By James Petras
Special to PalestineChronicle.com
Explanations for the US attack on Iraq range from military-political pretexts to accounts focusing on geopolitical and economic interests.
The original official explanation was the now discredited claim that Saddam Hussein possessed chemical, biological and other weapons of mass destructions (WMD), which threatened the US, Israel and the Middle East.
Subsequent to the US military occupation, when no WMD were discovered, Washington justified the invasion and occupation by citing the removal of a dictator and the establishment of a prosperous democracy in the Arab world. The imposition of a colonial puppet regime, propped up by an imperial occupation force of over 200,000 troops and irregular death squads, which have killed close to a million Iraqi civilians, forced over 4 million into exile and impoverished over 95% of the population, puts the lie to that line of argument. The latest line of justification revolves around the notion that the US occupation is necessary to ‘prevent a civil war’.
Most Iraqis and military experts think the presence of the US colonial occupation army is the cause of violent conflict, particularly the US military’s devastating attacks on civilians, their financing of rival tribal leaders and Kurdish mercenaries and their contracting of local police-military to repress the population. Since most Americans (not to speak of the rest of the world) are not convinced by these specious arguments, the Washington regime rationalizes its continued war and occupation by citing the need for a colonial military victory to maintain its world and regional status as a super-power, and to assure its Middle East client regimes that Washington can defend their ruling cliques and their hegemonic ally, Israel.
The Bush White House and pro-Israel Congressional leaders claim a victory in Iraq will bolster Washington’s image as a successful global ‘anti-terrorist’ (anti-insurgent) regime. These post-facto justifications have lost credibility as the war drags on, popular resistance grows in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Lebanon, Somalia, Thailand, Philippines, Pakistan and elsewhere. The longer the war continues, the greater the economic cost and the demoralization and depletion of military personnel, the more difficult the task of sustaining the capacity to intervene in defense of the empire.
If the official political and military justifications for the US colonial wars in Iraq and Afghanistan ring hollow and convince few, what of the other economic explanations for the war put forth mostly but not exclusively by critics of the Bush administration?
The major focus of the economic determinists of the war centers on the issue of oil, as in ‘war for oil’.* These explanations in turn break down into several variants: The first and most popular is that the big US oil companies were behind the war, that Bush and Cheney were pressured by their Big Oil handlers into launching the war so that US oil companies could seize the nationally-owned Iraqi oil fields and refineries. A second, slightly modified, version argued that the White House was not pressured by Big Oil but acted on their behalf as a reflex action. (This is put forth to explain why the spokesmen for Big Oil multinationals were so conspicuously absent from the media and halls of Congress in the lead-up to the war.)
(* see recent statements in September and October by former Federal Reserve Chairman, Alan Greenspan and US General John Abazaid among others)
A third version argued that the US went to war to secure oil for US national security interests threatened by Saddam Hussein. This explanation cites the danger of Saddam Hussein closing down the Strait of Hormuz, invading the Gulf States, inciting revolts in Saudi Arabia and/or reducing the flow of Middle East oil to the US and its allies. In other words, the ‘geopolitics’ of the Middle East dictated that a non-client regime was a threat to US, European and Japanese access to oil. This is apparently the latest argument put forth by Alan Greenspan, a former proponent of the WMD propaganda.
The major advocates of the ‘war for oil’ (WFO) argument fail several empirical tests: Namely that the oil companies were not actively supporting the war via propaganda, congressional lobbying or through any other policy vehicle. Secondly the proponents of WFO fail to explain the efforts by major oil companies to develop economic ties with Iraq prior to the invasion and were in fact, working through clandestine third parties to trade in Iraqi oil. Thirdly, all the major oil companies operating in the Middle East were mainly concerned with political stability, the liberalization of the economic policies of the region and the opening of oil services for foreign investors. The big oil companies’ strategies were to advance their global interests through the on-going liberalization process in the Middle East and conquering new markets and oil resources through their formidable market power – investments and technology. The onset of the US invasion of Iraq was viewed with anxiety and concern as a military action, which would destabilize the region, increase hostility to their interests throughout the Gulf and slow down the liberalization process. Not a single CEO from the entire petroleum industry viewed the US invasion as a positive ‘national security’ measure, because they understood that Saddam Hussein, after over a decade of economic and military sanctions and frequent bombing of his military installations and infrastructure throughout the Clinton years, was not in a position to launch any acts of aggression against Gulf oil companies or states. Moreover the oil companies had several real prospects of developing lucrative service and commercial oil contracts with Saddam Hussein’s regime in the lead-up to the war. It was the US government pressured by the Zionist Power Configuration (ZPC), which pushed legislation blocking (through sanctions) Big Oil from consummating these economic agreements with Iraq.
