Giraldi Controversy: No, US wars in Mideast are not for Israel Lobby

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.

© 2017. All rights reserved

*NB. This is a slightly revised version of the piece, which first appeared on Tuesday.

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Related video added by Juan Cole:

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11 Responses

  1. Good summary, the influence of the Israeli lobby is of course rotten (we feel it in our own politics here), but it finds plenty of willing allies in the US and the UK. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be so dominant that it shuts out other developments from people’s thinking; here in the UK for example, another malign force are the Saudi/Gulf Arab lobbies. Yemen and corruption are both tied to their hands, yet efforts to break ties with them and act as a neutral party swiftly run into Establishment resistance in exactly the same way we have seen with the Israeli lobby in the US. In short, get a good editor if you write on controversial topics!

  2. This article has so many flaws that one doesn’t know where to begin with. No, Israel and its lobby are not the only ones determining US policy in Middle East. There are areas like Yemen or Libya where the lobby has no or little interest. Where lobby’s influence is decisive is in areas of interest to Israel: Palestinians, occupation, Syria, Iran and Iraq for example.
    May be Chomskite argument that alignment of US interests with Israel is what drives US policy could be argued back in 70’s and 80’s but after seeing Adelsons and Sabans buying the whole political establishment on the both sides of the aisle, and servility of Congress to AIPAC one should be really naive to believe that it is the defense industry that drives US policy. The Lobby opposed JCPOA and it looks like it will succeed in wrecking it.
    Of course US cares about Palestinians. But not for the sake of Palestinians, it is for the Arab and Middle Eastern street. US has sustained tremendous damage to its image for its one sided approach to the conflict.

  3. Most American Jews Are AGAINST Israel’s Treatment of Palestinians And DON’T Want War With Iran. That’s One Major Reason American Jews Always Vote Majority Democratic In National Elections. They Feel Democrats Are Actually More Rational Than Republicans And Won’t Start Unnecessary Wars In The Mideast Like The Bushes And Other Republicans Did And Do.

    Yes the tail Israel does not wag the dog the United States. The tail only shows that the dog is happy in the U.S. imperial realm. The dog is leading the way. That’s the way power works, not the other way around.

    The United States was becoming a great imperial power long before the advent of Israel, and Israel is only an adjunct to the great historic misguided power that is imperial America. Rumsfeld and Cheney and Bush and other leaders in previous, current and subsequent U.S. administrations will always bring in advocates of its policies to help run the imperium. That brings Jewish people into prominence in the government, and while they’re helping run policies that they favor they’re doing the bidding of superior officials. Most functionaries ARE NOT JEWS, but Jews are thrust into the limelight to take the heat from racists and rightist fascists away from those truly forming and implementing the policies.

    For someone like Giraldi to reverse the order of power is a sign of frustration but also a sign that the simplistic and misleading scapegoating of Jews continues. I don’t let off Israel’s government from culpability though. Israel’s successive governments since 1967, especially since the rightist faction came to power in the later 1970s, have been the cause of much suffering in its own conquered lands and a primary cause in the region in general.

    Even then there are other primary causes, regional and European. However, the Prime Primary Cause is, has been, and will be the United States imperium in the region and its imperatives of predominance and commercial/resource nihilism in the region, all in the service of maximizing its influence over resources and peoples.

  4. One could also argue that Evangelicals, especially the End Timers, are as much or more of a driving force than right-wing Jews. Believing that modern Israel is god’s creation, they tolerate no opposition to Israel or its policies. To oppose Israel on any grounds on any issue is to oppose god’s plan and thus oppose god itself.

    While Evangelicals may not donate vast sums as do Jewish Americans such as Sheldon Adelson, they represent tens of millions of votes. As one of their leaders once said, when it comes to Israel or the US, she’ll take Israel every time.

  5. Berman should consider reading Ari Shavit’s no nonsense editorial in Haaretz, April 2003 called “White Man’s Burden” that stated then pretty much the same information that Giraldi discussed in UNZ piece last week that raised such a fuss, claiming ‘anti Semtism’ for stating the OBVIOUS about the decades long neoconservative drive for dividing/carving up the M/E…(see also YINON PLAN 1982 ) link to haaretz.com
    After all, even Wesley Clark spoke about that plan when he was a candidate in 2007 for President…to invade seven countries in five years…and mentioned the neocons in his book..Wolfowitz, Perle, Libby, Feith, Wurmser, Abrams, et al.

    • Thank you for the suggestion to read Shavit’s White Man’s Burden ( link to haaretz.com ). While I understand the people identified, as in Giraldi’s piece, hold quite visible and high level positions, I don’t think they are telling Cheney and Rumsfeld what to do. Instead, they make what Cheney and Rumsfeld want to accomplish more possible. One should consider that as far as government positions, if they were not committed to the Cheney and Rumsfeld playbook, they wouldn’t have held those jobs.

  6. I wonder how many people commenting here have actually read Giraldi’s essay. He is careful to distinguish between zionists and Jews. He doesn’t say that zionists were behind all US wars. In fact, Cheney and Rumsfield were successful in going to war in Iraq because zionists were for it. Imagine if they could have done it if the Lobby was against it.
    I agree with PB. The author this is Zionism lite in disguise. In fact, one of their hallmarks is to claim they are all powerful but then turn around and feign weakness as the situation demands. Pure has area.

  7. Apparently our difference of opinion is just how much influence Jews have over American Middle East policy. Since I cannot think of any single event the US is responsible for, or has not stopped, with relation to Israel that is not consistent with its actions elsewhere in the world, I don’t accept that the Jewish interest has that much influence for the reasons laid out in the article.

    The only exception would be the way the U.S. wields the veto at the U.N. which the U.S. on behalf of Israel. Yet given the level of political donations from Jews, that’s not surprising though. Still, there is no evidence of the U.S. going to war either for Israel, the wealthy Jewish donors or the Jewish government officials, instead of he U.S.’s own interests.

    I do not think Zionism is a benevolent force by any means, but rather it is not strong enough to dictate policy to the U.S. So for those calling me “Zionist Lite,” I recommend you read two of my other pieces on Informed Comment.

    Israeli Right Wing Faction Announces a Plan for Ethnic Cleansing
    – Essentially an offer that says ‘Get Out or We Will Make Your Life a Living Hell, or Worse’
    September 19, 2017

    link to juancole.com

    Prime Minister May: Take Back the Balfour Declaration – Israel Reneged on the Bargain
    April 4, 2017

    link to juancole.com

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