Liar, Liar

Obama is acting like desperate salesmen before a conceited tourist.

Philip Giraldi, November 18, 2010

President Barack Obama’s speech in Indonesia in which he conceded that the United States must do more to establish a good working relationship with many Muslim nations would have ranked as one of the more pathetic performances by an American president in recent years but for the fact that there have been so many awful performances to choose from.  The president’s grammar and syntax were perfect and the speech was cleverly crafted, exactly what we have come to expect.  It was replete with carefully designed pauses, Indonesian words and phrases, and some self deprecating humor, but it was characteristically bloodless and completely tone deaf.  One almost longed to see Bill Clinton choking up and shedding a tear or two.

Obama’s spin team made a heroic effort to turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse.  They likened the Indonesia speech to his Cairo offering seventeen months ago, in which he likewise committed his administration to establishing a new, more convivial modality for dealing with Islamic nations.  That speech was received respectfully and even positively in many quarters, but this time no one was fooled.  It’s funny how a year and a half of inaction and even retreat can reshape how someone thinks.  One Indonesian commented afterwards “What will Obama do in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? If we don’t see any progress, what he says is just a speech.”

Obama’s offering was full of the usual bromides, about how respectful he is of Islam and its traditions.  He even touched on Israel-Palestine, not surprisingly blaming both sides for not taking the necessary courageous steps to find peace.  It is a familiar argument for American audiences who are used to hearing that the conflict is bilateral, but did not go down well in Indonesia where the listeners are all too aware of the details of the brutal Israeli occupation.

What Obama should have said was that it has now become clear that Israel’s Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu has no desire for any peace agreement that does not provide for perpetual and absolute Israeli dominance over the Palestinians.  He should have added that he knows that Netanyahu has nothing but contempt for him personally in the wake of the midterm election debacle and he might also observe that his ability to act independently is conditioned by the Israel Lobby so he can do nothing to help the Palestinians achieve statehood or even to recover a measure of dignity under Israeli occupation.  He might admit that he has now been reduced to offering multi-billion dollar bribes of military equipment to Israel just to tempt it to suspend some settlement activity for ninety day.  Obama’s words would not have changed reality on the ground, but at least he would have told the truth for a change and the candor would have been refreshing.

If Obama wants to establish some kind of modus vivendi with the Islamic world he must speak to it in language that it understands and not lie about things that all Muslims know to be true.  And it is also past time that he begin to speak the truth to the American people also.  His administration’s retreat from any confrontation with Israel in an attempt to make a recalcitrant Netanyahu conform even to minimal standards of behavior confirms what all the world already knows:  Israel will act and the United States will follow, even if those actions will inflict grave damage on the American people and on the US national interest.

And what will that mean for the United States?  It means that the decision about going to war for the US is essentially controlled by Israel because Tel Aviv can start a conflict with Iran at any time that will quickly draw Washington in.  Those who think that the White House still is managing the situation are completely naïve.  There is no indication that the Obama administration has warned Israel against bombing Iran because the US has no cards to play, having ruled out exerting any sort of economic or military pressure on Netanyahu. And there should be no doubt that an attack by Israel on an Iranian nuclear facility would trigger Iranian retaliation and immediate calls in Congress and the media to support Tel Aviv, leaving the president no option but to enter the conflict.  A third war in the region would mean goodbye to any American ability to disengage from the other conflicts that are bleeding the US white and would possibly lead to even more dire consequences if neighbors like nuclear armed Pakistan and India somehow enter the fray.

Bibi Netanyahu surely understands that the cost to the United States in lives and treasure from war with Iran could potentially be catastrophic but it is a price he is willing to pay as his own people and economy would largely be spared, at least initially.  No American leader should tolerate such a situation but, deplorably, those who have spoken out at all on the Middle East have lined up behind the Israelis as if they were part of the United States, or even more esteemed than any of the fifty states. Vice President Joe Biden told the Jewish Federations of North America annual gathering in New Orleans last week that “the ties between our two countries are literally unbreakable” and described how he is “absolutely certain that our support for Israel must continue … forever,” echoing similar statements made by both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama.  Biden knows full well that Israeli and US interests do not coincide and his comments amount to political pandering of the worst sort.  It is even more disconcerting to think that he might actually mean what he says.

Meanwhile Steny Hoyer, who calls himself a Zionist and frequently expresses his love for Israel, and has spoken of “our responsibility to stand by Israel and the Jewish people,” is poised to take over as Minority Whip in the House of Representatives.  On the other side of the aisle, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Eric Cantor are unrelenting advocates of Israel who are about to step into senior positions in the Republican dominated congress.  Cantor recently met privately with Bibi Netanyahu and said the Republican Party would serve “as a check on” the Obama Administration over its policies in the Middle East. Then “He made clear that the Republican majority understands the special relationship between Israel and the United States, and that the security of each nation is reliant upon the other.” In other words, Cantor was meeting with the leader of a foreign country and promising to do whatever he could to influence and even subvert the foreign policy of his own country.  Think about that one for a minute or two.

And while Cantor, Hoyer, Biden and company are ceding US national security to the Israelis, who actually is calling the shots on shaping American policy?  None other than the redoubtable Dennis Ross, perched in the National Security Council as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for the Central Region.  Ross, who has been described as Israel’s lawyer, is poison in the very heart of the policy making apparatus. He recently spoke at an AIPAC Conference in Hollywood Florida where he said “Just last week, I participated in the US-Strategic Dialogue, a biannual event that includes a comprehensive exchange of views on regional issues crucial to both the United State and Israel. But more importantly, the Strategic Dialogue is just one of many, ongoing, and high-level exchanges that occur regularly between the United States in Israel. I’m not aware of another country that we engage more regularly on such a wide range of issues. These types of exchanges not only provide opportunities for discussion of ideas on policy, but they also help solidify connections between our two governments. Over the last two years, I have seen four-star generals, intelligence officers, and high-ranking diplomats all develop personal relationships with their Israeli counterparts. Frankly, this degree of coordination is unprecedented. I have participated in these types of discussions for the last 30 years, and they have never been as intense or focused, reflecting the serious cooperation that we have today with Israel. But our commitment to Israel’s security is defined not by talk. It is defined by the kinds of actions and deeds that help make both of our countries safer and stronger in the face of common threats.”

So if you doubt that the United States is tied hand and foot to Israel in terms of its ability to take independent action in the Middle East, just listen to what Dennis Ross, Joe Biden, and Eric Cantor are saying.  Does it sound like they are articulating policies beneficial to the US?  They are insisting that Americans have to support Israel unquestioningly no matter what it does and are little more than advocates for monsters like Bibi Netanyahu, pure and simple.  The word Quisling comes to mind when one thinks of them and also Hoyer and Ros-Lehtinen.  If their failure to be truly loyal to the country that has nurtured them brings about a new war in which many of their fellow citizens will die, their actions and posturing should be defined by one and all as treason.  If America is to be taken back in a new revolution that will lead to a restoration of the vision of the Founding Fathers it will only take place after the betrayers of our constitution are removed from government, every single one of them.  When American politicians and senior government officials speak of their love of a foreign government that pursues policies inimical to US values and interests they should be disowned by every true patriot and also by every respectable media outlet.  It should be grounds for their immediate removal.


This article first appeared in Antiwar.com. Republished with the author’s permission
Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, is a contributing editor to The American Conservative and executive director of the Council for the National Interest.

Israeli policies are manifestly evil: Philip Giraldi

Kourosh Ziabari

Interview by Kourosh Ziabari, 14 Oct 2010

Philip Giraldi is a former counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer of the United States Central Intelligence Agency. Now, he chairs the Council for the National Interest as the Executive Director. CNI is a nonprofit organization that advocates for the transformation of United States’ Middle East policy.

As a CIA officer, Giraldi served in different countries including Turkey, Italy, Germany and Spain. He is now a Francis Walsingham Fellow at The American Conservative Defense Alliance. He has appeared on several radio and TV programs including Good Morning America, MSNBC, NPR, Fox News, BBC, Al-Jazeera and 60 Minutes.

Giraldi works with the American Conservative magazine as a contributing editor and writes a regular column for the Antiwar website. He is an outspoken critic of the hawkish policies of the United States and has publicly decried Washington’s unconditional support for the state of Israel.

Philip Giraldi joined me in an exclusive interview to discuss the latest developments of the Middle East, the prospect of Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the possibility of a peaceful compromise between Iran and the United States and the impact of Israeli lobby on the long-term policies of the White House.

Kourosh Ziabari: Why is the Israeli lobby so powerful, influential and authoritative? Almost all of the major media conglomerates in the United States own to well-off Jews who are committed to maintaining the interests of the state of Israel in the U.S. Some experts say that Israel is the representative of the United States in the Middle East region, but some others suggest that it’s Israel which determines the future of political developments in the United States. What’s your take on that?

Philip Giraldi: The Israel Lobby is so powerful because it deliberately set out to establish control over key elements in the United States.  It has demonstrated a number of times that politicians who are perceived as being unfriendly to Israel will face serious problems in being reelected because the Lobby mobilizes to provide money and media support to opponents. This means that congress is afraid to oppose anything that Israel and its Lobby wants. The same holds true for the presidency. Every presidential candidate must be seen as friendly to Israel or he will be attacked in the media and denied millions of dollars in political contributions, making it a safer option to support Israel. Finally, pro-Israeli interests control much of the media and, more important, dominate the opinion and editorial pages, making the only narrative that most Americans hear about the Middle East highly favorable to Israel and highly critical of all Israel’s enemies. As a result, Israel is able to control U.S. foreign policy as it relates to the Middle East and also much of the Muslim world.

KZ: The recent call by the Iranian President on framing a fact-finding group to probe into the 9/11 attacks sparked intense controversy around the United States. Is it because the United States considers 9/11 a red line which should not be crossed?

PG: Many Americans believe that 9/11 was never properly investigated. Some believe that the U.S. and, or Israeli governments were actually involved. The Federal government does not want the case to be reopened because a truly open investigation might reveal things that it would like to keep hidden. I do not know what exactly those things might be, but, at a minimum, there was a high level of incompetence within the government in the lead up to the attacks, both by Democrats and Republicans.

KZ: The former Italian President had once said that Mossad had played a role in the 9/11 attacks. Is there any convincing evidence that Israel was behind the 9/11 attacks? Can we rely on some implications including the five dancing Israelis who were seen cheering while the Twin Towers collapsed, or the closure of Zim Shipping Company’s headquarters at the World Trade Center two week before the 9/11 attacks?

PG: Most intelligence officers believe that Israel, which was conducting a massive and illegal spy operation inside the U.S. aimed at Arabs living here, knew at least parts of the 9/11 conspiracy.  It did not share that information and it is also clear that leading Israeli politicians welcomed the attacks because they made Washington a totally committed ally in full agreement with the Israeli view of Islamic terrorism. The Israel view, i.e. that anyone hostile to Israel is a terrorist, has done great damage to the United States because it has created enemies where no enemies previously existed.

KZ: What’s your take on the exercise of double standards by the U.S. over Israel’s nuclear issue?

PG: There is no justification for Washington’s hypocrisy over Israel’s nuclear weapons program.  Israel should be held to the same standard as everyone else, but the action of the Israeli Lobby means that it will never be accountable for anything as long as Washington is in a position to protect it.

KZ: As someone who has closely worked with one of the most sensitive parts of the U.S. government, do you like the continuation of belligerence and hostility between Iran and the United States? Are these two nations fated to be at odds forever? Can you foresee promising horizons of reconciliation and friendship?

PG: I do not believe that Washington and Tehran are natural enemies. I believe that they have been turned into enemies by the media and the activity of the Israel Lobby. Unfortunately, that situation will not change until Washington completely overturns its policies in the Middle East, something that might not happen in our lifetimes. Many young Iranians, the bulk of the population, do not harbor any real hostility towards the United States and if the policies were to change I believe the two countries could again become friendly.

KZ: Is it plausible to be a former CIA officer at the same time as being an outspoken critic of the U.S. administration? You’ve been quite forthright in your criticism of the U.S. foreign policy, especially with regards to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Haven’t been any pressure on you to soften your tone or retreat from your stance?

PG: I have never been pressured to soften my criticism of the US government’s foreign and security policies.  There are many former intelligence officers who have also been highly critical of developments since 9/11.  It is because intelligence officers quickly recognize lies when they hear them and are not very tolerant of a government that lies its way to war.

KZ: Iran marked the 20th anniversary of the conclusion of 8-year war with Iraq last month. Iranians well remember that it was the United States and its European allies, who persuaded, equipped, funded and aided Saddam Hussein in invading Iran. 20 years later, they came together to topple the very Saddam they had supported in war with Iran. Saddam killed more than 400,000 Iranians. My uncle was one of them. Can you put yourself in the place of an Iranian citizen who witnessed the war? What would be your feeling then?

PG: For the United States, the support of Saddam Hussein against Iran was a quid pro quo that goes back to the holding of the U.S. Embassy hostages in Tehran after the Islamic revolution.  It was revenge pure and simple in hopes that Iraq would prove victorious and bring down the Iranian government. As an Iranian, you have a right to be outraged by what happened but the Embassy seizure was also outrageous. The U.S. response was, as it often is, disproportional and I am ashamed of my government’s support of wars to fix political disputes.

KZ: and for the final question, how do you estimate the prospect of Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

PG: There is no hope for resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict as long as the United States continues to permit the Israelis to expand and commit crimes against humanity directed towards the Palestinian people.  Evil is evil no matter how you try to dress it up and the Israeli policies are manifestly evil.  The Palestinians cannot ever accept a peace settlement that requires being held in a large outdoor prison camp by the Israelis supported by the United States.

Kourosh Ziabari

Kourosh Ziabari

Kourosh Ziabari is an Iranian freelance journalist, and regular contributor to RamallahOnline.com

More articles by Kourosh Ziabari can be found here.