Alienated affection: Israel relationship is costing the U.S. its alliance with Turkey

Israel/Palestine
on 73 Comments

Israel and its U.S. lobby’s insistence on unquestioning U.S. support for Israel in its brutal and illegal conduct toward Palestinian and Turkish civilians has cost the U.S. a major, strategic ally, Turkey, and has severely undermined U.S. foreign policy goals, strategy, and power in the Middle East .

President George W. Bush has been accused of having the most disastrous foreign policy in U.S. history. Unfortunately, President Obama’s apparent inability to stand up to Israel’s U.S. lobby may have created a foreign policy catastrophe that exceeds even that of his hapless predecessor by costing the U.S. the loss of Turkey as our main strategic ally in the region, and by drastically reducing U.S. influence and power in the Middle East.

If this sounds implausible, consider the following: Turkey just recently concluded a public but covert military air combat training exercise with the Chinese in Turkey in which the Chinese flew their jet fighter aircraft from China to Turkey, refueling in Iran. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao just made a state visit to Turkey after which both countries concluded a strategic cooperation agreement. China will build a 4500-kilometer railroad to Turkey, along with two high-speed rail lines, plus oil pipeline systems from Iran to Turkish ports. China has agreed to sell military equipment to Turkey, and is also developing a surface-to-surface rocket-launching system together with Turkey. Turkey’s foreign minister is visited China this week, working out details of its new strategic relationship. Turkey has also strengthened its ties with Russia, Iraq, Syria and Iran, and refused to support the most recent UN resolution imposing sanctions on Iran.

Turkey has ceased all cooperation with its former close ally, Israel, including closing its airspace to Israeli planes, ceasing all cooperative military exercises, ending intelligence sharing with Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, and has changed Israel’s status from a close ally to a strategic threat. Turkey has strongly condemned Israel for its brutal conduct against Palestinian and Turkish civilians in Israel ’s December 2008 Gaza invasion, and the recent Gaza aid flotilla incident, accusing Israel of committing state terrorism. Turkey has also accused the U.S., formerly its strongest ally, of supporting an international terrorist (Israel) for failing to condemn Israel’s atrocities, and for its monetary, military, and diplomatic support of Israel’s oppression of Palestinians and illegal settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. 

In less than two years, Turkey has changed from being a strong U.S. ally and NATO member to a country pursuing an independent path toward strategic relationships with countries that are either adversaries or potential adversaries of the U.S. How did we get to this point?

Turkey’s Importance as a Major U.S. Strategic Ally 

Turkey , a nation of 73 million Muslims, has been a major strategic ally of the U.S. for some six decades since the beginnings of the Cold War, providing the U.S. with military bases and a forward bulwark against Soviet expansionism into the Middle-East and the Mediterranean . Turkey fought valiantly alongside the U.S. in the Korean War, and risked nuclear annihilation during the Cuban Missile Crisis by allowing the U.S. to station nuclear-tipped Jupiter missiles in Turkey , on the Soviet Union ’s doorstep.

Turkey has the second largest military force in NATO and occupies one of the most vital geographic areas in the world, bordering the Mediterranean, Greece, Bulgaria, the Black Sea, Russia, Georgia, Armenia, Iran, Iraq, and Syria. It has the second fastest growing economy in the world, behind only China . Most important, Turkey is a stable, moderate, secular, Muslim democracy and provides a model template for success for the many Muslim nations in the Middle East and South Asia that suffer from instability, autocratic rule, religious extremism, and poverty. 

Turkey also provides the U.S. with an invaluable entrée into the Muslim world and a proven ability to conduct effective diplomacy and mediation among Muslim nations such as Iraq, Syria, and Iran. Turkey permits the U.S. to use a critical military air base and transportation hub at Incirlik, in southeastern Turkey While strong militarily, Turkey has been successfully moving to reduce tensions with all of its neighbors, including traditional rivals such as Greece, Armenia, Syria, and Iraq, and, in addition, has also moved to defuse the conflicts with its minority Kurdish population. It has also taken steps, in part with Brazil , to reduce the conflict between Iran and the West. In short, Turkey , under its strong civilian leadership, has become a major strategic player in the world economically, politically, and diplomatically, and a vital player and asset for the U.S. and its European allies in the Muslim world and in the Middle East and South Asia.

It is difficult to imagine an ally of greater strategic importance to the U.S. in the Middle East than Turkey . Its loss is a major blow to U.S. vital national security interests. 

The Gaza Disasters and the Loss of Turkey

In December of 2008, the U.S. and Turkey remained strong, close NATO allies. Israel and Turkey also had a strong strategic alliance in which they cooperated on intelligence matters, and conducted joint military training exercises; Israel had the use of Turkish airspace for training and operational use; Turkey purchased weapons systems from Israel ; trade and tourism between the two countries was booming. Turkey was also mediating the disputes between Syria and Israel in the hope of resolving their differences and achieving a permanent peace treaty for the two countries.

Israel’s brutal bombing and shelling of civilian noncombatants in its invasion of Gaza in December 2008, and in its violent capture of a Gaza aid ship in May of 2010, in which nine Turkish citizens were killed, at least five execution-style, by Israeli commandos, deeply angered the Turks. These events, coupled with subsequent UN investigative reports that confirmed Israeli atrocities against civilians and other war crimes in both incidents, ultimately caused Turkey to end its close strategic alliance with Israel . The U.S.’ unquestioning support of Israel in both incidents, even after both later UN investigative reports confirmed Israeli atrocities toward civilians, caused Turkey to be highly critical of the U.S., and ultimately caused it to reduce its strategic alliance with the U.S. and seek, or at least consider, new strategic relationships and agreements with potential U.S. adversaries such as Russia, Iran, and, of greatest and most recent concern, China. 

The strength and effectiveness of Israel ’s U.S. lobby in influencing U.S. foreign policy in matters related to Israel was demonstrated by Congress and the Obama administration’s unqualified support of Israel ’s excessively brutal actions toward civilians in its Gaza invasion and capture of the Gaza aid flotilla in the face of worldwide approbation of Israel . An unfortunate and apparently unforeseen byproduct of the lobby’s actions was the loss to both the U.S. and Israel of the support of a critical major strategic ally, Turkey.

The loss of Turkey as a major U.S. ally will change the balance of power in the Middle East and do serious harm to U.S. vital national security interests in that region, and to Israel ’s as well. It is inconceivable that the U.S. would allow a strategic relationship with an ally as vitally important as Turkey to be undermined by supporting brutal and unlawful conduct on the part of a far less strategically important ally, Israel . Yet, because of the overwhelming strength and influence of Israel ’s U.S. lobby on the Obama administration and Congress, that is precisely what has occurred.

The Israel Lobby’s Role in the Loss of Turkey as a Key U.S. Ally

The Israel Lobby, headed by the American-Israeli Political Action Committee, or AIPAC, acts in a variety of ways to protect and promote Israeli interests in this country. Any Israeli action, such as the Gaza invasion or the capture of the Gaza aid flotilla, is immediately condoned and praised, discussion and debate are stifled, and dissent is punished. While it is beyond the scope of this article to address the lobby’s strategy and methods in any detail, these are well-known and well-documented. After the Gaza incidents, letters or resolutions supporting Israel ’s actions were immediately forthcoming from either the U.S. Senate or the House, or both, and were typically signed or approved by astonishingly overwhelming margins, typically 75 to 90 percent.

There is never any debate in Congress or investigations by congressional committees into Israel ’s actions and whether or not they might have a negative effect on U.S. foreign policy interests. Any member of Congress that publicly questions, let alone disapproves, any action taken by Israel , quickly suffers the consequences. For instance, 54 members of Congress, many of whom were running for reelection, were attacked for supposedly being “anti-Israel” because they signed a letter that labeled Israel ’s invasion of Gaza as “de facto collective punishment of the Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip” and pressed for “immediate relief for the citizens of Gaza .” Yet, the charge of collective punishment, a war crime, was later well documented and confirmed by a balanced and competent United Nations investigating committee.

The problem isn’t whether a member of Congress can be criticized for a statement made or action taken, but whether healthy debate about U.S. foreign policy interests is being stifled by the aggressive actions of a lobby that acts in the interest of a foreign government, namely Israel . When Turkey , a major U.S. ally, criticized Israel ’s brutality toward civilians in both the Gaza invasion and the Gaza aid flotilla capture, Congress should have at least debated the issue, particularly since there was widespread televised evidence of the conduct and worldwide universal criticism of Israel ’s actions during and after both events. Instead, Congress showed unquestioning support for Israel , without investigating or even inquiring about the facts related to either incident. 

Later, when two separate UN investigations of these incidents developed overwhelming evidence of Israeli war crimes and atrocities toward civilian noncombatants, Congress again immediately sided with Israel and conducted no inquiry or investigation into the incidents, or the allegations and evidence provided in the UN investigations. The Obama administration also sided with and provided unquestioning support for Israel , describing the investigations as biased. The fact that a major strategic ally and fellow NATO member had suffered the death of nine of its citizens in the Gaza aid flotilla incident, and that the UN investigation described at least six of the deaths as illegal summary executions seemed an unimportant detail to the Obama administration.

