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Israel shouldn’t rely on Obama’s word, says chair of (US) Center for National Interest

on 14 Comments
Hank Greenberg

Hank Greenberg

Maurice R. Greenberg, financier and World War II veteran, tells Jacob Heilbrunn that Israel has to do what it has to do on Iran. Note that Greenberg is chairman of the Center for the National Interest, which purports to be America’s “realist voice,” and this piece appears in the National Interest. Ironic. Also notice that Holocaust fears suffuse this piece, down to the “stabbing in the back” meme, and the fact Heilbrunn supplies, that Greenberg helped liberate Dachau.

JH: Has Obama backstabbed Israel?


MG: He has made it difficult for the U.S. to take a position. Who’s going to believe him? I wouldn’t rely on his word. He’s negotiating clandestinely with the Iranians, knowing what they said as a policy matter. They have no penalties, get some of their pent-up assets from overseas. As I understand the terms, they can reduce and build it back in a week. How do you know what they have going on in any part of the country that we haven’t identified yet? How do you trust them? How can we rely on their word?

JH: Should the administration have refused to sign?

MG: I wouldn’t have signed the deal.

JH: The precondition for a final deal is recognizing the Holocaust?

MG: Absolutely.

JH: Should Israel be ready to attack? Is the likelihood higher?

MG: If Israeli intelligence turns up evidence that there are things going on that can affect their survival, do what you have to do.

Philip Weiss

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

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14 Responses

  1. Justpassingby on November 27, 2013, 1:32 pm

    Whats wrong with israel lovers? They think america must serve Israel or something?

    • Les on November 27, 2013, 8:58 pm

      How can it be in our “national” interest to use taxpayer dollars to prop up Israel’s ethnic cleansing while American children go hungry?

    • Shingo on November 27, 2013, 9:02 pm

      Actually people like him would argue that not being rabidly pro Israel is anti American.

  2. pabelmont on November 27, 2013, 1:45 pm

    Well, the “national interest” has long been CALCULATED as an averaging of the desires of the ESTABLISHMENT, the OLIGARCHY (including BIG-ZION/AIPAC and allies).

    But since Obama is “bucking” AIPAC on Iran, I must suppose that TNI supports him. That means that this bozo is wrong to suggest otherwise. The TAIL no longer wags the DOG but no-one sent him the memo. (Or the meme).

  3. Woody Tanaka on November 27, 2013, 2:04 pm

    JH: The precondition for a final deal is recognizing the Holocaust?

    MG: Absolutely.

    WTF?? Exactly what does this historical fact have to do with anything? It’s like piloting a boat with the input of mental patients.

  4. James Canning on November 27, 2013, 2:06 pm

    I think Greenberg is simply DEAD WRONG if he thinks Obama would allow Iran to build nukes.

    I also think Greenberg wishes to help Israel to undermine national security interests of the US. So Israel can continue to grow the illegal settlements in the West Bank.

  5. marc b. on November 27, 2013, 2:19 pm

    ah, did Obama ‘backstab’ Israel? the old ‘enemy within’ meme so favored by early 20th century German fascists. and mo Greenberg waxing arbiter on questions of moral integrity. that’s rich.

  6. Krauss on November 27, 2013, 2:44 pm

    Heilbrunn is better than most, but is he a realist? And that the Chairman of his newspaper’s group is a neocon doesn’t help matters.

    The suggestion that Holocaust denial should be made a pre-condition is bizarre. There are many undemocratic and frankly nasty regimes in which the U.S. shares a common interest for regional stability(Saudis, for one).

    The notion that you put the Holocaust in there as a pre-condition says more about Greenberg’s true priorities than any lip service about U.S. national interest.
    I’m sure he read Bret Stephen’s column about this being “worse than Munich” and agreed with every word.

    That this guy is sitting on the foundation behind the so-called premier “realist” publication says more than we need to know about the total intellectual abyss that is U.S. foreign policy intellegentsia.

    As always! It’s not’s because there aren’t brains, see Walt/Mearsheimer. It’s the donor money that is reactionary, that is screening for people who have their own backwards tastes and biases. Why is it that TNR was a Jewish bastion more or less dedicated to Israel for so many years? Is Zionism a condition to getting promoted to the editor’s post in the New Yorker? What about foundations like the one Greenberg heads? If Brunner, God forbid, became sick and had to leave his job, would Greenberg screen for neocon/Zionist views for his replacement? I think he would, judging by his nutty interview, we could almost be certain.

    The saying “follow the money” doesn’t apply here. It’s anti-Semitic.
    So we should just lay down and accept warmongering and people who are more loyal to Israel instead? No wonder the Democratic base is getting ripped apart on this issue.

    • MRW on November 27, 2013, 7:04 pm

      So we should just lay down and accept warmongering and people who are more loyal to Israel instead?


  7. Scott on November 27, 2013, 4:06 pm

    From what I know of Heilbrunn, he is very much a realist, and very likely to support Iran diplomacy. I’m sure he’s trying hard to finesse things with his new boss (the board which publishes TNI has been through many changes in the past years) and still retain a platform for publishing extremely good realist analysis (Paul Pillar, Bob Merry). If you look at some of the things TNI has published in the past few years, you have to assume that Greenberg isn’t exercising any kind of censorship. But, of course, that could change as things heat up.

  8. Helena Cobban on November 27, 2013, 4:12 pm

    ‘National interest’… what ‘national interest’?? Maurice (Hank) Greenberg was the man at the helm of AIG, the out-of-control “insurance” (actually, big-league financial gambling) outfit at the time that it almost caused the whole US and western economic system to crash back in 2008, destroying the savings of millions of lower and middle income US citizens and making hundreds of thousands of them actually homeless. The guy should have been tried for numerous financial crimes at the time… Instead of which he got a tiny slap on the wrist and is now back rebuilding another version of his previous shady financial empire. He’s not totally home and free criminal prosecution-wise yet, however..

    I think this info is VERY relevant to any discussion of whether he’s qualified to speak to anything to do with the US “national interest”. See e.g. and

    • pabelmont on November 27, 2013, 5:03 pm

      TNI and AIG connected? Fascinating if true. what it would mean is that in the “oligarchy” which rules America, the BIGs are overlapping so that BIG-ZION (AIPAC and its allies) overlaps with BIG-BANKs, BIG-INSURANCE, etc.

      If true, it goes far to explain why no BIGs (not BIG-PHARMA, not BIG-AGRI, etc.) opposed the stupid wars (Iraq, Afghanistan) that bankrupted the USA and which served no purpose but to please BIG-DEFENSE and BIG-ZION.

      My theory of oligarchy is not complete, not coherent, and probably not true to a considerable extent, but I developed the idea from looking at what the no sufficient number of elements of big-money opposed as well as what elements of big-money called for and got. I’m sticking to my theory. There must be cross-over (interlocking directorates it used to be called) whereby one group of powerful CEOs play-along-to-get-along with other groups of CEOs. And many of them may, in effect, be members of BIG-ZION.

  9. traintosiberia on November 27, 2013, 7:45 pm

    ” He’s negotiating clandestinely ”
    Clandestine is the same word that signifies what is signified by the phrase one hears or is told to follow from AIPAC/ADL and from TelAviv- Discuss or talk in private- dont do it publcily . One heras that when Sharon tells his people not to air views on Iraq war in public, when Obama is told by Tel Aviv not to criticize ISRAEL/AIPAC in public, when Netanyahu tells not to discuss the conditions of Palestine surrender in public nor the Israeli positions on recent negotiations in public.
    Clandestine is the word used by the people to stake out a position that enmity is the defining relitionship and is used to introduce that idea among the listeners .
    But diplomacy is clandestine , and has always been exceting for a brief moments in history when Lenin conducted the policies out in the public domain.

    The astounding claims from a putative Americans is dangerous ..It shows to what extent these people would go out to harm the American interest

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