Archive for the ‘John Mearsheimer’ Category

Jewish professor at Catholic school in Qatar – Intermountain Jewish News

Gary Wasserman, left, with students on the Georgetown campus in Qatar, 2012.

WASHINGTON Near the end of his first year teaching American studies at the Georgetown University campus in Qatar, Gary Wasserman introduced a dozen Israelis to a dozen undergraduates from across the Middle East.

Then he left the room so the students could have an unfiltered discussion.

The one-hour meeting was part of what Wasserman calls his liberal quest to overcome biases grounded, he said, in part by his Jewish upbringing.

But the encounter wasnt exactly a success. Afterward, a Lebanese student came to his room, tears in her eyes. An Israeli had asked her during the encounter, You hate us, dont you?

Wasserman in his forthcoming book The Doha Experiment, about his gig directing the Georgetown American studies program in Qatar from 2006 to 2014, uses the incident to identify a duality that was typical of his time on campus: the quest for connections outside of ones comfort zone, on the one hand, combined with intense fears of people raised in radically different cultures.

We were part of a university that provided a place to think and talk, Wasserman said he told the Lebanese student, who had been trapped at her aunts house during the 2006 Lebanon War. And while this didnt seem like much now, it was really all we had to offer. I felt inadequate and sad.

Wassermans initial mission shared by Georgetown and the Qatari government was to bring an American-style free exchange of thought to the deeply traditionalist Gulf state.

But that expectation soon tamped down into a more limited one: that young people get a decent education and get along with folks from vastly different political cultures.

Theres a liberal, missionary impulse that you are bringing pluralism, globalization and tolerance to a part of the world that needs it, Wasserman, who is now retired, told JTA last week.

Within months, Wasserman wrote, his original idealism had abated but then, so had his own fears about being a Jew in Qatar.

I began my journey both apprehensive and idealistic, he wrote. I ended it less apprehensive and also less idealistic.

About the apprehension: Wasserman, the author of a popular political science textbook who had taught at Columbia and Georgetown, appalled friends and family when he decided to go to Qatar.

With the memory of the 9/11 terrorist attacks still fresh, many in his circle questioned the rationality of a Jew moving to what seemed like the belly of the beast at the time.

Their pleadings had an effect, and he consulted with a psychologist who happened to be a European Jew about how to deal with his anxieties. His sessions had a surprising denouement.

Youre not crazy to be scared, Wasserman quoted the psychologist as saying in their final session. Youre crazy to go. Havent you been watching the news? These people hate Jews. Theyre anti-Semites . . . Stay away from them. Theyll never change.

This went on for a while, Wasserman wrote. (He was being paid by the hour.)

Nonetheless, in Qatar, Wasserman encountered barely any personal animosity because of his Jewishness. In one poignant passage, he described his concerns after his identity became common knowledge on campus a staffer had let it slip.

It was too easy to imagine their unspoken responses: Yknow, hes Jewish. Yeah, I could tell. Or, So thats what those horns are. Or, No wonder he flunked me, Wasserman wrote. I might have overthought this. One student later said to me, after she had graduated, that the only student discussion she recalls about my religion was the worry that I might feel isolated and out of place.

Instead, the hostility toward Jews and Israel was expressed in more generalized settings, particularly the conspiracy theories that proliferate in Arab countries.

Wasserman said his favorite anecdote in the book is the student who told him that another teacher had said that the Mossad was behind 9/11, and also that 9/11 was not a bad idea.

He asked the student how both ideas could coexist in one persons head.

The student looked at me for a moment, resigned that yet another nave foreigner failed to appreciate how holding two contradictory opinions at the same time was consistent with the political views permeating the region, Wasserman wrote.

Another student, Ella, graduated at the top of the class. Shortly after, Wasserman saw an interview with Ella in a local newspaper in which she was asked for her impressions of the 2012 US election.

Her depressing answer, as he put it: It really didnt matter because the Zionists controlled the banks, the media, and both political parties and wouldnt let anything change in America.

Perhaps Wassermans most foolhardy quest was to teach the students about how the pro-Israel lobby functioned as a curative to the overly expansive description of its influence in the 2007 book by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, The Israel Lobby. (Disclosure: This reporter and Wasserman collaborated for a period in the late 2000s on a book on the pro-Israel lobby. It found no buyers.)

In my lecture, I tried to leave the class with a simple point: the power of the pro-Israel lobby had been inflated by supporters and opponents alike for their own reasons, he wrote. Although clearly a powerful player in foreign policy, AIPAC was only narrowly influential and constrained by other public and political interests.

Did the students get the message? Not quite. Later in the book, Wasserman related that he often found that the students bought into myths of Jewish influence but with admiration, not contempt.

Wasserman, alongside other faculty on campus, came to accept that they were not the vanguard of progressive values in Qatar. Instead, they set more modest ambitions, such as one-to-one opportunities to lend a hand to those seeking a way out of a society that was stifling, especially to women.

He wrote about a student wearing an abaya the robe-like dress worn by some women in parts of the Muslim world entering his office and asking him to write a letter recommending her for graduate studies in England. He was happy to she had good grades but she could not articulate what exactly she wanted to study, making it a challenge for him to tailor the letter to specifics that would help her.

I dont really want to go to graduate school, she told him, but if I stay in Doha, my family will make me get married. Going to London for grad school is acceptable to them. For me, it means I can put off getting married and not have to confront my parents.

It was encounters like these that left Wasserman hopeful about bridging divides, he told JTA.

The problem is you dont want encounters conducted on the basis of Jew and Muslim, Christian and Buddhist, because it isolates one identity and sets up a polarity, he said.

Bring Israelis over for a semester, not just an afternoon, he said, so they would have the time to find other commonalities with their Arab and Muslim counterparts.

They will share things like a harsh father or questions about devotion or career goals, he said.

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Jewish professor at Catholic school in Qatar – Intermountain Jewish News

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August 4, 2017   Posted in: John Mearsheimer  Comments Closed

Trump to Sign Sanctions Against Russia ‘Soon’ – Chicago Tonight | WTTW


Chicago Tonight | WTTW
Trump to Sign Sanctions Against Russia 'Soon'
Chicago Tonight | WTTW
Joining Chicago Tonight to discuss the sanctions against Russia, Putin's response, and the investigations into Russian electoral interference are John Mearsheimer, professor of political science and co-director of the Program on International Security
Russia's Military Drills Near NATO Border Raise Fears of AggressionNew York Times

all 166 news articles »

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Trump to Sign Sanctions Against Russia ‘Soon’ – Chicago Tonight | WTTW

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August 2, 2017   Posted in: John Mearsheimer  Comments Closed

Head of American Jewish Committee is Israel’s ‘Foreign Minister,’ said Netanyahu minister – Mondoweiss

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and AJCongress Executive Director David Harris in Jerusalem, January 2013. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi

Last week South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham suggested that the Israel lobby group AIPAC might need to register as a foreign agent because it speaks up for Israel and has many contacts in that country. Such registration would be a blow to AIPAC. Its rationale to US politicians is that it is an American group that speaks for American interests even though its goal is to make sure there is no daylight between the U.S. government and the Israeli government.

Here is further evidence of the confusion of interests between the United States and Israel represented by American Zionist organizations. Yuval Steinitz, a minister in the Netanyahu government of Israel,two years ago heaped praise on David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee, at an AJC global forum.

Actually you know currently we dont have a foreign minister in Israel,but the Jewish people have a foreign minister, an accident foreign minister and this is David Harris, and I am confident David, that although you are the foreign minister of the American Jewish Committee and actually of the Jewish people, you are also serving a little bit as the foreign minister of the Jewish state. Jewish people, Jewish state some linkage.

Steinitz was not engaging in hyperbole. Harris is a ferocious advocate for Israel who at the time waslobbying politicians to try to stop President Obamas Iran deal.

When Netanyahu took the extraordinary step of coming to Congress to oppose the U.S. president on the deal, Harris spoke up for Netanyahu:

I met with him two weeks ago in his office in Jerusalem, and he felt that the deal, as he understood it, would be catastrophic, indeed life-threatening, for the state of Israel. And he felt that he had the obligation to come.

The two men go way back. WhenNetanyahu pushed in Congress for the Iraq war so as to remake the Middle East, David Harrisalso pushed for the war.

And Harris justified everything Israel did in the Gaza onslaught of 2014 when it killed over 500 Palestinian children.

When the Polish consulate in New York scheduled a talk in 2006 by the late great Tony Judt on the Israel lobby and U.S. foreign policy, David Harris called the Polish consul general as a friend of Poland and said the lecture was going to be entirely contrary to the entire spirit of Polish foreign policy. The lecture was cancelled. (Per the book The Israel Lobby, by Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer).

Harris bragged of his global influencein this speechin 2015. He said he was a longtime friend of then deputy national security adviser Tony Blinken, held up a letter from the prime minister of France, and ran down a list of all the diplomats who had come to address the American Jewish Committee:

When you have an organization where the prime minister [of France] speaks of his relationship with your Paris director and when the German chancellor on screen speaks of her relationship with our Berlin director, you know theres something special about the organization Its the worlds leaders telling you we do important work. The Jewish world has never seen such a political-diplomatic tour de force as weve just seen in the last 48 hours [of the AJC forum]. 36 separate dinners with diplomats. The chancellor of Germany, the Prime Minister of Japan, the Prime Minister of Israel, the prime minister of the Ukraine The principal negotiator on Iran coming to speak to you here. The foreign minister of Bulgaria coming to meet you here. Organizations would give their eye teeth for one of them, if they were lucky. We had them all.

It is plain that a big part of Harriss job description is to provide Israel with diplomatic protection and global economic support. He really ought to have to register as a foreign agent.But doing so is anathema to the Israel lobby, because it would undermine its claim to be Americans helping Americans sort out our foreign policy. A few years back, John Judis argued that the problem of dual loyalty was inherent in the work of David Harris and other officials of Israel lobby organizations.

AIPACs staff and officials claim there is no contradiction between representing the interests of Israel and those of the United States, but thats at best an arguable point. Certainly, AIPAC has found itself defending Israeli policiessuch as the invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and the rapid expansion of settlements in the West Bank in the late 1980s, or the 1993 Oslo Accords, or even the most recent Israeli offensive in Lebanonthat, in the opinion of many Americans and Jewish-Americans, were not in the interest of the United States.

They make dual loyalty an inescapable part of being Jewish in a world in which a Jewish state exists. By ignoring this dilemmaand, worse still, by charging those who acknowledge its existence with anti-Semitismthe critics of the new anti-Semitism are engaged in a flight from their own political selves. They are guilty of a certain kind of bad faith.

Last month another Israeli government official acknowledged the vital role that the American Jewish Committee performs for Israel. Tzipi Livni, a former foreign minister, thanked American Jewsgathered at the AJC conference:

First I would like just to start with something that we Israelis sometimes we are not saying enough. I want to say to you all, Thank you, toda raba. Thank you for standing with Israel, thank you for helping Israel, thank you for advocating for Israel. I know that its not easy sometimes. Now Im in the opposition in Israel, but Toda, Im saying on behalf of the state of Israel and the people of Israel.

Very much like what Dennis Ross, a former White House negotiator, told American Jews at a New York synagogue last year. We need to be advocates for Israel, and not for Palestinians.

