Vietnam, Iraq–and Suspicions of the Israel Lobby

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 33 Comments

I like Scott’s comment from yesterday, that maybe the Iraq war will do to the current Establishment what Vietnam did to the last one, break it down. Certainly this disastrous war goes way beyond George Bush and even Dick Cheney. Large phalanxes of the leadership signed off on it, from The New Yorker magazine to Hillary Clinton. Our Establishment deserves the same scrutiny that the Vietnam-era Establishment got. I like to think that the 70s are upon us again…

The classic 1972 post-mortem of Vietnam is David Halberstam’s The Best and the Brightest. I’m rereading it because of Halberstam’s death, and because I want to see today’s policymakers anatomized as they were by Halberstam. Halberstam notes that a mediocrity, Dean Rusk, became Kennedy’s Secretary of State in part because Arkansas Senator J. William Fulbright, a smart cookie, was disqualified by "the left" on two grounds. One, his racism; Fulbright was a longtime segregationist. And two, his criticisms of Israel. Says Halberstam:

He had made speeches which the Jews, well organized, vocal, influential, regarded as suspiciously pro-Arab. In fact, when Harris Wofford, who was a liaison man with liberal groups during the talent-search period, heard that it might be Fulbright, he got on the phone and called Negro and Jewish groups imploring them to send telegrams criticizing Fulbright. Their wires made a profound impression on Robert Kennedy….

Of course, Fulbright became a big opponent of the Vietnam misadventure. So it would have been a good thing if he had become Sec’y of State!

Coulda woulda shoulda. What’s my takeaway here? Fulbright was hurt by the nascent Israel lobby, and he hit back; he once referred to Congress as "Israel-occupied territory." Yes: inflammatory. But sometimes political language has to be sharp to make a difference. Back then, Halberstam could write about "organized… influential" Jews, when describing American politics. At that time, the lobby was operating on "the left," out of fear that a politician was "suspiciously pro-Arab." Now it’s on the right. Still worried that anyone might be "suspiciously pro-Arab." Even as we’ve suspiciously wrecked an Arab society. Isn’t it time to have an open conversation?

33 Responses

  1. David
    July 4, 2007, 2:26 pm

    Actually, I think it was Paul Findley who first used the term "Israeli-occcupied territory" to refer to the U.S. Congress.

    (Findley was a 22-year congressman from Illinois who was removed from office in 1982 by the lobby for being too critical of Israel.)

  2. David
    July 4, 2007, 2:44 pm

    Chris Hedges has an interesting essay that I'm pretty sure won't be showing up in the NY Times anytime soon.

    link to

    "The White House and the Congress have become, for perhaps the first time, a direct extension of Israeli interests. There is no longer any debate within the United States. This is evidenced by the obsequious nods to Israel by all the current presidential candidates with the exception of Dennis Kucinich. The political cost for those who challenge Israel is too high."

  3. David Seaton
    July 4, 2007, 2:45 pm

    I think the sub-prime meltdown which the Bank for International Settlements considers the possible detonator of a credit bubble (money making money) whose bursting might bring on a worldwide slump like the 1930s, could probably cause more antisemitism in the long run than the war in Iraq.

  4. Joachim Martillo
    July 4, 2007, 3:04 pm

    The Subprime Mortgage Meltdown and Liquidity in the Arab Islamic Financial Sector

    Gulf and Saudi investment institutions could do a lot to limit the damage caused by the subprime mortgage fiasco. Because of their existing investments in the USA, they already have some reason to do so, but the US Israel lobby works so hard to demonize Arab and Muslim money that Gulf and Saudi investors may simply decide to eat their losses and put their money elsewhere.

    Below is an article that shows the risks associated with putting Arab or Muslim money in the USA.

    Note that this ridiculous investigation was started on the basis of information supplied by a disgruntled employee. The authors Pfeiffer and Bailer also add an unsourced and irrelevant comment to associate the Islamic financial sector with terrorism. (It would have to be a mighty stupid terrorist financier that would move money through the Arab-Islamic financial sector when the non-Arab non-Islamic sector would be more than happy to do it for him.)

    Pfeiffer seems to be a conduit for disinformation that originates from extremist Zionist organizations like the David Project, Frontpage Magazine, StandWithUs, etc.

    Article URL: link to

  5. David Seaton
    July 4, 2007, 3:15 pm

    What I'm talking about when I talk about antisemitism in the USA is more a souring of the mood of the country, a sort of immense "Jew-fatigue" than classic antisemitism. I think that it could be unimaginably damaging to the USA

  6. Denis Drew
    July 4, 2007, 7:31 pm

    I don’t think you expected a defense of the Vietnam war on this post but you brought it up – and anyway I need something to do this holiday afternoon. :-)

    I think those who strongly oppose the Vietnam war or the war in Iraq mostly don’t want to watch war on television. I think if withdrawing from Iraq, for instance, would mean seeing three times as much violence on TV (there would certainly BE three times as much) they would be much less vehement. To be frank, I don’t think most of them would have supported the Civil War to free the slaves if they had to watch it on television – least of all would they have sent their kids to fight in it “that horrible mess”.

