So, Dick Cheney yelled a big fat militaristic "Boo" at the AIPAC Conference, clearly jumping the shark. We've heard this mushroom cloud, dissent stomping crap before, but Cheney's credibility is long gone. The only cloud left rests over Cheney, Bush and the whole White House.
I fully expect a Democratic '08 hopeful or two (or three. . .) to piddle their Drypers, though. Why? Because AIPAC's lobbying efforts on behalf of an aggressive militaristic agenda, against American interests, are very powerful. AIPAC very effectively promotes militarism in the Middle East through lobbying money and networks of campaign contributors here in the U. S., and also through incendiary rhetoric, so that any criticism of its influence or agenda is met with vitriolic allegations of anti-Semitism. Cue Alan Dershowitz and the frothing wingnut commenters sure to accrue to this post before too long.
AIPAC and its neocon allies in the United States have made a pact with the devil of global militarism, paradoxically, against the interests of the people of Israel and the United States. What does it mean to be a "friend of Israel?" I wrote about it almost exactly one year ago.
Still, let's look at all this a little more closely. Here's a bit from Sarah Posner at The American Prospect, who points out that AIPAC has made common cause and shared its platform with millenialist evangelical fundamentalists in the U. S. whose ultimate goal is to see Israel converted or destroyed to bring about the Second Coming of Jesus:
Whether Hagee is good for Israel is beside the point. The real problem is that he represents a catastrophe for the United States and its standing in the world -- not because he might love the Jews too much, or might in fact secretly hate them, but because he is leading a growing political movement completely lacking in a substantive understanding of world affairs. At a time when the Middle East faces seemingly intractable conflicts with dire geopolitical consequences, the notion that Hagee -- whose status is only elevated by invitations like AIPAC's -- is leading a political movement based on nothing more than a supposedly literal reading of his Bible only reinforces the view that the United States is being led by messianic forces at odds with world peace and stability. Young Americans should have a deeper understanding of Middle East politics in order to fully participate in civic discourse as American troops are fighting a seemingly unending war. But Hagee worries not about troop deployments, instead focusing on teaching the Bible in public schools. While religious fundamentalism is causing untold bloodshed around the world, Hagee frets about secularists who are "destroying America."
When he does speak to actual Middle East politics, it's only to encourage the further destabilization of the region. Hagee has been agitating for a war with Iran for well over a year now, certainly not a single-handed effort on his part, nor one for which he would deserve sole blame should it happen. But if it does happen (and some think it already has begun), Hagee most certainly should be blamed for something else: convincing his minions that war is not only palatable, but required by God.
See, the mythology behind all this, from the Israeli hardliner point of view, is that Israel has few friends and is surrounded by hostiles intent on its destruction (true enough). The lessons of the Holocaust are that Israel must be aggressive in striking against those who would seek its destruction (uh oh). Allies are those who would help Israel do this ("with us or against us"). To oppose this is to will the destruction of Israel and is fundamentally anti-Semitic (the anti-Semitism card from the bottom of the deck). Failure to behave aggressively is to betray weakness, which only emboldens the efforts of those who are hostile (neverending war and aggression).
This is, rather precisely, the theory of international relations that has been adopted by George Bush, Dick Cheney and the neocons in charge of U. S. foreign policy. It's a paranoid world view whose outcome is perpetual war, aggression, the annihilation of innocents and the paradoxical increase in hostility to the aggressor nation. Militarism begets terrorism and intensifies enemy recruitment and hostility, not the reverse.
Let's check out some more moving parts to this ideology and its constituent arms of political influence.
- Glenn Greenwald has a good examination of AIPAC and its influence here.
- David Neiwart at Orcinus documents why millenialist evangelicals in the U. S. support Israeli and American militarism here.
- Evan at Alternet comments on the Sarah Posner piece quoted above.
- The Hill documents the boos the AIPAC crowd gave Nancy Pelosi for describing the failures of the war in Iraq.
- The ComPost shows how Blue Dog Democrats held the House leadership hostage to strip away any limiting language on the president's authority to make war with Iran. Howie Klein comments on this in his update to this post.
- oldpruguy at the Big Orange highlights the bit from Congressional Quarterly that shows the AIPAC effort to kill the Iran language from the pending compromise legislation on Iraq. BooMan finishes connecting the dots and shows how AIPAC was not only effective in killing this language with Blue Dog assistance, but also shows how AIPAC succeeded in removing its fingerprints from the effort. Booman says:
I hate saying this because there is no good way to say it. I don't like subsuming concern for Israel under a term like AIPAC or the 'Israeli Lobby'. But, however you want to define it, advocates of Israel's interests have prevailed on the Democratic leadership to strip any prohibition on the President taking military action against Iran without prior congressional approval. I think that is a problem. And I just don't think this is a good way of protecting Israel's real security concerns.
- Ari Berman at The Nation weighs in a bit more on the alliance between the right wing chistianists in the U. S. with Israel's militaristic hawks.
- BarbinMD at Big Orange has more on the Blue Dog sellout. UPDATE: Stoller has names, including past Blue America candidates Mike Arcuri, Joe Sestak and Kirsten Gillenbrand. Please feel free to remind them why they were elected and supported.
AIPAC is a virulently militaristic influence on U. S. policy, and ironically, its agenda does not even coincide with the expressed voting interests of the majority of Jews living in the United States, who reject George Bush and his neocon wars of aggression. AIPAC's power, however, does not reside in its popularity, but in its connections, its influence among DC insiders, its ability to move money to candidates and its willingness to find allies among right wing evangelicals in the United States whose fundamental ideology supports the elimination of both Israel and Jewish religion.
Much of the Democratic Party remains compromised by these influences, including Chuck Schumer, Rahm Emanuel and others who (overtly and covertly) supported Joe Lieberman in his senate race. There's a lot of money available to Democratic candidates who will toe the militaristic AIPAC line, and Obama, Clinton, Edwards and others are all furiously competing to raise money and lock up donors. Matt Stoller advises we promote a nice primary challenge to Allen Boyd (D-FL), whose Blue Dog herding efforts helped kill the Iran language in the House supplemental. Sounds like a fine idea to me.
Iran is not the key nuclear proliferation threat, but as emptywheel points out (via email), Pakistan is:
Look, if this country were concerned about proliferation threats that threaten us, we would not be harping on Iran. It just doesn't threaten the US, at least not with WMD. Instead, we'd be focusing all of our energies on Pakistan, which is the big proliferator in the region, which has close ties to Al Qaeda, and which could lose its somewhat moderate leader to a coup any day.
And frankly, Pakistan is the biggest threat to Israel, as well, because Iran just isn't going nuclear without help, and the country that has helped them in the past is Pakistan.
So why are we warmongering against Iran? Why????
I think you could argue we're doing it at the behest of two of our allies in the region, Israel and Saudi Arabia. So, wonderful, we've got two foreign countries that are exercising undue influence over our foreign policy, great. And now they're in bed together. But that doesn't make the policy right.