June 26th, 2009

Chris Keeley

Hamas Welcomes Obama’s “New Language”, Calls for Pressure on Israel

Hamas Welcomes Obama’s “New Language”, Calls for Pressure on Israel

The Palestinian group Hamas has renewed its acceptance of a Palestinian state within the Occupied Territories but rejected Israel’s insistence to be recognized as a “Jewish state.” On Thursday, Hamas leader Khaled Meshal dismissed Israel’s demand as “racist” and compared it to Nazi ideology. Meshal also welcomed what he called President Obama’s “new language” toward Hamas. But he called on Obama to take meaningful steps to end the Israeli occupation.

Hamas leader Khaled Meshal: “What is demanded from the biggest states and the most important ones, are actions and crucial positions and serious initiatives that return the rights to their owners and end the illegal occupation–not only speeches that show intentions and promises.”

Chris Keeley

Ray Close / Haviland Smith

Note: Haviland Smith is a retired CIA Station Chief who served with distinction in Eastern and Western Europe, the Middle East and as Chief of the Counterterrorism Staff in Washington.  Below my brief comments is a noteworthy opinion column that he wrote recently for his local newspaper in Vermont.


  Many thanks for writing this excellent piece.  I've circulated it to a number of friends and correspondents (as bcc addressees to this email) to whom I believe it will be interesting and meaningful.

I think there are many of us who had extensive experience in covert action during our active CIA careers who would agree in retrospect that "regime change" operations have almost invariably been counterproductive over the long term, even after they seemed apparently "successful" at the time.  Having participated in two notable examples ---- in Lebanon (1957) and Syria (1958) --- I feel strongly about this!  In both of those cases, I believe we are STILL, many decades later, paying a price for poor judgment and shortsighted policy planning -- a consequence that I believe is still insufficiently understood and appreciated in Washington.

Most obviously, of course, we have been reminded repeatedly in just the past two weeks that millions of Iranians of all ages and social backgrounds remain keenly aware and resentful of the regime change operation that took place 56 years ago --- making it much more difficult for us today to engage constructively with that critically important nation.

Unfortunately, the U.S. foreign policy establishment in general, but including particularly the intelligence community, has practically no institutional memory, and therefore has never come to this realization with sufficient intellectual conviction to have an impact on contemporary foreign policy practitioners.   The academic community, by and large, has been either too intimidated by the "security" mystique (or too frustrated by Freedom Of Information Act obstructions) to make an effective contribution either to clarifying the historical record or to educating new generations of policy makers.

More of us need to share our perspectives on this subject --- while we are still around!!

Thanks again.


Other Options Haven’t Worked:  Let’s Try Diplomacy

June 25, 2009

By Haviland Smith

    Since the Second World War, the Republicans have said consistently that the Democrats’ main foreign policy problem is that they are either unable or unwilling to successfully and purposefully project American power abroad.  In this context, there are three means by which we can project power abroad: We can do it with military operations, we can do it with covert, regime change/intelligence operations and we can do it with diplomatic operations.

    Over those sixty-odd years, American administrations are said to have been involved in 32 cases of either military or covert intelligence projections of power in which we have attempted to overthrow sitting governments.  They range from Korea through Iran and Cuba to Bosnia and Afghanistan. Democrat administrations have been involved in 10 of those operations where Republicans have supported 22. Some, like Korea, Cuba, Afghanistan and Iraq have been supported by both Republican and Democrat administrations.

    Thus, it would appear that, successful or not, Republicans are better than twice as likely to project power through military or intelligence operations than are the Democrats.

    Just what have all those operations really done for America?  Let’s examine alleged US Intelligence or regime change operations first. Consider Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), Costa Rica (1955), Syria (1957), Indonesia (1958), Dominican Republic (1960), Peru (1960), Equador (1960), Congo (1960), Cuba (1961), Brazil (1964), Chile (1972), Angola (1975) and Nicaragua (1981).  Our “success” in installing Shah Reza Pahlavi in Iran haunts us to this day.  Cuba helped solidify Castro in power.  The remaining Latin America operations left us with a “big brother”, negative legacy that still infuriates our Latin neighbors.  Ditto those in Africa and Islam.

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