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Who is he and what does he want to do?
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I had coffee with a foreign friend a week ago. The subject of Donald Trump inevitably came up and my friend said that he was torn between describing Trump as a genius or as an idiot, but was inclined to lean towards genius. He explained that Trump was willy-nilly establishing a new world order that will succeed the institutionally exhausted post-World War 2 financial and political arrangements that more-or-less established U.S. hegemony over the “free world.” The Bretton Woods agreement and the founding of the United Nations institutionalized the spread of liberal democracy and free trade, creating a new, post war international order under the firm control of the United States with the American dollar as the benchmark currency. Trump is now rejecting what has become an increasingly dominant global world order in favor of returning to a nineteenth century style nationalism that has become popular as countries struggle to retain their cultural and political identifies. Trump’s vision would seem to include protection of core industries, existing demographics and cultural institutions combined with an end of “democratization,” which will result in an acceptance of foreign autocratic or non-conforming regimes as long as they do not pose military or economic threats.

Sounds good, I countered but there is a space between genius and idiocy and that would be called insanity, best illustrated by impulsive, irrational behavior coupled with acute hypersensitivity over perceived personal insults and a demonstrated inability to comprehend either generally accepted facts or basic norms of personal and group behavior.

Inevitably, I have other friends who follow foreign policy closely that have various interpretations of the Trump phenomenon. One sees the respectful meeting with Kim Jong-un of North Korea as a bit of brilliant statesmanship, potentially breaking a sixty-five year logjam and possibly opening the door to further discussions that might well avert a nuclear war. And the week also brought a Trump welcome suggestion that Russia should be asked to rejoin the G-7 group of major industrialized democracies, which also has to be seen as a positive step. There has also been talk of a Russia-U.S. summit similar to that with North Korea to iron out differences, an initiative that was first suggested by Trump and then agreed to by Russian President Vladimir Putin. There will inevitably be powerful resistance to such an arrangement coming primarily from the U.S. media and from Congress, but Donald Trump seems to fancy the prospect and it just might take place.

One good friend even puts a positive spin on Trump’s insulting behavior towards America’s traditional allies at the recent G-7 meeting in Canada. She observes that Trump’s basic objections were that Washington is subsidizing the defense of a wealthy Europe and thereby maintaining unnecessarily a relationship that perpetuates a state of no-war no-peace between Russia and the West. And the military costs exacerbate some genuine serious trade imbalances that damage the U.S. economy. If Trumpism prevails, G-7 will become a forum for discussions of trade and economic relations and will become less a club of nations aligned military against Russia and, eventually, China. As she put it, changing its constituency would be a triumph of “mercantilism” over “imperialism.” The now pointless NATO alliance might well find itself without much support if the members actually have to fully fund it proportionate to their GDPs and could easily fade away, which would be a blessing for everyone.

My objection to nearly all the arguments being made in favor or opposed to what occurred in Singapore last week is that the summit is being seen out of context, as is the outreach to Russia at G-7. Those who are in some cases violently opposed to the outcome of the talks with North Korea are, to be sure, sufferers from Trump Derangement Syndrome, where they hate anything he does and spin their responses to cast him in the most negative terms possible. Some others who choose to see daylight in spite of the essential emptiness of the “agreement” are perhaps being overly optimistic while likewise ignoring what else is going on.

And the neoconservatives and globalists are striking back hard to make sure that détente stays in a bottle hidden somewhere on a shelf in the White House cloak room. Always adept at the creation of new front groups, the neocons have now launched something called the Renew Democracy Initiative (RDI), with the goal of “uni[ting] the center-left and the center-right.” Its founders include the redoubtable Max Boot, The Washington Post’s Anne Appelbaum, the inevitable Bill Kristol, and Richard Hurwitz of Council on Foreign Relations. RDI’s website predictably calls for “fresh thinking” and envisions “the best minds from different countries com[ing] together for both broad and discrete projects in the service of liberty and democracy in the West and beyond.” It argues that “Liberal democracy is in crisis around the world, besieged by authoritarianism, nationalism, and other illiberal forces. Far-right parties are gaining traction in Europe, Vladimir Putin tightens his grip on Russia and undermines democracy abroad, and America struggles with poisonous threats from the right and left.”

There are also the internal contradictions in what Trump appears to be doing, suggesting that a brighter future might not be on the horizon even if giving the Europeans a possibly deserved bloody nose over their refusal to spend money defending themselves provides some satisfaction. In the last week alone in Syria the White House has quietly renewed funding for the so-called White Helmets, a terrorist front group. It has also warned that it will take action against the Syrian government for any violation of a “de-escalation zone” in the country’s southwest that has been under the control of Washington. That means that the U.S., which is in Syria illegally, is warning that country’s legitimate government that it should not attempt to re-establish control over a region that was until recently ruled by terrorists.

And then there is also Donald Trump’s recent renunciation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), eliminating a successful program that was preventing nuclear proliferation on the part of Iran and replacing it with nothing whatsoever apart from war as a possible way of dealing with the potential problem. Indeed, Trump has been prepared to use military force on impulse, even when there is no clear casus belli. In Syria there have been two pointless cruise missile attacks and a trap set up to kill Russian mercenaries. Washington’s stated intention is to destabilize and replace President Bashar al-Assad while continuing the occupation of the Syrian oil fields. And in Afghanistan there are now more troops on the ground than there were on inauguration day together with no plan to bring them home. It is reported that the Pentagon has a twenty-year plan to finish the job but no one actually believes it will work.

The United States is constructing new drone bases in Africa and Asia. It also has a new military base in Israel which will serve as a tripwire for automatic American involvement if Israel goes to war and has given the green light to the Israeli slaughter of Palestinians. In Latin America, Washington has backed off from détente with Cuba and has been periodically threatening some kind of intervention in Venezuela. In Europe, it is engaged in aggressive war games on the Russian borders, most recently in Norway and Poland. The Administration has ordered increased involvement in Somalia and has special ops units operating – and dying – worldwide. Overall, it is hardly a return to the Garden of Eden.

 
Who has helped create a war-addicted America?
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I recently was asked to speak at an online conference entitled Deep Truth: Encountering Deep State Lies. My panel addressed Understanding Zionism: Deconstructing the Power Paradigm and my own topic was How Jewish Power Sustains the Israel Narrative. Working on my presentation, I was forced to confront the evolution of my own views on both the corruption of government in the United States and the ability of powerful domestic lobbies to deliberately distort the perception of national interests to benefit foreign countries even when that activity does terrible damage to the U.S.

My personal journey began half a century ago. I became part of the U.S. national security state after being drafted for the Vietnam War when I graduated from college in 1968. I was at the time, vaguely pro-war, having bought into the media argument that international communism was mounting a major threat in southeast Asia. I also found the anti-war student movement distasteful because I was acquainted with many of its spokesmen and knew that they were chiefly motivated by a desire to avoid the draft, not due to any perception that the war itself was wrong or misguided. I knew a lot about the Punic Wars but precious little about former French Indochina and I suspect that those chanting “Ho-ho-Ho Chi Minh” might have known even less that I did.

Because I spoke some Russian, I wound up in an army intelligence collection unit in West Berlin for three years where I and my fifty or so comrades did absolutely nothing but drink and party. It was my introduction to how government really works when it was not working at all and it did provide me with GI Bill money to go to grad school. After my PhD came a relatively easy transition to CIA given the fact that my degree was so obscure that no one but the government would hire me.

The journey from an army unit that was asleep at the wheel to the CIA, which was in full downsizing crisis mode post-Vietnam, was educational. Whereas the army was too bloated and complacent even to fake it, the Agency was fully capable of creating crises and then acting like the defender of American interests as it worked to resolve the various situations that it had invented. The war against Eurocommunism, which I was engaged in, was hyped and billed as the next great threat against the American way of life after the Vietnam blunder, swallowing up resources pointlessly as neither France, nor Spain nor Italy ever came close to entering the Red orbit.

As I climbed up the CIA ladder I also noticed something else. There was the equivalent of a worldwide conspiracy to promote threats to keep big national security-based government well-funded and in place. When I was in Turkey I began to note considerable intelligence liaison reporting coming from the Israelis and others promoting their own agendas. The material was frequently fictional in nature, but the danger was that it was being mixed in with more credible reporting which gave it traction. U.S. government consumers of the reporting would inevitably absorb the dubious viewpoint being promoted that Arabs and Iranians were fundamentally untrustworthy and were in bed with the Soviets.

There was considerable negative reporting on Saddam Hussein also coming out of Israel and motivated by his support of the Palestinians. Some of this ultimately surfaced in the Pentagon’s Paul Wolfowitz-Doug Feith assessments of “intelligence that had been missed” which eventually became pretexts for the catastrophic Iraq War. I later learned that both Feith and Wolfowitz had a virtually revolving door of Israeli intelligence officials and diplomats running through their Pentagon offices in the lead-up to that war.

It did not take much to connect the dots and realize that Israel, far from being a friend and ally, was the principal catalyst for the many missteps that the United States has made in the Middle East. U.S. policy in the region was being deliberately shaped around Israeli concerns by American Jews ensconced in the Pentagon and White House who certainly knew exactly what they were doing. No one should blame the Israelis for acting in their own self-interest, but every loyal American should blame the Libbys, Feiths and Wolfowitzes for their willingness to place Israeli interests ahead of those of their own country.

After my departure from government in part over my disagreement with the Iraq War, this willingness to place the United States in peril to serve the interests of a foreign country began to bother me, and there is no country that manipulates the U.S. government better or more persistently than Israel. I gradually became involved with those who were pushing back against the Israel Lobby, though it was not generally referred to in those terms before Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer produced their seminal work The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy in 2006.

It does not take a genius to figure out that the United States is deeply involved in a series of seemingly endless wars pitting it against predominantly Muslim nations even though Washington has no vital interests at stake in places like Syria, Libya and Iraq. Who is driving the process and benefiting? Israel is clearly the intended beneficiary of a coordinated effort mounted by more than 600 Jewish organizations in the U.S. that have at least as part of their programs the promotion and protection of Israel. Ironically, organizations that promote the interests of a foreign government are supposed to be registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 (FARA) but not a single pro-Israel organization has ever done so nor even been seriously challenged on the issue, a tribute to their power in dealing with the federal government.

Those who are in the drivers’ seat of the Israel promotion process are what some would describe as the Israel Lobby but which I would prefer to call a subset of the Jewish Lobby, which in itself is supported by something I would designate Jewish Power, an aggregate of Jewish money, control over key aspects of the media and entertainment industries plus easy access to corrupted politicians desirous of positive press and campaign donations. This penetration and control of the public discourse has resulted in the creation of what I would refer to as the official “Israel narrative,” in which Israel, which claims perpetual victimhood, is reflexively referred to as “the only democracy in the Middle East” and “Washington’s closest ally and friend,” assertions that are completely false but which have been aggressively and successfully promoted to shape how Americans view the Israeli-Arab conflict. Palestinians resisting the Israeli occupation are invariably described as “terrorists” both in the U.S. and Israel.

Jewish Power is a funny thing. If you read the Jewish media or the Israeli press, to include Forward, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Haaretz or the Jerusalem Post, you will find frequent references to it, nearly always seen as completely laudable. Bottom feeder Professor Alan Dershowitz of Harvard recently boasted that “Jews should not apologize for being so rich, controlling the media or influencing public debate…they have earned it…never apologize for using your strength…”

 
Neocons resurrect tribal memories to fan the flames
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Having just returned from a trip to Russia, I am pleased to report that the Russian people and the officialdom that I encountered displayed none of the vitriol towards Americans that I half expected as a response to the vilifying of Moscow and all its works that pervades the U.S. media and Establishment. To be sure, many Russians I spoke with were quick to criticize the Trump Administration for its hot and cold performance vis-à-vis the bilateral ties to Moscow while also expressing mystification over why the relationship had gone south so quickly, but this anger over foreign policy did not necessarily translate into contempt for the American people and way of life that characterized the Soviet period. At least not yet.

Somewhat to my surprise, ordinary Russians were also quick to openly criticize President Vladimir Putin for his autocratic tendencies and his willingness to continue to tolerate corruption, but everyone I spoke to also conceded that he had generally acted constructively and had greatly improved life for ordinary people. Putin remains wildly popular.

One question that came up frequently was “Who is driving the hostility towards Russia?” I responded that the answer is not so simple and there are a number of constituencies that, for one reason or another, need a powerful enemy to justify policies that would otherwise be unsustainable. Defense contractors need a foe to justify their existence while congressmen need the contractors to fund their campaigns. The media needs a good fearmongering story to help sell itself and the public also is accustomed to having a world in which terrible threats lurk just below the horizon, thereby increasing support for government control of everyday life to keep everyone “safe.”

And then there are the neocons. As always, they are a distinct force for creative destruction, as they put it, certainly first in line with their hands out to get the funding of their no-expenses-spared foundations and think tanks, but also driven ideologically, which has made them the intellectual vanguard of the war party. They provide the palatable intellectual framework for America to take on the world, metaphorically speaking, and constitute the strike force that is always ready to appear on television talk shows or to be quoted in the media with an appropriate intelligent sounding one liner that can be used to justify the unthinkable. In return they are richly rewarded both with money and status.

