< HOME  Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Caught in the Middle (East): Israel-US-Iran

Juan Cole presents more evidence that the recent overtures by the US against Iran are but another instance of a long line of Israeli manipulations of US foreign policy in the Middle East.
While it is difficult to see why the United States should be more exercised about Iran than about Burma or Zimbabwe, it is no secret what the Israeli government thinks about the matter. In 2002, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said that the day after the looming Iraq War ended, “pressure” should be immediately put on Iran. James Bennet of the New York Times wrote on February 27, 2003, “Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told members of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations last week that after Iraq, the United States should generate ‘political, economic, diplomatic pressure’ on Iran. ‘We have great interest in shaping the Middle East the day after’ a war, he said.” In other words, precisely as Mearsheimer and Walt say, it is Israeli politicians and the American Israel lobby who are committed to generating pressure on Iran across the board. And, for anyone interested in the analysis of political rhetoric, Mofaz’s use of the word “we” in this sentence poses all sorts of questions. Who is the “we” that has an interest in “shaping the Middle East” after the Iraq War? Is it Israel? Or is it Israel plus the American Israel lobby? Does it even include the United States government at all, except as a means to an end?

As for the Israel lobby itself, its view of Iran is also hardly a secret. Tom Barry writes about a May 2003 forum on “the future of Iran,” sponsored by American Enterprise Institute, the Hudson Institute and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He adds, “the forum, chaired by the Hudson Institute’s Meyrav Wurmser, the Israeli-born wife of David Wurmser (he serves as Cheney’s leading expert on Iran and Syria), included a presentation by Uri Lubrani of Israel’s Ministry of Defense. Summarizing the sentiment of neoconservative ideologues and strategists, Meyrav Wurmser said: ‘Our fight against Iraq was only a battle in a long war. It would be ill-conceived to think we can deal with Iraq alone. We must move on, and faster.’” He also describes a policy forum in April, 2003, held by the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs titled “Time to Focus on Iran—The Mother of Modern Terrorism,” A leading rightwing Zionist hawk and adviser to Karl Rove, Michael Ledeen declared there, “The time for diplomacy is at an end; it is time for a free Iran, free Syria and free Lebanon.” The institutions Barry mentions are all part and parcel of the Israel lobby, and anyone who knows anything about the situation inside the beltway is in no doubt that they are enormously powerful and influential.
Contrast the Wurmsers’ position on Iran (and remember that Neocon David Wurmser is Cheney’s chief adviser on the issue) to that of a WASP policy organization such as Brent Scowcroft’s Forum for International Policy. Scowcroft urges the use of European allies to moderate Iran and suggests cooperation between the US and Iran on Iraq.
If ever there was a time to "cut out the middleman," this is it! The US must extricate itself from the middle of Israeli affairs.


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