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Bill Keller says neocons are warmongers who trust Netanyahu more than Obama

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Flag Day for the Secretary

Flag Day for the Secretary

Some developments re the Iran war-drums.

On Tuesday, John Kerry told a dubious Senate committee that Congress should hold off on more sanctions on Iran, even as a warmongering Republican questioner said that we were appeasing the Nazis all over again. Here is a choice defensive moment from John Kerry’s testimony (boldface mine):

I do want to say one quick word about Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu. I speak to the Prime Minister usually a couple times a week or several times. I talked to him yesterday morning, and I am leaving tomorrow and I’ll be seeing him Thursday night. We are totally agreed that we need to focus on this final comprehensive agreement. And Yossi Cohen, the national security advisor to the Prime Minister, is here in Washington this week working with our experts. And we will work hand in hand closely, not just with Israel, but with our friends in the Gulf and others around the world.

I think Kerry is reflecting the political wisdom, Keep your friends close, but hold your enemies so tight they can’t even wiggle. (The same wisdom Obama expressed in his famous moment with Sarkozy. “You’re tired of him; what about me? I have to deal with him every day.”)

Next, in an excellent blogpost at The New York Times, Bill Keller says the neoconservatives are entrenched in Washington, and they are Israel-centric warmongers who don’t know the US national interest. Hardliners in Iran and the US, Keller writes,

[b]oth believe America’s role in the Middle East revolves in large measure around Israel. To the Iranian hard core, Israel is a nuclear-armed interloper and America’s conjoined infidel twin; to their American counterparts Israel’s values and interests are inextricable from our own, and Benjamin Netanyahu is a more trustworthy defender of our security than Barack Obama.

Hardliners in both countries are fighting a rearguard action in their own countries. In the U.S., the hawks fear they are losing sway to a conflict-averse president who has the support (at least on the issue of attacking Iran, if not on much else) of a war-weary public. In Iran the Supreme Leader and the Revolutionary Guard face the mounting frustration of a largely young, economically punished population – a volatile discontent that was expressed in the streets in 2009 and at the ballot box this year.

Yet in both countries, the hawks have disproportionate influence – in Washington, because no public figure wants to be seen as soft on Iran…  [A] failure of negotiations would delight both of them – American hawks because Israel could get on with the business of bombing..

I wish Keller had had this epiphany before he pushed the Iraq war ten years ago. Also, it would be nice if Keller were a little more frank with his readers about why the hardliners have such purchase in D.C. MJ Rosenberg– who explained the Israel Firster argument a long time ago– says it’s about money.

The Israel Lobby has the media so intimidated that no one in the mainstream media has the nerve to tell the American people why Congress is likely to pass new Iran sanctions that would kill the Iran negotiations.

No one. By no one, I mean no one.

If all you knew about this subject came from the media (including the major bloggers except Andrew Sullivan), you would think that Members of Congress are worried that the Iran deal poses problems for US security.

Of course, that is ridiculous. Every single Member of Congress who expresses “concern” about the Iran deal is doing so to please AIPAC and its donors. Almost all get money from AIPAC and the rest want to.

Keller is uncomfortable with the fact that the Iranian discourse is filled with conspiracy theories about the US and Israel; but leaving aside the hateful invective of the Supreme Leader– khameinilike the twitter picture on left– isn’t there truth in the Iranian view (also held by many Arabs) that the lobby has a lot of Washington by the short-hairs?

Then there’s this. Avi Mayer, the Israeli-American new media spokesman for the Jewish Agency, seizes on neoconservative polling data to say:


Scott Roth leaped on this.

Here is some of the polling, from Frank Luntz:

“Finally, we have found an issue of substance that both Democrats and Republicans agree on. The fear of Iranian nuclear weapons unites just about everyone.”
That is the key result of a survey of 900 likely voters taken December 7-9, 2013 that asks what Americans think of negotiations between their government and Iran. For us, this is the first time this year that an issue of this signific ance generates almost universal support across the demographic and political landscape:
By lopsided margins, supporters of both political parties overwhelmingly favored renewed sanctions against the Iranian government, in addition to and regardless of current negotiations.
Younger Obama voters and older Romney voters BOTH want the American negotiators to insist on a non-nuclear Iran, and they want sanctions to remain until that objective [etc]...

Speaking of Khameini's feed, what about this picture (on the right) from the Supreme Leader. I agree. So do a lot of Americans. Palestine


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31 Responses

  1. pabelmont
    December 12, 2013, 11:46 am

    “Speaking of Khameini’s feed, what about this picture (on the right) from the Supreme Leader. I agree. So do a lot of Americans”. this is a GREAT picture. I’d like to see it on transit ads in big American cities. Better still if there were a quote (Tutu?) that apartheid in Greater Israel is worse than it ever was in South Africa. All I found in a quick search was this, from MondoWeiss:

    I have been to the Ocupied Palestinian Territory, and I have witnessed the racially segregated roads and housing that reminded me so much of the conditions we experienced in South Africa under the racist system of Apartheid. I have witnessed the humiliation of Palestinian men, women, and children made to wait hours at Israeli military checkpoints routinely when trying to make the most basic of trips to visit relatives or attend school or college, and this humiliation is familiar to me and the many black South Africans who were corralled and regularly insulted by the security forces of the Apartheid government.

    In South Africa, we could not have achieved our freedom and just peace without the help of people around the world, who through the use of non-violent means, such as boycotts and divestment, encouraged their governments and other corporate actors to reverse decades-long support for the Apartheid regime.

  2. Citizen
    December 12, 2013, 12:15 pm
  3. Krauss
    December 12, 2013, 12:40 pm

    MJ Rosenberg misses the mark again.

    Yes, what keeps people in D.C. loyal to Israel is money – but that is only partly the case. The NRA is very well funded, it has tons of billionaires willing to give as well as a lot of grassroots activists. The healthcare lobby is even better funded, it’s one of the top 3 lobbies in Washington(the other two is Wall Street and the Israel lobby).

    It managed to stall health care reform for a long time, and Obamacare isn’t nearly as progressive as it should be. But it’s far better than the status quo, which the healthcare lobby wanted to keep.

    My point? Money is very powerful, but there are principles which can, over the long term, override that influence.

    AIPAC’s power is not just money. This is MJ’s Zionist blind spot yet again. It’s also about ideology. Why is Bill Keller so uncomfortable talking about the why, not just what is fact? Is MJ going to blame money here too? Why are people like Ben Smith at Buzzfeed so willing to help neocons smear writers at CAP or delegate the dirty work to Rosie Gray on Max Blumenthal?

    What about the NYT, whose coverage of the conflict is getting more and more hasbara-friendly by the day, often not even talking to Palestinians at all even in stories about them. Is the NYT coverage of Israel governed by money alone?

    No, of course not. Zionism is an ideological committment. I’m annoyed when Noam Chomsky tries to blame “international capital” for the situation in the West Bank, too. Neither Chomsky/Finkelstein nor MJ Rosenberg wants to talk about Jewish sociology, but you have to. It’s a topic we’ve been debating at length at this site for years now, but essentially you have to be willing to broach the subject of the Jewish rise to power, especially in the MSM, to describe why Congressmen are scared of taking progressive positions. It’s not just campaign funds. It’s also how they get covered in the media.

    And I haven’t even mentioned the most powerful Zionist in the media, who’s a non-Jew, Rupert Murdoch. Or take David Cohen, VP of Comcast who is very devoted to Israel. You can go down the line.

    These people are not motivated by money, and they will make sure Congressmen- and women will pay a price in the media if they take positions on Palestine which are progressive. MJ trying to simplify it to just money is trying to whitewash the issue, like Chomsky and Finkelstein before him.

  4. Citizen
    December 12, 2013, 12:50 pm

    Luntz, the pollster here, is a self-proclaimed Zionist who has also said his great priority in life is the Israel Project. He manipulates public opinion though his array of choice questions–regularly in Fox News, for example, and here Mayer passes on via Twitter the latest results of Luntz’s latest poll. I think he should get the Bernays-Gobbels Award for carefully lipsticking the pig for prom night.
    Phil, I hope you read this linked article on Luntz. You probably don’t watch Fox news, so you don’t watch Luntz playing with the dumb American public in prime time.

