When interests collide – The US, Israel and Iran

Shihab_wa Quite a few Americans are now beginning to grasp the idea that Israel is a foreign country, a country which seeks to advance its perceived or real self-interest in all matters. 

In the past, most Americans have thought of Israel as a kind of "suburb" of Miami or New York City that just happened to be in the Middle East.  Anti-semitism is largely a thing of the past in the US.  What has taken the place of that particular bigotry has been a paternalistic  affection for Israel as an outpost of Western and indeed American values in the Arab World.  How did that happen?

Movies and television productions like "Exodus" have been a continuing feature of American life for at least fifty years.  The Holocaust Museum in Washington is a major feature of capital region tourism and high school class trips from all over the country.   Protestant evangelicals have a special place for Israel in their system of belief.  The cumulative effect of these and similar phenomena has been to create the illusion that US and Israeli interests are identical and likely to be always identical.  This notion is both sentimental and egregious.

Israel is a country which was established to foster the interests of a particular ethno-religious group over all others.  In that way Israel and Pakistan have much in common.

The United States is a country that revers the idea of freedom of and from religion.  The United States has always sought the melding of its populations into one, new and hybridized group.  This has not always been successful but it has remained the "national" zeitgeist for a long time. 

These ideological goals are fundamentally in opposition to each other.

Now we have the case of Iran and its putative nuclear weapons program.  The US intelligence community judged in the latest NIE on the subject that the Iranians are far, far from the ability to design and manufacture a nuclear warhead that could be "mated" to the Shihab-3 missiles that Iran fired recently in what was probably a counter threat to the the US and Israel.  Mitt Romney said on television this morning that he doubts the judgments of that NIE.  What his qualification would be for making such a judgment is another subject.  Could it be that a foreign intelligence service has briefed him on its own judgments and he prefers those judgments?

The Israeli government and its intelligence services do not subscribe to the logic of nuclear deterrence.  Being possessed of only two major targetable population zones (Tel Aviv and Haifa) they correctly reason that they can not possibly"ride out" a counter-value first strike by an adversary.  Following that logic they believe they must eliminate any potential nuclear threat before it materializes.  The intentions of such an adversary and the ability to deter capabilities are not something they are willing to gamble on.  Of even more immediate concern to the Israelis is the clear diminution in their ability to militarily and diplomatically dominate the future that would accompany acquisition of a deliverable nuclear capability by any of its neighbors or even the possession of a plausible and unpredictable future nuclear capability by any of the same countries.

The United States has very different interests in this matter.  Iraq.  Iraq.  Iraq.  The US project in Iraq pins the United States to the maintenance for some years of a substantial force in that country.  That force is a kind of hostage to peace between the US and Iran.  Logistics, and the sheer numbers of possible Iranian influenced combatants in Iraq are major potential threats to the US force in Iraq.

In addition; the vulnerability of the oil transport route out of the Gulf, the unavailability of US ground forces for a new war, the further wreckage that would be inflicted on the US political position in the world, and the havoc that would be wrought on the oil futures and spot markets are major factors that the US should consider in deciding on a course of action vis a vis Iran.

Most importantly, Iran is not anything like a threat to the United States.  It might be someday, but that time is a long way off.  The present threat is to the Middle East nd to Israel specifically.

Israel and its partisans are now engaged in seeking enough "leverage" to have the US do their will in this matter.  Let us sober up in the United States and remember that we are the dog and they are the tail. pl

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79 Responses to When interests collide – The US, Israel and Iran

  1. David Solomon says:

    Colonel Lang,
    Thank you for a succinct and well balanced piece on Israel.
    As you well know, such articles are rarely seen in the United States.
    David E. Solomon

  2. Aigin says:

    Over 30 years ago, I remarked offhandedly to a Jewish acquaintance of mine that we shouldn’t assume that the interests of Israel and the United States are always identical. He basically never spoke to me again. This is a very deep-seated belief — so deep-seated that it has become an article of faith.

  3. Cieran says:

    Colonel Lang:
    Thanks for such an excellent summary of that which should be obvious to all Americans, yet seldom is, despite its fundamental importance to this nation.
    As always, your perspicacity and wisdom in world affairs serves as a welcome oasis in the god-forsaken desert that is the modern media.

  4. jr786 says:

    Great post. I can already see the pretzel logic forming in the minds of our Aipac beholden Presidential candidates:
    “Iran is a threat to Israel. But if we attack Iran it will put our troops in jeopardy. Thus the only way we can safely attack Iran is by pulling all of our troops out of Iraq. Quit. Iraq. Now.”

  5. Kolya says:

    Iran has announced that it will retaliate for an Israeli strike on their nuclear facilities by attacking American interests in the Gulf. So Iran is holding the U.S. responsible for the actions of another sovereign state – Israel.
    In your opinion should we restrain Israel from pursuit of it’s national interests because Iran is threatening us?
    If Israel is reacting to an existential threat from Iran and Iran is holding us responsible for that reaction, might it not make sense for us to be prepared to fight Iran before it goes nuclear? Is conflict between Iran and Israel less likely after Iran gets the bomb? Iran’s leaders have made many promises to the wider Muslim world about Israel – might they not feel pressure to follow through?

  6. JohnH says:

    You do an excellent job pointing out the very distinct founding values of the Jewish state and of the United States’ freedom of religion and freedom from religion.
    The only real, imminent threat that Iran poses to the United States is the example it sets. Imagine if the rest of the Middle East decided to follow Iran’s path of independence from the hegemonist? What if the whole Persian Gulf decided to protect its energy resources itself instead of letting one remote, alien country be its protector? What if the Persian Gulf decided to sell its oil using long term contracts, guaranteeing energy security to buyer and seller alike? What if China used its immense trove of dollars to win the bidding?
    The US’ greatest fear is an independent Middle East. But it’s far from clear that the Middle East can be bombed into submission, hence the hegemonist’s dilemma.

  7. ExBrit says:

    Interesting question from Kolya If Israel is reacting to an existential threat from Iran and Iran is holding us responsible for that reaction, might it not make sense for us to be prepared to fight Iran before it goes nuclear?
    Perhaps it might make sense, but it makes the US little more than a puppet of Israel. I think it makes infinitely more sense to engage the Iranians, diplomatically speaking, before hand.

  8. Patrick Lang says:

    The Gulf states are inherently incapable of defending themselves against any even semi serious military threat. Too few people. Too many people who want the good life and nothing else.
    They do sell their own oil on the basis of long term contracts. It is what is left over as well as the future of long term prices that are the subject of the present excitement.
    China? A problem, but one that the Gulfies are wary of. pl

  9. Spider Rider says:

    You are right, Israel is nation with a different charter from the US.
    Unfortunately, this lack of strategic perception on the part of US politicians, and others, has resulted in horrific foreign policy mistakes, particularly within the last eight years.
    But it should always be remembered the Jews, and therefore the Israelis, are a population at risk, always, someone is ALWAYS scapegoating the Jewish population, and it is simply intolerable. Good moral, and strategic, sense is to continue to offer support to those who would be harmed by the irrational. IMO, this policy should extend to Europe, and others, too.
    Does our relationship with Israel need to be reevaluated?
    Top priority, pl’s last statement in regard to the US being the dog, and Israel the tail, is correct, something which should always be understood when formulating Middle Eastern policy.
    But leaving Israel to it’s own defenses would, in the end, HARM US strategic defense, worldwide.
    It would also be morally repugnant, given historical precedence.
    Perhaps we need to see Israel as more analogous to a NATO member.
    As with the US, I always try to distinguish between the Israeli people, and it’s current government.

  10. linda says:

    good luck, trying to get that public dialogue going of u.s. interests not always in line with israeli interests.
    esp when you factor in the conveyors of that information are the courtiers giggling along as st john ‘jokes’ about killing iranians by selling then cigarettes (you can hear them on the video).
    just gotta love the level of political discourse in this country.

  11. JoeC says:

    “Being possessed of only two major targetable population zones (Tel Aviv and Haifa) they correctly reason that they can not possible “ride out” a counter-value first strike by an adversary. Following that logic they believe they must eliminate any potential nuclear threat before it materializes.”
    Does Israel believe that it is possible to forever militarily eliminate potential nuclear threats – given what we have seen of proliferation to date and the pace of technology evolution? This would seem an unrealistic and potentially ineffective approach to this problem.

  12. TomB says:

    Spider Rider wrote:
    “But leaving Israel to it’s own defenses would, in the end, HARM US strategic defense, worldwide….”
    How? Please God tell us how.
    First of all, those “defenses” of Israel’s are in large measure ones *we* have *already* provided them via untold billions of aid over the years, and which indeed have often been used *offensively* in violation of the specific conditions we put on their use, and which weapons have established and maintained Israel as the *overwhelming* power of the entire Middle East. (Which hegemony it clearly intends on holding onto forever which is why it won’t agree to a nuke-free ME which can *only* be explained by it wanting to hang on to its nuke monopoly in the region forever.)
    So how would it hurt us? By … going back to the time before we became Israel’s cats-paw and when we had not only good relations but indeed the respect of the arab world for being anti-colonialists?
    How? By … following our own interests (God forbid!) and not making enemies of the people who sit on oceans of oil? (And boy I’d just love to see your reaction to the idea of Israel following any interests other than its own, and indeed invite you to give us one single example of it ever doing so. The Lavon affair? The U.S.S. Liberty? Recruiting Pollard against us?)
    How? By … removing the hypocrisy of us as the supposed leader or at least big believer in democracy and human rights endlessly supporting a regime that has not only stolen another people’s land but then ethnically cleansed the hell out of them too and now denies the remnant the right of self-determination?
    Please God … how?
    And Spider Rider further wrote:
    “It would also be morally repugnant, given historical precedence.”
    Why? Please God tell us why. In more detail than just some cant about the Holocaust, which we didn’t commit and indeed put a stop to.
    Why? When …. Israel’s situation is absolutely and entirely one of its own making at least since 1967 when it launched a war, started stealing and colonizing that land and persisted in doing so despite us and the rest of the world telling Israel to stop and that continuing to do so would only mean endless trouble for itl?
    Why? When we’re talking about a country that just last year or so scattered over a million anti-personnel bomblets indiscriminately over another country it had just invaded and was pulling out of, for absolutely no discernable reason whatsoever other than to communicate to the simple people of that other country and indeed the world what Israel apparently thinks of non-Israelis.
    For God’s sake tell us why.

  13. Duncan Kinder says:

    Let me get this straight:
    Iran is now fueling the Chinese economy so it can lend money to the United States so it can provide Israel with aid so it can attack Iran.
    That pretty much sums things up, doesn’t it?

  14. Charles I says:

    Kolya: In its present political configuration the U.S. does not have the means, let alone the inclination, to restrain Israel in any manner whatsoever.
    Spider Rider: the only threat to Israel is Israel itself. Present support for the last in an endless series of international scoff-law expansionist colonial regimes is morally repugnant and deleterious to both nations in every way. I’ve said before, one day Israel might wake up to UAS or a world for that matter, that decides chopping off the tail might save the pooch – and its true masters a lot of headaches.
    There is a very amusing, very interesting, very disturbing look inside the Israeli government’s domestic and international politics in a new book by Gregory Levey: Shut Up I’m Talking: and other diplomacy lessons I learned in the Israeli ogvernment, a memoir. Levey, a young Canadian studying law in NYC applied for an internship at the Israeli UN Mission, which doesn’t offer internships. Instead, he was hired as a speech-writer, stood in at a UN vote on nuclear proliferation without any instructions whatsoever, and eventually found himself working inside Ariel Sharon’s government as a speech-writer, observing the birth of Kadima and the unilateral withdrawal strategy from atop the process. His observations on the dramatic differences between Israelis and diaspora Jews are priceless and illuminate many Israeli behaviours in a new light.
    Its a treasure trove of direct observation delivered as a rollicking good tale.

  15. anna missed says:

    “Iraq, Iraq, Iraq.”
    Pretty neatly sums up the present predicament. Because none of this overblown Hitleresque characterization of Iran was necessary before we invaded and occupied Iraq. You (pl) rightly assess that the U.S. is, because it now occupies Iraq, has put itself in the difficult/impossible position of trying to mediate Iranian influence in Iraq. This has been made doubly more difficult/impossible given that we have allowed the sectarian interest (SIIC/Badr) most sympathetic to Iran to assume state power in Iraq. And in order to maintain any semblance of security in that country, we have facilitated a monopoly of violence against all other factions, all of which are either anti-Iranian, Iraqi nationalist, or at least less pro-Iranian, than the sitting government. This hopeless state of affairs is reflected in the current anti-Iranian hysteria, as an overwrought attempt to ween the Iraqi government from its historic affiliations with Iran. As if to illustrate/blackmail in no uncertain terms that; Your future as an ally of Iran is limited and in jeopardy- by our ability and willpower to destroy Iran if we deem it necessary. For which we (and or ally Israel) will make very clear in nearly daily threats, posturings, Naval demonstrations, and such, and that we will ignore all logic, blowback, and international consequences – if you don’t do what we say, and do the impossible. And turn you’re back on Iran.

  16. Mad Dogs says:

    “Most importantly, Iran is not anything like a threat to the United States. It might be someday, but that time is a long way off. The present threat is to the Middle East and to Israel specifically.”
    Behold the truth! Iran currently offers no real threat to the US.
    No Israel, we are not your cats-paw! Would that our politicians (of any party) could wake up to that fact.
    Well then, what about US “interests”?
    That all depends on just who in the US defines “our” interests.
    I suggest that neither AIPAC nor Likud should get a vote on the matter.
    I suggest that AIPAC in particular be required to register as a “foreign” lobby just like all the other foreign lobbyists.
    Yes, Israel has some nasty neighbors, but it is no choirboy either.
    That many in Israel see Iran’s nuclear aspirations as an “existential” threat to Israel may be more telling of a partially self-inflicted delusion on the the part of the Israelis than a realistic and pragmatic analysis.
    Have they forgotten or simply given up on the idea of really making peace with their neighbors?
    Is all-out war with Iran, between the US and Israel, and turning the entire ME into a flaming cauldron worth not making peace with the Palestinians, and in particular, the cessation of stealing their land?
    Have the Israels again chosen instead to relive Mosada(a bad play on words, I know)?
    To go out in a blaze of fire taking everybody with them instead of making the proper decisions we all know are necessary to settle the Palestinian problem once and for all?
    And the Israelis since the formation of their state have bragged unceasingly about their “courage”.
    Maybe it is time they figured out what real courage is.
    Somebody needs to slap them upside the head and tell them to wake up and stop indulging in suicidal fantasies.
    That somebody, given today’s world power structure, can only be the US.
    Now if we could only grow some smarts ourselves, we would stop allowing ourselves to be continually tied in knots by the false branding of rational, pragmatic and self-interested ideas and strategies as “anti-semitism”.
    While “hope springs eternal”, I ain’t gonna be holding my breath.

  17. Spider Rider says:

    “Why? Please God tell us why. In more detail than just some cant about the Holocaust, which we didn’t commit and indeed put a stop to.’
    What is the history of the Jewish people?
    They have been persecuted from day one in a historically unique sense, scapegoat for the world.
    And it simply does not matter whether you or I are responsible for the Holocaust, good strategic sense, for both of us, indicates we prevent another one.
    We must ALSO look at the Holocaust as part of larger whole, part of a symptom of men who would constantly create war, seeking empire that doesn’t belong to them. Hitler murdered the Jews, but Hilter also attacked the West.
    All agents of governments screw up, ALL of them, look at those we currently have in Washington.
    The Israeli government has messed up, too, should they be punished more severely than, say, Pakistan, or Iran, or Kenya? How about Germany, after ww2?
    BTW, persecution of another based on religion or ethnicity is morally repugnant.
    And that’s enough.
    I’m not interested in arguing anti-Semitism.

  18. jonst says:

    What do you mean when you write “Israel is reacting to an existential threat “? I suspect i know what you mean but, if you have a moment, would like to hear it from you before i respond.

  19. Cieran says:

    Darned good questions, all!
    And about this:
    First of all, those “defenses” of Israel’s are in large measure ones *we* have *already* provided them via untold billions of aid over the years
    With said aid arguably illegal in the first place, because Israel has developed and proliferated nuclear weapons technology, in flagrant violation of the NPT.
    Thus Israel is the only nation in the Middle East that possesses both an advanced nuclear WMD program and the means to deliver such weapons, while steadfastly refusing to honor the relevant treaties required for such nuclear development.
    With friends like these, who needs enemies?

  20. Okay if the concensus is that there will be an Israeli attack (if there is one), will it be before or after November 4th? What should be US response if there is an attack? If nuclear weapons were employed? As I understand it the UN does have some sanctions in place on Iran as does the US? Exactly what are these sanctions? Are the majority of Iranians in the US of the Bahai sect? What percentage of Iranians in Iran are Bahais? Is there an Iranian dissident movement in Europe or the US or elsewhere? What countries are Iran’s biggest supporters in foreign relations? What is the level of humint and sigint we currently have on Iran? What do the other Islamic nations believe Iran is up to? Are US polls being conducted on US/Iranian issues and policies? When was the last time Iran attacked another country without being first attacked? What countries have treaty agreements with Iran? As the saying goes a fool may ask more questions than a wise man can answer!

  21. Spider Rider says:

    Col Lang, referred to Bremer as suffering from “Brownian incompetence.”
    Having some familiarity with Ivy League educated decision makers, my first thought was of Brown University, it was only later I realized he was referring to Michael Brown.
    I think it’s very important not to get stuck on the philosophy of this current neocon/ ivy league flavor infecting Washington, it’s very necessary to remember the true originators of successful US foreign policy, from Truman, on, even before.
    If one can circumvent the neocon and their lobbyists, I believe one can gain greater scope in understanding what works, and what doesn’t, and why.
    I read an interesting quote the other day “the remembrance of poverty creates the social discipline necessary for prosperity.”
    One cannot prosper in a world constantly at war, no matter WHAT the fantasies of some.

  22. aZiXx says:

    Today, the role is reversed from the USA being “the dog and they are the tail”, and it has been so for quite a long time, despite outwardly appearances.
    Please read Edwin M. Wright’s admission of Zionist influence/power in his days: http://www.trumanlibrary.org/oralhist/wright.htm

  23. Mad Dogs says:

    Spider Rider says: “What is the history of the Jewish people?
    They have been persecuted from day one in a historically unique sense, scapegoat for the world.”

    Hmmm…have you ever heard about something called “history”?
    You might want to read a wee bit of it before you make bald statements that intimate that “only” the Jewish people have suffered grievous persecution.
    Let’s see if your statement holds water:
    1. China – Constantly invaded by outsiders for millenia with millions upon millions of its inhabitants slaughtered.
    2. Russia – Constantly invaded by outsiders for millenia with millions upon millions of its inhabitants slaughtered.
    3. India – Constantly invaded by outsiders for millenia with millions upon millions of its inhabitants slaughtered.
    4. Ireland (excuse me for adding in the homeland of my ancestors *g*) – Constantly invaded by outsiders for millenia with a ton of its inhabitants slaughtered. Ok, so not on such a grand scale as China or Russia, but me boyo, I’m a tad bit biased on ol’ Eire.
    I suppose the list could go on ad nauseam when you include places like the countries of Central Asia, Indochina, South and Central America. Why even the original inhabitants North America might have suffered just the wee bit of “persecution” that you so blindly find to be the “unique” possession of the Jewish people.
    That the Jewish people suffered immensely as a result of the Holocaust is an undeniable horrible fact. However, it does not now, nor will it ever, stand as a reason or the rationale for doing stupid, suicidal or outright criminal stuff themselves.
    You know, two wrongs don’t make a right? Yup, that’s what I mean.
    And Spider Rider said: “BTW, persecution of another based on religion or ethnicity is morally repugnant.
    And that’s enough.
    I’m not interested in arguing anti-Semitism.”

    I sure hope so because those “other” Semites, the Palestinians might have something to say about the matter.

