The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy

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180 Robert S. Greenberger and Karby Leggett, “President’s Dream: Changing Not Just Regime but a Region: A Pro-U.S., Democratic Area is a Goal that Has Israeli and Neo Conservative Roots,” Wall Street Journal, March 21, 2003. Also see George Packer, “Dreaming of Democracy,” New York Times Magazine, March 2, 2003. Although not all neoconservatives are Jewish, most of the founders were and virtually all were strong supporters of Israel. According to Gal Beckerman in the Forward, “If there is an intellectual movement in America to whose invention Jews can lay sole claim, neoconservatism is it.” See “The Neoconservative Persuasion,” Forward, January 6, 2006.

181 See, for example, Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century, A Report for the New American Century, September 2000, p. 14.

182 Martin Indyk, “The Clinton Administration’s Approach to the Middle East,” Speech to Soref Symposium, Washington Institute for Near East Policy, May 18, 1993. Also see Anthony Lake, “Confronting Backlash States,” Foreign Affairs, Vol. 73. No. 2 (March/April 1994), pp. 45-53.

183 Barbara Conry, “America’s Misguided Policy of Dual Containment in the Persian Gulf,” Foreign Policy Briefing No. 33, CATO Institute, November 10, 1994; Gregory F. Gause III, “The Illogic of Dual Containment,” Foreign Affairs, Vol. 73. No. 2 (March/April 1994), pp. 56-66; Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft, Differentiated Containment: U.S. Policy Toward Iran and Iraq, Report of an Independent Study Group on Gulf Stability and Security, Council on Foreign Relations, New York, 1997.

184 Brzezinski and Scowcroft, Differentiated Containment, p. 6.

185 Brzezinski and Scowcroft, Differentiated Containment, p. 130.

186 For example, the Jerusalem Post noted in an editorial (September 9, 2002) that “according to Middle East expert Bernard Lewis, a post-Saddam Iraq is one that would be more likely to make peace with Israel, defang Arab radicalism, and perhaps even catalyze revolutionary forces in present-day Iran.” Similarly, Michael Ledeen wrote on August 6, 2002 in the National Review Online (“Scowcroft Strikes Out”) that, “If ever there was a region that richly deserved being cauldronized, it is the Middle East today. If we wage the war effectively, we will bring down the terror regimes in Iraq, Iran, and Syria, and either bring down the Saudi monarchy or force it to abandon its global assembly line to indoctrinate young terrorists.” On August 19, Joshua Muravchik argued in the New York Times (“Democracy’s Quiet Victory”) that, “Change toward democratic regimes in Tehran and Baghdad would unleash a tsunami across the Islamic world.” Also see Marina Ottaway et al., “Democratic Mirage in the Middle East,” Policy Brief #20 (Washington, D.C: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, October 2002).

187 Charles Krauthammer, “Peace through Democracy,” Washington Post, June 28, 2002.

188 Benn, “Background.” Also, the New York Times reported that Halevy gave a speech in Munich in February 2003 in which he said, “The shock waves emerging from post-Saddam Baghdad could have wide-ranging effects in Tehran, Damascus, and in Ramallah.” The Times article went on to say that Israel “is hoping that once Saddam Hussein is dispensed with, the dominoes will start to tumble. According to this hope … moderates and reformers throughout the region would be encouraged to put new pressure on their own governments, not excepting the Palestinian Authority of Yasir Arafat.” Bennet, “Israel Says War on Iraq Would Benefit the Region.” This same theme is reflected in a Forward article from early March 2003, which said that “Israel’s top political, military and economic echelons have come to regard the looming war as a virtual deus ex machina that will turn the political and economic tables and extricate Israel from its current morass.” Shalev, “Jerusalem Frets.” Finally, this line of thinking was apparent in former Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s previously-discussed September 4, 2002, op-ed in the New York Times. Barak maintained that “putting an end to Saddam Hussein’s regime will change the geopolitical landscape of the Arab world.” He claimed that “An Arab world without Saddam Hussein would enable many from this generation [leaders about to come into power] to embrace the gradual democratic opening that some of the Persian Gulf states and Jordan have begun to enjoy.” Barak also maintained that toppling Saddam would “create an opening for forward movement on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

189 See Seymour M. Hersh, “The Syrian Bet,” New Yorker, Vol. 79, issue 20 (July 28, 2003), pp. 32-36; Molly Moore, “Sharon Asks U.S. to Pressure Syria on Militants,” Washington Post, April 17, 2003; Ori Nir, “Jerusalem Urges Bush: Next Target Hezbollah,” Forward, April 11, 2003; Idem, “Sharon Aide Makes the Case for U.S. Action against Syria, Forward, April 18, 2003; Marc Perelman, “Behind Warnings to Damascus: Reassessment of Younger Assad,” Forward, April 18, 2004; Daniel Sobelman and Nathan Guttman, “PM Urges U.S. to Keep Heat on Syria, Calls Assad ‘Dangerous’,” Ha’aretz, April 15, 2003.

190 Moore, “Sharon Asks U.S.”

191 Nir, “Sharon Aide.” Also see Karen DeYoung, “U.S. Toughens Warnings to Syria on Iraq, Other Issues,” Washington Post, April 15, 2003.

192 Nir, “Sharon Aide.” Also see Perelman, “Behind Warnings.” In their efforts to demonize Syria and bait the United States into attacking it, Israelis have said that Damascus was harboring high-level Iraqis from Saddam’s regime, and even worse, hiding Iraq’s WMD. Perelman, “Behind Warnings”; Laurie Copans, “Israeli Military Boss Claims Iraq Had Chemical Weapons,” Associated Press news release, April 26, 2004; Ira Stoll, “Saddam’s WMD Moved to Syria, An Israeli Says,” New York Sun, December 15, 2005; Idem, “Iraq’s WMD Secreted in Syria, Sada Says,” New York Sun, January 26, 2006. In August 2003, when a suicide truck bomber blew up UN headquarters in Baghdad, Israel’s ambassador to the UN caused a diplomatic spat by suggesting that Syria had provided the truck, thereby implying that Syria was partly responsible. Michael Casey, “Israeli Ambassador Believes Truck Used in U.N. Bombing Came from Syria,” Associated Press news release, August 21, 2003; “Israeli Envoy Links Syria to UN Blast, Stirs Flap,” Reuters news release, August 21, 2003. Itmar Rabinowich, the former Israeli ambassador to the United States, told Seymour Hersh that he “wondered … whether, given the quality of their sources, the Syrians had had advance information about the September 11th plot – and failed to warn the United States.” Hersh, “The Syrian Bet.” There was little evidence to support these charges, but Israel’s willingness to make them shows how eager they were to get the United States embroiled with yet another Arab regime.

193 Syria had been in the Lobby’s gunsights well before 9/11. In fact, Syria, not Iraq, was the main target in the “Clean Break” study that Feith, Perle, and Wurmser wrote for Netanyahu in 1996. And Daniel Pipes and Ziad Abdelnour, the head of the U.S. Committee for a Free Lebanon (USCFL), had co-authored a 2000 report calling for the United States to use military threats to force Syria to remove its troops from Lebanon, get rid of any WMD it might have, and stop supporting terrorism. (“Ending Syria’s Occupation of Lebanon: The U.S. Role,” Report of the Middle East Study Group, Middle East Forum, May 2000.) The UCSFL is a close cousin of the Lobby, and it includes numerous neoconservatives (Abrams, Feith, Ledeen, Perle, and Wurmser) among its “official core supporters.” Jordan Green, “Neocons Dream of Lebanon,” ZNet, July 23, 2003; David R. Sands, “Hawks Recycle Arguments for Iraq War against Syria,” Washington Times, April 16, 2003. Except for Ledeen, they all signed the 2000 report, as did pro-Israel Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY), another core supporter of UCSFL.

194 Nathan Guttman, “Some Senior U.S. Figures Say Syria Has Crossed the Red Line,” Ha’aretz, Aril 14, 2004; Michael Flynn, “The War Hawks: The Right Flexes Muscle with New U.S. Agenda,” Chicago Tribune, April 13, 2003. In addition to Perle and Wolfowitz, John Bolton pushed hard from inside the Administration for regime change in Syria. He had told Israeli leaders a month before the Iraq war that the Bush Administration would deal with Syria, as well as Iran and North Korea, right after Saddam fell from power. Flynn, “The Right Flexes Muscle.” In pursuit of that goal, Bolton reportedly prepared to tell Congress in mid-July that Syria’s WMD programs had reached the point where they were a serious threat to stability in the Middle East and had to be dealt with sooner rather than later. However, the CIA and other government agencies objected, claiming that Bolton’s analysis greatly inflated the Syrian threat. Consequently, the Administration did not allow Bolton to give his testimony on Syria at that time. Douglas Jehl, “New Warning Was Put Off on Weapons Syria Plans,” New York Times, July 18, 2003; Marc Perelman, “State Department Hawk under Fire in Intelligence Flap over Syria,” Forward, July 25, 2003; Warren P. Strobel and Jonathan S. Landay, “Intelligence Data on Syria Now Disputed,” Philadelphia Inquirer, July 17, 2003. Yet Bolton was not put off for long. He appeared before Congress in September 2003 and described Syria as a growing threat to U.S. interests in the Middle East. Nathan Guttman, “US: Syria Supporting Terror, Developing Weapons of Mass Destruction,” Ha’aretz, September 16 2003.

195 Quoted in Robin Wright, “U.S. Insists Syria Alter Its Course,” Los Angeles Times, April 14, 2003. Also see Martin Indyk’s and Dennis Ross’s tough-minded rhetoric about Syria in Hersh, “The Syrian Bet.”

196 Lawrence F. Kaplan, “White Lie,” New Republic, April 21& 28, 2003. Also see William Kristol and Lawrence F. Kaplan, The War over Iraq: Saddam’s Tyranny ad America’s Mission (New York: Encounter Books, 2003).

197 DeYoung, “U.S. Toughens Stance.” There was a story in Ha’aretz (“NY Congressman Says Will Push Bill to Pressure Syria”) on August 19, 2003, which reported that Engel had just met with Sharon in his Jerusalem Office for 90 minutes and the Israeli leader had endorsed Engel’s efforts to push the Syria Accountability Act. Regarding the specifics of that legislation, see Zvi Bar’el, “Deciphering the Syrians, Ha’aretz, July 9, 2003; “The Return of the Syria Accountability Act,”, April 19, 2003; Claude Salhani, “The Syria Accountability Act: Taking the Wrong Road to Damascus,” Policy Analysis, No. 512, CATO Institute, March 18, 2004. Not surprisingly, Richard Perle called on Congress to pass the Syria Accountability Act shortly after Engel re-introduced the legislation. Sands, “Hawks Recycle Arguments.”

198 Ron Kampeas, “Bush, Once Reluctant on Sanctions, Prepares to Take a Tough Line with Syria,” JTA, March 16, 2004.

199 Salhani, “The Syria Accountability Act,” p. 5.

200 Julian Borger, “Bush Vetoes Syria War Plan,” Guardian, April 15, 2003; Kampeas, “Bush, Once Reluctant.”

201 See Hersh, “The Syrian Bet.” Other pieces discussing the advantages for the United states of cooperating with Syria include Spencer Ackerman, “Rough Trade,” New Repulic, January 13, 2003; Susan Taylor Martin, “Experts Disagree on Dangers of Syria,” St. Petersburg Times, November 3, 2002; Salhani, “The Syria Accountability Act”; Stephen Zunes, “Bush Has Clear Run at Syria,” Asia Times Online, March 2, 2005.

202 Two articles that appeared in the Forward after Baghdad fell describe the driving forces behind the new U.S. policy toward Syria. In a piece in mid-April, the author noted: “A sudden flurry of U.S. warnings to Syria in recent days indicates that Washington has undertaken what Israel and its supporters here have been urging for months: a comprehensive reassessment of Syrian ruler Bashar Assad.” Perelman, “Behind Warnings.” A few months later in mid-July, another author noted: “During the past several months, top Israeli officials have warned their American counterparts and audiences about Assad’s unreliability. American officials have echoed the stance and press reports have speculated about possible American military intervention in Syria.” Marc Perelman, “Syria Makes Overture over Negotiations,” Forward, July 11, 2003.

203 Quoted in Alan Sipress, “Israel Emphasizes Iranian Threat,” Washington Post, February 7, 2002. This article, which was written as Sharon was arriving in Washington, makes clear that Tel Aviv was “redoubling its efforts to warn the Bush administration that Iran poses a greater threat than the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein.” Also see Seymour Hersh, “The Iran Game,” New Yorker, Vol. 77, issue 38 (December 3, 2001), pp. 42-49; Peter Hirschberg, “Background/Peres Raises Iranian Threat,” Ha’aretz, February 5, 2002; David Hirst, “Israel Thrusts Iran in Line of US Fire,” Guardian, February 2, 2002; “Israel Once Again Sees Iran as A Cause for Concern,” Ha’aretz, May 7, 2001.

204 Stephen Farrell, Robert Thomson, and Danielle Haas, “Attack Iran the Day Iraq War Ends, Demands Israel,” The Times (London), September 5, 2002; Stephen Farrell and Robert Thomson, “The Times Interview with Ariel Sharon,” in ibid.

205 “Ambassador to U.S. Calls for ‘Regime Change’ in Iran, Syria,” Ha’aretz, April 28, 2003. Ten days later the New York Times reported that the Washington was growing increasingly concerned about Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and that there is “a lot of hammering from the Israelis for us to take this position seriously.” Steven R. Weisman, “New U.S. Concerns on Iran’s Pursuit of Nuclear Arms,” New York Times, May 8, 2003. Shimon Peres then published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on June 25 entitled, “We Must Unite to Prevent an Ayatollah Nuke.” His description of the Iranian threat sounded just like his earlier description of the threat from Saddam, even including a ritual reference to the lessons of appeasement in the 1930s. Iran, he emphasized, must be told in no uncertain terms that the United States and Israel will not tolerate it going nuclear.

206 In late May 2003, Inter Press Service reported that, “The neo-cons’ efforts to now focus US attention on ‘regime change’ in Iran has become much more intense since early May and already has borne substantial fruit.” Jim Lobe, “U.S. Neo-Cons Move Quickly on Iran,” Inter Press Service, May 28, 2003. In early June, the Forward reported that, “Neoconservatives inside and outside the administration have been urging an active effort to promote regime change in Tehran. Reports of possible covert actions have surfaced in recent weeks.” Marc Perelman, “Pentagon Team on Iran Comes under Fire,” Forward, June 6, 2003. Also see idem, “White House Is Aiming to Raise Iranian Nukes at U.N. Security Council,” Forward, May 9, 2003; Idem, “New Front Sets Sights on Toppling Iran Regime,” Forward, May 16, 2003. Finally, the Lobby has established close relations with Reza Pahlavi, the son of the late Shah of Iran. He is even reported to have had meetings with Netanyahu and Sharon. This relationship is similar to the Lobby’s relationship with Ahmed Chalabi. Specifically, pro-Israel forces promote Pahlavi, and in return, he makes clear that if he comes to power in Iran, it will have good relations with Israel. Connie Bruck, “Exiles: How Iran’s Expatriates Are Gaming the Nuclear Threat,” New Yorker, Vol. 82, issue 2 (March 6, 2006), pp. 48- 63; Perelman, “New Front.”

207 The flyer advertising the conference, which was entitled “The Future of Iran: Mullahcracy, Democracy and the War on Terror,” can be found at a number of sites on the web. Also see Green, “Neocons Dream of Lebanon”; Lobe, “U.S. Neo-Cons Move Quickly.”

208 William Kristol, “The End of the Beginning,” Weekly Standard, February 12, 2003. Others writing articles at the time include Daniel Pipes and Patrick Clawson, who wrote a piece on May 20 for the Jerusalem Post entitled “Turn up the Pressure on Iran.” They called for the Bush Administration to support the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, a terrorist organization based in Iraq that was bent on overthrowing the ayatollahs running Iran. Lawrence Kaplan argued in the New Republic (“Iranamok”) on June 9 that the US needed to get tougher with Iran over its nuclear programs, which he feared were further along than most American policymakers recognized. Michael Ledeen, one of the leading hawks on Iran, wrote in the National Review Online (“The Others”) on April 4: “There is no more time for diplomatic ‘solutions.’ We will have to deal with the terror masters, here and now. Iran, at least, offers us the possibility of a memorable victory, because the Iranian people openly loath the regime, and will enthusiastically combat it, if only the United States supports them in their just struggle.”

209 For evidence of the Lobby’s intensified efforts to get the Bush Administration to deal with the Iranian nuclear problem, see Stewart Ain, “Israel Urging U.S. to Stop Iran Nukes,” Jewish Week, October 7, 2005; Efraim Inbar, “The Imperatives to Use Force against Iranian Nuclearization,” BESA Center [Bar-Ilan University, Israel] Perspectives, Number 12, December 1, 2005; Martin S. Indyk, “Iran’s Bluster Isn’t A Bluff,” Los Angeles Times, November 1, 2005; Ron Kampeas, “With Time Short on Iran Nukes, AIPAC Criticizes Bush Approach,” JTA, December 2, 2005; Charles Krauthammer, “In Iran, Arming for Armageddon,” Washington Post, December 16, 2005; Dafna Linzer, “Pro- Israel Group Criticizes White House Policy on Iran,” Washington Post, December 25, 2005; Ori Nir, “New Sanction Bill Loses Momentum as Administration Presses Diplomacy,” Forward, June 10, 2005; Idem, “Jewish Groups Push for Iran Sanctions,” Forward, September 23, 2005; Idem, “Israeli Aides Warn U.S. Not to Drop Ball on Iran,” Forward, December 9, 2005; Michael Rubin et al., “War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World,” American Enterprise Institute, November 30, 2005; Rowan Scarborough, “Israel Pushes U.S. on Iran Nuke Solution,” Washington Times, February 21, 2005.

210 Some neoconservatives even welcome this outcome. For example, Robert Kagan and William Kristol wrote in the aftermath of 9/11 that, “Afghanistan will prove but an opening battle …. this war will not end in Afghanistan. It is going to spread and engulf a number of countries in conflicts of varying intensity. It could well require the use of American military power in multiple places simultaneously. It is going to resemble the clash of civilizations that everyone has hoped to avoid.” “The Gathering Storm,” Weekly Standard, October 29, 2002. Also see Eliot A. Cohen, “World War IV,” Wall Street Journal, November 20, 2001; Phil McCombs, “The Fire This Time,” Washington Post, April 13, 2003; Norman Podhoretz, “How to Win World War IV,” Commentary, February 2002; Idem, “World War IV: How It Started, What It Means, and Why We Have to Win,” Commentary, September 2004; Brian Whitaker, “Playing Skittles with Saddam,” Guardian, September 3, 2002.

211 Ron Kampeas, “After Restructuring, AIPAC Plans to Focus on Wider Range of Issues,” JTA, September 26, 2005.

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