« Charles Freeman, the right man in the right job at the NIC | Main | Are we serious about Syria? »

03 March 2009


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



This article 'ties in' with the one you mentioned regarding Israel/Ross messing things up ----

Israel to present Clinton with 'red lines' on talks with Iran

The Israeli state wants to dictate U.S. policy on Iran. Israel will do that through their shill Dennis Ross, Clinton's envoy/adviser for Iran.

Cato the Censor

Obama's policy concerning the Middle East (with the notable exception of Iraq) seems to be about as confused and wrong-headed as his policy with respect to the large banks in this country.



I'm going to stick my neck out and respond immediately, if not first:

1- I agree with your synthesis, and it's not encouraging. In a comment to your previous post, I suggested that it would be powerful to see Freeman and Ross standing behind Obama when policy concerning the Middle East is presented, but I agree that Aaron David Miller would have been a better choice... and it seems, in any case, that Ross is hiding behind Hillary...

2- I know you're sincere, but I really dislike the reductionism of Zionism as one narrow and homogeneous global vision... though maybe you simply agree with my previous statement that the "good" in the historical movement has slowly but surely been marginalized and neutered by the "bad" in its post-independence ideologues...

3- I'd like to believe that this is all a lot of posturing and positioning in anticipation of "serious" negotiations, but Obama and others are so preoccupied with the domestic crises that he may be differing to Mrs. Clinton out of necessity...

All I will add is that I hope that George Mitchell and ADM get their four cents in sometime soon. Israel is going to have to find a path to coexistence with the Palestinians forever and with Iran as a regional power whether they openly leave the NPT or not...


Or the disclosure was a way of showing the USG is not operating in good faith. The Europeans and Russians can then discount our "efforts" because they were never serious.


Several recent news items point to the ongoing implementation by the Obama administration of a neocon devised strategy against Iran. That strategy was published in 2008 by a 'Bipartisan Study Group' but written by major neocon characters from the AEI. The Obama administration (and Israel) seems to follow that study up to the i-dots.

- The NYT today reported on pressure on Russia and a Missile Defense in Europe vs Iran sanctions deal 'offered' to Russia.
- Haaretz today published 'Israeli demands' for U.S. negotiations with Iran. Steve Clemons says "Israel crossed a line" with these.

Exactly these 'Israeli demands' just like the deal 'offered' to Russia were recommended in a 2008 study which Jim Lobe characterized as "Roadmap to War with Iran"

The central figure in this is Dennis Ross, who, as Pat Lang says, should register as a "Foreign Agent".

The current process is similar to the one designed for Bush's attack on Iraq. The PNAC papers were the plan to attack Iraq. The current papers were issued by a different "think tank" but involve some of the same people. They urge for negotiations with Iran designed to fail and followed by war. The current administration is implementing these plans.

I provide a trail here.


The Lobby: alive, well, and battening on your neck vein. Bi-partisanship at its very best.

Patrick Lang


I have no interest in Zionism other than as a clear factor in the manipulation of US policy in the ME. pl


The foundation that Ross heads is devoted to advancing the interests of the Jewish People worldwide. That is the foundation's exclusive purpose.

If he were chairman of B'nai B'rith, I don't think that would be a problem. In other words, I don't think this is an accurate description of The Jewish Agency.


The more things changes, the more it stays the same. It was how long? 4 weeks?

well, this is going to be chronic problem for real. Israel problem will drag Iraq and Afghanistan stabilization, not to mention energy price, relationship with all major power in central asia.

Already that highly illogical "missile defense" for Iran nuke deal has become center piece gimmick substituting real solution.

1. The missile defense was touted to prevent Iran ballistic missile. (to which Russia call the BS and say, it's a radar network that is aimed to destabilized deterrence balance) So now, the wacko in charge "officially" admits that the MD was about Russia, not Iran. But they are willing to quit freaking out Russia with Russia helping on Iran nuke issue. (ie. weasel bargaining chip that will hurt a lot of people when the game is played to its conclusion)

Russia/Iran next move. run the circle, play down the clock. Russia will inject better missile guidance, more advance radar and more nuclear technology. Essentially build up Iran conventional military capability while making sure Nuclear deterrence can be achieved in the blink of an eye if things called.

