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A Terrorist Under Every Bed

Media hypes the terrorism panic

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • January 12, 2016

I have written frequently on how the terrorist threat is routinely hyped to serve a number of special interests in the United States and elsewhere in the world. In many countries, including most recently Saudi Arabia and Turkey, anyone who is a critic of the existing government is routinely labeled a “terrorist” as that justifies taking harsh and often extralegal steps to confront him or her. In reality, the likelihood of being killed by a terrorist almost anywhere but an active war zone is miniscule. In the U.S. it is so small as to be statistically insignificant but the public has been led to believe that heavily armed Islamic militants are lurking around every corner.

The vast majority of mass shootings in the United States are, in fact, carried out by white males who are at least nominally Christian in upbringing. Some of the incidents are subsequently described as domestic terrorism but most are labeled only as crimes and are treated routinely through the criminal justice system. Muslim attackers plausibly linked to terrorist groups, who dominate the media driven frenzy, have killed fewer than 45 Americans since September 12, 2001, slightly more than 3 a year, a toll that would hardly seem to justify the enormous expense and surrendering of civil liberties that have been part and parcel of the “global war on terror.”

Those of us who bother to monitor the groups that comprise part of the vast “terrorism business” are aware that the whole process runs on a number of essentially symbiotic relationships. The FBI needs to make terrorism arrests, so it uses paid informants to encourage otherwise harmless young men to embrace violence. Federal prosecutors who require terrorism convictions to pad their resumes call in phony expert witnesses like Evan Kohlmann who will basically support arguments that someone is a terrorist derived from internet based analysis that many would consider highly questionable.

The big money, however, goes to the think tanks and foundations, which are all politically aligned in one fashion or another and which are adept at providing seeming intellectual rigor to justify every point of view while keeping the taxpayer provided cash flowing. The foundations and think tanks thereby actually do considerable damage to the country by continuing wars that do not have to be fought and by wasting national resources that could certainly be put to better use.

I recently noted a couple of articles that hype the terror threat on behalf of well-funded groups that are in the terror business. One op-ed piece by Matthew Levitt entitled “Fighting terrorism takes more than drones” actually is largely sensible about legislation to fund anti-terrorism efforts at local levels worldwide until it goes off on a tangent, describing how it is necessary to “raise awareness about Iran’s and Hezbollah’s broad ranges of terrorist and criminal activities around the world” then adding that “Hezbollah is poised to get an infusion of money from Iran.” The reader might well note that Hezbollah and Iran are themselves on the front line fighting IS and the assertion regarding the omnipresence of their own terrorist activity is somewhat difficult to support, unless one is thinking about the spurious claims that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been making. Which is perhaps precisely the point as Levitt heads the Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), which is an American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) creation. It is a major component of the Israel Lobby.

Another talking head who regularly appears in the Washington Post is Marc Thiessen. His December 21st piece is entitled “U.S. lets in four times as many suspected terrorists as it keeps out.” The claim is based on State Department statistics indicating that since 9/11 2,231 foreigners were denied U.S. visas based on suspected terrorism related issues while 9,500 more had visas issued but later revoked after issuance due to possible terrorist links or activities. When asked how many of the suspected terrorists who have revoked visas might still be in the United States, a State Department spokesman replied “I don’t know.”

Thiessen sees the revoked visa issue as an indication that the screening system does not work which is certainly arguable, but his rant is inevitably conflating a number of issues that are not necessarily linked while also assuming a worst case scenario as a result. He speculates that there must be many more “terrorists” who gamed the system successfully and did not have their visas revoked at all. He cites Tashfeen Malik, the distaff half of the San Bernardino shooters, and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the 2009 underwear bomber. Neither had a visa revoked before they undertook a terrorist act. Which means they beat the system and there are certainly others who have done likewise.

Marc Thiessen indeed has a point when he observes that there must be some genuine terrorists who have obtained visas to travel to the United States. Screening potential visitors from the third world and war zones means having to deal with a lack of reliable documentation coupled with numerous desperate individuals prepared to lie to get a visa. That’s why you rely on a skilled and frequently skeptical American Embassy visa officer to make the call if there is any doubt about credentials. The Thiessen alternative would apparently be to ban all travelers who fit certain profiles that he would no doubt be able to provide, i.e. all Muslims. He advocates in his article stopping the entry of all Syrian refugees, for example, because they cannot be properly assessed, which inevitably punishes the legitimate refugees who can be vetted.

Thiessen’s complaining lacks context. First of all, the number of revoked visas is relatively small when spread out over fifteen years. There are a lot of good reasons why a visa status might be changed and one should bear in mind that a state department officer will always err on the side of caution, revoking a visa if there is even a miniscule possibility that someone might have been radicalized. Without further information on what actually constitutes a “possible terrorist connection” it is impossible to determine what kind of threat actually exists, if any, but Thiessen is willing to take a plunge anyway. And it might be noted that even a legitimate U.S. government concern about one’s politics perhaps derived from comments on social media does not necessarily make one a terrorist. It should be reassuring to Thiessen rather than alarming to learn that the State Department is reviewing travel status even after visas are issued.

And Thiessen plays the threat card, implying that many of the visa holders might still be in the United States without providing any evidence that that is the case. Some might never have made the trip and one has to suspect that the vast majority of those who did visit are long since gone, having done absolutely nothing in the interim.

Indeed, Thiessen could just as easily have asked how many holders of revoked visas have committed terrorist acts or crimes in the United States since 9/11, but he avoids that question for obvious reasons. The answer is none and the FBI has no evidence to suggest that there are revoked visa holders currently in place in terrorist cells planning mayhem. One would think that if the point of terrorism is to do something that creates fear then the revoked passport holders have essentially failed in their mission unless someone reads Thiessen and believes what he is saying.

And oh yes, Thiessen works for the reliably neocon American Enterprise Institute (AEI), which is largely funded by defense contractors who have a vested interest in spending the taxpayers’ money to “keep Americans safe.” Back under the Bush administration Dick Cheney used to go to AEI when he had something important to say, trusting that the audience there would be his kind of people. They were his kind then and they still are.

And Thiessen continues to carry water for his old team. He was the principal speechwriter for George W. Bush and his first book, endorsed by Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, was entitled Courting Disaster: How the CIA Kept America Safe and How Barack Obama Is Inviting the Next Attack. The book has been heavily criticized for numerous errors of fact and also due to its advocacy of torture “as lawful and morally just” but the reader of the op-ed in the Post would not know any of that. It’s how bad ideas circulate through the media and are given credibility, a mechanism that the “war on terror” fraudsters understand all too well.

January 12, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Arab Spring: Made in the USA

By Stuart Jeanne Bramhall | Dissident Voice | October 25, 2015

Arabesque$: Enquête sur le rôle des États-Unis dans les révoltes arabes (Investigation into the US Role in the Arab Uprisings) is an update of Ahmed Bensaada’s 2011 book L’Arabesque Américaine. It concerns the US government role in instigating, funding and coordinating the Arab Spring “revolutions.” Obviously most of this history has been carefully suppressed by the western media.

The new book devotes much more attention to the personalities leading the 2011 uprisings. Some openly admitted to receiving CIA funding. Others had no idea because it was deliberately concealed from them. A few (in Egypt and Syria) were officially charged with espionage. In Egypt, seven sought refuge in the US embassy in Cairo and had to be evacuated by the State Department.

Democracy: America’s Biggest Export

According to Bensaada, the MENA Arab Spring revolutions have four unique features in common:

  • None were spontaneous – all required careful and lengthy (5+ years) planning, by the State Department, CIA pass through foundations, George Soros, and the pro-Israel lobby.1
  • All focused exclusively on removing reviled despots without replacing the autocratic power structure that kept them in power.
  • No Arab Spring protests made any reference whatsoever to powerful anti-US sentiment over Palestine and Iraq.
  • All the instigators of Arab Spring uprisings were middle class, well educated youth who mysteriously vanished after 2011.

Nonviolent Regime Change

Bensaada begins by introducing non-violent guru Gene Sharp (see The CIA and Nonviolence), his links with the Pentagon and US intelligence, and his role, as director of the Albert Einstein Institution, in the “color” revolutions.2 in Eastern Europe and the attempted coup against Hugo Chavez in 2002.))

arabesque-americaineThe US goal in the Arab Spring revolutions was to replace unpopular despotic dictators while taking care to maintain the autocratic US-friendly infrastructure that had brought them to power. All initially followed the nonviolent precepts Sharp outlines in his 1994 book From Dictatorship to Democracy. In Libya, Syria and Yemen, the US and their allies were clearly prepared to introduce paid mercenaries when their Sharpian “revolutions” failed to produce regime change.

Follow the Money

Relying mainly on Wikileaks cables and the websites of key CIA pass through foundations (which he reproduces in the appendix), Bensaada methodically lists every State Department conference and workshop the Arab Spring heroes attended, the dollar amounts spent on them by the State Department and key “democracy” promoting foundations3, the specific involvement of Google, Facebook, Twitter and Obama’s 2008 Internet campaign team in training Arab Spring cyperactivists in encryption technologies and social media skills, US embassy visits, and direct encounters with Hillary Clinton,  Condoleezza Rice, John McCain, Barack Obama and Serbian trainers from CANVAS (the CIA-backed organization that overthrew Slobodan Milosevic in 2000).

Bensaada focuses most heavily on the Tahrir Square uprising in Egypt. The Washington Post has estimated approximately 10,000 Egyptians took part in NED and USAID training in social media and nonviolent organizing techniques. For me the most astonishing information in this chapter concerned the role of an Egyptian exile (a former Egyptian policeman named Omar Afifi Suleiman) in coordinating the Tahrir Square protests from his office in Washington DC. According to Wikileaks, NED paid Suleiman a yearly stipend of $200,000+ between 2008-2011.

When Nonviolence Fails

Arabesques$ devotes far more attention to Libya, Syria and Yemen than Bensaada’s first book.

In the section on Libya, Bensaada zeroes in on eleven key US assets who engineered the overthrow of Gaddafi. Some participated in the same State Department trainings as the Middle East opposition activists and instigated nonviolent Facebook and Twitter protests to coincide with the 2011 uprisings in Tunisian and Egypt. Others, in exile, underwent guerrilla training sponsored by the CIA, Mossad, Chad and Saudi Arabia. A few months after Gaddafi’s assassination, some of these same militants would lead Islamic militias attempting to overthrow Assad in Syria.

Between 2005 and 2010, the State Department funneled $12 million to opposition groups opposed to Assad. The US also financed Syrian exiles in Britain to start an anti-government cable TV channel they beamed into Syria.

In the section on Syria, Bensaada focuses on a handful of Syrian opposition activists who received free US training in cyberactivism and nonviolent resistance beginning in 2006. One, Ausama Monajed, is featured in the 2011 film How to Start a Revolution about a visit with Gene Sharp in 2006. Monajed and others worked closely with the US embassy, funded by the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI). This is a State Department program that operates in countries (such as Libya and Syria) where USAID is banned.

In February 2011, these groups posted a call on Twitter and Facebook for a Day of Rage. Nothing happened. When Sharpian techniques failed to produce a sizable nonviolent uprising, as in Libya, they and their allies (Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and Jordan) were all set up to introduce Islamic mercenaries (many directly from Libya) to declare war on the Assad regime.

  1. I was astonished to learn that Forum Fikra, a forum for Arab activists working against authoritarian governments, was mainly funded by the Nathan and Esther K Wagner Family Foundation. The latter also funds numerous pro-Israel groups and projects, as well as the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (a pro-Israel group with close ties to AIPAC).
  2. The color revolutions were CIA-instigated uprisings that replaced democratically elected pro-Russian governments with equally autocratic governments more friendly to US corporate interests:
    Serbia (2000) – Bulldozer Revolution
    Georgia (2002) – Rose Revolution
    Ukraine (2004) – Orange Revolution
    Kyrgyzstan (2005) – Tulip Revolution
  3. Democracy promoting foundations (as used here, “democracy” is synonymous with capitalism, ie favorable to the interests of US investors). Here are seven of the main ones involved in funding and training Arab Spring activists:
    USAID (US Agency for International Development) – State Department agency charged with economic development and humanitarian aid with a long history of financing destabilization activities, especially in Latin America.
    NED (National Endowment for Democracy) – national organization supported by State Department and CIA funding dedicated to the promotion of democratic institutions throughout the world, primary funder of IRI and NDI.
    IRI (International Republican Institute) – democracy promoting organization linked with the Republican Party, currently chaired by Senator John McCain and funded by NED.
    NDI (National Democratic Institute for International Affairs) – democracy promoting organization linked with the Democratic Party, currently chaired by Madeline Albright and funded by NED.
    OSI (Open Society Institute) – founded by George Soros in 1993 to help fund color revolutions in Eastern Europe. Also contributed major funding to Arab Spring revolutions.
    • Freedom House – US organization that supports nonviolent citizens initiatives in societies were liberty is denied or threatened, financed by USAID, NED and the Soros Foundation.
    CANVAS (Center for Applied Non Violent Action and Strategies) – center originally founded by the Serbian activists of Otpor who the US funded and trained to over throw Slobodan Milosevic and who were instrumental in training Arab Spring activists. Funded by Freedom House, IRI and George Soros

Dr. Bramhall is a retired American psychiatrist and political refugee in New Zealand. She has published a free, downloadable non-fiction ebook 21st Century Revolution. Her first book The Most Revolutionary Act: Memoir of an American Refugee describes the circumstances that led her to leave the US in 2002. Email her at: stuartbramhall@yahoo.co.nz.

