Little Israel

Jeremy Corbyn was re-elected leader of the Labour Party despite the efforts of his fellow MPs and a hostile media to bully him into submission. He has promised there will be no recriminations and called for party unity. His enemies  pretend to be mollified while getting a second wind and sharpening their daggers. Public life is cynical and seedy in Little Israel.

In June this year following the Brexit vote, 172 of 229 Labour MPs specifically voted against Corbyn remaining leader of the party –  eight months after he was elected with a landslide majority. A further 22 have essentially refused to back him. It is a curious rebellion. Publicly there is no disagreement over policy save perhaps the need for nuclear weapons to guarantee self-destruction. Moreover, under Corbyn and in the space of a year, Labour has become the largest political party in Europe.

The renegades present as moderate rebels. They say Corbyn is a good man but lacks the market appeal required to win a general election, which they insist is the existential purpose of a political party. They blame him for failing to prevent a Brexit vote in their constituencies.

They’ve also accused Corbyn of encouraging anti-Semitism within the party. Richard Hutton shows these allegations ‘raise more questions than answers’.

Paradoxically, if there is one factor which stands out clearly from these various commentaries, it’s their absence of clarity. With widely varying degrees of accuracy and sincerity, all of them revolve around criticism of Israel’s government being deemed anti-Semitic. There isn’t a clear line which demarcates the two things; and this causes problems when trying to confront prejudice, or establish safeguards against it. When does legitimate criticism of a government’s policies become illegitimate? To judge by the claims considered herein, there isn’t a straightforward answer. Moreover, whatever distinction between them does exist has been purposely blurred at times by people whose concern in the matter is less than objective.

Here’s Jamie Stern-Weiner:

The common premise underlying this torrent of articles, think-pieces and polemics – that antisemitism is a growing problem within the Labour party – is rapidly congealing into conventional wisdom. Yet this basic claim is devoid of factual basis. The allegations against Corbyn and the Labour party are underpinned by an almost comical paucity of evidence, while what evidence does exist not only fails to justify the claims being made, but has itself been systematically misrepresented…The enraging and – for genuine opponents of antisemitism – dismaying truth is this: a miserable assortment of chancers, cynics and careerists is exploiting Jewish suffering to prosecute petty vendettas, wage factional warfare and discredit legitimate criticism of Israel. In the process, they are poisoning relations between British Jews and movements for social justice; fomenting antisemitism while claiming to combat it; and libelling the tens of thousands of people, many of them young, idealistic and embarking upon their first foray into politics, who joined Labour in the past year determined to make the world a less cruel and despairing place for the impoverished, the subjugated and the dispossessed. If Labour has an antisemitism problem, it lies not with Corbyn, but his unprincipled and reckless opponents.

Investigative journalist Nafeez Ahmed suggests that Corbyn’s opposition to war is what really riles the rebels. His analysis of their voting records show that of the 194 MPs against Corbyn 107 are pro-war, 65 ambivalent and just 37 anti-war. Of these MPs 98 of 100 voted against an inquiry into the Iraq War.

Far from being a mere matter of speculation and innuendo, the data provide a strong basis to conclude that the imminent launch of the Chilcot report was at least one of the prominent factors in motivating these MPs to begin mobilising against Corbyn. His staunch opposition to the Iraq war, and ongoing refusal to rule out calling for Tony Blair to face war crimes charges, has played a key role in reinforcing divisions within the Labour Party over issues such as war and military policy. The EU referendum, which saw 63 percent of Labour voters back Remain – just 1 percent less than the SNP – raises the question of whether Corbyn’s EU campaigning was really the prime factor in the decision to mobilise against him…If the EU referendum was not the issue, this analysis suggests that Corbyn’s strong positions on British foreign policy were a far bigger factor in the PLP’s concerns about his ongoing leadership of the party.

Britain’s military forays have a common feature. They are all acts of aggression- outlawed under international law –  against countries targeted by the US under various pretexts; ethnic cleansing/genocide (Yugoslavia),  9/11 attacks (Afghanistan), WMDs (Iraq),  massacre and rape (Libya) and ‘barrel bombs’ (Syria). ISIS has replaced Al Qaida as the mythical enemy in the bogus war on terror.

Last month MPs Fiona Bruce and Natalie McGarry put on record in the House of Commons crimes committed by ISIS against children. They included reports of a two-year old ground into meat and fed to his mother, of 250 children put through a dough kneader and then into an oven, of parents forced to watch their children crucified.

Outside the mainstream media there’s growing consensus that ISIS is a Western proxy and decoy, designed to terrorise civilians and provide cover for military intervention in the Middle East. The GI Jihadis have a knack of showing-up on cue, even in Indonesia, observes Tony Cartalucci.

