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Fleeing to Canada is no longer an option

Liberals are supposed to be antiwar, right? I went to college in the 1960s, when students nationwide were rising up in opposition to the Vietnam War. I was a Young Republican back then and supported the war through sheer ignorance and dislike of the sanctimoniousness of the protesters, some of whom were surely making their way to Canada to live in exile on daddy’s money while I was on a bus going to Fort Leonard Wood for basic combat training. I can’t even claim that I had some grudging respect for the antiwar crowd because I didn’t, but I did believe that at least some of them who were not being motivated by being personally afraid of getting hurt were actually sincere in their opposition to the awful things that were happening in Southeast Asia.

As I look around now, however, I see something quite different. The lefties I knew in college are now part of the Establishment and generally speaking are retired limousine liberals. And they now call themselves progressives, of course, because it sounds more educated and sends a better message, implying as it does that troglodytic conservatives are anti-progress. But they also have done a flip on the issue of war and peace. In its most recent incarnation some of this might be attributed to a desperate desire to relate to the Hillary Clinton campaign with its bellicosity towards Russia, Syria and Iran, but I suspect that the inclination to identify enemies goes much deeper than that, back as far as the Bill Clinton Administration with its sanctions on Iraq and the Balkan adventure, which resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths and the creation of a terror-narco state in the heart of Europe. And more recently we have seen the Obama meddling in Libya, Yemen and Syria in so called humanitarian interventions which have turned out to be largely fraudulent. Yes, under the Obama Dems it was “responsibility to protect time” (r2p) and all the world trembled as the drones were let loose.

Last Friday I started to read an op-ed in The Washington Post by David Ignatius that blew me away. It began “President Trump confronts complicated problems as the investigation widens into Russia’s attack on our political system.” It then proceeded to lay out the case for an “aggressive Russia” in the terms that have been repeated ad nauseam in the mainstream media. And it was, of course, lacking in any evidence, as if the opinions of coopted journalists and the highly politicized senior officials in the intelligence community should be regarded as sacrosanct. These are, not coincidentally, the same people who have reportedly recently been working together to undercut the White House by leaking and then reporting highly sensitive transcripts of phone calls with Russian officials.

Ignatius is well plugged into the national security community and inclined to be hawkish but he is also a typical Post politically correct progressive on most issues. So here was your typical liberal asserting something in a dangerous fashion that has not been demonstrated and might be completely untrue. Russia is attacking “our political system!” And The Post is not alone in accepting that Russia is trying to subvert and ultimately overthrow our republic. Reporting from The New York Times and on television news makes the same assumption whenever they discuss Russia, leading to what some critics have described as mounting American ‘hysteria’ relating to anything coming out of Moscow.

Rachel Maddow is another favorite of mine when it comes to talking real humanitarian feel good stuff out one side of her mouth while beating the drum for war from the other side. In a bravura performance on January 26th she roundly chastised Russia and its president Vladimir Putin. Rachel, who freaked out completely when Donald Trump was elected, is now keen to demonstrate that Trump has been corrupted by Russia and is now controlled out of the Kremlin. She described Trump’s lord and master Putin as an “intense little man” who murders his opponents before going into the whole “Trump stole the election with the aid of Moscow” saga, supporting sanctions on Russia and multiple investigations to get to the bottom of “Putin’s attacks on our democracy.” Per Maddow, Russia is the heart of darkness and, by way of Trump, has succeeded in exercising control over key elements in the new administration.

Unfortunately, people in the media like Ignatius and Maddow are not alone. Their willingness to sell a specific political line that carries with it a risk of nuclear war as fact, even when they know it is not, has been part of the fear-mongering engaged in by Democratic Party loyalists and many others on the left. Their intention is to “get Trump” whatever it takes, which opens the door to some truly dangerous maneuvering that could have awful consequences if the drumbeat and military buildup against Russia continues, leading Putin to decide that his country is being threatened and backed into a corner. Moscow has indicated that it would not hesitate use nuclear weapons if it is being confronted militarily and facing defeat.

The current wave of Russophobia is much more dangerous than the random depiction of foreigners in negative terms that has long bedeviled a certain type of American know-nothing politics. Apart from the progressive antipathy towards Putin personally, there is a virulent strain of anti-Russian sentiment among some self-styled conservatives in congress, best exemplified by Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham. Graham has recently said “2017 is going to be a year of kicking Russia in the ass in Congress.”

It is my belief that many in the National Security State have convinced themselves that Russia is indeed a major threat against the United States and not because it is a nuclear armed power that can strike the U.S. That appreciation, should, if anything constitute a good reason to work hard to maintain cordial relations rather than not, but it is seemingly ignored by everyone but Donald Trump.

No, the new brand of Russophobia derives from the belief that Moscow is “interfering” in places like Syria and Ukraine. Plus, it is a friend of Iran. That perception derives from the consensus view among liberals and conservatives alike that the U.S. sphere of influence encompasses the entire globe as well as the particularly progressive conceit that Washington should serve to “protect” anyone threatened at any time by anyone else, which provides a convenient pretext for military interventions that are euphemistically described as “peace missions.”

There might be a certain cynicism in many who hate Russia as having a powerful enemy also keeps the cash flowing from the treasuring into the pockets of the beneficiaries of the military industrial congressional complex, but my real fear is that, having been brainwashed for the past ten years, many government officials are actually sincere in their loathing of Moscow and all its works. Recent opinion polls suggest that that kind of thinking is popular among Americans, but it actually makes no sense. Though involvement by Moscow in the Middle East and Eastern Europe is undeniable, calling it a threat against U.S. vital interests is more than a bit of a stretch as Russia’s actual ability to make trouble is limited. It has exactly one overseas military facility, in Syria, while the U.S. has more than 800, and its economy and military budget are tiny compared to that of the United States. In fact, it is Washington that is most guilty of intervening globally and destabilizing entire regions, not Moscow, and when Donald Trump said in an interview that when it came to killing the U.S. was not so innocent it was a gross understatement.

Ironically, pursuing a reset with Russia is one of the things that Trump actually gets right but the new left won’t give him a break because they reflexively hate him for not embracing the usual progressive bromides that they believe are supposed to go with being antiwar. Other Moscow trashing comes from the John McCain camp which demonizes Russia because warmongers always need an enemy and McCain has never found a war he couldn’t support. It would be a tragedy for the United States if both the left and enough of the right were to join forces to limit Trump’s options on dealing with Moscow, thereby enabling an escalating conflict that could have tragic consequences for all parties.

 
Government sometimes seems the employer of last resort

We live in a political environment where nothing is any longer real. Allegedly apolitical Amnesty International issues a 48 page report stating that 13,000 political prisoners have been hanged in Syrian government prisons “a crime against humanity” and then it is revealed that the document was fabricated in London based on unconfirmed rebel sources and that its graphics were computer generated simulations. The mainstream media is uncritically promoting the allegations and the author of the report has been marketing the claims as if they are factual while beating the drum for military intervention and regime change in Syria.

The American government similarly should be regarded as a terra incognita if one is in search of the truth. If there is one thing I learned from more than twenty years of moving in and around the vast federal bureaucracy it is that one should never believe anything appearing in the media regarding elected officials or senior managers. If one were to accept uncritically everything being said about people at or aspiring to be at the top of the government one would have to believe that our country is led either by geniuses or idiots depending on your political point of view. Washington is either completely bad or completely good depending on one’s perspective and you should always triple check the sources.

In reality, even Vice Presidents and Secretaries of Defense brush their teeth every morning just like everyone else and they are commonly no more or less ethical or intelligent than most people in the general run of the population. To be sure, we have had our share of completely incompetent and politically corrupted senior staff under President Barack Obama, to include Eric Holder, Ash Carter, Loretta Lynch, Samantha Power, Arne Duncan and Susan Rice while the list of President George W. Bush and Bill Clinton appointees is so dreadful that it is best not to even try to recall who did what and to whom, though I do feel compelled to drop two names – Sandy Berger, best known for stuffing national archive documents down his trousers and Madeleine Albright who thought killing 500,000 Iraqi children through sanctions was “worth it.”

And if any readers out there are concerned lest the high-minded patriots that make up successive cabinets have been in some way held accountable for the damage they did to the country I am pleased to report that not one of them has suffered in any way. Those who are still alive all occupy well remunerated sinecures and pop up occasionally at presidential libraries where they can share their days of glory with the slick willies who hired them in the first place.

That all means that Donald Trump is not exactly unique in his attempt to satisfy all the GOP and national constituencies who are seeking to be validated by having “one of theirs” in a prominent position. We are now entering into the final stages of the transition process to name the last few political appointees who will take senior positions in the new Administration. A number of layabouts and scallywags have surfaced during the process and some have even made it to the top levels. That those like John Bolton did not make the final cut, apparently due to his moustache and the principled opposition to his candidacy mounted by Senator Rand Paul, has the entire world breathing a sigh of relief. Others, to include Michael Flynn the National Security Advisor and Nikki Haley as U.N. Ambassador unfortunately did manage to squeak through and will presumably be well placed to wreak havoc over the next four years.

But truly the most ghastly candidate who almost made it through the screening process , in this case to become number two at the Department of State, had to be Elliot Abrams. Abrams had the support of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Principal Adviser Jared Kushner. Abrams was reportedly nixed by Trump himself due to his sharp criticism of the GOP candidate during the campaign against Hillary Clinton.

The American people and the rest of the world really dodged a bullet when Abrams was denied as he was the neoconservative candidate par excellence and might be regarded as the potential enabler of a neocon reentry into government. Predictably his buddies rallied around to praise him in defeat, with CNN quoting an unnamed “Republican source” who mourned “This is a loss for the State Department and the country and, for that matter, for the President.” Another said Abrams did not get the position because of “Donald Trump’s thin skin and nothing else,” which is manifestly a ridiculous comment as Rand Paul was clearly sending a signal that he would also work hard to block the appointment. Tillerson, however, reportedly pushed for Abrams “because he felt he needed his foreign policy experience…” Excuse me?

Abrams’ “foreign policy experience” is largely negative and some would even suggest criminal. He was an odd choice in any event, only explicable due to his still powerful neocon network pushing him forward. He had written an opinion piece in May in The Weekly Standard entitled “When You Can’t Stand Your Candidate” after Trump had obtained enough support to become the Republican nominee. The first line of the Abrams article reads “The party has nominated someone who cannot win and should not be president of the United States” in part because of his “complete ignorance of foreign policy” and it goes on to question Trump’s “character and fitness to be commander in chief.” He advocated purging the GOP of Trump supporters after the expected victory of Hillary Clinton. And this man actually expected to be appointed to high office by Donald Trump?

Abrams is a close associate of leading neocons Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan. He was a founding co-signer of their Project for a New American Century, led the charge to invade Iraq after calling for “regime change,” and has endorsed military interventions in Libya and Syria as well as Iran. He withheld information from Congress in the Iran-Contra scandal, was convicted, and later pardoned by George H. W. Bush.

Elliot Abrams has received considerable media coverage since his name surfaced as possible Deputy Secretary of State but none of it has focused on his close attachment to the state of Israel and his belief that Jews should not marry non-Jews. He is a regular speaker on the so-called “synagogue speaker circuit” and is cited frequently in the Jewish media both in the U.S. and in Israel. He called Chuck Hagel an “anti-Semite” when Hagel was up for confirmation as defense secretary because Hagel had been mildly critical of Israel and the Israeli Lobby while a Senator.

Abrams was and presumably still is opposed to U.S. pressuring the Netanyahu government to bring about a peace settlement with the Palestinians, telling Bill Kristol in an interview that “…tension…is growing between the U.S. and Israel over this. Because we are constantly asking in my view for Israeli concessions, to kind of oil this mechanism of peace. And the Israelis are getting tired of it. And they think, you know, this is not the way an ally should act.” His sagacious view is a clear misrepresentation of the actual facts to ignore real American interests and favor the Israeli point of view. It should have been a disqualifier for a senior post at State but for the established fact that only Israel Firsters need apply for any positions at Foggy Bottom that deal with the Middle East.

The other uninspiring appointee that unfortunately made it through the vetting process is Gina Haspel, who was named as Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency on February 2nd. She was reportedly involved in the rendition and torture programs ca. 2003-4 and actually was senior officer in charge of one of the overseas prisons located in Thailand, which was the epicenter of the “enhanced interrogation” program and the site where al-Qaeda prisoner Abu Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times, “tortured so brutally that at one point he appeared to be dead.” In 2005 she also ordered the destruction of the video tapes made of the interrogations to avoid providing evidence to any congressional inquiry into what had gone on.

The appointment of Haspel is a sign that torturing people can be career enhancing if one works for the United States government. Her promotion was endorsed by the usual suspects including Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former Acting CIA Director Michael Morell, who has recently advocated assassinating Iranians and Russians to send a message that the United States is “serious.”

If one needs more evidence that many in the United States government at senior levels should be locked away somewhere to protect the rest of the world I would point both to Haspel and also to last week’s reaction to what was an eminently sensible comment by Donald Trump. Trump was asked by interviewer Bill O’Reilly why he respected a “killer” like Vladimir Putin and responded “You got a lot of killers. What, you think our country’s so innocent?” He added that Putin “is a leader of his country. I say it’s better to get along with Russia than not.”

For drawing what was described as a “moral equivalency” between Russia and the U.S., Trump was blasted by The New York Times, The Washington Post, a gaggle of Republican senators led by the lugubrious Mitch McConnell, sundry Democrats and late night television hosts. Yet Trump was, if anything, too nice. The United States has unleashed far more havoc on the world than Putin and yet it persists in describing itself as the “Leader of the Free World” and the planet’s greatest democracy. Abrams is intent on regime changing most of the Arab world to benefit Israel while Haspel does torture. Both are described as respected members of the foreign policy establishment and are lauded by the media and political chattering class for their service to their country.

Go figure. That people as morally repugnant as Haspel and Abrams should be considered for high level office in Washington is a travesty. All of the flag waving and boasting of American exceptionalism is a joke as the civilian death toll from drone and shadow warriors continues to mount in places like Afghanistan, Syria, and Yemen. Yes, it is indisputably far “better to get along with Putin” and with everyone else, but that appears to be something that many people in Washington find hard to accept.

 
Mainstream journalists have betrayed their calling

The Editorial page of The Washington Post newspaper generally holds to its current progressive-dominated program consisting of anti-racism, pro-diversity plus multiculturalism, “choice,” LGBTQ “rights,” and, ironically, constant war. It is not noted for its sense of humor except on Saturday morning when it runs a number of cartoons ridiculing Donald Trump.

All of which contributed to my surprise when I read a piece on January 29th penned by no less than Fred Hiatt, the Editorial and opinion pages editor. Fred, a Harvard graduate, of course, has been around at The Post since 2000. His foreign policy is pure John McCain and his domestic policy is Elizabeth Warren. Apparently kicking around people overseas is okay while in the United States white male Christian heterosexuals in particular can be targeted with impunity, but no one else.

Hiatt’s piece entitled “Trump considers the media his enemy. We shouldn’t treat him as ours” is the type of faux high-minded nonsense that one expects from the new breed of journalist that considers that reporting a story is not enough. For them, it is far more important to actually be the story through selective use of available information and the random insertion of opinion disguised as fact.

But back to Hiatt’s clearly robust sense of humor. He cited presidential adviser Stephen Bannon’s labeling the media the “opposition party,” noting that press-phobia is not exactly unusual for any White House, but warning “it is vital that we not become that party.” Rather than take on the Administration aggressively by exposing its lies, shutting it out or “be[ing] the voice of the other side,” the media should not “answer dishonest or partisan journalism” with “more partisan journalism, which would only harm our credibility.”

Hiatt’s answer to the “dishonest or partisan” journalism problem is “professionalism: to do your jobs according to the highest standards, as always.” He then adds “So far, I believe The Post has been setting the standard in this difficult job. It is not boasting for me to say so…” Regarding his own particularly bailiwick the “opinion side of the house…it is important to maintain a thoughtful perspective.”

Fred Hiatt cites a number of examples of Trump’s failings, including how, regarding immigration, “favoring one religion over another…defaces our democracy.” Surely Hiatt is aware that in practice immigration into the U.S. has frequently favored one religion or nationality or culture over others. During the past 50 years it has worked favorably for Cubans, Irishmen and Vietnamese Christians. Russian Jews benefited particularly as they were admitted as refugees under the 1975 Jackson-Vanik Amendment even though they were not notably persecuted and only had to prove that they were Jewish.

Jackson-Vanik was one of the first public assertions of neoconism, having reportedly been drafted in the office of Senator Henry Jackson by no less than Richard Perle and Ben Wattenberg. Its provision favoring Jews was expanded by the 1990 Lautenberg Amendment which widened the field to include Iranian Jews. As refugees instead of immigrants they received welfare, health insurance, job placement, English language classes, and the opportunity to apply for U.S. citizenship after only five years.

Hiatt’s apparent ignorance about how his Russian-Jewish neocon buddies like Max Boot arrived here is particularly noted as he is also Jewish. And Boot is far from alone. Steve Sailer reports that journalist Julia Ioffe, who complains regularly about American racism, Vladimir Putin and also Donald Trump, entered the U.S. under the Russian-Jewish waiver in 1990, bringing 60 of her family members along with her. One suspects that selective immigration policies are okay for Fred when it is one’s own tribe but immoral when it somehow involves Donald Trump.

Hiatt’s editorial page has also roundly condemned Donald Trump for his decision to restrict immigration from seven Muslim majority countries, conveniently ignoring the fact that President Barack Obama first came up with the exact same list of Muslim countries for special vetting in the December 2015 Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act.

