Sunday, December 17, 2006

The United States of Israel?

Of all the responses to the much-anticipated Iraq Study Group’s report, none is so stunning as that emerging from the Neocon factory that brought us such hits as the Iraq war. In fact, even before the report was issued, neocon organs like the Weekly Standard and the pages of conservative publications like the Wall Street Journal and the National Review were ringing with denunciations of ISG co-chair James Baker. This is the same Jim Baker who engineered George W. Bush’s theft of the 2000 election, the same Baker who served both George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan as Secretary of State and Chief of Staff. And yet, he is now characterized as an appeaser in the mold of Neville Chamberlain, someone whom Frank Gaffney, for example, attacks as “hostile towards Jews”:

“Jim Baker’s hostility towards the Jews is a matter of record and has endeared him to Israel’s foes in the region,” wrote Gaffney, suggesting that the ISG…would recommend a regional approach that would “throw free Iraq to the wolves” and “allow the Mideast’s only bona fide democracy, the Jewish State, to be snuffed in due course.”
(Jim Lobe, “Neocons Move to Pre-empt Baker Report,” Dec. 6, 2006, Inter Press Service.)


But wait. Why this anti-Israel tirade against Baker? Clearly, it derives from the report’s recommendations 1) that any comprehensive plan for Iraq must include a major American push towards a plan to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict; and 2) that a diplomatic initiative must be developed to include talks with Syria and Iran. Both of these recommendations are anathema to Israel, which has long sought to break up any nation in the Middle East that gains even a hint of power that might threaten Israeli dominance. Talk with Syria? Talk with Iran? Israel seeks to cripple both (as the invasion, and now imminent breakup, of Iraq did to that one-time rival. In which regard it is worth noting that that other champion of Israel, Senator Joe Lieberman, both supported the Iraq war in full, and has now attacked the ISG’s ideas about talks with Iran and Syria.). Solve the Palestinian conflict? That could only mean concessions by Israel, something it has vowed never to do.

All of which brings us to the nub of the issue: America’s corridors of power and influence now include large numbers of policy makers and pundits who seem to think—and would like us to think—that Israel is part of the United States. Or vice versa. The Neocons who brought us the Iraq war exemplify this attitude. They have no reservations about arguing, publicly, that a policy such as that suggested by the ISG would be harmful to Israel’s interests. But what about the national interest of the United States of America? Where do American policymakers and elected officials get off arguing for the national interest of a foreign power? Since when does “What’s good for Israel” take precedence over “What’s good for America?” This is precisely the point made by Anthony Sullivan in a December 8, 2006 article in The National Interest online. Commenting on a Foreign Affairs article by neocon Joshua Muravchik urging President Bush to bomb Iran before he leaves office, Sullivan writes:

"But Muravchik deserves our thanks for making the Neoconservative position crystal clear. Some might even conclude that Muravchik’s and the Neoconservative’ real concern is not the United States but Israel. Apparently, American national interests are threatened both by numerous enemies abroad and some fifth columnists at home."

How refreshing that someone finally calls it as it is: “the Neoconservatives’ real concern is not the United States but Israel,” which makes them, literally, “fifth columnists.”
There was a time when “fifth columnists” and those who put a foreign government’s interests above their own would be arrested and tried for treason. Perhaps that day, long overdue, is coming again.
Copyright 2006
Lawrence DiStasi

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