of an Israeli tank brigade waging an offensive in the West
Bank found a unique way to show how they felt about the US
president they adopted a stray dog and named it 'George
a cowboy,' one soldier said as the brown pit-bull terrier
prowled an Israeli hilltop encampment overlooking the city
barks a lot,' said a second.
he's useless,' another chimed in."
FOR THE MEMORIES
mind that their equipment their tanks, their guns, their
ammunition, their uniforms are all paid for courtesy of
the US taxpayers. It doesn't matter to these people that George
W. Bush has personally gone out of his way to express his
unyielding solidarity with Israel in her time of need. And
please don't tell them that what the President is asking for
Israeli withdrawal from the West bank towns and cities it
has occupied, and a halt to the offensive is what would
best serve Israel's interests, in the long run. Fuggedaboutit!
I would also save my breath reminding them that the President's
entire Middle East policy has at least, up until now been
built around Israel's strategic needs, not America's. Remember,
those Iraqi SCUD missiles can't reach New York, but Tel Aviv
is within range. None of this is going to impress those soldiers,
and their American cheering section. Their attitude is: Thanks
for the subsidies, thanks for the memories, but that was yesterday.
What can you do for me today?
outrage, and the insults to an American President when he
dares get in General Sharon's way is not limited to the IDF,
but extends to Israel's
foot-soldiers in the American punditocracy, who are now
baying for Bush's blood. John Podhoretz declares that "Sharon doesn't
work for Bush"! Yeah, but, you know what? Neither
does Bush work for Sharon and that is precisely what
has Israel's amen corner apoplectic. Poddy Jr. is sooo
upset with all this talk about a US-Israeli split, and pooh-poohs
the whole thing:
media want Israel to end the war. That doesn't seem to be
what the Bushites want, and the Israelis know that."
see: the President said first that he wanted a withdrawal
from the occupied territories, and then he said he wanted
a withdrawal without delay and, today [April 10],
the Washington Post is reporting that a "Defiant Sharon [is] Losing Support in the White House." Top White House "aides" are cited as
the source of a story that the administration is now making
a crucial distinction between support for Sharon and the fundamentalists in the Likud party, and support for Israel.
says that the importance of Israel to the US shrank in the
post-cold war era, and that is certainly true. But even truer
is the simple fact that the post-9/11 world has seen a more
radical US-Israeli divergence. As much as the Israel lobby
in the US has made the case that Israel's fight is now America's
fight, because both are targets of Arab terrorism, the geopolitical
reality is quite the opposite: post-9/11, the absolute necessity
of reaching out to the Arab world has been brought home to
this administration as never before.
LIKUDNIKS' LAST STAND
has been the linchpin of US policy for a simple logistical
reason: without support from the Pakistanis, the Saudis, the
Jordanians, Egyptians, and the sheiks of the Persian Gulf
states, the terrorist network could never be traced and uprooted.
Without vital intelligence from the nations of the region,
we would never even know the whereabouts of Al Qaeda, let
alone take them out. The whole thrust of the Bush policy has
been to avoid the fondest hope of the Israeli lobby:
that the US would stand, alone, with Israel against the Arab
world indeed, against the whole world. Now that Powell is
about to meet with Arafat, in the context of an increasingly
insistent US demand that Israel must withdraw, the
Likudniks who control Israel's government find themselves
increasingly isolated on the world stage and, also, in America.
Kristol is practically foaming at the mouth: he wants
the name, rank, and serial numbers of these anonymous "aides"
who dared blab to the Post about the administration's
internal debates, demanding: "'Senior White House Aides':
are these "senior White House aides"? For months
we've been reading about the unprecedented discipline of this
White House--how no one speaks to the press without authorization.
So we can safely assume that only the highest officials in
the White House could be making statements with such significant
policy implications. People at the level of, say, Andrew Card,
Karl Rove, Karen Hughes, Condoleezza Rice, and Ari Fleischer."
heads will roll, eh Billy boy? Oh, but I think not
WAR: THE WASHINGTON FRONT
seeking to isolate the US from its Arab allies, the American
Likudniks have only succeeded in isolating themselves. They
are furious with Bush for allowing Powell to meet with Arafat,
and will cheer at every obstacle Sharon puts in the way, but
in breaking with the President they will have abandoned their
Republican base. Their only possible allies are nutball
Christian fundamentalists who have a theological interest
in provoking a Mideast Armageddon, and a whole passel of
Joseph Lieberman (D-Connecticut), whose budding presidential
campaign seems to have a strong foreign policy emphasis, took
the opportunity to introduce Benjamin
Netanyahu to a group of Senators on Capitol hill. The
only man in Israeli politics who makes Sharon look like Neville
Chamberlain urged the expulsion of Arafat, the destruction
of the Palestinian Authority, and the continuation of Palestinian
helotry under Israeli occupation into the indefinite future.
A move is afoot in Congress to pass a bill
co-authored by Senators Diane Feinstein (D-California) and
Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) to deny visas to PA officials,
close down the Palestinian office in Washington, and have
the PLO declared a terrorist organization on the same level
with Al Qaeda. At this rally of Capitol Hill Likudniks, Lieberman
took the Netanyahu party line, solemnly averring that
this is "a moment of crisis for Israel and the United
States, and it is a crisis that we share together"
Israel and the US are "victims of the same assault, of
the same war.".
THE HORROR! THE HORROR!
are we fighting the same war? Clearly not in Palestine.
Sharon and his government have launched a war aimed at destroying
the only possible negotiating partner for a Mideast peace
plan, while the American Secretary of State meets with the
man Sharon has targeted as "the enemy." Indeed,
as Powell traversed the region, declaring that his goal is
the establishment of a Palestinian state, and reiterating
the US view that Israel is not withdrawing fast enough, the
secretary of state's words must have filled the Likudniks
(especially their American franchise) with horror. We must,
said the American secretary of state on his arrival in Israel,
the Palestinian people that there is hope out there, hope
for them to have their own state, living side by side in peace
this, the Likudnik answer is: never! Sharon's political
support is founded on the prevalence of an
ultra-fundamentalist brand of religious messianism that,
in Israel, has taken on a political coloration, and had already
shifted the country to the far right long before the advent
of the suicide bombers. The settlement movement, and the National
Religious Party, as well as multiplying varieties of fundamentalist
sects and messianic grouplets, have all coalesced around the
Likud coalition into a broad popular movement of extremists
who see Israeli expansionism as a religious duty. Their program
is to expel all Arabs from the country, annex the occupied
territories, and launch a war for a Greater Israel, or Eretz
Israel: that is, the land supposedly promised to the Israelites
in the Bible. It is interesting to note, in this context,
that Sharon once proposed, at a 1993 Likud Party convention,
that the party should officially endorse the concept of establishing
"biblical borders." Today, he is carrying out his
campaign promise and, if he fails to follow through, there's
always Netanyahu waiting in the wings, more than willing to
take the reins and unleash the full power of Israel's military
OF THE 800-POUND GORILLA
the truth is that Israel has the military resources to wage
a war for years without American help. As a
very interesting piece in the Seattle Times put
it the other day:
was a time when the United States was the unquestioned military
superpower in the Middle East and drew obedient if grudging
respect from all sides.
Israel is the region's superpower, and where it once looked
to the United States not just for diplomatic support but also
for military rescue, now Israel can thumb its nose at Washington
and go its own way."
the ability to field 19 divisions, as against the 13 divisions
of the US, and the advantages of geography, Israel could move
faster and far more effectively in the region long before
American troops got anywhere near the Middle East. The Israeli
air force, bought with US tax dollars, can fly 3,000 combat
missions per day; the US can only launch 1,600 sorties per
day. "We have created an 800-pound gorilla," says
Kenneth Brower, a strategist and military consultant to the
Pentagon and the Israeli Defense Forces. And now the gorilla
is trying to drag us into World War III
THAT A THREAT?
that last little remark sound like propagandistic hyperbole?
If only it were so. Listen to what
the American Likudniks are threatening:
has been building nuclear weapons for 30 years. The Jews understand
what passive and powerless acceptance of doom has meant for
them in the past, and they have ensured against it. Masada
was not an example to follow--it hurt the Romans not a whit,
but Sampson in Gaza? With an H-bomb? What would serve the
Jew-hating world better in repayment for thousands of years
of massacres but a Nuclear Winter. Or invite all those tut-tutting
European statesmen and peace activists to join us in the ovens?"
than give one inch of occupied land, rather than negotiate
a settlement, David
Perlmutter, the author of this outrage against reason,
would rather pay back "the Jew-hating world" in
the coin of radioactive revenge. This is really a terrorist
manifesto, one that is every bit if not moreominous than
those issued by Osama bin Laden. It is a sign of the times
that such a statement could come from an educated and thoughtful
man. We should take it in the spirit in which it was written:
that is, as a threat.
Perlmutter is not the Prime Minister of Israel, but men who
hold views far more extreme and less thoughtful than he currently
hold power there, and from them anything is possible.
For years, we have bloviated against certain nations in the
Middle East developing "weapons of mass destruction,"
but somehow Israel was exempt from this concern. No more.
Would they drop the bomb? My own answer is: you betcha!
After all, wouldn't that fulfill the ancient biblical prophecies
of "Armageddon" and confirm the theological hallucinations
of messianists, both Christian and Jew? So who will notice
that this particular prophecy was self-fulfilling? They'll
be too busy running to the nearest fallout shelter to know
in the [UK] Independent, Robert
Fisk takes on a "grim satisfaction" in the "uncomprehending"
look on Bush's face as Sharon continued his defiance, and
week will be a crucial one in the American-Israeli relationship,
a real test of the Bush presidency. We shall find out who
the US or Israel runs America's policy in the Middle East.
It would be nice to think that it was the former. But I'm
we can be sure of is that George W. Bush sure means to try.
As to whether he will succeed or not: that remains, as of
this writing, an open question.
moment Powell announced he would be meeting with Arafat was
the signal that the President of the United States does indeed
intend to take back US foreign policy from the Likudniks,
or at least make an attempt. How successful he will be depends,
to a large extent, on the personal character of George W.
Bush, and which influence, in the end, will have the last
word. My guess and it is a guess is that the President,
at this point, is taking the advice of his father, in which
case the Likudniks' goose is already half-cooked.
FOR THE GOP
however, the President is under tremendous pressure, and his
threadbare attempts to string the far-right wing of his own
party along are increasingly ineffective. A coalition
of Israel First Republicans and Lieberman Democrats could
give him considerable trouble in Congress, and then there
is the recurrent threat of McCainism an insurgency from
within his own party, either a primary challenge to a sitting
President or another third-party run. The first seems a little
too outlandish, even for the megalomanical McCain, but the
second alternative seems entirely plausible and far more
probable after this intra-Republican contretemps over Israel.
time around, the neoconservatives
didn't support McCain en masse, except for Bill Kristol,
who couldn't even convince the entire staff of his Weekly
Standard, let alone the GOP rank-and-file. But if there's
one thing that unites the neoconservatives, it's absolute
fealty to Israel
first, last, and always. During the cold war, they were
held together by two principles: the idea that we had to roll
back Communism, while giving Israel unconditional support.
Now that Communism is fallen, Israel is the neocons' overriding
foreign policy imperative and foreign policy is what has
always driven them, while their domestic politics have been
all over the map.
TO THE DEMOCRATS?
the neocons, self-described "Scoop
Jackson Democrats," return to the party of their
youth and, no, I don't mean the party
of the Trotskyist Max Shachtman,
to which many of the older neocons belonged
as young activists, but the party of Joe Lieberman, Al Gore,
and the Democratic Leadership
Council? Certainly it is not unimaginable. At least not
as unimaginable as the Israelis nuking the Middle East into
a glassy desert and, as we have seen, some people are already
threatening us with that.
BIZARRO POLICY REVERSED?
the days of the old Soviet Union, the role of a satellite
country was to do the bidding of its superpower patron; Bulgaria
did not dictate policy to the Kremlin. But America, it seems,
has been the originator of a unique Bizarro system, wherein
the superpower revolves around its satellite. Now, it seems,
there is an attempt to set things right, and, naturally, the
issue came up first in the hardest case, that of Israel, the
bossiest and certainly the most troublesome of our many "allies."
Who knows what train of events opened up this promising new
direction in American foreign policy? One source has it that
was the snub of US Mideast envoy Anthony Zinni that set
the President off, but, in any case, the developing US-Israeli
conflict arises out of the objective circumstances that
is, out of a collision of national interests. The consequences
of that collision, both at home and abroad, may very well
set the stage for the biggest battle of George W. Bush's presidency.
cant resist urging you nay, commanding you
to go check out the Warblogger
Watch, a great place to keep track of the foam-flecked
rantings of the cyber-belligeratti. Tired of all that linking
from warblog to warblog in search of the latest racist exhortation
from Asparagirl? Tired of giving Glenn Reynolds all those
hits just to read his latest apologia for Israeli atrocities?
Then check out this useful summary of the latest from the
land of the laptop bombardiers, created by "Eric
A. Blair." Attaboy! Take back Orwell from these testosterone-poisoned
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