    I think they just cannot understand how war could make any sense from the perspective of their rich, symbol manipulating (IOW, normal modern?) existences – have a lot harder time understanding anyway.

    To fully understand Vietnam you have to look from the perspective of the time: 20 years before the decision year (1965) two little fascist nations almost took over the world (mostly Germany – we only directed 15% of our own war effort at Japan). Now, the two big communist nations that the two little fascist countries could not bite off were coming for us – one with 11 times zones; the other with a billion people; both with thermonuclear arms. Neither Kruschev nor Mao made any secret of their intention to “bury us”.

    PS. At the time the Soviet economy was growing 7% a year to our 3% (as far as we knew) — the Russkies were graduating twice as many scientists and engineers as we were – and they ahead of us in space and in jet engine technology (as far as we knew — our intercontinental bomber had 8 little engines to their 4 big ones). In 1965, communism was at high tide.

    In strategic terms, Ho’s invasion of the South represented the craziest communist dictator willing to kill millions of his own people to add on a little bit of communist real estate. Our fear: if the democracies rolled over and did not put up a fight, we might face every less crazy communist leader comming out of the woodwork to try to take over the real estate next to his.

    More widely, we could expect every “Che” in the world to step up his attempt at home based revolution. You may remember LBJ’s recorded phone remarks that he was afraid if he let go in Nam “the communists might chase you right back to your kitchen.” Don’t forget: the psychological is to the physical as three is to one – just to keep folks on our side we felt compelled to win the race to the moon; we feared backing away from a fight could have far reaching consequences too.

    PS. The “big lesson” of WWII – which I have only realized is bunk lately – is that if Chamberlain had not “appeased” Hitler, there would never have been any WWII – obviously if the guy was going to invade Russia there was going to be war.

    Is this going on too long?: it is the justification for a way that killed 60,000 of us – and millions of dead Vietnamese.

    By 1975, when we lost locally, we were winning globally (even if the locals weren’t) – communism was receding.

    The best portrayal I have seen of the struggle with communism over those ten years is Thomas Lipscomb’s “Prosperous Southeast Asia Proof the U.S. Did Not Fight In Vain”. Note: the free Southeast Asia nations are the ones that showed the world (including China) how to raise the poorest people in the world to near Western prosperity.

    Oh, did I forget, after all this – definitely too long – we might have won the war after all but then threw it all away. Seems that for the last three years the South Vietnam Army took over all the ground fighting – AND WE CRAZILY (!!!) WITHDREW THEIR FINANCIAL SUPPORT AND THEIR AIR SUPPORT. Congress was upset so we took our bat and ball and went home. According to a book by ex-CIA employee Frank Snepp, Decent Interval, we had a guy on the politobureau in the North who reported they voted to throw in the towel after Nixon’s Hanoi bombing – but when they realized the South had to ration how many bullets a soldier could fire a day, etc., they started up all over again.

    Saving the (policy) for last, there was a proposition to call up the reserves and send four times as many troops (two million – saw this in Glenn… ). This would have ended it all fast and relatively bloodlessly, if very expensively.

  7. Joachim Martillo
    July 4, 2007, 7:32 pm

    Nevertheless, the reference to the subprime meltdown was quite perceptive when combined with Phil's previous article, "How Bad Ideas (Like an Undivided Jerusalem) Get Good Money."

    The ongoing attempt of an important segment of the Zionist lobby/organized Jewish community both to create a barrier to Saudi and Gulf investment in the USA and also to stigmatize all money coming from Arab and Muslim sources as dirty even if the provider is an American citizen looks like an attempt to guarantee that only ideas approved by the Zionist lobby/organized Jewish community will receive enough funding to get traction with the American public.

    In other words, the organized Jewish community/Zionist lobby may be willing to deny a lifeline to the US economy from Arab and Islamic financial institutions if it might threaten the hegemonic blocking that has been imposed in the Gramscian sense on discourse about Zionism, the State of Israel, ME politics, and the influence of ethnic Ashkenazi Americans on the US government.

    In fact, from the standpoint of Zionist strategy, an economic crash that increased the importance of ethnic Ashkenazi wealth in the US economy would be a good thing for the State of Israel as long as Arab and Islamic money is kept or driven out of the country.

