The Unz Review - Mobile
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information

 TeasersSam Francis Blogview

Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • BShow CommentNext New CommentNext New Reply
🔊 Listen RSS

Last summer a flurry of press reports disclosed the FBI’s investigation of a man named Larry Franklin who works in the Defense Department under neo-conservative policy chief Douglas Feith. The supposed reason for the investigation was espionage for Israel. The neo-con buddies of Mr. Feith and Israel sounded off about the anti-Semitism that was obviously driving the witchhunt, and the reports soon faded from the press.

Now they’re back, at least partly, but the focus of the probe no longer seems to be Mr. Franklin. The focus is AIPAC—the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the principal arm of what is generally (but not too loudly) called the “Israeli lobby.” On Dec. 1, the FBI raided the Washington offices of AIPAC and subpoenaed four of its top officials.

This time almost no one paid any attention except the Jewish Timesand the Forward, which have carried some very good accounts of what’s going on. What is going on is important for several reasons, in addition to the usual interest in spy stories. Not the least of what’s interesting is that Israel and its friends are supposed to be allies of the United States, not spies on it.

Defenders of Israel will say (as they said back when Jonathan Pollard was nabbed for espionage for Israel in the 1980s) that friendly countries spy on their friends all the time. Well, maybe they do, but I’ve never heard of it in recent decades.

I have never heard that the United States spied on Great Britain or France or Germany since the end of World War II or those countries on us, nor has there ever been any espionage case in this or other countries involving Americans spying on them or their spying on us. With the Pollard case, you can’t say that about Israel.

As for AIPAC, the original interest in the case was that Mr. Franklin was supposed to have met with AIPAC officials and an Israeli intelligence agent and handed over classified documents. What that might mean is that Mr. Franklin was not acting for himself but for his boss, Mr. Feith, or Mr. Feith’s boss, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, both of whom are known to be very pro-Israeli. And what that might mean is that the whole neo-conservative cadre in the Pentagon is and has been all along an Israeli espionage operation.

So far nobody has suggested that openly, and AIPAC itself insists it’s innocent. After the Dec. 1 raid, it released a public statement that read in part, “Neither AIPAC nor any member of our staff has broken any law. We are fully cooperating with the governmental authorities. We believe any court of law or grand jury will conclude that AIPAC employees have always acted legally, properly and appropriately.”

That’s swell, but AIPAC can’t possibly say such a thing truthfully. How can its leaders know that no “member of our staff” has broken the law? The very issuance of a statement impossible to substantiate is suspicious.

More recently, the Forward reported that Mr. Franklin may have been acting as a provocateur for the FBI in a sting operation, that the target was never (or is no longer) Mr. Franklin but AIPAC itself—as “an unregistered agent of a foreign power,” namely Israel.

AIPAC, it’s hardly a secret, zealously and faithfully defends Israel, but it does so ostensibly as the representative of American supporters of Israel, not as the agent of Israel itself. If in fact it is taking orders from the Israeli government, it has a problem. To act as an agent of a foreign power without registering as such with the government just happens to be a very serious federal felony in this country. Many foreign agents avoid such legal problems by registering. AIPAC doesn’t.

As the Forward commented last week,

“registering as a foreign agent would require AIPAC to provide significantly more detailed information about its aims and activities to the government—thereby robbing the group of a key weapon, the ability to operate behind the scenes.”

But, also according to the Forward account, Mr. Franklin, as part of the FBI’s sting operation,

“was involved in initiating contact with some neoconservative defense experts, several of them Jewish, who supported Ahmad Chalabi, president of the Iraqi National Congress. Chalabi had deep ties to Bush administration officials.” [See here or here]

There’s a grand jury investigation of AIPAC going on right now, yet despite what has been a long-term investigation by the federal government, President Bush addressed an AIPAC meeting last May, and Condoleeza Rice addressed an AIPAC affiliate in Florida in October. That might suggest there’s no fire behind the FBI’s smoke.

Then again, it might also mean this administration is simply determined to smother the fire before its flames burn up some of its key officials.

• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Israel, Israel Lobby 
🔊 Listen RSS

The first reaction from Washington insiders to news reports that the FBI was hot on the trail of an Israeli spy inside the Pentagon was to wonder what a spy could possibly tell the Israelis they don’t already know.

