U.S. Foreign Policy -- Not "Israel-centric" Enough?

06/13/2005 04:58 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Eugene Volokh thinks former Rep. Paul Findley made a “substantial” error when he attributed to her an admission that the U.S. has an “Israel-centric” foreign policy. I can’t imagine that she ever said any such thing – after all, in her confirmation hearing she wouldn’t even admit that we were lied into war, or that she had any hand in the lying. (Hey, Condi: what about that “mushroom cloud” that was due to blossom over downtown Washington, D.C. if we didn’t go to war with Iraq immediately?)

From the Israeli point of view, at any rate, the problem seems to be that our foreign policy isn’t Israel-centric enough. After all, why else would the Israelis be running spies like Larry Franklin, the 58-year-old Pentagon analyst, whose indictment [.pdf] on 6 counts of espionage was made public today? Why else would the Israelis have set up their friends at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), one of the top five most powerful lobbies in Washington, to act as a collection agency for classified information pilfered from Pentagon vaults?

The indictment is pretty interesting reading: it encapsulates, in the legalese of an official document, how AIPAC employees and -- without naming him -- Naor Gilon, chief political officer at the Israeli Embassy, plied Franklin for information, and promised him a promotion to the National Security Council that would ensure he would sit "at the elbow of the President" -- all the better to influence policy in an "Israel-centric" direction, and, by the way, suck up more classified information which he could then transmit to the Israelis. My favorite part:

"On or about June 26, 2003, [Rosen] and {Weissman] spoke about the luncheon they had earlier attended with Franklin. [Rosen] specifically noted the information the defendant had identified as 'highly classified' and stated that it was 'quite a story.' [Rosen] also told [Weissman], 'Well, look, it seems to me that this channel is one to keep wide open in so far as possible.' [Weissman] replied that he was taking the defendant to a baseball game. [Rosen] replied, 'Smart guy. That's the thing to do.'"

The main defense of the AIPACers and their supporters -- such as David Frum -- has been "everybody does it" and that discussion of "policy issues" and the "inside baseball" of Pentagon politics is here being criminalized. What they didn't know, or didn't want to know, is what the Franklin indictment makes all too clear: the game these guys were playing was espionage, pure and simple.