  8. Denis Drew
    July 4, 2007, 7:35 pm

    Where to find Thomas Lipscomb's article: "Prosperous Southeast Asia Proves US Did Not Fight In Vain"

    link to

  9. Steve
    July 4, 2007, 8:56 pm

    You are disconnected.
    Israel's freedom of action is very limited.
    The US State Department and the Pentagon are setting limits and hold back Israel unjustifiably.
    We have to deal with the Iranian Junta, and this time with some competence. Iran has hurt Lebanon, Gaza, and Jordan is probably the next target.

  10. Arie Brand
    July 5, 2007, 2:25 am

    The fact that Fulbright was rejected as a possible Secretary of State, because of his critical attitude toward Israel, does not imply that Dean Rusk displayed the fawning posture to this country that now seems to prevail among the American political establishment.

    In the immediate post-war years he was member of a State Department that was largely against any partition of Palestine.

    When, as Secretary of State, he came to draw up for President Kennedy, in August 1962, a memorandum on U.S.policy toward Israel he alluded to "the relatively high standing of the United States among the Arabs" that gave the the US some "minor degree of maneuvering" but would be endangered by "any type of special military relationship with Israel". That, Rusk said, " would destroy the delicate balance we have so carefully maintained in our Near Eastern relations and would bring insufficient compensatory advantages."

    Prophetic words.

    When Israel dealt the first blow in the Six Day War a few days before Egypt's Vice-President was due to visit Washington, and when President Johnson was still trying to get an international naval squadron together to lift the blockade of the Strait of Tiran, Rusk reportedly let it be known to Israel that the US was "shocked and angry as hell".

    Regarding the subsequent occupation of the West Bank, in spite of Prime Minister Eshkol's assurance at the beginning of the war that Israel was not out to gain further territory, Rusk had some harsh words to say in his memoirs "As I saw it". He relates there that the US had, after the foundation of Israel, endeavoured for twenty long years to allay the suspicions of the Arabs concerning Israel's intentions regarding territorial expansion. It was a "bitter" point with the Americans, he said, that Israel's post Six Day War policy made of the US a "twenty year liar".

    When Israel's Prime Minister Eshkol, not long after the Six Day War, came cap in hand to the US for further weaponry, Rusk is reported to have said in a "reasonable and persuasive tone": "Mr.Prime Minister, in all honesty, whatever efforts Israel makes in the field of military build-up, the Arabs will better you every time. If the Arabs see an Israel they cannot live with, one that is intolerable to them, they won't back away from an arms race. On the contrary, they will turn increasingly to the Soviets, to the detriment of the American interest. So what we would like to hear from you today is, what kind of an Israel do you want the Arabs to live with, and what kind of an Israel do you want the American people to support? The answer, surely, is not to be found in military hardware."

    In his memoirs he also makeas clear that UN Resolution 242, that was accepted by both the US and Israel, was never meant to give Israel, as it maintained later, the option to pick and choose which bits of occupied territory it would leave. The fact that the English version of this resolution doesn't insert the article "the" in front of "occupied territories" was merely meant to allow for minor bilateral corrections on the basis of reciprocity to a border that was hastily drawn as an armistice line in 1948.

    This was in fact the international consensus on this resolution that Israel later tried to obfuscate to such an extent that President Carter had to ask his staff for a historical review (that confirmed Rusk's position).

    Rusk also never accepted Israel's explanation for the unprovoked attack by its airforce (leading to 34 Americans killed and more than 170 wounded) on the US vessel "Liberty". In his memoirs he makes a point of stating this again.

    I don't know whether he was a "mediocrity", as Phil's post says, but he certainly wasn't Israel's poodle.

  11. Joachim Martillo
    July 5, 2007, 12:20 pm

    The Thomas Lipscomb Article
    link to

    It reads suspiciously like a ridiculous conversation that I had with David "Axis-of-Evil" Frum a few years ago. At least unlike Frum, Lipscomb is old enough to remember and to have taken part in the war.

    Lipscomb following Joe Webb is lying with statistics. No one at the time argued that African Americans were disproportionately represented in the military. The draft was a source of complaint because African Americans were less likely to qualify for the sort of deferments that people like Cheney obtained.

    To analyze the fairness of the results of the draft, the large overwhelmingly Southern white volunteer segment of the US military must be excluded from the calculation. If one looks solely at the drafted or involuntary contingent of the US army, one does find a disproportionate number of African Americans serving in Vietnam.

    To claim that later success of Asian economies is somehow a result of the Vietnamese war is a complete non sequitur.

    The Vietminh started fighting the Japanese in 1941 and achieved its first victory over the French in 1947. The Vietminh leaders had perseverance as well as good military strategy and probably would have found a way to deal with the US bombing.

    In any case the communist rebellion had deep roots in the South. As I remember, Operation Phoenix killed about 20,000 VC cadres.

