Backtalk August 30, 2006

How Washington Goaded Israel Into War

Mr. Zunes, in his effort to get Israel off the hook (it’s only a “proxy” now in its devastation of Lebanon) omits to mention just who “Washington” is and who the neocons are, and Zunes even has the gall to play the “anti-Semitism” card. Poor Israel; victim yet again. Will it never end?

It would have been more honest to present the game as one faction of Israel encouraging the other – back and forth. After reading this one, I am wondering who Mr. Zunes is a proxy for.

~ Mike McCormick

Stephen Zunes replies:

In no way was I attempting to get Israel “off the hook” for its criminal aggression against the people of Lebanon. Israel is certainly not a banana republic. They had their own reasons for making war. At the same time, it is highly unlikely Israel would have launched such a devastating attack had it not been encouraged to do so by the Bush administration, which believed that such an attack would advance its hegemonic agenda for the region.

Previous presidents have been able to face down the “Zionist lobby” and win when they felt it was in America’s interests: Eisenhower during the Suez crisis in 1956; Carter during the first major Israeli incursion into Lebanon in 1978; Reagan with the AWACS sale in 1981; Bush Sr. in delaying the loan guarantees in 1992; and the current President Bush in 2004 over the Harpee missile sales to China, just to name a few.

In most cases, however, Washington sees Israel as a very convenient proxy and encourages the most militaristic elements of that nation’s elite to pursue policies that not only inflict enormous suffering on the Palestinians, Lebanese, and others, but are ultimately not in Israel’s or America’s interests either.

For a more detailed analysis of the strength of the “Zionist lobby” relative to other powerful interests in Washington, see my article: “The Israel Lobby: How Powerful is it Really?

Wishful Thinking

In his article “Wishful Thinking,” Nebosja Malic refers to analyst Koco Danaj as political adviser to the Albanian prime minister. That’s what the Serb foreign minister said too. Both of them know it is not true. Nebosja had more than enough time to find out that Koco Danaj has nothing on earth to do with the current prime minister of Albania. But he refers to a source that suits him. Mr. Danaj is a leftist; the current Albanian current prime minister is a right-winger. Mr. Danaj was an adviser to former socialist prime ministers, but has fallen out of grace with them too.

Please go to Danaj’s Web site, …

~ Fatos-Tirana

Nebojsa Malic replies:

I am not “refusing” to source anything, and I am deadly serious. Mr. Danaj was cited as being an adviser to Mr. Berisha by AKI, the Italian news agency whose dispatch I hyperlinked in my article. Presumably, he was mentioned as such by Epoka E Re, which is then an error on their part. Now, why would a Pristina newspaper print Mr. Danaj’s statements about “Natural Albania” and present him as more important in Tirana than he actually is, unless it agreed with his opinions? That was the point I was trying to make. But fair enough – let’s say you are right and that Mr. Danaj is a marginal figure on the Albanian political scene. Is this specific opinion he put forth a widely accepted one, or an extremist position denounced by the mainstream? So far, no one has argued it’s the latter.

Israel, Iran, and the US: Nuclear War, Here We Come

Peace at all costs – unfortunately it doesn’t work when you are dealing with a madman. Once Iran has nukes they will eliminate Israel, and then the rest of us. The president has already said he is willing to sacrifice half of Iran in order to wipe out Israel – what sort of fruitcake is that? Evil needs to be dealt with swiftly and mercilessly.

Stop being such a head-in-the-sand idiot and wake up to what is really happening. God bless Israel.

~ Jill Young

Jorge Hirsch replies:

You say, “The president has already said he is willing to sacrifice half of Iran in order to wipe out Israel.” You got that from a news report that “Israel’s former national security adviser Giora Eiland said Ahmadinejad would sacrifice half of Iran for the sake of eliminating Israel.” There are no news media reporting that Ahmadinejad said that, not a single one. Does that mean that Giora Eiland reads minds? I suggest you don’t take everything you read in the media at face value.

The Cult of the Offensive

One needn’t look at guerrilla warfare to see the limitations of the cult of offense – World War I would do. Israel and the U.S., however, are now fulfilling one of Heidegger’s sillier sayings, “all greatness lies in the assault.”

When you are pursuing “greatness,” that is, self-glorification, you can’t be bothered with whether you are actually enhancing or worsening your own security. The U.S. could be a very good country, if it would give up on being “great.”

It would help if we would stop escalating other people’s wars too. Hostile U.S. rhetoric toward Iran provides the context for the latest Israel-Hezbollah war. I disagree with conspiracy theorists; U.S. neocons are running Israeli military policy, not the other way around. VP Cheney mentioned in passing a few months ago that the Israelis might bomb Iranian nuclear facilities if Iran were not more cooperative. I bet the Israeli general staff really loved that one.

~ Tikhon Gilson

George W. Bush’s Impeachable Offenses

I enjoyed reading your article, but you have to remember that you are forgetting a few key details.

1. Clinton’s war with Kosovo was not unconstitutional. The president has the power to mobilize the military for 90 days without the need to present it before Congress. Meaning this was not an impeachable offense.

2. Ronald Reagan selling weapons to supporters of terrorists, what was happening at that time? Who was the bigger enemy? What did ALL of America fear? Oh yeah, that’s right, Russia.

3. George W. Bush invading under false pretenses is not impeachable at all. Not only did American intelligence agencies believe Iraq had or was about to produce WMD, so did Russian, German, Israeli, and British intelligence agencies. It’s not “false pretenses” if you truly believe it. And just so you know, a Gallup poll last week said that 62 percent of Americans still believe Saddam had WMD, even though they don’t support the war at this time.

4. As for the wiretaps, well, I totally disagree with everything this administration and government in general does on technology. They are a bunch of 50-plus-year-old men and women who don’t know jack about technology, and they are trying to make laws about something they don’t understand. But the PATRIOT Act did not give the government any new powers they didn’t already have. It just expanded the powers it had in regard to Mafia and gang activity to terrorist activity as well.

5. “Enemy combatants” are just that. They are not “prisoners of war.” The Geneva Convention clearly states that unless the fighters have a country, and wear a uniform with insignia that designates what military they fight for, they are not covered under the Convention. We are following the rules of war (I laugh at that because we do, and our enemy doesn’t. How can we win a war doing this?).

~ Brian Stoiber

Ivan Eland replies:

1. Clinton’s war was unconstitutional. The War Powers Act, which you cite, is unconstitutional and too lenient on the executive. War must be declared.

2. Just because the Cold War was on meant that we should have sold arms to terrorists, especially to use the money to fund a counterinsurgency in a country that was a backwater?

3. Bush and advisers clearly overstated the evidence they had for WMD. Cheney said that Saddam had reconstituted nuclear weapons. This would have been difficult, since Saddam never had nuclear weapons to reconstitute. Even if Saddam had nukes (which no one thought), he could be deterred by the superior U.S. nuke arsenal, just as Maoist China and the USSR were.

4. The PATRIOT Act did expand government powers, and it expanded them to non-terrorist cases, too.

5. “Enemy combatants” is a fictitious designation designed to avoid the Geneva Conventions, or, alternatively, if you don’t like those, U.S. guarantees under the Constitution, because some enemy combatants have been U.S. citizens.

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