Now consider Hiatt’s more general allegations regarding partisan and dishonest journalism for a minute. Anyone who regularly read either The Washington Post or New York Times during the recently concluded electoral campaign would have noted that the mainstream media was extremely hostile to Donald Trump and everything that he represented. It was and still is the “opposition,” as Bannon put it. The Post‘s journalists have been daily running multiple pieces, both in the news and opinion sections, criticizing everything relating to Trump for months including his wife’s clothing choices and there is no sign that it will stop anytime soon. And they have not been shy about it, criticizing not only his policies but also his appearance and character. The lampooning and sharp critique continue now that Trump is president. It is not that Trump is or should be immune from criticism – to be sure he has many legitimate detractors all across the political spectrum – but it is a question of how the critique is packaged and whether he is being treated fairly.

In fact, The Washington Post might well be the current leader when it comes to partisanship, fake news and heavily editorialized alleged “news reporting,” particularly when it comes to Russia, Iran or Donald Trump. It featured a completely fabricated story describing how a utility in Vermont had been hacked by the Russians without checking with the utility first. It also ran a front page piece on how hundreds of U.S. based media outlets and alternative websites were Russian “useful idiots” spreading Kremlin produced fake news and propaganda, basing its assessment on a questionable anonymously produced website called PropOrNot. Both stories were replayed widely in the national media before it was determined that they were completely wrong.

In support of its domestic agenda, The Post also ran a story describing how Planned Parenthood provides a broad range of women’s health services, including mammograms, which turned out to be untrue while failing to mention that it also performs 300,000 abortions each year. However one feels about Planned Parenthood, is that balanced and fact based reporting?

Apart from completely fake news, The Post is a master at editorializing what it describes as its news coverage. In a front page story on February 2nd, “Trump badgered, bragged and abruptly ended phone call with Australian leader,” paragraph four reads “Trump’s behavior suggests that he is capable of subjecting world leaders, including close allies, to a version of the vitriol he frequently employs against political adversaries and news organizations in speeches and on Twitter.” Does that pass the smell test for news reporting? Does “badgered, bragged”? And it later turned out that the call was not ended abruptly.

People like Fred Hiatt are precisely the reason why Donald Trump was elected by a public tired of arrogance, lies and media condescension. Fred’s hypocrisy is so blatant that anyone who dips into his newspaper to find enlightenment instead comes away reeking of propaganda, and particularly low propaganda at that. No Fred, The Washington Post is not the “highest standard” of journalism. It is hardly journalism at all. And the same goes for the crew at The New York Times as well as Charley Rose at CBS News, Wolf Blitzer at CNN and Rachel Maddow at MSNBC. Liars and knaves, every one of them.

The mainstream media talking heads want wars with Russia and Iran as well has heavy-handed intervention in Syria, hate Trump and everything he stands for, and love the whole world and its wonderful multicultural promise. Of course, their children go to private schools and will never be unemployed or have to put on a uniform or struggle to pay a mortgage while those pesky immigrants they love from a distance will never be able to afford to move in next door. Their understanding of flyover America and its problems is nil and their love of country is negotiable as they pursue higher ratings and more pats on the head from Hollywood celebrities, preening politicians and the country’s oligarchs. Steve Bannon was absolutely right when he said “the media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while.”

 
Israel conspires against the Mother of Parliaments

A quite incredible story out of England has not received much media coverage in the United States. It concerns how the Israeli Embassy in London connived with government officials to “take down” parliamentarians and government ministers who were considered to be critical of the Jewish State. It was also learned that the Israeli Embassy was secretly subsidizing and advising private groups promoting Israeli interests, including associations of Members of Parliament (MPs). The story is interesting on several levels, particularly given the recent furor in the U.S. over allegations that Russia has been interfering in American politics.

By way of comparison, though no evidence has been provided to support the claim, Russia allegedly arranged for a hack into the Democratic National Committee server to obtain factual information potentially embarrassing to the Hillary Clinton campaign. The information was then made public and may have influenced how some Americans voted.

Compare that to what has been going on meanwhile in Britain, where an Israeli Embassy diplomat named Shai Masot, “an officer in the Israel Defense Forces and…serving as a senior political officer at the London Embassy,” was meeting with Maria Strizzolo, a senior British civil servant who was formerly chief of staff to Conservative parliamentarian and ardent Zionist Robert Halfon. Masot is certainly an intelligence officer under diplomatic cover. Masot and Strizzolo’s candid discussion, which was secretly recorded by al-Jazeera, related specifically to getting rid of Foreign Office Minister Sir Alan Duncan, regarded as a supporter of an independent Palestinian state.

To Masot’s additional query “Can I give you some MPs that I would suggest you would take down?” Strizzolo suggested “…if you look hard enough, I’m sure there is something that they’re trying to hide…a little scandal maybe.” Another alleged pro-Arab member of Parliament Crispin Blunt was also identified, with Strizzolo confirming that he was on a “hit list.”

It was also learned that Masot had been secretly subsidizing and advising two ostensibly independent groups, the parliamentary Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI) and the Labour Friends of Israel (LFI). Masot did, however, express concern that Israel’s control over incoming parliamentarians was not quite what it used to be: “For years, every MP that joined the parliament joined the LFI. They’re not doing that any more in the Labour Party. CFI, they’re doing it automatically. All the 14 new MPs who got elected in the last elections did it automatically.”

Shai Masot also was working with friendly young British Jews, providing them with jobs at his embassy and then seeding them into positions in advocacy organizations where they continued to be paid secretly by him while promoting positions that would protect Israel from any criticism. One such group is Britain’s National Union of Students (NUS). Recently there has been somewhat of a furor over Shakira Martin, a vice president in the group, who accepted an all-expenses paid trip to Israel organized by the Union of Jewish Students, a pro-Israel organization which is among those receiving funding and guidance from the Israeli embassy in London. The al-Jazeera tape has also revealed that Richard Brooks, another NUS vice president, had been plotting with pro-Israel activists to remove elected NUS president Malia Bouattia, a supporter of Palestinian rights and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

It does not require much in the way of imagination to realize that the Masot meetings probably occur every day right out in the open in Washington, including Israeli officials and Congressmen as well as heads of political advocacy organizations and lobbies. The list of prominent politicians “taken down” by Israel is lengthy, and includes Cynthia McKinney, Adlai Stevenson III, Paul Findley, Chuck Percy, William Fulbright, Roger Jepsen, and Pete McCloskey. And a similar situation prevails in the U.S. regarding human rights and politically liberal organizations that are ostensibly privately funded. As Jeff Blankfort has noted, they are frequently headed by American Jews who prove quite willing to criticize the United States but are generally reluctant to say anything bad about Israel. Whether they are actually directly or indirectly on the Israeli government payroll would be an interesting project for a good investigative journalist.

One might reasonably consider Israel’s interference in the democratic process in friendly countries like the U.K. and U.S. as much farther reaching and damaging than anything Moscow has done. Yet Russia is being excoriated by the U.S. and European media daily, investigated by Congress and sanctioned because of what are little more than unproven allegations. Israel has clearly done some things to interfere with local politics that are arguably much worse and the silence is deafening. So one should not be surprised by the toothless British reaction to the suggestion that its government officials might be removed by the clandestine activity of a foreign country: “The Israeli ambassador has apologized…the UK has a strong relationship with Israel and we consider the matter closed.”

Britain under its new Prime Minister Theresa May has also been rolling over in response to Israel’s perceived interests almost as obsequiously as the U.S. Congress. After Secretary of State John Kerry described Israel’s government as “extreme right wing” on December 28th, May sprang to Tel Aviv’s defense, saying “we do not believe that it is appropriate to attack the composition of the democratically elected government of an ally. We are also clear that the settlements are far from the only problem in this conflict. In particular, the people of Israel deserve to live free from the threat of terrorism, with which they have had to cope for too long.”

May’s rejoinder could have been written by Netanyahu, and maybe it was. Two weeks later, her government cited “reservations” over a French government sponsored mid-January Middle East peace conference and would not sign a joint statement calling for a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict after Netanyahu vociferously condemned the proceedings.

It all recalls Pat Buchanan’s description of the U.S. Congress as an Israeli occupied zone, which raised holy hell at the time even though Buchanan did not go far enough judging by what has been happening in Britain. Indeed, lobbying on behalf of Israel is a global phenomenon with organizations like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) existing in various forms in a number of other countries. BICOM, the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre, is an AIPAC clone located in London. It is well funded and politically powerful, working through its various “Friends of Israel” proxies. Americans might be surprised to learn that in Britain Jewish organizations uniquely are allowed to patrol heavily Jewish London neighborhoods in police-like uniforms while driving police type vehicles and there have been reports of their threatening Muslims who enter the areas.

Indeed, wherever one goes – Western Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States – there is a well-organized and funded mechanism in place ready, willing and able to go to war to protect Israel. Most of the organizations involved take at least some direction from officials in Tel Aviv. Many of them even cooperate fully with the Israeli government, its parastatal organizations and faux-NGOs like the lawfare center Shurat HaDin. Their goal is to spread propaganda and influence the public in their respective countries of residence to either hew to the line coming out of Tel Aviv or to confuse the narrative and stifle debate when potential Israeli crimes are being discussed.

Israel’s diaspora allies are backed up by a formidable government organized machine that spews out disinformation and muddies the waters whenever critics surface. The Israeli Foreign Ministry has a corps of paid “volunteers” who monitor websites worldwide and take remedial action and there is a similar group working out of the Prime Minister’s office. That is why any negative story appearing in the U.S. or Britain about Israel is immediately inundated with pro-Israel comments, many of which make exactly the same coordinated points while exhibiting the same somewhat less than perfect English. On sites like Yahoo they are actually able to suppress unwelcome comments by flooding the site with “Dislike” responses. If a comment receives a large number of dislikes, it is automatically blocked or removed.

The sayanim, local Jews in their countries of residence, are essential to this process, having been alerted by emails from the Israeli Foreign Ministry about what to do and say. The reality is that Israel has lost the war of public opinion based on its own actions, which are becoming more and more repressive and even inhumane and so are difficult to explain. That means that the narrative has to be shifted by Israel’s friends through subterfuge and the corruption of the information and political processes in each country. In some places the key media and political players who are engaged in the process can simply be bought. In other places like England they can be intimidated or pressured into taking positions that are neither in their own countries’ interests nor morally acceptable. In large countries like the United States, Britain and France a combination of friendly suasion and coercive elements often come together.

In some extreme cases the game Israel plays is brutal. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently warned New Zealand that backing a U.N. resolution condemning Israeli settlements would be a “declaration of war.” In all cases, the objective is the same: to repress completely, discourage or misrepresent any criticism of Israel and to block any initiatives that might be taken that would do damage either to the Israeli economy or to the country’s perceived standing in the world. In some countries including the U.S. and Britain, Israel’s advocates work their subversion of local institutions right out in the open and are highly successful in implementing policies that often remain largely hidden but that can be discerned as long as one knows what to look for.

 
Nobody wants them in Trump's Washington

There is no limit to the hubris driven hypocrisy of America’s stalwart neoconservatives. A recent Washington Post front page article entitled “‘Never Trump’ national-security Republicans fear they have been blacklisted” shares with the reader the heartbreak of those so-called GOP foreign policy experts who have apparently been ignored by the presidential transition team seeking to staff senior positions in the new administration. Author David Nakamura describes them as “some of the biggest names in the Republican national security firmament, veterans of past GOP administration who say, if called upon by President-elect Donald Trump, they stand ready to serve their country again.”

“But,” Nakamura adds, “their phones aren’t ringing.” And I wept openly as he went on to describe how they sit forlorn in a “state of indefinite limbo” in their law firms, think tanks and university faculty lounges just thinking about all the great things they can do for their country. Yes, “serve their country,” indeed. Nothing personal in it for them. Nothing personal when they denounced Trump and called him incompetent, unqualified, a threat to the nation and even joined Democrats in labeling him a racist, misogynist, homophobe, Islamophobe and bigot. And they really got off when they explained in some detail how The Donald was a Russian agent. Nothing personal. It’s was only business. So let’s let bygones be bygones and, by the way, where are the jobs? Top level Pentagon or National Security Council only, if you please!

And yes, they did make a mistake about some things in Iraq, but it was Obama who screwed it up by not staying the course. And then there was Libya, the war still going on in Afghanistan, getting rid of Bashar and that funny business in Ukraine. It all could have gone better but, hey, if they had been fully in charge for the past eight years to back up the greatly loved Vicki Nuland at the State Department everything would be hunky dory.

Oh yeah, some of the more introspective neocons are guessing that the new president just might be holding a grudge about those two “Never Trump” letters that more than 200 of them eventually signed. Many now believe that they are on a blacklist. How unfair! To be sure, some of the language in the letters was a bit intemperate, including assertions about Trump’s personality, character and intelligence. One letter claimed that the GOP candidate “lacks self-control and acts impetuously,” that he “exhibits erratic behavior,” and that he is “fundamentally dishonest.” Mitt Romney, who did not sign the letters but was nevertheless extremely outspoken, referred to Trump as a “phony” and a “fraud.”

One of the first anti-Trump letter’s organizers, Professor Eliot Cohen described presidential candidate Trump as “a man utterly unfit for the position by temperament, values and policy preferences.” After the election, Cohen even continued his scathing attacks on the new president, writing that “The president-elect is surrounding himself with mediocrities whose chief qualifications seem to be unquestioning loyalty.” He goes on to describe them as “second-raters.”

Cohen, who reminds one of fellow Harvard bombast artist Alan Dershowitz, might consider himself as “first rate” but that is a judgment that surely might be challenged. He was a prominent cheerleader for the Iraq War and has been an advocate of overthrowing the Iranian government by force. He opposed the nomination of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense because Hagel had “made it clear that he [did] not want to engage in a confrontation with Iran.” Cohen, a notable Israel Firster in common with many of his neocon brethren, has aggressively condemned even well-reasoned criticism of the Israel Lobby and of Israel itself as anti-Semitism. Glenn Greenwald has described him as “extremist a neoconservative and warmonger as it gets.”

One has to wonder at the often-professed intelligence and experience of Cohen and his neocon friends if they couldn’t figure out in advance that backing the wrong horse in an election might well have consequences. And there is a certain cynicism intrinsic in the neoconservative whine. Many of the dissidents like Cohen, Robert Kagan, Max Boot, Eric Edelman, Kori Schake, Reuel Gerecht, Kenneth Adelman and Michael Morell who came out most enthusiastically for Hillary Clinton were undoubtedly trimming their sails to float effortlessly into her anticipated hawkish administration. Gerecht, who has advocated war in Syria, said of the Democratic candidate that “She’s not a neoconservative, but Hillary Clinton isn’t uncomfortable with American power.”

That the defeat of Hillary was also a defeat of the neoconservatives and their alphabet soup of institutes and think tanks is sometimes overlooked but was a delicious dish served cold for those of us who have been praying for such a result. It was well worth the endless tedium when watching Fox News on election night to see Bill Kristol’s face when it became clear that Trump would be victorious. Back to the drawing board, Bill!

And there may be yet another shocker in store for the neocons thanks to Trump. The fact that the new administration is drawing on the business world for staffing senior positions means that he has been less interested in hiring think tank and revolving door academic products to fill the government bureaucracies. This has led Josh Rogin of the Washington Post to warn that the death of think tanks as we know them could be on the horizon. He quotes one think-tanker as opining that “the people around Trump view think tanks as for sale for the highest bidder. They have empowered other centers of gravity for staffing this administration.” Rogin adds “If the Trump team succeeds in diminishing the influence of Washington think tanks and keeping their scholars out of government, policymaking will suffer. Many of these scholars hold the institutional knowledge and deep subject matter expertise the incoming administration needs.”

Rogin, who is himself a neocon who has been an associated “expert” with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) affiliated Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), is peddling bullshit. The record of the geniuses who have been guiding U.S. foreign policy ever since the Reagan Administration has not been exactly reassuring and can be considered downright disastrous if one considers Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria. Think tanks have agendas that in most cases actually work against the public interest. Their designation of staff as “scholars” is a contrivance as their scholarship consists of advocacy for specific causes and ideologies. They should be seen for what they are and what they are is not very pretty as they are into endless self-promotion. Fear mongering Danielle Pletka, who is vice president for foreign policy at the American Enterprise Institute, has supported every war coming out of the past two Administrations and has called repeatedly for more of the same to close the deal on Syria and Iran. Like Cohen, Rogin, Kagan, Gerecht and many other neocons she is both Jewish and an Israel Firster. And her annual salary is reported to be $275,000.

It is a pleasure to watch the think tanks begin thinking of their own demises. It is also intriguing to speculate that Trump with his populist message might just take it all one step farther and shut the door on the K Street lobbyists and other special interests, which have symbiotic relationships with the think tanks. The think tanks sit around and come up with formulations that benefit certain groups, individuals and corporate interests and then reap the rewards when the cash is handed out at the end of the year. How fantastic it would be to see lobbies and the parasites who work for them put out of business, particularly if our much beloved neoconservatives are simultaneously no longer calling the shots on national security policy and their think tanks are withering on the vine. What a wonderful world it would be.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Eliot Cohen, Neocons 
Americans need to learn what is really going on both at home and abroad

When the Washington Post reports about violent crime online or in its print Metro Section it generally does not include descriptions of the alleged perpetrator even when that individual is still on the loose and continuing to pose a threat to the general public. This omission is conspicuous, particularly when the story itself makes it very clear that the presumed victim got a very good look at his or her assailant and would be able to provide a detailed physical description together with an account of what the attacker was wearing. One might even suggest that the Post is doing the general public no favor when it censors its account, making anyone who might cross the path of the miscreant more vulnerable to also becoming a victim.

The Post edits its coverage because it clearly does not want to associate violent crime with any particular race even though, as every Washingtonian knows full well, nearly all violent crime in the city is carried out by young black males. Rather than providing a public service by identifying the perpetrator the Post chooses to say nothing to avoid having to identify the assailant as black. But the reader, aware of that reticence, consequently automatically assumes that the perpetrator is black anyway, making the paper’s attempt to avoid any identification of criminals by race instead create the presumption in the reader’s mind that every single one of the violent acts that occur in the District of Columbia is done by people of color. What is intended to shield blacks hardly does them any favors, quite the contrary.

