.

      Readers may reject our conclusions, of course, but the evidence on which they rest is NOT controversial.
    4. Since the October War in 1973, Washington has provided Israel with a level of support dwarfing the amounts provided to any other state.

      It has been the largest annual recipient of direct U.S. economic and military assistance since 1976 and the largest total recipient since World War II.

      Total direct U.S. aid to Israel amounts to well over $140 billion in 2003 dollars.

      Israel receives about $3 billion in direct foreign assistance EACH year, which is roughly one~fifthof America’s foreign aid budget.

      In per capita terms, the United States gives each Israeli a direct subsidy worth about $500 per year.

      This largesse is especially striking when one realizes that Israelis now a wealthy industrial state with a per capita income roughly equal to South Korea or Spain.

      Moreover, the United States has provided Israel withnearly $3 billion to develop weapons systems like the Lavi aircraft that the Pentagon did not want or need, while giving Israel access to top~drawer U.S. weaponry like Blackhawk helicopters and F-16 jets.

      Finally, the United States gives Israel access to intelligence that it denies its NATO allies and has turned a blind eye towards Israel’s acquisition of nuclear weapons.

      In addition, Washington provides Israel with consistent diplomatic support.

      Since 1982, the United States has vetoed 32 United Nations Security Council resolutions that were critical of Israel, a number greater than the combined total of vetoes cast by all the other Security Council members.

      It also blocks Arab states’efforts to put Israel’s nuclear arsenal on the International Atomic Energy Agency’s agenda.

      The United States also comes to Israel’s rescue in wartime and takes its side when negotiating peace.

      The Nixon Administration re~supplied Israel during the October War and protected Israel from the threat of Soviet intervention.

      Washington was deeply involved in the negotiations that ended that war as well as the lengthy “step-by-step”process that followed, just as it played a key role in the negotiations that preceded and followed the 1993 Oslo Accords.

      There were occasional frictions between U.S. and Israeli officials in both cases, but the United States coordinated its positions closely with Israel and consistently backed the Israeli approach to the negotiations.

      Indeed, one American participant at Camp David (2000) later said, “far too often, we functioned. . . as Israel’s lawyer.”

      As discussed below, Washington has given Israel wide latitude in dealing with the occupied territories (the West Bank and Gaza Strip), even when its actions were at odds withstated U.S. policy.

      Moreover, the Bush Administration’s ambitious strategy to transform the Middle East—beginning withthe invasion of Iraq—is at least partly intended to improve Israel’s strategic situation.

      Apart from wartime alliances, it is hard to think of another instance where one country has provided another with a similar level of material and diplomatic support for such an extended period.

      America’s support for Israelis, in short, unique.

      This extraordinary generosity might be understandable if Israel were a vital strategic asset or if there were a compelling moral case for sustained U.S. backing.

      But neither rationale is convincing.

      More importantly, saying that Israel and the United States are united by a shared terrorist threat has the causal relationship backwards: rather, the United States has a terrorism problem in good part because it is so closely allied with Israel, NOT the other way around.

      U.S. support for Israelis not the only source of anti-American terrorism, but it is an important one, and it makes winning the war on terror more difficult.

      There is no question, for example, that many al Qaeda leaders, including bin Laden, are motivated by Israel’s presence in Jerusalem and the plight of the Palestinians.

      According to the U.S. 9/11 Commission, binLaden explicitly sought to punish the United States for its policies inthe Middle East, including its support for Israel, and he even tried to time the attacks to highlight this issue.

      The U.S. relationship with Israel actually makes it harder to deal with these states.

      Israel’s nuclear arsenal is one reason why some of its neighbors want nuclear weapons, and threatening these states withregime change merely increases that desire.

      Yet Israelis NOT much of an asset when the United States contemplates using force against these regimes, because it cannot participate in the fight.

      In short, treating Israel as America’s most important ally in the campaign against terrorism and assorted Middle East dictatorships bothexaggerates Israel’s ability to help on these issues and ignores the ways that Israel’s policies make U.S. efforts more difficult.

      Unquestioned support for Israel also weakens the U.S. position outside the Middle East.

      Foreign elites consistently view the United States as too supportive of Israel, and think its tolerance of Israeli repression in the occupied territories is morally obtuse and a handicap in the war on terrorism.

      In April 2004, for example, 52 former British diplomats sent Prime Minister Tony Blair a letter saying that the Israel~Palestine conflict had “poisoned relations between the West and the Arab and Islamic worlds,”and warning that the policies of Bush and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon were “one~sided and illegal.”

      A final reason to question Israel’s strategic value is that it does not act like a loyal ally. Israeli officials frequently ignore U.S. requests and renege on promises made to top U.S. leaders (including past pledges to halt settlement construction and to refrain from “targeted assassinations”of Palestinian leaders).

      Moreover, Israel has provided sensitive U.S. military technology to potential U.S. rivals like China, in what the U.S. State Department Inspector~General called “a systematic and growing pattern of unauthorized transfers.”

      There is a strong moral case for supporting Israel’s existence, but that is not in jeopardy.

      Viewed objectively, Israel’s past and present conduct offers NO moral basis for privileging it over the Palestinians.

      Today, Israel is the strongest military power inthe Middle East. Its conventional forces are far superior to its neighbors and it is the only state in the region with nuclear weapons.

      Egypt and Jordan signed peace treaties with Israel and Saudi Arabia has offered to do so as well.
      Syria has lost its Soviet patron, Iraq has been decimated by three disastrous wars, and Iran is hundreds of miles away.

      The Palestinians barely have effective police, let alone a military that could threaten Israel.

      According to a 2005 assessment by Tel Aviv University’s prestigious Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, “the strategic balance decidedly favors Israel, which has continued to widen the qualitative gap between its own military capability and deterrence powers and those of its neighbors.”

      If backing the underdog were a compelling rationale, the United States would be supporting Israel’s opponents.

      American backing is often justified by the claim that Israelis a fellow~democracy surrounded by hostile dictatorships.

      This rationale sounds convincing, but it CANNOT account for the current level of U.S. support.

      Israel’s democratic status is also undermined by its refusal to grant the Palestinians a viable state of their own.

      Israel controls the lives of about 3.8 million Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, while colonizing lands on which the Palestinians have long dwelt.

      Israel is formally democratic, but the millions of Palestinians that it controls are denied full political rights and the “shared democracy”rationale is correspondingly weakened.

      The mainstream Zionist leadership was not interested in establishing a bi-national state or accepting a permanent partition of Palestine.

      The Zionist leadership was sometimes willing to accept partition as a first step, but this was a tactical maneuver and not their real objective.

      As David Ben~Gurion put it in the late 1930s, “After the formation of a large army inthe wake of the establishment of the state, we shall abolish partition and expand to the whole of Palestine.”

      The fact that the creation of Israel entailed a moral crime against the Palestinian people was well understood by Israel’s leaders.

      As Ben~Gurion told Nahum Goldmann, president of the World Jewish Congress,

      “If I were an Arab leader I would never make terms withIsrael. That is natural: we have taken their country. . . . We come from Israel, but two thousand years ago, and what is that to them? There has been anti~Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault?

      They only see one thing: we have come here and stolen their country.

      Why should they accept that?”

      The final moral argument portrays Israel as a country that has sought peace at every turn and showed great restraint even when provoked.

      The Arabs, by contrast, are said to have acted withgreat wickedness.

      This narrative—which is endlessly repeated by Israeli leaders and American apologists such as Alan Dershowitz—is yet another myth.

      In terms of actual behavior, Israel’s conduct is NOT morally distinguishable from the actions of its opponents.

      The core of the Lobby is comprised of American Jews who make a significant effort in their daily lives to bend U.S. foreign policy so that it advances Israel’s interests.

      Their activities go beyond merely voting for candidates who are pro-Israel to include letter~writing, financial contributions, and supporting pro-Israel organizations.

      But not all Jewish~Americans are part of the Lobby, because Israel is not a salient issue for many of them.

      The Lobby also includes prominent Christian evangelicals like Gary Bauer, Jerry Falwell, Ralph Reed, and Pat Robertson, as well as Dick Armey and Tom DeLay, former majority leaders inthe House of Representatives.

      The Israel Lobby’s power flows from its unmatched ability to play this game of interest group politics. In its basic operations, it is no different from interest groups like the Farm Lobby, steel and textile workers, and other ethnic lobbies. What sets the Israel Lobby apart is its extraordinary effectiveness.

      But there is nothing improper about American Jews and their Christian allies attempting to sway U.S. policytowards Israel.

      The Lobby pursues two broad strategies to promote U.S. support for Israel.

      First, it wields significant influence inWashington, pressuring both Congress and the Executive branch to support Israel down the line.

      Whatever an individual lawmaker or policymaker’s own views, the Lobby tries to make supporting Israel the “smart”political choice.

      Second, the Lobby strives to ensure that public discourse about Israel portrays it in a positive light, by repeating myths about Israel and its founding and by publicizing Israel’s side in the policydebates of the day.

      The goal is to prevent critical commentary about Israel from getting a fair hearing inthe political arena.

      Controlling the debate is essential to guaranteeing U.S. support, because a candid discussion of U.S.~Israeli relations might lead Americans to favor a different policy.

      A key pillar of the Lobby’s effectiveness is its influence in the U.S. Congress, where Israelis virtually immune from criticism.

      This is in itself a remarkable situation, because Congress almost never shies away from contentious issues.

      One reason for the Lobby’s success with Congress is that some key members are Christian Zionists like Dick Armey, who said in September 2002 that:

      "My No. 1 priority in foreign policy is to protect Israel.”

      One would think that the number 1 priority for any congressman would be to “protect America,”but that is not what Armey said.

      There are also Jewish senators and congressmen who work to make U.S. foreign policy support Israel’s interests.

      As Morris Amitay, a former head of AIPAC, once admitted,
      “There are a lot of guys at the working level up here [on Capitol Hill] …who happen to be Jewish, who are willing …to look at certain issues in terms of their Jewishness …. These are all guys who are ina position to make the decision in these areas for those senators …. You can get an awful lot done just at the staff level.”


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       Friday, March 17, 2006

      Bush Jong-Il's Regime and the War with Iran


      Charles H. Featherstone
      (Charles H. Featherstone is a Washington, D.C.-based journalist specializing in energy, the Middle East, and Islam)

      Read here full article

      Well, it seems we are truly slouching – stumbling drunkenly, actually – toward war with Iran.

      It seems at this point that Team Bush will, sometime before the fall (and possibly as soon as the summer), attack Iran. It appears as inevitable as the coming of spring or the raising of the federal debt limit.

      The war, if it comes, will not be fought because Iran is trying to create a euro-denominated spot and futures market for oil. Nor will it come because Iran is allegedly pursuing nuclear weapons, though that will be the excuse given at forums in New York, in salons across Europe, and at angry, hectoring press conferences here in Mordor-on-the-Potomac.

      No, the real reason the United States will wage war on Iran is because the Bush Jong Il régime will decide the only way to save face and withdraw from Iraq with some "dignity" in fact is to bomb Iran.

      And the Democrats, worthless "opposition" that they are, have made Iran the centerpiece of a ridiculous strategy of being to the "right" of Republicans on matters of national security (sic), of becoming more hawkish than thou in order to never be on the "wrong" side of another American war ever again.

      It will be decided that the reason the whole duh-mocracy in Iraq thing failed was because Iran meddled. It’s all Teheran’s fault.

      The bombing of Iran’s nuclear sites, its governmental installations, the infiltration of commandos to commit acts of terrorism by blowing stuff up and killing people, will all be part of a general war against the Shia of the Middle East.

      There may also be joint Israeli-American attacks on Hizbullah in Lebanon. The air campaign against Iran will last anywhere from four days to two weeks, and it will go well (from a Pentagon standpoint, not an Iranian or human one).

      The US Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps will lose few planes, and no one will really care how many Iranians get killed. (Europe is learning not to care about the welfare or even shared humanity of Muslims – funny how valuable all this nonsense about a handful of dumb cartoons may end up being).

      After all, about the only things Americans can really do well anymore is bomb stuff from the air.

      Over and over again, for the last nearly 40 years, we have shown just how well we’ve mastered this economically worthless skill.

      So well, in fact, that we are a nation mainly of bombers or wanna-be-bombers, a tiny few perched in actual cockpits while many dream and practice at computers of actually doing the evil deed. (And that makes us different from the Muslims we condemn exactly how? Because we don’t blow ourselves up while we do it? Because we’ve leveraged very expensive high technology to do it?)

      I don’t expect many US troops to actually cross Iranian borders.

      In fact, the attack on Iran may be part of a general evacuation of American troops from Iraq, part of the "Iraqization" process and how Team Bush "helps" the Iraqi military cope with the civil war. The goal will not be to unseat the Iranian government.

      It won’t even be to really eradicate Iran’s nuclear program. It will simply be to show the world that the US of A is still strong, still mighty, still matters, that no one f**ks with the United States of America, that we can still beat up on people who make us mad.

      That various American administrations have to try to keep "teaching" that lesson time and again to the world at large pretty well means it isn’t really true and that most everyone in the world who isn’t an American (along with a few Americans) knows this.

      After all, do truly strong and confident people – or communities of people – need to go around beating up on others all the time?

      But I’m fairly convinced that, for political reasons, an attack on Iran will be for the Bush people what the invasions of Laos and Cambodia were for the Nixon people – an expansion of the war as political eyewash to cover the defeat and justify a withdrawal.

      It will still be a murderous, foolish and pointless expansion, but it will be in aid of a general retreat, and not part of any "new phase" of "The Long War."

      The whole point of the never-ending war on whatever to begin with was to create and sustain permanent Republican rule, and it has more or less blown up in Karl Rove’s and George W. Bush’s faces.

      I think the rank-and-file GOP recognize a loss when they see it, and are maybe fearing for their political futures.

      In the era of the Cold War and beyond, American nationalism and militarism became a kind of mystical religion for the GOP. As pointless as the invasion and occupation of Iraq has been, I don’t expect the GOP faith in their idol to change much, though dreams of world conquest and management will likely be tempered, at least for a while.

      At some point, you would think enough Americans – even the dumb ones who, like trained animals, salivate thoughtlessly at the sight of a fluttering flag – will begin to balk at it all. One can only feed a hungry, demanding idol for so long.

      Democrats have their own reasons for supporting an attack on Iran, most of which have nothing to do with covering a retreat from Iraq (because most senior Democrats don’t want a retreat).

      There is the desire by the party’s New York and Washington policy elite that war must be maintained as a policy option, for those Democrats have not (and likely will never) abandon their Social Democratic dreams of world management and world governance.

      But the party’s brightest lights (sic) also want to make sure they are never on the wrong side of an American war ever again, never burning flags or draft cards, never making impassioned speeches against intervention, never tossing medals and ribbons into bonfires.

      I always found it interesting that most of the anti-Iraq invasion talking heads on teevee and radio couched their opposition to the war in terms of Bush Jong Il not being serious about real threats – Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, even Saudi Arabia.

      They weren’t so much against the war; they were merely opposed to Bush’s war.

      Iran is also, for good, secular, progressive Democrats, the reddest red state in the world, a theocracy ruled by ignorant, angry men who hate and repress women, young people, ethnic minorities, homosexuals and Jews – all in the name of God.

      They may not be able to liberate backwards-looking Texas, or Utah, or Alabama from the tight clutches of pastors, bishops and televangelists (at least not yet), but they can bomb the bejeezus out of Qom, Teheran and Isfahan, and they can impose régime change (for unlike the Bush people, they want it) on far-away places in need of good, enlightened, secular, professional and modern management.

      Lastly, some Democrats may simply hold a grudge against Iran, because it was its mad mullahs who unseated Jimmy Carter and made possible the long reign of the GOP.

      (Think about it: Ayatollah Khomeini may have saved us from an eventual Ted Kennedy presidency, so consider that next time you go to curse Iran.)

      And they may be seeking to settle the score. Carter himself may have a different opinion on the matter, but like yours and mine, his doesn’t matter to the current Democrat leadership either.

      So the Democratic leadership will cheer the war on, all the while criticizing Bush Jong Il’s efforts as "half-hearted" and harping incessantly that it can be better waged – more, meaner, faster.

      I don’t expect the Iranians to sit still during an attack.

      Teheran and its allies have pretty well mastered the art of asymmetrical warfare, the roadside bomb and suicide attack, and I have no doubt they will do so again, especially against the dispersed and vulnerable US forces currently occupying Iraq.

      Depending on how extensive the Teheran-allied terror networks are, how well organized they are, that war could quickly come home in a way that could make us all nostalgic for September 11, 2001.

      Claude Mandil, the head of the Paris-based International Energy Agency, may say the world has enough crude oil on hand to cope with any disruption of Iran’s 2.5 million barrels-per-day of exports, but I don’t find that much comfort, especially since the oil terminals and refineries of the Arab Gulf are just so many shiny, easily combustible targets within range of Iranian conventional and unconventional weapons.

      A couple of successful attacks on the Gulf’s oil facilities and the resulting rise in crude oil prices could sink the world economy.

      Hizbullah and Hamas are the only militaries in the Arab world that have gone toe-to-toe with the Israeli Defense Forces and come out ahead, so they’re not that afraid of conventional armies.

      The Sunni and Shia of Iraq have learned a similar lesson over the last three years. There are certain advantages to fearing God more than either death or the United States of America.

      And what if Teheran or those sympathetic to its cause manage to attack the US in response?

      If war with Iran comes – and I hope it is not the crazed, looming inevitability it appears to be right now – neither peace nor freedom will have many high-placed friends in this country.

      But at least maybe enough Americans will finally realize the truth – that we the people are not the government, that we have almost no say over anything it does, and that those who make its laws, craft its rules and carry them out care nary a whit for our welfare, security and well-being.

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       Monday, March 13, 2006

      Israelis were Warned on Illegality of Settlements in 1967 Memo


      Donald Macintyre

      Read here original article in Independent UK

      Israeli ministers were secretly warned just after the Six-Day War in 1967 that any policy of building settlements across occupied Palestinian territories violated international law.

      A "top secret" memo by the Foreign Ministry's then legal counsel said that would "contravene the explicit provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention".

      Growth of Jewish settlements over the next three decades followed.

      The official advice that a policy which is now a major obstacle to a peaceful settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict had no basis in international law has been highlighted by the Israeli historian, Gershom Gorenberg.

      His new book, The Accidental Empire: Israel and the Birth of the Settlements will generate fresh debate on the legality of the West Bank settlements in the wake of Ariel Sharon's decision to withdraw 8,500 settlers from Gaza last August.

      Most of the international community has held that Jewish settlement in the territories seized in the 1967 war contravened international law, and the Geneva Conventions in particular, but this has long been publicly contested by Israel.

      The highly classified internal advice was given by Theodor Meron, who left Israel a decade later and became a leading international jurist who until the end of last year was president of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

      After the 1967 Israeli prime minister, Levi Eshkol, made it known he wanted settlements in the Golan Heights, seized from Syria in the war, and in the Jordan Valley, to make Israel's borders more defensible, Mr Meron was asked whether international law allowed such settlement.

      The counsel sanctioned short-term settlement "by military bodies rather than civilian ones", but explicitly ruled out civilian settlements which were energetically established by successive Israel governments, leading to an Israeli population of more than 240,00 in the West Bank today.

      The Israeli acting Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, has made it clear that while Israel is prepared to withdraw further settlements from the West Bank, it intends, unilaterally if it cannot reach a negotiated peace deal, to annex territory occupied by others, including the three big settlement blocks of Ma'ale Admumim, Gush Etzion and Ariel.

      The Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, 78, who is still in a coma, had secured assurances from President George Bush that borders in a "final status" agreement with the Palestinians would allow such blocks to remain in Israel.

      Mr Meron's advice, also referred to in another recent book on the 1967 war and its aftermath by the eminent Israeli journalist Tom Segev, also explicitly rejected an argument now used by Israel to defend the legality of settlements, namely that the West Bank was not "normal" occupied territory because it had not indisputably belonged to another sovereign national power and had been unilaterally annexed by Jordan.

