Archive for The Israel Lobby

On The Savaging of Chuck Hagel

Posted in On Foreign Affairs, On Israel, Playthell on politics with tags , , on January 9, 2013 by playthell

Chuck Hagel

             A Decorated combat Veteran and Ex-US Senator

 Should Ideologues and Special Interests Determine American Foreign Policy?

      While some members of my party – and I am a “Yellow Dog Democrat” – are agitated over the fact that President Obama may be about to appoint yet another Republican to the helm of the Department of Defense – whose raison d’etre is waging war – I have other concerns regarding the appointment of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense.

As near as I can tell,  these Democrats are principally concerned about the possibility that President Obama’s choice will confirm the myth that only Republicans can be trusted to direct the nation’s defense.  While this is a legitimate complaint from the winning party, who have ample reason to suspect the motives of the losers, I have bigger fish to fry.

For whatever dangers the perpetuation of the myth of the Republican strong man poses – which are not insignificant – the protests coming from the hawks in Mr. Hagel’s own party such as Senator Lindsay Graham and others are far more disturbing.  The questions they raise go directly to the issue of defining a national security policy that is based on an objective analysis of the realities facing our nation.

In order to create effective policies that address American national interests in a dangerous world faced with many complex problems, the first thing any analyst must do is scrap the bogus ideology of “American Exceptionalism,” because it promotes the idea that Americans have a mission to reshape other societies in our image that engenders an evangelical approcach to foreign policy

The next most important precondition is to free policymakers from the corrosive influences of special interests.  Foremost among these interests are political pressure groups and the Military/Industrial complex i.e. the defense contractors who welcome any opportunity to acquire multi-billion dollar government contracts.  Ironically, it was a very popular Republican President and top military commander, Dwight Eisenhower, who warned us of the dangers of developing a military/industrial complex because he believed it would spur the nation to wars for profit.

By virtue of his independent position on the Middle-East and rejection of those who wish to manufacture war hysteria, Chuck Hagel is anathema to both factions. In the storm brewing around his nomination we are witnessing a convergence of these forces that amounts to a dangerous and unholy alliance.  I would argue that the clear and present danger represented by these forces far outweighs the concerns of my fellow Democrats about untoward appearances…which is largely a matter of cosmetics.

I see no cause for great concern here, since President Obama is Commander-In-Chief and whoever is Secretary of Defense will carry out his orders and implement his vision of the world.  Having spent his entire first term in the presidency conducting two major foreign wars, and several police actions, he is no novice in matters of war and peace.

Hence the President will not be intimidated by military men.  The danger represented by the forces that oppose Hagel’s nomination causes me far greater concern, because they reveal the extent to which American foreign policy options are determined by special interests rather than US national interests.

When we look at the policy struggles on a variety of critical issues involving the national interests, it is frighteningly obvious that far too many cowardly politicians keen on political survival are willing to “sell their souls to the company store”.  That’s why we find ourselves in the absurd position of constantly being on the verge of inflicting disaster on our own economic system – throwing the nation into a second Republican induced depression – because Republican Congressmen are scared to death of bucking the commands of anti-tax zealot Grover Norchrist and his Tea Party allies; rightwing zealots who have pledged to run candidates against them in the Republican primaries should they deviate from the Tea Party line.

Given the unlimited spending by special interests, which is now legal due to the disastrous Supreme Court decision in the “Citizens United” case, the anti-tax lobby is very well funded by people like the multi-billionaire Koch Brothers.  The Republicans are reminding us in grand fashion that he who pays the piper calls the tune.

Alas, this cowardly attitude is also reflected in the arena of foreign policy.  Hence, due to the genuflection of avaricious, hypocritical, opportunistic politicians – terrified by the likes of the passionate American Zionist billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who is willing to spend hundreds of millions to defeat candidates that refuse to tow the Israel Lobby’s line on Mid-East policy – the fate of the nation may well be determined by special interests at the expense of the national interests.

Nothing demonstrates this possibility more than the nature of the attacks against former Senator Hagel.  And it is all the more frightening because when you subject these charges to close scrutiny it is readily apparent that Hagel’s major sins have to do with him defending American interests in the world, and unapologetically privileging that interest over Israeli interests.

He has called for negotiations with Hamas, the militant Palestinian organization that the Israelis call terrorists – but was elected to govern Gaza by the Palestinian people, and he opposes taking military action against Iran.  He reluctantly voted for the Iraq invasion but later considered it a mistake, and he opposed the expansion of the war in Afghanistan.

Furthermore,  he wants to reduce the size of the American military and end many foreign deployments.  All of which goes against the policies advocated by the Israel Lobby and their neo-con shills.

In return for his unflinching position that American and Israeli interests in the Middle-East are not identical, and that when they diverge American interest should be paramount, Hagel has been denounced as unqualified by such neo-con ideologues as Bill Kristol Jr. – a pretentious blabbermouth who was hugely influential in persuading Bush to invade Iraq, and even declared an enemy of Israel and worse: an anti-Semite aka a Jew Hater.  In the past this charge has proven to be a kiss of death for anyone in public life.

Everybody who knows Hagel says this is a damned lie, a misrepresentation of his position and character.  After all, this is a man who as a US senator voted for $38 billion in aid for Israel.  And Senator Lindsay Graham’s charge that President Obama’s nomination of Hagel is a defiant “in your face” challenge to Senate Republicans that is yet another slap at Israel, demonstrates the degree to which the Republican arguments bear no relationship to reality.  The Republican mantra that President Obama has shown unprecedented hostility to Israel is sheer poppycock.  No matter how many times they repeat it.

The fact is that the feigned love for Israel by Republican politicians amounts to little more than crass political opportunism and vulgar shameless pandering to the Christian Zionists.  Since Jews are few in number compared to Christians, and most Jews are liberal Democrats anyway, a function of their high level of education, it is the impassioned but untutored Christian fundamentalist soldiers to whom the pro-Israel Republican rhetoric is directed.

However high ranking national security figures in Israel are wary of the intentions of the Republican right and hold a very different view of President Obama.  In an interview in the prestigious journal Foreign Affairs Efraim Halevy, the former head of the MOSSAD, Israel’s CIA, criticized Romney’s use of Israel as a political prop.

“Regarding the election,” Halevy said, I think many of the statements made by the Republican candidate are very undesirable as far as Israel is concerned. I remember an article of Governor Romney’s in the Washington Post in March where he advocated dispatching American warships to the Eastern Mediterranean. Shooting from the hip on these matters is a very dangerous sport to be engaged in. And I think that drawing Israel into this campaign is detrimental to Israeli interests, and I regret that one of the candidates is doing this.”

In response to Mitt Romney’s claim that President Obama had “thrown Israel under the bus,” Halevy offered a counter-view of President Obama’s treatment of Israel. “On the practical side, the United States has been very supportive of Israel during President Barack Obama’s administration — both financially and strategically, we have received a lot of support.” Halevy went on to compare the positions of Romney and President Obama regarding Israeli security.  “What Romney is doing is mortally destroying any chance of a resolution without war,” he said.  “Obama does think there is still room for negotiations. It’s a very courageous thing to say in this atmosphere.”  

And in a later Op-Ed column in the New York Times of October 12, 2012 Mr. Halevy had this to say regarding Republican and Democrat support for Israel: Despite the Republican Party’s shrill campaign rhetoric on Israel, no Democratic president has ever strong-armed Israel on any key national security issue.” He also goes to great lengths to name a list of Republican Presidents who did exactly what they are now falsely accusing President Obama of doing.

Halevy’s views are echoed in the assessment of Ehud Barak, the Israeli Minister of Defense.  Speaking in an interview on CNN during the heat of the presidential campaign last July, Barak said “I should tell you honestly that this administration under President Obama is doing, in regard to our security, more than anything that I can remember in the past.”  When the Republican views of President Obama policies toward Israel are compared with the position of these high ranking Israeli’s, I am reminded of the wise Ibo proverb: “Beware of the stranger who comes to the funeral and cries louder than the bereaved family.”

Let us examine the case against Chuck Hagel and see if his detractors have a point; let’s look objectively at what the evidence suggests.  The crux of the charges against Hagel center around statements he made regarding US policy toward Israel, Iran and the militant Palestinian organization Hamas.  The evidence for the charge that Mr. Hagel is anti-Semitic resides in his comments during a 2006 interview in which he spoke of how the “Jewish Lobby” was “intimidating a lot of people.”

