Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

Neocons Point Housebroken Trump at Iran

Defense Secretary Mattis welcomes Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman to the Pentagon, March 16, 2017. (DoD photo by Sgt. Amber I. Smith)
By Jonathan Marshall | Consortium News | April 15, 2017

The Trump administration’s growing use of military force in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen has neoconservative hawks rooting for armed confrontation with what they view as the root of all evil in the Middle East: Iran.

Many of these armchair warriors recently cheered President Trump’s decision to take on the Assad regime — and Moscow — by firing 59 Tomahawk cruise missile at a Syrian air base alleged to be the source of a chemical weapons attack. But they urged him to do more.

Weekly Standard editor William Kristol tweeted, “Punishing Assad for use of chemical weapons is good. Regime change in Iran is the prize.”

Kristol co-founded the infamous Project on the New American Century in 1997 to promote American “global hegemony” and “challenge regimes hostile to our interests and values.” It began lobbying for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein as early as 1998, but always kept Iran in its sights as well.

With Saddam dead and Syria’s Assad stripped of much of his power, Iran is now at the center of neocon crosshairs. Kristol linked his recent tweet to a Washington Post column by two stalwart advocates of ousting the mullahs in Tehran: Reuel Gerecht and Ray Takeyh.

Titled “How Trump Can Help Cripple the Iranian Regime,” their article called for putting the nuclear arms deal with Iran at risk in order to “stoke the volcano under Tehran and to challenge the regime.” The centerpiece of their bizarre argument was that the Iranian people would gratefully welcome the United States imposing “crippling sanctions” to destroy their economy in the name of “human rights.”

The authors were vague as to the details, but suggested that Iran’s ruling clerics would quickly succumb to a “popular rebellion” by “Iranian dissidents,” particularly if the United States sent “more American troops [to] both Syria and Iraq” to reinforce its message.

Gerecht, a died-in-the-wool neocon, was a former director of the Project for a New American Century’s Middle East Initiative. In 2001, he wrote, “Only a war against Saddam Hussein will decisively restore the awe that protects American interests abroad and citizens at home.”

In 2002, he further touted a U.S. invasion of Iraq as a way to “provoke riots in Iran — simultaneous uprisings in major cities that would simply be beyond the scope of regime-loyal specialized riot-control units.” Instead, the subsequent U.S. invasion backfired by putting a pro-Iran regime into power in Baghdad.

Iran in the Crosshairs

Today Gerecht is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a neocon think tank dedicated to waging war against “militant Islam,” with a focus on Iran. Heavily funded by gambling magnate Sheldon Adelson, the Foundation was originally created to promote the agenda of hardline Israeli hawks.

The Foundation fought bitterly against the Iran nuclear deal, lest it open the door to a rapprochement between Washington and Tehran. Gerecht in particular demanded that the United States attack Iran rather than pursue diplomacy. “I’ve written about 25,000 words about bombing Iran,” he boasted in 2010. “Even my mom thinks I’ve gone too far.”

Gerecht’s side-kick, Ray Tayekh, is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and was (briefly) an Iran adviser to Dennis Ross in Hillary Clinton’s State Department. A fierce critic of the nuclear deal, Tayekh joined the Iran Task Force of the right-wing Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, which considers itself “the most influential group on the issue of U.S.-Israel military relations.” Tayekh has advocated covert support to Iranian dissidents, as well as to “Kurdish, Baluch, Arab, and other opposition groups fighting the regime.”

Regime change in Iran is the open goal of Prime Minister Netanyahu and other Israeli rightists. That’s why they consistently rejected findings by Israel’s intelligence community about the benefits to Israel’s security from the nuclear deal with Iran. By stoking opposition to the deal among their supporters in Congress, they aimed to kill any chance of cooperation between the United States and Iran.

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, said candidly, “the goal of our policy must be clear: regime change in Iran.”

Today the hardline Israeli/neocon agenda is still being pursued by hawks in Congress, who have introduced bills in both houses to ratchet up economic sanctions against Iran and designate a major branch of the country’s armed forces as a terrorist organization. If enacted — against the wishes of other signatories to the Iran nuclear deal — such measures could put the United States and Iran on a war footing.

Trump’s Team of Hawks

President Trump is unlikely to stand in their way. Ignoring the role of major Arab states in supporting such terrorist groups as al-Qaeda and ISIS, Trump named Iran “the number one terrorist state” and warned during his campaign that if Iranian patrol boats in the Persian Gulf continue to “make gestures that our people — that they shouldn’t be allowed to make, they will be shot out of the water.”

Trump has surrounded himself with anti-Iran hardliners who may be only too eager to give war a chance. His first national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, co-authored a 2016 book with Michael Ledeen, a confidant of Israeli hawks and colleague of Gerecht at the Foundation for Defense of Democracy, on “How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies.” Iran, of course, was their enemy number one.

Even with Flynn’s ouster, plenty of hawks remain. In recent congressional testimony, Army Gen. Joseph Votel, Commander of the U.S. Central Command, called Iran “the greatest long-term threat to stability” in the Middle East. He declared, “We need to look at opportunities where we can disrupt [Iran] through military means or other means their activities.”

Defense Secretary General James Mattis told a conference at the conservative Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington last year, “Iran is not a nation-state; it’s a revolutionary cause devoted to mayhem.” The New York Times reported that Mattis “was so hawkish on Iran as head of United States Central Command from 2010 to 2013 that the Obama administration cut short his tour.”

Mattis reportedly came close to ordering an act of war against Iran in early February — the boarding of an Iranian ship to look for weapons headed for Houthi rebels in Yemen. Such an incident could escalate rapidly out of control if Iran chose to retaliate against U.S. vessels in the Persian Gulf.

Alternatives to Conflict

The United States has better policy options than continuing to treat Iran as part of the Axis of Evil. A report issued last fall by the National Iranian American Council recommended that Washington build on the success of the Iran nuclear deal by drawing Iran into regional peace settlements, deescalating our military presence in the Persian Gulf, and encouraging Iran and Saudi Arabia to resolve their differences without superpower intervention.

The report echoed the advice of a prominent neocon heretic, Zalmay Khalilzad, former U.S. ambassador to both Afghanistan and Iraq.

“As someone who has negotiated with Iran over the years perhaps more than any other U.S. diplomat,” he observed last year, “I disagree with those who argue that talks with Iran are akin to capitulation. I have seen little evidence that isolation has or will alter Tehran’s behavior in the right direction. Nor do I share the view that it is impossible to negotiate win-win deals with the Iranians.”

Noting Iran’s cooperation with the United States against Al Qaeda after 9/11, and its help brokering political compromises in Afghanistan and Iraq until the Bush administration refused further engagement, Khalilzad wrote, “Under the right conditions, which must include a hard-headed approach and tough actions to check Iran’s ambitions, Washington can benefit from bringing Iran into multilateral forums where the United States and its partners have the opportunity to narrow differences, create rules of the road and solve problems. Moreover, today we have little choice but to engage Iran on these broader issues, because no factor is shaping the order of the Middle East as much as the rivalry between Iran and its Sunni Arab neighbors.”

“If we do not undertake this work,” he warned, “the problems of the region — extremism, terrorism and regional conflict — will continue to bleed over into our part of the world, particularly if the Westphalian state system disintegrates even further into sectarian morass.”

April 15, 2017 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Donald Trump’s Neocon Foreign Policy Advisor

joe-schmitz

By Kurt Nimmo | Another Day In The Empire | August 13, 2016

Donald Trump has appointed at least two neocons to his foreign policy group.

First, let’s consider Joseph E. Schmitz. He is a former Inspector General of the Department of Defense and a former executive with Blackwater Worldwide. He fled the Pentagon after he was accused of protecting top Bush officials accused of wrongdoing.

Blackwater, now Academi, the military contractor founded by Eric Prince, played a substantial role during the Iraq War. It is infamous for killing seventeen Iraqi citizens in 2007, the same year the corporation was accused of illegally smuggling weapons into the country. Blackwater did not like being investigated for its misdeeds. In 2007, Blackwater Manager Daniel Carroll threatened to kill Jean Richter, a State Department Investigator.

Schmitz is connected to the Center for Security Policy (CSP), a think tank formed by Frank Gaffney, a neocon so radical he was rejected by the Pentagon when he was Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear Forces and Arms Control Policy in the Reagan Administration. He is associated with other neocons, including Richard Perle, who rose to prominence as aides of the late Democrat Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson.

The Center for Security Policy, described by William Arkin as the “Domino’s Pizza of the policy business,” claims there is a “stealth jihad” underway in America and Muslims plan to install sharia law. Former CIA director and staunch neocon James Woolsey coauthored a report for the center claiming sharia law is a major threat to the United States.

After CSP sent a letter to the State Department Inspector General accusing Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin of working undercover for the Muslim Brotherhood, a number of Republicans, including John McCain, John Boehner, and Marco Rubio, denounced the group.

Trump and former Republican member of the House, Michele Bachmann, often cited CSP propaganda.

Trump’s call for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” was in part inspired by the results of a CSP poll. The poll said 25% of Muslims queried supported violent jihad and more than half favored sharia law. The methodology and accuracy of the poll is suspect. Philip Bump of The Washington Post said the poll’s structure encouraged Muslims to select the options endorsing violence.

On Friday The Canary reported Schmitz worked with a Saudi prince to illegally provide arms to the jihadists in Syria. “Schmitz was in direct contact with then Free Syrian Army (FSA) commander Gen. Salim Idris. Schmitz hoped his deal with Gen. Idris would be a first step toward potential future assistance from Blackwater founder Erik Prince himself,” writes Brad Hoff.

Idris, a former Syrian Army commander, was appointed to lead a Salafist dominated military command in 2012. “The unified command includes many with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and to Salafists, who follow a puritanical interpretation of Islam. It excludes the most senior officers who had defected from Assad’s military,” Reuters reported.

Its composition, estimated to be two-thirds from the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies, reflects the growing strength of Islamist fighters on the ground and resembles that of the civilian opposition leadership coalition created under Western and Arab auspices in Qatar…

“Idris and [Col. Abdul Jabbar al-Okaidi] were the very men that Joseph Schmitz stood ready to arm through a mysterious Saudi middle man before the whole private venture was reportedly shut down by a CIA official who intervened in Amman, Jordan,” writes Hoff.

Trump has a second fringe neocon in his circle of confidants—Walid Phares.

Phares is associated with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a neocon organization that teamed up with the American Enterprise Institute and the Hudson Institute to propagandize (and lie) America into invading Iraq.

In 2011, Phares became one of several neocon advisors to the Mitt Romney presidential campaign. Other advisers included Eliot Cohen, Robert Kagan, Michael Chertoff, Eric Edelman, John Lehman, Dan Senor, Vin Weber, and Paula Dobriansky.

Phares, a Christian Maronite of Lebanese origin, was associated with the Lebanese Forces in the 1980s.

In the 1970s the Lebanese Forces were part the Kataeb Party, also known as the Lebanese Phalanges Party. Its militia killed 3,500 Palestinians at the Shatila refugee camp in Beirut in 1982 during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. Elie Hobeika, a prominent figure in the Phalanges, served as the Lebanese Forces intelligence chief and liaison officer with Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency.

Many of Donald Trump’s foreign policy pronouncements are contradictory. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, has demonstrated her willingness to do the bidding of the neocons in Libya and Syria. She has not vacillated in her commitment to total war. More than a few neocons, most notably Max Boot, have said they will vote her.

The danger for America “is not Trump, but Hillary Clinton,” writes John Pilger. “She is no maverick. She embodies the resilience and violence of a system whose vaunted ‘exceptionalism’ is totalitarian with an occasional liberal face.”

Trump may indeed rollback the aggressive military posture of the United States, as promised, then again, considering his coterie of foreign policy advisers and his penchant for flip-flopping, he may continue to engage in foreign interventionism, albeit with his signature flair.

August 23, 2016 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 1 Comment

NYT Undercounts Drone Deaths in Pakistan

By Peter Hart | FAIR | November 30, 2012

The New York Times editorial page (11/30/12) weighs in on the Obama administration’s drone policies. What the paper wants is more accountability: The government “must stay within formal guidelines based on the rule of law.”

That’s all well and good–but the paper should do a better job of counting the innocents killed by drone attacks. The Times explains that aspect of the story this way:

For eight years, the United States has conducted but never formally acknowledged a program to kill terrorists associated with Al-Qaeda and the Taliban away from the battlefield in Afghanistan. Using drones, the Central Intelligence Agency has made 320 strikes in Pakistan since 2004, killing 2,560 or more people, including at least 139 civilians, according to the Long War Journal, a website that tracks counterterrorism operations.

That’s an astonishingly low rate of civilian deaths. And it’s fiercely contested by researchers who have tracked the CIA drone program.

The British Bureau of Investigate Journalism estimates the civilian death toll is at least four times greater. Other researchers have reached similar conclusions.

So why would the Times use what would appear to be one of the lowest estimates of the civilian toll? The paper is aware of the Bureau’s work. In February, the Times reported on their research–but, for the sake of “balance,” allowed an anonymous U.S. government source smear the Bureau as Al Qaeda sympathizers.

The Long War Journal, the Times failed to tell readers, is a project of the neoconservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies, whose advisers include William Kristol, Charles Krauthammer, Joe Lieberman and Iran/Contra conspirator Robert McFarlane.

In the end, the editorial’s call for the government to give a clearer picture of the drone policy is undercut by the fact that the paper does not seem all that interested in knowing how many innocents that policy has killed.

December 1, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, War Crimes | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Israel Lobby’s War on America’s Middle East Oil Dependence

By Maidhc Ó Cathail | The Passionate Attachment | October 26, 2012

A couple of days ago, I wrote about an article in The National Interest magazine by a visiting fellow at a pro-Israel think tank that argued that the United Arab Emirates may be violating the Foreign Agent Registration Act by its funding of ostensibly environmental anti-drilling films. As might be expected, Susan Schmidt’s piece entitled “Lobbying through the Silver Screen” appears to be part of a broader campaign by the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies to end America’s energy dependence on Israel’s recalcitrant neighbors.

On October 15, the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) website published an op-ed piece by FDD senior fellow John Hannah tellingly entitled “How Oil Dependence Undermines America’s Effort to Stop the Iranian Bomb.” Citing the neocon-mentored Mitt Romney campaign promise of achieving “North American energy independence,” Hannah goes on to argue that dependence on Middle East oil not only endangers U.S. economic security but also serves as a constraint on its strategic freedom of movement in the region. “Concerns about oil prices,” claims Hannah, “have often badly distorted U.S. policy toward the Middle East.” As the title of his piece suggests, however, the “distortion” that most troubles the FDD is how this energy dependence makes Washington think twice before doing Israel’s bidding in the region:

The most acute example is the effort to pressure Iran to give up its nuclear weapons ambitions. U.S. policymakers have long known that the most effective step we could take against the mullahs is to cut off Iran’s oil sales and starve them of the enormous revenues they need to keep their repressive regime afloat. Yet for years, first President Bush and then President Obama fiercely resisted sanctioning the Islamic Republic’s petroleum sector. The reason? Because they quite legitimately feared that removing Iranian crude from the market would disrupt global supplies and trigger a devastating price shock. Only in late 2011, with Iran rapidly approaching the nuclear threshold, did Congress finally steamroll the administration by forcing through legislation that targeted Iranian oil.

Even then, implementation of the sanctions was watered down. The administration was given a six-month grace period to assess the possible impact that sanctions would have on the global oil market. And rather than demanding that customers of Iranian oil end their purchases entirely, countries were granted waivers from U.S. sanctions if they only “significantly reduced” their buy — which in practice required them to cut back between 15 and 20 percent. While the U.S. effort, together with complimentary EU sanctions, have no doubt had a major effect on Iran’s economy — reducing its oil exports by as much as 50 percent — a full embargo would have been far more impactful and the obvious course of action for Washington to pursue if not for the countervailing concern about oil markets. In the meantime, the Iranian regime continues to pocket perhaps $3 billion per month from the million or so barrels of oil that it still exports daily, all the while pressing ahead with its nuclear program.

America doesn’t have a higher national security priority than stopping the world’s most dangerous regime from going nuclear. And yet the sad reality is that our dependence on oil has for years, and to our great peril, systematically deterred us from fully deploying the most powerful tool in our arsenal — all-out sanctions on Iran’s petroleum sector — for resolving the crisis peacefully. Not surprisingly, that underlying logic applies in spades when it comes to any discussion about the possible use of force against Iran, where predictions of oil spiking to an economy-crippling $200 per barrel are commonplace.

The fact that our oil vulnerability has put such severe constraints on our freedom-of-maneuver to address the most pressing national security threat we face is deeply troubling.

Fortunately, there is a solution to the think tank’s concerns about U.S. “freedom” to address what it and other pro-Israel groups have worked so hard to convince Americans is their latest “most pressing national security threat.” As Hannah points out, “the United States is experiencing an oil and gas boom that promises to transform our energy landscape in very fundamental ways”:

Thanks to American ingenuity and technology, U.S. production is poised to increase dramatically over the next decade, after years of steep decline. As Governor Romney has correctly emphasized, through close cooperation with democratic allies in Canada and Mexico, the goal of energy self-sufficiency for North America may well be within reach — an unthinkable prospect just a few years ago, and one whose benefits in terms of job creation and economic growth could be quite profound.

Presumably more important — at least from a pro-Israel perspective — than the “potential economic windfall” for Americans is, as Hannah puts it, “how we can best exploit the coming energy boom to really enhance U.S. national security.” For him, enhancing U.S. security seems to be synonymous with going to war with Iran — notwithstanding the view of more objective analysts that this would seriously, if not fatally, exacerbate American insecurity. Nevertheless, according to the FDD fellow, the major obstacle to this supposedly security-enhancing military action are fears that it would lead to rocketing oil prices. To remove this problematic impediment in the way of another war for Israel, Hannah proposes:

It seems that what really needs to be part of the mix is a viable, bipartisan, market-driven strategy for reducing the monopoly that oil has over our transportation sector. If a sensible way could be found to begin moving some significant portion of U.S. cars and trucks to run on cheaper, domestically produced alternative fuels — natural gas, methanol, electric — it would largely eliminate the sword of Damocles that Middle Eastern tyrannies like Iran now hold over the West’s economic wellbeing and its strategic decision-making. That would put us on the path toward true energy independence, and restore to the United States a degree of flexibility, leverage, and strength to pursue its interests and values abroad, especially in the Middle East, that we have not known for at least a generation.

While acknowledging the difficulty of the task ahead, Hannah is cautiously optimistic:

Perhaps once the upcoming election is over, a new administration will be prepared to look seriously at developing a bipartisan, comprehensive energy strategy that both fully exploits America’s new oil and gas bonanza while taking meaningful steps to reduce our vulnerability to extortion by hostile, repressive dictatorships in unstable parts of the world.

And as luck would have it, there is already “one place that a new president should definitely look to mobilize ideas as well as political support.” Explains the FDD fellow:

Securing America’s Future Energy (an organization that I’m proud to advise), […] has brought together an extraordinary group of American business and military leaders to highlight both the economic as well as national security dangers posed by our dependence on oil, and to recommend possible solutions. Co-chaired by Fred Smith, CEO of FedEx and General P.X. Kelley, former commandant of the Marine Corps, the group includes such luminaries as General Jack Keane, former vice chief of the Army; Admiral Dennis Blair, former director of national intelligence; David Steiner, CEO of Waste Management; Herb Kelleher, founder of Southwest Airlines; and John Lehman, former undersecretary of the Navy.

So there you have it. America’s energy dependence on the Jewish state’s regional rivals may soon by a thing of the past thanks to the ingenuity of the new environmentally-friendly Israel lobby.

October 26, 2012 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Fikra: An Israeli Forum for Arab Democrats

A surreptitious WINEP project is pushing cataclysmic regime change in Syria

By Maidhc Ó Cathail | The Passionate Attachment | February 21, 2012

On February 10, subscribers to Fikra Forum’s mailing list received a bilingual (English and Arabic) letter from director David Pollock informing them:

In reaction to last week’s exclusive Fikra Forum report, Inside the Syrian Army by Ilhan Tanir, contributor Josef Olmert and I present analysis on how the U.S. and the international community should support the FSA [Free Syrian Army].

Five days later, Fikra Forum subscribers received another email with the subject title, “Leading Syrian Activist Calls for International Intervention.” In his introductory note, Pollock explained:

As the international community struggles to halt the Syrian regime’s brutal assault on its people, Fikra Forum would like to share our newest piece by Radwan Ziadeh, an official with the Syrian National Council and executive director of the Syrian Center for Political and Strategic Studies. Ziadeh calls for intervention, urging the international community to form a coalition that legitimizes the SNC as the unified representative of the Syrian opposition and acknowledges the council’s plan for the future of Syria.

At the bottom of both Fikra Forum emails was the following address:

The Washington Institute for Near East Policy | 1828 L STREET NW | SUITE 1050 | WASHINGTON | DC | 20036 | US

However, if one were to visit the Fikra Forum website, one might get the impression that the “online community that aims to generate ideas to support Arab democrats in their struggle with authoritarians and extremists” was trying to hide its association with The Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), the think tank created by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee to “do AIPAC’s work but appear independent.” In its remarkably vague “About Us” section, the only clue to its affiliation with “the think tank AIPAC built” is this acknowledgement:

Fikra Forum is grateful to the Nathan and Esther K. Wagner Family Foundation for their contribution to the launch of Fikra Forum in the memory of Steven Croft, who during his life believed passionately in the power of ideas to transform lives.

Steven Croft’s February 20, 2009 Death Notice in the Chicago Tribune tells us a little more about those passionate beliefs:

He was also philanthropically involved in local, national and international organizations including the Arthritis Foundation, AIPAC, Israel Bonds and the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Notwithstanding the apparent overlap, WINEP also appears to be coy about its relationship with Fikra Forum. Despite the fact that David Pollock is the Kaufman fellow at The Washington Institute, “focusing on the political dynamics of Middle Eastern countries,” there appears to be no mention there of the “unique online community” he directs “with the goal of generating ideas to produce a brighter future for Arab democrats.”