A pattern is beginning to develop. Wherever the US wants to put its military, ISIS shows up and conveniently justifies it. And whenever the US is having a problem persuading a foreign government to do what Washington desires, ISIS shows up. In fact, pretty much everywhere US foreign policy is in trouble, ISIS and similarly state-sponsored terrorism seems to show up and save the day…What the world is expected to believe is that the “Islamic State in Iraq and Syria” so named because of where it is supposedly based and primarily operates, is currently fighting both the Syrian and Iraqi governments, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Iran, and Russian airpower, apparently funded, armed, and backed by no one. Additionally, we are expected to believe ISIS is also fighting thousands of “moderate rebels” the US and its allies claim to have armed, funded, and trained to the tune of several billion dollars. Not only are they fighting these moderates backed by a multi-billion dollar multinational coalition, but are fighting and have been winning. But it doesn’t end there. We are also expected to believe that ISIS is also weathering the combined military might of the US, France, Germany, the UK, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Jordan. And finally, we are expected to believe not only all of this, and that ISIS is independently supporting expanding operations in Afghanistan and Libya, but that ISIS now has the extra time, money, resources, and inclination to attack Indonesia all the way in Southeast Asia.

Last year in an opinion piece in the Guardian, Seumas Milne, now the Labour Party’s Executive Director of Strategy and Communications, noted that a US Defence Intelligence Agency document predicted and welcomed “the prospect of a “Salafist principality” in eastern Syria and an al-Qaida-controlled Islamic state in Syria and Iraq.

A year into the Syrian rebellion, the US and its allies weren’t only supporting and arming an opposition they knew to be dominated by extreme sectarian groups; they were prepared to countenance the creation of some sort of “Islamic state” – despite the “grave danger” to Iraq’s unity – as a  Sunni buffer to weaken Syria. That doesn’t mean the US created Isis, of course, though some of its Gulf allies certainly played a role in it – as the US vice-president, Joe Biden, acknowledged last year. But there was no al-Qaida in Iraq until the US and Britain invaded. And the US has certainly exploited the existence of Isis against other forces in the region as part of a wider drive to maintain western control.

Donald Trump fingered Obama and Hilary Clinton as the founders of ISIS and then said: “Obviously I’m being sarcastic, but not that sarcastic to be honest with you”. That’s not a retraction. Glen Ford at Black Agenda Report says:

Trump cannot articulate or fully grasp the horrific truth of his original statement because that would require a much more fundamental indictment of U.S. imperial policy in the Muslim world since the last days of 1979, when Zbigniew Brzezinski convinced President Jimmy Carter to set the jihadist dogs loose in Afghanistan…Yes, Obama created ISIS, with the enthusiastic assistance of Hillary Clinton, and he is still nurturing al Nusra, the erstwhile affiliate of al Qaida, which was mid-wifed into existence by Jimmy Carter and Zbigniew Brzezinski. In the intervening years, the jihadists have become indispensable to U.S. imperial policy, but especially so since George W. Bush’s defeat in Iraq, which soured the American public on “dumb” wars – meaning, in Obama-Speak, wars in which large numbers of Americans die. Proxy wars are ideal — “smart,” because only Arabs and Africans and people that Americans have never heard of, die. Libya wasn’t even a war, according to Obama, since no U.S. personnel perished… The truth about ISIS and the Obama administration is so obvious that even Donald Trump has a hazy idea of what happened in Syria and Libya.

According to former French foreign minister Roland Dumas, Britain had planned covert action in Syria as early as 2009: “I was in England two years before the violence in Syria on other business,” he told French television: “I met with top British officials, who confessed to me that they were preparing something in Syria. This was in Britain not in America. Britain was preparing gunmen to invade Syria.”

The Times of Israel confirms that Jerusalem is assisting the rebels and has treated over a thousand wounded in its hospitals. Last week Russian warships stationed in Syria’s coastal waters targeted and destroyed a foreign military operations room, killing over two dozen Israeli and western intelligence officers. Meanwhile the US has upped its military aid package to Israel to a record $38 billion over the next decade.

In 2006 – in a report published in the London Review of Books – John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt argued that neither strategic nor moral arguments account for America’s support for Israel. The explanation lay in the unmatched power of the Israel Lobby – a loose coalition of individuals and organisations who actively work to steer US foreign policy in a pro-Israel direction.

Noam Chomsky was dismissive of the notion.

The thesis M-W propose does however have plenty of appeal. The reason, I think, is that it leaves the US government untouched on its high pinnacle of nobility, “Wilsonian idealism,” etc., merely in the grip of an all-powerful force that it cannot escape. It’s rather like attributing the crimes of the past 60 years to “exaggerated Cold War illusions,” etc. Convenient, but not too convincing. In either case.