The argument that Big Oil promoted the war for its own benefit fails the empirical test. A corollary to that is that Big Oil has failed to benefit from the US occupation because of the heightened conflict, continuous sabotage, the predictable resistance of the Iraqi oil workers to privatization and the general insecurity, instability and hostility of the Iraqi people.
The American Left jumped on Alan Greenspan’s declaration that the Iraq war was about oil, as some kind of confirmation in the absence of any evidence. Yet everyday that has transpired since the beginning of the war five years ago, demonstrates that ‘Big Oil’ not only did not promote the invasion, but has failed to secure a single oil field, despite the presence of 160,000 US troops, thirty thousand Pentagon/State Department paid mercenaries and a corrupt puppet regime. As of September 19, 2007 the Financial Times of London featured an article on the conspicuous absence of the ‘Oil Majors’ in Iraq: “Big Oil Plays a Waiting Game over Iraq’s Reserves’ (September 19, 2007). Only a few small companies (‘oil minnows’) have contracts in Northern Iraq (‘Kurdistan’), which has only 3% of Iraq’s reserves. ‘Big Oil’ did not start the Iraq war, nor has ‘Big Oil’ benefited from the war. The reason why ‘Big Oil’ did not support the war is the same reason they haven’t invested after the occupation: “The level of violence is still unacceptably high…if anything the prospects of agreement appears to be receding as tensions between parties grow.” (ibid) ‘Big Oil’s’ worst nightmares leading up to the Zionist-influenced war have all been utterly confirmed. Whereas ‘Big Oil’s’ negotiations and third party deals with pre-war Iraq provided a stable and consistent flow of oil and revenue, the war has not only reduced these revenues to zero, but has all but eliminated any new options for the next decade.
Despite the war, liberalization elsewhere in the region has proceeded and US oil and financial interests have advanced despite the increased obstacles and hostilities, which have grown out of the US slaughter of Muslims.
Big Oil, Texas billionaires, even big contributors to the Bush family political campaigns were no match for the ZPC when it came to Middle East war policy. They lacked the inside and outside power, the disciplined grass roots organization of Jewish community organizations to overcome the Zionist warmongering power over Congress, their position in strategic executive offices and their army of academic scribes from Harvard, Yale and Hopkins churning out bellicose propaganda in the US media. What is striking about the position papers and op-ed reprints in the Daily Alert is the total absence of any deviation from official Israeli pro-war positions: Whether it is killing children in Jenin, bombing population centers in Lebanon, shelling Arab families relaxing at the beach in Gaza, the Daily Alert simply echoes the official Israeli line and blatant lies about human shields, accidents, gunmen among school children, self-induced atrocities. Never in the entire period analyzed is there a single critical article questioning Israel’s massive displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. No crime against humanity is too great for the Presidents of the Leading American Jewish Organizations to defend. It is this slavish obedience to the official Israeli policy that marks out the Zionist Power Configuration as something much more than just another lobby as its ‘left’ apologists and even Walt and Mearsheimer claim. The ZPC is much more sinister both as a transmission belt for the policies and interests of a colonial power hell-bent on domination in the Middle East and as the most serious authoritarian threat to our democratic freedoms: no single individual who dares criticize can escape the long hand of the pro-Israel authoritarians. Book sellers are picketed, editors are intimidated, university presses and distributors are threatened, university presidents are blackmailed, local and national candidates are browbeaten and smeared, meetings are cancelled and venues are pressured, faculty are fired or denied promotion, corporations are blacklisted, union pension funds are raided, theater performances and concerts are cancelled. And the list of repressive actions taken by these authoritarian Zionist organizations at the national and local levels runs on, arousing fear among some, anger among many more and a slowly burning resentment and growing awareness among the silent majority. The second geo-political version of ‘oil for war’ focuses on the national security issues. After the First Gulf War in 1991 and eleven years of economic sanctions and military disarmament, Iraq was an impoverished, weak nation partially dismembered by the US backed Kurdish enclave in the north and constant US bombing and over flights. Iraq was severely bombed several times during the Clinton regimes and over 1 million of its citizens, including an estimated 500,000 children, died prematurely from conditions related to the US imposed deprivation of food and essential medical and water treatment supplies.
Before the invasion in 2003 Iraq did not even control its shorelines, airspace or even a third of its national territory. As the US invasion demonstrated, Saddam’s military lacked the most elementary capacity to mount any defense in a conventional war, not even a single fighter plane presented a threat to any offshore US client or to the Strait of Hormuz. The stiff resistance to the US came later in the form of irregular forces engaged in guerrilla warfare, not from any organized force established by the Baathist regime. In other words no matter how far the concept of ‘national security’ is stretched to include US military bases, oil installations, client rulers and transport and shipping lanes in the Middle East, Saddam Hussein was clearly not a threat. If however the concept of ‘national security’ is re-defined to mean the physical elimination of any potential opponent of US and Israeli domination in the region, then Saddam Hussein could be labeled a national security threat. But that takes the discussion of the explanation for the US war against Iraq to another terrain and a discussion of the political forces who manipulated the phony WMD and ‘War for Oil’ propaganda to justify a war for US and Israeli hegemony in the Middle East. Even more important the disinformation campaign about who was responsible for the US invasion and occupation of Iraq is highly relevant to the current propaganda blitz driving us toward a war with Iran.
From the Iraq War Cover-up on to Iran War Propaganda
The pro-Israel power configuration beats the war drums for an assault on Iran with greater insistency and successfully induces the Democratic Congress and Presidential hopefuls as well as the Republican White House to “put the military option on the table.” Parallel to overt war propaganda, a number of liberal critics of the Iraq war have published articles arguing that Israel “really opposed the Iraq war.” Writers as diverse as Gareth Porter, ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern, Colonel Wilkerson (Colin Powell’s Aide), ultra Zion-Con Michael Ledeen and others claim that Israel opposed the war because they wanted the US to target Iran. Others argue that Israel had advised the US that an invasion of Iraq would have dire consequences for the Middle East, tipping the balance toward Iran and which they now claim to have predicted. These Israel-exonerators point to other culprits, namely Bush-Cheney-Rumsfelt or the American Neo-Cons (better known as the Zion-Cons) who, they insist, have acted independently of Israel or ignored Israeli priorities in the region.
There is an alternative view, which argues that Israel promoted the US attack on Iraq, did all in its power through its US pro-Israel followers to design, propagandize and plan the war. This alternative view sustains that at no point did the Zion-Cons act contrary to Israeli state interests. In fact, Israeli officials worked on a daily basis with its US agents inside the government, particularly the Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans to provide disinformation to justify the military attack. If, as we will show, Israel was deeply involved in pushing the US to attack Iraq and is behind the current disinformation campaign to provoke a US war against Iran, then anti-war forces and US public opinion must openly confront the ‘Israel factor’.
We will argue that the exoneration of Israel is mainly an attempt to deflect US public hostility away from those Israel Firsters who manipulated us into this costly, bloody unending war. Exoneration of Israeli responsibility for the US invasion of Iraq allows the Jewish state and its US agents to escape any blame for the degradation of US forces in Iraq and provides them a ‘clean moral slate’ for launching a new bloody US attack against Iran. Rather than seeing Israel as giving us a double dose of an incurable colonial disease, exoneration allows Israel and its agents to follow the same Iraq invasion pattern of manipulation and duplicity in leading us to war with Iran. The White House and Democratic Congress, echoing Israel, are using inflated threats of nuclear attack, demonizing Iran’s leaders, financing low intensity warfare through the training and funding of violent Iranian exile-based clients, economic sanctions and ‘failed’ diplomatic maneuvers …to lead up to a new war. Taking advantage of their liberal (Zion-lib)-led exoneration for their role in the invasion of Iraq, the Zionist Power Configuration, through such loyal mouthpieces as Senator Joseph Lieberman, blame the Iranians for the deaths of US soldiers in Iraq. It is not the Zionist pro-war officials in and out of the government who sent young American soldiers to die in Iraq at the behest of the Israeli state to whom the US public should direct its anger, but rather the Iranians who are accused of arming and training Iraqi resistance fighters. Leaving Israel out and bringing Iran into the debacle in Iraq serves the Israeli purpose of covering their backsides while inciting Americans into a new military adventure against the much larger and better-armed Iranians.
The exonerators of Israel are not homogeneous in their political background or goals. Some liberals, fearful of arousing a powerful Zionist backlash, seek to whitewash Israel’s lobby operatives in the US as a way of gaining sympathy among pro-Israel Congressional Democrats and financial backing from wealthy Jewish liberals critical of the Iraq war. Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean, following the new Israeli script declared during a visit to Tel Aviv in 2006 that the ‘the US invaded the wrong country!’
The price of the ‘exonerate Israel’ strategy is to overlook the powerful role that the Israel First lobby is playing in bringing us to a new war with Iran as part of a sequence of invasions promoted by Israeli strategists. These clever ploys are backfiring. Playing to the prejudices of the liberal pro-Israel crowd in the Democratic Party has lead to the current absence of any significant anti-war movement against the Zionist-led propaganda and war-mongering blitz against Iran.
There is no question that some anti-war Zion-Libs are trying to put some distance from the Zion-Con/Israeli policymakers who promoted the invasion of Iraq. But this does not come from any opposition to another new and more dangerous military commitment. On the contrary, the Zion-Libs criticize the discredited Bush-Cheney-Iraq policy in favor of a new more aggressive war policy toward Iran. By exonerating Israel and its transmission belt of organized local and national Jewish and fundamentalist Christian organizations, the liberals have not found allies for peace – they have revived the powerful influence of Israel and its US apparatus which was being increasingly rejected by the US public and elements in the US military. By putting the blame for the debacle in Iraq exclusively on Bush/Cheney and their allies in ‘Big Oil’ and excluding the role of Israel, the ZPC and their toadies among the Democrats in Congress, the liberal exonerators, open the way for a new cycle of war in the Middle East. To prevent a future Zionist and Israeli-orchestrated US attack against Iran, we must be perfectly clear about who maneuvered the US into attacking Iraq.
Israel, the ZPC and the Run-up to the Invasion of Iraq
Analytically, the differences between Israeli state policy and the leading US Zionist organizations are, with very rare exceptions, indistinguishable. The run-up to the US attack on Iraq is a case in point. From the late 1980’s, through the first Gulf War, the Clinton Administration’s sanctions, daily bombings and territorial separation of northern Iraq, ‘Kurdistan’, from the rest of the country, to the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, the Israeli government pressured US Congress-people and senior policy makers toward bellicose policies toward Israel’s ‘enemies’. Israeli state policy urging further US degradation of Iraq was transmitted through the major Zionist organizations and key Zionist officials in the Clinton and later Bush administrations. Dennis Ross, Martin Indyk, Madeleine Albright, Richard Holbrook, Sandy Berger, William Cohen and others were the most important foreign policy-makers toward the Middle East in the Clinton Administration and they produced and implemented the sanctions, bombings and territorial dismemberment of Iraq. Following their term of office, key Clinton Zionists went to work at pro-Israeli think tanks in Washington. Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, the Zion-Cons in top level positions in the Bush Administration (Ari Fleischer, Paul Wolfowitz, David Frum, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, Eliott Abrams, Irving (Scooter) Libby, David Wurmser and others) and key Zionist Congress-members like Senator Joseph Lieberman, called for the US to attack Iraq, as part of a series of sequential wars, to include Syria and Iran. They echoed the policies of the Israeli state and in particular Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
Israeli state officials, at no point expressed any reservations or differences with the bellicose efforts of its highly placed liaison agents in the Bush Government, nor with its servile lobby, AIPAC, nor with the pro-Israel Op-Ed writers of the major newspapers and broadcast media. Zionist ideologues prevailed everywhere berating the US military officials for their timid caution. Israel, consistent with its policies since the late 1980’s, encouraged the Bush Administration toward an invasion and occupation of Iraq in all of its top level meetings with Rumsfelt, Powell, Rice and Bush. The Israeli media, with rare exceptions, demonized Saddam, played up his ‘threat’ to the Middle East and Israel’s security, conflated Palestinian suicide bombings with Iraqi support for the Palestinian people’s national aspirations, and energized their fundamentalist Christian allies in the US to follow suit in calling for an invasion of Iraq.
An analysis of the relationship between the Israeli state and highly placed Zionist officials in the Bush Administration reveals first and foremost that Tel Aviv laid out the strategic policies of eliminating Middle East regimes opposed to its ethnic cleansing of the occupied territories and unlimited expansion of colonial settlements in Occupied Palestine and the consolidation of Israeli hegemony in the Middle East. The Zionist elite in the Bush regime invented the pretext and the propaganda for war and most important, successfully designed and operationalized the US invasion of Iraq. This ‘division of labor’ included the Zion-Cons in the executive branch, backed by the Presidents of the Major Jewish American Organizations (including AIPAC), the regional, state and local Jewish federations through their influence over Congress.
Testimony by former Pentagon analyst, retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski confirms that throughout the period leading to the Iraq war, Israeli military officials, intelligence officers and other high ranking functionaries had daily access with top Zionist Pentagon officials like Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith. Frequent consultation, intelligence coordination and joint planning between top Zion-Cons in the Pentagon and top Israeli military operatives in the US indicates that there was close agreement in directing the US to invade Iraq. There was Zion-Con/Israeli agreement, confirmed in the immediate aftermath of the initial ‘successful’ occupation, that Iraq was the first of a series of invasions in the Middle East, to be followed by attacks against Iran and Syria. The Israeli joke current at the time was: ‘Anyone can take Baghdad, real men go for Tehran.’ In November 2002, Ariel Sharon, in an interview with the Times of London, called for the bombing of Iran ‘the day after the US invades Iraq’.
The Zion-Con/Israeli blueprint for sequential wars was explicitly stated in the policy paper “Project for a New American Century’, a kind of American-Israeli Mein Kampf of US world domination in which Israel would be a co-benefactor of American military might and treasure. Most of the Zion-Con designers and executers of US war policy in the Middle East were listed as authors or sponsors of the ‘New American Project’. Many were also contributors to the policy paper for Likud leader, Benyamin Netanyahu, which specifically called for the dismemberment of Iraq into manageable ethnic enclaves.
Israeli intelligence ‘disinformation’ about Saddam Hussein’s ‘threat’ to the region was embellished and adapted to the propaganda needs of the White House. While Israeli propaganda pounded away at ‘Saddam Hussein’ as the modern Hitler, Zionist propaganda chief and Bush speechwriter, David Frum, repeated the same theme in the infamous ‘Axis of Evil’ speech in which Bush pronounced before the world his intention to attack other nations preemptively. Given the Israeli regime’s pro-war propaganda it is understandable that Israeli public opinion was overwhelmingly in favor of the war as were all the leaders of the major American Jewish organization, but not the majority of American Jews, especially young Jews and those who were not members of any of the Zionist (Israel First) front organizations.
Israeli advisers and Zion-Cons in the US government were highly influential in the dismantling of the entire civilian and military administrative structures in Iraq – the so-called De-Baathification campaign – in order to decisively weaken any attempt to reconstruct Iraq as a modern secular republic opposed to Israeli regional hegemony. The Israeli policy, pursued by the Zion-Cons, was to fragment the Iraqi state and society into pre-modern ethno-religious entities run by pro-Israeli Iraqi exiles (like Ahmed Chalabi who had business ties with Douglas Feith), incapable of ever challenging Israeli policy in the Middle East.
Israeli Zion-Con policy succeeded in so far as it secured the US destruction of the Iraqi state; but it failed to secure a rapid victory on the road to the second phase of invading Iran, because of the massive armed resistance by the Iraqis. In their blind racism against Arabs, the Israeli officials and their American agents discounted any possibility of Iraqis mounting a people’s war against the destruction of their society. As the Iraqi resistance gained momentum and US military and economic losses multiplied, US public opinion turned against the war and began to ask who was responsible for the military debacle. In the face of this potentially dangerous question Zionist propaganda shifted gears in order to cover their tracks. Top Zionist official who framed the war quickly left the scene, beginning with the most obvious war perpetrators: Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith and Shumsky in the Pentagon and David Frum and Ari Fleischer in the White House. The hardliners with less overt profiles in the State Department stayed on for a while longer– Elliot Abrams, Scooter Libby, David Wurmser. Libby later was convicted of a felony for his role in exposing the CIA operative married to Ambassador Joseph Wilson in retaliation for his exposing his Zionist cohorts’ fabrication of ‘intelligence’ in the lead up to the war.
War with Iran: The Highest Priority for the ZPC (and Israel)
Israel’s campaign for the destruction of Iran has already led to two acts of war. In June 2006 Israel assaulted Lebanon, aiming, unsuccessfully, to destroy the Shiite political-military organization Hezbollah, an ally of Iran. A little more than a year later (Sept 6, 2007) Israel engaged in an even more provocative act, an unprovoked bombing mission over Syrian territory, destroying a military installation. Since Syria and Iran have a mutual defense pact, the Israeli action was designed to test the willingness of Iran and Syria to respond to a surprise (sneak) military attack.
The propaganda arm of the Israeli intelligence services prepared a piece of disinformation comparable to their earlier weapons of mass destruction lie: They claimed that they bombed a nuclear site which North Korea was constructing and supplying with nuclear material. Israeli disinformation was immediately reproduced verbatim in the leading US newspapers, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and the New York Times and all the major television networks. Pro-Israeli propaganda experts justified the attack and were in turn quoted in the Washington Post (Sept 20, 2007). The Post quoted Bruce Riedel, formerly an intelligence ‘expert’ at the pro-Israel Saban Center for Middle East Policy (housed in the now discredited Brookings Institute): “There is no question it was a major raid. It was an extremely important target. It came at a time the Israelis were very concerned about war with Syria and wanted to dampen down the prospects of war (sic). The decision was taken despite their concerns it could produce a war (sic). The decision reflects how important this target was to Israeli military planners.” In other words, Israel is “concerned about war” so it engages in an unprovoked act of war in which the propagandists don’t even know the nature of the target!
On September 21, 2007, the principle propaganda sheet (Daily Alert) of the Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations (PMAJO) then reproduced the pro-war propaganda cycled through the Washington Post and sends it out to all top officials and Congressmen in Washington and across the country and activated its lobbyists in AIPAC to ensure US support for the blatant Israeli act of war. True to its deceptive propaganda function, the Daily Alert published a highly misleading excerpt from an article in the Financial Times (September 21, 2007 p.4), which combines the Israeli propaganda line of a ‘potential’ Syria-North Korea nuclear tie without including several paragraphs debunking the Israeli-Zionist disinformation campaign. The Financial Times article quotes Joseph Circcione, Director of Nuclear Policy at the Center for American Progress: “It is highly unlikely that the Israeli attack had anything to do with significant Syrian-North Korean nuclear cooperation. The basic, well-documented fact is that the 40-year-old Syrian nuclear research program is too basic to support any weapons capability. Universities have larger nuclear facilities than Syria,” (Financial Times September 21, 2007, p.4). A former senior Asian adviser to President Bush and expert on North Korea, now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, also debunked the Israeli-Zionist nuclear weapon ploy: “I would be very, very surprised if the North Koreans were dumb enough to transfer fissile material to Syria or were trying to do work outside of North Korea in a place like Syria”, (ibid). Equally damaging to the Israeli-Zionist war propaganda, the Bush Administration never raised North Korea’s supposed involvement with Syria during the entire series of meetings during 2007, despite the fact that it was greatly hostile to Syria and looking for any excuse to attack it. In contrast to previous Israeli provocations in which the Bush Administration rushed to vouch for Israel’s pretexts, Bush declined to comment on the Israeli attacks against Syria, likely advised by his intelligence chiefs that it was an Israeli act of provocation hoping to draw in the United States.
The Israeli act of war against Syria and its defense and promotion by the US Zionist Power Configuration is the latest step in bringing the US into a joint war against Iran and Syria. A survey of the Daily Alert (the house organ of the Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations) from January to September 2007 (180 issues) reveals that there is an average of three articles in each issue calling on the US to engage in acts of war, impose strict economic sanctions and a naval blockade and prepare for a widespread confrontation with Iran. There is not a single voice or article that questions Israel’s pro-war posture. Every issue of the Daily Alert parrots the Israeli line, even when it involves supporting the brutal cutting of electricity, gas and drinking water to over a million trapped civilians in Gaza – a war crime under international law. In the words of the Daily Alert, Israeli murders of unarmed teenage Palestinian boys and girls who are labeled ‘militants’ or ‘gunmen’. And the Daily Alert describes Israeli ‘peace negotiations’ as being carried out in ‘good faith’ – despite continued land grabs and assassinations of scores of Palestinians, including young kids. “In the time between George W. Bush, US President announcing the (Annapolis) peace meeting on July 16, 2007 and October 15, 2007, the Israeli military had killed 104 Palestinians including 12 children.” Financial Times (October 18, 2007 p.4)
After the November 2006 Democratic Party Congressional victory thanks to the increasingly angry anti-Iraq war voters, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Levi attended the AIPAC meeting in Washington to urge the thousands of Zionist activists and a large contingent of US Democratic and Republican congressmen to continue to support the Bush Administration’s occupation of Iraq and incited them toward another war against Iran. In a highly charged screed, she ejaculated on the non-existent “existential threat” of Iranian nuclear capability. The entire Jewish Lobby picked up the line and went into action.
The scope, depth and centralized structure of the Zionist Power Configuration far exceed anything, which can be properly conceived of as a ‘lobby’. In that sense Mearsheimer and Walt in the study of the Israel Lobby underestimate the power and political influence of the pro-Israeli forces. Secondly the measure of the ZPC power must take account of several factors. These include its direct and indirect power. ZPC power is exercised directly on political, academic and cultural decision makers to make sure their policies back pro-Israel, pro-Zionist interests. An even more direct expression of power is when Zionists occupy top decision-making positions and make policies on behalf of Israeli military and economic interests. Elliot Abrams, President Bush’s key Middle East advisor on the National Security Council is one of many examples as is the Director of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, who allocates over three-quarters of available funds for the ‘security’ of private Jewish organizations.
Equally formidable is the ZPC exercise of indirect power through several mechanisms.
One is by parleying influence over a small group of Congressmen into a large majority. For example, AIPAC wrote up the bill, presented by Senator Lieberman and co-signed by Senator Kyl, labeling the Iranian Revolutionary Guards as ‘terrorists’, which paves the way for Bush to launch an attack. It was passed by 80% of Congress.
Cumulative power is the convergence of different sectors of the ZPC on a single issue. For example, pro-Israel writers and Jewish leaders from all major organizations and spheres of its media from Left to far Right, joined to denounce Mearsheimer and Walt’s essay and subsequent book, most resorting to either ad hominem attacks (‘anti-Semites’) or illogical and convoluted arguments ignoring the empirical data.
Propaganda of the deed is a favorite power tool of the ZPC. This involves publicizing the successful punishment of critics of Israel and the ZPC in order to intimidate current or future policymakers. An example is how Ziono-fascist Professor Alan Dershowitz of the Harvard Law School successfully campaigned, with backing from the ZPC, ousted Professor Norman Finkelstein from his university post, thus serving as ‘exemplary punishment’ to any future academic critics of Israel. Dershowitz campaign went so far as to slander Professor Finkelstein’s deceased mother, a survivor of the Nazi death camps, as a Jewish ‘kapo’ or Nazi collaborator.
The ZPC has multiple resources that are mutually re-enforcing in both the private, and public spheres. Large-scale, long-term party and electoral financing buy Congressional influence. This in turn increases the power of the large minority of Zionist Congressmen in gaining control over party nominations and committee assignments in Congress. This in turn feeds back into greater influence for the ZPC in shaping US-Middle East foreign policy and facilitating access of pro-Israeli writers to the Op-Ed pages of the major dailies, weeklies and other branches of the corporate media.
Zionist power is also the result of a long-standing, pervasive and totally one-sided propaganda campaign which demonizes Israel’s Arab, especially Palestinian critics, and paints Israel (the world’s fourth largest and Middle East’s only nuclear power) as a democratic fortress, surrounded by hostile authoritarian governments. Through its access and partial control over most of the major media, the Zionist Power Configuration provides heavily biased reports on events such as the Israeli terror bombings of populations centers in Lebanon, Gaza and elsewhere. Reputational power projected by the ZPC in the US counteracts reality in the Middle East to the extent that Palestinian victims of all ages and genders, suffering 40 years of Israeli military rule, land expropriation and constant violent assaults are made into aggressors and the Israeli executioners are portrayed as virtuous, peaceful victims.
Israel Lobby or ‘Zionist Power Configuration’?