October 26, 2015 Posted by | Book Review, Deception, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Behind Israel’s Hysterical Opposition to the Iran Nuclear Deal

By Ismael Hossein-Zadeh | CounterPunch | August 7, 2015

In light of the fact that Israel is in possession of at least 200 (surreptitiously-built) nuclear warheads, and considering the reality that, according to both US and Israeli intelligence sources, Iran neither possesses nor pursues nuclear weapons, the relentless hysterical campaign by Israel and its lobby against the Iran nuclear deal can safely be characterized as the mother of all ironies—a clear case of chutzpah.

As I pointed out in a recent essay on the nuclear agreement, the deal effectively establishes US control (through IAEA) over the entire production chain of Iran’s nuclear and related industries. Or, as President Obama put it (on the day of the conclusion of the agreement), “Inspectors will have access to Iran’s entire nuclear supply chain—its uranium mines and mills, its conversion facility and its centrifuge manufacturing and storage facilities. . . . Some of these transparency measures will be in place for 25 years. Because of this deal inspectors will also be able to access any suspicious location.”

Even a cursory reading of the text of the agreement shows that, if ratified by the US congress, the deal would essentially freeze Iran’s nuclear program at a negligible, ineffectual level of value—at only 3.67% uranium enrichment. Israel and its lobby must certainly be aware of this, of the fact that Iran poses no “existential threat to Israel,” as frequently claimed by Benjamin Netanyahu and his co-thinkers.

So, the question is: why all the screaming and breast beating?

There is a widespread perception that because the nuclear agreement was reached despite the lobby’s vehement opposition, it must therefore signify a win for Iran, or a loss for Israel and its allies. This is a sheer misjudgment of what the deal represents: it signifies a win not for Iran but for Israel and its allies. And here is why: under the deal Iran is obligated to (a) downgrade its uranium enrichment capabilities from 20% of purity to 3.67%, (b) freeze this minimal level of 3.67% enrichment for 15 years, (c) reduce its current capacity of 19000 centrifuges to 6104 (a reduction of 68%), (d) reduce its stockpile of low grade enriched uranium from the current level of 7500 kg to 300kg (a reduction of 96%), and (e) accept strict limits on its research and development activities. While some restrictions on research and development are promised to be relaxed after 10 years, others will remain for up to 25 years.

In addition, Iran would have to accept an extensive monitoring and inspection regime not only of declared nuclear sites but also of military and other non-declared sites where the monitors may presume or imagine incidences of “suspicious” activity. The elaborate system of monitoring and inspection was succinctly described by President Obama on the day of the conclusion of the agreement in Vienna (July 14, 2015): “Put simply, the organization responsible for the inspections, the IAEA, will have access where necessary, when necessary. That arrangement is permanent.”

These are obviously major concessions that not only render Iran’s hard-won (but peaceful) nuclear technology ineffectual, but also weaken its defense capabilities and undermine its national sovereignty.

So, the lobby’s frantic objection to the nuclear agreement cannot be because the deal represents a win for Iran, or a loss for Israel. Quite to the contrary the agreement signifies a historic success for Israel as it tends to remove, or drastically undermine, a major challenge to its expansionist schemes in the Middle East—the challenge of independent, revolutionary Iran that consistently opposed such colonial schemes of expansion and occupation.

Thus, the reasons for the lobby’s panicky, or more likely feigned, protestations must be sought elsewhere. Two major reasons can be identified for the lobby’s vehement opposition to the nuclear deal.

The first is to keep pressure on negotiators in pursuit further concessions from Iran. Indeed, the lobby has been very successful in quest of this objective. A look back at the process of negotiations indicates that, under pressure, Iran’s negotiators have continuously made additional concessions over the course of the 20-month long negotiations. For example, when negotiations began in Geneva in November 2013, discussion of Iran’s defense industries or inspection of its military sites were considered off the limits of negotiations. Whereas in the final agreement, reached 20 months later in Vienna, Iran’s negotiators have regrettably agreed to such highly intrusive, once-taboo measures of national sovereignty.

The lobby is of course aware of the fact that the 159-page long nuclear deal is fraught with ambiguities and loopholes, which leaves plenty of room for haggling and maneuvering over the many contestable aspects of the deal during its 25-year long implementation period. This means that, even if ratified by the US congress, the deal does not mean the end of negotiations but their continuation for a long time to come.

The shrill, obstructionist voices of the lobby’s operatives are, therefore, designed to continue the pressure on Iran during the long period of implementation in order to extract additional concessions beyond the agreement.

The second reason for the lobby’s relentless campaign to sabotage the nuclear agreement is that, while the agreement obviously represents a fantastic victory for Israel, it nonetheless falls short of what the lobby projected and fought for, that is, devastating regime change by military means, similar to what was done to Iraq and Libya.

This is no conspiracy theory or idle speculation. There is well-documented, undeniable evidence that the lobby, as a major pillar of the neoconservative forces in the US and elsewhere, set out as early as the late 1980s and early as 1990s to “deconstruct” and reshape the Middle East in the image of radical Zionist champions of building “greater Israel” in the region, extending from Jordan River to Mediterranean coasts.

Indeed, radical Zionists’ plans to balkanize and re-mold the Middle East are as old as the state of Israel itself. Those plans were actually among the essential designs of Israel’s founding fathers to build a Jewish state in Palestine. David Ben Gurien, one of the Key founders of the state of Israel, for example, stated unabashedly that land grabbing, expulsion of non-Jewish natives from their land/homes and territorial expansion is best achieved through launching wars of choice and creating social chaos, which he called “revolutionary” times or circumstances. “What is inconceivable in normal times is possible in revolutionary times; and if at this time the opportunity is missed and what is possible in such great hours is not carried out—a whole world is lost” [1].

While the plans to foment war and create social convulsion in pursuit of “greater Israel” thus began with the very creation of the state of Israel, systematic implementation of such plans, and the concomitant agenda of changing “unfriendly” regimes in the region, began in earnest in the early 1990s—that is, in the immediate aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union.

As long as the Soviet Union existed as a balancing superpower vis-à-vis the United States, US policy makers in the Middle East were somewhat constrained in their accommodations of territorial ambitions of hardline Zionism. That restraint was largely due to the fact that at the time the regimes that ruled Iraq, Syria and Libya were allies of the Soviet Union. That alliance, and indeed the broader counter-balancing power of Soviet bloc countries, served as a leash on the expansionist designs of Israel and the US accommodations of those designs. The demise of the Soviet Union removed that countervailing force.

The demise of the Soviet Union also served as a boon for Israel for yet another reason: it created an opportunity for a closer alliance between Israel and the militaristic faction of the US ruling elites—elites whose interests are vested largely in the military-industrial-security-intelligence complex, that is, in military capital, or war dividends.

Since the rationale for the large and growing military apparatus during the Cold War years was the “threat of communism,” US citizens celebrated the collapse of the Berlin Wall as the end of militarism and the dawn of “peace dividends.”

But while the majority of the US citizens celebrated the prospects of what appeared to be imminent “peace dividends,” the powerful interests vested in the expansion of military-industrial-security-intelligence spending felt threatened. Not surprisingly, these influential forces moved swiftly to safeguard their interests in the face of the “threat of peace.”

To stifle the voices that demanded peace dividends, beneficiaries of war and militarism began to methodically redefine the post-Cold War “sources of threat” in the broader framework of the new multi-polar world, which purportedly goes way beyond the traditional “Soviet threat” of the bipolar world of the Cold War era. Instead of the “communist threat” of the Soviet era, the “menace” of “rogue states,” of radical Islam and of “global terrorism” would have to do as new enemies.

Just as the beneficiaries of war dividends view international peace and stability inimical to their interests, so too the militant Zionist proponents of “greater Israel” perceive peace between Israel and its Palestinian/Arab neighbors perilous to their goal of gaining control over the “promised land.” The reason for this fear of peace is that, according to a number of the United Nations’ resolutions, peace would mean Israel’s return to its pre-1967 borders. But because proponents of “greater Israel” are unwilling to withdraw from the occupied territories, they are therefore afraid of peace—hence, their continued attempts at sabotaging peace efforts and/or negotiations.

Because the interests of the beneficiaries of war dividends and those of radical Zionism tend to converge over fomenting war and political convulsion in the Middle East, an ominously potent alliance has been forged between them—ominous, because the mighty US war machine is now supplemented by the almost unrivaled public relations capabilities of the hardline pro-Israel lobby in the United States.

The alliance between these two militaristic forces is largely unofficial and de facto; it is subtly forged through an elaborate network of powerful neoconservative think tanks such as The American Enterprise Institute, Project for the New American Century, America Israel Public Affairs Committee, Middle East Media Research Institute, Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Middle East Forum, National Institute for Public Policy, Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, and Center for Security Policy.

In the immediate aftermath of the Cold War, these militaristic think tanks and their hawkish neoconservative operatives published a number of policy papers that clearly and forcefully advocated plans for border change, demographic change and regime change in the Middle East. Although the plan to change “unfriendly” regimes and balkanize the region was to begin with the removal of Saddam Hussein’s regime, as the “weakest link,” the ultimate goal was (and still is) regime change in Iran.

For example, in 1996 an influential Israeli think tank, the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies, sponsored and published a policy document, titled “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm,” which argued that the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should “make a clean break” with the Oslo peace process and reassert Israel’s claim to the West Bank and Gaza. It presented a plan whereby Israel would “shape its strategic environment,” beginning with the removal of Saddam Hussein and the installation of a Hashemite monarchy in Baghdad, to serve as a first step toward eliminating the anti-Israeli governments of Syria and Iran.

The influential Jewish Institute for the National Security Affairs (JINSA) also occasionally issued statements and policy papers that strongly advocated “regime changes” in the Middle East. One of its hardline advisors Michael Ladeen, who also unofficially advised the George W. Bush administration on Middle Eastern issues, openly talked about the coming era of “total war,” indicating that the United States should expand its policy of “regime change” in Iraq to other countries in the region such as Iran and Syria. “In its fervent support for the hardline, pro-settlement, anti-Palestinian Likud-style policies in Israel, JINSA has essentially recommended that ‘regime change’ in Iraq should be just the beginning of a cascade of toppling dominoes in the Middle East [2].

It follows from this brief sketch of the lobby’s long-standing plans of regime change in Iran that, as mentioned earlier, its opposition to the nuclear deal is not because the deal does not represent a win for Israel, or a loss for Iran, but because Iran’s loss is not as big as the lobby would have liked it to be, that is, a devastating regime change through bombing and military aggression, as was done in Iraq or Libya.

What the lobby seems to overlook, or more likely, is unwilling to acknowledge or accept, is that regime change in Iran is currently taking place from within, and the nuclear deal is playing a major role in that change. The lobby also seems to overlook or deny the fact that the Obama administration opted for regime change from within—first through the so-called “green revolution” and now through nuclear deal—because various US-Israeli led attempts at regime change from without failed. Indeed, such futile attempts at regime change prompted Iran to methodically build robust defense capabilities and geopolitical alliances, thereby establishing a military and geopolitical counterweight to US-Israeli plans in the region.

Furthermore, The Obama administration’s plan of “peaceful” regime change seems to be more like an experimental or tactical change of approach to Iran than a genuine commitment to peace, as it does not rule out the military option in the future. If Iran carries out all its 25-year long obligations under the deal, regime change from within would be complete and military option unnecessary—in essence, it would be a gradual, systematic retrogression to the days of the Shah. But if at any time in the long course of the implementation of the deal Iran resists or fails to carry out some of the highly draconian of those obligations, the US and its allies would again resort to military muscle, and more confidently too because success chances of military operations at that time would be much higher, since Iran would have by then greatly downgraded its military/defense capabilities.

