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09 July 2008


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Guam Guy


Excellant summary of the situation. Unfortunately, too many Americans seem to have swallowed the notion (peddled by the MSM, AIPAC, et al.,) that Israel is entitled to whatever it wants from Unlce Sam because of what happened to the jews in Europe 60-some years ago.

I'd like to think that this attitude must change at some point, in light of the increasingly brazeness of Israel's misconduct, but I'm not going to hold my breath.

Spider Rider

Mad Dogs: (and English Men, one of the best Joe Cocker albums, ever, with a swing of Noel Coward, to boot.)

Two wrongs don't make a right, I'm aware of the Israeli/Palestinian/Sharon/IDF legacy.

Again, and perhaps I should have been more clear, the Israeli government has made some horrible decisions, on par with those who have persecuted it, and has created some laughably unworkable policy, but personally I will not hold a nation hostage for what I see as essentially an aberration. Look at Bush, look at Cheney, look at the US, and Iraq, how many murdered? And someone wrote the other day, here, the latest US army strategy is to arm the warring groups in Iraq, internally, possibly to flame a civil war.

That is unworkable, and insane, yet it is neocon and American, so who should the Iraqis blame?

It seems a world wide strain of neocon propagating this idiocy, the Israeli neocons connected to the Washington neocons, none, apparently, capable of winning a war, much less understanding the greater dynamics.

As Fred wrote, the US has a moral obligation to protect, and the moral is strategic, strategically successful.

And again, how does military and governmental corruption play into this, also?

Martin K

OOoook, take a deep breath everyone. Spider Rider and Kolya have asked relevant questions, and it ill behooves the majority here to go all aggro on them.

I think the main point here is the one about the dog and the tail. If Israel is to enjoy the continued support of the US, at some point it must change its policy to fit in with the new COIN approach towards muslim hearts and minds wich is being championed by Gen Petreaus and Gates. This means no more military crushing of kindergardens in the West Bank. No more F16 strafing runs over Gaza. No more beating up of journalists who are coming home from winning awards. In short, israel needs to take a good long look in the mirror and see what it has become: A ultranationalist state with what seems more and more to be a religious ubermensch complex. If Israel goes back to its humanitarian roots and makes some rather large consessions to the people of Palestine, if they choose to funnel money into rebuilding the Gaza strip and providing equal health and commerce facilities to all citizens of its areas, then Israel is worthy of our support. If they continue the paranoid-religious apartheid system of today, then in my eyes the whole area should be put under a UN mandate. We gave it to them, we should be able to take it away too. Hows that for fair and balanced?


The proclaimed disbelief in deterrence is a great justification for a grand strategy that only relies on dominance and domination.

To shatter that strategy and the underlying belief, Sadat in 1973 went on to bloody Israel to make them listen. And listen they did. Israel won the war, thanks to US support, but Sadat got a US brokered peace with Israel and the Sinai back.

Patrick Lang


Nuclear deterrence folks. Nuclear deterrence. pl

Spider Rider

With the G8 ending, and the Russian fuss about the Czech missile defense, I was reminded of the true meaning of intelligent diplomacy, unfortunately nowhere to be seen in the neocon world of fragile, frantic ego.

Rice held the signing at the same time Medvedev made his first appearance at the G8, a crass, stupid predictable neocon move meant to show up the new Russian President.

I wish Russia hadn't bit, responding with the same gangsta theatrics used by the neoclown pretender crown. Real power lies in graceful control and response, not falling to the level of your dysfunctional, stupid, terror driven, panicked, unqualified "rival."

Very interesting to see what a difference intelligent diplomacy could make in terms of truly gaining the upper hand.

Looks like we won't see it until the next President is out of office, as Obama and McCain are just as unschooled and immature as the neocon kids.


Reply to jonst:

In my understanding the leadership of Iran has on several occasions talked about the complete destruction of Israel.

If one takes such talk seriously and you happen to live in Israel one might conclude that Iran does represent an existential threat.

Given the history of the Jews that is perhaps not an unreasonable reaction.

