« Why Does Michigan Radio Refuse to Talk to Me? | Main | Other journalists with ties to the Israeli military... Is Ethan Bronner the rule rather than the exception? »

Britain’s Inquiry into the Iraq War and the Israel Lobby Taboo - Stephen Sniegoski

Below is Stephen Sniegoski's informative article:

Government investigations of controversial events are invariably whitewashes to protect the government and eliminate the truth.  So it is to a large degree with Britain’s Iraq Inquiry,  which Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced on  June 15,  2009 for the stated purpose of identifying lessons that can be learned from the Iraq conflict. The Iraq Inquiry was officially launched on July 30,  2009 but did not begin its deliberations until  November. It is  being run by a committee of five persons chaired by Sir John Chilcot, and thus is commonly dubbed the Chilcot Inquiry.

[Iraq Inquiry web site:  http://www.iraqinquiry.org.uk/ ]

The Inquiry Committee is stacked against truth since one of the five members of the committee, Sir Lawrence Freedman was a foreign policy adviser to Tony Blair and another member, Martin Gilbert (Churchill’s biographer) is very pro-Israel and idealizes Tony Blair as a great leader.  But  despite the fact that the board was stacked against truth, some element of truth has been able to seep through. And recently it has been reported in the mainstream  press in the UK and even in the US that testimony at the Inquiry revealed that Blair and Bush had agreed upon military action against Iraq as early as April 2002 though this decision on war was never revealed to the US people or to Congress. In fact, the October 11, 2002 Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq did not expressly spell out war and President Bush claimed at that time that it was not a mandate for war but could be used to bring about a solution by peaceful means.

Barely mentioned in the mainstream US or UK media, however, were statements made by Tony Blair in his testimony before the Inquiry referring  to the involvement of Israel in the decision for war.  This is brought out in a piece by Stephen M. Walt, the co-author along with John J. Mearsheimer of the bombshell work, “The Israel Lobby.”   Walt points out that Blair stated that in his meeting with Bush in Crawford, Texas in April 2002 the issue of Israel loomed large:


“As I recall that discussion, it was less to do with specifics about what we were going to do on Iraq or, indeed, the Middle East, because the Israel issue was a big, big issue at the time. I think, in fact, I remember, actually, there may have been conversations that we had even with Israelis, the two of us, whilst we were there. So that was a major part of all this."

Walt points out: “Notice that Blair is not saying that Israel dreamed up the idea of attacking Iraq or that Bush was bent on war solely to benefit Israel or even to appease the Israel lobby here at home.  But Blair is acknowledging that concerns about Israel were part of the equation, and that the Israeli government was being actively consulted in the planning for the war.

“Blair's comments fit neatly with the argument we make about the lobby and Iraq. Specifically, Professor Mearsheimer and I made it clear in our article and especially in our book that the idea of invading Iraq originated in the United States with the neoconservatives, and not with the Israeli government. But as the neoconservative pundit Max Boot once put it, steadfast support for Israel is ‘a key tenet of neoconservatism.’ Prominent neo-conservatives occupied important positions in the Bush administration, and in the aftermath of 9/11, they played a major role in persuading Bush and Cheney to back a war against Iraq, which they had been advocating since the late 1990s. We also pointed out that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and other Israeli officials were initially skeptical of this scheme, because they wanted the U.S. to focus on Iran, not Iraq. However, they became enthusiastic supporters of the idea of invading Iraq once the Bush administration made it clear to them that Iraq was just the first step in a broader campaign of ‘regional transformation’ that would eventually include Iran.”

So, in short, Blair did reveal an Israel connection to the war, that the official gatekeepers of the US (and UK) media have sought to deny, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.  It should be pointed out, however,  that even Walt tends to downplay somewhat the actual extent of the Israel connection.  For while it was the  neocons who from the late 1990s onward pushed the strategic plan to first attack Iraq before moving on to Iran and Israel’s other Middle East adversaries,  their entire plan paralleled earlier schemes developed in Israel, especially by the Likudniks (e.g. Oded Yinon), to destabilize Israel’s enemies by war, starting with a  war on Iraq.  In short, the neocons were hardly original and the overall destabilization through war strategy originated in Israel for the purpose of advancing Israeli geostrategic interests.

