Perhaps the best part of the Blumenthal article is that it presents a picture of what should have passed for normal had we had a normal U.S. administration. The Israeli attack on Lebanon wouldn’t have gone on for more than a week – plenty of time to do terrible damage – before a stiff UN resolution ordering Israel out, another week for Israel to delay, and finally a reluctant pull out.
I’m beginning to wonder if this “normal” scenario isn’t what Israel expected and counted on: a routine rescue from the corner it has painted itself into by its big brother in America.
The Blumenthal article, the Forward article and the Parry article – so far among the best I’ve seen on the direction of current policy – (“Bush Wants Wider War” (http://www.consortiumnews.com/2006/080206.html) – are slowly painting a picture of a reluctant and mystified and scared Israel resisting U.S. attempts to widen the war to Syria and Iran. This is their – the neocons’ – big chance.
Regarding the Blumenthal article, I’m wondering why he seems to favor the distinction common everywhere between Bush and the neocons, as if Bush himself and his Rove, Cheney, Rumsfeld clique were not themselves the chief neocons. This is odd considering Blumenthal provides evidence in his article that Bush is chief neocon #1.
At his first National Security Council meeting, President George W. Bush stunned his first secretary of state, Colin Powell, by rejecting any effort to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. When Powell warned that "the consequences of that could be dire, especially for the Palestinians," Bush snapped, "Sometimes a show for force by one side can really clarify things." He was making a "clean break" not only with his immediate predecessor but also with the policies of his father.
Earlier in his article, Blumenthal makes reference to the neocons on Cheney’s national security staff as if there were some distance between Cheney and his staff when it comes to policy issues.
More and more people are beginning to recognize as we approach a month of the current Lebanon horror, that we are dealing with an exceptional U.S. president, one who has again and again gone beyond the normal bounds into recklessness and destruction everywhere.
And how is Bush and his team -- Rove, Cheney and Rumsfeld (one might add Bolton as the exemplary spokesman) – exceptional? They are exceptional in that they advocate a permanent war agenda. Before this latest outbreak of hostilities they were faced with the conundrum of how to proceed in their attacks on Syria and Iran. It was clear that with the fiasco in Iraq on everyone’s mind, it was not going to be easy to get the necessary legitimacy for widening the war to Syria, much less Iran.
The important thing to note is the current clique’s exceptionalism. Would a Democrat in power like Kerry or Gore be following the same Bush policy of resisting a cease fire? The Blumenthal article, detailing broadly the kind of advice that a normal president with the interest of the U.S. uppermost would be getting suggests otherwise.
One important distinction to be made is between the wall to wall solid bipartisan support for Israel in Congress as a measure of AIPAC’s control – we’ve noticed that this hasn’t changed one iota despite the hoopla surrounding the Mearshimer-Walt paper – and how Congress would react if a normal administration were in power.
The current situation is so obviously not in the interests of the United States that it is bleeding onto strange places like NPR, CNN and perhaps even sporadically the New York Times. So it wouldn’t be difficult for Congressional sheep to follow a call for a cease fire since that is what always happens.
Another odd thing is that many on the left have long understood the depth of Bush’s radical departure from civilized norms when they say correctly that Bush is the worst president this country has ever seen. But there seems to be a wall between this clear understanding in the abstract and when they analyze a particular crisis like the current war in the Middle East. When it comes to current events, it seems much more difficult to say flatly that this president is taking us on a dangerous, reckless and irresponsible path to more and more war.
One can also quibble with Blumenthal's portrayal of a marginalized Condi Rice. Both she and Powell knew from the outset what their role was: i.e., to present a normal face to an abnormal and exceptional clique of radical crazies and monsters. (If _monsters_ seems too strong, just take a look at some of the pictures from Lebanon and if the evildoers have their way, the ones to come from Syria – and I don’t even want to say, Iran.)
As bad as Bush’s first term was, this one is clearly another order of magnitude for sheer misery and destruction, and Condi is thus having a harder time putting on that normal face for the butchers who hired her. Calls by the radical press for Condi’s ouster merely help Bush pretend he’s just like other U.S. presidents.
(Thanks to JG for finding the Parry article and to SF for the Blumenthal.)
Exchange with Harry:
Harry begins by quoting from my comments above:
a reluctant and mystified and scared Israel resisting U.S. attempts to widen the war to Syria and Iran.
Ron, no one is compelling a "mystified and scared Israel" to bomb the Syrian border in the process of pulverizing Lebanon and enrage the
Shia in Iraq and Saudi Arabia with obvious risk of widening the war. Israel knows with perfect clarity the risks it is running. --HFC.
Thanks Harry. Your comment is on target and is also helpful in getting more into the heart of the matter. It’s universally acknowledged that the U.S. is blocking a cease fire. Why does the Bush clique – totally isolated internationally – want to continue the war indefinitely?
I’ve noted several reports that Israel is resisting U.S. calls for Israel to widen the war to Syria (including one in the Jerusalem Post that I haven’t yet seen.) If these reports are accurate, that means that decisions will be more and more taken away from the political echelon in Israel – newcomers Olmert and Peretz and their war cabinet -- and placed more and more in the hands of the Israeli military.
The reason for this transfer of power is that as weak politicians, Olmert and Peretz can’t back down from their repeated commitments to win this war, whatever that means. They can’t themselves call a halt to the fighting.
And as if the Israeli military weren’t bad enough on their own, even with exemplary leaders, the simple momentum of ongoing war will be sufficient to drive matters in the direction of a wider conflict.
It appears that Olmert and Peretz recognize on some level that since the U.S. isn’t behaving normally and putting an end to the slaughter, that Israel is being driven into a wider war that they understand cannot be good for the Zionists.
Sadly, tragically, genocidally, as of now, there appears no force capable of stopping the U.S. and the Israeli generals.
We keep saying, stick a fork in us, we're done. But with each day and month that passes, the fork finds a way to go deeper and deeper. -- Ronald
The neocons' next war
By secretly providing NSA intelligence to Israel and
undermining the hapless Condi Rice, hardliners in the
Bush administration are trying to widen the Middle East
conflict to Iran and Syria, not stop it.
By Sidney Blumenthal
The National Security Agency is providing signal
intelligence to Israel to monitor whether Syria and Iran
are supplying new armaments to Hezbollah as it fires
hundreds of missiles into northern Israel, according to
a national security official with direct knowledge of
the operation. President Bush has approved the secret
Inside the administration, neoconservatives on Vice
President Dick Cheney's national security staff and
Elliott Abrams, the neoconservative senior director for
the Near East on the National Security Council, are
prime movers behind sharing NSA intelligence with
Israel, and they have discussed Syrian and Iranian
supply activities as a potential pretext for Israeli
bombing of both countries, the source privy to
conversations about the program says. (Intelligence,
including that gathered by the NSA, has been provided to
Israel in the past for various purposes.) The
neoconservatives are described as enthusiastic about the
possibility of using NSA intelligence as a lever to
widen the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah and
Israel and Hamas into a four-front war.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is said to have been
"briefed" and to be "on board," but she is not a central
actor in pushing the covert neoconservative scenario.
Her "briefing" appears to be an aspect of an internal
struggle to intimidate and marginalize her. Recently she
has come under fire from prominent neoconservatives who
oppose her support for diplomatic negotiations with Iran
to prevent its development of nuclear weaponry.
[snip] for a continuation, go to: