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

 Remember My Information



=>
Topics Filter?
2012 Election 2020 Election Afghanistan AIPAC American Media American Military Anti-Semitism Barack Obama BDS Movement Benjamin Netanyahu Black Lives Matter China CIA Coronavirus Deep State Democratic Party Donald Trump Foreign Policy Government Surveillance Haim Saban Hillary Clinton History Ideology Iran Iraq ISIS Israel Israel Lobby Israel/Palestine Jared Kushner Jews Joe Biden John Bolton Mike Pompeo Mossad Neocons Nikki Haley Pakistan Political Correctness Republicans Russia Russiagate Sheldon Adelson Syria Terrorism Torture Turkey 2008 Election 2016 Election 2018 Election 9/11 Aarab Barghouti Abby Martin Abe Foxman Abu Ghraib Abu Mehdi Muhandas Academia Adam Schiff Adel Abdul Mahdi ADL AEI Affirmative Action Africa AIEF Al Jazeera Al Qaeda Alan Clemmons Alan Dershowitz Alexander Vindman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Ali Dawabsheh Alt Right Alyssa Rosenberg American Exceptionalism American Jewish Committee American Jews American Left American Legion Amy Klobuchar Anabelle Lima-Taub Andrei Nekrasov Andrew Bacevich Andrew Sullivan Angela Stent Ann Coulter Anne Frank Anne Neuberger Annual Country Reports On Terrorism Anthony Fauci Tony Hall Anthrax Anti-Defamation League Anti Terrorism Act Antifa Antiracism Antiwar Movement Anwar Al-Awlaki Apartheid Arab Spring Arabs Argentina Default Armenians Arnon Milchan Arthur Lichte Aryeh Lightstone Ash Carter Assassinations Atlantic Council AUMF Avi Berkowitz Avigdor Lieberman Aviv Kochavi Avril Haines Bahrain Banjamin Netanyahu Barbara Comstock Bashar Al-Assad BBC BDS Ben Cardin Ben Hodges Ben Rhodes Benghazi Benjamin Cardin Benjamin Netanyahu. Mike Pompeo Benny Gantz Bernard Henri-Levy Bernie Sanders Bernies Sanders Betsy DeVos Betty McCollum BICOM Bill Browder Bill Clinton Bill De Blasio Bill Kristol Bill Maher Bioweapons Black Crime Blacks BLM Boko Haram Bolshevik Russia Border Wall Boris Johnson Bowe Bergdahl Boycott Divest And Sanction Boycott Divestment And Sanctions Brad Sherman Bret Stephens Brexit Britain Campaign For Liberty Carly Fiorina Caroline Glick Carter Page Catholic Church CCTV Cell Phones Censorship Charles Koch Charles Krauthammer Charles Kushner Charles Percy Charles Schumer Charlie Hebdo Charlie Rose Charlottesville Chas Freeman China/America Chris Gown Christi Grimm Christianity Christine Maxwell Christmas Christopher Steele Chuck Hagel Chuck Schumer Civil Liberties Civil War Civilian Deaths CJIA Climate Change Clinton Global Initiative Cold War Colombia Conservative Movement Conservatives Conspiracy Theories Corruption Cory Booker Craig Murray CRIF Crimea Critical Race Theory CUFI Culture/Society Dana Milbank Danny Danon David Brog David Brooks David Friedman David Frum David Ignatius David Kramer David Morales David Petraeus David Schenker David Wurmser Debbie Wasserman-Schultz Democracy Dennis Hastert Dennis Ross Department Of State Derek Chauvin Derek Harvey Dick Cheney Diplomacy Dirty Bomb Disease Diversity Domestic Terrorism Doug Feith Douglas Macgregor Douma Drone War Drones Ebola Economic Sanctions Economics Edmund Burke Edmund Burke Foundation Edward Price Edward Snowden Efraim Zurofff Egypt Eli Rosenbaum Elie Wiesel Eliot Cohen Eliot Engel Elizabeth Warren Elliot Abrams Elliott Abrams Emmanuel Macron Enhanced Interrogations Environmentalism Erdogan Eric Cantor Eric Williams Espionage Espionage Act European Right European Union Evi Palmore Ezra Cohen-Watnick Facebook Fake News False Flag Attack FARA Fascism Fatou Bensouda FBI FDD Federal Reserve Fethullah Gulen FIFA Financial Bailout Financial Crisis First Amendment FISA Floyd Floyd Riots 2020 Food Football Foreign Agents Registration Act Foreign Service Foundation For Defense Of Democracies Fracking Fred Hiatt Frederic Hof Free Speech Free Trade Freedom Of Speech Friedrich Karl Berger Friends Of The IDF Friends Of The Israel Defense Forces Gays/Lesbians Gaza Gaza Flotilla GCHQ Geneva Conventions George Clooney George H. W. Bush George Soros George Tenet George W. Bush Georgia Germany Ghislaine Maxwell Gina Haspel Glenn Fine Glenn Greenwald Global Terrorism Index Google Government Secrecy Grant Smith Gregory Meeks Guantanamo Guns Guy Swan H.R. McMaster Haiti Hamas Hasbara Hate Crimes Hate Speech Health Care Hezbollah Hispanics Hollywood Holocaust Holocaust Museum House Intelligence Committee Howard Kohr Humor Hunter Biden ICC IDF Ilhan Omar Illegal Immigration Ilyushin Immigration Imran Awan Intelligence International Criminal Court Internet Internet Research Agency Iran Nuclear Agreement Iran Nuclear Program Iranian Nuclear Program Iraq War IRGC IRMEP Isabel Maxwell ISIS. Terrorism Islam Islamophobia Israel Defense Force Israel Lobbies Israel Separation Wall Israeli Occupation Israeli