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11 February 2009


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Ever since Obama picked Clinton, I've wondered about his long term game plan (I'm still assuming he has one because of the strategic ability he showed throughout his campaign).

The choice of Mitchell, (and Miller) and the granting of his first formal interview to al Arabiya also suggest his thinking on these matters is far from one dimensional.

Such, at least, are my impressions from out here in Australia. What do the more informed local denizens of SST think?

P.S. I've just listened to two recent and very interesting interviews that have some relevance to the issues raised by Clifford:

- The first is with Avraham Burg. He spends a fair bit of time on what he sees as the ambivalent and frequently destructive role played by AIPAC et al.

- The second was with Shlomo Ben Ami (former Israeli Foreign Minister) and Norman Finkelstein. Ben Ami's views are remarkably frank.



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

You're wrong. See aipac.org.

David Habakkuk


I think you are absolutely right in seeing Israel's demographic problem as fundamental.

There is another aspect to this. The collapse of realistic prospects of a two-state solution, which is in substantial measure due to the United States giving Israel a rope with which to hang itself by allowing it to colonise the West Bank, means that violent repression of the Arabs, in one form or other, becomes the only strategic option available.

Once it becomes crystal clear that the two-state option is dead, and that there is no route for Zionism other than an indefinite and almost certainly ultimately fruitless practice of repression, many Jews outside Israel are going -- whatever the psychological cost -- to part company with the identification with Israel.

A definition of Jews as a tribe which people want to kill -- which is in essence Netanyahu's definition -- does not provide an attractive identity for people in societies where tribalism is regarded with suspicion, and only the tiniest minority has the least desire to kill Jews.

It also means marginalising the many rich and diverse strands in the Jewish heritage.


The failure of Enoch Powell has nothing to do with the issue. It was perfectly possible to hold his kind of radical free market views without holdings his views on race, and indeed some people did so. An example would be John Biffen. The point is that, until the election defeat of February 1974, they were very few.

As Sir Keith Joseph later put it -- he was Margaret Thatcher's mentor and the principal direct architect of Thatcherism -- it was 'only in April 1974 that I was converted to Conservatism': by which he meant radical free market policies.

What produced Joseph's conversion was the patent failure of existing approaches, which was also what produced Thatcher's victory in the 1979 election, which followed the collapse of the Labour strategy of cooperation with the trade unions in the 'winter of discontent'.

Sometimes, when existing approaches are patently failing, people stick with them doggedly, lurching from disaster to disaster -- sometimes ideas change dramatically very rapidly. It may be that elite and popular opinion in the United States is too hopelessly wedded to disastrous approaches to abandon them, even in the face of the patent evidence of their failure.

As someone who has never lived in the United States, I do not feel qualified to judge. But I do not see any reason to give up hope.

Clifford Kiracofe


Thank you for your many comments.

I have been looking for a phrase other than "folie a deux" and David Habakkuk's phrase "suicide pact" is dead on. Thus we can perceive the current policy situation as "existential" for both the US and Israelis.

Montefiore and other well informed and morally upright persons correctly warned in the 1920s about the consequences of political Zionism. Now, about a century later, we are getting into the end game era some might think.

IF our President would recognize the existential threat to the US of the longstanding US "pro-Israel" policy line (operative especially since 1967) then he could make some fundamental changes.

Standing in the way, of course, is the "pro-Israel" lobby in the US which is, of course, a subset of transnational forces. On the other hand, former President Carter has been quite frank on all this much to his credit so the public has been somewhat informed and warned by a former US President.

The preliminaries I outlined would help break the legs and backs and necks of some significant "pro-Israel" lobbies such as AIPAC thus lessening their impact on Congress and the Executive.

It does not take much imagination to note that perhaps 90 percent of both the House and Senate are owned and or cowed by the "pro-Israel" lobby. Just look at the voting record of both on bills of interest to the lobby.

Anyone with Washington experience knows this to be a fact of life inside the Beltway. And it is no secret to the world at large.

After the preliminaries I suggest per the lobby, the President would have more room for action in the US national interest. He would also be educating the mass public, gentiles and Jews, as to the nature of the existential problem and threat to our Republic.

Our President could then tell "Israel" JUST WHAT Ike told them in 1956...no weapons, no aid, no tax exempt Israel bonds etc. That is what Ike, in fact, told them for those who do not recall the era and crisis.

[NB] Secretary of State Dulles said at the time of Suez: "If we do not go along with sanctions that will be the end of any hope for us in the Middle East. We are doing all we can to avoid sanctions. We have no desire for them. I am aware how almost impossible it is in this country to carry out a foreign policy not approved by the Jews. Marshall and Forrestal learned that. I am going to try to have one. That does not mean I am anti-jewish, but I belive in what George Washington said in his Farewell Address than an emotional attachment to another country should not interfere." And, he said he understood the "terrific control the Jews have over the news media and the barrage which the Jews have built up on Congressmen." And, he said, "I am very much concerned over the fact that the Jewish influence here is completely dominating the scene and making it almost impossible to get Congress to do anthing they don't approve of. The Israeli Embassy is practically dictating to Congress through influential people in this country."

Secretary of State Dulles said this in 1956. We are now in 2009.

Again, for those interested in the Eisenhower policy during Suez I recommend Donald Neff, Warriors at Suez. Eisenhower Takes America into the Middle East (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1981).

For context, I recommend:
Kathleen Christison, Perceptions of Palestine. Their Influence on US Middle East Policy (Berkeley: U of California Press, 1999)and
George W. Ball, The Passionate Attachment. America's Involvement with Israel, 1947 to the Present (New York: Norton: 1992).


from Isn't-that-obvious dept.


Israel, Iran liable to clash in 2009 over nukes, says U.S. intel chief

Israel and Iran are liable to enter into a confrontation or a crisis sometime this year due to Tehran's progress in its nuclear weapons program and Jerusalem's determination to thwart it, the head of U.S. intelligence told lawmakers on Thursday.

In a report to the Senate Intelligence Committee on the potential threats as foreseen by the 16 intelligence arms of the United States, Dennis Blair said that Hezbollah, the Lebanese-based Shi'ite group which is backed by Iran, has beefed up its weapons arsenal in preparation for another round of fighting with Israel.

Blair said Hezbollah presents a formidable threat to U.S. interests, particularly if the organization feels Washington directly threatens Iran or acts against the group's targets, infrastructure, and leadership.


U.S. may moderate shield plan if Russia helps on Iran

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States will review "the pace of development" of its missile defense shield in Europe if Russia agrees to help stop Iran from building a nuclear bomb, a senior U.S. official said on Friday.

The official was speaking as U.S. Undersecretary of State William Burns was in Moscow to push ahead with Washington's vow to hit the "reset button" on U.S.-Russian relations and halt a drift in relations.

"If we are able to work together to dissuade Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapons capability, we would be able to moderate the pace of development of missile defenses in Europe," a senior U.S. administration official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.


So Russia's choice will be:
a) abandoning Iran, which is their main point in central asia against US military expansion.

or say b)"whatever". We are going to armed Iran with latest solid booster and guidance and see how well that missile defense works. And btw, Kyrgyzstan is too crowded for two powers. And about afghanistan logistic....


in the end Russia will just sit there, bargain hard and buying time. It works so well against Bush. They will do it again.

basically stalemate, while everybody rot in afghanistan and Iraq.

Netanyahu in, and Iran election coming. That will bring us to early summer, seasonal guerilla peak in afghanistan.

this start to read like highschool baseball season.


Mr. Kiracofe -

1. My understanding is that arms sales in any volume to Israel didn't start until Kennedy sold Hawk missiles to Israel in '62 or '63.

2. Ike's platform was 'no Middle East involvement unless the Soviets get directly involved first'. The policy is pretty much the opposite today - involvement in the ME trumps conflict with Russia. In 1957, Russian tanks were rolling on Budapest. For Ike, Suez was a side show which distracted world attention from the main show of Russian aggression in Hungary.