    The SE Asian economic and political development that Lipscomb praises could probably have been reached even if the USA had never engaged in Vietnam, which the French had already lost by 1954. The USA could have established in the 1950s the SE Asian defense lines that it ultimately set up in the 1970s after the withdrawal from Vietnam.

    It is impossible to know for sure, but one could probably make a good case that many more Vietnamese, Americans and Cambodians would be alive today if the USA had not made an ill-considered and obviously (even at the time) pointless effort to take over the struggle against the Vietminh from the French. Quite possibly Vietnam would be much further along in liberalization if the nationalists had united the country in the 50s.

    I can understand why Lipscomb wants to find some sort of consolation prize in the Vietnam war, but it was a waste from the get-go.

    The Vietnam war was unethical because the US pretended it was trying to help the Vietnamese when it was only trying to serve US strategic objectives without any rational plan to achieve them.

    The democratization argument for the Iraq war represented the same sort of lack of ethics in an even worse way.

    Democratization as a method of solving ME conflicts and gaining acceptance for the State of Israel is old Zionist propaganda from the 1930s. Both Labor Zionists and Jabotinskians made the claim to the British that Arab opposition to Zionism was incited by the effendi class and that a fully democratic and mature Palestinian society would welcome the Zionist colonists within their midst.

    Both Jabotinsky's and Ben Gurion's diaries show that the Zionist leadership was lying and knew full well that the Palestinian fallahuna uniformly opposed the invasion of racist Eastern Europeans, who came to make the land a Zionist state in which the native population would be at best a tolerated minority.

    Thus as in the case of Vietnam, the US government was once again lying that it came to help a country that its policy would ultimately destroy. In this case the US government looks even stupider because the lie was not even American but was 70 year old Zionist mendacity that served Israeli interests while it has caused immense damage to the US.

    The ultimate cost is hard to project, but I could probably argue for at least a doubling of the national debt as a result of Zionist subversion of the US government.

  12. Christopher Brown
    July 5, 2007, 2:30 pm

    Fulbright was a great trophy of the Lobby when he was taken down by Bumpers, as Percy, Findley etc. would be.

    As the Israelis have systematically assassinated the best and brightest of the Palestians for decades, the Lobby targets the best American statesmen while promoting shills like Giuliani, Hillary, etc.

  13. bill pearlman
    July 5, 2007, 3:54 pm

    Been on vacation but actually I agree with joechem here. Clearly the idea and concepts of a pluarlistic representative democracy is beyond the scope of Arabs to understand and operate. They belong where they are, where they will always be, in the 7th century. With everything that this entails. I for one never thought the Arabs could be bought off with electricity and flush toilets, its not what they are

  14. Denis Drew
    July 5, 2007, 3:54 pm

    I take sharp disagreement with one thing you said: that the insurgency had deep roots in the South. What Vietnamese peasant (or any peasant anywhere) would wish to surrender his turf to the state to join a collective farm – what all peasants everywhere have always resisted, starting with 1917 Russia. Support in the South was created by terror, as in, if the village chief did not want to join in he and his family could count on being disemboweled. Remember Hue, which was taken during the Tet offensive; the communists called in 2000 teachers, bureaucrats and other local intelligentsia to be mass murdered?

    We will never know how much putting up a fight in Vietnam helped the outcome against communism the other Southeast Asian nations – or nations around the world — but it might have been a lot hairier if the locals knew we had caved without a fight right next door – it could have been a great encouragement for the communist insurgencies everywhere.

    What we do know is that a million or two million Cambodians died when the dominoes closest to Vietnam fell. With round-eyes we call that a holocaust. This is a good blog to make that point on – forgot to yesterday.

    Why bother with all the “lie”, “lie”, “lie” stuff against the U.S. government – true or false, is that what matters most or all? We did not invade another Vietnam and get millions of people killed. Do some liberals ever get mad at the real bad guys? The latter question fits Iraq too. Is more reason that Americans keep electing dumb Republicans that, dumb and callous as they are, they can at least tell the good guys from the bad guys?

  15. Denis Drew
    July 5, 2007, 5:26 pm

    Sorry to see you back. I feel like a kid in high school who thought the class bully had left town for good only to get that sinking feeling when he sees him back in classroom again.

    As long as you are here, try this on for size:

    I am working on an essay whose idea is that Jews have not had a country of their own for so long that they no longer know what to do with a country when they get one — all they can think is "neighborhood".

    Thus their organic country (Israel) invading another organic county (West Bank) is just moving to another (or another'S) neighborhood — the poor Arabs can be poor someplace else. God forbid they should fight back (if admittedly immorally — but who invented the truck bomb (Menachem Begin): they are terrorists — not patriots.

    I finish up by saying the key to Israel's future is for it to recognize its own existence as a NATION — not just a location to find a nice Jewish neighborhood — it's not just a big Riverdale. :-)

  16. David
    July 5, 2007, 5:30 pm

    Christopher wrote: "the Lobby targets the best American statesmen while promoting shills like Giuliani, Hillary, etc."

    And the people, in turn, sense the shallowness of the political class and turn off. The lobby isn't the whole story, but it has definitely contributed to the de-legitimation of the political process. It's a thread out of the social fabric, and the journalism and academic professions are similarly affected. As significant as foreign policy decisions in the Middle East are, the impact of the lobby goes beyond that.

  17. Alex Chaihorsky
    July 5, 2007, 6:54 pm

    Denis –

    Israel is not at all what everybody thinks it is – its a Jewish Trap.
    Just forget for a moment all the propaganda and look at it with a fresh eye…

    Try to do an Einsteinian thought experiment and put yourself as a tiny observer into the works of the mind of a strategic anti-Semite. His biggest problem is Jewish elusive omnipresence. You fight them here – they move there, you put them in concentration camps in Germany – they attack you from America, etc. You move them out of power centers of Russian Empire, they cook up a Communist revolution…
    And all that is possible because Jews are all over the planet – not like French – conveniently in a singe place where you can fight them and actually win… Wait a minute…. What if Jews get a country of their own?…
    Yes, give them the country of their own, steal the land from weak but numerous peoples with which they never make peace and keep them always on the peace-war borderline. In several generations they will transform themselves into a nation of prison guards, torturers, child-killers and finally get off that high moral hourse of theirs that was so hard to deal with for colonial empires. And they will never be even in control of their own destiny.
    We squeeze Israel a little bit – all the other Jews all over the world will jump at once! And, instead of always meddling in the world affairs they have an eternal problem of their own! Sweet!

    "George, – tell these stupid Jews that Lord Balfour will have tea with them in the library at noon!"

    A Jewish Trap. That what Israel is, was and always will be. That is why educated and affluent German Jews never wanted to move there. That is why Ben Gurion called them less useful than a single cow in Palestine. And this is why they were left to die.

  18. Denis Drew
    July 5, 2007, 7:41 pm

    Very interesting analogy: Israel as Dien Bien Phu: pick a place to fight and lose.

    Of course it is up to Israelis whether this analogy plays out. They can get realistic and begin to get along with their neighbors. Their neighbors would probably have forgotten how Israel reconstituted herself 60 years ago if she hadn't spent the last 40 years painfully reminding them day in and day out.

    Removing the facts on the ground may be really rough — or not. If they can move to the West Bank, they can move to Israel — or Brooklyn. (One of my brothers says we should give the Palestinians the burnt out areas of the Bronx — former Jewish land :-])

    The prospects for greater realism would improve much if Goliath ever woke up and worked on convincing David. All this may not be as far away as you think — and it may be easier than you think. It just takes salesmanship.

  19. Joachim Martillo
    July 5, 2007, 7:53 pm

    Roots of the Viet Cong

    The Viet Cong and the Viet Minh were at least as much nationalist as they were communist, and the Vietnamese have a history of resistance to foreign rulers and their Vietnamese puppets. Several Buddhist Monks immolated themselves as a protest against the South Vietnamese government and US policy.

    Operation Phoenix was by any reasonable standard a CIA terrorism campaign, and the USA overthrew Sihanouk in Cambodia with the result of creating the opportunity for Khmer Rouge.

    We can certainly blame the US actions and policy for millions of refugees and millions of deaths in Iraq, Palestine, Somalia, the Sudan, Lebanon, Vietnam, and Cambodia.

    And before you consider me some leftist anti-American ideologue, I used to be a Rockefeller Republican, and I used to work for the DoD with conviction. Unfortunately, the DoD has been subverted, and no longer works for the USA.

    And BTW, the organized Jewish Community/Zionist lobby bears a lot of the blame since 1947 to the present day for those refugees and deaths in Iraq, Palestine, Somalia, the Sudan and Lebanon.

    The statistics are getting close to the largest numbers claimed by Zionist Holocaust enthusiats, and the Zionist Lobby is trying to add yet more deaths in the Sudan and wants to open a new front in Iran.

    The Holocaust was over 50 years ago, and in the face of the murder and mayhem that the US organized Jewish community/Zionist lobby is causing or trying to cause, I simply am no longer interested any more in more tales of German, liberated Soviet nationality, or Eastern European atrocities during WW2.

  20. Joachim Martillo
    July 5, 2007, 8:05 pm

    The last decades of the Ottoman Empire provided the native population of Palestine with far more experience in pluralistic democracy than ethnic Ashkenazim ever got in the Russian Empire or the Soviet Union.

    Someone that supports the depredations of Zionism, which is perhaps the most fanatic form of extremist organic nationalism as developed in Eastern Europe, cannot lecture Palestinians on pluralistic democracy.

