Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Philip Giraldi (2017): America's Jews are Driving America's Wars

America's Jews Are Driving America's Wars
Shouldn't they recuse themselves when dealing with the Middle East?


UPDATE: On the morning of September 21st Phil Giraldi was fired over the phone by The American Conservative, where he had been a regular contributor for fourteen years. He was told that “America’s Jews Are Driving America’s Wars” was unacceptable. The TAC management and board appear to have forgotten that the magazine was launched with an article by founder Pat Buchanan entitled “Whose War?” which largely made the same claims that Giraldi made about the Jewish push for another war, in that case with Iraq. Buchanan was vilified and denounced as an anti-Semite by many of the same people who are now similarly attacking Giraldi.
I spoke recently at a conference on America’s war party where afterwards an elderly gentleman came up to me and asked, “Why doesn’t anyone ever speak honestly about the six-hundred-pound gorilla in the room? Nobody has mentioned Israel in this conference and we all know it’s American Jews with all their money and power who are supporting every war in the Middle East for Netanyahu? Shouldn’t we start calling them out and not letting them get away with it?”
It was a question combined with a comment that I have heard many times before and my answer is always the same: any organization that aspires to be heard on foreign policy knows that to touch the live wire of Israel and American Jews guarantees a quick trip to obscurity. Jewish groups and deep pocket individual donors not only control the politicians, they own and run the media and entertainment industries, meaning that no one will hear about or from the offending party ever again. They are particularly sensitive on the issue of so-called “dual loyalty,” particularly as the expression itself is a bit of a sham since it is pretty clear that some of them only have real loyalty to Israel.
Most recently, some pundits, including myself, have been warning of an impending war with Iran. To be sure, the urging to strike Iran comes from many quarters, to include generals in the Administration who always think first in terms of settling problems through force, from a Saudi government obsessed with fear over Iranian hegemony, and, of course, from Israel itself. But what makes the war engine run is provided by American Jews who have taken upon themselves the onerous task of starting a war with a country that does not conceivably threaten the United States. They have been very successful at faking the Iranian threat, so much so that nearly all Republican and most Democratic congressmen as well as much of the media seem to be convinced that Iran needs to be dealt with firmly, most definitely by using the U.S. military, and the sooner the better.
And while they are doing it, the issue that nearly all the Iran haters are Jewish has somehow fallen out of sight, as if it does not matter. But it should matter. A recent article in the New Yorker on stopping the impending war with Iran strangely suggests that the current generation “Iran hawks” might be a force of moderation regarding policy options given the lessons learned from Iraq. The article cites as hardliners on Iran David Frum, Max Boot, Bill Kristol and Bret Stephens.
Daniel Larison over at The American Conservative has a good review of the New Yorker piece entitled “Yes, Iran Hawks Want Conflict with Iran,” which identifies the four above cited hawks by name before describing them as “…a Who’s Who of consistently lousy foreign policy thinking. If they have been right about any major foreign policy issue in the last twenty years, it would be news to the entire world. Every single one of them hates the nuclear deal with Iran with a passion, and they have argued in favor of military action against Iran at one point or another. There is zero evidence that any of them would oppose attacking Iran.”
And I would add a few more names, Mark Dubowitz, Michael Ledeen and Reuel Marc Gerecht of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies; Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum; John Podhoretz of Commentary magazine; Elliot Abrams of the Council on Foreign Relations; Meyrav Wurmser of the Middle East Media Research Institute; Kimberly Kagan of the Institute for the Study of War; and Frederick Kagan, Danielle Pletka and David Wurmser of the American Enterprise Institute. And you can also throw into the hopper entire organizations like The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) and the Hudson Institute. And yep, they’re all Jewish, plus most of them would self-describe as neo-conservatives. And I might add that only one of the named individuals has ever served in any branch of the American military – David Wurmser was once in the Navy reserve. These individuals largely constitute a cabal of sanctimonious chairborne warriors who prefer to do the heavy thinking while they let others do the fighting and dying.
So it is safe to say that much of the agitation to do something about Iran comes from Israel and from American Jews. Indeed, I would opine that most of the fury from Congress re Iran comes from the same source, with AIPAC showering our Solons on the Potomac with “fact sheets” explaining how Iran is worthy of annihilation because it has pledged to “destroy Israel,” which is both a lie and an impossibility as Tehran does not have the resources to carry out such a task. The AIPAC lies are then picked up and replayed by an obliging media, where nearly every “expert” who speaks about the Middle East on television and radio or who is interviewed for newspaper stories is Jewish.
One might also add that neocons as a group were founded by Jews and are largely Jewish, hence their universal attachment to the state of Israel. They first rose into prominence when they obtained a number of national security positions during the Reagan Administration and their ascendancy was completed when they staffed senior positions in the Pentagon and White House under George W. Bush. Recall for a moment Paul Wolfowitz, Doug Feith, and Scooter Libby. Yes, all Jewish and all conduits for the false information that led to a war that has spread and effectively destroyed much of the Middle East. Except for Israel, of course. Philip Zelikow, also Jewish, in a moment of candor, admitted that the Iraq War, in his opinion, was fought for Israel.
Add to the folly a Jewish U.S. Ambassador to Israel who identifies with the most right-wing Israeli settler elements, a White House appointed chief negotiator who is Jewish and a Jewish son-in-law who is also involved in formulating Middle East policy. Is anyone providing an alternative viewpoint to eternal and uncritical support for Benjamin Netanyahu and his kleptocratic regime of racist thugs? I think not.
There are a couple of simple fixes for the dominant involvement of American Jews in foreign policy issues where they have a personal interest due to their ethnicity or family ties. First of all, don’t put them into national security positions involving the Middle East, where they will potentially be conflicted. Let them worry instead about North Korea, which does not have a Jewish minority and which was not involved in the holocaust. This type of solution was, in fact, somewhat of a policy regarding the U.S. Ambassador position in Israel. No Jew was appointed to avoid any conflict of interest prior to 1995, an understanding that was violated by Bill Clinton (wouldn’t you know it!) who named Martin Indyk to the post. Indyk was not even an American citizen at the time and had to be naturalized quickly prior to being approved by congress.
Those American Jews who are strongly attached to Israel and somehow find themselves in senior policy making positions involving the Middle East and who actually possess any integrity on the issue should recuse themselves, just as any judge would do if he were presiding over a case in which he had a personal interest. Any American should be free to exercise first amendment rights to debate possible options regarding policy, up to and including embracing positions that damage the United States and benefit a foreign nation. But if he or she is in a position to actually create those policies, he or she should butt out and leave the policy generation to those who have no personal baggage.
For those American Jews who lack any shred of integrity, the media should be required to label them at the bottom of the television screen whenever they pop up, e.g. Bill Kristol is “Jewish and an outspoken supporter of the state of Israel.” That would be kind-of-like a warning label on a bottle of rat poison – translating roughly as “ingest even the tiniest little dosage of the nonsense spewed by Bill Kristol at your own peril.”
As none of the above is likely to happen, the only alternative is for American citizens who are tired of having their country’s national security interests hijacked by a group that is in thrall to a foreign government to become more assertive about what is happening. Shine a little light into the darkness and recognize who is being diddled and by whom. Call it like it is. And if someone’s feelings are hurt, too bad. We don’t need a war with Iran because Israel wants one and some rich and powerful American Jews are happy to deliver. Seriously, we don’t need it.
[Editor's note: This article (originally published 19 September 2017) garnered 1,292 comments, which are accessible here and which I highly recommend reading.]

