Justin Raimondo, Anti War, March 16, 2015:… Israel has never hesitated to ally with the worst elements on earth in order to advance what its leaders regard as the Jewish state’s interests. From South Africa’s apartheid regime to the death squads of Central and South America, to the Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK) – an Iranian exile group of Marxist terrorists …
Bin Laden and Bibi, Together At Last
Israel’s alliance with al-Qaeda
Remember the brouhaha a few months ago when it was revealed that fighters of the Nusra Front, the al Qaeda affiliate in Syria, had seized territory adjacent to Israel? The “let’s intervene in Syria” crowd was up in arms: this supposedly proved the absolute necessity of going full-bore into the region, with US bombing raids and unrestrained support for “moderate” jihadists out to overthrow Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad. After all, we can’t leave our loyal ally, Israel, at the mercy of Osama bin Laden’s heirs, can we?
As it turns out, however, Nusra has left the Israelis alone – and, indeed, it looks like there is a de facto alliance between bin Laden’s boys and Bibi’s bombardiers. As the Wall Street Journal reports:
We are told by the Israelis that they don’t check the identities of these injured fighters: “We don’t ask who they are, we don’t do any screening… Once the treatment is done, we take them back to the border and they go on their way,” says one Israeli military official. This from a country one can’t enter from the United States without an extensive interrogation at the airport.
Like most reporting on Israel, this story is chock full of hasbara, with the disturbing news of terrorist fighters treated in Israeli hospitals leavened with a touching tale of a young Syrian boy given a prosthetic arm due to the beneficence of his Israeli hosts. Yet this is overlaid with some darker overtones. While reporter Yaroslav Trofimov is careful to note “it would be a stretch to say that the U.S. and Israel are backing different sides in this war,” he goes on to write:
“But there is clearly a growing divergence in US and Israeli approaches over who represents the biggest danger – and who should be seen, if not as an ally, at least as a lesser evil in the regional crisis sparked by the dual implosion of Syria and Iraq.”
Indeed, Trofimov’s reportage refutes his careful qualifications. He points out that, while leaving Nusra alone – its encampments are “yards” away from a border that is a frequent site of tours by Israeli schoolchildren – the Israelis have begun attacking Assad’s troops and their Hezbollah allies. He also cites Amos Yadlin, former chief of Israeli military intelligence and a likely defense minister if Bibi should lose the election, who avers:
This has always been the Israeli perspective, no matter who sits in the Prime Minister’s office. In a 2003 meeting with then undersecretary of state John Bolton, Ariel Sharon made a point of saying that, while the US should indeed attack Iraq, “Israel was concerned about the security threat posed by Iran, and stressed that it was important to deal with Iran even while American attention was focused on Iraq.” Israel is clearly taking a side in the religious civil war wracking the Muslim world: while the Saudis and the Gulf sheikdoms supply weapons and money to Sunni jihadists fighting for control of the Levant – including not only Nusra but also ISIS – the Israelis are bombing Assad and sending injured jihadists back onto the battlefield.
None of this is very surprising. Israel has never hesitated to ally with the worst elements on earth in order to advance what its leaders regard as the Jewish state’s interests. From South Africa’s apartheid regime to the death squads of Central and South America, to the Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK) – an Iranian exile group of Marxist terrorists – Israel has always given a helping hand to whoever merits it according to their amoral calculus. And as Israeli and American interests began to radically diverge – a process that has been ongoing since the demise of the Soviet Union – it makes perfect sense that they should align with our worst enemies.
The conventional wisdom that the 9/11 attacks showed there’s no daylight between the US and Israel – “We’re all Israelis now!” exulted the Israel Firsters before the smoke cleared over Manhattan – was quite wrong. Netanyahu told an audience at Bar Ilan University “We are benefiting from one thing, and that is the attack on the Twin Towers and Pentagon, and the American struggle in Iraq.” Al-Qaeda’s act, he averred, had “swung American public opinion in our favor.”
Yet American opinion has always been pro-Israel, with very little sympathy for the Palestinians: what Bibi meant was that the Israeli strategic perspective – constantly pushing for the US to fight its wars – was more popular as the Bush administration began its rampage across the Middle East.
However, this war fever was necessarily of limited duration: once the madness had worn off, and the backlash against the post-9/11 hysteria began to roll in, the US public turned against the War Party. That’s when the long range impact of the “war on terrorism” on the “special relationship” between Washington and Tel Aviv began to be felt.
It didn’t take long for the “We’re all Israelis now” propaganda to wear thin in Washington. For in order to defeat radical Islamism it was necessary for the US to split the jihadist base from the leadership and dry up the pool of recruits that were flocking to bin Laden’s banner. Far from drawing away from the Muslim world, it was more than ever important for Washington to court it – and to eventually take advantage of the Sunni-Shi’ite split in favor of the latter.
We are seeing this today in the war against ISIS, with Iranian-led Iraqi Shi’ite troops on the ground getting air support from the US – and the Israelis helping the other side, albeit as discreetly as possible, along with their de facto Saudi and Gulf state allies. The open propaganda war now being waged by the Israelis against their supposed American allies is increasingly taking on a military aspect in the battle for the Levant.
The Obama administration is determined to forge a deal with the Iranians for the simple reason that it cannot defeat the jihadists without occupying not only Iraq but also Syria and parts of Lebanon – a political, economic, and military impossibility. The Israelis, who see Iran as their principal – indeed, only – rival for regional hegemony are equally determined that this must not come to pass. The “special relationship,” which has been strained ever since the latter part of George W. Bush’s second term, has now reached the breaking point. And this is going to be true no mater who sits in the Oval Office.
Bibi is now playing the only card he has left: the well-funded and politically entrenched Israel lobby, which could formerly make or break politicians. Yet the power of this lobby has necessarily diminished over the years as the geopolitical realities of the post-9/11 era set in.
On the intellectual front, the publication of The Israel Lobby, by leading foreign policy “realists” John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, set the tone for what was to come. In exposing the key role played by Israel’s fifth column in distorting the making of American foreign policy – and dragging us into the disastrous Iraq war – the book broke the lobby’s monopoly on elite opinion and set the stage for its subsequent political defeats. The lobby’s attempt to quash the nomination of Chuck Hagel was not only defeated, but the sheer nastiness of the smear campaign aimed at him discredited the Israel Firsters among key opinion-makers and in Democratic party circles.
The final straw was Sen. Tom Cotton’s “open letter” to Iran’s leaders – which was really a letter to the American people, telling them that in any conflict between Washington and Tel Aviv GOP hard-liners would side with the latter. The backlash against this open attempt to sabotage American diplomacy in the interests of a foreign power provoked outraged cries of “treason” and calls for the 47 Senators to be charged under the Logan Act. While Cotton’s letter hardly falls under the restrictions imposed by the Logan Act – and the call itself is a dangerous not to mention stupid invocation of the growing authoritarian impulse in American politics – this kind of reaction is telling. It shows that the American people are waking up to the inordinate – and inappropriate – influence wielded by the Israeli government on our domestic political scene, and that Bibi’s playing of this particular card no longer trumps the President’s hand.
And that’s a cause for optimism. For the Israel lobby and the War Party are, in many instances, virtually identical. Diminish the power of the former, and you have clogged the engine of the latter. Which is not to say the machinery that churns out endless war propaganda has been silenced – far from it – but it is getting more difficult to start it, and, once started, it tends to stall.
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.
I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).
You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.
Hoaxes, Hype, and Hysteria. The War Party never takes a holiday
Justin Raimondo, Anti War, September 10 2014: … That’s the same phrase used to describe yet another purloined laptop, this one supplied by the Mujahedin-e-Khalq, an Iranian terrorist group that, for years, has been feeding the War Party bogus “intelligence” about Tehran’s nonexistent nuclear weapons program. That tall tale was debunked in 2011 …
Hoaxes, Hype, and Hysteria
The War Party never takes a holiday
While Americans were barbecuing over the Labor Day weekend, the Usual Suspects were busy cooking up new wars, from Iraq to Ukraine. While this is nothing new – after all, evil never sleeps – one thing I did notice: the stunning lack of imagination on their part. It was, in effect, the equivalent of a bunch of summer reruns: tired formulaic retreads that weren’t all that convincing in the first place.
Take the latest war propaganda centered on the alleged “threat” to our precious bodily fluids supposedly posed by ISIS, the War Party’s latest bogeyman. As polls showed a stubborn reluctance on the part of the American people to re-invade Iraq, the neocons came up with a not-so-new one: they claim a laptop computer ostensibly captured from ISIS by the “good” jihadists – the so-called Free Syrian Army, which is armed and trained by the US – contains plans for constructing “weapons of mass destruction,” i.e. biological weapons. They’re even calling it the “laptop of death” – a phrase that ought to ring a bell for those who follow these sorts of things.
That’s the same phrase used to describe yet another purloined laptop, this one supplied by the Mujahedin-e-Khalq, an Iranian terrorist group that, for years, has been feeding the War Party bogus “intelligence” about Tehran’s nonexistent nuclear weapons program. That tall tale was debunked in 2011 – yet another case of MEK cobbling together old outdated data, adding a dash of forgery, and shaking well enough to fool the credulous.
You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but what if the dog can pass off an old hoax as a new one? And that’s why I’m here: to remind you.
Speaking of America’s Good Jihadists, a.k.a. the Syrian Free Army, I was struck by this nugget from an account of the killing of Douglas McAuthur McCain, an American fighting for ISIS in Syria, in the New York Times:
“The rebels who killed him were fighting for the Free Syrian Army, a rival group backed by the United States, and they went on to behead six ISIS fighters – but not Mr. McCain – and then posted the photographs on Facebook.” Yes, these are the “moderate” Syrian rebels, backed by your tax dollars and the prestige of the United States government. Oh, but don’t worry, kids: they’re our barbarians – so beheading is okay, even praiseworthy, since they’re doing it on behalf of spreading “freedom” and “democracy.”
And speaking of hoaxes, here’s a biggie: they’re telling us that the long-awaited Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine has finally arrived! Yay! You can almost hear the sigh of relief all the way from Washington. The War Party’s journalistic camarilla – which has been telling us for the past six months or so that Putin’s move was “imminent” – yelped “we told you so!” in unison. Neocon hysteric Anne Applebaum screeched that this proved that we have to prepare for “total war” with nuclear-armed Russia – which, she claims, is planning to “use nuclear weapons to bomb Poland and the Baltic countries.”
There’s just one problem with this alleged “invasion” – there’s zero evidence for it. Normally when one country invades another, troops pour over the border, missiles strike their targets, and the invaders proclaim their victory. So where are the Russian tanks, the missiles raining down death, the tens of thousands of troops marching in to take possession of their newly-conquered territory?
They’re nowhere to be seen. The best NATO could come up with was a series of murky satellite photos showing a column of military vehicles going somewhere from some place else – and that’s it. Apparently the Ukrainian army is so under-equipped that the poor things don’t even have a single cell phone camera to take a quick shot of the invading hordes. (This just proves they need more American aid!) Washington avers that one thousand Russian troops are now in Ukraine – but why would Putin send in such a paltry “army” and risk defeat? Why not just send in the troops, as he did in Crimea, and be done with it?
Oh, but the new cold warriors have a ready answer for the absence of solid evidence: this, we’re told, is no regular old-fashioned conquest. In this case, it’s a “new” kind of invasion – a “stealth invasion.” Which just goes to show that words can be twisted to mean their exact opposite.
Yet this “stealth” angle elides an important element of any invasion plan: the political benefits to be had at home. These are, by the way, the only benefits to be had if Putin decided to annex ramshackle east Ukraine, with its profitless Soviet-era industries and desperately poor populace. So why isn’t he up there beating his chest and scoring points by telling the Russian people he’s the kind of strong leader who can stand up to the West?
The War Party has sunk to a new low: they’re stealing from Hollywood! If this isn’t outright plagiarism of the plot of “Wag the Dog,” then it’s damned close. If I were the producers of that movie, I’d sue – but that’s just me.
