The new, public debate about the
Israel lobby is missing a major point – the lobby's allies, the many other
interests in America that want chaos in the Middle East. For example, in the
book there is no listing in the index for "military-industrial complex."
For all its vaunted power, the Israel lobby could not dominate America's Mideast
policies without cover and active support from other powerful groups. Although
AIPAC promotes the lobby's image in Congress as being all powerful, it isn't. The book
does specify Christian Zionists as an integral part of the lobby, but it neglects
Another important question is how, when polling data shows that most
Jews opposed the Iraq war, did the Likud/settler minority faction take
over the whole Israel lobby? Although a minority with an agenda will often win
over an amorphous majority, that is not a sufficient explanation. Indeed Jews
are at the forefront of the fight against the war and the consequent encroaching
police state here in America. Some of the most honest reporting on Israel
comes from Jewish media: Ha'aretz in Israel and The Forward in
America. What happened?
It was Likudniks headquartered
at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington who first undermined
the Oslo Peace Accords. They also urged attacking Iraq long before 9/11.
Some, such as David
Wurmser, even predicted that the attack could result in Iraq
being "ripped apart," splintered into warring tribes for years.
Polls show that most Israelis also want peace and support a Palestinian state
(in fact, they voted out Likud); meanwhile, the Likudniks want America to attack
Iran and Syria. They appeal to those who see a greater Israel "from the
Nile to the Euphrates."
The first major ally is the military-industrial
complex, now funded by the new system of hidden congressional earmarks.
Arnaud de Borchgrave first wrote about there being 15,000
defense budget earmarks. These allow a congressman to slip contracts into
the budget for favored constituents, who then donate money to the congressman's
reelection committee and may also provide well-paid jobs in their districts.
These encourage warmaking, or at least threats of war, as never before. It's
hard to hide money in the budget for "a bridge to nowhere," but a
missile to nowhere will never be questioned, as its sponsors cloak
their profits in "national defense."
Among the beneficiaries are the new mercenaries, all the companies subcontracted
by the Department of Defense to provide everything from kitchen services to
bodyguards and intelligence. All of these are very well paid and now have an
interest in promoting unending wars. Add to this the new power of think tanks
taking money from war-wanting corporations and foundations to hire skilled polemicists
and propagandists to work the 24-hour news cycle.
The complex has seen military spending triple since 9/11. The collapse of
communism had threatened them. As they faced lower budgets, they offered
a plan to keep military budgets high. The bin Laden attack suited them perfectly.
Hundreds of billions were then appropriated for the complex, even for weapons
irrelevant to the war on terror. Unbelievable profits rolled in. But few question
the waste, and all the Republican presidential candidates (except Ron Paul)
and most of the Democrats want to increase it further.
Next come the religious fundamentalists' dominant minority of Armageddonites,
those who see Israel's expansion as expediting the return of Christ. They see
Bush as God's agent. They saw, in the words of Tom DeLay, that the war in Iraq
was a prelude to the chaos necessary to bring
about the "end times."
Then there's Big Oil. Although long ago it opposed the Israel lobby for antagonizing
the Muslim world, more recently it has cast its lot with imperialism. Kevin
Phillips argues in his book American
Theocracy that Big Oil supported the Iraq war. It feared that Washington
had made American interests so unwelcome in much of the Muslim world that future
concessions and contracts would be going to Chinese, French, Italian, Indian,
and Russian companies. In this view, conquering Iraq and placing major military
bases on its soil would sustain a friendly government that would give first
choice to American interests. Needless to say, it's
not working out that way. Iraq's oil production is minimal, and even Saudi
Arabia chose a French company over American rivals for its last big postwar
contract. The war also further revived Russian nationalism and aroused major
anti-American forces in Central Asia so that American oil companies are weakened
there as well. But at least oil was a tangible reason for war, a reason most
recently backed up in Alan Greenspan's biography.
Then come many leading American conservatives. Mostly
ignorant of the outside world and still fighting the Cold War against the United
Nations, they see the world as allied against America. They strongly sympathized
with Bush's go-it-alone agenda. Many have a knee-jerk response to military spending,
that more is always better. Others feel hostility toward Arabs and Muslims and
see Israelis as being "like us."
During the first Iraq war in 1991, when I was a co-founder of the Committee
to Avert a Mideast Holocaust, I saw how many conservatives still resented
losing the Vietnam War and wanted to prove to recalcitrant Third
Worlders that we could "win" such wars. Others are anti-Semitic and
use support for Israel as a cover. Others admire Israel for doing what America
could not: smash its enemies without caring about winning hearts and minds.
Fox News' TV generals today often express such sentiments for unleashing "total
war" (a euphemism for killing more civilians) as the way to win in Iraq.
Support for war among traditional conservatives was promoted by National
Review, the Wall Street Journal editorial page, and the Heritage
Foundation, which excluded virtually all antiwar voices. The common thread among
these writers, many of whom I know, was an abysmal
ignorance of the world outside Europe. A subset were Englishmen (and some
Irishmen), e.g., National Review's former editor, who dreamed of playing
Greece to America's Rome. They pine for the old British Empire and long for
America to replace it.
Finally there are the neoconservatives, the brains of the War
Party, the influential think-tankers and lifetime Washington policy wonks.
Though many are Jewish, their support for belligerence is motivated
mainly by the desire of some intellectuals for excitement, relevance, and power.
It's a common trait of those who have never been out in the real world, especially
business or the military. Remember that before 9/11 they were demanding a confrontation
with Russia and then war with China over the U.S. spy plane incident. For them,
any war would do; it did not have to be against Iraq. In fact, their founder,
Irving Kristol, wrote in the Wall
Street Journal in 1996 that America needed a real enemy, one "worthy
of our mettle." Long before 9/11 others (John
Bolton, for example) were urging the U.S. to abandon treaties and, indeed,
ignore international law because it would constrain the imperialist policies
In conclusion, this alliance of interests should be better understood. Aside
from more wars, the risk, as Kevin Phillips has said, is that unending war with
the Muslim world may do to America what the World War I did to England: weaken