« Israel Moves to the Right | Main | Aaron David Miller - Envoy to Iran »

11 February 2009


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


That, of course, would be politically impossible for any president.

However, instead of just flying off the handle and doing all those things, use the *threat* of them in order to pressure Israel into changing its behavior on important issues such as settlement building and saber-rattling re: Iran. Doing these things without negotiation is just throwing your leverage away. The threat of cutting off aid to Israel is more powerful than unilaterally doing it.

dilbert dogbert

With the "bipartisan" O admin running the show it is hard for me to see any toughening of the US policy towards Israel.


Hi Cliff,

Nice wish list. And we'd really, really like a pony too.....



The cynic in me says "what are you smoking"?

Yes. What you propose are what should be done. The focus should be on US national interests. Not guilt salves.

But from what I saw in the campaign and more recently, I believe Obama is a cautious politician. He's not one to make waves. He aint Ike and for that matter neither are Hillary or Biden or any Republican. I would be pleasantly surprised if he decided to stand on his own and for the best interests of the US in this context, specially considering the viciousness of the campaign that would be unleashed by the Israel-firsters if what you propose is implemented. I am sure even Cheney will extricate his dark shadow from the bunker wagging his finger!

William R. Cumming

DOJ/IRS enforcement of tax ememption qualification and lobbying has long been short of anykind of uniformity. Maybe long overdue. As principal of a non-tax exempt non-profit corporation I believe that tax exemption should be denied to all non-profits that directly or indirectly lobby or attempt to influence directly policy. This can be clearlly identified through their budgets, staffing, and expenditures. The sad fact is that several key non-profits like the American Red Cross are federally chartered but unable to fulfill that charter due to mismanagement and excessive compensation schemes. How many tax dollars are lost each year to holders of tax-exempt foreign bonds--hard to find out from published IRS data.

Sidney O. Smith III

Non Incautus Futuri

Loose translation: very American and glad you have tenure.


Do you really believe that there is any chance this will happen?

Charles I

Clifford I'm with you 1000%, but this never going to happen.

Look at Gaza, one big war crime. To me Israel is a train wreck that is already occurring, with the pedal-to-the-metal engineers outnumbering the brakemen by an inhuman margin. The unsustainable pathology of the Occupation is now glaringly apparent, but the malevolent momentum may yield exitential critical mass yet.

Its going to take significantly more bloodshed - of somebody more . . . noteworthy than Gazan children - and some bloody great detonations to overturn the current order of ME which, after all, is basically disfunctioning largely as the people we wish to change currently intend.

Israel Rampant. Arabs impotent. Americans ignorant. Europeans indignant. Here, I must quote William R. Cumming to describe the human terrain in general: "short of anykind of uniformity".

And what of the supra-national elites you write of previously, what say they and their bankers about Peace In Our Time?

Its my thought that Israel should be calculating ICBM trajectories from Pakistan rather than Iran in any event. Just as some monkey gets it right, finally bangs out Shakespeare, the universe will drop a critical banana peel just so, and the poor chump, er, chimp, will hit delete instead of save, the ArchDuke will duck, the shite will hit some other fan on a different, but still inexoable trajectory.

Obviously if there were some alleged Hamas or Hizbullah terrorist stike in the US, after say, some further notorious civilian slaughter that fails to move our policy makers - unmoved to date - it'd be all over except for the now drearliy familiar shreiking.

Jon T.

8 responses as of 809pm est 2.11. All say no way Jose.
Translation: Sharon rules the US.

Is that correct?

What bribery works? (Either direction: them over US since 1945 liberation? US offer to them now ?)

Sounds like Syria/Israel Treaty is a Realpolitik begin.

Can we add Scowcroft and Brezinski, s'il vous plait? Et Maintenant, immediatement, vit vit - before the Israeli election is focused to compose a coalition government that crashes into DC - smile for the camera and bring its latest demands.

Do you really really think Israeli pilots are that good and their leaders so incredibly touched they'll challenge the carrier people from Jacksonville Naval Air Station now sitting in the Gulf of Oman or wherever they are and the stealth flyboys from Kirtland?

Buzz Meeks

Not going to happen in our or any other lifetime. The threat of cutting off aid isn't anywhere as nearly effective as doing it. Obomba should have learned that lesson with trying to be "bi-partisan" with the Rethugs last week. The Israelis are twice as slippery.

I would love to see the secrecy of the Israeli banking system open up to daylight- might find all of Madoff's swag and a lot of other taxable assets/income from people who live off of this country.

Buzz Meeks



Look at this man's credentials:

Dr. Clifford A. Kiracofe, Jr. is a former Senior Professional Staff Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. He holds a B.A. (Foreign Affairs), M.A. (Foreign Affairs), and Ph.D. (Foreign Affairs) from the University of Virginia. He served as an Instructor (civilian) at the U.S. Marine Corps Command and Staff College, Quantico, VA. and was a Research Associate at the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis, Inc., Cambridge, MA.


"As principal of a non-tax exempt non-profit corporation I believe that tax exemption should be denied to all non-profits that directly or indirectly lobby or attempt to influence directly policy"

I'd be curious to know what is non-tax exempt nonprofit corporation.

AIPAC, I believe is a (c)(6). They don't pay taxes, but people who donate don't get a tax deduction.

501 chapter organization are already under obligations regarding lobbying. Tightening the rules even more would choke off a lot of freedom of speech and association. I don't think that is the answer.


I don't think the strategy above can happen. for one, all those will hit the "DC" political machine.

second some of them only work if the "media" actually reporting it, otherwise...so what. (g. so what if half of aipac cought spying and in jail? nobody would care, except DC players. there is no public backlash. Condi tried "israel spies" trick in her waning days to coax the israelis to comply with annapolis term. it went nowhere.) also notice nobody ever heard of the aipac investigation anymore. it's gone.

third, some of those tricks have been tried by daddy Bush and Clinton. (holding loan guarantee, for eg.) Israel economy crashed, but they still go to war. (if you remember intifada II was combined with US soft loan reduction and embargo of loan guarantee.) There is some effect I suppose, but it is not enough for structural change.

on top of that,....some aspect may be illegal, because of US-Israel free trade agreement (I think bond sale/taxation are included in it)

Also, congress/senate control spending so Israel aid will kept getting inserted no matter what a president wants.

US-Israel free trade agreement (1985)

US-Israel tax agreement (1994)


tho' I am not sure what is presidential authority when it comes to protecting the security of US troops in Iraq from potential Israel-Iran conflict.


I still think the best way is to

a) make Israel sign US-Israel defense treaty. This will spell out US obligation to Israel in very precise manner. So Israel cannot drag US every which way it wants. (Including arm supplies)

b) most advance equipments will be run by US operators in Israel. (eg. we protect you. but if you endangered us, we pull the plug and you are as naked as baby out there. so don't fuck us.)

c) create balance of power to contained Israel beyond US-Israel politics. (unfortunately this involved oil-Iran/Syria-Russia-China)


all in all, with Israel new government political climate, DC money game, I am pretty sure things will stuck in a rut within months.

and a war will happen in 2-3 years.


I am in complete agreement with Kiracofe. I worry about our security. We need to allay any possibility that a bunch of crazies are prepared and quite willing to cause WWIII on our dime because they consider their security paramount to any group in the world. Well, their sense of entitlement is not acceptable to me. I am not willing to provoke the Russians to protect their Iranian interests, have the Iranians interrupt the oil flowing through the Hormuz, and allow Israelis to cause the needless slaughter of millions.

If Israel can assume the right to play hardball with the Palestinians or any group in the region, then it should be neither shocked nor surprised that we can play hardball as well when it is in our interests.

I want the Memorandum of Understanding signed with Israel in 2002 revoked. It’s the one “whereby the US stocks a strategic oil reserve for Israel even if it entails domestic shortages - at a cost of $3 billion (£1.9bn) in 2002 to US taxpayers.” We must also pay for storage and provide tankers to transport it.

The best account of this is in Jane’s Defense Weekly but it requires a subscription. The 2002 first quarter price of oil was between $16 and $21. Using $20 as a conservative average that’s 150 million barrels of oil (at 42 gallons/barrel = 6.3 billion gallons)...for a country the size of New Jersey. The price was locked in no matter how much it might rise subsequently, and so was the edict that America’s needs were secondary to any supply demand here, including war. If oil is a national security issue and commodity, then this is a treasonous agreement in my book and those who wrote and arranged for it need to answer for it.


The Mossad will start to monitor your activities....


You know, I think we have to acknowledge that Hillary Clinton is still running for President, and is now doing so from the Secretary of State position. Anybody disagree?

So, while Obama has the Presidency and theoretically could develop some spine in relation to Israel... Hillary Clinton will not do so. Can't. Impossible.

It's a good wish list, and very reasonable, close to what the American people would want if given the option. But American democracy is, let's be frank, too weak to achieve this.

Does anyone think Hillary will lose her opportunity to be President by allowing Israel's policies to be seriously confronted?

dilbert dogbert

I am reminded of a Japanese book: "Can Japan Say No To America?" This is a dimly remembered book title from long ago. I wonder if an
American could write a similar book and if it could be a best seller.


I don't see it happening, especially the way Israel uses U.S. economic aid to Israel as a weapon to buy off U.S. political persona[s] with secret bank accounts and laundered campaign monies that one of the Israeli dailys brought to light. Imagine the Israeli government is using our own U.S. tax dollars economic aid against U.S..


you're aware that there's a hole in your argument? Just for the sake of being a nitpick:

The Israelis are well familiar with the political situation in the US. The threat with something that is politically impossible is implausible when the other side knows it.

I would like to see happen what you describe.


I have to friends predicted something like that for a while.

I see a dangerous road ahead for Israel. By 2030, about a third of Israel will be Arab, and social peace inside the country will be increasingly threatened by the Iron Wall tactics of the Zionist right-wing. Some Israelis, notably Avigdor Lieberman, see the demographic trend as a threat to Israel's identity as a Jewish State. Liebermann apparently dreams of making Israel, what - in the words of Juan Cole - 'Arabrein'?

To me, Israeli demographics suggest a dire trend. There is a degree of emigration of Jews from Israel. It is not the most ardent of Zionists that are leaving. Those who are sick of the garrison state Israel has become are leaving, if they can afford it. Those who can't afford it and those who don't want to leave stay.
Compared to national average, the fertility rate of orthodox Jews is considerably larger (1,7 vs. 6,7 to 8,5 for Haredi Jews). In my understanding, with exceptions, the religiously orthodox as a rule of thumb generally adhere to the right wing in Israel. Their growing numbers suggest that their views will reflect in greater political influence. All that suggests to me a permanent move of Israeli politics to the right, and an intensification of antagonist policies.

Add to that the influence and ideas of oversized personalities like Liebermann, and it is predictable that Israeli policies will eventually drive the Israeli Arabs into the Arab realm altogether, leading to Israel facing both the Palestinian Arabs and the Israeli Arabs. The onslaught on Gaza has hurt the relationships between Israeli Arabs and Israeli Jews. In that sense, Gaza was a glimpse on things to come. Liebermann's tendencies suggest to me that he doesn't see this as an undesirable result. Not at all. It gives credence to his claims, and allows him to put into reality the policies he prescribes. Speak about 'rainmaking'.


I applaud Dr. Kiracofe, but...

For those interested, you might try this site:


It is the link to the Boycott israel web page.


Obama could challenge the new fascist right in Israel by demanding inspections of Dimona. THAT would be a nice shot across the bow.

David Habakkuk


In the immediate future, the chances of Clifford Kiracofe's proposals being adopted is zilch -- as of course he knows perfectly well. But the point is of limited relevance.

What Clifford is doing is drawing out, trenchantly and unapologetically, the logical implications of an increasingly common perception that the U.S.-Israel de facto alliance has become a kind of suicide pact. Events in Iraq and Afghanistan, the 2006 Lebanon war, and now the Gaza episode and the Israeli election have made this view look increasingly plausible.

When circumstances change, views which appear marginal to the point of eccentricity can very rapidly become mainstream.

To give you an example from British experience. In the early Seventies, the radical free market views of Enoch Powell were held by a tiny fringe, even in the Tory Party. When Thatcher became leader in 1975, they became mainstream in the Tory Party, and following her election victory in 1979, progressively became -- for good or for ill -- the basis of a new national consensus.

Even more dramatic has been the sudden abandonment of these orthodoxies over the past few months. Had anyone suggested two years ago that either the British or American governments would adopt the kind of interventionist policies to which they have been driven by the credit crunch, they would have been considered crazy.


I am in full agreement but why not widen the scope?

I would like to make the case for grey; as opposed to the more traditional foreign policy categories of black & white. Painting some regimes as beyond the pail and others as friends when on closer examination they should both rated mid-grey is counter productive and has, and will continue, to paint us into a corner making it very difficult to make necessary course adjustments without making U-turns. Iran and Israel are topical but I would argue this is a long term problem with some horrendous dictators’ crimes quietly ignored (Pinochet, the Shah etc.) while the most obvious of the historical blacks is probably Cuba that has been misclassified and vilified for so long it is almost impossible to rehabilitate. The core of the problem is an over adherence to the ‘enemy of my enemy is my friend’ maxim backing mujahedeen against the Soviets in Afghanistan or Iraq against Iran may be short term fixes setting up much greater long term problems.

An attendant failure is in the regime vs people problem. US attitudes polling data consistently shows some of our ‘friends’ (at a national level) to have a population that view us least favourably. The Iranian people are no less anti-the-west than Saudi’s, Egyptians or Pakistanis. If we keep selling weapons to the likes of KSA then we should not be surprised when the house of Saud goes the way of the Shah and we have Kamikaze Wahhabists in Eurofighters to deal with. Obama could do the world a big favour if he was a little more critical of friends that do not do nice things and a little less vitriolic when dealing groups that do not get Christmas cards. Divide and rule policies like Hamas – bad (do not get food and fuel)/ Fatah – good (given weapons), when there is so little dividing their objectives and methods, is not going to solve anything in the long run.


David Habakkuk -

Margaret Thatcher was notable for the qualities that she didn't share with Enoch Powell.

If Thatcher were a blatant race agitator like Powell, she would have been consigned to the footnotes of history as well. Powell didn't fail because his economic policies were ahead of their time.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

February 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Blog powered by Typepad