Archive for August, 2010

Will US Navy board Iranian ships for AIPAC/Israel next month?!

Take a look at the 5:55 minute/second mark of the second youtube part linked below about boarding Iranian ships next month in accordance with what AIPAC (pro-Israel lobby in US) pushed through the Congress for Israel (also be sure to watch youtube part 3 below for what Gerald Celente mentions about war with Iran and coming economic crash next year!):

On the Edge with Gerald Celente – 20 August 2010 (1/3)
On the Edge with Gerald Celente – 20 August 2010 (2/3)
On the Edge with Gerald Celente – 20 August 2010 (3/3)

Boxed into a Corner on Iran (by Philip Giraldi)

Review of Justin Vaïsse’s Neoconservatism: The Biography of a Movement

Review of  Justin Vaïsse’s Neoconservatism:  The Biography of a Movement  (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2010). 

By Stephen J. Sniegoski

Author of The Transparent Cabal: The Neoconservative Agenda, War in the Middle East, and the National Interest of Israel


The mainstream media acclaim Neoconservatism:  The Biography of a Movement as the best book on neoconservatism—the definitive account—and portray its author, Justin Vaïsse, a French specialist on American foreign policy and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, as a veritable Alexis de Tocqueville for his masterly insights. The mainstream’s high praise of this book, however, would seem to be due in large part to its minimization of two taboo issues—neoconservatism’s Jewish nature and its focus on Israel.  Where the book breaks through what  was heretofore largely blacked-out in the mainstream media is its discussion of the major role played by the neoconservatives in bringing about the war on Iraq.

The black-out had essentially placed the entire idea that the neoconservatives played a central role in bringing about the US attack on Iraq in 2003 beyond the pale of public discussion.  In its most extreme form, this approach denied the very existence of neoconservatives.  More moderate variants accepted the neocons’ existence  but denied their influence on US policy.  Instead the war on Iraq was alleged to have been essentially planned by President George W. Bush and/or  Dick Cheney; or, for the anti-war Left, the  war was brought on by the greedy oil interests or by unnamed nebulous corporatists (presumably gentile).    Even to dwell on the neoconservatives could be taken as a sign of being “anti-Semitic.”

Vaïsse, however, candidly writes “that neoconservatism played an important role in launching the war in Iraq,” pointing out that the “neoconservatives  had been advocating the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, though not necessarily through direct American intervention, since 1997.” (p. 13)  He goes on to show how the neocons, both inside and outside the Bush administration, promoted the bogus intelligence that was able to generate public support for the war.

Vaïsse does offer a faux qualification to his emphasis on the neocons’ role by observing that “the decision to intervene militarily in Iraq cannot be ascribed solely to the influence of neoconservatives.  This book seeks to put the intellectual history of the neoconservative movement in perspective so as to avoid errors of distortion.” (p. 13) Vaïsse presumably wants to differentiate his book from those still taboo ones, perhaps like mine, which mentioned the role of the neocons some time ago.  But Vaïsse essentially slays a strawman since he does not cite any works that actually attribute the attack on Iraq “solely to the influence of neoconservatives,” and I am not aware of any  works making such a claim.  I should add here that although reviewers praise Vaïsse’s book as “definitive,” he refrains from mentioning (much less refuting)  those works (again mine being one of these) that provided an account of the neocons’ primary role in shaping the Bush II foreign policy on Iraq (which Vaïsse duplicates in a briefer form) and offered substantial proof for the truth of the still tabooed topics.  

Vaïsse downplays the significance of Israel and the overall Jewish nature of neoconservatism.  At least, that is how the mainstream readers interpret his writing, and that would seem to be the author’s intent since his general interpretations of neoconservatism reflect this minimization.  However, if read closely, one can find that interspersed within this book is considerable information, including the author’s direct statements, indicating otherwise.   

In minimizing the Jewish nature of neoconservatism, Vaïsse  writes that the idea that “neoconservatism is ‘in essence’ a Jewish movement” is “unconvincing,” though acknowledging that the perception that neoconservatism is Jewish is “based on the observation that a majority of neoconservatives are Jews.” (p. 273)  He maintains, however,  that “many of the most prominent neoconservatives are not Jewish, and the overwhelming majority of American Jews are not neoconservatives.” (p. 273)  Now it is obviously true that most American Jews are not neoconservatives, but that no more proves that neoconservatism is not fundamentally Jewish than the fact that most Muslims are not members of Al-Qaida would prove that Al-Qaida is not Islamic, or that most Poles and  Polish Americans are not members of the Polish National Catholic Church would prove the latter is not essentially Polish.

Now although there are gentile neocons, it is not apparent that Vaïsse  has actually  demonstrated that “many of the most prominent neoconservatives are not Jewish.”   For example, Vaïsse  places  Patrick Moynihan into this category.  In neoconservatism’s early years, Moynihan did espouse ideas held by the neocons, but he was a significant individual before the neocons supported him, and their backing would simply reflect, in large part,  their need to attach themselves to influential allies who held views consonant with their own.  Moynihan’s positions would diverge from those of the neocons in the 1980s.  

Henry Jackson, whom Vaïsse  describes at length, was an unreconstructed  hard-line Cold War warrior and devotee of Israel, who certainly staffed his office with younger neoconservatives, but cannot be called a bona fide neoconservative any more than Dick Cheney, whom Vaïsse explicitly describes as a neoconservative ally as opposed to an actual neoconservative (p. 149), but who likewise served as a neocon patron.  And it would seem that Cheney was more deserving of the neocon designation since he actually adopted the neocon agenda, whereas Jackson’s already existing positions converged  with those of the neocons.    

Vaïsse  refers to Admiral Zumwalt as “yet another example of a non-Jewish neoconservative” (p. 108)  because of his support for both hard-line Cold War policies and for Israel.  But Zumwalt is not conventionally known as a neoconservative.  He did not have long-term intimate connections with the neoconservative network, and was simply a significant person in his own right whose views converged with those of the neoconservatives.  Zumwalt  was associated with the neocons far less than Dick Cheney, who, as just pointed out, is described by Vaïsse as a neoconservative ally, rather than a true neoconservative. (p. 149)

It is quite apparent that most major figures in the neoconservative movement such as Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, Michael Ledeen, Norman Podhoretz, Irving Kristol, and Bill Kristol have been Jewish along with most of their associates.  And those generally identified as  neoconservatives are distinguished by more than just their ideas; they have formed and sustained close working and personal connections between themselves over a long period of time. Neoconservatism essentially involves a network of people which has been perpetuated by becoming institutionalized in a number of influential think tanks and organizations. These close ties help to explain the neocons’ great power, which far exceeds their rather limited numbers.

Social anthropologist Janine R. Wedel, the author of  Shadow Elite: How the World’s New Power Brokers Undermine Democracy, Government, and the Free Market,  describes the successful neocon network as a “flex group,” which she defines as an informal faction adept at “playing multiple and overlapping roles and conflating state and private interests. These players keep appearing in different incarnations, ensuring continuity even as their operating environments change.” (Quoted in Transparent Cabal, p. 29)  Vaïsse  makes reference to this network when he writes of “a definite clannishness to the neoconservative movement” (p. 206),  but nonetheless when looking for prominent gentile neocons includes people outside of this network who simply have collaborated with the neocons, though in a few places he does make a distinction–for example,  when he differentiates  “hard-core neoconservatives” from  “pragmatic hawks such as Nitze and Kampelman.” (p. 195)

While claiming the existence of important gentile neoconservatives, Vaïsse  acknowledges that  Jews make up the majority of its membership, but then goes on to downplay the significance of this fact, maintaining  that there is nothing extraordinary about such Jewish overrepresentation because “Jews are disproportionately represented in almost all left and liberal political movements in the United States, as well as among intellectuals.” (p. 273)   Although Jews may be represented in many groups in numbers exceeding their proportion of the American population,  it is not apparent that most intellectual movements have been, or are, so overwhelmingly Jewish as neoconservatism. Moreover, it should be pointed out that if anyone unsympathetic to Jewish interests were to allege such extensive Jewish predominance, he or she would almost certainly be branded as an “anti-Semite,” not only by the Jewish establishment but by the same mainstream liberals who now applaud Vaïsse’s work.

But it is not solely the numbers involved that leads one to consider neoconservatism a Jewish movement, but rather the fact that it promotes Jewish interests, though the very fact that the group is predominately Jewish would seem to indicate that it would be biased toward Jewish interests.  Certainly, it is unlikely that groups dominated by Arabs or African-Americans would have such a deep commitment to the  Jewish state (which will be discussed next).  In fact, the conventional view in contemporary America is that the  composition of a group does affect its outlook and thus provides the rationale for demanding diversity in all governmental organizations in the United States.  One wonders why Jewish dominance would be any different than white dominance or male dominance?

But more than this prima facie presumption, however,  there is definite evidence of the Jewish orientation of the neoconservative agenda.  For example, the original flagship of the neoconservative movement was Commentary magazine, which was put out by the American Jewish Committee, and was edited for many years by Norman Podhoretz.  The American Jewish Committee pronounced as its mission: “To safeguard the welfare and security of Jews in the United States, in Israel, and throughout the world.” (Quoted in Transparent Cabal, p. 26). And as Murray Friedman, the author of  The Neoconservative Revolution: Jewish Intellectuals and the Shaping of Public Policy,  notes:  “A central element in Podhoretz’s evolving views, which would soon become his and many of the neocons’ governing principle was the question, ‘Is It Good for the Jews,’ the title of a February 1972 ‘Commentary’ piece.” (Quoted in  Transparent Cabal, p. 27) 

Another significant component of the neocon nexus is the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), which was set up in 1976 to put “the U.S.-Israel strategic relationship first.” In the late 1980s, JINSA widened its focus to U.S. defense and foreign policy in general, without dropping its focus on Israel. JINSA’s advisory board has included such notable neocons and neocon allies as Stephen Bryen, Douglas Feith, Michael Ledeen, Joshua Muravchik, Richard Perle, Kenneth Timmerman, John Bolton,  R. James Woolsey and Dick Cheney. While the existence of Bolton, Cheney, Woolsey would show the support of some gentiles for Jewish interests, the very name of the organization indicates its ethno-religious orientation.

The origins of neoconservatism sprang from American Jews dismayed about the turn of American liberalism  and the world Left, with which most Jewish intellectuals historically had been aligned, to positions perceived as contrary to Jewish interests—support for racial quotas (which might threaten Jewish predominance in many important fields), animosity to Israel (as a racist, colonialist state), and growing anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union and other Communist Eastern European states.  Vaïsse goes over these Jewish concerns (pp. 58-64), without, in the end, giving them much importance in his overall assessment of neoconservative motivation.

It would seem that Vaïsse attempts to denigrate the idea of a connection between neoconservatism and Jews by writing that “only the white-supremacist extremist right (Kevin McDonald [sic] in Occidental Quarterly, for example) pushes this ethnic logic to its conclusion by considering neoconservatism as one possible expression of Jewishness.” (p. 273).  Designating MacDonald (correct spelling) a “white supremacist” would presumably serve to make this type of thinking anathema in the mainstream, and it neatly  avoids dealing with the very extensive data  showing very strong Jewish identities and commitment to Israel of the key neocons.  In reality, although MacDonald advocates ethnic nationalism, he is not a “white supremacist” since he does not maintain that whites are the most intelligent race and holds that Jews are actually more intelligent than white gentiles (of which he is one).  MacDonald actually wants white gentiles to emulate what he presents as the ethnocentricity of Jews in “Can the Jewish Model Help the West Survive?” (Occidental Quarterly, Winter, 2004).  Considering the alacrity with which Vaïsse makes his racial supremacy charge (without seeming to know much about MacDonald), it is ironic—but understandable given the requisite intellectual double standards in the American mainstream—that he fails to make any effort to show how  the neoconservatives’ preachment of global democracy meshes with support for the ethnically-based state of Israel, which could be classified as a Jewish-supremacist state. 

Also, considering the mainstream hosannas about Vaïsse’s alleged definitive account of  neoconservatism, it is ironic that he fails to mention the Jews who have pointed out the Jewish nature of neoconservatism, which would militate against the observation’s stigma of anti-Semitism.  For example, Vaïsse  does not refer to the aforementioned Murray Friedman or Gal Beckerman, who wrote in the noted Jewish newspaper Forward in January 2006: “[I]t is a fact that as a political philosophy, neoconservatism was born among the children of Jewish immigrants and is now largely the intellectual domain of those immigrants’ grandchildren.”  In fact, Beckerman went so far as to maintain that “[i]f there is an intellectual movement in America to whose invention Jews can lay sole claim, neoconservatism is it.” (Quoted in Transparent Cabal, p. 26)

Vaïsse also neglects the work of Jewish-American historian Paul Gottfried who has written extensively on the neoconservatives for three decades in numerous books and articles, and who clearly recognizes the Jewish nature of the movement.  Gottfried, who wrote the introduction for my book, The Transparent Cabal, states that “the term ‘neoconservative’ is now too closely identified with the personal and ethnic concerns of its Jewish celebrities. . . . It is increasingly useless to depend on out-group surrogates to repackage a movement so clearly rooted in a particular ethnicity – and even subethnicity (Eastern European Jews).” (Transparent Cabal, pp. 28-29)

It should be added that none of these three Jewish authors can in any sense be called “self-hating” Jews, the derogatory moniker used by pro-Zionists to delegitimize any criticism by Jews of Israel or other Jewish interests.  Even Gottfried, who is highly critical of neoconservatives, is friendly towards Israel.

And now the issue of Israel, the significance of which to the neocons Vaïsse  explicitly plays down.  However,  while maintaining that  “Zionism is not the right key to understanding them [neoconservatives],” he acknowledges that “The Jewish state . . . had been important to neoconservatives as far back as the 1960s.  As the Middle East became central to America’s geopolitical concerns, unconditional support for Israel became increasingly decisive in their approach to international affairs.  Seeing the Middle East through ‘Israeli lenses’ led to a distortion of perspective that caused them to underestimate the importance of the Palestinian quest for nationhood in the region’s troubles and to mistake the nature of America’s enemies.” ( pp. 264-65)  And he would also write that “in their intellectual and political approach to the Middle East, the close alliance with Israel often led them to identify the Jewish’s [sic] state’s struggle with that of the United States:  the same enemy (Islamic terrorists), the same tactics (preventative war, unilateralism, ‘show of force’) and the same cause (‘they hate us for what we are’).  This perspective was not analytically sound.  Although it was normal for America to worry about the fate of a close ally, this undue identification with Israel and the tendency to see things through an Israeli prism undoubtedly helped to create an inaccurate picture of the region and led to unrealistic policy recommendations.”  (p. 265)

Vaïsse’s  references to the neocons’ “unconditional support” for Israel, identifying Israel’s “struggle with that of the United States,”  “seeing the Middle East through   ‘Israeli lenses’,” are about identical to what I maintain in my book.  In fact, I had a sense of déjà vu when he referred to “Israeli lenses,” since I had used the term “lens” in the same way a number of times in my book, pointing out, for example, that “the neoconservatives viewed American foreign policy in the Middle East through the lens of Israeli interest.” (Transparent Cabal, p. 7)

Vaïsse, however, does not illustrate to any degree the neocons’ extensive personal connections to Israel, though he acknowledges that some were strong Zionists, writing that “It is of course true that many third-age neoconservatives (such as Richard Perle, David Wurmser, Douglas Feith, and Elliott Abrams) were close to Israel’s Likud party, but their hard Zionist positions, which were not shared by all neoconservatives, cannot by themselves explain the neoconservative worldview.”  (p. 274)  Now the individuals he cites have been quite significant in neoconservatism since the 1990s—with Perle and Abrams being so even earlier—so their “hard Zionist positions” would certainly imply the significance of this allegiance in neoconservatism.  In fact, Vaïsse  fails to bring out their close connections to rightwing Israeli government officials with  Perle, Wurmser, and Feith being involved in the 1996 “Clean Break” report, which advised then-incoming Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to pursue pre-emptive attacks on Israel’s enemies in ways quite analogous to what the neocons would later propose for the Bush II administration. 

It should also be added that Perle, Feith, Bryen, Wolfowitz,  and Ledeen have been suspected and sometimes investigated for allegedly providing classified material to agents of the Israeli government.  Whether or not they were actually breaking United States laws (and the laws seem to be more relaxed if the foreign state involved is Israel), these episodes clearly illustrated their close connections to the government of Israel. 

And the former are not the only neocons to evince “hard Zionist positions.”  For example, as I point out in The Transparent Cabal,  Norman Podhoretz, who as the long-time editor of  Commentary had the power to determine what issues and individuals would be placed in the neoconservative spotlight, identified with the Jewish state to such an extent that, as Murray Friedman writes in The Neoconservative Revolution, “Commentary articles now [1970s] came to emphasize threats to Jews and the safety and security of the Jewish state. By the 1980s, nearly half of Podhoretz’s writings on international affairs centered on Israel and these dangers.”  (Quoted in Transparent Cabal, p. 27)  Moreover, at the onset of the Gulf War of 1991,  Podhoretz “went  to live with his daughter in her home in Jerusalem in order to show his solidarity with Israel, which Saddam had threatened to attack by missiles, and did so to a limited extent.” (Transparent Cabal, pp. 27-28)

Moreover, Vaïsse neglects to show that the neocons, once they were able to gain dominance in conservative organizations,  purged those traditional conservatives who were critical of Israel and American policies that seemed to be guided by Israeli interests.  Though referring to the neocon “takeover of the American Enterprise Institute” (p. 206), Vaïsse, with more than a modicum of understatement, writes of “increasing neoconservative influence over  a number of key institutions in the new [conservative] establishment . . . in other words, a competition for money” and alludes to how this “fueled this bitterness” of some traditional conservatives (p. 208), but fails to mention that the neocons were able to totally marginalize any conservatives who opposed their Israelocentric Middle East agenda—opposition which they branded as “anti-Semitic” —by depriving them of their former sources of institutional support. 

It should be noted that there had been a fairly sizeable number of Jewish individuals in the conservative movement for years without arousing the ire of their conservative brethren.  What incensed the traditional conservatives therefore was not the neoconservatives’ Jewishness, but rather the latter’s successful efforts to make support for Israel and a pro-Israel Middle East agenda for the United States a litmus test for  acceptance by the now neocon-dominated conservative institutions.  Vaïsse, however, distorts this episode by implying that the neocons’ traditional conservative opponents were the aggressors and that “a hint of anti-Semitism lay behind these attacks,” and cites long-time conservative icon Russell Kirk, one of the mildest of men, as one of these attackers.  (p. 208) 

Another factor ignored by Vaïsse is the connection of Israel to the US attack on Iraq.  Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanyahu,  promoted war on Iraq during the period of the war’s build-up.  And the Israeli government provided some of the bogus intelligence trumpeted by the neocons to generate support for the war.  Furthermore, the very idea of using military force to eliminate Saddam Hussein’s regime would seem to have originated in Israel with Likudnik Oded Yinon’s 1982 work, “A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties,” which called for an overall Israeli war agenda of fragmenting its enemies into small, ethno-sectarian statelets for the purpose of enhancing its own national security.  Iraq was designated as the first target. 

In short, support for Israel looms very large in neoconservative thinking, but if  Vaïsse  simply means that the neocons’ identification with Israel does not explain the  “neoconservative worldview” in its entirety, this is something with which I concur in my book, The Transparent Cabal.  For example, I write: “Undoubtedly, the overall neoconservative viewpoint does not revolve solely around the security needs of Israel, and the same is true even of the neocons’ positions on foreign policy and national-security policy.  To state that neoconservatives viewed American foreign policy in the Middle East through the lens of Israeli interest – and that this was the basis of the neocon Middle East war agenda – is not to say that their support for Israel has been the be-all and end-all of their foreign policy ideas, which encompass the entire world.” (Transparent Cabal, p. 7)

But the neocons have had their greatest impact on American policy in regard to the Middle East, and this is the fundamental concern at the present time.  Consequently, what Vaïsse refers to as the neoconservatives’ “unconditional support” for Israel that has led to  “unrealistic policy recommendations” is currently far more significant than their positions on Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society programs or arms limitations agreements with the Soviet Union during the 1970s and 1980s.

However, Vaïsse’s points about the neoconservatives’ “unconditional support” for Israel occupy but a small portion of the book and are thus overwhelmed by a lengthy discussion of the earlier years of neoconservatism, where concern for Israel, though existent, did not loom paramount. Only  50 pages of  the book’s narrative of 279 pages cover the neoconservatives’ activities from the post-Cold War 1990s to the present—the time in which their focus on Israel becomes most apparent.

Vaïsse also obfuscates the focus on Israel in his “Epilogue:  Interpreting Neoconservatism”—a part that, being at the end of the book, most readers will likely remember and that most reviewers are apt to actually read closely rather than skim.  There he portrays the neocons in the area of foreign policy as fundamentally motivated by a mixture of nationalism and universalist democratic ideals, as opposed to an attachment to Israel. “One can see neoconservatism,” he contends, “as a avatar of American messianism, as the expression of an underlying nationalism that has been present since the country was born, a reincarnation of Wilsonianism in a new, more martial form.  Owing to American exceptionalism (‘a city on a hill’), the United States has swung from protection to projection, from isolationism (synonymous with preserving the American model) to imperialism (synonymous with extending the model around the world).  See [sic] in this light, neoconservatism is above all a sign of the resurgence of this nationalist—but also universalist—faith, on the model of French Jacobin nationalism, an off-shoot of the French Revolution of 1789, which was mixed with a universalist credo.” (p. 278)

Undoubtedly, this type of nationalistic, democratic messianism has existed and still exists in United States, but there would seem to be no reason for this attitude to be connected with what Vaïsse  describes earlier in the book as the neocons’ “unconditional support” for Israel.  True nationalists—who would be focused solely on what is good for their own country—would not be in favor of “unconditional support” for  any foreign country since changing circumstances would mean that such support would not always be in the national interest.  In his famous Farewell Address, George Washington expressed this nationalist belief in his admonition to his fellow citizens to eschew a “passionate attachment” to a foreign country, which is exactly what “unconditional support” for Israel constitutes. And as has been widely recognized by Middle East experts in the United States government since the time of Israel’s creation, American support for the Jewish state makes positive relations with the Arab world, which are of crucial importance to the United States because of the region’s oil resources, more difficult.

In regard to exporting democracy, it is not apparent that some major neocon prescriptions, such as bombing Iran, even have that intent.  As most experts contend, any United States attack on Iran would unify that country behind the Islamic regime and perhaps lead to revolts by radical Islamic groups throughout the Gulf against pro-Western governments.  Moreover, America’s war on Iraq and identification with Israel have made it less popular in the Middle East and the rest the world—the effect of which is to increase the difficulty of extending the American democratic model.  It would seem quite obvious that if the goal were to export America’s form of democracy elsewhere in the world, supporting the policies of the Jewish state and making war against its enemies would not be the way to achieve it.

Regarding Israel itself, it would seem that if democracy were the neoconservatives’ watchword, they would work to eliminate Israel’s undemocratic control over the Palestinians on the West Bank and try to make the country itself more inclusive—and not a state explicitly privileging Jews over non-Jews.  The neoconservatives would either promote a one-state democratic solution for what had once been the British Palestine Mandate (Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank) or else demand that Israel allow the Palestinians to have a fully sovereign, viable state on all of the West Bank and Gaza.  Israeli governments, in contrast, have regarded a one-state solution as anathema and have never offered the Palestinians more than a faux state of non-contiguous bantustans within which Israel would maintain security zones and control vital resources such as water.  Similarly, instead of taking anything approaching a  pro-democracy stance, the neoconservatives do just the opposite, backing the Israeli Likudnik Right, which takes an especially hostile position toward the Palestinians with its fundamental goal being the maintenance of the exclusivist Jewish nature of the state of Israel.

In making these criticisms, I do not want to leave the impression that there is nothing of value in this book.  Vaïsse does a good job of describing some intricacies of the earlier years of neoconservatism (1960s, 1970s and 1980s).  Although he does not seem to provide anything to change the broad outlines of the conventional history of neoconservatism, he does add a number of poignant details.  For students of neoconology, he must be credited for puncturing as mythical the widespread claim that socialist Michael Harrington coined the term “neoconservative.” (p. 71-76)  Vaïsse also makes an interesting point as to how some neocons were still trying to shape the Democratic Party after most migrated to Reagan at the beginning of the 1980s.  And he notes that ultimately, after the end of the Cold War, one segment of the Democratic Party, the “neoliberals,” would adopt much of the neoconservatives’ interventionist foreign policy agenda.

As mentioned earlier, Vaïsse must be credited for accurately pointing out that the neoconservatives were the major factor in bringing about the United States’ attack on Iraq in 2003.  He notes that the neoconservatives laid the plans for attacking Iraq prior to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and that those attacks created a climate of fear and anger which enabled the neocons, with their war agenda, to gain the upper hand in the Bush administration.  He observes that the neocons, both within and outside the Bush administration, provided the propaganda that generated the public and elite support for the war and that even President George W. Bush was persuaded by them.  And he shows that Bush, despite his neoconservative rhetoric, generally moved away from the neoconservative war policy during his second term, though adopting the neocons’ “surge” policy as opposed to the establishment-oriented Baker-Hamilton report on Iraq.  Finally, despite America’s failure in Iraq and the nonexistence of actual neoconservatives in the Obama administration, Vaïsse makes the cogent observation that neoconservatism itself has not died, but remains “a potent force in Washington, only waiting for a more favorable political environment in which to exert its influence on American foreign policy again.” (p. 266)

While Vaïsse deserves credit for showing the neocons’ influence during the Bush administration, he only encapsulates what is often said about the neoconservatives outside the restrictive confines of the mainstream media.  And I should add that my extensive documentation of this subject in The Transparent Cabal  far exceeds what Vaïsse provides in a small portion of his book.

Where Vaïsse achieves some degree of originality is in his typology—his classification of neoconservatism according to somewhat overlapping chronological periods, which he terms “ages,” with each having a distinct agenda, political activities, and people (though he is not the first to make such distinctions).  The neoconservatives of the first age, which began in 1965, were concerned about the rise of the New Left, campus violence, the counterculture, affirmative action and the overall leftward drift of American liberalism.  Their focus was largely on domestic policy.  They criticized the unintended negative consequences of Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty, and while they opposed the radical state-imposed egalitarianism sought by the New Left, they were supporters of the traditional liberal welfare state and remained loyal to the Democratic Party.