2. Every single countries in central asia now is gearing up to play the game. Subtle at first: logistic line control, diplomatic gambit, alliances, build up, port of entry, long term military movement. The problem in afghanistan is going to be painful and long. Worst case scenario, west afghanistan will drift further away from central government.

3. Pakistan is now a fubar case. (forget about loan, cheap energy, infrastructure building, trade subsidy.) At best it's more of the same. Worst case, a big political destabilization. (Block party in FATA yo'. free opium and RPG for everybody. love bin laden)

4. Iraq. I think it will be what's on schedule and relatively calm. (2010-2011 pull out) What plays after that will be a big question. (giant cia station, weak government, big Iran influence, chaotic DC policy.) Iraq is up for grab. A disgruntled CIA officer can take over Iraq if he wants to. It's an open bazaar.

4. Israel. They are going to play the full set game. (inject false reports, domestic media play, continues settlement expansion, locking border, dragging foot/running in circle on peace talk... bombing, invasion, play dumb, ....sammmmmmmmmeee......thing. Thy just flip the playbook to page 1 and cycle through old tricks like nothing happens.)

5. Palestine. Gaza-Hamas stability is the things to watch. second is Abbas. he is getting old not to mention unpopular. If I were Israel, I would try to sustain this stalemate condition as long as possible. The last thing I want is west bank political change before settlements building reaches critical mass.

Hamas in Gaza won't be able to consolidate its power for another 1-2 year, so they are not going to be able to play in west bank. West bank politics in the meantime seems very fractured. With weak Fatah on top.

6. Lebanon, Syria, and Iran. lay low, bidding their time for next big Israel attack. Things are going to get nasty on next war, since everybody expect this one.

US economy looking more and more moving toward L shape recession. Which means energy price fluctuation from any middle east conflict will be severe. Anything happens to any oil installation in the middle east and persian gulf will ripple through. But on the bright side, the world economy is so weak and cash scarce, nobody can play up the oil price easily.

basically, It's deadlock in diplomacy front. Big time blockage.

It's now down to ground strategy. preparing for next military skirmishes. (hamas-israel-Iran-syria-Russia) I'll throw in china, if they have had it with the tibetan and oil price.



Israel already has a plan for coexistence with the Palestinians. The Prime Minister-designate's new friend Avigdor Lieberman has been pretty specific about what it entails.

Gulf CoastPirate


What was ever good about Zionism? It depended on stealing someone else's land. How can that ever lead to anything good?


As I've said before, regarding this new "change you can believe in".

Ross's appointment was probably just an accident. He just fell between the cracks. Yea, sure.

"The more things change, the more they stay the same."

Your new White House Middle East Kabuki theater will be starting shortly.


The lack of skepticism regarding Ross's appointment reflects Israeli/Aipac success in conflating their interests with ours. Perhaps the only thing to correct that conflation would be a serious discussion on just what the best interests of the United States actually are, rather than assuming they are the same as Israel's. Incidentally, notice handholding (literal) between Clinton and Livni and Peres' pecking at Clinton's cheek - she didn't look to pleased - images plastered all over the Arab/Iranian press.

Ahmadinijad spoke today at the Conference of Palestine being held in Iran and mentioned the inapproriateness of appointin zionists as mediators. Ross's appointment was received as what it was - insincerity and cynicism.

What of Mullen's comments on Iranian possession of sufficient enfriched uranium? Shot across the bow of the zionists? I mean, why bother with more sanctions/threats if the Iranians already have the enriched uranium? Sounds like paradigm shift in negotiation.

Clifford Kiracofe

The shiksa and the schmuck?

The Gulfies don't need lectures on Iran. Did Ms. Clinton stop by the port area in Dubai and notice the Iranian dows as far as you can see...?

Wasn't Kessler one of the journalists linked somehow to the Franklin case? [yes.]

The shiksa and the schmuck...


