March 9, 2012- Will Israel Attack Alone? Netanyahu is Popular!
The week has come towards a close. Netanyahu is back in Israel. Obama has moved on to other things. Hopefully, President Peres will be back soon after visiting with Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook. Peres by the way i is the most popular figure in Israel with 84% of the public approving of him. So what are the results?
I have two main conclusions; one a fact, and the second a conjuncture on my part. Netanyahu has reached an all time zenith in his popularity, and an attack on Iran is less immenent today than before his trip.
Polls released today by Ha'aretz show that Netanyahu has an approval rating of 53%. Furthermore, if elections were held today, his Likud party would receive 36 seats in the Knesset, a large rise in influence. In the meantime, the parties of the left and center would together not number the number of Likud. Of course, support for Netanyahu always goes up when he is in Washington, and the timing of the Washington was perfectly calculated to deflect interest from the various domestic scandals.
My second conclusion, that an attack on Iran is further off on the horizon, comes from a number of facts. Interestingly, Israeli and American journalists differ greatly on this matter. I read Jeffrey Goldberg's piece last night, stating nothing that happened in Washington delayed an Israeli attack. However, Israeli journalists believe otherwise. There is a clear sense that Netanyhu was outflanked by Obama. When President Obama stated clearly that at the end of the day the US would take military action, if needed, Netanyahu will find it very difficult to act against US wishes. Even before the summitt, Dov Weisglass, Sharon's close confidant, stated on Israeli TV that it would be absurd to think Israel would really attack Iran against the express wishes of the US. After the meeting, there is a sense Obama has either convinced or forced Netanyahu to rely on American action. This was never an attack Israel ever wanted to take on alone-- and it will be nigh impossible to do, as long as the US says it will do "whatever it takes".
Goldberg and others read too much into the Holocaust references. For there is one major difference between 1939 and 2012. In 1939 no one offered to help the Jews, other than to try to find a small number of them refuge. This is not to suggest there will never be an Israeli attack; just that Israel is less likely to attack alone, than it would be to attack under different circumstances. 58% of the Israeli public is against Israel going it alone; with only 34% agreeing to the validity of a unilateral attack. Furthermore, the headlines in today's Yediot Achronot reports that Meir Dagan (the recent head of the Mossad,) stated that the majority of the intellegience community believes the time is not right to attack, it is just the politicians that differ.
I have never been a great fan of the accuracy of journalists. I have alway had a problem with the control editors, and other administrators have on placing headlines. However, last night and this morning I was appalled at the acts of Ha'aretz, a paper I have always respected. Yesterday evening I listened to an interview with Netanyahu on Israeli Channel 10, in which he stated there is a window to wait for progress of sanctions on Iran. Netanyahu stated "it cannot be measured in weeks, but neither can it be in years". Last night Ha'aretz led their web site with an article, whose sub- header stated: "Netanyahu says it could a matter of weeks until Israel attacks". I was greatly troubled by the headline, since it was clearly inaccurate. Such a misquotation could, at the very least, cause a spike in oil prices. I callled the paper and reached the news desk editor of the site. He recognized the error and quickly fixed the headliner to reflect Netanyahu exact words. Imangine my surprise this morning when I looked at Haaretz site and saw the main headline:
Netanyahu: Strike on Iran's nuclear facilities possible within months.
The actual article had the right quote, but the header, once again, was written to suggest that an attack was imminent. I thought that Haaretz practiced responsible journalism. Meanwhile, in header in the paper for which I generally have less respect, the Jerusalem Post, read:"Netanyahu says attack on Iran not imminent"
Of course maybe there is a war coming but the photo below is of a Purim Street Fair, the fair took place on the street that divides the Tel Aviv Musuem from the compound that is Israel's equivilant to the Pentagon.
Attack Iran or more sanctions? A third option: Israel and Iran forsake nukes
An attack on Iran and sanctions are both unworkable. A third option is to create a nuclear-free Middle East. Yes, it sounds far-fetched. But it actually meets the strategic needs of both Israel and Iran. One idea is to relocate Israel's nukes elsewhere, rather than destroy them.
For half a century now, Israel’s regional nuclear monopoly has been its “Samson option,” the one weapon it can threaten to use if all else fails and Israel faces a real existential threat. As a scholar concentrating on the Middle East conflict, and also as a native of Israel, I am not comforted by the nuclear security blanket under which I was born.
Now that this monopoly is facing an increasingly possible challenge from Iran, Israel should reconsider its nuclear supremacy – as far fetched as this may sound. The argument in favor of such a radical shift is not moral, but strategic. Israel may well be better off in a Middle East with no nuclear powers than in one with – potentially – several of them.
Iran, too, would have its own reasons to support such an arrangement. And a secure path to a “no nukes” zone may be found not in dismantling Israel’s arsenal, but in relocating it.
In the face of an apparently fast-advancing Iranian nuclear project, the two options mostly discussed are sanctions and military attack. Neither is very appealing. The first is unlikely to halt the Iranian program and the second will only postpone it temporarily while possibly creating a regional conflagration on a large scale.
When Israel developed its own nuclear program, apparently in the late 1950s, it made much strategic sense. Israel was a small country, with very limited human and material resources, surrounded by hostile neighbors. Nuclear arms could provide the ultimate guarantee of security.
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But Israel is no longer so vulnerable. True, much of the region is still hostile (despite peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan). Yet Israel holds a profound conventional superiority over any potential rivals – a superiority that makes a nuclear-free Middle East a strong and effective second-best option after a nuclear monopoly.
Moreover, it’s unclear that Israel would sacrifice much in a nuclear-free Middle East. Its nuclear arsenal has not deterred Arab countries from launching conventional attacks against it (as in 1973) and it has not deterred asymmetric campaigns by nonstate actors.
The only role Israel’s nuclear arsenal may have played so far has been to deter attack from unconventional weapons, as in Iraq’s nonuse of chemical weapons against Israel during the 1991 Gulf War. But Israel’s air superiority and precision weapons could do that just as well.
A regional denuclearization agreement is in Iran’s interest, as well. Even if it succeeds in building a nuclear bomb, Iran is unlikely to develop a nuclear arsenal even remotely on par with Israel’s. Moreover, Iran’s nuclear developments are exacerbating its political and economic isolation.
But Ayatollah Khamenei and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have staked their reputation on defiance in the face of American and Israeli pressure. They are too invested in the nuclear project to turn back without a significant achievement. A regional denuclearization agreement would relieve sanctions pressure and allow them to save face. They could argue to their constituencies (with a degree of truth) that they alone were able to force Israel to give up its nuclear weapons.
The practical obstacles to a deal are formidable, but not impossible. The level of distrust is such that both sides will be extremely reluctant to give up anything before being assured of the other side’s compliance.
Deeply affected by the legacy of the Holocaust and suspicions of the external world, Israel has always insisted on self-help – on developing and keeping capabilities to defend itself. This tendency would make it loath to destroy the arsenal it spent so much building without ironclad guarantees of verification.
One element that could alleviate Israeli fears of cheating would be an agreement to deposit its nuclear weapons in a third country instead of destroying them, to be released back to Israel in case Iran broke the rules.
The agreement could include, moreover, an American assurance to Israel to retaliate against any nuclear attack on Israel if that happened before Israel got its arsenal back. Such a promise would guarantee that Israel would not be vulnerable should Iran indeed defect. The agreement, moreover, would have to include an unfettered right of inspection in both countries to verify implementation.
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A nuclear-free Middle East is the best compromise for the current conditions, and it is the strategically rational move to take for both Israel and Iran. A deal like this would require brave, outside-of-the-box thinking in the region – as well as leadership by outside actors. Those qualities may be in short supply, but the danger of the current standoff should encourage it.
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Palestinians took to the streets with dancing and cheers immediately following the 9/11 terrorist attacks recently recirculated footage shows.
The video was shared on Twitter earlier this week by Yair Netanyahu — the son of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — where it has slowly gathered steam.
“The V sign for victory being displayed in East Jerusalem today among jubilant Palestinians that the United States had been subject to this attack,” reads then-Fox News anchor Brit Hume. “We’re seeing people applauding, clapping, smiling, happy to know that thousands of Americans have died in this sneak attack.”
During a less partisan era, it wasn’t just conservative media that picked up the story. CNN reported that Palestinian youths were praising Osama Bin Laden. On the “Today Show,” host Katie Couric also covered the scene.
“These are Palestinian celebrations in the wake of Tuesday’s terror attacks in the United States,” Couric said. “Palestinians took to the streets saying God is great. People were throwing candy and distributing candy to passers by.”
Nearly 20 years ago CNN reported that Palestinian youths were praising Osama Bin Laden. Getty Images
This September will mark the 20th anniversary of when al Qaeda suicide terrorists under the command of Bin Laden used hijacked airplanes to destroy the World Trade Center and do serious damage to the Pentagon. A fourth plane recaptured by passengers crashed into a Pennsylvania field.
When it was over, 2,977 Americans were killed, making it the deadliest attack on US soil in American history.
Understanding Israel’s Latest Attack on Gaza, and Who Benefits
“Both sides need to de-escalate.”
“No one benefits from this. ”
You’ll hear a lot of statements like that from pundits, elected officials, government spokespeople, and mainstream media anytime there’s violence in Israel-Palestine.
In the last few days, Israeli warplanes, armed drones, and artillery mounted on tanks have killed more than 119 Palestinians in the besieged and blockaded Gaza Strip. Thirty-one of them were children. Rocket fire from Gaza left eight Israelis, including one child dead.
