Color Washington blue

(Israeli blue)

Here are several articles which point out the extent to which
policy in America’s capital is now set in Jerusalem.

Because the significance of what they say is, I believe, of lasting value
I have taken the liberty of reproducing them here in their entirety.

Emphasis, when present, has been added.

In Mideast Strife, Bush Sees a Step To Peace

By Michael Abramowitz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 21, 2006; A01

WASHINGTON -- President Bush's unwillingness to pressure Israel to halt its military campaign in Lebanon is rooted in a view of the Middle East conflict that is sharply different from that of his predecessors.

When hostilities have broken out in the past, the usual U.S. response has been an immediate and public bout of diplomacy aimed at a cease-fire, in the hopes of ensuring that the crisis would not escalate. This week, however, even in the face of growing international demands, the White House has studiously avoided any hint of impatience with Israel. While making it plain it wants civilian casualties limited, the administration is also content to see the Israelis inflict the maximum damage possible on Hezbollah.

As the president's position is described by White House officials, Bush associates and outside Middle East experts, Bush believes that the status quo -- the presence in a sovereign country of a militant group with missiles capable of hitting a U.S. ally -- is unacceptable.

The U.S. position also reflects Bush's deepening belief that Israel is central to the broader campaign against terrorists and represents a shift away from a more traditional view that the United States plays an "honest broker's" role in the Middle East.

In the administration's view, the new conflict is not just a crisis to be managed. It is also an opportunity to seriously degrade a big threat in the region, just as Bush believes he is doing in Iraq. Israel's crippling of Hezbollah, officials also hope, would complete the work of building a functioning democracy in Lebanon and send a strong message to the Syrian and Iranian backers of Hezbollah.

"The president believes that unless you address the root causes of the violence that has afflicted the Middle East, you cannot forge a lasting peace," said White House counselor Dan Bartlett. "He mourns the loss of every life. Yet out of this tragic development, he believes a moment of clarity has arrived."

One former senior administration official said Bush is only emboldened by the pressure from U.N. officials and European leaders to lead a call for a cease-fire. U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan demanded yesterday that the fighting in Lebanon stop.

"He thinks he is playing in a longer-term game than the tacticians," said the former official, who spoke anonymously so he could discuss his views candidly. "The tacticians would say: 'Get an immediate cease-fire. Deal first with the humanitarian factors.' The president would say: 'You have an opportunity to really grind down Hezbollah. Let's take it, even if there are other serious consequences that will have to be managed.' "

Jack Rosen, chairman of the American Jewish Congress, said Bush's statements reflect an unambiguous view of the situation. "He doesn't seem to allow his vision to be clouded in any way," said Rosen, a Democrat who has come to admire Bush's Middle East policy. "It follows suit. Israel is in the right. Hezbollah is in the wrong. Terrorists have to be eliminated, and he sees Israel fighting the war he would fight against terrorism."

Many Mideast experts warn that there is a dangerous consequence to this worldview. They believe that Israel, and the United States by extension, is risking serious trouble if it continues with the punishing air strikes that are producing mounting casualties. The history of the Middle East is replete with examples of the limits of military power, they say, noting how the Israeli campaign in Lebanon in the early 1980s helped create the conditions for the rise of Hezbollah.

They warned that the military campaign is turning mainstream Lebanese public opinion against Israel rather than against Hezbollah, which instigated the violence. The attacks also make it more difficult for the Lebanese government to regain normalcy. And what seems now to be a political winner for the president -- the House overwhelmingly approved a resolution yesterday backing Israel's position -- could become a liability if the fighting expands to Syria or if the United States adds Lebanon to Iraq and Afghanistan as a country to which U.S. troops are deployed.

"There needs to be a signal that the Bush administration is prepared to do something," said Larry Garber, the executive director the New Israel Fund, which pushes for civil rights and justice in Israel. "Taking a complete hands-off, casual-observer position undermines our credibility. . . . There is a danger that we will be seen as simply doing Israel's bidding."

Robert Malley, who handled Middle East issues on the National Security Council staff for President Bill Clinton, voiced skepticism about whether the current course would pay off for either Israel or the United States. "It may not succeed with all the time in the world, and Hezbollah could emerge with its dignity intact and much of its political and military arsenal still available," said Malley, who monitors the region for the International Crisis Group. "What will you have gained?"

Those who know Bush say his view of the conflict was shaped by several formative experiences -- in particular the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, which made fighting terrorism the central mission of his presidency. Another formative experience was a helicopter ride over the West Bank with Ariel Sharon in 1998, when Bush was Texas governor -- a ride he later said showed him Israel's vulnerability. The cause of Israel has been championed by many of the evangelical Christians who make up a significant chunk of the president's political base.

Bush and his team were also deeply skeptical of the Middle East policy of the previous administration, and of what they see as an excessive devotion to a peace process in which one of the protagonists, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, was not seriously invested. Explaining the reluctance to push quickly for a cease-fire, one senior administration official who was not authorized to speak on the record indicated a belief that premature diplomacy might leave Hezbollah in a position of strength.

"We don't want the kind of truce that will lead to another conflict," said this official, who added that, when the time comes, "you will see plenty of diplomacy."

Fred S. Zeidman,
a Texas venture capitalist who is active in Jewish affairs
and has been close to the president for years,
said the current crisis shows the depth of the president's support for Israel.
"He will not bow to international pressure to pressure Israel,"
Zeidman said.
"I have never seen a man more committed to Israel."

Crisis Could Undercut Bush's Long-Term Goals

By Peter Baker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, July 31, 2006; A01

WASHINGTON -- The Israeli bombs that slammed into the Lebanese village of Qana yesterday did more than kill three dozen children and a score of adults. They struck at the core of U.S. foreign policy in the region and illustrated in heart-breaking images the enormous risks for Washington in the current Middle East crisis.

With each new scene of carnage in southern Lebanon, outrage in the Arab world and Europe has intensified against Israel and its prime sponsor, raising the prospect of a backlash resulting in a new Middle East quagmire for the United States, according to regional specialists, diplomats and former U.S. officials.

Although the United States has urged Israel to use restraint, it has also strongly defended the military assaults as a reasonable response to Hezbollah rocket attacks, a position increasingly at odds with allies that see a deadly overreaction. Analysts think that if the war drags on, as appears likely, it could leave the United States more isolated than at any time since the Iraq invasion three years ago and hindered in its foreign policy goals such as shutting down Iran's nuclear program and spreading democracy around the world.

"The arrows are all pointing in the wrong direction," said Richard N. Haass, who was President Bush's first-term State Department policy planning director. "The biggest danger in the short run is it just increases frustration and alienation from the United States in the Arab world. Not just the Arab world, but in Europe and around the world. People will get a daily drumbeat of suffering in Lebanon and this will just drive up anti-Americanism to new heights."

The White House recognizes the danger but thinks the missiles flying both ways across the Israel-Lebanon border carry with them a chance to finally break out of the stalemate of Middle East geopolitics. Bush and his advisers hope the conflict can destroy or at least cripple Hezbollah and in the process strike a blow against the militia's sponsor, Iran, while forcing the region to move toward final settlement of the decades-old conflict with Israel.

"He wants a resolution that will solve the problem," White House spokesman Tony Snow told reporters yesterday. "Not only do we feel sorrow for what happened in Qana, but also a determination that it is really important to remove the conditions that led to that."

"This moment of conflict in the Middle East is painful and tragic," Bush said in his radio address Saturday. "Yet it is also a moment of opportunity for broader change in the region. Transforming countries that have suffered decades of tyranny and violence is difficult, and it will take time to achieve. But the consequences will be profound for our country and the world."

At the heart of the crisis for the United States is a broader struggle with Iran for influence in the Middle East, one that arguably has been going on since the Islamic revolution of 1979 and that has escalated during Bush's presidency. The United States not only backs Israel in the current war but also has accelerated weapons delivery to Israel. Hezbollah, on the other hand, has long acted as a surrogate for Iran, and in the past three weeks it has shown off Iranian weapons never before used by the radical group.

"It's really a proxy war between the United States and Iran," said David J. Rothkopf, a scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and author of "Running the World," a book on U.S. foreign policy. "When viewed in that context, it puts everything in a different light."

The Hezbollah attacks on Israel that touched off the latest conflict came just as international pressure on Iran to give up uranium enrichment had reached a crescendo. Bush aides suspect Iran orchestrated the attacks to distract attention from its nuclear program or to demonstrate the consequences of pushing too hard. "It's tempting to believe that," said a senior official involved in the crisis but not authorized to speak on the record. "Iran spends a very large amount of money on Hezbollah."

The president hopes the crisis will ultimately help him rally world leaders against Iran's nuclear program. Even as the U.N. Security Council today considers a peacekeeping force for Lebanon, it may vote on a U.S.-backed resolution to threaten sanctions if Iran does not suspend uranium enrichment in August.

"There's no question that this is going to stiffen up in the long run the resolve of the Europeans in dealing with Iran," said Henri J. Barkey, a former State Department official who teaches at Lehigh University. "Even if they don't like what Israel is doing," he said, they will recognize that Iran "is a menace."

Others are not so hopeful. Outside the White House, the mood among many foreign policy veterans in Washington is strikingly pessimistic, especially as leaders of Hezbollah and al-Qaeda, traditional rivals based in different Islamic sects, began calling for followers to take the fight to the enemy.

Analysts foresee a muddled outcome at best, in which Hezbollah survives Israel's airstrikes, foreign peacekeepers become bogged down, and U.S. relations with allies are severely strained. At worst, they said, Hezbollah and Iran feel emboldened, Islamic radicalism spreads, and a region smuggling fighters and weapons into Iraq fractures further along sectarian lines.

"What the conflict has exposed in a really clear way is how linked all these issues in the region are to each other," said Mara Rudman, a deputy national security adviser in the Clinton White House now at the liberal Center for American Progress. "The worst-case scenario . . . is a much more radicalized Islamic fundamentalist Middle East and much more isolated Israel and a much more isolated United States and fewer people to talk with."

Haass, the former Bush aide who leads the Council on Foreign Relations, laughed at the president's public optimism. "An opportunity?" Haass said with an incredulous tone. "Lord, spare me. I don't laugh a lot. That's the funniest thing I've heard in a long time. If this is an opportunity, what's Iraq? A once-in-a-lifetime chance?"

In the long run, he and others warn, the situation could cement the perception that the United States is so pro-Israel that a new generation of Arab youth will grow up perceiving Americans as enemies. The internal pressure on friendly governments in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere could force them to distance themselves from Washington or crack down on domestic dissidents to keep power. In either case, Bush may have little leverage to press for democratic reforms.

Jon B. Alterman, a Middle East specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, outlined "not even the worst-case scenario, but a bad-case scenario: South Lebanon is in shambles, Hezbollah gets credit for rebuilding it with Iranian money, Hezbollah grows stronger in Lebanon and it's not brought to heel. The reaction of surrounding states weakens them, radicalism rises, and they respond with more repression. None of this is especially far-fetched. And in all of this, the U.S. is seen as a fundamentally hostile party."

All of this is far too gloomy for administration officials, who see such dire forecasts as the predictable reactions of a foreign policy establishment that has produced decades of meaningless talks, paper peace agreements and unenforced U.N. resolutions that have not solved underlying issues in the Middle East.

"Some of the overheated rhetoric about how the United States can't work with anybody, we've lost our leadership in the world, is just completely ridiculous, and this crisis proves it," said the senior administration official involved in the crisis. "We are really indispensable to solving this crisis, and you're not going to solve this problem merely by passing another resolution."

While the diplomats work, the Pentagon is studying the possible impact on an already-stretched U.S. military. Commanders have diverted the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit and the Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group from a training mission in Jordan where they were available as reserves for Iraq. Now they are on ships in the Mediterranean Sea to help with humanitarian efforts, and another unit has been put on alert as backup for Iraq.

The Pentagon has done contingency planning for U.S. troops participating in a multinational peacekeeping mission, but Bush aides have all but ruled out such a scenario. A more likely option, officials said, would have the United States provide command-and-control and logistics assistance.

Peter W. Rodman, assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, said that officials are studying the possibility of putting troops in Lebanon but that it is too early to comment on what such a force would look like. "The concept is still under development, and discussion of any potential U.S. participation would be premature."

Some analysts acknowledge the varied challenges the United States faces but consider the possible gain worth the risk. "It's a Rubik's Cube. It's very, very difficult to resolve," said Peter Brookes, a former deputy assistant defense secretary under Bush who is now at the conservative Heritage Foundation. "But if we were able to dismantle Hezbollah, that would be very positive for the war on terror."

The White House is acutely aware of the dangers of stirring up anti-American sentiment in the region. "There may be times when people say that they're unhappy with whatever methods we pursue," the White House's Snow said last week. "We are confident that in the long run, people are going to be much happier living in freedom and democracy than, for instance, in nations that are occupied by terrorist organizations that try to hijack a democracy in its formative stages."

Bush’s Embrace of Israel Shows Gap With Father
By Sheryl Gay Stolberg
New York Times, 2006-08-02

WASHINGTON, Aug. 1 — When they first met as United States president and Israeli prime minister, George W. Bush made clear to Ariel Sharon he would not follow in the footsteps of his father.

The first President Bush had been tough on Israel, especially the Israeli settlements in occupied lands that Mr. Sharon had helped develop. But over tea in the Oval Office that day in March 2001 — six months before the Sept. 11 attacks tightened their bond — the new president signaled a strong predisposition to support Israel.

“He told Sharon in that first meeting that I’ll use force to protect Israel, which was kind of a shock to everybody,” said one person present, given anonymity to speak about a private conversation. “It was like, ‘Whoa, where did that come from?’ “

That embrace of Israel represents a generational and philosophical divide between the Bushes, one that is exacerbating the friction that has been building between their camps of advisers and loyalists over foreign policy more generally. As the president continues to stand by Israel in its campaign against Hezbollah — even after a weekend attack that left many Lebanese civilians dead and provoked international condemnation — some advisers to the father are expressing deep unease with the Israel policies of the son.

“The current approach simply is not leading toward a solution to the crisis, or even a winding down of the crisis,” said Richard N. Haass, who advised the first President Bush on the Middle East and worked as a senior State Department official in the current president’s first term. “There are times at which a hands-off policy can be justified. It’s not obvious to me that this is one of them.”

Unlike the first President Bush, who viewed himself as a neutral arbiter in the delicate politics of the Middle East, the current president sees his role through the prism of the fight against terrorism. This President Bush, unlike his father, also has deep roots in the evangelical Christian community, a staunchly pro-Israeli component of his conservative Republican base.

The first President Bush came to the Oval Office with long diplomatic experience, strong ties to Arab leaders and a realpolitik view that held the United States should pursue its own strategic interests, not high-minded goals like democracy, even if it meant negotiating with undemocratic governments like Syria and Iran.

The current President Bush has practically cut off Syria and Iran, overlaying his fight against terrorism with the aim of creating what Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice calls “a new Middle East.” In allying himself so closely with Israel, he has departed not just from his father’s approach but also from those of all his recent predecessors, who saw themselves first and foremost as brokers in the region.

In a speech Monday in Miami, Mr. Bush offered what turned out to be an implicit criticism of his father’s approach.

“The current crisis is part of a larger struggle between the forces of freedom and the forces of terror in the Middle East,” Mr. Bush said. “For decades, the status quo in the Middle East permitted tyranny and terror to thrive. And as we saw on September the 11th, the status quo in the Middle East led to death and destruction in the United States.”

Now, as Mr. Bush faces growing pressure from Arab leaders and European allies to end the current wave of violence, these differences between father and son have come into sharp relief.

“There is a danger in a policy in which there is no daylight whatsoever between the government of Israel and the government of the United States,” said Aaron David Miller, an Arab-Israeli negotiator for both Bush administrations, who has high praise for James A. Baker III, the first President Bush’s secretary of state. “Bush One and James Baker would never have allowed that to happen.”

Other advisers who served the elder Mr. Bush are critical as well, faulting the current administration for having “put diplomacy on the back burner in the hope that unattractive regimes would fall,” in the words of Mr. Haass.

Whether the disagreement extends to father and son is unclear. The president has been generally critical of the Middle East policies of his predecessors in both parties, but has never criticized his father explicitly. The first President Bush has made it a practice not to comment on the administration of his son, but his spokesman, Tom Frechette, said he supports the younger Mr. Bush “100 percent.”

Brent Scowcroft, the former national security adviser, who has been openly critical of the current president on Iraq, did not return calls seeking comment. He wrote an opinion article in The Washington Post on Sunday calling on the United States to “seize this opportunity” to reach a comprehensive settlement for resolving the conflict of more than half a century between Israel and the Palestinians. Mr. Baker also did not return calls.

The differences between father and son are partly to do with style.

“Bush the father was from a certain generation of political leaders and foreign policy establishment types,” said William Kristol, the neo-conservative thinker who worked for the first Bush administration and is now editor of The Weekly Standard. “He had many years of dealings with leading Arab governments; he was close to the Saudi royal family. The son is less so. He’s got much more affection for Israel, less affection for the House of Saud.”

That affection, Mr. Bush’s aides say, can be traced partly to his first and only trip to Israel, in 1998. It was a formative experience for Mr. Bush, then governor of Texas. He took a helicopter ride — his guide, as it happened, was Mr. Sharon, then the foreign minister — and, looking down, was struck by how tiny and vulnerable Israel seemed.

“He said that when he took that tour and he looked down, he thought, ‘We have driveways in Texas longer than that, “ said Ari Fleischer, the former White House press secretary. “And after the United States was attacked, he understood how it was for Israel to be attacked.”

Others say Mr. Bush cannot help looking at Israel through the prism of his Christian faith. “There is a religiously inspired connection to Israel in which he feels, as president, a responsibility for Israel’s survival,” said Martin S. Indyk, who was President Clinton’s ambassador to Israel and kept that post for several months under President Bush. He also suggested that Republican politics were at work, saying Mr. Bush came into office determined to “build his Christian base.”

But the White House press secretary, Tony Snow, dismissed that idea, telling reporters last week that Mr. Bush does not view the current conflict through a “theological lens.”

Mr. Bush has to some extent played the traditional peacemaker role in the region, especially in dealing with relations between Israel and the Palestinians. He called for the creation of an independent Palestinian state, set out a “road map” to achieving a lasting peace and was critical of some of Mr. Sharon’s policies.

But he has drawn a sharp distinction between the Palestinian people and Israel’s conflicts with what he regards as terrorist organizations. He came into office refusing to meet with Yasir Arafat, the Palestinian leader, and cut off Mr. Arafat entirely in early 2002, after the Israeli Navy captured a ship carrying weapons intended for the Palestinian Authority. That foreshadowed the way he is now dealing with Hezbollah.

His father’s pre-9/11 policies were more concerned with the traditional goals of peace, or at least stability, in the Middle East. Relations between the first President Bush and his Israeli counterpart, Yitzhak Shamir, hit a low point when Mr. Bush refused Israel $10 billion in loan guarantees to resettle Soviet Jews. And Mr. Baker, as secretary of state, was once so frustrated with Israeli officials that he scornfully recited his office phone number and told them to call when they were serious about peace in the Middle East.

But Mr. Bush has enjoyed singularly warm relations, particularly after 9/11.
“It is this event, 9/11,
that caused the president to really associate himself with Israel,
with this notion that now, for the first time,
Americans can feel on their skin what Israelis have been feeling all along,”
[ain’t it wonderful?]
said Shai Feldman, an Israeli scholar at Brandeis University
who has been in Tel Aviv since the hostilities began.
“There is huge, huge appreciation here for the president.”

[For more from Feldman, see 2006-07-16-Frankel.]

Dealing with Israel
[WashPost headline:
Pass for Israel
Little Criticism From Washington
By Robert D. Novak

[Some excerpts, emphasis added:]

Washington remains largely a bipartisan, criticism-free zone for Israel.

While Republican Chuck Hagel is
a lone senior senator
who does not echo the Israeli position,

he has been ignored.
[WaPo print version (key difference in bold):
Republican Chuck Hagel is
the lone senior senator
who does not echo the Israeli position,

but he has been ignored.
The Israeli government can disregard with impunity
President Bush's call for restraint....
Meanwhile, U.S. prestige is in a free fall throughout the Islamic world.


On [2006-07-28], Hagel delivered a thoughtful address
to the Brookings Institution in Washington.
While avowing support
for Israel to retaliate against Hezbollah and Hamas (in the Gaza strip),
Hagel declared
"military action alone will not destroy Hezbollah or Hamas."

Hagel was blunt in predicting consequences:
“Extended military action will
  • tear apart Lebanon,

  • destroy its economy and infrastructure,

  • create a humanitarian disaster,

  • further weaken Lebanon's fragile democratic government,

  • strengthen popular Muslim and Arab support for Hezbollah, and

  • deepen hatred of Israel across the Middle East.”


[Democratic Representative Chris] Van Hollen said
resolution of the Israel-Palestine dispute
is essential for Middle Eastern peace.
It is hard to send that message to Israel
when Congress cheers on a military situation
and the Bush administration acquiesces.

[Hagel expresses concern that Israel’s actions will
“deepen hatred of Israel across the Middle East.”
What about the deepening hatred for the United States
caused by Israel’s actions?
Is our political elite afraid of making
the connection between Israel’s actions and “why they hate us”?
Has any of our political elite spoken openly about how
America’s unquestioning support for whatever Israel chooses to do
is harming America?
Not that I am aware of.
Instead we get (not here, but elsewhere) this pathetic bullshit about how
“they hate us for our freedoms.”
And it’s not just Bush who spouts that bullshit line.
That’s the official party line, coming from both parties.
Isn’t AIPAC wonderful?]

Rice’s Counselor Gives Advice Others May Not Want to Hear
New York Times, 2006-10-28

[Q]uestions about his role were sharpened last month
after Mr. Zelikow gave a speech at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy in which
he offered what many believed was an oblique criticism
of the decision by Mr. Bush and Ms. Rice
not to push Israel to return to the negotiating table with the Palestinians.

He also said
progress in that conflict was essential to forming a consensus
among the United States, moderate Arabs and Europeans on Iran.

The address may have been an example of what Mr. Zelikow,
in two speeches last year, called “practical idealism.”
But it did not go over well.
The State Department quickly distanced itself from the speech,
issuing a statement denying any linkage,
and Israeli officials, flustered by Mr. Zelikow’s remarks,
said Ms. Rice later assured the Israeli foreign minister, Tzipi Livni,
the United States saw the Iranian and Palestinian issues as two separate matters.

Senior Aide [Philip Zelikow] to Rice Resigns From Post
New York Times, 2006-11-28

[An excerpt (emphasis is added):]

A State Department spokesman was quick to distance the department officially
from Mr. Zelikow’s remarks,
which ruffled the feathers
of American Jewish groups and Israeli officials.

What is the difference between American Jews and Israelis?
Some Israelis are willing to speak about, and against,
Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people.

This is, of course, a slight exaggeration.
But not much of one:
Compare the visibility and influence of AIPAC and the ADL
(which has made overwhelmingly clear
its devotion to preventing criticism of Israel)
to that of the American branch of Peace Now.]


Rice Names Critic Of Iraq Policy to Counselor's Post
By Glenn Kessler
Washington Post, 2007-03-02

Rice Taps Iraq Reconstruction Critic
By ANNE GEARAN, AP Diplomatic Writer
Associated Press, 2007-03-02

[From the AP, the most centrist and plain-vanilla news organization,
the only outside comment that was offered on Cohen’s appointment
was from perhaps the biggest warmonger in Washington:]

Michael Ledeen,
a former government official and conservative scholar
at the American Enterprise Institute,
said Cohen's appointment was good news.

"You want your leaders to hear disagreements," he said.
"You don't want monotonous conformity."

[There was no critical comment offered on the appointment.]

The Talented Mr. Cohen
by Ximena Ortiz
National Interest online, 2007-03-02

[This is an “appreciation” of Eliot Cohen
upon his selection to be Counselor to Secretary of State C. Rice.]

Rice Picks Neocon Champion of Iraq War as Counselor
by Jim Lobe
Antiwar.com, 2007-03-03

[An excerpt.]

A close friend and protégé of former Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and advisory board member of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), Cohen most recently led the harsh neoconservative attack on the bipartisan Iraq Study Group (ISG), co-chaired by former Secretary of State James Baker and former Democratic Rep. Lee Hamilton.

Like his fellow neocons, he was particularly scathing about its recommendations for Washington to directly engage Syria and Iran and revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process – recommendations which Rice herself has explicitly endorsed in the last few weeks.

“This is a group composed, for the most part, of retired eminent public officials, most with limited or no expertise in the waging or study of war,” Cohen wrote in column entitled “No Way to Win a War,” published by the Wall Street Journal the day after the ISG released its report in early December.

“A fatuous process yields, necessarily, fatuous results,” he went on in a wholesale dismissal of the relevance of what he called the “Washington establishment whose wisdom was exaggerated in its heyday, and which has in any event succumbed to a kind of political-intellectual entropy since the 1960s...”


“Bringing on Cohen could help inoculate her from criticism by the Cheney camp,” [said] Steven Clemons, director of the American Strategy Program at the New America Foundation in a reference to the vice president and the neoconservatives and other hawks who surround him. “One of the things that’s been consistent is that Rice never takes Cheney head-on and is very careful not to take on people who might antagonize him.”

In that respect, Cohen is a nearly ideal choice. Like Cheney, Cohen was a founding member in 1997 of the Project for the New American Century whose positions on how to prosecute the “war on terror” – including the invasion of Iraq and cutting ties to the Palestinian Authority (PA) under Yassir Arafat – he has consistently endorsed.
Although lacking in any regional expertise or policy-making experience, Cohen has written prolifically in recent years on U.S. policy in the Middle East.

Cohen first gained national prominence shortly after the 9/11 attacks when he published a Wall Street Journal column entitled “World War IV” – a moniker quickly adopted by hard-line neocons like former CIA director and fellow-DPB member James Woolsey, former Commentary editor Norman Podhoretz, and Center for Security Policy president Frank Gaffney (on whose board Cohen also sits) – to put Bush’s “war on terror” in what he considered to be the appropriate historical context and to define its enemy as “militant Islam.”

After defeating the Taliban, he argued, Washington should not only “finish off” Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, whom he accused of having “helped al Qaeda,” but also seek to overthrow “the mullahs” in Iran whose replacement by a “moderate or secular government would be no less important a victory in this war than the annihilation of [Osama] bin Laden.”

In another Journal article in April 2002 when the second Palestinian intifada was at its height, Cohen, who had just signed a PNAC letter which called for severing ties to the PA and asserted that “Israel’s fight against terrorism is our fight,” argued that proposals to send an international force that would separate Israeli forces from the Palestinians were “not serious.” “[T]here are times when well-intentioned measures can only make matters worse,” he warned.

Cohen has also been quick to label critics of Israel and the so-called “Israel Lobby” in the U.S. as anti-Semites.

“Only a reshuffling of the deck – through the disappearance of Arafat, or an event, (such as the overthrow of Saddam Hussein) that profoundly changes the mood in the Arab world – will make something approaching truce, let alone peace, possible,” he argued in a favorite pre-Iraq war neoconservative theme.

The following summer, Cohen achieved new fame when Bush was photographed carrying Cohen’s just-published book, “Supreme Command,” which argued that the greatest civilian wartime leaders, such as Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill, had a far better strategic sense than their generals. It was a particularly timely message in the months that preceded the Iraq war when a surprising number of recently military brass here were voicing strong reservations about the impending U.S. invasion.

He also became a charter member of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq (CLI), an administration-supported group both to lobby for war in Iraq, largely on behalf of Ahmad Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress (INC). Indeed, Cohen, like his friend Wolfowitz, was already arguing publicly for Washington to rely heavily on the INC in any effort to overthrow Hussein in December 2001.

Neoconservative Eliot Cohen's new position at the State Department
by Glenn Greenwald
Salon.com, 2007-03-05

[Some excerpts; emphasis is added.]

It is not hyperbole to say that Cohen is
as extremist a neoconservative and warmonger as it gets.

[R]ecognition grows even in Beltway elite media circles that
the people who designed and sold the Iraq war to the American public
are completely untrustworthy and discredited figures....

[Greenwald is far too optimistic, not too say unrealistic.
Consider, for example,
the laudatory and glowing description of Cohen’s appointment
provided by the well-known Zionist stooge Glenn Kessler above,
and the fawning support provided by the Zionist Post's production crew:
For example, the flattering photo of him is captioned:
“Eliot A. Cohen is a professor and the father of an Iraq war veteran.”]

Meet Eliot Cohen, Condi’s New Deputy
CounterPunch.org, 2007-03-06


The Case of
The Lobby versus General James L. Jones

The lobby goes after NSC adviser Jones, using subterfuge
by Philip Weiss
Mondoweiss, 2009-05-17

Last fall,
neocon/Zionists such as Eli Lake attacked General James Jones,
Obama’s choice for National Security Adviser,
because of his devotion to the idea of Palestinian self-determination.
They said that he was cut from realist/Brzezinski cloth.
MJ Rosenberg at TPM reports that
the campaign against Jones has now gone underground:
I hear [the lobby is] already going after NSC chief James Jones,
who served in Israel and does not take a sanguine view of the occupation.
Here is Michael Goldfarb of The Standard taking shots at him.
The goal, a knowledgeable friend tells me,
is to get rid of Jones quietly.
“They can’t afford another Chas Freeman situation.
As with Freeman, it’s all about Israel
but, this time, without fingerprints.”

Here’s Goldfarb in the Weekly Standard,
using the pretext of a statement Jones supposedly made
about long working hours:
[I]n order to keep the business of government running,
it’s necessary to cut Jones out of the loop.
No one is attacking Jones because of his views,
he just isn’t pulling his weight,
and it’s now clear that he’s a bad fit for that job.
Obama owes it to the country to bring in
a national security adviser
who’s willing to work past 7 o’clock if necessary --
someone who is willing to take a 3 am phone call.

[To that Weiss blog entry,
some anonymous person made the (no doubt, quite accurate) prediction:]

There will be a never ending campaign by “The Lobby”
to ‘purify’ the Obama administration.
It will be a war of attrition
that will make ‘trench warfare’ look like child’s play!

[Another all-too-accurate comment:]

I’m sure nobody with influence has Jones’s back...

World Watches for U.S. Shift on Mideast
by Helene Cooper
New York Times, 2009-05-17

[An excerpt; emphasis is added.]

Mr. Obama’s appointment of Gen. James L. Jones
as his national security adviser —

a man who has worked with Palestinians and Israelis
to try to open up movement for Palestinians on the ground

who has sometimes irritated Israeli military officials

could foreshadow friction between
the Obama administration and the Israeli government,

several Middle East experts said.

[The inevitable response from Jew-controlled Washington:]

Gen. Jones and the Anonymous Long Knives
By Sally Quinn
Washington Post Op-Ed, 2009-05-18

[Emphasis is added.]

The knives are out. The tom-toms are beating.
And by Washington standards it’s soon.
the trashing of the national security adviser
takes longer.

In recent days articles have appeared in The Post and the New York Times
questioning the abilities
of retired four-star Gen. Jim Jones,
the former commandant of the Marine Corps and former NATO commander.
Of all the power games in Washington,
this one probably has the highest stakes.
This is dangerous to the players and to the country.

The national security adviser is
the person who sees the president most often and has his ear.
Each adviser has his or her own style.
Jones is reserved, confident and low-key;
this does not sit well with his detractors.
Traditionally the job of the national security adviser is
to synthesize information
between the secretary of state and the secretary of defense.
This person is meant to listen to all voices
and then present them to the president
along with his own advice.
Success or failure depends on the adviser’s relationship with the president.
National security adviser is the most coveted job in foreign policy,
even more so than secretary of state, under the thinking that
while the secretary is traveling the globe,
being America’s ambassador to the world
and eating a lot of bad food at boring banquets,
the adviser is in Washington making and overseeing policy.

There is always pushback, sometimes from State, sometimes from the Pentagon.
In the Bush [43] administration,
Condoleezza Rice could not control Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld
or his mentor, Vice President Dick Cheney,
who tried to marginalize Colin Powell at State.
In her case the knives were out from both sides.
The knives are always anonymous.

Today, the sniping is reportedly coming mostly from
State Department officials and some staffers at the White House.
Jones, not surprisingly, has a good relationship with the Pentagon.
So who’s out to get him?
Reporters across town are being called and spun.
  1. Jones is out of it, they are told,

  2. doesn’t show up;

  3. doesn’t speak up at meetings;

  4. works only a 12 1/2 -hour day;

  5. doesn’t stand next to the president in photographs;

  6. doesn’t like to give interviews.
Funny, but
those all sound like
things the national security adviser should be doing.

Standing next to the president in photographs?
Sounds to me more like a job for a publicity hound
than for the national security advisor.
Doesn’t speak up in meetings?
How much should he speak up?
Sounds like something that you can be damned for either way,
especially when the sources are anonymous, with unknown motives.
Doesn’t like to give interviews?
Well, Condoleezza Rice rarely seemed to miss an opportunity
to get her name and face in the Post,
and the editors at the Post were more than willing to oblige.
Is that the example
that proves the link between amount of media attention and quality of performance?
On the other hand, Stephen Hadley, for one, was far less accessible.
And how about Brent Scowcroft?
While he might not make the national security A-Team
of such a renowned national security expert as Ms. Quinn,
to at least some others he did an outstanding job,
without worrying about how often he was photographed with his president [Bush-41]
(not that the Post thought much of him).
And those looking for work habits to criticize
might reflect on the following paragraph from a 2007 speech by Robert Gates.

Now, working for President Bush –
the 41st president, now known simply as “41” –
was not all drama.
He is, for example, the creator of another prestigious award:
the Scowcroft Award,
named for his national security advisor, Lieutenant General Brent Scowcroft.
This award was created by the President in 1989
to honor the American official
who most ostentatiously fell asleep in a meeting with the President
This was not frivolous.
Candidates were evaluated on three criteria:
First, duration – how long did they sleep;
second, the depth of the sleep – snoring always got you extra points; and
third was quality of recovery –
did one simply quietly open one’s eyes and return to the meeting
or jolt awake, possibly spilling something hot?
General Scowcroft was, of course, the first awardee,
and I might also add won many oak leaf clusters

Reporters are protecting their sources,
but Hillary Clinton is apparently not behind the stories.
She likes her job, those who have been spun say,
and gets along well with Jones.

Meanwhile, the stakes are higher than ever:
Iraq is not resolved.
Iran could go nuclear at any moment.
Pakistan, already a nuclear state, is chaotic.
Afghanistan is hanging on by a thread.
The Arab-Israeli peace talks have stalled.
And that’s not to mention North Korea and other hot spots.
If ever there was a time to work as a team, this is it.
If the leaders of those hot spots think that
the Americans are internally divided
and do not respect each other
or that President Obama is too weak to control the sniping around him,
it could be harmful to our foreign policy.

[Can anyone who is a) sane and b) honest
have the slightest doubt that
the sole reason for this campaign against General Jones
is that
he stands in the way of the goals of American Jewry?

Look at what happened to the attempts to appoint
General Zinni as ambassador to Iraq and
Charles Freeman as chair of the NIC.]

To be sure, Jones operates differently than many of those around him.
His is a military staff style.
Jones didn’t seek this job and doesn’t need it.
He has no agenda except to serve the president.
He is not interested in personal power.
To some in Washington this is difficult to understand.
After all, here is a man secure enough
that he doesn’t need to drape himself around the president in photos,
to dominate meetings with his views,
to assert himself publicly.
He has already proved himself.
He could be out making a fortune and taking his family on boat rides.

Obama has said many times that he wants to hear all voices.
He famously assembled a team of rivals.
And if those who are sniping think Jim Jones is not doing a good job,
they should go directly to the president,
not leak and spin to the press.
That’s their duty.
Obama is not afraid to cut his losses.
He did that with Jim Johnson, one of the vice presidential vetters,
when questions arose about his role in the Fannie Mae scandal.
Tom Daschle and Bill Richardson were dropped from Cabinet appointments.
Which is why Obama should put an end to this sniping.
Either Jones is doing a good job or he is not.
If he is not, the president should make a change.
If the president continues to have confidence in Jones,
those who are attacking him should beware.
They are messing with the wrong dude.
Those ribbons on his uniform were not awarded for nothing.

The writer is a moderator, with Jon Meacham, of On Faith,
an online conversation on religion.

[If anyone is an “old Washington hand”, surely it is Sally Quinn.
Why then does she request, and implicitly make the criterion for success,
the impossible: “Obama should put an end to this sniping”?
Presidents have, essentially forever, tried to stop leaks,
without conspicuous success.
Perhaps Mrs. Bradlee has heard of “the Plumbers?”
If Nixon couldn’t stop leaks which reflected unfavorably on his administration,
why does she think Obama can do the equivalent?

The glaring lack in Ms. Quinn’s column is
any attempt to question the motives of those doing the leaking, spinning, and sniping.
Given that there were well-known and well-publicized disagreements
between General Jones
and Israel’s many supporters in the administration, the media, and Washington,
Ms. Quinn’s failure to note this obvious motivation is bizarre.

If she had really wanted to protect General Jones,
she would have done better to point out
how trivial, unsubstantial, superficial, and unverifiable
these complaints were.]

Jim Jones, Sally Quinn and the neocons
by Patrick Lang
Sic Semper Tyrannis 2009-05-18

[Emphasis added by KHarbaugh.]

“...the sniping is reportedly coming mostly from
State Department officials and some staffers at the White House.
Jones, not surprisingly, has a good relationship with the Pentagon.
So who’s out to get him?
Reporters across town are being called and spun.
  1. Jones is out of it, they are told,

  2. doesn’t show up;

  3. doesn’t speak up at meetings;

  4. works only a 12 1/2 -hour day;

  5. doesn’t stand next to the president in photographs;

  6. doesn’t like to give interviews.
Funny, but
those all sound like
things the national security adviser should be doing.

Reporters are protecting their sources,
but Hillary Clinton is apparently not behind the stories.
She likes her job, those who have been spun say,
and gets along well with Jones.

Meanwhile, the stakes are higher than ever:
Iraq is not resolved.
Iran could go nuclear at any moment.
Pakistan, already a nuclear state, is chaotic.
Afghanistan is hanging on by a thread.
The Arab-Israeli peace talks have stalled.
And that’s not to mention North Korea and other hot spots.
If ever there was a time to work as a team, this is it.
If the leaders of those hot spots think that
the Americans are internally divided
and do not respect each other
or that President Obama is too weak to control the sniping around him,
it could be harmful to our foreign policy.”

Sally Quinn, the wife of the retired managing editor
[that would be Benjamin Bradlee of Watergate notoriety]
of the Washington Post
has published this oped in the Post.
The editorial page of the Post
has become notoriously (delicious word) neocon in its orientation.
The likely source of the whispering campaign against General Jones
is the neocon/AIPAC/Likudnik camp.
Jones is unlikely to be emotionally engaged in the fate of any foreign country
and is therefore automatically considered an enemy by those folks.
Quinn obviously has a lot of “clout.”
Otherwise this piece would never have been published.

The “substance” of the campaign against Jones
is made up of standard neocon agitprop themes.
These themes are;
laziness, inattentiveness, implied creeping senility
and most especially not working enough hours...
Heaven forbid that anyone in the White House
should get enough sleep to be healthy
or spend enough time in “real life” pursuits to think clearly!!
Heaven forbid.
The neocons have used these same themes (successfully) over and over again
against people they wanted to bar from public service.

Jones stands too close to the president for their taste.
They are now engaged in trying to pressure or persuade Obama
to eliminating Israel’s Iranian rival’s chance
of becoming a competing regional power.
They do not want to take the chance that Jones (or Clinton) might oppose that. Therefore...
Quinn is right about Jones.
One should not confuse reserve with timidity.
A former commandant of the US Marine Corps is a dangerous enemy.

[Thank you, Colonel Lang, for taking these bastards on.]

American Jews eye Obama's 'anti-Israel' appointees
By Natasha Mozgovaya
Haaretz.com, 2009-12-04

Every appointee to the American government
must endure a thorough background check
by the American Jewish community.

In the case of Obama’s government in particular,
every criticism against Israel made by a potential government appointee
has become a catalyst for debate about
whether appointing “another leftist” offers proof that
Obama does not truly support Israel.

A few months ago,
boisterous protests by the American Jewish community
helped foil the appointment of Chaz Freeman
to chair the National Intelligence Council,
citing his “anti-Israel leaning.”
The next attempt to appoint an intelligence aide,
in this case, former Republican senator Chuck Hagel,
also resulted in vast criticism over his not having a pro-Israel record.

American Zionists are urging Obama to cancel Hagel’s appointment
because of what they call
a long and problematic record of hostility toward Israel.

The president of the Zionist Organization of America, Morton A. Klein,
described Hagel’s nomination as such:
“Any American who is concerned about Iran’s drive to obtain nuclear weapons,
maintaining the Israeli-U.S. relationship
and supporting Israel in its legitimate fight
to protect her citizens from terrorism
should oppose this appointment.”

Republican Jews have also protested Hagel’s appointment,
citing an incident in 2004 when
Hagel refused to sign a letter calling on then-president George Bush
to speak about Iran’s nuclear program at the G8 summit that year.

In August of 2006, Hagel refused to sign a letter
requesting the UN declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization.

In a speech
at the conference of self-declared “pro-peace, pro-Israel” lobby J Street,
Hagel spoke about his views on the issue of Israel and the Middle East.

“The United States’ support for Israel need not be - nor should it be -
an either-or proposition
that dictates our relationships with our Arab allies and friends.
The U.S. has a long and special relationship with Israel,
but it must not come at the expense of our Arab relationships,”
Hagel said.

The latest round of heated debate has been
over the nomination of Hannah Rosenthal
to head the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism
in the Obama administration.


Ha'aretz says U.S. officials face 'pro-Israel' background check
by Stephen M. Walt
walt.foreignpolicy.com, 2009-12-04

[This post keys off the Ha'aretz article cited above.]


One has to feel a certain sympathy for Ms. Rosenthal,
who is forced to defend her own appointment by telling an interviewer:
“I love Israel.
I have lived in Israel.
I go back and visit every chance I can.
I consider it part of my heart.
And because I love it so much,
I want to see it safe and secure and free and democratic and living safely.”

These are fine sentiments,
but isn’t it odd that she has to defend her qualifications
for a position in the U.S. government
by saying how much she “loves” a foreign country?
For an American official in her position,
what matters is that she loves America,
and that she believes anti-semitism is a hateful philosophy
that should be opposed vigorously.
Whether she loves Israel or France or Thailand or Namibia, etc.,
is irrelevant.
(And yes, it’s entirely possible to loathe anti-Semitism and not love Israel).

But the real lesson of all these episodes is
the effect of this litmus test on the foreign policy community more broadly.
Groups in the lobby
target public servants like Freeman, Hagel, and Rosenthal because
they want to make sure that
no one with even a mildly independent view on Middle East affairs
gets appointed.

By making an example of them,
they seek to discourage independent-minded people
from expressing their views openly,
lest doing so derail their own career prospects later on.
And it works.
Even if the lobby doesn’t manage to block every single appointment,
they can make any administration think twice
about a potentially “controversial” choice
and use the threat to stifle open discourse among
virtually all members of the mainstream foreign policy community
(and certainly anyone who aspires to public service in Washington).

The result, of course, is the U.S. Middle East policy
(and U.S. foreign policy more generally)
is reserved for
those who are either steadfastly devoted to the “special relationship”
or who have been intimidated into silence.
The result?

U.S. policy remains in the hands of the same set of “experts”
whose policies for the past seventeen years (or more)
have been a steady recipe for failure.

If a few more Americans read Ha’aretz,
they might start to figure this out.


Many Voices Singing One Song
by Philip Giraldi
Antiwar.com, 2010-05-13


But there is another category of Israel firster
that differs from the homegrown variety.
Has anyone wondered at the large number of foreigners
who have somehow made their way into
Washington’s think tank and media punditry industry?
They are found most commonly at places like
the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy,
the American Enterprise Institute (AEI),
the Hudson Institute,
the Heritage Foundation,
the Saban Center at Brookings, and, of course at
the AIPAC-founded Washington Institute for Near Eastern Policy (WINEP).
They come from Australia, Europe, and Israel itself
but the one thing they all have in common
is that they, like [Senator Charles] Schumer,
love and protect Israel.
If one were suspicious, it might be possible to wonder
whether there is some kind of mechanism operating whereby
advocates of Israel are hand-picked and godfathered through the system.
With unusual persistence and a high level of resiliency,
many of them eventually become the dominant voices at the various think tanks

so that eventually no dissenting opinions are allowed.
Hollywood billionaire Haim Saban’s money
has turned the once moderate Brookings into an Israeli mouthpiece
while AEI and Heritage,
which used to be traditionally conservative bastions,
have now become home bases for the neocon foreign policy.



Whose Congress and State Department?
by Philip Giraldi
Antiwar.com, 2011-08-25


Two recent news stories relate to the United States government and how it has been corrupted by its deference to Israel and wasted tax dollars pandering to the Lobby, almost as if it cannot help itself.

The first story, that 20 percent of the House of Representatives will be spending its recess holiday on American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) tours of Israel, does not seem to have made the mainstream news, though it has been reported extensively in the alternative media, including this site. The visits are on top of a previous tour by more than 20 congressmen in April, and yet another group will be going in December. The current tours, one consisting of 26 Democratic congressmen headed by House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland, and two others of 55 Republicans, one led by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, are ostensibly intended to provide Congress with a “deeper understanding” of the situation in the Middle East. For “deeper understanding” one might easily substitute “Israeli viewpoint.”

Less reported than the visit itself has been the comportment of the congressmen while in Israel, which has been something akin to unconditional surrender. Hoyer, a committed Christian Zionist who is on his 12th trip to Israel, reassured Israelis that Washington’s financial challenges “will not have any adverse effect on America’s determination to meet its promise to Israel.” Hoyer means that it will be okay to cut Medicare and adversely affect the commitment to America’s elderly, but Israel’s $3 billion plus per year, largely used to buy weapons that it does not need, will be untouched. He also gave the green light for Israel to build its new houses in East Jerusalem, a viewpoint that runs counter to what the White House is apparently saying but which might just as well be a signal to the Israeli government that Washington does not really care if the houses are built or not. Or that it certainly doesn’t care enough to do anything about it with an election coming up next year.


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