The good news is that these job descriptions were elaborated by people in their 60s and 70s. Young Jews will transform the Israel lobby, but it wont be easy.

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Head of American Jewish Committee is Israel’s ‘Foreign Minister,’ said Netanyahu minister – Mondoweiss

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US VP Pence calls Russian Federation threat while hoping for better ties – Normangee Star

President Vladimir Putin said on Sunday that means 755 staffers have to go.

Pence is now on a tour of Eastern Europe aimed at reassuring US allies rattled over Russias 2014 annexation of Crimea and backing for a bloody separatist rebellion in Ukraine.

Pence arrived in Montenegro from Georgia, which fought a brief war with Russian Federation in 2008 over the breakaway enclave of South Ossetia.

Montenegros accession to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation on June 5 and Georgias hopes of joining the military alliance have stirred fury in Moscow, which considers both countries to be in its historic sphere of influence.

Russian Federation and Georgia fought a brief war in 2008, which lead to two breakaway Georgian regions, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, declaring independence.

Moscow officially recognised South Ossetia and another rebel province Abkhazia as independent after routing Georgias forces and moved thousands of its troops into the regions.

Joining Chicago Tonight to discuss the sanctions against Russia, Putins response, and the investigations into Russian electoral interference are John Mearsheimer, professor of political science and co-director of the Program on International Security at the University of Chicago; and Ccile Shea, a senior fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs who was a USA diplomat for more than two decades.

Later on Tuesday Pence will inspect troops taking part in joint U.S.

Pence also insisted again that Trump is gearing up to approve new punitive measures against Russian Federation that have already pushed battered ties with Moscow still lower.

Pence told a press conference in Georgia on Tuesday that Trump would sign the bill soon, although the White House has not set a timeframe.

Pences European trip comes several days after the U.S. Senate voted last week to approve the new financial sanctions against Moscow.

Pence arrived in the tiny Adriatic republic on Tuesday on the final leg of a European tour created to reaffirm Washingtons commitment to the security of Eastern Europe in the face of an emboldened Russian Federation. It was a show of support after its entrance into the alliance sparked bitter opposition from Moscow.

On Tuesday evening, speaking at a dinner with Montenegrin Prime Minister Dusko Markovic, Pence said your courage particularly in the face of the Russian pressure inspires the world and I commend you for that.

Pence is attending the Adriatic Charter Summit in Podgorica on Wednesday afternoon, which also brings together leaders from Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia, Kosovo, Serbia and Slovenia.

The future of the Western Balkans is as part of the West, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said on Wednesday during a visit to Montenegro two months after it joined North Atlantic Treaty Organisation in defiance of Russian Federation.

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US VP Pence calls Russian Federation threat while hoping for better ties – Normangee Star

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A Jewish professor taught at a Catholic school in a Muslim country. Here’s what happened. – Jewish Post

WASHINGTON (JTA) Near the end of his first year teaching American studies at the Georgetown University campus in Qatar, Gary Wasserman introduced a dozen Israelis to a dozen undergraduates from across the Middle East.

Then he left the room so the students could have an unfiltered discussion.

The one-hour meeting was part of what Wasserman calls his liberal quest to overcome biases grounded, he said, in part by his Jewish upbringing.

But the encounter wasnt exactly a success. Afterward, a Lebanese student came to his room, tears in her eyes. An Israeli had asked her during the encounter, You hate us, dont you?

Wasserman in his forthcoming book The Doha Experiment, about his gig directing the Georgetown American studies program in Qatar from 2006 to 2014, uses the incident to identify a duality that was typical of his time on campus: the quest for connections outside of ones comfort zone, on the one hand, combined with intense fears of people raised in radically different cultures.

We were part of a university that provided a place to think and talk, Wasserman said he told the Lebanese student, who had been trapped at her aunts house during the 2006 Lebanon War. And while this didnt seem like much now, it was really all we had to offer. I felt inadequate and sad.

Wassermans initial mission shared by Georgetown and the Qatari government was to bring an American-style free exchange of thought to the deeply traditionalist Gulf state.

But that expectation soon tamped down into a more limited one: that young people get a decent education and get along with folks from vastly different political cultures.

Theres a liberal, missionary impulse that you are bringing pluralism, globalization and tolerance to a part of the world that needs it, Wasserman, who is now retired, told JTA last week.

Within months, Wasserman wrote, his original idealism had abated but then, so had his own fears about being a Jew in Qatar.

I began my journey both apprehensive and idealistic, he wrote. I ended it less apprehensive and also less idealistic.

About the apprehension: Wasserman, the author of a popular political science textbook who had taught at Columbia and Georgetown, appalled friends and family when he decided to go to Qatar. With the memory of the 9/11 terrorist attacks still fresh, many in his circle questioned the rationality of a Jew moving to what seemed like the belly of the beast at the time.

Their pleadings had an effect, and he consulted with a psychologist who happened to be a European Jew about how to deal with his anxieties. His sessions had a surprising denouement.

Youre not crazy to be scared, Wasserman quoted the psychologist as saying in their final session. Youre crazy to go. Havent you been watching the news? These people hate Jews. Theyre anti-Semites. Ive dealt with these fkakta Nazis all my life. Stay away from them. Theyll never change.

This went on for a while, Wasserman wrote. (He was being paid by the hour.)

Nonetheless, in Qatar, Wasserman encountered barely any personal animosity because of his Jewishness. In one poignant passage, he described his concerns after his identity became common knowledge on campus a staffer had let it slip.

It was too easy to imagine their unspoken responses: Yknow, hes Jewish. Yeah, I could tell. Or, So thats what those horns are. Or, No wonder he flunked me,’ Wasserman wrote. I might have overthought this. One student later said to me, after she had graduated, that the only student discussion she recalls about my religion was the worry that I might feel isolated and out of place.

Instead, the hostility toward Jews and Israel was expressed in more generalized settings, particularly the conspiracy theories that proliferate in Arab countries.

Wasserman said his favorite anecdote in the book is the student who told him that another teacher had said that the Mossad was behind 9/11, and also that 9/11 was not a bad idea.

He asked the student how both ideas could coexist in one persons head. The student looked at me for a moment, resigned that yet another nave foreigner failed to appreciate how holding two contradictory opinions at the same time was consistent with the political views permeating the region, Wasserman wrote.

Another student, Ella, graduated at the top of the class. Shortly after, Wasserman saw an interview with Ella in a local newspaper in which she was asked for her impressions of the 2012 U.S. election. Her depressing answer, as he put it: It really didnt matter because the Zionists controlled the banks, the media, and both political parties and wouldnt let anything change in America.

Perhaps Wassermans most foolhardy quest was to teach the students about how the pro-Israel lobby functioned as a curative to the overly expansive description of its influence in the 2007 book by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, The Israel Lobby. (Disclosure: This reporter and Wasserman collaborated for a period in the late 2000s on a book on the pro-Israel lobby. It found no buyers.)

In my lecture, I tried to leave the class with a simple point: the power of the pro-Israel lobby had been inflated by supporters and opponents alike for their own reasons, he wrote. Although clearly a powerful player in foreign policy, AIPAC was only narrowly influential and constrained by other public and political interests.

Did the students get the message? Not quite. Later in the book, Wasserman related that he often found that the students bought into myths of Jewish influence but with admiration, not contempt.

Wasserman, alongside other faculty on campus, came to accept that they were not the vanguard of progressive values in Qatar. Instead, they set more modest ambitions, such as one-to-one opportunities to lend a hand to those seeking a way out of a society that was stifling, especially to women.

He wrote about a student wearing an abaya therobe-like dress worn by some women in parts of theMuslim world entering his office and asking him to write a letter recommending her for graduate studies in England. He was happy to she had good grades but she could not articulate what exactly she wanted to study, making it a challenge for him to tailor the letter to specifics that would help her.

I dont really want to go to graduate school, she told him, but if I stay in Doha, my family will make me get married. Going to London for grad school is acceptable to them. For me, it means I can put off getting married and not have to confront my parents.

It was encounters like these that left Wasserman hopeful about bridging divides, he told JTA.

The problem is you dont want encounters conducted on the basis of Jew and Muslim, Christian and Buddhist, because it isolates one identity and sets up a polarity, he said.

Bring Israelis over for a semester, not just an afternoon, he said, so they would have the time to find other commonalities with their Arab and Muslim counterparts.

They will share things like a harsh father or questions about devotion or career goals, he said.

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A Jewish professor taught at a Catholic school in a Muslim country. Here’s what happened. – Jewish Post

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The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy – Center for Research on Globalization

A decade ago in 2007 John J. Mearsheimer, the R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science and co-director of the Program on International Security Policy at the University of Chicago, and Stephen M. Walt, the Robert and Renee Belfer Professor of International Affairs at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and Academic Dean of the Kennedy School from 2002-2006, publishedThe Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy.

The publisher was the prestigious publishing house, Farrar, Straus and Giroux. The authors made a convincing case that Israel operating through its American lobbies, which are not registered as foreign agents, succeeds in using US foreign policy in Israels interests. The authors conclude that the use of US foreign policy in Israels interests is damaging to both Americas national interests and to Israels long-term security.

Many were pleased that two distinguished experts had breached a taboo issue. But the Israel Lobby was not among them. Instantly, the authors and the book were denounced as anti-Semitic. The demonstration that Israel had influence was misrepresented as the claim that Israel controlled the US government. The authors were denounced for their extremism which some alleged could result in a new holocaust.

Other critics took a different approach and claimed that there was no difference between Israeli and US interests and that anything that served Israel also served America. Some evangelicals added: and also serves God.

The authors remained dispassionate throughout the long controversy and stuck to their point that Israels influence on US foreign policy was not in the interest of either country.

If we think of a spectrum with influence at one end shading into control at the other, in the decade sinceThe Israel Lobbywas published Israel has moved closer to the control end of the spectrum. For example, we learn from the Israeli newspaperHaaretzthat a bill in the US House of Representatives would require U.S. to consult with Israel before selling arms in Mideast.

Last month the House of Representatives unanimously passed HR 672 titled Combating European Anti-Semitism Act of 2017. Former CIA official Philip Giraldi reports that the bill requires the State Department to monitor what European nations and their police forces are doing about anti-Semitism. In other words, the bill makes Washington an enforcer over Europe for Israel. There is a companion bill in the US Senate.

And then there is S. 722 backed by AIPAC, titled An act to provide congressional review and to counter Iranian and Russian aggression. Iranian and Russian aggression exist by assertion, not by fact. The bill more or less makes it impossible for President Trump to remove the sanctions and normalize relations.

And there is much more since 2007. In 2010 the Israeli newspaperHaaretzreported Netanyahus boast that America was a country easy for him to manipulate. In 2015 Congress without consulting President Obama invited Netanyahu to address Congress on the appropriate US foreign policy toward Iran. Congress is accustomed to grovelling at Israeli feet. Every year Congress attends AIPACs meeting and pays homage to its liege lord. One would think that the sight of the legislative body affirming its allegiance to Israel would raise questions about what country Congress represents.

If Mearsheimer and Walt have the strength, the time is ripe for a second edition ofThe Israel Lobby.

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July 26, 2017   Posted in: John Mearsheimer  Comments Closed

Pitching the ‘Forever War’ in Afghanistan – Consortium News

Exclusive: Rather than rethink U.S. policy in the Mideast, particularly the entangling alliances with Israel and Saudi Arabia, Official Washington pushes schemes to perpetuate the forever war in Afghanistan, writes James W Carden.

By James W Carden

In May, the founder of the mercenary-for-hire group Blackwater (now since remained Academi), Erik Prince took to the pages of the Wall Street Journal to propose that the Pentagon employ private military units and appoint a viceroy to oversee the war in Afghanistan.

According to Prince, who has been actively lobbying for what he calls an East India Company approach as the solution to Americas longest war (16 years, $117 billion and counting), In Afghanistan, the viceroy approach would reduce rampant fraud by focusing spending on initiatives that further the central strategy, rather than handing cash to every outstretched hand from a U.S. system bereft of institutional memory. (Prince naturally failed to say if his were among those outstretched hands)

On July 10, The New York Times reported that Prince and the owner of the military contractor Dyn Corporation, Stephen Feinberg, have, at the request of Stephen K. Bannon and Jared Kushner, been pushing a plan to, in effect, privatize the war effort in Afghanistan. (In recent weeks both The Nation and The American Conservative have published deep-dive investigative pieces into the behind the scenes machinations of would-be Viceroys Prince and Feinberg).

According to the Times report The strategy has been called the Laos option, after Americas shadowy involvement in Laos during the war in neighboring Vietnam.

If so, then the Laos option is an unfortunate moniker for their strategy given the fact that the during Americas war over Laos (1964-73) the U.S. dropped 2.5 million tons of munitions on that country as part of the failed effort in Vietnam, which finally ended when the U.S. embassy in Saigon was evacuated in 1975.

It is worth mentioning, since we so often overlook the collateral damage caused by our overseas adventures, that in the 40-plus years since the cessation of operations in Laos that 20,000 Laotians have been killed by unexploded ordinance dropped that had been dropped during that illegal nine-year campaign.

And while Prince and Feinberg have (so far anyway) gotten the cold shoulder from National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster and Pentagon Chief James Mattis, momentum is picking up for once again ramping up American involvement in Afghanistan among some of the (allegedly) more sophisticated members of the foreign policy establishment.

More Armchair Warmongering

On July 11, former Deputy Defense Secretary Michele Flournoy and think tank functionary Richard Fontaine published a piece for the purportedly realist National Interest magazine that attempted to assure readers that The Afghan War Is Not Lost. Why not? Because even though there are roughly 8,400 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, More troops can help achieve American objectives in Afghanistan, but only if they are part of a larger and more effective strategy. [Emphasis mine].

The stress on more troops (if not to say, thousands upon thousands of unaccountable mercenaries in the pay of Feinberg and Prince) is deeply concerning because if anyone can be said to be a reliable barometer of prevailing opinion inside the Beltway it is Flournoy.

Readers may recall that Flournoy co-chaired the Obama administrations Afghanistan policy review, which led to the Presidents ill-fated December 2009 decision to send 33,000 American troops (plus a contingent of 7,000 from NATO) to prop up the Karzai regime in Afghanistan. The following year, 2010, would end up as the bloodiest one yet for coalition forces in Afghanistan. Indeed, nearly three-fourth of all American casualties in that war took place in the years following Obamas decision to surge in Afghanistan.

But give Flournoy (who was at the top of Hillary Clintons short list to be Defense Secretary) credit: she persists. Today Flournoy and her frequent co-author Fontaine (both are executives of the hawkish think tank Center for a New American Security) say that American should commit to Afghanistan indefinitely:

The centerpiece of the administrations Afghanistan strategy must therefore be a clear and sustained American commitment to Afghanistan. By forswearing deadlines and making clear that the United States will support the Afghan government and security forces indefinitely and until they are able to hold their own, Washington can telegraph to the Taliban that it will not succeed in retaking the country.

Worryingly, some members of Congress seem to be on board. In early July, a bipartisan delegation including Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Elizabeth Warren toured Pakistan and Afghanistan and called for greater military involvement in the region. Speaking on behalf of the delegation, McCain noted, none of us would say that were on course to a success here in Afghanistan.

The Forever War

Driving the push to send more troops is the fact that, as Flournoy and Fontaine point out, the Taliban today controls more territory than at any time since 9/11. Faced with corruption and exclusionary politics, popular opposition to the government in Kabul is rising, while the Taliban makes inroads in rural areas and, increasingly, near the cities. This is no doubt the case.

And proponents of the forever war in Afghanistan are correct when they say, as they inevitably do, that the Taliban provided sanctuary to Obama bin Laden and Al Qaeda in the lead up to 9/11. But these same proponents usually neglect to note that bin Laden and Al Qaeda were motivated by the U.S.-Israeli special relationship and, according to the 9/11 Report, grievances against the United States that were widely shared in the Muslim world. Bin Laden inveighed against the presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia and against other U.S. policies in the Middle East.

But, in the intervening years between 2001 and now, Al Qaedas leadership has been decimated, and according to a Brown University study, the United States has spent or taken on obligations to spend more than $3.6 trillion in current dollars on the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria and on the Department of Homeland Security in the years following 9/11.

Meanwhile other alternative strategies (such as the offshore balancing strategy advocated by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt) have never been tried. As I wrote at Consortiumnews in June, therearealternatives (there always are). Its just that these tend not to have the institutional backing of Washingtons policy/think tank community which, because it isdeeply compromisedby its defense industry funders, rarely given them voice or consideration.

If the U.S. is to successfully combat terrorism emanating out of the Middle East a wholesale re-evaluation of U.S. policy is in order, particularly with regard to Israel and Saudi Arabia. To gloss over this is to miss the point.

And proponents of expanding and privatizing the war in Afghanistan miss it entirely.

James W Carden is a contributing writer for The Nation and editor of The American Committee for East-West Accords eastwestaccord.com. He previously served as an advisor on Russia to the Special Representative for Global Inter-governmental Affairs at the US State Department.

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July 25, 2017   Posted in: John Mearsheimer  Comments Closed

Russian meddling is Watergate-worthy, but Israeli meddling is hunky-dory – Mondoweiss

The investigation of Russias meddling in our politics dominates the liberal press; and for my part, I believe everything The New York Times and MSNBC are suspicioning about Donald Trump and the Russians. I bet that the Russians have something on Trump personally, possibly involving money or sex; and that the Russians meddled in our election. (Not that the meddling changed the outcome; no, Hillary Clinton did a great job of losing it on her own.)

But as someone who focuses on Israel policy, what stands out to me is that conduct that is Watergate-worthy when it comes to Russia is hunky-dory when it comes to Israel. Just yesterday, for instance, Trump adviser Jared Kushner was on the hot seat in Congress over his contacts with a Russian official last year. But no one has a hearing about the fact that Kushners family, out of devotion to Israel, financed illegal Israeli settlements that have undermined the two-state solution, thereby nullifying longtime U.S. policy. I think thats a real problem. MSNBC doesnt.

Just in the last week there have been two other expressions of Israels active interests in our politics that the liberal media have failed to say boo about.

First, theres the Israel Anti-Boycott Act in the House and Senate. Israel regards the Boycott movement (BDS) as an existential threat; and so the Israel lobby group AIPAC produced legislation that scores of Senators and Congresspeople, including many liberal heroes, signed on to that trashes the First Amendment by making it a possible crime to support boycott of Israel. By the way, AIPAC has a mission to insure that there is no daylight between the Israeli government and the U.S. government. In the 1960s despite the best efforts of Senator Fulbright, AIPAC escaped designation as an agent of a foreign government. That ought to be a scandal, but everyone walks on by.

Then theres Israels unhappiness with the Syrian ceasefire deal that Donald Trump reached with Russia. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu says that the deal fails to limit Irans presence in Syria or to prevent weapons getting to Israels enemy, Hezbollah; and Israel supporters in the U.S. duly echoed Netanyahus view.

Former U.S. ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk, who launched his dazzling career, in his own words, with the support of the pro-Israel community, wrote:

This is unbelievable! Trump Administration ignored Israels security concerns in making the Syrian deal with Putin.

While Daniel Shapiro, also a former U.S. ambassador to Israel who lately called Israel this miracle, this gift, this jewel wrote that the deal needs to be revised:

Can the deal be restructured to Isrs satisfaction? US-Russia dynamic makes that difficult & worrisome. But effort needs to be made.

Apart from the question of whether Trump will be brought down by his Russia connections, the real issue here is, What is the American peoples interest? In the Syria case, it would appear that Trump is realigning U.S. foreign policy vis-a-vis Russia. And that this realignment could be good for the U.S. position in the world: an effort to lessen U.S. military engagement in the Middle East. But meanwhile it is clearly in Israels interest for the U.S. to be up to its hips in the perpetual war of the Middle East, because occupiers love company.

I believe the no-daylight policy has been hugely costly to the United States; and has involved a great deal of meddling by Israel and its friends in our politics. The media are afraid to touch this stuff; but a look back on the special relationship between the countries reveals a number of policy decisions that the U.S. would have made differently if Israel werent putting its thumb on our scale. Lets review:

Israel has put more than 600,000 settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, thereby violating the Geneva Convention and destroying the two-state solution, which was U.S. policy. The United States has suffered enormously for its inability to stop this process. Even the 9/11 attacks were motivated in good measure by the sufferings of Palestinians. The Israel lobby and its American friends played the lead role in nullifying U.S. policy in the settlements witness the undermining of President Obamas efforts to stop settlements in 2011 and 2012 via political pressure. (Even Noam Chomsky has said that in this area the client is influencing the superpower, not the other way round.)

Israel acquired nuclear weapons in violation of clear U.S. policy in the 60s, and likely also by pilfering highly-enriched uranium from the United States through a front operation in Pennsylvania. There has never been a squeak about this from the U.S. government or officials no they all maintain the deception and meantime Israeli nukes have contributed to an arms race around the region, and fostered the U.S. image as lying imperialist hypocrite.

Benjamin Netanyahu pushed for the Iraq war, saying it would transform the region for the better: If you take out Saddam, Saddams regime, I guarantee you that it will have enormous positive reverberations on the region. The leading Israel lobby group AIPAC also pushed for this war, while Israels rightwing American friends, the neoconservatives, argued that the war would bring democracy to Arab states and make Israel safer; as did liberals such as Tom Friedman, Israels onetime promoter, who said we should go to war against Iraq because terrorists were blowing up pizza parlors in Tel Aviv. Whether the voice given to Israels interest was determinative or not in our decision to invade Iraq (I say it was), this is an influence that clearly should have been exposed and investigated, beyond the efforts of John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt in their groundbreaking book The Israel Lobby. But the media shut down that conversation, in part through the vociferous efforts of Jeffrey Goldberg, who formerly emigrated to Israel and served in its armed forces.

Several American presidents were for the Palestinian refugees right of return after the creation of Israel. Truman backed down under pressure from the Zionist lobby, John Judis states flatly in his book Genesis. Kennedy and Nixon were also under political pressure to nullify the American position. And indeed: no Palestinian refugees have been allowed to return by Israel, the U.S. has done nothing to seek to reverse that policy; and the issue inflames the conflict to this day.

Israeli leaders and U.S. surrogates led a campaign to try to stop the Iran deal two years ago and very nearly succeeded. At the height of that campaign Obama gave a speech saying that only one country in the world opposed the deal Israel and that it would be an abrogation of my constitutional duty to heed Israel rather than the American interest. As if that even needed to be said! It can be argued that the four Democratic Senators who opposed their Presidents signature foreign policy achievement Schumer, Menendez, Manchin, and Cardin all did so out of support for Israel or its American friends, who are so influential in our elections. As Stephanie Schriock of the liberal activist group Emilys List says, aspiring Democratic candidates for Congress take their position on Israel from AIPAC because thats the way they can raise money from the Jewish community. And what does it tell you that Schumer despite betraying his president on the Iran deal was rewarded with the leadership of the Senate Democrats?

The only alternative that Israel had to the Iran deal was an attack on Iran, which the American people clearly opposed. Its not a surprise then that one of the leading Republican donors, Sheldon Adelson, whose main cause is Israel and who has said he would rather have served in the Israeli army than the U.S. one, urged Obama to nuke Iran. And before that, Adelson held a fundraiser for Mitt Romney in Jerusalem during the 2012 campaign that Romney attended and Benjamin Netanyahu all but openly endorsed Romney over Obama.

The pressure against the Iran deal was so strong that Hillary Clinton in 2015, readying a run for president, came out with a statement against Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) as a way of trying to keep Israel and her donors happy in advance of her announcing her support for the Iran deal. At that time, Clintons chief liaison to the Jewish community met with Israels Prime Minister and told Clinton that Netanyahu said that Americans needed to attack, attack, attack BDS. Meantime, one of her biggest donors, the Israeli-American Haim Saban, pressed her to make a statement distancing herself from Obamas policies on Israel; Clinton did so; and her campaign manager endorsed the move: [H]as she made a clear statement on Israel yet? I get this question from donors all the time. Does she need to state her principles on Israel before Iran?

We only know about Hillary Clintons craven gyrations because of the emails stolen from the Clinton campaign and published by Wikileaks. I think we have a right to know about a powerful politicians efforts to please Israel and its American friends. But Democrats and media liberals are much more concerned that the Russians might have had a hand in getting these emails out in the months before the election.

Yes, the Clinton emails may have been an example of Russian meddling in our elections. But those emails documented Israeli meddling in our elections. Which is worse? I know what I think. But lets have the debate.

Thanks to Scott Roth.

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Russian meddling is Watergate-worthy, but Israeli meddling is hunky-dory – Mondoweiss

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July 25, 2017   Posted in: John Mearsheimer  Comments Closed

The global consequences of Trump’s incompetence – Chicago Tribune

I returned this past weekend from a European vacation: conferencing in Greece, queuing up at Wimbledon, kayaking in Ireland, and generally doing my own small part to stimulate the EU economy. I’m not Tom Friedman, so I didn’t interview every taxi driver I encountered, but the one I did talk to was pretty down on the 45th president of the United States. I’m sure there are a few Trump supporters in Europe, but recent surveys suggest they are a distinct minority. That seems to be increasingly true here, too, despite the stubborn loyalty of those supporters who would stick with the guy even if he did, in fact, shoot someone on Fifth Avenue.

Since Donald Trump was inaugurated, a vast amount of ink and billions of pixels have been devoted to documenting, dissecting, condemning, or defending his disregard for well-established norms of decency and political restraint. I’m talking about the blatant nepotism, the vast conflicts of interest, the overt misogyny, and what Fox News’s Shepard Smith called the “lie after lie after lie” regarding Trump’s relations with Russia. The presidential pendulum has swung from dignified (Barack Obama) to disgusting (Trump), and it’s tempting to spend all one’s time hyperventilating about his personal comportment rather than his handling of important policy issues.

But the real issue isn’t Trump’s nonstop boorishness; it’s his increasingly obvious lack of competence. When experienced Republicans warned that Trump was unfit for office during the 2016 campaign, most of their concerns revolved around issues of character. But their warnings didn’t prepare us for the parade of buffoonery and ineptitude that has characterized his administration from Day One.

What do I mean by “competence”? The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as “the ability to do something successfully or efficiently.” In foreign policy, competence depends on a sufficient knowledge about the state of the world and the key forces that drive world politics so that one can make well-informed and intelligent policy choices. It also means having the organizational skills, discipline, and judgment to pick the right subordinates and get them to combine the different elements of national power in pursuit of well-chosen goals. In other words, foreign-policy competence requires the ability to identify ends that will make the country more secure and/or prosperous and then assemble the means to bring the desired results to fruition.

As in other walks of life, to be competent at foreign policy does not mean being 100 percent right or successful. International politics is a chancy and uncertain realm, and even well-crafted policies sometimes go awry. But, on balance, competent policymakers succeed more than they fail, both because they have a mostly accurate view of how the world works and because they have the necessary skills to implement their choices effectively. As a result, such leaders will retain others’ confidence even when a few individual initiatives do not work out as intended.

For much of the postwar period, the United States benefited greatly from an overarching aura of competence. Victory in World War II, the creation of key postwar institutions like NATO and Bretton Woods, and the (mostly) successful management of the Cold War rivalry with the USSR convinced many observers that U.S. officials knew what they were doing. That aura was reinforced by scientific and technological prowess (e.g., the moon landing), by mostly steady economic growth, and to some extent by the progress made in addressing issues such as race, however imperfect those latter efforts were. That same aura was tarnished by blunders like Vietnam, of course, but other countries still understood that the United States was both very powerful and guided by people who understood the world reasonably well and weren’t bad at getting things done. The George H.W. Bush administration’s successful handling of the collapse of the USSR, the reunification of Germany, and the first Gulf War reinforced the broad sense that U.S. judgment and skill should be taken seriously, even if Washington wasn’t infallible.

Since then, however, things have gone from good to bad to worse to truly awful. The Bill Clinton administration managed the U.S. economy pretty well, but its handling of foreign policy was only so-so, and its policies in the Middle East and elsewhere laid the foundation for much future trouble. The George W. Bush administration was filled with experienced foreign-policy mavens, but a fatal combination of hubris, presidential ignorance, post-9/11 panic, and the baleful influence of a handful of neoconservative ideologues produced costly debacles in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama did somewhat better (one could hardly have done worse), but he never took on the Blob’s commitment to liberal hegemony and made some of the same mistakes that the younger Bush did, albeit on a smaller scale. Even the vaunted American military seems more skilled at blowing things up than at achieving anything resembling victory.

Which brings us to Trump. He has been in office for only six months, but the consequences of his ineptitude are already apparent.

First, when you don’t understand the world very well, and when your team lacks skilled officials to compensate for presidential ignorance, you’re going to make big policy mistakes. Trump’s biggest doozy thus far was dropping the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a decision that undermined the U.S. position in Asia, opened the door toward greater Chinese influence, and won’t benefit the U.S. economy in the slightest. Similar ignorance-fueled errors include walking away from the Paris climate accord (which makes Americans look like a bunch of science-denying, head-in-the-sand ignoramuses) and failing to appreciate that China wasn’t – repeat, wasn’t – going to solve the North Korea problem for us. Not to mention his team’s inability to spell and confusion over which countries they are talking about.

Second, once other countries conclude that U.S. officials are dunderheads, they aren’t going to pay much attention to the advice, guidance, or requests that Washington makes. When people think you know what you’re doing, they will listen carefully to what you have to say and will be more inclined to follow your lead. But if they think you’re an idiot, or they aren’t convinced you can actually deliver whatever you are promising, they may nod politely as you express your views but follow their own instincts instead.

We are already seeing signs of this. Having played to Trump’s vulnerable ego brilliantly during his visit to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia is now blithely ignoring U.S. efforts to resolve the simmering dispute between the Gulf states and Qatar. True to form, Israel doesn’t care what Trump thinks about the Israeli-Palestinian dispute or the situation in Syria either. To be sure, these two countries have a long history of ignoring U.S. advice and interests, but their indifference to Washington’s views seems to have reached new heights. And now South Korea has announced it will begin talks with North Korea, despite the Trump administration’s belief that the time was not right.

Meanwhile, the EU and Japan just reached a large trade deal; TPP-like talks are resuming without the United States; and the leaders of Germany and Canada – two of America’s closest allies – have openly spoken of the need to chart their own course. Even the foreign minister of Australia – another staunch U.S. ally – has taken a dig at Trump for his demeaning remarks to France’s first lady. And who can blame them? I mean: If you were a responsible foreign leader, would you take the advice of the man who had the wisdom to appoint Sebastian Gorka to a White House national security position, wants to cut the State Department budget by 30 percent, and thinks Jared Kushner is a genius who can handle difficult diplomatic assignments?

The United States is still very powerful, of course, so both allies and adversaries will continue to be cautious when dealing with it. That’s why Emmanuel Macron of France and Justin Trudeau of Canada have treated Trump with more respect than he deserves. You’d tread carefully, too, if you found yourself in the same room as a drunk rhinoceros. But you probably wouldn’t ask the rhino for advice or consult it on geopolitical strategy.

Instead of relying on U.S. guidance and (generally) supporting U.S. policy initiatives, states that lose confidence in America’s competence will begin to hedge and make their own arrangements. They’ll do deals with each other and sometimes with countries that the United States regards as adversaries. That is happening already with China and Iran, and you can expect more of the same as long as U.S. foreign policy combines the strategic acumen of Wile E. Coyote, the disciplined teamwork of the Three Stooges, and the well-oiled efficiency of the frat in Animal House.

Paleoconservatives and isolationists might welcome this outcome, because they think the United States has been bearing too large a share of global burdens and that it just screws things up when it tries to run the world. They have a point, but they take it way too far. If the United States were to disengage as far as they would like, the other 95 percent of humanity would proceed to create a world order where U.S. influence would be considerably smaller and where events in a few key regions would almost certainly evolve in ways that the United States would eventually regret. Instead of retreating to “Fortress America,” it makes more sense to adopt the policy of offshore balancing that John Mearsheimer and I outlined a year ago.

But offshore balancing won’t work if other states have little or no confidence in U.S. judgment, skill, and competence. Why? Because the strategy calls for the United States to “hold the balance” in key regions (i.e., Europe, Asia, and perhaps the Middle East) and to stand ready to bring its power to bear in these areas should a potential hegemon emerge there. The countries with which the United States would join forces should that occur have to be sufficiently convinced that Washington can gauge threats properly and intervene with skill and effect when necessary. In short, the credibility of U.S. commitments depends on a minimum reputation for competence, and that is precisely the currency that Trump and Co. have been squandering.

To be clear, I am not saying there are not a lot of competent people serving in the U.S. government or that the United States is incapable of doing anything right these days. Indeed, my hat is off to the dedicated public servants who are trying to do their jobs despite the chaos in the White House and Trump’s deliberate effort to cripple our foreign-policy machinery.

Nor am I saying that Donald Trump is incompetent at everything. He is, by all accounts, a much better than average golfer (even if he may be – now here’s a shocker – prone to cheating), which may explain why he prefers golfing to governing. He has been adept at getting attractive foreign women to marry him, though not especially good at making the marriages last. And he is clearly an absolutely world-class bullshit artist, with a genuinely impressive ability to lie, prevaricate, evade, mislead, stretch the truth, and dissemble. These skills clearly served him well as a real estate developer, but they aren’t helping him very much as president. Because once people decide you’re a bumbler, either they take advantage of your ineptitude or they prefer to deal with those who are more reliable. It gives me no joy to say this, but can you blame them?

Walt is the Robert and Rene Belfer professor of international relations at Harvard University.

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The global consequences of Trump’s incompetence – Chicago Tribune

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July 19, 2017   Posted in: John Mearsheimer  Comments Closed

Jewish professor at Catholic school in Qatar – Intermountain Jewish News

Gary Wasserman, left, with students on the Georgetown campus in Qatar, 2012. WASHINGTON Near the end of his first year teaching American studies at the Georgetown University campus in Qatar, Gary Wasserman introduced a dozen Israelis to a dozen undergraduates from across the Middle East. Then he left the room so the students could have an unfiltered discussion. The one-hour meeting was part of what Wasserman calls his liberal quest to overcome biases grounded, he said, in part by his Jewish upbringing. But the encounter wasnt exactly a success. Afterward, a Lebanese student came to his room, tears in her eyes. An Israeli had asked her during the encounter, You hate us, dont you? Wasserman in his forthcoming book The Doha Experiment, about his gig directing the Georgetown American studies program in Qatar from 2006 to 2014, uses the incident to identify a duality that was typical of his time on campus: the quest for connections outside of ones comfort zone, on the one hand, combined with intense fears of people raised in radically different cultures. We were part of a university that provided a place to think and talk, Wasserman said he told the Lebanese student, who had been trapped at her aunts house during the 2006 Lebanon War. And while this didnt seem like much now, it was really all we had to offer. I felt inadequate and sad. Wassermans initial mission shared by Georgetown and the Qatari government was to bring an American-style free exchange of thought to the deeply traditionalist Gulf state. But that expectation soon tamped down into a more limited one: that young people get a decent education and get along with folks from vastly different political cultures. Theres a liberal, missionary impulse that you are bringing pluralism, globalization and tolerance to a part of the world that needs it, Wasserman, who is now retired, told JTA last week. Within months, Wasserman wrote, his original idealism had abated but then, so had his own fears about being a Jew in Qatar. I began my journey both apprehensive and idealistic, he wrote. I ended it less apprehensive and also less idealistic. About the apprehension: Wasserman, the author of a popular political science textbook who had taught at Columbia and Georgetown, appalled friends and family when he decided to go to Qatar. With the memory of the 9/11 terrorist attacks still fresh, many in his circle questioned the rationality of a Jew moving to what seemed like the belly of the beast at the time. Their pleadings had an effect, and he consulted with a psychologist who happened to be a European Jew about how to deal with his anxieties. His sessions had a surprising denouement. Youre not crazy to be scared, Wasserman quoted the psychologist as saying in their final session. Youre crazy to go. Havent you been watching the news? These people hate Jews. Theyre anti-Semites . . . Stay away from them. Theyll never change. This went on for a while, Wasserman wrote. (He was being paid by the hour.) Nonetheless, in Qatar, Wasserman encountered barely any personal animosity because of his Jewishness. In one poignant passage, he described his concerns after his identity became common knowledge on campus a staffer had let it slip. It was too easy to imagine their unspoken responses: Yknow, hes Jewish. Yeah, I could tell. Or, So thats what those horns are. Or, No wonder he flunked me, Wasserman wrote. I might have overthought this. One student later said to me, after she had graduated, that the only student discussion she recalls about my religion was the worry that I might feel isolated and out of place. Instead, the hostility toward Jews and Israel was expressed in more generalized settings, particularly the conspiracy theories that proliferate in Arab countries. Wasserman said his favorite anecdote in the book is the student who told him that another teacher had said that the Mossad was behind 9/11, and also that 9/11 was not a bad idea. He asked the student how both ideas could coexist in one persons head. The student looked at me for a moment, resigned that yet another nave foreigner failed to appreciate how holding two contradictory opinions at the same time was consistent with the political views permeating the region, Wasserman wrote. Another student, Ella, graduated at the top of the class. Shortly after, Wasserman saw an interview with Ella in a local newspaper in which she was asked for her impressions of the 2012 US election. Her depressing answer, as he put it: It really didnt matter because the Zionists controlled the banks, the media, and both political parties and wouldnt let anything change in America. Perhaps Wassermans most foolhardy quest was to teach the students about how the pro-Israel lobby functioned as a curative to the overly expansive description of its influence in the 2007 book by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, The Israel Lobby. (Disclosure: This reporter and Wasserman collaborated for a period in the late 2000s on a book on the pro-Israel lobby. It found no buyers.) In my lecture, I tried to leave the class with a simple point: the power of the pro-Israel lobby had been inflated by supporters and opponents alike for their own reasons, he wrote. Although clearly a powerful player in foreign policy, AIPAC was only narrowly influential and constrained by other public and political interests. Did the students get the message? Not quite. Later in the book, Wasserman related that he often found that the students bought into myths of Jewish influence but with admiration, not contempt. Wasserman, alongside other faculty on campus, came to accept that they were not the vanguard of progressive values in Qatar. Instead, they set more modest ambitions, such as one-to-one opportunities to lend a hand to those seeking a way out of a society that was stifling, especially to women. He wrote about a student wearing an abaya the robe-like dress worn by some women in parts of the Muslim world entering his office and asking him to write a letter recommending her for graduate studies in England. He was happy to she had good grades but she could not articulate what exactly she wanted to study, making it a challenge for him to tailor the letter to specifics that would help her. I dont really want to go to graduate school, she told him, but if I stay in Doha, my family will make me get married. Going to London for grad school is acceptable to them. For me, it means I can put off getting married and not have to confront my parents. It was encounters like these that left Wasserman hopeful about bridging divides, he told JTA. The problem is you dont want encounters conducted on the basis of Jew and Muslim, Christian and Buddhist, because it isolates one identity and sets up a polarity, he said. Bring Israelis over for a semester, not just an afternoon, he said, so they would have the time to find other commonalities with their Arab and Muslim counterparts. They will share things like a harsh father or questions about devotion or career goals, he said.

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Trump to Sign Sanctions Against Russia ‘Soon’ – Chicago Tonight | WTTW

Chicago Tonight | WTTW Trump to Sign Sanctions Against Russia 'Soon' Chicago Tonight | WTTW Joining Chicago Tonight to discuss the sanctions against Russia, Putin's response, and the investigations into Russian electoral interference are John Mearsheimer , professor of political science and co-director of the Program on International Security … Russia's Military Drills Near NATO Border Raise Fears of Aggression New York Times all 166 news articles »

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Head of American Jewish Committee is Israel’s ‘Foreign Minister,’ said Netanyahu minister – Mondoweiss

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and AJCongress Executive Director David Harris in Jerusalem, January 2013. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi Last week South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham suggested that the Israel lobby group AIPAC might need to register as a foreign agent because it speaks up for Israel and has many contacts in that country. Such registration would be a blow to AIPAC. Its rationale to US politicians is that it is an American group that speaks for American interests even though its goal is to make sure there is no daylight between the U.S. government and the Israeli government. Here is further evidence of the confusion of interests between the United States and Israel represented by American Zionist organizations. Yuval Steinitz, a minister in the Netanyahu government of Israel,two years ago heaped praise on David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee, at an AJC global forum. Actually you know currently we dont have a foreign minister in Israel,but the Jewish people have a foreign minister, an accident foreign minister and this is David Harris, and I am confident David, that although you are the foreign minister of the American Jewish Committee and actually of the Jewish people, you are also serving a little bit as the foreign minister of the Jewish state. Jewish people, Jewish state some linkage. Steinitz was not engaging in hyperbole. Harris is a ferocious advocate for Israel who at the time waslobbying politicians to try to stop President Obamas Iran deal. When Netanyahu took the extraordinary step of coming to Congress to oppose the U.S. president on the deal, Harris spoke up for Netanyahu: I met with him two weeks ago in his office in Jerusalem, and he felt that the deal, as he understood it, would be catastrophic, indeed life-threatening, for the state of Israel. And he felt that he had the obligation to come. The two men go way back. WhenNetanyahu pushed in Congress for the Iraq war so as to remake the Middle East, David Harrisalso pushed for the war. And Harris justified everything Israel did in the Gaza onslaught of 2014 when it killed over 500 Palestinian children. When the Polish consulate in New York scheduled a talk in 2006 by the late great Tony Judt on the Israel lobby and U.S. foreign policy, David Harris called the Polish consul general as a friend of Poland and said the lecture was going to be entirely contrary to the entire spirit of Polish foreign policy. The lecture was cancelled. (Per the book The Israel Lobby, by Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer). Harris bragged of his global influencein this speechin 2015. He said he was a longtime friend of then deputy national security adviser Tony Blinken, held up a letter from the prime minister of France, and ran down a list of all the diplomats who had come to address the American Jewish Committee: When you have an organization where the prime minister [of France] speaks of his relationship with your Paris director and when the German chancellor on screen speaks of her relationship with our Berlin director, you know theres something special about the organization Its the worlds leaders telling you we do important work. The Jewish world has never seen such a political-diplomatic tour de force as weve just seen in the last 48 hours [of the AJC forum]. 36 separate dinners with diplomats. The chancellor of Germany, the Prime Minister of Japan, the Prime Minister of Israel, the prime minister of the Ukraine The principal negotiator on Iran coming to speak to you here. The foreign minister of Bulgaria coming to meet you here. Organizations would give their eye teeth for one of them, if they were lucky. We had them all. It is plain that a big part of Harriss job description is to provide Israel with diplomatic protection and global economic support. He really ought to have to register as a foreign agent.But doing so is anathema to the Israel lobby, because it would undermine its claim to be Americans helping Americans sort out our foreign policy. A few years back, John Judis argued that the problem of dual loyalty was inherent in the work of David Harris and other officials of Israel lobby organizations. AIPACs staff and officials claim there is no contradiction between representing the interests of Israel and those of the United States, but thats at best an arguable point. Certainly, AIPAC has found itself defending Israeli policiessuch as the invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and the rapid expansion of settlements in the West Bank in the late 1980s, or the 1993 Oslo Accords, or even the most recent Israeli offensive in Lebanonthat, in the opinion of many Americans and Jewish-Americans, were not in the interest of the United States. They make dual loyalty an inescapable part of being Jewish in a world in which a Jewish state exists. By ignoring this dilemmaand, worse still, by charging those who acknowledge its existence with anti-Semitismthe critics of the new anti-Semitism are engaged in a flight from their own political selves. They are guilty of a certain kind of bad faith. Last month another Israeli government official acknowledged the vital role that the American Jewish Committee performs for Israel. Tzipi Livni, a former foreign minister, thanked American Jewsgathered at the AJC conference: First I would like just to start with something that we Israelis sometimes we are not saying enough. I want to say to you all, Thank you, toda raba. Thank you for standing with Israel, thank you for helping Israel, thank you for advocating for Israel. I know that its not easy sometimes. Now Im in the opposition in Israel, but Toda, Im saying on behalf of the state of Israel and the people of Israel. Very much like what Dennis Ross, a former White House negotiator, told American Jews at a New York synagogue last year. We need to be advocates for Israel, and not for Palestinians. The good news is that these job descriptions were elaborated by people in their 60s and 70s. Young Jews will transform the Israel lobby, but it wont be easy.

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US VP Pence calls Russian Federation threat while hoping for better ties – Normangee Star

President Vladimir Putin said on Sunday that means 755 staffers have to go. Pence is now on a tour of Eastern Europe aimed at reassuring US allies rattled over Russias 2014 annexation of Crimea and backing for a bloody separatist rebellion in Ukraine. Pence arrived in Montenegro from Georgia, which fought a brief war with Russian Federation in 2008 over the breakaway enclave of South Ossetia. Montenegros accession to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation on June 5 and Georgias hopes of joining the military alliance have stirred fury in Moscow, which considers both countries to be in its historic sphere of influence. Russian Federation and Georgia fought a brief war in 2008, which lead to two breakaway Georgian regions, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, declaring independence. Moscow officially recognised South Ossetia and another rebel province Abkhazia as independent after routing Georgias forces and moved thousands of its troops into the regions. Joining Chicago Tonight to discuss the sanctions against Russia, Putins response, and the investigations into Russian electoral interference are John Mearsheimer, professor of political science and co-director of the Program on International Security at the University of Chicago; and Ccile Shea, a senior fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs who was a USA diplomat for more than two decades. Later on Tuesday Pence will inspect troops taking part in joint U.S. Pence also insisted again that Trump is gearing up to approve new punitive measures against Russian Federation that have already pushed battered ties with Moscow still lower. Pence told a press conference in Georgia on Tuesday that Trump would sign the bill soon, although the White House has not set a timeframe. Pences European trip comes several days after the U.S. Senate voted last week to approve the new financial sanctions against Moscow. Pence arrived in the tiny Adriatic republic on Tuesday on the final leg of a European tour created to reaffirm Washingtons commitment to the security of Eastern Europe in the face of an emboldened Russian Federation. It was a show of support after its entrance into the alliance sparked bitter opposition from Moscow. On Tuesday evening, speaking at a dinner with Montenegrin Prime Minister Dusko Markovic, Pence said your courage particularly in the face of the Russian pressure inspires the world and I commend you for that. Pence is attending the Adriatic Charter Summit in Podgorica on Wednesday afternoon, which also brings together leaders from Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia, Kosovo, Serbia and Slovenia. The future of the Western Balkans is as part of the West, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said on Wednesday during a visit to Montenegro two months after it joined North Atlantic Treaty Organisation in defiance of Russian Federation.

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August 2, 2017   Posted in: John Mearsheimer  Comments Closed

A Jewish professor taught at a Catholic school in a Muslim country. Here’s what happened. – Jewish Post

WASHINGTON (JTA) Near the end of his first year teaching American studies at the Georgetown University campus in Qatar, Gary Wasserman introduced a dozen Israelis to a dozen undergraduates from across the Middle East. Then he left the room so the students could have an unfiltered discussion. The one-hour meeting was part of what Wasserman calls his liberal quest to overcome biases grounded, he said, in part by his Jewish upbringing. But the encounter wasnt exactly a success. Afterward, a Lebanese student came to his room, tears in her eyes. An Israeli had asked her during the encounter, You hate us, dont you? Wasserman in his forthcoming book The Doha Experiment, about his gig directing the Georgetown American studies program in Qatar from 2006 to 2014, uses the incident to identify a duality that was typical of his time on campus: the quest for connections outside of ones comfort zone, on the one hand, combined with intense fears of people raised in radically different cultures. We were part of a university that provided a place to think and talk, Wasserman said he told the Lebanese student, who had been trapped at her aunts house during the 2006 Lebanon War. And while this didnt seem like much now, it was really all we had to offer. I felt inadequate and sad. Wassermans initial mission shared by Georgetown and the Qatari government was to bring an American-style free exchange of thought to the deeply traditionalist Gulf state. But that expectation soon tamped down into a more limited one: that young people get a decent education and get along with folks from vastly different political cultures. Theres a liberal, missionary impulse that you are bringing pluralism, globalization and tolerance to a part of the world that needs it, Wasserman, who is now retired, told JTA last week. Within months, Wasserman wrote, his original idealism had abated but then, so had his own fears about being a Jew in Qatar. I began my journey both apprehensive and idealistic, he wrote. I ended it less apprehensive and also less idealistic. About the apprehension: Wasserman, the author of a popular political science textbook who had taught at Columbia and Georgetown, appalled friends and family when he decided to go to Qatar. With the memory of the 9/11 terrorist attacks still fresh, many in his circle questioned the rationality of a Jew moving to what seemed like the belly of the beast at the time. Their pleadings had an effect, and he consulted with a psychologist who happened to be a European Jew about how to deal with his anxieties. His sessions had a surprising denouement. Youre not crazy to be scared, Wasserman quoted the psychologist as saying in their final session. Youre crazy to go. Havent you been watching the news? These people hate Jews. Theyre anti-Semites. Ive dealt with these fkakta Nazis all my life. Stay away from them. Theyll never change. This went on for a while, Wasserman wrote. (He was being paid by the hour.) Nonetheless, in Qatar, Wasserman encountered barely any personal animosity because of his Jewishness. In one poignant passage, he described his concerns after his identity became common knowledge on campus a staffer had let it slip. It was too easy to imagine their unspoken responses: Yknow, hes Jewish. Yeah, I could tell. Or, So thats what those horns are. Or, No wonder he flunked me,’ Wasserman wrote. I might have overthought this. One student later said to me, after she had graduated, that the only student discussion she recalls about my religion was the worry that I might feel isolated and out of place. Instead, the hostility toward Jews and Israel was expressed in more generalized settings, particularly the conspiracy theories that proliferate in Arab countries. Wasserman said his favorite anecdote in the book is the student who told him that another teacher had said that the Mossad was behind 9/11, and also that 9/11 was not a bad idea. He asked the student how both ideas could coexist in one persons head. The student looked at me for a moment, resigned that yet another nave foreigner failed to appreciate how holding two contradictory opinions at the same time was consistent with the political views permeating the region, Wasserman wrote. Another student, Ella, graduated at the top of the class. Shortly after, Wasserman saw an interview with Ella in a local newspaper in which she was asked for her impressions of the 2012 U.S. election. Her depressing answer, as he put it: It really didnt matter because the Zionists controlled the banks, the media, and both political parties and wouldnt let anything change in America. Perhaps Wassermans most foolhardy quest was to teach the students about how the pro-Israel lobby functioned as a curative to the overly expansive description of its influence in the 2007 book by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, The Israel Lobby. (Disclosure: This reporter and Wasserman collaborated for a period in the late 2000s on a book on the pro-Israel lobby. It found no buyers.) In my lecture, I tried to leave the class with a simple point: the power of the pro-Israel lobby had been inflated by supporters and opponents alike for their own reasons, he wrote. Although clearly a powerful player in foreign policy, AIPAC was only narrowly influential and constrained by other public and political interests. Did the students get the message? Not quite. Later in the book, Wasserman related that he often found that the students bought into myths of Jewish influence but with admiration, not contempt. Wasserman, alongside other faculty on campus, came to accept that they were not the vanguard of progressive values in Qatar. Instead, they set more modest ambitions, such as one-to-one opportunities to lend a hand to those seeking a way out of a society that was stifling, especially to women. He wrote about a student wearing an abaya therobe-like dress worn by some women in parts of theMuslim world entering his office and asking him to write a letter recommending her for graduate studies in England. He was happy to she had good grades but she could not articulate what exactly she wanted to study, making it a challenge for him to tailor the letter to specifics that would help her. I dont really want to go to graduate school, she told him, but if I stay in Doha, my family will make me get married. Going to London for grad school is acceptable to them. For me, it means I can put off getting married and not have to confront my parents. It was encounters like these that left Wasserman hopeful about bridging divides, he told JTA. The problem is you dont want encounters conducted on the basis of Jew and Muslim, Christian and Buddhist, because it isolates one identity and sets up a polarity, he said. Bring Israelis over for a semester, not just an afternoon, he said, so they would have the time to find other commonalities with their Arab and Muslim counterparts. They will share things like a harsh father or questions about devotion or career goals, he said.

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August 1, 2017   Posted in: John Mearsheimer  Comments Closed

The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy – Center for Research on Globalization

A decade ago in 2007 John J. Mearsheimer, the R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science and co-director of the Program on International Security Policy at the University of Chicago, and Stephen M. Walt, the Robert and Renee Belfer Professor of International Affairs at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and Academic Dean of the Kennedy School from 2002-2006, publishedThe Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. The publisher was the prestigious publishing house, Farrar, Straus and Giroux. The authors made a convincing case that Israel operating through its American lobbies, which are not registered as foreign agents, succeeds in using US foreign policy in Israels interests. The authors conclude that the use of US foreign policy in Israels interests is damaging to both Americas national interests and to Israels long-term security. Many were pleased that two distinguished experts had breached a taboo issue. But the Israel Lobby was not among them. Instantly, the authors and the book were denounced as anti-Semitic. The demonstration that Israel had influence was misrepresented as the claim that Israel controlled the US government. The authors were denounced for their extremism which some alleged could result in a new holocaust. Other critics took a different approach and claimed that there was no difference between Israeli and US interests and that anything that served Israel also served America. Some evangelicals added: and also serves God. The authors remained dispassionate throughout the long controversy and stuck to their point that Israels influence on US foreign policy was not in the interest of either country. If we think of a spectrum with influence at one end shading into control at the other, in the decade sinceThe Israel Lobbywas published Israel has moved closer to the control end of the spectrum. For example, we learn from the Israeli newspaperHaaretzthat a bill in the US House of Representatives would require U.S. to consult with Israel before selling arms in Mideast. Last month the House of Representatives unanimously passed HR 672 titled Combating European Anti-Semitism Act of 2017. Former CIA official Philip Giraldi reports that the bill requires the State Department to monitor what European nations and their police forces are doing about anti-Semitism. In other words, the bill makes Washington an enforcer over Europe for Israel. There is a companion bill in the US Senate. And then there is S. 722 backed by AIPAC, titled An act to provide congressional review and to counter Iranian and Russian aggression. Iranian and Russian aggression exist by assertion, not by fact. The bill more or less makes it impossible for President Trump to remove the sanctions and normalize relations. And there is much more since 2007. In 2010 the Israeli newspaperHaaretzreported Netanyahus boast that America was a country easy for him to manipulate. In 2015 Congress without consulting President Obama invited Netanyahu to address Congress on the appropriate US foreign policy toward Iran. Congress is accustomed to grovelling at Israeli feet. Every year Congress attends AIPACs meeting and pays homage to its liege lord. One would think that the sight of the legislative body affirming its allegiance to Israel would raise questions about what country Congress represents. If Mearsheimer and Walt have the strength, the time is ripe for a second edition ofThe Israel Lobby.