Hagel’s offense here was that he said “Jewish” rather than “Israel” Lobby, and that grave “offense” was compounded by him telling the truth about how they make “friends” and influence the votes of politicians through organized intimidation.   His reference to the “Jewish Lobby” was simply a matter of semantics, confusion regarding the Lobby’s proper name that puzzles a lot of Americans.  Yet in spite of the caterwauling from the Neo-Con warmongers and the pro-Zionists hawks – Christian and Jewish – the modus operandi described by Hagel is true!

The best evidence of this is the carefully directed campaign against his nomination as Defense Secretary being conducted by these very forces as I write.  And whether they are called the “Jewish Lobby” or the “Israel Lobby” is irrelevant: It is a distinction without a difference.  When one analyzes the content of the anti-Hagel rhetoric it becomes abundantly clear that his greatest sin was mentioning the existence of the “Israel Lobby” at all.

What else are we to conclude from the criticism that “Christians are part of the lobby too?”  And even worse are Arizona Senator John McCain’s statements that Hagel’s observations were “inappropriate,” and “There’s no such thing as a Jewish lobby,” McCain said when asked about Hagel’s comments. “There’s an Armenian lobby, there’s not a Jewish lobby. There’s an Israeli lobby. It’s called AIPAC, very influential.”

Aside from the fact that this is dishonest buffoonery, McCain also labeled the lobby incorrectly, and his offense is a far graver one because he said “Israeli Lobby,” which means a lobbying effort by a foreign government to influence America foreign policy in their favor.  This slip is really revealing; perhaps Senator McCain accidentally said what he really believes but dare not say on purpose.  His statement demonstrates that he, like everybody on Capitol Hill, knows the Lobby exists and that they exercise great power over American politics.

But we have seen John McCain change what were supposed to be principled positions so often he rivals Mitt Romney for the title “Mr. Chameleon.”  And we have already seen the extent to which he is willing to go in risking the national interests to gain a political advantage.  After all, this is the joker who argued that Sarah Palin, the airhead Alaskan Barbarian, was qualified to be the Chief Executive of the most powerful country in the world and Commander-In-Chief of the US armed forces.

His choice revealed a cavalier disregard for the national security of the United States, as well as a disdain for American women.  All of the educated women I know considered McCain’s choice of Palin for his vice President an insult to women who had worked long and hard to qualify themselves for top positions in this country.

Most thought that he wanted somebody as clueless and ineffectual as his wife Cindy, and he would treat her likewise, shunting her off into irrelevance once she helped him win the presidency by attracting the “Dumb Dora” vote.  However I have written about all this in earlier commentaries so I won’t rehash it here; my purpose is to remind people who this verbose charlatan is and suggest that the reader consider the source in weighing the drivel that flows from the pie hole of the Mack Man.

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What is important here is that American citizens understand the role of the Israel Lobby, and the militant pro-Israel neo-con cabal hatched in the Project for A New American Century, whose egghead policy wonks were the architects of the disastrous Iraq Invasion.  We avoided another reign of errors by this crazy crew only because we defeated Mitt and reelected the President.

One of the scariest things about Romney – and they were legion – is the number of these clowns he had tapped as foreign policy advisors.  For an in-depth analysis of their role in taking the nation into a war of choice read: “How the Iraq War was Hatched in a Think Tank” on this blog.

As early as 2002, stunned by the 911/attack and the recognition of a rising tide of militant anti-American Islamists, even a major neo-con intellectual  who had been editor of Irvin Kristol’s mag “The Public Interest,” a bible of the neo-cons, wrote the following in reference to the power of the Israel Lobby and questioned if it was in the best interests of the United States.

“Today the Israel lobby distorts U.S. foreign policy in a number of ways. Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, enabled by U.S. weapons and money, inflames anti-American attitudes in Arab and Muslim countries. The expansion of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land makes a mockery of the U.S. commitment to self-determination for Kosovo, East Timor and Tibet. The U.S. strategy of dual containment of Iraq and Iran pleases Israel-which is most threatened by them-but violates the logic of realpolitik and alienates most of America’s other allies. Beyond the region, U.S. policy on nuclear weapons proliferation is undermined by the double standard that has led it to ignore Israel’s nuclear program while condemning those of India and Pakistan.”

Although this commentator is on the right, his commentary is on the money and I have made all of these same points in a variety of essays.  No objective observer who is basing their analysis on the facts can arrive at any other conclusion…facts are stubborn things and can’t be wished away by ideologues.