Chomsky’s response is usefully  contextualised in a series of articles 9/11 and the Zionist Question by Professor Tony Hall in American Herald Tribune. But, to go on, the Lobby exists and sustained accusations of anti-Semitism against critics of Israel- documented in detail – have a profoundly chilling effect on discourse. With regard to the 2003 Iraq War, Mearsheimer and Walt note:

Within the US, the main driving force behind the war was a small band of neo-conservatives, many with ties to Likud…The neo-conservatives had been determined to topple Saddam even before Bush became president. They caused a stir early in 1998 by publishing two open letters to Clinton, calling for Saddam’s removal from power. The signatories, many of whom had close ties to pro-Israel groups like JINSA or WINEP, and who included Elliot Abrams, John Bolton, Douglas Feith, William Kristol, Bernard Lewis, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz, had little trouble persuading the Clinton administration to adopt the general goal of ousting Saddam. But they were unable to sell a war to achieve that objective. They were no more able to generate enthusiasm for invading Iraq in the early months of the Bush administration. They needed help to achieve their aim. That help arrived with 9/11. Specifically, the events of that day led Bush and Cheney to reverse course and become strong proponents of a preventive war.

What followed was an unrelenting  public relations campaign by the neo-cons  to win support for an invasion of Iraq. Within the Pentagon, the Policy Counterterrorism Evaluation Group and the Office of Special Plans were charged with uncovering evidence that could be used to sell the war. Both organisations, created after 9/11, reported directly to Douglas Feith.

Like virtually all the neo-conservatives, Feith is deeply committed to Israel; he also has long-term ties to Likud. He wrote articles in the 1990s supporting the settlements and arguing that Israel should retain the Occupied Territories. More important, along with Perle and Wurmser, he wrote the famous ‘Clean Break’ report in June 1996 for Netanyahu, who had just become prime minister. Among other things, it recommended that Netanyahu ‘focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq – an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right’. It also called for Israel to take steps to reorder the entire Middle East. Netanyahu did not follow their advice, but Feith, Perle and Wurmser were soon urging the Bush administration to pursue those same goals.

David Ray Griffin has also focused on the neo-cons and especially those in the Project for the New American Century. He notes that many of the PNAC’s early members, including Elliott Abrams, John Bolton, Eliot Cohen, Paula Dobriansky, Zalmay Khalilzad, Richard Perle, Peter W. Rodman, James Woolsey, Dick Cheney, Scooter Libby, Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz, became central members of the new Bush administration with key positions in the Vice President’s Office, the Pentagon, and the Defense Policy Board.

Since the 1990s the neo-cons had proposed the United States should aim for unrivalled hegemony- a global Pax Americana. This was to be achieved by increasing the military budget to ensure full spectrum dominance; implementing – in violation of international law-  a doctrine of refashioned preemptive (preventive) war giving the US the right to attack countries which posed no immediate threat; using this doctrine to achieve regime change and gain control of the world’s oil, especially in the Middle East and most immediately Iraq. Israel as suggested was to make a ‘clean break’ and remove from power its enemies in the region beginning with Saddam Hussain.

But as Griffin notes the neo-cons accepted – in their 2000 document Rebuilding America’s Defences –  the revolution in US military affairs to achieve their goal would be a slow process.

This development of space-based weapons was presented as simply one part, albeit probably the most important part, of a more general transformation of the military that exploits the “revolution in military affairs” (RMA), which has been made possible by information technologies. This RMA transformation of the military was said to be “sufficiently important to consider it a separate mission.” In spite of this importance, however, the authors of RAD, ever mindful of budgetary constraints and widespread commitment to more traditional ways, warned that the needed transformation would not occur quickly, at least if the present climate continued. In a statement that has been widely quoted in the 9/11 truth movement, they wrote that “the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event—like a new Pearl Harbor.”

Mearsheimer and Walt argue 9/11 provided the neo-cons with the opportunity to advance their plans for transforming the Middle East to Israel’s advantage. Griffin concludes – quite unimpeachably – that they were responsible for the execution of 9/11.

The attacks of 9/11 allowed the imperialist agenda of leading neoconservatives to be implemented…    I have elsewhere presented evidence—what I first called prima facie evidence but now call overwhelming evidence—that 9/11 was an inside job, orchestrated by leading members of the Bush-Cheney administration. This evidence includes many reasons to conclude that the official accounts of the World Trade Center collapses, the attack on the Pentagon, the crash of United Airlines Flight 93, and the failure of the U.S. military to intercept the other flights cannot be true. This evidence also includes many reasons to conclude that The 9/11 Commission Report involved a systematic cover-up of dozens of facts that conflict with the official conspiracy theory about 9/11, according to which the attacks were conceived and carried out entirely by al-Qaeda—evidence that instead points to official complicity…Having suggested that the motive was to have a pretext to turn the neocon agenda into national policy, I should add that it is probably only the neocons in office, and even only some of them, who should be suspected of involvement in the planning for 9/11. To say that 9/11 allowed the agenda of the neocons in general to be implemented does not imply that many or even any neocons outside the government were involved in the planning for, or even had advance knowledge of, the attacks of 9/11…No genuine investigation has been carried out to this day. If Congress would authorize such an investigation, the American people, I am convinced, would see that the grounds for impeaching Bush and Cheney are even stronger than those that have been part of the public discussion thus far.

One of the most remarkable publishing events in the UK is 9/11 Fifteen Years On , OffGuardian’s reflection on the greatest mass murder of US citizens in history. The Labour Party’s warmongers should take a look at what people are reading.

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