Mearsheimer and Walt describe the pro-Israel power configuration as a ‘lobby, just like any other US lobby’, a ‘loose collection of individuals and groups’ outside of government, acting on behalf of Israel. Nothing could be further from the truth. The power of Israel in the United States is manifested through a multiplicity of highly organized, well financed and centrally directed structures throughout the United States. The ZPC include several score political action committees with innocuous names, at least a dozen propaganda mills (‘think tanks’) employing scores of former highly connected top policymakers mostly in Washington and the East Coast, and the 52 major American Jewish Organizations grouped under the umbrella listing ‘Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations’ (CPMAJO). AIPAC and other national organizations (ADL, AJC etc ) are important influences at the national Executive-Congressional lobbying levels. But equally or even more important in censoring and purging critics, controlling local media and shaping opinion throughout cities, towns and villages are the local Jewish community federations and organizations which browbeat local cultural programmers, editors, bookstores, universities, churches and civic groups to deny public platforms to speakers, writers, artists, religious spokespeople and other public figures critical of Israel and its Zionist disciples.
The power base of the ZPC is found in the local activist doctors, dentists, lawyers, real estate brokers and landlords who preside over the local confederations and their several hundred thousand affiliates. It is they who harass, badger, browbeat, raise money and organize propaganda junkets for elected officials and ensure their support for Israeli wars and increases in the US multi-billion dollar aid packages to Israel. The local Zionist power structure organizes successful campaigns forcing state pension funds to purchase billions of dollars in underperforming Israel state bonds and to disinvest in companies engaged in economic transactions with Israel’s self-described ‘state terrorists adversaries’. It is the Jewish based pro-Israel student organizations which spy on US professors, who may or may not be critical of Israel and smear them in local and national newsletters and pressure administrations to fire them. Even where less than 1% of the local population is Jewish, Zionist zealots are able to pressure small private Christian colleges to ban a Nobel Peace Prize winning theologian, like Bishop Desmond Tutu, from speaking on their campus. The Zionist octopus has extended its tentacles far beyond the traditional centers of big city power and national politics, reaching into remote towns and cultural spheres. Not even the American small town obituary pages are exempt: When a Connecticut newspaper published a memorial of a prominent Palestinian grandmother and community leader from Hebron (May 2003) the 61 year old Shadeen abu Hijleh, who was shot in her home by Israelis soldiers, members of the local Jewish confederation expressed outrage at the exposure of Israeli military crimes – thus censoring a moving obituary page tribute written by her American friends and relatives.
Centralized structures – coordinated policy, targets, quotas, fund raising, large-scale special campaigns, black lists (‘anti-Semites’ and ‘self-hating Jews’), and networks all are integral parts of the ZPC. Mearsheimer and Walt have failed to analyze the organizational relations between the head office, regional staff and local organizations of the major pro-Israel Jewish organizations and how quickly they can be mobilized to stigmatize, censor or support a given speaker, activity or fund raiser in favor of Israeli interests.
Throughout the country the newsletters of local Jewish Community Relations Councils have parroted the line or reprinted libelous canards of their national offices denouncing Mearsheimer and Walt’s book The Israel Lobby – and from their rather ill-informed caricatures of M and W’s discussion it is clear they have barely even read the book’s cover.
One thing is clear from the largely emotional ejaculations from the predominantly Jewish intellectuals’ attacks against the book, the intellectual level of contemporary Jewish intellectuals has seriously deteriorated to the point that envy, communal spite and partisan vitriol has gotten the better of a reasoned review of data and logic. The literary efforts by Abraham Foxman of the ADL to answer M and H are reminiscent of the Stalinist diatribes featured during the Moscow show trials of the 1930’s (our Jewish version of Andrei Vishinsky). What accounts for the influence of these intellectual mediocrities is neither the evil vapors emanating from their venomous writing, nor their appeal to reason – though some pretense to reasoned debate is made by Zionist progressives – if such exist – but the fact that their repetitious message circulate throughout their mass media outlets uncontested.
The ZPC, having organized the war through falsified data, via the top two officials in the Pentagon (Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith), the Vice Presidents office (Wurmser and Irving Scooter Libby) and the National Security Council (Elliot Abrams) organized the President’s office (Ari Fleischer) and written Bush’s pre-emptive war speech (David Frum) are now fearful they will face the anger of the American people who have suffered the loss of thousands of soldiers – to an extent not experienced by the authors and implementers of this war for Israel. To avoid identification with this disastrous war, Zionist Power Configuration War planners and propagandists have resorted to lies (denial of the crucial role of Israel in bringing the US to war) and the somewhat more clever operators like Alan Greenspan have joined the mindless American left to drag out the old canard of ‘War for Oil’.
-James Petras’ latest books: The Power of Israel in the United States (2006) and Rulers and Ruled in the US Empire: Bankers, Zionists and Militarists (2007).