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Israel's war on free speech continues
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Tracking the consequences of Israel’s apparent conviction that it should never be bound by the rules and conventions that constrain the behavior of other countries sometimes leads one into dark places. The daily torments inflicted on the Palestinians is increasingly a horrific tale that has no apparent end, while Benjamin Netanyahu struts and boasts of his power to do more and even worse, openly calling for war with Lebanon, Syria and Iran on a world stage where no one seems willing to confront him.

I have chronicled how Israel does terrible damage to the United States, through inciting war, its financial demands, and its unparalleled ability to make Washington complicit in its war crimes and general inhumanity. But, as bad as it is, in some areas the worst is yet to come, as Israel and its hubristic leaders know no limits and fear no consequences, thanks to the uncritical support from the American Establishment, a large percentage of which is Jewish, that is unwilling to take a strong stand against Netanyahu and all his works.

Israel has been particularly successful at promoting its preferred narrative, together with sanctions for those who do not concur, in the English language speaking world and also in France, which has the largest Jewish population in Europe. The sanctions generally consist of legal penalties for those criticizing Israel or questioning the accuracy of the accepted holocaust narrative, i.e. disputing that “6 million died.”

Those attacking Israeli government policies can be found guilty of antisemitism, which is now considered a hate crime in Britain. Under the new law, passed in December 2016, Britain became one of the first countries to use the definition of antisemitism agreed upon earlier in the year at a conference of the Berlin-based International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).

A statement from British Prime Minister Teresa May’s office explained that the intention of the new definition was to “insure that culprits will not be able to get away with being antisemitic because the term is ill-defined, or because different organizations or bodies have different interpretations of it”.

May went on to elaborate how the law“…means there will be one definition of antisemitism – in essence, language or behavior that displays hatred towards Jews because they are Jews – and anyone guilty of that will be called out on it.” The Guardian, in covering the story, added that “Police forces already use a version of the IHRA definition to help officers decide what could be considered antisemitism.”

The British government’s own definition relies on guidance provided by the IHRA, which asserts that “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews” and elaborated that it could be considered antisemitic to accuse Jews of being “more loyal to Israel or their religion than to their own nations, or to say the existence of Israel is intrinsically racist.” In other words, even if many Jews are more loyal to Israel than to the countries they live in and even though Israel is intrinsically racist, it is now illegal to say so in Great Britain.

The British government’s subservience to Jewish and Israeli interests is nearly as enthusiastic as in the United States, though it is driven by the same sorts of things – Jewish money and Jewish power, particularly in the media. A majority of Conservative Party members of parliament have joined Conservative Friends of Israel and the Labour counterpart is also a force to be reckoned with on the political left.

Last November there was a major scandal when Britain’s Overseas Development Minister Priti Patel was forced to resign after she held 14 “unofficial” meetings with Israeli government officials, including Netanyahu. The meetings were during a “vacation trip” in Israel arranged by a British Jew with the improbable name Lord Polak who functions as a lobbyist for the Jewish state. During her visit, Patel visited an Israeli military hospital in the occupied Golan Heights. When she returned to Britain, she began to work on the feasibility of sending U.K. aid money to the Israeli Army for its alleged humanitarian work. None of the meetings were reported to the British Foreign Ministry.

Here in the United States, the friends of Israel appear to believe that anyone who is unwilling to do business with Israel or even with the territories that it has illegally occupied should not be allowed to do business in any capacity with federal, state or even local governments. Constitutional guarantees of freedom of association for every American are apparently not valid if one particular highly favored foreign country is involved.

Twenty-four states now have legislation sanctioning those who criticize or boycott Israel. And one particular pending piece of federal legislation that is also continuing to make its way through the Senate would far exceed what is happening at the state level and would set a new standard for deference to Israeli interests on the part of the national government. It would criminalize any U.S. citizen “engaged in interstate or foreign commerce” who supports a boycott of Israel or who even goes about “requesting the furnishing of information” regarding it, with penalties enforced through amendments of two existing laws, the Export Administration Act of 1979 and the Export-Import Act of 1945, that include potential fines of between $250,000 and $1 million and up to 20 years in prison

According to the Jewish Telegraph Agency, the Senate bill was drafted with the assistance of AIPAC. The legislation, which would almost certainly be overturned as unconstitutional if it ever does in fact become law, is particularly dangerous and goes well beyond any previous pro-Israeli legislation as it essentially denies free of expression when the subject is Israel.

Israel is particularly fearful of the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement because its non-violence is attractive to college students, including many young Jews, who would not otherwise get involved on the issue. Benjamin Netanyahu and his government clearly understand, correctly, that BDS can do more damage than any number of terrorist attacks, as it challenges the actual legitimacy of the Israeli government and its colonizing activity in Palestine.

 
But the FBI has been lying to the public for years
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The House Intelligence Committee Memo on possible FBI and Justice Department malfeasance relating mostly to the investigation of Donald Trump associate Carter Page is in some ways a bewildering document. As a former intelligence officer, the first thing I noticed was that the claim by Democrats on the Committee that the memo’s release amounted to “treason” and would compromise classified information does not hold water. I could identify nothing in the memo that was even plausibly damaging to national security, though it might be argued that writing down anything about the activity and operation of the FISA court is ipso facto a compromise of secrets. It is a view that I would dispute because the memo does not actually expose any ongoing investigations or place in danger law enforcement officials. It is one of those fake security arguments that go something like “It is secret because it is secret.”

The document is generally being referred to as the “Nunes Memo” after the name of the head of the House Intelligence Community, Devin Nunes, who ordered it drafted and who has been promoting its release. Having read the text through a number of times, it would appear to me that, in spite of Republican claims, it is somewhat less than a bombshell. It will need considerable elaboration to allow one to come to any real conclusions regarding whether sometimes sloppy FBI and DOJ procedures were either deliberate or driven by malice. It suggests that the Bureau may have been less than forthcoming in seeking a FISC ruling on Carter Page, who was at the time of the warrant not any longer a low-level associate of the Trump campaign, but there is no real hard evidence that the omission was deliberate and no compelling revelation of motive apart from the evidence that some senior officials and the author of the Steele Dossier did not like Donald Trump.

Even the evidence about the critically important Steele Dossier provided by the memo is somewhat ambiguous, particularly as the document suggests that Steele was a paid and fully controlled “intelligence source” of the Bureau and must have been acting under FBI direction. His meeting with a Legatt Officer in Rome at the insistence of the Bureau also suggests that he was cooperating without authorization from his former employer MI6, which could mean trouble down the road for Steele.