It’s easy to say no one benefits. But it’s not true.
Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, has a whole lot to gain from this assault — among other things, it may keep him out of jail. More broadly, Israel’s strategic military planners have been waiting for another attack on Gaza. And for Israel’s arms manufacturers, assaulting Gaza is what the leading Israeli daily newspaper Ha’aretz has called “a cash cow.”
A Series of Provocations
It’s important to understand the specific factors that led to the current escalation in Israel’s horrific air war against Gaza.
The Hamas rocket fire that began on May 10 did not come out of nowhere. It was a response to Israeli police and settler attacks against Palestinians in Jerusalem, indeed across much of the West Bank as well.
Those attacks included demolitions to force Palestinians out of their homes and the continuing threat of eviction for families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem. They included police denying Palestinians access to the steps of the Damascus Gate of the Old City, their traditional gathering place to share iftar (sunset) meals during the fasting month of Ramadan.
And they included the deliberate provocation — not only to Palestinians but to Muslims everywhere — of Israeli police raiding the al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in all of Islam, shooting stun grenades, tear gas, and rubber bullets at worshipers at morning prayer in and around the mosque.
Meanwhile, given the experience of Gaza’s 2 million people — half of whom are children and around three-quarters of whom are refugees, who have lived through 14 years of a crippling Israeli blockade of the over-crowded, impoverished strip — it was hardly a surprise that such provocative actions would lead to a military response from Hamas.
But these actions don’t explain Israel’s choice — and it was certainly a choice — to immediately escalate its military assault to the level of full-scale war. So what does explain it?
Prime Minister Netanyahu is on trial and facing years in jail for a wide range of corruption charges. As long as he remains prime minister, he can’t be jailed — but if he loses his ruling coalition, as he was on the verge of doing just before this crisis, he could go to prison.
So for Netayanhu, maintaining public support is not just a political goal but an urgent personal necessity. The mobilization of troops and the sight of Israel’s military in action allows him to reprise his longstanding role as the ultimate “protector” of Israel against its “enemy” — whoever the chosen enemy du jour might be.
It might be Iran (which, unlike Israel, does not have a nuclear weapon or a nuclear weapons program). It might be the non-violent BDS (Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions) campaign, which leading Israeli leaders equate with Iran as an existential threat. Or it might be Gaza — as it was in 2008-2009, 2012, and especially for the 50 days of Israeli bombardment in 2014 that left 2,202 Palestinians, including 526 children, dead.
Netanyahu’s political capital is also bound up with his claim to be the only Israeli leader who can maintain the key levels of absolute impunity and uncritical economic and political support from the United States. Certainly, the Trump years were characterized by Washington’s warmest embrace of Netanyahu’s right-wing government and the most extremist pro-Israel policies to date. But so far President Biden, presumably convinced that moving to restore the Iran nuclear deal means no other pressure on Israel is possible, has recalibrated only the rhetoric.
Washington’s actual support for Israel — including $3.8 billion in military support every year and the one-sided “Israel has the right of self-defense” rhetoric that refuses to acknowledge any such right to the Palestinians — remains in place. And history shows us that direct U.S. backing — in the form of additional cash and weapons as well as effusive statements of support — rise when Israeli troops are on the attack.
“Mowing the Grass”
Beyond the political advantages, there are strategic advantages for Israel to go to war against Gaza. Despite the withdrawal of Israeli settlers and troops from inside the Gaza Strip in 2005, since 2007 Gaza has remained under an Israeli-imposed blockade and siege. It is, under international law, still occupied.
And for years, Israel’s strategy towards Gaza and the Palestinians who live there has been one of absolute control. Israel controls who can enter or exit Gaza, which means control over people’s lives — and deaths. In the past, Israel has determined exactly how many calories Gazans should be able to eat each day — to “put them on a diet,” as Israeli military officials said in 2006.
And not surprisingly, Palestinian resistance to the years of siege and occupation in Gaza has at times included military resistance.
During the 2014 war, the influential Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies issued a report endorsing what had already become a standard approach for Israel toward Gaza. It was called “Mowing the Grass in Gaza,” and it described the lethal military assault as being “in accordance with a ‘mowing the grass’ strategy. After a period of military restraint, Israel is acting to severely punish Hamas for its aggressive behavior, and degrading its military capabilities — aimed at achieving a period of quiet.”
The report ignored the fact that Israel is an occupying power, that the people of Gaza are protected civilians, and that collective punishment, the destruction of civilian infrastructure, and the use of dramatically disproportionate levels of violence are all violations of international humanitarian law, the Geneva Conventions, and more. The report’s author was unequivocal that “a war of attrition against Hamas is probably our fate for the long term, and we will quite frequently need to strike Gaza in order keep the enemy off balance.”