Regarding the power of the Israel Lobby to besmirch the character and wreck the careers of politicians – and journalists too – who disagree with their vision of Israel’s role in the Middle East, and refuse to rubber stamp every policy of the Israeli government because they believe it is not in best interests of the US, the evidence is voluminous.  For the definitive account of how this Lobby works read “The Israel Lobby,” by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, professors at the University of Chicago and Harvard.

After studying American policy in the Middle East, which supports Israeli policy at the risk of alienating everybody else, professors Mearsheimer and Walt raised the following question: “Why has the US been willing to set aside its own security and that of many of its allies in order to advance the interests of another state? One might assume that the bond between the two countries was based on shared strategic interests or compelling moral imperatives, but neither explanation can account for the remarkable level of material and diplomatic support that the US provides.” 

The answer that emerges from their study is clear.  Instead, the thrust of US policy in the region derives almost entirely from domestic politics,” they argue, “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 US interests and those of the other country – in this case, Israel – are essentially identical.”

Woe be unto the politician or pundit who disputes this view of American Israeli national interests.  The fearless professors Walt and Mearsheimer predicted that they too would become the target of attack for undertaking this study of the Israel Lobby and candidly weighing the evidence in their conclusion.

And they were right, as the Anti-Defamation League’s formidable propaganda machine produced a book, The Deadliest Lies: The Israel Lobby and the Myth of Jewish Control, attacking the authors personally and dismissing their study, publishing it under the byline of their pugnacious and hypocritical president Abraham Foxman.

However for those who are students of this question, this writer included, Foxman’s tome was dismissed as self-interested “special pleading” – a term of art among professional historians for writers who attempt to arrange historical facts to justify conclusions that are unsupported by an objective examination of the evidence.   It is the difference between history and propaganda.  Looking to Foxman for objective analysis of a book that criticizes practices of which he is guilty is the equivalent of placing the fox in charge of the chicken coop.

The fate of long time White House Press Corps reporter Helen Thomas is another dramatic example of how the Anti-Defamation League employs their influence to trash the careers of those who oppose them on Mid-East policy. Ms. Thomas was interviewed on camera by Rabbi David Nesenoff of RabbiLive.com, as she walked to work in Washington one morning.

Ms. Thomas was asked what she thought about the Israelis and she said “I think they should get the hell out of Palestine.” She went on to say of the Palestinians “These people are occupied…and it’s their land.”  The following response from pro-Israeli forces was typical of the kind of attacks Helen Thomas received: “She is advocating religious cleansing. How can Hearst stand by her? If a journalist, or a columnist, said the same thing about blacks or Hispanics, they would already have lost their jobs.”

To begin with neither statement is true.  Racist things are said about black people all the time in the media – including the president – and there are no consequences for the utterers.  Thomas was addressing the European Zionist Jews who invaded Palestine, dispossessed the Palestinian Arabs and founded the colonial settler state of Israel in the mid twentieth century.

Hence the feeling that they should return from whence they came is a widespread feeling in the Arab world and Helen Thomas, like the actor comedian Danny Thomas, is of Arabic heritage.  And there are really foul things said by Jewish commentators about the Arabs on a routine basis.

And I dare say that any American would feel exactly the same way had Arabs colonized England or the US the way the Zionist did in Palestine!  I believe any American who says otherwise – if you can find one – would be a damned liar.  Helen Thomas, who known as “The Dean of the White House Press corps,” raised this question after she was fired from her job reporting on the White House, which she had been doing for over fifty years.  The comment is recorded in a 2010 Playboy magazine interview.

Of course I don’t condone any violence against anyone.” She said. “But who wouldn’t fight for their country? What would any American do if their land was being taken? Remember Pearl Harbor. The Palestinian violence is to protect what little remains of Palestine. The suicide bombers act out of despair and desperation.
Three generations of Palestinians have been forced out of their homes—by Israelis—and into refugee camps. And the Israelis are still bulldozing Palestinians’ homes in East Jerusalem. Remember, Menachem
Begin invented terrorism as his MO—and bragged about it in his first book. That’s how Israel was created, aided and abetted by U.S. money and arms.”