By an amazing coincidence, WINEP has its own “Fikra” (Arabic for “Idea”), which it describes as “a multiyear program of research, publication, and network-building designed to generate policy ideas for promoting positive change and countering the spread of extremism in the Middle East.” According to the Israel lobby-created think tank, its Project Fikra is:

A bold effort to counter the spread of extremism in the Middle East, the program seeks to inject creativity and new thinking into America’s engagement with youths, media, educators, and other key actors struggling for openness and tolerance in Arab and Muslim societies.

Among “the talents of Washington Institute scholars and associates” that Project Fikra brings together is David Pollock, whom it describes as “an expert on Middle Eastern public opinion and polling who worked as a leader on regional democratization and women’s rights.”

Apart from Pollock, a substantial number of Fikra Forum contributors are current or former WINEP fellows, including Ahmed Ali, Jon Alterman, Hassan Barari, Soner Cagaptay, J. Scott Carpenter, Steven Cook, Andrew Engel, Daniel Green, Dina Guirguis, Simon Henderson, David Makovsky, Joshua Muravchik, Magnus Norell, Michael Rubin, Robert Satloff, David Schenker, Michael Singh, Andrew Tabler, Eric Trager, and Margaret Weiss.

The rest of the contributors are from other pro-Israel think tanks, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the American Enterprise Institute; Soros-funded groups such as Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First, and the Center for American Progress; various “democracy-promotion” organizations led by the National Endowment for Democracy and its affiliates; and an abundance of pro-democracy activists, bloggers and journalists they “helped nurture,” fomenting the wave of uprisings known as the “Arab Spring.”

While Pollock and many of the other Fikra contributors work for Israel’s U.S. lobby, perhaps the most interesting contributor to an online forum supposedly dedicated to Arab democracy is the aforementioned Josef Olmert. Although his Fikra Forum profile does acknowledge that the Israeli analyst was a director of the Government Press Office and advisor to former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and later served as policy advisor to former Defense Minister Moshe Arens, it emphasizes his role as a “peace negotiator.” Fikra Forum readers are not informed, however, that Dr. Olmert is the brother of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert or that both of their parents belonged to the terrorist Irgun organization.

Although Josef Olmert predicted elsewhere a “chaotic transition” in which “the violence that will unfold in Syria will dwarf everything that we have witnessed until now,” he assures Fikra Forum readers that “all support that could enable the FSA to continue and intensify its operations, alongside the continuing popular resistance, will help shorten the days of the dictatorship and save the lives of many innocent Syrians.”

Maidhc Ó Cathail has written extensively on Israel’s push for regime change in Syria.

February 21, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | Comments Off on Fikra: An Israeli Forum for Arab Democrats

Israel Lobby Pushes for US Action Against the Syrian Government

By Stephen J. Sniegoski | The Passionate Attachment | February 13, 2012

In Russia Today’s recent Crosstalk program on Syria, guest James Morris was brave enough to incisively point out the taboo fact that the Israel lobby has been in the forefront in pushing a hardline interventionist approach for the US toward that divided country. The host and the two other guests on the show pooh-poohed the idea on the grounds that (in their minds) it would not be in Israel’s national interest to topple the secular Assad regime and possibly bring about an Islamist state that could be even more hostile to Israel. But when one moves from speculation to an analysis of the actual position of members of the Israel lobby, one can see that Morris was completely correct. Moreover, Morris was completely correct in pointing out that the Israel lobby’s position has nothing to do with ending oppression, and everything to do with Israeli security, as members of the Israel lobby have perceived Israel’s interest (which might not be the same as the Crosstalk threesome.)

