Saturday, September 7, 2013

AIPAC: Syria Today, Iran Tomorrow

"'This [striking Syria] is something that the United States as a country needs to do,' [House of Representatives Speaker] John Boehner said." (Backing grows for Syria attack, John Lyons, The Australian, 5/9/13)

And why is that, John? Simple! The Israel lobby wants it.

Here's the dirt from former AIPAC [American Israel Public Affairs Committee] staffer, M.J. Rosenberg:

"The media today is full of stories about AIPAC and its decision to push for a 'yes' vote on Syria to ensure that President Obama initiates the war it really wants, with Iran...

"There is simply no way AIPAC and its camp followers would do this for Syria. Israel has no problem with the Assad regime. Like their dearly departed fellow former strongman Hosni Mubarak, both Hafez and Bashir Assad scrupulously kept the peace with Israel since 1973. As for chemical weapons, Israel not only has used them in Gaza but is one of 7 countries in the world (Syria is another one) that has not ratified the treaty banning their use...

"The reason Israel (and its lobby) are going all out to push the United States to attack Syria is as a precedent for a much larger attack on Iran. As AIPAc admits in its own statement of support for the Syria attack: 'This is a critical moment when America must also send a forceful message of resolve to Iran and Hezbollah... America's allies and adversaries are closely watching the outcome of this momentous vote. This critical decision comes at a time when Iran is racing toward obtaining nuclear capability. Failure to approve this resolution would weaken our country's credibility to prevent the use and proliferation of unconventional weapons and thereby greatly endanger our country's security and interests and those of our regional allies.'

"To put it simply, AIPAC fears that if it lets President Obama go wobbly on Syria, it is impossible to imagine that he would undertake a war with Iran that could ignite the entire Middle East and lead to the commitment of US troops in a third major Middle Eastern war in a little over a decade.

"And that is why AIPAC and its satellites are turning the screws on Congress, especially on progressive and liberal Democrats who tend to be antiwar except when AIPAC comes knocking. (Republicans are more immune to AIPAC because they do not rely on AIPAC-directed campaign dollars given that they have so many other sources. Besides, they tend to be hawks on their own, without pressure. So what does AIPAC pressure feel like? How does it work?

"I called a friend who is a foreign policy aide to a House member and, after I promised not to identify him in any form, he told me this:

"'First come the phone calls from constituents who are AIPAC members. They know the Congressman and are nice and friendly and just tell him... just how important this vote is to him and his friends back in the district.

"'Then the donors call. The folks who have hosted fundraisers. They are usually not only from the district but from New York or LA or Chicago. They repeat the message: this vote is very important. Contrary to what you might expect, they do not mention campaign money. They don't have to. Because these callers are people who only know the Congressman through their checks, the threat not to write any more of them is implicit. Like the constituents, the donors are using AIPAC talking points which are simple and forceful. You can argue with them but they keep going back to the script.

"'Did I mention the rabbis? We only have a few in our district but we get calls from all of them and from other rabbis from around the state.

"'Then there are the AIPAC lobbyists, the professional staffers. They come in, with or without appointments. If the Congressman is in, they expect to see him immediately. If not, they will see a staffer. If they don't like what they hear, they will keep coming back. They are very aggressive, no other lobby comes close. They expect to see the Member, not mere staff.

"'Then there are the emails driven by the AIPAC website, the editorials in the one Jewish newspaper we have in our state.

"'And then the 'Dear Colleague' letters from Jewish House members saying how important the vote is for Israel and America. They also will buttonhole the Members on the House floor. Because my boss is not Jewish, he tends to defer to his Jewish colleagues. It is like they are the experts on this. And, truth be told, all the senior Jewish Members of the House are tight with AIPAC. Also, the two biggest AIPAC enforcers, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and his Democratic counterpart, Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, are fierce AIPAC partisans, and they make sure to seek out Members on the floor to tell them how they must vote. On anything related to Israel, they speak in one voice: AIPAC's.

"'My friend concluded: Obviously, there is no counterpart to this on the antiwar side. No anti-AIPAC to speak of. AIPAC owns this issue. It gets what it wants. It will get this and, sad to say, my boss, who hates the idea of using more war as a means to end war, will probably vote 'yes'. He says he will never support an attack on Iran but, when the time comes, this Syria push will look like nothing. Syria is just a tactic for AIPAC. But its number one goal, at least from the vantage point of Capitol Hill, is war with Iran.

"'Yeah, it's scary.

So where do we fit in, as of now?

"In a minor diplomatic advance for Obama, 11 of the G20 nations signed a joint statement at the end of the two-day summit calling for 'a strong international response to a grave violation of the world's rules' in response to last month's chemical weapons attack in Ghouta, east of the Syrian capital, Damascus. The signatories, including the UK, the US and France, said evidence 'points clearly to the Syrian government being responsible for the attack...' and warned it would not be possible to achieve a UN consensus on action... Other signatories included Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Spain and Turkey..." (Obama assembles fragile alliance blaming Assad for chemical attacks, Patrick Wintour, The Guardian, 7/9/13)

Australia just can't help itself.

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