      Mr Meron said the international community would regard settlement as showing "intent to annex the West Bank", adding that "certain Israeli actions are inconsistent with the claim that the West Bank is not occupied territory". He pointed out that the government specifically decreed military courts had to apply the Geneva Conventions in the West Bank.

      Israel has long argued that the policy of settlement conforms with the 1922 League of Nations decision at the San Remo conference in favour of Jewish settlement in Palestine. It also contests that the Fourth Geneva Convention's clear prohibition of transfers of civilian population to occupied lands was drafted to deal with forced population transfers in central and eastern Europe in the Second World War.

      Yesterday, Mark Regev, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, said Israel did NOT accept that settlements properly decided by the government contravened international law.

      "We distinguish between illegal outposts, which will be demolished, and legal communities established according to the law." He said the original advice had not been upheld by decisions of the Israeli courts.

      In yesterday's New York Times, Mr Gorenberg said:

      "Today it is clear that Israel's future as a Jewish state depends on ending its rule of the West Bank.

      Thirty-eight years after the missed warning, we must find a way to untie the entanglement."

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       Wednesday, March 01, 2006

      Jailed David Irving Revisits Holocaust Claims

        Read here original article in BBC

      Click here on Time Line on David Irving's controversial career

      "If there was an extermination programme to kill all the Jews, how come so many survived? " -
      David Irving

      Jailed British historian David Irving has again said he does not believe Hitler presided over a systematic attempt to exterminate Jews in Europe.

      During his trial in Austria, Irving said he had changed his mind over claims the Holocaust did not happen.

      But, speaking from his cell later, he told BBC News the numbers killed at Auschwitz were smaller than claimed.

      He is appealing for a reduction in the three-year jail term. Prosecutors are seeking for it to be lengthened.

      The Austrian state prosecutor's office said it believed Irving's sentence for Holocaust denial was too lenient in light of a possible sentence of up to 10 years.

      The prosecutor also deemed the sentence too light because of "Irving's special importance to right-wing radicals", a spokesman for the office said.

      The historian pleaded guilty in his one-day trial in Vienna on 20 February.

      In court, the 67-year-old admitted that in 1989 he had denied that Nazi Germany had killed millions of Jews.

      Speaking from prison, where he is in solitary confinement for 23 hours each day, Irving told BBC Radio 4's Today programme he now believed there had been cases of Jewish people being gassed during World War II.

      But he said that while he accepted 1.4 million were killed in the so-called "Operation Reinhard" camps which included Treblinka and Sobibor, he did NOT accept that large numbers were murdered at Auschwitz.

      He claimed there were two "small" gas chambers there, not the large-scale gas chambers identified by other historians.

      "Given the ruthless efficiency of the Germans, if there was an extermination programme to kill all the Jews, how come so many survived?" he said.

      When asked whether there was an organised programme to exterminate the Jews in Europe, overseen by Hitler, Irving told Today: "That is absolutely wrong and nobody can justify that.

      "Adolf Hitler's own involvement in it has a big question mark behind it."

      The trial against Irving arose from comments he made in Austria in 1989 denying the existence of gas chambers at Auschwitz.

      Austria is one of 11 countries with laws against denying the Holocaust.

      The historian previously said that he doubted the Holocaust's existence until he saw the personal files of Adolf Eichmann, the chief organiser of the Holocaust.

      "I said that then based on my knowledge at the time, but by 1991 when I came across the Eichmann papers, I wasn't saying that anymore and I wouldn't say that now," Irving told the court.

      "The Nazis did murder millions of Jews."

      In the past, he had claimed that Adolf Hitler knew little, if anything, about the Holocaust, and that the gas chambers were a hoax.

      Irving's lawyer has said his client is unlikely to serve the full three-year term because of various factors, including his age.

      Speaking on Today, Richard Evans, professor of German history at Cambridge University and a witness against Irving at a libel trial in 2000, dismissed the latest comments.

      "He was, I think, arrogant enough to believe that he wouldn't be arrested," said Professor Evans.

      "But having said that, I think the Austrian action is ill-advised. I don't think that law which bans Holocaust denial is really necessary any longer and I think it's really regrettable the vast media circus that's surrounding Mr Irving now [is] just simply giving prominence to his absurd views." .



      Czech Republic








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