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Hudson Institute Award to Netanyahu Named for Neocon Who Inspired Dr. Strangelove

By Richard Silverstein | Tikun Olam | August 28, 2016

herman kahn

Herman Kahn as featured in a Life Magazine profile

When Bibi Netanyahu comes to New York next month for the UN General Assembly, the Hudson Institute will bestow its Herman Kahn award on him. Kahn was an early neocon intellectual who advocated U.S. first-use of nuclear weapons. He propounded this theory in his provocatively titled 1960s book, Thinking the Unthinkable.

The Institute is a leading neocon think-tank based in Washington DC. It is a wonky version of the American Enterprise Institute or the Heritage Foundation. It’s senior vice-president is Scooter Libby, a man who barely escaped spending time in a federal prison.

The Hudson Institute is the primary funder (see Didi Remez’s post for a fuller discussion of the funding and relationships) of the far-right Israeli NGO, Institute for Zionist Strategies, which advocate purging “post-Zionist” material from Israeli academic curriculum. They’ve been so successful at pressuring academia to “Zionize” the curriculum that Tel Aviv University President Joseph Klafter promised he would personally examine individual course syllabi for tainted content.

Hudson is also the primary backer of Uzi Arad’s Atlantic Forum, a shadowy Israeli think tank founded by the former Mossad officer. The NGO’s mission is to strengthen Israel’s security relationship with NATO. He’s reputed to have “run” Larry Franklin, the former Defense Department analyst caught with Steven Rosen passing U.S. secrets to the Israelis. Rosen too came within a whisker or two of landing in federal prison. Luckily for him, the Israel Lobby came to his defense and the Justice Department dropped the case against him. Arad worked with Kahn at Hudson in the 1970s.

Bush-era neocon analyst, Meyrav Wurmser, runs Hudson’s Center for Middle East Policy. That explains Hudson’s love affair with Netanyahu and the award he is to receive. In many ways it seems fitting for the Israeli leader to receive an award named for Kahn. Israel is, after all, one of the most dangerous of the nuclear states. One of those most likely to engage in first-use of nuclear weapons would the circumstances arise. One may argue whether that distinction should rather belong to North Korea or Pakistan. But the Koreans don’t yet have the capacity to destroy western Asia as Israel does the Middle East. And Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is child’s play compared to Israel’s estimated 200 nuclear warheads.

herman kahn

Herman Kahn (David Levine)

It may be worth hearing some words said about Kahn’s work. A reader summarized another of his books: “On Thermonuclear War, was ‘a moral tract on mass murder: how to plan it, how to commit it, how to get away with it, how to justify it.’” Some other words of wisdom from Kahn on nuclear deterrence:

“If it is not acceptable to risk the lives of the three billion inhabitants of the earth in order to protect ourselves from surprise attack, then how many people would we be willing to risk?”

Another critic said that the publication of that book “should properly have caused the sequestration of its author into psychiatric care.” A science reporter, reviewing Kahn’s book called him a contemporary version of the devil:

“Not the traditional devil, reeking of brimstone and tempting men to old-fashioned sins, but a slick, talcum-scented, contemporary Satan, rationalising hideous emotions by reference to strategic studies, electronic computers, contingency planning, and all the other gimmicks of paranoiac gamesmanship.”

The following comment by Kahn to a reporter surely served as the inspiration for Terry Southern’s screenplay for Dr. Strangelove: “I can be funny on the subject of thermonuclear war.”  In fact, writing in the NY Times, Fred Kaplan says:

… The real model [for the Strangelove character] was almost certainly Herman Kahn, an eccentric, voluble nuclear strategist at the RAND Corporation, a prominent Air Force think tank. In 1960, Mr. Kahn published a 652-page tome called “On Thermonuclear War,” which sold 30,000 copies in hardcover.

… When Dr. Strangelove talks of sheltering people in mine shafts, President Muffley asks him, “Wouldn’t this nucleus of survivors be so grief-stricken and anguished that they’d, well, envy the dead?” Strangelove exclaims that, to the contrary, many would feel “a spirit of bold curiosity for the adventure ahead.”

Mr. Kahn’s book contains a long chapter on mine shafts. Its title: “Will the Survivors Envy the Dead?” One sentence reads: “We can imagine a renewed vigor among the population with a zealous, almost religious dedication to reconstruction.”

So it is altogether fitting that Bibi Netanyahu be enshrined along with Herman Kahn in a sort of Nuclear War Hall of Fame, as two men prepared to see their region (in Bibi’s case) or world (in Kahn’s) go up in flames in order to “save” their country.

It’s perfectly fitting that a past recipient of the award was Dick Cheney (especially considering his former protege, Scooter Libby works for Hudson).

August 29, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Evolving Story of the Death of Father Murad

By Richard Edmondson | War and Peace | July 3, 2013

Conflicting news reports have been coming out on the death of Father Francois Murad. Initially it was reported by a number of sources, including a press release from the Vatican, that the priest had been beheaded. Today, however, reports are saying that no, this was incorrect, that he was only shot dead, and that the video purporting to show his beheading was an old video. Here is how The Telegraph is reporting the matter:

The footage, said to show Father Francois Murad, 49, as the victim in a brutal summary execution by foreign jihadists is likely to be an older video that bares no relation to the death of the Catholic priest.

Father Murad “died when he was shot inside his church” in the northern Syrian Christian village of Ghassaniyeh on June 23, three separate local sources, who did not wish to be named, told the Telegraph.

Claims that Father Murad was one of two men to be decapitated by a foreign jihadist group went viral, with outrage expressed in blogs and articles worldwide.

The story goes on to describe the contents of the video, noting that it is “too grainy to be able to confirm the identity of either of the victims as Father Francois,” while offering quotes of clarification from Human Rights Watch as well as Holy Land Custos Pierbattista Pizzabala. The latter is quoted as saying, “Islamists attacked the monastery, ransacking it and destroying everything. When Father Francois tried to resist, defending the nuns, rebels shot him.”

According to the HRW spokesperson, the video “looks like it may have been filmed” several months ago, well before Murad’s death, and that the confusion may have arisen due to its appearance “around the same time that the news came out that Father Francois had been killed.”

All of this quite naturally raises some questions. Descriptions of the video, found at both LiveLeak and YouTube, specifically said the two men shown being beheaded were Christians and that Murad was one of them. Who made this video available to the public and what was their motive?

The conflict in Syria is becoming more and more like a house of mirrors—something noted in a report by journalist Patrick Cockburn published Sunday in The Independent and headlined, “Foreign Media Portrayals of the Conflict in Syria are Dangerously Inaccurate.” Cockburn writes:

Every time I come to Syria I am struck by how different the situation is on the ground from the way it is pictured in the outside world. The foreign media reporting of the Syrian conflict is surely as inaccurate and misleading as anything we have seen since the start of the First World War. I can’t think of any other war or crisis I have covered in which propagandistic, biased or second-hand sources have been so readily accepted by journalists as providers of objective facts.

Slogans replace policies: the rebels are pictured as white hats and the government supporters as black hats; given more weapons, the opposition can supposedly win a decisive victory; put under enough military pressure, President Bashar al-Assad will agree to negotiations for which a pre-condition is capitulation by his side in the conflict. One of the many drawbacks of the demonising rhetoric indulged in by the incoming US National Security Adviser Susan Rice, and William Hague, is that it rules out serious negotiations and compromise with the powers-that-be in Damascus. And since Assad controls most of Syria, Rice and Hague have devised a recipe for endless war while pretending humanitarian concern for the Syrian people.

In the midst of all this confusion and pretense over humanitarian concerns comes a report from the Hudson Institute highlighting the horrendous toll the conflict has taken on Syria’s Christian population. The report documents, among other things, deaths of priests, though here again there is some suspicious timing. On June 25, two days after the murder of Father Murad, a pair of congressional subcommittees held a joint hearing on the issue of “Religious Minorities in Syria: Caught in the Middle.” This is the subject of the Hudson Institute’s report, or more specifically the report focuses on the testimony given at the hearing by one of the institute’s chief researchers on the plight of Syria’s Christians.

Such a report becomes all the more remarkable when you consider that the Hudson Institute basically could be thought of as a neocon think tank. Its senior vice president is Lewis “Scooter” Libby, while Douglas Feith is listed as a senior fellow. Is there not something strange about a report documenting rebel atrocities against Syrian Christians being released by such an organization? Doesn’t Israel want to see Assad overthrown, and haven’t the Zionist media been feeding us the spin of the rebels, as Cockburn puts it, wearing the “white hats”? What gives?

I’ll have more on this report in an upcoming post, hopefully in a day or two.

July 3, 2013 Posted by | War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

How the Israel lobby’s anti-Beijing startup now aids Syria’s rebels

By Maidhc Ó Cathail | The Passionate Attachment | June 15, 2012

In an article entitled “Hillary’s Little Startup: How the U.S. Is Using Technology to Aid Syria’s Rebels,” TIME Magazine reports that the Obama Administration has been providing media-technology training and support to Syrian dissidents by way of proxies such as the Institute for War & Peace Reporting and Freedom House. The title is a little misleading though. As the article reveals, it wasn’t Hillary Clinton that started it:

The program actually began four years ago with a different target: China. In 2008, Michael Horowitz, a longtime religious-liberty advocate, went to his friend Representative Frank Wolf, a Virginia Republican, and suggested setting aside funds to help Falun Gong, a religious group that Beijing has labeled a dangerous cult. The money was supposed to help the dissidents distribute software to jump China’s massive firewall and organize online as well as communicate freely with the outside world. Wolf succeeded in appropriating $15 million. But U.S. diplomats feared the move would derail relations with Beijing, and little money was spent. Then the 2009–10 Iranian protests and last year’s Arab Spring made Internet freedom a much more fashionable term in Washington. Congress soon forked over an additional $57 million to State to spend in the next three years. The money is split among three areas: education and training; anonymization, which masks users’ identities, usually through encryption; and circumvention technology, which allows users to overcome government censors so that their work—and that of repressive regimes—can be seen worldwide.

The destabilization program’s originators are hardly disappointed to see it now targeting one of Israel’s enemies. Michael Horowitz is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, a neoconservative think tank with close ties to the Israeli right, from whence he mobilizes evangelical Christians on behalf of interventionist causes. His friend in Congress, Frank Wolf, can be also be relied upon to advance the Jewish state’s interests, such as he did when he helped block the appointment of Chas Freeman to head the National Intelligence Council, while denying that the lobby had anything to do with it.

As the U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army continues to plunge Syria into chaos, the Israelis are no doubt pleased with the results of Horowitz and Wolf’s little startup.

June 14, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | Comments Off on How the Israel lobby’s anti-Beijing startup now aids Syria’s rebels