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Truman’s recognition of Israel ignited ‘wars,’ Clemons acknowledges

Israel/Palestine
on 27 Comments

Yesterday we picked up a John Kennedy letter from 1939 warning about the Zionists’ desire to dominate Palestine. Well here’s another important act of historical recovery: Steve Clemons at the Atlantic using Romney’s flipflop on a Palestinian state to remind us that the realists and military men in Truman’s Cabinet opposed the creation of Israel.  Clemons thinks it was a good idea to recognize Israel, or that’s what he says, but he acknowledges that it led to “the wars that [George C.] Marshall feared recognition of Israel would ignite.”

That was a theme of the realists and anti-Zionists in the 40s; we will have no end of trouble if you establish a Jewish state in Palestine. Clemons: 

As reported in a fascinating historical snippet by the late Richard Holbrooke, who helped organize presidential adviser Clark Clifford‘s papers for a co-authored memoir, then-President Harry Truman overruled George Marshall, the secretary of state he “revered” along with “James V. Forrestal, George F. Kennan, Robert Lovett, John J. McCloy, Paul Nitze and Dean Acheson” and did recognize Israel. 

Truman’s was a brave move, and in my view, a correct one — but did lead to the wars that Marshall feared recognition of Israel would ignite.  Today, political Islam is on the rise in the Arab region — and the failure of Israel, the Palestinians, the Arab League, Europe, Russia, the United Nations and the United States to achieve peace and the balancing creation of a state of Palestine remains a consequential, bleeding global ulcer…

General Marshall was so disgusted with Truman’s move that he stated in an ultra-secret memorandum that if Truman proceeded on Israel’s recognition, he was going to vote against his boss in the next election. Nonetheless, Truman stood his ground and signed the note of recognition.

One wonders today whether Romney will ignore or listen to generals today — like CIA Director General David Petraeus, former Joint Chiefs chairman Admiral Mike Mullen, CENTCOM commander General James Mattis, even the incumbent Joint Chiefs chairman General Martin Dempsey — all of whom agree that establishing and recognizing a state of Palestine is vital to U.S. national security and to defending Israel’s long-term security in the region. 

Some notes: The recognition of Israel led in some measure to former Defense Secretary Forrestal’s demise. Attacked in the NY gossips over his personal life and sacked by Truman, he disintegrated, believed himself to be harassed by Zionists, and ultimately committed suicide. This history is well worth recovering. 

And as for Holbrooke’s source, Clark Clifford, he was the political adviser who counselled Truman to recognize Israel, in part because of fears about the Jewish vote. There are many Clark Cliffords in our politics today.

Given the destruction of the two-state solution, the ultimate question here is whether it’s in America’s interest to push a democracy in Israel and Palestine. Ultimately, I believe we will have Clemons, and Petraeus and Dempsey, on our side in that struggle.

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27 Responses

  1. CitizenC
    CitizenC
    October 10, 2012, 1:56 pm

    Forrestal disintegrated under pressure. He was very concerned that the “national interest” was being sacrificed to partisan politics, and tried to reach out to Republicans, for a joint GOP/Dem declaration on a non-partisan policy. He was followed around DC by staff of the Jewish Agency or the American Zionist Emergency Council, to see if he was meeting with Arab officials, like this act by the Secretary of Defense was somehow treasonous. Some question his suicide today

    Holbrooke does not go into sufficient detail about Clifford. He was in direct touch with the Jewish Agency rep in Washington, thru Max Lowenthal, former counsel to Truman’s Senate committee, who was Clifford’s special assistant on Palestine. Thru Lowenthal the JA piped propaganda to the inner circle of the Truman White House; ML specialized in drafting memos based on such. Clifford’s argument that the US should recognize Israel so the USSR wouldn’t came from the Jewish Agency. The JA request to recognize Israel was commissioned by Clifford.