Beyond that there is some confusion. One source, FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, said, but has since recanted, that the dossier was essential to the FISC request while another Assistant FBI Director Bill Priestap saying its allegations were in their “infancy” of being corroborated. That would seem to suggest that the Bureau deliberately used an unvetted Steele report of questionable provenance to make a case to surveil an American citizen under FISA, but is that really true? Indeed, it appears that the Democrats will concede that the dossier was used but it was only a “small and insignificant” part of the case. But if that was not so and the Republican allegation is basically correct, it would be devastating as the dossier was, in FBI Director James Comey’s judgment, “salacious.” And we do not know, of course, what the Bureau had developed on Page independently, which is no doubt what its counter-offensive and that of the Democrats will also focus on, a response which, incidentally, could reveal actual secrets relating to intelligence sources and methods.

And then there is FISA itself and its court. It is a peculiar structure intended to protect the civil liberties of suspects suspected of being “foreign agents” by requiring the government to show cause for a surveillance, but it has morphed into a rubber stamp for investigation of anyone and nearly everyone who can plausibly be suspected of nearly anything. It has replaced the civil court standard of “probable cause” to initiate surveillance with nothing more than suspicion. It only hears one side of an argument, that provided by the FBI, and it approves over 99% of requests. The investigations that it authorizes are far more intrusive than in normal civil or criminal cases, to include nearly everything connected with an individual.

So, we are left with a bowl of porridge – the FBI might have, and probably did, frontload its request to the court to favor the action that it wanted to take, but isn’t that normal procedure anyway? Is anyone expecting a police agency charged with finding and arresting bad guys and promoting its people on that basis to be objective? If one looks at the terrorism related convictions since 2001, it is clear that the Bureau will do whatever it takes to get a conviction, up to an including inserting informants who actually instigate the criminal activity, a practice known as entrapment. Even the FISA court is aware of FBI inventiveness. In 2002 it identified 75 false or misleading claims made by Bureau officers and some officials have been blocked from testifying before the court due to their having provided false witness.

FBI procedures and ambiguities aside, this is nevertheless serious business. If it can be determined that the omissions in submissions to the FISC were deliberate and calculated, the astute blogger Publius Tacitus has correctly observed that some senior FBI and DOJ officials who signed off on misleading or fraudulent applications concealing the antecedents of the so-called Steele Dossier to the FISC are now facing possible contempt-of-court charges that would include prison sentences. They include James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Sally Yates, Dana Boente and Rob Rosenstein.

So there is likely considerably more controversy to come, whether or not the Bureau can or cannot provide backstory that credibly challenges the Republican Intelligence Committee memo. But it is also intriguing to consider what is missing from the document. As it is focused on the FBI and DOJ, there is no speculation about the possible role of senior intelligence officials CIA Director John Brennan and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Michael Isikoff reported in September 2016 that the two men were involved in obtaining information on Page and it has also been suggested that Brennan sought and obtained raw intelligence from British, Polish, Dutch and Estonian intelligence services, which apparently was then passed on to the Bureau and might have motivated James Comey to proceed with his investigation of the Trump associates. One has to consider that Brennan and Clapper, drawing on intelligence resources and connections, might have helped the FBI build a fabricated case against Trump.

 
True believer Mike Pence could be a whole lot worse
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When President Donald Trump traveled to Davos last week, the second foreign head of government he met with was Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu. When the expected groveling before Bibi was concluded the rest of the world learned that Trump is right on board the Netanyahu bandwagon when it comes to making sure that the Palestinians somehow disappear. Trump flat-out lied in asserting that “I can tell you that Israel does want to make peace,” a line that comes straight out of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs playbook, but drew a frown from Bibi when he suggested there might actually have to be some concessions from both sides to reach an agreement. Netanyahu does not do concessions.

President Trump, who has no coherent Middle Eastern policy apart from abject deference to Israel, was particularly miffed because the Palestinians had “disrespected” Mike Pence on his visit to the region earlier in the week. They had refused to meet with the U.S. Vice President over the issue of Israel’s claimed sovereignty in all of Jerusalem, which the Administration endorsed and claims to have “taken off the [negotiating] table.”

In response to the Palestinian affront, Trump threatened to cut any aid going to Ramallah unless its leaders get their pathetic asses back to participate in U.S. brokered negotiations where everyone can sit around and talk while the Israelis systematically devour what is left of the West Bank. “That money is on the table and that money’s not going to them unless they sit down and negotiate peace,” he said. Someone should have told The Donald that U.S. assistance goes largely to pay and train a Palestinian police force that works hand-in-hand with the Israeli occupiers to prevent attacks on Israelis. But hey, being president means you never have to say you’re sorry when you screw things up.

Trump has already cut in half the money going to United Nations relief efforts helping Palestinian refugees, many of whom still live in camps seventy years after the Jews stole their homes. Donald Trump is right of course. Why throw money at ragheads when you can instead suck up to the infinitely more powerful and wealthy world Jewry that the sly and slimy Netanyahu claims to represent?

Meanwhile back at home multiple moves are underway to get rid of Trump, ranging from declaring him mentally incompetent to impeachment for perjury or for lack of good manners. I would like to see him go due to his sheer fecklessness, particularly if he can take Mattis, McMaster, Pompeo, Tillerson and Haley with him. But there is a serious fly in the ointment, namely what would come next? The answer is President Mike Pence.

Mike Pence caught some heat during the campaign because of some of his idiosyncrasies like “never eat[ing] alone with a woman other than his wife.” Whether that was true because of the apparently overwhelming sexual urges that seem to afflict nearly all congressmen and Hollywood producers, or because of something in the Bible, or even to avoid possible allegations of misbehavior, was not at all clear.

And speaking of the Bible, Pence is both a Christian fundamentalist and a dispensationalist, which means that he thinks every word in the Good Book is literally true and that Christianity is going through phases or dispensations that will lead to the rapture of true believers into heaven followed by the wrath of God descending on those who refuse to see the light.

The odd thing about people like Pence is that they stick like glue to their Scofield Reference Bibles but apparently rarely venture into the New Testament part with its talk of compassion and forgiveness. They much prefer the fire and brimstone in the Jewish part with Joshua smiting and Philistines (Palestines?) falling left and right. Pence and his co-believers, who are sometimes labeled Christian Zionists, consider Jews to be the Chosen People of God and Israel’s creation and survival are all part of the master plan that will lead to the end of the world as we know it. The re-creation of a Jewish state and the gathering in of as many of the world’s Jews as possible is seen as a critical step to achieve the Second Coming of Christ, which Pence and his associates fervently hope will occur soon. At that point, it is assumed that the Jews will realize that Christ is truly their Messiah and will mass-convert. If they do not they will be consumed in fire like all the other unbelievers.

