Even Trump gets rare moments of mental sanity: “our post-9/11 wars have been a mistake”

Trump Is Right: Our Post-9/11 Wars Have Been a Mistake

 by Andrew J. Bacevich

U.S. Special Forces soldiers at a front line outpost outside Manbij, Syria, Feb. 7, 2018. Four Russian nationals, and perhaps dozens more, were killed in fighting between pro-government forces in eastern Syria and members of the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State, according to Russian and Syrian officials. A Syrian military officer said that about 100 Russian soldiers had been killed in the fighting on Feb. 7 and 8. (Mauricio Lima/The New York Times)

Mauricio Lima/The New York Times
US Special Forces soldiers at a front-line outpost outside Manbij, Syria, on Feb. 7.

In a typically offhand remark, President Trump the other day rendered his personal assessment of our various post-9/11 wars, interventions, and punitive expeditions. “Seven trillion dollars. What a mistake,” he said. “But it is what it is.”

The seven trillion is merely a guesstimate, of course. No one, least of all the lords of the Pentagon, really knows how much our sundry military campaigns, large and small, have cost. Yet at this point, total expenditures certainly reach well into the trillions. And whatever the current tally, that sum will inevitably increase as our wars drag on and as downstream obligations – care for veterans, for example – pile up for decades to come.

That Trump himself should characterize those wars as mistaken represents a moment of plain speaking rare in today’s Washington. After all, as the current commander in chief, he owns that mistake and its myriad consequences. We may doubt that the generals occupying senior positions in his administration share their boss’s assessment. Nor, in all likelihood, does the national security establishment as a whole. Yet it qualifies as more than mildly interesting that the individual exercising supreme authority views the entire enterprise as misbegotten.

 

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The israel Lobby – an ‘Epidemic’ of Wholesale Corruption

Source

“It is political corruption on an epidemic scale, perpetrated by powerful figures from the worlds of gambling, share dealing and international banking: all conducted without any official or public scrutiny or inquiry.”

Oprah Winfrey in her powerful speech at the 2018 Golden Globes awards said that ‘Speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have’.

And the truth for America today is that our legislative assembly, the Congress of the United States of America and the US Presidency, have both been corrupted by the pro-Israel lobby to an extent that it impacts not only the life of every ordinary American citizen but also that of hundreds of thousands in states around the world.

The millions of dollars that are expended in ensuring that only those who profess allegiance to the Israel lobby will succeed in election to Congress is the defining practice that has corrupted American politics and successive White Houses ever since President Harry S Truman was persuaded by Bnai Brith to go against his natural instincts and to support a Zionist state in Palestine

Now, however, it has reached a peak with millions of dollars from casino profits having been used to swing the last presidential election for Trump in exchange for a promise from him to declare Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city, in defiance of the will of the United Nations which has declared the Holy City to be an international metropolis with free access to all faiths, in perpetuity.

A lot of water, guns, planes, bombs, missiles and American money has flowed under the bridge since then, totaling well over 100 billion dollars – enough to build and operate a new hospital for every city in every one of the fifty states of the Union!

The Israel lobby has a far-reaching influence on foreign policy concerning countries throughout the Middle East, Africa, Europe and the Americas – notwithstanding that it is an unelected political pressure group that operates through agents in major capital cities worldwide, from London through Paris, Berlin, Nairobi, Lagos, Dubai and Toronto to Buenos Aires, Beijing, Delhi and Melbourne who infiltrate national governments in order to promote its own political agenda.

The impact on global affairs is enormous – but no one person is ever held to account. It is political corruption on an epidemic scale, perpetrated by powerful figures from the worlds of gambling, share dealing and international banking: all conducted without any official or public scrutiny or inquiry.

The first political act of any US President in recent times is not to appear before their electorate but to address a meeting of AIPAC,  a powerful, pro-Israel, unelected political pressure group. That one fact speaks volumes and says everything on how democracy in America has been subverted for the benefit of a single political entity acting for a foreign state.

When Theodor Herzl envisaged a Jewish Homeland to end centuries of antisemitism, it was an altruistic vision. Today’s reality of the Likud/US Zionist Movement is a sombre indictment of personal greed and ambition that has the reverse effect.


Source: Global Research 

What US News Reports on Syria’s War Hide

What US News Reports on Syria’s War Hide

EDITOR’S CHOICE | 11.02.2018

Eric ZUESSE

What’s being hidden from the public by the U.S. news-media’s reports on Syria’s war is that, ever since 2012, the U.S. Government has been trying to overthrow Syria’s Government by supporting, training and arming, in Syria, the many jihadist groups who were being led by Al Qaeda in Syria — jihadist groups which unanimously accept Al Qaeda’s leadership there. Without Al Qaeda in Syria, the U.S. effort to overthrow the government of Bashar al-Assad (who was elected in 2014 to a new Presidential term in an internationally monitored democratic election, winning 89% of the vote) wouldn’t have come anywhere close to succeeding; but, with Al Qaeda’s help, it almost did succeed. America, even as late as late 2016, was demanding Russia to stop its bombing of Al Qaeda and of their allied jihadist groups in Syria, but Russia refused; this was a major hang-up in the years-long Kerry-Lavrov (U.S.-Russia) negotiations for a ceasefire in Syria. Kerry couldn’t get President Obama to go along with Russia’s (Putin’s) insistence upon continued bombing both of ISIS and of Al Qaeda; Obama insisted: No bombing of Al Qaeda.

More recently, after the effort to overthrow Syria’s Government failed during 2016, the U.S. goal (since nearly the very end of Obama’s Administration) has become assisting Kurds in Syria’s northeast who want to establish there a Kurdistan, which would be beholden to Washington and would cooperate with U.S. oil companies and their contractors such as Halliburton to extract Syria’s oil and to construct pipelines for both oil and gas from mainly three U.S. allies — Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Qatar — into the world’s largest energy-market, the EU, to enable the U.S. and those fundamentalist-Sunni allies to displace Russia from that market, where Russia currently is the largest energy-supplier.

This hiding, which is done in order to block the public’s understanding of what’s going on, is well-exemplified in the slick February 9th front-page New York Times headline news-report, titled “It’s Hard to Believe, but Syria’s War Is Getting Even Worse,” which is headlined online as instead “Far From Winding Down, Syria’s War Escalates on Multiple Fronts”. This half-fictional potboiler opens like any war-potbiler generally does, not by explaining anything, but instead with the typical slick-journalism device, of an anecdote (the bloodier and more-obviously outrageous, the better, in order to whip-up the interest and attention of the gullible mass of readers), “Half a dozen newborns, blinking and arching their backs, were carried from a burning hospital hit by airstrikes. A bombed apartment house collapsed, burying families.” Anyone will, of course, have sympathy for babies, and their families, in a hospital that gets hit by a bomb in a war. Everything that follows this slick opening is designed to anger readers against Syria’s Government — that being the propagandistic objective of virtually all U.S. ‘news’-coverage of this war.

The article leaves the reader totally confused as to why what is happening is happening. But it’s accompanied by yet another article, “Why Is the Syrian War Still Raging?” That piece says, “Each of the major conflicts has its own underlying logic that sustains the fighting” and then it goes on to consider, in turn, what it identifies as “the major conflicts,” which it alleges to be the following three (as being answers to consider, for the article’s title-question, “Why Is the Syrian War Still Raging?” — which means why the war is still raging, even after ISIS in Syria has been defeated and when the task that everyone had been expecting to remain now would be to kill the few ISIS and the other jihadists who still are there, and then to restore the country fully to peace without any jihadists):

“1. Assad versus rebels”

“2. The battle against ISIS”

“3. Turkey versus the Kurds”

They ignore altogether the actual reason “Why Is the Syrian War Still Raging?”:

“4. U.S. versus Syria”

That’s what the Times leaves out — hides.

The U.S. went into Syria lying to say that its main goal was to eliminate ISIS there, but didn’t do anything to ISIS in Syria, until after Russia was invited into the war on 30 September 2015 and promptly started to bomb the oil-tanker-trucks that were carrying Syrian oil from ISIS-controlled areas into Turkey for export and income to ISIS (and Turkey). America had been committed ever since 2012 to overthrow Syria’s Government, but now (under Trump) it’s trying to break up Syria and to steal its oil and at least enough of its territory, so as to destroy Syria even further, and to cripple Russia in its main foreign market.

However, this isn’t a criticism of the New York Times especially, but of all ‘news’reporting in the U.S. and its allied countries. For example, the BBC did a one-year retrospective on the first anniversary of Russia’s 30 September 2015 start of its bombing of what the U.S. regime calls ‘the rebels’ in Syria, and, under the headline “Syria war: How Moscow’s bombing campaign has paid off for Putin” quoted a supposed reliable authority as saying, “Moscow had sought to steadily destroy the moderate Syrian opposition on the battlefield, leaving only jihadist forces in play, and lock the US into a political framework of negotiations that would serve beyond the shelf-life of this administration.” This is basically upside-down: The myth that there had been any substantial non-jihadist or “moderate” Syrian opposition, and that Washington’s operation in Syria relies upon such “moderates,” is an essential lie, in which all of the mainstream, and well over 90% of the “alternative news” media, must participate, if they’re to be allowed to continue. Billionaires have lots of clout. There’s talk about “manufactured consent,” and this is the way it is “manufactured.” It is manufactured by incessant lying, not only by the Government, but by the press.

A good rule is to distrust everything you read, and to click onto at least a sampling  of its sources and examine them yourself to see whether they support the allegations that they allegedly support; and to evaluate whether those sources are themselves trustworthy — and to ignore any ‘news’medium that doesn’t link to its sources (doesn’t conveniently let you check out its truth or falsehood), which includes especially TV, radio, and print media. Only online news can even qualify to be considered by an intelligent reader; but if it’s online print, like for example the New York Times, then it can be taken only on trust, which certainly isn’t earned by any record of carefulness to report the truth and only the truth. This is why I always link to my sources, either directly, or via articles that do link directly to them but that additionally place them into their essential context so that they can be accurately understood.

No news-report can be any more reliable than its sources are. Most ‘news’ is sourced to propagandists. The key thing for any educational system is to teach people how to be intelligently skeptical of everything; but no regime wants such an educational system. Honest news-coverage is therefore rare. Any assumption that it’s not rare is blatantly false.

As George Monbiot, the Guardian columnist, said in an extraordinary burst of honesty:

“I work in a profoundly corrupt industry, and I hate it. … There are some really great journalists out there, but they live in a country under occupation — that’s how it feels. The industry is a really hostile place for good journalism, for journalism which seeks to hold power to account, which in my view is what journalism is all about — that’s the point of it. .. [But the reality of journalism is] it’s about actually reinforcing the messages of power … persuading people that what the billionaires want is what the rest of us should want”

The Debate – U.S. Middle East Policies

A Clean Break from israel (What America Needs Most)

A Clean Break from Israel (What America Needs Most)

” Why has the U.S. been willing to set aside its own security and that of many of its allies in order to advance the interests of another state? 

Israel may have the right to put others on trial, but certainly no one has the right to put the Jewish people and the State of Israel on trial.” [Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, 25 March, 2001 quoted in BBC News Online.]

Every time we do something you tell me Americans will “do this” and will “do that”. I want to tell you something very clear, don’t worry about American pressure on Israel. We, the Jewish people, control America, and the Americans know it.’ — Statement by the then Israeli PM Ariel Sharon in response to possible American concerns from cabinet colleague Shimon Peres about Israeli actions in the Occupied Territories, during an October 2001 Cabinet Meeting. [Numerous Sources: Kevin Barrett from Veterans TodayWashington Report on Middle Eastern Affairs, and others. Whilst the veracity of this comment is much disputed, it is in the considered view of this writer it is genuine. Either way, as the following will attempt to demonstrate, the proof is in the pudding as it were.]

‘I know what America is. America is a thing you can move very easily; move in the right direction. They won’t get in the way’ — Comment by current Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu — presumably unaware he was being filmed — in a private discussion in 2001 about honoring the 1993 Oslo Accords. He stated he would put an end to “this galloping towards the 1967 borders”. Since a key plank of the Accords called for Israel to revert to the pre-1967 borders in Palestine, an individual in the group with whom he was discussing these issues expressed disquiet as to how the Americans might respond. The statement above was his unequivocal reply. [Source: 2016 documentary, Occupation of the American Mind — Israel’s Public Relations War in the United States.]

“To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.” ― Voltaire (attr.)

—*—

Brief: America’s interminable meddling and interventions in the Middle East have wreaked havoc upon the region. Although the U.S. is the principal curator of the chaos, it seems more people are beginning to recognize it’s the region’s resident hegemon Israel that’s been the real driver of the turmoil and violence that defines the Middle East. Greg Maybury reports on what may be the most portentous geopolitical issue of our time.

 

— A Trout in the Milk —

Although not in the manner of its original intent, Winston Churchill‘s axiom ‘Truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies’, seems purpose built for framing a debate involving one of the most contentious issues of the day — this being the realities of the relationship between Israel and the United States.

Indeed, whether related to the historical hard truths behind the affiliation or the contemporary bonds that underpin and define it, we come close to inverting the original intent of Churchill’s observation.

Moreover, in deliberating on the always-contentious measure of influence Israel exerts on America and the concomitant state of play within and across the Greater Middle East deriving from that influence, we might also invoke Henry David Thoreau’s droll maxim, ‘Some circumstantial evidence does exist, such as when we find a trout in the milk’. As we’ll see, both aphorisms have singular relevance to our discussion going forward.

Some preliminary background though is necessary to prepare readers for the road ahead. The assassination in 1995 of then Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin by a right-wing Jewish extremist hastened an early election in 1996 after which the uber-hawkish Likud Party assumed office. This elevated estimable hardliner — and Zionist poster-boy of the U.S. neoconservative cabal — Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu, to the premiership.

Although not unexpected, for both Israel itself and its relationship with the U.S., Rabin’s assassination and the occasion of Bibi’s subsequent rise to power was a game changer, but possibly not in ways many might’ve imagined, regardless of whether they were Likud supporters or not. By availing ourselves of the benefits of hindsight and from there reflecting on how much that “game” has changed, we can say there were indications of what was to come in the wake of Netanyahu’s ascension to power.

Shortly thereafter, an elite group of U.S. foreign-policy wonks concocted a manifesto for the new administration in Tel Aviv — expounded on herein briefly by Ray McGovern. It was called “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm”. The membership of the “Clean Breaker” ‘club’ is notable.

It included neoconservative luminaries who would later take up important positions within the George W Bush administration. After 9/11, they went on to play forceful roles in the development and roll-out of its Greater Middle East policy, one whose disastrous legacy is still very much a work in progress.

According to Anti-War’s Dan Sanchez, the “Clean Breakers” — including leader Richard PerleDavid Wurmser, along with Douglas Feith and John Bolton and others — nominated Iraq first as a candidate for regime change. After Iraq, Libya and Yemen would then become ‘stepping-stones’ to overthrowing Bashar al-Assad in Syria, with next on the list being the regional biggie of them all, Iran. As Sanchez says, the essence of the Clean Break manifesto went like this:

‘The weight of its strategic allies would tip the balance of power in favor of Israel, which could then use that leverage to topple the regimes of its strategic adversaries by using covertly managed “proxy forces” and “the principle of preemption.” Through such a “redrawing of the map of the Middle East,” Israel would “shape the regional environment,” and thus, “[Israel] will not only contain its foes; it will transcend them“.’ [My emphasis]

It was the Clean Breakers’ front man Perle (aka the “Prince of Darkness”) who throughout the ’90s was the chief carny-barker for regime change in Iraq, principally under the auspices of the now-defunct Project for a New American Century. Whilst serving as chairman of the Defense Policy Board, a high-level Pentagon advisory committee, he was instrumental in the lead-up to war in Iraq in usurping foreign and national security policy in the George W Bush administration.

Sanchez reports, ‘9/11 paved the way for realizing the Clean Break, using the U.S. as a gigantic proxy, thanks to the Israel Lobby’s massive influence in Congress and the neocons’ newly won dominance in the Bush Administration.’

Though Perle himself appears to have gone MIA of late, there’s been no shortage during the Obama era of like-minded individuals still ‘redrawing the map of the Middle East’, a situation unlikely to change. And as we now know, the truth behind the real motives for the Iraq war — and by extrapolation we can safely say the same for all the other wars since then and those that might still be on the ‘drawing board’ — was accompanied by a battalion-sized “bodyguard of lies”.

This latter reality is one recently brought home to us once more with the release of the Chilcot Report in the U.K., even if Chilcot studiously avoided identifying the covert rationale for the war and the hidden motives of those who concocted it.

As for what Israel’s game plan for the Greater Middle East might be, it started well before Bibi and his Likud ‘Party-goers’ rose to power. We might first ask how did the Iraq invasion, the Carthage-like destruction of Libya, and the current war in Syria, fit into that game plan? In this Israel Shahak identifies the 1982 Oded Yinon Plan (OYP), called “A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties”, as something of a precursor to the Clean Break strategy.

In other words, it was an earlier key marker for how the game plan was to play out, one uncannily resembling events that have unfolded since then and indeed, the present reality.

For his part, Shahak observed firstly that the OYP provided a blueprint for the Middle East for the then Zionist regime of Ariel Sharon, ‘based on the division of the whole area into small states, and the dissolution of all the existing Arab states.’ To underscore this, the following brief summary of Shahak’s interpretation of the OYP is instructive:

  1. all the Arab states should be broken down, by Israel, into small units, [something which] occurs again and again in Israeli strategic thinking; [and that]
  2. a strong connection with neo-conservative thought in the U.S. is to be established and maintained, the aim being to make an Imperial Israel into a world power.

With this in mind, it’s the degree to which Israel under the ‘Likudniks’ has propelled these changes and how much it continues to do so to this day — overtly or covertly, indirectly or directly — that we are mainly concerned with herein. Of particular interest aren’t just the developments that Netanyahu’s ‘Notables’ in Tel Aviv and in Washington (the latter faction of which I’ve come to calling the “Beltway Bedlamites”) have themselves precipitated. It is the implications of these developments for the future that are of equal concern.

— Grabbing the Third Rail —

In revealing the ‘trout in the milk’ in all of this then, one of the most publicized and criticized efforts in recent years to attempt this was undertaken by Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer. According to one commentator, the publication of their 2008 tome The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy“set off a political firestorm.”

All this was despite the reality the book — itself a much expanded version of an earlier article published in 2006 in the London Review of Books because of the difficulty of getting it published stateside — offered impeccable documentation and measured, unimpeachable arguments in support of the basic premise — which was: The inordinate influence Israel exerts over the U.S. domestic political scene and especially over its foreign and national security policy.

After observing that the US-Israeli relationship is so unique it has “no equal” in U.S. history, they asked a profoundly important question, one even more relevant today: Why has the U.S. been willing to set aside its own security and that of many of its allies in order to advance the interests of another state? 

They rightly surmise any such bond between two countries might be justifiably grounded in ‘shared strategic interests or compelling moral imperatives’. But as they argue, in this case neither of these purported rationales accounts for — nor we might add, legitimizes — the ‘remarkable level of material and diplomatic support’ that the US provides Israel. Nor does it account for the manner in which Israel has been able to corral U.S. public opinion in support of its cause, both points to which we shall return. To this they add:

‘[T]he thrust of US policy in the region derives almost entirely from domestic politics, and especially the activities of the Israel Lobby. Other special-interest groups have managed to skew foreign policy, but no lobby has managed to divert it as far from what the national interest would suggest, while simultaneously convincing Americans that U.S. interests and those of the other country — in this case, Israel — are essentially identical.’ [My emphasis].

Now though additional context and perspective is useful at this point, the very nature of our subject matter necessitates it is thoroughly explored whilst being cautiously advanced. As we’ll see, the response to Walt and Mearsheimer’s book is ample evidence of the latter. Which is to say no matter how gingerly, well intended, or dispassionately it might be proffered, any critique of Israel is fraught with peril for those prepared to undertake the challenge.

Indeed, we might say it’s tantamount to an exercise in ‘grabbing the third rail’. This is irrespective of whether it’s related to Israel’s past conduct and present actions in the occupied territories and concomitant treatment of the Palestinians; the authority it wields over U.S. national security and foreign policy decision-making especially via academia, mainstream media, and various lobby groups and think-tanks; and/or the influence it exerts within and across the broad legislative and democratic process in America.

To be sure, the taboos associated with such critiques are many. The all-too-lethal accusation of “anti-Semitism” (a WMD of sorts, or ‘weapon of mandatory disparagement’), is frequently applied in knee-jerk fashion to those who simply call into question, leave alone criticize or condemn, the clout Israel wields, its motives, or its policies. We can never rule out of contention its easy application in such discussions.

Like so often happens when anyone simply questioning, much less openly challenging, the validity of official explanations of events (e.g. the 9/11 terror attacks, the JFK hit), or the rationale for the actions and conduct of various groups or states (e.g. the real reasons why many Muslims hate America and want to attack it, or why the U.S. really did invade Iraq) — after which they are promptly labeled a “conspiracy theorist” — the singular reality is that far too many otherwise intelligent, informed, and rational people far too frequently conflate criticism of, and opposition to, any/all things Israel, with “anti-Semitism”.

As Stephen Sniegoski observes in his 2008 book The Transparent Cabal: The Neoconservative Agenda, War in the Middle East, and the National Interest of Israel,

‘The neoconservative support for and ties to Israel have been obvious. If a comparable relationship existed involving other peoples, there would be nothing extraordinary about pointing that out. Analysis of the role of ethnic groups in American politics is commonplace in political science and history and it is not considered evidence of hostility toward the groups being analyzed. For instance, political commentators do not hesitate to link Cuban-Americans’ goal of making the elimination of Castro a central element of American foreign policy with the fact that they are Cuban émigrés.’

Insofar as such responses go, when it comes to rational debate and informed discussion of some of the Big Issues in an open, democratic society, therein lays a very big problem. To the extent that such a mindset prevails in this milieu, we might argue this it is at its most prevalent in the citadel of free speech that is America. This is especially when we consider the parlous state of America’s mainstream media reporting on any number of those “Big Issues”.

Which is to say the “anti-Semite” appellation is often the first and last refuge of those who, whether Jews, Israeli citizens, or part of the diaspora, and even non-Jewish supporters of Israel, constantly seek for whatever reason to vindicate or justify that country’s actions and conduct, the aim to redirect, invert or distort the narrative, or prevent them speaking out about the real issues such “actions and conduct” raise. Again, not unlike the readily applied “conspiracy theory” epithet, this is a none-too-subtle — indeed, insidious — form of censorship, thought control, and enforced groupthink.

In this age of strident, uncompromising political correctness, to be sure then, in the ‘battle’ to establish one’s own unique brand of discrimination, prejudice or racist smear as the premium exemplar thereof — and, by extension, cement its place as the one that unfailingly attracts the most opprobrium when its adherents perceive anyone ‘guilty’ of any behavior or utterance however/whenever it might loosely be identified, arbitrarily defined and/or expediently applied — the appellation “anti-Semitic” has long since commanded ‘market leadership’ status. In the ‘marketplace’ of moral disapprobation, no other condemnation comes even close.

Either way, in his book Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of Historyas the title suggests,Norman Finkelstein goes to some length to articulate this view: That anti-Semitism itself, and broader global opposition or even antipathy toward Israel — such as might be exemplified by the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions or End the Occupation movements — will prevail as long as Israel resists addressing current policies and tackling the consequences of them.

Of course it is in Palestine where these policies manifest themselves most obviously, destructively, and — for those willing to look closely enough — most criminally and reprehensibly. Finkelstein — a man notable for the fact he is a prominent Jewish intellectual who has been for some time now attempting to bring a measure of sanity, objective insight and coherence to the discussion of the issues at the heart of our narrative, to say little of the reality that he’s been pilloried by many for his efforts in doing so — notes that whenever Israel comes under international pressure to genuinely address then satisfactorily resolve the Palestinian question or faces some other public-relations debacle,

‘…its apologists mount a campaign alleging that the world is awash in a “new anti-Semitism“, the purpose of these periodic extravaganzas is not hard to find: on the one hand, the perpetrators are turned into the victims, putting the spotlight on the alleged suffering of Jews today and diverting it from the real suffering of Palestinians; on the other hand, they discredit all criticism of Israeli policy as motivated by an irrational loathing of Jews…’

It should hardly be surprising then that for their efforts Walt and Mearsheimer were subjected to a barrage of ad hominem criticism, even abuse, from the Israel Lobby and the broad spectrum of Israeli “apologists”, one that indeed is exceedingly “broad”. This included being called “liars”, “extremists”, “bigots” and of course, the de rigueur, all-purpose, one-size-fits-all “anti-Semitic” sobriquet.

It is a measure of the collective vehemence — to say nothing of the choleric incoherence of some individual critics — that they took the extraordinary step of countering the criticisms in a follow-up essay. Though this response was remarkable as much for the breadth of its coverage as it was for its length (it ran to about 35,000 words), by and large they stuck to their guns concerning the main premise of their book, and of course they are to be commended for doing so.

Yet for all the righteous indignation these authors attracted, if anything they were ‘pulling their punches’. Their book though might’ve been something of a watershed moment; increasingly more and more folks seem to be now speaking out about the vexatious issues that arise directly or indirectly from Israeli foreign and national-security policies with a view to bringing about change, and well might we say it’s not before time.

In these matters then such reactionary tactics employed to that end (subverting the debate and/or silencing dissenters by imposing upon them the standard, garden-variety groupthink), have well and truly passed their ‘use-by date’. This includes – a development as gratifying as it is encouraging — many Jewish individuals and groups, to which the number of such on Facebook and Twitter provide ample testament. (See here and here.)

The reality is that the “clout and influence” Walt and Mearsheimer identified has always been prevalent, even before Israel’s inception in 1948. Few objective observers would argue the following singular reality: Israel’s very creation would not have been possible without American support, a reality laid bare in Alison Weir‘s book Against our Better Judgment.

For her part Weir herself is another author who has attracted the eternal opprobrium of the Lobby and many neocons for daring to inform the American public of the true nature of the U.S.-Israeli relationship, and speak truth to the Zionistas power and influence and those simpatico with their agenda.

It is instructive to note that this occurred at a time when there was considerable opposition within the United States to the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine (ironically, though not coincidentally, when America was held in especially high regard in the Arab/Muslim world), with many senior and influential figures in the then administration and the broad foreign-policy establishment — along with prominent Jewish figures such as Albert Einstein — envisaging the very problems that have plagued the region ever since.

But again this extraordinary power and influence has been especially prevalent — and for those looking, more evident — since the 1967 Six-Day War against Egypt, with further consolidation occurring after the Yom Kippur War of 1973. That these two events together did much to shape and consolidate the bilateral relationship between the U.S. and Israel in general is a given.

They proved to be key turning points in the way the Washington establishment responded to Israel’s supporters in the U.S., in the main represented by the much-vaunted Israel Lobby. Significantly, they also served to strengthen Israel’s geopolitical hegemony and regional military supremacy.

That this state of affairs has compounded since the bloody carnage that characterized the 1982 War in Lebanon (the aftermath of which brought about a complete rethink in how Israel ‘told and sold’ its narrative and from there managed perceptions of its conduct and behavior, particularly in the U.S.), the First Gulf War and especially since the events of 9/11 and the War on Terror, is axiomatic.

— One Dangerous Ally (With Friends Like These) —

Though it would not normally be deemed necessary — at least not for reasonable, rational people concerned with the application of international law and respect for human rights or any other matters that go to the heart of the conflict — such is the nature of our subject matter herein, one feels compelled to stress the following: Any ‘gripe’ I might have is not now, nor has it ever been, with Jewish people per se. Irrespective of whether they are Israeli or American citizens or those within/across the broader diaspora, whether secular or otherwise, such ‘gripes’ are most definitely not with those who authentically identify with, or might have a legitimate claim on, their rightful heritage, whether it be cultural, religious, racial, regional and/or ethnic in origin.

But the political ‘heritage’ — and the historical baggage that comes with it — is an altogether different beast. This is especially as it pertains to Greater Israel and the contemporary reality of its past and present policies in the Greater Middle East.

And it’s not just the “reality” of those policies and how they are playing out that is of major concern here (along with the degree the U.S. itself is directly and indirectly complicit in facilitating how they do play out), it is the morality and legality. One might also want to ponder the necessity of it all, to wit: What is Israel’s ultimate endgame in Palestine and in the Greater Middle East?

For many the answer to this question is patently, indeed, frighteningly, obvious! The Clean Breakers’ as we have already noted were not shy about setting out their stall therein.

Yet by the same token, it is also vitally important we consider the Palestinians and their own cultural, religious and/or ethnic heritage — to say little of everything else such as their basic human, moral, property and legal rights — that’s been denied, rescinded or destroyed by successive Israeli administrations (a process that began before Israel’s inception) with the tacit support of successive US administrations.

Who’s standing up for them, we might ask?, this being the 64K-shekel question! It’s not Jewish people in general or Israelis in particular who require folks standing up for them; they seem to be quite capable of looking after themselves.

All of which is to say, however such views might be interpreted by anyone outside an otherwise objective frame of reference, one’s views on Israel such as they are and its connection to, and relationship with, Zionism (that is of course the aforementioned “political” dimension), are necessarily based on what are the policy realities and outcomes.

These are especially those to do with the inordinate, manipulative, and pernicious influence that AIPAC and its numerous affiliates, sympathizers and supporters in both the US and beyond, along with the hard-right neoconservatives — many of whose leading lights are either dual US/Israeli citizens, evangelical Christians (of the extreme ‘end-times’ kind, some of whom identify with Zionism or as Christian Zionists), and/or sundry apologists for Israel — have on US foreign and national security policy in particular. This, to say little of the influence they exert on the overarching democratic process.

Either way, there can be little doubt that both the George Bush and Barack Obama administrations were/are heavily influenced by any number of powerful special-interest groups, not least the Zionist dominated, neo-conservative cabals, as already noted, in cahoots with the media ‘opinionocracy’, sundry think-tanks, along with countless perception managers and merchants of doubt who append themselves to any cause in the untrammelled, unprincipled pursuit of the filthy lucre irrespective of the morality or legality of the issue.

Though ‘Jewishness’ itself — however it might be defined as it is something of a moving feast — is not a necessary condition for being neo-conservative and/or Zionist, a not-insignificant number of prominent neocons identify themselves as Jews if not avowed Zionists (many by all accounts with dual citizenships and, by definition, potentially conflicted loyalties), and are inarguably the most forceful and influential of any discrete group.

Then there is the exorbitant (some might say extortionate) amount of aid and support in all of its variant forms that America provides Israel, the no-strings-attached largesse of which no other nation in the world comes within a country kilometer. This is a reality indisputable for all but the most politically myopic or reality impaired.

The recently renegotiated Israel aid agreement by all accounts is more favorable than ever, despite the additional reality there appears to be little love lost between Bibi and his minions, and the Obama administration. Indeed, this time round, Netanyahu — a man not averse to wearing his chutzpah on his sleeve — was not shy about demanding even more aid from Washington.

Doubtless, these demands will be met with renewed forbearance if not equanimity when the new administration is sworn in next January, irrespective of who is the POTUS.

— A Highly Successful Act of Hypnosis —

For those folks predisposed then to questioning — or doubtful about the broad content of — the narrative herein, they may wish to watch the recently released documentary The Occupation of the American Mind — Israel’s Public Relations War in the United States. Narrated by Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, himself a vocal opponent of Israeli policy, this powerful and timely film provides a much needed ‘tonic of truth’ to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. After viewing this film, anyone with any illusions or uncertainties about who the ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’ are in this interminable standoff will — unless afflicted with an incurable case of cognitive dissonance — be disabused of all of the above in one fell swoop.

As the film’s title suggests, the narrative therein delivers an essential insight into the inordinate power and influence — along with the self-serving duplicity, mendacity and unalloyed hypocrisy — of the Israel Lobby. It also provides us (if indeed one is needed) another exemplar of how America’s elected representatives so poorly serve their primary constituency, and we might say their country’s own national interest! Just as significantly, it serves as a no-punches-pulled indictment on the venality, irresponsibility and double standards of the corporate (mainstream) media establishment in the U.S., especially in the way it unfailingly caters to special-interest groups at the expense of truth, balance, and integrity in their reporting of the Big Issues. To be sure, of all the “Big Issues”, they don’t come much bigger than the Palestine-Israeli conflict, and of all the so-called “special-interest groups”, few come much more “special” than the Israel Lobby.

(In addition to the film itself, I recommend readers take time to watch an extended interview conducted by Paul Jay of the Real News Network with Waters and the film’s producer Sut Jhally. It contains many of its own revealing moments, and is a superb complement to the film proper.)

By way of summary, the following is apposite. In relation to the Palestinian question alone, for this writer Israel has over the years forfeited vast chunks of the seemingly inexhaustible moral capital it accrued — whether solicited or unsolicited — as a result of revelations about the Holocaust, and AIPAC and its institutional ilk for their part have been instrumental in facilitating this outcome. As indicated, these of course have all been ably abetted by the MSM and the so-called “Friends of Israel” who we might say ‘overpopulate’ Capitol Hill and the broader Beltway.

Likewise, for its part Israel — and the principal drivers past and present of its own overarching narrative and its trajectory since its inception in 1948 as a newly formed national entity in the aftermath of the Holocaust — had a ‘heavy-duty’ moral obligation to present to the world at large an historically unprecedented example of how a civilized, authentically liberal nation populated by a peaceful, just, lawfully minded, empathetic people, itself one built on the very notion of an inarguable recognition and acceptance of inviolable, universal human-rights principles — might conduct itself in the modern age on the world’s stage. To say Israel has singularly failed — or refused — to live up to these expectations is a statement of epic, nay in this case especially, heroic, dimensions. Just ask any of Israel’s ever growing coterie of vociferous critics!

Moreover, if as some people seem to think that anti-Semitism is on the rise, to the extent this might be true then there can be little doubt much of it, if not most, is fuelled by the policies of the very country that purports to act in the interests of all Jews. For his part Steven Spielberg is one such notable who recently mused on his own ‘naiveté’ in thinking that anti-Semitism was a thing of the past. Yet on this point, we might have all thought apartheid was also similarly consigned. But as the record clearly shows, it is in Palestine under Israeli occupation that that other “A-word” – like anti-Semitism, a brand of discrimination and disenfranchisement at least as equally repulsive as it is loaded — is alive and kicking as it were. It’s uncertain if the acclaimed director of Schindler’s List reflected much on the latter consideration before publicly airing his misgivings on this score.

If anti-Semitism is any more pernicious, or for that matter more prevalent, than any other form of racial, ethnic or religious bigotry, intolerance, prejudice and/or animus (and this writer is not one inclined to this view), then right-thinking, fair-minded Jews — in particular those with a strong sense of individual morality and common decency towards those not just of their own ethnic, racial, cultural or religious persuasion, but to the people who’ve been mercilessly and relentlessly hounded out of their homes and homelands and upon whom extraordinarily vile and inhumane injustices have been perpetrated and atrocities visited in their name — ethnic cleansing bordering on genocide — have an inarguable obligation to stand up and be counted.