The neoconservatives, the vanguard of the Israel lobby, have especially been ardent in their advocacy of a hardline, interventionist position toward Syria. Evidence abounds for this finding, but it is best encapsulated by an August 2011 open letter from the neoconservative Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (an organization which claims to address any “threat facing America, Israel and the West”) to President Obama, urging him to take stronger measures against Syria. Among the signatories of the letter are such neocon luminaries as: Elliott Abrams (son-in-law of neocon “godfather” Norman Podhoretz and a former National Security adviser to President George W. Bush); the Council on Foreign Relations’ Max Boot; “Weekly Standard” editor Bill Kristol; Douglas Feith (Under Secretary of Defense for Policy under George W. Bush and an author of the “Clean Break” policy paper); Joshua Muravchik (affiliated with the American Enterprise Institute [AEI], the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, and “Commentary”); Frederick W. Kagan (AEI, co-author of the “surge” in Iraq); Robert Kagan (co-founder of the Project for the New American Century PNAC); James Woolsey (head of the CIA under Clinton and chair of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies); Randy Scheunemann (former President of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq and foreign affairs adviser to John McCain in his 2008 presidential campaign); Reuel Marc Gerecht (former Director of the Project for the New American Century’s Middle East Initiative and a former resident fellow at AEI); Michael Makovsky (advisor to the propagandistic Office of Special Plans, which was under Douglas Feith); John Hannah (senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy [WINEP] and a former national security adviser to U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney); and Gary Schmitt (AEI and former President for the Project for a New American Century).

As Morris notes in his presentation, elimination of the Assad regime in Syria was not an idea conceived by either the neocons or the broader Israel lobby; rather it can be traced back to the Israeli Likudniks, being articulated by Oded Yinon in his 1982 piece, “A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties.” In this article, Yinon called for Israel to use military means to bring about the dissolution of Israel’s neighboring states and their fragmentation into a mosaic of ethnic and sectarian groupings. Yinon believed that this would not be a difficult undertaking because nearly all the Arab states were afflicted with internal ethnic and religious divisions. In essence, the end result would be a Middle East of powerless mini-statelets that could in no way confront Israeli power. Lebanon, then facing divisive chaos, was Yinon’s model for the entire Middle East. Yinon wrote: “Lebanon’s total dissolution into five provinces serves as a precedent for the entire Arab world including Egypt, Syria, Iraq and the Arabian peninsula and is already following that track. The dissolution of Syria and Iraq later on into ethnically or religiously unique areas such as in Lebanon, is Israel’s primary target on the Eastern front in the long run, while the dissolution of the military power of those states serves as the primary short term target.” (Quoted in “The Transparent Cabal,” p. 51)

What stands out in the stark contrast to the debate taking place today is that Yinon’s rationale for eliminating the dictatorial regimes in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East had absolutely nothing to do with their oppressive practices and lack of democracy, but rather was based solely on Israel’s geostrategic interests-the aim being to permanently weaken Israel’s enemies. The neoconservatives took up the gist of the Yinon’s position in their 1996 Clean Break policy paper, whose authors included neocons Richard Perle, David Wurmser, Douglas Feith, which was presented to then incoming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It urged him to use military force against a number of Israel’s enemies, which beginning with Iraq would include “weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria.” Once again the fundamental concern was Israeli security, not liberty and democracy for the people of those countries. (“The Transparent Cabal,” p. 90)

Numerous neocons before and after 9/11 expressed the need to confront Syria in order to protect the security of both the United States and Israel, whose interests they claimed coincided. And this position on Syria was concurred in by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who, one month before the US invasion of Iraq, identified it, along with Libya and Iran, as an ideal target for future US action. Sharon stated: “These are irresponsible states, which must be disarmed of weapons [of] mass destruction, and a successful American move in Iraq as a model will make that easier to achieve.” (Quoted in “The Transparent Cabal,” p. 172)

A month after Bush’s 2004 re-election, Bill Kristol would emphasize the key position of Syria in the “war on terrorism.” He wrote in the “Weekly Standard” that because Syria was allegedly interfering with America’s efforts to put down the insurgency in Iraq, it was thus essential for the United States “to get serious about dealing with Syria as part of winning in Iraq, and in the broader Middle East.” (Quoted in “The Transparent Cabal,” pp. 253-254)

The close ties between Syria and Iran would begin to provide a fundamental reason for the neocons’ desire to take action against Syria. It was this factor that shaped neocon thinking on the Israel’s July 2006 incursion into Lebanon. Some months after the Israeli invasion, neocon Meyrav Wurmser would affirm that it was neocon influence in the Bush administration that was setting US policy on Lebanon, with the aim being a direct Israeli confrontation with Syria. “The neocons are responsible for the fact that Israel got a lot of time and space,” Wurmser stated. “They believed that Israel should be allowed to win. A great part of it was the thought that Israel should fight against the real enemy, the one backing Hizbullah. It was obvious that it is impossible to fight directly against Iran, but the thought was that its strategic and important ally should be hit.” Furthermore, “If Israel had hit Syria, it would have been such a harsh blow for Iran that it would have weakened it and [changed] the strategic map in the Middle East.” (Quoted in “The Transparent Cabal,” p. 278)

