Thursday, April 28, 2005

AIPAC Investigation Hinders Push for War with Iran?

I don't have time to write a lot about this, but this article in The Forward is a very interesting read, and very candid. The FBI investigation of AIPAC is taking its toll, and is having an effect on their efforts to promote U.S. military strikes on Iran. The problems with the nomination of (non-Jewish) neocon John Bolton as U,N. Ambassador also are getting in the way. Does this mean they're finished? Hardly. But there has been some good news.
Pro-Israel activists in Washington are privately worrying that the shakeup at Aipac, as well as Bolton's troubles, will make it even harder for Jerusalem to convince the White House that quick action must be taken against Iran.

"It would sure help to have Bolton in the U.N. and credible [pro-Israel] lobbyists in Washington," said a senior official with a major national Jewish organization, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "This is a crucial point in time" to impact America's policy on Iran, the organizational official said.
Whoever is quoted here isn't "on the record" obviously, but it's still a very surprising degree of candor about who is really behind the push for war with Iran.

With AIPAC on the ropes and John Bolton possibly headed for a thumbs down, maybe that clown Jerome Corsi can help them?

Pollard and AIPAC

Found an interesting article on the Pollard case today in the Jerusalem Post.

For Pollard, who expected to be protected by Israel if caught, it is the treatment he has received from the Israeli government that surprises and disturbs him more than the harsh and disproportionate punishment that he has received from US authorities. "I had two particularly memorable terrible days since I was arrested. The first was when the FBI showed me transcripts of statements that Israeli officials made shortly after my arrest. It was clear that the Mossad had three goals. They wanted to put all the blame on the Office for Information Links and Rafi Eitan, they wanted to protect AIPAC at all costs and they wanted to bury me. It was the Mossad that was the source of all the disinformation about me and my character. The lies that I used cocaine and was a mercenary, selling secrets to countries other than Israel, it all came from them.
What's similar to today is that AIPAC as an organization must have its reputation defended at all costs. One (or two) individuals are expendable. What's different though is the stature of the people involved. Pollard was a very low level intelligence staffer. He was passing secrets, but had no real connection to politics or AIPAC. Rosen and Weissman were at the top levels of power within AIPAC. Pollard may have a lot bitterness that they didn't protect him, but there's little he can do about it. Rosen and Weissman, however, could potentially be dangerous (though I doubt they will be, since their legal jeopardy is likely to be a lot less severe).

Sunday, April 24, 2005

"The Coming Pax Americana"

This article by Efraim Halevy, former head of the Mossad and now Ariel Sharon's national security advisor is very interesting and worth reading. It's written, obviously, for an Israeli audience, and is surprisingly candid about the current Israeli government's strategic thinking.

In particular, the talk of a very broad, and long lasting, American military occupation of multiple Arab states is of interest:

The shapers of the basic political approach of the Bush administration say that the United States plans "to be in the area" for as long as 10 years and more, if needed. Speaking in a semi-closed forum during a visit to Israel a few months ago, Bill Kristol, one of the most influential "neocons" (neoconservatives) in the United States, noted in this connection that the American presence in Europe after World War II lasted for nearly 60 years. Israelis who are trying to promote a role for NATO in the region, in one form or another, are actually promoting a generation-long American presence.

There you have it -- on the record -- straight from the Israeli National Security Advisor!

In a visit to the United States two weeks ago, I was told by several well-informed observers that should one of the more severe scenarios come to pass, the United States will have no choice but to deepen its presence in the Middle East. To that end, it will have to renew the draft, to ensure that there are enough forces to deal with developing situations in countries like Saudi Arabia.

Halevy also is very candid about Sharon's "disengagement" plan being a "bypass" of the Bush administration's "road map" to a final status agreement with the Palestinians.

Of course, the real question is, why is all of this in the U.S. interest? A large part of the reason Saudi Arabia is so unstable right now is the U.S. presence in Iraq, which has made the vast majority of Arabs and Muslims feel that the U.S. has gone to war against the whole Islamic world. Halevy's (and the neocons', and AIPAC's) preferred solution for all of this is additional U.S. wars against other Arab and Muslim (Iran) states, a resumption of the draft (where else would we get hundreds of thousands of additional Americans to serve as cannon fodder for this?), and a "generational" presence as occupiers in the region. (Of course, this would generate additional impetus for terrorism against the U.S. itself.)