"Cheshire Puss .... Would you tell me please, which way I ought to go from here?'
'That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,' said the Cat.
'I don't much care where' said Alice.
'Then it doesn't matter which way you go,' said the Cat."

The message(s) coming out of the White House each day are becoming more and more confused, mixed and on some levels surreal.

One has to wonder, is this intended or is there an Alice in Wonderland situation going on? Does the administration, like Alice not care or more disconcertingly, can we change Alice's response to 'I don't much know where'.

From the various players involved it seems Obama is looking to extend one "unclenched" hand but all the while waving the clenched fist. "Be our friend or else".

Aaron David Miller, Sam Power and Charles Freeman on the one hand, Ross and Feltman on the other. And Clinton; Which Clinton? The long-suffering Palestinians Clinton or the I Love New York so I love Israel Clinton?

Is all this meant to keep the Iranians guessing? Is Obama trying the old Ali "dope on a rope" technique?

And that is everyones problem right now. Whether you are in Virginia, Beirut, Tel Aviv, Damascus, Dubai or Tehran, you just have no idea which way this administration is headed. And you hav eno idea if this administration even knows where its headed.

Are the doves there to placate the Iranians and the hawks the Israelis? Does one group exist as a sop to placate one of the players and if so which one?

Is Obama trying to out-smart the chess like politics of the ME and we can't see it because our senses have been numbed by 8 years of "you're either with us or against us"?

Damned if I can read the tea leaves just yet.

We do know that the Israeli elections (mad hatters tea party) may have made Obamas job a. easier because he can afford to be tougher with the far right or b. more difficult as they will make EVEN less concessions than the slightly less right wing Kadima.

We do know that with Pakistan (the Queen of hearts although off with his head may be more Al Qaida) falling apart at the seams and the Russians arm twisting former states to close US bases, Iran may be Obamas last hope in being able to successfuly prosecute the war in Afghansitan.

Alice finally managed to find her path; We can only wait and see if Obama finds his.

Robert Murray

While we're at it, let's bring back John Bolton. Sheesh...
I understand fully why Tony Zinni stated he would stay out of politics.

David Habakkuk


'The lack of skepticism regarding Ross's appointment reflects Israeli/Aipac success in conflating their interests with ours. Perhaps the only thing to correct that conflation would be a serious discussion on just what the best interests of the United States actually are, rather than assuming they are the same as Israel's.'

On this one I disagree with you. The United States has a very strong interest in a peaceful settlement in the Middle East, which means a two-state solution. The very survival of Israel depends upon such a settlement. It is always been clear that a two-state solution is incompatible with the programme to colonise the West Bank.

The problem then is not that the interests of the two countries are different, but that policymakers in neither have an accurate understanding of how to pursue their interests.

It was perhaps understandable that Dennis Ross failed to grasp the nettle of the settlements at the time of Camp David, but in seeking to blame Arafat for the failure of the negotiations there, he did both Israel and the United States an immense disservice -- in the case of Israel a potentially fatal one. Palestinian leaders who could both agree to a settlement and carry their community with them do not grow on trees, and time is not on Israel's side.

Unfortunately, as that wise man Rami Khouri notes in today's Daily Star, Hilary Clinton has still not learned the lessons of the failure of Camp David, or grasped how much worse Israel's position is now than it was then. As Khouri very fairly observes:

'Camouflaging the Israeli colonization of the West Bank and Arab East Jerusalem under a cloak of money while the underlying colonization remains unchanged has not worked in the past and will not work today. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will discover this for herself soon enough as she enters the difficult world of Arab-Israeli politics. Her statement at the Gaza reconstruction conference Monday that the US supports the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel will remain devoid of credibility or impact if Washington continues to acquiesce silently in the Israeli colonization of Palestinian land …

'Using billions of dollars in international aid to maintain much of the Israeli siege of Gaza while trying again to prop up the Abbas government and ignoring the role of Hamas will not move anyone closer to genuine peace or security.

'Repeating the mistakes and biases of the past is a foolish way of approaching peacemaking. We have enough adults in the Middle East who act like animals; the last thing we need is adults in the international donor community who act like children.'

(See http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=1&categ_id=5&article_id=99817.)