References

[1] Quoted in Norman Finkelstein, Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict, Introduction to German edition (10 July 2002).

[2] William D. Hartung, How Much Are You Making on the War, Daddy? New York: Nation Books

Ismael Hossein-zadeh is Professor Emeritus of Economics (Drake University). He is the author of Beyond Mainstream Explanations of the Financial Crisis (Routledge 2014), The Political Economy of U.S. Militarism (Palgrave–Macmillan 2007), and the Soviet Non-capitalist Development: The Case of Nasser’s Egypt (Praeger Publishers 1989). He is also a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion.

August 7, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thomas Friedman and Wish for War with Iran

By Sheldon Richman | Free Association | July 8, 2015

Thomas Friedman, the New York Times op-ed-page representative of the foreign-policy elite, is unhappy with how the overtime Iran nuclear talks are going. He says that President Obama, like his predecessor George W. Bush, hasn’t been tough enough. Obama holds all the cards, but somehow the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is dictating terms. He writes:

It is stunning to me how well the Iranians, sitting alone on their side of the table, have played a weak hand against the United States, Russia, China, France, Germany and Britain on their side of the table…..

For the past year every time there is a sticking point … it keeps feeling as if it’s always our side looking to accommodate Iran’s needs. I wish we had walked out just once. When you signal to the guy on the other side of the table that you’re not willing to either blow him up or blow him off — to get up and walk away — you reduce yourself to just an equal and get the best bad deal nonviolence can buy. [Emphasis added.]

Friedman glosses over the fact that it is not “him” (foreign minister Javad Zarif?) who would be blown up in a war against Iran. It would be countless ordinary Iranians, who have done nothing to harm the American people. Those same innocent people would be harmed, admittedly in more subtle ways, if the P5+1 “blew off” Iranian negotiators because that would mean no relief from long-standing U.S.-led sanctions that have devastated the Iranian economy, boosting food and medicine prices among other inhumane consequences. Sanctions are acts of war. Would someone remind Friedman of that fact?

Friedman is ever the optimist, however. He believes it is still possible to get at least a “good bad deal,” the chances of a good deal having been blown by Obama’s “empty holster” strategy. It would be a deal “that, while it does not require Iran to dismantle its nuclear enrichment infrastructure, shrinks that infrastructure for the next 10 to 15 years so Iran can’t make a quick breakout to a bomb…. A deal that also gives us a level of transparency to monitor that agreement and gives international inspectors timely intrusive access to anywhere in Iran we suspect covert nuclear activity[.] One that restricts Iran from significantly upgrading its enrichment capacity over the next decade….” (As he notes, it would be deal approved by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, which he fails to point out is a spin-off think-tank of the chief Israel lobbyist, AIPAC.

Before judging Friedman’s analysis, certain facts must be kept in mind. Iran has never had a program designed to build a nuclear bomb. You wouldn’t know from his column that Iran is a party to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), subjecting it to intrusive inspections for many years. During those years the International Atomic Energy Agency has unfailingly certified that Iran has diverted not one uranium atom to military purposes. As Gareth Porter heavily documents in his conveniently ignored book, Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare, Iran’s leadership has directed its nuclear research and facilities to the production of electricity and medical isotopes. The so-called evidence against Iran, Porter shows, is little more than the alleged contents of a suspect laptop, which has yet to be presented for independent verification. The nonthreat has been affirmed by U.S. and Israeli intelligence.

A few minutes’ thought will indicate that Iran’s leadership has many reasons not to want nuclear weapons, which Khamenei condemned in a fatwa some time ago. What exactly would Iran do with a bomb? The U.S. government has thousands, and Israel has a few hundred, including submarine-mounted nukes that would be available for a second strike if anyone were crazy enough to launch a first strike against the Jewish State. By the way, unlike Iran, Israel refuses to sign the NPT and thus is subject to no inspections.

In other words, Iran has been framed. Friedman is simply doing the bidding of those who want a U.S. war of aggression against the Islamic Republic — namely, Israel, the Israel Lobby/neoconservative alliance, and Saudi Arabia.

July 9, 2015 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is Obama’s Policy of “Tough Diplomacy” Withering Away?

By Sasan Fayazmanesh | CounterPunch | November 29, 2013

The first four years of the Obama Administration were marked by imposing an unprecedented set of sanctions and military threats against Iran. However, since July 2013 fewer sanctions have been imposed and less military threats issued. Indeed, the Obama Administration—along with some of the other four members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany, commonly known as the P5+1—appeared to be sincere in trying to resolve the nuclear dispute with Iran. They withstood pressures coming from Israel, its lobby groups and proxies in the US Congress and they pushed for a deal with Iran. In the end, a six-month accord between the P5+1 and Iran was reached on November 24, 2013, after a long and unprecedented set of negotiations. Will this accord last, and will it lead to a longer agreement? Was the deal the result of draconian sanctions imposed on Iran, as President Obama would have us believe? Was it the result of the election of President Hassan Rouhani and his promise of “constructive engagement,” as most people believe? Or could it be that President Obama’s policy toward Iran is changing?

In order to answer the above questions, a detailed examination of the Obama Administration’s policy of “tough diplomacy” is necessary. I have made such an analysis in Containing Iran: Obama’s Policy of “Tough Diplomacy.[1] The book is a continuation of a pervious book that was published in 2008 on the dual containment of Iran and Iraq.[2] The latter dealt with nearly three decades of attempts by the US and Israel to “contain” Iran, and it was concluded before President George W. Bush left office. The new book starts where the earlier book left off and follows the first four years of the Obama Administration’s policy toward Iran.

President Barack Obama came to office promising engaging Iran. Yet, in reality his administration followed the policy of “tough diplomacy,” which included, among other acts, imposing “crippling sanctions” against Iran. Indeed, a close look at the Obama Administration’s Iran policy reveals certain continuity between this policy and the policy of “dual containment” pursued by the previous administrations, particularly by the George W. Bush Administration.

Given the history of containment policy, it was not difficult to predict prior to the 2008 presidential election that regardless of the outcome, the US foreign policy toward Iran would be determined largely by Israel and its various lobby groups in the US, especially American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP). Indeed, it was easy to foresee that if Obama became president, Dennis Ross, Obama’s closest advisor on Iran and the former director of WINEP, would play a leading role in determining the policy. Based on Ross’s writings and WINEP’s publications, one could expect that Obama would pursue a “tough” or “aggressive diplomacy” with Iran. The diplomacy, as Ross and WINEP had formulated, was intended to give an ultimatum to Iran in some face to face meetings, telling Iran to either accept the US-Israeli demands or face aggression, including, ultimately, a naval blockade and military actions. The meetings were also intended to create the illusion of engaging Iran in negotiations and, in so doing, gaining international support for the subsequent aggressive actions.

What was expected in fact happened.  Once Obama came to office Dennis Ross became special advisor to the Secretary of State for the “Gulf and Southwest Asia,” then special assistant to President Obama and his senior director for the “Central Region.” Thus, once more, an individual associated with WINEP became the main architect of Iran policy and in that capacity continued, with some modifications, the same policy that had been pursued by the Bush Administration.

It should, of course, be noted that besides Ross—who left his position at the end of 2011 and rejoined WINEP—there have been other Iran policy makers close to Israel and its lobby groups in the Obama Administration. One such person, who also left office in 2011, was Stuart A. Levey, the former Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. Levey, a leftover from the Bush Administration, managed to carry on a crusade against Iran by formulating and implementing financial sanctions against Iran. Another person who left his position in February of 2013 and, subsequently, became president of the Israeli lobby group “United Against Nuclear Iran” (UANI) was Obama’s special assistant for arms control, Gary Samore. Nevertheless, for the most part the Obama Administration policy toward Iran proceeded along Ross’s policy of “tough” or “aggressive diplomacy.” How the policy was implemented is briefly discussed below.

As mentioned earlier, one of the main aims of the policy of “tough diplomacy” was to create the impression that the US is trying its best to engage Iran. This was tried soon after President Obama took office. For example, Obama’s message of March 21, 2009, on the occasion of the Persian New Year, was intended to create such an impression. To the uninitiated the message appeared to be conciliatory. But to those familiar with the history of the US-Iran relations, the message contained nothing that was essentially new and, indeed, accused Iran of some of the same charges that the Israeli lobby had concocted since the 1990s. Actually, a few days later Obama showed how little the US policy had changed when in his trip to Prague he spoke about a “real threat” posed by Iran to its “neighbors and our allies” and advocated the same missile defense system proposed by the Bush Administration.

By the summer of 2009, while numerous unilateral sanctions were being renewed, passed or contemplated, the Obama Administration was working hard to pass the fourth multilateral, United Nations Security Council sanctions resolution against Iran.  In order to get the Russian vote in the Security Council, in July 2009 Obama offered the Russians a quid pro quo: in exchange for a deal on the expiring 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty and postponing the US deployment of anti-missile system in Europe, Russia would agree to impose harsher sanctions against Iran. Later, the Obama Administration sweetened the deal by promising to drop the deployment of an anti-missile system in Europe altogether.

On October 1, 2009, Iran held a meeting with the P5+1. This was followed by three other meetings, one on October 19, 2009, and two others in December
2010 and January 2011. The first two meetings centered mainly on the swap of Iran’s low enriched uranium for higher enriched uranium intended to be used by a reactor in Tehran that produces isotopes for medical purposes. The swap deal was viewed by many, both inside and outside of Iran, as a ploy by the US to get enriched uranium out of Iran and then give Iran an ultimatum to stop any further enrichment or face the fourth round of UN sanctions. Even some US officials described the deal as a clever ploy.

Under massive pressure at home, President Ahmadinejad’s government, which had originally agreed to the swap, tried to modify the deal. Yet, the Obama Administration rejected any modification and began the final push for the fourth round of UN sanctions.  By this time many US officials, including Secretary Clinton, were admitting openly that the Obama Administration’s policy had been, throughout, not just an “engagement policy” but a “two-track policy” and that it was now time for the “pressure track.” This was, indeed, similar to the “carrot and stick policy” of the Bush Administration, which was always no more than offering Iran a stick.

What stood between Iran and a new Security Council resolution however, was China, which was opposed to additional UN sanctions. The Obama Administration therefore cajoled China, twisted its arms, and even threatened it financially, to make it go along with the new set of sanctions. By mid-March 2010 China’s resistance to slow down the US-Israeli push had weakened, and toward the end of March China agreed to discuss the US proposal for the fourth round of UN sanctions. Now, the only stumbling block in getting a near unanimous vote in the Security Council was the presence of three non-permanent members on the Security Council, Turkey, Brazil and Lebanon, which opposed the sanctions despite massive pressure by the US to make them go along.

On May 17, 2010, Brazil and Turkey struck a deal with Iran for swapping enriched uranium, almost the same deal that had been offered by the P5+1 to Iran in October 2009. The only difference between this so-called tripartite agreement and the US proposed swap deal was that Iran would send the low enriched uranium to Turkey rather than Russia, as it had been initially proposed. The Obama Administration rejected the tripartite agreement, making it clear that the original swap deal proposed was a ploy and that the ultimate intention of the US had been, all along, to use the deal to impose, in the language of Benjamin Netanyahu and Hillary Clinton, “crippling sanctions” against Iran.

On June 9, 2010, Resolution 1929, the fourth UN sanctions resolution against Iran, was passed by the Security Council, with Brazil and Turkey voting “no” and Lebanon abstaining. This was, of course, the same resolution that the Bush Administration was unable to pass due to time running out. The passage of the resolution officially ended the “diplomacy” phase of the Obama Administration’s Iran policy. After this multilateral sanction the US and EU intensified their unilateral sanctions, despite Russia’s protest that the measures were exceeding the parameters agreed upon and reflected in the UN Security Council resolution.

With the Obama Administration giving the green light, the US Congress passed, on June 24, 2010, one of the most severe unilateral sanctions acts against Iran, the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act (CISADA). The act had been in the pipeline for some time, but had been held back until the passage of the UN Resolution 1929. CISADA, which was signed by President Obama on July 1, 2010, strengthened the harshest sanctions act passed during the Clinton era, the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act.

After CISADA much of the new sanctions against Iran were enacted by the State and Treasury Departments, particularly under the leadership of Stuart Levey and his successor, David Cohen. In addition, there were once again repeated talks of possible military attacks on Iran by Israel, the US or both. These were not just the usual talks by the Israelis, neoconservatives or media pundits, but threats made by some high officials in the Obama Administration, such as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen who stated on NBC’s “Meet The Press” on August 1, 2010, that “military actions have been on the table and remain on the table.” The push for attacking Iran intensified in late October and early November of 2010 as more Israeli and American officials and media pundits appealed to President Obama.

The combination of continuous threats and increasing sanctions affected the Iranian economy. In the fall of 2010 the value of Iran’s currency fluctuated wildly. The fluctuation was clearly a manifestation of uncertainty, speculation and fear that were mostly caused by the cumulative effect of sanctions. The sanctions were also exacerbating the rate of inflation in Iran and reducing the rate of growth of the economy. For example, while the rate of growth in Iran’s real GDP in 2007 was 7.8%, the rate for 2010, according to the April 2011 report of the International Monetary Fund, was only 1.0%.  The same report forecasted the rate of growth in Iran’s real GDP for 2011 to be 0%.

The Obama Administration appeared to be fully aware of the toll that the sanctions were taking on the Iranian economy and adopted a wait-and-see attitude, despite the pressure exerted on it by Israel and its supporters to engage in military adventures against Iran. It also appears that the current administration found various forms of sabotage—such as the introduction of the Stuxnet computer worm in the Iranian nuclear facilities, assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists—as well as agitation among separatist movements in Iran, quite useful in containing Iran. The issue of human rights violations in Iran also became a tool in the hands of the Obama Administration to mount verbal attacks against Iran.

By the end of 2010 the US policy toward Iran was back on the same track that it had been for over thirty years, a blatant containment policy. In other words, the policy of “tough diplomacy” had no more “diplomacy” left in it; it was simply a tough policy.  The two meetings between Iran and the P5+1, on December 6, 2010, and January 21, 2011, were therefore devoid of any substance and merely provided forums for the two sides to express their grievances.

With the advent of the so-called Arab Spring, and the preoccupation of the US, Europe and Israel with the revolutionary upheavals in the Middle East, there were less news reports in the popular US media about Iran and the need to contain it. Indeed, to the extent that the “Arab Spring” challenged some aspects of the old order in the Middle East and created uncertainty about the future of this order, the pressure on Iran slightly subsided.  But once the dust started to settle, the attention turned, once again, toward Iran, and the push by Israel, its lobby groups, and supporters in the US Congress, to intensify sanctions and threaten Iran militarily resumed. Moreover, the campaign of assassinating Iranian nuclear scientists, sabotaging Iranian nuclear facilities and trying to stir up ethnic tensions intensified.

In addition, there was increasing pressure on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to accept the US demands. Under IAEA’s new director, Yukiya Amano—who was the preferred candidate of the West to replace Mohamed ElBaradei as the Director General of IAEA in 2010—Iran has faced harsh and confrontational reports about its nuclear activities. Indeed, the November 8, 2011 report of IAEA on Iran’s implementation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Safeguards Agreement was the harshest ever. The subsequent reports have continued to be confrontational.

Sanctions and threats of military action against Iran intensified after the November 2011 IAEA report. What Israel, its lobby groups, and their supporters in the US government wanted most was sanctioning the Iranian Central Bank. Such a sanction had been considered since the presidential election of 2008. The sanction was finally included in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, which President Obama signed on December 31, 2011 and has been implemented ever since. In January 2012, the Council of European Union passed similar sanctions against the Central Bank and the energy sector of Iran.  In addition to these sanctions, there were repeated talks of possible military attacks on Iran by Israel, the US or both. For the most part, however, the threats, particularly by Israel, had been used to impose more severe sanctions.

Beginning in April of 2012 Iran and the P5+1 held five more rounds of meetings, including meetings at the technical level. These meetings, similar to the earlier ones, produced no agreement between the two sides. It was, indeed, difficult to expect any agreements as long as more and more draconian sanctions were being levied against Iran and there were repeated talks of military attacks.

In the final analysis, the Obama Administration’s policy of “tough diplomacy” had mostly followed the script written by individuals associated with Israel and its lobby groups.  The policy was similar to those pursued by the neoconservatives under the previous administration. But while the “carrot and stick policy” of the Bush Administration was implemented in a brutish way, the Obama Administration’s “two-track policy” had been carried out in a more refined way.

At the end of President Obama’s first term in office, the combination of continuous threats and increasing sanctions had brought about massive economic hardship in Iran. However, these difficulties did not translate into what the architects of the policy of “tough diplomacy” had been waiting for, that is, widespread discontent in Iran.  Nor did the sanctions result in a complete collapse of the Iranian economy. The fate of the policy of “tough diplomacy” therefore remained uncertain. This was even more so, since by the end of Obama’s first term in office, some of the old guard responsible for formulating or implementing the policy, such as Dennis Ross, Stuart Levey, Gary Samore, and Hillary Clinton, had either left the administration or were leaving it.

It is too early to evaluate the changes that have occurred in the composition of the new Obama Administration’s foreign policy team and their approach to Iran.  However, it seems that with the departure of some of the old guard and the arrival of a new crew—such as Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel—the failed policy of “tough diplomacy” is withering away. True, the new crew, particularly Hagel, had to go through the mandatory vetting process by the Israeli lobby groups and publicly kowtow to Israel before being confirmed. Nevertheless, some of the newcomers, who were well versed with the power of Israel in formulating US foreign policy in the Middle East, could see that continuing the policy of “tough diplomacy” would ultimately lead to another war that the US could neither afford nor win.

One indication of the changing policy appears to be a softening in the position of the US in the meetings between Iran and the P5+1. In the last high level meetings, during the first term of President Obama, which took place in June 2012, Iran was told to “stop, shut and ship.” This meant, according to a summary provided by EU’s representative Catherine Ashton, a three step proposal to Iran: “stopping 20 percent enrichment activities, shutting the Fordow nuclear facility and shipping out stockpiled 20 percent enriched nuclear materials.”

The above proposal changed considerably in the second term of Obama’s presidency. In February of 2013, when the P5+1 and Iran meetings resumed, there was no more talk of “stop, shut and ship.” Instead, according to various news sources, Iran was asked to implement “voluntarily” three things in six months: 1) significantly restrict its accumulation of 20% enriched uranium, but keep sufficient amount to fuel its Tehran Research Reactor (TRR); 2) suspend enrichment at Fordow underground facility and accept conditions that constrain the ability to quickly resume enrichment at Fordow; and 3) allow more regular and thorough monitoring of its nuclear facilities by the International Atomic Energy Agency. As I wrote at the time, not only had the US blinked, but it had tacitly recognized Iran’s right to enrich uranium, at least in the short-run. The Iranian negotiator at the time, Saeed Jalili, responded to these proposals by saying that they were more “realistic,” “positive,” and “closer to Iran’s position.” However, Iran argued that the so-called sanctions relief was not proportional to what was being demanded from Iran and that the endgame, i.e. what would happen after six months, remained unclear. With the Presidency of Ahmadinejad ending, and the presidential election in Iran on the horizon, no further high level meetings took place and no agreements were reached.

The new President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, and his Foreign Minister, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, picked up the negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 where it had been left off under Ahmadinejad’s government. Even though what Iran proposed at the first round of meetings was kept relatively secret, from various leaked reports one can surmise that the proposal was a modified version of the earlier P5+1’s offering. Iran apparently proposed to: 1) freeze its production of 20% enriched uranium and convert the stock of such uranium into fuel rods for the TRR; 2) relinquish spent fuel from a yet-to-be-operational Arak heavy water reactor; 3) sign the so-called Additional Protocol—which would allow for the most intrusive inspection of Iran’s nuclear facilities by the IAEA—once unilateral and multilateral sanctions were lifted.

Iran also proclaimed, as it had done since the beginning of such meetings, that its “inalienable right” to enrich uranium under Article IV of the NPT must be recognized. But Article IV merely states: “Nothing in this Treaty shall be interpreted as affecting the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination.” This is a broad and vague statement that does not spell out any specific “inalienable right,” including the right to enrich uranium.  The adversaries of Iran have used the ambiguity in the language to argue that Iran does not have the right to enrich uranium. Iran has been fully aware of this dispute and, even if it publicly insists upon recognizing such a right, it knows that there is nothing in the law about such a specific right. Indeed, the law must be rewritten at some point to specify the “inalienable right.”

The accord that Iran signed with the P5+1 on November 24, 2013, had some elements of what was offered to Iran in February 2013, during Ahmadinejad’s government, and the counter offers made by Iran under President Rouhani.[3]  For example, on the issue of uranium enrichment, Iran conceded not to enrich uranium above 5% for six months and either to convert the existing 20% enriched uranium into fuel or dilute it. This concession did not affect Iran, since Iran did not need any more 20% enriched uranium for TRR.

As far as Fordow was concerned, there was remarkably no more demand for its suspension. However, according to the agreement, there should be no “further advances” of activities at Fordow. The same was stated with regard to the Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant and Arak reactor. This meant that the Arak reactor would not become operational for six months, a new demand that had been put forward as a result of pressure from Israel and its lobby groups. This concession, too, did not affect Iran very much, since starting this reactor had been postponed a number of times and, according to the last report of the IAEA, the start-up was not even achievable in the first quarter of 2014.

As far as the issue of allowing more regular and thorough monitoring of Iran’s nuclear facilities by the IAEA was concerned, Iran conceded. Without going into details, the accord called for “enhanced monitoring” by the IAEA of certain nuclear sites and facilities related to its nuclear program. But, again, this concession did not harm Iran, since Iran had persistently argued that it has nothing to hide and many of its nuclear facilities were already being monitored intrusively.

In exchange for these concessions, Iran was offered, in a nutshell: 1) a “pause” on “efforts to further reduce Iran’s crude oil sales”; 2) suspension of US and EU sanctions on Iran’s petrochemical exports, gold and other precious metals, auto industry, spare parts for safety of flight for Iranian civil aviation; 3) no “new nuclear-related UN Security Council sanctions” or “EU nuclear-related sanctions,” and a US “refrain from imposing new nuclear-related sanctions”; 4) establishment of “a financial channel to facilitate humanitarian trade for Iran’s domestic needs using Iranian oil revenues held abroad”; and 5) an increase in “the EU authorisation thresholds for transactions for non-sanctioned trade to an agreed amount.” Some of these offers were similar to those offered to Iran during Ahmadinejad’s government, which, at that time, were deemed by Iran not to be proportional to the concessions.

The last section of the accord dealt with the clarification of the endgame that the Iranian negotiators during Ahmadinejad’s government had asked for.  Under “Elements of the final step of a comprehensive solution,” the parties agreed that within a year they will reach a long term accord that would: 1) “Reflect the rights and obligations of parties to the NPT and IAEA Safeguards Agreements”; 2) “Comprehensively lift UN Security Council, multilateral and national nuclear-related sanctions”; 3) “Involve a mutually defined enrichment programme with mutually agreed parameters”; 4) “Fully resolve concerns related to the reactor at Arak”; 5) “Fully implement the agreed transparency measures and enhanced monitoring. Ratify and implement the Additional Protocol, consistent with the respective roles of the President and the Majlis”; and 6) “Include international civil nuclear cooperation.”

The above third element seems to tacitly recognize some sort of enrichment “right.” Indeed, the fact that Iran is allowed to continue enrichment at a low level for the short-run makes denying it the right in the long-run difficult. Nevertheless, as I argued in my recent book, the devil is always in the detail. We do not know how the above agreement will be interpreted in the future and whether it will be used in a deceptive way by the P5+1 to halt Iran’s nuclear program altogether. A similar agreement between Iran and the EU3 (France, Britain and Germany) in 2004—termed the Paris Agreement, which called for a temporary freeze of uranium enrichment in Iran—was used by the EU3 to permanently halt enrichment. Moreover, we do not know if Israel, its lobby groups and its surrogates in the US Congress, will be able to derail the agreement.

In conclusion, the new agreement between Iran and the P5+1, however it is interpreted and wherever it will lead, is not simply the result of the election of President Rouhani in Iran. Much of the agreement was already on the table before the new administration in Iran arrived. Rouhani and his team changed the tactic of negotiation, speeded up the process, and accepted what had been offered to Iran under Ahmadinejad’s government. The agreement was also not due to the success of the policy of “tough diplomacy.” On the contrary, it was the result of the failure of the policy. The policy of sanctioning Iran intensively was intended to collapse the Iranian economy, bring the masses into the street and prepare the ground for military actions. But, even though the draconian sanctions caused extreme hardship in Iran, the economy did not collapse and Iranians did not pour into the streets. Indeed, according to many reports, most people in Iran blamed the economic hardship on the sanctions. This caused the Iranian government to dig in its heels deeper and try to ride out the sanctions with what they called the resistance economy. Had it not been for the policy of “tough diplomacy,” a settlement with Iran could have been reached sooner. In that case, ironically, Iran’s nuclear program would not have been as advanced as it is today.

