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March 30, 2006

Israeli Electorate Rebukes Bush

by Paul Craig Roberts

Israeli elections this week swept the right-wing Likud Party from power and installed a center-left government committed to peaceful coexistence with Palestine. Ehud Olmert, the leader of the new Israeli government, told the new Palestinian government that "we are ready to compromise and evacuate, under great pain, Jews living there [the West Bank of Palestine] in order to create the conditions that will enable you to fulfill your dream and live alongside us."

Olmert declared that "the time has come to act" and to agree on borders for Israel and Palestine, establishing two mutually recognized states and bringing to an end Palestinian terrorism and Israeli oppression.

Israeli voters have thus done what they can to bring peace to the Middle East before the Bush regime can further fan the flames of war by attacking Iran.

If the Israelis can change their government in the direction of peace, perhaps there is some hope that Americans can do likewise.

Of course, Olmert might be assassinated by the Israeli right wing, as was Yitzhak Rabin, the last Israeli leader who was prepared to negotiate a fair settlement with the Palestinians. But the greatest threat to Olmert's peace efforts will be the American neoconservatives who control the Bush regime.

American neoconservatives have close, long-standing alliances with Israel's right-wing Likud Party. Like the neocons, the Likud believe in military solutions. In their policy papers, neocons set out a strategy for U.S.-Israeli hegemony in the Middle East. Many experts are of the opinion that Bush's invasion of Iraq was the opening gun of implementing this strategy.

The failure of this strategy in Iraq is obvious to the Israeli electorate, but American neoconservatives, believing that not enough force has been applied, cling to their agenda. Bush and the neocons disguised their goal of Middle Eastern hegemony by hiding their agenda under various ruses, such as "the war on terror" and creating democracy in Iraq. These ruses deceived the American people, but the ruses do not permit the scale of violence against Muslim states that the neoconservatives are willing to unleash.

According to news reports, the Pentagon has drafted a revised war doctrine that permits U.S. use of nuclear weapons in preemptive attack. Under the new doctrine, all that is required in order for the U.S. to nuke a country is a presidential determination that the targeted country intends to use WMD against the U.S.

In other words, the same false charges that were made against Iraq can be made against Iran, only this time Bush could avoid defeat by unleashing nuclear weapons against Iran.

As Olmert's agenda of peaceful settlement with Palestine would undermine the neocon agenda in the Middle East, the neocons will do what they can to derail it. They have many ways of doing so, including spreading the conflagration in Iraq and orchestrating an incident with Iran.

Despite Bush's talk about "bringing democracy to Iraq," the only Iraqi democracy the Bush regime wants is a puppet government. The Bush administration is creating friction with the Iraqi Shia majority, which has tolerated the American occupation. Bush is trying to overturn the Iraqi government's choice of prime minister. U.S. troops slaughtered worshipers in a Shia mosque in Baghdad, prompting the Iraqi governor of Baghdad to declare cooperation with Americans at an end. Outraged at the Americans for entering a mosque and gunning down worshipers, Shia leaders are demanding that control be turned over to Iraqis.

Neocons are fanatics. They would certainly risk U.S. troops to achieve their agenda. If neocons can provoke the Shia militias into joining the attacks on U.S. troops, the situation would quickly spin out of control. To avoid a crushing defeat, Bush could resort to extreme means.

Neocon propaganda has convinced ever-gullible Americans that Iran is now America's most dangerous enemy. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Rice continue to make unsupported accusations against Iran, threatening military action. Gen. John Abizaid, commander of U.S. Middle East forces, is helping to spread the rumor that Iran is operating inside Iraq, supplying explosives to the resistance. Gareth Porter and Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff to secretary of state Colin Powell, report that neoconservative zealots, who advocate destabilization and regime change in the Middle East, were able to block diplomatic engagement with Iran in order to keep open the military option. Instead of welcoming the opportunity to work things out, the Bush regime rebuked the ambassador who brought the peace offer.

Neoconservatives don't want "no stinking talks." They want war. War is their only hope.

Neoconservatives are ruthless. They have control of the U.S. government and military. Little stands between them and their fanatical determination to widen war in the Middle East.

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    Paul Craig Roberts wrote the Kemp-Roth bill and was assistant secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was associate editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and contributing editor of National Review. He is author or co-author of eight books, including The Supply-Side Revolution (Harvard University Press). He has held numerous academic appointments, including the William E. Simon chair in political economy, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, and senior research fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He has contributed to numerous scholarly journals and testified before Congress on 30 occasions. He has been awarded the U.S. Treasury's Meritorious Service Award and the French Legion of Honor. He was a reviewer for the Journal of Political Economy under editor Robert Mundell.

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