Among those who would be the first to declare war against any foreign force that violated one inch of US territory – even if were in Guantanamo Cuba where an imperialist US government forced a weak Cuban government to accept a perpetual treaty ceding part of their territory to the US for use as a naval base in the late 19th century – is the American Exceptionalist crowd; who are so rabidly pro-Israel.   Helen Thomas accused the US of employing double standards in dealing with the Palestinians and she is right!

Ironically the “Christian Zionist,” who outnumber the Jews among pro-Israel Americans, care not a whit about Jews as such.   Their interest in Israel is inspired by “End Time” theology, which teaches that the Jews must return to Israel before Jesus Christ, “The Messiah,” can return to earth and pass final judgment on the world.

After the Battle of Armageddon, there will come the Rapture and the good saved souls will ascend to heaven to live forever with the righteous of all ages in the presence of God; while the wicked sinners will descend into hell to burn in its fires forever.

Alas, in a strange twist of fate, these pro-Israel Christians also believe that if the Jews do not accept Jesus Christ as the Messiah – which thus far they have not been inclined to do – they too shall burn forever in the fires of hell with the rest of the infidels!  And despite how they may feel about the Jewish prophets in the bible, the way they really feel about contemporary Jews in America is another matter.

Those views were candidly expressed and captured on tape by Reverend Billy Graham, an iconic divine among the Israel loving Evangelical Christians, in a private  conversation with President Nixon in the White House during1972 , which was recorded.  Speaking of the positions of Jews in the mass media Reverend Graham said, “This stranglehold has got to be broken or the country’s going down the drain.” “You believe that? Asked Nixon.. “Yes, sir,” Graham answered. “Oh, boy,” Nixon said, “So do I. I can’t ever say that, but I believe it.”

That the Christian Zionists hold these anti-Jewish beliefs is no secret to the leadership of organized Jewry. They have entered into a Faustian bargain with these Jew haters because they support Israel; just as they have served as holocaust deniers in lobbying against any attempt by Armenian Americans  to persuade the US government to officially recognize the genocide committed against their people by the Turks in 1915, in which a million and a half Armenians were slaughtered.  In yet another Faustian bargain, US Jewish leaders have actively assisted in suppressing recognition of the Armenian victims of Genocide in exchange for Turkish support for Israel.

The testimony of Armenian American journalist and author Mark Arax exposes the duplicity of the powerful Anti-Defamation League on the Armenian genocide, which is shameless and amoral in light of their unceasing and merciless denunciation of those who attempt to deny the Nazi genocide against Jews.  In doing research for a feature story on Jewish holocaust deniers of the Armenian genocide for the Washington Post, Mr. Arax interviewed Abraham Foxman, who heads the Anti-Defamation League.  He recalls:

Then I found my way to the equivocators and deniers who sat at the helms of the major American Jewish organizations. None was more blunt than Abraham Foxman, the head of the Anti-Defamation League in New York. The Armenian Genocide had become his own convenient cudgel to keep Turkey in line.  Foxman had just returned from a meeting with Turkish military and government leaders to discuss pressuring Congress, the State Department and President Bush to turn back the genocide resolution once again.

“Our focus is Israel,” he explained. “If helping Turkey helps Israel, then that’s what we’re in the business of doing.” But such a bottom line would seem an uncomfortable place for a Jewish leader to be when the question was genocide.  “Was it genocide?” he said. “It was wartime. Things get messy.”

Like Winston Churchill, who led Britain’s triumphant struggle against the Nazis, pro-Israel American Jews are quite willing to “make a deal with the Devil” if it empowers Israel.  Since these Jews believe Christianity, especially the fundamentalist variety, is hokum anyway, they are quite willing to risk burning in the Rapture if the Christian fanatics are willing to employ their formidable resources to advance Israel here and now.  They will deal with the Rapture when it arrives.

Together these pro-Zionist Christian and Jewish forces have destroyed the careers of anyone who dares to criticize American policy toward Israel as biased and not in the best interests of the United States, or even worse, criticize Israeli policy toward their Arab neighbors – the dispossessed, powerless and occupied Palestinians in particular.

The case of Helen Thomas is instructive because the attack was led by the ubiquitous Abraham Foxman, who openly called for her to be fired.  And she was!   Just as  Mark Arax’s story died a mysterious death at the Washington Post.   Stories of the ruined careers of journalists, and even professional Foreign Service officers, who opposed the objectives of the Israel Lobby abound and are too numerous to reiterate here.

But we must not allow them to destroy the nomination of Chuck Hagel; hence it is imperative to support the president and urge him to stand firm in this appointment.   When a spineless opportunist like Senator Lindsay Graham, a Republican from South Carolina who is terrified of losing his seat, says Hagel’s views are “out of the mainstream,” well that depends upon how one defines “mainstream.”

Senator Graham’s conception of the mainstream is defined by the policies of the neo-cons that took control of a confused George W. Bush’s Foreign policy after the 9/11 attack.   This is an interventionist policy designed to create a unipolar world under American hegemony, a Pax Americana that resembles the ancient Pax Romama when Rome ruled the world – which means the end of the bipolar world order characterized by a perpetual Cold War /Arms Race with the Soviet Union.  This  view has squandered the so-called “Peace Dividend,” that should have accrued from vast savings on military expenditures when we no longer had to prepare for a possible war with Russia.  What is clear about this view is that it is a formula for perpetual war. Hence it is a good thing that Chuck Hagel is viewed as out of step with this crowd.

However the neo-cons are a recent phenomenon as shapers of American foreign policy. They have been around for years producing policy polemics. But their views on America’s role in the world are opposed by a venerable group of foreign policy /national security intellectuals, who have served at the highest levels of our foreign policy establishment.  Their opposition was clearly stated in a December 25, letter to the Washington Post, in which four former National Security advisors to American presidents – James L. Jones, Brent Scowcroft, Zbigniew Brzenzinski, and Frank Carlucci – strongly supported the nomination of Chuck Hagel.  Their statement reads:

We strongly object, as a matter of substance and as a matter of principle, to the attacks on the character of former senator Chuck Hagel. Mr. Hagel is a man of unshakable integrity and wisdom who has served his country in the most distinguished manner in peace and war. He is a rare example of a public servant willing to rise above partisan politics to advance the interests of the United States and its friends and allies.”

“Moreover, it is damaging to the quality of our civic discourse for prospective Cabinet nominees to be subjected to such vicious attacks on their character before an official nomination.  This type of behavior will only discourage future prospective nominees from public service when our country badly needs quality leadership in government.” 

And, by the way, Colin Powell – who has been a combat soldier, a general officer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, National Security Advisor and Secretary of State – is giving Mr. Hagel a ringing endorsement as I write.

One of the most formidable myths constructed by the pro-Israel Jewish leadership in organizations like AIPAC – American Israel Public Affairs Committee – and the Anti-Defamation League is that they speak for all American Jews.  But the fact is that they have the loudest megaphone and simply drown out dissenting voices.

This is true whether it is Jewish religious communities like the Satmar Hassidum, who view the state of Israel as a sacrilege because only the Messiah can establish the new Israel, or Jewish theologians like Dr. Mark Ellis – author of the revelatory text “Beyond Auschwitz” or independent radical intellectuals like Lenni Brenner, whose book “Zionism In the Age of the Dictators” sent shock waves among supporters of Zionism – and had to be published in England because he couldn’t find an American with the balls to publish this incendiary and enlightening text – or the late great Village Voice investigative reporter Robert I Freedman, who was the premier reporter on the fanatical rightwing Jews, here and in Israel.

However there is one dissenting Jewish voice that they have not been able to silence, although they would like to, Thomas Friedman of the New York Times.  A New York Times columnist who has been awarded the coveted Pulitzer Prize three times for his writings on foreign affairs, Friedman’s knowledge of Israeli policies toward their neighbors in the Middle East is formidable.  The fact that he also happens to be pro-Israel makes his views all the harder to dismiss.  Friedman’s views on Hagel’s nomination are summed up in his December 26 column Give Chuck a Chance.

It is a column well worth reading in its entirety; especially if, like most Americans, you are not up to snuff on the issues surrounding the attacks on Mr. Hagel.  But for our purposes here one excerpt will suffice.

I am certain that the vast majority of U.S. senators and policymakers quietly believe exactly what Hagel believes on Israel — that it is surrounded by more implacable enemies than ever and needs and deserves America’s backing. But, at the same time, this Israeli government is so spoiled and has shifted so far to the right that it makes no effort to take U.S. interests into account by slowing its self-isolating settlement adventure. And it’s going to get worse. Israel’s friends need to understand that the center-left in Israel is dying.