    (Michael Cohen, Truman and Israel; Walter Millis ed., The Forrestal Diaries, etc)

  2. Bill in Maryland
    Bill in Maryland
    October 10, 2012, 2:42 pm

    Thank you Phil. Regarding your prediction that “ultimately, I believe we will have Clemons, and Petraeus and Dempsey, on our side in that struggle”, I agree with you. In addition, perhaps with tears streaming down their faces, Peter Beinart and Jeremy Ben-Ami will also move to the side of democracy and human rights in the struggle to come.

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      October 10, 2012, 6:28 pm

      @ Bill in Maryland
      I guess you didn’t catch it when Phil observed: “There are many Clark Cliffords in our politics today.” I see no basis for your hope.

  3. Nevada Ned
    Nevada Ned
    October 10, 2012, 3:39 pm

    Phil, you write
    “the ultimate question here is whether it’s in America’s interest to push a democracy in Israel and Palestine”.
    Don’t look now, but a LOT of US allies and client states are not democracies.
    For example: Saudi Arabia, Bahrein, Israel (for non-Jews).
    Former US allies/client states: Egypt (under Mubarak), Tunisia (under Ben Ali), Iran (under the Shah), Cuba (under Batista), Chile (under Pinochet), Dominican Republic (under Trujillo), Brazil (under Castello Blanco), Argentina (under the Generals), Greece (under the military junta in the 1960’s), “South” Vietnam (under a variety of front men), South Korea (Syngman Rhee), Taiwan (under Chiang Kai-Shek), Spain (under Franco), Nicaragua (under the Somoza family), Haiti (under Duvaliler, father and son), El Salvador (under the oligarchy), Bolivia (under dictator Hugo Banzer).
    The list goes on and on and on…
    Phil, why do you suppose the US supports all these third world dictators?
    Doesn’t this call into serious question the alleged US devotion to democracy? Not just in the Middle East, but around the world?
    The rhetoric is all for democracy, of course, but the real priority is building a US global empire.

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      October 10, 2012, 6:31 pm

      @ Nevada Ned

      Bingo! Thanks for the concise refresher.

    • Ted
      Ted
      October 10, 2012, 9:15 pm

      It’s not only the examples above of support for dictators.
      It’s the over throwing of democratically elected governments like that of Aristide in Haiti 1991 and 2004, Guatemala 1954, Iran 1953, Chile 1973, Brazil 1964, etc.
      Does PW recognize the concept of “US Imperialism”?

  4. Krauss
    Krauss
    October 10, 2012, 4:13 pm

    And as for Holbrooke’s source, Clark Clifford, he was the political adviser who counselled Truman to recognize Israel, in part because of fears about the Jewish vote.

    There are many Clark Cliffords in our politics today.

    Get real.
    So the reason why people run around in circles around AIPAC is because of the Florida vote, right?
    Notice that everyone isn’t freaking about Florida right now, despite mere weeks away from the election?

    AIPAC wasn’t formed in the 1950s but there were political pressures then too.

    You know better than this, Phil.

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      October 10, 2012, 6:36 pm

      @ Truman was worried about the NY Jewish vote, which was bigger back then, and about the Zionist Jews in the main Media–but mostly, he was worried if he did not go along with the Zionists they would throw their moneybags to Dewey. That’s exactly what the big honcho Zionist told him, face to face in the oval office. He got pissed, burned a stack of personally orchestrated Zionist plea letters without reading them, but caved in for dufus Eddie’s blessing and all that Zionist donor loot. It paid off in the sense he beat Dewey with it.

  5. proudzionist777
    proudzionist777
    October 10, 2012, 4:17 pm

    @Phil

    ” The recognition of Israel led in some measure to former Defense Secretary Forrestal’s demise. Attacked in the NY gossips over his personal life and sacked by Truman, he disintegrated, believed himself to be harassed by Zionists, and ultimately committed suicide.”

    Low blow. Phil.

    I challenge you to present one shred of evidence that Zionism had anything to do with Forrestal’s suicide.

    One shred and I donate $18 to Mondoweiss.

    • Eva Smagacz
      Eva Smagacz
      October 10, 2012, 6:42 pm

      “I challenge you to present one shred of evidence that Zionism had anything to do with Forrestal’s suicide.One shred and I donate $18 to Mondoweiss”.

      Your money is safe. Your challenge is disingenuous because you just conflated , deliberately, I believe, Zionism with Zionists.

      • chauncey
        chauncey
        October 11, 2012, 1:29 am

        nice catch, Eva

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      October 10, 2012, 6:58 pm

      @ proudzionist777

      A “shred” of evidence? How about all the threat letters Forrestal received from proud zionists who didn’t like his stand against partition for a new state of Israel? Anybody reading this can go read the factual ambiguities surrounding Forrestal’s alleged suicide; please note, inter alia, the transcript of the investigative hearings on the man’s demise have never been made public, (and that it’s rather odd a man would tie his own robe sash around his neck and then jump out a window–much easier to just jump). http://www.gnosticliberationfront.com/who_killed_james_forrestal.htm

    • October 10, 2012, 7:30 pm

      “he … *believed* himself to be harassed by Zionists”
      – so, this belief may have something to do with his suicide.
      —————–
      Do you want to see evidence of this belief – proudzionist?

      • proudzionist777
        proudzionist777
        October 11, 2012, 1:23 am

        @Klaus

        Yah. I want to see the evidence.

        @Ewa

        Zionists than.

  6. October 10, 2012, 4:43 pm

    Israel/Palestine is considered an unsolvable problem. But it can be solved
    like the egg of Columbus – all you need is a Columbus to break the egg.

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      October 10, 2012, 7:10 pm

      The egg won’t stand by itself; Columbus would simply withhold aid to Israel, thus breaking the problem enough for it to stand by itself.

      • Sumud
        Sumud
        October 11, 2012, 9:40 am

        The UN veto is what counts, not the money.

        Without the US using their UN SC veto to shield Israel from the consequences of their actions it’s all downhill from there as the last act of BDS comes into play: international sanctions.

      • October 11, 2012, 10:55 am

        Citizen –

        Columbus (and his egg) came to my mind when I read the list of people – George Marshall, George F. Kennan … – who opposed US recognition of Israel. – I’m not a scholar of US foreign policy but I always liked George Kennan. (And of course, all Germans like Marshall. Right in the center of Frankfurt, though not very prominently, is a “Marshall fountain”.)

  7. DICKERSON3870
    DICKERSON3870
    October 10, 2012, 6:16 pm

    RE: “As reported in a fascinating historical snippet by the late Richard Holbrooke, who helped organize presidential adviser Clark Clifford’s papers for a co-authored memoir . . .” ~ Clemons

    AN INTERESTING ASIDE FROM GRANT SMITH, 05/10/10:

    . . . In 1968 as Israel noticeably ramped up activities at the Dimona nuclear weapons facility, Secretary of Defense Clark Clifford placed a final urgent call to Johnson, “Mr. President, I don’t want to live in a world where the Israelis have nuclear weapons.” President Johnson was abrupt before he hung up on Clifford, “Don’t bother me with this anymore.”* By the time Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meier lobbied President Nixon to redefine U.S. non-proliferation policy as “ambiguity” toward Israeli nuclear weapons, Israel’s stockpile and number of deployed weapons was steadily growing. . .

    SOURCE – http://original.antiwar.com/smith-grant/2010/05/09/declassified-gao-report/

    *P.S. In the summer of 1967, LBJ had initiated a cover-up of Israel’s attack on the USS Liberty.

    • DICKERSON3870
      DICKERSON3870
      October 10, 2012, 6:45 pm

      P.P.S. RE: “In the summer of 1967, LBJ had initiated a cover-up of Israel’s attack on the USS Liberty.” ~ me (above)

      SEE: “Cover-Up Alleged in Probe of USS Liberty”, whatreallyhappened.com, (undated)

      [EXCERPT] A former Navy attorney who helped lead the military investigation of the 1967 Israeli attack on the USS Liberty that killed 34 American servicemen says former President Lyndon Johnson and his defense secretary, Robert McNamara, ordered that the inquiry conclude the incident was an accident.
      In a signed affidavit released at a Capitol Hill news conference, retired Capt. Ward Boston said Johnson and McNamara told those heading the Navy’s inquiry to “conclude that the attack was a case of ‘mistaken identity’ despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.”
      It was “one of the classic all-American cover-ups,” said retired Admiral Thomas Moorer, a former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman who spent a year investigating the attack as part of an independent panel he formed with other former military officials. . .

      SOURCE – http://whatreallyhappened.com/WRHARTICLES/ussliberty.html

      ALSO SEE: “New revelations in attack on American spy ship”, By John Crewdson, Chicago Tribune, 10/02/07
      Veterans, documents suggest U.S., Israel didn’t tell full story of deadly ’67 incident
      LINK – http://www.chicagotribune.com/services/newspaper/eedition/chi-liberty_tuesoct02,0,3794785,full.story

  8. ThorsteinVeblen2012
    ThorsteinVeblen2012
    October 11, 2012, 12:22 pm

    In the heady days after September 11, and before the invasion of Iraq. Darryl Issa spoke at a World Affairs Council meeting about his vision to remake the Middle East. Issa spoke of a “Marshall Plan” to modernize and rebuild the Middle East.

    In the Q&A that followed I stated that Marshall did have a plan for the Middle East which involved a one state solution to the Israeli/Palestinian issue. I went further to state that without addressing the legitimate issues of the Palestinians especially UN 194 which the Palestinians cannot be required to relinquish how can his vision of a Marshall Plan succeed?

    Issa looked at me as though he wished I were dead and said he disagreed. Afterwards I went to shake his hand and thank him for coming but he refused to make eye contact with me. Late a Pro-Israel college professor resigned from the local World Affairs Council board because I was not rebuked for asking the question.

  9. annie
    annie
    October 11, 2012, 1:07 pm

    bleeding global ulcer

    how apropo. kudos to clemmons for this accurate description but if he’s going to say Marshall had it wrong on Israel he should state why. marshal said it would ignite wars and he was right.

    • American
      American
      October 11, 2012, 1:24 pm

      Er…. I know from private emails that Clemons personal opinion on Israel is somewhat less than his public statements. He got mafia mobbed by the zios on his old site TWN as a anti semite, accused in Jennifer Rubins blog in the WP, they did a almost full court press on him. These attacks on him concided with about the time Clemons started appearing MSNBC now and then. At that time he was with the New America Foundation and could take a certain amount of heat but now at the Atlantic he always throws a little o.k. to Israel to avoid the zio mob going after him again. He does not like the I-firsters at all.

      • annie
        annie
        October 11, 2012, 3:15 pm

        thanks. yeah i recall phil covering something he wrote (over a year ago) and he was vehemently attacked in the comment section for backing down.i thought it was too harsh myself.

  10. proudzionist777
    proudzionist777
    October 11, 2012, 4:04 pm

    I said:

    “I challenge you to present one shred of evidence that Zionism had anything to do with Forrestal’s suicide. One shred and I donate $18 to Mondoweiss”.

    No offering of evidence. No donation to Mondoweiss.
    Perhaps it’s time I planted another tree?

    • Woody Tanaka
      Woody Tanaka
      October 12, 2012, 9:47 am

      Come on pudracist, you’re as capable as anyone to read Arnold Rogow’s book. If you want to reject it, fine. But don’t pretend that it doesn’t exist.

      But by all mean plant another one of your trees celebrating your ethnic cleansing and near-genocide of the native Palestinian people in their land.

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