Government hypocrisy competition

Koran burning protest
Koran burning protest, Afghanistan

Here are two recent entries in what is shaping up to be a closely-contested Government Hypocrisy Competition between Israel and the US. First, here is Ehud Barak, explaining why the Israeli government was compelled to evacuate Jewish settlers from their new Hebron “outpost” in an apartment building: Mr. Barak said that . . . he would “not allow a situation in which unlawful actions are taken to determine or dictate ad hoc facts to the authorities.”

Seriously? So would it be wrong for Israel to move its Jewish citizens into West Bank settlements, in violation of international law, thereby creating “ad hoc facts” on the ground that determine the boundaries of a future Palestinian State, and even whether such state is feasible at all?

What could possibly compete with that for hypocrisy? Try this entry from anonymous US government officials. Who is to blame for the violent riots that erupted in Afghanistan over mass burnings of the Koran? Those who actually burned the Koran? Those who invaded Afghanistan a decade ago and have killed, and continue to kill, untold numbers of civilians, thereby creating a powderkeg just waiting for ignition? Of course not. Iran is to blame. As the NY Times reports:

Just hours after it was revealed that American soldiers had burned Korans seized at an Afghan detention center in late February, Iran secretly ordered its agents operating inside Afghanistan to exploit the anticipated public outrage by trying to instigate violent protests.

Without Iranian secret agents whispering in their ears, Afghans would have placidly accepted this new outrage. Iran’s devious machinations are especially troubling, because Iran has actually threatened to retaliate if attacked, rather than calmly accept military punishment for its possible, theoretical, hypothetical, speculative efforts to acquire less than one percent of Israel’s nuclear capabilities.

[W]ith NATO governments preparing for the possibility of retaliation by Iran in the event of an Israeli attack on its nuclear facilities, the issue of Iran’s willingness and ability to foment violence in Afghanistan and elsewhere has taken on added urgency.

Leave it to those insane fanatics to cynically capitalize on a trivial incident and fuel the flames of Afghan anger. How dare the Iranians meddle in the affairs of a neighboring country? Don’t they know that under international law, the right to meddle is invested only in countries halfway around the world? Are they deliberately trying to provoke us into bombing them? How long must we allow this intolerable situation to continue?

While the contest for Most Hypocritical has been spirited and is currently too close to call, some may be disappointed to learn that for dissemination of idiotic self-serving government pronouncements, camouflaged as “news” without the slightest bit of critical journalistic examination, there is no current rival to the NY Times.

About David Samel

David Samel is am attorney in New York City.
Posted in Iran, Israel/Palestine, US Policy in the Middle East, US Politics

{ 11 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Kathleen says:

    Over at Foreign Policy Steve Walt hits another one out of the park.
    link to
    “And if you haven’t given up in despair already, please revisit this piece of mine from 2009. I asked it then and I ask it today: Once the two-state solution is really and truly buried, then what position is the U.S. government going to take? For that matter, what position will the hardliners at AIPAC or the ADL defend, and what will so-called progressives at groups like J Street favor? Ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians to ensure a Jewish majority? Binational democracy and equal rights for all residents of a single state? Or permanent apartheid, with the Palestinians confined to self-governing enclaves under de facto Israeli control? Those are the only other options to the 2SS and every AIPAC rep, Christian Zionist, and supposedly “pro-Israel” Congressperson ought to be asked repeatedly which of these three options they now endorse. Ditto State Department and White House spokespeople, and anyone who aspires to be president, including the current incumbent.

    And if they try to say that they are still in favor of 2SS, someone should ask why they still believe it is possible, and what they concrete steps they intend to do to make it happen. And while we are at it, someone might also ask them why they believe U.S. taxpayers should continue to subsidize settlement construction. And make no mistake: Because money is fungible, that is exactly what our aid package does. The 2SS has been the stated goal of U.S. policy under the past three presidents, yet U.S. policy actively subverts that objective, to the mutual detriment of Israelis, Palestinians, and Americans alike. “

    • ritzl says:

      Great catch Kathleen.

      Shifting the discussion into prospective mode by directly, broadly, and repeatedly challenging the hypocrisy (and self-immolating hypocrisy at that) with those exact, few simple questions. Over and over and over. There are no morally satisfactory answers (or at least some highly illuminating answers would be ferreted out for public consumption) to them in the current conventional wisdom.

      It’d be great to see every media appearance begin with them, and themed by them by people arguing the Palestinian side (and the good-faith, “enough is enough, Israel is destroying itself” Israeli side as well). They should be asked early and often in every State department press conferences. Callers on Washington Journal should ask them. LTE’s, other blogs, etc.

      They even transform the “But the Palestinians won’t negotiate!” argument into mush, because the end-result options are exactly what Walt describes, independent of any Palestinian participation in the preliminaries (i.e. negotiations are the control variable in the Israeli assimilation/good-faith experiment. Assimilation goes on whether there are negotiations or not.).

      I just wonder when critical mass is going to come in the consensus on the death of the 2SS. Many people keep saying “if” and “when.” The realization is forming, but the consensus isn’t there yet.

      The supreme operative irony that J-Street and other lib-zio types don’t seem to grasp is that by declaring the 2SS dead, they may actually give it its very last breath of hope (by scaring the heck out of enough fence-sitters to actually cause something/anything to change), which addresses Walt’s last question.

      Thanks, and thanks to DS for starkly framing the prevailing background arguments that Walt’s questions deflate so completely.

  2. piotr says:

    I am not sure if all cites reveals hypocrisy.

    Barak’s statement is correct: in the territories, IDF has the sole authority of determining what the facts are. Settlers are wrong when they think that they have the authority. If IDF thinks that price tag attacks are OK they are OK. If not then not.

    The first “anonymous source” is a classic case of all-knowing but unreliable narrator. An author of a book knows what each character did and when. That looks pretty much like fiction, and not presenting USA in good light. “We really thought that the burning of unnecessary books will be OK because who could forsee that Iran (or anyone else, like Taliban) can foment riots in the aftermath?” If after 9 years we still do not know, we will never learn. After all, one could burn all branches of NYC public library to the ground, and how many fatal riots would you have afterwards?

    The last quote is “beyond hypocrisy”. The aftermath of an attack on Iran can be TOTAL clusterfuck in Afghanistan. I mean, our troops running for their lives. In a nutshell, all transit routes to Afghanistan can get closed and rebels can obtain copious amounts weapons of ammunition. And central Afghanistan (the Shia territory), so far most peaceful, can indeed rise in flames. Given that, it should be simplicity itself to flatly forbid Israel attacking Iran.

    One could tell Bibi and Ehud that USA may regret Israeli attack on Iran, but no trade with Israel will be permitted until Bibi and Ehud are delivered for trial for war crimes. That should do the trick.

  3. HarryLaw says:

    Kathleen, The GOI know what they want and they are going for it ‘Bantustans’ they hope, no they are sure Europe and US will pay because they sure will not be economically viable, but why should they care, they have destroyed many a EU project in occupied Territory with barely a peep out of Europe, as one former Israeli information Minister once said, they can have their state and they can call it fried chicken, which is probably all they will be left with, such is their arrogance. It will all end in tears.

  4. NickJOCW says:

    The other option, of course, is for Israel to ‘ curl up in a ball’ and leave Fate to deal the cards. Here is an interesting perspective from Der Speigal:

    Israel sees itself as a “villa in the jungle,” as Israeli politicians say, a vulnerable island of civilization surrounded by Islamists, as if Israel were not the most politically influential and militarily powerful force in the region. It’s telling that in Israel the Arab Spring is merely referred to as the “Islamic Winter.” Israelis like to point out that Gaza is an illustration of what happens when Islamists come into power, even though it hardly qualifies as an example

    link to

    Similar analyses are also fairly common from Russia these days and while they cannot be described as anti-Israel, cumulatively they do begin to shine a relentless light leaving ever fewer places to hide.

  5. kma says:

    betcha those shifty Iranians also chased our jobs away, pricked our housing bubble, and changed our climate.
    probably even tricked us into that disastrous war in Iraq. they may even have secret agents playing at all sorts of things to entice us into war with Iran! oh, wait, that’s actually what the NY Times is saying….!

    • piotr says:

      Chalabi who was very active in making the case for war in Iraq has a villa in Tehran. Later he was accused by Americans of passing secrets to Iranians, which may reflect infighting among the Bushies, but it is plausible that Tehran secretly supported attack on Iraq.

      USA is quite inept as imperialist. Policies are driven by lobbies, it is hard to see who tries to make sense of them. Theocrats may be bastards, but at least they tend to have a long perspective. A lobby does not need long perspective, it needs donors and jobs, it is all about slogans, “sales department” so to speak. But there is nobody in the engineering department.

      Housing bubble is also effect of policies driven by lobbies rather then, say, banks. At least this is my theory. Israeli lobby must collect money because of the crisis situation with Israel (there is always a crisis or two), and they must peg some markers as “achievements”. (In this perspective, someone like Sheldon Adelson would be like a wealthy member of Scientology, perhaps not the best model of the situation.) Banking lobby has to convince bankers that some changes in the laws, say, deregulation, would make them fabulously wealthy so they should pay for the think tanks making bogus economic projections, lobbyist jobs etc. It is not the job of banking lobby to worry if it helps banks in the long term.

  6. David, thanks for highlighting this outrageously inflammatory ridiculous iran/afghanistan article. the one person they identify (the rest are all anonymous) is Gen. John R. Allen, here:

    In offering an overall view of the threat from Tehran, Gen. John R. Allen, the senior allied commander in Afghanistan, told Congress in recent public testimony that Iran continued to “fuel the flames of violence” by supporting the Afghan insurgency. “Our sense is that Iran could do more if they chose to,” General Allen said. “But they have not, and we watch the activity and the relationships very closely.”

    so out of curiosity i googled around and found the congressional testimony.

    link to

    i found the references of “Our sense is that Iran could do more if they chose to,” and “But they have not, and we watch the activity and the relationships very closely.” but could not find Allen referencing “fuel the flames of violence”, it was wilson ‘indicating’ allen suggested that. here are the passages:

    WILSON: …
    Additionally, in your testimony you indicate that Iran continues to support the insurgency and fueling the flames of violence, particularly the Iranian influence of advising, training, supplying weapons, munitions.