And any action by Iran to protect its Syrian ally would provide a casus belli for the United States to attack Iran, which is what the neocons sought. Michael Ledeen opined, “The only way we are going to win this war is to bring down those regimes in Tehran and Damascus and they are not going to fall as a result of fighting between their terrorist proxies in Gaza and Lebanon on the one hand, and Israel on the other. Only the United States can accomplish it.” (Quoted in “The Transparent Cabal,” p. 279)

Bill Kristol argued the same point in his article, “It’s Our War,” underscoring the need for direct American involvement in the ongoing conflict. America “might consider countering this act of Iranian aggression [arms provided to Hezbollah] with a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities.” (Quoted in “The Transparent Cabal,” p. 279)

As can be seen, the goal of eliminating the Assad Baathist regime has existed among Israeli Likudniks and the neocons for some time. And it currently propels the demand for militant action against the Syrian government. Moreover, action taken against Syria has become viewed as a way of seriously weakening Iran (perceived as a much more dangerous enemy), or even leading to war with it. That Israel might not benefit from regime change in Syria, and that some in Israel might actually fear such a development, does not alter the obvious fact that the neocons and much of the overall Israel lobby support it. And it is they who affect the policy of the United States.

February 13, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , | 2 Comments

The Daily Beast disavows patriotic American’s website; Jeffrey Goldberg smears both as anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists

By Maidhc Ó Cathail | The Passionate Attachment | February 5, 2012

On January 30, The Daily Beast published an article entitled “Newt Gingrich’s Deep Neocon Ties Drive His Bellicose Middle East Policy.” In the well-researched piece on the Republican presidential hopeful’s ties to the Israel partisans who devised the influential “Clean Break” plan to destabilize the Middle East, Wayne Barrett warns:

If elected, Gingrich would be the first American president to emerge from the dark think-tank world born in the Reagan era that gave us the Iraq War and lusts now for an Iranian reprise.

Some time after its publication, The Daily Beast appended the following note to Barrett’s article:

Correction: The original version of this story included an embedded link in the text to a blog called the Neocon Zionist Threat. The author did not use this site in the reporting of the piece, and does not support the views expressed. The link has been redirected to the correct source.

The following day, The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg commented on the correction to what he described as “a Daily Beast story that might have been entitled ‘The Jews are Coming.’” In a snide post entitled “Correction of the Day, International Jewish Conspiracy Edition,” Goldberg, a former prison guard in the Israeli army, claimed:

The website “Neocon Zionist Threat” argues that a cabal of Jews is trying to drive the U.S. into a war with Iran. The Daily Beast article, on the other hand, argues that a cabal of Jews is trying to drive the U.S. into a war with Iran. (h/t Jamie Kirchick)

Contrary to Goldberg’s smearing of “Neocon Zionist Threat” as an anti-Semitic site, a cursory look at neoconzionistthreat.com shows that its critique is based primarily on the research compiled in three eminently respectable sources: James Bamford’s A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the Abuse of America’s Intelligence Agencies; John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt’s The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy; and Stephen J. Sniegoski’s The Transparent Cabal: The Neoconservative Agenda, War in the Middle East, and the National Interest of Israel.

Considering that Goldberg’s award-winning March 25, 2002 “exposé” in The New Yorker on the supposed ties between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda made a significant contribution to the push for war with Iraq, it’s not surprising that he would resort to such disingenuous smear tactics. The same goes for Kirchick who is currently a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, whose “advocacy of U.S. military intervention in the Middle East, its hawkish stance against Iran, and its defense of right-wing Israeli policy,” according to a 2011 Think Progress report, “is consistent with its donors’ interests in ‘pro-Israel’ advocacy.”

What is surprising, however, is that Wayne Barrett felt it necessary to disavow the more extensive efforts of a patriotic American blogger and YouTube video producer to expose the same people he had just written about.

Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the news-and-commentary website he writes for is part-owned by former Congresswoman Jane Harman, whose service on Capitol Hill allegedly included a promise to an Israeli agent to lobby the Department of Justice to reduce espionage charges against two former officials at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee for trafficking in classified information on Iran — information AIPAC used to push for a war that Barrett’s article professes to oppose. As a patriotic former CIA officer wrote of the Harman case, some might call it treason.

February 5, 2012 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Wars for Israel | , , , , | Comments Off on The Daily Beast disavows patriotic American’s website; Jeffrey Goldberg smears both as anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists