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Jewish American and Israeli perspectives on AIPAC and its marriage of convenience with Evangelicals


In response to the AIPAC trilogy (parts 1, 2 and 3), a very dear friend attempted to put things into a Jewish American perspective:

Yes we Jews have become very effective in "persuading Congress et al" [sender's quotation marks]. Most who are my age remember all too well the boats being turned away, the interception of boats on the way to the Palestine Mandate, the refusal to at least bomb the railways to the death camps, the caveats in the property deeds, the fighting our way into and out of school. Shall I make the list longer?

Our efforts to control power given our absolute small percentage of the total population have been quite successful and long shall it be so. To not do so would condemn us to the rampant anti semitism one sees in France. It is only under the surface here in the good old U S of A… I felt it every day in commerce whether it was the guy off the street who said I was trying to jew him down to the owner of a stamping plant who referred to us as "sheenies".

Gordon, my contribution to AIPAC is on the way.

[Sheeny; sheenies: a derogatory term for a Jew or Jews. Origin is generally listed as unknown but it may be based on the German "schon" or beautiful, an adjective used by Yiddish merchants in advertising their wares]

I can sympathize with the "only under the surface" comment as I had an older relative, a courtly southern gentleman until circumstances drove him to drink, that began to ascribe anything amiss or bad as the fault of "dirty niggers and sheeny Jews," over and over. It was nothing short of stunning as I'd previously never heard those words from him.

In the late 70s or early 80s, I was sitting in the living room of my Israeli distributor, he from Prague, his wife from Munich, and both very elegant and artistically sensitive. Their son was about 6 or 7 if memory serves. My distributor had often expressed the sadness that he and his wife felt over the lack of a cultured environment in Tel Aviv or Israel for the matter. I asked why that did not return to Europe. The reply: "Gordon, this is the one place my son will never be called a Jew." I remember thinking how academic my education had been. Using a phrase that first rose in a talk with Black colleagues, I shall never be able to understand what I call the accumulated injury of a life of slights.

My American friend continued:

The only place a Jew really feels safe is Israel. There are 300 million Arabs surrounding 5 million Jews. There is a layer of anti semitism in Europe and the US. The muslim world is in the main anti semitic. There is no doubt that the Israeli Jew and the American Jew will do whatever is necessary to involve anyone that will come to their aid and will do so by any means possible.

It is my hope that we (the Jews) are not being naive. The reason the US is involved with Israel is that Israel is the eyes and ears where the oil is. I hope you do not believe the US would not walk away no matter what AIPAC et al would do if there was no oil in the Mideast. It suited the US's purpose to have Israel knock out the reactor in Iraq; it may serve again to have Israel go after the reactors in Iran. It may serve the US's purposes to feed Israel to the wolves. It is imperative that Israel do everything in its power to make sure that does not happen.

Gordon, Never Again!

My reply:

The US is certainly in the Middle East due to oil and its geopolitics drive us until such time as we slake our dependence on it or someone with a bigger stick shoos us away from it. [The US] was already in the Middle East before its relationship rose with Israel. Too few US nationals remember that although the US urged the partition of the East Bank of Mandate, declining Jewish wishes to partition the West Bank of the Mandate (Jordan) as well, the original military benefactor to Israel were the French [who were] instrumental in the construction of the Negev reactor and the Jericho I IRBM... It was Truman, feeling a need to annex Jewish voters in a close presidential election, that begun the political landscape that we have in the US today. One wonders what would happened without that event, or when the next time of need would have occurred. I do not for a moment think that Israel would look for another benefactor if US permissiveness waned. Mark me zany, but I think that Israel would strike a very interesting deal with China although the Chinese are so much more smooth a political operator that the fumblers in the administration, that they are doing very well painting us into the corner as the bull in the global China Shop...

I was privy to a number of Israeli state actions some of which were in our interests while many were not. I do not begrudge a nation state from acting in its own interests; I do not like it trying to pass its actions off as something good for us when it is something good for them. The US is the primary intel target for the State of Israel, dwarfing the assets directed at any other state. It is allowed access that no other state is permitted and it uses that access to our ill - significantly so.

Yes, there are tactical interests between the US and Israel. Examples being the identification of certain Palestinian assets to the Israelis... I was in some briefings by Israeli officers in which they used a metaphor that I think circulates within the IDF, as others have heard it, that Israel is like the man atop a burning building that can neither put out the fire or get down off the building. All actions are conducted within that narrow range of options.

Had I endured the history that you folks have had to do, I would be looking for every advantage that I could get and I would warily form an alliance with the [Evangelicals] that think that Jews will miraculously convert on the eve of rapture. I have Israeli friends that laugh at that as much as they are bemused at what they call the guilt of American Jews who give money in lieu of moving to Israel. Everyone seems to use everyone else to some degree. I have no issue per se with lobbying, be it for pharmaceuticals or for Israel, so long as it in the clear. In the case of AIPAC, it has long since crossed the line such that it should be under FARA.

His response was intriguing:

Frankly I don't have a problem with AIPAC falling under FARA but I am in the minority. Most feel that the omnipresent divided loyalties would be too apparent. It doesn't bother me. As to the Israelis view of the American Jews I would be there in a heartbeat if the black hats didn't wield so much power.

The "omnipresent divided loyalties" is my point and, yes, it would be on display as it is with virtually every other hyphenated American group, but that equality and openness is what I am seeking.

As to the black hats, back in the late 70s, I'd forecast that Israel would move rightward as the Sephardim came to outnumber the Ashkenazim. Combine that shift with radical religious conservatives and one gets a potent voting bloc. The Knesset's proportional representational system is tailor-made for this kind of factional pressure politics. It is neigh impossible to rule without at least having Shas underfoot or the gaggle of really rightward groups from which the greatest attack threat to Sharon was expected to rise. The Israeli security services spend a fair amount of time trying to decide who will line up on which side among the personnel among the various security assets. Rabin was, after all, not shot by a Palestinian. (See Keeping Sharon alive long enough to effect withdrawal from Gaza and the West Bank.)

I'll close this note with a reply from an Israeli friend, who divides his time between the US and Israel, responding to my inquiry as to "how Israelis - not American Jews - view evangelical Christians":

I think the average Israeli has no idea what evangelicals are about. For historical reasons (see Torquemada) Israelis have deep antipathy towards missionaries operating in Israel. In fact, the LDS [Latter-day Saints or Mormon Church] school in Jerusalem got permission from the government to set up in exchange for commitment not to engage in missionary activity in Israel.

For the average Israeli, non-missionary Christians who come to Israel with adoration for Israeli might are good gentile Zionists. Since Israelis have this inferiority/persecution complex, they crave validation from outsiders and tend to overlook the outsiders' belief systems and practices. So, Idi Amin Baba and South Africa were both kosher as well as South American despots and Pat Robertson.

Most Israelis don’t really understand that converting Jews is a big part of the evangelical theology. Most Israelis, who are quite secular, don’t know that a majority of Americans are deeply religious and hold strong beliefs about Armageddon and the role of Jews in the second coming. So perhaps they view evangelicals adoring Israeli soldiers and West Bank settlement as some type of weird but nice cult, especially as they do not proselytize in Israel.

That is the average view probably. The Israeli right wing leadership, including national-religious extreme, seemed to have struck a cynical alliance with the evangelicals. I believe that Bibi [Binyamin Netanyahu] is the master of that relationship where there’s a quid pro quo. Let them hold their crazy beliefs if they will be our power brokers in DC, a good complement to AIPAC. We'll not try to change them, nor they us, as long as both sides gain benefits.

The average Israeli was only sensitized to the evangelicals after Pat Robertson made his comment on Sharon's stroke being God’s punishment for dividing Israel. Now that is something that Israeli rabbis can spout any time with no problem (including Ovadia Yosef, the spiritual leader of Shas who is a real nut). But when an American says that, and he doesn't even wear some strange garb, that's a problem. But it was quickly smoothed out and the alliance continues and there were so many other news items that it was quickly forgotten. Ask the average Israeli, ask even enlightened Israelis who Robertson is and what evangelical beliefs about Jews are, and they will have no idea.

Next: Confluence of anti-Semitic, pro-Fascist sentiments of the "Radio Priest" and Nazi-tolerance sentiments of US business. Father Charles E. Coughlin outraged Jews and helped set the stage for today's marriage of convenience between Jews and Evangelicals.

Robertson blamed Sharon stroke on policy of "dividing God's land"
Summary: Pat Robertson suggested that Ariel Sharon's stroke occurred because he was "dividing God's land."
Meida Matters for America
Jan 5, 2006 2:54pm EST

Gordon Housworth

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Federal pandemic influenza plan can only count on half the expected public health staff to show up for a pandemic


[Most of the] public health workers who would serve as a backbone of locally-driven emergency response in an influenza pandemic setting [feel] they will work under significant personal risk, in a scenario they are not adequately knowledgeable about, performing a role they are not sufficiently trained for, and believing this role does not have a significant impact on the agency’s overall response.

The "perceived risk associated with the worker’s role in an influenza pandemic" is sufficiently great that without specific intervention programs tailored for these workers, nearly "half of local public health workers would be unlikely to report during an extreme crisis. Three out of four technical and support workers don’t even think they will be asked to report to work during a pandemic."

I like to say that, "Any plan conceived and approved by or under sitting politicians must, by definition, be adjudged a success or it will be rerun until it does." Having written on previous TOPOFF (Top Officials) exercises here in the US, whose tests are gerrymandered in their instructions and boundary conditions so as to insure success, I am forever credulous of the accuracy of these tests to mimic reality. Each time the real world rudely intrudes, in the likes of Hurricane Katrina, our planning and recovery process is shown to be inept. (An example is the failure to resolve unintelligible communications channels across disciplines (such as between fire and police) that was known before 11 September, 2001, but was still not redressed as of Katrina.) See:

None of the TOPOFF exercises assumed a degradation of public health workers any where near the results of a study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Local public health workers' perceptions toward responding to an influenza pandemic.

The HHS Pandemic Influenza Plan clearly states the impact of an Avian Flu Influenza accurately enough:

When a pandemic virus strain emerges, 25% to 35% of the population could develop clinical disease, and a substantial fraction of these individuals could die. The direct and indirect health costs alone (not including disruptions in trade and other costs to business and industry) have been estimated to approach $181 billion for a moderate pandemic (similar to those in 1957 and 1968) with no interventions. Faced with such a threat, the U.S. and its international partners will need to respond quickly and forcefully to reduce the scope and magnitude of the potentially catastrophic consequences.

The HHS plan describes a "critical role for local and state public health agencies during a pandemic, including: providing regular situational updates for providers; providing guidance on infection control measures for healthcare and non-healthcare settings; conducting or facilitating testing and investigation of pandemic influenza cases; and investigating and reporting special pandemic situations."

Among those roles are, for example, key Healthcare and Emergency Response capabilities "Needed for Implementation of an effective response":

  1. Equipment and supplies maintained in the Strategic National Stockpile and state stockpiles sufficient to enhance medical surge capacity.
  2. Federal Medical Stations and healthcare assets (people, facilities, equipment, supplies, and exercised procedures) to enhance medical surge capacity.
  3. Widely available accurate rapid diagnostic methods to detect and characterize influenza viruses.
  4. Assets (people, facilities, equipment, supplies, and exercised procedures) for the timely, safe, and respectful disposition of the deceased.
  5. Institutionalization of psychosocial support services and development of workforce resiliency programs.

The term "Assets (people, facilities, equipment, supplies, and exercised procedures)" appears in other subsections of the HHS document, but no mention is made of the option that the local healthcare backbone will not show up for work - and no federal plan can persevere without the backbone of local support.

No one had apparently thought to query the local health staff, divided between professionals (all physicians, nurses and public health professionals) and technical/support staff on the following issues:

  • Probability of reporting to work
  • Possibility of being asked by their health department to respond to an emergency
  • Degree of knowledge "about the potential public health impact of pandemic influenza"
  • Confidence of safety "in their work roles"
  • Likelihood of family preparation "to function in their absence"
  • Likelihood they would get timely updates from their health department
  • Familiarity with "their role specific response requirements"
  • Ability to "address the questions of a concerned member of the public"
  • Significance of their role "in the agency’s overall response"
  • Importance of "pre-event preparation and training"
  • Importance of having "psychological support available during the event"
  • Importance of having "psychological support available after the event"

Risk perception theory (see other links below) describes a risk horizon in which "the summation of actual risk and other peripheral influences independent of the actual risk, such as perceived authority, trust, and situational control; these peripheral influences have been termed "outrage" or "dread." It should come as no surprise that actual risk is nestled within a group of contributing factors peripheral to the actual risk that "will have a considerable practical impact on how public health employees would respond in a crisis."

Employees' "sense of dread due to a lack of personal control" were caused by such variables as "uncertainty regarding working environment safety, unclear expectations of role-specific emergency response requirements, safety and well being of family members, inadequate emphasis on the critical value of each employee to the agency response efforts, and insufficient emphasis on stress management techniques."

The results were impressive:

  • 66% of public health workers "felt they would put themselves at risk of infection if they were to report to work during a pandemic"
  • Only 40% of all respondents felt it likely "they would be asked by their health department to respond to a pandemic influenza related emergency"
  • "Half of local public health workers would be unlikely to report during an extreme crisis"
  • "Three out of four technical and support workers don’t even think they will be asked to report to work during a pandemic"

These figures do not include those who cannot show up because of a primary or secondary interruption, i.e., they are prohibited due to such impacts as a gridlocking transport system.

So much for the ability of the US to carry out the HHS Pandemic Influenza Plan. Sustained, nationwide interventions with healthcare staff will be required to improve their willingness "in non-public health department settings to report to duty in disasters include workforce preparedness education, provision of appropriate personal protective equipment, crisis counseling, family preparedness and social support."

Local public health workers' perceptions toward responding to an influenza pandemic
By Ran D. Balicer, Saad B. Omer, Daniel J. Barnett and George S. Everly Jr.
BMC Public Health 2006, 6:99 doi:10.1186/1471-2458-6-99
ISSN 1471-2458
Publication date 18 April 2006
Full text PDF

Nearly Half of Public Health Employees Unlikely to Work During Pandemic
Public Health News Center
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
April 17, 2006

HHS Pandemic Influenza Plan
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
November 2005

Applying risk perception theory to public health workforce preparedness training
By Barnett DJ, Balicer RD, Blodgett DW, Everly GS Jr, Omer SB, Parker CL, Links JM.
Johns Hopkins Center for Public Health Preparedness, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Journal of Public Health Management & Practice, Suppl:S33-7
November 2005

Explaining risk perception. An evaluation of the psychometric paradigm in risk perception research
Lennart Sjöberg, Bjørg-Elin Moen, Torbjørn Rundmo
Editor: Torbjørn Rundmo
Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Department of Psychology
ISBN 82-7892-024-9
Trondheim, September 2004

SARS Risk Perception, Knowledge, Precautions, and Information Sources, the Netherlands
Johannes Brug, Arja R. Aro, Anke Oenema, Onno de Zwart, Jan Hendrik Richardus, and George D. Bishop
Emerging Infectious Diseases

Vol. 10, No. 8, August 2004

Explaining risk perception. An evaluation of cultural theory
Sigve Oltedal, Bjørg-Elin Moen, Hroar Klempe, Torbjørn Rundmo
Editor: Torbjørn Rundmo
Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Department of Psychology
ISBN 82-7892-025-7
Trondheim, April 20, 2004

A Social Network Contagion Theory of Risk Perception
Clifford W. Scherer and Hichang Cho
Risk Analysis
Volume 23 Issue 2, Page 261 - April 2003

Risk perception: Theories and models
Anna-Mari Aalto, Pilvikki Absetz, Yael Benyamini, Pepijn van Empelen, David French, Peter Harris, Britta Renner, Fritz Strack
European Health Psychology Society

Gordon Housworth

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"No Nation Left Behind" program, Part 6, AIPAC 3


Part 5

But AIPAC has withstood serious examination on previous occasions. Lilienthal's memoriam on the death of Senator J. William Fulbright, A Giant Passes, is recommended both for the efforts of the man and that part of his career that bends upon this note. Today, Fulbright is passingly remembered for his founding of the Fulbright Scholarships, whereas his opposition to intervention in Vietnam is not as was his 1963 investigation of Jewish and Zionist lobbies, many of who were operating outside the Foreign Agents Registration Act and whose cross-funding was largely unknown. It was this latter effort that cost Fulbright the post of secretary of state as President-elect Kennedy tapped the "far less controversial, and less qualified, Dean Rusk." In a recent conversation with a former aide to Senator Proxmire of Wisconsin, creator of the Golden Fleece Awards and a Fulbright contemporary, the appointment of Dean came as a great surprise, even to Hill politicians. Fulbright was the assumed candidate for SecState; Dean was unknown. (Readers should note that I take these events as a mark of Fulbright's skill as opposed to Dean's lack thereof.)

As Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Fulbright conducted hearings on the Zionist movement in 1963 "as part of an examination into activities of various representatives of foreign entities, aimed at uncovering possible abuses" of FARA. In testimony originally classified, Fulbright defined what he called "conduits" by which "tax-free United Jewish Appeal dollars [of] the Jewish Agency's American section, a registered foreign agent," which were recycled philanthropic tax-deductible contributions originally sent to Israel by US nationals now being distributed in the US "to organizations and individuals seeking to influence public opinion in favor of Israel." Documented were:

the highly complex process of passing funds among the three "Jewish Agencies." These were the Jewish Agency for Israel, Jerusalem; the Jewish Agency for Israel, Inc.; and the Jewish Agency-American Section, Inc., a registered foreign agent. Through them money reached many respected organizations molding opinion among Americans who were not aware of the original source of the funds. For example, more than 80 percent of the budget of the American Zionist Council (AZC), the coordinating body for nine major U.S. Zionist groups, was received for eight years from the Jewish Agency for Israel (unregistered)…

pertinent operations [were] the purchase and control of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) for distribution of news to Jewish publications; the establishment and maintenance of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations; the subsidization of efforts by the Synagogue Council of America to explain to Christian leaders the relationship of American Jewry to Israel; travel "study" tours in Israel by the American Christian Palestine Committee; pressuring American newspapers to support Israel and to attack anti-Zionist groups; establishment of inter-university committees on Israel and setting up chairs of Hebrew culture at universities which had Middle East studies programs...

Contributors to the UJA [United Jewish Appeal now UJC] provided the funds flowing through the American Zionist Council's pipeline not only for manipulation of congressmen and public opinion, but also to manipulate the contributors into giving more to Israel. The AZC was, the Senator pointed out, "a very thin way of insulating it and other recipients from the terms of the Foreign Agents Act."

Whereas the Jewish Agency had registered, most of those organizations and individuals who received funds from it had not. "The Department of Justice and therefore the public," said the Senator, "was unaware of the public relations activities in the interest of Israel carried on within the United States by the Agency. And the Jewish Agency supported organizations and individuals without itemization of such financial support publicly."

Here Lilienthal quotes Fulbright's Oct 1973 appearance on Face the Nation just after the commencement of the 1973 Yom Kippur War (known to Arabs as the Ramadan War):

"For many years I have felt that the situation in the Middle East was very nearly hopeless. The fundamental problem for us is that we have lost our freedom of action in the Middle East and are committed to policies that promote neither our own national interest nor the cause of peace. AIPAC [and] its allied organizations have effective working control of the electoral process. They can elect or defeat nearly any congressman or senator that they wish, with their money and coordinated organization."

In the same program, Fulbright was asked, "which would be the best way to settle the Arab-Israeli war," and "would it not be in everyone's interest for the U.S. and the Soviet Union to refrain from furnishing weapons to either side?" His response was:

"Yes, but the U.S. government alone is not capable of doing that, because the Israelis control the policy in the Congress and the Senate and unless we use the U.N. and do it collectively, we know the U.S. is not going to do that [as] Somewhere around 80 percent of the Senate of the United States is completely in support of Israel and of anything Israel wants."

Paul Findley, a former congressman who was himself the subject of a concentrated attack by AIPAC, cites an interview with Reagan's Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Thomas Moorer, in 1984 who commented:

I've never seen a President -- I don't care who he is -- stand up to them [the Israelis]. It just boggles the mind. They always get what they want. The Israelis know what is going on all the time. If the American people understood what a grip those people have got on our government, they would rise up in arms. Our citizens certainly don't have any idea what goes on."

Little appears to have changed since as Mazin Qumsiyeh cites Fulbright's 1989 comment in his book, The Price of Empire:

"The fundamental problem for us is that we have lost our freedom of action in the Middle East and are committed to policies that promote neither our own national interest nor the cause of peace. AIPAC (the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee) and its allied organizations have effective working control of the electoral process."

And in 1992, a potential AIPAC donor, Haim (Harry) Katz, telephoned AIPAC's president, David Steiner, whereupon Steiner "proceeded to make several claims, including negotiating with then-candidate Bill Clinton over who would be Secretary of State, and had already "cut a deal" with Baker for more aid to Israel." For whatever reason, Katz was taping the call without Steiner's knowledge, subsequently giving the recording to the media, causing Steiner's resignation, as Katz was ostensibly concerned that "AIPAC's influence had grown to dangerous levels." (See page images and transcriptions.)

I will close this segment with the elephant-in-the-room that appears whenever criticism is levied against AIPAC in particular and Israel in general. First, from Michael Massing at The Nation:

Jewish organizations are quick to detect bias in the coverage of the Middle East, and quick to complain about it. That's especially true of late. As the Forward observed in late April, "rooting out perceived anti-Israel bias in the media has become for many American Jews the most direct and emotional outlet for connecting with the conflict 6,000 miles away." Recently, an estimated 1,000 subscribers to the Los Angeles Times suspended home delivery for a day to protest what they considered the paper's pro-Palestinian coverage. The Chicago Tribune, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Miami Herald have all been hit by similar protests, and NPR has received thousands of e-mails complaining about its reports from the Middle East.

And from Andrew Hurley:

The greatest triumph of "The Israeli Lobby" [has] been to brand any criticism of Israel, no matter how informed or well-documented, "anti-Semitic," and get away with it. A mere discussion of the problem by non-Jewish sources has become "suspect," not just to the clueless but to anyone concerned with being duped by bigots or being mistaken for one… There is a "crucial distinction between the Israel lobby and the typical lobby… No such freedom [of disagreement] exists in America so far as opposition to Israeli policy or the Israeli Lobby is concerned. It is simply ‘taboo.’ To do so automatically exposes one to being branded ‘anti-Semitic,’ a ‘Fascist,’ a ‘Nazi,’ or part of the lunatic fringe…Since there is absolutely no defense against the charge of ‘anti-Semitism,’ most prudent people have long since preferred silence on sensitive issues to the risk of exposing themselves to the accusation of ‘anti-Semitism,’ with its inevitable ‘Hitler’ and ‘Holocaust’ associations."

Reactions can be indirect but still energetic. Grace Halsell, a powerhouse of a woman and a journalist as well as a speech writer for Lyndon Johnson, was free to document the oppression of Blacks, American Indians, Mexicans and Indigents, but when she chose to write about the plight of Muslims in "Journey to Jerusalem" in 1980, her manuscript was taken "to the Israeli Embassy, to let them read it for mistakes." When asked if there were mistakes, the reply was, "Not mistakes as such. But it shouldn’t be published. It’s anti-Israel."

Speaking to the threat label of "anti-Semitism," I've had the honor of Passover in Jerusalem, presided over by a family patriarch that had interrogated Herman Goering as a Brownshirt (Sturmarbeiteilung) and who gave me a guided tour of the Old City that I still describe as seeing with the eyes of ages. I have friends, children of Holocaust survivors, who tell me that they can deny their parents nothing as who could reproach those who have suffered so. When you hear the emotion in their voices, it puts - to me at least - a more human face on Norman Finkelstein's contention that "invoking The Holocaust [is] a ploy to delegitimize all criticism of Jews." I've seen the Holocaust used that way just as I've seen it used to teach and to urge people to aspire to something greater. When one looks at Darfur, for example, one wonders if we have learned anything.

Part 7

Mighty Morphin' Power Brokers
By Mazin B. Qumsiyeh
Qumsiyeh: A Human Rights Web
Unpublished 8/10/2003, updated 9/4/04

American Muslim Community under Siege
Testimony of Nihad Awad Before the Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Homeland Security "Terrorism: Two Years After 9/11, Connecting the Dots"
September 10, 2003

The Israel Lobby
The Nation
Comment, posted May 23, 2002 [from the June 10, 2002 issue]

A Look at The 'Powerful Jewish Lobby'
By Mark Weber
Institute for Historical Review

Author, Journalist, Texas Native
August 17, 2000

One Nation Under Israel
By Andrew Hurley, Truth Press, 1999
Reviewed by Richard H. Curtiss
Devember 1999

What Christians Don’t Know About Israel
By Grace Halsell
Washington Report on Middle East Affairs
Special Report
May/June 1998, Pages 112, 126

James Zogby, Washington Watch
Arab American Institute

Is AIPAC in Trouble? Part I: Keys to AIPAC's Success: Votes and Money
August 9, 1993
Is AIPAC in Trouble? Part II: Two More Keys to AIPAC's Success: Power and Strategy
August 16, 1993
Is AIPAC in Trouble? Part III: Crises Hit the pro-Israel Lobby
August 23, 1993
Is AIPAC in Trouble? Part IV: The Problems Within the Lobby and the Jewish Community
August 30, 1993

In Memoriam
J. William Fulbright: A Giant Passes
By Alfred M. Lilienthal
Washington Report on Middle East Affairs
April/May 1995, Pages 50, 92-93

What Really Happened
What Really Happened
[Page images]
The Complete Unexpurgated AIPAC Tape
Special Report
Washington Report on Middle East Affairs
December/January 1992/93, Page 13-16

They Dare to Speak Out: People and Institutions Confront Israel's Lobby
by Paul Findley
Lawrence Hill Books
ISBN: 155652482X
1985, 2003

Pressure on Campus
by Paul Findley
Excerpted from They Dare to Speak Out

Gordon Housworth

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"No Nation Left Behind" program, Part 5, AIPAC 2


Part 4

Reading AIPAC's litany of denials that it had anything to do with the coincident parade of electoral defeats of candidates that it disliked, reminds me of the protestations of one of the masters of serial insurance fraud, Rex DeGeorge, that he was innocent of a series of sunken yachts, insurance disability claims, burglary claims, and lost luggage. No matter what you think of AIPAC, you'll delight in the story of Rex DeGeorge who was finally brought to justice by a bright lawyer using the marine law principle known as "utmost good faith," i.e., "by not disclosing his prior losses when he applied for insurance [which if the insurer had] known about DeGeorge's losses [it] would not have insured the yacht."

The memorable line that I think applies equally to AIPAC is from the presiding federal district judge, J. Spencer Letts:

Noting [the vessel] Principe's tangled ownership, Letts told DeGeorge's lawyers: "You're asking me to put together unlikely plus unlikely plus unlikely plus unlikely plus unlikely plus unlikely plus unlikely, and then say the net result of all those unlikelys is likely."

Likely to be unlikely with AIPAC as well. AIPAC, like DeGeorge, would have to be another Joe Btfsplk, Al Capp's greatest jinx, for all those losses to have spontaneously happened. (Not to leave readers hanging, the resolution of DeGeorge's case is here.)

While the focus of this note is AIPAC, it is by no means the only pro-Israel organization to escape scrutiny. There is, for example:

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, though little known to the general public, has tremendous influence in Washington, especially with the executive branch. Based in New York, the conference is supposed to give voice to the fifty-two Jewish organizations that sit on its board, but in reality it tends to reflect the views of its executive vice chairman, Malcolm Hoenlein. Hoenlein has long had close ties to Israel's Likud Party… A skilled and articulate operative, Hoenlein uses his access to the State Department, Pentagon and National Security Council to push for a strong Israel. He's so effective at it that the Jewish newspaper the Forward, in its annual list of the fifty most important American Jews, has ranked Hoenlein first.

AIPAC and related Pro-Israeli proponents literally dwarf pro-Arab lobbyists in terms of contributions and political access.

Back to the present, it does appear that "the damage caused by the Franklin affair [and the indictment of two senior AIPAC officials under the Espionage Act] to the lobby itself is apparently reparable," but I agree with the assertion that the majority of US Jews - those "who are not active in the lobby but desire Israel's welfare" - will at least be forced "to cope with charges of "dual loyalty" and with the need to prove that they are no less patriotic than any other American." Given how many times that random queries have failed my Pollard Test, there is something to prove.

For its part, AIPAC has cut its employees loose and cooperate "after it became evident that the FBI had tape-recordings showing that Franklin explicitly said that the material was secret. AIPAC's assessment was that it would be difficult for the organization to continue working on Capitol Hill, and with the administration, while two of its senior officials are facing such charges":

AIPAC leaders have taken a series of steps to cut themselves off from the two former officials suspected in the case. Sources close to the case say the prosecution posed four conditions to AIPAC, which would guarantee that it would not be involved in the indictments: a change of working methods to ensure that such incidents don't happen again; the firing of the two officials and public disassociation from them; no offers of high severance or anything else to make it appear the two quit of their own volition; and no financing of their legal defense. AIPAC has abided by the first three conditions - and the severance pay offered the two was considered very low, considering the many years they worked for the lobby. But it is said to be helping with their legal fees, indirectly, through its own law firm.

One wonders if, once in court, the spurned staffers "will try to prove that they only did what was routine and conventional work for their organization."

No less a stalwart of the Jewish community than the Forward, the "voice of the Jewish immigrant," has mooted that "the goal of the probe is to compel [AIPAC] to register as a "foreign agent" representing the government of another country." Already registered as a lobbying group under the Lobbying Disclosure Act:

registering as a foreign agent would require Aipac to provide significantly more detailed information about its aims and activities to the government — thereby robbing the group of a key weapon: the ability to operate behind the scenes. Such a change would severely weaken the organization’s influence and fuel charges of dual loyalties against Jewish groups...

the shift would undermine Aipac’s standing as the chief grass-roots organization of American Jews who advocate for a strong American-Israel relationship into an entity that represents Israel in America. It also would play into the hands of Aipac’s foes, who for years have charged that the organization’s chief loyalty was to Israel rather than to the United States.

Even if an attempt to force Aipac to register as a foreign agent is unsuccessful, Jewish activists said, a public fight over the issue would damage the pro-Israel lobby and the wider Jewish community. "This is a real threat. If Aipac eventually has to become a foreign agent, that would mean the end of Aipac as we know it. But even if not, it will be ugly…"

Jewish activists say that even if the likelihood is low that a legal attempt to compel Aipac to register as a foreign agent will be successful, public focus on the issue could be damaging. "Any open debate of this issue could be damaging… Questions of loyalty will resurface, and this time such questions will have to do with the chief pro-Israel lobby in America."

While over 20,000 lobbyists are registered with Congress, in 2005 there were 455 actively registered with DoJ as foreign agents. "Although [FARA] enforcement [has] always been spotty, it is used by the government to closely monitor what foreign governments are doing in Washington. It does get the camel’s nose under the tent." Forward notes the "two chief tests for defining an organization or a publicist as an "agent of a foreign principal," are finances and control. The financial issue is dismissed out of hand as it "clearly does not apply to Aipac, which does not receive money from Israel." The control test deals with the "nature of the relationship between the American advocacy organization and the foreign government in question":

Legally, it would be difficult for the [US] to prove that Aipac must register as a foreign agent, experts say. "Lots of ethnic organizations throughout America are representing Americans who support foreign countries or political parties in foreign countries. None of those have in the past been considered foreign agents or required to register as such," said Tom Susman, a Washington lawyer who chairs the Ethics Committee of the American League of Lobbyists. Aipac, he said, "doesn’t advocate on behalf of the government of Israel, but the nation of Israel." Also, [Susman] pointed out, the law does allow for a certain degree of coordination with a foreign government. Therefore, "a substantial independence [of the lobbying group] is all that’s needed. Not total independence."

There certainly are burdens to FARA registration that an organization would like to avoid if it could:

Another part of foreign agents’ challenge comes from perceptions that are triggered because they have to register with the Department of Justice’s criminal division. "There is almost a negative connotation, like you are pulling something and using undue influence in some way," said a lawyer who advises several foreign clients on legal and business matters.

For those not seasoned in the process, such as PR companies hired to work on advertising campaigns, registering under FARA comes with a stigma. "You feel like, 'Oh my God, we are not criminals,'" said a PR specialist who, after the Sept. 11 attacks, worked on an ad campaign for a strategic Middle Eastern ally… "You lose your reputation once and that’s it. You represent a rogue state and, even if you follow the law, it does have an impact on your reputation."… One lobbyist working for a friendly Western government described the FARA process as "a nightmare and was reluctant to go through the rigorous accounting. Because the law’s reporting requirements are very strict — every means of communications, every meeting has to be detailed — some lobbyists actively seek exemptions or loopholes allowing them to register under the Lobbying Disclosure Act, which asks for less broad disclosure.

A FARA Q&A and a FARA Index, "an unofficial guide designed by FARA Unit personnel to assist a browser in finding parts of the statute" are recommended for those who wish to dig deeper.

Senator William Fulbright (see below, part 6) and former senior CIA official Victor Marchetti were unsuccessful in their efforts to bring AIPAC under FARA and the assent remains steep, but one should not give up hope. A 2004 poll by Zogby International in the wake of an FBI investigation of AIPAC staffers for "allegedly receiving classified information from a Pentagon official [Larry Franklin] and using this information on behalf of the government of Israel," asked if AIPAC should register as the agent of a foreign government and lose its tax-exempt status. Answering in the affirmative:

  • Strongly agree 44%
  • Somewhat agree 17%
  • Somewhat disagree 6%
  • Strongly disagree 6%
  • Not sure 27%

"By a five-to-one margin, people are much more likely to agree than disagree that AIPAC should be asked to register as an agent of a foreign government and lose its tax-exempt status. Three in five (61%) agree, including 44% who strongly agree. One in eight (12%) disagrees, and more than one in four (27%) are not sure."

Part 6

United States Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA)
FARA Index
unofficial guide to assist a browser in finding parts of the statute, not part of the 22 U.S.C. § 611

Foreign-agent lobbyists amid uproars, duck for cover
By Elana Schor and Roxana Tiron
The Hill
March 29, 2006

U.S. to indict two senior AIPAC officials under Espionage Act
By Nathan Guttman, Haaretz Correspondent
Last update - 23:24 30/05/2005

Leaders Fear Probe Will Force Pro-Israel Lobby To File as ‘Foreign Agent' Could Fuel Dual Loyalty Talk
By Ori Nir
December 31, 2004

Poll: Should AIPAC Register as the Agent of a Foreign Government?
Council for the National Interest
September, 2004

The Israel Lobby
The Nation
comment | posted May 23, 2002 [from the June 10, 2002 issue]

Pro-Israel and Pro-Arab Interests: The Money
The Center for Responsive Politics
Updated 4/24/2002

Propaganda and Disinformation: How the CIA Manufactures History
Victor Marchetti
The Journal of Historical Review, vol. 9, no. 3, pp. 305-320, 2001

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"No Nation Left Behind" program, Part 4, AIPAC 1


Part 3

Parts 4,5 and 6 comprise an AIPAC trilogy

American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) describes itself as "America's Pro-Israel Lobby," priding itself on the NYT's assertion that it is "The most important organization affecting America's relationship with Israel." AIPAC is courted by all comers; Democrats such as Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Bill Clinton, Al Gore and Joseph Lieberman; Republicans such as Bush43, Condoleezza Rice, John McCain, Andrew Card and Newt Gingrich; and Israelis such as Ariel Sharon, Benjamin Netanyahu, Shimon Peres, Ehud Barak and Yitzhak Rabin.

It is useful to put AIPAC in context of lobbyist activity. Fortune has a good series on lobbying and lobbyists that I recommend. I quote from one here but the other three are cited below:

The Power 25 is a highly eclectic--almost curious--collection. From the 33-million-member [AARP], which polled No. 1 (to no one's surprise), to the ever controversial [Teamsters] (No. 25), and from the calculatedly quiet American Israel Public Affairs Committee (a remarkable No. 2) to the newly emergent National Restaurant Association (No. 24), the Washington 25 is as diverse as the nation itself. But it is more than that. It is a crystalline reminder that Alexis de Tocqueville was right more than 150 years ago when he observed that Americans were inveterate joiners who liked to cluster themselves into quasi-political volunteer groups.

Our survey rebuts one of the oldest axioms of lobbying: that campaign contributions buy power in Washington. While donations are still crucial (and are often abused, as the recent revelations about "soft money" excesses in the last presidential election show), they aren't the only keys to the kingdom. True, three of the top ten organizations owe their high rankings to their substantial campaign contributions [AIPAC included] But these days, interest organizations are valued more for the votes they can deliver. Most of the Power 25 have large numbers of geographically dispersed and politically active members who focus their energies on a narrow range of issues. In other words, they know their convictions and vote them. In this era of low voter turnout, that kind of commitment can mean the difference between victory and defeat in close elections, which translates into real heft on the legislative front. Few things are more important to a Congressman than getting reelected.

Fully half of the top ten groups in the FORTUNE survey were propelled there on the strength of their long-established grassroots networks… The affluence of an organization's members doesn't guarantee influence. Sometimes it has the opposite effect… In contrast, the groups with huge memberships that also have an intense self-interest in government payouts are disproportionately represented in the Power 25.

Populism is not the same as liberalism. The survey shows how narrowly the political spectrum is concentrated at the moderate center and the right… Why? Maybe it's because conservative groups often are better funded or that their members are more intensely committed to their cause. Or maybe the reason is that Republicans control Congress.

In response to Fortune, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency stated that contrary to Fortune, "AIPAC does not contribute money to political candidates, but it did note, "However, in response to a lawsuit, the Federal Election Commission found in 1992 that AIPAC spent money in an effort to influence congressional elections. AIPAC maintains that the specific expenditures were permissible under campaign finance laws."

AIPAC responded with, "If we are as successful as portrayed, it's due to the profound interest Americans have in ensuring the strong bonds between the U.S. and Israel, and their willingness to roll up their sleeves to do something about it," a comment that I find disingenuous. Speaking of the Iran Missile Proliferation Sanctions Act of 1997, AIPAC's Arizona chair stated, "Every AIPAC member called people they had contact with in both the House and Senate and got an incredible amount of people to sign on."

AIPAC has continued despite political changes in both Israel and the US:

[AIPAC] adapts with chameleon-like ease to both "extremist" and "moderate" Israeli governments. AIPAC makes pro forma changes in its executive directors, while leaving in place the lobbyists who can manipulate comfortable majorities in both Democratic and Republican Congresses, and who can either formulate the Middle East policies to be followed by U.S. presidents, or inhibit them from carrying out Mideast policies of their own…

WaPo's Dana Milbank asks, "How much clout does AIPAC have?" The answer is a lot.

The annual meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee has long produced a massive show of bipartisan pandering, as lawmakers praise the well-financed and well-connected group. But [2005] has been a rough year for AIPAC -- it has dismissed its policy director and another employee while the FBI examines whether they passed classified U.S. information to Israel -- and the organization is eager to show how big it is...

[The Franklin scandal] isn't keeping the powerful from lining up to woo AIPAC. The morning brought Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the evening brought congressional leaders, and at a luncheon "debate" in between, Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) and informal administration foreign policy adviser Richard N. Perle tried to one-up each other in pro-Israel views.

Perle drew cheers for denouncing Palestinian anti-Semitism and the French. Harman mentioned that an aide once worked for AIPAC, called her audience "very sophisticated" and celebrated Yasser Arafat's death as "a blessing." Debating a hard-liner in front of a pro-administration crowd, Harman heaped praise on President Bush, calling the Iraqi elections "sensationally impressive" and moving to "applaud" or "commend" Perle and the administration a dozen times. "Richard is right, and so is President Bush," she said at one point.

But after half an hour of this, Harman could not keep up. Perle provoked cheers from the crowd when he favored a military raid on Iran, saying that "if Iran is on the verge of a nuclear weapon, I think we will have no choice but to take decisive action." When Harman said the "best short-term option" is the U.N. Security Council, the crowd reacted with boos.

AIPAC is a demanding crowd, and even Rice, introduced as a "very special friend," did not satisfy universally. The participants applauded heartily her reminder that Bush did not meet with Arafat, but when she said Arafat's successor, Mahmoud Abbas, "is committed to both freedom and security," and when she mentioned more U.S. funds for Palestinians, the room was quiet. Likewise, Rice's call for Arab states to "establish normal relations with Israel" earned an extended ovation; her reminder that Israel must not "jeopardize the true viability of the Palestinian state" did not.

Haaretz's Nathan Guttman drove home the adjustments AIPAC is making publicly:

[AIPAC convention tables] were set with two flags apiece - the Stars and Stripes alongside the AIPAC flag. Veteran conference-goers said they had never seen the two flags arranged this way before, but this year AIPAC has a clear message - complete support of the United States and an unequivocal display of patriotism. In his opening speech, AIPAC executive-director Howard Kohr took several minutes to sing the praises of the U.S. president and the American nation…

The patriotic spirit was alive in every corridor of the Washington congress center. AIPAC is making a special effort to communicate its complete loyalty to the U.S., something that was taken for granted in the past… AIPAC was touting its American character with symbols and declarations that left no room for doubt. And Israel? It was being presented at the conference, not as a country that is in need of U.S. assistance, but as a country that is helping its great friend. "Israel. An American Value" read the large posters adorning the conference hall, driving the point home.

Haaretz's PM Sharon to tell AIPAC: Gaza pullout will proceed on time add further detail while Guttman speaks of the "dizzying success" of the conference:

The message sent by the mammoth event was clear: The lobby is not only alive and well, but it justly holds the title of the second most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill, even after half a year of an FBI investigation that is still going on. At the end of the conference... participants made their traditional pilgrimage to Capitol Hill to meet with their representatives in Congress and pass on the key messages they received at the conference: Support the disengagement plan and end Iran's nuclear program.

AIPAC sees the conference's success as proof that the lobby is emerging from the crisis engendered by the Larry Franklin affair. After a wave of negative media reports about AIPAC, it is once again back on its feet; and having gotten rid of the senior officials who were involved in the affair, it is stressing that the lobby itself was never the target of any investigation.

But the Franklin affair has nevertheless left its mark - not only on conversations in the corridors, but also on the tone and the emphasis that AIPAC tried to broadcast over the past week. The general message that emanated from the conference was one of American patriotism and absolute loyalty to the United States. This super-patriotic message was evident in [the] the unexplained omission of "Hatikva," which in past years has always been sung right after the American anthem.

2005 was no aberration, by the way, as in 2004, Bush43 "stood before the annual conference [and] spoke effusively to its members":

"AIPAC is doing important work," Bush said. "In Washington and beyond, AIPAC is calling attention to the great security challenges of our time. "You've always understood and warned against the evil ambition of terrorism and their networks," the president continued. "In a dangerous new century, your work is more vital than ever."...

The federal investigation itself has produced the most recent demonstration of AIPAC's power and standing, in the outpouring of support for the organization from U.S. officials that began hours after news of the federal inquiry broke.

"I know AIPAC; I know the AIPAC leadership. It is an outstanding organization," said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.). Senate Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) declared, "America is better and stronger for" AIPAC.

Two days after the first news reports, Republican politicians -- normally wary of controversy -- turned out in force at an AIPAC-sponsored event outside the GOP convention in New York. By AIPAC's count, the attendees included more than 60 House members, eight senators, five governors, two Bush Cabinet members and Bush campaign manager Ken Mehlman.

Through more than 2,000 meetings with members of Congress, AIPAC activists help pass more than 100 pro-Israel legislative initiatives a year. On its Web site, AIPAC lists priorities including legislation to curb Iran's nuclear program; procuring nearly $3 billion in aid for Israel; and funding U.S.-Israeli efforts to build a defense against unconventional weapons.

AIPAC does not have a political action committee and does not endorse candidates. But it is widely viewed by friends and foes as wielding significant political power.

The 2003 conference on the eve of a new Administration "road map" showed equal resolve and authority as AIPAC comments made evident. Again from Haaretz' David Landau:

prominent Jewish leaders told Haaretz [that] they will not mute their criticism of the "road map" that is being drawn up in Washington. Abe Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, doesn't like the "timing" of the map or the fact that President George Bush has created a connection between the war in Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice president of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, promises that if the Israeli government expresses reservations about the road map, it will have the support of the Jewish community, and "we will not hesitate to make our voice heard."

Before their annual conference concludes, the 3,000 AIPAC activists will undoubtedly be asked, upon their return home, to encourage their friends and relatives to write to their representatives in Congress and make known their concern about the road map and about the linkage the administration is creating between the war in Iraq and peace here. Senators and members of the House of Representatives will duly receive stacks of letters and telegrams, along with faxes and e-mails, from which they will conclude that the American Jewish community, like the Israeli Jewish community, has fears and anxieties about the road map that the administration officials are preparing.

That's how it works. AIPAC has plenty of influence and clout, and it tilts to the right. The majority of the other Jewish organizations are also on the right when it comes to the conflict.

So sweeping is the success of the Israeli right and its allies among the Jews (and Christians) in the United States that an unchallenged political axiom has emerged, to the effect that if the president decides to push ahead with the road map, he will generate hostility among millions of voters. This is presented as an unassailable fact in the political discourse and in newspaper commentaries. The only point that remains unclear is whether Bush will accede to the urgings of British Prime Minister Tony Blair and of his own State Department and adopt the map despite the political risk that step entails.

Part 5

Think before you sing 'Hatikva'
By Nathan Guttman
Last update - 11:40 27/05/2005

AIPAC's Big, Bigger, Biggest Moment
By Dana Milbank
Washington Post
May 24, 2005; A13

PM Sharon to tell AIPAC: Gaza pullout will proceed on time
By Aluf Benn and Nathan Guttman, Haaretz Correspondents, and Haaretz Service
Last update - 08:12 24/05/2005

Pro-Israel Lobby Has Strong Voice
AIPAC Is Embroiled in Investigation of Pentagon Leaks
By Thomas B. Edsall and Molly Moore
Washington Post
September 5, 2004

The battle for Washington
By David Landau
Last update - 02:37 28/03/2003

One Nation Under Israel
By Andrew Hurley, Truth Press, 1999
Reviewed by Richard H. Curtiss
December 1999

Fat & Happy in D.C. Republicans are busting out all over, not just in Congress and the White House but also on FORTUNE's latest list of the capital's most powerful lobbyists.
By Jeffrey H. Birnbaum Reporter Associate Russell Newell
May 28, 2001

Follow the Money Hard money. Soft money. Lobbying money. Which buys the most influence in Washington? FORTUNE's Power 25 survey attempts an answer and ranks the top lobbying groups.
By Jeffrey H. Birnbaum Reporter, Associate Natasha Graves
December 6, 1999

The Influence Merchants Lobbyists are a permanent establishment in Washington, and FORTUNE's Power 25 ranking is its undisputed "A" list. New to this year's survey: the best of the hired guns.
By Jeffrey H. Birnbaum Reporter Associates Tyler Maroney, Dustin Smith
December 7, 1998

December 8, 1997

AIPAC listed 2nd most powerful group on Fortune list
Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Center for Public Integrity

Political Advocacy Groups
A Directory of United States Lobbyists
Jewish Political Advocacy Groups
International Affairs Political Advocacy Groups

Links for American Politics and Government

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A note on sources to the forthcoming "No Nation Left Behind" program, Part 4


I like to say that "Truth, beauty and contact lenses are all in the eye of the beholder." Given the contentious nature of the subject, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and its interaction with the Christian Right and subsequent effects on US foreign policy, much effort has been spent in source selection which, of course, will mean nothing to the fringes on either side. This note is directed at the middle where discourse remains possible. There is so much bias and venom masquerading as fact. The pro-Israeli HonestReporting is often not, but it is only modestly apologetic in comparison to the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), the velocity of whose text barely holds onto a claim of legitimacy in presenting an Israeli issue. In opposition, there is the Institute for Historical Review (IHR) and FrontPage which I place in orbit between HR and CAMERA. Moving right, Jew Watch claims it is "NOT a hate site" but while it is largely devoid of doggerel, its texts push too great a slant. Farther to the right are those who decry the Holohuggers and Holocaustomaniacs. There is much worse. That said, a bad or dubious site can post a solid item. Attention is required as one good paragraph does not guarantee that another will follow it. For this note I have tried to stay in the center of the flock.

I habitually try to run articles back to original source, or close as possible, along the way looking for what gets replicated where or in some cases distorted or oddly excerpted in some manner (which is a good indicator of the site's interests or bias). A good example was the furor made over Thomas Stauffer's estimation of the cost of conflict of US policy in the Middle East which was disputed by pro-Israeli sources. Stauffer made his initial comments under US Army War College auspices at a conference at the University of Maine but that presentation seemed to be obscure, ultimately yielding only one HTML copy on the web, with a PDF mirror at an appalling anti-Semitic site. That led to more developed items in Middle East Policy Council (MEPC) and the Middle East Economic Survey (MEES). When HonestReporting criticized Stauffer, I was on solid ground to interpret and dismiss.

A very dear Jewish friend, arguably one of the kindest people on the planet, had sent me that very 2002 HonestReporting item in rebuttal to a private list note on Stauffer, noting that, "Yes, HonestReporting is biased towards Israel but still represents very good data… I know which side of the table I support, but I have to admit I have not verified the facts." My reply at the time (2002) was:

While I cannot speak to HonestReporting, I think that the general press and government response is far more biased [in favor of Israel] than you might be comfortable in addressing -- and I certainly do not infer any infernal cabal. [AIPAC] has been, and remains, a supremely effective organization that has affected Congress and other public bodies far in relation to its size. Interestingly VOA is more balanced in its reporting as, even though it is owned by State, it has fiercely protected its independence lest it be written off by its overseas listeners as a US agitprop organ.

One's filters will obscure potentially averse data when one's chair is firmly fixed at the table. I hope that my chair, if I have one, has no fixed point save for protecting US national interests.

One must also be extremely wary of Greeks bearing gifts in the form of foreign language translations. Speaking neither Hebrew or Arabic, like many others, I am at the mercy of those who, as I like to say, translate, transliterate or transmogrify the original according to their skill or biases. A recent example is Rima Barakat's comparison of translations by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) which then get quoted as gospel by affiliated groups. This is not a new issue as the Guardian took up the issue of MEMRI's veracity in 2002, allowing MEMRI to rebut. Your mileage may vary, but over the years my original opinion of MEMRI has shifted much closer to that of the Guardian.

And then there are the 'battle of the quotes.' Take Sharon's purported exchange with Peres reported on Kol Yisrael (Israel radio) in Hebrew, reported by the Independent Palestinian Information Network A subsidiary of PalVision Ltd., in which an exasperated Sharon tells a concerned Peres in Cabinet session that "every time we do something you tell me Americans will do this and will do that. I want to tell you something very clear, don't worry about American pressure on Israel, we, the Jewish people control America, and the Americans know it." CAMERA presents an aggressive but unsatisfactory rebuttal. What is not on offer are pertinent cabinet transcripts.

I lean to the opinion that a refusal by Israel to produce transcripts for the cabinet session indicates something to hide and therefore the translation has currency. Had it not occurred, an official transcript would likely be presented to clear the matter. We have, I believe, a similar matter closer to home; Bush43 addressed the Council for National Policy (CNP) (also here), a group that Kevin Phillips calls "the most powerful group you've never heard of."

CNP is media-averse in the extreme down to its membership list, its selection of guests and its practices, but there is an extremely strong vein of religious and political conservatism. "Mr. Bush addressed the group in fall 1999 to solicit support for his campaign, stirring a dispute when news of his speech leaked and Democrats demanded he release a tape recording. He did not." And has not as of this writing. My suspicions are always elevated in such cases.

Next: AIPAC 1

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"Committed collector" blog collective delivers high context reporting on the French youth labor unrest


While many sources are covering the nationwide protest by students, youths and labor against the French government's new youth labor law, the best multimedia reporting on the topic that I've seen is - unrest in france from libcom (short for libertarian communists) a "small collective… based in and around London" UK.

Not being familiar with libcom, one could quickly determine that the unrest in france blog was created on the fly to report the contrat première embauche (CPE) or "first employment contract" proposed by Prime Minister Villepin for younger French workers:, has been set up to offer the most comprehensive English-language coverage of the wave of students’ and young people’s protests which has swept France this week.

A small group of us, half of whom have lived in France at one time or another, were talking about the situation on a few days ago. We were sharing translations from various sources with each other because there was very little English language coverage available. We then figured that we should really be sharing what we were learning with others and thought that a weblog would be the best format for to deliver such content. The blog allows all of us the chance to post new information as and when we get it, without delay.