U.N. weapons Bonnie Powell (2004): inspector Hans Blix faults Bush administration for lack of "critical thinking" in Iraq

Amanpour and Blix
CNN reporter Christiane Amanpour interviews former U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix. (Photos by Bart Nagel)

U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix faults Bush administration for lack of "critical thinking" in Iraq

George Soros  Webcast: "WMDs: Truth and Its Consequences" | 1 hr, 32 mins

 – Speaking on the anniversary of the United States' invasion of Iraq, originally declared as a pre-emptive strike against a madman ready to deploy weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), the man first charged with finding those weapons said that the U.S. government has "the same mind frame as the witch hunters of the past" — looking for evidence to support a foregone conclusion.
"There were about 700 inspections, and in no case did we find weapons of mass destruction," said Hans Blix, the Swedish diplomat called out of retirement to serve as the United Nations' chief weapons inspector from 2000 to 2003; from 1981 to 1997 he headed the International Atomic Energy Agency. "We went to sites [in Iraq] given to us by intelligence, and only in three cases did we find something" - a stash of nuclear documents, some Vulcan boosters, and several empty warheads for chemical weapons. More inspections were required to determine whether these findings were the "tip of the iceberg" or simply fragments remaining from that deadly iceberg's past destruction, Blix said he told the United Nations Security Council. However, his work in Iraq was cut short when the United States and the United Kingdom took disarmament into their own hands in March of last year.