“The Israeli election in January will bring to power Israeli rightists who never spoke at your local Israel Bonds dinner. These are people who want to annex the West Bank. Bibi Netanyahu is a dove in this crowd. The only thing standing between Israel and national suicide any more is America and its willingness to tell Israel the truth. But most U.S. senators, policymakers and Jews prefer to stick their heads in the sand, because confronting Israel is so unpleasant and politically dangerous. Hagel at least cares enough about Israel to be an exception.”

One need only compare this glowing recommendation of Mr. Hagel with the mealy-mouthed equivocations of Senator Mitch McConnell, the minority leader of the Senate, another Republican who is scared of losing his seat, to recognize the power of the pro-Israel lobby in the US.  Even the fact that Mr. Hagel saved the life of McConnell’s brother during combat in Vietnam was not sufficient to win Mitch’s enthusiastic endorsement!

Such is the power of special interests, and thus the reason why it must be opposed in favor of policies that truly serve the national security interests of the United States.  I believe it is the historically appointed role of Progressive American intellectuals to expose these lies by presenting counterstatements of fact, which is the burden of this essay.

The minimal essential lesson I’d like the reader to learn is that the attack on Chuck Hagel is motivated by special interests that are not in the national interests, and thus Mr. Hagel is the hero of this dangerous melodrama that threatens to become a genuine tragedy….unless we stand up for this old soldier who is still standing up for us.

A Real Soldier at War

Chuck Hagel at war

Chucky  scares the shit outta the Chicken Hawks!

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Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York

Janurary 8, 2012

Barack Genuflects Before APAC

Posted in On Foreign Affairs, On War and Peace in the Mid East!, Playthell on politics with tags , , , , , on March 9, 2012 by playthell

Barack Pledged to support Bibi in An Attack on Iran

 Is it De Ja Vu Again?  Notes on the Road to War

I have never witnessed a more blatant example of the arrogance of power than the Israeli/American ultimatum to Iran.  Driven by the imperatives of domestic politics in both countries, the terms of this ultimatum were stated in no uncertain terms by President Obama in his speech before the powerful Jewish organization, APAC….and it was a de-facto declaration of war.  “When the chips are down I have Israel’s back!” declared the president.

Barack went on to say he was not interested in containing a nuclear armed Iran; his policy is to prevent them from acquiring a nuclear weapon.   He said all options are on the table; including the full range of our nation’s diplomatic, economic and military resources.  He also said “I will not hesitate to use force to defend American interests.”  Thus the die is cast, and the saber rattling is approaching the decibel level before Bush’s march of folly in Iraq.

On the face of it the demand that Iran cease its nuclear research and development is both hypocritical and an insult to their national dignity.  It ignores Iranian national security interests on the one hand, and tells them in no uncertain terms that they are a second rate nation who will not be allowed to exercise the privileges that the US and Israel consider their natural right as sovereign nations.  No matter what kind of self-righteous preachment or diplomatic mumbo jumbo the US and Israeli governments employ to make their case in the court of public opinion, this is what it boils down to.

It is the height of duplicity for the US and Israel to have a hissy fit about the possibility that the Iranians are building a nuclear weapon when Israel has enough nuclear weapons to destroy the Arabs and Iranians in a fortnight.  And what’s more, the Israelis are already waging a covert war against Iran with American assistance. Although they are rarely reported because they are secret, these are real acts of war nonetheless!

They have assassinated several Iranian nuclear scientists in daring James Bond type hits that everyone who pays attention to these matters knows could only have been pulled off by the CIA and the Israeli Mossad.   And the fact that it Furthermore, CBS Sixty Minutes recently did an in-depth report detailing how a brilliantly designed computer virus blew up an Iranian nuclear reactor.  The report featured an international group of distinguished computer scientists who specialize in cyber security, and they concluded the diabolical virus was almost certainly designed by US and Israeli intelligence agencies.

The urgent question for all Americans is whether a war with Iran will serve American interests.  This is an extremely complex question.  The consequences of such a war will have to be considered from the perspectives of foreign relations and domestic policy in order to grasp the full picture.  In terms of foreign relations the immediate consequences include several possibilities.

The most immediate consequence would be the disruption of the flow of oil and a dramatic rise in the price of gas and other petroleum based products.  This would arrest the progress of our economic recovery, which is already fragile and constructed on a shaky foundation.  Tranquility, not chaos, is what is needed in the Middle East.

The Iranians will surely resist, and they will be assisted by their well-armed Shite brethren in Iraq, whom the US put in power as a result of George II’s misbegotten military adventure there.  And they are armed with the latest American weaponry – thanks to US military assistance.  Furthermore Iran is reaching out to Islamic theocrats in an ecumenical manner, putting aside internal theological disputes in order to form a unified front against the “Great Satin” i.e. the USA, which has emerged as the foremost enemy of Islam.

Despite the efforts of those actually tasked with conducting US foreign policy to characterize American waged wars in Muslim countries political…the Jihadists insist that the US is at war with Islam!   And the leading Republican candidates for their party’s presidential nomination are doing their best to convince the moderates in the Muslim world that most Americans also believe they are in a war against Islam.

The Iranian Regime recently hosted a conference of militant Islamist, and Muslims of many stripes from all over the world were present.  There could be no greater catalyst for the rapid development of a new militant Pan-Islamic movement than a joint American/Israeli invasion of Iran.  The invasion would also imperil the stability of the remaining pro-American leaders in the region; who would be trapped between the Devil and the deep blue sea.

If they support the US they will be facing overthrow by the populace, and if they don’t support the US they will face the wrath of the US people and their representatives in Congress, who appropriate foreign aid.   And at the moment the Congress is in the hands of right-wing Republicans; impassioned Christian soldiers who act as if they are ready to wage war with the entire Islamic world at once.   Needless to say, it does not require a gift for prophecy to predict that this will be a real mess!

The Islamic world is in upheaval, old regimes are being overthrown and forces set in motion by an American/Israeli invasion will result in the fall of even more regimes.  No one can predict what new leadership structures or institutions of government will emerge from this turmoil.

Yet it is enough to know that there is a strong, organized, Islamic element among the rebels in each of these populist uprisings to recognize the danger they pose.  In every country the secular democratic forces fighting to modernize their nation, so they can compete in the 21st century, are already at a disadvantage.

The secular Democrats are promoting values that are highly prized only by the educated elite – many of whom have spent time living in western democracies – thus their core concepts are alien and poorly understood by the masses of their people.  I warned that the Islamist could seize control of the revolt in Egypt – while the cheerleaders in the west assured us the Muslim Brotherhood was passé and impotent and other Islamists without much influence – and it has come to pass.  I remembered something the other pundits seemed to forget.  The overthrow of the Iranian Shah was also engineered by secular intellectuals; but the theocrats quickly took control, executed many of the secularists, and established Sharia Law.

Alas, a cry for war is rising from much of the commentariat in commercial media.  It is manufacturing a pro-war hysteria among the public. People like Joe Scarborough who host MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” – a charming sophist whose claim to fame is that he looks like the old cowboy movie star John Wayne – are cheering the President’s militant stance, although he has been damming Barack for not pulling all American troops from Afghanistan.  Joe practically called for the dismissal of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff because he said “Iran is a rational actor in international affairs.”

The General’s intention was to quell the crazy narrative spun by hysterical warmongers who are painting the Iranian leadership as madmen willing to commit national suicide by launching a nuclear attack against Israel.  There is absolutely no evidence to support such a conclusion; I believe the US is far more likely to commit national suicide over Israel than Iran committing suicide over the Palestinians!  The attempt to paint the Iranian regime as irrational and therefore a danger to US interests is a transparent move to politicize intelligence regarding the threat from Iran in order to justify a “preemptive attack.”

This is the same path that led to war in Vietnam and Iraq, two nations that had also committed no offense against the US.   Yet we squandered massive amounts of American blood and treasure there, while maiming or killing millions of innocent bystanders.   Alas forces that lead to war have already been set in motion.

The momentum of events may well overwhelm President Obama’s resistance and we shall soon find ourselves in yet another major war with a Muslim country.   Indeed, if the Israeli’s decide to attack Iran, President Obama could find himself in the same predicament as Abe Lincoln when he reflected on the consequences of the Civil War and exclaimed: “Clearly I have not controlled events…but events have controlled me.”  It’s De Ja Vu all over again!

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Playthell Benjamin

Harlem, New York

March 9, 2012

 

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