Israel is Becoming a Strategic Liability for the United States

Netanyahu’s goal is to convince Congress to torpedo the US-led Iranian nuclear negotiations, which he thinks will result in a deal that hands Iran the bomb on a silver platter. He wants Congress to vote to impose new sanctions on Iran, which would kill the talks, and thus significantly alter US policy toward the Middle East. Dual Israeli citizen Sen Chuck Schumer enthusiastically applauds Netayahu.

January 28, 2015

The U.S. relationship with Israel has long been a challenge in the context of wider U.S. foreign policy.

It has often touched on national security issues, for instance when the government of Israel and its U.S. supporters (most notably the American Israel Public Affairs Committee [AIPAC]) opposed arms sales to Arab nations.

Sometimes their lobbying failed, as in the case of the sale of AWACS to Saudi Arabia, but sometimes it succeeded.

Israel and its lobbyists were able to block the sale of F-15s to Saudi Arabia and F-16s to Jordan later in the decade.

Important and annoying as such efforts were, they did not threaten vital U.S. national security interests.

The unprecedented invitation by Speaker of the House John Boehner to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress on the issue of Iranian nuclear negotiations demonstrates a new level of chutzpa.

We need to comb through the 5th column and eliminate.

This intervention into U.S. politics is a different order of magnitude, coming on the heels of aggressive Israeli and AIPAC lobbying of Congress to enact new sanctions against Iran.

These developments raise the question as to whether Israel is becoming a strategic liability for America.

Conventional wisdom holds that Israel is a strategically vital asset based on its being the only democracy in the area and one that provides crucial support to the United States against terrorism and other threats.

It even serves, we are told, as a useful base for prepositioned U.S. war supplies.

Both parts of the conventional wisdom are questionable. Turkey is a functional democracy despite the erosion of Turkey’s democratic institutions in recent years.

There are also military stockpiles in Kuwait and the U.S. Fifth Fleet is headquartered in Manama, Bahrain.

Further, Israeli democracy is by no means secure. Demographic trends will inexorably dictate that Israel will have to choose between a two-state solution with a majority Jewish state and a Palestinian one, or a single state solution with a majority Palestinian population ruled by a Jewish minority.

All indications are that the Netanyahu government, if it survives the March elections, will continue to move toward a one-state solution.

Settlements continue to be built in East Jerusalem and West Bank territories that would be part of any viable Palestinian State, people on both sides have declared the Oslo peace process dead, and laws are proposed establishing Israel as an exclusivist Jewish state.

Attempts by Palestine to take non-violent protective steps such as joining the International Criminal Court (ICC) on their own behalf are met with financial threats from Israel and the United States.

These and other Israeli actions, such as the last operation in Gaza, are problematic for the United States not only in dealing with the Arab and Muslim worlds but also with our European allies.

Those allies are so fed up with Israel’s Palestinian policy that they have drawn up possible economic sanctions.

But, until the Iranian nuclear negotiations debate, previous activities by Israel and AIPAC pushed, but rarely crossed the line into threatening U.S. national security.

Those negotiations are at a delicate stage and there are hardliners In Iran and the United States that would like to scuttle them.

Iran and the P5+1 negotiation partners have all said that the passage of additional sanctions, even conditional ones, would violate the current agreement and might collapse the talks.

President Obama has promised to veto any new sanctions legislation but the legislation itself could give Iranian hard liners an excuse to end the talks.

Enter the Netanyahu bull in the china shop. Through the Israeli ambassador in Washington, Ron Dermer, a former GOP operative, he has engineered an invitation from House Speaker John Boehner to address a Joint Session of Congress on the nuclear negotiations with Iran without even informing the White House.

“Members of Congress, I have the high privilege and the distinct honor of presenting to you His Excellency Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel,” Boehner said, using an honorific — “His Excellency” — that even Netanyahu’s biggest supporters in Israel don’t use.

