JUAN COLE ON THE AMERICAN LIKUD
Professor Cole ha his usual insights, this time into the subject of an Israeli spy in the Pentagon:
So, passing a few confidential documents over is a minor affair. Pro-Likud intellectuals established networks linking Defense and the national security advisers of Vice President Dick Cheney, gaining enormous influence over policy by cherry-picking and distorting intelligence so as to make a case for war on Saddam Hussein. And their ulterior motive was to remove the most powerful Arab military from the scene, not because it was an active threat to Israel (it wasn't) but because it was a possible deterrent to Likud plans for aggressive expansion (at the least, they want half of the West Bank, permanently).
It should be admitted that the American Likud could not make US policy on its own. Its members had to make convincing arguments to Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush himself. But they were able to make those arguments, by distorting intelligence, channeling Ahmad Chalabi junk, and presenting Big Ideas to men above them that signally lacked such ideas. (Like the idea that the road to peace in Jerusalem ran through Baghdad. Ha!)
It was these WINEP and AIPAC-linked US Likud backers in the Defense Department who had the Iraqi army dissolved as soon as Saddam was overthrown. This step threw Iraq into chaos and led to the deaths of nearly a thousand US servicemen so far, since an Iraq without an army would inevitably depend on the US military. But with the Iraqi army gone, and with Egypt and Jordan neutralized, Syria was left the only country anywhere near Israel that could make active trouble for Sharon if he completely screwed over the Palestinians. And Syria was now weak and isolated. So Sharon has had a free hand in his expansionist aggression. And, because the US public has been preoccupied with Iraq, the Likud could pursue its annexation of West Bank land and its expropriation of even more Palestinians without anyone over here even noticing. It is the best of all possible worlds for the heirs of Ze'ev Jabotinsky.
The Likud policies of reversing Oslo and stealing people's land and making their lives hell has produced enormous amounts of terrorism against Israel, and the Likudniks have cleverly turned that to their political advantage. Aggression and annexation is necessary, they argue, because there is terrorism. Some of them now openly speak of ethnically cleansing the Palestinians, using the same argument. But when the Oslo peace process looked like it would go somewhere, terrorism tapered off (it did not end, but then peace had not been achieved).
Where Israel is in the right, this situation obviously is innocuous. The United States should protect Israel from aggressive attack, if necessary. United Nations members are pledged to collective security, i.e. to protecting any member nation from aggression at the hands of another. But given that Israel is a nuclear power with a vast arsenal of weapons of mass destruction; given that Egypt and Jordan have long-lived peace treaties with Israel; and given that Syria and Lebanon are small weak powers, there is not in fact any serious military threat to Israel in its immediate neighborhood. In contrast, Israel launched wars against neighbors in 1956, 1967, and 1982 (all of which it won so easily as to bring into question the necessity for the wars in the first place if they were defensive), and has since 1967 been assiduously colonizing Palestinian land that it militarily occupied--all the while attempting to avoid becoming responsible for the Palestinian populations on that land. This latter policy has poisoned the entire world.
If I had been in power on September 11, I'd have called up Sharon and told him he was just going to have to withdraw to 1967 borders, or face the full fury of the United States. Israel would be much better off inside those borders, anyway. It can't absorb 3 million Palestinians and retain its character, and it can't continue to hold 3 million Palestinians as stateless hostages without making itself inhumane and therefore un-Jewish. And then I'd have thrown everything the US had at al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, and frog-marched Bin Laden off to justice, and rebuilt Afghanistan to ensure that al-Qaeda was permanently denied a base there. Iraq, well, Iraq was contained. [emphasis mine]