I would strongly urge my readers to forward this article around via email to your friends and family, with a paragraph or two of your own thoughts on the matter. It's only by getting the American public to understand what is going on -- that we're being manipulated -- that we will be able to counteract this.

Rosen and Weissman Refuse to Take the Fall for AIPAC

First, let me apologize for my lack of posting the last few days -- I've been sidetracked on some urgent family issues which I had to attend to. But now I should again have time to post more.

The news this week that Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, the two senior AIPAC staffers who are in legal jeopardy as a result of the FBI investigation, aren't willing to take the fall is definitely not the outcome that AIPAC wanted.

The immediate issues of illegal receipt of classified information, possibile espionage, and failure to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) are bad enough, but the larger issue is the exposure of AIPAC's operating methods. The FBI has a couple of years' worth of wiretap evidence, and the information initially leaked to Rosen and Weissman by Larry Franklin was linked to the push for war with Iran (a rather timely issue, to say the least). The Israel lobby knows good and well that if the transcripts of their conversations with Capitol Hill staff get publicized by way of a trial, they are going to be a lot less effective. Their power has rested on being able to promote Israel's interests (as they see them) away from public view -- i.e. they didn't have a position on the Iraq War resolution, but everyone in Washington of any degree of political sophistication knew that they were making an "unofficial" effort to secure its passage. If most Americans knew the extent of this sort of "hush hush" political arm twisting, and the damage it does to American interests, there would be a movement to counterbalance AIPAC, particularly now that a clear majority of Amercians believe the Iraq War was a mistake, and have an interest in knowing who was responsible for misleading us into it.

So anyway, a trial is a good outcome for those of us who want to see a national debate about this. AIPAC is clearly trying to distance itself from Rosen and Weissman, and will be making the "couple of bad apples" defense of the organization, but it isn't likely to work. Steve Rosen was one of the key players in AIPAC over the last 24 years, not just another employee.

Frankly, I don't care so much about the outcome of the trial -- it may be the case that they're about to make an entrapment defense which will stick (though I don't think that's the most likely outcome). What is important is the exposure of AIPAC's influence and operating methods. Once the American people see AIPAC's operations unveiled, there is going to be a lot more public debate about whether the U.S. is being forced to sacrifice our own interests for those of the Israeli Right.

Of course, the most important unanswered question is -- will this happen in time to help derail the sales pitch for war with Iran?

Saturday, April 16, 2005

MEK Event in Washington, DC

I wasn't at the MEK event in Washington last Thursday, but Nick Hoover covered it for The Agonist. Several members of congress were there: Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA), Tom Tancredo (R-CO), Ted Poe (R-TX), Dennis Moore (R-KS), and staffers for Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX), and James Talent (R-MO). If any of you live in these states/districts, I would strongly encourage you to write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper pointing out the fact that they appeared at an event sponsored by a group on the State Department's terrorist list. As I've mentioned before, congressmen are much more concerned about negative items in the local press than they are about one or two letters sent to them. Another good tactic is to ask them a question about this at the "town meeting" events they hold in their districts. Be polite and civil -- it's much more effective that way. This also has the potential to get mentioned in the local press.

Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA) really is a good example of the link between the Iranian exile groups and AIPAC. He is one of AIPAC and the Israeli hardliners most reliable supporters on Capitol Hill, and the fact that he's now leading the charge to try to make the MEK respectable in Washington really shows how much the two groups are linked. The MEK and other such exile groups, along with individuals like Manucher Ghorbanifar, are intended to fill the role that the Iraqi National Congress played last time -- nice, English-speaking men and women who come to Washington to tell American politicians what the Israel lobby wants them to hear -- see, a real Iraqi named Chalabi just told you the Iraqi people would welcome us with flowers, not just some AIPAC member from your district (who wants the war to enhance Israel's security and leverage over other states in the region). The same tactic is being played out with Iranian exiles. One thing we need to do is to make clear to our elected representatives that there is a political price to pay for ignoring American interests in favor of those of Israel and ambitious Iranian/Iraqi exiles.

