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Thursday, May 05, 2005

Pushing war with Iran

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is arguably Washington's most powerful lobby group. The organisation holds extreme views on the Israel/Palestine conflict and has been a long-time opponent of negotiation with the Palestinians. Indeed, AIPAC's public and private persona couldn't be more different. Jeffrey Blankfort reported in 2003: "It [AIPAC] wanted to appear to be supportive of the 'road map,' while working to derail it." The uniformity of consensus within Washington towards Israel is partly due to the effectiveness of AIPAC's intense lobbying. Any Congressman or woman who dares speak out against Israel or its policies will find a better funded opponent next election.

Last August came a bombshell. It emerged that Larry Franklin, the Pengaton's then top Iran desk officer, met repeatedly with Naor Gilon, head of the political department at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, and a specialist on Iran's nuclear weapons program. Juan Cole reported last year: "Franklin did succeed in giving a confidential draft presidential directive on Iran to AIPAC officials, who then passed it to someone at the Israeli Embassy, perhaps Gilon. It is telling that the official took hard copy from AIPAC, presumably because he trusted them implicitly, whereas Gilon had rejected it from Franklin."

But does all this mean? The facts in this case still remain unclear but more pieces of the puzzle are emerging. AIPAC supports "regime change" in Iran. The removal of the mullahs in Tehran would eradicate another regional enemy of Israel, so the thinking goes. A number of senior members of the Bush administration are also opposed to Iran and support military action against the country's supposed nuclear capabilities. The involvement of a lobby group in the formulation of government policy strikes at the heart of America's faltering democracy.

Franklin surrendered to the FBI yesterday to face charges of illegal disclosure of classified information to AIPAC. This development, and much of this story, has received virtually no media coverage in Australia, and little in the US. Gorilla in the Room has summarised the major questions arising out of the latest revelations. These include:

- Franklin is known to have passed onto two now former senior AIPAC officials, Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, "a draft Presidential decision directive which would have, if approved, made regime change rather than negotiation official U.S. policy toward Iran."

- A major goal of the Israeli government is military action against Iran. AIPAC, an American proxy of the Israeli government, with Franklin's help, has been pressuring members of Congress to support military strikes against Iran.

- What does the FBI have on AIPAC? It is quite possible that the Jewish lobby group would be exposed as leading the charge against Iraq. Phonetaps undoubtedly exist. Gorilla: "After all, the Office of Special Plans at the Pentagon was very heavily staffed with political appointees with very close personal ties to Israel. (This is the truth that dare not speak its name, but it's critical to understanding how the U.S. got snookered into invading Iraq.)"

- How much of the bogus intelligence used by America and its allies to justify action against Iraq came from Israeli intelligence sources? And is similarly flawed intelligence being used to lead the charge against Iran? When Ariel Sharon recently met Bush, he presented the US President with evidence that "proved" Iran was "near a point of no return" on its nuclear program.

- The infamous case of the forged documents related to alleged sales of uranium yellowcake from Niger to Iraq, infamously used by Bush in his State of the Union address in 2003. Somebody forged the documents. But whom? It seems unlikely that the Israelis did it, despite their large support for the Iraq invasion. Exposure would have resulted in a uncomfortable relationship between Israel and the US. But did one of the neo-cons do it for them? Larry Franklin perhaps? A timeline suggests this may have been the case.

The seriousness of these allegations has resulted in the mainstream media backing away from covering it in much detail at all. Discussion of the influence of Israel and its agents in America, and indeed Australia, remains one of the last great taboos.

Journalists should be demanding answers to these key questions:

1) Did we (America and its allies) invade Iraq partially due to pressure from the Israel lobby?

2) Are we moving in a similiar direction with Iran based on identical motives?

3) Does AIPAC's equivalent in Australia, AIJAC - a long-time supporter of war against Iraq and now making hawkish noises towards Iran - present Australian government officials with intelligence of Iran's "imminent threat"? Is there a possibility that a Larry Franklin equivalent exists in Australia, passing classified information to Israeli lobby groups?

Until a full investigation is conducted into AIPAC and its proxies in the Bush administration (unlikely to happen in the current political climate in Washington) we won't know the true impact and long-time ramifications of even partially subverting foreign policy to the Middle East only "democracy."

UPDATE: Haaretz provides a less than thorough "analysis" of the latest developments.

UPDATE 2: The New York Times covers the case.


Anonymous Glenn Condell said...

An acquaintance of mine, of Arab descent, used always to intone the following remark at the conclusion of any discussion of US/Israeli relations...