  21. Kristof
    July 5, 2007, 9:28 pm

    I find your reference to Jews being responsbile for the genocide in Sudan very interesting. Jewish groups committed to social justice and stopping another geoncide have been in the forefront of the effort to stop the genocide in Sudan. Please draw out for us how they are responsible for these deaths as well.

    After reading your various postings here Martillo I'm confident we can call upon you to eradicate these evil dwellers from our midst, as to not do so would in itself be a crime against humanity, correct?

  22. Arie Brand
    July 5, 2007, 9:49 pm

    Whatever the Vietnam War was it certainly couldn't be credibly presented as a fight for democracy against totalitarianism.

    The Geneva Accords of 1954, with which the war against the French ended, and which the US was a party to, had provided for internationally supervised free elections to be held in July 1956.

    Hanoi confidently expected that Ho Chi Minh, who, after all, had led the fight against the French, would win these elections handsomely in both North and South. Diem, then government leader in the South, and the US expected so too. Diem suppressed those in favour of those elections with the backing of the US. So they were never held.

    In addition another stipulation of the Geneva Accords, viz. that no foreign governments should bring military forces to the region, was violated in this period.

    The argument that if the US had backed out of a fight here this "could have been a great encouragement for the communist insurgencies everywhere" hardly applies to SE Asia.

    There was no communist insurgency in neighboring Thailand. In Malaysia the communist insurgency had been definitely defeated by 1960. The communist party of Indonesia had been smashed in the massacres and banishments that followed the failed coup (blamed on the communists) of September 1965. The low level NPA insurgency in the Philippines seems completely fuelled by domestic concerns and rumbles on today as it has since long before the Vietnam war.In Burma the military has been firmly in power ever since General New Win toppled the civilian government of U Nu in 1962 and in Laos the communist Pathet Lao fought on, regardless of the frightening display of American weaponry to the East, until it achieved victory in 1975.

    Denis Drew says further: "What we do know is that a million or two million Cambodians died when the dominoes closest to Vietnam fell. With round-eyes we call that a holocaust."

    I regard that as a bit of a chutzpah. I think it is fairly widely accepted that it was exactly indiscriminate American bombing during the last stages of the Vietnam War that led to the disruption which eventually helped the Khmer Rouge to power. Incidentally this bombing is believed to have caused the death of approximately 800,000 civilians.

  23. Arie Brand
    July 5, 2007, 10:06 pm

    General "New Win"= General Ne Win

  24. Alex Chaihorsky
    July 5, 2007, 10:39 pm

    Phil –

    We all understand that you have some kind of a emotional need to be exposed to the scatological outbursts of your old friend Pearlman and that your love for your mother makes you knee-weak in front of what she considered a "proper" Jewey Jew.
    But Pearlman is not a "Jewey Jew", he is a Nazi Jew. How "Jewey" your Mom think his racist Nazi filth is? May be you should ask her again?

  25. cooper
    July 6, 2007, 8:07 am

    Re: Dean Rusk-

    Sure, he wrote twenty five years after the Liberty attack that the Israeli actions aginst the US ship were "outrageous". But at the time he did little to move any investigations forward. Maybe he learned from JFK's overt resistance to Zionist goals.

    Rusk had witnessed JFK pressing for IAEA inspections at Dimona; David Ben Gurion and leading US Zionists thought that Kennedy had lost his head worrying about the imbalances a nuclear Israel would cause in the Mideast.

    Then- according to Mordechai Vanunu- proponents of a nuclear Israel actually DID make JFK lose his head, or a significant portion of it. Rusk apparently was not willing to risk the same fate, at least not in 1967.

  26. Christopher Brown
    July 6, 2007, 10:22 am

    More on Johnston, Dagmoush, and you-know-who:

    link to

  27. Arie Brand
    July 6, 2007, 11:38 pm

    Cooper,I think the short answer to the question why Rusk's opinions ultimately carried so little weight in American policy towards Israel is: Johnson.

    Johnson had many influential Jewish friends. Apparently he also had some first hand view of the aftermath of the holocaust when he saw German concentration camps at the end of World War II. But perhaps most importantly, according to the Israeli historian Tom Segev he saw the Vietnam conflict and matters concerning Israel as an undivided whole. Israel was on the side of the good guys.

    This can be seen in matters concerning his stance versus atomic proliferation, the start of the Six Day War, the matter of the "Liberty" and the lack of American pressure to get UN Resolution 242 implemented.

    On atomic proliferation: as far as I know it was the White House that overruled the State Department that had tried to link the purchase of the A-4E Skyhawks and F-4E Phantoms to continued inspections of the Israeli nuclear site.

    On the start of the Six Day War: I think Johnson is less than candid in his memoirs where he tries to create the impression that the start of that war overtook him while he was still trying to get that international naval squadron together to lift the blockade of the Strait of Tiran. It is not unlikely that, under the influence of and via Jewish friends, he had given Israel the green light for action.

