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Further Evidence that Israel’s ‘Strategic Relief’ Fueled Iraq War Planning

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A smart reader from Virginia has pointed out that my "shock" yesterday over the statement in a Condi Rice biography that the war was "promoted" to help Israel is callow. Marjorie Wheeler-Barclay writes:

I agree that the war was not sold on that
basis. On the other hand, if one was reading carefully, it was clear
that this was part of the story. I certainly saw references in print to
the idea that the road to "peace" between Israel and Palestinians,
(which I think really meant the capitulation of the Palestinians to a
maximal colonial policy by Israel)
ran through Baghdad. I also remember saying to friends, including some
who are much more sympathetic that I to current American policy towards
Israel, that I would not allow my son (currently 19) to be killed for Israel.

Point taken. Now I reflect that there were all those vague wink-wink statements at the time along the lines of, The road to peace in Jerusalem runs through Baghdad.

And where does the road to peace in Baghad run? Oh, sorry, I forgot–those are just Arabs dying.

By the way, the Condi bio I am enjoying–The Confidante, by Washington Post diplomatic correspondent Glenn Kessler–includes further evidence of the centrality of Israel to the Iraq-war-planners. Kessler reports that in September 2002, as the Israelis were besieging Arafat in Ramallah, Dov Weissglas, Sharon’s chief of staff, flew to D.C. to defend Israel’s actions.

Rice cut him off after just ten minutes… [and] pointedly noted that the administration was in a sensitive situation with the Arab world, as it prepared to go to war with Iraq. "This effort, if it happens, it will be a strategic relief to Israel," Rice said. "It is more important than Arafat. What you are doing now is an obstruction." She said that Bush was probably the greatest friend of Israel since its creation, and now Israel was creating a problem. "The United States will never restrain you against any action which is needed to protect your people and stop terror, even if it takes place in the worst political context," Rice added. "This is not the case."

And Weissglas called Sharon, and the siege ended.

Bravura reporting. It shows a few things. That Israel-centric thinking is enmeshed in our government, I would argue because of the impetus of the Israel lobby, but let us be clear, here the dog is wagging the tail, as tails should be wagged. And secondly, look how the tail is wagged: when our government chooses to raise its voice, client states obey. That is what we must be doing now, when Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians is a "red flag" of injustice across the Arab world, as Muhammed ElBaradei has said.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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