There is always much talk in the blogosphere (and elsewhere) of the Israeli tail wagging the American dog. As we have often noted here, there are many figures on the anti-war side who seem to believe that the owners and operators of the gargantuan American war-and-empire machine -- people like the Bushes, Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Karl Rove, just to name a few prominent players of current and recent times -- are basically decent, amiable, honest doofuses whose noble aspirations and good intentions have been subverted and perverted by a gaggle of wily Jews. America's foreign policy -- and its military might -- have been hijacked by the Israelis and their many agents of influence in the U.S. power structure, we're told.
The ultimate implication of such a belief -- although this conclusion is rarely stated publicly by the Wag-Dog contingent -- is that if it were not for the sneaky Jews, the U.S. government would never have waged a war of aggression in Iraq and would not be plotting another one against Iran. Time and again we're told that the American elite are acting against their own interests, that they are being hoodwinked by a foreign power into doing things they would never have done on their own.
As we've discussed at length elsewhere, this is a ludicrous, insupportable and historically ignorant viewpoint -- as well as a desperate (if usually unconscious) attempt to cling to a deeply ingrained idea of American exceptionalism: we wouldn't do those kinds of things, we must have been tricked into it by some sinister, sneaky, alien element. [Another version of the same viewpoint holds that America's government leaders are not amiable doofuses but corrupt traitors who have been bought with Jewish gold. But again this is just American exceptionalism in disguise: our system would never produce war criminals and mass murderers in high places on its own; if the Jews hadn't bribed the Administration and Congress, then America would never have gone to war in the Middle East. To which history gives the only possible reality-based reply: Yeah, right.]
But while it's understandable that people would seek to blame outsiders for the crimes committed by their own nation -- even to the extent of believing that a minor country could somehow force the overlords of a great empire to act against their own will -- it's odd that almost no one considers the opposite [and blatantly obvious] view: that the American dog wags the Israeli tail -- and that, if anything, is the Israeli elite that have been subverted, bought off and hijacked to serve the interests of American empire.
One can occasionally see glimpses of this reality. For example, the estimable "Angry Arab," the learned professor As'ad AbuKhalil, points us to a key passage in a recent Washington Post story:
... Israeli leaders routinely get half or more of their campaign contributions for party primaries from overseas, and mostly from American donors. The fundraising trend is especially pronounced on Israel's political right; politicians who advocate aggressive military action against Iran and Hamas and who maintain an uncompromising stance against ceding land to the Palestinians have typically found generous support for their views in the States. Former prime minister and Likud Party leader Binyamin Netanyahu, for instance, received approximately $400,000 -- 75 percent of his donations for a 2007 primary -- from U.S. contributors, according to the Israeli comptroller's office. By contrast, Israeli donors accounted for less than 5 percent of reported contributions to Netanyahu, who hopes to return to power if Olmert falls and who has sharply criticized the current government for its willingness to cut deals with Israel's enemies.
Netanyahu is of course the darling of the war-profiteering wing of the U.S. Establishment, especially those especially devoted to maintaining and expanding America's "unipolar domination" of world affairs. One such faction took quiet root in the Cheney-led Defense Department during the administration of the elder George Bush and later flowered into the open, aggressive militarism of the Cheney-Rumsfeld "Project for the New American Century" group, which, as we've noted here before, produced a veritable blueprint of the Bush Administration's later policies – including the imposition of a U.S. military presence in Iraq (even if Saddam Hussein was no longer in power there), the vast expansion of military spending, new military bases in Central Asia, and other measures which the group admitted could not be speedily implemented, if at all – unless the American people were "catalyzed" into supporting this radical militarist agenda by "a new Pearl Harbor." This blueprint was issued in September 2000.
As these plans developed from Cheney's Pentagon – where they were originally overseen by his aides Paul Wolfowitz and Scooter Libby – the role of Israel as a tool for their implementation took on more importance. There developed a mutually beneficial symbiosis between the American Dominationists and the militant Israeli hardliners like Netanyahu. American "neo-con" stalwarts like Richard Perle and Douglas Feith worked on Netanyahu's "Clean Break" strategy, which, like the PNAC plan for America, envisioned a much more aggressive and militarized posture. In this shared vision, war and domination are exalted, and the only acceptable peace is the peace of the conqueror, with the shattered, humiliated enemy at his feet. The Muslim nations of the Middle East were to be broken down, bit by bit, atomized into warring internal factions, seeded with ethnic and religious strife, rendered impotent and humiliated, given pliable client governments and made ready for the return of Western domination.
[It should be noted that Israeli and American policy were already quite aggressive and militarized before the PNACkers and Clean Breakers came along; we're certainly not harking back nostalgically to some lost golden age. But there can be no doubt that the last few years have seen an acute intensification of the worst elements in long-running American and Israeli policy.]
Thus, as the Post story notes, American money began flowing into the coffers of hardline Israeli politicians – the very ones who sought (and succeeded) in bending Israel's policies to the agenda of the American dominationists. Jewish businessmen in America have been happy to help bankroll this effort; after all, they don't have to live with the consequences of the aggressive, hardline policies they support in far-off Israel. Perhaps the most salient point in the passage quoted by AbuKhalil is the fact that only 5 percent of Netanyahu's financial support in his last primary outing came from actual Israelis. Fully three-quarters came from Americans. And this kind of spread can be found across the board. Very few Israelis give substantial, material support to the radical militarists in silk suits like Netanyahu. Yet American money keeps the Israeli hardliners in high cotton. Their policies in turn continue to line up in every significant respect with the agenda of America's "unipolar dominationists."
So just who is wagging whom here?
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This story was published on July 28, 2008.