This is a massive breach of diplomatic protocol. Netanyahu has inserted Israel into the U.S. partisan political process in a way that could upset long-standing bipartisan support for Israel. He also inserted the United States into Israeli politics by procuring a Congressional platform for his domestic campaign.

In December Senator Lindsey Graham (R) of South Carolina held a press conference in Israel and pledged to the Prime Minister that Congress would “follow your lead” on the Iran negotiations.

This is the same senator who threatened Palestinian aid if they joined the ICC. Is it any wonder that many believe that Netanyahu has been given a veto over the final Iran agreement?

Why does this intrusion threaten U.S. security? First, if Congress is seen as causing the talks collapse at the behest of Israel, the international sanctions regime will collapse.

The Europeans, as well as Russia and China, will begin to expand economic ties with Iran.

Such a coalition breakdown could have adverse blowback on EU and NATO sanctions against Russia. Second, the enhanced inspection of Iranian nuclear facilities will be imperiled.

In an atmosphere where we know less of what is happening in Iran, worst case scenarios will prevail. And then many in Congress and Israel will call for military action.

Military action may someday be needed but there is no harm in continuing to negotiate under the current transparent arrangements.

And if we are to put American lives at risk again, that decision should be made in the U.S.A. based on U.S. security interests and those of our negotiating partners and allies, including Israel, not by senators pledging fealty to Israel’s prime minister.

Israel and AIPAC have long been pushing the bounds of a relationship that is, not that you would know it, between a patron and a supplicant. U.S. policy is for a two-state solution and the end of settlements.

Yet, despite $3 billion in annual aid, Israel scoffs at U.S. appeals.

It is time to rebalance this relationship before Israel does real harm to U.S. national security and its own. Specifically, the United States should:

  • Inform Israel that a one-state solution, de facto or de jure, will result in the end of U.S. financial aid.
  • Support Palestinian membership in the ICC and other UN agencies but hold in abeyance full UN membership.
  • Tell Prime Minister Netanyahu to cancel his trip and cease interfering in American politics and national security and using the U.S. Congress as a platform for his own campaign.

Is this throwing Israel under a bus? No. It is preventing Israel from driving a bus over a cliff with many vital U.S. and Israeli interests on board.

‘The US Has Become a Force of Evil’: Oliver Stone

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  “What happened with the Soviet Union will happen to the US.”

Oliver Stone considers that Trump has done “horrible things” like pulling out of the Paris climate accords and the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. However, he argued that at least, he had the merit to ask why the U.S. needs to fight with Russia, alarming thus the mainstream media who kept on attacking him from the first day.

“It’s all right-wings fighting with right-wings […] Democrats are no better than Republicans,” Stone said, adding that “there is no party in the United States, no democratic voice except third parties that are small, that would say ‘Why are we fighting wars?’”

“Hillary Clinton and her group, and Joe Biden, are just as pro-war as any Republican Dick Cheney.”

In short, the U.S. is “the greatest hypnosis the world has ever seen (…) It sells the same story, again and again, that it is the best country in the world,” the filmmaker claimed adding that all evidence shows the opposite and the U.S. has been responsible for the death of millions of people all around the world, from Iraq to Syria, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Korea, among other countries.

Correa and his guest also evoked the documentary film ‘Al Sur de la Frontera’ (South of the Border) made by Stone, released in 2009, in which the filmmaker interviewed then progressive leaders of Venezuela, Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Cuba, and Ecuador.

“[Hugo] Chavez was the base, the nucleus, who introduced me to all the leaders: we went to visit Lula, Nestor Kirchner and Cristina Kirchner, [Fernando] Lugo in Paraguay, and you in Ecuador, and Cuba … And Bolivia … it was an experience that opened my eyes,” Stone said, adding that the documentary was totally ignored by the mainstream media in the U.S.

“I was an enemy,” he said, recalling that he was once invited to the New York Times where journalists asked him how he had come to respect Chavez.

“It was then clear to me: there is no way to win the debate on South America,” he noted, describing events such as those that occurred in Brazil when former President Dilma Rousseff was impeached and Lula imprisoned, as a “comedy.”

Stone concluded that what happened with the Soviet Union will happen to the US.

“Something is going to happen because we have pushed ourselves to the limit, we are completely corrupting history. Unfortunately, because I want my country, we have become a force of evil. A force of evil against people. Against people who want reforms, who want to change things.”

Mexico Arrests Ex-Chief of Israeli, US-Trained Elite Unit Over Disappearances

Image result for israel in mexico

Benjamin Netanyahu with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto

Israelis trained Civil Force officials.

telesurtv.net

A former high level police officer from the eastern Mexican state of Veracruz was arrested Wednesday over charges of “forced disappearances” during his tenure as the head of an elite unit called Civil Force, which has received training from U.S. and Israeli agencies.

Federal and state agents captured Roberto González Meza, former director of the Civil Force of Veracruz, an elite unit that included 2,000 highly trained agents during the administration of Governor Javier Duarte de Ochoa between 2010 and 2016. Duarte himself is in prison and faces charges related to organized crime and money laundering.

Official documents from both federal and state prosecutors show that in the state of Veracruz, where violence is widespread due to warring drug cartels, a total of 145 cases of “forced disappearances” have been investigated where police officers of various levels of government are allegedly involved, between 2013 and 2016.

Meza is accused of ordering the elite unit to carry out many of the forced disappearances, local media reported and added that he has already appeared before a judge in his home state.

The Civil Force includes 2,000 agents who receive specialization and training courses from the several Mexican military agencies as well as institutions in countries such as Canada, United States, Spain, France, Guatemala, Israel, Italy and Czech Republic, local media reports.

Among the unit’s essential tasks is the fight against organized crime groups, the containment and reduction of common crimes, and the assistance to the population in cases of natural disasters.

Local media also reported that José Nabor Nava Holguín, the unit’s former sub-secretary of operations, was arrested among other former agents.

The news comes as activists and critics of the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto say the newly approved Internal Security Law will bring more militarization and impunity to the country’s police forces while giving the army more role in civilian affairs.

 

How America became pro-Israel

Kay Griggs explains how she went into the Department of State in Washington, D.C. to see why there was no peace in the Middle East. She tells how the area in charge of over seeing peace between Muslims and Jews / Palestine and Israel is … totally Zionists Jewish Owned… “They had pictures ALL OVER THE WALL, Israel, Israel, Israel.  They had magazines, “Israel Today.”  I was given a copy of one.  And, there were yarmulkes and Israeli writing, in other words…. And I asked one of the women after having gone through about four or five of these offices…. I said, as I was pretending like I really wanted…. I was just wanting to know where the Palestinian office was….and she said, ‘well we handle all of that.’ 

Mere days after Donald Trump won the US presidential election, American Zionists moved quickly to ensure that Israeli interests were fully guarded by the new administration.

The Zionist Organization of America wasted no time, hobnobbing with notorious racists, also known for their anti-Jewish agendas. ZOA’s annual gala on November 20 hosted none other than Steve Bannon, a leader in the so-called alt-right, otherwise known as white supremacy in the United States.

Under his leadership, Breitbart, seen as a major platform for the alt-right, fuelled anti-Semitism (needless to say, racisms of all shades) argued Alex Amend and Jonathan Morgan in AlterNet.

Watching top Israeli officials and leaders of the Jewish community in the US hosting – ever so enthusiastically – Bannon at ZOA’s annual gala appeared perplexing to some. Others casually explained it as the nature of politics, as Israel needs its US alliance even if it meant accommodating anti-Semites.

But it is hardly that simple.

WATCH: Occupation of the American mind

Bannon’s ties with Zionists go back well before the rather surprising Trump election victory. In fact, Israel has never had a problem with true anti-Semites. Instead, it merely rebranded any criticism of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land as anti-Semitism.

By conflating the term, the Zionists managed to largely silence all debate on Israel in the US, and despite stubborn attempts to break Israel’s stronghold on Zionist control over the Palestine and Middle East narrative in US media, government and society as a whole, Israel continues to maintain the upper hand, as it has for decades.

Speaking in the White House’s East Room on February 15, in a joint press conference with President Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cordially thanked Trump for his hospitality, then uttered these words: “Israel has no better ally than the United States. And I want to assure you, the United States has no better ally than Israel.”

But it was only half true. The US has indeed been a stalwart supporter of Israel, offering it over $3.1bn in financial assistance each year for the last a few decades, an amount that dramatically increased under President Barack Obama to $3.8 bn. In addition to hundreds of millions more in all kinds of financial, military assistance and “loans” that went mostly unaccounted for.

However, Netanyahu lied. His country has not been an equally strong ally to the US; in fact, Israel has been a liability. Let alone the various serious episodes of Israeli spying on Washington and bartering US secrets and technologies with Russia and China, Israel has been the cause of instability in the Middle East region.

Since World War II, the US has vied to achieve two main foreign policy objectives in the Middle East: Control the region and its resources and prop-up its allies (often dictators), while maintaining a degree of “stability” so that the US is able to conduct its business unhindered.

Nevertheless, Israel remained on the warpath. Wars that Israel couldn’t fight on its own required American intervention on Israel’s behalf, as was the case in Iraq. The outcome was disastrous for US foreign policy. Even hardened military men began noticing the destructive path their country had chosen in order to defend Israel.

In March 2010, General David Petraeus, then head of the US Central Command told the Senate Armed Services Committee during a testimony that Israel had become a liability for the US and that has become a challenge to “security and stability”, which his country aimed to achieve.

He said: “Israeli-Palestinian tensions often flare into violence and large-scale armed confrontations. The conflict foments anti-American sentiment, due to a perception of US favouritism for Israel. Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of US partnerships with governments and peoples in the AOR (Area of Operations) and weakens the legitimacy of moderate regimes in the Arab World. Meanwhile, al-Qaeda and other militant groups exploit that anger to mobilise support.”

Although speaking strictly from a US military interest, the Israeli lobby attacked Petraeus almost immediately. Abe Foxman, Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which often mischaracterises its role as that of combating racism in the US lashed out at the top American commander calling his conclusions “dangerous and counterproductive.”

That spectacle alone demonstrated that Israel’s power in the US has grown tremendously through time.

In the US, no one is immune to Israeli criticism, including the president himself, who is expected to accommodate Israeli whims, without expecting any Israeli reciprocation.

A particularly telling episode revealed the degree of Israeli influence in the US, when then-House Speaker John Boehner plotted with then-Israel’s ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer to arrange a visit and a speech before Congress for Netanyahu, in defiance of President Obama.

Netanyahu then raged and raved before a united Congress (with a few exceptions) that repeatedly endowed the Israeli prime minister with many standing ovations as he belittled their president and strongly criticised US foreign policy on Iran.

Obama felt isolated as if a target of a political coup; a few Democrats fumbled in a disorganised press conference to respond to Netanyahu’s accusations, but they were certainly the tiny minority.

That spectacle alone demonstrated that Israel’s power in the US has grown tremendously through time from a “client regime”, to a “partner”.

But how did Israel achieve such commanding influence over US foreign policy?

READ MORE: Israel versus America versus Iran

In an article entitled: “Steve Bannon’s web of weirdness: Meet the bizarre billionaires behind the president-elect’s chief strategist,” Heather Digby Patron named a few of these “bizarre billionaires”. They included, Sheldon Adelson, a right-wing billionaire with a gambling empire, who is “singularly focused on the state of Israel”.

Adelson’s relations with Bannon (and Trump) has well preceded Trump’s victory, and seemed to take little notice of the fact that Bannon and his ilk were viewed by many American Jews as frightening, racist anti-Semites with a menacing agenda.

Adelson however, cares little for the true racists. His obsession to shield Israel’s militant Zionist agenda trumped all other seemingly little irritants.

But the gambling mogul is not the exception among powerful Zionists in the US.

 In the US, no one is immune to Israeli criticism [Ammar Awad/Reuters]

Writing in Mondoweiss, the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network explained the love affair between Israel and anti-Semites: “From Russian Tzars to the Nazis to Mussolini to the colonial British Empire to the Christian Right -Christian Zionists; (The Zionists’) embracing of Trump and renowned reactionary political strategist Steve Bannon is no exception.”

Israeli commentator Gideon Levy agrees. In an article published by Haaretz on November 21, Levy wrote, “When friendship for Israel is judged solely on the basis of support for the occupation, Israel has no friends other than racists and nationalists.”

Thus, it is no surprise that Adelson is funding a massively rich campaign and lavish conferences to combat the influence of the civil society-powered Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS), while plotting with American elements that consider the word “Jew” a swear word in their own social lexicon to support Zionist Israel.

By putting Israel and Zionism first, these rich individuals, powerful lobby groups, hundreds of think-tanks, thousands of networks across the country and their allies among the religious right, are now the main wheelers and dealers in any matter concerning US foreign policy in the Middle East and Israel’s political and security interests.

Zionists often speak of a historical bond between the US and the Jewish people, but nothing could be further from the truth.

On May 13, 1939, a boat carrying hundreds of German Jews was not allowed to reach American shores and was eventually sent back to Europe.

That was not a foreign policy fluke.

Three months earlier, in February 1939, members of Congress rejected a bill that would allow 20,000 German Jewish children to come to the US to escape the war and possible extermination at the hands of the Nazis.

The oddity is that the bill was rejected despite the fact that it proposed bringing the children as part of an already existing quota for annual visas allowed to German citizens.

Not only did the Congress shoot it down, but the public had no interest in the matter either, as allowing Jews into the US was quite an unpopular affair.

While these Jews were not always welcome, Zionists were already forging strong alliances in the government and applying pressure on the White House to establish a “Jewish state” in Palestine.

Indeed, the early days of Zionist lobbying go back to the early 20th century, but such lobbying became truly fruitful during the presidency of Harry S Truman to pressure the White House to back the partition of Palestine.

Writing in his memoir, Truman noted, “The facts were that not only were there pressure movements around the United Nations unlike anything that had been seen there before, but that the White House, too, was subjected to a constant barrage.”

“I do not think I ever had as much pressure and propaganda aimed at the White House as I had in this instance. The persistence of a few of the extreme Zionist leaders – actuated by political motives and engaging in political threats – disturbed and annoyed me.”

 Donald Trump addressed the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) at an afternoon general session during his candidacy [Joshua Roberts/Reuters]

Since then, those “extreme Zionists leaders” have grown in numbers and influence beyond anything Truman could have ever imagined.

In their seminal article, The Israel Lobby (which served as the thesis of their book) in the London Review of Books, two prominent American scholars John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt took on the painstaking task of deconstructing the power of the “formal” and “informal” Israel lobby that has grown exponentially in recent years.

They argued that the power of the lobby is now so great to the point that it has largely orchestrated the US war on Iraq in 2003, only to shift following the war fiasco to advocate wars against Iran and Syria; in addition to ensuring that there can never be a balanced US foreign policy on Israel and Palestine.

“So, if neither strategic nor moral arguments can account for America’s support for Israel, how are we to explain it?” they asked in their article, offering only one possible answer: “The explanation is the unmatched power of the Israel Lobby.”

While certainly not all Jewish Americans are part of or even supporters of the lobby, the massive pro-Israel network managed to sell the idea to many US Jews that their fate is linked to supporting Israeli policy, no matter how destructive or self-defeating.

“Jewish Americans have set up an impressive array of organisations to influence American foreign policy, of which AIPAC is the most powerful and best known,” the two American scholars wrote.

READ MORE: Critics warn US could adopt ‘pro-settler agenda’

According to Fortune Magazine’s 1997 issue, AIPAC is considered the second-most powerful lobby in Washington, an assessment that was upheld by the National Journal Study in March 2005.

“The Lobby” also relies on Christian evangelicals who have long advocated the return of Jews to Palestine as to fulfil some biblical prophecy pertaining to the end of times. Historically, Zionists have had no quarrel working with such hate-peddling preachers as Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and John Hagee.

Hagee, in particular, has emerged as possibly the most powerful of these figures. His eagerness for the final battle between East and West – Armageddon – led him to establish Christians United for Israel (CUFI).

While AIPAC boasts over 100,000 members, as of January 2015, CUFI’s membership was estimated at two million.

When Israel attacked Lebanon in the summer of 2006, thousands of evangelicals descended on Washington to lobby Congress to support Israel unconditionally.

They arrived from all 50 states and, in one single day, they reportedly held 280 meetings on Capitol Hill.

But unlike the early days of Zionist lobbying, the lobby is no longer standing on the sidelines urging to the Congress and the executive branch to adopt a pro-Israel agenda.

In the last two decades, they have managed to infiltrate all aspects of government, thus formulating policy directly.

Mearsheimer and Walt, but also others discussed the evolution of the lobby in the form of the neo-conservatives during the presidency of George W Bush which was coupled with the proliferation of “think-tanks” and policy forums, all with the ultimate aim of backing Israel, no matter the high cost for the US – and needless to say for Palestinians and the Middle East.

Moreover, the lobby is no longer satisfied with attempting to sway Washington, by pressuring the Congress and the executive branch – where being pro-Israel has been the expected natural state of mind for American lawmakers (save the few courageous ones) – but “It also strives to ensure that public discourse portrays Israel in a positive light, by repeating myths about its founding and by promoting its point of view in policy debates,” according to The Israel Lobby.

“The goal is to prevent critical comments from getting a fair hearing in the political arena. Controlling the debate is essential to guaranteeing US support, because a candid discussion of US-Israeli relations might lead Americans to favour a different policy.”

 The fear of losing complete control over the narrative is frightening for the pro-Israel lobby [John Minchillo/AP]

This is why the lobby is currently mobilising to stop and even criminalise the BDS movement, for, even if it failed to nudge US foreign policy in a more sensible direction, BDS is relatively succeeding in creating more platforms for open discussions on many university campuses and some media.

Several US states have officially launched initiatives to defeat BDS and more are likely to follow. The fear of losing complete control over the narrative is frightening for the pro-Israel lobby. For them, only Israeli myth peddlers and fear-mongering preachers must be allowed to speak to Congress, media and public.

Although recent polls have shown that younger Americans – especially among Democratic party supporters and young Jewish Americans – are losing their enthusiasm for Israel and its Zionist ideology – the battle for the US to reclaim its foreign policy and a sense of morality regarding Palestine and the Middle East is likely to be long and arduous.

The lobby put down roots decades ago, and is a combination of many forces and backed by “bizarre billionaires” and infinitely dark agendas. The outcome of this lobbying has played a significant role in a horrendous foreign policy that has killed, wounded and displaced millions, from Palestine to Iraq and elsewhere.

Only a better and more honest understanding of the rule of the lobby can serve as a first step towards its dismantlement.

Ramzy Baroud has been writing about the Middle East for over 20 years. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author of several books and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. His books include “Searching Jenin”, “The Second Palestinian Intifada” and his latest “My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story”. His website is www.ramzybaroud.net.

SOURCE: Al Jazeera