Initiating periods of intense violence in Gaza, even when the resistance was non-violent such as the 2018 Great March of Return, has been Israel’s approach ever since.
Israel’s Arms Industry
Finally, these frequent attacks on Gaza have provided a critically valuable testing ground for the Israeli weapons manufacturers whose export deals — worth $7.2 billion in 2019 — represent a huge component of Israel’s GDP.
During the height of the 2014 assault, Ha’aretz reported that the company’s factories “worked around the clock turning out munitions as the army tested their newest systems against a real enemy. Now, they are expecting their battle-tested products will win them new customers.”
“Combat is like the highest seal of approval when it comes to the international markets,” explained Barbara Opall-Rome, the Israel bureau chief for Defense News told Ha’aretz. “What has proven itself in battle is much easier to sell. Immediately after the operation, and perhaps even during, all kinds of delegations arrive here from countries that appreciate Israel’s technological capabilities and are interested in testing the new products.”
“From a business point of view,” concluded the editor of Israel Defense, “the operation was an outstanding thing for the defense industries.”
As I write this seven years later, Israel’s latest air war against Gaza continues. Ground troops are massed outside the Strip, with tank-mounted artillery weapons aimed at 2 million people crammed into one of the most crowded territories on the earth. Half an hour ago a family of six was killed in their home as tank and airstrikes continue.
Far beyond some claim of “self-defense,” are there other reasons Israel might once again be on the attack? When you look at who benefits, the answer might not be so complicated after all.
– Phyllis Bennis directs the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies. This article was first published in Foreign Policy in Focus and was contributed to The Palestine Chronicle.
The Demonization of Benjamin Netanyahu
Opponents of Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, have worked for more than a quarter-century to tarnish his image in the U.S. and around the world.
In 1996, when Israelis first elected him to put a brake on a dangerous Oslo process, Mr. Netanyahu was depicted as an enemy of peace. For three years, his opponents insisted that if only Israel were rid of Mr. Netanyahu, it could make peace with Yasser Arafat. They were wrong. Ehud Barak defeated Mr. Netanyahu in 1999 and offered Arafat sweeping concessions at Camp David a year later. Instead of peace, Israel got scores of suicide bombings and the worst wave of Palestinian terrorism in its history—the so-called second intifada in which more than 1,000 Israelis were murdered.
That was followed by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s 2005 decision to withdraw from Gaza. Just as Mr. Netanyahu predicted, Israel’s unilateral concession led only to further aggression. Hamas, a genocidal terror organization committed to Israel’s destruction, took over Gaza and turned it into a base from which thousands of missiles have been fired at Israeli cities.
Mr. Netanyahu returned to the premiership in 2009. The preceding bloody decade should have made it obvious to all that Palestinian leaders didn’t want peace. But Mr. Netanyahu was scapegoated again. Now Mahmoud Abbas was cast as a peacemaker instead of Arafat, who died in 2004. While few Israelis believed such nonsense any longer, many foreign policy makers did, including key officials in the Obama White House.
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The lies and conspiracy theories from neocon ‘crazies’ that fueled Iraq war are subject of new historyScott Horton, from appearance at Israel lobby conference, April 24, 2021. Screenshot.
ENOUGH ALREADY: TIME TO END THE WAR ON TERRORISM
by Scott Horton
318 pp. The Libertarian Institute. $19.99
Last month Foreign Affairs ran an article saying that Iran and Israel were engaged in mutual hostilities that could drag the United States into a war not of our choosing, and there was no mention in the article of the people who really do want the U.S. to go to war with Iran, the neoconservative branch of the Israel lobby. Last week Foreign Policy ran an article by one of those neoconservatives, saying that if the U.S. returns to its deal with a “rogue regime committed to Israel’s destruction,” Israel will likely go to war against Iran.
It ought to be terrifying that our supposed client state is escalating its attacks on Iran just as the United States is trying to reenter the Iran deal and its friends in the U.S. are escalating the war of words. But the most you hear about this on mainstream media is Andrea Mitchell venturing to Jake Sullivan that Israel “is being unhelpful” to the United States with its attacks.
It’s as if the Iraq war and the neoconservative/Israel lobby role in pushing that invasion has disappeared down the memory hole.
That’s what makes Scott Horton’s new book such essential reading. “Enough Already” is the radio host/libertarian/antiwar.com editor’s meticulous analysis of how the U.S. “war on terrorism” has generated unending suffering in the Middle East. A million lives lost in Bush’s war on Iraq alone, as Horton said during the Israel lobby conference April 24.
And yet because some of the same well-connected actors are now pushing a war with Iran as a matter of supposed U.S. national security, they get a pass from a media that likes to say that Americans are tired of “forever wars.”
The strength of Horton’s analysis is first, exposing the roots of the Iraq war, in an entire political establishment’s signing off on a calamitous folly out of credulity in a half-baked idea of spreading democracy. And second, showing how the neoconservative vision, of the destruction of Arab capitals to realign the Middle East, only empowered Iran and put the U.S. on the side of Al Qaeda’s offspring in Syria.
I found the most damning statement in Horton’s book to be this: “Polls showed that by the time of the invasion, in March 2003, as much as 2/3 of American people believed Iraq had helped carry out the September 11 attack against our country.”
These days when everyone is talking about rightwing delusions and conspiracy theories, we really need to understand how such a lie became so repeatable by American leaders. And the neoconservative ideologues played a key role in that deception. Horton captures the vulnerability of the establishment to such a committed faction:
“The true neoconservatives have probably never counted more than 100 men and women among their ranks. But during the runup to the invasion of Iraq, they divided themselves almost perfectly into newspaper, magazine, think tank, and undersecretary positions across the national security bureaucracy.”
The neocons sought to topple the Saddam Hussein regime for years. Under Bill Clinton’s presidency, Zalmay Khalilzad and Paul Wolfowitz wrote a piece called “Overthrow Him” for the Weekly Standard. Then the next year, Robert Kagan and Bill Kristol founded the Project for a New American Century and immediately demanded regime change in Iraq, in a letter signed by Kagan and Kristol and Wolfowitz, Khalilzad, Richard Perle, Elliot Abrams, James Woolsey, and Francis Fukuyama among others.
“They succeeded in getting Congress to pass the Iraq Libertion Acti of 1998, which made it official American policy to seek regime change,” Horton relates.
Cover of Scott Horton’s new book on the “war on terrorism”
The neocon logic was that toppling Saddam would strengthen Israel’s position. Neocon prodigy David Wurmser argued in 1996 that Israel’s primary foreign adversary was Hezbollah, and in order to weaken Syrian and Iranian influence, the U.S. should “focus on removing Saddam Hussein… an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right — as a mean of foiling Syria’s regional ambitions.” Jordan would then take over Iraq, and “Syria would be isolated and surrounded by a new pro-western Jordanian-Israeli-Iraqi-Turkish bloc,” which would help “contain and manage.. the scope of the coming chaos in Iraq and most probably in Syria.”
Horton says charitably that Wurmser was “hallucinating.”
Wurmser, Perle and Douglas Feith made a geopolitical argument that was just as farcical in “A Clean Break: a new strategy for securing the realm,” a paper they prepared for Benjamin Netanyahu in 1996 that imagined a reordered Middle East.
While in another influential neoconservative tract, “Rebuilding America’s Defenses,” the Project for a New American Century in 2000 argued for a “permanent [U.S.] role in Gulf regional security.” Iraq provided the “immediate justification” for a “substantial American force presence” in the region.
Neocons bought this “bill of goods,” Horton relates, because of Israel’s presumed interest. “Israel’s interests had always been the purpose of the neoconservatives’ advocacy of American militarism.” (Horton notes that Perle was said to have been recorded by the FBI for leaking classified information to Israel (per mainstream sources) “but was never prosecuted.” While Douglas Feith was fired from NSC in 1982 “because he’d been the object of an inquiry into whether he’d provided classified material to an official of the Israeli Embassy in Washington.” (Counterpunch, 2004)).
And of course when George W. Bush assumed the presidency in 2001, his braintrust was this neoconservative gang. Wolfowitz, Perle, Wurmser, and Feith all had policymaking jobs at the Pentagon.
By November 2001 Rumsfeld was working on a plan to invade Iraq and “floating proposed excuses for it, such as showing an Iraqi link to September 11th or the anthrax attacks, or an alleged violation of international restrictions [on WMD].” Rumsfeld’s plans included a Pentagon memo to “take out seven countries in five years,” among them Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Iran, none of which had anything to do with 9/11 or were allied with Al Qaeda. Another conspiratorial lie was that North Korea, Iran, and Iraq were an “axis,” working with Al Qaeda to foster terrorist attacks on the U.S. “It was just nonsense… a giant bait-and-switch.”
Horton captures the majestic arrogance and brutality of the American scheme.
The government was determined to attack Iraq “and they were going to come up with whatever propaganda was necessary to get the people to allow them to do it. It did not matter that Iraq was a small, poor country that the U.S. had already been bombing for 12 years straight, which had a gross domestic product the size of northern Arkansas, possessed no navy, no air force and no ability to project power beyond its borders whatsoever,” he writes.
Saddam was a secular leader and no ally of bin Laden. But the U.S. establishment was intoxicated with a faith in the use of military power.
“The Bush government and the media’s narrative was that the lesson of September 11th is that we must start all the wars from now on ourselves. That way, no one can ever attack us because we already attacked them first. This was just an excuse for aggression.”
Horton surveys the evidence and concludes there can be no question “that they knew they were lying about Iraq’s alleged ‘threat’ to America.” High Bush national security aides, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, had stated that Saddam could be easily contained.
Horton describes the political and psychological motive for the war: Bush wanting to prove he was tougher than his father and assure his reelection. Oil also had a role, as part of a “harebrained” scheme to privatize Iraqi oil and lower prices and break Saudi Arabia’s OPEC cartel.
The media was utterly passive. Broadcast media said that the attack was the “only logical consensus of the American foreign policy community,” Horton relates, though this was not the case. Broad segments of that community opposed the war, from the left and progressives to libertarians, realists, and conservatives, not to mention millions of American demonstrators. The war was championed by Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld and a chorus of neoconservative hawks in the administration and media. Those three officials had “stacked the government with the men [Bush’s father George H.W. Bush] had labeled ‘the crazies.'”
Neoconservatives and their friends dominated the Washington, D.C. think tanks, from Heritage to Hudson Institute to AEI to WINEP. In maintream media “they pushed ceaselessly for invading Iraq.” Among them: Kristol, William Safire, Danielle Pletka, Norman and John Podhoretz, Robert Kagan, David Brooks, Fred Hiatt, Reuel Marc Gerecht.
“The political right was joined in urging an attack by their counterpart liberal hawks, journalists and ‘humanitarian interventionists’ like Jeffrey Goldberg, Christopher Hitchens, Thomas L. Friedman, Matthew Yglesias, George Packer, Andrew Sullivan, Ken Pollack, Peter Beinart, Robert Kerrey, and the major networks,” Horton relates. “[Dan] Rather later complained that CBS had ‘regulatory needs’ in Washington, D.C., that he needed to consider before telling the American people the truth about the war.” While Tom Friedman has said he would do it all over again.
The broader Israel lobby also pushed for the war. AIPAC lobbied for it. Benjamin Netanyahu told Congress that Saddam had a “secret uranium enrichment program and …’if you take out Saddam… I guarantee that it will have enormous positive reverberations on the region.'”
The pro-Israel argument was rarely made openly. Six months before the war, Philip Zelikow, then assistant to Susan Rice the national security advisor, said,
[T]he argument that [Bush administration aides] make over and over again is that this is about a threat to the United States. And then everybody says: ‘Show me an imminent threat from Iraq to America. Show me, why would Iraq attack America or use nuclear weapons against us?’ So I’ll tell you what I think the real threat is, and actually has been since 1990. It’s the threat against Israel. And this is the threat that dare not speak its name, because the Europeans don’t care deeply about that threat, I will tell you frankly. And the American government doesn’t want to lean too hard on it rhetorically, because it’s not a popular sell.
As Horton says, “Nobody told the American people this.” We were told “Iraq was going to attack us with weapons of mass destruction if we did not stop them first.”
The national security branch went along with the lie. Perle, Kenneth Adelman, James Woolsey and Jeanne Kirkpatrick along with former House speaker Newt Gingrich and Henry Kissinger led the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board, which recommended attacking Iraq as early as Sept. 19, 2001.
The Office of Special Plans in the Pentagon became an “expanded Iraq desk” run by a former Perle aide and staffed by AEI and WINEP “hacks” such as Michael Ledeen as well as the hotheaded Michael Makovsky of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. The office would pick through CIA “trash” and collect tall tales from the Iraqi National Congress and “funnel the lies that led to war up the ‘stovepipe,’ straight to the White House and mainstream media in ready-made talking point format,” Horton writes.
Other neocons in power undertook efforts to “purge actual Middle East experts from their positions and replace them with loyal hawks from the think tanks.” While Feith and Wurmser helped set up a counter-terrorism group at the Pentagon that “pushed the fake story about an Iraqi official meeting with September 11th hijacker Mohammed Atta in Prague… shortly before the attack.”
It was absurd to suggest that Saddam Hussein would give unconventional weapons to Osama bin Laden. That would have been purely self-destructive. But Horton says one reliable count states that the top 7 officials of the Bush administration made 935 false statements of Iraq’s possession of banned weapons and support for al Qaeda in the year before the war.
While it is true that Iraqi intelligence had met with bin Laden’s men “a few times over the years… nothing had ever come of it, as the CIA had …. repeatedly told the White House,” Horton says.
Joe Biden played an important role in enabling the Iraq war. As chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Biden and his aide Tony Blinken “called just two days of sham hearings on the question of invading Iraq,” Horton writes. “Only hawks were permitted to testify and serious experts who could have cast doubt on the cause for war were excluded.”
Biden, Hillary Clinton, and John Kerry, along with the majority of Senate Democrats “made the obviously political decision to support Bush’s war,” Horton says, while reminding us that Nancy Pelosi and the majority of Democrats in the House opposed it.
“Biden did not just support the war. He served as Bush and Cheney’s Senate gatekeeper and whip, guaranteeing a majority vote for the war in the upper chamber while controlled by the opposition party. If Biden had any moral courage at all, he could have stopped the war.”
All Biden would have had to do is bring in real experts like Scott Ritter and Anthony Zinni “to debunk the case that Iraq was stockpiling banned weapons or had programs that necessitated war,” Horton says.
Or Biden could have held up the 2002 vote authorizing the use of force.
Instead, Biden conspired with the White House to force the authorization through. He also continued to endorse the war publicly for years after that, though he has since spent the better part of a decade denying he ever did, lying that he only wanted the inspectors back in the country.”
Obviously Biden has changed, but his weakness when a strong political force was pushing war must give us all pause.
The neocons haven’t gone away. Their thinktanks continue to push for war, and they have publications to get out the word. “Dangerously obsessed doesn’t begin to describe this,” one observer of the rightwing Israel lobby writes.
The Capitol Hill riot showed that an advanced democracy is vulnerable to fake news and conspiracy theories, promoted by powerful people, in that case the White House. But the Iraq war was one of the biggest mistakes in the history of modern statecraft, creating enormous suffering and instability that has persisted for nearly 20 years. That decision was propelled by lies and false conspiracy claims — and it was approved by leading news organizations and politicians, including the current president. It is arguable that Donald Trump would never have become president, with his own regime of lies, if the imperial folly/horror of the Iraq war had not paved the way.
Joe Biden is not the only one to survive that error of judgment. There has been very little accountability at all for the Iraq war. The establishment that got us into that war is the same establishment that claims now to want to end “forever wars” and many politicians, experts and media figures have little interest in any scrutiny of the record– with some insisting to this day that one of the biggest fabrications, the Iraq WMD argument, was made in good faith.
Scott Horton’s book is an indispensable contribution to the record of imperial madness. Its careful documentation and moral outrage are as much historical accountability as we can expect, for now.
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March 9, 2012- Will Israel Attack Alone? Netanyahu is Popular! - History
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Thursday welcomed the fact that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will no longer serve as Israel&rsquos Prime Minister once the new government is sworn in.
&ldquoNetanyahu has joined the disgraceful journey of his anti-Iran co-conspirators&mdashBolton, Trump and Pompeo&mdashinto the dustbin of history,&rdquo he tweeted.
&ldquoIran continues to stand tall. This destiny has been repeated over several millennia for all those wishing Iranians harm. Time to change course,&rdquo added Zarif.
The Iranian Foreign Minister made similar comments in January, when former US President Donald Trump&rsquos time in office concluded.
&ldquoTrump, Pompeo & Co. are relegated to the dustbin of history in disgrace. But the memories of Gen Soleimani & the 1000s murdered, maimed & starved of food & meds by Trump's state&mdash& economic&mdashterrorism & crimes against humanity, will shine on,&rdquo he wrote on Twitter at the time.
&ldquoPerhaps new folks in DC have learned,&rdquo he added.
Netanyahu has consistently warned against Iran&rsquos nuclear program and has been a vocal critic of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, from which the US withdrew in 2018.
That year, Israel got a hold of Iran's nuclear archive, uncovering over 100,000 documents detailing Tehran's nuclear program and proving that it is lying about its nuclear intentions.
March 9, 2012- Will Israel Attack Alone? Netanyahu is Popular! - History
Barring any dramatic last-minute changes, Benjamin Netanyahu's historic 12-year run as Prime Minister of Israel will end today.
Parties in the incoming coalition will meet in the Yamina party's room in the Knesset at 2:00p.m., after which they will hold separate meetings at 3:15p.m.
The Knesset plenum will meet at 4:00p.m., to be followed by a toast to be held in the Chagall State Hall with the Speaker of the Knesset-elect.
At 9:00p.m., there will be a celebratory meeting of the incoming government on the occasion of the formation of the 36th Government of Israel, held in the Jerusalem Hall in the Knesset.
Statements will be delivered at the beginning of the meeting by the Prime Minister-designate Naftali Bennett (Yamina) and the Alternate Prime Minister-designate Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid). Netanyahu will also deliver his first speech as chairman of the opposition.
Netanyahu entered office as prime minister on March 31, 2009, and has served continuously since then. He also served as prime minister from 1996-1999, making him the longest-serving prime minister in Israeli history.
Netanyahu is the only Israeli prime minister to sign peace agreements with more than one Arab state, having signed the Abraham Accords with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan in 2020.
The new government is considered to be historic, as it includes an Arab party, the United Arab List, for the first time. In addition, Naftali Bennett will be Israel's first religious prime minister.