  5. traintosiberia
    December 12, 2013, 1:25 pm

    Poll Finds Public Doesn’t Like Iran Deal if They Don’t Know What’s in It-

    “For the last few weeks, the general sense is that the US public backs the tentative deal on Iran’s nuclear program. So it’s surprising to see USA Today (12/9/13) hyping a poll that sends a very different message. Has public opinion shifted? Not really–you simply have to look at what the polls are asking.

    Under the print edition headline “Few Trust Iran on Nuclear Accord,” USA Today’s Susan Page reports that “the White House and Iran face an uphill selling job to convince Americans to embrace the interim nuclear pact negotiated with Tehran last month.” Just how bad is it? Page explains that a new USA Today/Pew poll says it’s pretty bleak:

    In the survey, taken Tuesday through Sunday, 32 percent approve of the deal, 43 percent disapprove. One in four don’t know or declined to answer.

    This is surprising, since many other polls found the public generally supportive of the deal. Taking a look at the Iran page at, a CNN poll (11/18-20/13) finds 56 percent favor the deal; an ABC News/Washington Post Poll (11/14-17/13) finds 64 percent approval.

    Now, it’s entirely possible that Americans have been watching a lot of TV, and have seen a parade of hawks and skeptics talking about the need to increase the sanctions on Iran. But the real difference would seem to be simpler to explain. Those other two polls asked questions that included a summary of the deal. The ABC/Post poll, for instance, put it this way:

    Would you support or oppose an agreement in which the United States and other countries would lift some of their economic sanctions against Iran, in exchange for Iran restricting its nuclear program in a way that makes it harder for it to produce nuclear weapons?

    This new poll, though, asked the question this way:

    From what you know, do you approve or disapprove of the agreement between the United States and Iran on Iran’s nuclear program?

    So why would you get such starkly different results? Because most people actually don’t follow this story very closely at all. Forty-eight percent of respondents said they’d heard a little about the agreement, 28 percent said they’d heard nothing at all. But those people are still asked to weigh in on whether they approve or disapprove of the deal. (How does that phone conversation go, exactly? “So, do you know much about this Iran nuclear deal?” “No, not really.” “OK, so what’s your take on it, then?”)

    It’s not an especially helpful survey–unless you’re looking to build opposition to the nuclear deal.”

    • ritzl
      December 14, 2013, 4:05 am

      Great point. Any poll that starts its questions with “Based on what you know or have heard, …” should be immediately dismissed as nothing more than a media effectiveness poll.

      The various “support Israel” polls a few years back started out with the same qualifier. I don’t know if they still do use that phrasing. Totally meaningless as issue insight or developed, potentially influential popular thought.

  6. doug
    December 12, 2013, 1:28 pm

    One of the more disturbing shifts I’ve seen in this discussion is the idea that, should the P5+1 /Iran agreements fail, the United States is the one expected to bomb Iran. This has long been desired by Israel but is increasingly accepted as the US’s responsibility. It seems both strains of neos (cons and libs) are on the same page. They can be Strange or Charming but they are both Quarks.*

    *Quantum mechanics, not Star Trek.

    • James Canning
      James Canning
      December 12, 2013, 7:43 pm

      doug, if no deal is achieved (between P5+1 and Iran), and Iran continues to do what it had been doing, most likely the result would be an American-led blockade of Iranian oil exports. Which could lead to war, no question.

  7. traintosiberia
    December 12, 2013, 1:34 pm

    The Book – Exodus – was commissoned by Israeli propagandist /harabrist .
    They have been commisoning the polls also for many years.

    If some wellknown researcher with good credentials make people take some “sugar” pills telling them that the pills going to cause discomfort,pain,increased heart rate and also give them electric shocks , people wil likley blame the discomfort of shocks to the pills even as the doses of the shocks go up.
    Bias creeps in easily in even simple day to day conversation. If some one I know tell me about a guy who I dont know and says bad things about him, chances are that I will not seek expalnation why my acquintance will say bad things and most likely I will believe him and have bad opinion about the person I never met .( This is one of the reason Israel never wanted any face to face meeting between Iran and US)
    Full disclosure is every thing.

  8. Kathleen
    December 12, 2013, 3:22 pm

    Does Keller really think people have that short of a memory. Keller and his paper’s criminal negligence by allowing Judy “I was fucking right” Millers lying pieces helped take the U.S. into Iraq lickety split. He should at least acknowledge his bloody part while he tries to travel down a different path.

  9. DICKERSON3870
    December 12, 2013, 3:48 pm

    RE: “I think Kerry is reflecting the political wisdom, Keep your friends close, but hold your enemies so tight they can’t even wiggle.” ~ Weiss


    “It’s probably better to have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in.” ~ On FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, as quoted in The New York Times (31 October 1971)

    SOURCE –

    • Hostage
      December 12, 2013, 4:09 pm

      Keep your friends close, but hold your enemies so tight they can’t even wiggle.” ~ Weiss …


      “It’s probably better to have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in.”

      This one’s a little more apt:

      “I never trust a man unless I’ve got his pecker in my pocket.”

      “In his own words” from “Lyndon B Johnson: The uncivil rights reformer”

      • DICKERSON3870
        December 13, 2013, 10:39 pm

        RE: “I never trust a man unless I’ve got his pecker in my pocket.” ~ L.B.J.

        MY COMMENT: I assume that means that LBJ never trusted a man unless LBJ had something good to blackmail him with (like evidence of the man having “screwed around”).
        What a class act!

      • James Canning
        James Canning
        December 14, 2013, 7:20 pm

        LBJ was a busy man with the ladies, and busy doing what you indicate.

      • DICKERSON3870
        December 15, 2013, 12:40 am

        Come now! LBJ would have never cheated on Lady Bird. He was innocence personified!

        P.S. FROM WIKIPEDIA [Lyndon B. Johnson]:

        [EXCERPT] . . . Madeleine Duncan Brown was an American woman who alleged that she was Johnson’s longtime mistress.[134][135][136] In addition to claiming that her second child was born out of that relationship, Brown also implicated Johnson in a conspiracy to assassinate President John F. Kennedy.[134][135][136] Brown’s allegations have never been substantiated.[136] . . .

        SOURCE –

        P.P.S. ALSO FROM WIKIPEDIA [KBR (company)]:

        [EXCERPTS] KBR, Inc. (formerly Kellogg Brown & Root) is an American engineering, construction, and private military contracting company, formerly a subsidiary of Halliburton, headquartered in Houston. The company also has large offices in Arlington, Virginia, Birmingham, Alabama, and Newark, Delaware, in the United States and Leatherhead in the UK. After Halliburton acquired Dresser Industries in 1998, Dresser’s engineering subsidiary, The M. W. Kellogg Co., was merged with Halliburton’s construction subsidiary, Brown & Root, to form Kellogg Brown & Root. KBR and its predecessors have received many contracts with the U.S. military including during World War II, the Vietnam War, and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
        KBR is the largest non-union construction company in the United States.[2] The company’s corporate offices are in the KBR Tower in Downtown Houston.[3][4] . . .

        . . . Brown & Root
        Brown & Root was founded in Texas in 1919 by two brothers, George R. Brown and Herman Brown, with money provided by their brother-in-law, Daniel Root. The company began its operations by building roads in Texas.
        One of its first large-scale projects, according to the book Cadillac Desert, was building a dam on the Texas Colorado River near Austin during the Depression years. For assistance in federal payments, the company turned to the local Congressman, Lyndon B. Johnson. Brown & Root was the principal source of campaign funds after Johnson’s initial run for Congress in 1937, in return for persuading the Bureau of Reclamation to change its rules against paying for a dam on land the federal government did not own, a decision that had to go all the way to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, according to Robert A. Caro’s book “The Path to Power”. After other very profitable construction projects for the federal government, Brown & Root gave massive sums of cash for Johnson’s first run for the U.S. Senate in 1941. Brown and Root reportedly violated IRS rules over campaign contributions, largely in charging off its donations as deductible company expenses, according to Caro. A subsequent IRS investigation threatened to bring criminal charges of illegal campaign donations against Brown & Root, as well as Johnson and others. Roosevelt himself told the IRS to back off and allowed Brown and Root to settle for pennies on the dollar. . .
        . . . Following the death of Herman Brown, Halliburton Energy Services acquired Brown & Root in December 1962. According to Dan Briody, who wrote a book on the subject, the company became part of a consortium of four companies that built about 85 percent of the infrastructure needed by the Navy during the Vietnam War. At the height of the anti-war movement of the 1960s, Brown & Root was derided as “Burn & Loot” by protesters. . .

        SOURCE –

      • DICKERSON3870
        December 15, 2013, 1:22 am

        P.P.P.S. ALSO FROM WIKIPEDIA [Bobby Baker]:

        Robert Gene Baker (born November 12, 1928, in Pickens, South Carolina) is a former political adviser to Lyndon B. Johnson, and an organizer for the Democratic Party.
        Baker was the son of the Pickens postmaster and lived in a house on Hampton Avenue. He attended Pickens Elementary and Pickens High School, until he achieved an appointment when he was fourteen years old as a page of the US Senate with the help of Harold E. Holder.
        In 1942, at the age of 14, Baker became a page for Senator Burnet Maybank,[1] and quickly became friends with several important Democrats.[clarification needed] When Lyndon Johnson was elected to the Senate in 1948, he was told that Baker knew “where the bodies are buried”, and established a close relationship with him.[2] Since the 1950s, Baker had been a protégée of Lyndon Johnson.[3]
        Baker was eventually promoted to the position of the Senate’s Secretary to the Majority Leader (who at the time was a Democrat); this was his highest-ranking official position, as well as the position from which he would later resign. Prior to resigning, Baker had been a major power on Capitol Hill. He resigned eventually due to allegations of misconduct and a well-publicized scandal involving government contracts.

        Baker frequently mixed politics with personal business. He was one of the initiators and board-members of the Quorum Club located in the Carroll Arms Hotel adjacent a Senate office building. The society was alleged to have been a place for lawmakers and other influential men to meet for food, drink, and ladies. Baker, and one of his colleagues, lobbyist Bill Thompson, are said to have arranged for Quorum Club hostess Ellen Rometsch to meet John F. Kennedy. . .
        . . . During 1962, Baker established the Serv-U Corporation with his friend, Fred Black. The company was designed to provide vending machines for companies working for federally granted programs. Though a part of numerous other deals involving both politics and private financial affairs, this particular business venture would cause a scandal. The Serv-U Corporation deal became the subject of allegations of conflict of interest and corruption after a disgruntled former government contractor sued Baker and Black in civil court. This lawsuit eventually generated a great deal of press.[6]
        In September 1963, an investigation was begun by the Republican-led Senate Rules Committee into Baker’s business and political activities.[7] Baker was investigated for allegations of congressional bribery using money and arranged sexual favors, in exchange for votes and government contracts. Criticized increasingly, Baker resigned his job as Secretary of the Senate on October 7, 1963.[8] . . .
        . . . According to author Evan Thomas, the President’s brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, was able to arrange a deal with J. Edgar Hoover to quell mention of the Rometsch allegations in the Senate investigation of Bobby Baker. Hoover successfully limited the Senate investigation of Baker by threatening to release embarrassing information about senators contained in FBI files. In exchange for this, Robert Kennedy reassured Hoover that his job as FBI Director was secure and also reluctantly agreed to allow the FBI to proceed with wiretaps that Hoover had requested on Martin Luther King to try and prove King’s close confidants and advisers were communists.[9][10]
        Although Lyndon Johnson was not involved in Baker’s business dealing after 1960, the Senate investigation looked into their questionable financial activities in the 1950s. This was a problem for Johnson and there were rumors he would be dropped from the 1964 presidential ticket.[11] After word of the assassination of John F. Kennedy reached Washington on November 22, 1963, the Senate investigation was delayed. Thereafter, any investigation of Lyndon Johnson as part of the Baker investigation was dropped.[12] . . .

        SOURCE –

  10. DICKERSON3870
    December 12, 2013, 4:07 pm

    RE: “Finally, we have found an issue of substance that both Democrats and Republicans agree on. The fear of Iranian nuclear weapons unites just about everyone.” ~ Frank Luntz

    NOTE THE ‘MO’ (METHOD OF OPERATION): First Israel and its supporters propagandize the hell out of the American people with the help of a complicit corporate/mainstream media in the US. Then someone commissions a poll (a “push poll”, if need be) of the American people to confirm the gist of Israel’s propaganda. Then Israel and its supporters cite the results of the poll (confirming Israel’s earlier propaganda) in support of Israel’s propaganda.


    “I know what America is,” Netanyahu replied. “America is a thing you can move very easily, move it in the right direction. They won’t get in their way.”

    SOURCE –

  11. American
    December 12, 2013, 4:14 pm

    ”77% of Americans say an #Iran nuclear arms capability would be more dangerous than a U.S. strike on its facilities:”

    rotflmao….they wish.

  12. JeffB
    December 12, 2013, 7:27 pm

    Yes no one is telling the public about the secret AIPAC conspiracy. Everyone is going for the obviously false explanation that the Senate is acting hesitant because tens of millions of swing voters are either suspicious or mildly opposed to this deal and the Senate is accurately reflecting the will of the voters.

    • Ecru
      December 14, 2013, 1:48 am

      And the attitude of those swing voters has nothing to do with an EXTREMELY biased MSM now does it……

      • JeffB
        December 14, 2013, 7:55 am


        And the attitude of those swing voters has nothing to do with an EXTREMELY biased MSM now does it……

        That’s irrelevant to the point. If Senators are representing public opinion there is no conspiracy. How public opinion is formed is a different issue.

        As for the MSM being biased, with regard to Iran, biased towards what? The Mainstream Media mostly sees its job as helping Americans decide where they stand between mainstream political opinion. All major factions in the United States consider Iran to be an enemy or quasi-enemy of the United States. The debates in the USA are
        between those who favor pressure and those who favor regime change
        between those who consider Iran a high priority problem and those who see it as lower priority than other foreign policy engagement

        I’m hard pressed to think of virtually any USA politicians of natural stature who aren’t very hostile to Iran. Iran is a right wing crazy regime which does stuff like hang people for homosexuality so the left hates them. They also undermined internationally diplomacy when they held embassy personnel hostage so even most peace groups view them as a threat to peace. They’ve attacked American soldiers so virtually everyone hates them for that. The Iranian population in the United States is mostly composed of people associated with the Shah who fled the revolution so they all hate the new government.

        What subgroup of Americans do you think the MSM is not representing?

        Now on top of all that. Iran doesn’t engage the MSM like say France or the UK does when issues of Iranian policy comes. They don’t have an embassy and they don’t have a lobbying firm. If I’m Scott Pelley and I need 3 quotes representing “the other side” for an Iran segment who do I call? The media isn’t the one at fault here. Iran as a state trying to avoid war, has an obligation to do so effectually, and that means spending money on diplomacy and engaging the American public. So the MSM often fills in with people like the experts from the State Department being the “pro-Iranian” side. As the joke goes the USA gets exposed to the foreign policy debate between the CIA’s left and the CIA’s right.

        If Iran has a case they have to come to the court of public opinion and make it.

      • Citizen
        December 15, 2013, 7:45 am

        Zbig, for example, recommends the US pursue a policy of containment with Iran, and he explains why from an informed historic and geo-strategic perspective, although he’s seldom given a presence on TV, while, for example Bolton is a broken record who’s on TV weekly. The MSM limits the debate about what to do with Iran pretty much to more sanctions or war. Why so much, e.g., Bill Kristol on MSM, while Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett are never heard or seen?

  13. James Canning
    James Canning
    December 12, 2013, 7:41 pm

    Bill Keller indeed should be frank: neocons are warmongers, and powerful in Washington, due to Jewish campaign finance. American politicians are dependent on this finance, to an alarming degree.

    • Kathleen
      December 13, 2013, 3:02 pm

      Bill Keller knows warmongering because he was a main warmongering player in the run up to the invasion of Iraq. The man was complicit in very serious ways

  14. dbroncos
    December 13, 2013, 12:13 am

    Bill Keller’s ME coverage in the NYT “revolves in large measure around Israel.” Whay is that, Bill? Is it because ” Israel’s values and interests are inextricable from our own”?

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