I should add that in my view this first age, which consisted of many individuals who did not hold the hard-line foreign policy views that would come to characterize neoconservatism, did not represent full-fledged neoconservatism.  Thus, I would describe the individuals of this early period as proto-neoconservatives, with actual neoconservatism not really emerging until the start of the 1970s, as foreign policy became a fundamental concern.

Vaïsse dates 1972 as the beginning of the second age, which he views as a reaction to the nomination of George McGovern as candidate of the Democratic Party.  The McGovern movement embodied the anti-war, especially anti-Cold War, ethos that took hold of American liberalism during the Vietnam era.  The primary focus of the  second age would be on foreign policy, as the neocons supported hard-line Cold War policies against the Soviet Union, in opposition to both what they considered to be the “isolationism” and “appeasement” of the McGovernite Democrats, as well as the Kissingerian détente of the Nixon-Ford administrations.  They made strenuous efforts to reclaim the Democratic party for Cold War liberalism, but when President Jimmy Carter seemed to be continuing in the path of the McGovernites, the neocons reluctantly gravitated to Reagan in 1980, gaining positions in his administration, where they helped to craft his hard-line Cold War positions.

Like the second age, the third age, which Vaïsse has beginning in 1995, would also focus on foreign policy.  With the Cold War over, the neocons would emphasize the need for global democracy and focus on the transformation of the Middle East.  Their more expansive global ambitions reflected the fact that the United States had become the world’s sole superpower.  It was during this age that the neocons would achieve their greatest impact, gaining influential positions in the Bush II administration, where they would act as the driving force for the war on Iraq.

Although an interesting typology, I don’t think the ages are as separate as Vaïsse  often makes them appear, or at least as how his mainstream reviewers seem to interpret his position.  In many respects the ages blend together.  Vaïsse sometimes acknowledges this blending when he writes of the convergence between the first and second ages (p. 207 ), and when he acknowledges strong similarities between the second and third ages. (p. 221)  Moreover, full-fledged neoconservatives from one age, such as Norman Podhoretz, supported  the issues that loomed largest in the succeeding ages. (Norman Podhoretz was involved in all three ages.)  The change in ages, therefore, did not represent so  much a change in the neoconservative core membership, but rather the change represented the need to address new issues as a result of different circumstances, which did lead to changes in the neocons’ allies.

What Vaïsse fails to bring out clearly is the fact that Jewish interests loomed large in all of his three ages.  In the first age, New Left demands for group equality and their efforts to bring chaos to the universities seemed to threaten the higher status of Jews.  In the second age, neocons were concerned about liberal Democrats identifying with Third World attacks on Israel, seeking retrenchment of US military involvement that might weaken support for Israel, and advocating a friendlier policy toward the Soviet Union, which was now seen as anti-Israel and anti-Semitic.  In the third age, the neoconservatives’ promotion of a “democratic” reconfiguration of the Middle East would involve the weakening of Israel’s enemies.

What is one to make of Vaïsse’s work?  A positive way of looking at it would be to describe it as the best type of work that can be produced and still receive mainstream attention.  For Vaïsse does point out that the neocons were the driving force for the war on Iraq.  And he certainly does criticize their war-oriented activities.  That he plays down the Jewish nature of neoconservatism and the movement’s focus on Israel could be interpreted as the necessary price to pay for this positive reception; in fact, as  a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, it is questionable if Vaïsse could have produced a work with an accurate discussion of the taboo subjects.  For Brookings includes the Saban Center for Middle East Policy, which was created in 2002 largely by the funding ($13 million) of Haim Saban, who has pledged additional financial support.  Saban happens to be a staunch Zionist, who has been quoted as saying: “I’m a one-issue guy and my issue is Israel.” (

Another way of looking at Vaïsse’s book would be to classify it in the genre of damage control or what Harry Elmer Barnes, a leading revisionist of the history of World War I and World War II, referred to as a “smother-out.”  This approach would allow a partial revelation of the truth, as the complete black-out lost credibility, in order to stave off more extensive revelations.

By downplaying the significance of Jewish ethnicity and the centrality of Israel, however, Vaïsse’s work fails to provide much help in understanding the current push by the overall Israel lobby and the government of Israel for war on Iran, which the neoconservatives intended to have as the next major target for the US after the invasion of Iraq.  More than serving as a guide for understanding the present, however, truth is good for its own sake since presumably the purpose of history is to best describe what actually happened in the past.  What Vaïsse has provided is simply a partial truth that leaves out key elements, which should be recognized by anyone who truly investigates the issue.  It would be hoped that the mainstream would open up sufficiently so that this fuller, unadulterated truth would not be shunted to the margins of society.  This, however, would appear to be but a forlorn hope.  As the 19th century New England poet James Russell Lowell put it:  “Truth forever on the scaffold, Wrong forever on the throne.”

Stephen J. Sniegoski, Ph.D. earned his doctorate in American history, with a focus on American foreign policy, at the University of Maryland.  His focus on the neoconservative involvement in American foreign policy antedates September 11,and his first major work on the subject, “The War on Iraq: Conceived in Israel” was published February 10, 2003, more than a month before the American attack.  He is the author of The Transparent Cabal: The Neoconservative Agenda, War in the Middle East, and the National Interest of Israel.


Amazon listing of The Transparent Cabal:

Paul Craig Roberts: Without A Revolution, Americans Are History

Without a revolution (against the neocons and bankers), Americans are history (according to Paul Craig Roberts below):

The ecstasy of empire

The ecstasy of empire
By Paul Craig Roberts
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Aug 17, 2010, 00:16

The United States is running out of time to get its budget and trade deficits under control. Despite the urgency of the situation, 2010 has been wasted in hype about a nonexistent recovery. As recently as August 2 Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner penned a New York Times column, “Welcome to the Recovery.” 

As John Williams ( has made clear on many occasions, an appearance of recovery was created by over-counting employment and undercounting inflation. Warnings by Williams, Gerald Celente, and myself have gone unheeded, but our warnings recently had echoes from Boston University professor Laurence Kotlikoff and from David Stockman, who excoriated the Republican Party for becoming big-spending Democrats. 

It is encouraging to see some realization that, this time, Washington cannot spend the economy out of recession. The deficits are already too large for the dollar to survive as reserve currency, and deficit spending cannot put Americans back to work in jobs that have been moved offshore.  

However, the solutions offered by those who are beginning to recognize that there is a problem are discouraging. Kotlikoff thinks the solution is savage Social Security and Medicare cuts or equally savage tax increases or hyperinflation to destroy the vast debts.  

Perhaps economists lack imagination, or perhaps they don’t want to be cut off from Wall Street and corporate subsidies, but Social Security and Medicare are insufficient at their present levels, especially considering the erosion of private pensions by the dot-com, derivative and real estate bubbles. Cuts in Social Security and Medicare, for which people have paid 15 per cent of their earnings all their lives, would result in starvation and deaths from curable diseases.  

