George W. Bush was invited to speak to the graduating
class of Ohio State University, the students were given
few, uh, suggestions:
"Immediately before class members
filed into the giant football stadium, an announcer
instructed the crowd that all the university's speakers
deserve to be treated with respect and that anyone demonstrating
or heckling would be subject to expulsion and arrest.
The announcer urged that Bush be greeted with a 'thunderous'
Or else. And, you know what?
The applause was thunderous. That's why they
call them "slackers"
the little wimps. Maybe they'll wake up when the Bushies
draft them, and send them to Iraq.
Land of the brave, home of the free?
Not anymore. Of late there has been what seems like
a conscious effort to scare Americans half to death,
what with an alleged "dirty bomber" who turns
out to have been nothing of the sort, and color-coded
alerts coming so fast and furious that one can hardly
keep track. But, then again, it wasn't all that hard
to scare the bejesus out of them, because the Americans
are so easily pushed around in spite, or perhaps because
of their superpower status – and Bush himself is no
exception: indeed, he is a prime example of the New
You'll remember, a few weeks ago, when
the President of these United States decided to stand
up to Ariel Sharon and rein in our Israeli "allies"
well, that didn't last very long, now did it?
amen corner in the US immediately went
into action "Let's
roll!" and Karl Rove put the kibosh on our
chief executive's display of independence but quick.
By the time Sharon arrived in Washington on a hurriedly-scheduled
visit, Dubya was already putty in the Israeli Prime
Minister's hot little hands. So much so that the
Butcher of Sabra and Shatila felt bold enough to
for the release of convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard.
As New York Post writer Uri Dan triumphantly
"The only 'no' that Israeli
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon heard from President Bush
last week in their White House meeting came when he
asked the president to look into the case of Jonathan
. Sharon was not surprised by the negative response
to his Pollard query because he raised the case in a
previous meeting with Bush."
I guess it's too much to expect that
Dubya brought up those
Israeli "art students" who took such an
interest in pushing their "artwork"
US government offices in the months
before 9/11, especially in South
Florida and Texas. Even The Forward concedes
they were probably spies, but god forbid our spineless
elected officials not to mention the "mainstream"
media would dare to bring it up. In the former case,
they're too busy kowtowing
to AIPAC and in the latter case, they're
much too preoccupied with fending
off charges of "anti-Semitism" from "pro-Israel
activists" every time they mention the ongoing
cleansing of Palestine.
"Otherwise," Dan happily reports,
"the sixth Bush-Sharon summit was conducted 'in
complete harmony' on Mideast issues."
By the way, it's interesting to note
Mr. Dan's idea of Pollard's crimes. According to the
New York Post school of revisionist history
"Pollard was convicted of supplying
top-value intelligence data to Israel about Palestinian
terrorist threats and about Saddam Hussein's ground-to-ground
missiles, long before "scud" became a household name.
Pollard offered to spy because he feared Israel was
endangered by being denied the data – despite an intelligence-sharing
agreement between Washington and Jerusalem."
Not quite. Eric
Margolis, reporting in the Toronto Sun, isn't
alone in saying that Pollard gave the Israelis the names
of US agents inside the former Soviet Union, and that
these secrets were sold or bartered by Israel to
the Kremlin. As
Seymour Hersh pointed out in his exhaustive review
of the Pollard case:
"A number of officials strongly
suspect that the Israelis repackaged much of Pollard's
material and provided it to the Soviet Union in exchange
for continued Soviet permission for Jews to emigrate
to Israel. Other officials go further, and say there
was reason to believe that secret information was exchanged
for Jews working in highly sensitive positions in the
Soviet Union. A significant percentage of Pollard's
documents, including some that described the techniques
the American Navy used to track Soviet submarines around
the world, was of practical importance only to the Soviet
It was one of the biggest intelligence
losses in American history: a large number of CIA East
Bloc agents were executed due to Pollard's betrayal,
and the Soviets gained access to top secret US codes.
Yet Dan avers that media reports about the KGB's access
to Pollard's stolen data were "without any basis'
due, no doubt, to "anti-Semitism." And while
Prime Minister Ehud Barak was more concerned about the
fate of Marc Rich,
"So it was left to Sharon to
take on the moral duty of raising the Pollard issue
again – just as he and Bush were discussing the same
issues, terrorism and Iraq, to which Pollard had alerted
Israel 17 years ago."
In whitewashing and outright lying
about the details of the Pollard catastrophe, Uri
Dan may think he is taking on the same sort of "moral
duty" the "duty," that is, to put Israel
first, and America second. In this, Dan is merely applying
the same principle that seems to govern US Mideast policy,
as underscored by the last three lines of his piece:
"Bush stressed that the United
States regards Iraq as the biggest threat to Mideast
"'Israel will be safer without
Saddam,' he said.
"Ariel Sharon couldn't agree
He's right. Israel will be safer but
what about the US? How many thousands of new recruits
will flock to Al Qaeda as a result of a massive American
invasion of Iraq ten, twenty, a hundred-thousand or
more? Ah, but Ariel Sharon couldn't care less and
for that no one can honestly blame him. He, after all,
is looking out for his own country, first. Too bad we
can't say the same about George W. Bush.
For a while there, it
looked like Dubya was turning pro-American. He was
telling the Israelis to negotiate with Arafat, hailing
the Saudi peace proposal, and putting off the Iraq attack
indefinitely or at least until Tel Aviv reached some
sort of interim settlement with the Palestinians. But
now he seems to have veered, almost drunkenly, in the
other direction, cuddling up to Sharon, waffling
on the Palestinian question, and renewing
his vow to fight Israel's battle against Iraq. The
peace plan sits on a shelf, forgotten, amid rumors
Powell's impending resignation.
How do we account for this turnaround
and in a matter of a few weeks?
Lacking an inside source within the
administration, a "Deep
Throat" willing to give us the scoop on the
battle for the presidential soul, we can only fall back
on the default explanation: politics – specifically,
Republican party politics. An alliance of the Religious
Right and the small but influential neoconservative
wing of the GOP simply overpowered the Bushies: the
Pat Robertsons and Jerry Falwells, who had mobilized
for Dubya in the Southern GOP presidential primaries
– to crucial effect – launched a similar effort on
behalf of Israel. As Robertson and Falwell commanded
their followers to contact their congressional representatives
in order to "save Israel," the neocons made
the case for Israel in more secular, but hardly less
fervent terms. John
McCain waited in the wings, not quite daring to
openly engage the President on the issue while likely
Democratic presidential candidate
Senator Joe Lieberman joined the growing chorus
of complaints on the Right that the President was going
The main reason for the apparent triumph
of the Israel-firsters is inherent
in the nature of the democratic state, which operates
on the old
principle of the squeaky
wheel gets the
grease. A dedicated minority, if passionate and
dedicated enough, can indeed overcome the rather more
passively expressed wishes of the majority and impose
its own agenda especially in the realm of foreign
policy. A member of Congress, who must stand for election
every two years, can hardly afford to ignore hundreds
of calls, faxes, and emails – especially when they
aren't coming in from the other side.
So it doesn't matter that most Americans
of the shenanigans engaged in by both sides, and
think it's time
to cut down on aid to Israel or, at least, use
whatever leverage the aid gives us over Israel to rein
in Sharon. Under the rules of our "democracy,"
the well-funded, and very well-organized Israeli lobby
is an effective road bloc to implementation of majority
The goal of the Israeli lobby has been
clear, consistent, and double-pronged: 1) isolate
the US in the Middle East by divorcing Washington
from Riyadh and Cairo, and Amman, and 2) divert
the Americans away from making war on Al Qaeda, and
redirect their energies to taking on Israel's most dangerous
enemies in the Middle East. The "axis of evil"
speech was a major victory for them, as Iran was included
alongside Iraq and North Korea as a target of opportunity
for the US. After a few reverses, they seem once again
in the ascendant but the civil war inside the Bush
administration is far from over.
The opinion of the Joint Chiefs is not
exactly a veto, but it is a very strong factor for any
President to consider when contemplating the prospect
of a war. Their
leaked objections to the military conquest of Iraq
were a sign of their desperation for the story in
the Washington Post was nothing less than an
attempt to go over the heads of top policymakers, and
appeal directly to the public. For Bush to overrule
his generals, and throw in his lot with the Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz-Perle
crowd, would be an irrevocable act – and, as such,
not to be taken lightly.
As to which way the President will eventually
go, I am not prepared to say: only to hope that, for
once, the squeaky wheel will be denied the grease, so
that the rest of us can live in peace.
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