Sasan Fayazmanesh is Professor Emeritus of Economics at California State University, Fresno.  His new book Containing Iran: Obama’s Policy of “Tough Diplomacy” will be available in December, 2013. He can be reached at: sasan.fayazmanesh@gmail.com

Notes

[1] This essay is partly based on the introduction to Containing Iran: Obama’s Policy of “Tough Diplomacy”: http://www.c-s-p.org/Flyers/Containing-Iran–Obama-s-Policy-of–Tough-Diplomacy-1-4438-5247-3.htm.

[2] See The United States and Iran: Sanctions, Wars and the Policy of Dual Containment: http://www.amazon.com/The-United-States-Iran-Containment/dp/0415612691.

[3] For a copy of the agreement see: http://www.ft.com/cms/d0fa3682-5523-11e3-86bc-00144feabdc0.pdf.

November 30, 2013 Posted by | Book Review, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Israel’s latest Syria ‘game-changer’ — ‘The al-Qaeda-Assad alliance’

By Maidhc Ó Cathail | The Passionate Attachment | September 21, 2013

In a highly speculative September 12 report entitled “Game-Changer: Signs of the al-Qaeda-Assad Alliance,” PJ Media’s Washington editor Bridget Johnson attempts to turn conventional wisdom about the current Syria debate on its head by asserting that “al-Qaeda is working not against Bashar al-Assad but in concert with the dictator.”

In support of this rather tendentious claim, Johnson cites a “student dissident” named Ahed Al Hendi whom she says fled Syria five years ago after imprisonment and torture by the Assad regime. According to Al Hendi, Damascus was secretly collaborating with Al-Qaeda during the Iraq War even as it sought to convince the U.S. that it was serious about fighting terrorism. That covert alliance persists to this day, asserts Johnson:

Assad appears OK with losing a building now and then by a car bomb — bombings that never hit too close to his home and that come with ample warning anyway. Al-Qaeda units, meanwhile, get left alone by Assad’s forces. “They never touch them,” Al Hendi said.

PJ Media’s spurious effort to persuade readers that Al-Qaeda is an ally rather than a foe of Assad makes a lot more sense, however, when you know that both the “conservative” American website and its seemingly objective Syrian source both have intimate ties to the country that has done most to induce Washington to use military force against Syria.

The effort to raise the $3.5 million in venture capital to start Pajamas Media [the original name for PJ Media] was led by Aubrey Chernick. A former trustee of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a think tank created by the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, Chernick provides funding for a broad spectrum of pro-Israel organizations from the supposedly liberal Anti-Defamation League to the extremist Islamophobia-promoting Jihad Watch.

Ahed Al Hendi is Arabic Program Manager for a organization called Cyberdissidents.org. As I wrote in a May 2011 piece entitled “Arab Dissidents’ Strange Bedfellows”:

CyberDissidents.org is a project launched in 2008 by the Jerusalem-based Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies “to research and focus attention on the online activities of democracy advocates and dissidents in the Middle East, in the hope of empowering them at home and raising awareness of their plight abroad.” Until its demise in 2009, the Adelson Institute was located at the Shalem Center, a controversial research institute associated with right wing Zionist causes.

While Israel and its media assets might like Americans to believe that Assad and al-Qaeda are allies, there is far more reason to suspect an al-Qaeda-Israeli alliance in Syria. As Israel’s outgoing ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren recently admitted to the Jerusalem Post:

“The initial message about the Syrian issue was that we always wanted [President] Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran,” he said.

This was the case, he said, even if the other “bad guys” were affiliated to al-Qaida.

Maidhc Ó Cathail is an investigative journalist and Middle East analyst. He is also the creator and editor of The Passionate Attachment blog, which focuses primarily on the U.S.-Israeli relationship. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter @O_Cathail.

September 20, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Syria and the ‘devious’ Israeli connection — Dr. Olmert doth protest too much, methinks

By Maidhc Ó Cathail | The Passionate Attachment | September 18, 2013

In a September 9 blog for The Huffington Post, Dr. Josef Olmert seizes on Professor Stephen Walt’s open letter to Congressman Joseph Kennnedy, urging him to oppose the use of military force against Syria, as an opportunity to attack Walt and Mearsheimer’s thesis that the influential — not “demonic” as Olmert chooses to misrepresent it — Israel Lobby has managed to skew U.S. foreign policy from its national interest. Writes Olmert:

So, under these circumstances, I eagerly expected to read about the Israeli connection of the Syrian problem, as well as it being behind the President’s decision to attack in Syria. Nothing of the kind in the open letter, and for good reason. The Syrian conflict has nothing to do with Israel. So was the case in Tunisia, where the Arab Spring started, so it was in Libya, where the US intervened ” from behind,” so it was in Egypt, where the secular-liberal Tamarud movement agitates against the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty and the deposed Muhammad Morsi related to Jews as descendants of pigs and monkeys.

Well, Israel has not been involved in all these situations, as well as in Yemen, Bahrain etc. because the Arab Spring had nothing to do with the Arab-Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It has to do with poverty, corruption, authoritarianism and sectarianism — all are huge issues which are concerned with the very fabric of the Arab state system, with basic ills of Arab societies; in sum, with issues that are mostly the makings of the Arabs, ones which ought to be solved by them.

The Arab Spring has been a cataclysmic, formative event, the most important to have happened in the Middle East since the heydays of Nasserism, back in the 1950′s. Such a huge event and no Israel connection, so where is the big thesis of Walt and Mearsheimer? How is it connected to the Middle East circa 2013? Well, it is not.

Dr. Olmert’s denial of an Israeli connection to the so-called “Arab Spring” is undermined, however, by his own biography. Although omitted from his “full bio” page at the HuffPost, the adjunct professor at the University of South Carolina is a contributor to an “online community” known as Fikra Forum, “that aims to generate ideas to support Arab democrats in their struggle with authoritarians and extremists.” Notwithstanding the high-sounding self-description, the pro-democracy “Arab” forum is in fact a creation of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a think tank that was itself created by the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the most powerful and best known organization in the Israel Lobby.

Among Olmert’s fellow Fikra Forum contributors is Mouaz Moustafa, the executive director of the Syrian Emergency Task Force (SETF), a group that lobbies Washington for military intervention on behalf of the Syrian opposition. As Moustafa’s Israeli Fikra co-contributor no doubt remembers, an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal by SETF’s recently resigned political director, “Doctor” Elizabeth O’Bagy, was touted by John McCain and John Kerry during a Senate Foreign Relations hearing to bolster the dubious case for intervention in support of the supposedly “moderate” rebels.

So who does the one-time advisor to former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and the brother of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert think he’s fooling when he claims there’s no “ever devious” Israeli connection to the Syrian problem?

Maidhc Ó Cathail is an investigative journalist and Middle East analyst. He is also the creator and editor of The Passionate Attachment blog, which focuses primarily on the U.S.-Israeli relationship. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter @O_Cathail.

September 18, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Israel’s Lobbyists Pushing Hard for another War in the Middle East

By Jeremy Salt | Palestine Chronicle | September 8, 2013

Ankara – Two million refugees out of Syria, some of them Palestinian refugees from 1948 and 1967 and some Iraqi refugees from 2004. They are the consequences of war and yet the raging beast that is devouring the Middle East is still not satiated. Another war looms. Another country already devastated is to be shattered by missile attacks. Who wants this war: who could want it? Who could even think of avenging the dead by calling for more killing?

It is not the people of the world. All polls show they are against it. Not just the people of Latin America, Africa, the Indian subcontinent, southeast Asia and China but the American people, the British people, the French people and the Turkish people. It is only the politicians who want this war: Obama, Kerry, Hagel, McCain and others in the US; Cameron and Hague in Britain; Hollande in France; and Erdogan in Turkey. None of them has any proof of their accusation that the Syrian army used chemical weapons around Damascus, but proof is beside the point. Their Muslim contras have failed to destroy the government in Damascus and now in the chemical weapons attack they have their pretext for doing the job themselves.

The US administration is now deciding how long this attack should last. Should it be a few days, or a few months? Should it be aimed at just punishing the ‘regime’ or should it be aimed at destroying it altogether, which seems to be the emerging consensus? They are talking this over confidently, almost nonchalantly, McCain playing poker on his mobile phone because he is so bored, as though their missile attacks on other countries have lulled them into thinking that their military power is so great they could not possibly be hurt themselves.

Erdogan wants a ‘Kosovo-style’ aerial campaign. In 1999, NATO aircraft flew more than 38,000 ‘sorties’ over Yugoslavia, of which number 10,484 were strike attacks. Operation Allied Force lasted for 78 days, not the 30 days claimed by Kerry when being questioned by the Senate committee which finally voted for war on Syria. In 2011 NATO launched Operation Unified Protector against Libya ‘to protect the people from attack or threat of attack.’ This particular ‘operation’ lasted for seven months, during which 26,500 ‘sorties’ were flown, 9700 of them strike sorties. Even the National Transitional Council, the incoming government after the destruction of the government in Tripoli, said 25,000 people had been killed. A similar operation over Syria, a country much better able to defend itself, and with powerful allies besides, would cause enormous further destruction and the death of many thousands of people. This is the meaning of ‘Kosovo-style’ aerial warfare. In fact, what is shaping up is even worse, an air war that will have more in common with Iraq than the bombing of Yugoslavia. The targets and objectives are being expanded all the time.

Saudi Arabia has no politicians and no public opinion polls which would tell us what the Saudi people think of their government and its role in the destruction of Syria. The only country in which the government and the people are clearly united in their support for an attack on Syria is Israel. Polls show that nearly 70 per cent of Jewish Israelis – Palestinians are fully against it – are in favor of the US striking Syria, while thinking that Israel should stay out unless Syria or Hezbollah retaliate with strikes against Israeli targets. The British vote against war and Obama’s hesitation forced Israel and its lobbyists in the US to break cover, ending the silly pretense that Israel is not involved in Syria and does not really care who wins. David Horowitz, the former editor of the Jerusalem Post, wrote an infuriated piece about ‘how a perfect storm of British ineptitude and gutlessness sent the wrong message to the butcher of Damascus and left Israel more certain than ever that it can rely only on itself.’ The novelist Noah Beck accused Obama of being spineless. Others in the media called him weak and unreliable. By ‘blinking’, he had sent a dangerous message to ‘cruel regimes’ and terrorists everywhere. Debkafile, an outlet for disinformation and other scrapings from the floor of Israeli intelligence, echoed this line. Obama’s ‘about turn’ had let Iran, Syria and Hezbollah ‘off the hook ’, creating a ‘military nightmare’ for Israel, Jordan and Turkey.

The same lines of attack and support were duplicated by Israel’s formal and informal lobbyists in the US. Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post sneered at Obama for hesitating: ‘Perhaps we should be publishing the exact time the bombs will fall lest we disrupt dinner in Damascus’. Wrote William Kristol in the Weekly Standard: ‘Is President Obama going wobbly on Syria? No. He’s always been wobbly on Syria – and on pretty much everything else … the worst outcome would be for Obama not to call Congress back or not to act at all but to falter and retreat. For his retreat would be America’s retreat and his humiliation America’s humiliation.’ Kristol’s stablemate, Thomas Donnelly, thought Obama content ‘‘to see Assad kill his own people – which he has done in the tens if not hundreds of thousands – as long as Assad doesn’t use chemical weapons’. Thomas Friedman wrote in the New York Times that the most likely option for Syria was partition, ‘with the pro-Assad, predominantly Alawite Syrians controlling one region and the Sunni and Kurdish Syrians controlling the rest.’ The fragmentation of Syria on ethno-religious lines, of course, has been a Zionist objective for decades. No mention by Friedman of the Druze, but never mind that: in the interim, America’s best option is not the launching of Cruise missiles ‘but an increase in the training and arming of the Free Syrian Army – including the antitank and antiaircraft weapons it’s long sought.’ Friedman thought this might increase the influence on the ground of the ‘more moderate groups over the jihadist ones.’

At the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the entire stable was off and running. ‘Forget the red line and engage in Syria,’ wrote David Schenker, as if the US has not been intensely engaged in Syria for the past three years, fomenting the violence which has built up to the present catastrophic situation. Wrote Robert Satloff: ‘Given the strategic stakes at play in Syria which touches [sic.] on every key American interest in the region, the wiser course of action is to take the opportunity of the Assad regime’s flagrant violation of global norms to take action that hastens the end of Assad’s regime … this will also enhance the credibility of the president’s commitment to prevent Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapons capability.’ Michael Herzog thought the US could learn from Israeli air attacks on Syria: ‘In Israel’s experience Assad has proven to be a rational (if ruthless) actor. He was deterred from responding to recent and past strikes because he did not want to invite the consequences of Israeli military might. Therefore, the United States has a good chance of deterring him as well.’

In Commentary, Max Boot called on the US to use air power in cooperation with ground action by ‘vetted’ rebel forces to ‘cripple and ultimately bring down Assad’s regime, making impossible further atrocities such as the use of chemical weapons.’ How these forces are to be ‘vetted’ and how they, rather than the Islamist groups who are doing most of the fighting, could bring down the ‘regime’ Boot does not say, most probably because he doesn’t know. Daniel Pipes, the long-term advocate of Israeli violence in the Middle East, writing in National Review online, wanted not a ‘limited’ strike but something that would do real damage and brings the ‘regime’ down.

Outside these journals and the think tanks, former ‘government advisers’ and ‘foreign policy experts’ signed a petition calling for ‘direct military strikes against the pillars of the Assad regime’. Many of the names will be familiar from the Project for the New American Century and plans laid long ago for a series of wars in the Middle East: Elliott Abrams, Fouad Ajami, Gary Bauer, Max Boot, Ellen Bork, Eliot A. Cohen, Paula Dobriansky, Thomas Donnelly, Douglas Feith, Reuel Marc Gerecht, Robert Kagan, William Kristol, Bernard-Henri Levy, Michael Makovsky, Joshua Muravchik, Martin Peretz, Karl Rove, Randy Scheunemann, Leon Wieseltier and Radwan Ziadeh.

AIPAC and the Jewish organizations piled the pressure on Congress and the White House. AIPAC’s statement on Syria stressed the sending of a ‘forceful message of resolve to Iran and Hizbullah’ at a time ‘Iran is racing towards obtaining nuclear capability.’ The Politico website quoted unnamed AIPAC officials as saying that ‘some 250 Jewish leaders and AIPAC activists will storm the halls on Capitol Hill beginning next week to persuade lawmakers that Congress must adopt the resolution or risk emboldening Iran’s efforts to build a nuclear weapon … they are expected to lobby virtually every member of Congress’. Their ‘stepped-up involvement’ comes at a welcome time for the White House, wrote the Politico correspondent, given its difficulty in securing support for the resolution. The two top Republican leaders in the Senate, minority leader Mitch McConnell and minority whip John Cornyn, had already been urged ‘by top Jewish donors and AIPAC allies’ to back the war resolution.

The Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations called for an attack that would demonstrate ‘accountability’ to ‘those who possess weapons of mass destruction, particularly Iran and Hezbollah.’ Morris Amitay of the pro-Israel Washington Political Action Committee thought that ‘for our [United States] credibility we have to do something.’ Bloomberg reported the Republican Jewish Coalition as sending an ‘action alert’ to its 45,000 members ‘directing them to tell Congress to authorize force.’ The same message of support for an attack was sent out by the National Jewish Democratic Council and Abe Foxman of the so-called Anti-Defamation League, who stressed that while ‘he’s not doing this for Israel,’ the attack may have serious consequences for Israel.

With the exception of the Foxman statement, these organizations carefully kept any mention of Israel out of their public statements. In off the record discussions, however, it was the central concern. On August 30 Obama had a conference call with 1,000 rabbis, with Syria, ‘at the White House’s request,’ according to Bloomberg, being the first question asked. Iran was not mentioned either but, said a leading rabbi from New York, ‘we have a strong stake in the world taking seriously our insistence that weapons of mass destruction should not proliferate’. Bloomberg quoted Obama as ‘arguing’ that ‘a military response is necessary to uphold a longstanding international ban on the use of chemical weapons use and to deter Assad from using them again on his own people or such neighbors as Israel and Jordan.’ Of course, this was not an argument at all but Obama telling the rabbis what they wanted to hear. In a separate approach, 17 leading rabbis ‘covering the religious and political spectrum’, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, sent a letter to Congress calling on it to authorize force against Syria. The language could scarcely be more Orwellian: ‘Through this act, Congress has the capacity to save thousands of lives.’

Another conference call was held between representatives of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations and White House deputy national security advisors Tony Blinken and Ben Rhodes. The representatives waited until Blinken and Rhodes were ‘off the call’ before advising constituent organizations ‘not to make their statements ‘Israel-centric’,’ according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. A powerful figure wheeled out by the lobby is Sheldon Adelson, the casino billionaire who funds settlement in Jerusalem and on the West Bank and spent (along with his wife) $93 million trying to see Obama defeated in the presidential election last year. Adelson is a board member of the Republican Jewish Coalition and supports the pressure it is putting on Congress to authorize a military attack on Syria.

The carefully crafted outlines of this deceitful campaign are very evident:

1. This is not about Israel
2. This is about America’s national interest.
3. This is about punishing a government which has used chemical weapons on its own people.
4. This is about saving lives
5. This is about a government that has no respect for international law and norms.
6. This is about sending a ‘forceful message of resolve to Hezbollah and Iran.’
7. This is about showing that Obama’s red lines are not empty threats.

Obama’s own ‘full court press strategy’ includes interviews with six television anchors ahead of the congressional vote. The moment Obama said everything AIPAC wanted to hear during the primaries was the moment he took the first step into the tight corner in which he now finds himself. This is now a global confrontation with a lot at stake besides Israel’s interests, but it is pushing as hard as it can to make sure this war goes ahead. Like David Cameron, a congressional vote against war will allow Obama to back out of the corner by saying that the American people have spoken and he cannot take them into war against their wishes. Will he do that, or is really going to plunge his country into war irrespective of what Congress or the American people think? By the end of the coming week we should have the answer.

Jeremy Salt is an associate professor of Middle Eastern history and politics at Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey.

September 9, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

As Obama regurgitates Israel lobby script on Syria, America sliding toward another Iraq

By Maidhc Ó Cathail | The Passionate Attachment | July 5, 2013

At a Washington Institute policy forum luncheon debate on June 28 entitled “Arming the Rebels: Sliding Toward Iraq or Inching Toward Stability,” Andrew J. Tabler, a senior fellow in the institute’s program on Arab politics, hinted at the pro-Israel think tank’s influence over President Obama’s recent shift in Syria policy. Referring to his Foreign Affairs piece entitled “Syria’s Collapse: And How Washington Can Stop It,” Tabler said he would like to say that it “follows a lot” of President Obama’s responses in a major June 17 television interview. Whether out of modesty or a desire to downplay the Israel lobby’s role in deepening Washington’s involvement in the destabilization of Syria, a smiling Tabler added, “I’m sure that he didn’t read it and then just go and regurgitate it to Charlie Rose.”

WINEP’s executive director Robert Satloff was similarly coy in his introduction. Describing Tabler as a “very consulted” expert on Syria, Satloff said, “I won’t go into the details of the consultations” he has with senior government officials “but suffice to say that the arguments that we’ll be hearing today very much reflect the arguments that are on the table.”

Given the proven track record of such arguments made “in the national interest” by partisans of Israel, it would appear that its oblivious American proxy is rapidly sliding toward another Iraq.

Maidhc Ó Cathail is an investigative journalist and Middle East analyst. He is also the creator and editor of The Passionate Attachment blog, which focuses primarily on the U.S.-Israeli relationship. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter @O_Cathail.

July 5, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

What will Obama do?

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President Obama’s actions are unlikely to stray outside the parameters the Israel lobby is willing to accept. But there is a growing movement that is challenging the lobby’s stronghold on U.S. politics.

By Alison Weir | Palestine News | Spring 2013

Whenever a US president begins a term of office many people round the world are curious about what policies he may pursue on Israel-Palestine. They wonder if he will once again call on Israel to reduce its settlement activities as almost every president has done at least once.

Will he condemn Israeli aggression, or only Palestinian rockets? Will he push a “peace process” in which virtually all the American mediators are Israel partisans[1] or will a few non-Zionists be permitted to play a role?

As Barack Obama began his second term as president, these questions came up again. But these are the wrong questions. Instead, to predict what he will do, one only needs to ask what the Israel lobby is likely to require.

The president won’t always do what the lobby demands – on rare occasions he may deviate a bit from its dictates– but a large percentage of the time he will dutifully do what the lobbyists command.

In other words, in order accurately to analyse American policies in the Middle East, to predict how they will change or not and to develop effective ways to revamp them in the directions that are so urgently needed for humanitarian relief and real peace, it is essential to understand the decisive role the Israel lobby plays in the United States.

Presidents and politicians from both major parties have long been extremely aware of this lobby. It may greatly improve or impede their chances of winning an election, of passing legislation, of receiving positive press coverage, of, quite simply, going on to bigger and better things.

Through the years the lobby for Israel has been a decisive factor in the defeat of Republicans Paul Findley, Pete McCloskey (at one time a Presidential contender) and Charles Percy (another Presidential contender) and Democrats Adlai Stevenson, William Fulbright, Earl Hilliard, Cynthia McKinney and quite likely many more.[2]

Politicians from both parties attend the annual convention of its major lobbying arm, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and pledge their loyalty to this foreign country. President Barack Obama, whose early and major backing came from members of the Israel lobby[3], gave his first post-nomination speech at the AIPAC convention.

Yet, despite the lobby’s inordinate power, most Americans are only minimally aware of it. For decades surveys have shown that the large majority of Americans don’t wish to take sides on Israel-Palestine, a reflection of a public that is uninformed about how much of our tax money goes to Israel and how decisively our government is, indeed, taking a side.

This widespread lack of awareness about the role of the Israel lobby in determining American policies is particularly startling given that the movement on behalf of Israel has been active in the United States for over 100 years and that it played a significant role in Israel’s creation.[4]

By the 1920s it was able successfully to promote its policies over those recommended by the US State Department; by the 1940s it had added Pentagon policies to those it could overrule and both presidential candidates Harry Truman and Thomas Dewey were currying its favour[5]; by 1967 it was able to push its cover story on Israel’s lethal attack on the US naval ship Liberty over opposition by high ranking admirals, the director of the CIA and the Secretary of State[6]; and by 1977 the head of AIPAC could state with accuracy: “We have never lost on a major issue.”[7]

Half a century ago the Senate Foreign Relations Committee investigating lobbying activities found an illicit cycle in which the Israel lobby succeeded in procuring money for Israel, some of this was then secretly funneled back into these groups, which then used this money to lobby for still more American tax dollars to Israel.

The hearings concluded that Israel operated “one of the most effective networks of foreign influence” in the United States.[8] Yet, since the media reported on this so little, most Americans are unaware of these extremely grave findings.

The term “Israel lobby” fails to do justice to the extraordinary scope and composition of this special interest group.  Below is a small sampling of the American organisations that work on behalf of Israel. Virtually all have multi-million dollar budgets; a few have endowments in the hundreds of million dollars and most of them are funded by tax-deductible donations:

  • The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC): $100 million endowment, [9] $60 million annual revenues.[10]
  • The American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF): $26 million annual revenues.[11]
  • The Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP): $23.5 million net assets. $9.4 million annual revenues.
  • Anti-Defamation League (ADL): $115 million net assets,[12] $60 million annual revenues.[13]
  • International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (aka Stand for Israel): $100 million annual revenues.[14]
  • The Israel Project: $11 million annual budget.[15]
  • Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces (FIDF): $80 million net assets,[16] $60 million annual revenues.[17]
  • Hadassah (Women’s Zionist Organization of America): $400 million net assets, $100 million annual revenues.
  • The Jim Joseph Foundation: $837 million net assets.[20]
  • The Avi Chai Foundation: $615 million total assets.[21]
  • Jewish Federations: $3 billion annual revenues.[22]
  • Jewish Community Relations Councils, in cities all over U.S.: Boston annual revenues $2.5 million; Louisville annual revenues $7-10 million; Detroit $734,000, New York $4.5 million, etc.[23]
  • Hillel: Over $26 million.[24]
  • JINSA Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs: $3 million annual revenues.
  • Center for Security Policy: $4 million annual revenues.[25]
  • Foreign Policy Initiative (PNAC 2.0): $1.5 million annual revenues.[26]
  • MEMRI Middle East Media Research Institute: $5.2 million.[27]
  • Birthright: $55 million.[28]
  • David Project: $4.4 million.[29]
  • CAMERA Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America: $3.5 million.[30]

In addition to these nonprofit organisations, there are dozens of political action committees (PACs) that donate to political candidates on the basis of their positions on Israel. Most of these disguise their purpose by using such deceptive names as “Northern Californians for Good Government,” “National Action Committee,” “American Principles,” etc.

