Reprinted from Antiwar
The Israel Lobby: Is It Good for the US? Is It Good for Israel?
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The Iran deal is a turning point in US foreign policy, and its approval by Congress will represent a sea change in American politics: it will mark nothing less than a day of liberation which future generations might dub "VI Day" -- victory over Israel day.
The post-9/11 era saw the already formidable power of Israel's lobby in the US rise to make it the decisive factor in any foreign policy debate: a heavyweight became a crushing weight, one that leveled any and all opposition to US intervention abroad under the steel toe of the "war on terrorism." The Lobby's role in ginning up the invasion and conquest of Iraq is well-documented in Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer's The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, and there is no need to replicate their detective work here. I would merely add that, even before the Iraq invasion, then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon issued fresh marching orders to the US military, specifying Iran, Libya, and Syria as the next victims on Tel Aviv's list. As Ha'aretz reported in 2003, before the invasion of Iraq was even launched:
"'These are irresponsible states, which must be disarmed of weapons mass destruction, and a successful American move in Iraq as a model will make that easier to achieve,' Sharon said to a visiting delegation of American congressmen.
"Sharon told the congressmen that Israel was not involved in the war with Iraq 'but the American action is of vital importance.'- Advertisement -
"In a meeting with U.S. Undersecretary of State John Bolton yesterday, Sharon said that Israel was concerned about the security threat posed by Iran, and stressed that it was important to deal with Iran even while American attention was focused on Iraq.
"Bolton said in meetings with Israeli officials that he had no doubt America would attack Iraq, and that it would be necessary thereafter to deal with threats from Syria, Iran and North Korea."
As the saying goes: and the rest is history.
The 9/11 attacks paved the way for America's Thermidor. The crisis empowered the neoconservative coven embedded in the Bush White House and in the top echelons of the national security bureaucracy, which effectively pulled off a coup d'etat. As Bob Woodward reported in his book Plan of Attack:
"[Then Secretary of State Colin] Powell felt Cheney and his allies -- his chief aide, I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz and Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith and what Powell called Feith's 'Gestapo' office -- had established what amounted to a separate government."
The signing of the Iran deal, and its probable approval by Congress -- it doesn't look like the War Party has the votes to overturn it -- heralds the victory of the countercoup, i.e., the overthrow of the Lobby's stranglehold and the eventual restoration of a pro-American foreign policy. This was evident in practically every line of President Obama's recent speech at American University, and the text deserves closer examination than it has so far gotten.
Obama started out by invoking John F. Kennedy's speech of June 10, 1963, delivered at the same venue: a remarkable oration, in which the young President, who would fall to an assassin's bullet in less than six months, asked Americans to reconsider the myths of the cold war and called for a practicable peace with the Soviet Union. In the speech Kennedy went after the neocons of his day, who were calling for military measures to "roll back" the Soviet Union and demanding an end to any effort to reach an arms control accord. Kennedy, Obama recalled...
"[R]ejected the prevailing attitude among some foreign policy circles that equated security with a perpetual war footing. Instead, he promised strong, principled American leadership on behalf of what he called a 'practical' and 'attainable peace' -- a peace 'based not on a sudden revolution in human nature but on a gradual evolution in human institutions -- on a series of concrete actions and effective agreements.'"
It was a long way from "pay any price, bear any burden," the militaristic leitmotif of his inaugural address.
Obama goes on to describe the series of arms control measures adopted by successive administrations of both parties, and the subsequent implosion of the Soviet bloc, celebrating our victory in the cold war "without firing a shot at the Soviets." Segueing into his defense of the Iran deal, the President commences firing at the neocons of today:
"Between now and the congressional vote in September, you're going to hear a lot of arguments against this deal, backed by tens of millions of dollars in advertising. And if the rhetoric in these ads, and the accompanying commentary, sounds familiar, it should -- for many of the same people who argued for the war in Iraq are now making the case against the Iran nuclear deal."
One can almost hear the squirming of the neocons as Obama attacks the soft underbelly of the GOP opposition. Here, after all, is a party that is unanimous in its unwillingness to learn anything from its recent series of repudiations at the polls, or from the bloody history of what the late General William E. Odom called the worst disaster in American military history. Yes, it's the very same people -- the Kristols, the Kagans, the Krauthammers, and the rest of that Jacobin-"conservative" crowd -- who lied us into war and who are now clamoring for yet another bloodbath in the Middle East. One could only stand and cheer as the President called out the neocons:
"Now, when I ran for President eight years ago as a candidate who had opposed the decision to go to war in Iraq, I said that America didn't just have to end that war -- we had to end the mindset that got us there in the first place. It was a mindset characterized by a preference for military action over diplomacy; a mindset that put a premium on unilateral US action over the painstaking work of building international consensus; a mindset that exaggerated threats beyond what the intelligence supported. Leaders did not level with the American people about the costs of war, insisting that we could easily impose our will on a part of the world with a profoundly different culture and history. And, of course, those calling for war labeled themselves strong and decisive, while dismissing those who disagreed as weak -- even appeasers of a malevolent adversary."
Obama doesn't name the mindset that led us to disaster in Iraq, but it's clear he's describing the neoconservative mind -- a mentality awash in visions of conquest and hubristic delusion, one prone to uttering "exaggerated threats beyond what the intelligence supported." He doesn't quite accuse the neocons of lying us into war, but he comes fairly close: close enough to make the targets of his ire recognizable.
The President asks us to do what is rarely done in a country that lives in the moment: he wants us to remember. Do you remember who led us to ruin last time? Remember who accused the prescient critics of the rush to war of treason? Remember who has been wrong about everything for the past decade and a half?