In Avnery’s ‘Battle of the Titans,’ will anyone bet that the dog wags the tail?

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 35 Comments

Veteran Israeli activist and commentator Uri Avnery has posted a new column framing the current struggle over U.S. policy toward Iran as, among other things, a test of two theories: the view, long associated with Noam Chomsky, that Israel is simply a tool of U.S. imperialism, versus the analysis, notably championed by Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, that Israel and the Israel lobby here at home are the main determinants of American policy in the Middle East.

Uri Avnery

Uri Avnery

Avnery, now 90 years old, is taking bets on which interpretation will prove right. At this stage of the game, though, one has to wonder who will bet on the Chomsky line. The current struggle over the negotiations with Iran is certainly a test of the power of Israel and the lobby over Washington (hardly anyone ever argued that that power had no limits), but can any reality-based observer seriously argue that Netanyahu and AIPAC, in their all-out diplomatic, media, and lobbying offensive against any kind of compromise with Iran, are simply tools of American imperial interests? As Phil Weiss put it when I e-mailed him to suggest posting Avnery’s piece, “the fact that a war that is so absurd has come so close is an indication of power.”

One minor quibble: Avnery says Fiji may be Israel’s “other unconditional friend in the world.” That dubious distinction actually belongs not to Fiji but to Nauru and the three “freely associated states” of the United States in the Pacific – the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau.

With Avnery’s permission, here’s his piece on “The Battle of the Titans”:

This is not merely a fight between Israel and the US. Nor
is it only a fight between the White House and Congress. It
is also a battle between intellectual titans.

On the one side there are the two renowned professors,
Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer. On the other, the
towering international intellectual Noam Chomsky.

It’s all about whether the dog wags the tail or the tail
wags the dog.

Six years ago the two professors shocked the US (and
Israel) when they published a book, “The Israel lobby and
US Foreign Policy”, in which they asserted that the foreign
policy of the United States of America, at least in the
Middle East, is practically controlled by the State of
Israel.

To paraphrase their analysis, Washington DC is in effect an
Israeli colony. Both the Senate and the House of
Representatives are Israeli occupied territories, much like
Ramallah and Nablus.

This is diametrically opposed to the assertion of Noam
Chomsky that Israel is a US pawn, used by American
imperialism as an instrument to promote its interests.

(I commented at the time that both sides were right, and
that this is a unique dog-tail relationship. I even quoted
the old Jewish joke about the rabbi who tells a plaintiff
that he is right, and then says the same to the defendant.
“But they can’t both be right!” remonstrates his wife. “You
are right, too!” he answers.)

Intellectual theories can seldom be put to a laboratory
test. But this one can.

It is happening now. Between Israel and the US a crisis has
developed, and it has come into the open.

It’s about the putative Iranian nuclear bomb. President
Barack Obama is determined to avert a military showdown.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is determined to prevent
a compromise.

For Netanyahu, the Iranian nuclear effort has become a
defining issue, even an obsession. He talks about it
incessantly. He has declared that it is an “existential”
threat to Israel, that it poses the possibility of a second
Holocaust. Last year he made an exhibition of himself at
the UN General Assembly meeting with his childish drawing
of the bomb.

Cynics say that this is only a trick, a successful gimmick
to divert the world’s attention away from the Palestinian
issue. And indeed, for years now the Israeli policy of
occupation and settlements has has been advancing quietly,
away from the limelight.

But in politics, one gimmick can serve several purposes at
once. Netanyahu is serious about the Iranian bomb. The
proof: on this issue he is ready to do something that no
Israeli prime minister has ever dared to do before:
endanger Israeli-American relations.

This is a momentous decision. Israel is dependent on the US
in almost every respect. The US pays Israel a yearly
tribute of at least three billion dollars, and in fact much
more. It gives us state of the art military equipment. Its
veto protects us from UN Security Council censure, whatever
we do.

We have no other unconditional friend in the world, except,
perhaps, the Fiji Islands.

If there is one thing on which practically all Israelis
agree, it is this subject. A break with the US is
unthinkable. The US-Israeli relationship is, to use a
Hebrew expression much loved by Netanyahu , “the rock of
our existence”.

So what does he think he is doing?

Netanyahu was brought up in the US. There he attended high
school and university. There he started his career.

He does not need advisors on US affairs. He considers
himself the smartest expert of all.

He is no fool. Neither is he an adventurer. He bases
himself on solid assessments. He believes that he is able
to win this fight.

You could say that he is an adherent of the Walt-
Mearsheimer doctrine.

His present moves are based on the assessment that in a
straight confrontation between Congress and the White
House, Congress will win. Obama, already blooded by other
issues, will be beaten, even destroyed.

True, Netanyahu was proved wrong the last time he tried
something like this. During the last presidential
elections, he openly supported Mitt Romney. The idea was
that the Republicans were bound to win. The Jewish casino
baron, Sheldon Adelson, poured money into their campaign,
while at the same time maintaining an Israeli mass-
circulation daily for the sole purpose of supporting
Netanyahu.

Romney “couldn’t lose” – but he did. This should have been
a lesson for Netanyahu, but he didn’t absorb it. He is now
playing the same game, but for vastly higher stakes.

We are now in the middle of the fight, and it is still too
early to predict the outcome.

The Jewish pro-Israel lobby, AIPAC, supported by other
Jewish and Evangelical organizations, is marshalling its
forces on Capitol Hill. It’s an impressive show.

Senator after Senator, Congressman after Congressman comes
forward to support the Israeli government against their own
president. The same people who jumped up and down like
string puppets when Netanyahu made his last speech before
both houses of Congress, try to outdo each other in
assertions of their undying loyalty to Israel.

This is now done in the open, in an exhibition of
shamelessness. Several Senators and Congressmen declare
publicly that they have been briefed by the Israeli
intelligence services, and they trust them more than the
intelligence agencies of the USA. Not one of them said the
opposite.

This would have been unthinkable if any other country was
involved, say Ireland or Italy, from which many Americans
are descended. The “Jewish State” stands unique, a kind of
inverse anti-Semitism.

Indeed, some Israeli commentators have joked that Netanyahu
believes in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the famous
- and infamous – tract fabricated by the secret police of
the Czar. It purported to expose a sinister conspiracy of
the Jews to rule the world. A hundred years later,
controlling the US comes near to that.

The senators and representatives are no fools (not all of
them, in any case). They have a clear purpose: to be re-
elected. They know on which side their bread is buttered.
AIPAC has demonstrated, in several test cases, that it can
unseat any senator or congressman who does not toe the
straight Israeli line. One sentence of implied criticism of
Israeli policies suffices to doom a candidate.

Politicians prefer open shame and ridicule to political
suicide. No kamikaze pilots in Congress.

This is not a new situation. It is at least several decades
old. What is new is that it is now out in the open, without
embellishment.

It is difficult to know, as of now, how much the White
House is cowed by this development.

Obama and his Secretary of State John Kerry know that
American public opinion is dead set against any new war in
the Middle East. Compromise with Iran is in the air. This
is supported by almost all the world’s powers. Even the
French tantrums, which have no clear purpose but to throw
their supposed weight around, are not serious.

President Francois Hollande was received in Israel this
week like the harbinger of the Messiah. If one closed one’s
eyes, one could imagine that the happy old pre-de Gaulle
days were back again, when France armed Israel, supplied it
with its military atomic reactor and the two countries went
on escapades together (the ill-fated 1956 Suez adventure.)

But if Obama & Kerry hold fast and stay their course on
Iran, can Congress impose the opposite course? Could this
turn into the most serious constitutional crisis in US
history?

As a sideshow, Kerry is going on with his effort to impose
on Netanyahu a peace he does not want. The Secretary of
State did succeed in pushing Netanyahu into “final status
negotiations” (nobody dared to utter the word peace, God
forbid), but nobody in Israel or Palestine believes that
anything will come out of this. Unless, of course, the
White House puts the whole might of the US behind the
effort – and that seems more than unlikely.

Kerry has allotted nine months to the endeavor, as if it
were a normal pregnancy. But the chances of a baby emerging
at the end of it are practically nil. During the first
three months, the sides have not progressed a single step.

So who will win? Obama or Netanyahu? Chomsky or
Walt/Mearsheimer?

As commentators love to say: Time Will Tell.

In the meantime, place your bets.

 

35 Responses

  1. seafoid
    November 22, 2013, 10:47 am

    I think it’s a mixture of capitalism and friends of Israel.
    Ultimately the capitalists will shaft Israel. Power is like that.

  2. Dan Crowther
    November 22, 2013, 11:38 am

    I wish someone would actually accurately describes Chomsky’s view on the subject – he doesn’t simply state that Israel is a pawn, and he doesn’t deny all of what Mearsheimer and Walt state. It’s not a black vs white situation.

    He agrees there’s a powerful Israel Lobby, he just happens to think, correctly in my opinion, that more often than not, US policy isn’t too far off from where “the lobby” is, and so the overall effect isn’t as great as Walt and Mearsheimer claim. I mean, reading their book, you would think that the United States was some sort of benevolent power, following it’s rational self interest before “the lobby” came along – Chomsky makes clear that the US is perfectly capable of acting monstrously without the help of any outside forces, as evidenced by its conduct throughout the rest of the world.

    I think Chomsky views it dialectically, as a working combination of Imperial Interests, American Exceptionalism, hardened cold war viewpoints and yes, the Israel Lobby.

    • W.Jones
      November 22, 2013, 2:33 pm

      “If Americans Knew” has some articles on Chomsky I think.

    • American
      November 22, 2013, 2:48 pm

      Chomsky is ‘crippled’ intellectually….’crippled’ by his Jewish emotionism in his idealizing of Zionism and his early happy but by gone days in Israel before it became quite the monster it is today.
      He cannot let go of his old false illusions.
      And he cannot let the Jews, Zionism or Israel take the full responsibility for what it has created.
      He has to shift some of the blame and the US is natural evildoer to shift it to.

      The only US role in Israel’s I/P is an “enabler”. That qualifers it politically as an evil doer and blameable , but not as a colonizer or imperalist in I/P or Israel.
      And that enabling is due to the oft cited “domestic political interest” of US politicians and politics—the Lobby money and Jewish vote threat.
      Whatever the US has done around the world in other instances has absolutely nothing to do with Israel and Palestine now. And whatever rational for supporting Israel during the Cold War with Russia that some held has long disappeared.
      There is no Profit for the US or it’s capitalist elites in Israel’s occupation of Palestine—quite the opposite.

      What I see in the Chomsky followers is they are not capable of analyzing ‘seperately’, case by case, the varied motives behind US adventures and misadventures . It’s less mentally taxing and easier for them to ascribe everything to one motive like Imperial Capitalism Colonizing.
      If you only know one song then thats the only song you sing.

    • Keith
      November 22, 2013, 4:30 pm

      DAN CROWTHER- “I wish someone would actually accurately describes Chomsky’s view on the subject….”

      I think we need to cut Uri Avnery some slack on this. Israel is so utterly dependent upon the US for support, that their media go overboard in trying to reassure them that an all-powerful lobby has things well in hand. Even Israel Shahak succumbed to this exaggeration. The reality is that if the Lobby was as powerful as claimed, they would be much less visible, pulling strings in the shadows rather than engaging in bluster. And Netanyahu would act humble and discourage attention getting congressional standing ovations. Also, having Israel getting the credit/blame for US Middle East policy may well serve the interest of both countries. I end with a Kissinger quote:

      “Israel is dependent on the United States as no other country is on a friendly power…. Israel sees in intransigence the sole hope for preserving its dignity in a one-sided relationship. It feels instinctively that one admission of weakness, one concession granted without a struggle, will lead to an endless catalogue of demands…. And yet Israel’s obstinacy, maddening as it can be, serves the purpose of both our countries best. A subservient client would soon face an accumulation of ever-growing pressures. It would tempt Israel’s neighbors to escalate their demands. It would saddle us with the opprobrium for every deadlock.” (Henry Kissinger, quoted in “Straight Power Concepts in the Middle East” by Gregory Harms)

  3. Henry Norr
    November 22, 2013, 12:05 pm

    I agree with you, Dan, about the determinants of US policy in the wider Middle East and beyond. But with respect to Israel/Palestine itself, do you really think “Imperial Interests, American Exceptionalism, hardened cold war viewpoints” require the denial of basic rights to the Palestinians? Do JP Morgan, Lockheed-Martin, or even Exxon have any real reason to oppose a two-state settlement or even a single democratic state? Do their interests or ideology really require that the Jews control all of Jerusalem and the West Bank?

    Or, to put it another way, wouldn’t a settlement that ensured peace and a modicum of justice make it much easier for US imperialism to pursue its interests in the wider Middle East and the rest of the Muslim world? Who or what but the lobby has compelled the US to support Israel in maintaining the occupation and preventing a diplomatic settlement all these decades?

    • W.Jones
      November 22, 2013, 1:03 pm

      That’s right, Norr, about the IP conflict.

    • Keith
      November 22, 2013, 3:53 pm

      HENRY NORR- “…wouldn’t a settlement that ensured peace and a modicum of justice make it much easier for US imperialism to pursue its interests in the wider Middle East and the rest of the Muslim world?”

      With all due respect, Henry, you are superimposing liberal mythology onto imperial motivation and questioning why empire doesn’t behave the way you think it should. All empires, past and present, exist at the expense of peace and justice. No exceptions. In the Middle East, polls consistently show that the people believe that the US supports dictatorships and monarchies in order to control their gas and oil. Since this is essentially what we do, we are unlikely to win the hearts and minds of the Arab street. As far as Uncle Sam is concerned, secular democracy in the Middle East responding to the peoples’ needs and desires would be an unmitigated disaster. Look what happened to Mossadeq in Iran. Worldwide, we emphasize militarism and economic exploitation. An astronomical military budget and emphasis combined with IMF structural adjustments.

      And when we talk about Zionism and the Lobby, American Zionism needs an embattled Israel as an emotional unifier of organized American Jewry. It is Israel and Zionism which enabled American Jews to shuck the socialist label and enter the corridors of power in unprecedented fashion. Therefore, I agree with Norman Finkelstein when he says:

      “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.” (Norman Finkelstein)

    • pabelmont
      November 22, 2013, 4:21 pm

      Henry and Dan: My take is that the USA’s “Establishment” (the narrow group among whom/which alone democratic policy making on an issue takes place in the event that any of them care about the issue) decides to go with ANY (even any SINGLE) “BIG” — as I call the oligarchs — unless there is dissent among them.

      In the event of dissent among the oligarchs, some sort of balancing occurs (democracy of a sort among the oligarchs). As to issues which none of them care about — abortion, gun control perhaps — democracy shifts outward from the oligarchy to The People.