More than that, as the presumptive representative of the interests and ostensible defender of the rights of Jewish people generally, Israel had an historical opportunity to present itself as such and act accordingly. The benefits of doing so would’ve been incalculable to its prestige and stature as a nation and as a people, [to] the Middle East region, [to] America itself, to say nothing of the rest of the world. From there then we might well opine that anti-Semitism, to all intents and purposes, may have finally been — and rightly so — consigned to history’s trash bin. And whilst it may not stop the spread of terrorism in its tracks, few would argue that doing so would take the wind out of the sails of many a jihadist — potential or active — bent on suicidal retribution against Israel, its principal benefactor America, and the West in general. Yet it seems tragically on all the above counts, that ‘train’ may have already left the station.

In the final analysis, in the matter of Israel’s criminal treatment of the Palestinians along with the tragic and bloody history that has brought things to this point, the following conclusion appears inescapable. It must be one of history’s greatest ironies that the very people who identify themselves as history’s most persecuted, vilified and discriminated ethnic, racial or religious group, has been perpetrating — and continues to do so — upon another ethnic, racial and religious group, an equally inexcusable, reprehensible form of persecution, vilification, and discrimination. This is especially so in an age when many of us might rightly have expected such treatment of one group of human beings by another group in such a gratuitous, prolonged, violent fashion would simply be unacceptable to civilized nations and civilized peoples. Yet in much the same way the U.S. blithely courts deep-seated resentment, animosity and hatred — that is, anti-Americanism — from many peoples and nations as a direct consequence of its own disastrous and destructive foreign policies over several decades, so too does Israel have no-one else to blame for any rise in anti-Semitism.

If Israel cannot then make a “clean break” from its past and present policies, then America — along with those nations broadly supportive of said policies and approving of their conduct, including my own country Australia — needs to make a “clean break” from them. This will I believe be the only way the country is ever likely to come to its senses, and from there begin the long hard process of recognition, renunciation, reconciliation and restitution. By necessity and by definition, this should involve the following:

  1. recognition their actions, behavior and conduct defies all legal, moral and ethical standards and norms and that it is not longer acceptable to the international community;
  2. renunciation of the hegemonic goals and ambitions identified in the Clean Break strategy, the Oded Yinon Plan, and similar manifestos such as The Likud Charter;
  3. reconciliation with not just the Palestinians but their neighbors in and across the Greater Middle East; and
  4. restitution of sorts that fully compensates those who have lost the most from this conflict and redresses the transgressions of the past.

I can think of no more fitting coda to the narrative herein than to quote from an acceptance speech the English playwright Harold Pinter delivered when he received his Nobel Prize in literature in 2005. In reference to the lies we were told about the Iraq invasion, and from there intoning that ‘the truth is something entirely different, [which] is to do with how the United States understands its role in the world and how it chooses to embody it’, he continued with the following:

‘Everyone knows what happened in the Soviet Union and throughout Eastern Europe during the post-war period: the systematic brutality, the widespread atrocities, [and] ruthless suppression of independent thought. All this has been fully documented and verified. But my contention here is that the U.S. crimes in the same period have only been superficially recorded, let alone documented, let alone acknowledged, let alone recognized as crimes at all. It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest. The crimes of the U.S. have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.’

With Pinter’s withering indictment ringing in our ears, one might substitute Israel here in place of — or indeed for that matter, down there alongside — America.


Source: Pax Amerikana

America: A Military Nation

Source

Written by Jacob G. Hornberger

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Americans like to think of their country as different from those run by military regimes. They are only fooling themselves. Ever since the federal government was converted into a national-security state after World War II (without a constitutional amendment authorizing the conversion), it has been the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA that have run the government, just like in countries governed by military dictatorships.

Oh sure, the façade is maintained — the façade that is ingrained in all of us in civics or government classes in high school and college: that the federal government is composed of three co-equal, independent branches that are in charge of the government.

But just a façade. It’s fake. It’s a lie.

It’s true that the federal government used to consist of three branches. But that quaint notion disintegrated when the federal government was converted to what is known as a “national-security state” after World War II. Even though it was done without a constitutional amendment, that conversion effectively added a fourth branch of government to the federal government — the national-security branch, which consists of the NSA, the CIA, and the Pentagon.

The addition of that fourth branch fundamentally altered the original three-branch concept, especially because the fourth branch quickly became the most powerful branch. The reason is because ultimately government is force, and the fourth branch is where the most force was concentrated within the new, altered governmental structure.

As law professor Michael Glennon has pointed out in his book National Security and Double Government, the result is a federal government in which the military, the CIA, and the NSA are in charge. They are the ones actually calling the shots. But they permit the other three branches to maintain the façade that they are in charge, including periodically going along with decisions in the other three branches to keep Americans thinking that everything is the same as it always has been.

Consider the Pentagon’s and the CIA’s torture center, prison, and kangaroo tribunal system at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. They set that up with the aim of establishing a place to hold people and do whatever they wanted to them, without any judicial interference. Guantanamo was a dream-come-true for the military and the CIA. Like most conservatives, they had long lamented those “constitutional technicalities” that let people go free. If only America stopped coddling criminals, we could finally establish order and stability in our land. Guantanamo was going to be their showcase, their model for the United States and the world for dealing with criminals.

That model, as we now know, entailed kidnappings, bounties, torture, indefinite detention, no criminal defense attorneys, denial of speedy trial, kangaroo military tribunals, use of hearsay evidence, use of evidence acquired through torture, denial of due process of law, and other violations of long-established criminal-justice procedures that stretch back to Magna Carta in 1215.

Contrary to what the Pentagon and the CIA and their acolytes within the mainstream press have long maintained, terrorism is a criminal offense, not an act of war. If you don’t believe me, go look up the US Code. That’s where all federal crimes are listed. You’ll see that terrorism is in fact a federal criminal offense.

Alternatively, go into any federal courtroom in the land where a federal criminal prosecution for terrorism is being held. Ask the judge why he’s holding such a trial. He will tell you that it’s because terrorism is a federal criminal offense.

The Pentagon-CIA torture-prison-tribunal center in Cuba didn’t change that fact. It simply meant that the CIA and the Pentagon were now getting into the law-enforcement business, which would enable them to punish people they were certain were guilty of terrorism.

Now, let’s turn to President Obama, the president who vowed to shut down this Pentagon-CIA model torture-prison-military tribunal facility. He made that vow at the very start of his presidency, if not before.

Obama was a two-term president. That meant 8 years in office. When Obama left office, he still had not fulfilled his vow. The Pentagon-CIA torture, indefinite detention, and kangaroo center at Guantanamo was still open. It still is.

The reaction of Obama supporters and the mainstream press? “Oh, poor President Obama. He meant well. He really wanted to shut down Guantanamo. He just wasn’t able to pull it off before his 8-year term ended.”

What?

Hey, this guy was commander-in-chief. No, not of the American people but of the federal government’s military and para-military forces. That means that he is supposedly the head honcho. As such, he gives the orders to everyone below him. In a military structure, the superior officer gives the orders and the subordinate officers obey and carry out the orders.

That means that all that President Obama, as commander in chief, had to do was issue an order to his military subordinates: “Close it down. Now!”

But that’s not what happened. The Pentagon and the CIA obviously would not let Obama issue that order. And he understood that if he did, it was a virtual certainty that they wouldn’t have obeyed it.

Then what?

Some Obama supporters say it was all Congress’s fault because Congress passed a law that forbade the president from bringing any Gitmo prisoners to the continental United States.

But Obama is president. He could have vetoed that law. And even if the veto was overridden, he didn’t have to bring any prisoners to the United States. As commander-in-chief of the military and the CIA, he could have simply said, “Close it down and release them all.”

After all, that’s how our regular constitutional system — the one whose principles the CIA and the Pentagon rejected — works. Government officials have to charge a person with a crime and try him within a reasonable period of time or they are required to release him.

The real question is: Why was Congress so intent on keeping Gitmo open, over the president’s objections? After all, keeping a US kidnapping-detention-torture-kangaroo tribunal center in place in a foreign country, over the president’s vehement objections, is not the type of thing that we would ordinarily expect from the elected representatives of the American people.

There is only one explanation that makes sense: That the national-security establishment told Congress that it wanted Gitmo to be kept open. We know that the CIA has assets in the mainstream press. We know they have assets in state and local governments, including police departments. It would stand to reason they would have assets in Congress, ones that they can call upon whenever necessary to protect the interests of the Pentagon, CIA, and NSA.

And there is also the matter of military bases, programs, and projects in the district of every member of Congress. Congressmen knew what would happen to them if they bucked the Pentagon and the CIA on Guantanamo. All that the Pentagon would have to do is announce a closure of major military bases or other facilities in that Congressman’s district. Immediately, the press would denounce him as an “ineffective congressman,” one who was incapable of bringing home the political bacon to his district.

What about the Supreme Court? Early on, they rejected the Pentagon’s arguments that they had no jurisdiction over Guantanamo. The Court held it did and said that the federal courts would entertain habeas corpus cases brought by Gitmo prisoners. The Pentagon acceded to the ruling but it was all part of the façade.

After all, given that there is no constitutional authorization for the federal government to have a bifurcated judicial system — one run by the federal courts and the other run by the military — the Court should have ordered an immediate closure of the facility and a termination of the kangaroo judicial system that the Pentagon and the CIA established.

Instead, unwilling to cross any red lines when it came to the national-security branch of the government, the Supreme Court has left Gitmo standing. That’s why dozens of prisoners have been held there for more than 10 years without trial and without the hope of a trial, much less a fair one.

Look the people who surround President Trump: US “Defense” Secretary: A general. National Security Council advisor: A general. Trump’s chief of staff: a general.

Think about those flyovers and all other glorification of the military and US sporting events and in US airports and churches and most everywhere else. Think about how so many Americans profusely thank the troops for protecting our rights and freedoms by killing people abroad who aren’t threatening our rights and freedoms. Think about how Trump wants to have “patriotic” military parades, which would undoubtedly feature the latest missiles, rifles, tanks, and planes.

Remember President Trump before the election? He was criticizing the Pentagon’s forever wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East. He was criticizing NATO and the UN. He was fighting a political war against the CIA. He was all for making friends with Russia.

Today? Trump is expanding the Pentagon’s forever wars. He let the CIA continue its decades-long secrets in the JFK assassination. He’s extolling NATO. And he’s imposing sanctions on Russia. Trump has been absorbed into the national-security establishment blob.

Consider Egypt or, for that matter, Chile under Pinochet. In Egypt, the military-intelligence establishment runs the government. Same for Chile under Pinochet. America’s system is not much different, at least not in principle. The only difference is that in Egypt, the military-intelligence role is overt, just like it was in Chile. Here in the United States, the role is more disguised, with the legislative, executive, and judicial branches being permitted to have a fig leaf of ostensible control.

Welcome to America, one of the world’s premier military nations.

Reprinted with permission from the Future of Freedom Foundation.

Trump’s Iran War Push is a Replay of Bush’s Iraq War Push

Lawrence Wilkerson: Trump’s Iran War Push Is a Replay of Bush’s Iraq War Push

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The Trump administration “is using much the same playbook to create a false choice that war is the only way to address the challenges presented by Iran” as the George W. Bush administration used to gain support for the Iraq War. College of William & Mary Professor Lawrence Wilkerson presents this argument, along with abundant supporting evidence, in a Monday New York Times editorial.

Wilkerson should know. In the lead-up to the Iraq War, Wilkerson was chief of staff for United States Secretary of State Colin Powell, whose United Nations presentation regarding Iraq Wilkerson, at the beginning of the editorial, credits with boosting support among Americans for a war against Iraq.

Wilkerson, who is a Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity Academic Board member, has frequently disparaged that effort to build up support for the Iraq War. Indeed, in the editorial he laments that “[t]hat effort led to a war of choice with Iraq – one that resulted in catastrophic losses for the region and the United States-led coalition, and that destabilized the entire Middle East.”

The consequences of a war with Iran would also be dire. Addressing some of those consequences in his editorial, Wilkerson predicts that “this war with Iran – a country of almost 80 million people, whose vast strategic depth and difficult terrain makes it a far greater challenge than Iraq – would be 10 to 15 times worse than the Iraq war in terms of casualties and costs.”

Read Wilkerson’s editorial here.

Reprinted from The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity.

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