The neocons believe in only two things. First, that the United States is the sole world superpower, given license by something like a Divine Entity to exercise global leadership by force if necessary. That has been translated to the public as “American exceptionalism.” Indeed, U.S. interventionism in practice has been by force majeure preferably as it leaves little room for debate or discussion. And the second neocon guiding principle is that everything possible must be done to protect and promote Israel. Absent these two beliefs, you do not have a neocon.

The founding fathers of neoconism were New York Jewish “intellectuals” who evolved (or devolved) from being bomb throwing Trotskyites to “conservatives,” a process they self-define as “idealism getting mugged by reality.” The only reality is that they have always been faux conservatives, embracing a number of aggressive foreign policy and national security positions while also privately endorsing the standard Jewish liberal line on social issues. Neocon fanaticism on the issues that they do promote also suggests that more that a little of the Trotskyism remains in their character, hence their tenacity and ability to slither between the Democratic and Republican parties while also appearing comfortably on disparate media outlets considered to be either liberal or conservative, i.e. on both Fox news and MSNBC programs featuring the likes of Rachel Maddow.

I have long believed that the core hatred of Russia comes from the neocons and is to a large extent tribal or, if you prefer, ethno-religious based. Why? Because if the neoconservatives were actually foreign policy realists there is no good reason to express any visceral dislike of Russia or its government. The allegations that Moscow interfered in the 2016 presidential election in the U.S. are clearly a sham, just as are the tales of the alleged Russian poisoning of the Skripals in Winchester England and, most recently, the claimed assassination of journalist Arkady Babchenko in Kiev which turned out to be a false flag. Even the most cursory examination of the past decade’s developments in Georgia and Ukraine reveal that Russia was reacting to legitimate major security threats engineered by the United States with a little help from Israel and others. Russia has not since the Cold War ended threatened the United States and its ability to re-acquire its former Eastern European satellites is a fantasy. So why the hatred?

In fact, the neocons got along quite well with Russia when they and their overwhelmingly Jewish oligarchs and international commodity thieves cum financier friends were looting the resources of the old Soviet Union under the hapless Boris Yeltsin during the 1990s. Alarms about the alleged Russian threat only re-emerged in the neocon dominated media and think tanks when old fashioned nationalist Vladimir Putin took office and made it a principal goal of his government to turn off the money tap.

With the looting stopped by Putin, the neocons and friends no longer had any reason to play nice, so they used their considerable resources in the media and within the halls of power in places like Washington, London and Paris to turn on Moscow. And they also might have perceived that there was a worse threat looming. The Putin government appeared to be resurrecting what the neocons might perceive as pogrom plagued Holy Russia! Old churches razed by the Bolsheviks were being rebuilt and people were again going to mass and claiming belief in Jesus Christ. The former Red Square now hosts a Christmas market while the nearby tomb of Lenin is only open one morning in the week and attracts few visitors.

I would like to suggest that it is quite possible that the historically well-informed neocons are merely longing for the good old Bolshevik days in Russia. The fact is that much of Bolshevik state atheism was driven by the large overrepresentation of Jews in the party in its formative days. British journalist Robert Wilton’s meticulously researched 1920 study “The Last Days of the Romanovs” describes how David R. Francis, United States ambassador in Russia, warned in a January 1918 message to Washington that “The Bolshevik leaders here, most of whom are Jews and 90 percent of whom are returned exiles, care little for Russia or any other country but are internationalists and they are trying to start a worldwide social revolution.”

Dutch Ambassador William Oudendyke echoed that sentiment, writing that “Unless Bolshevism is nipped in the bud immediately, it is bound to spread in one form or another over Europe and the whole world as it is organized and worked by Jews who have no nationality, and whose one object is to destroy for their own ends the existing order of things.”

 
But it can buy a lot of politicians
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Iran’s radical Marxist cult Mohajedeen e Khalq, better known by its acronym MEK, is somewhat reminiscent of the Israel Lobby’s American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in that it operates somewhat in the shadows and is nevertheless able to punch well beyond its weight by manipulating politicians and understanding how American government functions on its dark side. MEK promotes itself by openly supporting a very popular hardline policy of “democratic opposition” advocating “regime change” for Iran while also successfully selling its reform credentials, i.e. that it is no longer a terrorist group. This latter effort apparently convinced then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on 2013 as she and President Barack responded to the group’s affability campaign by delisting MEK from the government list of terrorist organizations.

This shift in attitude towards MEK was a result of several factors. First, everyone in Washington and the Establishment hates Iran. And second, the Executive Order 13224, which designates Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization, ipso facto defines any group fighting against it as one of the good guys, justifying the change

MEK is best described as a cult rather than as a political movement because of its internal discipline. Its members are, according to the testimony of those who have somehow escaped, subjected to considerable indoctrination best described as brainwashing. Though not exactly imprisoned, adherents are kept isolated and separated insofar as possible and cannot contact their families. Their possessions are collectivized so they have no money or other resources. If they are in contravention of the numerous rules that guide the organization they are punished, including physically, and there are reports of members being executed for trying to escape.

The current head of the group is Maryam Rajavi, the wife of the deceased co-founder of MEK, Massoud. She is reported to be politically savvy and speaks excellent English learned in part to enable her to communicate with adoring American politicians. The group itself was founded in 1965. Its name means “People’s Holy Warriors,” derived from its Marxist/populist roots and its religiosity. It was not unlike the Taliban which developed in adjacent Afghanistan. During the 1970’s it rebelled against the Shah and was involved in bombing and shooting American targets. It executed U.S. Army Lt. Col. Lewis Hawkins in 1973 as he was walking home from the U.S. Embassy and in 1975 it killed two American Air Force officers in their chauffer driven car, an incident that was studied and used in CIA training subsequently as an example of how not to get caught and killed by terrorists. Between 1976 and 1978 the group bombed American commercial targets and killed three Rockwell defense contractors and one Texaco executive.

MEK welcomed the Iranian revolution and also the occupation of the U.S. Embassy but soon fell afoul of the Ayatollah Khomeini regime. It eventually moved to join Iran’s enemy Saddam Hussein in Iraq and participated on the Iraqi side in the bloodletting that followed when the two countries went to war in 1980-8. For that reason alone, MEK is particularly hated by most Iranians and the repeated assertion that it is some kind of “Iranian democracy” alternative is ridiculous as the people in Iran would never accept it. In terms of the duplicity surrounding its marketing, it is reminiscent of Iraqi con artist Ahmed Chalabi, who also had little following inside Iraq but was able to convince Pentagon geniuses like Paul Wolfowitz that he represented some kind of democratic movement. At the time Chalabi was also secretly working for Iran.