      On this structural view, AIPAC and its allies (BIG-ZION) are enough to determine the USA’s I/P policy (and to support Israel’s occupation, settlements, anti-human rights out the wazoo) because there is no dissent. Corporations have no brief for international law, human rights, etc. Why should they? Where is the profit in that?

      I also believe that some BIGs (perhaps BIG-BANKs) are controlled within the oligarchy by CEOs who are also (at heart or by behavior) members of BIG-ZION. Hence the Senate’s Banking Committee as the locus for recent anti-Iran moves.

      Obama’s seeming refusal to go to war with Iran strongly suggests that there is dissent within the oligarchy, with BIG-ZION supporting war and some other entity or group of entities opposing war. It’s all rather opaque so we can see the result but not the process. But since the USA continues to support the occupation, etc., it seems that the dissent within the oligarchy is limited to the issue of war with Iran.

      BTW, I suspect that Chomsky would accept something like my “oligarchy” theory of American governance. And I think we can ALL lament that no-one important in the USA is pushing strongly for action on Climate Change — an issue far more important to far more people than our dear issue of Israel or Palestine.

      I’d be happy to hear other views.

  4. chris_k
    November 22, 2013, 12:15 pm

    I don’t agree that Israel is a “tool” of US interests but that doesn’t mean that they are controlling US policy. The US and Israel are separate entities in which those in control of the military industrial complex (Cheney and Peres, for instance) have interests in common, as well as common regional interests like controlling Egypt and creating crises to raise the price of petroleum. The special relationship has always been difficult and contentious. But ultimately, the US has historically had the upper hand. The story in Time criticizing Israel a while back comes from concern in US intel that Israel is taking over.

    If Israel controlled the US, Pollard would be free and Saddam Hussein would have been blamed for 9-11 by US intel. Obama and Kerry’s attempts to cut a deal with the Iranians are not in defiance of the US intel elites. There’s a reason that they’re in charge and not the congressional nobodies trying to scuttle the deal.

    • chris_k
      November 22, 2013, 8:06 pm

      I should say that there have been presidential peace deals that have had powerful opponents.. if that’s the case there Netanyahu is doing the dirty work and taking the rap for those who may have no ties or allegiances to Israel.

  5. American
    November 22, 2013, 1:43 pm

    I am a W&M believer…..on the Evidence…..and the History of what side congress, in particular, and some administrations have fallen on when it comes to the Lobby and Israel interest vr the US interest.

    That said however, and as I said many moons ago I believe there is a limit to how far a ‘responsible’ US administration will go on Israel and it’s Lobby’s demands.
    No responsible, sane adm or President is going to blow up the ME for Israel.

    The danger in Israeli schemes like Iran is they take on a life of their own. Where the false premise and the propaganda –that Iran is a ‘threat to the world and the US,”… becomes something like ”common wisdom’ that plays into the “protecting the American people is our No 1 duty” bluster of politicians.
    Congressperps then uses their ‘duty to protect the US” as reason and ‘cover’ in backing whatever the Lobby and Israel want.

    As to W&M or Chomsky being right about US-Isr-Iran—I think W&M have already been proven right.
    Who do you see except the Lobby, Israel-Saudi and their congressional fellow neo travelers pushing to destroy Iran?
    Where would be the “Imperial US Profit” in destablizing or destroying Iran?
    We havent needed to control the ME since the days of the Cold war and the communist threat in the ME, which was 90% hype anyway, went belly up.
    Since those days the only US need in the ME was to ensure no upsets in oil flows to us and the world.
    Now we dont even have that much need for ME oil ourselves and our only interest is trying to avoid any chaos or disruptions that would cause oil cost to spike for the sake of all our interconnected global economies.
    Going after Iran and creating that chaos definitely doesnt ‘serve’ US needs–or the worlds.

    • Hostage
      November 23, 2013, 11:13 am

      I am a W&M believer…..on the Evidence…..and the History of what side congress, in particular, and some administrations have fallen on when it comes to the Lobby and Israel interest vr the US interest.

      That said however, and as I said many moons ago I believe there is a limit to how far a ‘responsible’ US administration will go on Israel and it’s Lobby’s demands.

      That is what Walt and Mearsheimer were saying all along. They never claimed the Lobby was all powerful on every issue in the Middle East, just that they represent a combination of forces that are able to exert disproportionate influence in order to get the US government to adopt policies touching directly on Israel’s conduct and desiderata that are frequently not in the best interests of the USA. I think when Chomsky said that there was a nuanced difference of opinion on the interplay of factors that determine US foreign policy, he was exaggerating their thesis a bit to make his point. Their position is different from his own, but it is nonetheless just as nuanced.

      • American
        November 23, 2013, 12:58 pm

        One thing you cant nunance. The Lobby’s ‘unlimited power” in continuing the heist and looting of the US taxpayers.

        Reduced US military budget.
        Furloughed civil service workers to save money
        Axed funds to childrens school food programs.
        Axed heating assissance to the US elderly.
        Axed National Health Institute research
        Axed FEMA funds
        Axed FDA food health services
        Axed OSHA workers safety
        Axed Title One Educaiton funds
        Axed SS adm budget
        Axed Senior meals on wheels program
        Axed Indian Tribal health and education services
        Axed Unemployment benefits
        Axed HUD
        Axed AIDS treatment
        Axed children with disabilities education
        Axed Small Business Adm loans
        Axed Justice and FBI budgets
        Axed programs for the homeless
        Axed Medicare payments to doctors
        ..and on and on
        85 Billion in cuts right now for 2013 with more to come if they can get them.

        And what did the IMF warn the US on about these domestic cuts?
        ‘’The International Monetary Fund warned that the cuts could slow US economic growth by at least 0.5 of a percentage point this year.””

        And YET….congress feeds Israel before Americans.

        WASHINGTON — The US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee overwhelmingly approved a bill that would enhance the US commitment to Israel’s qualitative military edge.

        The bill, introduced by Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) would increase presidential reports to Congress on how the executive branch is guaranteeing Israel’s QME from once every four years to once every two years and would add assistance to Israel’s cyberwarfare capabilities to the definition of QME.
        The committee on Wednesday approved the bill by unanimous consent, and now it goes to the full House for consideration.
        Collins noted the bipartisan support for the bill in a statement after the vote.
        “This process was built on the strongest foundation: a real, bipartisan commitment to America’s vital relationship with Israel,” he said. “We worked together and found a way to make this relationship even stronger with the increasingly important principles of transparency and accountability.”
        Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.), a Democratic sponsor of the bill, said the need for intensified focus on the US-Israel military relationship arose from the recent turmoil in the Middle East.
        “As Israel continues to face a broad spectrum of threats, from a nuclear Iran to a collapsing Syria, the United States must be steadfast in its efforts to ensure that Israel has the tools to maintain its qualitative military edge over those who seek to do it harm,” he said.’’
        link to timesofisrael.com

        BWTTGASO

  6. Andreas Schlueter
    November 22, 2013, 1:55 pm

    I believe that the story is more complicated! The word hold´s true, the tail never wags the dog: link to wipokuli.wordpress.com , but if the tail knows too much about the dog things could go the other way: link to wipokuli.wordpress.com ! The war between the two fractions of the US Power Elite (today “Soft Power” versus Neocons, formerly “Traders” versus “Warriors”) over the Near (resp.) Middle East strategy is enormously sharpened by the fact that MOSSAD has possibly won insights into deeds of the Neocons which give Israel´s government enormous blackmail power over the Neocons!
    And maybe the MOSSAD had knowledge about the very “dark side of the Power Elite” since long: link to wipokuli.wordpress.com
    Andreas Schlüter
    Sociologist
    Berlin, Germany

  7. Dan Crowther
    November 22, 2013, 2:09 pm

    “do you really think “Imperial Interests, American Exceptionalism, hardened cold war viewpoints” require the denial of basic rights to the Palestinians?”

    No, I don’t. But then I’m not a US planner. I also don’t see why it was in the American “interest” to support apartheid SA long after the rest of the world sanctioned it, but the US did. Blacks in SA, Palestinians in Palestine, the East Timorese, or really any indigenous people anywhere, it’s pretty clear the US does not support basic rights for them.

    “Do JP Morgan, Lockheed-Martin, or even Exxon have any real reason to oppose a two-state settlement or even a single democratic state? ”

    Not that I know of, but they do have an interest in the general “western” hegemony over the region, and also in maintaining the system currently in place – and right now that system is a mixture of feudalism (gulf monarchies), fascism (Egypt and Saddam’s Iraq) and ethnocracy (Israel) all fighting against the forces of progress (the citizens of the region). So, JP Morgan might not care about giving Palestinians a state, but if that means Saudi Arabians are going to get ideas, better to let the Palestinians rot.

    And I guess that answers your last question regarding a just peace and how that *would* be better for the US and so on. If I’m a douchebag in the state dept (which means I passed through all the filters) I’m terrified of a “settlement” in that region (1) because that could lead to greater inter-region commerce, planning done outside the auspices of the US (2) the US would *lose* a valuable pretext to intervene in the region, the most strategically important region in the world. Can’t sell weapons if peace breaks out.

    • seafoid
      November 22, 2013, 2:54 pm

      Mexico is not so different from the Middle East. You need regular doses of extreme violence to keep a region compliant and unable to fulfill its potential. That US standard of living takes a lot of work.

    • Keith
      November 22, 2013, 4:45 pm

      DAN CROWTHER- Nice comment! You seem to be one of the few Mondoweissers who actually understands what empire is about. I think there are a lot of liberals here who actually believe in American exceptionalism, that our numerous murderous interventions are for the best, or at least we had the best of intentions. That our worldwide network of bases were built to defend against the ruthless “other.” This is particularly true of the more successful liberals who have yet to feel the effects of neoliberalism coming home to roost. Myths and self-deception are difficult to overcome.

  8. W.Jones
    November 22, 2013, 2:28 pm

    Very Big Club X has a kind of informal ad hoc leadership group, made up of people who work hard for Very Big Club X. A certain number of the leadership group belong to Small Club Y. Often, but not always, the two clubs work on behalf of Small Club Y even when they have different, sometimes quite opposing interests. Some people claim Small Club Y is “wagging” Big Club X, while others deny that.

  9. MRW
    November 22, 2013, 4:49 pm

    About Netanyahu, Avnery says:

    The proof: on this issue he is ready to do something that no Israeli prime minister has ever dared to do before: endanger Israeli-American relations.

    Netanyahu doesn’t perceive himself as endangering Israeli-American relations. He perceives himself as controlling them. He owns the media, Hollywood, the Jewish political groups that give our congressmen diarrhea, the Evangelicals. He has Adelson’s money, all the Israel-Firster donor money, the rabbis, the significant synagogues, and the intellectual cachet of leading Jewish pundits who will scream anti-semitism if the dual loyalty charge comes up (Josh Block, etc). He can get on any of the Sunday news shows at a moment’s notice, and the major papers will print any op-ed screed he wants.

    He just has to deal with a schwartze president, and The Spud, our Secretary of State. What’s the problem? He knows Americans are asleep, tapped out, and never contact their congressmen, especially now that so many of them are working two/three jobs, or homeless. Besides, Americans know that Iranians are terrorists, right, and wonder why we are appeasing them.

    Netanyahu is the man in control. All his advisers tell him so. The US military is backing him, publicly. He can control any backlash…and he now controls the flow of Saudi oil to the US mainland and US military globally; he can shut us down.

  10. American
    November 22, 2013, 4:55 pm

    ringy dingy….follow the money

    link to lobelog.com

    The Mystery of Mark Kirk’s Motivations

    Kirk, whose voting record on domestic and civil-rights issues suggests that he’s one of the last of a dying breed of “moderate” Republicans, has long carried water for the right-wing leadership of the Israel lobby, spearheading anti-Iran, anti-Palestinian and pro-Israel resolutions and legislation throughout his nearly 15-year career in Congress. His identification with the policies and apocalyptic worldview of Netanyahu and hard-line U.S. neoconservatives — he has taken to comparing the Obama administration with Neville Chamberlain and the Geneva talks with Munich, respectively — has been a source of some bewilderment to many observers. After all, theologically, he’s offered no obvious signs of Christian Zionism of the kind that believes the the “ingathering” of the Jews in Israel and the reconstruction of the Temple in Jerusalem will trigger the Second Coming of Jesus
    His strident advocacy for Israel’s positions may also have to do with the fact that he has surrounded himself with staffers who have been associated with AIPAC and with even more hard-line pro-Israel groups, like Daniel Pipes‘ Middle East Forum, as suggested in this post by Annie Robbins published by Mondoweiss last year while Kirk was pushing legislation designed to slash funding for Palestinian refugees even as he was in the relatively early stages of recovery from the devastating stroke that he suffered in early 2012.

    Yet another — and by no means inconsistent — explanation may lie in the tangible rewards he has received for his steadfast support for Israel, at least insofar as campaign finance is concerned. If you look at the Center for Responsive Politics’ “opensecrets” website on the biggest recipients of campaign cash from pro-Israel public actions committees == most of them closely associated with AIPAC in one way or another (although the list also includes J Street) — you’ll find that Kirk has been a major — perhaps the biggest — beneficiary of their largesse. In the 2010 election cycle, when Kirk took Obama’s old seat, the otherwise moderate Illinois Republican ran far ahead of the pack, with nearly $640,000 in contributions — more than twice the harvest of the next-ranking recipient, Majority Leader Harry Reid (who, incidentally, bowed to the White House’s wishes by putting off a vote on Kirk’s diplomacy-killing amendment to the defense bill this week but announced Thursday that he was inclined to support it or something like it when the Senate returns from its Thanksgiving recess Dec 9).”

    Here’s the Center’s list of top Congressional recipients of pro-Israel PACs for the 2010 election cycle compiled earlier this year.

    Indeed, virtually throughout his Congressional career, Kirk was a clear favorite of the lobby.
    Although he didn’t make the top 20 list in 2000, the year he first ran for Congress, he soared to the number 3 spot with nearly $100,000 in pro-Israel PAC contributions in his first re-election campaign in 2002, just behind Nevada’s Shelley Berkeley and former Majority Leader Dick Gephardt. In 2004, he fell to number 4, behind three Democrats, but still garnered $130,000 in contributions. And then, in the 2006 election cycle, he hauled in $315,000 in campaign cash, second only to Maryland Democrat Ben Cardin.
    In the 2008 cycle, he reached the pinnacle by topping the House list with a whopping $444,531. That was about two-and-a-half times more than the runner-up, the current majority leader and the only Jewish Republican in the House, Eric Cantor ($172,740). For all 468 Congressional races that year, Sen. Norm Coleman, the sole Jewish Republican senator at the time, was the only candidate who outpaced Kirk, a House member with more or less average seniority. According to the Center’s statistics, in the ten years that Kirk served in the House, he received more money from pro-Israel PACs than any other House member.
    And then, of course, he pulled in by far the biggest take ever from these same sources in 2010 when he ran for the Senate.
    It seems they’ve been getting their money’s worth.

  11. Hostage
    November 22, 2013, 6:12 pm

    the view, long associated with Noam Chomsky, that Israel is simply a tool of U.S. imperialism

    That may have become associated with Chomsky, but it isn’t an accurate restatement of his published views on the subject. He actually said that the Lobby is one of the two main factors that everyone agrees interact to determine US foreign policy in the Middle East, and that it is the most powerful when it happens to align with “strategic-economic interests of concentrations of domestic power in the tight state-corporate linkage”, but is relatively weak when it is in conflict with those interests.

    The Congress demonstrated that fact recently when voters caused that branch of the government to abandon plans for unilateral military action against Syria. The Lobby had deployed 300 people to Capitol Hill in a fruitless effort to convince Representatives to go against the wishes of the constituents.

    Even if the Lobby and Israel are successful in thwarting an agreement with Iran, that will simply result in a political impasse with the willing members of the coalition, who will quietly begin circumventing or utilizing the legal exceptions built-in to the sanctions regime to undermine it. I don’t think that voters are more eager to go to war with Iran than they are a few months ago with Syria.

    • Erasmus
      November 23, 2013, 4:56 am

      Not to be forgotten: The ultimate B I G

      ….The Lobby had deployed 300 people to Capitol Hill in a fruitless effort to convince Representatives to go against the wishes of the constituents….”

      And here Hostage highlights the very one B I G, which in Pabelmont’s list is missing: Pabelmont explicitly mentions the BIG-ZION, the BIG-BANKS, or (implicitly) the BIG-MILITARY and BIG-MS MEDIA, and forgets to mention what is the ULTIMATE and OVERALL B I G :
      the US – ELECTORATE and voting citizen.
      The example given by Hostage does prove nicely:
      even in an US “democracy of sorts” and its outdated 18-19th century electoral and constitutional procedures – it is the SOVEREIGN, the CIVIC SOCIETY at large which ultimately holds decisive power (and responsibility) and is in the position to outflank all other BIGs, provided (!) a non-ignorant, enlightened collective makes its position known loud and clearly,and holds their representatives to account, constantly.
      Eventually, they will not be misguided by corrupt party candidates anymore, regardless how much money AIPAC or other BIG-Interest Groups might invest to get them elected.
      People do not want wars, but JUSTICE and Fairness – not only for themselves.

    • Shingo
      November 23, 2013, 7:29 am

      The Lobby had deployed 300 people to Capitol Hill in a fruitless effort to convince Representatives to go against the wishes of the constituents.

      That is true, though it was pointed out that the timing may have worked against them. The Representatives were spending a lot of time in their districts at the time, so they were exposed to the public sentiment. Had they been in session in Washington, they would have been more tone deaf to public sentiment and more receptive to the lobby.

      • Hostage
        November 23, 2013, 11:35 am

        That is true, though it was pointed out that the timing may have worked against them.

        No, I was pointing out that the public wouldn’t support Congress or the President in another war, even before Obama punted and turned the decision over to the Congress for approval in the face of all the bad opinion poll numbers.

        I’m no prophet, so I wasn’t making a “prediction” about that. The public had already gotten fed-up with the Bush and Obama policy of conducting constant low grade warfare in Asia and Africa. There just had not been any public clamor up to that point for military intervention in Syria in the face of higher casualties from other atrocities. The timing isn’t going to get any better so long as the US is engaged in other regional conflicts.

  12. piotr
    November 22, 2013, 7:00 pm

    Nauru is hardly an unconditional friend of Israel. While the three other Pacific island states have their budget largely determined by US Congress, Nauru is truly independent and truly bankrupt. Thus each UN vote has to be bribed separately and usually they do not vote with Israel. True to their principles (one bribe, one vote) Naurians several times recognized Taiwan and PRC, recognized Abkhasia and South Ossetia and unrecognized etc.

    Interestingly, I recall that when there was “government freeze” provoked recently by Republican, Marshallians etc. did not bother to vote with Israel.

    • RoHa
      November 23, 2013, 1:43 am

      “True to their principles (one bribe, one vote)”

      That’s what I like to see. Corruption with honour.

  13. pnkfloid
    November 22, 2013, 9:50 pm

    “… the US is perfectly capable of acting monstrously without the help of any outside forces, as evidenced by its conduct throughout the rest of the world”

    And did so, long before Israel came along.

    • Citizen
      November 23, 2013, 6:15 am

      The AIPAC-sponsored senate and house bills making Israel the unique strategic partner with America and codifying Israel VISA policy at the expense of American citizens is wending its way through Congress. SCOTUS diluted the litmus test for retention of US citizenship when the plaintiff was no longer a Latino, but a Jew. The first US FTA was with Israel & discriminates against US business, favors Israeli business–the US negotiation team was sabotaged by Jewish American spies who gave the Israeli team all the American inside information gathered from its business sector to be impacted by the FTA. And so on–just try preparing a list of this on-going enmeshment and see who always gets the better deal.

  14. Citizen
    November 23, 2013, 5:50 am

    While we debate who’s the bigger dog and who wags who’s tail, the 2013 House bill making Israel the one and only official unique strategic partner of America wends its way through the House–here’s its latest status:

    link to govtrack.us

    This bill, including the Senate version, has been discussed on this blog to some extent, e.g., here: link to mondoweiss.net

  15. Citizen
    November 23, 2013, 6:46 am

    Here’s a short history of US-Israeli relations, stressing the influence of Zionism, a history few Americans know: link to ifamericansknew.org

    And here’s a Zionist summary of US-Israeli relations: link to mythsandfacts.org

  16. homingpigeon
    November 23, 2013, 9:00 am

    Any disaster is a consequence of several factors operating simultaneously, so I would go with the “both are right” statement. Add the factor of Christian Zionism among others. Having said that, it is clear that when there is a contradiction between the interests of imperialism and the Lobby, the Lobby wins out by a large margin. The Christian Zionists would give precedence to their hallucinations over any corporate interest. Their contribution to the Lobby is possibly greater than that of Jewish Zionists.

    Israeli “contribution” to US imperial interests would be the occasional sharing of intelligence when they are not actually spying on their ally, testing of US war equipment, funneling weapons to odious regimes and movements which our Congress does not wish to support publicly, and so on.

    Beyond that when we examine the fact that a century ago the United States was the most popular western country in the Middle East compared to the present antipathy, there is no way to conclude that Israel has served US interests. The alliance with one tenth of one percent of the world’s population has put us in jeopardy with about a quarter of the world’s population. During the Cold War many Arab regimes aligned with the Soviet bloc as a consequence of the US alliance with Israel. The main reason the whole Arab World did not fall into the Soviet camp was the fact that the atheism of the Soviet Union was so offensive. (Most Mondoweiss readers probably know that you are safer traveling around the Arab world telling people you are Jewish than that you are athiest).

    On a micro level, when an official not beholden to the Lobby is nominated, that individual will be smashed. The most recent one to be smashed was Chas Freeman, a loyal and shrewd servant of the empire who was close to the Saudi monarchy. His nomination was destroyed by the Lobby and there is no way a case can be made that this was for imperial corporate interests. When a Secretary of State or Defense or Ambassador to the UN is nominated, it is Israel that decides whether or not the nomination is acceptable, not corporate interests. Chuck Hagel and Samantha Powers had to swear their loyalty to Israel, not to ARAMCO to secure their positions.

  17. jayn0t
    November 24, 2013, 1:17 am

    Surely the question “is it the Lobby, or is it capitalism/imperialism/whatever?” has been solved. My 2c is here: link to dissidentvoice.org

    The comment above, “Ultimately the capitalists will shaft Israel. Power is like that.” is perhaps a bit simplistic. There are different kinds of power.

  18. Walid
    November 24, 2013, 2:39 am

    I never believed, not even for a second, that Israel controlled the US. The US at a great financial and political cost has always used Israel as a tool. What the world thought of which party was really in control is part of the US strategy, especially in the ME to keep everyone there in check. As to the actual cost to America of maintaining its expensive ME hooker, notwithstanding the jobs created in the US in the arms manufacturing to provide free arms to Israel, just think how much it would cost the US to maintain an army of 70,000 soldiers and a massive air force to police the whole of the ME, a task currently entrusted to Israel. The US has always used Israel and the monies Congressmen receive in bribes from Israel are actually supplied to Israel by the US. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” In other words, no one can make the US do anything that it doesn’t agree to let be done to it, not even a “shitty little country” as one French diplomat once so aptly described it.

    With the Iran deal, the US is reminding Israelis who’s the boss.

  19. jayn0t
    November 24, 2013, 12:23 pm

    @Walid: “What the world thought of which party was really in control is part of the US strategy”. Mearsheimer and Walt, in “The Israel Lobby”, go into this in detail. Using numerous examples of US groveling, they ask – is the most economical explanation the power of the Lobby, or is it that US politicians pretend to be subservient, in order to divert attention from their power? The question answers itself.

    As for the notion that the USA “entrusts to Israel” the task of policing its interests, this is easily dismissed. Israel doesn’t fight for the USA. Syria fought with America in the first Gulf war, but not Israel. Israel does not guard the oil. It does not serve America.

    Finally, it’s true that Israel is making a big fuss about the Iran deal, making it look as if it has lost. But Israel still has nukes, and Iran doesn’t. That particular symptom of racial supremacy is enforced by the USA and all its allies. They serve Israel.

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