While other issue-based PACs almost always announce their focus publicly[31], in 2012 only two of the pro-Israel PACs made any reference to Israel in their names.[32] While US media frequently discuss the gun rights lobby, the largely uncovered pro-Israel PACs gave almost twice as much money to candidates – and the donations went to both parties.[33]

In addition, there are numerous individuals who play an extremely important role in the Israel lobbying effort. Two examples are political campaign mega-donors Haim Saban and Sheldon Adelson. Saban donated $12.3 million to the Democratic Party in 2002 alone and has contributed millions more to pro-Israel organisations.

Adelson, a billionaire casino magnate, set a new record in political donations by giving $70 million in the 2012 elections, nearly triple the previous highest amount. He also funds such pro-Israel organisations as Birthright Israel which takes thousands of young Jewish Americans on recruiting visits to Israel.

In other cases, it is individuals with a different kind of power – the power to affect which information reaches the American public and which does not. One example is Eric Weider, whose Weider History Group publishes eleven history magazines in the United States, the largest history magazine publisher in America (and, according to its website, the world).[34]

Given this reality, President Obama’s actions are unlikely to stray outside the parameters the Israel lobby is willing to accept. While the media are making a great deal over the very mild apology Israel made to Turkey for having murdered nine of its citizens, crediting Obama with this alleged break-through, none of the news reports seem to mention that Israel has largely failed to apologise to the US for the death of 19-year-old dual American Turkish citizen, Furgan Dogan, who was killed with five bullets, one to his face at point blank range.[35]

It is also relevant to note that an AIPAC-drafted letter signed by 76 out of 100 Senators  was sent to President Obama on the eve of his visit to Israel in March.[36]

Congressional actions can also be expected to remain within what the Israel lobby directs, though here, too, there may be rare occasions where the lobby seems to have lost – such as the confirmation of Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defence.

However, the alleged triumph that some pro-Palestinian writers are proclaiming for Hagel’s appointment is a bit overblown. Before he was allowed to take his position, he was made to grovel humiliatingly before his Congressional interrogators, retract acceptable statements he had made earlier in his life and all but swear devotion to Israel (like all top government officials seemingly must do).

This degrading spectacle surely made it clear to Hagel that he better watch his step in the future and made it even clearer to ambitious Americans of all ages that they must be extremely careful about any statements they make about Israel and its lobby if they are to achieve their political ambitions.

Despite the power of the lobby, however, the situation is not as bleak as the above may suggest. There is a highly diverse movement in the US that opposes this lobby and it is steadily growing.

The Left, which for decades was largely silent on Israeli abuses of human rights, has finally become active on the issue. Similarly, both traditional conservatives and libertarians frequently oppose aid to Israel and this opposition is becoming more outspoken. While this stance is often motivated by fiscal considerations, in many cases it is also fuelled by outrage at Israeli cruelty and by genuine empathy with Palestinians.

The money being mobilised on this side is only a small fraction of the other and some of the groups within this movement could arguably be considered simply a more reasonable and compassionate arm of the Israel lobby in that their advocacy is often framed according to what “is good for Israel” while failing to address the inherent injustice of an ethnic state imposed on a multicultural region.

Nevertheless, there is no doubt that the opposition to current US policies is growing increasingly important. The tide may not yet have turned but it is certainly in the slowing phase that must come first.

To use another oft-quoted and particularly apt metaphor, lobbies thrive in the dark. More and more people in the US and elsewhere are shining light on this one, steadily reducing its power.

While there are numerous deeply significant issues, an increasing number of individuals are deciding to focus on this one, the core issue of the Middle East and the cause of war after war, including the current “war on terror” and demonisation of Muslims.

To use the framing posed by journalist Glenn Greenwald, an expanding number of people are refusing to prioritise domestic issues over the killing of Arab and Muslim children on the other side of the world.

Therefore, despite the enormous power of the Israel lobby in the US, this growing movement is quite likely to overcome the obstacles confronting it and to join history’s other successful movements against oppression.

The main question is how long this will take, and how many more massacres, and possibly wars, will occur in the interim.

[1] Even Aaron David Miller admitted they acted as “Israel’s lawyer” – Miller, Aaron David. “Israel’s Lawyer.” Washington Post 23 May 2005, posted by Matt Miller Opinion Writer. Online at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/05/22/AR2005052200883.html

[2] Findley, Paul. They Dare to Speak Out: People and Institutions Confront Israel’s Lobby. Westport, CT: Lawrence Hill, 1985. Online at http://archive.org/stream/They-Dare-To-Speak-Out-Paul-Findley/They_Dare_to_Speak_Out_Paul_Findley_djvu.txt and Mearsheimer, John J., and Stephen M. Walt. The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007.

[3] Yearwood, Pauline Dubkin. “Obama and the Jews.” Chicago Jewish News 24 Oct. 2008.

Online at http://www.chicagojewishnews.com/story.htm?sid=212226&id=252218

[4] Weir, Alison. “Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the United States Was Used to Create Israel.” IfAmericansKnew.org. 2012. Web. http://ifamericansknew.org/us_ints/history.html

[5] Weir, “Against Our Better Judgment”

[6] http://www.ussliberty.org/supporters.htm

[7] The Power Peddlers, by Russell Warren Howe and Sarah Hays Trott, Doubleday, p. 292.

http://ifamericansknew.org/us_ints/history.html

[8] Smith, Grant. “Where Did AIPAC Come From?” Antiwar.com. N.p., 09 Oct. 2007. Web. http://antiwar.com/orig/gsmith.php?articleid=11727 and Neff, Donald. “Ulbright Called for U.S. Defense Pact With Israel But Was Labeled Anti-Semite.” Washington Report on Middle East Affairs August-September (1997): 96. Online at http://www.wrmea.org/wrmea-archives/188-washington-report-archives-1994-1999/august-september-1997/2677-middle-east-history-it-happened-in-august-.html

[9] http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/25/washington/25lobby.html?_r=1

In 2009, the Economist reported: “AIPAC has an annual budget of around $60m, more than 275 employees, an endowment of over $130m and a new $80m headquarters building on Capitol Hill.” http://www.economist.com/node/14753768

[10] http://firststreetresearch.cqpress.com/2012/03/08/aipac-still-commands-attention-among-movers-and-shakers/

[11] http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=3265

[12] http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=10657

[13] http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=10657

[14] http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=3889

[15] http://www.theisraelproject.org/site/apps/nlnet/content3.aspx?c=ewJXKcOUJlIaG&b=7717007&ct=11735981#.UbKK4uuhU0o

[16] http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=3734

[17] http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=3734

[18] http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=7699

[19] http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=7699

[20] http://www.faqs.org/tax-exempt/CA/Shimon-Ben-Joseph-Foundation-Dba-Jim-Joseph-Foundation.html

[21] http://207.153.189.83/EINS/133252800/133252800_2010_07b9bf0d.PDF

[22] http://www.jewishfederations.org/about-us.aspx

[23] http://www.jewishlouisville.org/images/JCL/Financials/annual_report_2011-12.pdf

http://www.faqs.org/tax-exempt/MI/Jewish-Community-Relations-Council-Of-Metropolitan-Detroit.html#revenue_a

http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=10095

http://jcrcny.org/images/00_media/about/jcrc-ny2011form990.pdf

[24] http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=4540

[25] http://www.politico.com/static/PPM152_100828_centerforsecuritypolicy.html

[26] https://bulk.resource.org/irs.gov/eo/2011_09_EO/26-4392915_990_201012.pdf

[27] http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=8188

[28] http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=11247

[29] https://bulk.resource.org/irs.gov/eo/2011_02_EO/16-1616489_990_200912.pdf

[30] http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=5429

[31] http://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/industry.php?txt=Q11&cycle=2012 and http://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/industry.php?txt=Q13&cycle=2012

[32] http://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/industry.php?txt=Q05&cycle=2012

[33] http://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/sector.php?cycle=2012&txt=Q05

[34] Weir, Alison. “The Empire Behind World’s Largest History Magazine Chain: How American History Magazine Censored Palestine.” CounterPunch Dec. 6, 2012. Online at  http://ifamericansknew.org/media/weider.html

[35] Lynch, Colum. “U.N. Panel Endorses Report Accusing Israel of Executions aboard Aid Flotilla.” Washington Post 30 Sept. 2010, A Section. Online at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/29/AR2010092907110.html?wprss=rss_print/asection

[36] “Did Your Favorite Progressive Senator Sign AIPAC Letter To Obama Telling Him To Stand Up For Occupation? Here Is The List.” MJ Rosenberg, Mar. 2013. Online at http://mjayrosenberg.com/2013/03/19/did-your-favorite-progressive-senator-sign-aipac-letter-to-obama-telling-him-to-stand-up-for-occupation-here-is-the-list/

Alison Weir is the President of the Council for the National Interest (CNI) and Executive Director of If Americans Knew.

June 28, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The P5+1 Meeting with Iran

Did Somebody Blink?

By SASAN FAYAZMANESH | CounterPunch | March 7, 2013

On March 1, 2010, an essay in Haaretz titled “Who will blink first in Iran’s nuclear poker game?” stated that “Israel is on the verge of a preemptive war to try to foil Iran’s nuclear program.” So, the question was who would blink first? Would it be Iran that would give up its nuclear program? Would it be Israel that would be forced to withdraw its threat of military attack? Or would it be the US that would ratchet up the pressure on Iran to please Israel?

Similar arguments continued to appear in the next two years. For example, On March 2, 2012, in an interview titled “Between The U.S., Israel And Iran, Who Blinks First?” NPR asked Martin Indyk to elaborate on his comment in The New York Times that we “are now engaged in a three-way game of chicken, which makes blinking more dangerous than confrontation.”  Indyk, the former executive director of the Israeli lobby group The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, advisor to President Clinton, and US Ambassador to Israel, answered:

Well, essentially we’re now in a vicious cycle. In order to calm the Israelis down and get them to back away from their intense interest in taking care of the [Iranian nuclear] program militarily, we are ratcheting up sanctions that essentially are aimed at Iran’s economic jugular. We are doing that on the theory that the more pressure we put on them, the more we bring their economy to its knees, the more likely the Iranians are to cry uncle, to blink, to say, OK, we’ll negotiate meaningful curbs on our nuclear program. . . And unless somebody blinks, I’m afraid it’s going to lead to a confrontation.

It seems that after many years of this “three-way game of chicken” somebody finally blinked; and that somebody was not Iran.

Last week, following a long hiatus and much anticipation, there was a meeting in Kazakhstan between Iran and the so-called P5+1, the five permanent members of the Security Council and Germany. Such meetings are usually shrouded in secrecy and it is often difficult to get an accurate picture of what goes on behind closed doors.  For example, on February 27, 2013, after the conclusion of the two-day meeting, a press release was issued by “EU High Representative Catherine Ashton,” the convener of these meetings, which basically stated: “We put what we call a confidence building proposal on the table.”

What the proposal stated remained secret. However, from various reports in the US, Israeli, and Iranian media one could surmise that the US, which is the main force behind these meetings, advanced the following proposal. In exchange for some so-called sanction relief, Iran would: 1) “significantly restrict” its accumulation of 20% enriched uranium, but would keep sufficient amount to fuel its Tehran Research Reactor that produces isotope for medical purposes; 2) suspend enrichment at Fordow underground facility and accept conditions that “constrain” the ability to quickly resume enrichment at Fordow; and 3) allow more regular and thorough monitoring of its nuclear facilities by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

If what was reported were true, and if there were no deception involved, then the US had indeed blinked and had withdrawn its previous and punishing proposal, a proposal that is usually referred to as “stop, shut and ship.” The earlier proposal, as summarized by Ashton on June 19, 2012, demanded from Iran: “stopping 20 percent enrichment activities, shutting the Fordow nuclear facility and shipping out stockpiled 20 percent enriched nuclear materials.”

The latest P5+1 proposal not only did not ask for shutting down Fordow and stopping 20 percent enrichment, but would let Iran retain some of its medium level enriched uranium to make fuel. More importantly, the proposal would implicitly recognize the right of Iran to enrich uranium for civilian purposes, something that Iran has been asking for years and the US and Israel have consistently denied.

Understandably, the Iranian side was pleased and stated that on some points the P5+1 got closer to the Iranian perspective. Indeed, the US had, to the chagrin of The Washington Post editorial piece on February 28, 2013, “kowtowed,” or more accurately, blinked. But what about Israel, the third party in the “three-way game of chicken,” did it also blink?

The “stop, shut and ship” proposal was originally manufactured in Israel. On April 4, 2012, The Jerusalem Post reported that Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak “has held discussions with American and European officials in recent weeks with the goal of convincing them to set clear goals for the planned talks with Iran.” The report went on to say that according to Barak, Israel’s demands are: “1) [the] transfer of all uranium enriched to 20 percent—approximately 120 kg.—out of Iran to a third party country; 2) the transfer of the majority of the 5 tons of uranium enriched to 3.5% out of Iran, leaving just enough needed for energy purposes; 3) the closure of the Fordow enrichment facility, buried under a mountain near the city of Qom; [and] 4) the transfer of fuel rods from a third party country to Iran for the purpose of activating the Tehran Research Reactor.” The US slightly modified these demands and presented them at the P5+1 and Iran meeting in June 2012.

After the June meeting, Ha’aretz reported that “representatives of the powers are expected to fly to Israel and update its leaders” (June 18, 2012). On the same day Israeli Vice Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon tried to exert more pressure on the P5+1 by stating that Israel could find itself facing the dilemma of “a bomb, or to bomb” (Reuters). “Should that be the choice,” Yaalon, stated, “then bombing (Iran) is preferable to a bomb (in Iran’s hands). . . I hope we do not face that dilemma.”

Delivering the Israeli manufactured demands to Iran and then going to Israel to report on the Iranian reaction were not new. After the May meeting between Iran and the P5+1, Haaretz reported on May 25, 2012, that Wendy Sherman, the US representative at the meeting, went straight to Israel. As the report stated, Sherman was going to “update Israeli officials on the talks in Baghdad, and on preparations for the third round of talks in Moscow on June 18 and 19.” The report also stated that according to the State Department, Sherman will also “reaffirm our unshakable commitment to Israel’s security.”

The following day, on May 26, Haaretz published a more extensive piece about Sherman’s visit. It quoted an unnamed US official as saying: “We updated the Israelis in detail before we updated our own government.” He was also quoted as saying: “There are no gaps between the U.S. and Israel in anything related to talks between Iran and the six world powers over the future of Iran’s nuclear program. . . Even if we do not have the patience, we need to give diplomacy a chance before military action.” In addition, the report stated that Sherman arrived in Israel “along with officials from the White House National Security Council working on the Iran nuclear issue—Gary Seymour and Puneet Talwar.” “The American team,” the report went on to say, “had a three-hour meeting with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, with National Security advisor Yaakov Amidror, and a number of other senior Israeli officials who deal with the Iran issue.” Not surprisingly, Gary Samore, President Obama’s Coordinator for Weapons of Mass Destruction Counter-Terrorism and Arms Control, was one of the original founders of the Israeli lobby group “United Against Nuclear Iran.”

The February 2013 meeting between the P5+1 and Iran was also followed by a similar visit to Israel. On February 26, 2013, Haaretz reported that the “American administration, along with the U.K., France and Germany, are in close contact with Israel and have been coordinating with it ahead of the [P5+1] talks in Kazakhstan. Immediately after the talks, an American negotiating team headed by Wendy Sherman, the under secretary for political affairs, is expected to come to Jerusalem.”  “Sherman,” the report went on to add, “intends to meet with National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror, Foreign Ministry Director General for Strategic Affairs Jeremy Issacharoff and other high-ranking officials to update them about the content of the talks with Iran.” The report also stated: “Last week, Amidror visited Washington and discussed the Iranian nuclear program with his American counterpart, Thomas E. Donilon.”

Given the close coordination between the US and Israel, one has to conclude that not only the US, but also Israel blinked at the February 2013 meeting. This, of course, comes as no surprise, since Israeli officials, particularly Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, had bluffed and blinked many times before. After many years of crying wolf and threatening Iran, Netanyahu’s most public blinking came on September 27, 2012, when he appeared before the UN General Assembly and held up a diagram of a cartoonish-looking bomb with a fuse and drew a redline on it at 90% enriched uranium. The bizarre spectacle, which was mocked by some as “Bibi’s Wiley E. Coyote-style cartoon bomb,” was not only the proverbial “one too many times” that Mr. Netanyahu had cried wolf, but it was also the beginning of the end of Israel’s intense and unsuccessful campaign to make the US attack Iran or intensify the sanctions. The “decisive year” of 2012, as Israeli newspaper Maariv pointed out, was passing “without decisiveness” (Reuters, September 28, 2012).

What made the US and Israel blink? The answer requires a detailed analysis of Obama Administration’s policy of “tough diplomacy,” an analysis that will appear in my forthcoming book. However, a short answer is that the US and Israel seem to have run out of options in overthrowing the current government in Iran and replacing it with a friendly regime. “Tough diplomacy”—which was formulated mostly by Dennis Ross, currently the counselor to The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and formerly special assistant to President Obama—threw at Iran everything the US had in terms of sanctions, sabotage, cyber-attacks and possibly assassinations of the Iranian nuclear scientists. Yet, the last step in this policy, which was supposed to be a naval blockade of Iran and military attack, could not be taken. Why? Because in order to wage a war against Iran the economic conditions in that country must become as dismal as they were in Iraq before it was invaded; and that, at the present, is not the case. Even though the accumulated result of 33 years of sanctions against Iran, particularly the most brutal and unprecedented ones in the last 4 years, have helped to create massive hardship in Iran, there is no sign that the Iranian economy is actually collapsing. There are also hardly any Iranian entities or individuals left to sanction. The US and Israel seem to be coming to terms with the reality and beginning to blink.

Sasan Fayazmanesh is Professor Emeritus of Economics at California State University, Fresno. He can be reached at: sasan.fayazmanesh@gmail.com.

March 7, 2013 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How a Group of Christians Smearing Muslims Benefits the Zionist State

By Maidhc Ó Cathail | Washington Report on Middle East Affairs | November/December 2012

In the course of his much-ridiculed albeit deadly serious ACME bomb speech to the U.N. General Assembly, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu asserted that “the medieval forces of radical Islam” stand in the way of Israel’s desire for “a Middle East of progress and peace.” As evidence of these freedom-hating, anti-modern forces supposedly “bent on world conquest,” Netanyahu cited the Sept. 11 besieging of U.S. embassies throughout the region.

The Israeli prime minister was repeating a theme he had been given the opportunity to develop earlier in an interview on prime-time American television. Addressed by NBC’s “Meet the Press” host David Gregory as “the leader of the Jewish people” (Gregory himself is Jewish), Netanyahu was asked whether he thought a “containment strategy” would work on Iran, as it had with the Soviet Union. Iran was different, Netanyahu responded, because its “rationality” could not be relied upon since it is “guided by a leadership with an unbelievable fanaticism.” To emphasize the purported threat of nuclear-armed mullahs in Tehran, the Israeli leader drew a terrifying mental picture for his American audience: “It’s the same fanaticism that you see storming your embassies today. You want these fanatics to have nuclear weapons?”

While there is much controversy about the reasons for the assaults on U.S. diplomatic missions on the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, widespread Muslim outrage over a YouTube video insulting the Prophet Muhammad was clearly a factor in triggering at least some of the ensuing anti-American riots. In light of Netanyahu’s subsequent emphasis on these vivid examples of “fanaticism” to advance the narrative of an Iranian “nuclear threat” in an increasingly unstable region in which Tel Aviv remains Washington’s “one reliable ally,” it’s certainly worth exploring whether the deliberately offensive anti-Islam video may have been the work of pro-Israel provocateurs. As former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski said on NBC’s “Morning Joe” regarding what position America should take toward the Muslim world, “If there are evil forces at work trying to provoke violence between us and you, we have the obligation to investigate and to crack down.”

In what appears to have been an artfully contrived red herring, initial reports did indeed point to an Israeli source of the provocative video. The Wall Street Journal and Associated Press—two media outlets often accused of pro-Israel bias—were suspiciously credulous of someone claiming to be an Israeli-American real estate developer who said he was the writer and director of “Innocence of Muslims.” This “Sam Bacile” gratuitously added that the production had been funded by “about 100 Jewish donors.” Almost immediately, the dubious story was debunked by The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg—a former prison guard in the Israel Defense Forces whose reporting has at key junctures served to advance Tel Aviv’s interests—when a self-described “militant Christian activist” named Steve Klein assured him that “the State of Israel is not involved.” Absolving the Jewish state of any culpability, Klein eagerly pointed the finger at Egyptian Copts and American evangelicals. A self-satisfied Goldberg summed up the story in a tweet: “A group of Christians smearing Muslims libels Jews.”

Notwithstanding Goldberg’s terse dismissal of an Israeli connection, the Jew-libeling Christians actually turned out to have close ties to the pro-Israel Islamophobia network led by Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer. Spencer’s Jihad Watch group has been indirectly funded by Aubrey Chernick, a Los Angeles-based software security entrepreneur and former trustee of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the influential think tank created in 1985 by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Spencer’s provocative writings on Islam are also publicized by The Gatestone Institute, whose founder and director Nina Rosenwald has held leadership positions in AIPAC and other mainstream pro-Israel organizations. In a July 2012 profile in The Nation magazine, Max Blumenthal dubbed the heiress to the Sears Roebuck fortune “The Sugar Mama of Anti-Islam Hate.”

This past February, in a post on her Atlas Shrugs blog entitled “A Movie about Muhammad: An Idea whose Time Has Come,” Geller solicited funds for a film that would show “Muhammad’s raids, plunders, massacres, rapes, assassinations and other crimes.” According to the controversial pro-Israel provocateur, it was “a brilliant idea” by Ali Sina, whom she introduced as a “renowned ex-Muslim author, founder of FaithFreedom.org and SION Board member.” SION, whose similarity to Zion is hardly coincidental, stands for “Stop Islamization of Nations,” a group co-founded by Geller and Spencer which held its inaugural International World Freedom Congress in New York on Sept. 11 “to combat the Islamic supremacist war against free speech.” Ali Sina’s solicitation for funds assured readers of Geller’s blog that “given the subject matter” it could become “one of the most seen motion pictures ever.” Revealingly, he asked them, “Recall Danish cartoons?”—an earlier media-catalyzed provocation in which pro-Israel, anti-Islam propagandists such as Daniel Pipes cited freedom of speech as they incited Muslim outrage against the West.

Two years earlier, on the ninth anniversary of 9/11, Geller and her partners-in-provocation held a rally to protest the construction of an Islamic community center a few blocks from the site of the demolished World Trade Center. Among those who took part were a couple of extremist Coptic Christian activists who would later be involved in the making and distribution of “Innocence of Muslims.” Meanwhile, in the nation’s capital, another Egyptian-American named Morris Sadek was filmed with a crucifix in one hand and in the other a Bible with the American flag sticking out of it, shouting “Islam is evil!”

As McClatchey reported on Sept. 15, it was Sadek who had triggered the anti-American outrage in the Muslim world with a timely phone call to an Egyptian reporter. On Sept. 4, the Washington, DC-based provocateur phoned Gamel Girgis, who covers Christian emigrants for the al Youm al Sabaa daily newspaper, to tell him about a movie he had produced. According to Girgis, Sadek wanted to screen it on Sept. 11 “to reveal what was behind the terrorists’ actions that day—Islam.”

As with most of the mainstream media’s coverage of the post-Bacile story, the McClatchey report made no mention of Morris Sadek’s ties to the Geller-Spencer Islamophobia network or his extreme pro-Israel views. On his blog dedicated to the “National American Coptic Assembly”—of which he describes himself as “a president”—Sadek provides an erratically punctuated outline of what he claims should be “The Coptic Position on Israel”:

We recognize the sacred right of the state of Israel and the Israeli people to the land of historic Israel.

“The right of Return” of the Jewish people to the land of their foremothers and forefathers is a sacred right. It has no statute of limitation. The return must continue to enrich the Middle East.

We recognize Jerusalem as simply a Jewish city, It must never be divided. She is, and shall always be, the united capital of Israel.

The future of the Palestinians lies with the Arab states. A Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria constitute an imminent danger to world peace.

The Chantilly, Virginia-based National American Coptic Assembly, Inc., a private company with a staff of two, has an estimated annual revenue of $97,000. Considering the fawning pro-Israel statements of its principal—not to mention his priceless contribution to Netanyahu’s relentless campaign to induce a U.S. attack on the “fanatics” in Tehran—it’s not too difficult to speculate as to the most likely source of that income.

Maidhc Ó Cathail is an investigative journalist and Middle East analyst. He is also the creator and editor of The Passionate Attachment blog, which focuses primarily on the U.S.-Israeli relationship.

November 29, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | 2 Comments