Partially reporting straightforward stories for politically correct reasons is in my mind equivalent to the fake news that everyone has been lamenting. The general perception that the news is slanted or manipulated has fed the lack of trust in the veracity of what is being reported and is a major contributor to the decline in newspaper readership. The Post, which also recently featured largely phony major stories about alternative news sites being tools of Russia as well as a wildly inflated tale about Russian hacking a utility in Vermont, is particularly much given to making up its coverage as it goes along. Every page in the news section is in reality an editorial as the paper assiduously mixes fact with fiction together with a heavy dose of opinion. It is Orwellian newspeak at its finest.

Inured to the Post’s p.c. coverage of racial issues, I was nevertheless shocked by some of the recent reporting on an incident in Chicago in which four teenagers videoed themselves and broadcast what they were doing live on Facebook as they beat a mentally impaired man. An early media account of the incident appeared on Reuters but is no longer available. It was written by Timothy McLaughlin and had, as its second paragraph, “At least one of the attackers on the video mentioned president elect Donald Trump as he taunted the man but police stopped short of calling the beating politically motivated and said they are still investigating.”

From that, I assumed that the journalist was implying that the attackers were Trump supporters since there has been so much reporting lately of incidents at schools where white bullies allegedly cite Trump as they torment their black or brown classmates. Many of those stories would themselves appear to be extremely improbable fake news since the schools in question frequently appear to have highly vulnerable white minorities in the student bodies, but white-on-black violence is not intrinsically unthinkable so the story appeared to be at least credible.

But reading on, the article seemingly reluctantly produced some additional information. The victim, who was tied, gagged and beaten, “appeared to be white” while one of the assailants “appeared to be African-American” and was heard making comments about “white people.” The story did not link to the Facebook video, but BBC, among other sites, showed the video and was unambiguous in its labelling the four assailants as black and the victim as white, which anyone viewing the recording would have clearly appreciated. Subsequent news stories made clear that the expressions that were being shouted by the attackers included “F**k Trump” and “F**k white people.” The victim was reportedly beaten for six hours, cursed at, cut and otherwise abused. The live broadcast of the beating went viral before Facebook deleted it.

The media and Chicago police both struggled with whether or not the abduction and beating constituted a hate crime. In fact, they seemed eager to mitigate and even explain the impact of what everyone who watched the video could clearly see. One cop explained “Kids make stupid mistakes, I shouldn’t call them kids, they are legally adults, but they are young adults and the make stupid decisions… That certainly will be part of whether or not we seek a hate crime, determine whether or not this is sincere or stupid ranting and raving.” Another cop said “I think part of it is just stupidity. People ranting about something they think might make a headline.”

The New York Times dodged the bullet on what kind of crime it might be by describing it as an attack on disabled people without any racial or political overtones at all. So it was maybe just kids having fun and since it was black on white Wolf Blitzer won’t be flying in tomorrow morning to pontificate on what is wrong with Donald Trump’s America.

From my point of view, quite frankly who cares if the incident is or was motivated by hate as kidnapping and torture should be enough and the designation hate crime is essentially phony anyway. If an assailant hates his victim does that make the brutality worse? If you kill me because you are bored and are looking for something to do should you spend less time in prison than if you do so because you hate me?

Once the story was essentially agreed upon by the media and police, comments posted on the beating universally expressed outrage over what had occurred. Many of those posting their observations were themselves black, some expressing their desire that the perpetrators be imprisoned “forever” for having carried out such a horrific crime.

Reading my way through the comments, it occurred to me that the media and police department’s apparent reticence to report black on white crime with the same horror that it reports white on black serves no one, as it creates the impression that black criminals are somehow being protected or coddled even when it is clear that that is not the case. Decent, law abiding African-Americans, the vast majority, know that the end result of the politically correct news coverage of black crime is to make many white Americans even more suspicious of black behavior. So is it both fake news and highly damaging when the Washington Post and Reuters refuse to report a crime story honestly? It almost certainly is.

I grin daily upon rising when I hear the CBS Morning News proclaiming that it is providing “real news.” Charlie Rose and company are prime examples of America’s enslaved corporate media and wouldn’t know real news if it hit them in the ass. The news team has been leading off each day, for example, with a series of uncritical recaps of the various half-truths being promoted by the White House to indict Donald Trump’s relationship with Moscow, the biggest fake news story currently making the rounds. Professor Michael Brenner of the University of Pittsburgh has called the Russian hack the “most surreal and passionate work of fiction of the 21st century.” In the stories featured in the mainstream media there is a consistent presumption that the United States is somehow the victim and Russia the perpetrator of a horrific crime, meaning that the media has considerable difficulty in dealing with real situations that challenge the Establishment consensus. It finds considering the viewpoints of other countries objectively as problematical as it does in dealing with the issue of black crime.

What Russia’s crime consisted of, by the most damaging interpretation, was hacking into a private server belonging to a political party and possibly allowing the admittedly factual but embarrassing material obtained to make its way into the media. Excuse me, but that is what intelligence agencies do routinely to justify their multiple billion dollar budgets. The United States is the world leader in such activity as revealed by Jim Bamford’s books on the subject and also through the revelations obtained in the Snowden papers. Now Russia is being condemned for possibly doing some of the same, though no evidence is being provided, and the story is being framed as if we are by definition the good guys and Vladimir Putin is the devil incarnate.

What I am saying is that the United States mainstream media is the primary source of fake news due to its inbuilt biases on what is acceptable and what is not. It actually hurts black people by its attempts to be protective and its unwillingness to consider a news story through the eyes of the other party for chauvinistic reasons means that Americans are particularly uninformed about what is going on in the world. To suggest that all of this is particularly dangerous, both in terms of domestic tranquility and possible foreign threats, would be an understatement.

 
Weaponized hacking all began with Stuxnet

Is the United States the victim of an unprovoked cyber and media attack by Russia and China or are the chickens coming home to roost after Washington’s own promotion of such activity worldwide? On Thursday Director of National Intelligence James Clapper asserted to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that while no foreign government had been able to interfere with actual voting machines, “U.S. agencies are more confident than ever that Russia interfered in America’s recent presidential election. And he called the former Cold War foe an ‘existential threat’ to the nation.” Pressed by Senator John McCain whether the “attack” constituted an “act of war,” Clapper demurred, saying that it would be a “very heavy policy call” to say so. He also said that he could not judge if the election outcome had been changed due to the claimed outside interference.

Clapper also claimed that the Russian effort included including the creation and dissemination of fake stories, explaining that “ While there has been a lot of focus on the hacking, this is actually part of a multifaceted campaign that the Russians mounted.” Clapper singled out Russian state funded TV channel RT, previously called Russia Today. “Of course RT…was very, very active in promoting a particular point of view, disparaging our system.” [Full disclosure: I have been on RT numerous times.]

Apart from the nonsense about foreign broadcasters being part of a conspiracy to “disparage our system” and destroy our democracy, I confess that I was willing to be convinced by what seemed to be the near-unanimous intelligence and law enforcement agency verdict but, any such expectations disappeared when the 17 page report on the hack was actually released on Friday. Entitled Declassified Intelligence Community Assessment of Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections, the report is an exercise in speculation minus evidence indicting alleged Russian interference in the recent election. It even came with a significant caveat, “Judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact.”

So I am still waiting to see the actual evidence for the Russian direct involvement and have to suspect that there is little to show, or possibly even nothing. Saying that Russian government agents were employed in passing the stolen emails from the DNC server to WikiLeaks raises more questions than it answers, particularly as it is now clear from media leaks that the parties involved were using what is referred to as cut-outs to break the chain of custody of the material being passed. Does the intelligence community actually know exactly who passed what to whom and when or is it engaged in reconstructing what it think happened? Does it really believe that intercepted unencrypted phone calls among Russian officials expressing pleasure over the election result equate to an actual a priori conspiracy to determine the outcome? And based on what evidence do they know that conspiracy was “ordered” by President Vladimir Putin as is now being alleged? Or are the only assuming that it must have been him because he is head of state?

And what about the possibility that activity of Russian intelligence agencies to penetrate computers in the United States was little more than routine information collection, which Clapper conceded is normal activity for Washington as well? And above all, where is a truth and consequences analysis of America’s global role as a contributor to the tit-for-tat, obscured by a prevailing mainstream media narrative that prefers to see everything in terms of good guys versus bad guys?