Tax increases make even less sense. It is widely acknowledged that the majority of households cannot survive on one job. Both husband and wife work and often one of the partners has two jobs in order to make ends meet. Raising taxes makes it harder to make ends meet — thus more foreclosures, more food stamps, more homelessness. What kind of economist or humane person thinks this is a solution? 

Ah, but we will tax the rich. The rich have enough money. They will simply stop earning. 

Let’s get real. Here is what the government is likely to do. Once Washington realizes that the dollar is at risk and that they can no longer finance their wars by borrowing abroad, the government will either levy a tax on private pensions on the grounds that the pensions have accumulated tax-deferred, or the government will require pension fund managers to purchase Treasury debt with our pensions. This will buy the government a bit more time while pension accounts are loaded up with worthless paper.  

The last Bush budget deficit (2008) was in the $400-500 billion range, about the size of the Chinese, Japanese, and OPEC trade surpluses with the US. Traditionally, these trade surpluses have been recycled to the US and finance the federal budget deficit. In 2009 and 2010 the federal deficit jumped to $1,400 billion, a back-to-back trillion dollar increase. There are not sufficient trade surpluses to finance a deficit this large. From where comes the money? 

The answer is from individuals fleeing the stock market into “safe” Treasury bonds and from the bankster bailout, not so much the TARP money as the Federal Reserve’s exchange of bank reserves for questionable financial paper such as subprime derivatives. The banks used their excess reserves to purchase Treasury debt. 

These financing maneuvers are one-time tricks. Once people have fled stocks, that movement into Treasuries is over. The opposition to the bankster bailout likely precludes another. So where does the money come from the next time? 

The Treasury was able to unload a lot of debt thanks to “the Greek crisis,” which the New York banksters and hedge funds multiplied into “the euro crisis.” The financial press served as a financing arm for the US Treasury by creating panic about European debt and the euro. Central banks and individuals who had taken refuge from the dollar in euros were panicked out of their euros, and they rushed into dollars by purchasing US Treasury debt.  

This movement from euros to dollars weakened the alternative reserve currency to the dollar, halted the dollar’s decline, and financed the US budget deficit a while longer. 

Possibly the game can be replayed with Spanish debt, Irish debt, and whatever unlucky country is swept in by the thoughtless expansion of the European Union. 

But when no countries remain that can be destabilized by Wall Street investment banksters and hedge funds, what then finances the US budget deficit? 

The only remaining financier is the Federal Reserve. When Treasury bonds brought to auction do not sell, the Federal Reserve must purchase them. The Federal Reserve purchases the bonds by creating new demand deposits, or checking accounts, for the Treasury. As the Treasury spends the proceeds of the new debt sales, the US money supply expands by the amount of the Federal Reserve’s purchase of Treasury debt. 

Do goods and services expand by the same amount? Imports will increase as US jobs have been offshored and given to foreigners, thus worsening the trade deficit. When the Federal Reserve purchases the Treasury’s new debt issues, the money supply will increase by more than the supply of domestically produced goods and services. Prices are likely to rise. 

How high will they rise? The longer money is created in order that government can pay its bills, the more likely hyperinflation will be the result. 

The economy has not recovered. By the end of this year, it will be obvious that the collapsing economy means a larger than $1.4 trillion budget deficit to finance. Will it be $2 trillion? Higher?  

Whatever the size, the rest of the world will see that the dollar is being printed in such quantities that it cannot serve as reserve currency. At that point, wholesale dumping of dollars will result as foreign central banks try to unload a worthless currency.  

The collapse of the dollar will drive up the prices of imports and offshored goods on which Americans are dependent. Walmart shoppers will think they have mistakenly gone into Neiman Marcus.  

Domestic prices will also explode as a growing money supply chases the supply of goods and services still made in America by Americans. 

The dollar as reserve currency cannot survive the conflagration. When the dollar goes, the US cannot finance its trade deficit. Therefore, imports will fall sharply, thus adding to domestic inflation and, as the US is energy import-dependent, there will be transportation disruptions that will disrupt work and grocery store deliveries. 

Panic will be the order of the day. 

Will farms be raided? Will those trapped in cities resort to riots and looting? 

Is this the likely future that “our” government and “our patriotic” corporations have created for us? 

To borrow from Lenin, “What can be done?” 

Here is what can be done. The wars, which benefit no one but the military-security complex and Israel’s territorial expansion, can be immediately ended. This would reduce the US budget deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars per year. More hundreds of billions of dollars could be saved by cutting the rest of the military budget which, in its present size, exceeds the budgets of all the serious military powers on earth combined.  

US military spending reflects the unaffordable and unattainable crazed neoconservative goal of US Empire and world hegemony. What fool in Washington thinks that China is going to finance US hegemony over China?  

The only way that the US will again have an economy is by bringing back the offshored jobs. The loss of these jobs impoverished Americans while producing oversized gains for Wall Street, shareholders, and corporate executives. These jobs can be brought home where they belong by taxing corporations according to where value is added to their product. If value is added to their goods and services in China, corporations would have a high tax rate. If value is added to their goods and services in the US, corporations would have a low tax rate. 

This change in corporate taxation would offset the cheap foreign labor that has sucked jobs out of America, and it would rebuild the ladders of upward mobility that made America an opportunity society.  

If the wars are not immediately stopped and the jobs brought back to America, the US is relegated to the trash bin of history. 

Obviously, the corporations and Wall Street would use their financial power and campaign contributions to block any legislation that would reduce short-term earnings and bonuses by bringing jobs back to America. Americans have no greater enemies than Wall Street and the corporations and their prostitutes in Congress and the White House. 

The neocons allied with Israel, who control both parties and much of the media, are strung out on the ecstasy of Empire.  

The United States and the welfare of its 300 million people cannot be restored unless the neocons, Wall Street, the corporations, and their servile slaves in Congress and the White House can be defeated. 

Without a revolution, Americans are history. 

Paul Craig Roberts was an editor of the Wall Street Journal and an Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury. His latest book, HOW THE ECONOMY WAS LOST, has just been published by CounterPunch/AK Press. He can be reached at:

Obama Admin Claims End to Combat Operations in Iraq, But Iraqis See Same War Under a Different Name

Obama Admin Claims End to Combat Operations in Iraq, But Iraqis See Same War Under a Different Name

JINSA/PNAC/AEI Neocons used ‘democracy’ to mask their nefarious war for Israel agenda:

Whose War (Israel’s war!)?:
Iraq snapshot: Friday, August 20, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, the US military suffers another death in Iraq
Fragmentation of Iraq Was Israel’s Strategy (by Dr. Stephen Sniegoski) – be sure to scroll down to comments at bottom of following URL if interested further

Tales from the Northwest Frontier

Tales from the Northwest Frontier

Posted By Philip Giraldi On August 18, 2010 @ 11:00 pm

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One of my favorite movies is The Tailor of Panama, based on the tongue-in-cheek novel written by John Le Carre which was in turn derived from Graham Greene’s Our Man in Havana. In the film, Pierce Brosnan was featured as a corrupt British intelligence officer who fraudulently convinced the CIA to fund a secret army that did not actually exist.  When one of the CIA officers complained that he had never heard of the group, Brosnan replied “Of course not.  It’s a SECRET army.”  He got his money.

The story is appropriate because if you want to fool someone the establishment of a false narrative is essential.  False narrative has been around for a long time, at least since the time of Herodotus, though the first Greek historian at least had the integrity to sometimes suggest that the tales that he was relating might not be completely truthful.  Such candor is rarely found today.  Post-9/11 Americans have wallowed in their own false narrative while producing devastation in many parts of the world, referring antiseptically to COIN doctrine and overseas contingency operations instead of state-sponsored terrorism and assassination teams, which is what the euphemisms really mean. 

A recent example of a magnificently false and malicious narrative appeared in Time magazine, which featured a cover photo of an Afghan woman with her nose cut off.  The magazine suggested that the United States has to remain in Afghanistan to prevent similar mutilations, a concept that is both breathtaking in its irrelevance and suggestive of borderline imbecility on the part of the magazine’s readers. Time‘s tale is a throwback to the days of the British Empire, the white man’s burden, a bizarre narrative in which America’s bold warriors are sacrificing their lives to protect the weak and helpless across the Khyber Pass and along the Northwest Frontier.  Would that it were so, but devastated wedding parties targeted by drone pilots sitting in air-conditioned comfort in Nevada tell a different story.

The false narrative we are hearing in America today is that constant war is both necessary and manageable not to mention a safeguard of the US Constitution and our way of life.  The Founding Fathers would not agree and would be horrified if they returned to America today.  They saw clearly that foreign entanglements would bring about the death of the Republic and granted only to Congress the power to declare war.  In spite of that, however, the United States has sent its soldiers into combat situations more than seventy times since the defeat of Japan in 1945, all without a declaration of war by Congress, and the president has acquired pretty much a free hand to initiate military action. 

And the imperial agenda, relying on a completely false narrative, has had a major impact on both the size and intrusiveness of the federal government, which many Americans are beginning to rightly fear.  No one should doubt that ill-conceived security measures and the deliberate exaggeration of the threat of terrorism have driven much of both foreign and domestic policy since 9/11.  Many Americans want smaller and cheaper government, less interference from Washington in their daily lives, and fewer programs that are intended to socially re-engineer the nation.  But many of the very same people fail to connect the dots because they also want a strong, assertive national defense and are supporters of an aggressive foreign and security policy because they have been lied to by our leaders and the media regarding the actual dangers that confront them.  A recent opinion poll reveals that two thirds of Americans want to attack Iran because they wrongly believe that it already has a nuclear weapon, triggering a war that would likely have unimaginable consequences, not least of which would be gas at $10 a gallon and a wrecked economy.

It is precisely the interventionist defense and foreign policies that are driving the bad things most Americans see in government. It is easy to forget that when Bill Clinton left office in 2000 there was a budget surplus.  Ballooning defense and security spending since that time, all accomplished without raising taxes, has been the engine of growth for a suffocating $13 trillion national debt, a total that increases by $4 billion every day.  The United States now accounts for 45% of the entire world total for military spending, euphemistically referred to as “defense.”  The Pentagon budget has gone from $432 billion in 2001 to a projected $720 billion in 2011, not including the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The Federal Government is twice as big as it was in 2001 and there has been the creation of major new bureaucracies at the Department of Homeland Security and the office of the Director of National Intelligence, neither of which can be regarded as a model of efficiency. 

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 in circumstances somewhat similar to the current American financial slide, a Russian politician joked that his country was somewhat like Upper Volta with nuclear armed ballistic missiles.  At the time Upper Volta was the poorest country in the world and his point was that having the world’s greatest missile force did not make up for having a wrecked economy.  For the United States to continue its imperialist foreign policy, and there is every sign that it intends to do so, will eventually lead to economic and social collapse. 

The first thing that must be done to fix the government in Washington is for the United States to end its wars overseas and dramatically scale back on its international commitments.  There is no good reason for Washington to serve as the world’s policeman (or bully) and many good reasons why it should cease and desist from doing so.  Reason number one should be that the muscular foreign policy has actually been helping those who seek to harm the United States.  In October 2004 Osama bin Laden referred to the damage, saying “We are continuing in the same policy to make America bleed profusely to the point of bankruptcy.” The numbers alone demonstrate that bin Laden has succeeded, far beyond his wildest imaginings.  Iraq alone has cost $1 trillion and counting, 4400 Americans have died together with as many as 650,000 Iraqis.  Afghanistan and Iraq continue to run a tab at $12 billion per month, with 1,200 more American dead in Afghanistan, and global war is expanding, not contracting, as the Obama Administration contemplates increased direct involvement in Yemen, Pakistan, and the Horn of Africa.  Americans are overall less safe, not more.

US policies also propagate terrorism in the form of blowback.  Every diplomat or intelligence officer understands that when a man attempts to detonate an SUV in Times Square or ignite explosives in his underwear on board an airliner it is because the US is bombing and killing in places like Yemen and Pakistan.  So why doesn’t the White House get it?  Stop one and you stop the other.  Ron Paul recently wrote “No matter our intentions, the violence of our militarism in foreign lands causes those residents to seek revenge if innocents are killed.  One does not have to be Muslim to react this way, just human.” 

Americans should be skeptical about anything being promoted by the government or the mainstream media.  They should challenge every dollar being demanded by the Defense Department, the intelligence agencies, and by the Department of Homeland Security.  Put an end to the American empire and its symbiotic military industrial complex and you can stop writing a blank check every year for the Pentagon, you can stop borrowing money to fund the wars, and you can take sensible steps to reduce the size of government.  As the memory of the overhyped terrorist threat fades, you might even begin to restore some of those civil liberties that have been stripped away by the Patriot Acts, the Military Commissions Act, and the assertion of state secrets privilege. 

America needs first of all to stop thinking of war like it is some kind of romantic novel or Hollywood production. Glamorizing and glorifying the young men and women fighting the desperate natives in the Hindu Kush will only result in many more dead and national bankruptcy. It is time to tell a different tale.  If there is to be any healing, Americans must acknowledge that it has been the brutal and disastrous foreign and security policies that have driven virtually everything that ails the United States today.

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DEBORCHGRAVE: Guns of August

DEBORCHGRAVE: Guns of August

GOP Blank Check for War

GOP Blank Check for War

A Neocon Preps US for War with Iran

A Neocon Preps US for War with Iran

A Campaign for War with Iran Begins

Pro-Attack On Iran? Anti-Israel!

Kevin MacDonald: Like Father, Like Son

Cutting Through the Media’s Bogus Bomb-Iran Debate

‘JINSA John’ Bolton says Israel May Strike by Aug. 21

 ‘JINSA John’ Bolton says Israel May Strike by Aug. 21:

Hillary’s Enemies List

Hillary’s Enemies List


Posted By Philip Giraldi On August 11, 2010

Some might recall the enemies list that President Richard Nixon kept in his desk.  The list was appended to a memo that asked “how we can use the available federal machinery to screw our political enemies?” Named were a number of journalists who had criticized Nixon’s administration as well as celebrities like actors Gregory Peck and Paul Newman and athletes like Joe Namath.  Nixon was clearly on to something because in today’s America we have a new enemies list, one that is updated annually to make sure that nary a single malefactor is overlooked.  It is the US State Department’s Country Reports on Terrorism, which was unveiled last week in its 2009 version at a briefing conducted by Ambassador Daniel Benjamin, Foggy Bottom’s Coordinator for Counterterrorism. 

There is, of course, an American fixation with compiling lists and making numeric assessments of things that are not amenable to such analysis.  Recently those featured on such lists have also been on the receiving end of one or another of the endless wars that the United States engages in to rid itself of elements that it finds objectionable. The terrorism report claims to be an objective analysis of world terrorism, describing how it ebbs and flows globally.  Its stated purpose is to “to help understand the current trends in global terrorism.” It also includes its infamous state sponsors of terrorism section, which purports to be an examination of all those countries that support terrorist groups.  Conveniently for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who signed off on the report, the list is very light on introspection.  The United States is certainly the world’s leading supporter of terrorists that actually kill people, mostly in places like Iran, under direction from the CIA and military special ops but its actions are not described in the report.  Israel too, engages in terrorism through its intelligence service Mossad, most recently assassinating a Hamas official in Dubai in January, and its armed forces and police regularly engage in terrorism directed against the Palestinian people in an attempt to demoralize and intimidate them into submission.  But, according to the State Department, soldiers and other government employees cannot be considered terrorists.

The State Department report sometimes seems like a press release for the Israeli Foreign Ministry.  Regarding the horrific Israeli invasion of Gaza and its aftermath, it reads: “Israeli forces conducted Operation Cast Lead from December 2008 to January 2009 to root out terrorist organizations’ stockpiles of rockets and mortars in Gaza. The IAF launched airstrikes on HAMAS security installations, personnel, and other facilities, as well as rocket and mortar launch teams. On January 3, Israeli forces launched a ground invasion. Hostilities between Israeli forces and HAMAS militants continued through January 18, and the Israeli withdrawal of troops was completed on January 21. Israeli officials believed Operation Cast Lead helped achieve a level of deterrence, as rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza dropped precipitously following the conflict.”  They were only rooting out terrorists.  Nothing about Israeli provocations and no mention of the deliberate destruction of schools and infrastructure and the targeting of UN relief operations or the high level of civilian casualties.

Hamas and Hezbollah, which do not threaten the United States, are unambiguously described in the report as terrorists, almost certainly because they do threaten Israel, ignoring their roles as national resistance movements to an aggressive and expansionistic Tel Aviv.  It also does not concede their greater significance as legitimate and generally respected political parties in Gaza and Lebanon.  The report states:  “Israeli security officials argued that Iran, primarily through the efforts of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), has established a sophisticated arms smuggling network from Iran through Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Israeli security officials said Hezbollah continued to provide support to select Palestinian groups to augment their capacity to conduct attacks against Israel. Israeli politicians and security officials pointed to Hezbollah’s efforts to rebuild and re-arm following the 2006 conflict against the group as evidence that it remained a threat to Israel; these officials estimated that Hezbollah possessed an arsenal of over 40,000 short- and medium-range rockets.”  The report suggests a new, heavily armed and malignant axis of evil.  It clearly makes opponents of Israel the designated bad guys and fails to note that US intelligence has not been able to confirm Tel Aviv’s allegations, making one wonder why uncorroborated claims from biased foreign sources should appear in a United States government document without any additional caveats.

Regarding both Hamas and Hezbollah, the report goes on to note that they continue “to finance their terrorist activities against Israel primarily through state sponsors of terrorism Iran and Syria, and fundraising networks in the Arabian Peninsula, Europe, the Middle East, the United States, and to a lesser extent, elsewhere.”  It may be true that both groups receive foreign assistance, but, based on further reading, one might well ask “What ‘terrorist activities’?”  The State Department report states that only four Israelis were killed in terrorist incidents in 2009 and none of the deaths were attributed either to Hamas or Hezbollah.  The report also notes that the northern Israeli “front” with Lebanon, where Hezbollah is entrenched, was quiet during the entire year. 

So Israel’s enemies are America’s enemies and Hillary won’t let you forget that fact.  And then there is the amazing state sponsors of terrorism section.  Iran is described as the “most active state sponsor of terrorism.”  Why?  Because it supports Hamas and Hezbollah, of course, and because backing such groups has “a direct impact on international efforts to promote peace.”  What efforts Hillary is referring to and what exactly is being impeded is not at all clear, particularly as it appears to most observers that the Netanyahu government has been the principal obstacle to peace through its settlements policy. 

The rest of the terrorism sponsor list is equally predictable:  Sudan, Syria, and Cuba.  Sudan hardly threatens the United States or its interests and has cooperated in counterterrorism efforts, as the report concedes.  But it harbors Palestinian groups.  Ditto for Syria, which equally does not endanger the United States or the American people in any way.  And then there is poor little Cuba.  The report admits that Havana does not support violent struggle but it does provide “physical safe haven and ideological support” to three terrorist groups, FARC and ELN of Colombia and ETA from Spain.  Oddly enough, Venezuela, which much more actively supports FARC, ELN, and ETA, is not on the list, but Caracas has oil, much of which is exported to the US, while Cuba is oil-less.

As a compendium of useless and heavily politicized information, the State Department annual Country Reports on Terrorism reign supreme, so why compile it at all?  Well, Congress has mandated the nice glossy annual document that confirms all of its preconceptions and one also supposes that Ambassador Daniel Benjamin needs a job that keeps both him and his staff employed and out of mischief.  Plus it enables Hillary to talk tough and it also is another building block in the case being made to attack Iran and to keep groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Iranian Rev Guards beyond the pale.  If anyone is curious, precisely how many Americans have Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Iranians killed in the past eight years?  The answer is “none.”

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