Well, Pence is undeniably a true believer in the worst way, but he can choose to believe whatever he likes. The problem with him is that, given his senior role in the government, his firmly held religious beliefs are no longer a personal issue. They inevitably have political, economic and national security consequences for all Americans, not just for those who see things as he does. Only 20% of Americans actually go to church and of those only a portion are aligned with Pence on what Christianity means, suggesting that his is a minority viewpoint within a minority viewpoint.

Pence’s views on the Middle East as influenced by his particular religiosity were on full display during his recent trip to Israel, a country that he has visited eight times. The Vice President’s speech before the Knesset first required the removal of all Arab members of that body, who had loudly expressed their disapproval of what they knew was coming.

Pence was applauded frequently by those who remained, particularly when he praised Israel effusively or damned Iran. Ironically perhaps, no one in the audience seemed to be too disturbed by the ultimate meaning of his evangelical fervor in that the End of Days and battle of Armageddon that he looks forward to will also be the end for Jews who do not convert, a point that was commented on drily by the Haaretz newspaper. But the gathering was really all about Pence expressing his personal commitment to unlimited and uncritical support by Washington for Israel, so theological niceties were politely ignored.

The speech itself explains what a Pence presidency would look like in regards to the Middle East. He began with the usual sucking-up to one’s hosts that politicians are so good at, “…I am here to convey a simple message from the heart of the American people: America stands with Israel. We stand with Israel because your cause is our cause, your values are our values, and your fight is our fight. We stand with Israel because we believe in right over wrong, in good over evil, and in liberty over tyranny. We stand with Israel because that’s what Americans have always done…”

 
Why does Washington hate Bashar al-Assad?
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The Donald Trump administration is planning to install a 30,000 strong armed “security force” in northern Syria along the borders with Turkey and Iraq. This presumably will tie together and support the remaining rag-tags of allegedly pro-democracy rebels and will fit in with existing and proposed U.S. bases. The maneuver is part of a broader plan to restructure Syria to suit the usual crop of neocon geniuses in Washington that have slithered their way back into the White House and National Security Council, to include renewed demands that the country’s President Bashar al-Assad “must go,” reiterated by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson last Wednesday. He said “But let us be clear: The United States will maintain a military presence in Syria, focused on ensuring ISIS cannot re-emerge.” Tillerson also claimed that remaining in Syria would prevent Iran from “reinforcing” its position inside Syria and would enable the eventual ouster of al-Assad, but he has also denied that Washington was creating a border force at all, yet another indication of the dysfunction in the White House.

A plan pulled together in Washington by people who should know better but seemingly don’t is hardly a blueprint for success, particularly as there is no path to anything approximating “victory” and no exit strategy. The Syrians have not been asked if they approve of an arrangement that will be put in place in their sovereign territory and the Turks have already bombed targets and sent troops and allied militias into the Afrin region, also a U.S. supported Kurdish enclave on the border. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has indicated clearly that Ankara will disrupt any U.S. devised border arrangement. From the Turkish point of view the border security force, which reportedly will largely consist of Kurdish militiamen, will inevitably work in cooperation with the Kurdish terrorist group PKK which is active on the Turkish side of the border, in seeking to create an autonomous Kurdish state, which Turkey reasonably enough regards as an existential threat.

And then there is one other little complication, which is that the United States presence in Syria is completely illegal both under international law and under the U.S. government’s War Powers Act. Syria is a sovereign state with a recognized government and there is no U.N. or Congressional mandate that permits Washington to station its soldiers, Marines and airmen within the country’s borders. The argument that the recent Authorizations to Use Military Force (AUMF) permitted the activity because groups linked to al-Qaeda were active there and the local government was unable to expel them is only thinly credible as the U.S. has also attacked Syrian Army forces and the militiamen linked to Syria’s ally Iran. That constitutes a war crime.

Trump can under the War Powers Act take military action to counter an imminent threat, which was never the case from Syria in any event, but after 60 days he has to cease or desist or go to Congress for authorization up to and possibly including a declaration of war. The military offensive against Syria began under President Barack Obama and it is far beyond that two-month window already, so egregiously in violation that some Congressmen are actually beginning to take notice. Democratic Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia has demanded that no military initiatives in Syria be undertaken without a Senate vote. He said on Thursday that“I am deeply alarmed that yet again, the Trump administration continues to raise the risk of unnecessary war, disconnected from any firm policy objectives and core national security interests. To be clear, neither the 2001 or 2002 AUMFs provide authority to target Assad or Iranian proxies in Syria, and it is unacceptable for this action to be taken absent a vote and approval of Congress.”

The animus against Syria runs deep, to include questionable claims from generally hostile sources that al-Assad has deliberately massacred hundreds of thousands of his own people as well as dubious assertations about the use of chemical weapons that led to a U.S. cruise missile attack on a Syrian airbase in Shayrat. A perfect example of how brain dead the western media is over the issue was provided by last week’s article by David Brunnstrom of Reuters on the Tillerson speech, where he wrote “U.S. forces in Syria have already faced direct threats from Syrian and Iranian-backed forces, leading to the shoot-down of Iranian drones and a Syrian jet last year, as well as to tensions with Russia.” The uninformed reader would assume that Americans were the victims of an attack and aggression by Moscow whereas the reality is quite different. Iran and Russia are allies of the legitimate Syrian government that are in the country by invitation to help in its fight against groups that everyone acknowledges to be terrorists. The United States is there illegally and is as often as not using its proxies to fight the Syrian Army.

Syria-phobia goes back to the George W. Bush Administration in December 2003, when Congress passed the Syria Accountability Act, House Resolution 1828. Syria at that time was already in the cross-hairs of two principal American so-called allies in the region, Israel and Saudi Arabia. Both were actively working to destabilize the regime, though for different reasons. The Saudis were fearful of Iranian influence over Damascus but also had a religious agenda in that the secular Syrian regime was protective of religious minorities and was itself an offshoot of Shi’a Islam referred to as Alawites. The Saudis considered them to be heretics.

The Israelis for their part were enamored of the Yinon Plan of 1982 and the Clean Break proposals made in 1996 by a team of Jewish American neocons. Their intention was to transform most of Israel’s neighboring Arab states into warring tribes and ethnicities so they would no longer be a threat. Israeli leaders have stated openly that they would prefer continued chaos in Syria, which remains a prime target. Israel is, in fact, currently bombing Syrian Army positions, most recently near Damascus, while also supporting the ISIS and al-Nusra Front remnants.

The Syrian Accountability Act does indeed read at times like the completely bogus indictment of Saddam Hussein that had led to the invasion of Iraq earlier in 2003. It cites development of weapons of mass destruction and missiles, but its main focus is related to the alleged support of terrorist groups by Damascus. It “Declares the sense of Congress that the Government of Syria should immediately and unconditionally halt support for terrorism, permanently and openly declare its total renunciation of all forms of terrorism, and close all terrorist offices and facilities in Syria, including the offices of Hamas, Hizballah, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command.”

 
Progressive except for Palestine
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Jerry Seinfeld, the Jewish American comedian, who was performing in Tel Aviv Israel at the Menora Mavtichim Arena at the end of December, recently made the news over his real live adventure at an anti-terrorism tourism camp. The so-called Counter Terror and Security Academy named Caliber 3 is a tourist training camp near the Efrat settlement south of Bethlehem, which means it is, appropriately enough, actually built on land stolen from the Palestinians. The camp’s website commemorated the Seinfeld visit by posting notice of the participation of “the legendary Jerry Seinfeld and his family,” plus photos, in a vignette that has since been removed.

The Caliber 3 website describes itself as “the leading counter terror and security training academy, run by active members of the IDF.” The day visit includes a “shooting adventure” involving a simulated suicide bombing in a Jerusalem marketplace as well as a terrorist knife attack. The package, which costs $115 per adult and $85 for children, includes sniper training and a demonstration of the use of attack dogs against a terrorist suspect.

The bad guys in the scenarios were inevitably the Palestinians, invariably described as “terrorists,” and the heroes were the Israeli army and police who were, of course, protecting innocent Jewish civilians. Jerry was photographed grinning and his entire entourage cheered and waved to demonstrate what a wonderful time they were having.

Now Jerry Seinfeld is not just a funny man, he is also a hard-core Hollywood-by-way-of-New York liberal and he may actually believe nonsense like Benjamin Netanyahu really wants peace or that a two-state solution for Israel-Palestine would work just fine, not recognizing that that ship has already sailed. Most of his peers in the heavily Jewish entertainment industry are also politically liberal, though they would likely choose to be called “progressive,” the preferred nomenclature since Ronald Reagan made liberal unfashionable.

Jerry is probably full of warm and fuzzy feelings about racial injustice, illegal immigrants and voting rights in America but he is either unaware or indifferent to the fact that a fundamentally racist Israel is preparing to expel or imprison forty-thousand African asylum seekers and that hundreds of thousands of Arabs who are under the life-and-death control of the Israeli security services have no rights whatsoever apart from being tried by military tribunals where the conviction rate is 99%. Nor is Jerry or any of his Hollywood friends likely to stage a benefit for 16 year old Ahed Tamimi, who is in prison in Israel facing a possible life in prison sentence for having slapped an Israeli soldier from a patrol that had invaded her family home in her West Bank village shortly after shooting her cousin in the head.

I have to believe that Jerry doesn’t obsess much over his Israeli hosts having stolen someone else’s land and killing them if they resist. But I also have to believe that if Jerry were to witness a training camp like C-3 in the United States where the shooting of black people or illegal Mexicans were simulated he would no doubt be both outraged and disgusted, even though somehow shooting simulated Arabs and grinning while doing so does not appear to bother him one bit.

Unfortunately, Jerry the Jewish liberal is not that unusual. American Jews, who are the key to the continuing blank check American support of Israel, balk at recognizing the evil that the self-defined Jewish state represents even though both opinion polls and voting patterns suggest strongly that they are predominantly reliably liberal regarding both social and political issues. Israel does, in fact, reject the values of most diaspora Jews while also contradicting the moral and ethical tradition of Judaism itself, which it claims to uphold. It is the antithesis of what many American Jews believe to be the right way to behave.

As a theocracy that acts like every other theocracy, including neighboring Saudi Arabia, Israel exists to promote the interests and well-being of its own co-ethnoreligionists, which means that the concerns of other religious groups or citizens are basically of no interest whatsoever. And Israel is not only a theocracy, it is also a prime model of a national security state where the military and police have a relatively free hand. In its interaction with the indigenous Arabs, Israel is a settler colonial state that regards the original inhabitants as inferior creatures only fit to be ethnically cleansed or, at best, to do menial work for their Jewish masters.

Israel has consequently been called an “apartheid state,” but some observers who actually experienced South African apartheid believe that what is practiced in Israel, where Palestinians are harassed at numerous military checkpoints and are routinely denied building and residency permits to force them to leave their homes, is far, far worse. “Liberal Zionist” Michelle Goldberg, writing recently in the New York Times, put it succinctly: “Supporters of Israel hate it when people use the word ‘apartheid’ to describe the country, but we don’t have another term for a political system in which one ethnic group rules over another, confining it to small islands of territory and denying it full political representation.”

Recently Israel has demonstrated its essential thuggishness by taking advantage of the Trump Jerusalem decision to legalize the expansion of its borders farther into the West Bank while also approving the building of more than 1,100 new houses. It has banned travel to Israel by representatives of twenty international organizations that have been critical of its behavior, including the Quaker American Friends Service Committee that saved many Jews during the Second World War as well as the largely Jewish Code Pink and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP).

 
They are all the news that fits
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Award winning journalist James Risen has recently described in some detail his sometimes painful relationship with The New York Times. His lengthy account is well worth reading as it demonstrates how successive editors of the paper frequently cooperated with the government to suppress stories on torture and illegal activity while also self-censoring to make sure that nothing outside the framework provided by the “war on terror” should be seriously discussed. It became a faithful lap dog for an American role as global hegemon, promoting government half-truths and suppressing information that it knew to be true but which would embarrass the administration in power, be they Democrats or Republicans.

If one were to obtain a similar insider account of goings-on at the other national “newspaper of record” The Washington Post it is quite likely that comparable trimming of the narrative also took place. To be sure, the Post is worse than the Times, characterized by heavily editorializing in its news coverage without necessarily tipping off the reader when “facts” end and speculation begins. In both publications, stories about Iran or Russia routinely begin with an assertion that Moscow interfered in the 2016 U.S. election and that Iran is the aggressor in the Middle East, contentions that have not been demonstrated and can easily be challenged. Both publications also have endorsed every American war since 2001, including Iraq, Libya and the current mess in Syria, one indication of the quality of their reporting and analysis.