While our war propagandists lack originality, you have to give them credit for persistence: these guys never give up. When one lie is exposed, another quickly takes center stage – and if the War Party does this in the belief that the memory of the American people is lamentably short, then who can fault their logic?
That’s why Antiwar.com is a vitally important resource for those of us who want to put an end to our foreign policy of global intervention. Our online archives are a detailed record of the War Party’s now-debunked fabrications, a charge sheet stretching all the way back to the mid-1990s.
And our readers apparently realize the value of this resource – because, unlike the War Party’s bought-and-paid-for “journalists,” we depend on a growing base of grassroots supporters to keep this operation afloat and expanding.
Amid all the navel-gazing discussion by “mainstream” scribes about how to sustain a news operation in the face of a technology that has changed the face of journalism, Antiwar.com’s success in building a new model has gone largely unremarked. As mainline journalists bemoan the decline of their industry, Antiwar.com has pointed the way forward for new media by building a news organization that abandons the old subscriber-advertiser-dependent revenue stream and bases itself, instead, on reader donations.
Of course, bloggers have been doing this, with the by-now-traditional “tip jar,” for years, but I believe we were among the first to apply it to a broader-based news-and-opinion site – and make it work.
It has worked for over fifteen years. Every time we pass the goal in our quarterly fundraising drives I feel an immense satisfaction in the fact that our readers have given us yet another vote of confidence.
From where I sit, it looks as though our late summer fundraising drive is very close to the goalpost. My thanks to all who gave: I can’t even begin to express the depth of my gratitude. And I want to point out that none of us here at Antiwar.com take your support for granted: we work overtime to earn your support by reporting the facts as we understand them and never failing to question the “conventional wisdom” – no matter where it takes us.
Michael Rubin, Commentary, April 29 2014: … The Mujahedin al-Khalq may be a lot of things, but it is neither progressive nor is it non-violent. Progressive movements tend not to dictate to women who to marry and who to divorce. It has its roots in the same Islamist currents that Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini drank from, and only abandoned the Islamic Republic when its revolutionary …
Anne Khodabandeh (Singleton), Middle East Strategy Consultants, May 15 2014: … The Skype appearance followed a failed attempt to get Rajavi a US visa during the P5+1 negotiations on May 8. It was known that Rajavi had also applied to visit Canada, but apparently she wasn’t welcome there either, and in the end Rajavi’s speech from her headquarters outside Paris …
Brett Wilkins, Digital Journal, February 06 2014: … Ros-Lehtinen has also publicly voiced her support for Mujahedeen e-Khalq (MEK), a then-State Department-designated foreign terrorist organization of Iranian dissidents who once assassinated numerous US officials and carries out attacks inside Iran with US and Israeli assistance. She also backs the brutal, conservative Honduran regime …
Philip Giraldi, Global Research, August 31 2014: … Supporters of MEK also ignore the fact that the group is run like a cult, routinely executes internal dissidents, and has virtually no political support within Iran. But such are the ways of the corrupt Washington punditocracy, lionizing an organization that it should be shunning. MEK’s political arm is located in Paris and …
Ariane Tabatabai, The National Interest, August 24 2014: …The voices supporting the MEK are ignoring the lessons of some of the most catastrophic U.S. foreign-policy mistakes in the past few decades, urging Washington to repeat history. Overhyping the threat of an adversary and blindly supporting groups opposing it led to the creation of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan …
Rianovosty, August 11 2014: … The US had Mujahadeen-e-Khalq and they were long on the US’s list of foreign terrorist organizations. They had even killed Americans in the past etc. So, they were on the list. But now, in the last couple of years we had many of our neocon politicians ask for that group to be taken off the list, so that they could then be operated and used to destabilize Iran …
Daniel Larison, Th American Conservative, August 10 2014: …It’s important to remember that the MEK and its umbrella group are not “the main Iranian opposition” or anything like it. For one thing, the real “main” Iranian opposition is still in Iran, and unlike the MEK it is not widely loathed by Iranians. Naturally, any exile group would like foreign governments to believe that …