Settlements Israeli Spying Italy J Street Jake Tapper Jamal Khashoggi James Clapper James Comey James Jeffrey James Mattis James Wooley James Zogby Jane Harman Jane Mayer Janet Yellen Japan Jason Greenblatt JASTA JCPOA Jeff Sessions Jeffrey Epstein Jeffrey Goldberg Jennifer Rubin Jeremy Corbyn Jerrold Nadler Jerry Seinfeld Jerusalem Post Jill Stein Jim Webb Jimmy Carter Joe Cirincione Joe Lieberman John Allen John Boehner John Brennan John Kasich John Kerry John Kiriakou John McCain John McLaughlin John Mearsheimer John Ratcliffe John Yoo Jonathan Freedland Jonathan Greenblatt Jonathan Karten Jonathan Pollard Joseph Lieberman Joseph Massad Judah Benjamin Judge George Daniels Julian Assange Kagans Kamal Harris Kamala Harris Karim Asad Ahmad Khan Kata'ib Hezbollah Kay Bailey Hutchison Keir Starmer Keith Ellison Ken Livingstone Kenneth Marcus Kevin McCarthy Kevin Williamson Kim Jong Un Knesset Koch Foundation Ku Klux Klan Kurds Larry Franklin Law Of War Manual Lebanon Libertarians Libya Lindsay Graham Lindsey Graham Lloyd Blankfein Lobbying long-range-missile-defense Lord Mann Lorde Loudoun County Lyndon B Johnson Lyndon Johnson Madeleine Albright Magnitsky Act Mahmoud Abbas Malaysian Airlines MH17 Marco Rubio Maria Butina Mark Warner Marwan Barghouti Mathilde Krim Max Blumenthal Max Boot Megan McCain MEK Memorial Day Meng Wanzhou Michael Atkinson Michael Flynn Michael Jackson Michael Kadar Michael Morell Michael Pompeo Michelle Bachmann Michelle Goldberg Microsoft Middle East Mike Huckabee Mike Pence Mike Signer Military Pay Military Spending Miriam Adelson Miscellaneous Missile Defense Mitt Romney Mohammed Bin Salman Moldova Mormons Movies Muslim Ban Muslims Mutual Assured Destruction My Lai Nancy Pelos Nancy Pelosi National Holocaust Museum National Review National Security State National Security Strategy NATO Naz Shah Nazi Germany NDAA Neo-Nazis Neoconservatism Neoconservatives Neoliberalism New Cold War New England Patriots New Silk Road New York Times Noam Chomsky Nobel Prize Nord Stream 2 Norman Braman North Korea Novichok NSA NSA Surveillance NSO Group Nuclear Proliferation Nuclear War Nuclear Weapons NYPD Obamacare October Surprise OFAC Oliver Stone Osama Bin Laden OTFI Our Soldiers Speak Palestine Palestinians Pamela Geller Pat Buchanan Patriot Act Paul Findley Paul Manafort Paul Singer Paul Wolfowitz Paycheck Protection Program Pentagon Perception Management Pete Buttigieg Petro Poroshenko Phil Onderdonk Philip Breedlove Phyllis Randall Police Police State Police Training Politics Presidential Libraries Press Censorship Prince Bandar Priti Patel Progressives Public Schools Qassem Soleimani Qatar Quincy Institute Quincy Institute For Responsible Statecraft Race Riots Race/Ethnicity Rachel Maddow Rahm Emanuel Raj Shah Rand Paul Randy Fine Raphael Warnock Raqqa Rashida Tlaib Rashomon Recep Tayyip Erdogan Refugee Crisis Reparations Reuel Gerecht Rex Tillerson Richard Goldberg Richard Grenell Richard Perle Rick Grenell Robert Ford Robert Kraft Robert Maxwell Robert McNamara Robert Mueller Robert O'Brien Robert Reich Robert Spencer Roger Ailes Roman Abramovich Ron DeSantis Ron Paul RT International Rudy Giuliani Rush Limbaugh Russian Hack Sacha Baron Cohen Same-sex Marriage Sarah Palin Saudi Arabia Science Scooter Libby Scotland Scott Ritter Senate Sergei Magnitsky Sergei Skripal Sergey Kisylak Sergey Skripal Seth Klarman Seth Rich Seymour Hersh Shai Masot Shias And Sunnis Shimon Arad Shimon Peres Shmuley Boteach Shoshana Bryen Shurat HaDin Sibel Edmonds Sigal Mandelker Sigar Pearl Mandelker Somalia South Africa Space Command Space Force Spanish River High School Sputnik News State Department Steny Hoyer Stephen Colbert Stephen Hadley Stephen Harper Stephen Townsend Strategic Affairs Ministry Strategic Culture Foundation Stuart Levey Stuxnet Sundar Pichai Supreme Court Surveillance Susan Glasser Susan Rice Sweden Syed Farook Taliban Tamar Kadar Tashfeen Malik Tea Party Ted Cruz The American Herald Tribune The Confederacy The Great Awokening The New York Times The Washington Post Theresa May Thomas Moorer Tom Cotton Tony Blair Tony Blinken Tony Kleinfeld Traffic Tulsi Gabbard Twitter UAE Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Nations United States USA Freedom Act USS Liberty Vaccines Valerie Plame Venezuela Victoria Nuland Video Games Vietnam Vietnam War Virginia Israel Advisory Board Vladimir Putin Voltaine Vote Fraud Voter Fraud Wall Street War Crimes War On Terror War Powers Act Washington Post Wendy Sherman West Bank Whistleblowers White Helmets Wikileaks William Browder William Fulbright William Kristol William Latson William McGonagle William McRaven WINEP World War II Yehuda Neuberger Yellowcake Forgery Yelp Yemen Yochi Dreazen Yoram Hazony Yossi Cohen Zionism Zvika Fogel
Nothing found
 TeasersPhilip Giraldi Blogview

Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • BShow CommentNext New CommentNext New ReplyRead More
ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
AgreeDisagreeThanksLOLTroll
These buttons register your public Agreement, Disagreement, Thanks, LOL, or Troll with the selected comment. They are ONLY available to recent, frequent commenters who have saved their Name+Email using the 'Remember My Information' checkbox, and may also ONLY be used three times during any eight hour period.
Ignore Commenter Follow Commenter
Let the cover-up begin

The angst over the Jamal Khashoggi murder in the Saudi Arabian Consulate General building in Istanbul is already somewhat fading as the media has moved on in search of fresh meat, recently focusing on the series of attempted mail bombings, and currently on the mass shooting in Pittsburgh. But the affaire Khashoggi is still important as it potentially brings with it possible political realignments in the Middle East as well as in Europe as countries feel emboldened to redefine their relationship with Saudi Arabia.

The Turks know exactly what occurred in the Consulate General building and are now putting the squeeze on the Saudis, requiring them to fess up and no doubt demanding compensation. Some sources in Turkey believe that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will actually demand recreation of the Caliphate, which the Kemal Ataturk led Turkish Republic’s government abolished in 1924. That would diminish Saudi Arabia’s ability to regard itself as the pre-eminent Islamic state due to its guardianship over the holy sites in Mecca and Medina. It would be a major realignment of the Islamic umma and would be akin to a restoration of some semblance of Ottoman supremacy over the region.

To be sure, the brutally effective Turkish intelligence service, known by its acronym MIT, is very active when it comes to monitoring the activities of both friendly and unfriendly foreign embassies and their employees throughout Turkey. It uses electronic surveillance and, if the foreign mission has local Turks as employees, many of those individuals will be agents reporting to MIT. As a result, it should be presumed that MIT had the Consulate General building covered with both cameras and microphones, possibly inside the building as well as outside, meaning that the audio of the actual killing that has been reported in the media is no doubt authentic and might even be supplemented with video.

One recent report, on BBC, indicates that CIA Director Gina Haspel has traveled to Turkey and has been allowed to hear the recordings of Khashoggi being tortured and killed. It’s a good thing the Trump White House sent Haspel as she would know exactly what that sort of thing sounds like based on her own personal experience in Thailand. She will presumably be able to explain the operation of a bone saw to the president.

So the Saudis seem to be in a hopeless situation, but they have several cards to play. They have many lobbyists of their own in Washington that have bought their way into think tanks and onto editorial pages. They are also in bed with Israel in opposition to Iran, which means that the Israel Lobby and its many friends in the U.S. Congress will complain about killing Khashoggi but ultimately will not do anything about it. The White House will also discourage America’s close allies from adopting measures that would do serious damage to the Saudis. In regional terms, Saudi Arabia is also key to Trump’s anticipated Middle East peace plan. If it pulls out from the expected financial guarantees aspect, the plan will fall apart, so Washington will be pressing hard on Ankara in particular to not overdo its bid for compensation.