3. My understanding is that Nasser basically said to Ike, "you deal with your allies England and France, and we'll deal with Israel". As such, most of the US wrath in '57 was directed at the UK. Things like refusing to roll debt, and devaluing the £.

My thought is that holding up Ike as some model of virtue in resisting the nefarious Jewish lobby is an entirely inaccurate portrayal on the basis of everything I've read. He was primarily concerned with the USSR, and actions with regard to the Suez crisis were primarily directed at American allies in Europe who didn’t consult with the USA before invading Egypt. Based on all I’ve read, Israel was of secondary concern in the American response to the ‘crisis’.


Think what a difference it would make if the Israelis knew they could no longer count on an automatic, protective US veto in the Security Council.

I believe that message was sent back-channel sometime before January 18.

Clifford Kiracofe


For those interested in a close examination of US policy per Suez Crisis, the official State Department public record as presented in the Foreign Relations of the United States series is available online thanks to the University of Wisconsin. Volume XVI for 1955-1957 is entitled "Suez Crisis." The volume is an official compilation of declassified US government documents relating to the crisis. Fascinating and revealing.



And again the Donald Neff book, Warriors at Suez. Eisenhower Takes America into the Middle East (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1981) is quite useful and well researched.


A couple of extremely interesting articles from Haaretz which show that the Israelis realize they are on a collision course with the Obama Administration and on any number of fronts:


David Habakkuk

Clifford Kiracofe,

I would not want to take credit for the phrase 'suicide pact' -- I took it from some remarks the Colonel made at a Middle East Policy forum on 'Iraq, Iran, Israel And The Eclipse of U.S. Influence: What Role For America Now?' back in January 2007. They seem worth repeating:

'A famous American once said that the American Constitution was not a suicide pact, and that was quite true in the circumstance. Well, I think you can paraphrase that this day, today these days and say that we should hope that the U.S.-Israeli de facto alliance is not a suicide pact in fact because in the last six years or so, in the period of the present administration here and the Sharon and Ohlmert governments in Israel, our attitudes have approached a kind of state in which we have plunged our hands into the boiling water everywhere and apparently contemplated plunging our hands into more pots of boiling water. And there is a general underlying attitude which is very difficult to deal with because it is one of basically a sort of an endless belligerence. Really, an attitude in which, in fact, the idea seems to be that to negotiate with people is in fact a kind of sissified, weak sort of thing to do, unless in fact you are negotiating with them to dictate the terms of surrender.'

(See http://www.mepc.org/forums_chcs/47.asp.)

Subsequent events have made the hope that the 'de facto alliance' is not a 'suicide pact', at least as far as Israel is concerned, distinctly hard to sustain. Reading the transcript of the most recent Middle East Policy forum, entitled 'Can the Two-State Solution be Salvaged', the logic seemed to me inescapable. Without a genuine 'two-state solution', Israel has small prospects of survival -- and the only hope of salvaging such a solution lies in an extremely prompt application of the kind of 'tough love' from Washington which Professor Alon Ben-Meir called for at the forum.

But AIPAC and the Zionist lobby will fight tooth and nail to make this impossible, and almost certainly succeed. The likely result will be that -- as Ambassador Chas Freeman said at the forum -- a one-state solution 'may in fact be the very painful outcome, which is no longer impossible to imagine.' Israel will have been killed with kindness, by its American friends.

(See http://www.mepc.org/forums_chcs/55.asp.)

Patrick Lang


Thanks for remembering that line. It is still apt. I notice that the Israeli press contains a certain foreboding over the possibility that the US is no longer quite so controllable and that the prominence of Lieberman (the Israeli) and his like may contribute to that loss of control.

In re the MEPC, for some reason I am no longer among their invited participants in events. Like most such groups they are driven by their boards. pl

Tom S


End the policy or loophole that allows U.S. citizens to serve in the IDF without renouncing their US citizenship;

Institute the same rules for dual nationality that apply for other countries and the US (you have to choose...);

Demand that Israel sign the NPT and open its nuclear facilities up to inspection by the IAEA.

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