Now the Sharon government  did see Iran as its fundamental enemy, but it is not completely certain to what degree Walt is correct in saying: “Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and other Israeli officials were initially skeptical of this [neocon] scheme, because they wanted the U.S. to focus on Iran, not Iraq.”  Most studies on Israeli Cabinets going back to Ben-Gurion have indicated differences of opinion regarding exactly what foreign policy strategies to pursue.   Ben-Gurion supposedly used the saying: “Two Jews, three opinions.”  With this in mind, I would think that some Israelis in high places probably subscribed to the neocon Iraq war position from the beginning, especially since they would know (even if they relied solely on what the neocons said publicly) that Iran would be a future target.  And some Israelis did push the neocon line at a very early date, as I bring out in “The Transparent Cabal.” For example, Rafi Eitan, former head of Mossad who had engineered the capture of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann, echoed the neocon line  in September 2001  by claiming that  Saddam was the “mastermind” of the 9/11 attacks. (TC, p. 146)  And Walt illustrates that by June 2002, after the supposed Crawford agreement, leading Israeli officials were actively pushing for an attack.  It is difficult to see evidence of previous opposition to the neocon agenda.  It would really seem that if there had been a strong preference to attack Iran, Israeli officials would not have so quickly gotten on the bandwagon for war on Iraq.

Walt acknowledges that the supporters of Israel will continue to make an effort to suppress the truth about the role of Israel and its supporters in bringing about the war on Iraq but Walt  does not think it will work. Walt writes: “This campaign won't work, however, because too many people already know that Israel and the lobby were cheerleaders for the war and with the passage of time, more and more evidence of their influence on the decision for war will leak out. The situation is analogous to what happened with the events surrounding the infamous Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in August 1964. The Johnson administration could dissemble and cover its tracks for a few years, but eventually the real story got out, as will happen with Iraq.”

Obviously, the analogy with the attempted Vietnam cover-up is totally fallacious and one would think that Walt would recognize this.  In regard to Vietnam, much, if not most of the media establishment, became opposed to the war by the tail end of the 1960s and the mainstream media (and the academic community) was quite willing to present any information to discredit the war.  In contrast, the willingness to mention pro-Israel involvement in the war on Iraq is virtually non-existent in the mainstream media.

Walt actually concedes the mainstream media’s ability to cover-up the Israel issue   but holds that the “internet and the blogosphere is allowing the word to spread.  Thankfully, we no longer have to rely on the mainstream media to get the story straight.”

This faith in the internet is overrated.  People in important positions know it is not career enhancing to quote the non-PC items from the Internet.  And while the number of individuals who peruse the Internet is large, the number who actually read material critical of Israel and its lobby is rather small. Mostly, the critics of the Israel lobby are preaching to the choir, not making new converts.

Most Americans still get their news from the mainstream media (including mainstream Internet sites) and thus don’t really know much  about the role of Israel and its lobby in influencing US policy.  In short, the impact of the Internet dissidents on Israel is rather meager.  Again, this is  quite a contrast to the impact of the Vietnam war dissenters, who by the end of the 1960s had their views publicized in the mainstream media.  While numerous elected officials opposed the Vietnam war, only a very rare elected official will ever dare mention the role of Israel’s supporters in influencing US policy, and usually those officials are about to retire (e.g., Senator Fritz Hollings)  or later recant (e.g., Congressman  Jim Moran).

Perhaps an even more serious phenomenon is the fear of the  critics of the Israel lobby to identify with others who express similar views on the grounds that such an association will lead to charges of anti-Semitism.  This observation is based on personal experience concerning the virtual disregard of my book, “The Transparent Cabal,” by anti-war outlets that dare to mention  the Israel lobby.  Now, my book is far from a best seller but it has sales equal to  those of many academic works and it has been praised by a number of individuals of some stature.  Yet a significant number of individuals who deal with the Israel lobby topic refuse to mention my work  and this includes Mearsheimer and Walt.  As a matter of fact,  most of these individuals will not even refer to my book in private correspondence.  Now my work on the neocons and their connection to Israel is more extensively documented than any other work on the subject and thus provides solid proof for a number of often disputed points.    If there are errors in my work it would seem reasonable that others should simply mention them.  If I am too harsh toward the neocons or Israel, this could be mentioned too. But instead of being criticized for any faults, my book is treated with silence. This is difficult to explain when it is done by anti-war critics of the Israel lobby,  but  I guess that when taboo issues are involved the possibility of getting into  trouble causes people with something to lose  to be exceedingly cautious in  being identified with writers lacking mainstream sanction.

I don’t think that I am alone in being ignored in this manner.  So if even people such as Mearsheimer and Walt shy away from non-PC authors or from books lacking the imprimatur of big name publishers, it is hard to see how  any significant number of people will gain an understanding of the power of the Israel lobby.  

Returning to the Chilcot Inquiry, I must mention that the issue of Israel and its supporters has already been touched upon in England and largely silenced with the charge of anti-Semitism. On November 22, 2009, as the Inquiry was preparing to convene, a former British ambassador, Oliver Miles, wrote an article in “The Independent” newspaper expressing concern at the fact that two out of the five members of the Inquiry Committee, Martin Gilbert and Lawrence Freedman, were “strong supporters of Tony Blair and/or the Iraq war”. He also pointed out that both Gilbert and Freedman were Jewish, and that Gilbert was a very strong Zionist. http://tinyurl.com/yz6q55f  

Writing in “The Independent” on November 28 and December 12, columnist Richard Ingrams wondered whether the Zionists' links to the Iraq invasion would be brushed aside. His  comments on this issue on December 12  included a  favorable reference  to  my book—“The Transparent Cabal.” (“Richard Ingrams’s Week: Ian Fleming's creations are preferable to reality,”  December 12, 2009, http://tinyurl.com/yb4p7ms  )

After these contentions,  a number of other commentators from the mainstream media, along with Inquiry Committee member Martin Gilbert,  trotted  out the lethal charge of anti-Semitism,  implying that any allegation  that Jews, including very pro-Zionist Jews such as Martin Gilbert, might be naturally biased toward the Jewish state was an example of heinous anti-Semitism.  Of course, the potential accusation of anti-Semitism also would ward off  any investigation of pro-Zionist influence on war policy in Britain or the United States.

On January 31, I wrote a letter on this subject to “The Independent,” which a friend, James Morris,  graciously put forth the effort (making a number of telephone calls) to submit for me.  I  thought that because of  Ingrams’ reference to my book in “The Independent,” that newspaper might be willing to allow me to point out that my book provides extensive evidence of the pro-Israel neoconservatives’ influence in bringing about the US war on Iraq.  In my letter,  I pointed out that this evidence made it necessary for the Inquiry to engage in an investigation of that charge and to not simply dismiss it as conspiratorial anti-Semitism.  Perhaps not surprisingly, my effort failed as the editor replied that the newspaper did not publish “plugs” for books—my reference to the evidence in “The Transparent Cabal” being written off as simply a book “plug.”  Of course, this response  presented me with a something of a Catch-22 situation since my book provides the  necessary proof for  the neocon/Israel role in the war on Iraq, which the media luminaries charging anti-Semitism were claiming was obviously untrue.  Although “The Independent” refused to run my letter in the print addition, it was allowed to be placed among the online comments—along with myriads of other comments by readers.

[My letter is toward the bottom of the web page  http://tinyurl.com/yganmvz ]

The stated purpose of the Chilcot Inquiry is to  learn lessons  from the Iraq conflict.  Obviously the ignoring, or even downplaying, of the role of Israel and its sympathizers will prevent the fundamental lesson from being learned.  And it is this lesson that needs to be learned immediately since the Israel and its supporters are the main factor pushing for war on Iran.  The hand of Israel is even more explicit in the build-up for war on Iran than it had been in the war on Iraq.  In fact, the expressed justifications for war on Iran  usually only involve Israel and Jews—allegations about Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denial, “wiping Israel off the map,” aiding terrorists against Israel.  In fact, most of the expressed reasons for the US to take a militant  line against Iran have little to do with any particular danger to the United States.  Despite the obvious role of Israel and its supporters in the move toward war on Iran, however,  it is still taboo to claim that the war would be fought for the interests of Israel not the United States.  Most likely, with the new revelations limited largely to the Bush administration’s early decision for war, the view of the war will only be revised to the extent that it will be seen as resulting from the aberrant views of Bush and Blair, and perhaps Cheney.  The role of Israel and its lobby will remain largely unknown.  And no connection will be made between the motivation for the war on Iraq and the build-up for the war on Iran, which will continue to be driven by Israel and its lobby unimpeded by  any significant criticism.

Posted on Friday, February 12, 2010 at 07:01AM by Registered Commenter[Alison Weir | Comments Off

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend