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09 July 2008


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David Solomon

Colonel Lang,

Thank you for a succinct and well balanced piece on Israel.

As you well know, such articles are rarely seen in the United States.


David E. Solomon


Over 30 years ago, I remarked offhandedly to a Jewish acquaintance of mine that we shouldn't assume that the interests of Israel and the United States are always identical. He basically never spoke to me again. This is a very deep-seated belief -- so deep-seated that it has become an article of faith.


Colonel Lang:

Thanks for such an excellent summary of that which should be obvious to all Americans, yet seldom is, despite its fundamental importance to this nation.

As always, your perspicacity and wisdom in world affairs serves as a welcome oasis in the god-forsaken desert that is the modern media.


Great post. I can already see the pretzel logic forming in the minds of our Aipac beholden Presidential candidates:

"Iran is a threat to Israel. But if we attack Iran it will put our troops in jeopardy. Thus the only way we can safely attack Iran is by pulling all of our troops out of Iraq. Quit. Iraq. Now."


Iran has announced that it will retaliate for an Israeli strike on their nuclear facilities by attacking American interests in the Gulf. So Iran is holding the U.S. responsible for the actions of another sovereign state - Israel.

In your opinion should we restrain Israel from pursuit of it's national interests because Iran is threatening us?

If Israel is reacting to an existential threat from Iran and Iran is holding us responsible for that reaction, might it not make sense for us to be prepared to fight Iran before it goes nuclear? Is conflict between Iran and Israel less likely after Iran gets the bomb? Iran's leaders have made many promises to the wider Muslim world about Israel - might they not feel pressure to follow through?


You do an excellent job pointing out the very distinct founding values of the Jewish state and of the United States' freedom of religion and freedom from religion.

The only real, imminent threat that Iran poses to the United States is the example it sets. Imagine if the rest of the Middle East decided to follow Iran's path of independence from the hegemonist? What if the whole Persian Gulf decided to protect its energy resources itself instead of letting one remote, alien country be its protector? What if the Persian Gulf decided to sell its oil using long term contracts, guaranteeing energy security to buyer and seller alike? What if China used its immense trove of dollars to win the bidding?

The US' greatest fear is an independent Middle East. But it's far from clear that the Middle East can be bombed into submission, hence the hegemonist's dilemma.


Interesting question from Kolya If Israel is reacting to an existential threat from Iran and Iran is holding us responsible for that reaction, might it not make sense for us to be prepared to fight Iran before it goes nuclear?

Perhaps it might make sense, but it makes the US little more than a puppet of Israel. I think it makes infinitely more sense to engage the Iranians, diplomatically speaking, before hand.

Patrick Lang


The Gulf states are inherently incapable of defending themselves against any even semi serious military threat. Too few people. Too many people who want the good life and nothing else.

They do sell their own oil on the basis of long term contracts. It is what is left over as well as the future of long term prices that are the subject of the present excitement.

China? A problem, but one that the Gulfies are wary of. pl

Spider Rider

You are right, Israel is nation with a different charter from the US.

Unfortunately, this lack of strategic perception on the part of US politicians, and others, has resulted in horrific foreign policy mistakes, particularly within the last eight years.

But it should always be remembered the Jews, and therefore the Israelis, are a population at risk, always, someone is ALWAYS scapegoating the Jewish population, and it is simply intolerable. Good moral, and strategic, sense is to continue to offer support to those who would be harmed by the irrational. IMO, this policy should extend to Europe, and others, too.

Does our relationship with Israel need to be reevaluated?

Top priority, pl's last statement in regard to the US being the dog, and Israel the tail, is correct, something which should always be understood when formulating Middle Eastern policy.

But leaving Israel to it's own defenses would, in the end, HARM US strategic defense, worldwide.

It would also be morally repugnant, given historical precedence.

Perhaps we need to see Israel as more analogous to a NATO member.

As with the US, I always try to distinguish between the Israeli people, and it's current government.


good luck, trying to get that public dialogue going of u.s. interests not always in line with israeli interests.

esp when you factor in the conveyors of that information are the courtiers giggling along as st john 'jokes' about killing iranians by selling then cigarettes (you can hear them on the video).

just gotta love the level of political discourse in this country.


"Being possessed of only two major targetable population zones (Tel Aviv and Haifa) they correctly reason that they can not possible "ride out" a counter-value first strike by an adversary. Following that logic they believe they must eliminate any potential nuclear threat before it materializes."

Does Israel believe that it is possible to forever militarily eliminate potential nuclear threats - given what we have seen of proliferation to date and the pace of technology evolution? This would seem an unrealistic and potentially ineffective approach to this problem.


Spider Rider wrote:

"But leaving Israel to it's own defenses would, in the end, HARM US strategic defense, worldwide...."

How? Please God tell us how.

First of all, those "defenses" of Israel's are in large measure ones *we* have *already* provided them via untold billions of aid over the years, and which indeed have often been used *offensively* in violation of the specific conditions we put on their use, and which weapons have established and maintained Israel as the *overwhelming* power of the entire Middle East. (Which hegemony it clearly intends on holding onto forever which is why it won't agree to a nuke-free ME which can *only* be explained by it wanting to hang on to its nuke monopoly in the region forever.)

So how would it hurt us? By ... going back to the time before we became Israel's cats-paw and when we had not only good relations but indeed the respect of the arab world for being anti-colonialists?

How? By ... following our own interests (God forbid!) and not making enemies of the people who sit on oceans of oil? (And boy I'd just love to see your reaction to the idea of Israel following any interests other than its own, and indeed invite you to give us one single example of it ever doing so. The Lavon affair? The U.S.S. Liberty? Recruiting Pollard against us?)

How? By ... removing the hypocrisy of us as the supposed leader or at least big believer in democracy and human rights endlessly supporting a regime that has not only stolen another people's land but then ethnically cleansed the hell out of them too and now denies the remnant the right of self-determination?

Please God ... how?

And Spider Rider further wrote:

"It would also be morally repugnant, given historical precedence."

Why? Please God tell us why. In more detail than just some cant about the Holocaust, which we didn't commit and indeed put a stop to.

Why? When .... Israel's situation is absolutely and entirely one of its own making at least since 1967 when it launched a war, started stealing and colonizing that land and persisted in doing so despite us and the rest of the world telling Israel to stop and that continuing to do so would only mean endless trouble for itl?

Why? When we're talking about a country that just last year or so scattered over a million anti-personnel bomblets indiscriminately over another country it had just invaded and was pulling out of, for absolutely no discernable reason whatsoever other than to communicate to the simple people of that other country and indeed the world what Israel apparently thinks of non-Israelis.

For God's sake tell us why.


Duncan Kinder

Let me get this straight:

Iran is now fueling the Chinese economy so it can lend money to the United States so it can provide Israel with aid so it can attack Iran.

That pretty much sums things up, doesn't it?

Charles I

Kolya: In its present political configuration the U.S. does not have the means, let alone the inclination, to restrain Israel in any manner whatsoever.

Spider Rider: the only threat to Israel is Israel itself. Present support for the last in an endless series of international scoff-law expansionist colonial regimes is morally repugnant and deleterious to both nations in every way. I've said before, one day Israel might wake up to UAS or a world for that matter, that decides chopping off the tail might save the pooch - and its true masters a lot of headaches.

There is a very amusing, very interesting, very disturbing look inside the Israeli government's domestic and international politics in a new book by Gregory Levey: Shut Up I'm Talking: and other diplomacy lessons I learned in the Israeli ogvernment, a memoir. Levey, a young Canadian studying law in NYC applied for an internship at the Israeli UN Mission, which doesn't offer internships. Instead, he was hired as a speech-writer, stood in at a UN vote on nuclear proliferation without any instructions whatsoever, and eventually found himself working inside Ariel Sharon's government as a speech-writer, observing the birth of Kadima and the unilateral withdrawal strategy from atop the process. His observations on the dramatic differences between Israelis and diaspora Jews are priceless and illuminate many Israeli behaviours in a new light.

Its a treasure trove of direct observation delivered as a rollicking good tale.

anna missed

"Iraq, Iraq, Iraq."

Pretty neatly sums up the present predicament. Because none of this overblown Hitleresque characterization of Iran was necessary before we invaded and occupied Iraq. You (pl) rightly assess that the U.S. is, because it now occupies Iraq, has put itself in the difficult/impossible position of trying to mediate Iranian influence in Iraq. This has been made doubly more difficult/impossible given that we have allowed the sectarian interest (SIIC/Badr) most sympathetic to Iran to assume state power in Iraq. And in order to maintain any semblance of security in that country, we have facilitated a monopoly of violence against all other factions, all of which are either anti-Iranian, Iraqi nationalist, or at least less pro-Iranian, than the sitting government. This hopeless state of affairs is reflected in the current anti-Iranian hysteria, as an overwrought attempt to ween the Iraqi government from its historic affiliations with Iran. As if to illustrate/blackmail in no uncertain terms that; Your future as an ally of Iran is limited and in jeopardy- by our ability and willpower to destroy Iran if we deem it necessary. For which we (and or ally Israel) will make very clear in nearly daily threats, posturings, Naval demonstrations, and such, and that we will ignore all logic, blowback, and international consequences - if you don't do what we say, and do the impossible. And turn you're back on Iran.

Mad Dogs

"Most importantly, Iran is not anything like a threat to the United States. It might be someday, but that time is a long way off. The present threat is to the Middle East and to Israel specifically."

Behold the truth! Iran currently offers no real threat to the US.

No Israel, we are not your cats-paw! Would that our politicians (of any party) could wake up to that fact.

Well then, what about US "interests"?

That all depends on just who in the US defines "our" interests.

I suggest that neither AIPAC nor Likud should get a vote on the matter.

I suggest that AIPAC in particular be required to register as a "foreign" lobby just like all the other foreign lobbyists.

Yes, Israel has some nasty neighbors, but it is no choirboy either.

That many in Israel see Iran's nuclear aspirations as an "existential" threat to Israel may be more telling of a partially self-inflicted delusion on the the part of the Israelis than a realistic and pragmatic analysis.

Have they forgotten or simply given up on the idea of really making peace with their neighbors?

Is all-out war with Iran, between the US and Israel, and turning the entire ME into a flaming cauldron worth not making peace with the Palestinians, and in particular, the cessation of stealing their land?

Have the Israels again chosen instead to relive Mosada(a bad play on words, I know)?

To go out in a blaze of fire taking everybody with them instead of making the proper decisions we all know are necessary to settle the Palestinian problem once and for all?

And the Israelis since the formation of their state have bragged unceasingly about their "courage".

Maybe it is time they figured out what real courage is.

Somebody needs to slap them upside the head and tell them to wake up and stop indulging in suicidal fantasies.

That somebody, given today's world power structure, can only be the US.

Now if we could only grow some smarts ourselves, we would stop allowing ourselves to be continually tied in knots by the false branding of rational, pragmatic and self-interested ideas and strategies as "anti-semitism".

While "hope springs eternal", I ain't gonna be holding my breath.

Spider Rider

"Why? Please God tell us why. In more detail than just some cant about the Holocaust, which we didn't commit and indeed put a stop to.'

What is the history of the Jewish people?

They have been persecuted from day one in a historically unique sense, scapegoat for the world.

And it simply does not matter whether you or I are responsible for the Holocaust, good strategic sense, for both of us, indicates we prevent another one.

We must ALSO look at the Holocaust as part of larger whole, part of a symptom of men who would constantly create war, seeking empire that doesn't belong to them. Hitler murdered the Jews, but Hilter also attacked the West.

All agents of governments screw up, ALL of them, look at those we currently have in Washington.

The Israeli government has messed up, too, should they be punished more severely than, say, Pakistan, or Iran, or Kenya? How about Germany, after ww2?

BTW, persecution of another based on religion or ethnicity is morally repugnant.

And that's enough.

I'm not interested in arguing anti-Semitism.



What do you mean when you write "Israel is reacting to an existential threat "? I suspect i know what you mean but, if you have a moment, would like to hear it from you before i respond.



Darned good questions, all!

And about this:

First of all, those "defenses" of Israel's are in large measure ones *we* have *already* provided them via untold billions of aid over the years

With said aid arguably illegal in the first place, because Israel has developed and proliferated nuclear weapons technology, in flagrant violation of the NPT.

Thus Israel is the only nation in the Middle East that possesses both an advanced nuclear WMD program and the means to deliver such weapons, while steadfastly refusing to honor the relevant treaties required for such nuclear development.

With friends like these, who needs enemies?