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July 26, 2017   Posted in: John Mearsheimer  Comments Closed

Pitching the ‘Forever War’ in Afghanistan – Consortium News

Exclusive: Rather than rethink U.S. policy in the Mideast, particularly the entangling alliances with Israel and Saudi Arabia, Official Washington pushes schemes to perpetuate the forever war in Afghanistan, writes James W Carden. By James W Carden In May, the founder of the mercenary-for-hire group Blackwater (now since remained Academi), Erik Prince took to the pages of the Wall Street Journal to propose that the Pentagon employ private military units and appoint a viceroy to oversee the war in Afghanistan. According to Prince, who has been actively lobbying for what he calls an East India Company approach as the solution to Americas longest war (16 years, $117 billion and counting), In Afghanistan, the viceroy approach would reduce rampant fraud by focusing spending on initiatives that further the central strategy, rather than handing cash to every outstretched hand from a U.S. system bereft of institutional memory. (Prince naturally failed to say if his were among those outstretched hands) On July 10, The New York Times reported that Prince and the owner of the military contractor Dyn Corporation, Stephen Feinberg, have, at the request of Stephen K. Bannon and Jared Kushner, been pushing a plan to, in effect, privatize the war effort in Afghanistan. (In recent weeks both The Nation and The American Conservative have published deep-dive investigative pieces into the behind the scenes machinations of would-be Viceroys Prince and Feinberg). According to the Times report The strategy has been called the Laos option, after Americas shadowy involvement in Laos during the war in neighboring Vietnam. If so, then the Laos option is an unfortunate moniker for their strategy given the fact that the during Americas war over Laos (1964-73) the U.S. dropped 2.5 million tons of munitions on that country as part of the failed effort in Vietnam, which finally ended when the U.S. embassy in Saigon was evacuated in 1975. It is worth mentioning, since we so often overlook the collateral damage caused by our overseas adventures, that in the 40-plus years since the cessation of operations in Laos that 20,000 Laotians have been killed by unexploded ordinance dropped that had been dropped during that illegal nine-year campaign. And while Prince and Feinberg have (so far anyway) gotten the cold shoulder from National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster and Pentagon Chief James Mattis, momentum is picking up for once again ramping up American involvement in Afghanistan among some of the (allegedly) more sophisticated members of the foreign policy establishment. More Armchair Warmongering On July 11, former Deputy Defense Secretary Michele Flournoy and think tank functionary Richard Fontaine published a piece for the purportedly realist National Interest magazine that attempted to assure readers that The Afghan War Is Not Lost. Why not? Because even though there are roughly 8,400 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, More troops can help achieve American objectives in Afghanistan, but only if they are part of a larger and more effective strategy. [Emphasis mine]. The stress on more troops (if not to say, thousands upon thousands of unaccountable mercenaries in the pay of Feinberg and Prince) is deeply concerning because if anyone can be said to be a reliable barometer of prevailing opinion inside the Beltway it is Flournoy. Readers may recall that Flournoy co-chaired the Obama administrations Afghanistan policy review, which led to the Presidents ill-fated December 2009 decision to send 33,000 American troops (plus a contingent of 7,000 from NATO) to prop up the Karzai regime in Afghanistan. The following year, 2010, would end up as the bloodiest one yet for coalition forces in Afghanistan. Indeed, nearly three-fourth of all American casualties in that war took place in the years following Obamas decision to surge in Afghanistan. But give Flournoy (who was at the top of Hillary Clintons short list to be Defense Secretary) credit: she persists. Today Flournoy and her frequent co-author Fontaine (both are executives of the hawkish think tank Center for a New American Security) say that American should commit to Afghanistan indefinitely: The centerpiece of the administrations Afghanistan strategy must therefore be a clear and sustained American commitment to Afghanistan. By forswearing deadlines and making clear that the United States will support the Afghan government and security forces indefinitely and until they are able to hold their own, Washington can telegraph to the Taliban that it will not succeed in retaking the country. Worryingly, some members of Congress seem to be on board. In early July, a bipartisan delegation including Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Elizabeth Warren toured Pakistan and Afghanistan and called for greater military involvement in the region. Speaking on behalf of the delegation, McCain noted, none of us would say that were on course to a success here in Afghanistan. The Forever War Driving the push to send more troops is the fact that, as Flournoy and Fontaine point out, the Taliban today controls more territory than at any time since 9/11. Faced with corruption and exclusionary politics, popular opposition to the government in Kabul is rising, while the Taliban makes inroads in rural areas and, increasingly, near the cities. This is no doubt the case. And proponents of the forever war in Afghanistan are correct when they say, as they inevitably do, that the Taliban provided sanctuary to Obama bin Laden and Al Qaeda in the lead up to 9/11. But these same proponents usually neglect to note that bin Laden and Al Qaeda were motivated by the U.S.-Israeli special relationship and, according to the 9/11 Report, grievances against the United States that were widely shared in the Muslim world. Bin Laden inveighed against the presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia and against other U.S. policies in the Middle East. But, in the intervening years between 2001 and now, Al Qaedas leadership has been decimated, and according to a Brown University study, the United States has spent or taken on obligations to spend more than $3.6 trillion in current dollars on the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria and on the Department of Homeland Security in the years following 9/11. Meanwhile other alternative strategies (such as the offshore balancing strategy advocated by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt) have never been tried. As I wrote at Consortiumnews in June, therearealternatives (there always are). Its just that these tend not to have the institutional backing of Washingtons policy/think tank community which, because it isdeeply compromisedby its defense industry funders, rarely given them voice or consideration. If the U.S. is to successfully combat terrorism emanating out of the Middle East a wholesale re-evaluation of U.S. policy is in order, particularly with regard to Israel and Saudi Arabia. To gloss over this is to miss the point. And proponents of expanding and privatizing the war in Afghanistan miss it entirely. James W Carden is a contributing writer for The Nation and editor of The American Committee for East-West Accords eastwestaccord.com. He previously served as an advisor on Russia to the Special Representative for Global Inter-governmental Affairs at the US State Department.

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July 25, 2017   Posted in: John Mearsheimer  Comments Closed

Russian meddling is Watergate-worthy, but Israeli meddling is hunky-dory – Mondoweiss

The investigation of Russias meddling in our politics dominates the liberal press; and for my part, I believe everything The New York Times and MSNBC are suspicioning about Donald Trump and the Russians. I bet that the Russians have something on Trump personally, possibly involving money or sex; and that the Russians meddled in our election. (Not that the meddling changed the outcome; no, Hillary Clinton did a great job of losing it on her own.) But as someone who focuses on Israel policy, what stands out to me is that conduct that is Watergate-worthy when it comes to Russia is hunky-dory when it comes to Israel. Just yesterday, for instance, Trump adviser Jared Kushner was on the hot seat in Congress over his contacts with a Russian official last year. But no one has a hearing about the fact that Kushners family, out of devotion to Israel, financed illegal Israeli settlements that have undermined the two-state solution, thereby nullifying longtime U.S. policy. I think thats a real problem. MSNBC doesnt. Just in the last week there have been two other expressions of Israels active interests in our politics that the liberal media have failed to say boo about. First, theres the Israel Anti-Boycott Act in the House and Senate. Israel regards the Boycott movement (BDS) as an existential threat; and so the Israel lobby group AIPAC produced legislation that scores of Senators and Congresspeople, including many liberal heroes, signed on to that trashes the First Amendment by making it a possible crime to support boycott of Israel. By the way, AIPAC has a mission to insure that there is no daylight between the Israeli government and the U.S. government. In the 1960s despite the best efforts of Senator Fulbright, AIPAC escaped designation as an agent of a foreign government. That ought to be a scandal, but everyone walks on by. Then theres Israels unhappiness with the Syrian ceasefire deal that Donald Trump reached with Russia. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu says that the deal fails to limit Irans presence in Syria or to prevent weapons getting to Israels enemy, Hezbollah; and Israel supporters in the U.S. duly echoed Netanyahus view. Former U.S. ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk, who launched his dazzling career, in his own words, with the support of the pro-Israel community, wrote: This is unbelievable! Trump Administration ignored Israels security concerns in making the Syrian deal with Putin. While Daniel Shapiro, also a former U.S. ambassador to Israel who lately called Israel this miracle, this gift, this jewel wrote that the deal needs to be revised: Can the deal be restructured to Isrs satisfaction? US-Russia dynamic makes that difficult & worrisome. But effort needs to be made. Apart from the question of whether Trump will be brought down by his Russia connections, the real issue here is, What is the American peoples interest? In the Syria case, it would appear that Trump is realigning U.S. foreign policy vis-a-vis Russia. And that this realignment could be good for the U.S. position in the world: an effort to lessen U.S. military engagement in the Middle East. But meanwhile it is clearly in Israels interest for the U.S. to be up to its hips in the perpetual war of the Middle East, because occupiers love company. I believe the no-daylight policy has been hugely costly to the United States; and has involved a great deal of meddling by Israel and its friends in our politics. The media are afraid to touch this stuff; but a look back on the special relationship between the countries reveals a number of policy decisions that the U.S. would have made differently if Israel werent putting its thumb on our scale. Lets review: Israel has put more than 600,000 settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, thereby violating the Geneva Convention and destroying the two-state solution, which was U.S. policy. The United States has suffered enormously for its inability to stop this process. Even the 9/11 attacks were motivated in good measure by the sufferings of Palestinians. The Israel lobby and its American friends played the lead role in nullifying U.S. policy in the settlements witness the undermining of President Obamas efforts to stop settlements in 2011 and 2012 via political pressure. (Even Noam Chomsky has said that in this area the client is influencing the superpower, not the other way round.) Israel acquired nuclear weapons in violation of clear U.S. policy in the 60s, and likely also by pilfering highly-enriched uranium from the United States through a front operation in Pennsylvania. There has never been a squeak about this from the U.S. government or officials no they all maintain the deception and meantime Israeli nukes have contributed to an arms race around the region, and fostered the U.S. image as lying imperialist hypocrite. Benjamin Netanyahu pushed for the Iraq war, saying it would transform the region for the better: If you take out Saddam, Saddams regime, I guarantee you that it will have enormous positive reverberations on the region. The leading Israel lobby group AIPAC also pushed for this war, while Israels rightwing American friends, the neoconservatives, argued that the war would bring democracy to Arab states and make Israel safer; as did liberals such as Tom Friedman, Israels onetime promoter, who said we should go to war against Iraq because terrorists were blowing up pizza parlors in Tel Aviv. Whether the voice given to Israels interest was determinative or not in our decision to invade Iraq (I say it was), this is an influence that clearly should have been exposed and investigated, beyond the efforts of John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt in their groundbreaking book The Israel Lobby. But the media shut down that conversation, in part through the vociferous efforts of Jeffrey Goldberg, who formerly emigrated to Israel and served in its armed forces. Several American presidents were for the Palestinian refugees right of return after the creation of Israel. Truman backed down under pressure from the Zionist lobby, John Judis states flatly in his book Genesis. Kennedy and Nixon were also under political pressure to nullify the American position. And indeed: no Palestinian refugees have been allowed to return by Israel, the U.S. has done nothing to seek to reverse that policy; and the issue inflames the conflict to this day. Israeli leaders and U.S. surrogates led a campaign to try to stop the Iran deal two years ago and very nearly succeeded. At the height of that campaign Obama gave a speech saying that only one country in the world opposed the deal Israel and that it would be an abrogation of my constitutional duty to heed Israel rather than the American interest. As if that even needed to be said! It can be argued that the four Democratic Senators who opposed their Presidents signature foreign policy achievement Schumer, Menendez, Manchin, and Cardin all did so out of support for Israel or its American friends, who are so influential in our elections. As Stephanie Schriock of the liberal activist group Emilys List says, aspiring Democratic candidates for Congress take their position on Israel from AIPAC because thats the way they can raise money from the Jewish community. And what does it tell you that Schumer despite betraying his president on the Iran deal was rewarded with the leadership of the Senate Democrats? The only alternative that Israel had to the Iran deal was an attack on Iran, which the American people clearly opposed. Its not a surprise then that one of the leading Republican donors, Sheldon Adelson, whose main cause is Israel and who has said he would rather have served in the Israeli army than the U.S. one, urged Obama to nuke Iran. And before that, Adelson held a fundraiser for Mitt Romney in Jerusalem during the 2012 campaign that Romney attended and Benjamin Netanyahu all but openly endorsed Romney over Obama. The pressure against the Iran deal was so strong that Hillary Clinton in 2015, readying a run for president, came out with a statement against Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) as a way of trying to keep Israel and her donors happy in advance of her announcing her support for the Iran deal. At that time, Clintons chief liaison to the Jewish community met with Israels Prime Minister and told Clinton that Netanyahu said that Americans needed to attack, attack, attack BDS. Meantime, one of her biggest donors, the Israeli-American Haim Saban, pressed her to make a statement distancing herself from Obamas policies on Israel; Clinton did so; and her campaign manager endorsed the move: [H]as she made a clear statement on Israel yet? I get this question from donors all the time. Does she need to state her principles on Israel before Iran? We only know about Hillary Clintons craven gyrations because of the emails stolen from the Clinton campaign and published by Wikileaks. I think we have a right to know about a powerful politicians efforts to please Israel and its American friends. But Democrats and media liberals are much more concerned that the Russians might have had a hand in getting these emails out in the months before the election. Yes, the Clinton emails may have been an example of Russian meddling in our elections. But those emails documented Israeli meddling in our elections. Which is worse? I know what I think. But lets have the debate. Thanks to Scott Roth.