'Israel is the rider, America the horse'.

Isn't there a danger that someone, 'some strange beast', at some stage, perhaps when the economic shit really hits the fan and/or a whole platoon of grunts gets clipped by insurgents on primetime... isn't it possible that a charismatic, all American, latter day Barry Goldwater type will emerge from backwoods America to reveal the 'gorilla in the room' in no uncertain terms, destroying the artfully arranged and strictly maintained 'story' of US/Israeli relations by forcefully demonstrating not just the corruption and venality and self-interest at it's heart (not necessarily a major concern for his constituency) but how by virtually every measure, on almost every issue, the US has been screwed, lied to, stolen from and used, much of this too, being accomplished by Israeli partisans (but American citizens) who have cloaked their treasonous behaviour at the apogee of US governance (paying their own bills with American blood, bought with lies) with a veil of treacly US nationalism and patriotic boilerplate, backed by ready resort to disinformation and intimidation and probably worse?

A bit of Pat Buchanan, some David Duke, a dash of Joe McCarthy. An articulate demagogue who won't cut his cloth to Zionist patterns as all US politicians presently do and who, by the simple but forgotten virtue of cussedness, refuses to toe the well-trodden line, starting a debate that, despite the heroically undemocratic efforts of the AIPACS and ADLs and JINSAs to silence it, spirals out into the public sphere as a spark, which in air parched dry by decades of untruth, explodes into an inferno of 'fifth column' and 'dual loyalty' ugliness, the scales falling from a hundred million eyes as their owners decide to reassert 'Christian' and 'American' virtues at the heart of their great nation, and so on til your ears hurt. This scenario becomes more likely if any Mossad involvement in 911, for which there are disturbing signs, can be proved.

Sorry, I have these apocalyptic visions. Such a person is of course likely to be cut off at the knees while still in short shorts... there will be film of him jacking off in a motel room or taking a backhander for a friendly vote. Even without that, he would be suffocated by a lack of oxygen, no news being good news in that information-poor society.

But the mob is a dangerous thing and it can be unpredictable when the going gets tough. A severe recession and no amount of media control will prevent people asking the relevant questions, at last. And getting some answers too, though not always the correct ones.

Which is where our 'beast' begins to slouch toward Washington (Yeats inference copyright T Dunlop) - the problem being that babies will be thrown out with bathwater in a typical American orgy of fright, so that some of it's worthiest citizens, people at the forefront of principled opposition, might be tarred by their ethno-religious association with the spies and fifth columnists.

And so we'll have a situation where ignorant, frightened Americans will have been successively manipulated to mistrust the Muslims, then the Jews. It always has to be someone else's fault and if the Muslim/Arab experience is any guide, Jews will want to avoid it.

Still, it's kite-flying isn't it? While you don't even have to imagine American eagerness to overreact against Muslims to the extent of say, killing tens of thousands of innocent people, trying to imagine anything more than a mild rebuke to Israel for anything, even treason, military spying, sale of secrets to 3rd party powers... well, it's a stretch.

Which again, is where our 'beast' comes in. I don't think he will appear, and I hope to God he doesn't, but there is a strong desire in me and many others for that blindfold that keeps America separate from the rest of us more than any other issue, to be lifted, ripped away, so that they can begin to make decisions (which affect all our futures) on facts rather than fantasies.

Problem is such a figure may not be interested in facts, or decisions that benefit people who can't vote for him. He may be more interested in his own fantasies and they might be worse than what they replace. He may be bent solely on painting his quarry as 'unAmerican' (wherever could such awful tactics come from, Virginia?) and so a nuance-free, all or nothing American crusade might emerge, paying as little heed to balance or proportion as the current one does, less if it's accompanied by rising prices and unemployment.

If anything like this scenario occurs, the busy bees at AIPAC and it's brood, the multiplicity of Likudnik drones in the media and their brethren in the corridors of power can be thanked. A polity, a super-polity naturally disposed to amity and support will have been rendered neutral, maybe even antagonistic by the realisation that they've been had, with little to show for it but a ruined economy, hundreds of dead soldiers, thousands of dead civilians and the enmity of the world.

It will by that time be too late to blame Bill Clinton, and some under the reign of our antisemitic beast who are blessed with, or afflicted by a long memory, might find themselves longing for a leader with his nous and balance.

I haven't read Philip Roth's latest book 'The Plot Against Ameica' but I have read about it, and I wonder if it's genesis lies in this same sort of fear. Let's hope we're wrong.

Saturday, May 07, 2005 2:16:00 pm  

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