A recent op-ed in the Times by Bret Stephens is a perfect example of warmongering mischief wrapped in faux expert testimony to make it palatable. Stephens is the resident neocon at the Times. He was brought over from the Wall Street Journal when it was determined that his neocon colleague David Brooks had become overly squishy, while the resident “conservative” Russ Douthat had proven to be a bit too cautious and even rational to please the increasingly hawkish senior editors.

Stephens’ article, entitled Finding the Way Forward on Iran sparkles with throwaway gems like “Tehran’s hyperaggressive foreign policy in the wake of the 2015 nuclear deal” and “Real democracies don’t live in fear of their own people” and even “it’s not too soon to start rethinking the way we think about Iran.” Or try “A better way of describing Iran’s dictatorship is as a kleptotheocracy, driven by impulses that are by turns doctrinal and venal.”

Bret has been a hardliner on Iran for years. Early on in this op-ed he makes very clear that he wants it to be dealt with forcibly because it has “centrifuges, ballistic missiles, enriched uranium [and] fund[s] Hezbollah, assist Bashar al-Assad, arm[s] the Houthis, [and] imprison[s] the occasional British or American citizen.” He describes how Iran is a very corrupt place run by religious leaders and Revolutionary Guards and proposes that their corruption be exposed so that the Iranian people can take note and rise up in anger. And if exposure doesn’t work, they should be hammered with sanctions. He does not explain why sanctions, which disproportionately hurt the people he expects to rise up, will bring about any real change.

Stephens cites two of his buddies Ken Weinstein of the Hudson Institute and Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), who are apparently experts on how to squeeze Iran. Weinstein prefers exposing the misdeeds of the Mullahs to anger the Iranian people while Dubowitz prefers punitive sanctions “for corruption.”

The article does not reveal that Weinstein and Dubowitz are long time critics of Iran, are part of the Israel Lobby and just happen to be Jewish, as is Stephens. The Hudson Institute and the FDD are leading neocon and pro-Israel fronts. So my question becomes, “Why Iran?” The often-heard Israeli complaint about its being unfairly picked on could reasonably be turned on its head in asking the same about Iran. In fact, Iran compares favorably with Israel. It has no nuclear weapons, it does not support any of the Sunni terrorist groups that are chopping heads, and it has not disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of people that it rules over. The fact is that Iran is being targeted because Israel sees it as its prime enemy in the region and has corrupted many “opinion makers” in the U.S., to include Stephens, to hammer home that point. To be sure, Iran is a very corrupt place run by people who should not be running a hot dog stand, but the same applies to the United States and Israel. And there are lots of places that are not being targeted like Iran that are far worse, including good friend and ally of both Jerusalem and Washington, Saudi Arabia.

Oddly enough Stephens, Weinstein and Dubowitz do not get into any of that back story, presumably because it would be unseemly. And, of course and unfortunately, the New York Times opinion page is not unique. An interesting recent podcast interview by Politico‘s Chief International Affairs correspondent Susan Glasser with leading neoconservatives Eliot Cohen and Max Boot, is typical of how the media selectively shapes a narrative to suit its own biases. Glasser, Cohen and Boot are all part of the establishment foreign policy consensus in the U.S. and therefore both hate and fail to understand the Trump phenomenon. Both Cohen and Booth were vociferous founding members of the #NeverTrump foreign policy resistance movement.

Boot describes the new regime’s foreign policy as “kowtow[ing] to dictators and undermin[ing] American support for freedom and democracy around the world,” typical neocon leitmotifs. Glasser appears to be in love with her interviewees and hurls softball after softball. She describes Boot as “fantastic” and Cohen receives the epithet “The Great.” The interview itself is remarkably devoid of any serious discussion of foreign policy and is essentially a sustained assault on Trump while also implicitly supporting hardline national security positions. Cohen fulminates about “a very serious Russian attack on the core of our political system. I mean, I don’t know how you get more reckless and dangerous than that,” while Boot asks what “has to be done” about Iran.

Pompous ass Cohen, who interjected in the interview that “and you know, Max and I are both intellectuals,” notably very publicly refused to have any part in a Trump foreign policy team during the campaign but later when The Donald was actually elected suggested that the new regime might approach him with humility to offer a senior position and he just might condescend to join them. They did not do so, and he wrote an angry commentary on their refusal.

 
A new Declaration of Independence for 2018
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Now that 2017 has ended with a whimper it is possible to look forward to what the new year might bring. Nuclear armed North Korea is the potential flash point for a new war, but unless leader Kim Jong-un is actually intent on personal and national suicide, it is unlikely that Pyongyang will take the steps necessary to escalate and trigger such an event. Far more dangerous is the Trump White House, which seems to confuse acting tough with acting smart. Every time Secretary of State Rex Tillerson mentions negotiating he is contradicted by Nikki Haley or the president saying that diplomacy has played out, but the reality is that the incineration of the Korean peninsula and the deaths of hundreds of thousands or even millions, which such a war would inevitably produce, might just be a bridge too far even for the generals and assorted psychopaths that appear to be running the show. Which means that at a certain point the diplomats, perhaps in an arrangement brokered by Russia or China, will have to take over. Let us hope so anyway.

And the United States has also shot itself in the foot regarding Russia, an adversary with which Donald Trump once upon a time wanted to improve relations. But that was all before a politically driven Russiagate happened, turning Moscow into the enemy of choice once again, as it once was during the Cold War. In any event dealmaker Trump did not appreciate that you can’t improve relations when you threaten a vital interest of those you are wanting to improve relations with. The United States and its allies persist in running military exercises right on Russia’s borders under the false assumption that President Vladimir Putin heads an expansionist power. The recent decision to sell offensive weapons to Ukraine is a move that serves no American interest whatsoever while at the same time threatening Moscow’s vital interests since Ukraine sits right on its doorstep. It is a bad move that guarantees that relations with Russia will continue to be in the deep freeze for the foreseeable future.

Note that all the major problems that America is experiencing versus the rest of the world are pretty much self-inflicted. In my view, looking beyond Russia and North Korea, America’s principal foreign policy problems continue to be centered on the Middle East and all originate in the deliberate instability generated by Israel, currently joined in an unholy alliance by its former enemy Saudi Arabia. The Tel Aviv (excuse me, Jerusalem) to Riyadh axis is current working hard to bring a new war to the Middle East as part of their plan to have the United States military destroy Iran as a major regional power.

