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Justin Raimondo: "Iraq, Iran and the Lobby"

TO: Disstinguished Recipients
FM: John Whitbeck
In his article transmitted below, Justin Raimondo doesn't say much that
we don't already know, but he does say a lot extremely well.
*Iraq, Iran and the Lobby
**Four years after the invasion of Iraq, and the War Party
is still in the driver's seat*
*by Justin Raimondo
March 19, 2007

*http://www.antiwar.com/justin/?articleid=10697

*I*t wasn't supposed to be like this: we weren't supposed to be
"celebrating
<http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1600357,00.html>" the
fourth anniversary of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. It was
going to be a "cakewalk
<http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A1996-2002Feb12?language=printer>,"
the Iraqis would rise up and shower us with rose petals
<http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/15/washington/15military.html?ex=1329195600&en=ab52e1ac39c1c717&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss>,
and Johnny would come marching home in no time. Remember? Besides that,
the whole deal would be cost-free, you see, because the revived Iraqi
oil industry, no longer under sanctions, would pay the costs of the war.
Or so Paul Wolfowitz assured us
<http://www.house.gov/schakowsky/iraqquotes_web.htm>.

Well, we know all too well what happened instead
<http://www.counterpunch.org/patrick03152007.html>, yet one can't help
wondering: how it is that the very people
<http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2007/03/whitehouse200703>
who got us into this war in the first place are still
<http://www.rawstory.com/news/2006/Intelligence_officials_doubt_Iran_uranium_claims_0818.html>
in a position
<http://www.boston.com/news/world/middleeast/articles/2007/01/02/us_unit_works_quietly_to_counter_irans_sway/>
to get us into another – and are rapidly proceeding to do so?

In most democratic countries, a government that had birthed such a
disaster as the Iraq war would have fallen long ago, but this one
endures, and, in any case, its probable successor is not going to have a
very different approach to foreign policy. This was brought home
<http://antiwar.com/justin/?articleid=10674> by the recent action of the
Democratic congressional leadership in stripping
<http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070312/ap_on_go_pr_wh/us_iraq> the
military appropriations bill of a provision that would have required the
president to seek congressional approval <http://tinyurl.com/2zhekh>
before attacking Iran. Speaker Pelosi had just been booed
<http://thehill.com/leading-the-news/pelosi-hears-boos-at-aipac-2007-03-13.html>
at the AIPAC conference
<http://fairuse.100webcustomers.com/fairenough/salon061.html> for
criticizing the Iraq war when she rushed back to her office and struck
the Iran provision from the bill – just as the powerful pro-Israel
lobbying group had been insisting
<http://www.thenation.com/blogs/thebeat?pid=174804>, albeit not too loudly.

After all, the AIPAC conference was supposed to be toning down the
ongoing campaign to get us into a shooting war with Iran, but, as the
/Jerusalem Post/ pointed out
<http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1173879095364&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull>,
"the effort was laid to waste once Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
addressed the audience at the gala dinner Monday night." There is
supposedly a taboo against Israeli government officials intruding too
aggressively in their efforts to influence American politics, although
that never stopped Ariel Sharon from openly calling
<http://www.commondreams.org/headlines02/1105-02.htm> for the U.S. to
invade Iraq – as a prelude
<http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=263941> to taking
on Syria and Iran. Olmert went beyond anything Sharon ever attempted,
however, in his AIPAC speech
<http://in.today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=worldNews&storyID=2007-03-13T103346Z_01_NOOTR_RTRJONC_0_India-290720-1.xml>:

/"I know that… all of you who are concerned about the security and the
future of the State of Israel understand the importance of strong
American leadership addressing the Iranian threat, and I am sure you
will not hamper or restrain that strong leadership unnecessarily."/

As we have seen, he was right to be "sure" – Nancy must have skedaddled
<http://www.tpmcafe.com/blog/coffeehouse/2007/mar/09/pro_israel_lobbyists_push_to_eliminate_anti_iran_war_language_from_pelosi_iraq_bill?page=1>
right back to her office pretty darn fast to excise the offending
passage from her bill. But Olmert didn't stop there:

/"Those who are concerned for Israel's security, for the security of the
Gulf States, and for the stability of the entire Middle East should
recognize the need for American success in Iraq and responsible exit.
Any outcome that will not help America's strength and would, in the eyes
of the people in the region, undercut America's ability to deal
effectively with the threat posed by the Iranian regime will be very
negative." /

With the Democrats in control of Congress – and, in my view at least,
more than likely to regain the White House – the Israelis are rightly
concerned that their future is not so bright. Israel is finally getting
its fair share of criticism of late, and a new boldness
<http://www.prospect.org/web/page.ww?section=root&name=ViewWeb&articleId=12394>
in Democratic Party circles – as well as among Republican "realists" –
in calling the "special relationship" into question does not augur well
for Tel Aviv. This kind of open intervention in U.S. politics by the
Israeli leadership can be read as an act of desperation. Faced with what
they believe
<http://www.nysec.org/2006/10/16/seymour-hersh-and-scott-ritter-october-16-06/>
is an "existential" threat from Iran, the Israelis apparently believe
they can no longer afford the luxury of subtlety.

