Lobby? What Lobby?

How is it that you can get away with criticizing US policy in Iraq — a place where US strategic interest is directly at stake — but criticizing the relationship with Israel — a mere tool according to the establishment Left to forward US strategic interests — costs you ‘position and income‘, as Michael Scheuer reports from first hand experience? Note also the unceremonious sidelining of Anthony Zinni, the man slated to be Obama’s special envoy for Iraq, shortly after the Lobby intervened.

Last December, I spoke to the nonpartisan Jamestown Foundation’s annual conference on al-Qaeda. My talk was a worldwide survey of how America’s war against Islamism had gone in 2008; an analysis of al-Qaeda’s current fortunes and growth potential; and an assessment of whether U.S. policies were adequately protecting genuine U.S. national interests as the Obama administration began. I concluded that 2008 was a year of setbacks for America, and that the future appeared rather bleak.

For the speech, I took as my text a truncated version of the introduction I wrote for the paperback edition of my book, Marching Toward Hell: America and Islam After Iraq. In preparing the new text I was pleased to find my predictions in the hardcover had been accurate, but saddened that Americans had not faced the fact that our Islamist foes are motivated by U.S. foreign policies and their impact. One policy I am critical of in Marching Toward Hell is the nature of the U.S.-Israel relationship. I argued that unqualified, bipartisan support for Israel damages U.S. national security, and I damned those who identify critics of the relationship as anti-American, anti-Semitic, or, in my case, according to AIPAC leader Morris J. Amitay, a man who would make Mein Kampf “required reading” at the CIA.

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Security in Iraq: Relatively Speaking

Relative security.
Despite security gains in Iraq, civilians still struggle to gain some sense of normalcy. (Photo: Getty Images)

Our dear friend Dahr Jamail, winner of the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Prize, is back in Iraq and here are his impressions.  He writes, ‘yes, one could say security is better if one is clear that it is better in comparison not to downtown Houston but to Fallujah 2004’.  As for employment, Dahr reports that the line of work with highest job security is that of the grave digger.

If there is to be any degree of honesty in our communication, we must begin to acknowledge that the lexicon of words that describes the human condition is no longer universally applicable.

I am in Iraq after four years away.

Most Iraqis I talked with on the eve of the first provincial elections being held after 2005 told me “security is better.”

I myself was lulled into a false sense of security upon my arrival a week ago. Indeed, security is “better,” compared to my last trip here, when the number of attacks per month against the occupation forces and Iraqi collaborators used to be around 6,000. Today, we barely have one American soldier being killed every other day and only a score injured weekly. Casualties among Iraqi security forces are just ten times that number.

But yes, one could say security is better if one is clear that it is better in comparison not to downtown Houston but to Fallujah 2004.

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Sectarian Rabble-Rousing

Al-Ahram Weekly, the English language twin of the Arabic daily, is an Egyptian state organ. The Weekly has a broader range of opinion than the tame daily, and does often contain interesting articles. The great Palestinian thinker Azmi Bishara, for instance, can be found in the Weekly. Unfortunately, however, Egyptian regime nonsense concerning the Persian-Shia ‘threat’ is also fed into the mix. This article by Galal Nassar is a sad example. Below is my response to his piece:

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A Capped Volcano of Suffering

Friend of Pulse, independent journalist Dahr Jamail is in Iraq to report on the elections.  Here he explains the differences in Iraq since his last trip and describes the mood as having changed from one of hope to one like a capped volcano of suffering:

Baghdad today [Thursday 29 January], on the eve of provincial elections, feels like it has emerged from several years of horrendous violence, but do not be misled. Every Iraqi I’ve spoken with feels it is tenuous, the still-fragile lull too young to trust.

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Oil and the Israel Lobby

by M. Shahid Alam

In the slow evolution of US relations with Israel since 1948, as the latter mutated from a strategic liability to a strategic asset, Israel and its Jewish allies in the United States have always occupied the driver’s seat.

President Truman had shepherded the creation of Israel in 1947 not because the American establishment saw it as a strategic asset; this much is clear. “No one,” writes Cheryl Rubenberg, “not even the Israelis themselves, argues that the United States supported the creation of the Jewish state for reasons of security or national interest.”(1) Domestic politics, in an election year, was the primary force behind President Truman’s decision to support the creation of Israel. In addition, the damage to US interests due to the creation of Israel – although massive – was not immediate. This was expected to unfold slowly: and its first blows would be borne by the British who were still the paramount power in the region.

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