Since this administration, most of the Congress and its staff, and much of the media are all riddled with lobbyists for and friends, sympathizers and outright supporters of Israel, a spy for Tel Aviv would be rather like the Maytag repairman.

Who would bother to call him?

Nevertheless, the news stories about what turns out to have been an FBI counter-intelligence investigation that started two years ago have not gone away. Indeed, the more recent reports lend more credibility to the Israeli spy theory than the earlier ones.

Lawrence Franklin, the Pentagon analyst named as the subject of the investigation, works in the same office as his supervisor, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith, who is himself part of the now-notorious “cabal” of neoconservative policy makers who promoted war with Iraq from at least the days after the 9/11 attacks.

Along with Mr. Feith’s own boss, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, former Defense Policy Board Chairman Richard Perle and several others in the administration, they are all part of a group that has been extremely close to the Israeli government and especially to Ariel Sharon’s Likud government. It is now clear that the investigation is interested in all of the above.

And they are not alone. Yet another figure surfacing in the case is Michael Ledeen, also a prominent neoconservative, who was involved in the Iran-Contra affair of the 1980s, when he served as the conduit between the Israeli and U.S. governments in kicking off the whole covert business. Now, Mr. Ledeen is reported to have held meetings with Mr. Franklin and his old buddy from Iran-Contra days, Iranian Manucher Ghorbanifar.

It all gets curiouser and curiouser.

Mr. Ledeen himself denies that the smoke pouring out of the Israeli spy case means there’s any fire. “They have no case,” he insists . “If they have a case, why hasn’t anybody been arrested or charged?” [Spy Case Renews Debate Over Pro-Israel Lobby's Ties to PentagonBy JAMES RISEN and DAVID JOHNSTON NYT September 6, 2004 ]

Well, there might be a number of reasons, ranging from the obvious (the investigation is far from complete) to the speculative (political interference by some very powerful people inside the administration).

What people exactly? Well, some of the very ones at whom the FBI is looking.

The Washington Post reports that FBI investigators “have specifically asked about a group of neoconservatives involved in defense issues,” including Mr. Feith, Mr. Wolfowitz and “Iraq and Iran specialist Harold Rhode and others at the Pentagon.” They also asked about Mr. Perle and Vice President Cheney’s assistant David Wurmser, also a neoconservative hawk. As Sherlock Holmes would say, the game’s afoot.[ Defense, Cheney Iran Specialists Questioned,Washington Post, Sep 3, 2004]

But the reaction to the whole story from both the subjects of the investigation and their buddies in the neoconservative media has been to deny everything and insinuate “anti-Semitism.”

“Friends and associates of the civilian group at the Pentagon,”the New York Times reports, “believe they are under assault by adversaries from within the intelligence community who have opposed them since before the war in Iraq.”

The anti-Semitism card, always a favorite with neoconservatives, was played almost immediately by neocon David Frum, the ex-speechwriter for President Bush who gave the world the phrase “axis of evil” and co-author of a recent book with Mr. Perle.

Mr. Frum’s National Review Online article that popped up immediately after the spy case story broke was entitled “Jewish Conspiracies in the Pentagon?”

Until then no one had mentioned anything about Jews.

What Mr. Frum and the “friends and associates” of the usual suspects in the Pentagon are saying seems to be virtually identical — as Mr. Frum put it, it’s all those anti-Semites and “figures inside the US government who want to see Israel treated, not as the ally it is by law and treaty …but as the source of all the trouble in the Middle East and the world.”

Well, maybe — though it might be helpful if Mr. Frum or somebody could actually name someone inside the government who’s peddling “Jewish conspiracy” theories or anti-Israeli policies.

So far no one has. Their first and apparently only concern is not to examine whether American espionage laws have been broken and national security jeopardized by spies working for a foreign power, but to deny, exonerate and ignore the whole story, lobbing their usual smears along the way.

But the shoes that fit are leaving footprints that lead straight back to the Wolfowitz-Feith-Ledeen-Perle-Frum axis inside the Pentagon and perhaps to a massive foreign espionage operation on the scale of the Alger Hiss case of the 1940s.

It would not be surprising if some very powerful people don’t want those footprints followed too far.

• Category: Ideology • Tags: Classic, Israel, Neocons 
🔊 Listen RSS

With the grotesque spectacle of the burned and bludgeoned bodies of American civilians hanging from a bridge over the Euphrates, Americans need to start thinking about what the Bush administration has dragged the nation into, how we can get out of it and why it happened at all.

The answers to the last question popped up in a newspaper in Asia last week.

Last year I and a number of other critics of the forthcoming war argued that the fabled “weapons of mass destruction” that were supposed to be the reason for the war were not the real reason at all. Most critics, including me, at that time didn’t know the extent to which the war peddlers had simply fabricated their claims about the weapons, but we did know what the real reason was and who was behind it.

“The Likudniks are really in charge now,” a senior government official in the Bush administration told the Washington Post in a front-page Feb. 9, 2003 story. [Bush and Sharon Nearly Identical On Mideast Policy By Robert G. Kaiser]

The “Likudniks” of course are the partisans of the Likud Party government of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, and the official was speaking not of the Israeli government but our own. The people who pushed hardest for the American war against Iraq were neoconservatives, mainly but not entirely of Jewish background, in both the administration and out of it who put Israel’s interests first.

The “war on terrorism,” 9/11 and weapons of mass destruction had nothing to do with it. Israel has long seen Iraq under Saddam Hussein as its major threat in the Middle East, and some Bush administration officials involved in pushing for war were urging an earlier Likud government in 1996 to work for war against Iraq.

Sept. 11 merely gave them the chance to make it happen. Now it has, at American expense.

I was by no means the only one to point to the Israeli connection. Almost every critic of the war, left and right, also knew what was going on—Pat Buchanan, Joseph Sobran, Paul Craig Roberts, Charley Reese, the Rockford Institute’s Chronicles, the American Conservative, Justin Raimondo of and others. So did left-wing critics at The Nation, the Guardian and any number of newspapers and magazines in this country and Europe. Most of them—especially those on the right—were immediately denounced as “unpatriotic,” “conspiracy freaks”and, most of all, “anti-Semites.”

Now, on the heels of the latest evidence of the continuing disaster into which the administration and Mr. Sharon’s agents of influence within it have dragged us, comes fresh confirmation of their role in instigating the war for the interests of a foreign state.

The Asia Times reported last week that a gentleman named Philip Zelikow, a member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board in 2001, said in a speech months before the war that “the real threat” of Iraq was not to the United States but “against Israel.”

Speaking to an audience at the University of Virginia, where he teaches military history, Mr. Zelikow said, “And this is the threat that dare not speak its name, because the Europeans don’t care deeply about that threat, I will tell you frankly. And the American government doesn’t want to lean too hard on it rhetorically, because it is not a popular sell”—which is why the real reasons had to be masked with what now appear to have been just plain lies about “weapons of mass destruction,” “links” between Saddam and Al Qaeda and other concoctions.

The administration has slammed other former members like Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill and counter-terrorism expert Richard Clarke, who have pointed to much the same connections, but it would be hard to slam Mr. Zelikow.

He had no political or personal ax to grind against the administration and in fact supports both it and the war. He worked for the Bush administration’s transition team in 2001, drafting a plan for reorganizing the National Security Council. He also happens to be Jewish, so it’s hard to say he’s an “anti-Semite.”

The war the Likudniks planned has come but not gone. Despite their stupid predictions about being a “cakewalk,” it’s now cost us the lives of 600 Americans who didn’t have to die and billions of dollars. There’s no sign Iraq is being “pacified” or that democracy is blossoming, and the terrorists who murdered 3,000 Americans on 9/11 just slaughtered more than 200 in Madrid.

Mr. Bush’s wars have brought nothing about; his promises were all untrue.

Americans have a chance this year to stop the madness the Likudnik cabal has started before it engulfs us in a war we can’t walk away from.

If we don’t take that chance, the cabal will stay with us, along with the wars it wants us to fight for someone else’s country.

• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Iraq, Israel, Neocons 
🔊 Listen RSS

On the very eve of the massive U.S. counter-attack against Afghan terrorist bases, who should step forward to denounce the Bush administration for “appeasement” but Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Despite a grumpy non-apology a few days later, the Sharon smack in the American face at a time when the administration is trying to build a fragile house of Arab cards to sustain our counter-attack was particularly ill-timed.