  24. Kieran says:

    Can it really be true that Israel’s government and intelligence services don’t believe in deterrence?
    What about Syria’s ability to land thousands of rockets and missiles loaded with chemicals on those cities and others besides?

  25. Fred says:

    Pat, seems like you hit a raw nerve with this post. I’m reminded of Christine Helms “Collective Memory is the Toolshed.” posted on the Athenaeum. Seems in abundance here, though few remember to walk the “Trail of Tears” when talking about the US and its moral obligations.
    You note that the limited number of population centers limits Israel’s perceived options/reliance on ‘riding out’ a first strike. This puts them in the role of relying upon a first strike themselves. Doesn’t that produce a huge incentive to Israel’s neighbors to gain nuclear capabilities? Won’t a similar lack of population centers also create a similar fear of being subjected to a ‘first strike’ that can’t be ridden out? This fact, again, seems to create an incentive for a first strike of their own. I would think Israel and all its neighboring countries would see how such a mindset railroads them right into another war, which will quickly destroy all involved

  26. Guam Guy says:

    Excellant summary of the situation. Unfortunately, too many Americans seem to have swallowed the notion (peddled by the MSM, AIPAC, et al.,) that Israel is entitled to whatever it wants from Unlce Sam because of what happened to the jews in Europe 60-some years ago.
    I’d like to think that this attitude must change at some point, in light of the increasingly brazeness of Israel’s misconduct, but I’m not going to hold my breath.

  27. Spider Rider says:

    Mad Dogs: (and English Men, one of the best Joe Cocker albums, ever, with a swing of Noel Coward, to boot.)
    Two wrongs don’t make a right, I’m aware of the Israeli/Palestinian/Sharon/IDF legacy.
    Again, and perhaps I should have been more clear, the Israeli government has made some horrible decisions, on par with those who have persecuted it, and has created some laughably unworkable policy, but personally I will not hold a nation hostage for what I see as essentially an aberration. Look at Bush, look at Cheney, look at the US, and Iraq, how many murdered? And someone wrote the other day, here, the latest US army strategy is to arm the warring groups in Iraq, internally, possibly to flame a civil war.
    That is unworkable, and insane, yet it is neocon and American, so who should the Iraqis blame?
    It seems a world wide strain of neocon propagating this idiocy, the Israeli neocons connected to the Washington neocons, none, apparently, capable of winning a war, much less understanding the greater dynamics.
    As Fred wrote, the US has a moral obligation to protect, and the moral is strategic, strategically successful.
    And again, how does military and governmental corruption play into this, also?

  28. Martin K says:

    OOoook, take a deep breath everyone. Spider Rider and Kolya have asked relevant questions, and it ill behooves the majority here to go all aggro on them.
    I think the main point here is the one about the dog and the tail. If Israel is to enjoy the continued support of the US, at some point it must change its policy to fit in with the new COIN approach towards muslim hearts and minds wich is being championed by Gen Petreaus and Gates. This means no more military crushing of kindergardens in the West Bank. No more F16 strafing runs over Gaza. No more beating up of journalists who are coming home from winning awards. In short, israel needs to take a good long look in the mirror and see what it has become: A ultranationalist state with what seems more and more to be a religious ubermensch complex. If Israel goes back to its humanitarian roots and makes some rather large consessions to the people of Palestine, if they choose to funnel money into rebuilding the Gaza strip and providing equal health and commerce facilities to all citizens of its areas, then Israel is worthy of our support. If they continue the paranoid-religious apartheid system of today, then in my eyes the whole area should be put under a UN mandate. We gave it to them, we should be able to take it away too. Hows that for fair and balanced?

  29. condfusedponderer says:

    The proclaimed disbelief in deterrence is a great justification for a grand strategy that only relies on dominance and domination.
    To shatter that strategy and the underlying belief, Sadat in 1973 went on to bloody Israel to make them listen. And listen they did. Israel won the war, thanks to US support, but Sadat got a US brokered peace with Israel and the Sinai back.

  30. Patrick Lang says:

    Nuclear deterrence folks. Nuclear deterrence. pl

  31. Spider Rider says:

    With the G8 ending, and the Russian fuss about the Czech missile defense, I was reminded of the true meaning of intelligent diplomacy, unfortunately nowhere to be seen in the neocon world of fragile, frantic ego.
    Rice held the signing at the same time Medvedev made his first appearance at the G8, a crass, stupid predictable neocon move meant to show up the new Russian President.
    I wish Russia hadn’t bit, responding with the same gangsta theatrics used by the neoclown pretender crown. Real power lies in graceful control and response, not falling to the level of your dysfunctional, stupid, terror driven, panicked, unqualified “rival.”
    Very interesting to see what a difference intelligent diplomacy could make in terms of truly gaining the upper hand.
    Looks like we won’t see it until the next President is out of office, as Obama and McCain are just as unschooled and immature as the neocon kids.

  32. Kolya says:

    Reply to jonst:
    In my understanding the leadership of Iran has on several occasions talked about the complete destruction of Israel.
    If one takes such talk seriously and you happen to live in Israel one might conclude that Iran does represent an existential threat.
    Given the history of the Jews that is perhaps not an unreasonable reaction.
    Of course reading the comments here I don’t detect all that much sympathy for Israel’s position. Perhaps folks think we would be better off breaking off our alliance with Israel entirely. Of course the Islamists might still have a problem with the U.S. afterwards.

  33. J says:

    bottom line — the u.s. FIRST AND FOREMOST, all others take need a number and wait in line for their u.s. ‘handouts/aid’. and only to those who have not stabbed we the u.s. in the back. israel has stabbed we the u.s. in the back so many times that it’s a wonder that we still hold water when we the u.s. walk. israel stabbed u.s. in the back when they murdered u.s. military personnel on their attack on the uss liberty, they stabbed u.s. in the back when they intentionally withheld critical info of the pending barracks bombing in beirut, etc. etc..
    i say israel needs to move to the ‘back’ the ‘way way back’ part of the line based soley on their ugly israeli behavior and actions.

  34. J says:

    we spelled the u.s. ‘contained’ a large soviet nuclear capability, a ‘real’ capability for all the years of the cold war through ‘deterrence’, and iran doesn’t even have one nuke toy let alone any demonstrable delivery capability, it’s like the Colonel said ‘nuclear deterrence’. it’s time that the nuclear game rules were applied to israel’s 400 plus nuke stockpile. iran no problemo, whereas israel a 400 plus problemo.

  35. Mad Dogs says:

    Spider Rider, you have my apology for my going over the top!
    Words written in the heat of the moment never taste very good after the flame goes out. Matter of fact, they usually tend to taste of crow.
    Now that I’ve cleaned my palate of feathers, I’d add this:
    Israel has a lot of good folks, and so does Iran. Heck, even the US has a lot of good folks. *g*
    The question then arises whether rational, reasoning folks are steering this bus.
    Wrt to these 3 nations, it doesn’t appear to be right at this moment, but I would love to be proved wrong.
    IMHO, a rational and reasoning leadership in these nations would come to the following conclusions:
    1. We (Israel and/or US) can’t bomb Iran to submission. Any war with Iran will only provide a short-term deterrent to its nuclear aspirations. Additionally, said war could likely provide an accelerant to Iran weaponizing its nuclear programs.
    2. Making real peace with the Palestinians with real land givebacks and reparations for the Palestinian “Diaspora” would take the most important impediment to ME peace off the table.
    The land choice is entirely in the Israelis’ hands. Regardless of who represents the Palestinians, regardless of Hamas or any of the other “terrorist” organizations, Israel holds the land card in its own hands.
    The reparations issue probably requires outside donors to fund. The US and EU since they cooked up this idea of an Israeli state back in 48, and perhaps a major OPEC contribution since they are flush with our cash with the Oil price runup. We’ll just tell ’em it’s an investment…wink-wink. *g*
    3. The US needs to sit the hell down with Iran and really talk. And not with warmongering delusional Jacobin fools like former US UN Ambassador John Bolton et al.
    We need “serious” players from both sides sitting down at the table. Folks who aren’t hamstrung by their own childish warmongering ideology.
    4. Iran aspires to be a “player” in the ME region, as well they should. With the Palestinian issues off the table, the Iranians might be actually less of the scary bogeyman than is the prevailing Western conventional wisdom.
    They need to be brought more into the fold of the world community, not shunned and demonized.
    And lastly, the current gang of Great Powers (US, Russia, China, Britain, France, and Japan) need to stand up and make a workable nuclear treaty. At least in the ME, if not covering the entire globe.
    I’m not sure what that treaty would look like or entail exactly, but another nuclear weapons race is just what the Doctor didn’t order.
    And I’m not so naive to think that the “have-nots” would easily accept nuclear off-limits from the “haves”, but it still needs doing.

  36. ServingPatriot says:

    My Egyptian friends insist to this day that they “won” the 73 Ramadan War. After all, they achieved exactly what Sadat sought to achieve on the strategic level – a break to the Suez stalemate, renewal of Arab “honor” and return of the Sinai.
    COL – thanks very very much for this very succinct and wonderful post. You superbly articulate what impels Israel’s seeming insane drive for hegemony. Too bad they, like Russia, face some very daunting demographic problems over the coming decades. Perhaps they are joining the ranks of those non-rational “apocalyptic” actors? You know, the ones we dare not trust with nuclear weapons.

  37. jr786 says:

    Re: Nuclear deterrence, the coutner-argument (if it can be called that) is that this Persian is no longer the crafty Oriental scheming to advance his lustful desires, but the ascetic, Fuzzy-Wuzzy variety. I have actually read some of this; Pipes has dabbled in it a bit: The soup of the eschatological soup, with the arrival of maseeh-ul-dajjal, et al. hastened by a preemptive nuclear strike on Israel!
    Deterrence doesn’t work with religious fanatics, the argument goes, and as usual there are no voices to counter the confused readings of Shia eschatology put out by ‘experts’ like Pipes and company.

  38. Curious says:

    nuclear deterrence only works if
    a) both party has the capacity to knock one another permanently.
    b) both actors act logically. (actually afraid getting blown up)
    Israel, even with 200 nuclear, cannot terminally kill Iran. On the other hand Iran certainly still needs to show it has working nuclear weapon.
    This is the game we are at now.
    the next logical step after that is nuclear arms race. Both Iran and Israel will have to escalate nuclear arm production to be able to say “We have the ability to knock you out permanently”
    a) Israel doesn’t have large uranium stock. (anybody know how they can keep replenishing uranium?)
    b) Iran on the other hand can start spreading nuclear technology to all allies. (The entire arab world wants nuke now.)
    after that, it’s conventional arms race. And trade war. (Cold war basically)
    The middle east pretty much going nuclear within a decade. And we can’t do a thing about it. We lost a lot of diplomatic and financial credibility under Bush. It’s all “military might”, and Iraq is doing great damage to that. In practical and image.
    So, it’s back to the great “central asia” game. And the next player will be very powerful.
    If Korea can buy DC and GOP with reverend Moon gag. and Israel can control DC with aipac. Once those big guys get their act together, they are going to pull something big in DC. It’ll be even worst than aipac-evangelical-gop triangle.
    With imploding economy. Everybody in DC wants cash. Everything is for sale there.
    So that’ll be pretty much the game if we don’t lost global financial network. If europe, china and russia build their own financial network. Then we are pretty much irrelevant.
    It’s mini nuclear war in middle east within 2 decades. And we don’t even make money out of it.

  39. Paul says:

    It should be no surprise that the tail wags the dog. Too many operatives in key positions of the USG are citizens of Israel. It is only natural that a citizen will patriotically support his or her nation.
    Until dual-citizenship for key USG officials ends, the tails will continue to wag the dog.

  40. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    Spider Rider:
    Don’t want to veer too far off topic, but I noticed that TomB mentioned the USS Liberty incident. So I wuz wonderin’…do you think that the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty was premeditated and, in fact, a war crime? I have always considered one’s response to this question a bit like a Rorschach test on the Middle East. An example of forensic psychology, perhaps. Instead of an inkblot, of course, I am taking about the bloody image of 34 American servicemen Dead in the Water, to borrow from the title of Peter Hounam’s BBC documentary on the same.
    The USS Liberty incident perhaps is an historical example of “when interests collide” and may suggest a pattern or trait that certain people are trying to repress, deny, and hide, contrary to the dictates of American justice and US national interests. The collision of interests b/t the US and the GOI re: Iran seems to have many of the same qualities because the USM is the one put at risk, yet again.

  41. Homer says:

    PL: Logistics, and the sheer numbers of possible Iranian influenced combatants in Iraq are major potential threats to the US force in Iraq.
    For whatever it is worth ….
    Frontline: Beyond Baghdad (Interview Conducted on Dec. 3, 2003)
    [FL:] You have your own army, the Badr Brigades. How large a force are they, and what role will they play in the future of Iraq?
    [Abdul Aziz al-Hakim:] The Badr Brigade is no more an army, because it has turned [from] an army into an organization. Before, the major task of this brigade was to eliminate or to topple the regime of Saddam Hussein. But now that the government, the ex-regime, is no more in place, the Badr Brigade has been turned into an organization that is entrusted with keeping law and order and–
    [FL:] Policemen–
    [Abdul Aziz al-Hakim:]Yes. As regards [to] the actual number of the Badr Brigade, I don’t know that, because there are members and there are supporters. There was a grand parade for the army or the brigade…where 100,000 fighters paraded. That number does not represent all the number.

  42. Patrick Lang says:

    I find this whole business about the world being different after 9/11 to be really funny. It is on the same low intellectual level as Bill Lind’s writings about 4th generation warfare.
    You need to learn some history. There has always been political warfare carried out by means that you call terrorism. There has always been guerrrilla warfare. These things have always existed simultaneously with all the other kinds of warfare.
    9/11 was not an existential threat to the United States. The AQ killed a few thousand Americans. Was that an existential threat to America? No. Iran, even armed with nuclear weapons and a few ballistic missiles could never be an existential threat to the US. Why? Because first use by them would be their last use.
    Iran is not a major terrorist threat to Israel. Whatever they might do in that way would be a minor damage to the state. To think anything else is just naive. Iran is a potential threat tp Israel with ballistic weapons with nuclear warheads on them. Maybe you should learn something about throw weights and desired degrees of destruction.
    It sounds like you are really afraid of the jihadi crap. Hey. There are a few thousand of them. Eventually we will kill enough of them to convince sympathisers that this is not a good idea. Waves of this kind of revivalism have happened in Islam every century for the last five or six hundred years. Go read some history.
    You should get some perspective about casualties. You like to talk about WAR. In my experience of war men die by the thousands with great frequency.
    Afghanistan and Iraq are wars but there are few sizable combats. Fallujah and the recent fighting around Kandahar sound like the real thing, but most of our casualties in Iraq have been caused by roadside bombs that killed while people were sitting in vehicles.
    You haven’t lived until you have seen a friendly rifle company destroyed in a day’s fighting. Destroyed attacking. pl
    Ever been in a real war? pl

  43. Mad Dogs says:

    Apropos of Pat’s “collision of interests” post is this recent interesting article from William Pfaff entitled “Jewish Israel’s Ongoing Suicide”:

    …The experienced commentator on Third World affairs, Jonathan Power, has recently drawn attention to another case where policies aimed at one result have produced its opposite, this time in Israel.
    He quotes Edward Luttwak’s argument (last year, in Prospect Magazine) that the Middle East since the end of the cold war has lost its strategic interest for the West. It possesses oil, certainly. But it is much easier to buy oil on the international market than to invade countries and fight for it. The American experience in Iraq is a demonstration.
    The West, and the United States in particular, have always acknowledged a strategic interest, as well as moral obligation, to defend a Jewish Israel. However the strategic interest now is absent, and as Power says, there may soon no longer be a Jewish Israel.
    Israel’s systematic colonization and annexation of the Palestinian territories over the last forty years, and equally systematic opposition to the creation of an independent Palestinian state – no longer a serious prospect, as was evident during President’s Bush’s recent visit to Israel — have turned Israel into an Arab-Jewish state under Jewish control.
    The Palestinian Authority, realistically speaking, has ceased to exist; it is simply an agent of the Israeli government. Israel’s problem now is how to survive as an religiously divided single state, half-free and half-unfree.
    Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and current Prime Minister Ehud Olmert both warned their people that this would happen. It is why Sharon withdrew from Gaza. But that solved nothing, as the building of colonies continued, and continues.
    Israel now finds itself a single amalgamated political entity with a huge Palestinian minority for which it is legally responsible, which before long will become a majority, living in quasi-apartheid conditions. The defense of such a state can scarcely be described as a western strategic interest. Defend it against what? No Arab government has any interest in attacking it. The only threat to it is the hypothetical one of Iran’s as yet hypothetical nuclear weapon. But why should Iran attack it, as Israel undoes itself as a Jewish state?
    It will have serious continuing problems of internal unrest and control, if Hamas and other groups function as domestic resistance movements. But no foreign country can do anything about that, nor would want to try.
    The Zionist movement, by insisting on keeping possession of Palestine, and the Palestinian population conquered in 1967, has destroyed the Jewish state it was its dream to create. This only now is being recognized.

  44. Nancy K says:

    Col lang, a very interesting post. My husband, who is Israeli/ American and I have many many discussions concerning Israel and the US. My feelings are Israel has every right to defend itself, but it has no right to except us to bank roll this endevor or go to it’s defense if it attacks another country ie Iran in a preemtive stike.
    Having served in Israel in 67 and 73 his feelings are a little more complex, yet in theory he agrees with me.
    It is a very complex subject. I think we agree to disagree.

  45. Walrus says:

    Bush is stupid.
    Intelligent people consistently underestimate the damage that a stupid person can do because the behaviour of stupid people is , by definition, illogical and does not create a “win” for themselves.
    Bush will attack Iran, either that, or you will have a Constitutional crisis if the Military refuse (which Col. Lang thinks will not happen)

  46. Mad Dogs says:

    Sorry, but I screwed up my link to William Pfaff’s article. Here is the correct link to “Jewish Israel’s Ongoing Suicide”.

  47. David W. says:

    Well, domestically, this ‘special relationship’ can be pretty well defined by the ongoing status of the Weissman/Rosen/AIPAC espionage trial–which was recently postponed for the sixth time. imo, this is the same essential situation as Telecom Immunity, where bipartisan consensus seems to favor sweeping corruption under the rug, in order to focus on more lucrative pursuits.
    While the tendency is to look through a nationalist/geopolitical lens, my increasing convinction that narrow greed is really the glue that binds, and the neocon revolution, here and abroad, is best viewed as a cabal of beggars, thieves and hangers on who share no common cause, but who are only in it for their own percieved self-interests. While the actors claim to be acting either rationally, or in the interests of their state, the reality is much narrower. (discuss similarity with ‘philosophy’ of capitalism, and the limitations of same).
    US govt. pork has become our #1 export, and the only difference about Israeli politicians, generals (and defense contractors) is that they have hogged their way into an inordinate share. (to be fair, many Muslims of the same persuasions also dig on swine, so to speak).
    Iran can be viewed as an external threat that is ‘revealed’ to the public in order to quell domestic troubles–in Israel, this would be the various high-level corruption cases plaguing right-wing Israeli politicians; in the US, it helps distract the public while the Three Card Monte game folds up and ducks out through the alley. All the better for them if the rubes are distracted, here or in Israel.
    I’m not claiming this is ‘the’ rationale, because that is the muddled question that allows for the getaway–yet, always, the question remains: cui bono? Today the answer appears to be, ‘Who cares? Nobody speaks Latin anymore. Besides, we’re under existential attack here, from a threat so powerful it has never been known.’ Indeed.

  48. Dana Jones says:

    “That force is a kind of hostage to peace between the US and Iran.”
    I was wondering: If the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq felt that an Israeli attack on Iran meant that it was putting his troops in harms way, would he order the Israeli planes shot down? In other words, would he have the guts to put OUR troops FIRST, and act to protect them, even if it meant that he had to order that Israeli planes on track to strike Iran had to be shot down. This is the question I want to know the answer to. If the answer is no, then Israel runs our government, pure and simple. I believe that the Israelis have to know that we will put the welfare of our troops in the mid-east first and foremost, and ANYTHING that would put them in harms way or further endangerment would not be tolerated.
    Anything else is abject surrender, without a fight, to the Israelis, and we might as well not even have an election here.
    That is just my opinion.

  49. TomB says:

    Spider Rider:
    Firstly I want to assure you that I did not mean the tone of my response to your first post to be taken personally. Indeed I quite admired your cheek for stating what you did here, and I continue to admire you staying and continuing to fight your points.
    What my tone was meant to convey however was the gimlet-eyed manner I believe America is absolutely entitled to employ in viewing our relationship with everyone including Israel, who I think has pursued its own interests vis a vis the U.S. in as sentiment-free if not ruthless a manner as possible.
    Of course Israel has been absolutely entitled to do so. All I’m saying is that the U.S. has the right to be equally squinty in perceiving and pursuing its own interests too.
    In this same vein then in your original post of course the U.S.’s self-interest was the first of the two (classic) reasons you gave for us supporting Israel generally. But you have yet to have given any argument whatsoever for that first reason, and I note that I remain highly interested in hearing it.
    And as to your second “moral obligation” point, I must say I think the position you have taken as regards same is simply indefensible. First you cited the “moral” obligation you believe America is under to support Israel. And then when I ventured to state that I don’t believe we are under same you go on at length (and indeed exclusively) about the historic anti-semitism that’s been faced by the jewish people but then suddenly say aha, you don’t want to talk about anti-semitism.
    Well, I would say, neither did I because I don’t think it has anything to do with the issue. But it was you who not only raised it in the first place, but who then rested the entirety of your further commentary upon same.
    So because you haven’t yet addressed your first point about the (supposed) self-interest of the U.S., let’s at least talk about your other remaining argument that Kolya has also somewhat raised too.
    It seems to me one has to make a choice when talking about moral obligations in things like this, to either be a “collectivist” for want of a better term, or an “individualist.”
    By the former I mean one who feels it is somehow legitimate to hold an entire people and their later generations culpable for some moral horror. And the other is to say no, that’s ridiculous, the individual is the fundamental moral unit.
    Because of same it strikes me as rather odd if not in fact foolish in the extreme for any jewish person or philo-semite (amongst whom I count myself) to be essentially saying that “all Christians, or all Gentiles” essentially “owe” something to the jews for the insane abominations which have been committed upon them. And this is because I can’t hardly see the difference between this and the ancient, hateful idea that *caused* so much violence against the jews which of course was based on the idea that collectively, all jews should be looked down upon because “it was the jews that killed jesus.”
    Seems to me we ought to leave that kind of thinking to the racial or religious nuts. The fundamentalist Christian nuts on the one hand for instance, and the fundamentalist jewish nuts on the other. (Like that head rabbi of the settlers’ who just recently declared that the lives of thousands or millions of others “aren’t worth one jewish fingernail.”)
    Now, I don’t have any problem with America still recognizing what you so accurately called the “unique” tormenting of the jews throughout history and even to take a special interest in the security and prosperity of Israel because of same. That’s a mark of simple historical intelligence and sensitivity, it seems to me, and I am all in favor of same to some degree. Plus I think its in our interests as a moral force.
    But I don’t believe we have any collective “obligation” to do so as a preponderately Christian or Gentile nation. And I think anyone who thinks in such collectivist terms must be blind to history as someone else here wrote. Excepting maybe the Eskimos, I don’t know that there’s any race, color, creed or tribe that doesn’t belong in hell for all the past monstrosities it has committed if such a collectivist morality is valid.
    This country, institutionally, has its own moral stains such as its essential attempted genocide of our Native Americans and our treatment of our African-American fellow citizens. But I don’t for a moment like the highly selective use of the charge of collective, generational guilt for the Holocaust. Even “institutionally” we didn’t do it, and in fact it was us and our forefathers and mothers who fought and died stopping it.
    Otherwise your further posts then seem to raise yet a third, new argument that while Israel may have made “mistakes,” we should in essence just look past same.
    Again I would first note that I think we should do what’s in our national interest, period, as that is what every other nation does, not least of all Israel. And I see no reason why it should be that in the U.S. alone foreign policy should be determined on some grotesque sentimentality sweepstakes.
    But beyond that I also think your argument is just way too late. It’s been forty years now since Israel started colonizing the West Bank, and astoundingly it’s still expanding those colonies, as we speak. Over and over again its elected people who openly declared that with the settlements they were establishing “facts on the ground” that meant no going back no matter what. And within just the last day or two the Knesset voted to make any withdrawal from any settlement dependent on a referendum, which effectively makes any such significant withdrawals impossible.
    It’s not been a “mistake.” It’s been a fully debated and utterly conscious national decision, maintained and not in the least ever even reconsidered over the last forty decades to suffer the consequences for a programmatic taking of Palestinian land and ethnically cleansing its former owners from Israel. And it’s still going on, and the U.S. is still subsidizing, supporting and protecting it. And yet we’re now being asked to do so ad infinitum as well?
    Certainly Israel has the right to ask for same. Just as certainly the U.S. has the right to politely say no thank you, we’d rather not essentially wage war on the entire arab and moslem world with whom we’ve almost always gotten along with before.
    Looking forward to hearing why I’m wrong as to any or all of the above.

  50. condfusedponderer says:

    I also think they won. Sadat fought a limited war an achieved almost all his objectives. More, he made that clear beforehand. He never believed Egypt could defeat Israel in the field. Instead he was out to exploit key Israeli weaknesses to inflict on the maximum casualties, to drive home the point that if Israel from their perceived position of superiority continued to ignore the Arabs unless they were defeated, they would pay for it, dearly. But because towards the end of the war Israel was close to Kairo, so they could claim victory. Another war ‘won’ militarily, but lost politically.
    In that sense, indeed, the 1973 war for Egypt was a resounding success, while Israel had to give up the Sinai and take heavy casualties. Egyptian lost greater numbers, but unlike Israel they could afford it.
    The neo-cons with their dreadful foreign policy, resting on the presumption of full-spectrum dominance’ (or some variation of that theme), invite in the absence of other forms of communication all US enemies to do just the same.
    That might be the greatest peril to the US after all – that the neo-cons goad some evildoer into bloodying the US to make them listen – all while keeping the amount of violence and the threat so low that the US cannot justify using their superior (nuclear) fire power to the fullest. That might actually work. It would cost the attacker dearly, but it might just work as long as it is only costly enough to the US, and as long as the president isn’t a McCain who spoils for escalation.

  51. different clue says:

    I wonder if Iran ever would nuke Israel, even if/when it has sufficient bombs for its missiles. Wouldn’t it be more likely that Iran would use its nuclear capability as a screen or umbrella behind/under which it could move various non-nuclear means of pressure forward against Israel? I remember talking once with a Palestinian co-worker where I work about how, if Iran were to nuke Israel, the fallout would likely drift back over East Jerusalem and
    the West Bank. If the Iranian ruling elites really
    care about the Palestinian cause, they won’t drop a load of radioactive fallout on it. If, that is, they do
    really care.
    Israel, as I understand it, was concieved of as a rescue state for Jews in need of rescue. It could still revert to being that if it were to negotiate a retreat to the borders of May 1967, leaving zero presence behind in any of the territories taken since then. In return for being left alone within those borders.
    But the Likudiform half of Israeli society would have to be weakened and the Center-Leftiform half would have to be strengthened in order to bring Israel in that direction. And the Likudiform half has shown how far it will go to keep power. Assassinating a Prime Minister (Rabin) is going pretty far.
    The broader American society supports Israel because the broader American
    society cares about Israel. And AIPAC has somehow convinced people that it is some kind of neutral expert on what Israel needs and should have. The recent emergence of the J Street Project, which Mr. Sidney Smith referrenced a few threads ago, may help break the hold AIPAC has over the minds of men. With that hold broken, we could then go on to think about things like: de-coupling “occupation” from colonial settlement; and forcing Israel to dismantle and remove all its settlements and settlers from the Occupied Territories and downgrading the Occupation to a lowest-possible-profile security-only strictly-temporary Occupation to be ended once all sides agreed to a Peace Treaty agreeable to all sides. If the State of Israel agreed that it would be playing the triangle or the piccolo in Colonel Lang’s Middle East Concert; would the Arab States then agree that it would be the State of Israel playing its triangle or piccolo? Leaving the kettledrums, heavy brass, and singing strings to the Arab States, Turkey, and Iran?
    In the shortest run, is there a single thing we can do to prevent Shadow President Cheney from ordering air attacks against
    Iran? And if Cheney orders it, can the “let’s don’t” parts of the Armed Forces restrain the “let’s do it” parts? Given Congress’s firm
    support for Cheney’s subversive destabilization
    projects inside Iran; I don’t think Congress would care one bit if Cheney ordered massive bombing. (And the fact that Cheney would make that decision is symptom of a festering Constitutional abscess right
    Since neither Congress nor
    the Administration shares the belief of most Americans
    or most non-Air Force Armed Forces people that peace with Iran is in America’s interest; is there some kind
    of legal non-violent mass obstruction which a mobilized American public can exert against the government to slow it down and gum it up and make it wade through hip-deep molasses in its march to War with Iran?
    (And about oil: it is in the whole world’s long term interest to get civilization
    off the coal and oil standard if that is possible. We can only push Global Boiling so far before
    we really begin to feel it the way the High Arctic is beginning to feel it now.)

  52. Ali Mostofi says:

    Please remember that Iranians put Iran first. Seyyeds have their own cause which is second to none.

  53. Kieran says:

    Thanks to the Col. for an excellent post and excellent response to greywolf re: “sept. 10 thinking”.
    Still, I would appreciate it if someone with a little time on their hands and knowledge of such things would explain to me why there is such a big difference regarding the threat to Israel’s cities between a couple of Iranian nukes and a huge Syrian CW arsenal based on rockets and missiles.
    To me it still sounds like the nuclear thing is only being used as an excuse to justify a strike that will cement this whole imperial project, not that it is a logical, legitimate fear genuinely held by Israel’s decisionmakers.
    I think the whole ‘irrational actor’ stuff is nonsense. The Iranians are more rational than us in their conduct of foreign policy. Ahmedinejad looks scary but Khamenei is in charge.

  54. Andrew says:

    ‘You haven’t lived until you have seen a friendly rifle company destroyed in a day’s fighting. Destroyed attacking. pl’
    I’m glad to say that I have never lived and don’t intend to start!

  55. jonst says:

    That is what I thought you meant. I respectfully challenge your premise that they are an “existential threat” in that they are any more of threat to Israel than Russia is to the US, and to the rest of the world. Or, for that matter, the US is to the rest of the world.
    ‘Wordsmithing’and arguments over translations are easy to become frustrated with. And to ultimately dismiss. And to ultimately reply ‘well, that may be true but I can’t agonize over the meaning of words forever…I’m going with the worst case meaning’. But where, one might ask, are you going? To what end?
    First, I am not clear on who, and what, are/is defined as ‘leaders’ in national security decisions in Iran. But I think a case can be made that said leadership does not reside with Ahmadinejad. This is not to dismiss all, or some, of what he says. But it is worth noting, and reminding one’s self what Ahmadinejad role is, and is not, in Iran.
    I suggest a better argument can be made, and IS made daily, and quickly dismissed in the West, as too complex and inconvenient, that the leadership we should be paying attention to resides with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, for now. And while he is not a fellow I ‘wish to have a beer with’, nor a fellow I would play poker with, while I am distracted, his language on the use of nuclear weapons, particularly the first use of them, has been reassuring. Now, one can easily dismiss the SINCERITY behind the words. But in the West we seemed to have dismissed the words themselves, as if they have never been uttered. And uttered by the man who controls the power.
    But back to words of Ahmadinejad, himself. I’m not going to drill down on the textual interpretations of his frequent rambling pronouncements. Life is too short for me to attempt to do so and I lack the skills anyway. But it seems worth noting that there is a real controversy over what he has said and meant by his ‘outbursts’. But we don’t do nuance in the neocon world. However, before I would start, or risk starting, WWW III over his language I would like our leaders to have a bit more clarity about what it is he is saying, and what he is not saying. And before we start/engage WWW III, I would like to see discussions about the internal difficulties Ahmadinejad is encountering in Iran, perhaps, caused, or, rather, somewhat, caused, by his words about Israel, and Iran’s nuclear program, in general. Because IF Iran is an existential threat, as that term is often employed in the West, to Israel, it is, as well then, an “existential threat to ALL, or the vast majority, of Iranians, as well. The Iranians have to know that. They have to know what is coming if they strike.
    Let us be patient. Keep our powder dry and out mouths shut, and let events work themselves out in Iran. And not automatically see the Iranians as mad dogs ready to fire the first nuclear weapon they get their hands on (I want to make clear Koya that I do not mean that I think you embrace this vision of Iran, but I think the terms you employ–as the term is presently understood today in the West) encourages it)
    In the past the Iranian nation and Israel have shared certain security interests, as strange as that may sound, these days. The geopolitical conditions that led to such an anomoly, still, to some extent, anyway, exist. In other words, there is at least a plausible argument to be made that the ‘grand conference’ or grand agreement’ my words, that Col Lang has long called for, has a viable chance at something resembling success. We should push to that end and you cannot push toward that end if we see Iranians as the mad dogs, they are being perceived as now.
    For, I argue, there is nothing but death and disaster if the only parties talking, or, the only words being reported, anyway, are those between neocons, and their slavish imitators, the Democratic party leadership, including Obama, and Ahmadinejad et al.

  56. J says:

    this morning, our glorious sec-o-state flapped her gums at iran. it’s a wonder her dentures didn’t fall out. pun intended. it is sad how gleefully both bush and rice are so quick to offer up the lives of u.s. military personnel all for the benefit of a ‘foreign’ country named israel. i don’t recall anywhere in our nation’s founding bill of rights or our Constitution where is recommends to a sitting president or sec-o-state offering up the lives of american military personnel on a ‘foreign’ country’s altar of security. since when did american mom’s and dad’s sign away the lives of those children whom they raised and nurtured so they could be ‘sacrificed’ on the ‘altar of security’ for a ‘foreign’ nation called israel, since when? we as a nation are ‘still waiting’ for some accountability regarding israel’s brutal cold-blooded murder of american military personnel when israelis tried to sink the uss liberty, for starters.
    Iran Launches More Test Missiles, Draws Rebuke From Rice – washingtonpost.com

  57. Curious says:

    Well, this is highly predictable. Russia want Georgia and chechnya back. (just like Ukraine)
    Gerogia, btw is the only out route to get the Kazakstan oil. (unless somebody want to guard afghanistan pipe from bullet holes)
    I think Russia and Iran will lock in azerbaijan in a short time. They have to. It is in Russia’s interest to keep caspian and black sea under control. Turkey is not happy with armenia / kurdistan either.
    Basically, neocon effort to find a route for Kazakstan pipe is falling apart.
    This is going to get violent very quickly soon. Specially when the Russian start pumping weapon into afghanistan. It’s pay back time for them. (Ukraine, georgia, Chechnya, the 5 stans)
    see map here:

  58. jonst says:

    What does this phrase, that you wrote, mean?
    “Iran on the other hand can start spreading nuclear technology to all allies. (The entire arab world wants nuke now.)”
    Who are Iran’s “allies” that you refer too? Does the second sentence connect back to the first? Are you intimating that “Arabs” are allies of Iran? Historians would find that assertion interesting and in some respects, astounding. Such buddies that Iran will give them nuclear technology (which, I assume you mean nuclear weapons)? Do you REALLY think Iran will give non govt actors in the Arab world nuclear weapons? Because if you do….there does seem much to talk about. Or, rather, if one does.
    I don’t mean to jump on you but this is the kind of mixing and matching thinking that drives me nuts. Personally.

  59. zanzibar says:

    I’m glad that Pat has raised this discussion which seems like a rail that none of the corporate media and our bought & paid for politicians want to get on. What are US national interests vis a vis Israel and the Middle East?

  60. Jim Cavan says:

    Let us hope that this has added momentum towards a re-evaluation of our nations blind support of Israel. Fully respecting the great value and contributions of the Jewish faith, our nation was not founded on the ideals that another nation will direct our policy, actions or fears.
    Thank you.

  61. Curious says:

    Who are Iran’s “allies” that you refer too? Does the second sentence connect back to the first? Are you intimating that “Arabs” are allies of Iran? Historians would find that assertion interesting and in some respects, astounding. Such buddies that Iran will give them nuclear technology (which, I assume you mean nuclear weapons)? Do you REALLY think Iran will give non govt actors in the Arab world nuclear weapons?
    Posted by: jonst | 10 July 2008 at 11:59 AM
    I suspect. The base of middle east politics is the same as everywhere. (long term strategic thinking, self preservation, practical alliances) Alliances will be made based on what each party get out of the deal.
    – Syria (would be an easy country, to go nuclear very quickly. From Iran side) And by extension Hezbollah)
    – Egypt (Again, the only hope they get nuclear is from Iran. They have tons of reason to go nuclear. electric generation, containing Israel. arab world prestige)
    -Saudi. (this country is definitely will go nuclear in short time once Iran and Syria go nuclear)
    -Kuwait. (It’s a given that Kuwait is very insecure.)
    after that comes
    – Iraq (after second independence war.)
    non arab. who definitely look for nuclear tech.
    – Turkey
    – Malaysia
    – Libya
    – Indonesia
    – Brazil

  62. hass says:

    We are the dog and they are the tail? Really? Since when? They bombed the USS Liberty and during the Lavon Affair were responsible for bombing US assets in Egypt and tried to blame it on the Egyptians. What happened? Nothing.

  63. Charles I says:

    “Can it really be true that Israel’s government and intelligence services don’t believe in deterrence?”
    Well, no. If you believe your targets, er, interlocutors, are fundamentally irrational animals worthy only of the sole of your shoe, led by hopelessly corrupt hypocrites too incompetent to field a proper military or foster the economy to buy one, AND you believe your military dominance amounts to virtual omnipotence – omnipotence required to avoid international imposition of 1967 or the NPT (Let’s bomb Dimona!), and to hold onto one’s booty and captives -, why, condescending to deterrence would be an absurd deference to foreign devils and an intolerable restraint on royal prerogative.
    Plus, its just easier to squash ’em like bugs at will than treat them as human, negotiate. Worse yet, to have acknowledge to yourself, never mind the enemy and the peanut gallery, that your pathetic subhuman opponents are well armed enough to demand realistic circumspection rather than daily announcements that a attack, possibly nuclear, is imperative and imminent – crikey, that’d have to be harram, no?
    Or you’ve come to realize that the threats you face are so disparate and from so many dispersed and varied quarters, that one can’t determine who to deter. After all, its now trite inerrancy(new word, Colbert!) that “we have no one to negotiate with”.
    Deterrence requires a quite well institutionalized security infrastructure exposed to the other side’s formal or informal “technical means of verification”

  64. Spider Rider says:

    We are on different pages.
    And we will have to leave it at that, no offense intended.

  65. Spider Rider says:

    “What happened? Nothing.”
    Diplomacy, constructive long term strategy is restraint.
    It is welcoming to again see a US in control, a US which doesnt snap at the slightest provocation is the most powerful US of all.
    Should we behave as rival gangs in Los Angeles?
    I realize it is a break from what we’ve been used to, from Reagan on, but the overuse of military force means one isn’t smart enough to craft alternative strategy, and sooner rather than later, no one will respond to your threats, and use, of force.
    Israel’s defense is a joke in it’s current incarnation, isn’t it, particularly after the failure of Sharon. Same could be said of the US, under the Republicans, since Reagan, the utter failure of the neocon.
    Where to next, how do we prepare for the future?

  66. DW says:

    Must read sources on the history of Political Zionism:
    Exercpt Far and Wide:
    “The thing is aged, many-headed, many-coiled and has many lairs. What does it all amount to now? The dream of ruling the world from Jerusalem cannot seem too audacious today to men who have already achieved so much. The Zionist State has been formed. It has about as many inhabitants as Albania or Honduras and less than Haiti, yet Napoleon in all his glory was not treated much more deferentially. Clearly its size and might cannot make the world quail, yet no politician in any English-speaking country seems willing to take office or mount the hustings without salaaming towards it and, by symbolically washing his hands of ‘racial discrimination’, undertaking to obey its will. Some now even openly confess themselves ‘Zionists’. The strength of this new State, so tiny in size, plainly lies in the English-speaking countries themselves, which are still the strongest in the world; in the power of the purse, which it wields in them; and in the ability to control masses through the control of politicians and parties. In peace this new State fills the people with unease and in war, begun no matter where, it will clearly form the core of conflict.”

  67. frank durkee says:

    If I understasnd correctly Isreal’s defense doctrine as set ou by the Col. rejects MAD due to facts on the ground in Isreal, rejects the auisition of such weapons by any one else in the ME as an “existientia” threat to its existence, and seeks by whatever means to preempt the deve;p[ment of such weapons by any one else in the neighborhood. That seems to eliminate nuclear ‘deterrence’ except by Isreal on the rest of the lovcal players.
    Based on the above the question would seem to be not “if” an attack on Iran, but when, with what force and follow up , if possible. Unless the US can somehow head that off. Given the ‘facts on the ground in isreal’ our deterrent seem of limited value to them save as a memorial gesture to their demise. Put anothere way I’m not sure we would destroy all or most of iran after the fact as revenge and if we did we would be in deep trouble with every one else.
    The Col.’s analysis seems to point to the likelihood of an Isrealistrike , if the Iranians do not back down.

  68. J says:

    Colonel, All,
    now that we are ‘airing’ the ugly picture of israel sacrificing american military personnel on their altar of israeli safety and security, another ‘third rail’ part of your thesis needs to also be aired and discussed by our american religious bodies, something that ‘zionists’ do not want under any circumstances discussed or even brought up — a growing number of jews see zionism is an antithesis to judaism, and zionism is in violation of both torah/bible and the talmud. that the zionist state of israel as it currently exists is presumptuous before God (a slap in God’s face), that the ‘state’ of israel is supposed to be brought about by divine hand, not by the hand of zionist corrupted men, and that as long as the zionist created state of israel exists, such delays the coming of the messiah rather than hastens it.
    there are documented pictures and videos of ‘orthodox’ ultra religious jews protesting the state of israel’s existence, protests in front of the israeli consulate in nyc, and elsewhere around the nation. such ‘protests’ do not get into the 6pm news as those who finance zionism make sure that such is not seen by the american public, for fear such a picture would start a american public and global discussion much feared by zionists, that the current state of israel very existence is in fact unfriendly to all of mankind and should therefore be dismantled. religious orthodox jews protesting the zionist state of israel’s ugly policies in dealing with their fellow man (palestinan arabs), the zionist state of israel’s unquenchible thirst for power/domination over all and death to all who dare oppose it’s mad power quest. such jewish protests the american public at large never sees or hears about. a state that was created by lies, theft, and murder cannot exist for long before divine powers intervene to erase such ‘errors of mankind’.
    True Torah Jews Against Zionism

  69. TomB says:

    Spider Rider wrote:
    We are on different pages.
    And we will have to leave it at that, no offense intended.”
    None taken because none given, and likewise, absolutely.

  70. Marcus says:

    Doesn’t it seem kinda dumb in the age of nuclear missiles to assemble your peculiarly persecuted tribe into a few large city centers?
    No wonder there’s paranoia.

  71. PeterE says:

    Suppose that the U.S. has the power of Germany or is more powerful but has no would-be Teddy Roosevelt leaders. What would happen? I suspect that Israel would reach a reasonable agreement with its neighbors, the U.S. would seek reasonable treaties with Iran and other Middle East countries and reduce its dependence on oil. No wars; just commerce.
    But that is not the case. The U.S. is Ozymandias, King of Kings, look on its works, Ye Mighty, and despair!

  72. mo says:

    Iran’s leaders have made many promises to the wider Muslim world about Israel?
    Such as? I recall no promises but the promise to aid those fighting Israel.
    The leadership of Iran has on several occasions talked about the complete destruction of Israel?
    This has been discussed on numerous sites ad nauseam. You should, for the sake of rational argument, get translations from sites less biased than memri or tv less bought than Fox.
    Spider Rider,
    You seem sincere in your support of Israel and I respect your choice in which side you take but your arguments should not be so confused.
    “But it should always be remembered the Jews, and therefore the Israelis”
    No sir, do not mix the two in a Political debate. A Jew is a person who adheres to a set religious doctrince, a choice no person on the planet has the right to deny, oppose or persecute.
    An Israeli is a person living on a land taken by the forceful removal of its previous owner, adhering to a political doctrine which said former owner and every opponent of colonialism on the planet has every right to oppose.
    The fact that they are mostly Jewish is completely irrelevant to those opposed to Israel.
    “are a population at risk”. Jews, outside of Israel, are thankfully less at risk now than any time in history (except, ironically, under the Islamic Empire). People in Israel are at risk because they put themselves at risk by living on stolen land, and repeatedly electing hawks who take them into one military adventure after and another and persecute and treat like animals an entire people who they barely acknowledge and who dare fight back.
    They have been persecuted from day one? That is a very emotinally charged statement but of course not entirely true. They weren’t being persecuted when they slaughtred the people of Jericho in the Old Testament, they weren’t being persecuted when they slaughtered the people of Deir Yassin, they weren’t being persecuted when the led and protected the Christian militias in Sabra and Shatilla, they weren’t being persecuted when they purposefully destroyed a UN compound in Qana where 111 men, women and children were taking shelter and they aren’t being persecuted or even prosecuted for the crimes against humanity they are perpetrating against the Palestinians in Gaza.
    It is ironic that you should use the lines
    “men who would constantly create war, seeking empire that doesn’t belong to them”
    “persecution of another based on religion or ethnicity is morally repugnant”
    in defense of Israel. Arent these sins Israel is itself very much guilty of?
    And if the “US has a moral obligation to protect” do you believe it has as much a duty to protect those who suffer at Israels hands as much as it does to protect Israel?

  73. ISL says:

    All this assumes the continuous patronage of the US, which assumes a healthy economy that can afford to maintain the current staggering costs. perhaps one can argue that the current hyperpower situation can be sustained despite a lack of actually making anything in the country. But history is full of examples where conditions that cannot continue do not (running 7% account deficits).
    By its actions, Israel is unlikely to find a different patron, yet absent such patronage would rapidly descend into insignificance.

  74. J says:

    there are documented video after video available on the web showing ‘zionist’ israelis kicking, spitting on, hitting, beating, shooting innocent unarmed palestinan arab women, elderly men, and children, all because they are arab and muslim. before the zionist came to the mideast, jews and muslims lived side by side in peace as each looked upon the other as cousins/brothers of the book. when the zionist came to the area, they stole, looted, murdered, in a quest for land and territory, thereby creating a climate of fear, hatred, and hostility towards their zionist aspirations. it is such behavior that anti-zionist jews have been protesting against for years, and which the zionist seeks to make sure that is not brought to the american public’s attention. the israeli govt. slams iran, yet at the same time under-the-table they import iranian sweet crude. the israeli govt.’s nuke weapons program is a mixture of stolen u.s. tech and ignorant u.s. politicos being taken in by their lies. israel is not a 52nd state, nor is the u.s. israel’s second state, but one wouldn’t believe it if one listened to the israeli, and u.s. zionists.
    why should americans be expected to financially support such a state?

  75. Andy says:

    This has been an interesting discussion and I’ll jump in here with a few points of my own.
    First, there is a difference of opinion as to why Israel and the US are allied which underly arguments as to what extend (if any) they should be allied. While I do think Israel and the US have many shared interests, there is also an underlying cultural component that is powerful, IMO. First, the history of the US and Israel have been linked since Israel’s creation, so there’s a certain amount of historical inertia in the relationship. Such inertia is not undone overnight. And secondly, and more importantly, Israel and the US have a common cultural background rooted in Europe and both are democracies. One might even suggest that Israel is essentially a culturally European nation in the ME which I think is a major source of commonality with the US.
    The second point I would like to make is that I think people need to understand that there is one principle that underlies all Israeli strategic decision making: Israel’s lack of strategic depth. Understanding this principle goes a long way toward explaining why Israel acts the way it does.
    A good way to illustrate the concept of strategic depth is to contrast Israel with Russia. Israel has very little strategic depth – Russia has it in spades. Napoleon’s invasion in 1812 and Germany’s in WWII are examples where Russia’s strategic depth was the difference between victory and defeat. Russia could afford to be unprepared at the beginning of hostilities, it could afford make major mistake after mistake, and it could afford to give up people and territory in exchange for time – time to attrit the enemy force and time to build and strengthen its own forces for counterattack.
    For Israel, none of that is possible because it lacks strategic depth. It cannot afford to be unprepared at the beginning of hostilities, it cannot afford to make any major operational mistakes, and it cannot fight a war of attrition nor can it trade people and land for time in any conflict. As Col. Lang noted above, the lack of strategic depth even applies to nuclear war.
    So how does this play out in Israel’s strategic thinking and decision-making?
    1. Israel has to have a strong military force to defeat its enemies before the initiation of hostilities because it will have no opportunity to build such a force once the war begins. This is why Israel believes it must be the dominant military power in the region.
    2. Israel developed nuclear weapons to make up for its lack of strategic depth. The weapons are meant not only to deter conventional attack, but also to guarantee Israel’s existence should its conventional force be defeated. After 1967 and 1973 Israel decided it could not depend on conventional force alone to guarantee the existence of the Israeli state. (And TomB – Israel has, since at least 1980, been amenable to a middle-east nuclear-weapons free zone, but Israel’s position has been that recognition of Isreal and peace with its neighbors (including Iran) is a precondition for Israel to join such an agreement.)
    3. Initiative. For nations with no strategic depth, letting adversaries take the initiative is dangerous. So Israel takes the initiative to fight on its terms and initiative often translates into preemption. Israel preempted in 1967 and wanted to preempt in 1973 (Kissinger said the US would not support Israel if it preempted, so they didn’t – though this version of events is disputed by some).
    As a corollary, since 1973, a foundation of Israeli strategic thinking is that the Israeli state cannot withstand military defeat and it cannot ultimately influence the intentions of its neighbors – only the ability for them to carry out those intentions. This ties into leadership. The current crop of Israeli leaders are those who fought or lived through the 1967 and 1973 wars and so they are firm believers in current doctrine. So when they hear the Iranian President they tend to take his rhetoric very seriously because it reminds them of what Nassar promised and tried to do. The problem with this thinking is that it’s not 1973 anymore and the situation has changed.
    I think I’ve said before here that I believe its time for Israel to reexamine its strategic doctrine and that it no longer works for today’s realities. Unfortunately, I think this will require a new generation of Israeli leaders – a generation that came of age after Yom Kippur and are not tied to the concept that Arab and regional leaders are first and foremost committed to the destruction of Israel.
    Interestingly, Bashar Assad on the Syrian side represents that new generation – my generation actually. At first I did not think much of him, but over time I think that he, more than any other ME leader, has the potential to break the ME stalemate with Israel. If Israel’s leaders can break themselves out of their 1973 mindset, then I think Bashar is a man that can be dealt with.
    Anyway, the takeaway from this long and meandering comment is this: Isreal’s strategic thinking must be understood in the context – there are reasons why it is what is that need to be examined and understood. Some of those reasons have, in my view, been “overtaken by events” yet Israeli thinking has not yet adjusted. Such an adjustment will probably take a new generation of leaders.

  76. Spider Rider says:

    “By its actions, Israel is unlikely to find a different patron, yet absent such patronage would rapidly descend into insignificance.”
    Given the investment, though, (and I agree, there are significant problems), what is the return on investment, in terms of US strategic position in the middle east?
    And if we look upon it as a whole, in terms of the enterprise, does it make good business and military, strategic sense to still invest in Israel?
    We virtualy have no military presence in the Middle East, (except for Iraq, such as it is), does Israel function as a de facto Middle East US outpost?
    And I mean no disrespect to Israel, and I do understand our problems with the Israeli government, but Israel does allow the US to establish presence.
    I have been following the British/Russian dust up over the last few years, and Britain, apparently, for many reasons see Russia as a threat, both in terms of oil, and corruption, (not to mention the murder of the Russian spy in London, ostensibly approved of by Putin).
    So how do we view Russia, and therefore how do we view Russia as a player in the Middle East? Russia has Iran as an established ally.
    How do we protect US strategic interests, then, given the mess in Iraq?
    I do not believe Putin is a friend of US oil, of multinational oil.

  77. TomB says:

    Great post. Great great post. Sober, deep, relentlessly fair; you name it. Don’t know that I disagree with anything you’ve said or that anyone could.
    Not that it’s any flaw in same given what you consciously limited your remarks too however, I just think it might fairly be observed that of course it’s pretty exclusively limited to Israel’s security vis a vis its military matters, true? And as “military matters” are of course just another way of describing “war matters,” to paraphrase Clausewitz then they are just another way of saying “political matters” too.
    So even if one can have unbounded sympathy for Israel’s military situation, or admiration for how well it’s handled same, that’s clearly rather stilted and not nearly comprehensive enough I think. I.e., there’s still the question of how it has handled its security situation via its handling of its *other* (non-military) political affairs.
    And how has it handled those other “non-military” aspects? Even though I think it’s horrifically unfair to the arabs, just for the sake of argument—or even just as a practical need to draw the line somewhere—I suspect the world would be essentially willing to forget whatever Israel did or didn’t do prior to 1967. In the first place I doubt any country was ever founded that didn’t do so over the backs of someone else. And besides that 1967 really was the beginning of the modern era the Middle East lives in today, right?
    So what has been Israel’s non-military political “strategy” since 1967 as regards its security?
    As I said in an earlier post, it seems to me impossible not to conclude that it’s simply been an utterly conscious, deliberate, sustained and programmatic policy of expansion. And indeed I don’t think this is something that even merits argument. You don’t accidently take someone else’s land. Nor do you do it mistakenly. And Israel itself has openly declared that it has the absolute right to be doing what it has because, unlike every other country in the world, it reads the Geneva accords in a way that says it can take that land.
    So Israel itself has done nothing but affirm that you bet, it is taking that land and believes it has the right to do so and indeed take even more.
    But how sensible has this been for its security situation? I.e., the other, non-military aspect of its handling of its security situation?
    Seems to me one can argue that it’s been exactly that which has *caused* the need for Israel to put so much emphasis of its military affairs. In fact it seems to me it’s almost impossible to deny that Israel has absolutely *consciously* accepted antagonizing its arab neighbors and thereby having to preponderantly (if not overwhelmingly) rely on being what can only be called a military state. One that has overwhelmingly if not *exclusively* staked its security reliance on same, no?
    Now that’s fine, that’s been Israel’s clear deliberate choice, but when that choice turns out to have been questionable I don’t know what one says. Sympathy for its people? Sure. But stupid hurts, as does greed and zealotry and etc. And no matter how one feels about it I don’t think its unreasonable for us to decline to expend our blood and treasure to pull its chestnuts out of the fire it so deliberately and consciously and even ravenously placed them in. (Especially after we ourselves had warned them not to ever since Day One.)
    Moreover, as I noted before, it is *still* continuing its colonization project even as its militarization choice is appearing ever more unbalanced and dangerous.
    And as regards its nukes and its refusal to push for or agree to a nuke-free Middle East without those conditions you mention, I would further note as follows: Even accepting, as I think one probably must, that Israel initially nuked-up as an … existential guarantee of its survival, we’re talking about the “now” aren’t we?
    And what is that situation now? Israel is obviously is in no danger of conventional-war destruction given its overwhelming conventional power. So given what it itself has proclaimed that it’s very survival is in “existential” threat from others’ nukes, well, what’s the only conclusion from its position refusing a condition-less, nuke-free Middle East?
    Certainly it can’t be that it wants to hang on to its nukes to prevent its “existential” nuke destruction. If so it would embrace that proposal. Instead it seems to me the only remaining conclusion possible is that it refuses such an idea only because it wants to be the *sole* party in the region who can existentially threaten others.
    And indeed isn’t that clearly what it is evidencing otherwise such as its bombing of Osirak, it’s recent bombing of the Syrian facility, and its declaration that it will never allow Iran to have nukes?
    I just don’t see any other logic to it. And as for the condition it has supposedly placed on going nuke-free—that other nations recognize it—well….
    How would mere recognition of Israel give it any real security that it wouldn’t be attacked by that recognizer in the future? Plus it seems to me to be nothing more than an open tongue-in-cheek proposal given that Israel—very possibly uniquely amongst all the countries of the world—refuses to define and declare its own borders.
    So how in the world can anyone be reasonably expected to recognize someone else who refuses to define itself? Someone else who, indeed, wants to reserve the right to someday pehraps even declare that they own a chunk of your territory?
    And now that the Palestinian Authority at least has agreed to recognize Israel, I’ve noticed a new demand with a very interesting shift in it. Now Israel is freshly saying that “we demand you recognize us as as *jewish* state.”
    So what does *this* mean? A recognition that Israel can in the future expel even its own arab citizens in Israel proper? A recognition that in any areas agreed upon in the future that will go to Israel that it can expel any and all arabs there?
    So no matter how much sympathy one can have for Israel’s seemingly ever-more precarious security situation, I just don’t know what one can do. Given Israel’s *own* declaration that it would not abide by any such thing, can anyone even say with any confidence whatsoever that if we were to declare today our guarantee of the security of Israel proper and absolutely 100% of its current settlements in the occupied territories that Israel would abjure from occupying and settling even *more* land?
    Even if you’re the most sympathetic person in the world towards Israel, what do you do in such a situation?
    All I can think of is that maybe all this talk of definition points a way towards a solution for the U.S. Simply ask that Israel define itself. It’s borders and its nature and what that means. (It has no constitution I don’t think.)
    I.e.,tell me who and what you are and I’ll tell you how much I support you. That doesn’t seem unfair to Israel, does it?

  78. Gary says:

    Mr. Lang:
    I take issue with your post’s statement that “Israel is a country which was established to foster the interests of a particular ethno-religious group over all others. In that way Israel and Pakistan have much in common”
    I doubt you have been to Israel because if you went, you would notice that there are mosques, christian churches, even the Bahai world headqaurters everywhere in Israel. There is complete freedom of religion in Israel and that is a fact. Contrast that with Pakistan-Christians, Hindus and Jews are not allowed to worship in Pakistan and most have left the country in fear of their lives.
    Moreover, in contrast to the common canard (to which you appear to subscribe) that Israel only allows jews to become citizens, 25 percent of Israeli citizens are non-jews. The non-muslim citizenship of Pakistan in less than 2%.
    Although skillfully camouflaged, your post conveys an occult double standard and perhaps willful ignorance.

  79. Patrick Lang says:

    Gary, or whoever you are
    You are such a funny man that I decided to publish your drivel and let the sharks eat you.
    Ah, the carefully worded accusation of anti-semitism… I have worked in and on the Middle East for 35 odd years. You might have checked my CV. I was the head of US/Israeli military intelligence liaison for eight years and have been in Israel something like 20 times, most recently in March.
    You must be a Christian Zionist. The Jewish ones are much more sophisticated.
    Read up on Zionism. The specific purpose of the Zionist project is to create a national homeland for the JEWS. At least that’s what Herzl wanted. If that is not the purpose for which Israel exists then why won’t they accept the idea of a bi-national state with the Palestinians?
    I never said you can’t practise other religions in Israel. You did that. So, you are a practioner of the Ted Kennedy school of rhetoric. In that school of maneuver, the trick is to misquote your opponent and then comment on the misquote.
    Pakistan was similarly founded to foster the interests of Indian Muslims. Learn a little history or maybe they don’t teach that in high school any longer. pl

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