The key, critical question is whether Israel ’s U.S. lobby’s actions forcing congressional and executive branch approval and support for Israel ’s brutal and illegal treatment of civilian noncombatants caused Turkey to change its policies toward the U.S. , reduce its commitment to its alliance with the U.S. , and take steps contrary to the vital national security interests of the U.S. The answer, unfortunately, is yes. The public statements of Turkish leaders since these incidents, strongly criticizing the U.S. failure to criticize Israel and support Turkey and the rest of the world in sanctioning Israel, plus the strong actions taken by Turkey that negatively impact U.S. interests in that region, after the U.S.’ failure to provide that support, demonstrates that causal link. Turkey ’s frustrations and disillusionment with U.S. uncritical support for Israel along with its failure to move aggressively toward achieving a two-state solution, had reached a breaking point.

While it would be easy to adopt the Israel lobby’s view that Turkey ’s actions are those of an increasingly radical and Islamic regime, there is little evidence to support such a view. Turkey , in fact, has taken the moral high ground in criticizing Israel ’s brutal behavior toward Gazan and Palestinian noncombatants. Turkey had little to gain by entering this fray, and much to lose, both in its relationship with Israel and with its longtime ally the U.S. Nonetheless, it has taken a strong public position against both Israel’s actions and U.S. enablement and complicity in those actions, and it is clearly not about to back down.

The Consequences of Inaction / Unless the U.S. can reengage with Turkey , allow the UN to sanction Israel for its Gaza atrocities toward civilian noncombatants, and move to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a major, even cataclysmic shift in the balance of power in the Middle East could occur. Turkey , Syria , Iraq and Iran could assume control and assert power in that area in place of the U.S. ’ traditional “moderate” allies of Saudi Arabia and Egypt . Both China and Russia are interested in gaining economic and political influence in the northern Persian Gulf area and are lukewarm toward or unwilling to support strong sanctions against Iran. China , in particular, sees that area as the most important source of oil and natural gas in the world, and would be willing to pay almost any price to gain influence in that area and access to its oil.

For those who remain nostalgic about Israel , our supposed great friend, strong ally, and strategic partner in the Middle East, imagine the following scenario: China offers Turkey billions of dollars in development aid for oil and gas pipelines, ports, railways, and other infrastructure projects. In return it receives a long-term exclusive lease for Incirlik air base and a major naval base on Turkey ’s Mediterranean coast. Turkey then withdraws from NATO and improves its trade ties with Iran , Iraq , Syria and Russian and forms an alliance with these countries, and perhaps including Lebanon and even Jordan . Such an alliance would control much of the oil resources in the Persian Gulf . Russia and China would both benefit from this arrangement, China most of all by gaining access to Iranian and Iraqi oil and natural gas resources. China would also gain a significant strategic position in southern Europe, the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf with a major air base and naval base in Turkey . 

The U.S. and NATO would be suddenly faced with a major strategic competitor in what had been largely their own private Mediterranean lake. With the loss of its Incirlik air base, the U.S. would no longer have easy air access to its conflicts and interests in the Middle East and South Asia . European Union countries would be facing a potential loss of Persian Gulf oil and gas resources. Israel would be even more isolated strategically, now facing the might of Turkey against any incursion it might contemplate against Lebanon , Syria , or Iran . The U.S. would be in the unenviable position of having to defend Israel against not only Turkey but potentially China and Russia as well.

While the above scenario may not be imminent or even likely, the reality is that Turkey has become so disillusioned by the U.S.’ inability to fulfill its role as the dominant player in the Middle East that it has decided to forge its own path, independent of the U.S. and its NATO allies. Turkey clearly sees U.S. Middle East policy as feckless and dominated by Israel and its U.S. lobby, and unlikely to change. It no longer views the U.S. as a strong, reliable, trustworthy partner and ally, but as a weakened giant unable to control small allies like Israel even when its vital national security interests are under threat. That view of the U.S. , as a feeble, declining giant, unable or unwilling to defend its vital interests, may well increasingly be shared by many of our allies and potential adversaries. If so, that is a dangerous trend indeed, and one that we need to stop.

Clearly the U.S. desperately needs to reevaluate its foreign policy goals and relationships in the Middle East . Faced with the loss of a Turkey , a foreign policy disaster of epic proportions, it needs to do so immediately. President Obama should begin his post-election administration by conducting a major reevaluation of U.S. Middle East policy, beginning by appointing an independent, bi-partisan commission of distinguished elder statesmen and states women to review U.S. Middle East policy and the effect of Israel and its U.S. lobby on influencing that policy. Continuing down a byzantine path of a U.S. Middle East policy influenced or even directed by Israel and its U.S. lobby is a recipe for further foreign policy disasters and a cataclysmic decline in U.S. influence in the world. This is an outcome that even Israel and its lobby should fear.

This post is similar to a post by Gil Maguire at his IrishMoses blog.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

Other posts by .


Posted In:

73 Responses

  1. potsherd
    November 7, 2010, 12:52 pm

    The weakness of the US is not the power of Israel, it’s the power of the Lobby over Congress, a body that consistently puts what it considers the intrests of Israel over the interests of the nation it supposedly serves.

    • MRW
      November 7, 2010, 6:10 pm

      That’s it in a nutshell. And reason why is dough, of course. Every new congressman elected last week has two years in which to get the money to get reelected. That will be his number one concern starting Day One.

      The problem is that we’ve elected ignoramuses and uneducated fools with no knowledge of history (or the time to study it) to Congress, and it looks like that will continue for another decade, so the projected outcome in the last paragraph is going to happen, and Americans won’t understand what happened until it’s too late.

      • Les
        November 7, 2010, 7:22 pm

        Begging to differ, I suggest the explanation is not the “m” as in money but the “m” as in media which is the real power (publicity) of the Israel Lobby over Congress.

      • Avi
        November 8, 2010, 12:36 am

        Les November 7, 2010 at 7:22 pm

        Begging to differ, I suggest the explanation is not the “m” as in money but the “m” as in media which is the real power (publicity) of the Israel Lobby over Congress.

        Les,

        I’m not sure if the media, that is to say publicity, is the obstacle.

        The problem has to do with a culture, a political and social culture that indoctrinates its citizens from a very young age that conformity is preferable. Dissent is frowned upon. Obey and respect authority. Follow your leaders, both civilian and military.

        During the Vietnam War era, when Daniel Ellsberg released the first batch of the so-called Pentagon Papers, he was astounded to realize that people didn’t care. He was expecting the war to come to a screeching halt once the government’s murderous policies were made public. He then leaked the second batch of papers, and the reaction was lukewarm.

        That’s the problem with the American political and social culture; people are docile and the system keeps them docile and ignorant. After all, who’s got time to pay attention to any news when they come home at 8 in the evening, have dinner with the family and before they know it they’re in bed getting their 8 hours (If they’re lucky) of sleep, like busy ants, working and consuming, with no time to think?

      • irishmoses
        November 9, 2010, 9:57 pm

        Awfully broad brush with that comment Avi. There was a lot of dissent about the Vietnam War from early on. That’s why Johnson didn’t run a second time. Obama won in 2008 because finally got fed up with Iraq. Certainly the tea party folks aren’t docile — ignorant, yes.

    • DICKERSON3870
      November 7, 2010, 9:41 pm

      RE: “Congress, a body that consistently puts what it considers the interests of Israel over the interests of the nation it supposedly serves.” – potsherd
      MY COMMENT: I don’t disagree, but the real root of the problem is that the vast majority of our Congresspersons put their own interests over the interests of the nation they supposedly serve. They tow the Likud line because they are afraid that if they cross AIPAC (and company) they will be targeted for defeat and lose their cherished memberships in the Congress.
      “You can’t use tact with a Congressman! A Congressman is a hog! You must take a stick and hit him on the snout!” – Henry Brooks Adams ~ American journalist, historian, academic and novelist (1838- 1918)

      • potsherd
        November 7, 2010, 10:10 pm

        Well, yes.

    • irishmoses
      November 8, 2010, 12:30 am

      I’m not convinced that there is some sort of wall between Israel and the lobby, hence I used “Israel and its US lobby”. I suspect the two work hand-in-hand together on any major issue at least. I also think there is a mind set among many U.S. Jews who are true-believer Zionists that the U.S. and Israel are almost a single entity; what’s good for Israel has to be good for the U.S.; Israel is a major, strategic ally of the U.S., etc. That can get pretty dangerous for us when our policy advisors have those views. I think that was definitely a problem in the Bush administration among several of the top policy guys. It seems to be a problem with Dennis Ross. I’m not talking about loyalty; all these guys are without question loyal patriotic Americans, but I think there is at least a conflict of interest going on that may be preventing a dispassionate view of U.S. strategic interests, and a blindness to evidence of divergence between U.S. and Israeli interests. I don’t think the Lobby folks believe they are putting Israel’s interests ahead of their nation’s interests; I think they see both nations’ interest as identical. That’s the scary part.