    On the "Liberty": the case against Johnson has it that he demanded the return of the American planes that went to the assistance of the crew of the "Liberty". He was not going to have "his allies embarrassed". Later he was implicated in the whitewash that the so-called official investigation of the matter turned out to be.

    Most importantly: I think that he was the first to prevent a full implementation of Resolution 242. This requires some further detail.

    I should mention that Rusk adds an interesting rider to his interpretation of that Resolution which I discussed earlier.. He says:
    "But the Arabs have not been blameless with respect to Resolution 242 when they insist upon an Arab state of Palestine in the West Bank. Resolution 242 did not imply this. It anticipated that the West Bank would be returned to Jordan." (As I Saw It, pp. 388 – 389).

    This is correct – and this was also the reason why the PLO didn’t accept resolution 242 until 1988, the same year that Jordan gave up its claim to the West Bank in favour of the Palestinians.

    So in the first instance the right implementation of Resolution 242 implied, inter alia, the return of the West Bank to Jordan minus some border corrections on the basis of reciprocity. This never came about.

    When American UN Ambassador Arthur Goldberg met the Jordanian Deputy-Foreign Minister Rifai and Ambassador Sharaf on Oct 17, 1967, he said, according to the relevant State Dept. document (on line), inter alia:
    "U.S. believes in territorial integrity, withdrawal, and recognition of secure boundaries. Principle of territorial integrity has two important sub-principles, there must be a withdrawal to recognized and secure frontiers for all countries, not the old armistice lines, and there must be mutuality in adjustments. If Jordan makes an adjustment along the Latrun salient there ought to be some compensatory adjustment for it."

    Subsequently, King Hussein met with President Johnson and Dean Rusk on 8 November but according to the relevant State Department document on that meeting which contains Rusk’s report of it (on line), it mainly consisted of the exchange of pleasantries (the President presented the King with a cigarette lighter) and some very non-committal and vague statements by Johnson.

    Parker comments in his review of the compilation of relevant US State Department documents:
    "He was not prepared to confront Israel on Jordan’s behalf. When it was all over, Husayn did not get back a single inch of territory as a result of accepting Resolution 242, and we did nothing effective about it. No wonder the Jordanians thought they had been led down the garden path by Goldberg and his crew as well as by Rusk. Husayn might have gotten better results had he told us all to go to Hell…It was evident to those of us on the ground that the Israelis had gotten to Johnson and, in spite of their early assurances that they did not want any territory, that they persuaded him not to press them on the issue."

    Unfortunately this American policy of ‘softly, softly’, also allowed Israel to get away with its re-interpretation of Resolution 242. When in 1968 Hussein negotiated with Israel regarding the return of the West Bank he proposed either a complete return or border modifications on the basis of reciprocity – in complete accordance with the policy suggested by Ambassador Goldberg. But Israel did not want to hear of that. It was only prepared to return a heavily truncated West Bank and, as Parker says, the U.S. "did nothing effective about it".

    Yet officially American policy did not change.

    On 9 December 1969 William Rogers, Nixon’s Secretary of State, openly restated it. Donald Neff quotes him in his book on U.S. policy towards Palestine and Israel (Fallen Pillars, 1995) as follows:

    "Resolution 242 ‘calls for withdrawal from occupied territories, the non-acquisition of territory by war, and recognized boundaries'. We believe that while recognized political boundaries must be established, and agreed upon by the parties, any changes in the preexisting lines should be confined to insubstantial alternations (sic) required for mutual security. We do not support expansionism." (quoted in Neff. P.102)

    And Roger’s successor, Henry Kissinger, wrote in his memoirs:
    "Jordan’s acquiescence in Resolution 242 had been obtained in 1967 by the promise of our United Nations Ambassador Arthur Goldberg that under its terms we would work for the return of the West Bank of Jordan with minor boundary rectifications and that we were prepared to use our influence to obtain a role for Jordan in Jerusalem." (quoted in Neff, p.103).

    Yet, ten years later, the lack of US assertiveness in this area led President Carter to ask for a State Department report "to determine if there was any justice to the Israeli position that the resolution did not include all the occupied territories". Though this report was secret (and is, given the date, not yet on line) it was apparently leaked to Neff who quotes copiously from it. It says among other things:

    "Support for the concept of total withdrawal was widespread in the Security Council, and it was only through intensive American efforts that a resolution was adopted which employed indefinite language in the withdrawal clause. In the process of obtaining this result, the United States made clear to the Arab states and several other members of the Security Council that the United States envisioned only insubstantial revisions of the 1949 armistice lines. Israel did not protest the approach." (Neff, p.101)

    Carter discussed the matter with Menachem Begin and the Israeli PM "asked the president to stop talking in public about resolution 242 meaning minor adjustments to the frontiers". Neff draws on publications by William B.Quandt, a key member of the National Security Council Staff under Presidents Gerald Ford and Carter, and Zbigniew Brzezinski, Carter’s security adviser, to report what happened next. In a note on his meeting with Begin, Carter wrote:
    Begin "asks that we not use phrase ‘minor adjustments’ without prior notice to him – I agreed. He will try to accommodate us on settlements."