One might reasonably observe that the United States has no vital interest in what either Israel or Saudi Arabia does, but it does have some minor interests in the region, which include not allowing the area to become a breeding ground for transnational terrorist groups and safeguarding the movement of energy products so there will be no surge in prices that would hurt the energy dependent U.S. economy. That’s about it, and the interests neither include nor justify starting World War III.

The problem with Israel is that it and its powerful billion-dollar domestic lobby have their hooks so deeply embedded in the American political system as well as in the national media that the Jewish state is virtually bullet-proof. Most recently, we have learned that Facebook has been deleting critical accounts at the request of the Israeli government. Meanwhile, that same government has been working hard to make any consideration of Palestine or the Palestinians disappear, recently successfully demanding that the National Basketball Association remove a website reference to Palestine, which Israel’s sports minister described as an “imaginary state.” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver apparently agreed. Even recent blockbuster revelations that Israel rather than Russia had been corrupting Team Trump produced a few Israelgate stories before disappearing completely down the memory hole.

Israel has consistently been able to make whoever is in the White House dance to its tune without suffering any serious consequences. With Donald Trump, one might even argue that it has been able to so condition the president that he goes around looking for things to do to please Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel has not even yet asked for. The moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem is one such gift, something that pleases Israel so much that it is going to name a train station after the president, but which gives nothing but grief to the United States and to American citizens and businesses abroad.

Of course, one might argue that Trump had help in coming to his decision. He is surrounded by Orthodox Jews as well as Christian Zionists like Mike Pence and Nikki Haley, all of whom appear to put Israel first, not exactly a good formula for “Making America Great Again.” The Jewish advisers also have financial and business ties to Israel, suggesting that Robert Mueller might look towards the Middle East if he actually wants to find foreign government interference in U.S. politics.

To cite only one recent example of how the constant pressure to please Israel and minimize its transgressions works in practice, the U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman apparently got into a pissing match with the State Department over its policy to refer to the Palestinian land that Israel has illegally stolen and settled as “occupied.” Friedman, a passionate supporter of the fanatical settlers who have done much of the occupying, would prefer a different adjective, possibly “improved” or “returned-to-original-owners.”

And Friedman might well be regarded as little more than a Zionist crank by comparison with Michael Makovsky, who heads the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA). Makovsky is much exercised over Iran’s alleged ambitions and wants to counter them by redrawing most of the borders in the Middle East. He intones “Maintaining Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen in their existing forms is unnatural and serves Iran’s interests.” Makovsky would like to break all those countries up into their component tribal, ethnic and religious parts, starting with separating the Kurdish region from Iraq and breaking Syria into three separate states. He does not mention that he is not original in this thinking as it reflects the Israeli Yinon Plan of the 1980s and the American neocon “Clean Break” proposal that was written by geniuses like Richard Perle, Doug Feith and David Wurmser and presented to Netanyahu in 1996. Makovsky also does not mention that if there is a country in the Middle East that has artificial borders and strong sectarian divisions in the area that it rules over it is Israel, but, of course use of the word “border” would be somewhat inaccurate as an expansionistic Israel has no declared borders at all.

 
Proliferating enemies with no end in sight
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The end of the year is full of goodies. I watched with glee the 128 to 9 vote at the United Nations condemning the Trump Administration decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and was even more amused when the Associated Press and the New York Post tried to twist the story into a victory for the United States and Israel because the outcome might have been even more lopsided. CNN’s Jake Tapper, a vocal critic of Trump in nearly everything, also cheered the White House decision, demonstrating once again that loyalty to his tribe is more important to him than doing the right thing for the American people.

Also last week I watched what had been described as President Donald Trump’s annual National Security Strategy (NSS) review speech, the first he has given since assuming office. Having missed the first two minutes while letting our bulldog Dudley out for routine maintenance, I came back and wondered if someone had changed the channel. Trump was going on and on in what appeared to be a campaign speech, talking about the failures of the Obama Administration before proceeding to describe how wonderful and safer everything is now that he is president.

While I am not terribly enamored of the Obama record on national security, particularly its targeted killings and its stealth wars, what turned out to be the Trump rebuttal was not what I expected, rather like a cheap shot directed against someone who can no longer respond effectively. President Trump did eventually get around to talking about national security but the presentation was clearly aimed at pleasing what Trump views as his most solid group of supporters, i.e. American voters who tend to see, as he does, the world as a place where enemies and threats prevail, requiring an always truculent response and an overwhelming military to back up the words.

Most Americans who watched the speech were probably unaware that it was a much-shortened version of a congressionally mandated 68 page long document that was put out simultaneously by the White House entitled National Security Strategy of the United States of America December 2017. The speech, its Jeremiad at the beginning aside, only partly reflected the document and in some cases actually contradicted it.

Both the speech and document were broken down into four broad categories: I. Protect the American People, the Homeland, and the American Way of Life; II. Promote American Prosperity; III. Preserve Peace Through Strength; and IV. Advance American Influence. I was particularly interested in hearing what the administration would actually do and was hoping that the speech would avoid bromides and generalized commentary. In fact, there was a lot of chest thumping and relatively little in the way of pledges for action.

The first solid commitment was to build the wall with Mexico. It was packaged by Trump as a national security issue as no nation can call itself secure if it cannot control its own borders, which happens to be a viewpoint that I would agree with though I am skeptical about the wall. This naturally segued into a condemnation of the immigration and naturalization system. Trump restated his belief that a number of Muslim countries have to be subject to travels bans, which is a view that I would disagree with as I do not necessarily think that blocking whole countries provides a real solution to security problems. But I do support Trump’s call for extreme vetting of visa applicants. Inconsistent visa processing is a general security problem and all visitors and/or refugee and asylum applicants, in my view, should be subject to greater scrutiny.

Trump also went after some other horrible features of the current immigration program. He said visa lotteries would be stopped and chain migration, whereby entire extended families have gained entry to the United States based on just one individual being allowed to enter, would also be ended. And he would cut back on H-1B visas which allow foreigners with needed skills to be granted temporary work permits. This last has largely benefited Silicon Valley and the IT industry, which hire mostly Indian technical university graduates to work for much lower pay and benefits than U.S citizens would require, eliminating jobs for Americans. These are all reasonable corrections for the system, which, as it currently stands, is best described as out-of-control.

The third and final thing that Trump promised to do was to end the sequester and give billions more to the military to modernize and equip it to confront today’s threats. This was the really bad part of the speech and evidence that the White House has been listening far too much to its generals and the neocons that have begun to re-insert themselves in the Pentagon and National Security Council. The United State already spends more on “defense” than its seven closest competitors and it is unchallenged militarily. Nor is it threatened in any serious way anywhere in the world, with the possible exception of North Korea, which knows it would certainly be obliterated if it were ever to try to use one of its developing weapons systems against the U.S.

So why do we need more weapons? Pentagon experts would say that the deterrence systems in place are old and that combat aircraft, tanks and mobile artillery are inferior to those being produced by Russia, for example. But the same experts backed by the military industrial congressional lobby continue to recommend the production of aircraft carriers, which are, for example, particularly vulnerable to new missile technologies. And all the projects are, of course, subject to cost overruns. It is all the product of a completely corrupt system which Trump appears to have bought into. He repeated the hoary notion that the United States must remain unchallenged militarily all over the world, saying “We will compete with all tools of national power to ensure that regions of the world are not dominated by one power.”

If one takes Trump at his word, the U.S. will use force worldwide to make sure that only Washington can dominate regionally, a frightening thought as it goes beyond even the wildest pretensions of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. And equally ridiculous are the potential consequences of such bullying – the White House clearly believes that it will make other nations respect us and follow our leadership whereas quite the reverse is likely to be true.

On the very limited bright side, Trump did have good things to say about the benefits derived from intelligence sharing with Russia and he also spoke about both Moscow and Beijing as “rivals” and “adversaries” instead of enemies. That was very refreshing to hear but unfortunately the printed document did not say the same thing.

The NSS report provided considerably more detail than did the speech but it also was full of generalizations and all too often relied on Washington group think to frame its options. The beginning is somewhat terrifying for one of my inclinations on foreign policy:

 
A bad year for the U.S. Constitution
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The unfortunate Donald Trump Administration decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel serves no visible American interest, in spite of what some of the always-loyal-to-Israel punditry has been suggesting. Israel is already moving to exploit the situation in its usual fashion. Immediately after the announcement was made, Israeli Ambassador in Washington Ron Dermer suggested that the decision on Jerusalem could now be extended to include other disputed areas, most particularly Syria’s Golan Heights that were occupied in 1967. And the decision on Jerusalem itself will quite likely prove elastic as the Israeli government has already prepared legislation to incorporate large chunks of settlements into the city limits, far beyond the historic boundaries.

The currently popular among Zionists argument that recognizing Jerusalem will somehow perversely accelerate a drive for a final peace settlement with Israel as it will demonstrate to the Palestinians just how hopeless their cause is has little merit as desperation is more likely to lead to increased violence than a political solution. A more intriguing reading suggests that Israel, the United States and Saudi Arabia are conniving at squeezing even more Palestinians into a slightly enlarged prison-camp in Gaza, leaving the rest of the West Bank open for absorption by Israel. Again, such an outcome is not very likely as the 2.5 million Palestinians remaining in the region will likely have some say regarding the issue no matter how much pressure is exerted by the Saudis and Jared Kushner for them to submit.

Nothing good will come out of the Trump decision as the situation in the region is already starting to unravel. The Turks are talking about opening an Embassy to Palestine in East Jerusalem and the 56 other Muslim countries in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation might follow suit. Israel, which has physical control of the entire city, would use force to prevent that, creating some interesting new points of conflict in the Middle East. The U.S. would, of course, become involved given its role as Israel’s patron and protector. The evolving situation is likely to develop into Israel and the United States versus the rest of the world, with unfortunate consequences as the conflict will spill over into normally unrelated issues like trade and otherwise innocuous international agreements, while American travelers and businesses will increasingly become targets for terrorism.

If you want to understand the reason why the United States cannot pursue sensible objectives in the Middle East or anywhere else, one has to look no farther than the all too often Israel-centric neocons who have become adept at advising nearly everyone in the government from the White House on down regarding what should be done, particularly in foreign policy. The Trump Administration’s slowness in filling senior positions has meant that there are many vacancies, which has opened the door to eager neoconservative-leaning nominal Republicans to re-enter government. At the State Department Brian Hook of the neocon John Hay Initiative is now chief of policy planning, courtesy of Margaret Peterlin, Tillerson’s chief of staff. They have recently hired David Feith, the son of the infamous Pentagon Office of Special Plans head Doug Feith, to head the Asia desk. And Wes Mitchell, whose policies are largely indistinguishable from his predecessor, has replaced Victoria Nuland as Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs. While Elliot Abrams, Eliot Cohen, the Kagans and other prominent neocons have been blocked, second-tier activists carrying less political baggage have quietly been brought in.

And Congress is to a certain extent the source of all evil, as its numerous committee meetings gorge on advice from experts who are frequently anything but, reflecting the hardline views of many of the legislators themselves with nary a contrary opinion in sight. A recent session of the Senate Armed Services Committee featured a statement by leading neocon Eric Edelman. His presentation is hawkish in the extreme, with particular focus on Iran and Russia. It can be summarized briefly by citing some of the section headings: “Adopt a post-ISIS Strategy for Syria and Iraq,” “Develop Credible Military Leverage Against Iran,” “Recognize Russia as an obstacle, not a partner,” “Increase internal pressure against the Iranian regime,” and “Enforce nuclear restrictions on Iran.”

So it’s garbage-in and garbage-out on how much of the government gets a large percentage of its information. And given the White House track record relating to Iran and Jerusalem over the past several months, one might also reasonably come to the conclusion that Israel will get whatever it wants, including a catastrophic war with Iran, because it’s also garbage-in at the White House by way of son-in-law Jared Kushner’s view of the Middle East.

But there is a second story playing out about Israel right here in the United States which should be even more concerning as what is happening on the ground in Palestine and Syria. You see, the problem that Israel has is that it is indeed an apartheid state based on race and religion. The 320,000 Palestinians attempting to hang on in and around East Jerusalem have no rights whatsoever and are being systematically forced out by being denied building permits and through arbitrary oversight by the Israeli military and police. Christian churches and foundations are also under pressure from the Israeli authorities but you won’t hear much about that from Congress or the White House.

The truth about Israel is quite unpleasant, so it has been necessary to construct a completely untrue but compelling counter-narrative which relies psychologically on cultivation of claims of perpetual victimhood linked repeatedly to the holocaust. The false narrative usually starts with the myth about Israel being the only democracy in the Middle East, that it is a tolerant place where all religions can worship and where everyone enjoys freedom under law. But, alas, poor Israel is treated unfairly by the international community solely because it is Jewish.