One can reasonably argue that Washington started the practice of cyber-warfare and has been a long-time practitioner of both regime change and election tampering in its relationship with much of the world. The Snowden papers indicate that NSA hacking of targets in China has been going on for many years as has routine interception of cell phones of allied European and other world leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the UN Secretary General. NSA has deliberately sought to have the capability to penetrate nearly every electronic communications network in the world, frequently in real time, and has come close to achieving that ability under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

The information obtained in the huge dumps of intelligence obtained by NSA is, at least in theory, used to confront possible threats to the United States and to obtain competitive advantage over both adversaries and competitors. But the intrusion into systems has also been weaponized, witness for example the creation of the Stuxnet worm in collaboration with the Israelis. Stuxnet was intended to disable key elements in Iranian nuclear research but it also went beyond that, creating dysfunction in other economic and industrial systems unrelated to its laboratories. The assault on Iran was more of an act of war than the hack of the DNC computers. And the damage was not limited to Iran. There have also been concerns that the Stuxnet virus had migrated from the Iranian systems and become viable on other civilian use computers.

There have been numerous military interventions in Latin America ever since the U.S. became involved in the region in the wake of the Spanish-American War. The subsequent interventions in the so-called Banana Wars by U.S. Marines in Central America and the Caribbean were on behalf of United Fruit Company and other commercial interests. The cynical use of force to support American business moved the highly-decorated Marine Major General Smedley Butler to describe himself as “a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers … a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism” while declaring that “war is a racket.” More recently, the CIA arranged for the removal of populist Jacopo Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954, initiating 60 years of political instability in that country while the Agency role in the military coup in Chile that ousted Salvador Allende and its involvement with the Nicaraguan contra rebels subsequently are similarly notorious.

When I was in Europe with CIA the U.S. government regularly interfered with elections, particularly in Italy, Spain, France and Portugal, all of which had active communist parties. The Agency would fund opposition parties directly or indirectly and would manage media coverage of the relevant issues to favor the non-communists. The end result was that the communists were indeed in most cases kept out of government but the resulting democracy was frequently corrupted by the process. Italy in particular suffers from that corruption to this day.

The United States has directly interfered in Russia, using proxies, IMF loans and a media controlled by the oligarchs to run the utterly incompetent Boris Yeltsin’s successful campaign in 1996 and then continuing with more aggressive “democracy promotion” projects until Putin expelled many of the NGOs responsible in 2015. More recently there have been the pastel revolutions in Eastern Europe and the upheaval in Ukraine, which came about in part due to a $5 billion investment by the United States government in “democracy building” supplemented by regular visits from John McCain and the State Department’s activist Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland.

And then there are Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq and Syria as well as endorsement of the ongoing carnage in Yemen. The Congress meanwhile continues to call for regime change in Iran. So it leads to the question “Who is actually doing what to whom?”

One can well understand the anger at Russian actions but much of the sentiment is being fueled by a hostile press and deliberate U.S. government fear mongering orchestrated by the Obama Administration as its parting gift to the American people. A new Cold War would be good for no one. Stepping back a bit, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that anything Russia did or is suspected of doing in 2016 pales in comparison to what the United States has been doing for much longer and on a much wider scale. The Defense Department runs a cyber warfare command with a budget of $7 billion and the White House has ordered military interventions to bring about regime change in four Muslim majority countries while also interfering in a number of others since 9/11. The Obama response to an alleged Russian conspiracy that has yet to be demonstrated has been to send more soldiers to the Baltics while ordering a massive politically motivated retaliation that included the persona non grata expulsion of 35 Russian officials and their families. Moscow did not retaliate and instead invited U.S. diplomatic families to a Christmas celebration at the Kremlin. Sure, it was political theater to a certain extent but it has to make one wonder who was actually the adult in the room whenever Obama and Putin would meet.

 
Quislings in Congress and the Media need to decide which comes first

I am reluctant to write about the “Israel problem” at the heart of U.S. foreign policy two weeks in a row but it seems that the story just will not go away as the usual suspects pile on the Barack Obama Administration over its alleged betrayal of America’s “best and greatest friend and ally in the whole world.”

Even as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his gaggle of war criminals continue to foam at the mouth over the United Nations vote it is, in truth, difficult to blame Israel for what is happening. The Israelis are acting on what they see as their self interest in dominating their neighbors militarily and having a free hand to deal with the Palestinians in any way they see fit. And as for their relationship with Washington, what could be better than getting billions of dollars every year, advanced weapons and unlimited political cover in exchange for absolutely nothing?

Surely even Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu knows that the settlements are illegal under international law and are an impediment to any peaceful resolution with the Palestinians, which is what Resolution 2334 says. It has been U.S. policy to oppose them since they first starting popping up like mushrooms, but Netanyahu has encouraging their expansion in full knowledge that he is creating facts on the ground that will be irreversible. He has also pledged to his voters that he will not permit the creation of a Palestinian state, so why should anyone be confused about his intentions?

Daniel Larison over at The American Conservative summed up the situation perfectly, observing that “Calling out Israel for its ongoing illegal behavior becomes unavoidable when there is no progress in resolving the conflict, and the current Israeli government has made it very clear that there won’t be any progress… Israel isn’t actually an ally, much less a ‘vital’ one, and it certainly isn’t ‘critical’ to our security. The U.S. isn’t obliged to cater to some of the worst policies of a client government that has increasingly become a liability. The real problem with the U.S. abstention on the resolution is that it came many years after it might have done some significant good, and it comes so late because Obama wasted his entire presidency trying to ‘reassure’ a government that undermined and opposed him time and again.”

So stop blaming Israel for acting selfishly, since that is the nature of the beast, as in the fable of the frog and the scorpion. More to the point, it is the American Quislings who should be the focus of any examination of what is taking place as they are deliberately misrepresenting nearly every aspect of the discussion and flat out lying about what might actually be at stake due to Washington’s being shackled to Netanyahu’s policies. I will leave it to the reader to decide why so many U.S. politicians and media talking heads have betrayed their own country’s interests in deference to the shabby arguments being put forward on behalf of an openly apartheid theocracy, but I might suggest that access to money and power have a lot to do with it as the Israel Lobby has both in spades.

The Quislings are making two basic arguments in their defense of surrendering national sovereignty to a troublesome little client state located half a world away. First, they are claiming that any acknowledgement that the Israelis have behaved badly is counterproductive because it will encourage intransigence on the part of the Arabs and thereby diminish prospects for a viable peace agreement, which has to be negotiated between the two parties. Second, the claim is being made that the abstention on the U.N. vote violates established U.S. policy on the nature of the conflict and, in so doing, damages both Israeli and American interests. Bloomberg’s editorial board has conjoined the two arguments, adroitly claiming in an over-the-top piece entitled “Obama’s Betrayal of Israel at the U.N. Must Not Stand” that the abstention “breaks with past U.S. policy, undermines a vital ally and sets back the cause of Middle East peace.”

Citing the damaged peace talks argument, which is what the Israeli government itself has been mostly promoting, Donald Trump denounced the U.N. resolution from a purely Israeli perspective, stating that “As the United States has long maintained, peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians will only come through direct negotiations between the parties, and not through the imposition of terms by the United Nations. This puts Israel in a very poor negotiating position and is extremely unfair to all Israelis.” He subsequently added “We cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect,” a comment that just might be regarded as either tongue in cheek or ironic because that is precisely how Israel treats Washington. It is reported, however, that Trump does not do irony.

The pundits who most often scream the loudest in defense of Israel are often themselves Jewish, many having close ties to the Netanyahu government. They would undoubtedly argue that their ethno-religious propinquity to the problem they are discussing does not in any way influence their views, but that would be nonsense. One of those persistently shouting the loudest regarding the “peace” canard is the ubiquitous Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, who has never seen anything in Israel that he dislikes. He commented that Obama had stabbed Israel in the back and had made “peace much more difficult to achieve because the Palestinians will now say ‘we can get a state through the U.N.’”

Syndicated columnist and fellow Israeli zealot Charles Krauthammer added his two cents, noting that the resolution abstention had meant that Washington had “joined the jackals at the U.N.” Observing that the U.N. building occupies “good real estate in downtown New York City…Trump ought to find a way to put his name on it and turn it into condos.” Iran-Contra’s own Elliot Abrams, who opposes Jews marrying non-Jews, meanwhile repeats the Krauthammer “jackals” meme and also brays about the “abandonment of Israel at the United Nations.”

But the prize for pandering to Jewish power and money has to go to the eminent John Bolton, writing on December 26th about “Obama’s Parting Betrayal of Israel” in The Wall Street Journal (there is a subscription wall but if you go to Google and search you can get around it). Bolton, an ex-Ambassador to the U.N under the esteemed George W. Bush, is a funny looking guy who reportedly did not get a position with the Trump administration because of his Groucho Marx moustache. He currently pontificates from the neocon American Enterprise Institute (AEI) where he is something called a senior fellow. He has written a book “Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad,” which is available for 6 cents used on Amazon, plus shipping. There is another John Bolton who wrote “Marada the She-Wolf,” but they are apparently not related.

In his piece, Bolton hit on both the peace talks and the “I’m backing Israel arguments.” He uniquely starts out by claiming that Barack Obama “stabbed Israel in the front” by failing to stop Resolution 2334, which he then describes as “clearly intended to tip the peace process towards the Palestinians…abandon[ing] any pretense that the actual parties to the conflict must resolve their differences.” That’s the peace argument plus the negotiations fiction rolled together. He then goes on to argue that Obama has betrayed Israel by “essentially endors[ing] the Palestinian politico-legal narrative about territory formerly under League of Nations’ mandate.”

Bolton concedes that the damage has already been done by Obama’s complicity “in assaulting Israel” and the opening can be exploited by what he describes as the “anti-Israeli imagineers” at the United Nations. He calls on Donald Trump to work to “mitigate or reverse” such consequences and specifically “move to repeal the resolution, giving the 14 countries that supported it a chance to correct their error.” That they cheered loudly when the resolution passed apparently will have to also be somehow expunged, though Bolton does not mention that. Nations that refuse to go along with the repeal “would have their relations with Washington adjusted accordingly” while “the main perpetrators in particular should face more tangible consequences.”

Bolton is unhesitatingly placing Israeli priorities ahead of American interests by his willingness to punish actual U.S. allies like Britain, Germany and France, as well as major powers Russia and China, out of pique over their vote against the settlements. He also recommends withholding the U.S. contributions to the U.N., which amount to over 20% of the budget. Bolton then goes on to reject any Palestinian state of any kind, recommending instead that a rump version of territory where the bulk of the Palestinians will be allowed to live be transferred to Jordanian control.

As always, there is scant attention paid by any of the Israel boosters for actual American interests in continuing to perform proskynesis in front of Netanyahu and whatever reptile might succeed him. American values and needs are invisible, quite rightly, because they are of no interest to John Bolton and his fellow knee jerkers at AEI, the Hudson Institute, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), Brookings, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) and the rest of the alphabet soup that depends on the generosity of pro-Israel donors to keep the lights on.

Bolton provides precisely one short sentence relating to Washington’s stake in the game being played, noting that the U.N. abstention poses “major challenges for American interests.” He never says what those interests are because there are none, or at least none that matter, apart from godfathering a viable two state solution which Israel has basically made impossible. And that is only an interest because it would lessen much of the world’s disdain for U.S. hypocrisy while mitigating the radicalization of young Muslims turned terrorists who are in part enraged by the Israeli treatment of the Palestinians, blaming it correctly on American connivance. In reality having the U.S. finally vote on the side of sanity and fairness is really a good thing for Americans and hopefully will lead to severing a bizarre “special relationship” that supports a kleptocracy in Asia that has been nothing but trouble.

 
The tail will be wagging the dog under Donald Trump

While the presidential campaign was still in progress it was possible to think that there might be some positive change in America’s broken foreign policy. Hillary Clinton was clearly the candidate of Washington Establishment hawkishness, while Donald Trump was declaring his disinclination for democracy and nation building overseas as well as promoting détente with Russia. Those of us who considered the foreign policy debacle to be the most dangerous issue confronting the country, particularly as it was also fueling domestic tyranny, tended to vote on the basis of that one issue in favor of Trump.

On December 1st in Cincinnati, president-elect Donald Trump made some interesting comments about his post-electoral foreign policy plans. There were a lot of good things in it, including his citing of $6 trillion “wasted” in Mideast fights when “our goal is stability not chaos.” And as for dealing with real enemies, he promised to “partner with any nation that is willing to join us in the effort to defeat ISIS and radical Islamic terrorism…” He called it a “new foreign policy that finally learns from the mistakes of the past” adding that “We will stop looking to topple regimes and overthrow governments, folks.”

Regarding the apparent inability of governments to thoroughly check out new immigrants prior to letting them inside the country, demonstrated most recently in Nice, Ohio and Berlin, Trump described how “People are pouring in from regions of the Middle East — we have no idea who they are, where they come from what they are thinking and we are going to stop that dead cold. … These are stupid refugee programs created by stupid politicians.” Exaggerated? For sure, but he has a point, and it all is part and parcel of a foreign policy that serves no actual interest for people who already live in the United States.

But, as so often with Trump, there was also the flip side. On the looney fringe of the foreign and national security policy agenda, the president-elect oddly believes that “The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.” So to reduce the number of nukes we have to create more of them and put them in more places. Pouring gasoline on a raging fire would be an appropriate analogy and it certainly leads to questions regarding who is advising The Donald with this kind of nonsense.

Trump has promised to “put America first,” but there is inevitably a spanner in the works. Now, with the New Year only six days away and the presidential inauguration coming less than three weeks after that, it is possible to discern that the new foreign policy will, more than under Barack Obama and George W. Bush, be driven in significant part by Israeli interests.

At least Obama had the good sense to despise Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but that will not be true of the White House after January 20th. Trump’s very first telephone conversation with a foreign head of government after being elected was with Netanyahu and during the campaign, he promised to invite Bibi to the White House immediately after the inauguration. The new president’s first naming of an Ambassador-designate to a foreign nation was of his good friend and bankruptcy lawyer David Friedman to Israel. Friedman had headed Trump’s Israel Advisory Committee and is a notable hard liner who supports the Israeli settler movement, an extreme right-wing political entity that is nominally opposed by existing U.S. government policy as both illegal and damaging to Washington’s interests. Beyond that, Friedman rejects creation of a Palestinian state and supports Israel’s actual annexation of the West Bank.

U.S. Ambassadors are supposed to support American interests but Friedman would actually be representing and endorsing a particularly noxious version of Israeli fascism as the new normal in the relationship with Washington. Friedman describes Jerusalem as “the holy capital of the Jewish people and only the Jewish people.” Trump is already taking steps to move the U.S. Embassy there, making the American government unique in having its chief diplomatic mission in the legally disputed city. The move will also serve as a recruiting poster for groups like ISIS and will inflame opinion against the U.S. among friendly Arab states in the region. There is no possible gain and much to lose for the United States and for American citizens in making the move, but it satisfies Israeli hardliners and zealots like Friedman.

The Trump team’s animosity towards Iran is also part of the broader Israeli agenda. Iran does not threaten the United States and is a military midget compared either to nuclear armed Israel or the U.S. Yet is has been singled out as the enemy du jour in the Middle East even though it has invaded no one since the seventeenth century. Israel would like to have the United States do the heavy lifting to destroy Iran as a regional power. If Washington were to attempt to do so it would be a catastrophe for all parties involved but that has not stopped hardliners from demanding unrelenting military pressure on Tehran.

Donald Trump is not even president yet but he advised Barack Obama to exercise the U.S. veto for the resolution condemning Israeli settlements that was voted on at the United Nations Security Council on Friday, explaining that “As the United States has long maintained, peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians will only come through direct negotiations between the parties, and not through the imposition of terms by the United Nations. This puts Israel in a very poor negotiating position and is extremely unfair to all Israelis.”

This is a straight Israeli line that might even have been written by Netanyahu himself. Or by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which fumed “AIPAC is deeply disturbed by the failure of the Obama Administration to exercise its veto to prevent a destructive, one-sided, anti-Israel resolution from being enacted by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). In the past, this administration and past administrations have rejected this type of biased resolution since it undermines prospects for peace. It is particularly regrettable, in his last month in office, that the president has taken an action at odds with the bipartisan consensus in Congress and America’s long history of standing with Israel at the United Nations.”

Ah yes, the fabled negotiations for a two state solution, regularly employed to enable Israelis to do nothing while expanding their theft of Arab land and one wonders how Trump would define what is “fair to the Palestinians?” So we are already well into Trump’s adoption of the “always the victim argument” that the Israelis have so cleverly exploited with U.S. politicians and the media.

Not content with advising Obama, Trump also reportedly took the Palestinian issue one step further by directly pressuring the sponsoring Egyptians to postpone any submission of the resolution. Expecting to have a friendly president in the White House after January 20th, Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi complied on Thursday but the motion was reintroduced by New Zealand, Venezuela, Senegal and Malaysia on the following day. The resolution passed with 14 yes votes and a courageous U.S. abstention after Obama finally, after eight long years, developed a backbone. But unfortunately, Trump’s interventions suggest that nothing critical of Israel will be allowed to emerge from the U.N. during his term of office. Referring to the U.N. vote, he said that “things will be different after January 20th.”

The United Nations resolution produced an immediate reaction from Israeli Firsters in Congress and the media, led by Senator Chuck Schumer and the Washington Post. The Post featured a lead editorial entitled The Obama Administration fires a dangerous parting shot and an op-ed The United States just made Middle East peace harder by no less a redoubtable American hero than Eliot Abrams. Look in vain for any suggestion of what might be construed as an actual U.S. interest in either piece. It is all about Israel, as it always is.

The problem with Israel and its friends is that they are never satisfied and never leave the rest of us Americans alone, pushing constantly at what is essentially an open door. They have treated the United States like a doormat, spying on us more than any ostensibly friendly nation while pocketing our $38 billion donation to their expanding state without so much as a thank you. They are shameless. Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer has been all over American television sputtering his rage over the United Nations settlements vote. On CNN he revealed that Israel has “clear evidence” that President Obama was “behind” the resolution and he announced his intention to share the information with Donald Trump. Every American should be outraged by Israel’s contempt for us and our institutions. One has to wonder if the mainstream media will take a rest from their pillorying of Russia to cover the story.