    Less than one week later, writes Neff, "Begin’s government conferred legal status on three Jewish settlements in the occupied territories." Carter kept mum on the ‘minor adjustments.’ (Neff, p.104)

  28. Arie Brand
    July 7, 2007, 3:59 am

    The bit in my previous post about Rogers' restatement of the then official US position on Resolution 242 requires some further comment. He got nowhere in his attempt to induce the Israeli leadership to seek peace on the basis of that resolution (the 'Rogers plan').

    Neither did he manage to induce Golda Meir to respond positively to an Egyptian peace initiative. He got so frustrated about this that he tried to enlist the help of Ben Gurion in an attempt to make Meir change her mind.

    This is how the Israeli columnist Ze'ev Tsahor tells the story:

    "One day at the beginning of 1971, US Secretary of State William Rogers phoned David Ben Gurion and asked him to speak to Prime Minister Golda Meir in an effort to convince her to seriously weigh the Egyptian initiative aimed at advancing peace with Israel.

    The 85-year-old Ben Gurion was at Sdeh Boker at the time. Ripe with age and satiated with years of arguments and disappointments he wished to finally break away from politics. His relationship with Golda was tainted, and he wasn't inclined to speak to her.

    Rogers pleaded with him. The Egyptian initiative is an ad-hoc opportunity, he said, but Golda is not taking it seriously and is rejecting it with contempt. She admires you; perhaps she will listen to you. Ben Gurion complied with the request and asked his aides to connect him with Golda in Jerusalem.

    The short conversation between them didn't run smoothly. Those present in the room could hear Ben Gurion repeatedly explain why Golda should engage in talks with Egypt, based on the proposal that provided a chance for peace in exchange for Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai. Although those present in the room couldn't hear Golda on the other end of the phone, it was quite clear that she had no interest in the Egyptian peace initiative.

    Ben Gurion lost his patience, accused Golda of leading Israel to a disaster, and ended the conversation. For some reason he placed the receiver on the table. Those present in the room could hear Golda calling out "Ben Gurion, Ben Gurion," but he refused to pick up the phone again and said sadly: "A war will soon break out." The rest is history."

    That war was of course the Yom Kippur War which led to a great loss of life (3,000 dead on the Israeli side alone) and after which Israel ultimately handed over more occupied territory to Egypt than that country had originally demanded.

  29. David
    July 7, 2007, 11:25 am

    Thanks Arie. Interesting stuff.

  30. Deborah
    July 7, 2007, 7:11 pm

    I'll keep reading you. I was raised under the sign of Exodus (the film that is). I went to graduate school where I read Edward Said and didn't learn the word, "Palestinian," until I was past 25 years of age. In June 1993, I went to Jerusalem and presented an academic paper at a conference, "Educating for Democracy in a Multicultural World." I spent half my stay in West Jerusalem and half in East Jerusalem. I couldn't believe what I saw, and I didn't go over without having read literature that countered my own upbringing.

    After that visit, I decided that the next major research project I would do would have something to do with women in the Palestinian Territories. I lived in Ramallah on a year's sabbatical and have returned every year since up until 2005. That trip, which took place in Jan. 2005 during Abbas' election, depressed me more than any other, because of the wall and the checkpoints which had become extremely oppressive.

    That said, I plan to return this December for a month.

    I first starting reading your blog, during the My Name is Rachel Corrie fiasco in spring 2006. I read your column in the Nation, and could see the breakthrough in your writing regarding Israel.

    I just read your column in the American Conservative about what occured at The Observer. The frustration I feel as someone who has "been there" and lives "here," under the myriad pressures placed on people who have traveled and witnessed what goes on in the Occupied Territories has only grown over the years. It's tiresome and predictable.

    I am hear to say that I will keep reading you.

  31. Alex Chaihorsky
    July 7, 2007, 8:28 pm


    God bless you.

  32. trouvere
    July 8, 2007, 2:33 am

    Steve Clemons has a note on Chuck Shumer–

    "Every time I get an email from Senator Schumer, I am reminded of his support of John Bolton's confirmation in the 2nd push the administration made on Bolton during the Israel-Lebanon conflagration. Several — yes more than three — U.S. Senators told me personally that Schumer was telling them "a vote against Bolton is a vote against Israel."

    link to

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