Right now we’re covering events nearly 24 hours a day. Members of our team are based in London, Paris, Marseille and Edinburgh, with our Paris correspondents providing personal accounts of things that we otherwise couldn’t pick up on - the mood on the streets and the feeling of how momentum is moving. We are also in touch with young people and students - both for and against the strikes - in France who are sending us reports, including one of the initiators of the occupation of the historic Sorbonne.

This fits my definition of the committed collector; from Value from the fringe: "committed" collectors and investigators:

we treasure good "time sequences" of properly described events as a means of pattern detection, evidence of trend growth or attenuation, changes in underlying assumptions, and the emergence of new players or vulnerabilities. As it usually falls to us to build these time sequences, I am pleased when we find them in the wild.

As a good sequence requires significant research to make it viable, or for that matter any effort or cause not tracked by the shifting "lens of the news" of the major trade and popular press, I have learned to look to the "committed," i.e., those who have a passion to search out and document what would be obscure or tedious work for the rest of us. Oxfam, ACLU, SPLC, FAS, and various UN relief agencies are good examples of what I call "committed" investigators.

I've previously noted that "bloggers are among the most flexible and creative users of an emerging class of products that I call "meta-media" tools"" that are not burdened with the legacy drag of "high street journalists, their masthead papers." So much the better when the blogger assembles a usable time sequence. A balanced "interpretation on the events in a sequence compiled by a committed group" is a bonus but not necessary. Libcom does a useful job of both. From Blog speed, visibility, deception, and counterdeception:

Traditional journalists have rightly commented that some bloggers rush materials on-line without sufficient fact checking and that due process should reign, which means the journalists' due process speed and not the medium's speed. Rubbish says I, these people might as well be Xerxes flogging the sea. Highstreet press has acknowledged the trend by permitting/nudging their serving journalists to put their own blogs…

The scouring, refining, and gathering of competent blogs is time-consuming, but it has become an essential component of our I&W (Indicators & Warning) process. Blogs are often mixes of personal and 'core subject' material that it is maddening at times, but in terms of Asia, Africa, and the Persian littoral, they yield a form of battlefield surveillance outside the control of governments that constrict the mainstream press - and offer an early warning ability that we used on occasion.

English Libertarian communists differentiate themselves from State communists and are refreshingly realistic:

we recognise the limitations of applying [our] ideas and organisational forms to contemporary British society. We emphasise understanding and transforming the social relationships we experience in our everyday lives, whilst still learning from the mistakes and successes of previous working class movements and ideas.

In comparison to the Cold War Communists of the USSR, libcom's forms of class struggle and its embracing of "most, if not all, non-state forms of communism and socialism" made it a rather benign reporter, one capable of balanced reporting on the topic. Unrest in france offers the kind of contextual feeling of French unrest that I get from on-the-ground reporting in Iraq from, say, Riverbend's Baghdad Burning from an Iraqi viewpoint or many of Blackfive's Milblog recommendations, or The South-East Asia Earthquake and Tsunami Blog (SEA-EAT) for coverage of a transnational natural disaster.

In addition to its individual reporting of high street sources and personal views of the rising, Unrest offers a running photojournalism piece called The story so far - a look at the growing revolt against CPE. Unrest does a good job in its definitions as well. Compare its definition of the First Employment Contract to that presented by Wikipedia. Unrest also provides a welcome Glossary "to help explain certain words which cannot be translate perfectly translated or relate to background information."

Unrest in france is a recommended read and an example of good collective blogging that blurs the line between journalist and amateur.

Violent Youths Threaten to Hijack Demonstrations in Paris
New York Times
March 30, 2006

French Protests Over Youth Labor Law Spread to 150 Cities and Towns
New York Times
March 19, 2006

First Employment Contract

Gordon Housworth

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"No Nation Left Behind" program, Part 2


Part 1

It is one thing to confront the trajectory of Pax America but it is quite another to realize that the timeline of the trajectory is much shorter than previously thought and that the obstacles that must be remedied to reverse the decline are vastly more difficult than I'd envisioned. Kevin Phillips' American Theocracy was the instrument of foreshortening, a capstone of what Phillips describes as an "inadvertent trilogy":

Phillips states his underlying thesis in American Theocracy that there "are the three major perils of the United States in the early 21st century. First, radical religion – this encompasses everything from the Pat Robertson-Jerry Falwell types to the attacks on medicine and science and the Left Behind books with their End Times and Armageddon scenarios. Second, oil dependence – oil was essential to 20th century U.S. hegemony, and its growing scarcity and cost could play havoc. And third, debt is becoming a national weakness – indeed, the "borrowing" industry in the U.S. has grown so rapidly that finance has displaced manufacturing as the leading U.S. sector."

While I was familiar with peak oil, unsustainable debt and offshoring, I admit to having been inattentive to the magnitude of the impact of conservative religion, or as Phillips puts it: "religion’s new political prowess and its role in the projection of military power in the Middle Eastern Bible lands—that most people are just beginning to understand. The rapture, end-times, and Armageddon hucksters in the United States rank with any Shiite ayatollahs, and the last two presidential elections mark the transformation of the GOP into the first religious party in U.S."

The realization that many of Bush43's most fervent supporters and perhaps some of those close to the levers of power in the US were detached from any sense of geopolitical reality and might well be willing to employ the US arsenal in support of religious goals was very unsettling:

End-times prophecy fueled a fifth dynamic at work as the forces for the Iraqi invasion gathered, because many Christian fundamentalists dismissed worries about oil or global warming out of belief that the end times were under way. The Bible lands were what mattered. Events were in God’s hands. Even Senator James Inhofe, the Oklahoma fundamentalist chairing the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, was reported saying, "I don’t believe there is a single issue we deal with in government that hasn’t been dealt with in the Scriptures," while declining to discuss his belief in the imminence of end times.

Partly as a result, GOP political strategists had no desire for a far-reaching debate on either global warming or peak oil. The religious right had its own rapture chronometers and apocalypse monitors reporting how many months, days and hours remained...

This true-believer endgame has been accelerating for many decades, especially since the creation of Israel satisfied the biblical prophecy of the Jewish return to Palestine. [The] growth during the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s in the numbers of Protestant fundamentalists, evangelicals, and Pentecostals was explosive. Many became Republicans and helped to give the GOP an increasingly religious coloration. Although the stunning sales of [Tim LaHaye's] Left Behind series grabbed most of the cultural attention, other books and videos during the late nineties [described] how Saddam Hussein was rebuilding Babylon, the citadel of evil. Still others pondered whether the antichrist was already alive and who he might be. (Saddam himself was a frequent choice.) Nearly one-quarter of Americans polled in 2002 even believed that the Bible had predicted the events of September 11, 2001! While these beliefs were surely a factor in Republican invasion planning, they are difficult for politicians to acknowledge—and they are especially tricky to discuss publicly, so they are instead quietly promoted in clandestine briefings or loosely signaled by phrases and citations that reassure the attentive faithful."

American Theocracy's complete chapter 4, Radicalized Religion, is compelling reading and fortunately available online. I recommend four reviews of American Theocracy: Michiko Kakutani's Tying Religion and Politics to an Impending U.S. Decline, Alan Brinkley's Clear and Present Dangers, Michelle Goldberg's Decline and fall and Stirling Newberry's Kevin Phillips' American Theocracy.

Unless you're a Left Behind reader or a troglodyte, you're likely aware that Phillips has come full circle, that he was the author of The Emerging Republican Majority (1969), that the underpinnings of that book contributed to Richard Nixon's 1968 victory and was the basis for waves of subsequent redistricting that cemented that victorious coalition. It is instructive to read Warren Weaver's 1969 review, The Emerging Republican Majority, in which he speaks of Nixon's pragmatism in evaluating a program, i.e., "Will it work?" as opposed to "Is it good or bad?" or "Is it liberal or conservative?" "[The] answer comes out not only "It did work" but "It will continue to work for some time to come."" "The Phillips doctrine thus amounts to institutionalizing Barry Goldwater's suggestion that the nation might be better off if its northeastern corner were sawed off and allowed to drift out to sea":

Because the Republicans are little dependent on the Liberal Establishment or urban Negroes--the two groups most intimately, though dissimilarly, concerned with present urban and welfare policies--they have the political freedom to disregard the multitude of vested interests which have throttled national urban policy. The GOP is particularly lucky not to be weighted down with commitment to the political blocs, power brokers and poverty concessionaires of the decaying central cities of the North, now that national growth is shifting to suburbia, the South and the West. The American future lies in a revitalized countryside, a demographically ascendant Sun Belt and suburbia, and new towns---perhaps Mountainside linear cities astride monorails 200 miles from Phoenix, Memphis or Atlanta. National policy will have to direct itself towards this future and its constituencies; and perhaps an administration so oriented can also deal realistically with the central cities where Great Society political largesse has so demonstrably failed.

I share Weaver's discomfort in the accuracy and implications of Phillip's research:

It is not a little depressing to read a serious 480-page book on politics based largely on the theory that deep divisive conflicts between black and white, Catholic and Protestant, Jew and Irishman, East and South are immutable, that such differences cannot be harmonized and that the politician should thus simply play upon them to his own advantage.

Almost equally disconcerting is the tacit assumption, in "The Emerging Republican Majority," that these divisions are all-controlling in a Presidential election, that the issues and the personalities and capabilities of the candidates count for nothing, that Americans vote only their blood line, church, neighborhood or caste.

Not much has changed, it appears, but then James Boyd's 1969 review, Nixon's Southern strategy 'It's All In the Charts', observed that, "By presenting a conservative image [the] Republicans can capture the votes of both the "projected" and "contingent bastions," and enough of the "battlegrounds," to stay in power for years, while ignoring the liberal Northeast." Phillips' political maps of 1969 are stunningly replicated in the 2004 election results.

Here are some snippets that caught my eye from the earlier parts of the trilogy:

Wealth and Democracy, itself rising from Phillips' The Politics of Rich and Poor (1990), dealt with the latest wave of corporatocracy (the phrase of currency for plutocracy), public and private corruption, wealth aggregation and tensions for democracy exemplified by the 1990s "technology mania and bubble, the money culture, belief that economic cycles were over, policies of market extremism, corruption and a politics ruled by campaign contributions." One could have been describing the run-up to the 1929 crash, the British South Sea Bubble and the Dutch Tulipmania, but that is Phillips' sidebar of cycles of excess and redress.

Phillips makes the point that "two greatest Republican presidents, [Abraham] Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt" held much dimmer views of the excesses of business than did the Republican Party of 2002. (Lincoln supported labor as superior to capital to the point that he evinced "strong support for labor unions and strikes." Roosevelt's attacks on corporations exceeded those of Lincoln, while he "specifically repeated and endorsed Lincoln’s oft-quoted remarks about labor being superior to and more deserving of support than capital.") As president, Nixon "supported national health insurance, income-maintenance for the poor and higher taxation of unearned than earned income." Phillips' opinion was that the current Republican Party had betrayed the Party of Lincoln even as it continued to praise Lincoln. No wonder the right began to treat Phillips as a forgotten zek.

American Dynasty looked at the family-based intertwined presidencies of Bush41 and Bush43 and the "four-generation interaction" with the US financial and political establishment that made these presidencies possible. In what Phillips calls the "perilous state of the American political system," American Dynasty examines themes that form the warp and weft of the Bush family: fundamentalism, political and religious, that gained strength over the 20th century, the morphing domestic importance "of different economic sectors and elites—from investment banking and oil to the military-industrial complex," and the 20th-21st century "emergence of the Bush family [along] a trajectory of American wealth and power."

General dynastic characteristics are identified and tracked, notably "continuities of policy and interest-group bias… [revenge seeking] against old foes as well as recalling longtime loyalists and retainers" and the "effect of biological inheritance." Specific Bush family characteristics are "repeated use of family influence in arranging or smoothing over difficulties in the military service of three generations of Bushes… involvement of four Walker and Bush generations with finance—in several cases, the investment side of the petroleum business… [family] ties to oil [that] date back [to] Standard Oil a century ago… [and] relationships between the Bushes and the CIA."

The Bush family embedment in the establishment cannot be overstated. It was the Bush family connection to the establishment that "made it possible to consider Bush for vice president in 1968, almost out of the blue." The family held its place in the financial firmament as it mirrored the "migration of the U.S. population and of political power" from "Episcopal church pews" to "fundamentalist religious alliances," even as family generated controversies never "gained critical mass." These events were placed within the 1980s aristocratic pretensions of taste, celebrity culture of 'rock star' CEOs, and "kindred winner-take-all ethos" that "helped to make dynastization of wealth and politics a turn-of-the-twenty first-century reality."

Phillips begins to examine the politics and geopolitics that rose from the post-Clinton "restoration psychology and fundamentalist theology" of Bush43, themes that he will expand in American Theocracy, the Bush family's shift of "its religious intensity," "a southern-dominated electoral coalition," the "precedent-shattering circumstance [that] the de facto head of the Religious Right and the president of the United States can be the same person," and the emergence of a US "crusader state" that satisfied religious fundamentalists as it brought profit to "important economic interests."

The "cultural harshness and fiscal regressivity" of Texanomics "obliged the family’s presidential office seekers to wear "kinder and gentler" policies and "compassionate conservatism" as velvet cloaking." In response to Clinton's moral lapses, Bush43 "began to emphasize and display unusual personal religiosity [casting] himself as the prodigal son, brought back to God after waywardness and crisis," increasingly using "such biblically inflected language about good and evil" that he "had virtually replaced evangelist Pat Robertson as the leader of the U.S. Religious Right."

Phillips makes the claim that in the wake of 11 September, "Americans slid toward another historical reversal: allowing the eighteenth-century republic to be re-conceptualized as an embattled twenty-first-century imperium." Phillips closes with a recounting of the founding fathers' fears of the US following European republics slide "toward great-family and dynastic leadership."

Part 3

Apocalyptic president
Even some Republicans are now horrified by the influence Bush has given to the evangelical right
Sidney Blumenthal
The Guardian
March 23, 2006

Excerpt: American Theocracy
By Kevin Phillips
TPMCafe Book Club
Mar 23, 2006 -- 01:03:25 PM EST

Kevin Phillips' American Theocracy
By Stirling Newberry
t r u t h o u t Book Review
Wednesday 22 March 2006

Religion and Politics
By Kevin Phillips
TPMCafe Book Club
Mar 21, 2006 -- 09:46:14 AM EST

Reaching Southern evangelicals
By Kevin Phillips
TPMCafe Book Club
Mar 21, 2006 -- 08:12:36 AM EST

Writing American Theocracy
By Kevin Phillips
TPMCafe Book Club
Mar 20, 2006 -- 01:20:23 PM EST

A Political Warning Shot: 'American Theocracy'
Interview with Kevin Phillips (AUDIO)
by Terry Gross
Fresh Air
March 21, 2006
Contains Chapter 4, Radicalized Religion, from 'American Theocracy' by Kevin Phillips

Phillips, Brinkley, and "Theocracy"
March 20, 2006

Tying Religion and Politics to an Impending U.S. Decline
New York Times
March 17, 2006

Decline and fall
Kevin Phillips, no lefty, says that America -- addicted to oil, strangled by debt and maniacally religious -- is headed for doom.
By Michelle Goldberg
March 16, 2006

American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century
My Seattle Online
Posted on March 16th, 2006 at 1:19 pm

American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush
by Kevin Phillips
Penguin, 2004
ISBN: 0143034316

Wealth and Democracy: A Political History of the American Rich
by Kevin Phillips
Broadway, 2003
ISBN: 0767905342

The South Sea Bubble
by Caroline Thomas
Student Economic Review, University of Dublin
Trinity College, 2003, Vol 17, p. 17-37

Fundamentally unsound
By Michelle Goldberg
July 29, 2002

Financial Crashes in the Globalization Era
Evan Osborne
The Independent Review, v.VI, n.2, Fall 2001, ISSN 1086-1653, pp. 165–184

The Queen of the Night
The Economist
October 31, 1998

Lone Star lawmakers are poised to shine on the Hill - Texas delegation to Congress has power and leadership - includes profile of Texas Congressional delegates
by Sean Piccoli
Insight on the News
March 6, 1995

Nixon's Southern strategy 'It's All In the Charts'
New York Times
May 17, 1970

The Emerging Republican Majority
New York Times
Sep 21, 1969

Gordon Housworth

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The US needs a "No Nation Left Behind" program - for itself


The current state of this nation leaves me exceedingly cross. The implications of COBRA II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq confirm a blighted command structure while American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century "presents a nightmarish vision of ideological extremism, catastrophic fiscal irresponsibility, rampant greed and dangerous shortsightedness" that is incapable of solving the nation's challenges.

I'll save those for later, preferring to focus first on the strategic implications of our having ignored our engineering and technical base. For a primmer, see my notes:

My attention was arrested by the gap - more a failure to address with no systemic solution in sight - between two reports by the Defense Science Board, Future Strategic Strike Forces, Feb 2004, and Future Strategic Strike Skills, March 2006. Both deal with US strategic strike force capabilities, the first being a statement of strategic strike needs out to 2030 and the second describing the systemic breach in human assets, commercial valuation that attracts those assets, and education capable of producing the skills needed in order to achieve those strike goals.

I take this gap as a metaphor of our failure to properly incent and educate an entire class of technologists be it for military or commercial applications. Considering that many of our weapons systems are aging, designed twenty or more years ago by engineers that graduated fifteen or more years earlier, we are increasingly unable to revise and extend existing systems or design future systems.

Trends in the availability of engineering personnel in the defense sector mirror the commercial sector, except that defense is worse. Strike Skills stated that:

In the early days of the Cold War, urgent national defense problems drew on the services of a significant percentage of U.S. professional engineers. Today most of the country’s engineering talent is concerned with civilian developments, and only a small fraction is devoted to DoD problems. Currently, work related to strategic strike systems is not considered to be a desirable career path by engineering personnel, particularly when exciting and potentially lucrative careers are available in new technological areas such as computer/internet systems, quantum communications and computation, nanotechnology, etc.

The result has been that in many strategic strike critical skill areas, experienced personnel are nearing retirement with few replacements. This situation could lead to the potential loss of critical strategic strike systems knowledge.

Strike Forces describes a spectrum of contingencies out to 2030 comprising "Urgent emerging threats" such as "rogues and terrorists" with and without WMD and "Future major power adversaries with WMD." A strategic response in return was defined as ""a military operation to decisively alter an adversary’s basic course of action within a relatively compact period of time" and can be either "an isolated event" or "part of a military campaign." DSB found that if the US was to provide effective strike options against these future threats "it must reorient its nuclear arsenal away from "large, high-fallout weapons delivered primarily by ballistic missiles" toward smaller, more precise nuclear weapons that can be used for a variety of special missions." Beyond nuclear weapons, DSB assertained that the US must address "non-nuclear weapons, the systems that are needed to deliver weapons of both kinds, and the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) systems required to identify targets."

In the intervening two years "relatively little additional action has taken place [in strategic strike systems], either with regard to next-generation (evolutionary) systems or in connection with new types of systems (revolutionary) for future objectives.

Strike Skills makes appalling reading, noting that the "personnel required for the development of such systems should be highly innovative [but that] attracting such individuals may be difficult due to the lack of financial incentives associated with civilian industry’s efforts." "[I]t appears that a serious loss of certain critical strategic strike skills may occur within the next decade." Whereas Strike Forces itemized "well known" deficiencies in command and control networks; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance and battle damage assessment; delivery systems; and payloads, the five findings of Strike Skills paint the picture of a dwindling industrial base:

  1. The DoD has not provided specific direction regarding next-generation strategic strike systems. Consequently, the industry and government talent base:
    • Are already marginally thin in many of today’s current systems, and
    • May not be available for potential next-generation systems.
  2. The exploration of new concepts and technologies for strategic strike of challenging targets in the long-term is inadequate and will require access to a new talent base with different skills.
  3. The strategic strike area most at risk today is ballistic missiles:
    • Current skills may not be able to cope with unanticipated failures requiring analysis, testing, and redesign;
    • A large number of skilled military, civil service, and contractor personnel are nearing retirement;
    • Design skills are rapidly disappearing, both for major redesigns of current systems and for the design of new strategic systems; and
    • Applications programs are necessary, but not sufficient to maintain skills; moreover, they have never been funded at the required levels.
  4. DoD and industry have difficulty attracting and retaining the best and brightest students to the science and engineering disciplines relevant to maintaining current and future strategic strike capabilities. The National Defense Education Act (NDEA) program has the potential for attracting personnel to government; however, it currently does not have strategic strike element.
  5. Human capital management systems and strategies for identifying, tracking, and retaining critical skills are not being implemented effectively across all of the strategic strike constituent organizations.

The Strike Skills recommendations for these five broad systemic deficiencies demand attention, strategic vision, operational excellence and money. It is not clear that the current military posture and deployment permit any of this to occur.