“Do not try to appease the Arabs at our expense,” Mr. Sharon blustered. “Do not repeat the dreadful mistakes of 1938, when enlightened European democracies decided to sacrifice Czechoslovakia for a convenient solution. Israel will not be Czechoslovakia.” Of course, no one was asking Israel to be Czechoslovakia. All anyone asked was that Israel try for once to behave like an ally with a common purpose and cooperate with the coalition of states the Bush administration is trying to construct.

Mr. Sharon’s bellowing was certainly ill-timed for American and Western interests, but not necessarily for those of Israel. What made him angry was not only the administration’s effort to stroke reluctant Arab allies by endorsing the concept of a Palestinian state the day before his outburst but also the administration’s general refusal to embark on a global crusade against all of Islam and the entire Arabic world and thereby to fight Israel’s conflict for it.

It was that demand that lay behind Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz’s recent statement to Congress that we should “end states that support terrorism.” It is that demand that animated the open letter signed by some 40 supporters of Israel published in the neo-conservative Weekly Standard on Oct. 1 demanding that the United States remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and make war against Iran and Syria if they refuse to abandon support for terrorism. It is that demand that lies behind Weekly Standard editor William Kristol’s attacks on Secretary of State Colin Powell as somehow “selling out” or subverting the total war supposedly favored by President Bush.

And it is that demand that lies behind the Big Lie being purveyed by virtually all of Israel’s journalistic fifth column inside the United States that the Sept. 11 attack had nothing to do with U.S. support for Israel and the Palestinian issue but was driven by Osama bin Laden’s hatred of “democracy,” the “West,” or just plain hatred pure and simple—”the haters need no reason to hate us,” columnist Paul Greenberg glibly assures us. By denying that U.S. support for Israel plays a major role in precipitating terrorism against American targets, they hope not only to divert attention from Israel but also to arouse and manipulate America counter-hate against Israel’s regional enemies.

The truth is that the claim is a lie blatantly contradicted by almost every public statement and communique from bin Laden himself, including his statement after the U.S. air raids against Afghanistan this week. Bin Laden and his henchmen never hesitate to make plain that there are three major reasons for their war against America: U.S. military bases in Saudi Arabia, “the land of Mohammed,” as bin Laden calls it; U.S. policy against Iraq and the devastation of its people; and U.S. support for Israel and the repression of the Palestinians. To enumerate these reasons is not to endorse them as being morally or factually correct, but only to emphasize that they are the reasons bin Laden himself offers—and he could hardly offer them if they had no resonance in the Arab world.

The evidence is that the Bush administration, wisely, is not even thinking about doing what Israel and its choirboys in the American press demand. Despite the ferocious rhetoric in the immediate aftermath of the attacks, actual administration policy has been measured—intended to secure the collaboration of strategically essential but internally fragile Arabic or Muslim states such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, as well as the Muslim states of the former Soviet Union to Afghanistan’s north, and the quiescence of potential enemies like Iraq, Iran and Syria. The velvet glove the administration is wearing in one part of the Middle East is diplomatically crucial for the iron fist that hammered the Afghan bases this week.

What the Israeli lobby is demanding is nothing less than another world war—the United States, isolated except for an alliance with a limping micro-state surrounded by enemies, against what would soon turn into an alliance of every Muslim and Arabic state from Rabat to Jakarta. It would be a war that even the world’s last super-power would lose, and the biggest loser of all would be the very state whose leader was sneering “appeasement” last week because his strongest and oldest ally has the good sense not to start it.

• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Israel 
🔊 Listen RSS

A tip of the hat to President George W. Bush, whose address to the nation last week was strong, clear and uncharacteristically presidential. But if the president’s delivery was first-rate, at least some of the content was simply silly.

Silliness No. 1 was Mr., Bush’s explanation as to “Why do they hate us?” It’s a good question to which some people have been offering answers for the last couple of weeks. But some of the answers offered are neither true nor even honest.

Mr. Bush’s answer is that “they” hate us because we are a democracy, that “they hate our freedoms, our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.” Also, they want to overthrow many existing Muslim governments in the Middle East (though few are democratic), “drive Israel out of the Middle East” and “many Christians and Jews out of vast regions of Asia and Africa,” although there aren’t an awful lot of Christians or Jews in either place.