      • munro
        November 8, 2010, 4:04 pm

        On one hand we are constantly admonished to be sensitive to quivering, vulnerable non-Christians in a harsh goyishe land and on the other, accept unquestioningly that the “U.S. and Israel are almost a single entity; what’s good for Israel has to be good for the U.S”.

  2. yourstruly
    November 7, 2010, 1:39 pm

    Now how is it that a decline in U.S. influence in the world will be bad? Bad for Empire with its design for world conquest, yes, but won’t this be good for America, especially if the public comes to its senses and starts to question what Empire is really all about, who benefitted from it, who does not? And might not such questioning lead to a reevaluation on the part of the public as to the way it really is (as opposed to what we’ve been led to believe it is), whereupon, won’t it be up to us, the what sort of world?

  3. Dan Kelly
    November 7, 2010, 1:44 pm

    Israel’s nuclear weapons and its apparent readiness to use them is the wild card that goes unmentioned in this piece.

  4. Jim Haygood
    November 7, 2010, 2:02 pm

    ‘Turkey has … changed Israel’s status from a close ally to a strategic threat.’

    An action long overdue in the United States!

    How many decades of military attacks, leaked defense technology, stolen intelligence secrets, undermining of U.S. policy, shunning and ridiculing of U.S. leaders, will it take before the U.S. wakes up to the obvious? — Israel is cynically playing the U.S. for a patsy and a sucker, as it sucks in unmerited aid by the billions.

  5. Citizen
    November 7, 2010, 2:06 pm

    It’s really amazing that our long-standing foreign policy relation with Turkey has changed so dramatically so quickly and this, and the why of it, has been so little covered in our MSM, or discussed in our congress.

    • Citizen
      November 7, 2010, 2:17 pm

      Seems the Turks know why its not covered in the US: link to turkishweekly.net

      • Antidote
        November 7, 2010, 6:54 pm

        re Freedom of Speech

        I just watched this brief clip from an interview (2008, in German) with Israeli military historian MArtin van Creveld

        link to youtube.com

        He says said freedom of speech does not exist in Germany, France, England, Canada, the US and elsewhere. That it is in decline everywhere to such a frightening extent that he is glad not to be around anymore. The exception is Israel, where freedom of speech is in much better shape because “we are an undisciplined people” and “don’t stick to the rules”. This, he says, is why many if not most Israeli’s find nothing offensive about David Irving views on Hitler and the Holocaust, which are subject to criminal prosecution elsewhere.

        Stewart on Sanchez firing on Larry King: anti-semitism charge was just a convenient cover to get rid of Sanchez for whatever reason. Or: playing the rules against the rules, hiding the real motives

        link to mediaite.com

  6. mig
    November 7, 2010, 2:15 pm

    Yourstruly :
    “”but won’t this be good for America, especially if the public comes to its senses and starts to question what Empire is really all about, who benefitted from it, who does not?””

    ++++ Well we are waiting anxiously here that miracle to happen.

  7. Keith
    November 7, 2010, 2:17 pm

    I am profoundly disturbed by any analysis of the Israel/Palestine conflict which is based primarily upon any contentious assertion that US foreign policy in regards to Israel is harmful to US imperial strategic interests. It is? Good! My opposition to US enabling support for Israel’s policies is that it is immoral and wrong, not that it interferes with imperial geo-strategy. Of course, it’s good to be reminded that “Turkey fought valiantly alongside the U.S. in the Korean War,” killing hundreds of thousands of victims of US imperial aggression, and allowed “the U.S. to station nuclear-tipped Jupiter missiles in Turkey , on the Soviet Union ’s doorstep,” risking nuclear war in the process. I am pleased that Turkey has begun to reevaluate its relationship to the US empire, and to US Middle East hegemony. None too soon, I might add. And if Israel’s actions in the Middle East result in a weakening of Zionism and the US empire, I view that in a positive light.

    • Dan Kelly
      November 7, 2010, 2:53 pm

      Agreed!

    • Avi
      November 7, 2010, 4:26 pm

      Keith,

      You are presented here with a concise and valuable example that shows how the United States is acting against its own strategic interests in the region thanks to the Israel Lobby.

      In the past, you have argued that United States policy regarding Israel is steered, not only by the Israel Lobby, but also by U.S. stretgic interests.

      And yet, here you are presented with an argument that refutes that link, vis-à-vis strategic alliance. But, instead of taking it as proof of the lobby’s control of U.S. policy regarding Israel, you focus instead on the human rights issue (i.e. Korea).

      I certainly agree with your sentiments on the United States’ imperial expansionist policy, but this article is begging for your attention, asking you to acknowledge the exclusive influence that which AIPAC have.

      After all, the Cold War is over.

      • Dan Kelly
        November 7, 2010, 4:43 pm

        I agree, Avi. Keith’s is, in a nuthsell, the Chomsky position.

      • Citizen
        November 7, 2010, 6:27 pm

        I agree with Avi’s comment here. What would/does Chomsky say about this sudden change of US policy towards Turkey? A Saudi prince came out against any relationship with Israel until they change their status quo re the Palestinians. I’d bet the Arab in the Street does not like the US/Israel hegomoinc exploitation. Will Egypt change after the current aging despot dies? Will the US then also disconnect Egypt? What will it take for some people to get that Imperialistic (and any altruistic cover) US designs have been treated as secondary to Israel’s designs since 1967? The American people do not even count because the 9/11 found the key motivation and nothing was done about it except more of the same foreign policy in the Middle East.

      • Keith
        November 7, 2010, 7:48 pm

        AVI- The article attempts to analyze some very specific circumstances to show that in the author’s opinion these actions are not in the best interest of the US empire. Such an analysis pit’s the author’s opinion of imperial geo-strategic interests against the historical record of the government planners and the opinions of the Council on Foreign Relations. The US didn’t get to be an empire by casually blundering into it, nor by being unduly influenced by any lobby. To be sure, policy always accommodates itself to domestic power. However, “In the case of the Middle East, this has involved power projection there for the sake of natural resources, prevention of independent/progressive nationalism, and preemption of other external powers usurping American regional primacy (not just the USSR).” (Straight Power Concepts in the Middle East: US Foreign Policy, Israel, and World History”, Gregory Harms). There is a reason we have hundreds of military bases worldwide, including dozens in the Middle East. I assume that they represent imperial power projection, not the military’s answer to club med. As for the cold war, that was always mainly a pretext to justify the US ongoing war against the entire Third World to secure markets and resources, which is why little has changed following the collapse of the USSR, and why NATO has been expanded to a US directed out of area strike force rather than disbanded now that the cold war is over. Now, whether or not the planners are always optimally effective is not my concern. Has the empire failed to adapt to changing circumstances? Jeez, I hope so!

        I was going to stop with just the above paragraph, however, I noticed additional comments linking me with a “Chomsky position.” First of all, anyone who compares me to Chomsky is complementing me and insulting Chomsky. I think his book “Year 501: The Conquest Continues,” should be required reading. While the Lobby is quite powerful, particularly when focusing on Israel/Palestine, to ignore the big picture and US geo-strategy is a big mistake. It isn’t just the US-Israel-Palestine. An empire is involved, and that has consequences. The Lobby isn’t just an Israeli lobby, it to a degree functions as an imperial lobby. I seriously doubt that American Jewish Zionist oligarchs are about to abandon empire and make aliyah. To make a point, I provide a quote from Stormin’ Norman Finkelstein.

        “For Israel’s new American Jewish ‘supporter,’ however, such talk bordered on heresy: an independent Israel at peace with its neighbors was worthless; an Israel aligned with currents in the Arab world seeking independence from the United States was a disaster. Only an Israeli Sparta beholden to American power would do, because only then could US Jewish leaders act as spokesmen for American imperial ambitions.”

      • Keith
        November 7, 2010, 8:21 pm

        One final comment is in order to attempt to clear up what I feel is a huge misunderstanding. First of all, getting back to my original point, I think it is a mistake to attempt to demonstrate the Lobby’s power by claiming that Lobby influenced actions are detrimental to imperial geo-strategy. That is nothing but the subjective opinion of those not tasked with strategic planning, and tends to suggest that the problem is that Israel is a liability to empire. The obvious implication being that if Israel wasn’t a liability to empire, things would be okay? Is this really anyone’s position? It sure as hell is not mine! From my perspective, whether one takes the position that the Lobby serves Israel exclusively, or whether the Lobby accommodates Israel and empire, the result is similar. The Lobby provides powerful support for actions which are fundamentally destructive and immoral. The Lobby is a profoundly negative influence on the political process which needs to be eliminated. I can only speculate as to why some seem determined to downplay US responsibility for its Middle East policy. The policy is wrong and needs to be changed. The Lobby is a big problem. Where is the fundamental disagreement?

      • Avi
        November 8, 2010, 12:48 am

        I think it is a mistake to attempt to demonstrate the Lobby’s power by claiming that Lobby influenced actions are detrimental to imperial geo-strategy. That is nothing but the subjective opinion of those not tasked with strategic planning, and tends to suggest that the problem is that Israel is a liability to empire.

        Keith,

        Gil McGuire’s analysis isn’t merely a subjective opinion. To characterize it as such is to ignore the basic tenants of academic research — or any other research in general. There is always subjectivity in analyzing a situation, but the fact remains that said analysis is based on a logical process, including deductive and inductive reasoning.

        In addition — and this isn’t meant as an attack, but merely an explanation of my position regarding your opinion on the subject — I do not see any supporting facts concerning the geo-strategic and political plans as delineated by Mr. McGuire. In other words, I have yet to see you put forth a convincing argument that — at the very least — refutes the aforementioned points.

        I would like to think that if you put forth such an argument, it would be convincing. I would like to think that I’m a reasonable person and that I’ll be able to recognize such an argument when I see it. Alas, I haven’t. So, either I’m severely biased or you haven’t made a convincing argument that relies on the political reality.

      • Citizen
        November 8, 2010, 1:11 am

        Keith, I agree with you that the US is very significantly responsible for the disaster that is Iraq, Afghanistan/Pakistan, and increasingly, Yemen, and ultimately, Iran. US imperialism partners with Israel to create these disasters, which are not good for anyone but the US/Israeii elite. Now, please tell us how our change of policy towards Turkey, the subject of the post here, is good for the US and/or good for US imperialism. How does the average American benefit, and how is it US geoplitical-strategic interests?

      • Keith
        November 8, 2010, 3:53 pm

        CITIZEN- Two comments: First, I am not sure that the US has changed its policy to Turkey. The change which has occurred seems to be more of a reflection of a change in Turkey’s policy following the election of President Erdogan. Further, this change may ultimately be to the US benefit: see Bandolero’s comments below.

        The second point is that I consider it a waste of time trying to evaluate very specific US actions on the fly in an attempt to guess the impact of each action on an imputed US geo-strategy. An evaluation of geo-strategy is based upon a consistent historical perspective, and usually refers to declassified planning documents not available in the present tense. The intent of imperial policy to secure raw materials and markets (among other things) seems pretty clear. The function of US military bases for power projection also seems clear. To attempt to analyze specific tactical decisions to demonstrate some sort of imputed deviance from US strategic interests is questionable, to say the least. If one looks at the current situation in regards to the US stated goal of achieving dominance in the Middle East, it would appear that the US has been wildly successful. Hardly the result of a bunch of blundering incompetents, or of sacrificing imperial geo-strategy to a foreign country.

        Of course, the US empire is in decline, a powerful transnational financial empire is emerging, and chaos is around the corner. The bedrock of our critique should be decency and morality, not to try and function as some sort of shadow Council on Foreign Relations criticizing actions because we think that they may be harmful to US imperial interests. What kind of perspective is that? US/Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians is wrong and needs to be opposed. Zionism, in its current form, is an obstacle to a fair and just solution and needs to be opposed. The Lobby, however defined, is an obstacle to a fair and just settlement and needs to be opposed.

      • irishmoses
        November 10, 2010, 1:35 am

        Thanks Avi. While I appreciate the various viewpoints of Keith and others on the US as a hegemonic, imperialist demon, I think that is piling a whole host of angels on one very modest pin. All I was trying to say was that the US is not acting in its best interest by favoring Israel over Turkey, and that the loss of Turkey will be very harmful to US interests.
        As to imperialist motives, I think any country trys to protect its interests; the bigger and more influential the country the more interests it will try and have to protect (access to trade, trade routes, access to resources like oil, etc.). If the US loses influence in the Middle East, China will be more than willing to replace it, and for the same motives (trade, resources, etc.). Whether having the US as a superpower wielding influence in your area is better or worse than having China or Russia doing the wielding is a topic for a much wider discussion.
        The problem with US Middle East policy is that it seems to be framed and dictated by Israel. This has led to at least two huge blunders, the invasion of Iraq, and the failure to force Israel into a reasonable resolution with the Palestinians. My point is that Israel and its US lobby have caused these blunders and have also caused the US the support and allegiance of Turkey.

    • David Green
      November 7, 2010, 7:52 pm

      Yes, obviously, in the context of any critical analysis of U.S. foreign policy, recent developments vis a vis Turkey, Venezuela, etc. are all to the good. U.S. “interests” are not the interests of the vast majority of U.S. citizens, no less the vast majority of everyone else. No country aspiring to be a half-way decent country aspires to please the U.S. Any country “alienated” from the U.S. may increase the danger to itself, but also increases the hope for a better world; especially, as appears to be the case with Turkey, it aspires to leadership in the Muslim world, not just to the aggrandisement of its own elites.

      • Avi
        November 8, 2010, 1:19 am

        David Green November 7, 2010 at 7:52 pm

        Yes, obviously, in the context of any critical analysis of U.S. foreign policy, recent developments vis a vis Turkey, Venezuela, etc. are all to the good. U.S. “interests” are not the interests of the vast majority of U.S. citizens, no less the vast majority of everyone else. No country aspiring to be a half-way decent country aspires to please the U.S. Any country “alienated” from the U.S. may increase the danger to itself, but also increases the hope for a better world; especially, as appears to be the case with Turkey, it aspires to leadership in the Muslim world, not just to the aggrandisement of its own elites.

        David Green,

        That’s all well and true, but what happens if these so-called elites bring about the total collapse of a country? How will they continue to leech off of the system that supports them if the system is no longer there?

        In the event that the United States’ economy comes crashing down and the dollar is of no value on the street, what will these elites do? It would be akin to a parasite destroying its own host.

      • Keith
        November 8, 2010, 3:08 pm

        AVI- Global capital is attempting to collapse national economies even as we speak. Iceland, Greece, Ireland, Spain, etc. When these economies collapse and the IMF comes in, you get your structural adjustment eliminating social benefits along with a fire sale on national assets which global capital acquires at pennies on the dollar. Witness what happened during the Asian financial crisis. The US is beginning to undergo structural adjust now. The safety net shredded, social spending slashed, government functions privatized. Financial shocks provide a perfect opportunity to restructure society more to capital’s liking. Global capital. Capital which roams the world in search of profit. Capital which relocated US manufacturing to Third World sweat shops. Depressions can be very profitable if you have a lot of cash.

    • yourstruly
      November 7, 2010, 8:52 pm

      Is the U.S. government’s unwavering support for Israel, despite any adverse effects such will have on its imperial geo-strategy, proof that the tail (& its lobby) is wagging the dog, or does is this this still consistant with the confluence of interest hypothesis? Which begs another question, what sort of confluence of interest could override keeping Turkey on the side of Empire? Seems to me the answer has to be Empire’s quest to take back Iran, the nation that it “lost” to the Islamic revolutionaries. Yes, America’s distancing itself from the Zionist state would preserve, even strengthen its relationship with Turkey, might even lession tensions between the U.S. & Iran. Except when has Empire shown (as opposed to merely said) that it wants better relations with Iran? After all isn’t Empire following almost the identical script in its campaign against the Islamic state that it used against Iraq? One other thing, if the U.S. did end the special relationship with Israel, how would it justify its 60+ year support of that settler-state? We were duped? Would the public buy? And if not, in regards to Empire’s other costly misadventures, would the public begin to wonder what these were & are all about? And if so, might this have a domino effect in terms of popular support for Empire’s many wars, upon Empire itself, and the government/system that manufactures them? Perhaps Empire’s control of MSM will ensure that a disconnect of the special relationship would proceed smoothly without many questions being raised, but can’t help but wondering, what will the our corporo-military government say when relatives of the thousands of U.S. troops killed in these wars ask “What was the reason, again, that my loved ones die in such and such war? Or did he or she die in vain?”

      • Avi
        November 8, 2010, 1:05 am

        yourstruly,

        Yours is an appealing argument and I am inclined to believe it, however. It has one fundamental flaw. It assumes that the United States is inclined and prepared to attack/invade Iran. To do so, the U.S. would be committing suicide given, not only its overstretched military resources, but also worsening relations between it, Russia and China.

        Both Russia and China currently have multi-billion trade deals with Iran. The same applies to Turkey. China will not allow the U.S. to risk its access to these markets and these regional alliances. Should the U.S. move in that direction in — say, roughly — 10 or 15 years, it will have the consequence of turning most of Asia into one hostile anti-U.S. bloc reminiscent of the Cold War, but far worse due to the economic fallout.

        Furthermore, one must differentiate between short-term goals and long-term goals. Long term strategic goals are planned 25 to 40 years in advance. In other words, current misadventures in Yemen or Iraq are but short-term challenges for the empire on its path to the long-term goal, China. China is an emerging economic superpower.

        So, if your hypothesis is accurate, and the U.S. seeks to isolate China in 30 years time, it is certainly on a suicide mission. And if that’s the mission on which the U.S. wants to embark, then its strategic planners are reckless idiots.

      • yourstruly
        November 8, 2010, 9:33 am

        Avi,

        appreciated, I hope you’re right.

      • Antidote
        November 8, 2010, 12:30 pm

        “if the U.S. did end the special relationship with Israel”

        VP Biden:

        Disagreements between Jerusalem and Washington “have only been tactical in nature,” he said, adding that the ties between the two countries are “literally unbreakable.”

        “Let me be very clear: we are also absolutely committed to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.”

        link to haaretz.com

        Is this just empty rhetoric, political speech material?

        Is such an unbreakable bond compatible with the US constitution?

        I don’t think so. But there it is

  8. annie
    November 7, 2010, 6:44 pm

    what an excellent article. everyone should read it. thank you gil maguire , i’m checking out your blog. you kick ass.

    • Citizen
      November 8, 2010, 1:43 am

      Yes, Gil kicks ass; he’s very astute. Here’s Gil’s thorough delineation of the value of Turkey to the USA: link to savingisrael.wordpress.com

      In comparison, Israel’s value to the USA is practically nill. Don’t hold your breath for Sarah to pin on a Turkey Flag intertwined with ours.

  9. annie
    November 7, 2010, 6:49 pm

    i recommend everyone checking out the gil’s IrishMoses blog link. the article there has an abundance of supporting links not available here.

    • Citizen
      November 8, 2010, 1:37 am

      Yes, annie, it does: link to savingisrael.wordpress.com

      Gil commented on his own web site that he was not allowed to post on Mondoweiss; he says he does not know the reason. He wants folks to read both sites.

      • irishmoses
        November 8, 2010, 1:30 pm

        I now have full access to Mondoweiss thanks to Phil’s patient efforts.

  10. Bandolero
    November 7, 2010, 7:26 pm

    That’s a funny one:
    “Its loss is a major blow to U.S. vital national security interests.”

    So the US is threatened now by an invasion of one or some of the neighbors of Turkey? US imperialism is on decline, that’s all.

    “The key, critical question is whether Israel ’s U.S. lobby’s actions forcing congressional and executive branch approval and support for Israel ’s brutal and illegal treatment of civilian noncombatants caused Turkey to change its policies toward the U.S. , reduce its commitment to its alliance with the U.S. , and take steps contrary to the vital national security interests of the U.S. The answer, unfortunately, is yes.”

    That’s not true. Some remarks, on how Turkey really changed course:

    All over the last decades Turkey emancipated from the NATO/CIA military dictatorship known as deep state, Gladio and the like. It was not just cast lead and the flotilla raid. Support for the islamic RP and later AKP built up slowly over the last decades. As Sibel Edmonds revealed, in the beginning it was even supported by the US to gain leverage in central asia by using Turkey as proxy for influencing turkish rooted people in these countries.

    When the US attacked Iraq, AKP emacipated from US influence. Turkish people didn’t like the invasion and AKP started and won the democratic battle to forbid the US to use it’s turkish base for the attack. Since these days, the horrors of brutal imperialistic became visible even more clear – and it’s all to benefit AKPs ideas of foreign policy. This policy ideas were designed by Ahmet Davutoglu years ago, and the core of the foreign policy is to have good relations with all neighbors, and if possible, to the whole world. Such foreign policy is nothing new for Turkey, the Ottoman empire based on these ideals, too, and it gave Turkey great leverage on the whole near east. As good as the ideal is, Turkey was at this time a protectorate of the US, whose foreign policy was mainly ran by the NATO/CIA regime of coup generals, and the AKP knew too well that a coup would occur if it left the US-Israel-alliance, which used Turkey as a bellingerent forward outpost for their own agenda.

    Another major factor was that EU promised the turks entry, but than denied it due to racist rightists in Europe – mainly in Germany and France -, but told Turkey it was denied for lack of civil government and democracy, demanding Turkey to fulfill these requirements in lengthy negotiations. This was a path to secure empowerment for the AKP, because dismantling the NATO/CIA military dictatorship and replace it with civil government and democracy was exactly what AKP wanted internally. It were the military rulers who had build up hope to get into EU for decades, and when dissolving the military dictatorship was neccessary for prgress in EU membership so they couldn’t confront it.

    But behind the doors, the AKP knew well, that Turkey will probably never be allowed to EU, because Europe is deeply racist. So the AKP looked for new international partners less racist and found at first: Russia. 2007 Turkey made public a joint gas pipeline project with Russia: south stream.

    As cast lead came, the time for the foreign policy outbreak of the AKP government was there. The US invasion into Iraq and the EU membership process had weakened the military regime, outraged the Turkish public and so Erdogan could risk to tell Peres some trueful words in Davos. The Turkish public hailed him for this, no matter how the CIA backed propaganda outlets tried to smear him. And consequently, Erdogan caled in Davutoglu to roll out the foreign policy idea of the AKP: zero problem with all neighbors. The military was to weak to stage a coup against it.

    That’s what we see now: Turkey relations with all neighbors improved significantly, including visa free partnerships with Syria and Lebanon, a free trade zone with Syria, Lebanon and Jordan and best relations with Iran. Together with it’s friends Syria and Iran, Turkey will probably be able to persuade Iraq to join the axis of friendship, too. Turkey has enourmos lever on Iraq, because the main oil export pipeline from kurdish Iraq goes via Turkey.

    As AKPs president Gül has excellent relations to the Saudis, we wil perhaps even see Saudi Arabia lining up with Turkey in the near future, maybe, reconciliation between Hariri and Assad was already influenced by this relation. It’s good for all the countries in the region, if they cooperate together and trade goods instead of threats.

    The point, that Turkey has dropped down relations with US, is not true. Turkey is still committed to good US-relations. It just won’t let the relations be misused to make out of Turkey a cold war like forward outpost again, which has to have unfriendly relations with it’s neighbors. And it’s not bad for the US president neither: he can use Turkey as a lever against Israel and it’s lobby.

    All in all, just one small country has every reason to be worried, if it won’t change it’s behaviour and it’s politics: Israel.

    Looks like check mate. Israel just didn’t realize it yet.

    • syvanen
      November 7, 2010, 11:10 pm

      Bandolero

      Now this is one very good summary of the changes occurring in Turkish foreign relations. I sort of understood what was happening but you summarize those changes very well.

    • Avi
      November 8, 2010, 1:13 am

      Bandolero,

      The gist of your comment doesn’t conflict with the gist of the author’s article. In fact, the two complement each other. In other words, given Brazil’s, Venezuela’s, Turkey’s and Iran’s and Russia’s recent plans for economic cooperation, it seems that the United States set Turkey loose due to pressure from the Israel Lobby.

      That is to say that the United States is currently relying on its military advantage to maintain its power throughout the world and for years to come. But, strategically, it would have been far wiser to contain the growing alliance between the world’s emerging economies (Brazil, China…etc.). In this case, divide and control would have been more effective as far as the U.S. is concerned. But, instead, it opted for the opposite.

      • Bandolero
        November 8, 2010, 6:39 am

        @Avi
        The main difference from my point of view:

        Gil blames Barack Obama’s devotion to the Israel lobby for having lost the imperialist lever on Turkey to use it as proxy for dominating the middle east, which he describes as against nationall security interests of the US.

        I described that Turkey emancipated itself from it’s US sponsored military dictatorship and I credit Barack Obama for having nothing serious done to prevent it. Question maybe, what could he have done to prevent Turkey going off the hook, but I think there were options, like covert action or using US influence in Europe to keep Turkey on Zionist route. I hail it as a win-win-situation for Turkey and the US. Turkey gets democracy and prosperacy and the US got in Turkey an asset able to fight Israeli dominance over the middle east and – in effect – also against Israeli domination over the US itself. I see this not as a threat, but a very positive development. It benefits the whole middle east region and finally the whole world, with one exception: Israel. Israel will sooner or later realize, that it must change it’s aggressive policies, or it will be completely fail in the region. The political-economic forces in the US wishing to get back closer to the Turkish-led mid-east-alliance will grow stronger over time and will eventually – especially if countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE, Qatar and Bahrain will join the Turkish club, too – become stronger than the political forces of the Israeli racists in the US. When it comes to this point, Israel can’t be longer the tail wagging the US dog and the US gets back it independency.

        Do you see the difference in my analysis and that of Gil?

      • Antidote
        November 8, 2010, 4:58 pm

        Agree. Worth remembering: Turkey was the first Muslim country Obama visited during his first 3 months in office, and not long before he showed Netanyahu the back door.

      • Avi
        November 8, 2010, 6:19 pm

        I hail it as a win-win-situation for Turkey and the US. Turkey gets democracy and prosperity and the US got in Turkey an asset able to fight Israeli dominance over the middle east and – in effect – also against Israeli domination over the US itself.

        So, in essence, you’re saying that the U.S. might be using Turkey as a proxy to contain Israel? That’s a possibility. It’s an interesting idea.

        This was an interesting discussion. Thanks, guys.

      • Bandolero
        November 8, 2010, 10:39 pm

        Using as a proxy I see a bit as a false intonation. I see it more like letting it off the hook, as doing nothing or little to prevent the natural indigenous development of Turkey and stopping to sabotage this development with dirty plots.

        A very interesting key I found a year ago in the Guardian, after Erdogan declared Ahmadinejad to be a friend of Turkey. The Israel lobby was upset and threatened consequences. The Guardian reported:

        They are unlikely to impress Israel, which has warned that Erdogan’s criticisms risk harming Turkey’s relations with the US. Erdogan dismissed the notion, saying: “I don’t think there is any possibility of that. America’s policy in this region is not dictated by Israel.”

        So Israel – as far as I remember president Peres was the guy who spoke for Israel there – threatened that Erdogans friendship with Ahmadinejad will see a strong foreign policy response from the US. Erdogan lectured Israel that US foreign policy in the region is not dictated by Israel.

        And than it comes to see. Who was right? The US – represented by the Obama administration – did not move a finger against Turkey. Obama did exactly nothing to bring Turkey back into the zionist camp.

        And worse for Israel:

        After the Mavi Marmara incident, it was Israel alone, which put harsh economic sanctions against Turkish tourism industry by publishing a strong security warning against Turkey. Of course, such a move of Israel alone showed no success – Israel alone is not an economic superpower, but in economic terms rather small. The US could, for example, try to use it’s enourmous influence in Germany to make the effect of these punitive Israeli touristic business measures a strong political weapon, but it didn’t.

        So my conclusion is, that the current US administration is quite happy, that Turkey confronts the zionist problem. And it is reasonable, because it’s in Oabams interest, too: Barack Obama of course noticed, how Netanyahu has managed to bog him down in settlement and peace process questions and he knows quite well, that the zionist lobby tries to go for his neck 2012.

      • irishmoses
        November 10, 2010, 1:46 am

        Ah, but Senator Kerry is on a trip to Turkey, then Israel with the stated intent of mending fences between the two countries. I suspect and hope that the Turks will tell him that the US should use its efforts in solving the Israel – Palestinian problem, and that Turkey has nothing to gain by renewing an alliance with Israel so long as it remains a pariah in the region.

    • irishmoses
      November 9, 2010, 11:30 pm

      Good comment Bandolero; I agree that there is more of a history to Turkey’s new independence from the US than just the Gaza incidents. Nonetheless, the brutality of Israel’s Gaza invasion seemed to be a real turning point for the Turks. I think it really triggered moral outrage that they could not ignore. If you look at my blog article “Who Lost Turkey…” at irishmoses.com, I lay out a lot more detail on the comments by Davutoglu and others about the Gaza invasion, the flotilla incident, etc., that gives more flavor to their reaction. The Turkish prime minister actually saw the burned bodies of Palestinian kids incinerated by by phosphorus bombs the Israelis used.
      While Turkey may not have formally broken relations with the U.S. it certainly has taken quite a few aggressive steps in the last few months that are antagonistic to that relationship.
      I agree with you on the leverage issue; I just hope President Obama can summon the courage to use it against Israel and the lobby. While the big loser is Israel, the U.S. will also lose big if Turkey turns to China as its new superpower protector.

      • Bandolero
        November 10, 2010, 7:26 am

        @Gil

        thanks for your feedback.

        I think, the Gaza incidents just pushed the relations over the edge. Building up public anger against Israel in the islamic communities in Turkey was done a lot earlier.

        And there is another blow to the Israeli-Turkish-relations, which in my opinion might have been even more significant, than the Gaza incidents – the Ayalon humiliation of the Turkish ambassador:

        Israeli deputy FM Danny Ayalon plays “the Great Dictator”

        While the Gaza incidents created rage in the large Muslim part of the Turkish society, this humiliation created especially rage in the nationalistic part and in the military. So the Turkish military did no longer oppose action of the AKP government against Israel.

        All in all I see it as a win for the US to have Turkey build up a counterweight against the devastating policies of the Israel lobby. What I see most devastating for the US in the last years, are the wars, which the Israel lobby has pushed the US into. The same Israel lobby is gearing up for war against Iran. Turkey is a counterweight preventing the US from doing such an act, which would be extremely harmful for the US itself. That is – from my point of view – far more valuable for the US, than getting some more business contracts or military contracts with Turkey.

        That China wins some business and miitary contracts in Turkey, seems for me normal in a multipolar world and it prevents the Israel lobby to build up pressure against Turkey via the US. I don’t think, Turkey needs a superpower protector. I think, Turkey is strong enough for itself to steer it’s own course in a multipolar world.

        I think, the whole “superpower protector” concept of the cold war times and the proposed Pax Americana in the follow up is not any more accurate to describe the world today and tomorrow.

        In this emerging multipolar world the winners are those, who are best at networking, making friends with lot’s of different countries, building up multifacetted economic ties as well as multifacetted security ties. Turkey prevents the US to do stupid steps which would lead it only to loose more ground – eg now Turkey antagonizes the missile shield proposed by the US war lobby. I think, not to have that missile shield against Iran and the arabic world in the way proposed is also good for the US, because not implementing this cold war politics will help the US later to build better relations with arabic countries in the multipolar world coming.

      • irishmoses
        November 10, 2010, 10:01 am

        Good points as usual. I had forgotten about the ambassador humiliation incident; incredible arrogance by the most boorish and thugish regime in Israel’s short history. And, not a word of support for the Turks or criticism of Ayalon from Obama.

        I like your view of Turkey as a counterweight to Israel. At least there is one honest broker in the Middle East; someone with the courage to point out to us that we left the house without getting dressed.

  11. Bandolero
    November 7, 2010, 7:50 pm

    One funny link to add at the end of my dry analysis: US relations with Turkey can be good, but some US people should work a bit on their manners regarding Turkey and not try to treat Turkey like a banana republic colony:

    US ambassador crisis in Qatar

    • irishmoses
      November 10, 2010, 10:09 am

      Hilarious; two guys literally at each other’s throats, all over the length of a meeting. I think it demonstrates the need for more estrogen and less testosterone in the international community.

  12. Kathleen
    November 7, 2010, 8:10 pm

    Philip Giraldi on Sibel, Turkey, Israel, the Neocons and the MIC
    link to thestressblog.com
    Sibel Edmonds, the Turkish FBI translator turned whistleblower who has been subjected to a gag order could provide a major insight into how neoconservatives distort US foreign policy and enrich themselves at the same time. On one level, her story appears straightforward: several Turkish lobbying groups allegedly bribed congressmen to support policies favourable to Ankara. But beyond that, the Edmonds revelations become more serpentine and appear to involve AIPAC, Israel and a number of leading neoconservatives who have profited from the Turkish connection. Israel has long cultivated a close relationship with Turkey since Ankara’s neighbours and historic enemies – Iran, Syria and Iraq – are also hostile to Tel Aviv. Islamic Turkey has also had considerable symbolic value for Israel, demonstrating that hostility to Muslim neighbours is not a sine qua non for the Jewish state.

    Turkey benefits from the relationship by securing general benevolence and increased aid from the US Congress – as well as access to otherwise unattainable military technology. The Turkish General Staff has a particular interest because much of the military spending is channeled through companies in which the generals have a financial stake, making for a very cozy and comfortable business arrangement. The commercial interest has also fostered close political ties, with the American Turkish Council, American Turkish Cultural Alliance and the Assembly of Turkish American Associations all developing warm relationships with AIPAC and other Jewish and Israel advocacy groups throughout the US.

    Sibel Edmonds
    Whistleblower Sibel Edmonds Finally Testifies Under Oath
    link to youtube.com

    Bruce Fein is a resident scholar with the Turkish Coalition of America.
    link to turkishcoalition.org
    Obama Needs Turkey: An Explanation
    link to huffingtonpost.com

    Who’s Afraid of Sibel Edmonds? PDF

    The gagged whistleblower goes on the record.
    link to amconmag.com
    SIBEL EDMONDS: During my work with the FBI, one of the major operational files that I was transcribing and translating started in late 1996 and continued until 2002, when I left the Bureau. Because the FBI had had no Turkish translators, these files were archived, but were considered to be very important operations. As part of the background, I was briefed about why these operations had been initiated and who the targets were.

    Grossman became a person of interest early on in the investigative file while he was the U.S. ambassador to Turkey [1994-97], when he became personally involved with operatives both from the Turkish government and from suspected criminal groups. He also had suspicious contact with a number of official and non-official Israelis. Grossman was removed from Turkey short of tour during a scandal referred to as “Susurluk” by the media. It involved a number of high-level criminals as well as senior army and intelligence officers with whom he had been in contact.

    Another individual who was working for Grossman, Air Force Major Douglas Dickerson, was also removed from Turkey and sent to Germany. After he and his Turkish wife Can returned to the U.S., he went to work for Douglas Feith and she was hired as an FBI Turkish translator. My complaints about her connection to Turkish lobbying groups led to my eventual firing.

    Grossman and Dickerson had to leave the country because a big investigation had started in Turkey. Special prosecutors were appointed, and the case was headlined in England, Germany, Italy, and in some of the Balkan countries because the criminal groups were found to be active in all those places. A leading figure in the scandal, Mehmet Eymür, led a major paramilitary group for the Turkish intelligence service. To keep him from testifying, Eymür was sent by the Turkish government to the United States, where he worked for eight months as head of intelligence at the Turkish Embassy in Washington. He later became a U.S. citizen and now lives in McLean, Virginia. The central figure in this scandal was Abdullah Catli. In 1989, while “most wanted” by Interpol, he came to the U.S., was granted residency, and settled in Chicago, where he continued to conduct his operations until 1996.

    GIRALDI: So Grossman at this point comes back to the United States. He’s rewarded with the third-highest position at the State Department, and he allegedly uses this position to do favors for “Turkish interests”—both for the Turkish government and for possible criminal interests. Sometimes, the two converge. The FBI is aware of his activities and is listening to his phone calls. When someone who is Turkish calls Grossman, the FBI monitors that individual’s phone calls, and when the Turk calls a friend who is a Pakistani or an Egyptian or a Saudi, they monitor all those contacts, widening the net.

    EDMONDS: Correct.

    GIRALDI: And Grossman received money as a result. In one case, you said that a State Department colleague went to pick up a bag of money…

    EDMONDS: $14,000

    GIRALDI: What kind of information was Grossman giving to foreign countries? Did he give assistance to foreign individuals penetrating U.S. government labs and defense installations as has been reported? It’s also been reported that he was the conduit to a group of congressmen who become, in a sense, the targets to be recruited as “agents of influence.”

    EDMONDS: Yes, that’s correct. Grossman assisted his Turkish and Israeli contacts directly, and he also facilitated access to members of Congress who might be inclined to help for reasons of their own or could be bribed into cooperation. The top person obtaining classified information was Congressman Tom Lantos. A Lantos associate, Alan Makovsky worked very closely with Dr. Sabri Sayari in Georgetown University, who is widely believed to be a Turkish spy. Lantos would give Makovsky highly classified policy-related documents obtained during defense briefings for passage to Israel because Makovsky was also working for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

    GIRALDI: Makovsky is now working for the Washington Institute for Near Eastern Policy, a pro-Israeli think tank.

    EDMONDS: Yes. Lantos was at the time probably the most outspoken supporter of Israel in Congress. AIPAC would take out the information from Lantos that was relevant to Israel, and they would give the rest of it to their Turkish associates. The Turks would go through the leftovers, take what they wanted, and then try to sell the rest. If there were something relevant to Pakistan, they would contact the ISI officer at the embassy and say, “We’ve got this and this, let’s sit down and talk.” And then they would sell it to the Pakistanis.

  13. Shingo
    November 7, 2010, 8:15 pm

    Great article, but it still buys into the accepted notion that US dominance of the Middle East is necessary or even a positive situation.

    The US should not expect to have strategic interests in the Middle East. It’s on the other side of the globe, and it’s strategic interests should be confined to it’s own neighborhood.

    With Turkey forging it’s new alliances with it’s neighbors and Russia/China, there will be a momentum shift for other states in the region to move away from US control. That can only be a good thing. With these developments, and the US becoming an economic basket case, Egypt will become increasingly unstable and volatile, and the population will want to follow suit.

    There is no danger to Europe as far as access to oil and gas reserves. Even while the US dominated the region, no state in the world was denied access to these resources.

  14. Kathleen
    November 7, 2010, 8:22 pm

    Lost In Translation
    link to cbsnews.com
    Take the case of Jan Dickerson, a Turkish translator who worked with Edmonds. The FBI has admitted that when Dickerson was hired, the bureau didn’t know that she had worked for a Turkish organization being investigated by the FBI’s own counter-intelligence unit.

    They also didn’t know she’d had a relationship with a Turkish intelligence officer stationed in Washington who was the target of that investigation. According to Edmonds, Dickerson tried to recruit her into that organization, and insisted that Dickerson be the only one to translate the FBI’s wiretaps of that Turkish official.

    “She got very angry, and later she threatened me and my family’s life,” says Edmonds, when she decided not to go along with the plan. “She said, ‘Why would you want to place your life and your family’s life in danger by translating these tapes?’”

    Edmonds says that when she reviewed Dickerson’s translations of those tapes, she found that Dickerson had left out information crucial to the FBI’s investigation – information that Edmonds says would have revealed that the Turkish intelligence officer had spies working for him inside the U.S. State Department and at the Pentagon.

    “We came across at least 17, 18 translations, communications that were extremely important for the ongoing investigations of these individuals,” says Edmonds. “She had marked it as ‘not important to be translated.’”

    What kind of information did she leave out of her translation?

    “Activities to obtain the United States military and intelligence secrets,” says Edmonds.

    She says she complained repeatedly to her bosses about what she’d found on the wiretaps and about Dickerson’s conduct, but that nobody at the FBI wanted to hear about it, not even the assistant special agent in charge.

  15. Kathleen
    November 7, 2010, 8:48 pm

    This Turkish, Israel, Neo Con trail is fascinating

    link to amconmag.com
    “GIRALDI: So the network starts with a person like Grossman in the State Department providing information that enables Turkish and Israeli intelligence officers to have access to people in Congress, who then provide classified information that winds up in the foreign embassies?

    EDMONDS: Absolutely. And we also had Pentagon officials doing the same thing. We were looking at Richard Perle and Douglas Feith. They had a list of individuals in the Pentagon broken down by access to certain types of information. Some of them would be policy related, some of them would be weapons-technology related, some of them would be nuclear-related. Perle and Feith would provide the names of those Americans, officials in the Pentagon, to Grossman, together with highly sensitive personal information: this person is a closet gay; this person has a chronic gambling issue; this person is an alcoholic. The files on the American targets would contain things like the size of their mortgages or whether they were going through divorces. One Air Force major I remember was going through a really nasty divorce and a child custody fight. They detailed all different kinds of vulnerabilities.

    GIRALDI: So they had access to their personnel files and also their security files and were illegally accessing this kind of information to give to foreign agents who exploited the vulnerabilities of these people to recruit them as sources of information?

    EDMONDS: Yes. Some of those individuals on the list were also working for the RAND Corporation. RAND ended up becoming one of the prime targets for these foreign agents.

    GIRALDI: RAND does highly classified research for the U.S. government. So they were setting up these people for recruitment as agents or as agents of influence?

    EDMONDS: Yes, and the RAND sources would be paid peanuts compared to what the information was worth when it was sold if it was not immediately useful for Turkey or Israel. They also had sources who were working in some midwestern Air Force bases. The sources would provide the information on CD’s and DVD’s. In one case, for example, a Turkish military attaché got the disc and discovered that it was something really important, so he offered it to the Pakistani ISI person at the embassy, but the price was too high. Then a Turkish contact in Chicago said he knew two Saudi businessmen in Detroit who would be very interested in this information, and they would pay the price. So the Turkish military attaché flew to Detroit with his assistant to make the sale.

    GIRALDI: We know Grossman was receiving money for services.

    EDMONDS: Yes. Sometimes he would give money to the people who were working with him, identified in phone calls on a first-name basis, whether it’s a John or a Joe. He also took care of some other people, including his contact at the New York Times. Grossman would brag, “We just fax to our people at the New York Times. They print it under their names.”

    GIRALDI: Did Feith and Perle receive any money that you know of?

    EDMONDS: No.

    GIRALDI: So they were doing favors for other reasons. Both Feith and Perle were lobbyists for Turkey and also were involved with Israel on defense contracts, including some for Northrop Grumman, which Feith represented in Israel.

    EDMONDS: They had arrangements with various companies, some of them members of the American Turkish Council. They had arrangements with Kissinger’s group, with Northrop Grumman, with former secretary of state James Baker’s group, and also with former national security adviser Brent Scowcroft.

    The monitoring of the Turks picked up contacts with Feith, Wolfowitz, and Perle in the summer of 2001, four months before 9/11. They were discussing with the Turkish ambassador in Washington an arrangement whereby the U.S. would invade Iraq and divide the country. The UK would take the south, the rest would go to the U.S. They were negotiating what Turkey required in exchange for allowing an attack from Turkish soil. The Turks were very supportive, but wanted a three-part division of Iraq to include their own occupation of the Kurdish region. The three Defense Department officials said that would be more than they could agree to, but they continued daily communications to the ambassador and his defense attaché in an attempt to convince them to help.
    ———————————–

    “Well, as the FBI developed more information, Tom Lantos was added to this list, and then they got a lot on Douglas Feith and Richard Perle and Marc Grossman. At this point, the Justice Department said they wanted the FBI to only focus on Congress, leaving the executive branch people out of it. But the FBI agents involved wanted to continue pursuing Perle and Feith because the Israeli Embassy was also connected. Then the Monica Lewinsky scandal erupted, and everything was placed on the back burner.