Of course reading the comments here I don't detect all that much sympathy for Israel's position. Perhaps folks think we would be better off breaking off our alliance with Israel entirely. Of course the Islamists might still have a problem with the U.S. afterwards.


bottom line -- the u.s. FIRST AND FOREMOST, all others take need a number and wait in line for their u.s. 'handouts/aid'. and only to those who have not stabbed we the u.s. in the back. israel has stabbed we the u.s. in the back so many times that it's a wonder that we still hold water when we the u.s. walk. israel stabbed u.s. in the back when they murdered u.s. military personnel on their attack on the uss liberty, they stabbed u.s. in the back when they intentionally withheld critical info of the pending barracks bombing in beirut, etc. etc..

i say israel needs to move to the 'back' the 'way way back' part of the line based soley on their ugly israeli behavior and actions.


we spelled the u.s. 'contained' a large soviet nuclear capability, a 'real' capability for all the years of the cold war through 'deterrence', and iran doesn't even have one nuke toy let alone any demonstrable delivery capability, it's like the Colonel said 'nuclear deterrence'. it's time that the nuclear game rules were applied to israel's 400 plus nuke stockpile. iran no problemo, whereas israel a 400 plus problemo.

Mad Dogs

Spider Rider, you have my apology for my going over the top!

Words written in the heat of the moment never taste very good after the flame goes out. Matter of fact, they usually tend to taste of crow.

Now that I've cleaned my palate of feathers, I'd add this:

Israel has a lot of good folks, and so does Iran. Heck, even the US has a lot of good folks. *g*

The question then arises whether rational, reasoning folks are steering this bus.

Wrt to these 3 nations, it doesn't appear to be right at this moment, but I would love to be proved wrong.

IMHO, a rational and reasoning leadership in these nations would come to the following conclusions:

1. We (Israel and/or US) can't bomb Iran to submission. Any war with Iran will only provide a short-term deterrent to its nuclear aspirations. Additionally, said war could likely provide an accelerant to Iran weaponizing its nuclear programs.

2. Making real peace with the Palestinians with real land givebacks and reparations for the Palestinian "Diaspora" would take the most important impediment to ME peace off the table.

The land choice is entirely in the Israelis' hands. Regardless of who represents the Palestinians, regardless of Hamas or any of the other "terrorist" organizations, Israel holds the land card in its own hands.

The reparations issue probably requires outside donors to fund. The US and EU since they cooked up this idea of an Israeli state back in 48, and perhaps a major OPEC contribution since they are flush with our cash with the Oil price runup. We'll just tell 'em it's an investment...wink-wink. *g*

3. The US needs to sit the hell down with Iran and really talk. And not with warmongering delusional Jacobin fools like former US UN Ambassador John Bolton et al.

We need "serious" players from both sides sitting down at the table. Folks who aren't hamstrung by their own childish warmongering ideology.

4. Iran aspires to be a "player" in the ME region, as well they should. With the Palestinian issues off the table, the Iranians might be actually less of the scary bogeyman than is the prevailing Western conventional wisdom.

They need to be brought more into the fold of the world community, not shunned and demonized.

And lastly, the current gang of Great Powers (US, Russia, China, Britain, France, and Japan) need to stand up and make a workable nuclear treaty. At least in the ME, if not covering the entire globe.

I'm not sure what that treaty would look like or entail exactly, but another nuclear weapons race is just what the Doctor didn't order.

And I'm not so naive to think that the "have-nots" would easily accept nuclear off-limits from the "haves", but it still needs doing.



My Egyptian friends insist to this day that they "won" the 73 Ramadan War. After all, they achieved exactly what Sadat sought to achieve on the strategic level - a break to the Suez stalemate, renewal of Arab "honor" and return of the Sinai.

COL - thanks very very much for this very succinct and wonderful post. You superbly articulate what impels Israel's seeming insane drive for hegemony. Too bad they, like Russia, face some very daunting demographic problems over the coming decades. Perhaps they are joining the ranks of those non-rational "apocalyptic" actors? You know, the ones we dare not trust with nuclear weapons.



Re: Nuclear deterrence, the coutner-argument (if it can be called that) is that this Persian is no longer the crafty Oriental scheming to advance his lustful desires, but the ascetic, Fuzzy-Wuzzy variety. I have actually read some of this; Pipes has dabbled in it a bit: The soup of the eschatological soup, with the arrival of maseeh-ul-dajjal, et al. hastened by a preemptive nuclear strike on Israel!

Deterrence doesn't work with religious fanatics, the argument goes, and as usual there are no voices to counter the confused readings of Shia eschatology put out by 'experts' like Pipes and company.


nuclear deterrence only works if

a) both party has the capacity to knock one another permanently.

b) both actors act logically. (actually afraid getting blown up)

Israel, even with 200 nuclear, cannot terminally kill Iran. On the other hand Iran certainly still needs to show it has working nuclear weapon.

This is the game we are at now.

the next logical step after that is nuclear arms race. Both Iran and Israel will have to escalate nuclear arm production to be able to say "We have the ability to knock you out permanently"

a) Israel doesn't have large uranium stock. (anybody know how they can keep replenishing uranium?)

b) Iran on the other hand can start spreading nuclear technology to all allies. (The entire arab world wants nuke now.)

after that, it's conventional arms race. And trade war. (Cold war basically)

The middle east pretty much going nuclear within a decade. And we can't do a thing about it. We lost a lot of diplomatic and financial credibility under Bush. It's all "military might", and Iraq is doing great damage to that. In practical and image.

So, it's back to the great "central asia" game. And the next player will be very powerful.

If Korea can buy DC and GOP with reverend Moon gag. and Israel can control DC with aipac. Once those big guys get their act together, they are going to pull something big in DC. It'll be even worst than aipac-evangelical-gop triangle.

With imploding economy. Everybody in DC wants cash. Everything is for sale there.

So that'll be pretty much the game if we don't lost global financial network. If europe, china and russia build their own financial network. Then we are pretty much irrelevant.

It's mini nuclear war in middle east within 2 decades. And we don't even make money out of it.


It should be no surprise that the tail wags the dog. Too many operatives in key positions of the USG are citizens of Israel. It is only natural that a citizen will patriotically support his or her nation.

Until dual-citizenship for key USG officials ends, the tails will continue to wag the dog.

Sidney O. Smith III

Spider Rider:
Don't want to veer too far off topic, but I noticed that TomB mentioned the USS Liberty incident. So I wuz wonderin'...do you think that the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty was premeditated and, in fact, a war crime? I have always considered one's response to this question a bit like a Rorschach test on the Middle East. An example of forensic psychology, perhaps. Instead of an inkblot, of course, I am taking about the bloody image of 34 American servicemen Dead in the Water, to borrow from the title of Peter Hounam's BBC documentary on the same.
The USS Liberty incident perhaps is an historical example of "when interests collide" and may suggest a pattern or trait that certain people are trying to repress, deny, and hide, contrary to the dictates of American justice and US national interests. The collision of interests b/t the US and the GOI re: Iran seems to have many of the same qualities because the USM is the one put at risk, yet again.


PL: Logistics, and the sheer numbers of possible Iranian influenced combatants in Iraq are major potential threats to the US force in Iraq.

For whatever it is worth ....

Frontline: Beyond Baghdad (Interview Conducted on Dec. 3, 2003)

[FL:] You have your own army, the Badr Brigades. How large a force are they, and what role will they play in the future of Iraq?

[Abdul Aziz al-Hakim:] The Badr Brigade is no more an army, because it has turned [from] an army into an organization. Before, the major task of this brigade was to eliminate or to topple the regime of Saddam Hussein. But now that the government, the ex-regime, is no more in place, the Badr Brigade has been turned into an organization that is entrusted with keeping law and order and--

[FL:] Policemen--

[Abdul Aziz al-Hakim:]Yes. As regards [to] the actual number of the Badr Brigade, I don't know that, because there are members and there are supporters. There was a grand parade for the army or the brigade...where 100,000 fighters paraded. That number does not represent all the number.

Patrick Lang


I find this whole business about the world being different after 9/11 to be really funny. It is on the same low intellectual level as Bill Lind's writings about 4th generation warfare.

You need to learn some history. There has always been political warfare carried out by means that you call terrorism. There has always been guerrrilla warfare. These things have always existed simultaneously with all the other kinds of warfare.

9/11 was not an existential threat to the United States. The AQ killed a few thousand Americans. Was that an existential threat to America? No. Iran, even armed with nuclear weapons and a few ballistic missiles could never be an existential threat to the US. Why? Because first use by them would be their last use.

Iran is not a major terrorist threat to Israel. Whatever they might do in that way would be a minor damage to the state. To think anything else is just naive. Iran is a potential threat tp Israel with ballistic weapons with nuclear warheads on them. Maybe you should learn something about throw weights and desired degrees of destruction.

It sounds like you are really afraid of the jihadi crap. Hey. There are a few thousand of them. Eventually we will kill enough of them to convince sympathisers that this is not a good idea. Waves of this kind of revivalism have happened in Islam every century for the last five or six hundred years. Go read some history.

You should get some perspective about casualties. You like to talk about WAR. In my experience of war men die by the thousands with great frequency.

Afghanistan and Iraq are wars but there are few sizable combats. Fallujah and the recent fighting around Kandahar sound like the real thing, but most of our casualties in Iraq have been caused by roadside bombs that killed while people were sitting in vehicles.

You haven't lived until you have seen a friendly rifle company destroyed in a day's fighting. Destroyed attacking. pl

Ever been in a real war? pl

Mad Dogs

Apropos of Pat's "collision of interests" post is this recent interesting article from William Pfaff entitled "Jewish Israel's Ongoing Suicide":

...The experienced commentator on Third World affairs, Jonathan Power, has recently drawn attention to another case where policies aimed at one result have produced its opposite, this time in Israel.

He quotes Edward Luttwak’s argument (last year, in Prospect Magazine) that the Middle East since the end of the cold war has lost its strategic interest for the West. It possesses oil, certainly. But it is much easier to buy oil on the international market than to invade countries and fight for it. The American experience in Iraq is a demonstration.

The West, and the United States in particular, have always acknowledged a strategic interest, as well as moral obligation, to defend a Jewish Israel. However the strategic interest now is absent, and as Power says, there may soon no longer be a Jewish Israel.

Israel’s systematic colonization and annexation of the Palestinian territories over the last forty years, and equally systematic opposition to the creation of an independent Palestinian state – no longer a serious prospect, as was evident during President’s Bush’s recent visit to Israel -- have turned Israel into an Arab-Jewish state under Jewish control.

The Palestinian Authority, realistically speaking, has ceased to exist; it is simply an agent of the Israeli government. Israel’s problem now is how to survive as an religiously divided single state, half-free and half-unfree.

Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and current Prime Minister Ehud Olmert both warned their people that this would happen. It is why Sharon withdrew from Gaza. But that solved nothing, as the building of colonies continued, and continues.

Israel now finds itself a single amalgamated political entity with a huge Palestinian minority for which it is legally responsible, which before long will become a majority, living in quasi-apartheid conditions. The defense of such a state can scarcely be described as a western strategic interest. Defend it against what? No Arab government has any interest in attacking it. The only threat to it is the hypothetical one of Iran’s as yet hypothetical nuclear weapon. But why should Iran attack it, as Israel undoes itself as a Jewish state?

It will have serious continuing problems of internal unrest and control, if Hamas and other groups function as domestic resistance movements. But no foreign country can do anything about that, nor would want to try.

The Zionist movement, by insisting on keeping possession of Palestine, and the Palestinian population conquered in 1967, has destroyed the Jewish state it was its dream to create. This only now is being recognized.

Nancy K

Col lang, a very interesting post. My husband, who is Israeli/ American and I have many many discussions concerning Israel and the US. My feelings are Israel has every right to defend itself, but it has no right to except us to bank roll this endevor or go to it's defense if it attacks another country ie Iran in a preemtive stike.
Having served in Israel in 67 and 73 his feelings are a little more complex, yet in theory he agrees with me.
It is a very complex subject. I think we agree to disagree.


Bush is stupid.

Intelligent people consistently underestimate the damage that a stupid person can do because the behaviour of stupid people is , by definition, illogical and does not create a "win" for themselves.

Bush will attack Iran, either that, or you will have a Constitutional crisis if the Military refuse (which Col. Lang thinks will not happen)

Mad Dogs

Sorry, but I screwed up my link to William Pfaff's article. Here is the correct link to "Jewish Israel's Ongoing Suicide".

David W.