All of which leads to some consideration of the hypocrisy of the outrage over Khashoggi. Saudi Arabia murdered a citizen in a diplomatic facility located in Turkey, apparently because they believed that individual to be a dissident who was a threat to national security. They then seriously botched the cover-up. In spite of all that, it would seem that the issue involves only two parties directly, the Saudis and the Turks, though there have been calls from a number of countries to punish the Saudis for what was clearly a particularly gruesome murder carried out in contravention of all existing rules for behavior of diplomatic missions in foreign countries.

The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic and Consular missions grants to Diplomats a certain level of immunity in foreign posts, but that does not include murder. In consular posts, like Istanbul, consular immunity only extends to officials who are actually performing consular duties when an alleged infraction occurs. I know from personal experience how subjective that process can be as I was arrested by Turkish police when I was the U.S. Consulate duty officer in Istanbul while looking for a missing American who turned out to be a drug dealer. The Turks weren’t sure what to do with me as I was Consular so I spent 24 hours playing cards with the prison governor before I was released.

The hypocrisy comes in when the U.S. Congress and media become enraged and demand that there be “consequences,” in part because Khashoggi was a U.S. legal resident and therefore under law a “U.S. person.” Saudi Arabia is, to be sure, a country that most would consider to be an undesirable destination if one is seeking to eat, drink and be merry. Or just about anything else having to do with personal liberty. An absolute dictatorship run by one family, it has long both relied on and been the exporter of the most backward looking and unpleasant form of Islam, Wahabbism. But for the fact that the Saudis are the world’s leading exporter of oil, and, for Muslims, guardian of the religion’s holy sites, the country would long ago have been regarded as a pariah.

But that said, Congress and the White House might well consider how the rest of the world views the United States when it comes to killing indiscriminately without fear of consequences. President Barack Obama, who has practically been beatified by the U.S. mainstream media, was the first American head of state to openly target and kill American citizens overseas. He and his intelligence advisor John Brennan would sit down for a Tuesday morning meeting to revise the list of Americans living outside the U.S. who could be assassinated. To cite only one example, the executions of Yemeni dissident Anwar al-Awlaki and his son were carried out by drone after being ordered from the White House without any due process apart from claimed presidential authority. Obama and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also attacked Libya, a nation with which America was not at war, destroyed its government, and reduced the country to its current state of anarchy. When its former ruler Moammar Gaddafi was captured and killed by having a bayonet inserted up his anus, Hillary giggled and said “We came, we saw, he died.”

The United States is also supporting the ongoing war in Syria and also enables the Saudis to continue their brutal attacks on Yemen, which have produced cholera, starvation and the deaths of an estimated 60,000 Yemenis plus millions more threatened by disease and the deliberate cutting off of food supplies. And the White House looks the other way as its other best friend in the Middle East, Israel, shoots thousands of unarmed Palestinian demonstrators. Overall one might argue that if there is a smell in the room it is coming from Washington and one death in Istanbul, no matter how heinous, pales in comparison to what the U.S. itself, Israel and Saudi Arabia have been doing without any pushback whatsoever.

 
How easy it is to give awards to terrorists

I am often asked to explain why countries like Iran appear to be so aggressive, involving themselves in foreign wars and seeking to create alliances that they know will provoke the worst and most paranoid responses from some of their neighbors. My response is invariably that perceptions of threat depend very much on which side of the fence you are standing on. Saudi Arabia and Israel might well perceive Iranian actions as aggressive given the fact that all three countries are competing for dominance in the same region, but Iran, which is surrounded by powerful enemies, could equally explain its activity as defensive, seeking to create a belt of allies that can be called upon if needed if a real shooting war breaks out.

The United States and Israel are, of course, masters at seeing everything as a threat, justifying doing whatever is deemed necessary to defend against what are perceived to be enemies. They even exercise extraterritoriality, with Washington claiming a right to go after certain categories of “terrorists” in countries with which it is not at war, most particularly Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia. Israel does likewise in its attacks on Lebanon and Syria. Both Tel Aviv and Washington have regularly crossed the line drawn by international legal authorities in terms of what constitutes initiating a “just” or “legal” war, i.e. an imminent threat to use force by a hostile power. Neither Israel nor the United States has really been threatened by an enemy or enemies in the past seventy years, so the definition of threat has been expanded to include after-the-fact as with 9/11 and potential as in the case of Israel and Iran.

The “which side of the fence” formulation has also had some interesting spin-offs in terms of how so-called non-state players that use violence are perceived and portrayed. Nearly all widely accepted definitions of terrorism include language that condemns the “use of politically motivated violence against non-combatants to provoke a state of terror.”

It is quite easy to identify some groups that are unambiguously “terrorist.” Islamic State in Syria (ISIS) and its various affiliates fit the definition perfectly, but even in that case there is some ambiguity by those state actors who are ostensibly pledged to eradicate terrorists. There have been credible claims that the United States has been protecting the last enclaves of ISIS in order to maintain its “right” to stay in Syria, allegedly based on the stated objective of completely destroying the group before withdrawal. As long as ISIS is still around in Syria, Washington will have an admittedly illegal justification for doing likewise.

There are two notable groups that should be universally condemned as terrorists but are not for political reasons. They are the Mujaheddin e Khalq (MEK), Iranian dissidents that are based in Paris and Washington, and the so-called White Helmets who have been active in Syria. MEK is particularly liked by Israel and its friends inside the Beltway because it retains resources inside Iran that enable it to carry out assassinations and sabotage, and if it is only Iranians that are dying, that’s okay.

MEK has been on the State Department roster of foreign terrorist organizations since the list was established in 1997. Its inclusion derives from its having killed six Americans in the 1970s and from its record of violence both inside and outside Iran since that time. The group was driven out of Iran, denied refuge in France, and eventually armed and given a military base by Iraq’s leader Saddam Hussein. Saddam used the group to carry out terrorist acts inside Iran. MEK is widely regarded as a cult headed by a husband and wife team Massoud and Maryam Rajavi. Its members were required to be celibate and there are reports that they are subjected to extensive brainwashing, physical torture, severe beatings even unto death, and prolonged solitary confinement if they question the leadership. One scholar who has studied them describes their beliefs as a “weird combination of Marxism and Islamic fundamentalism.” Like many other terrorist groups MEK has a political wing that operates openly referred to as the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), which is based in Paris, and another front organization called Executive Action which operates in Washington.

MEK was regarded as a terrorist group until 2012, when it was taken off the Special Designation list by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. It was removed because multi-million dollar contracts with Washington lobbying firms experienced at “working” congress backed up by handsome speaking fees had induced many prominent Americans to join the chorus supporting NCRI. Prior to 2012, speaking fees for the group started at $15,000 and went up from there. Former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell reported more than $150,000 in honoraria. Rudy Giuliani has been paid generously for years at $20,000 per appearance for brief, twenty-minute speeches. Bear in mind that MEK was a listed terrorist group at the time and accepting money from it to promote its interests should have constituted material support of terrorism.

The group’s well-connected friends have included prominent neocons like current National Security Advisor John Bolton and ex-CIA Directors James Woolsey, Michael Hayden and Porter Goss as well as former Generals Anthony Zinni, Peter Pace, Wesley Clark, and Hugh Shelton. Traditional conservatives close to the Trump Administration like Newt Gingrich, Fran Townsend and Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao are also fans of NCRI. Townsend in particular, as a self-proclaimed national security specialist, has appeared on television to denounce Iran, calling its actions “acts of war” without indicating that she has received money from an opposition group.

MEK’s formula for success in removing itself from the terrorism lift involved paying its way through a corrupt political system. More interesting perhaps is the tale of the White Helmets, who have just been given the 2019 Elie Wiesel Award by the National Holocaust Museum, with the citation “These volunteer rescue workers have saved lives on all sides of the conflict in Syria. Their motto is ‘To save one life is to save all of humanity.’”

The White Helmets have been praised by those who hate the government of President Bashar al-Asad in Syria and want to see it removed because of its role as a leading element in the propaganda campaign that seeks to instigate violence or use fabricated information to depict the Damascus government as guilty of slaughtering its own citizens. The propaganda is intended to terrorize the civilian population, which is part of the definition of terrorism.

 
Time to cut the tie that binds

The ability of Israel and its powerful Lobby to control many aspects of American government while also sustaining an essentially false narrative about the alleged virtues of the Jewish State is remarkable. Politicians and journalists learned long ago that it was better to cultivate Israel’s friends than it was to support actual American interests. They also discovered to speak the truth about the Jewish State often would prove to be a death sentence career-wise, witness the experiences of Cynthia McKinney, Paul Findlay, William Fulbright, Chuck Percy, James Traficant, Pete McCloskey and Rick Sanchez.

More recently, we have seen the ascent to real political power on the part of a number of politicians whose pandering to Israel has been notorious, indicating that the path to the White House goes through Tel Aviv and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) offices on H Street in the District of Columbia. Nikki Haley, who recently resigned as United Nations Ambassador, gained national attention when she became the first state governor to sign off on laws that would punish supporters of the non-violent BDS movement. Subsequently, as ambassador, she became noted for her impassioned defense of Israel, to include complaining that “nowhere has the U.N.’s failure been more consistent and more outrageous than in its bias against our close ally Israel.” She vowed that the “days of Israel bashing are over” and is now being groomed by the neocons as a possible presidential candidate for 2020. Whichever way it goes, she will be showered with money by Israel supporters as she finds her perch in the private sector, like others before her doing “work” that she does not understand while also making speeches about the importance of the Israeli relationship.

All of that said, one of the truly odd aspects of the Israeli/Jewish dominance is its ability to change the United States. Normally, a tiny client state attached to a great power would conform to its patron, but in the U.S.-Israel relationship the reverse has happened. When 9/11 occurred Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was pleased, commenting that the attack would tie the United States more closely to Israel in its war against “terrorism,” which to him meant his Islamic neighbors in the Middle East. Since that time, the bilateral “special” relationship has conformed to what Professors Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer observed in their groundbreaking book “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy,” namely that the United States does things in the Middle East that cannot be attributed to national interest. Rather, Washington behaves in a certain way due to the power of Israel and its lobby. There is no other way to explain it.

The emergence of Israeli practices as models to be adopted by U.S. agencies has occurred, to be sure, to include Israeli training American policemen and soldiers in their “methods,” but the odd thing is that as Israel has lurched to the right and embraced political extremism under Netanyahu, the United States has done the same thing, curtailing civil liberties with the Patriot Acts, the Military Commissions Act, and various updates of the Authorization to Use Military Force. Indefinite detention without trial and assassination of citizens overseas is now acceptable in America and criticizing Israel could soon become a criminal offense in spite of the First Amendment. In short, the United States of America has become more like Israel rather than vice versa.

With one or two exceptions, there is no one in the United States government, elected or civil service, who has anything that is not wonderful to say about Israel in spite of the numerous war crimes and crimes against humanity being committed by Netanyahu nearly daily, the unfunded costs of the wars fought in part on behalf of Israel, and the thousands of dead American soldiers plus the hundreds of thousands of dead foreigners, nearly all Muslims. Indeed, Netanyahu is treated like a conquering hero, having received 23 standing ovations from Congress in 2015 when he was in the United States complaining about an agreement with Iran made by President Barack Obama. This inside the beltway approval of Israel contrasts sharply with the general view of the rest of the world, which sees both the U.S. and Israel negatively as the two nations most likely to start a new war.

There are several recent articles that demonstrate pretty clearly the danger in allowing Israel and its friends to have the power and access that they currently enjoy purely because government and the media make no effort to tell them “no” and rein them in. One comes from New Zealand where two women wrote a letter to the pop singer Lorde, urging her to cancel an appearance in Israel due to the treatment of the Palestinians. Lorde posted the letter on twitter, agreed and the trip was canceled.

The tale would have ended there but for the fact that Israel’s parliament the Knesset has passed a law now making it illegal to support a boycott of Israel ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD [my emphasis]. Enter the group called Shurat HaDin, which is an Israeli government supported lawfare instrument, that seeks to find and sue the perceived enemies of the Jewish state, punishing them through court costs and potentially bankruptcy.

The lawsuit argued that Lorde’s response on twitter after receiving the letter showed her decision was directly influenced by the New Zealand women’s plea. Three Israeli ticket holders filed the suit, claiming the cancellation had caused emotional distress. The Israeli court awarded damages of $12,000 dollars and their lawyer, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner of Shurat HaDin, boasted that the verdict was “precedent-setting,” sending a message that “no one can boycott Israel without paying for it.” Israeli government agents in New Zealand are taking steps to obtain the money, even though it remains unclear whether the plaintiffs will be able to collect the cash. Darshan-Leitner explained that she will seek to enforce the judgment through “international treaties” and go after the women’s bank accounts, either in New Zealand or if they try to travel abroad. Even if she is unsuccessful, the lawsuits will have a chilling effect on any individual or group seeking to criticize Israel’s brutal behavior by endorsing what once were perfectly legal boycotts.

A second story is possibly even more bizarre. On October 10th, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that “Israel is everything we want the entire Middle East to look like going forward” while asserting that the bilateral relationship between Washington and Tel Aviv is “stronger than ever.” Pompeo was keynote speaker at an award ceremony hosted by the Jewish Institute for National Security of America in Washington D.C. He also hailed Israel as “democratic and prosperous,” adding “it desires peace, it is a home to a free press and a thriving economy.”

 
Time for the sans-culottes to rise up against Washington's insanity

On October 21st there will be a Women’s March on the Pentagon hosted by the Global Women’s Peace Action. My wife and many of our friends will be going and even I will tag along in support in spite of my gender. We participate with some reservations as we have only demonstrated publicly twice since 9/11, once opposing the then about to start Iraq War and once against the annual meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). All too often demonstrations morph into progressive exercises in flagellation of what are now referred to as “deplorable” values with little being accomplished either before, during or afterwards, apart from the piles of debris left behind to be cleaned up by the Park Service. And such events are rarely even covered by the media in Washington, where the Post generally adheres closely to a neocon foreign policy tactic, which means that if you ignore something distasteful it will eventually go away.

Hopefully on this occasion it will be different because the time for talking politics is rapidly being rendered irrelevant by the speed of Washington’s disengagement from reality and Americans of all political persuasions must begin to take to the streets to object to what their government is doing in their name. I am mildly optimistic that change is coming as I find it difficult to imagine that in spite of the relentless flood of mainstream media propaganda there is even a plurality of Americans that supports with any actual conviction what the United States is doing in Syria and what it intends to do in Iran. And apart from a desire to make voting in America safer and insofar as possible interference free, I also believe that most think that Russiagate is a load of hooey and would prefer to be friends with Moscow.

Why now? “Now” is a whole new ballgame, as the expression goes, because the utter insanity coming out of Washington could easily wind up killing most of us here in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. Specifically, in a press conference on Tuesday, Kay Bailey Hutchison, a former Senator from Texas who is currently the United States’ ambassador to NATO, declared that Washington was prepared to launch a preemptive attack on Russian military installations as a response to alleged treaty violations on the part of Moscow. Note particularly what Hutchison actually said: “At that point, we would be looking at the capability to take out a missile that could hit any of our countries. Counter measures would be to take out the missiles that are in development by Russia in violation of the treaty. They are on notice.”

And note further what she was implying, namely that Washington, acting on its own authority, has the right to attack a nuclear armed and powerful foreign country based on what are presumably negotiable definitions of what are acceptable weapons to base on one’s own soil. It would be an attack on a neighbor or competitor with whom one is not at war and which does not necessarily pose any active threat. By that standard, any country with a military capability can be described as threatening and one can attack anyone else based purely on one’s own assessment of what is acceptable or not.

It is quite remarkable how many countries in the world are now “on notice” for punishment when they do things that the United States objects to. United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley has warned that she will be “taking names” of those United Nations members that criticize U.S. policies in the Middle East. As increasing discomfort with U.S. initiatives there and elsewhere is a worldwide phenomenon, with only Israel, the Philippines, Nigeria and Kenya having a favorable view of Washington, Haley’s list is inevitably a long one. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton, when they are not fabricating intelligence and inflating threats, have likewise warned specific countries that they are being judged by Washington and will be punished at a level proportionate to their transgressions.

Hutchison is not known as a deep thinker, so one has to suspect that her expressed views were fed to her by someone in Washington. Her specific grievance against Russia relates to Moscow’s reported deployment of new land-based missiles that have a claimed range of more than 5,000 kilometers, which is enough to hit most targets in Europe. If true, the development would be in violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty of 1987 and would definitely pose a potential threat to the Europeans, but the more serious question has to be the rationale behind threatening a nuclear war through preemptive action over an issue that might be subject to renewed multilateral negotiation.

Hutchison and the State Department inevitably went into double-speak mode when concerns were expressed about possible preemption against Russia. She clarified her earlier comments with an almost incomprehensible “My point: Russia needs to return to INF Treaty compliance or we will need to match its capabilities to protect U.S. & NATO interests. The current situation, with Russia in blatant violation, is untenable.”

Spokesman Heather Nauert at State then chimed in “What Ambassador Hutchison was talking about was improving overall defense and deterrence posture. The United States is committed to upholding its arms control obligations and expects Russia to do the very same thing.” Both disclaimers were needed, even if lacking in clarity, but they did not dispel the ugly taste of the initial comment regarding starting a war of preemption. Russia took note of the back and forth, with a Foreign Ministry spokesman drily observing “It seems that people who make such statements do not realize the level of their responsibility and the danger of aggressive rhetoric.” Hutchison and Nauert also do not seem aware of the fact that Russia’s frequently stated defense doctrine is to use nuclear weapons if and when it is attacked by a superior force, which might well be Moscow’s assessment of the threat posed by U.S. led NATO.

The disconnect between the White House’s often expressed desire to improve relations with Russia and the bureaucracy’s tendency to send the opposite message is typical of what has been referred to as Trump’s “dual-track presidency”. Gareth Porter has recently observed how President Trump, for all his faults in so many ways, is indeed desirous of military disengagement in some areas but he is repeatedly being overruled or outmaneuvered by the permanent bureaucracies in government, most notably the Pentagon and intelligence services. Hutchison, Haley, Pompeo and Bolton speak and act for that constituency even when they appear to be agreeing with the president.

 
Last week Washington threatened Iran, Syria, China, Venezuela and Russia

The nuclear war doomsday clock maintained on the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists website has advanced to two minutes before midnight, the closest point to possible atomic apocalypse since the end of the Cold War. In 1995 the clock was at fourteen minutes to midnight, but the opportunity to set it back even further was lost as the United States and its European allies took advantage of a weakened Russia to advance NATO into Eastern Europe, setting the stage for a new cold war, which is now underway.

It is difficult to imagine how the United States might avoid a new war in the Middle East given the recent statements that have come out of Washington, and, given that the Russians are also active in the region, a rapid and massive escalation of something that starts out as a minor incident should not be ruled out.

President Donald Trump set the tone when he harangued the United Nations last Tuesday, warning that the United States would go it alone in defense of its perceived interests, with no regard for international bodies that exist to limit armed conflict and punish those who commit war crimes.

Trump’s 35-minute speech featured an anticipated long section targeting Iran. He commented that:

Iran’s leaders sow chaos, death, and destruction. They do not respect their neighbors or borders, or the sovereign rights of nations. Instead, Iran’s leaders plunder the nation’s resources to enrich themselves and to spread mayhem across the Middle East and far beyond… We cannot allow the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism to possess the planet’s most dangerous weapons. We cannot allow a regime that chants ‘Death to America,’ and that threatens Israel with annihilation, to possess the means to deliver a nuclear warhead to any city on Earth.”

There are a number of things exaggerated or incorrect in Trump’s description of Iran as well as in the conclusions he draws. The Middle East and other adjacent Muslim countries are in chaos because the United States has destabilized the region starting with the empowering of the Islamist Mujadeddin in the war against Soviet Afghanistan in the 1980s. It then invaded Afghanistan in 2001 followed by Iraq in 2003, enabling the rise of ISIS and giving local al-Qaeda affiliates a new lease on life, before turning on Damascus with the Syria Accountability Act later in the same year and then destroying the Libyan government under Barack Obama. These were, not coincidentally, policies promoted by Israel that received, as a result, bipartisan support in Congress.

The emotional description of disrespecting “neighbors, borders and sovereign rights” fits the U.S. and Israel to a “T” rather than Iran. The U.S. has soldiers stationed illegally in Syria while Israel bombs the country on an almost daily basis, so who is doing the disrespecting? Washington and Tel Aviv are also the principal supporters of terrorists in the Middle East, not Iran, – arming them, training them, hospitalizing them when they are injured, and making sure that they continue their work in attacking Syria’s legitimate government.

And as for “most dangerous weapons,” Iran doesn’t have any and is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which Israel and the U.S. have not signed. Nor would Iran have any such weapons in the future but for the fact that Trump has backed out of the agreement to monitor and inspect Iranian nuclear research and development, which will, if anything, motivate Tehran to develop weapons to protect itself.

Trump also elaborated on the following day regarding Iran’s alleged but demonstrably non-existent nuclear program when he indicated to the Security Council that Washington would go after countries that violate the rules on nuclear proliferation. He clearly meant Iran but the comment was ironic in the extreme, as Israel is the world’s leading nuclear rogue nation with an arsenal of two hundred nuclear devices, having stolen the uranium and key elements of the technology from the United States in the 1960s.

Trump’s new appraisal of the state of the Middle East is somewhat a turnaround. Five months ago he said that he wanted to “get out” of Syria and bring the soldiers home. But in early September, the secretary of state’s special representative for Syria engagement, James Jeffrey, indicated that the U.S. would stay to counter Iranian activities.

And John Bolton has also recently had a lot to say about Iran, Syria and Russia. Last Monday he confirmed that Washington intends to keep a military presence in Syria until Iran withdraws all its forces from the country. “We’re not going to leave as long as Iranian troops are outside Iranian borders, and that includes Iranian proxies and militias.” On the following day, speaking at a Sheldon Adelson funded United Against Nuclear Iran Summit, he said the “murderous regime” of “mullahs in Tehran” would face serious consequences if they persist in their willingness to “lie, cheat and deceive. If you cross us, our allies, or our partners; if you harm our citizens there will indeed be hell to pay. Let my message today be clear: We are watching, and we will come after you.”

John Bolton also warned the Russians about their decision to upgrade the air defenses in Syria in the wake of the recent Israeli bombing raid that led to the shooting down of a Russian intelligence plane. He said absurdly and inaccurately “The Israelis have a legitimate right to self-defense against this Iranian aggressive behavior, and what we’re all trying to do is reduce tensions, reduce the possibility of major new hostilities. That’s why the president has spoken to this issue and why we would regard introducing the S-300 as a major mistake.”

Bolton then elaborated that “We think introducing the S-300s to the Syrian government would be a significant escalation by the Russians and something that we hope, if these press reports are accurate, they would reconsider.” And regarding who was responsible for the deaths of the Russian airmen, Bolton also has a suitable explanation “There shouldn’t be any misunderstanding here… The party responsible for the attacks in Syria and Lebanon and really the party responsible for the shooting down of the Russian plane is Iran.”

Bolton’s desire to exonerate Israel and always blame Iran is inevitably on display. He is curiously objecting to the placement of missiles that are defensive in nature, presumably because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked him to do so. The only way one can be threatened by the S-300 is if you are attacking Syria, but that might be a fine point that Bolton fails to grasp as he was a draft dodger during the Vietnam War and has since that time not placed himself personally at risk in support of any of the wars he has been promoting.

 
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
Shouldn't they recuse themselves when dealing with the Middle East?
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.