Not that there has ever been anything too subtle about AIPAC's hold over
Congress. As John J. Mearsheimer <http://mearsheimer.uchicago.edu/> and
Stephen Walt <http://ksghome.harvard.edu/%7Eswalt/> put it in their
study <http://www.antiwar.com/orig/mearwalt.php?articleid=9573> of the
Israel lobby's decisive influence on American foreign policy:

/"A key pillar of the Lobby's effectiveness is its influence in
Congress, where Israel is virtually immune from criticism. This in
itself is remarkable, because Congress rarely shies away from
contentious issues. Where Israel is concerned, however, potential
critics fall silent. One reason is that some key members are Christian
Zionists like Dick Armey, who said in September 2002: 'My No. 1 priority
in foreign policy is to protect Israel.' One might think that the No. 1
priority for any congressman would be to protect America."/

A frightening example of the Christian Zionist-AIPAC alliance in action
was this speech <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDRxmqOn7x4> at the
AIPAC conference by John Hagee <http://www.sacornerstone.com/>, a
born-again evangelical and head of Christians for Israel
<http://www.c4israel.org/>, wherein biblical prophecy is cited – amid
images of Armageddon
<http://www.prospect.org/web/page.ww?section=root&name=ViewPrint&articleId=11541>
– to justify
<http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/living/15584612.htm>
unconditional support to the Jewish state. (I'll bet this is one
manifestation of "Christianism
<http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1191826,00.html>" that
Andrew Sullivan will never notice.)

Congress, as Pat Buchanan <http://antiwar.com/pat/?articleid=10429>
trenchantly put it way back before Gulf War I
<http://www.alternet.org/story/14633/>, is "Israeli-occupied territory,"
so it doesn't matter that a war with Iran isn't in American interests.
To the politicians who cater to the Israel lobby, there is no daylight
between Israeli and American interests; but of course there are
significant differences, which have only been exacerbated in the
post-9/11 era. We desperately need to stave off the rising influence of
extremism in the Muslim world, and yet our government insists on
unconditionally taking Tel Aviv's side no matter what the issue or how
blatantly unjust <http://oznik.com/art/030531img/Apartheid_Wall.jpg>
Israeli behavior is – due to the unrivaled power of the Israel lobby as
a force in American politics. In 1997, legislators were asked to rate
lobbies, and they put AIPAC in the number two spot, just below the AARP
but ahead of the National Rifle Association and the AFL-CIO. Yes, the
Israel lobby has just as much clout
<http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,53785,00.html> in the Democratic
Party as the labor unions – if not more – which means that we'll /never/
see a foreign policy that puts America first
<http://www.antiwar.com/justin/j042103.html> coming from that side of
the aisle.

While the Lobby is quick <http://www.nysun.com/article/29741> to accuse
its opponents of anti-Semitism, what is striking is the complete
disconnect
<http://www.forward.com/articles/groups-mum-on-iraq-despite-antiwar-tide/>
between the politics of AIPAC and the politics of American Jews. Pelosi
was booed for her stance on Iraq at the AIPAC conference, but her
critique of that misadventure is shared by the overwhelming
<http://www.juancole.com/2007/02/american-jews-blacks-fiercest-opponents.html>
majority of Jews in this country. And that doesn't seem to matter to
most politicians – /including Pelosi
<http://www.nysun.com/article/50391>/, who bowed, after all, to Olmert's
/diktat/.

Just as this war, as I've been saying since Day One
<http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/editorials/2003-03-17-oppose_x.htm>,
was fought to advance Israel's interests, not America's. The next war –
yes, I mean the looming conflict with Iran
<http://www.defensenews.com/story.php?F=2572013&C=mideast> – will be
fought for the same reason. American foreign policy has long since
ceased pursuing the genuine national interests of this country, and
instead is being held hostage by a coalition of neoconservative
<http://www.prospect.org/web/page.ww?section=root&name=ViewWeb&articleId=11423>
ideologues <http://www.aei.org/> and foreign lobbyists, who have no
compunctions about leading us into an abyss as long as their
no-longer-quite-so-hidden agenda is served.

The big problem for the Lobby is that their power, and willingness to
wield it, is no longer
<http://amconmag.com/2007/2007_03_12/article.html> a forbidden subject.
Increasingly, there is an open discussion
<http://www.forward.com/articles/book-israel-lobby-pushing-iran-war/> of
AIPAC's role as the War Party's nerve center and its effective control
over the foreign policy agendas of both parties
<http://www.counterpunch.org/carmichael05302006.html>. It is therefore
necessary for the Lobby to ratchet up the rhetoric, whip dissidents into
line, and keep any potential waverers from breaking ranks. What Olmert
said about the alleged mentality of the "people of the region" (the
Arabs and Persians) – that any show of "weakness" will only embolden
them to resist – applies equally to the Americans. If the Lobby lets a
few politicians get away with "Israel-bashing" (i.e., expressing some
sympathy <http://www.antiwar.com/frank/?articleid=10683> for the
Palestinians, or questioning why it is that American foreign policy only
tilts one way when it comes to the Middle East), then the floodgates
will be opened. They can't afford to lose control, or so they seem to
think.

It is absolutely astonishing that /all /of the major
<http://www.rawstory.com/news/2007/Edwards_Iran_must_know_world_wont_0123.html>
Democratic <http://www.dscc.org/news/latest/20060119_hillary/>
candidates
<http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/printedition/chi-0409250111sep25,1,4555304.story>
for the White House proclaim their willingness to go to war with Iran if
"diplomacy," meaning a relentless barrage of threats, fails to work. Not
a single one dares critique our Israel-centered foreign policy. On the
question of Iraq, however, Olmert has made a major mistake in
intervening, because in doing so he has set himself against almost
two-thirds <http://edition.cnn.com/2007/US/03/13/iraq.poll/> of the
American people, who want us out as soon as possible. This puts the
politicians, too, in a difficult position: do they obey Olmert's
marching orders, or listen to the polls – and their own constituents?

That it is even possible to ask such a question is a dramatic indication
that something is /very/ wrong with our political system, and
desperately requires fixing. I wonder, however, if there is any single
reform that would do any good. This, after all, is democracy in action –
operating not in accordance with majority rule, as is commonly assumed,
but on the principle of "the squeaky wheel gets the grease." Using the
mechanisms of democracy,a small but passionate minority can successfully
impose its will on the largely apathetic majority – and it doesn't hurt,
as Wesley Clark pointed out
<http://www.huffingtonpost.com/arianna-huffington/dc-notes-wes-clark-is-_b_37837.html>,
that many of the Democratic Party's major donors have made fealty to
Israeli interests a litmus test for candidates.

Speaker Pelosi, who was a Democratic fundraiser
<http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B0DEED7153BF932A25755C0A961948260&n=Top%2FReference%2FTimes%20Topics%2FPeople%2FP%2FPelosi%2C%20Nancy>
long before she was promoted to Congress, knows this all too well, as
her actions on the Iran matter dramatically confirm. After all, George
W. Bush will veto
<http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-na-warfunds15mar15,1,2780516,print.story?coll=la-headlines-politics>
the appropriations bill if it comes with what he considers extraneous
and unacceptable riders, such as restrictions on funding that impede the
surge – so why not submit it to the floor with the Iran provision intact
just to make a point?

The Democrats backed down, and fast, so our future is all mapped out for
us. It took only four years for this administration to get the Middle
East escalator <http://www.antiwar.com/paul/?articleid=10327> going and
gin up another war on the heels of the last one. An even greater
regional cataclysm – this time, in Iran – seems all but inevitable
<http://antiwar.com/horton/?articleid=10595>.

I wish I saw a way out of this, but I don't. Short of firing Congress,
as well as impeaching the president and vice president, we will be at
war with Iran just as surely as we are now stuck in the Iraqi
quicksand – and that war will be brought to you by the same crew
<http://www.aei.org/> that started the previous one. It's like we're
caught in a recurring nightmare, in which the same ghouls rise up and
taunt us with their banshee screams, singing a chorus of war-cries,
drowning out all sense until our eardrums nearly burst. As I put it in a
column <http://www.antiwar.com/justin/?articleid=3822> published in 2004:

/"This war has benefited only two actors in the Middle East drama: bin
Laden and Ariel Sharon. The extremists are empowered, instead of
isolated, and the future is war, war, and more war, as far as the eye
can see…."/

Events have, unfortunately, only confirmed my prognosis, but there is
reason for optimism in the long run, even if short-term pessimism is our
lot. The American people don't like foreigners interfering in their
politics, and Olmert may have gone too far. Aside from that, the trial
of longtime AIPAC honcho Steve Rosen
<http://www.forward.com/articles/fbi-affair-costs-lobby-dynamic-director-rosen/>,
and the group's Iran expert, Keith Weissman
<http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A6059-2005Apr20.html>, on
charges of giving Israel top-secret information gleaned from former
Pentagon official Larry Franklin
<http://www.globalsecurity.org/intell/library/reports/2005/franklin_indictment_04aug2005.htm>,
is scheduled to finally begin this summer. The Lobby is increasingly
buffeted by blowback stemming from its own arrogance, and the day of
reckoning approaches. Whether that day comes before or after we go to
war with Iran is, largely, a matter of chance
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