May 17, 2010

A recent report by Scott McConnell, editor-at-large of The American Conservative, that Emperor BarackO, Proconsul Hillary Clinton, and the Praetorian General, David Petraeus, have “crossed the Rubicon” in dealing with the runaway province called Israel has turned out to be an exercise in wishful thinking. If these three leaders of “the lone surviving superpower” did in fact wander across the river and off the reservation, so to speak, they have now come to their senses and made a hasty retreat back across the river and back onto the reservation.

What is more, they are making a conspicuous show of it, and this is certainly no accident. Their retreat is one of necessity. Read about the highlights in a priceless article in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency from a few weeks ago. Written by Ron Kampeas, JTA’s Washington bureau chief, it is entitled “Obama spreads the love, keeping Jewish leaders happy—for now”. It sounds like there is more to come.

Some might argue that this orchestrated love-fest is just a maneuver, a feint, before Team Obama reasserts its prerogative and stops “the Jewish state” tail from wagging “the American empire” dog. That would be the apotheosis of wishful thinking, however, based on the false assumption that Israel is just another sovereign country in the constellation of “the international community”—albeit one with unique, mitigating problems. Much more likely, Team Obama has decided not to buck a long-term geopolitical trend when it comes to dealing with an entrenched Washington pressure group that refuses to take no for an answer.

“Our Peace Prize President and his entourage have come to the realization that they should have stuck with the pre existing program as it relates to this American-enabled enterprise in the Middle East.”

Barack, Hillary and General Petraeus are swallowing a wake-up-to-reality pill. The reality amounts to this: the Emperor enthroned in Washington has been reduced to a factotum when it comes to Israel and Pax Israeliana. Our Peace Prize President and his entourage have come to the realization that they should have stuck with the pre existing program as it relates to this American-enabled enterprise in the Middle East. In the aftermath of World War II, most occupants of the White House have stuck to it—or faced extreme political consequences. We are talking about campaign contributions, media relations, and votes. 

At ground zero in 1948, U.S. Presidential favorite, the Republican governor of New York, Thomas E. Dewey, comes to mind. He was a shoo-in for the White House until Democrat operative Clark Clifford had a brainstorm which he imparted to Harry Truman. Clifford’s advice was to recognize an enclave of Zionist settlers in Palestine as a sovereign nation carved out of Palestine. The suggestion ran counter to storm warnings from the distinguished Secretary of State, George C. Marshall, and to the protests of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and to the dire pleadings of Truman’s precocious Secretary of Defense, James Forrestal. As commander in chief, Truman had the final word. He overruled State and Defense. He succumbed to raw domestic politics.

Or consider the fate of ex-Navy submarine officer Jimmy Carter and ex-CIA chief George H.W. Bush, when they tried to stick around for a second Presidential term, after showing initiative with respect to the Middle East “peace process”. Both defeats, in 1980 and 1992, were dramatically impacted by an Israel Lobby galvanized into action. In one case, Carter had rubbed former Irgun terrorist leader Menachem Begin the wrong way. Begin was horrified that Carter might expand the land-for-peace formula from Egypt and the Sinai desert to Palestine and the occupied West Bank. In the other case, Bush I and his Secretary of State, James A. Baker III, made an outrageous attempt to block, in the aftermath of Operation Desert Storm, a U.S. loan guarantee for Jewish settlements on the West Bank. Can you imagine? Bush and Baker backed down under pressure from Congress and the usual suspects, but not fast enough to please the pressurizers.

Bucking the trend and succeeding, President Eisenhower in 1957 threatened economic sanctions to reverse Israel’s invasion of Sinai, after Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal. And JFK to his credit did attempt to block Tel Aviv from acquiring the A-Bomb, but without success. The nuclear issue haunts us today. Washington’s hypocrisy of calling for a nuclear-free Middle East—at the same time that Washington’s regional partner is the only kid on the block who possesses a nuclear weapons factory—is stupefying. No wonder the IAEA is persona non grata in Israel.

JFK’s successor led the way into a new era, our own. LBJ’s handling of the 1967 Israeli attack upon the USS Liberty was unprecedented. With LBJ, Washington quietly embraced the concept that subordination of America’s national interests to the dictates of Tel Aviv could pass muster as U.S. foreign policy, even if it meant allowing Tel Aviv to attack an important U.S. Navy vessel with impunity. Dick Cheney and his sidekick, Bush II, have been the most outstanding practitioners of the subordination policy to date. The gratuitous invasion of Iraq—at the instigation of the Neocons—was their crowning achievement. Barack and Hillary seem determined to repeat a comparable fool’s errand with Iran, not to mention Afghanistan.

In the wake of the Cheney Regency, Barack and Hillary are simply trying to make this long-standing scandal, whereby U.S. domestic politics dictate U.S. foreign policy, appear less obvious to the casual observer. Concurrently, they want to continue to garner the rewards that helped get them where they are. Who can blame them? It is becoming increasingly difficult to disguise what is going on, but Barack and Hillary, especially Hillary, have a lot of experience. Moreover, they talk flapdoodle in a convincing and sincere manner, especially Barack. They are succeeding. The charade continues.


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