MEK was protected by Saddam and later by the U.S. invaders who found a weapon to use against Iran useful. They were housed in Camp Ashraf near Baghdad, and later, after Ashraf was closed, at so-called Camp Liberty. In 2013, when the Iraqis insisted that they go elsewhere the President Barack Obama facilitated their removal to Albania under the auspices of the United Nations refugee program, with the $20 million dollar bill being footed by Washington. The organization’s political arm, the National Council of Resistance or Iran (NCRI), meanwhile established itself in Paris under the control of Maryam Rajavi, in part to place it closer to the American and European sources of its political legitimacy and financing. In 2001, to make itself more palatable, the group had renounced violence.

The MEK folks in Albania have become a bit of a problem. Through various additional migrations they have multiplied and now number around 3,000 and have largely adhered to their cultish ways even though one of the original objectives of the move into Europe was to somehow deprogram and “deradicalize” them in an environment far removed from Iran-Iraq. Part of the problem is that the Albanian government likes the U.N. subsidies used to support the MEK associates, but it will not let them work as they have no legal status and they cannot resettle or lead normal lives. So they resort to criminal activity that includes promotion of fraudulent charities, drug trafficking and even a form of slavery in which their own people are sold and traded as laborers. The temporary solution has been to move the MEK out of a rundown university property in the capital Tirana to a more remote site in northern Albania dubbed Ashraf-3, but local people believe that that is just kicking the can down the road and that MEK should be forced to go somewhere else, preferably in the United States, which seems to like them so much.

Also, Albania is majority Muslim and has been subjected to the same Saudi Arabian ultra-conservative wahhabi promotion backed by lots of money that has plagued many states in the Middle East. Albanians accustomed to the mild form of Turkish Islam suddenly found themselves confronting the Sunni-Shia divide and also the MEK as agents of both Saudi Arabia and Israel. Many outraged Albanians see the unreformed MEK in their midst as a terror time bomb waiting to go off, but the government, under pressure from the U.S. Embassy has not sought their removal.

Meanwhile back in the United States everything involving the non-deradicalized MEK is just hunky dory. MEK and the NCRI are enemies of Iran and also seem to have plenty of money to spend, so they buy high ranking American speakers to appear at their events. Rudy Giuliani and John Bolton have appeared regularly, as have Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Jeanne Shaheen. At a 2015 appearance in Paris, Giuliani brought the crowd to its feet by calling for “Regime change!” after shouting out that the “Ayatollah must go!” In August 2017, Senators Roy Blunt, John Cornyn, Thom Tillis and Carl Levin met with Rajavi in Paris. Newt Gingrich also considers himself a friend of the Iranian resistance while Elaine Chao, Secretary of Labor and wife of Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell spoke in Paris for five minutes in 2015 and was paid $50,000. The payments made to the other politicians have not been revealed.

And then there is the Saudi and Israeli angle. Saudi Arabia is now the major funder of MEK/NCRI. It’s intelligence chief Turki al-Faisal spoke before the group in 2017. Israel funded the group in its early days and its external spy service Mossad continues to use MEK stay-behinds in Iran to assassinate scientists and tamper with computer systems. The CIA, which recently expanded its anti-Iran task force, it also working closely with MEK. And Giuliani, Bolton, Chao are all in the White House inner circle, which, not coincidentally, is baying for Iranian blood.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Iran, MEK, Terrorism 
Iranians want to be friends with Americans but Israel hates the idea
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I have just spent a week in Mashad and Tehran Iran, speaking at an international conference on the future of Jerusalem as well as other related issues while also meeting with a broad range of Iranians, including journalists, students and government officials. The conference was organized by a non-government organization called New Horizon. It was the sixth such conference, intended to bring together speakers from a number of countries to discuss issues involving Middle Eastern security and identity issues.

To be sure, Iran, threatened as it is from all sides, has certain aspects of a security state. And as what is essentially a partial democracy run along religious lines, it has very clear limits on what constitutes acceptable behavior. But I think the representatives of the thirty or so countries who attended the congress would agree that there was no attempt made to limit free speech or guide discussions. The only attempt to censor the conference and its content has been, I would note, the blocking of sponsor New Horizon’s website on Google and presumably elsewhere in the Zionist/U.S. dominated social media and information-searching world. Indeed, the only coordinated activity that might have been noted at the conference itself was the loud hissing noise that accompanied any mention of the name John Bolton.

Indeed, there was clear criticism of the nature of the Iranian government openly expressed at the conference as well as very heated exchanges on a number of issues surrounding Jewish identity, Israel, the Palestinians, the status of Jerusalem and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Agreement (JCPOA) on the Iranian nuclear program. Privately, many Iranians we encountered were quite free in expressing their dislike of the religious leadership and their desire for dramatic change. It should be noted that such comments were not provoked by anything that any of us said. We were indeed being careful not to offend the host country or to get the organizers in trouble, perhaps more cautious than we had to be.

One might also mention that the timing of the conference and associated activities was particularly appropriate as it came on the heels of the President Donald Trump’s abandonment of the JCPOA and the slaughter of Palestinian protesters by the Israeli Army in Gaza. We watched in amazement on live television coverage as the snipers shot dead 58 unarmed Arabs and wounded two thousand more. A baby that was in an area far outside of the area where the shooting was taking place died after being suffocated by the clouds of teargas being used by the Israelis. It was ghastly and it was disgusting. Predictably the Israeli shills in both the U.S. and from Israel itself made the victim the guilty party, arguing that the child should never have been so close to the “fighting” there in Gaza in the first place.

And for those who are concerned that the Israeli Army might even run out of bullets, rest assured that all appropriate steps are being taken. Knesset member Avi Dichter reassured the audience on live television the army “has enough bullets for everyone. If every man, woman and child in Gaza gathers at the gate, in other words, there is a bullet for every one of them. They can all be killed, no problem.”

I have been invited to Iran before, but as an ex-CIA it was complicated for me to get a visa to make the journey. In this case, however, the hard work and networking of the conference sponsors prevailed, making it possible for me and some friends formerly working for the Pentagon to speak and also participate in the numerous panels. We were an instant hit among the attendees and also for the Iranian public, being featured in the local and national media and interviewed over and over again.

To be sure, some will say that we were little more than useful idiots, invited to disparage the United States and provide aid and comfort to its enemies, but that would assume there was any effort to enforce uniformity in the speeches and comments, which, as I have already noted, was not the case. There was, indeed, a theme of the conference, which was essentially that the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem was a new catastrophe delivered by Washington on the backs of the long suffering Palestinian people, virtually guaranteeing that a Palestinian state will never be allowed to develop. And U.S. uncritical support of Israel and its fascistic leader Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is, of course, the root cause of the problem, something that was discussed in some depth.

I will not make any attempt to describe the speeches and speakers at the conference as I am sure that such material will be surfacing independently through the alternative media over the next few days, but I would like to share some impressions as well as some particularly well-made points that emerged about the current and, unfortunately, burgeoning conflict in the Middle East.