While Russia can sit on its energy supplies, and China and India continue to industrialize, the US continues to overreach, and does so in a manner that squanders its assets, without the means and the economy to support its ambitions. I have already covered the trajectory of Pax America in this series:

Cobra II : The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq
by Michael R. Gordon, Bernard E. Trainor
Pantheon, March 2006
ISBN: 0375422625

American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century.
By Kevin Phillips
Viking, March 2006
ISBN: 067003486X

Future Strategic Strike Skills
Defense Science Board (DSB)
Office of the Under Secretary of Defense For Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics
Washington, D.C. 20301-3140
March 2006

By Barry D. Watts
Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments
September 27, 2004

Defense Science Board report released
Defense AT&L
July-August, 2004

Future Strategic Strike Forces
Defense Science Board (DSB)
Office of the Under Secretary of Defense For Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics
Washington, D.C. 20301-3140
February 2004

Gordon Housworth

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Before Dubai Ports World there was China Ocean Shipping (Group) Co.


The purchase of Britain's declining transport line of empire, Pacific & Orient Steam Navigation company (P&O Lines) by Dubai Ports of the World (Dubai Ports World), a state firm owned by the United Arab Emirates, was a perfectly acceptable commercial transaction that met the economic and diplomatic needs of the US. The US will come to regret its hasty decision to thwart the transaction as it comes to confront more formidable opponents:

Today, Dubai’s main business is commerce, not dwindling oil. Dubai’s royal family wisely invested in scores of future-oriented businesses that are an example of smart business to the Arab World and Africa. Dubai and the United Arab Emirates, of which it is a member, are increasingly enriched by brains and entrepreneurship rather than oil.

"Dubai Ports enjoys an international reputation in its field… has been a leader in joining initiatives to secure American containers… [and had] agreed to adhere to existing security levels in US ports, retain employees, and share information on operations and employee backgrounds with the US government."

Of critical US infrastructure, the maritime infrastructure is most owned by foreign firms. US firms dwindled in the 1970s under competition from foreign firms with less rigorous regulatory constraints and cheaper crews. By the 1980s they were gone. Singapore's Neptune Orient Lines bought American President Lines (APL) while Maersk bought Sea-Land from CSX Corp.

There is an important reason why terminals are usually managed by foreigners: The shipping companies themselves are largely foreign, and they have generally sought to control terminals so that they can be certain of having the most reliable, efficient facilities possible for loading and unloading their vessels quickly to reduce costly time in port. That arrangement has suited local port authorities; they want to ensure that their ports will draw enough traffic to generate revenue and employment.

It is unlikely that the US at either national or state level can fund the forecast doubling of trade by 2020. Eighteen million containers will demand new and upgraded terminals and ports (dredging, real estate, gantry cranes, bridges, roadways, and rail heads). While other issues affecting the administration's recommendation may yet be made public, Bush43 was wise to support the Dubai Ports purchase (before Rove killed it).

Lebanon's Al-Hayat paid Bush43 a left-handed compliment in his support of the UAE purchase by described it as Ayoon Wa Azan or "Bush's First Wise Position" as it excoriated the "hateful combination of ignorance, racism and lies" that sank the deal. Yes, there is a measure of Republicans having to look out for themselves and Democrats seeing an opportunity to get the right of the administration, but it still seemed that morons abounded. Given that the majority of US ports and terminals are in foreign hands, and that "13 out of 14 cargo firms at Los Angeles Port are foreign, from countries like China, Japan, Taiwan and Singapore," Barbara Boxer (D – CA) "declared that all foreign companies should be banned from working at US ports" while Charles Schumer (D – NY) said that the US "should be very careful before we outsource such sensitive homeland security duties." (I might add that Al-Hayat also noted that Schumer "has never objected seeing Israeli companies tasked with sensitive security tasks" and I might add the US paid dearly for that in regards to sensitive official phone systems.)

"Most U.S. ports are owned by public or quasi-public authorities [which] frequently lease their terminal spaces to terminal operating companies. P&O is one such operating company, and a quick review of U.S. port facilities reveals that, like P&O, many terminal operating companies active in the United States are either foreign-owned or are subsidiaries of foreign conglomerates."

Among all the reasons to fret about vulnerabilities to terrorist attacks, the nationality of the companies managing the terminals is one of the least worrisome.

The US has done "an abysmal job in assisting ports in the developing world in improving security to even minimal acceptable standards." While the US "has arranged for customs officials to work in 42 foreign ports with rights to inspect containers before they head for U.S. shores," fully 20% of containers bound for the US enter from developing states where safeguards are nonexistent. Wide open ports lacking even the pretence of fencing, lighting and supporting security procedures need attention now. Just considering al Qaeda’s entrenched presence in West Africa (drawn there for laundering blood diamonds) should have lawmakers’ hair on fire but it is over the horizon.

Back in the US, aviation security has claimed "almost $20 billion" in federal grants while port security is below $700 million. Transferring ownership from Britain's P&O to Dubai Ports World does not affect local terminal arrangements.

It is not the port or terminal operator’s problem that Customs and Coast Guard staff are "not usually present" and that "private terminal operators are almost always responsible for guarding the area around their facilities" and sometimes X-raying incoming containers for manifest matching. Even then, the guards and longshoremen are locals.

"The security personnel employed by the terminal companies vary from port to port, but according to several companies, the guards are often supplied by local private security firms." Stephen Flynn notes, "The lowest-paying jobs on the waterfront are security people."

The shipping industry faces relatively few "Dubai Ports" events, taking for granted the global world in which it lives, and so was taken aback by the criticism from federal and state legislators. Most now forget that in a different political climate, the previous "Dubai Ports" event was the proposed leasing of the Long Beach Naval Station to an ocean carrier owned by the Chinese government, China Ocean Shipping (Group) Co. (COSCO). Left destitute by downsizing at the Long Beach Naval Station, the city of Long Beach was desperate to lease the abandoned port to COSCO on highly advantageous terms.

Unlike the COSCO deal which apparently had no federal oversight or examination, the Intelligence Community Acquisition Risk Center, which performs a threat analysis of foreign commercial entities that seek commercial relations with US intel agencies, approved the Dubai Ports World acquisition to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). A sister firm of Dubai Ports World, Istithmar, had already purchased the British firm Inchcape Shipping Services, a transaction that CFIUS had apparently "determined that approval was not required."

The 105th Congress was as active on China-related issues as it was anti-Clinton issues into which some China-related items were lodged:

[P]pending human rights legislation [including] prison conditions and prison labor exports (H.R. 2195, H.R. 2358); coercive abortion practices (H.R. 2570); China’s policies toward religion (H.R. 967, H.R. 2431); more general human rights issues (H.R. 2095)… China’s missile proliferation activities (H.Res. 188), Radio Free Asia broadcasting to China (H.R. 2232), China’s participation in multilateral institutions (H.R. 1712, H.R. 2605),… activities of China’s military and intelligence services (H.R. 2647, H.R. 2190) [and] several multiple-issue bills, such as the Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 3616), the Foreign Relations Authorization Act (H.R. 1757), the China Policy Act (S. 1164), and the U.S.-China Relations Act (S. 1303), which combine some, or even most, of these issues.

After the Port of Long Beach was "officially stripped of their ability to lease the former Navy land to COSCO", a local harbor commissioner said, "Congress has thrown two years of effort out the window due to a ridiculous political climate." This was at a time when COSCO was being described elsewhere as "a front for the People's Liberation Army and Beijing's intelligence arm."

(It did not help that in 1996, a COSCO vessel, Empress Phoenix, attempted to smuggle 2000 Chinese-made fully automatic AK-47 assault rifles into the port of Oakland, CA. The intended recipients were Los Angeles street gangs. "Operatives nabbed after the seizure told investigators that they were ready to smuggle in everything from grenade launchers to shoulder-fired Red Parakeet surface to air missiles, which they boasted could "take out a 747."")

COSCO continues to operate at Long Beach, belying local fears that its tenant would move across the harbor to the Port of Los Angeles (who had presented COSCO with a proposal). Although it was barred from relocating to the former Naval base, other firms did move there, freeing land adjacent to COSCO’s facilities enabling it to expand.

Few remember the brouhaha when Hong Kong’s Hutchison Whampoa took over management of the Panama Canal. If one were to be interested in any of the current foreign port operators it would be the Chinese who have done an excellent job of following the 18th century British model of gaining port and tideside rights around the globe. Some have already described the Port of Long Beach as a Chinese exclave. If it had the slightest curiosity, Congress could glace over Chinese facilities in the Caribbean and South America rather than pounding on Dubai Ports.

Burning Allies -- and Ourselves
By David Ignatius
Washington Post
March 10, 2006

Overseas Firms Entrenched in Ports
By Paul Blustein
Washington Post
March 10, 2006

Chinese shipping aims for global leadership
By Michael Mackey
Asia Times
March 1, 2006

Are good business relationships good for security?
By Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.)
The Hill
March 1, 2006

Eric Margolis
Posted by Eric Margolis on February 28, 2006 05:17 PM

Ayoon Wa Azan (Bush's First Wise Position)
Jihad el Khazen
Beirut, Lebanon

U.S. Intelligence Agencies Backed Dubai Port Deal
By Walter Pincus
Washington Post
February 25, 2006

Port Problems Said To Dwarf New Fears
By Paul Blustein and Walter Pincus
Washington Post
February 24, 2006

Growing Criticism Puzzles Many in Shipping Industry
'We haven't done a good job of explaining how we work'
by Meredith Cohn
The Baltimore Sun
February 22, 2006
Arab American Institute

By Lynn A. Stover, Major, USMC
Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama
April 2000

'Dirty' war in Panama
Congressional investigators say China to wreak havoc in Central America
By Charles Smith
December 8, 1999 1:00 a.m. Eastern

The Panama Canal in Transition
Threats to U.S. Security and China's Growing Role in Latin America
Al Santoli
An American Foreign Policy Council Investigative Report
June 23, 1999

China: Pending Legislation in the 105th Congress
Kerry Dumbaugh
Specialist in Asian Affairs
CRS 97-933 F
Updated June 19, 1998


Proposal raising plenty of eyebrows
By Karen Gullo and John Solomon
Associated Press
Date likely March, 1997 (The Washington Times (3/10/97) was quoting the same texts.

Cited in: 'They Were Against Foreign-Run Ports Before They Were For Them'
The Political Mine Field
February 27, 2006

Long Beach won't give up on COSCO
Congress kills bid by Chinese to take over naval base
By Joseph Farah
September 21, 1998

Chinese Port Operator Linked to Weapons Smuggling
Feb. 28, 2006 11:45 a.m. EST

Pending lease of Navy base to Chinese firm questioned
Associated Press
March 9, 1997

Cited in 'The Democrats: Weak on Port Security and Sell-outs to Red China'
(Emphasis added by Levin)
Mark Levin
March 1, 2006

Gordon Housworth

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