    Which groups are they working with? Where in the country? What is Iran’s goal?

    ALLEN: They have operated primarily or worked primarily with the Taliban elements in the west. That is the only area in which we have seen the presence of support to the Taliban.

    Our sense is that Iran could do more, if they chose to, but they have not. And we watch the activity and the relationships very closely.

    There’s — there’s an ancient relationship between the Persian people of Iran and the Afghan people. In fact, today is the beginning of Nowruz, which is the Persian new year. And there is real potential common ground between our objectives and Iranian objectives with respect to counternarcotics, arms struggling, human trafficking. There are a large number of Afghan refugees in Iran.

    There is the potential for common ground, for us to cooperate ultimately in the long-term benefit of Iran — of Afghanistan, excuse me. But I know that Iran and Afghanistan have a long relationship. It’s a national relationship that President Karzai has, in fact, pointed to on a number of occasions that could benefit Afghanistan over the long term.

    The troubling part right now is the fact that there is some assistance that is going to the Taliban from Iran, and we seek to check that.

    WILSON: Well, again, I appreciate both of your service. Thank you very much.

    MCKEON: Thank you.

    ALLEN: We’re seeking to understand exactly what Iran is doing in Afghanistan. But we also understand that Iran and Afghanistan have their own bilateral relationship. And that’s a — an ancient and a, in many respects, productive relationship for Afghanistan.

    So I — I will not take issue with the fact that the Afghan government has a relationship with Iran. My issue is primarily in the area of security and what we understand to be Iranian assistance to certain elements of the Taliban.

    It has not been dramatic. It has not been pervasive. But we seek to understand it, and we have interdicted that assistance on a number of occasions. And so we’ll continue to watch it very closely. We’ll see if it is modulated, if it is increased or if it becomes more pervasive, then we’ll have to take actions as necessary within Afghanistan to continue to check that process.

    and another:

    FRANKS: I guess it just occurs to me, given, you know, Iran’s history of making IEDs to blow up our troops in Iraq shouldn’t engender a great deal of trust on our part to the — you know, the potential of using the longstanding relationship between Afghanistan and Iran to our benefit.

    I’m not sure that there’s a real basis for that. But, I mean, I defer in this case to the people on the ground. I’m just suggesting that there seems to be a general pattern here, and I’m just wondering what the drawdown and the date certain has done to the overall — at least the psychological array of our enemies’ attitude toward continuing to resist the efforts of freedom there in Afghanistan.

    And I’ll — General, if you have any thoughts — any other thoughts?

    ALLEN: I was just going to say that we have not seen the Iranian signature weapons in Afghanistan that we saw frequently in southern Iraq. And that would be a very quick indicator to us that things have changed dramatically.

    FRANKS: Right. Thank you. Mr. Chairman, thank you. We’ve got two committees going on at the same time, so I have to sprint to the other one, so thank you very much.

    the most alarming part of the exchanges is what it has to say about china wrt afghanistan, but of course the nyt is not interested in informing the American public about that.

    whenever the nyt chops up quotes the way they did in that paragraph instead of running them whole i always assume something fishy is going on. unless allen actually said “fuel the flames of violence”, they should not have implied he did.

    • David Samel says:

      Annie, I just saw this, and don’t know if you’ll read this late comment, but that’s a brilliant find. It’s just inexcusably inaccurate to say that Allen “told Congress in recent public testimony that Iran continued to ‘fuel the flames of violence’.” Why are all such “mistakes” made in that same direction?

  7. HarryLaw says:

    General Allen talks about IED’s from Iran blowing up US troops in Iraq, that was disputed at the time when they found workshops in Iraq turning out the copper discs necessary by their thousands, the US did not think the Iraqis could do it by themselves, with generations of engineering skills acquired in the oil industry, turning out these simple devices [ approx 20 dollars each] was a piece of cake. Similarly when the British were in Afghanistan the first time over 100 years ago the Afghans actually copied and constructed British Army rifles from scratch, the US Generals think their enemies are stupid, they should look in a mirror. Can I get renditioned from the UK for saying that?

  8. piotr says:

    Nearly half of Afghan population speak Persian dialect, Dari, and a large part of them are Shia. Basically, where Iran may have strongest influence, Taliban is weakest. Thus Iran has huge potential of making NATO position much worse than it is now. Ordinarily, Taliban is an opponent for Iran. If Iran is attacked, it may be inclined to punish NATO even to its detriment, hence, to aid Taliban. In turn, this could be a disaster not know since Dien Bien Phu — NATO can be overwhelmed and deprived of supplies.