William R. Cumming

Okay if the concensus is that there will be an Israeli attack (if there is one), will it be before or after November 4th? What should be US response if there is an attack? If nuclear weapons were employed? As I understand it the UN does have some sanctions in place on Iran as does the US? Exactly what are these sanctions? Are the majority of Iranians in the US of the Bahai sect? What percentage of Iranians in Iran are Bahais? Is there an Iranian dissident movement in Europe or the US or elsewhere? What countries are Iran's biggest supporters in foreign relations? What is the level of humint and sigint we currently have on Iran? What do the other Islamic nations believe Iran is up to? Are US polls being conducted on US/Iranian issues and policies? When was the last time Iran attacked another country without being first attacked? What countries have treaty agreements with Iran? As the saying goes a fool may ask more questions than a wise man can answer!

Spider Rider

Col Lang, referred to Bremer as suffering from "Brownian incompetence."

Having some familiarity with Ivy League educated decision makers, my first thought was of Brown University, it was only later I realized he was referring to Michael Brown.

I think it's very important not to get stuck on the philosophy of this current neocon/ ivy league flavor infecting Washington, it's very necessary to remember the true originators of successful US foreign policy, from Truman, on, even before.

If one can circumvent the neocon and their lobbyists, I believe one can gain greater scope in understanding what works, and what doesn't, and why.

I read an interesting quote the other day "the remembrance of poverty creates the social discipline necessary for prosperity."

One cannot prosper in a world constantly at war, no matter WHAT the fantasies of some.


Today, the role is reversed from the USA being "the dog and they are the tail", and it has been so for quite a long time, despite outwardly appearances.

Please read Edwin M. Wright's admission of Zionist influence/power in his days: http://www.trumanlibrary.org/oralhist/wright.htm

Mad Dogs

Spider Rider says: "What is the history of the Jewish people?

They have been persecuted from day one in a historically unique sense, scapegoat for the world."

Hmmm...have you ever heard about something called "history"?

You might want to read a wee bit of it before you make bald statements that intimate that "only" the Jewish people have suffered grievous persecution.

Let's see if your statement holds water:

1. China - Constantly invaded by outsiders for millenia with millions upon millions of its inhabitants slaughtered.

2. Russia - Constantly invaded by outsiders for millenia with millions upon millions of its inhabitants slaughtered.

3. India - Constantly invaded by outsiders for millenia with millions upon millions of its inhabitants slaughtered.

4. Ireland (excuse me for adding in the homeland of my ancestors *g*) - Constantly invaded by outsiders for millenia with a ton of its inhabitants slaughtered. Ok, so not on such a grand scale as China or Russia, but me boyo, I'm a tad bit biased on ol' Eire.

I suppose the list could go on ad nauseam when you include places like the countries of Central Asia, Indochina, South and Central America. Why even the original inhabitants North America might have suffered just the wee bit of "persecution" that you so blindly find to be the "unique" possession of the Jewish people.

That the Jewish people suffered immensely as a result of the Holocaust is an undeniable horrible fact. However, it does not now, nor will it ever, stand as a reason or the rationale for doing stupid, suicidal or outright criminal stuff themselves.

You know, two wrongs don't make a right? Yup, that's what I mean.

And Spider Rider said: "BTW, persecution of another based on religion or ethnicity is morally repugnant.

And that's enough.

I'm not interested in arguing anti-Semitism."

I sure hope so because those "other" Semites, the Palestinians might have something to say about the matter.


Can it really be true that Israel's government and intelligence services don't believe in deterrence?

What about Syria's ability to land thousands of rockets and missiles loaded with chemicals on those cities and others besides?


Pat, seems like you hit a raw nerve with this post. I'm reminded of Christine Helms "Collective Memory is the Toolshed." posted on the Athenaeum. Seems in abundance here, though few remember to walk the "Trail of Tears" when talking about the US and its moral obligations.

You note that the limited number of population centers limits Israel's perceived options/reliance on 'riding out' a first strike. This puts them in the role of relying upon a first strike themselves. Doesn't that produce a huge incentive to Israel's neighbors to gain nuclear capabilities? Won't a similar lack of population centers also create a similar fear of being subjected to a 'first strike' that can't be ridden out? This fact, again, seems to create an incentive for a first strike of their own. I would think Israel and all its neighboring countries would see how such a mindset railroads them right into another war, which will quickly destroy all involved

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