Historically, very few Americans knew or cared much about the Middle East -- and most members of congress were happy to toe the AIPAC line in return for some out-of-state campaign contributions. The calculation, in terms of politics, was extremely simple. Now, though, our involvement in the region has gone to the next level, an unpopular war is sending a steady trickle of Americans home in body bags, and people (at least some) are beginning to understand the motivations of those who pushed within the Bush administration to get us into this. What you heard at the House Armed Services Committee hearing on April 6 was really the sound of the dam breaking -- the taboo that congressmen are not allowed to link Israeli interests and political pressure to why we are in Iraq was broken, repeatedly. I fear that the scenario Wes Clark outlined is likely to play out -- we widen the war to Iran, and then our problem in Iraq gets much worse, with the concomitant rise in the number of Americans coming home in body bags. When the bombing of Iran fails to trigger the revolution, and instead sends Iranian volunteers and weapons pouring into southern Iraq, the American people are likely to start questioning this whole enterprise a lot more vociferously. What a smart politician should understand about this is that the political calculus has changed -- your constituents now care about what happens in the Middle East, and if they become convinced that you went along with the folks who bamboozled us into yet another unnecessary war, that's going to way more than offset the benefit of a few tens of thousands of dollars in campaign money from pro-Israel donors who want to see Iran attacked to enhance Israel's security and strategic position.

Update: 4/18/05 -- I had some technical problems with the blog over the weekend, which I think are now resolved. Posting may be a bit light this week, though, as I have been busy on other matters. Don't worry (or celebrate), I haven't gone away.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Iran Freedom Foundation -- More Info

It's very interesting to note that the Iran Freedom Foundation has its Internet domain name registered under a "proxy" registration service -- so that they don't have to divulge a point of contact. They do list an address for their office on their website, but it's curious that the domain was originally registered under a proxy -- seems it might have been done to conceal the individual or organization who originally registered it, before the paperwork to set up the Delaware corporation and file with the IRS as a 501(c)(3) was in place.

This isn't common for think tanks and advocacy organizations. The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and Brookings both have normal registrations, listing street addresses, though it's interesting to point out that the neocon-linked Institute for the Analysis of Global Security (IAGS) doesn't, and they don't have a street address on their website. (The WHOIS service doesn't accept direct links, but you can check this out for yourself at this URL.)

The Iran Freedom Foundation does list an address on their site of 1211 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 300, Washington, DC 20006 -- though that building is actually in the 20036 zip code. Maybe a typo? Or maybe whoever did the text for the website isn't that familiar with the area? I haven't been able to link that address to any PR or lobbying firms. However, another listing for them has the same address as the Whitman Strategy Group, which is in the 20006 zip code. Maybe they just got their own office space? Maybe they are or were clients of the Whitman Strategy Group, since several of their clients seem to use their address. Their
funding prospectus and "plan of action" can be found here, at this old address. Note well how the end of Jerome Corsi's "freedom walk" is shortly before the Iranian elections, and how this corresponds to the "attack in June 2005" report from Scott Ritter on Air America earlier this week. [If anyone who works in downtown DC can reconnoiter these locations on foot and report back, that would be much appreciated. I won't have time to do so myself Friday.]

Before anyone from the other side points it out -- yes, I am blogging anonymously, as many others do. I'm also not buying TV ads, or registered as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with the IRS, or trying to hoodwink the American people into another unnecessary war.

Tip Request -- Who is Funding the Iran Freedom Foundation TV Ads?

I'm curious, do any of my readers have any insight into who the donors are for the Iran Freedom Foundation and their TV Ad campaign build support for war with Iran? What type of organization are they, a 501(c)(3), or? Are they required to disclose their finances in any way? I intend to research this further, but if anyone can point me in the right direction, that would be much appreciated. If we want to counteract the sales pitch here, then we need to follow Deep Throat's advice -- "follow the money."

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Ariel Sharon's Visit to Crawford

To his credit, George W. Bush at least made an attempt to push back against Ariel Sharon's plan for unilateral separation (as an end in itself -- to preclude a negotiated solution with the Palestinians, rather than lead to it). I haven't been a big fan of the Washington Post 's editorial staff since they decided to support the invasion of Iraq and the "democratic transformation by force" agenda of the Bush administration, but in this case I think Jackson Diehl gets it right:
Abandoning a decade of efforts at negotiations -- not to mention Bush's own "road map" for a two-state solution -- Sharon aimed to withdraw from the Gaza Strip, then impose a border of Israel's choosing in the West Bank, fortified by walls and fences. Rather than seek accord with the Palestinians, whom he knew would never accept his terms, Sharon sought to anchor his initiative in a deal with Bush, whom he asked for an endorsement of Israel's eventual annexation of West Bank territory and its determination never to accept the return of Palestinian refugees. With diplomacy at an impasse and Yasser Arafat still master of his long-suffering people, Bush signed on.

Since then a lot has happened: Arafat died and was replaced by a democratically elected president committed to ending violence and negotiating a settlement. Bloodshed between Israelis and Palestinians ceased for the first time in Bush's presidency. A reelected Bush solemnly recommitted himself to the road map and its two-state negotiated settlement, which he said he wants to achieve by the end of his second term. "The world must not rest," he declared in February, "until there is a just and lasting resolution to this conflict."

Yet, as Sharon today once again huddles with the president -- this time at his ranch in Crawford, Tex. -- the unilateral solution he has pursued so relentlessly for the past 12 months remains unchanged.
Sharon has already made clear he has no intention of listening:
Speaking to reporters Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Israel has built settlements to solidify control over areas of the West Bank it deems vital to its security. "It was not to antagonize the U.S., but to keep areas that seem strategic to Israel," Sharon said.
Of course, Israel is not doing this to antagonize the U.S. -- but the continuation of the conflict antagonizes the Arab/Islamic worlds against the U.S., which has huge implications for American national interests and American national security. And Sharon knows that he's not dealing with Bush pere, who actually put some financial teeth into his objections to the settlements. He also knows that the key senior White House pointman for the Middle East, Elliott Abrams, isn't going to advocate any pressure.

Meanwhile, while he shrugs off the idea of a revival of a genuine peace process with the Palestinians, which would contribute to our security, he's busily pressing us to do something primarily beneficial to Israel.

Note to the neocons -- you really need to make a trip out to Langley to make sure they include the Iranian ICBM program that our MEK / Ghorbanifar friends told us about (ok, we had Michael Ledeen tell them first, but...) -- they don't have good sources in Iran anyway, so badger them to shorten the "maybe, in 20 years" to "probably, in 5 years." Sorta like the Iraqi drones which could be launched from ships -- there's gotta be a direct tie-in to an attack against the U.S., with a credible means of delivery. Worked last time.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Terrorist Group to Hold Convention in Washington, DC, Blocks from White House

This is another post in which I feel it necessary to point out at the outset that it isn't a belated April Fools joke. Would you believe that the Mujehidin-i-Khalq, an organization on the State Department's official list of terrorist organizations, which has been involved in attacks on Americans in the past, is being allowed to hold a convention in the Daughters of the American Revolution Hall, just blocks from the White House? Check out their website. At first glance, it seems quite reasonable -- quotes from George Washington and Martin Luther King Jr., until you notice the sponsor's name the the bottom -- Maryam Rajavi, leader of the cultlike terrorist organization.

For some insight on their efforts to buy influence in Washington, check out this page, which has a list of MEK-affiliated people who have made campaign contributions and a downloadable spreadsheet of the FEC data on these people. To be sure, it isn't a vast amount of money by Washington standards, but it is interesting to notice who it has targeted the last few years -- people like Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Gary Ackerman (D-NY), who are stalwarts of the Israel lobby (which of course would like nothing better than to induce the world's only superpower to whack all of Israel's enemies), and general sleazoids like Bob Toricelli (D-NJ, former, also big AIPAC stalwart) and Jim Traficant (D-OH, former). Bob Filner (D-CA), who hosted the event last week, apparently is whoring himself out on the cheap -- only $2,400 in the 2004 election cycle. A good DC politico like Dick Morris in his 1990s heyday probably spent more than that in a month on escort services -- and for the same low low price, the MEK gets Filner's support to get them cleansed of their sins and off the terrorist list (actually, I'm being facetious, Filner's support from AIPAC donors is much more substantial, and he knows what they want too).

They've apparently invited a large number of members of Congress, and reportedly 80 of them turned up at an event on Capitol Hill to hear a sales pitch on why the MEK should be dropped from the terrorist list. Richard Perle was a featured speaker at their last event in Washington.

Of course, the real reason for all of this is that the MEK is a ready "off the shelf" vehicle for furthering the neocons' ambitions in Iran. They're against terrorism, except when it suits their purposes.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Israel Honors Members of Terror Cell Which Bombed U.S. Government Building in Alexandria

No, folks, this isn't some sort of belated April fools joke. This is about what is known as the 'Lavon Affair' -- an operation involving Egyptian Jews recruited by the Israeli military intelligence staging attacks on U.S. and British targets in Egypt. In the U.S. case, it was the U.S. Consulate's library (what later became USIA). The attacks were staged late at night, and involved no injuries, but still -- we're talking about an attack against a U.S. government facility.

All of this is old news for anyone who knows anything about the history of the region. The political objective, in the case of the U.S., was to convince Eisenhower and Dulles that Nasser's government was irresponsible, incompetent, or both -- and thereby drive a wedge between the U.S. and the largest Arab country -- an attempt to manipulate U.S. foreign policy, during an era when Israel's political influence in the United States wasn't nearly as strong as it would later become. In 1954, when this happened, the U.S. was still ambivalent about the new regime in Cairo, and relations with Nasser hadn't reached the level of acrimony they did in later years. Dulles still had some hope of getting Nasser's tacit cooperation against the Soviets. (The well-known "Czech arms deal" that cemented Nasser's East Bloc orientation didn't take place until a year later, in 1955.)

What's surprising, though, is that the Israeli government held a cermony to honor some of the people involved last week. You'd think, for PR purposes vis-a-vis their biggest aid donor (i.e. US!), they'd keep this quiet, but no, they're apparently so confident in their hold over the U.S. that they don't have to pay us that courtesy.

Of course, when Ariel Sharon comes to visit Bush, this won't be mentioned. The U.S. media won't touch this. By contrast, what do you think we'd do if Egypt held a ceremony to honor Abdelkader Helmy?

Thanks to commenter John for the tip.

Let Them Eat Yellowcake - Vince Cannistraro Interview

Vince Cannistraro, the former head of the CIA counterterrorism center and member of Reagan's NSC staff, apparently agrees with my suspicion that American neoconservatives themselves were behind the forged document purporting to be evidence of Iraqi attempts to buy uranium from Niger.

Read the full interview here.

Thanks to commenter DaveG for the tip.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

The Sales Pitch Begins -- Iran

A new poster had suddenly appeared all over London. It had no caption, and represented simply the monstrous figure of a Eurasian soldier, three or four metres high, striding forward with expressionless Mongolian face and enormous boots, a submachine gun pointed from his hip. From whatever angle you looked at the poster, the muzzle of the gun, magnified by the foreshortening, seemed to be pointed straight at you. The thing had been plastered on every blank space on every wall, even outnumbering the portraits of Big Brother. The proles, normally apathetic about the war, were being lashed into one of their periodical frenzies of patriotism. -- George Orwell, 1984

A new paperback had suddenly appeared all over America. It had an olive-toned Middle Eastern looking face, swarthy, foreign, expressionless, with eyes which seemed to follow you everywhere you went, except when you looked into those eyes, where you see mushroom clouds -- the symbol in the popular imagination for the end of Western civilization, no matter how that might come about. The image has been plastered on every pulp-novel shelf, in every supermarket, every B. Dalton's, and every Wal-Mart, even outnumbering the books about George W. Bush. The people of America, who polls indicated had been tiring of the War, were being lashed into one of their periodical frenzies of patriotism. -- GIR, 2005

Now, you all remember the Andy Card quote about not introducing a marketing campaign for a new product in August when everyone is enjoying the summer on vacation... but this time, they've apparently (for whatever reasons) decided to start early -- at the beginning of spring 2005, for the marketing effort for the coming war on Iran -- brought to you by (drum roll please) Jerome Corsi, the "Harvard Ph.D" behind the Swift Boat book, and now the Iran Freedom Foundation. He gave a presentation at the Heritage Foundation this week, which included the standard "mushroom cloud over Manhattan" stuff [forward past the first 15 minutes of dead airtime to watch].

So here we are, where we were in September 2002, at the beginning of the last sales pitch for war. This one is even more sophisticated in terms of marketing savvy and presentation (it's even got a TV commercial!)

What are we going to do to counteract this? [The first thing I'd suggest is to email this post to yourself, then forward it to your entire address book. People have to be aware that when they see this, they're being subjected to a sophisticated advertising pitch, not "news."]

The other thing to point out is the "unsophisticated" nature of the presentation. Yes, Jerome Corsi may try to impress you with the fact that he's a "Harvard Ph.D" who held a Top Secret clearance. Poppycock! Inside the Beltway -- the world where Gorillaintheroom lives -- a good third of the population has security clearances. That doesn't mean we all have the inside scoop on everything. And a "Harvard Ph.D," hell, of the people on my street in an upper-middle-class area of Northwest DC, probably a third of them have Ivy League degrees, and probably 20% have Ph.D's. (And they didn't go into academe, if they can afford the housing prices here -- they're probably lobbyists!) That's the reality of elite areas like this, so don't think that the fact that he's a "Harvard Ph.D" means that he has any expertise on the Middle East. This guy is just a PR hack.

Friday, April 08, 2005

The Neocons' Favorite Terrorist Group

I noticed this piece on the Mujehidin-i-Khalq on the Washington Times yesterday, and thought the issue was worthy of mention for those of you not familiar with them, especially since they're the neocons' newfound friends, helping to provide "intelligence" on Iran. What's odd about this is that 1) they were allied with Saddam and the Baath until he fell, 2) they've murdered Americans in the past, 3) they're on the State Department's official list of terrorist organizations, 4) they're a cultlike organization -- even to the point of determining who members can marry, and setting themselves on fire, and 5) they're of the extreme left politically, having their origins as a pro-Soviet anti-Shah group in the 1960s-70s. Nevertheless, the folks in Doug Feith's shop at the Pentagon made sure that the U.S. military allowed them to remain as a cohesive group on their base in Iraq. Since then, a chorus of neoconservative think-tank types have been suggesting that they could be useful in gathering "intelligence" to support the next phase of their war -- Iran. It looks like they may have gotten President Bush's ear, and they seem to have the support of John Bolton (not surprising!). (Notice that the Patrick Clawson / Daniel Pipes piece is dated May 2003 -- they were clearly thinking ahead.) Now, Raymond Tanter, is trying to sell the idea of taking them off the terrorist list, and apparently getting a hearing from some quarters on Capitol Hill. AIPAC has avoided the issue, but clearly anything which helps the case for military action against Iran is fine with them.

What those of us in the "reality-based community" should be asking these folks is -- should we be making decisions which put the lives of American servicemen and servicewomen on the line based on "intelligence" from communist-cult-kooks who have killed Americans in the past? And who have killed innocent civilians in terrorist bombings in Iran (whatever you think of their government)?

If any of you live in the districts of Tom Tancredo (R-CO) or Bob Filner (D-CA), maybe you should contact them and let them know how you feel about the principled stand the U.S. has taken against all terrorist groups. Also, consider writing a "letter to the editor" of your local paper. (Congressmen generally will be more concerned about negative items appearing in the local press than they will about one or two letters to them.)

Just as an aside, it's very interesting to note that AIPAC has taken down the thinly veiled "drumbeat for war" report they had up on Iran a couple of weeks ago, which I linked to from this blog to illustrate my point about their pressure for war with Iran. The issue of Iran is no longer in the center of their issues page. Very interesting.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

"Operating Off a Different Agenda"

I haven't finished listening to the audio of the House Armed Services Committee hearing this morning yet, but it's damn good. Wes Clark, and a couple of the congressmen, really confronted the subject head on, and broke some taboos. Frankly, I was surprised how far they went. Some of the highlights:
[1:36:45] included a sweeping list of countries... I was shown a memo once in the Pentagon right after 9/11 that predicted that this was the way we were going to go, knock off Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, it's a great recipe and it would be wonderful if they were all exactly like democratic states that were friendly with the United States. But how you get there is very important, and at what price. Now the issue is how do we succeed in Iraq. My point is this: if you want to succeed in Iraq, you isolate the problem, you don't make it larger. You make it smaller.
[1:37:53] If we believe what the President said, that the most pressing problem of our time is to keep the worst people from getting the worst weapons, then we're not doing that, we're operating off a different agenda. We're working to make the Middle East safe for Israel and for democracy, but we're not focusing on the national security problem the president laid out in 2002.
[1:38:30] The strategy we're pursuing right now [toward Iran and Syria] is a sort of regional dominoes strategy which is making it more difficult for our troops in Iraq.
Another really good exchange starts at around [1:14], and includes Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) pressing Richard Perle on the Clean Break paper, the Policy Counterterrorism Evaluation Group, and the real agenda behind the war. You can tell Rep. Jones has read up on this, and is aware of a lot of the material I've mentioned on this blog. (Didn't he get the memo that AIPAC doesn't allow you to talk about that?) Anyway, I'm going to take off my Democratic partisan hat for a moment and give kudos to Rep. Jones -- he linked it all together, and you can hear the emotion in his voice as he goes after Perle. He mentions that he's been to four funerals for Marines from bases in North Carolina recently, and you can tell that the fact that he understands that they died in a war sold under false pretenses offends him greatly. He keeps it civil with Perle, but just barely.

I may blog more on this later in the week -- for now I need to listen to the rest of the hearing (over three hours long!) and find an official transcript. Great stuff.

By the way, if you would like for your friends and relatives to listen to the hearing, or point it out to your congressmen or senators, you can click the email button at the bottom of this post, which will allow them to find the key exchanges easily (since the hearing starts with dead airtime and boring banter, as usual on Capitol Hill).

Update: One interesting thing I've noticed today is that I'm starting to get few hits from and the Library of Congress. I'm glad this is being read by Hill staff and/or Members. This blog is a good way for you to keep up with an alternative view to what AIPAC et al are feeding you, even if you don't want to go on record as opposing them yet. If you read this blog, AIPAC has no way of knowing, unlike if you, say, attended a briefing by an opposing group. Isn't freedom great?

Monday, April 04, 2005

Richard Perle vs. Wesley Clark -- the Rematch

Ran across this post on Juan Cole's blog today, about a conference call Wesley Clark gave for some bloggers this morning about his upcoming testimony before the House Armed Services Committee on the subject of Iraq policy, opposite Richard Perle. If he's got the cojones to say anything like what he said to the bloggers today, it's going to be good (from Juan Cole's account):

But the success of this enterprise requires that the government in Iraq have political legitimacy.

He went on to imply that it also requires the cooperation of Iraq's neighbors. He saw a key contradiction in Bush administration policy in Iraq, which is that the operation in Iraq was seen as only a stepping stone to also overthrowing the regimes in Syria and Iran.

He located this policy in part in the Neoconservative circle of Richard Perle and Douglas Feith (Undersecretary of Defense for Policy).

He said the aim was to punish Asad's regime and topple it, and likewise with Iran.

The problem with this idea of using Iraq as a springboard to finish off the regimes in Damascus and Tehran is that Bush has given Syria and Iran every reason to interfere with a soft landing of the US-- indeed, there is a danger of a wider entanglement of the US in the region. [This is all loose paraphrase, not verbatim, but I think I've caught the implications.]
Will Wes Clark deliver the smackdown? Only time will tell. Personally, I was a Dean supporter the last time around, and being a lifelong loyal Dem, had some misgivings about a former Reagan voter, but if Clark has the courage to take on the broad agenda the neocons are promoting, he's likely won a convert. Of course, if he comes through on this, the neocon pundits will be writing columns later in the week about how it's political suicide -- but it isn't -- things in the Middle East are about to get a lot worse, and if Clark calls bullshit on it now, even if it doesn't make a difference immediately, it's going to be a lot of use to him later. "Told you so." And that'll be in sharp contrast to Hillary Clinton's AIPAC-butt-kissing routine.

Pro-Democracy, Anti-American

Often, the liberal Israeli press has the best coverage of the Middle East -- in part because they can talk about things which are taboo in the United States.

...the American adminstration and Bush in particular are perceived as a scourge. Reform movements in Egypt, Iran, Lebanon or Syria, whose members are ready to be killed for democracy in their country, go berserk the moment they are accused of receiving American funds or contributions.


Democracies can be the death of each other. The Arab failure to accept Israel has little to do with the absence of democracy. It has more to do with the region's shared history and especially with the continued occupation.
It's hard to see how it could be any different, but most FoxNews watching Americans don't understand this. As long as folks in Marrakesh, Tunis, and Amman are seeing the ugly pictures from the West Bank and Baghdad on satellite TV every night, we're going to be politically radioactive.