Many at the conference came away convinced that the White House’s rejection of JCPOA was a watershed moment. The anger in Europe clearly being expressed in their national media last week reflects an understanding that the United States is no longer interested in cooperating with anyone to reduce the risk of war. If European nations act in support of their rhetoric there will be an increase in efforts to distance themselves from Washington. This will include mechanisms to work around American sanctions, to include buying Iranian oil with Euros instead of dollars and selling to Iran in ways that avoid U.S. banks as conduits. The eventual result, which will undoubtedly be supported by China and Russia, would mean a flight from dollars as the world reserve currency. The reduced acceptability of the dollar in turn would mean that the Federal Reserve will be unable to continue to print fiat money to support U.S. interventions, with severe repercussions for the American economy.

And the participants at the conference would likely agree that the United States government has no credibility, by which I mean NONE. It is not particularly a Trump issue but rather a Trump-Obama-Bush problem that has been festering ever since 9/11 if not before. We conference participants watched the slaying of the Palestinians and, by split screen, also witnessed how someone named Raj Shah at the White House told reporters at a press briefing that “The responsibility for these tragic deaths rests squarely with Hamas. Hamas is intentionally and cynically provoking this response” as “a gruesome and unfortunate propaganda attempt.” Sure didn’t look like that, Raj.

And meanwhile over at the United Nations, the irrepressible so-called American Ambassador Nikki Haley vetoed a Russian proposal seeking an investigation into the carnage, explaining that that Hamas, aided of course by Iran, was to blame for the violence. “I ask my colleagues here in the Security Council: who among us would accept this type of activity on your border? No one would. No country in this chamber would act with more restraint than Israel has.” She then walked out when Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian Permanent Representative to the United Nations began to speak.

 
Pay and benefits are out of control
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America’s Republican politicians complain that “entitlements,” by which they mean pensions and medical care, are leading the country to bankruptcy even as they fatten the spending on the Pentagon, which now takes 12 percent of the overall budget. And it should be noted that while workers contribute to the social programs during all their years of employment, the money that goes to the military comes straight out of the pockets of taxpayers before being wasted in ways that scarcely benefit the average citizen unless one seriously thinks that folks over in Syria, Iran and Afghanistan actually do threaten the survival of the United States of America.

I was in a Virginia supermarket the other day checking out when the woman behind the cash register in a perky voice asked me “Will you give $5 to support our troops?” I responded “No. Our troops already get way too much of our money.” She replied, “Hee, hee that’s a funny joke” and I said “It’s not a joke.” Her face dropped and she signaled to her boss over in customer service and asked her to take over, saying that I had been rude.

If there is any group in the United States that exceeds the sheer greed of our politicians it is the military, which believes itself to be “entitled” as a consequence of its role in the global war on terror. I am a veteran who began service in a largely draftee army in which we were paid “twenty-one dollars a day once a month” as the old World War 2 song goes. When we got out, the GI Bill gave us $175 a month to go back to college, which did not cover much.

Today’s United States has 2,083,000 soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen on active duty plus reserves. Now that the military is an all-volunteer rather than a conscript force, it is understandable that pay and benefits should be close to or equivalent to civilian pay scales. Currently, a sergeant first class with 10 years in service gets paid $3968 a month. A captain with ten years gets $6271. That amounts to $47,616 and $75,252 a year respectively plus healthcare, food, housing, cost of living increases and bonuses to include combat pay.

Though there are several options for retirement, generally speaking a soldier, sailor Marine or airman can retire after 20 years with half of his or her final “high three” pay as a pension, which means an 18-year-old who enlists right out of high school will be 38 and if he or she makes sergeant first class (E-7) he or she will be collecting $2338 a month or more for a rest of his or her life adjusted for cost of living,

Many Americans would be astonished at the pensions that general officers and admirals receive, particularly since 80% of them also land in “retirement” generously remunerated positions with defense contractors either in active positions soliciting new contracts from their former peers or sitting on boards. General David Petraeus, whom The Nation describes as the “general who lost two wars,” pulls in a pension of $220,000 even though he was forced to resign as CIA Director due to passing classified information to his mistress. He is also chairman of a New York City based company KKR Global, which is part of a private equity firm Kohlberg, Kravis Roberts. He reportedly is paid in six figures plus bonuses for “oversee[ing] the institute’s thought leadership platform focused on geopolitical and macro-economic trends, as well as environmental, social, and governance issues.”

It apparently is difficult to take money away from general and flag officers. An Air Force four-star general named Arthur Lichte was reduced in rank to a two-star in 2017 after he was found guilty of having raped a lower ranking woman officer. His pension went down from $216,000 to $156,000 due to the reduction. Normally, however, America’s 1,000 general and flag officers can look forward to comfortable retirements.

But on top of that rather generous bit of cash there are the considerable other benefits, as the old recruiting sergeants would put it, the “bennies.” Military retirees can receive full tuition and expenses at a college or technical school if they choose to go back to school. This is why one sees so many ads for online universities on television – they are trolling for soldier dollars knowing that it’s free money. The retiree will also have access to heavily subsidized medical care for him or herself plus family. The medical care is a significant bonus under the Tricare system, which describes itself on its website as “the gold standard for medical coverage, [that] is government managed health insurance.” A friend who is retired recently had a hip replacement operation that would have cost $39,000 for only a few hundred dollars through Tricare.

What is significant is that even enlisted military personnel can start a second career on top of their pension, given that many of them are still in their thirties. Some that have security clearances can jump into highly paid jobs with defense contractors immediately while others also find places in the bureaucracy with the Department of Homeland Security. Working for the government twice is called “double dipping.”

Some would argue that military personnel deserve what they get because the jobs are by their very nature dangerous, sometimes fatal. Indeed, the number of maimed and PTSD-afflicted soldiers returning from the endless wars is a national tragedy and caring for them should be a top priority. But the truth is that only a very small fraction, by some estimates far less than 20% of Army and Marine personnel in so-called “combat arms,” ever are in danger. Air Force and Navy personnel rarely experience combat at all apart from bombing targets far below or launching cruise missiles against Syrians. It is true that given the volatile nature of war against insurgents in places like Afghanistan many soldiers in support roles can come under fire, but it is far from normal and most men and women in service never experience a gun fired in anger.

Some numbers-crunchers in the Pentagon have already raised the alarm that the current pay, benefits and retirement levels for military personnel is unsustainable if the United States continues its worldwide mission against terrorists and allegedly rogue regimes. And it is also unsustainable if the U.S. seeks to return to a constitutional arrangement whereby the nation is actually defended by its military, not subordinated to it and being bankrupted by its costs.

 
Time to question the loyalty of some legislators and judges
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I have a number of times discussed how the U.S. and other governments have legislated and otherwise promoted Jewish and Israeli interests in ways that most people would find unacceptable if they were aware of what exactly has been going on. Here in the United States, special Medicare coverage and immigration status have been granted, often concealed in other legislation, to benefit holocaust survivors and Russian Jews seeking to emigrate. State legislatures and the U.S. Congress have meanwhile been working hard to pass legislation that blocks and even criminalizes the non-violent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) protests against Israeli behavior while universities have been banning anti-Israel demonstrators and groups on campus because they apparently are offensive to the sensitivities of some Jewish students.

The latest outrage against the First Amendment comes from South Carolina, the home state of the arch-Zionist poseur and United Nations Ambassador extraordinary Nikki Haley. A new hate speech law was inserted in the state’s recently approved annual budget. The legislation borrows from the U.S. State Department definition of anti-Semitism, which proscribes speech that “demonizes” or applies “double standards” to Israel “by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation” as anti-Semitic.

While the State Department definition is a guideline, the South Carolina’s specific inclusion of it in legislation makes explicit that criticism of Israel as hate speech can be subject to criminal penalties. It also is binding on all the states universities and educational institutions.

The law was promoted by Alan Clemmons, a Mormon legislator who has led numerous delegations to Israel and who has been described as “Israel’s biggest supporter in a U.S. state legislature.”

Supporters of the Bill of Rights have been universally opposed to the bill, but pro-Israel groups have praised the initiative and are expecting a “new wave” of legislation all across the United States blocking any criticism of the self-described Jewish State. The Brandeis Center has enthused

“This bill gives South Carolina the tools to protect Jewish students’ and all South Carolina students’ right to a learning environment free of unlawful discrimination. We are hoping this momentous step will result in another national wave to, once and for all, begin defeating rising anti-Semitism.”

Other states will undoubtedly follow the South Carolina lead, so it would appear that any criticism of Israel will become illegal in the public square if the many friends of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have their way. And they generally do get what they want from the federal level all the way down to the states and local communities, so be prepared.

Israel also is regularly exploiting the American legal system to punish countries that it has defined as its enemies. Its government sponsored lawfare organization called Shurat Hadin has initiated a number of lawsuits in U.S. courts to punish Palestinians and Iranians. Ironically, it is currently seeking to demonstrate that Hamas is committing war crimes in Gaza, where Israel has been using army snipers to kill unarmed demonstrators.

Other lawsuits filed on behalf of mostly Jewish Americans in U.S. courts seeking compensation from Iranians and Palestinians are also pending, with the tribunals in Manhattan particularly prone to being sympathetic to the plaintiffs. Last week, at the Federal Court for the Southern District of Manhattan, Judge George Daniels issued a default judgment relating to his 2011 determination that Iran and Hezbollah materially and directly supported al-Qaeda in the 9/11 attacks and are legally responsible for damages to the hundreds of family members of victims who are named in the case. The judge ordered Iran to pay $6 billion in compensation – “$12,500,000 per spouse, $8,500,000 per parent, $8,500,000 per child, and $4,250,000 per sibling” to the families and estates of the deceased. A 4.96 annual interest rate will also be applied to the amount, starting from September 11, 2001 to the date of the judgement.”

Normally foreign governments have what is referred to as sovereign immunity which prevents their being sued, but that all changed in the U.S. with the passage of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) of 2016, which permitted individual lawsuits in any federal court involving any government’s alleged participation in international acts of “terrorism.” This has resulted in a series of multi-billion-dollar lawsuits against Iran, the Palestinians and also Saudi Arabia. Many of the lawsuits have Israeli citizens as plaintiffs, suing in American courts.

Though the lawsuit claimed, and Judge Daniels agreed, that Tehran had supported the 9/11 hijackers with training and other assistance, most authorities would question that judgement. Many would consider it to be ludicrous as Iranian Shi’ites were considered to be kill-on-sight heretics by al-Qaeda. The idea that Iran was somehow involved in 9/11 is in reality a ridiculous Israel Lobby contrivance that was first floated in 2015 by ex-CIA Director James Woolsey, a renowned Zionist stooge and conspiracy theorist who is viewed by many as not completely in possession of all his marbles.

Indeed, it is far more plausible that Israel was involved in 9/11 than was Iran. Israel operated a massive spying operation directed against Arabs in the U.S. and several of its intelligence officers were seen in Jersey City to be filming themselves while dancing and cavorting in delight as the twin towers went down, suggesting some prior knowledge.

But, of course, no one would be allowed to sue Israel in an American court. The 9/11 Commission failed to examine the case against Israel even though it allegedly sought to compile a “full and complete account of the circumstances surrounding” the attacks, but it did investigate the possible ties to Iran. It found the only evidence of any Iranian support to consist of certain 9/11 hijackers travelling through Iran on their way to Afghanistan without having their passports stamped.

In his Farewell Address President George Washington warned that

 
The nuclear agreement with Iran is worth preserving
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The analysis of the recent exchanges between French President Emmanuel Macron and President Donald Trump suggest that Washington is most likely about to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear agreement with Iran that was signed by the U.S. and five other governments in July 2015. The decision will likely be made public before the deadline on re-ratifying the agreement, which is May 12th. As one informed observer has noted, “a train wreck is probably coming, with very damaging consequences that are hard to predict.”

Macron was polite, both in his meeting with Trump and during his speech before Congress, not hammering on the unimaginable awfulness of the White House decision while also offering an alternative, i.e. cooperation with the United States to improve the nuclear agreement while also supporting the principle that it is worth saving. Whether that subtle nudge, coupled with a pledge that Iran will never get a nuclear weapon, will be enough to change minds either in Congress or the White House is questionable as the unfortunate truth is that going to war with Iran is popular among the policy makers and media for the usual reason: it is a major foreign policy objective of the Israeli government and its powerful U.S. lobby.

Iran has been vilified for decades in the American media and it rarely gets a fair hearing anywhere, even when its behavior has not been particularly objectionable. Currently, it is regularly demonized by the Israelis and their supporters over its apparent plan to create an arc of Shi’a states extending through Iraq and Syria to Lebanon, a so-called “land bridge” to the Mediterranean Sea. What that would accomplish exactly has never really been made clear and it assumes that the Syrians and Iraqis would happily surrender their sovereignty to further the project.

The Iranians for their part have made it clear that no modification of the agreement is possible. They note, correctly, that the JCPOA was not a bilateral commitment made between Tehran and Washington. It also included as signatories Russia, China, France, Britain and the European Union and was ratified by the United Nations (P5+1). They and others also have noted that U.S. exit from the agreement will mean that other nations will negotiate with Washington with the understanding that a legal commitment entered into by the President of the United States cannot be trusted after he is out of office.

Under the JCPOA, Iran agreed to eliminate its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium, cut its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 98%, and reduce by two-thirds the number of its gas centrifuges for 13 years. For the next 15 years, Iran will only enrich uranium up to non-weapons level of 3.67%. Iran also pledged not to build any new heavy-water facilities and to limit uranium-enrichment activities for research and medical purposes to a plant using old technology centrifuges for a period of 10 years. To guarantee compliance with the agreement, Iran accepted the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) proposal that it have highly intrusive access by a team of unannounced inspectors of all the country’s nuclear facilities. In return, Iran was to receive relief from U.S., European Union, and United Nations Security Council sanctions, an aspect of the agreement that the United States has never fully complied with.

Trump’s objection to the agreement is that it is a “bad deal” that virtually guarantees that Iran will have a nuclear weapon somewhere down the road. There is, however, no factual basis for that claim and that it is being made at all is largely reflective of Israeli and Israel Lobby propaganda. It is, on the contrary, an American interest not to have another nuclear proliferator in the Middle East in addition to Israel, which Washington has never dared to confront on the issue. The JCPOA agreement guarantees that Iran will not work to develop a weapon for at least ten years which is a considerable benefit considering that Tehran, if it had chosen to initiate such a program, could easily have had breakout capability in one year.

The U.S. and Israel are also expressing concern about Iranian ballistic missile capability. Again, ballistic missiles would appear to be a weapon that Israel alone seeks to monopolize in its neighborhood because it seeks to regard itself as uniquely threatened, that is, always the victim. It is an argument that sells well in the U.S. Congress and in the media, which has apparently also obtained traction in the White House. It is nevertheless a fake argument contrived by the Israelis. The missiles under development do not in any way threaten the United States and they were not in any event part of the agreement and should not be considered a deal breaker.

Ironically, the JCPOA is approved of by most Americans because it prevents the development of yet another potentially hostile nuclear armed power in a volatile part of the world. American Jews, in fact, support it more than other Americans, according to opinion polls. Even the generals in the Pentagon favor continuing it as do U.S. close allies Germany, France and Britain. The ability of Israel and its Lobby to dominate U.S. foreign policy formulation in certain areas is thereby exposed for what it is: sheer manipulation of our system of government by a small group dedicated to the interests of a foreign government using money and the political access that money buys to achieve that objective.

Those who argue that the withdrawal of the U.S. from JCPOA will be countered by the continued cooperation of the other signatories to the agreement are, one might unfortunately note, somewhat delusional. The U.S. has tremendous leverage in financial markets. If it chooses to sanction Iran over its missiles while also re-introducing the old sanctions relating to the nuclear developments, it would be a brave European or Asian banker who would risk being blocked out of the American market by lending money or selling certain prohibited goods to the Iranians. The United States could force the entire JCPOA quid pro quo agreement to collapse, and that might be precisely what the White House intends to do.

Add into the equation the clearly expressed and oft-times repeated Israeli intention to begin a war with Iran, starting in Syria, sooner rather than later, a disaster for American foreign policy is developing that might well make Iraq and Afghanistan look like cake walks. Iran will surely strike back in response either to the termination of the JCPOA or to Israeli bombing of its militiamen and surrogates in Syria. America forces in the region will surely be sucked into the conflict by Israel and will wind up taking the fall. Someone should tell Donald Trump that there are real world consequences for breaking agreements and rattling sabers. But who will tell him? Will it be John Bolton or Nikki Haley or Mike Pompeo? I doubt it.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Donald Trump, Emmanuel Macron, Iran, JCPOA 
Think of Nikki Haley for President!
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The musical chairs playing out among the senior officials that make up the President Donald Trump White House team would be amusing to watch but for the genuine damage that it is doing to the United States. The lack of any coherence in policy means that the State Department now has diplomats that do not believe in diplomacy and environment agency heads that do not believe in protecting the environment. It also means that well-funded and disciplined lobbies and pressure groups are having a field day, befuddling ignorant administrators with their “fact sheets” and successfully promoting policies that benefit no one but themselves.

In the Trumpean world of all-the-time-stupid, there is, however, one individual who stands out for her complete inability to perceive anything beyond threats of unrelenting violence combined with adherence to policies that have already proven to be catastrophic. That person is our own Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, who surfaced in the news lately after she unilaterally and evidently prematurely announced sanctions on Russia. When the White House suggested that she might have been “confused” she responded that “With all due respect, I don’t get confused.” This ignited a firestorm among the Trump haters, lauding Haley as a strong and self-confident woman for standing up to the White House male bullies while also suggesting that the hapless Administration had not bothered to inform one of its senior diplomats of a policy change. It also produced a flurry of Haley for higher office tweets based on what was described as her “brilliant riposte” to the president.

One over-the-top bit of effusion from a former Haley aide even suggested that her “deft rebuttal” emphasizes her qualities, enthusing that “What distinguishes her from the star-struck sycophants in the White House is that she understands the intersection of strong leadership and public service, where great things happen” and placing her on what is being promoted as the short list of future presidential candidates.

For sure, neocon barking dog Bill Kristol has for years been promoting Haley for president, a sign that something is up as he was previously the one who “discovered” Sarah Palin. Indeed, the similarities between the two women are readily observable. Neither is very cerebral or much given to make any attempt to understand an adversary’s point of view; both are reflexively aggressive and dismissive when dealing with foreigners and domestic critics; both are passionately anti-Russian and pro-Israeli. And Kristol is not alone in his advocacy. Haley regularly receives praise from Senators like South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham and from the Murdoch media as well as in the opinion pages of National Review and The Weekly Standard.

The greater problem right now is that Nikki Haley is America’s face to the international community, even more than the Secretary of State. She has used her bully pulpit to do just that, i.e. bully, and she is ugly America personified, having apparently decided that something called American Exceptionalism gives her license to say and do whatever she wants at the United Nations. In her mind, the United States can do what it wants globally because it has a God-given right to do so, a viewpoint that doesn’t go down well with many countries that believe that they have a legal and moral right to be left alone and remain exempt from America’s all too frequent military interventions.

Nikki Haley sees things differently, however. During her 15 months at the United Nations she has been instrumental in cutting funding for programs that she disapproves of and has repeatedly threatened military action against countries that disagree with U.S. policies. Most recently, in the wake of the U.S. cruise missile attack against Syria, she announced that the action was potentially only the first step. She declared that Washington was “locked and loaded,” prepared to exercise more lethal military options if Syria and its Russian and Iranian supporters did not cease and desist from the use of chemical weapons. Ironically, the cruise missile attack was carried out even though the White House had no clue as to what had actually happened and it now turns out that the entire story, spread by the terrorist groups in Syria and their mouthpieces, has begun to unravel. Will Nikki Haley apologize? I would suspect that if she doesn’t do confusion she doesn’t do apologies either.

Haley, who had no foreign policy experience of any kind prior to assuming office, relies on a gaggle of neoconservative foreign-policy “experts” to help shape her public utterances, which are often not cleared with the State Department, where she is at least nominally employed. Her speechwriter is Jessica Gavora, who is the wife of the leading neoconservative journalist Jonah Goldberg. Unfortunately, being a neocon mouthpiece makes her particularly dangerous as she is holding a position where she can do bad things. She has been shooting from the lip since she assumed office with only minimal vetting by the Trump Administration, and, as in the recent imbroglio over her “confusion,” it is never quite clear whether she is speaking for herself or for the White House.

Haley has her own foreign policy. She has declared that Russia “is not, will not be our friend” and has lately described the Russians as having their hands covered with the blood of Syrian children. From the start of her time at the U.N., Haley has made it clear that she is neoconservatism personified and she has done nothing since to change that impression. In December 2017 she warned the U.N. that she was “taking names” and threatened retaliation against any country that was so “disrespectful” as to dare to vote against Washington’s disastrous recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, which she also helped to bring about.

As governor of South Carolina, Haley first became identified as an unquestioning supporter of Israel through her signing of a bill punishing supporters of the nonviolent pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, the first legislation of its kind on a state level. Immediately upon taking office at the United Nations she complained that “nowhere has the U.N.’s failure been more consistent and more outrageous than in its bias against our close ally Israel” and vowed that the “days of Israel bashing are over.” On a recent visit to Israel, she was feted and honored by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. She was also greeted by rounds of applause and cheering when she spoke at the annual meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in March, saying “When I come to AIPAC I am with friends.”

 
Israel continues to wag the dog for Middle Eastern wars
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In March 2003, Pat Buchanan wrote a groundbreaking article entitled “Whose War?” in opposition to the Bush Administration fueled growing hysteria over Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction which was producing demands for an armed intervention to disarm him. Buchanan rightly identified a number of prominent Jewish officials and journalists closely tied to the Israel Lobby as the principal driving force behind the rush to go to war.

Buchanan is still a powerful voice arguing against the war fever in its 2018 manifestation, which is all too similar to the hysteria prevailing in 2003. But if he were writing his article today, even though those demanding war are pretty much the same people with the same names including Podhoretz, Krauthammer, Kristol, Kagan, Brooks and Boot, he would have to broaden his purview to ask “Whose Wars?” as it is no longer a simple case of going after one third-world autocrat and overthrowing him, we are now instead being urged to attack Syria, Iran and even nuclear superpower Russia due to Moscow’s support of Damascus and its friendship with Tehran.

Lest there be any confusion, the same country keeps surfacing as a central player in the lead-up to America’s regime-change wars, which now have included an illegal attack on Syria, the second such intervention in the past year. That nation is Israel.

Israel’s fingerprints are all over American interventionism, reflecting Jewish power in the United States and the presence of a plethora of well-funded Israel-centric lobbies, think tanks and media outlets. Just last week, the only persistent voice in the mainstream media who, prior to Trump’s cruise missile attack, asked why on earth the United States should be contemplating a major power confrontation that could end life on this planet as we know it over Syria, where Washington has no vital interests, was Tucker Carlson of Fox News. His memorable monologue blasting the “talk show generals” who have “no idea of what is really happening” skewered the pretexts for war being bandied about in spite of the lack of any actual threat directed against the United States or a vital national interest is a model for what the Fourth Estate should be doing but isn’t. Carlson later followed up with an interview of Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi. He asked what might be an American national interest that would mandate military involvement in Syria. Wicker hardly hesitated before responding, “If you care about Israel, you have to be interested in what’s going on in Syria.”

Israel indeed. And Israel is not at all shy about what it wants to happen, namely a war in Syria targeting both Damascus and Tehran, leading to a much bigger war with the Iranians. Fought by Uncle Sam, to be sure, as Jewish lives are far too precious to waste.

Tel Aviv has long been feeding the propaganda line relating to why war with Syria and Iran are desirable. Gilad Erdan, who is Netanyahu’s deputy in Likud and serves as Public Security Minister, addressed the latest alleged use of chemical weapons in Douma, saying “The shocking attack shows the incredible international hypocrisy of the international community focusing on Israel confronting the terrorist organization Hamas that is sending civilians to our [border] fence, when dozens are being killed in Syria every day. It shows the need for strengthening the presence of Americans and other international forces, because without them the genocide we are seeing will only intensify.”

Construction Minister Yoav Galant, a former IDF major-general and a security figure close to Netanyahu, also called for military action against the Syrian leader. “Assad is the angel of death, and the world would be better without him.”

The compassion for Syrian civilians, being expressed both in Washington and in Tel Aviv, is, of course, a joke. Donald Trump and John Bolton couldn’t care less about Syrian babies and if Trump were genuinely concerned about civilian deaths due to war crimes by governments the first country he would attack would be Israel. Erdan and Galant, meanwhile, serve in a government that has recently shot and killed or injured 2,000 unarmed demonstrators in Gaza, in some cases involving snipers having fun by shooting boys running away and cheering when they were successful, so their hypocrisy is evident.

Israel has also been busy at creating a pretext for using Syria as a stepping stone to Iran itself. The Associated Press is reporting comments by Yossi Cohen, head of Mossad, who claims to be “100 percent certain” that Iran remains committed to developing a nuclear bomb, which is the old “weapons of mass destruction” ploy used to jumpstart the Iraq War. Israel’s bombing attack on Syria that took place one day after the reports of the alleged chemical weapon incident, deliberately targeted Iranians, killing 7 at a military base near Damascus. Iran has promised to respond, guaranteeing that the conflict will expand and draw in both regional and foreign players, definitely including the United States.

More recently, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated the U.S., the U.K, and France for bombing Syria, an operation that was coordinated in advance with Israel by National Security Advisor John Bolton. Netanyahu went on to assert that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad must understand that “his provision of a forward base for Iran and its proxies endangers Syria,” an analysis of the situation which is, of course, self-serving bullshit.

Unfortunately, Israel has a receptive quasi-American audience in the team that Donald Trump has pulled together under his son in law Jared Kushner to deal with the Middle East. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who is supposed to represent U.S. interests, has become adept at repeating Israeli Foreign Ministry talking points as if they were American policy, while Chief Negotiator Jason Greenblatt has warned demonstrating Gazans to avoid provoking Israel while also failing to advise the Israeli Army that shooting unarmed protesters just might be considered unacceptable.

 
Philip Giraldi
About Philip Giraldi

Phil Giraldi is a former CIA Case Officer and Army Intelligence Officer who spent twenty years overseas in Europe and the Middle East working terrorism cases. He holds a BA with honors from the University of Chicago and an MA and PhD in Modern History from the University of London. In addition to TAC, where he has been a contributing editor for nine years, he writes regularly for Antiwar.com. He is currently Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest and resides with his wife of 32 years in Virginia horse country close to his daughters and grandchildren.


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