Blix accused U.S. President George W. Bush and U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair of acting not in bad faith, but with a severe lack of "critical thinking." The United States and Britain failed to examine the sources of their primary intelligence - Iraqi defectors with their own agendas for encouraging regime change - with a skeptical eye, he alleged. In the buildup to the war, Saddam Hussein and the Iraqis were cooperating with U.N. inspections, and in February 2003 had provided Blix's team with the names of hundreds of scientists to interview, individuals Saddam claimed had been involved in the destruction of banned weapons. Had the inspections been allowed to continue, Blix said, there would likely be a very different situation in Iraq today. As it was, America's pre-emptive, unilateral actions "have bred more terrorism there and elsewhere."

Blix spoke with veteran CNN war correspondent Christiane Amanpour at UC Berkeley's Zellerbach Hall last night (March 17) in the most anticipated event of the Media At War conference currently under way on campus. The university's Graduate School of Journalism and the Human Rights Center organized the three-day conference to foster discussion of the challenges that U.S., European, and Middle Eastern reporters faced when covering the war for the past year, and to raise issues they should keep in mind as they report on the ongoing occupation, upcoming international war-crimes trials, and the country's anticipated regaining of sovereignty.

The Blix event was sold out several days in advance, and the crowd outside Zellerbach Hall included several people holding plaintive "Blix Tix?" signs more befitting a sold-out rock concert. As Journalism Dean Orville Schell said in his introduction for Blix, "Who would have thought a year ago that 2,000 people would come to hear a weapons inspector speak?"

Blix has written a new book, "Disarming Iraq," about the events leading up to the war. During that period he was lambasted by both doves and hawks: by the former for failing to state unequivocally that Iraq had no WMDs, and by the latter for failing to find them. As he explained Wednesday night, part of the problem was that he himself had believed the weapons probably existed. "I'm not here to have gut feelings," he said. "But yes, in December 2002 I thought Saddam had weapons of mass destruction." Still, "the objective was to inspect effectively and to report objectively."

The important thing to remember, Blix said repeatedly, was that Saddam was cooperating with the inspections, despite the difficulties they create for a leader. "No one likes inspectors, not tax inspectors, not health inspectors, not any inspectors," Blix chuckled. Not only did Saddam have to endure the indignity of submitting to searches of his palaces, he explained, but the dictator also harbored the valid fear that the inspectors would pass on their findings of conventional weapons to foreign intelligence agencies, providing easy future targets.

Blix tried hard to reassure the Iraqis about this concern. "Inspectors shouldn't be intertwined with intelligence," he emphasized. "There should be only one-way traffic: the intelligence groups give the inspectors tips on where to look, but they understand that there is no quid pro quo."

Amanpour brought up how Blix's credibility as an inspector had been attacked by Vice President Dick Cheney, among others, for his failure as head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to detect Iraq's advanced nuclear weapons program, discovered only after the end of the 1991 Gulf War. Blix accepted responsibility for that failure, and said that the system of inspections had been vastly improved since then.

"Cosmetic inspection is worse than no inspection at all, because it can lull people into a false sense of security," he allowed. IAEA practiced a weak form of inspection until 1991, he explained, one that had been designed in the 1970s to check countries like Germany for compliance with nonproliferation laws, not for totalitarian regimes trying to build weapons in secrecy. As a result of the 1991 failure in Iraq, the IAEA had launched a systematic change in its protocols that were formally adopted in 1997.

Hans Blix
'[The Iraqis] didn't mind the suspicion from the neighbors - it was like hanging a sign on the door saying "Beware of the dog" when you don't have a dog.'
-Hans Blix
The primary difficulty with looking for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, said Blix, was the "problem of proving the negative. For example, how can you prove that there is not a tennis ball in this room? Or that there is no anthrax in all of Iraq?" The United States and the United Kingdom wanted black-and-white answers, and instead they got "lots of shades of gray in the reports."

What Blix's inspectors had needed was more time, he emphasized. The Bush administration should have halted its military buildup in the area at 50,000 troops, the point at which the Iraqis had become much more cooperative, providing the lists of scientists and bureaucrats to Blix's team. "Given time, we would have been able to interview the many people who destroyed weapons of mass destruction after 1991," he told Amanpour.

Amanpour asked why, if those weapons had been destroyed, would Saddam have continued to let the world believe he still possessed them at the risk of losing his country? Blix surmised that the bluffing was a cheap and effective deterrent. "[The Iraqis] didn't mind the suspicion from the neighbors - it was like hanging a sign on the door saying 'Beware of the dog' when you don't have a dog," he speculated.

But instead the Bush administration continued to pour troops into the area, an ominous presence portending war. "Once there got to 250,000 troops sitting in the hot desert sun, there was a momentum built up that couldn't be halted," said Blix.

Amanpour pressed him to identify the source of that momentum - in effect, why did the U.S. invasion of Iraq seem in retrospect such a foreordained action? Partly it was because, despite the lack of evidence for remaining WMDs, the Bush administration continued to believe in them, Blix said. Although he places some of the blame on a failure of U.S. intelligence processes - the Pentagon relied too much on its own "silo" of sources rather than more heavily vetted intelligence from the CIA and the State Department, as has been documented extensively by Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker - the real problem was the lack of "critical thinking," he argued.

"In academia, when you write your thesis, you have an opponent on the faculty and you must defend it. And in a court, there is cross-examination from the prosecutor," said Blix. But in the intelligence arena, because of the confidentiality of the subject matter, it is difficult to find those who will play devil's advocate. The Bush Administration, he said, did not try. "They took away the question marks [in the reports] and put in exclamation points instead!"

Blix did not rule out that even if inspections had been allowed to continue, military intervention in Iraq might still have been necessary. "I am not a pacifist," he said. But he is a lawyer and a diplomat, and he believes that it was the responsibility of the Security Council to uphold its own resolutions regarding Iraq, not the responsibility of one or two council members acting alone. Had Iraq resisted further inspections, or had they turned up evidence of another nuclear weapons program - the area Blix said that sanctions and inspections had been most effective in squelching - Security Council members Russia and China would most likely have voted for military action, giving it international legitimacy.

Blix speculated that the Bush administration's real motivation for invading Iraq was in reaction to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. "The U.S. was attacked on its own soil. I was here; it was like an earthquake in this country," he said. "It was as if Afghanistan was not enough."

Amanpour asked Blix to respond to a statement by Ahmed Chalabi, the Iraqi defector who along with affiliated sources provided much of the faulty WMD intelligence. "We were heroes in error. Saddam is gone, the Americans are in Baghdad, and that's all that matters," she quoted Chalabi as having said. Blix called it a "cynical" statement, yet admitted that he was troubled by the idea that had he been allowed to continue his inspections, Saddam would probably have remained in power.

How to deal with such tyrants and failed states is the biggest challenge facing the world, Blix stated, echoing many other prominent diplomats and thinkers invited to speak by the Journalism School in the months past. He claimed that a global shift had occurred in the world's tolerance for genocide such as had occurred in Kosovo or Rwanda. Thanks in part to media attention, which brought the world's citizens closer to one another, he said he thought such acts would no longer be considered protected by state sovereignty, and that humanitarian intervention would be more common.

In a press conference held at Eshlemann Hall shortly before his interview with Amanpour, Blix had elaborated on this topic, citing the need to use the "carrot as well as the stick." Ironically, the man whose name is synonymous with the world's fears of nuclear, biological, or chemical annihilation says he has other concerns on his mind.

"Part of the hype is that proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is the 'greatest existential threat' - as I think Tony Blair put it," he said. "But to my mind, the north-south divide [between developed and emerging countries], the fact that hundreds of millions of people go hungry, the effects on the global environment, are just as big a threat," said Blix. "I personally am more worried about global warming than I am about WMDs."