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July 25, 2017   Posted in: John Mearsheimer  Comments Closed

The global consequences of Trump’s incompetence – Chicago Tribune

I returned this past weekend from a European vacation: conferencing in Greece, queuing up at Wimbledon, kayaking in Ireland, and generally doing my own small part to stimulate the EU economy. I’m not Tom Friedman, so I didn’t interview every taxi driver I encountered, but the one I did talk to was pretty down on the 45th president of the United States. I’m sure there are a few Trump supporters in Europe, but recent surveys suggest they are a distinct minority. That seems to be increasingly true here, too, despite the stubborn loyalty of those supporters who would stick with the guy even if he did, in fact, shoot someone on Fifth Avenue. Since Donald Trump was inaugurated, a vast amount of ink and billions of pixels have been devoted to documenting, dissecting, condemning, or defending his disregard for well-established norms of decency and political restraint. I’m talking about the blatant nepotism, the vast conflicts of interest, the overt misogyny, and what Fox News’s Shepard Smith called the “lie after lie after lie” regarding Trump’s relations with Russia. The presidential pendulum has swung from dignified (Barack Obama) to disgusting (Trump), and it’s tempting to spend all one’s time hyperventilating about his personal comportment rather than his handling of important policy issues. But the real issue isn’t Trump’s nonstop boorishness; it’s his increasingly obvious lack of competence. When experienced Republicans warned that Trump was unfit for office during the 2016 campaign, most of their concerns revolved around issues of character. But their warnings didn’t prepare us for the parade of buffoonery and ineptitude that has characterized his administration from Day One. What do I mean by “competence”? The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as “the ability to do something successfully or efficiently.” In foreign policy, competence depends on a sufficient knowledge about the state of the world and the key forces that drive world politics so that one can make well-informed and intelligent policy choices. It also means having the organizational skills, discipline, and judgment to pick the right subordinates and get them to combine the different elements of national power in pursuit of well-chosen goals. In other words, foreign-policy competence requires the ability to identify ends that will make the country more secure and/or prosperous and then assemble the means to bring the desired results to fruition. As in other walks of life, to be competent at foreign policy does not mean being 100 percent right or successful. International politics is a chancy and uncertain realm, and even well-crafted policies sometimes go awry. But, on balance, competent policymakers succeed more than they fail, both because they have a mostly accurate view of how the world works and because they have the necessary skills to implement their choices effectively. As a result, such leaders will retain others’ confidence even when a few individual initiatives do not work out as intended. For much of the postwar period, the United States benefited greatly from an overarching aura of competence. Victory in World War II, the creation of key postwar institutions like NATO and Bretton Woods, and the (mostly) successful management of the Cold War rivalry with the USSR convinced many observers that U.S. officials knew what they were doing. That aura was reinforced by scientific and technological prowess (e.g., the moon landing), by mostly steady economic growth, and to some extent by the progress made in addressing issues such as race, however imperfect those latter efforts were. That same aura was tarnished by blunders like Vietnam, of course, but other countries still understood that the United States was both very powerful and guided by people who understood the world reasonably well and weren’t bad at getting things done. The George H.W. Bush administration’s successful handling of the collapse of the USSR, the reunification of Germany, and the first Gulf War reinforced the broad sense that U.S. judgment and skill should be taken seriously, even if Washington wasn’t infallible. Since then, however, things have gone from good to bad to worse to truly awful. The Bill Clinton administration managed the U.S. economy pretty well, but its handling of foreign policy was only so-so, and its policies in the Middle East and elsewhere laid the foundation for much future trouble. The George W. Bush administration was filled with experienced foreign-policy mavens, but a fatal combination of hubris, presidential ignorance, post-9/11 panic, and the baleful influence of a handful of neoconservative ideologues produced costly debacles in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama did somewhat better (one could hardly have done worse), but he never took on the Blob’s commitment to liberal hegemony and made some of the same mistakes that the younger Bush did, albeit on a smaller scale. Even the vaunted American military seems more skilled at blowing things up than at achieving anything resembling victory. Which brings us to Trump. He has been in office for only six months, but the consequences of his ineptitude are already apparent. First, when you don’t understand the world very well, and when your team lacks skilled officials to compensate for presidential ignorance, you’re going to make big policy mistakes. Trump’s biggest doozy thus far was dropping the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a decision that undermined the U.S. position in Asia, opened the door toward greater Chinese influence, and won’t benefit the U.S. economy in the slightest. Similar ignorance-fueled errors include walking away from the Paris climate accord (which makes Americans look like a bunch of science-denying, head-in-the-sand ignoramuses) and failing to appreciate that China wasn’t – repeat, wasn’t – going to solve the North Korea problem for us. Not to mention his team’s inability to spell and confusion over which countries they are talking about. Second, once other countries conclude that U.S. officials are dunderheads, they aren’t going to pay much attention to the advice, guidance, or requests that Washington makes. When people think you know what you’re doing, they will listen carefully to what you have to say and will be more inclined to follow your lead. But if they think you’re an idiot, or they aren’t convinced you can actually deliver whatever you are promising, they may nod politely as you express your views but follow their own instincts instead. We are already seeing signs of this. Having played to Trump’s vulnerable ego brilliantly during his visit to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia is now blithely ignoring U.S. efforts to resolve the simmering dispute between the Gulf states and Qatar. True to form, Israel doesn’t care what Trump thinks about the Israeli-Palestinian dispute or the situation in Syria either. To be sure, these two countries have a long history of ignoring U.S. advice and interests, but their indifference to Washington’s views seems to have reached new heights. And now South Korea has announced it will begin talks with North Korea, despite the Trump administration’s belief that the time was not right. Meanwhile, the EU and Japan just reached a large trade deal; TPP-like talks are resuming without the United States; and the leaders of Germany and Canada – two of America’s closest allies – have openly spoken of the need to chart their own course. Even the foreign minister of Australia – another staunch U.S. ally – has taken a dig at Trump for his demeaning remarks to France’s first lady. And who can blame them? I mean: If you were a responsible foreign leader, would you take the advice of the man who had the wisdom to appoint Sebastian Gorka to a White House national security position, wants to cut the State Department budget by 30 percent, and thinks Jared Kushner is a genius who can handle difficult diplomatic assignments? The United States is still very powerful, of course, so both allies and adversaries will continue to be cautious when dealing with it. That’s why Emmanuel Macron of France and Justin Trudeau of Canada have treated Trump with more respect than he deserves. You’d tread carefully, too, if you found yourself in the same room as a drunk rhinoceros. But you probably wouldn’t ask the rhino for advice or consult it on geopolitical strategy. Instead of relying on U.S. guidance and (generally) supporting U.S. policy initiatives, states that lose confidence in America’s competence will begin to hedge and make their own arrangements. They’ll do deals with each other and sometimes with countries that the United States regards as adversaries. That is happening already with China and Iran, and you can expect more of the same as long as U.S. foreign policy combines the strategic acumen of Wile E. Coyote, the disciplined teamwork of the Three Stooges, and the well-oiled efficiency of the frat in Animal House. Paleoconservatives and isolationists might welcome this outcome, because they think the United States has been bearing too large a share of global burdens and that it just screws things up when it tries to run the world. They have a point, but they take it way too far. If the United States were to disengage as far as they would like, the other 95 percent of humanity would proceed to create a world order where U.S. influence would be considerably smaller and where events in a few key regions would almost certainly evolve in ways that the United States would eventually regret. Instead of retreating to “Fortress America,” it makes more sense to adopt the policy of offshore balancing that John Mearsheimer and I outlined a year ago. But offshore balancing won’t work if other states have little or no confidence in U.S. judgment, skill, and competence. Why? Because the strategy calls for the United States to “hold the balance” in key regions (i.e., Europe, Asia, and perhaps the Middle East) and to stand ready to bring its power to bear in these areas should a potential hegemon emerge there. The countries with which the United States would join forces should that occur have to be sufficiently convinced that Washington can gauge threats properly and intervene with skill and effect when necessary. In short, the credibility of U.S. commitments depends on a minimum reputation for competence, and that is precisely the currency that Trump and Co. have been squandering. To be clear, I am not saying there are not a lot of competent people serving in the U.S. government or that the United States is incapable of doing anything right these days. Indeed, my hat is off to the dedicated public servants who are trying to do their jobs despite the chaos in the White House and Trump’s deliberate effort to cripple our foreign-policy machinery. Nor am I saying that Donald Trump is incompetent at everything. He is, by all accounts, a much better than average golfer (even if he may be – now here’s a shocker – prone to cheating), which may explain why he prefers golfing to governing. He has been adept at getting attractive foreign women to marry him, though not especially good at making the marriages last. And he is clearly an absolutely world-class bullshit artist, with a genuinely impressive ability to lie, prevaricate, evade, mislead, stretch the truth, and dissemble. These skills clearly served him well as a real estate developer, but they aren’t helping him very much as president. Because once people decide you’re a bumbler, either they take advantage of your ineptitude or they prefer to deal with those who are more reliable. It gives me no joy to say this, but can you blame them? — Walt is the Robert and Rene Belfer professor of international relations at Harvard University.

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July 19, 2017   Posted in: John Mearsheimer  Comments Closed


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