For many years now, Israel has sought to make the American people complicit in its own crimes while also encouraging our country’s feckless and corrupt leadership to provide their government with political cover and even go to war on its behalf. This has got to stop and, for a moment, it looked like Trump might be the man to end it when he promised to be even-handed in negotiating between the Arabs and Israelis. That was before he promised to be the best friend Israel would ever have.

Israel’s quarrels don’t stay in Israel and they are not limited to the foreign policy realm. I have already discussed the pending Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, a bipartisan effort by Congress to penalize and even potentially criminalize any criticism of Israel by equating it to anti-Semitism. Whether Israel itself wants to consider itself a democracy is up to Netanyahu and Israeli voters but the denial of basic free speech rights to Americans in deference to Israeli perceptions should be considered to be completely outrageous.

And there’s more. Israel’s government funded lawfare organization Shurat HaDin has long been using American courts to punish Palestinians and Iranians, obtaining punitive damages linked to allegations regarding terrorist incidents that have taken place in Israel. Now Shurat HaDin is using our courts to go after American companies that do business with countries like Iran.

Last year’s nuclear agreement with Iran included an end to restraints on the Islamic Republic’s ability to engage in normal banking and commercial activity. As a high priority, Iran has sought to replace some of its aging infrastructure, to include its passenger aircraft fleet. Seattle based Boeing has sought to sell to Iran Air 80 airplanes at a cost of more than $16 billion and has worked with the U.S. government to meet all licensing and technology transfer requirements. The civilian-use planes are not in any way configurable for military purposes, but Shurat HaDin on December 16th sought to block the sale at a federal court in Illinois, demanding a lien against Boeing for the monies alleged to be due to the claimed victims of Iranian sponsored terrorism. Boeing, meanwhile, has stated that the Iran Air order “support(s) tens of thousands of U.S. jobs.”

So an agency of the Israeli government is taking steps to stop an American company from doing something that is perfectly legal under U.S. law even though it will cost thousands of jobs here at home. It is a prime example of how much Israel truly cares about the United States and its people. And even more pathetic, the Israel Lobby owned U.S. Congress has predictably bowed down and kissed Netanyahu’s ring on the issue, passing a bill in November that seeks to block Treasury Department licenses to permit the financing of the airplane deal.

The New Year and the arrival of an administration with fresh ideas would provide a great opportunity for the United States to finally distance itself from a toxic Israel, but, unfortunately, it seems that everything is actually moving in the opposite direction. Don’t be too surprised if we see a shooting war with Iran before the year is out as well as a shiny new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem (to be built on land stolen from Palestinians, incidentally). Trump might think he is ushering in a new era of American policy based on American interests but it is beginning to look a lot like same-old same-old but even worse, and Benjamin Netanyahu will be very much in the driver’s seat.

 
Anyway you look at it, it's a failure

The twenty-first century, at least up until this point, might well be described as the age of the terrorist. Even though most Americans and Europeans rank terrorism as low among their concerns, the repercussions when a terrorist attack does take place are greatly magnified by the sheer horror associated with the mass killing of innocent people going about their daily lives.

There are a couple of annual reports that look at terrorism as a global phenomenon. The best known is the U.S. State Department’s Annual Country Reports on Terrorism that comes out in the Summer and covers the previous year. It is mandated by Congress and is largely based on Embassy and intelligence community sources.

The Country Reports purports to be an objective review of the year’s terrorist incidents as well as an overview of some of the players to include a discussion of “violent extremism” issues region by region and country by country. It is a valuable resource which provides considerable information on the various militant groups and the crimes attributed to them as well as their involvement globally. But it is nevertheless a government document. The Obama Administration definitely has had a point of view on what constitutes terrorism and how to deal with it based on how the White House would like to frame things from a political perspective. The section on Afghanistan, for example, implicitly makes a case for a more robust American role in the conflict engulfing that country.

I often find that how something is described or even ignored just as important as what is revealed. There is, for example, a section of the report identifying State Sponsors of Terrorism, a status that brings with it various sanctions. It would be difficult to find a section that is by definition more hypocritical as many would certainly consider Washington the leading practitioner of state sponsored terror with its claimed authority to go after militant targets anywhere at any time. The 2015 report names only Iran, Syria and Sudan as state sponsors even though Damascus and Tehran are more often than not on Washington’s side, heavily engaged in fighting ISIS, which the U.S. government in its own reporting clearly identifies as international enemy #1. Regarding Sudan, the report states that it is no longer in the supporting radicalism business while earlier annual reports actually commended it for helping international efforts against terrorists yet it remains on the list, apparently because several individuals close to the White House do not like its government very much and have written scholarly articles attacking its president.

The numbers in the Country Reports tell us something about the impact of terrorism. Deaths attributed to people who might be regarded as terrorists is certainly a huge global problem with the State Department report recording nearly 12,000 terrorist attacks producing 28,000 deaths worldwide in 2015. But the mayhem is very much concentrated in countries that are gripped by what might reasonably be termed civil war, to include Syria, Iraq, and Somalia. Several other countries with high levels of “terror” deaths, to include Nigeria and Pakistan, are engaged in bloody regional conflicts over economic issues fueled by anti-central government sentiment, not exactly civil war but something close to it.

American victims are a lot harder to find. The State Department report, which is only about acts of terrorism overseas, identifies 19 American citizens as victims of terror for the year 2015. Eight of the deaths were in Afghanistan, one in Syria and one in Somalia, all of which can be regarded as war zones. Three were in Jerusalem and on the Israeli occupied West Bank, a region also suffering from endemic violence, killing two American visitors plus a settler who held dual Israeli-U.S. citizenship.

Twenty-two more Americans were injured in terrorist incidents worldwide in 2015 and there were no reported kidnappings during the year. Though I in no way wish to minimize the killing of anyone in a criminal act, which terrorism is, the death and injury toll hardly constitutes a major international threat and I am sure that many more Americans are killed every year “overseas” in traffic accidents while vacationing. The report clearly suggests that international terrorism is an enemy that is largely ineffective at least in terms of being able to do direct damage to the United States, its citizens or its other interests.

A second terrorism report is prepared by the highly reputable Institute for Economics and Peace, which is based in Australia. It’s Global Terrorism Index, currently in its fourth edition, has just come out and it differs from the State Department report in that while it covers 2015 in some detail it is also progressive, meaning that it incorporates new information on terrorist activity into observations derived from reporting that covers 16 years, since 2000. Its overview information itself derives from a large terrorism data base, consisting currently of records relating to 150,000 incidents, maintained at the University of Maryland. As a result, the Global Terrorism Index (GTI) is sometimes more useful than the State Department if one is seeking to identify long term trends.

One might conclude that what we call terrorism is quite simply warfare by other means and it might not even be useful to try to define it in a distinctive fashion. The GTI report basically confirms the State Department Country Reports on numbers and places where terrorist attacks take place, adding that more than 93% of all reported incidents occur in countries that are already internally extremely repressive or unstable while more than 90% take place in countries engaged in external violent conflicts. Fewer than .5% of terror attacks are in countries that have neither internal or external issues. The most afflicted countries are Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Syria. Three out of the five have experienced direct U.S. military interventions while Pakistan has been under intense pressure from Washington to “do something.” In other words, terrorism deaths occur most often in places where a state of acute internal repression or even civil or external war exist and the role of the U.S. military as an accelerant for instability should be regarded as a given.

And then there is the global U.S. led war on terror, which costs upwards of hundreds of billions of dollars a year and has not actually eliminated any terrorist group while serving as a recruiting poster for assorted radical wannabes. It has also killed, by a very conservative estimate, 1.3 million people. Relying on overwhelming conventional military force and air power, the U.S. can always prevail either on the battlefield or against a radical group that seeks to hold on to territory that it is occupying, but unless Washington is prepared to remain indefinitely it cannot change the dynamic in a country or region that is unstable. Indeed, armed intervention itself followed by staying in place to nation build might actually be counterproductive if one looks at the examples of Afghanistan and Iraq as a U.S. presence frequently inhibits a possible political settlement. When the foreign security presence departs, sooner or later a dissident group will inevitably appear to fill the void. Based on the State Department and GTI reports one has to question a counter-terrorism strategy that has cost cumulatively trillions of dollars to combat an enemy that only rarely can project its power and that normally is only dangerous in the short term and in the immediate area in which it operates.

I have been reading various reports on terrorism for many years now and my firm impression is that the international terrorist threat, as poorly defined as it is, has actually been receding as more and more governments actively seek to eliminate militants in their midst even as fewer states are willing and able to provide them with either assistance or a safe haven. ISIS, the du jour terrorist threat, sought to establish a new territorial state, a Caliphate, but is currently facing complete defeat in Libya, Syria and Iraq. Terrorism is a “dying” industry in every sense of the word and while the U.S. government should take every reasonable step to protect American citizens the key word must be “reasonable.” A global anti-terror Crusade led by the United States is not a reasonable response, nor is it necessary as terrorist groups always eventually fade away due to their own internal contradictions and the intense hostility of the host country and neighbors. It is time to declare the war on terror finished, move on, and bring the troops home.

 
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.