Well, domestically, this 'special relationship' can be pretty well defined by the ongoing status of the Weissman/Rosen/AIPAC espionage trial--which was recently postponed for the sixth time. imo, this is the same essential situation as Telecom Immunity, where bipartisan consensus seems to favor sweeping corruption under the rug, in order to focus on more lucrative pursuits.

While the tendency is to look through a nationalist/geopolitical lens, my increasing convinction that narrow greed is really the glue that binds, and the neocon revolution, here and abroad, is best viewed as a cabal of beggars, thieves and hangers on who share no common cause, but who are only in it for their own percieved self-interests. While the actors claim to be acting either rationally, or in the interests of their state, the reality is much narrower. (discuss similarity with 'philosophy' of capitalism, and the limitations of same).

US govt. pork has become our #1 export, and the only difference about Israeli politicians, generals (and defense contractors) is that they have hogged their way into an inordinate share. (to be fair, many Muslims of the same persuasions also dig on swine, so to speak).

Iran can be viewed as an external threat that is 'revealed' to the public in order to quell domestic troubles--in Israel, this would be the various high-level corruption cases plaguing right-wing Israeli politicians; in the US, it helps distract the public while the Three Card Monte game folds up and ducks out through the alley. All the better for them if the rubes are distracted, here or in Israel.

I'm not claiming this is 'the' rationale, because that is the muddled question that allows for the getaway--yet, always, the question remains: cui bono? Today the answer appears to be, 'Who cares? Nobody speaks Latin anymore. Besides, we're under existential attack here, from a threat so powerful it has never been known.' Indeed.

Dana Jones

"That force is a kind of hostage to peace between the US and Iran."
I was wondering: If the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq felt that an Israeli attack on Iran meant that it was putting his troops in harms way, would he order the Israeli planes shot down? In other words, would he have the guts to put OUR troops FIRST, and act to protect them, even if it meant that he had to order that Israeli planes on track to strike Iran had to be shot down. This is the question I want to know the answer to. If the answer is no, then Israel runs our government, pure and simple. I believe that the Israelis have to know that we will put the welfare of our troops in the mid-east first and foremost, and ANYTHING that would put them in harms way or further endangerment would not be tolerated.
Anything else is abject surrender, without a fight, to the Israelis, and we might as well not even have an election here.
That is just my opinion.


Spider Rider:

Firstly I want to assure you that I did not mean the tone of my response to your first post to be taken personally. Indeed I quite admired your cheek for stating what you did here, and I continue to admire you staying and continuing to fight your points.

What my tone was meant to convey however was the gimlet-eyed manner I believe America is absolutely entitled to employ in viewing our relationship with everyone including Israel, who I think has pursued its own interests vis a vis the U.S. in as sentiment-free if not ruthless a manner as possible.

Of course Israel has been absolutely entitled to do so. All I'm saying is that the U.S. has the right to be equally squinty in perceiving and pursuing its own interests too.

In this same vein then in your original post of course the U.S.'s self-interest was the first of the two (classic) reasons you gave for us supporting Israel generally. But you have yet to have given any argument whatsoever for that first reason, and I note that I remain highly interested in hearing it.

And as to your second "moral obligation" point, I must say I think the position you have taken as regards same is simply indefensible. First you cited the "moral" obligation you believe America is under to support Israel. And then when I ventured to state that I don't believe we are under same you go on at length (and indeed exclusively) about the historic anti-semitism that's been faced by the jewish people but then suddenly say aha, you don't want to talk about anti-semitism.

Well, I would say, neither did I because I don't think it has anything to do with the issue. But it was you who not only raised it in the first place, but who then rested the entirety of your further commentary upon same.

So because you haven't yet addressed your first point about the (supposed) self-interest of the U.S., let's at least talk about your other remaining argument that Kolya has also somewhat raised too.

It seems to me one has to make a choice when talking about moral obligations in things like this, to either be a "collectivist" for want of a better term, or an "individualist."

By the former I mean one who feels it is somehow legitimate to hold an entire people and their later generations culpable for some moral horror. And the other is to say no, that's ridiculous, the individual is the fundamental moral unit.