If however one wants to see the full lunacy of the fantasy world in which American and European policymakers remain entangled, one has only to look at the long interview Tony Blair, the 'Quartet envoy', gave to Channel Four News after his visit to Gaza.

Asked whether a political solution did not mean talking to Hamas, Blair explained that he 'didn't think this was the issue at this moment.' If Hamas would not renounce violence, he went on to explain, it was 'very hard to see how you are going to find a way forward.' Palestinian unity, he then informed us, was an 'essential precondition' for a settlement. Meanwhile, he explained, /we have to work whoever the Israelis elect.'

(See http://www.channel4.com/news/articles/politics/international_politics/tony+blair+interview/3006657.)

It seems the fantasy that with enough aid the Palestinians will rally behind 'moderates' like Abbas and accept a peace on Israel's terms is slow dying. Given that peace would depend upon reversing the colonisation of the West Bank, which would be massively politically difficult for any Israeli government, the only thing that could save Israel would be brutal U.S. pressure. This is what those who want Israel to survive should be calling for. But they will not, and in so doing will doom the country to destruction.

Abu Sinan


You write "the "good" in the historical movement has slowly but surely been marginalized and neutered by the "bad" in its post-independence ideologues..."

Zionism is nothing more than a extreme religious form of nationalism.

No good comes from any nationalism, Jewish or otherwise.

Babak Makkinejad

David Habakkuk:

You wrote: "The United States has a very strong interest in a peaceful settlement in the Middle East, which means a two-state solution."

Reluctantly I have come to the conclusion that US needs the conflict in Eastern Mediterranean to continue.

US has a very strong interest in maintaining an explosive-ridden stability but not on a settlement. As I had stated in a different threat; Israel and her nuclear arsenal are needed for scaring the hell out of all of srael’s neighbour's that are within the range of her bombers and other delivery platforms. I am including Malta, Italy, Greece, Turkey, and assorted Arab States in that.

The aim, of course, is to sell geopolitical protection – kiss the hand of Don Americo and ask him to be your godfather. Disarm Israel & settle the Arab-Israel communal war and then there is no need for paying for protection to the Don.

In regards to two-state solution; this was never perceived by Israeli leaders to be in their strategic interest. The only reason that they mutter these words is for the benefit of soothing gullible and well-wishing foreigners such as yourself and most of the commentator’s on this forum.

Anyway, the two-state solution is dead and per your prognosis we are now marching towards another conflagration [or a series of them] – unbeknownst to all these state participants – which would destroy Israel and thus fulfill Mr. Ahmadinejad’s prognosis.



Slightly off topic, but in the news of late: Syria.

You wrote earlier about the USSOF raid on eastern Syrian and finished by saying you were going to look into it.

I am wondering if you did so and have any further conclusions you would like to share. A few months after the raid, Richard Sale cited American sources as saying that the raid was conducted with Syrian permission and/or coordination.

Is that your sense?

Thanks for any response.


I think Habakkuk's analysis good as far is it goes, but it leads to the following question: if the one state solution is the end of Israel in the long run, why is it being pursued so relentlessly by the Israelis in power?

Clearly, they don't think it does lead to their destruction.

If there is enough deterrence to retaliation by the Arab states, and there is, and if there is a way to continue marginalizing the Palestinians and the Arab-Israelis within a unified state, and there may be, then the way forward is relatively clear. It's not pretty, but its clear.

Of course, there is no "peace", other than the peace of eventual surrender by the other side... but peace was never the intention, the land was, so nothing has changed in that regard.

The role of the US remains the same: pretend to be pressuring Israel while arming it to the teeth; fight the rising Boycott movement in the western world; maintain economic pressure against any emerging Arab or Persian state, and attack those states as necessary.

A realistic view would say that the Israelis are more unified than ever in the pursuit of these ends, that is what the recent elections confirm, and that the Americans and Europeans remain willing accomplices, in spite of largely inconsequential shifts magnified by the blogs.

What specific factors, new or old, have actually changed the situation such that what is written here is no longer the case, and may rather "doom the country to destruction"?

Margaret Steinfels

Just a Fact Check: Is Dennis Ross with Clinton on this Middle East trip. I can't find verification that he is. Anyone?


David H @ 10:43 am, 3/4/09:
Thank you for an intelligent and insightful comment. The following quote from it

The United States has a very strong interest in a peaceful settlement in the Middle East, which means a two-state solution. The very survival of Israel depends upon such a settlement. It is always been clear that a two-state solution is incompatible with the programme to colonise the West Bank.

The problem then is not that the interests of the two countries are different, but that policymakers in neither have an accurate understanding of how to pursue their interests.

begs the question "Where do we, the USA, go from here?"

An intelligent policy, but not one we're likely to see unfortunately, would be to make the following clear to the Israelis:

1. The preeminent US interest in the Middle East is to continue our competitive access to and continued flow of the region's oil resources
2. The single greatest threat to the future continuation of #1 is the hostility against the USA generated on the Middle East street by the regress from (not to mention the lack of progress toward) a satisfactory resolution of the Palestinian problem.
3. By far the greatest obstacle to the resolution of same is the Settlements Policy of the Israeli government.
4. Therefore, unless and until utterly stops the building of new settlements and the expanding existing ones, and begins to abandon the most egregiously aggressive recent squatter outposts, the USA will drastically reduce aid and publically distance itself from Israeli actions and interests.



All I can say is that I agree with your characterization of Avigdor Lieberman with all the pain that his vision would bring upon everyone involved...

... but I will add without equivocation, though perhaps you'll consider it naive, that I do not think Obama would stand idly by if "The Purge" were actually attempted, and I am also confident that many Israelis and Americans and others around the world (whether Jewish and not) would not be indifferent or passive, either.


We could discuss the modern historical precedents for 'Pilgrims' traveling to 'New Worlds' that entailed 'stealing some else's land', and I could also suggest that modern Zionism was predicated on a vision of ending a diaspora that was increasingly the subject of segregation and oppression by creating a national homeland anywhere...

... but I essentially agree with your characterization even if it seems a delusion to imagine a return to the status quo that existed before 1967... or '48 because nobody would want the British back... or before 1918 because the Ottoman Empire is an even greater anachronism; however, I agree 100% that the unilateral establishment of permanent settlements in the West Bank and Gaza after 1967 has been a cancer upon the underlying interests of both Israelis and Palestinians to find a fair territorial and political solution.

Abu Sinan:

I disagree that Zionism was originally a purely religious movement; in fact, there were and still are many secular (and even atheistic) Zionists all along the political spectrum from Left to Right, and there has always been a significant part of the religious community in Judaism that has rejected the legitimacy of the modern state of Israel (which is not to say that some have not benefited from it internally to the point of dangerous distortion)...

... but I would agree that citizenship in a modern nation-state that is bound exclusively to a narrow and compulsory ideology is almost as pernicious as the opposite.

And finally as a hat tip to the moderator, I feel obliged as an American to agree that I can imagine a time when another nation's actions are so unilateral and detrimental to our national interests and security that all other prerogatives are secondary. No treaty or "special relationship" or ideological bond can override that fundamental precept of citizenship as I see it... and that goes for Israel as well as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, or India (to list but a few that seem pertinent these days...).

For personal reasons, if I may, I hope it does not come to this in US-Israeli relations... and as a realist I hope it is avoided because the global cost in blood and treasure would potentially be cataclysmic (and would more probably impact us all for generations...).


Here is a link to a post at Jew Sans Frontieres entitled "Why Israel Is An Apartheid State" that lays out some inconvenient truths.


I can remember from my younger days the hullabaloo that ensued when the proposition was made in the UN that Zionism was racism. The conflation of religious identity, ethnic identity, and political identity that lies at the root of Zionism as it has come to be embodied in the behavior of the Israeli state does little to nothing to put the lie to that charge. The continued apparent acceptance by the United States of the poisonous practices that flow from this flawed doctrine can only exacerbate the severity of the blowback that will continue to harass the United States. The last thing we need is "dead-enders" like Mr. Ross involved when OUR national interest is at stake.

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