Zuhair al-Qaissi killed in Israeli air strike
1 of 9 Palestinians gather around the wreckage of a car targeted in an airstrike in Gaza City, Friday, March 9, 2012. An Israeli airstrike killed top Palestinian militant commander Zuhair al-Qaissi and a second militant in Gaza on Friday in the highest profile attack against the coastal strip in months. Hatem Moussa/Associated Press Show More Show Less
2 of 9 In this Oct. 22, 2011 file photograph, Zuhair al-Qaissi, a secretary-general of the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) sits during an interview to the Associated Press in his office in Gaza City. An Israeli airstrike killed a top Palestinian militant commander in Gaza on Friday March 9, 2012 in the highest profile attack against the coastal strip in months. The Israeli military confirmed the strike, saying the slain commander Zuhair al-Qaissi was plotting an infiltration attack into Israel similar to one his group carried out in August that killed eight people. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa, File) Hatem Moussa/Associated Press Show More Show Less
4 of 9 Palestinians mourn in a hospital after two militants of the Al Quds Brigades, the military arm of Islamic Jihad, were killed in a second Israeli air strike in Gaza City on March 9, 2012, bringing the number of Palestinians killed in a day of cross-boarder fighting to four. The two strikes came in response to two waves of Palestinian mortar fire into southern Israel, in which no casualties were reported. Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images Show More Show Less
5 of 9 Palestinians mourn the death of islamic Jehad militant Hazem Kerekeaa in the al-Shifa hospital morgue on March 9, 2012, bringing the number of Palestinians killed in a day of cross-boarder fighting to four after a second Israeli air strike on the Gaza Strip. The two strikes came in response to two waves of Palestinian mortar fire into southern Israel, in which no casualties were reported . Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images Show More Show Less
7 of 9 Palestinian mourn over the body islamic Jehad militant Hazem Kerekeaa in the al-Shifa hospital morgue on March 9, 2012, bringing the number of Palestinians killed in a day of cross-boarder fighting to four after a second Israeli air strike on the Gaza Strip. The two strikes came in response to two waves of Palestinian mortar fire into southern Israel, in which no casualties were reported. Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images Show More Show Less
8 of 9 Relatives of a man killed in an Israeli airstrike mourn at a morgue in Gaza City, Friday, March 9, 2012. The Israeli military said in a statement that it targeted two rocket launching positions in the Gaza Strip Friday. Hatem Moussa/Associated Press Show More Show Less
An Israeli air strike in Gaza on Friday killed the commander of the militant group behind the abduction of Sgt. Gilad Schalit, an Israeli soldier who was held captive for more than five years and freed in a prisoner swap for more than 1,000 Palestinians.
The midday attack marked the highest profile Israeli strike against the coastal strip in several months and immediately sparked retaliatory rocket attacks toward Israel - raising the specter of a violent escalation after a period of relative calm.
Various Palestinian militant groups fired dozens of rockets, some deep into Israeli territory, prompting Israel to issue warnings to its residents to stay indoors. The Israeli military pounded several rocket launching cells in Gaza. In all, 10 Palestinian militants were killed in Israeli air strikes, and one Israeli citizen was seriously wounded by the Palestinian rocket fire.
The Israeli military said it targeted Zuhair al-Qaissi, the commander of the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committee, a large militant group closely aligned with Gaza's Hamas rulers. The explosion tore apart al-Qaissi's blue sedan and killed his son-in-law, Mahmoud Hanini - himself a top PRC field commander. Another low-ranking Gaza militant also died.
Hours later, Israeli military killed two more militants that it said were about to launch rockets. After midnight, Palestinian officials said another four were killed in and around Gaza City.
Palestinian witnesses said Israeli drones were seen hovering above just moments before al-Qaissi's vehicle burst into flames. They said the blast was so fierce that al-Qaissi's head detached as a result.
The Israeli military said al-Qaissi was plotting an infiltration attack into Israel similar to the one he orchestrated in August from the Sinai peninsula that killed eight Israelis and injured 40 more.
The armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committee is responsible for dozens of deadly attacks against Israelis in recent years and its members are among the most active rocket launchers from Gaza into Israel.
Netanyahu goes 'scorched earth,' criticizes Biden in speech ahead of ouster
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's 12-year run in power is about to end, and it looks like he's aiming to make life difficult for his replacement on the way out.
Israel's parliament, or Knesset, on Sunday is holding a vote of confidence on a new coalition government headed by opposition leader Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett, the leader of the right-wing Yamina party who will step into the prime minister role for two years before Lapid takes over if the vote passes as expected.
Before the vote, though, Netanyahu got a chance to address the Knesset. He did not hold back, reportedly claiming that Bennett, his former ally, defrauded voters and that his government will pass laws akin to authoritarian regimes like those in North Korea and Iran. "While I fight Iran, you bring Iran," Netanyahu said, referring to the enmity between the two countries and the threat of Tehran's nuclear capabilities.