Because of same it strikes me as rather odd if not in fact foolish in the extreme for any jewish person or philo-semite (amongst whom I count myself) to be essentially saying that "all Christians, or all Gentiles" essentially "owe" something to the jews for the insane abominations which have been committed upon them. And this is because I can't hardly see the difference between this and the ancient, hateful idea that *caused* so much violence against the jews which of course was based on the idea that collectively, all jews should be looked down upon because "it was the jews that killed jesus."

Seems to me we ought to leave that kind of thinking to the racial or religious nuts. The fundamentalist Christian nuts on the one hand for instance, and the fundamentalist jewish nuts on the other. (Like that head rabbi of the settlers' who just recently declared that the lives of thousands or millions of others "aren't worth one jewish fingernail.")

Now, I don't have any problem with America still recognizing what you so accurately called the "unique" tormenting of the jews throughout history and even to take a special interest in the security and prosperity of Israel because of same. That's a mark of simple historical intelligence and sensitivity, it seems to me, and I am all in favor of same to some degree. Plus I think its in our interests as a moral force.

But I don't believe we have any collective "obligation" to do so as a preponderately Christian or Gentile nation. And I think anyone who thinks in such collectivist terms must be blind to history as someone else here wrote. Excepting maybe the Eskimos, I don't know that there's any race, color, creed or tribe that doesn't belong in hell for all the past monstrosities it has committed if such a collectivist morality is valid.

This country, institutionally, has its own moral stains such as its essential attempted genocide of our Native Americans and our treatment of our African-American fellow citizens. But I don't for a moment like the highly selective use of the charge of collective, generational guilt for the Holocaust. Even "institutionally" we didn't do it, and in fact it was us and our forefathers and mothers who fought and died stopping it.

Otherwise your further posts then seem to raise yet a third, new argument that while Israel may have made "mistakes," we should in essence just look past same.

Again I would first note that I think we should do what's in our national interest, period, as that is what every other nation does, not least of all Israel. And I see no reason why it should be that in the U.S. alone foreign policy should be determined on some grotesque sentimentality sweepstakes.

But beyond that I also think your argument is just way too late. It's been forty years now since Israel started colonizing the West Bank, and astoundingly it's still expanding those colonies, as we speak. Over and over again its elected people who openly declared that with the settlements they were establishing "facts on the ground" that meant no going back no matter what. And within just the last day or two the Knesset voted to make any withdrawal from any settlement dependent on a referendum, which effectively makes any such significant withdrawals impossible.

It's not been a "mistake." It's been a fully debated and utterly conscious national decision, maintained and not in the least ever even reconsidered over the last forty decades to suffer the consequences for a programmatic taking of Palestinian land and ethnically cleansing its former owners from Israel. And it's still going on, and the U.S. is still subsidizing, supporting and protecting it. And yet we're now being asked to do so ad infinitum as well?

Certainly Israel has the right to ask for same. Just as certainly the U.S. has the right to politely say no thank you, we'd rather not essentially wage war on the entire arab and moslem world with whom we've almost always gotten along with before.

Looking forward to hearing why I'm wrong as to any or all of the above.



I also think they won. Sadat fought a limited war an achieved almost all his objectives. More, he made that clear beforehand. He never believed Egypt could defeat Israel in the field. Instead he was out to exploit key Israeli weaknesses to inflict on the maximum casualties, to drive home the point that if Israel from their perceived position of superiority continued to ignore the Arabs unless they were defeated, they would pay for it, dearly. But because towards the end of the war Israel was close to Kairo, so they could claim victory. Another war 'won' militarily, but lost politically.

In that sense, indeed, the 1973 war for Egypt was a resounding success, while Israel had to give up the Sinai and take heavy casualties. Egyptian lost greater numbers, but unlike Israel they could afford it.

The neo-cons with their dreadful foreign policy, resting on the presumption of full-spectrum dominance' (or some variation of that theme), invite in the absence of other forms of communication all US enemies to do just the same.

That might be the greatest peril to the US after all - that the neo-cons goad some evildoer into bloodying the US to make them listen - all while keeping the amount of violence and the threat so low that the US cannot justify using their superior (nuclear) fire power to the fullest. That might actually work. It would cost the attacker dearly, but it might just work as long as it is only costly enough to the US, and as long as the president isn't a McCain who spoils for escalation.

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