The reality of life in Israel is quite different if one bothers to ask any Palestinian Christian or Muslim who has the misfortune to live there. Or if one reads about the essentially racist de-humanization of Arabs by Israelis, which has led to the killing, beating and imprisonment of children as well as an army sniper’s recent shooting dead of a legless Palestinian protester in a wheelchair.

And once you construct the false narrative you have to protect it by making sure that no one can easily pose a challenge to it. Much of the national media is on board this effort, voluntarily limiting or eliminating any coverage that is negative about Israel. And major players in the alternative media community have come around also, with increasing direct censorship and other manipulation of material appearing on sites like Facebook and Google. The ultimate objective of the Israel Lobby is to follow the example in some European countries, where criticism of Israel is equated to anti-Semitism and is therefore categorized as a hate crime, with both civil and criminal penalties attached.

 
A new cabinet will mark neocon ascendancy
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Back during the admittedly brief shock and awe period that immediately followed on the Trump electoral victory, it appeared that there might be an actual realignment of American foreign policy. The neoconservatives virtually unanimously had opposed Donald Trump in the most vile terms, both in the GOP primaries and during the actual electoral campaign, making clear that Hillary was their choice for a future full of unrelenting, ideologically driven warfare to convert the world to democracy. By that metric, one would assume that Trump would prefer to be roasted on a spit rather than have neocons on his national security team, and many in the punditry did agree with that analysis and went on to share that view.

At the time, I agreed, but I did note that the neoconservatives have proven to be remarkable resilient, particularly as many of them have remained true to their Democratic Party values on nearly everything but foreign policy, where they are irredeemable hawks, hostile to Russia and Iran and always reliably in the corner of Israel. In short, many neocons can be unmasked as Hillary Clinton Democrats if one looks at them issue by issue, which certainly helps to explain some subsequent developments.

Some Washington observers who actually care about such things have been writing how there has been a kumbaya process going on between self-described conservative neocons and liberal interventionists. Katrina vanden Heuvel describes the progressive hawks as “the essential-country crowd,” borrowing a phrase from ex-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

There are inevitably minor disconnects between the two groups based on their motives for aggression – Democrats claim to do it to bring democracy and freedom while Republicans say they do it to enhance national security. Both are lying in any event as it all comes down to great power rivalries, with big powerful nations pushing smaller weaker nations around because they are able to get away with it and feel more comfortable if everyone lines up behind them.

So everyone in Washington and New York’s financial services industry agrees that a more assertive America is a better America even when the reality is that no one winds up with either democracy or security. Which brings us to the latest shuffle in the Donald Trump cabinet and what it is likely to mean down the road. Multiple sources are predicting Tillerson out and Mike Pompeo in at State Department with Pompeo replaced at CIA by Senator Tom Cotton. The White House is denying the story, calling it “fake news,” but it is clear that Trump is uncomfortable with the current arrangement and Tillerson will be gone sooner or later.

Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State replaces a somewhat bumbling businessman adept at dealing in energy futures contracts who has been struggling with reducing State’s enormously bloated payroll. Pompeo, a real hard-nosed political hardliner who tends to see complex issues in fairly simplistic ways, has become a presidential confidant, briefing Trump frequently on the state of the world, most recently pushing for the horrific decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. In a recent speech , Pompeo criticized the CIA, observing that it had both forgotten how to spy, which is almost certainly true, while adding that it will have to become “more vicious” to accomplish its mission of making the United States “safe.” Pompeo would like to turn the United States into an unleashed wrecking ball directed against the enemies of the American Way and he appears intent on starting that process in the Middle East.

And Pompeo will be replaced as CIA Director by Tom Cotton. The less said about Tom the better, but I will attempt to summarize in 8 words here: Tom is completely owned by the Israel Lobby. In his 2014 election as junior Senator from Arkansas, he received $1 million from the Emergency Committee for Israel headed by Bill Kristol as well as additional assistance from the Republican Jewish Coalition. In March 2015, Tom paid those supporters back when 47 Republican United States Senators signed a letter allegedly written by him that was then sent to the Iranian government directly, warning that any agreement over that country’s nuclear program reached with President Barack Obama would likely be overturned by the Congress. The letter, which undercuts the authority of the American president before an international audience, was signed by the entire Republican Party leadership in the Senate and also included then presidential contenders Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.

I do not wish to imply that Cotton and Pompeo are somehow stupid, but they do tend to see the world in a very monochromatic fashion, just like their boss. Pompeo was first in his class at West Point and Cotton graduated from Harvard as an undergrad and also from the Law School. Trump claims to be the smartest person in the room no matter where he is standing. But for all the academic credentials and other posturing, it is hard to imagine how the new choices could possibly be worse from a common-sense perspective unless one includes Nikki Haley, who is, fortunately, otherwise engaged. Haley really is stupid. And ambitious. And is also owned by the Israel Lobby, which appears to be a thread that runs its way through all the Trump foreign policy appointees.

What is wrong about the whole Trump team is that they all seem to believe that you can go around the world kicking the shit out of everyone without there being any consequences. And they all hate Iran for reasons that continue to be obscure but may be connected to their relationships with – you guessed it – the neoconservatives and the Israeli Lobby!

Yes, the neocons are back. I noted back in October that when Pompeo and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster wanted a friendly place to drop by to give a policy speech that would be warmly received they went to the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), whose marketing masthead slogan is “Fighting Terrorism and Promoting Freedom.” FDD is currently neocon central, used like the American Enterprise Institute was when Dick Cheney was Vice President and needed a friendly audience. It is headed by Canadian Mark Dubowitz, whose passion in life is making sure that sanctions on Iran are enforced to the letter. Unfortunately, it is not easy to deport a Canadian.

Neocon watchers will undoubtedly note that big names like Brill Kristol, the Kagans, Michael Chertoff and Max Boot will not be showing up in government. True, but that is because they will instead be working through their foundations, of which FDD is only one. The Alliance for Securing Democracy, which has recently sprung up in lobby-land, markets itself as “bipartisan, and transatlantic…” but it actually is pure neocon. Its goal is to “expose Putin’s ongoing efforts to subvert democracy in the United States of America and Europe.” It includes the usual neocon names but also has the loyal Democratic opposition, including ex-CIA Acting Director Mike Morell and Jake Sullivan, both of whom were top level advisers to Hillary Clinton.

 
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.


Personal Classics
A Modern Guernica Enabled by Washington
Pressuring Candidates Even Before They Are Nominated
But is it even a friend?
The gagged whistleblower goes on the record.
Today’s CIA serves contractors and bureaucrats—not the nation.
Pay no mind to the Mossad agent on the line.