Covert action is much talked about and little
understood. At its most basic level, covert action is a set of intelligence
operations undertaken by a specific state's intelligence agencies to advance
its national interests. They are executed in a manner that limits the visibility
of that state's hand in whatever is done. Ideally, covert actions cannot be
traced back to their sponsor. Most people take the term covert action to mean
violent actions of one kind or another: kidnapping, assassination, support for
insurgents, etc. While violence can certainly be part of a covert-action campaign,
the more insidious and often more effective arm of covert action is called
"political action," whereby one state seeks to influence the public
opinion of another by speaking through the mouths of that country's citizens.
And let me stress, there is nothing wrong or immoral about covert political
action. America used political action worldwide in the Cold War; Britain used
it in the United States to accelerate neutral America's entry into both world
wars; the Saudis pay untold amounts to retired senior U.S. officials to speak
admiringly of the anti-American desert tyranny; and Israel uses it today against
America to ensure unlimited and unquestioning U.S. support. It is a legitimate
foreign affairs tool, and the leaders of any nation who choose not to engage
in such activity are certifiably negligent fools.
For years even decades U.S. citizens have been the subject of a political
action campaign designed and executed by Israel. Currently, Israel's campaign
is part steady-as-she-goes and part improvisation to neutralize an unexpected
and for Israel worrying development. So far, Israel's covert political
action is succeeding hands down. Americans are gradually being indoctrinated
to believe Islamists are today's Nazis and that there is no "Israeli lobby"
in America. Simply put, Israel is conducting a brilliant covert political action
campaign in the United States, a campaign any intelligence service in the world
would rightly be proud of.
Part one of Israeli's political action consists simply of using that old standby
debate-suppressor, the four-letter word "Nazi." Newspapers in Israel,
of course, have long used the word to describe Israel's Muslim enemies. Recently,
for example, the Jerusalem Post ran an article in which al-Qaeda is described
as "yet another Nazi knockoff." This sort of language is the stuff
of Israeli journalism, and not of much concern to Americans. If the Israeli
press wants to teach their readers to underestimate the Islamist threat, so
But now the word "Nazi" is being gradually fed to Americans as a
scientific definition of our Islamist enemies. Headlines such as "Hamas
Uber Alles," "Hitler's Heirs in Damascus," and "The Nazi
Correction to Islamic Terror" are increasingly common in U.S. media publications
found in the news files Googled daily by Americans. U.S. politicians, too, are
eager to jump on the call-them-Nazis bandwagon, with Secretary Rumsfeld recently
saying that leaving Iraq early would be like returning postwar Germany to the
Nazis, and Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) comparing the attack on the Shia shrine
in Samarra to the burning of the Reichstag by the Nazis.
The goal of using the Nazi analogy is to suppress any realistic debate about
the pluses and minuses of the U.S.-Israel relationship, and to make sure any
American raising questions about U.S. support for Israel is seen as siding with
the "Islamofascists," the heirs of Nazism. Any person who knows the
least bit about Islam and the Israelis know a great deal knows it is not
Nazism, yet the Internet is rife with such titles as "A Manifesto Against
Islamofascism" and "Islamofascism's Creeping Coup in Turkey."
The best capsule description of the threat posed by Islamofascists is provided
by Frank Gaffney in a recent issue of The Intelligencer, the journal
of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers. Listen to Mr. Gaffney, and
you will almost hear Muslim jackboots striking the pavement.
"We are engaged in nothing less than a War for the Free World. This
is a fight to the death with Islamofascists, Muslim extremists driven by a totalitarian
political ideology that, like Nazism and Communism before it, is determined
to destroy freedom and the people who love it."
The drive to make Islamofascist the term of choice in describing America's
Muslim enemies is meant to still U.S. debate about Israel and, indeed, to limit
questions about any aspect of U.S. foreign policy toward the Islamic world.
After all, why would anyone in their right mind care what people think, unless
they are blindly and unthinkingly opposed to Islamofascism?
The second part of any nation's covert political action plan is to be ready
to exploit or redress unexpected developments within the target society. Last
month, Professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt provided such an environment
when they published a lengthy study showing the strong influence the Israeli
lobby has on the crafting and application of U.S. foreign policy toward the
Islamic world. If American society had its head screwed on right, the collective
response of the citizenry would have been, "DUH!" signifying that
the near-determinative nature of Israeli influence is so clear that no academic
analysis of that fact is necessary.
Instead, the reaction from American elites has been that of Captain Renault
in Casablanca they are shocked, shocked, that anyone could even think
that there is such a thing as an Israeli lobby. The elites demand that Americans
believe there are no such things as Israel-suborned American-citizen spies stealing
U.S. national security secrets, pro-Israel U.S. media publications routinely
savaging any American questioning the perfect and eternal mesh of U.S. and Israeli
interests, and U.S. politicians from Pelosi to McCain to DeLay to Rice groveling
at AIPAC's annual conference, each willing to compromise U.S. security if they
can garner pro-Israel votes and pockets stuffed with cash from pro-Israel contributions.
In the specific case of the Mearsheimer-Walt paper, prominent pro-Israel Americans
have been quick off the mark to limit the damage caused to Israel's interests
caused by the paper's candor and truthfulness. From Marvin Kalb to David Gergen
to Max Boot to Alan Dershowitz, these folks have brazenly defied reality by
insisting there is no "Israeli Lobby" and that Mearsheimer and Walt
are dead wrong, poor scholars, paranoid conspiracy peddlers, or reborn Elders
of Zion. Eliot Cohen's essay in the Washington Post epitomizes the Israel-Firsters'
goal of defaming Mearsheimer and Walt to convince the citizenry that they are
crazy and ranting anti-Semites.
The attacks on Walt and Mearsheimer are the stuff that the dreams of political
action planners are made of: The apparently spontaneous response by target-country
citizens voicing all-out support for the covert-action-sponsoring country. Such
a response deep-sixes any chance for a substantive debate on the issue at hand,
and submerges it in a blizzard of hate speech directed at the authors from prominent
Israel-Firsters, those paragons of virtue who are the chief proponents of First-Amendment-destroying
laws against hate speech.
So at day's end, one can only say: Astoundingly well done, Israel, good for
you! The impact of your covert political action activities in America are all
that you could have hoped for: Truth is negated, dissent is suppressed, and
opponents are intimidated and defamed, and all this is done by prominent U.S.
citizens. The only competitor you have is the Saudi lobby, an organization just
as damaging as yours to genuine U.S. national interests, a reality you and we
would see if the bloodied but hopefully unbowed Mearsheimer-Walt team decides
to analyze the corrupt and corrupting Saudi lobby.
Finally, I forgot to mention at the start that covert political action campaigns
are almost always directed by one nation against another nation that it considers
an enemy or whose leaders it judges to be gullible, venal, none too bright,
unreliable, or all four. That surely gives one pause for thought, but it truly
is the way the world works.