    But some of the agents continued to investigate the congressional connection. In 1999, they wiretapped the congressmen directly. (Prior to that point they were getting all their information secondhand through FISA, as their primary targets were foreigners.) The questionably legal wiretap gave the perfect excuse to the Justice Department. As soon as they found out, they refused permission to monitor the congressmen and Grossman as primary targets. But the inquiry was kept alive in Chicago because the FBI office there was pursuing its own investigation. The epicenter of a lot of the foreign espionage activity was Chicago.

    GIRALDI: So the investigation stopped in Washington, but continued in Chicago?

    EDMONDS: Yes, and in 2000, another representative was added to the list, Jan Schakowsky, the Democratic congresswoman from Illinois. Turkish agents started gathering information on her, and they found out that she was bisexual. So a Turkish agent struck up a relationship with her. When Jan Schakowsky’s mother died, the Turkish woman went to the funeral, hoping to exploit her vulnerability. They later were intimate in Schakowsky’s townhouse, which had been set up with recording devices and hidden cameras. They needed Schakowsky and her husband Robert Creamer to perform certain illegal operational facilitations for them in Illinois. They already had Hastert, the mayor, and several other Illinois state senators involved. I don’t know if Congresswoman Schakowsky ever was actually blackmailed or did anything for the Turkish woman.”

  16. jimby
    November 7, 2010, 9:05 pm

    Let’s not forget that Turkey applied for membership in the European Union in the 80′s and has been set on hold all this time. They have been kept at bay for largely racist reasons. It is not only the US who has soured the Turks on the West.

  17. irishmoses
    November 8, 2010, 12:02 am

    Annie,
    Thank you for your nice comments.

  18. syvanen
    November 8, 2010, 2:19 am

    Maybe I am piling on but it seems that anything that leads the US, either willingly or not, to a less aggressive international position should be considered positive. So when Gil writes:

    That view of the U.S. , as a feeble, declining giant, unable or unwilling to defend its vital interests, may well increasingly be shared by many of our allies and potential adversaries. If so, that is a dangerous trend indeed, and one that we need to stop.

    I have to say that this is a positive development. This thread really does expose much of the tension among those who are critical Israel.

    One is the foreign policy types like Walt and Mearsheimer who, like Gil, are concerned that US support for Israel weakens the US influence in the world. Two are those who are simply concerned about the injustice against the Palestinian people. Three, those on the real left that oppose US imperial policy in general. Four those primarily concerned with the economic costs of the perpetual war the US has assumed on behalf of Israel. Of course, it is not inconsistent for many to be concerned with more than one issue but there will be people who seem on the same side of this issue that will conflict with others. I feel comfortable with all four positions but realize that if this problem is resolved the coalition will necessarily collapse because of the inherent contradictions between the different motives. That’s OK, it the nature of political coalitions.

    In any case this tension between the different players is healthy and hopefully they will pull together to stop the crazed Israeli policies that have unfortunately become part of US foreign policy.

  19. Evildoer
    November 8, 2010, 6:48 am

    Yet another example to the consistently unprincipled Mondoweiss support for Palestine.

    Perhaps the motto of Mondoweiss should be changed to “support Palestine because it will help you suck the blood of so many other people, you won’t even notice that Palestinians aren’t oppressed anymore”.

    Seriously, this is moral bankruptcy. It will not convince a single imperialist, because it is based on the bogus assumption that the people at the top of the hierarchy are clueless and don’t know what their interests are. The only thing it does is lend credibility to the Hasbara portrayal of support for Palestinians as based on double standards and motivated by hatred rather than by principles.

    • annie
      November 8, 2010, 8:12 am

      huh?

    • Kathleen
      November 8, 2010, 11:15 am

      Clearly you are unable to recognize balance. Phil seems completely dedicated to Israel based on internationally recognized borders. He and the team demonstrate the ability to look at many sides, inject humanitarian sensitivities and commitment to social justice applies to all not just to the Israeli’s.

      Too bad you are unable to get out of your box to notice and apprciate

  20. RoHa
    November 8, 2010, 6:55 am

    The Turks have a lot to be pissed off about. They wanted a nice quiet neighbourhood with lots of oil and gas pipes going into and through Turkey, as well as membership of the EU.

    As jimby says, the EU has snubbed them. The US/Israel
    -fomented trouble in the Ukraine
    -fomented trouble in Georgia
    (both on the Black Sea, both annoying Russia, which supplies 40 % of Turkey’s gas supplies, as well as a large chunk of oil)
    -set up plans to cut out Turkey from oil pipelines
    -attacked Lebanon
    -flew along the Turkihs border to attack Syria
    -destroyed Iraq (major neighbour and trading partner)
    -fomented trouble with the Kurds
    -threatened major neighbour and trading partner Iran
    -attacked Afghanistan and revived the drug traffic through Iran and Turkey after Turkey had expended much effort in stopping it
    -when Turkey and Brazil got an agreement with Iran which provided what the U.S. had said it wanted, the U.S. told them to bugger off.

    And there are probably other things I haven’t thought of.

  21. pabelmont
    November 8, 2010, 11:48 am

    “China has agreed to sell military equipment to Turkey, and is also developing a surface-to-surface rocket-launching system together with Turkey. Turkey’s foreign minister is visited China this week, working out details of its new strategic relationship.”

    Well, when Saudi Arabia and others buy USA aircraft, radar, etc., etc., they run the risk that the software involved (and all modern armaments are built on lots and lots of software) is either initially corrupted (or can later be corrupted) so as to be ineffective if used against USA or Israel (or whoever else). (Just think about the VOTING MACHINES scandals in USA to get a feeling for this possibility.)

    Same if you buy your weapons from China except its s/w (if also corrupt) may be differently corrupt and therefore more useful if used against Israel in a war.

    Something to consider. Imagine Turkey and Iran armed (not with nukes but) with weapons that could at least in principle be useful against Israeli weapons. Why, it takes the very breath away!

  22. hophmi
    November 8, 2010, 12:25 pm

    Turkey’s relationship with the West is slipping because of a decision by its President and its foreign minister to shift toward the East. It has little to do with Gaza, which is a convenient excuse for those who look to blame Israel for every world ill. But at the end of the day, most of this is bluster from a hothead leader, and this is the reason why Turkey continues to maintain ties to Israel behind the scenes. Turkey is not withdrawing from NATO anytime soon, and they will continue to try to gain membership in the EU.

    Turkey’s relationship with China is a perfectly understandable attempt by an Asian states to maintain friendly relations with as many countries as possible; why wouldn’t Turkey gravitate toward the Chinese?

    This country, persecutor of the Kurds, genocidalists of the Armenians, will stay in the US orbit.

    • Antidote
      November 8, 2010, 5:52 pm

      Who said it had anything to do with Gaza? That was the last straw for already strained T/I relations, but has next to nothing to do with Turkey’s relationship with the West. If Turkey leaves the Western alliance that will be because Turkey is fed up with the West, not the other way round. Turkey has other options.

      link to hurriyetdailynews.com

    • yonira
      November 9, 2010, 10:43 pm

      Don’t forget occupiers and ethnic cleansers of Cyprus.

      • Shingo
        November 9, 2010, 11:28 pm

        “Don’t forget occupiers and ethnic cleansers of Cyprus.”

        You’re referring to the Ottoman Empire right? If you want to do that, then the Ottomans were amateurs compared to the British.

      • Antidote
        November 10, 2010, 1:05 am

        Please: If international politics were seriously affected by ethnic cleansing, Israel would no longer exist

    • Shingo
      November 9, 2010, 11:27 pm

      “Turkey’s relationship with the West is slipping because of a decision by its President and its foreign minister to shift toward the East.”

      Actually, it’s largely due to the fact that Turkey is becoming more democratic and the public has turned against Deep State (ie. military dictatorship). As a functioning democracy, Turkey has chosen to engage it’s neighbors rather than maintain the permanent state of animosity and tension that the US and Israel would prefer.

      The fact that the US and Europe snubbed Turkey’s efforts to enter the EU only drove Turkey further towards the Islamic states along with China and Russia.

      Gaza disgusted the entire world, but the states in the region above all else and the masochism displayed by Israel turned Turkey against Israel. The massacre of the Turks on the flotilla only made matters worse.

      Turkey has not maintained any significant ties to Israel apart from completing the purchase of weapons that had been agreed to years ago.

      “This country, persecutor of the Kurds, genocidalists of the Armenians, will stay in the US orbit.”

      On the contrary. The US orbit is on it’s last legs and Turkey is smart enough o realize this. Turkey’s geographical and strategic importance is only being amplified while is headed towards increased isolation and irrelevance.

  23. lareineblanche
    November 8, 2010, 4:59 pm

    “…drastically reducing U.S. influence and power in the Middle East…

    This would probably be good news for the people there, if true.

    …the reality is that Turkey has become so disillusioned by the U.S.’ inability to fulfill its role as the dominant player in the Middle East that it has decided to forge its own path, independent of the U.S. and its NATO allies.

    Good.

Leave a Reply