Not once did the president suggest that Osama bin Laden and his supporters hate us because of our foreign policy in the Middle East—our war with Iraq ten years ago and our support for Israel in the face of overwhelming Arabic and Muslim opposition.

And indeed, he was politically prudent not to say so. Anyone who does make that suggestion is immediately deluged with vituperation and accusations of anti-Semitism. Last week, for example, in response to a column by columnist Robert Novak in the New York Post suggesting that U.S.-Israeli policy in the Middle East may have contributed to the terrorist onslaught, neo-conservative guru and militant Zionist Norman Podhoretz delivered a savage and indeed nutty attack on the conservative columnist.

Mr. Novak, Mr. Podhoretz ranted, has an “animus against Israel”; his attitude toward Israel is “vitriolic”; he’s “ignorant” of what has shaped the terrorists. His column is “shamefully perverse”; he “evidently” favors the “disappearance of Israel” and “perhaps” would welcome “repeated—and worse—attacks than the one we suffered on Sept. 11.” It’s clear that Mr. Podhoretz is not only a Zionist crackpot but that he regards any criticism of Israel at all as anti-Semitic as well as supportive of the kind of terrorist attacks the country has already suffered.

Last week, Mr. Podhoretz ran a lengthy article in the Wall Street Journal in which he unbosomed similar sentiments, this time asserting that “wiping Israel off the map is still one of the major hopes of Arabs everywhere”—in other words, that the majority of Arabs support genocide. Yet at the same time he also claimed that “if Israel had never come into existence or if it were magically to disappear, the U.S. would still stand as an embodiment of everything that most of these Arabs consider evil”—that is, the terrorists would attack us, as the president also claims, just because they hate America and our way of life. Israel has nothing to do with, despite the Arabs’ genocidal hatred of it.

Unfortunately, (or rather fortunately) there’s evidence that such claims are simply untrue. In the January. 11, 1999 issue of Time magazine, there was an interview with, of all people, Osama bin Laden himself, and the man who is now Global Public Enemy No. 1 made it pretty clear why he has a burr under his turban.

Asked what he thought about the U.S. bombing of Iraq in December, 1998, bin Laden replied, “There is no doubt that the treacherous attack has confirmed that Britain and America are acting on behalf of Israel and the Jews, paving the way for the Jews to divide the Muslim world once again, enslave it and loot the rest of its wealth.” He’s mainly upset because he thinks U.S. forces have defiled Muslim holy sites in his native Saudi Arabia by military occupation, and he wants retribution for what he thinks is American injustice to Islam. “Muslims are angry. The Americans should expect reactions from the Muslim world that are proportionate to the injustice they inflict.”

Osama bin Laden said not one word about “hating democracy” or the freedoms Mr. Bush listed. Certainly he wants to drive “Israel out of the Middle East” and he may want to drive “Christians and Jews” out as well, but mainly he wants to drive out the American military power that is in alliance with Israel.

There’s no doubt that bin Laden and his cronies are now enemies of the United States to the death, and there’s no doubt that we need to wage war on them simply to protect ourselves. But there ought to be no doubt either why they became our enemies, or that some people don’t want us to know what the real reasons for their hatred are.

• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Israel, Norman Podhoretz, Terrorism 
Sam Francis
About Sam Francis

Dr. Samuel T. Francis (1947-2005) was a leading paleoconservative columnist and intellectual theorist, serving as an adviser to the presidential campaigns of Patrick Buchanan and as an editorial writer, columnist, and editor at The Washington Times. He received the Distinguished Writing Award for Editorial Writing of the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) in both 1989 and 1990, while being a finalist for the National Journalism Award (Walker Stone Prize) for Editorial Writing of the Scripps Howard Foundation those same years. His undergraduate education was at Johns Hopkins and he later earned his Ph.D. in modern history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

His books include The Soviet Strategy of Terror(1981, rev.1985), Power and History: The Political Thought of James Burnham (1984); Beautiful Losers: Essays on the Failure of American Conservatism (1993); Revolution from the Middle: Essays and Articles from Chronicles, 1989–1996 (1997); and Thinkers of Our Time: James Burnham (1999). His published articles or reviews appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, National Review, The Spectator (London), The New American, The Occidental Quarterly, and Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, of which he was political editor and for which he wrote a monthly column, “Principalities and Powers.”