By Ian Berman* | (Informed Comment) | – –
CIA Veteran Philip Giraldi kicked off a firestorm with his article, “America’s Jews are Driving America’s Wars.” A man of considerable experience with 20 years in anti-terrorism in Europe and the Middle East with the CIA and U.S. Army Intelligence, his opinion carries some weight. Since 1992 he continued working as a consultant and writer with many appearances on numerous TV news programs and 9 years at the American Conservative where he worked as a contributing editor.
It is from this vantage point that Giraldi blamed American Jews in high ranking positions in government, think tanks and media for America’s wars. He also noted the role of wealthy donors who help to stifle criticism of Israel by politicians and the American mainstream media. Clearly he knew he was touching a “live wire,” but didn’t recognize the puddle of water under his feet as he exaggerated Jewish American influence while ignoring other factors in American Middle Eastern policy.
Giraldi acknowledged that the “generals in the Administration,” the Saudis and the Israelis all want war with Iran, yet he claimed “what makes the war engine run is provided by American Jews who have taken upon themselves the onerous task of starting a war with a country that does not conceivably threaten the United States.” In essence, the article implied that all of American Middle Eastern policy is the result of Jewish influence, essentially on behalf of Israel. His single-cause argument had a fatal flaw: he neglected to acknowledge that powerful non-Jews leading the American Empire developed and implemented these policies. Further, he does not explain why these leaders should have abandoned their own interests for those of the Israel lobbies.
It was not Giraldi who first suffered the backlash, but rather fellow CIA veteran Valerie Plame who retweeted the article. A modern day legend, Plame was outed as a covert agent and lost her career over her husband Joe Wilson’s famous call that the Bush Administration lied about Iraq’s attempt to obtain yellowcake uranium. At first Plame defended her tweet, noting the Jewish descent of many warmongering Neoconservatives and her own desire to avoid war with Iran. Eventually she repudiated the article, saying she had only skimmed it.
Then the American Conservative (TAC) fired Giraldi with a phone call on September 21 even though the article was published by another website. Ironically, Pat Buchanan had launched TAC with the article “Whose War?” alleging a push by Jews for the second Iraq War. Like Giraldi, “Buchanan was denounced as an anti-Semite” after that article too.
Most foreign policy observers would agree that U.S. support for Israel is virtually unconditional, yet that support is not due to Jews setting U.S. policy as Giraldi’s article suggests. The roles of the U.S. and Israel are global hegemony and regional client state. It is a beneficial relationship for both parties and everything you see happening serves mutual or non-conflicting interests. Where the interests are not mutual, it becomes a question of priorities. Accordingly, Israel can do as it pleases with the Palestinians, including a multitude of past and current Crimes against Humanity, so long as they don’t interfere with U.S. goals. Paraphrasing Noam Chomsky, the Palestinians add nothing to the Empire, so they have no rights (in the eyes of the Empire). In fact they have negative rights since they are the enemy of Israel.
The U.S. and Israel share intelligence, an important strategic asset for the U.S. In addition, U.S. weapons manufacturers benefit from the aid provided to Israel as most of it is required to be spent on U.S. weapons or joint weapons programs. Further, that the weapons manufacturers can claim their products are battlefield tested is a huge benefit for the industry. Unfortunately for Palestinians, they are the cannon fodder.
Therefore it is safe to say both the American Empire and many non-Jews across government and the military industrial complex perceive themselves to benefit from supporting Israel.
Examining a wider scope, few would disagree the two men most responsible for the past 17 years of American Middle East policy were Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld. Their war against Afghanistan, rather than a police action to capture Bin Laden, and the war under false pretenses against Iraq set in motion the chaos that pervades the Middle East today. These two men are not Jewish.
Cheney and Rumsfeld had long careers in advancing American power. At the peak of their own power, it is highly doubtful these two driven and intelligent leaders would allow the many Jews that worked for them to succeed in pushing their own agenda ahead of U.S. interests. That the interests of the U.S. and Israel aligned could explain why they worked together though.
As Peace News notes in a review of Norman Finkelstien’s work, “Why the American Jewish Romance with Israel is Coming to an End,” Finkelstein “dismantle[d] the notion that it is ‘the Israel lobby’, rather than a hard-headed calculation of ‘national interests’ by U.S. planners, that dictates U.S. policy in the region. . . . Finkelstein’s analysis here is nuanced: he concedes that the Lobby’s ‘ruthless tactics in support of the Israeli occupation have subverted American policy on the secondary issue of the Israel-Palestine conflict’, but rejects the far-fetched notion that it was the driving force behind the 2003 decision to invade Iraq. ‘Many unflattering things might fairly be said of Cheney and Rumsfeld,’ he notes ‘but gullible and naive are not among them.’”
Further, the person behind U.S. foreign policy in Libya is widely acknowledged as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. It is not clear who the decision makers were behind the limited U.S. intervention in Syria, but the buck stops with President Obama. The same conclusion must be reached on U.S. complicity with Saudi Arabia’s decimation of Yemen too. Neither President Obama nor Clinton is Jewish, nor has any case been made that they work for the alleged Jewish interests identified by Giraldi.
Giraldi raised critically important issues that are essentially taboo in American discourse. Yet he left himself open to harsh criticism and the loss of his job by asserting a near exclusivity of Jewish interest in American Middle East policy.
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Ian Berman is an entrepreneur and former corporate banker at leading global banks in New York City. He now focuses on renewable energy, financial advisory services and writing about representative government, equitable public policies and ending American militarism and Israel’s continuing colonization of Palestine. He is the Co-Founder of Palestine 365, the Ongoing Oppression and its predecessor, Palestine 365, on Facebook.
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*NB. This is a slightly revised version of the piece, which first appeared on Tuesday.
Related video added by Juan Cole: