In October 12, 2012, I speculated there was a strong likelihood that Saudi Arabia was bankrolling Israel’s Mossad. Those funds paid for, among other things, the assassinations of several of Iran's top nuclear experts over the past couple of years. That cooperation was, I wrote the latest bizarre development in a clandestine alliance between the Zionist State of Israel and Saudi Arabia, guardian of Islam’s most holy site. Now, there is new confirmation from Israel of that report.Read More
You want chutzpah? This is chutzpah: an Oped piece this week in the New York Times by a prominent Israel journalist, Ari Shavit, lambasting George W. Bush—not Barack Obama—for the fact that Iran is on the threshold of becoming a nuclear power. Instead of going after Iraq in 2003, says Shavit, instead of fatally draining Americas’s resources and prestige, Bush should have organized a coordinated coalition of powers to throttle a much weaker Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
Where’s the chutzpah? Well, for one thing, if you want to blame an American president for failing to prevent nuclear weapons being introduced into the Middle East—and then passively accepting their presence--the list of culprits begins with Dwight D. Eisenhower, and continues through just about every American President since. Please read on.Read More
Our eyes glaze over when we read statistics of the horrific mayhem ravaging Syria. Numbers lose all meaning. One way for Americans to appreciate what those figures mean is to compute what the impact would be if the same tragedy were devastating the United States.Read More
Just a hunch, but Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin may have another surprise chess move to play—one that may catch Israel and its U.S. ally completely off guard.
An air of inanity pervades the debate about Syria—obscuring the
underlying fears and motives, the real forces behind a surrealistic, blood-soaked
drama worthy of Kafka, Ionesco, or Pinter.
It’s evident, for instance, that the 800-pound guerrilla hovering behind the debate is Israel and its American backers, one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington.
What has not been made clear is that, lurking in the background, is another shadowy hulking presence: Israel’s nuclear weapons capacity, which—as I’ve previously blogged--Israel has never officially acknowledged and most U.S. administrations have done their best to ignore. As have the mainstream press and the gaggle of statesmen, commentators and “experts” with weighty proposals on how to resolve the current crisis.
For instance, Senator Joe Manchin III, a conservative Democrat from West Virginia, would give Bashar al-Assad 45 days to sign the Chemical Weapons Convention and begin ridding the country of its weapons stockpiles. Only if Assad refuses would the American president be authorized to take military action.
“We need some options out there that does something about the chemical weapons,” Mr. Manchin said. “That’s what’s missing right now.”
That proposal, however, comes across as hopelessly naïve when you understand why Syria’s leaders opted for chemical weapons in the first place.
It was not with the intention of deploying CW against their own people. It was instead an attempt to develop an affordable and meaningful deterrent to Israel’s daunting military might, particularly to Israel’s nuclear capability.
That’s the bottom line of several serious studies of Syria’s weapons program, done over the past few years by American and other experts. As a study published by the European Union’s non-proliferation consortium in July 2012, concluded, “Syria’s CWs are not tactical or battlefield weapons, but rather a strategic deterrence against Israel’s conventional superiority and its nuclear weapons arsenal.IWhile Israeli leaders have always portrayed their country as an embattled David, confronting an existential threat from an Arab –and now,Iranian—Goliath, Syria’s perspective has been totally different.
As the rulers in Damascus have seen it, Israel, thanks to its sophisticated industrial base, and unwavering financial and political support from the United States, has been able to develop by far the most powerful military forces in the region—with its own nuclear trump card.
The Syrians, on the other hand, have suffered one humiliating setback after another, from the failure to defeat Israel in 1948, to Israel’s on-going occupation of the Golan Heights, which they took in 1967, to Israel’s repeated forays into South Lebanon.
The Syrians, however, came to realize they could never equal Israel’s military might. They opted instead for a practical alternative: chemical weapons. If not strategic parity, CW would at least give Syria, if the chips were down, a fearful enough weapon to brandish against Israel’s nuclear capabilities.
As the European Union’s study said, “With meager resources, an inadequate military culture and a weakening, less-than-reliable Soviet patron, Syria was in no position to maintain its policy of conventional parity. That became amply clear at the turn of the 1990s, when Syria approached economic bankruptcy, witnessed the collapse of the USSR and had to adapt to rising US influence in the region.”
Syria’s determination to maintain its chemical arsenal could only have increased after 2007 when Israeli planes bombed what was apparently a Syrian attempt to construct a nuclear reactor.
One Israeli analyst claimed that CWs and associated delivery systems became, for lack of better options, the ‘core’ of Syria’s security strategy, a ‘wild card’ that would create enough uncertainty in the minds of Israeli decision makers to prevent an escalation of an existential nature.
Another analyst who has a unique view of Syria’s CW strategy is M. Zuhair Diab, an international security analyst now living in London. From 1981 to 1985 he was a diplomat with the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. As he put it in a study in 1997.
“Syria seeks to neutralize Israel’s ability to employ nuclear blackmail to coerce it into accepting unfavorable conditions for a peace settlement. Syria’s increased bargaining leverage with Israel as result of its CW capability has been demonstrated by Israel’s inability to dictate its terms in the peace negotiations between the two sides. Indeed, the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin recognized that a condition ofstrategic stalemate had emerged between Israel and Syria.”
Syria has not signed the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention. Whenever the issue comes up, Syria’s leaders have invariably cited Israel’s nuclear weapons program, and the fact that Israel refused to sign the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty.
In other words, Syria is not going to unilaterally lay down its most potent weapon.
Think what you will of the men governing Syria, but how can Israel or its American backers, answer that argument? Particularly if they still refuse to admit officially that Israel even has nukes?
The analysis of Syria’s CW program by the former Syrian diplomat, was written in 1997, 14 years before the outbreak of the civil war which is currently ripping apart his country. At that time, according to him, there were only two realistic scenarios for Syrian tactical use of CW. They both involved defending against Israel.
“1) if Israel launches an offensive involving first use of CW, forcing Syrian units to retaliate in-kind; or 2) if the defensive perimeter of Damascus, the Syrian capital, (italics added) collapses as a result of an Israeli incursion through the Golan Heights or a flanking maneuver through the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.”
With the existence of the Assad regime now at stake, the Syrian military’s doctrines on whom they might target with CW may have changed. But not the trip wire that might provoke them to unleash CW: a serious threat to the Syrian capital.
What is striking about the study from the former Syrian diplomat I’ve just cited is the fact that, according to some sources, the reason that Syrian military units may have resorted to CW on August 21, was as a desperate measure to drive rebel forces from a strategically key suburb of Damascus.
Five cents to anyone who can recall when the leader of an army that was once considered brutal and corrupt by many, opted to call the people to take to the streets!! Even more mind-binding: they are calling for the masses to support them against a group--the Muslim Brotherhood-- that was once considered the standard bearer of popular opposition to decades of tyranny by the military .
something almost obscene about the announcement
out of Washington that the U.S. is going ahead with plans to deliver more
sophisticated military equipment to Egypt, despite the military coup that
overthrew President Mohammed Morsi.
With Egypt in meltdown, its economy in tatters, food prices soaring, land and water resources disappearing, unemployment rampant, the government a shambles, what is the United States offering in the way of aid to this basket-case nation?
Four F-16 fighter jets.
This despite that fact that, by law, the Obama administration is supposed to cut off aid to regimes that seize power via military coups. But not this coup.
In the wake of the bloody shootings in Cairo last week, and even as the military continues to arrest hundreds of Moslem Brotherhood members, the Obama administration, in a hair-splitting fashion befitting a president who once headed the Harvard Law Review, has used every semantic trick in the book to avoid calling the coup that took place in Egypt--a coup.
The shipment of those F-16’s is also justified as the continuation of an on-going program of 20 planes—eight of which were sent to Egypt in January. The final eight will be shipped later this year.
Who will benefit by that American “aid”?
Mostly, America’s own Lockheed Martin, which sells those jets at $15 million a copy. Add a few million more for spare parts, training, and ammunition, and you’ve got a half billion dollar deal.
Who will those jets be used to defend Egypt against? Years ago, the Egyptians might have said Israel. But you can be sure that there is no way the U.S. would give F-16’s to an Arab country unless Israel had already signed off on the deal—usually in return for assurances that U.S. equipment furnished to Israel would be far superior.
In fact, those planes are part of a $1.5 billion annual package of aid that the U.S. began giving Egypt after President Sadat signed the Camp David Peace accords with Israel in 1974. By far the largest part of that aid—$1.3 billion a year—has been going to the Egyptian military, in effect an on-going bribe to convince the generals not to ruffle waters with Israel.
What purpose that sophisticated American equipment serves Egypt—other than burnishing egos of the Egyptian military—is anyone’s guess. Similarly, since the only ones with oversight over Egypt’s military budget are Egypt’s military, no one can really be sure exactly how and where all those billions have been spent.
But again, who really cares--as long as they don’t rock the boat with Israel….
On the other hand, it’s only natural that America’s largesse should take the form of military aid. So much of America’s foreign policy over the past two decades —from Iraq to the Gulf to Afghanistan--has been defined in trillions of dollars in military equipment, sprawling bases and futile campaigns.
The other recent announcement of aid to Egypt, which dwarfs Americas, is also laced with hypocrisy. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates have pledged a massive package totaling 12 billion dollars.
That sum, of course, is vastly greater than any financial aid those Arab states actually delivered to the Palestinians over the past many decades, despite all their rhetoric about supporting the Palestinian cause.
Which makes sense: As the Arab leaders of those three Gulf states see it the Muslim Brotherhood and the Arab Spring are a much greater existential threat to their corrupt regimes, than Israel ever was.
Indeed, they have long detested and feared the Muslim Brotherhood. Not so much the Brotherhood’s religious fervor, as their calls for reform --for an end to the corrupt ruling cliques which have treated the vast natural resources of their states as their personal property.
Their current hope of the leaders of those three Gulf states is that, backed by their $12 billion dollars, Egypt’s generals will somehow be able to squelch the Muslim Brotherhood in what is by far the most important of Arab countries--and turn back the threat of the Arab Spring.
Finally, an intriguing question: Was that huge Arab aid package quickly cobbled together after the coup? Or Isn’t it highly likely that, in the frantic maneuvering that preceded the military’s move, the Gulf rulers were already dangling those billions as a carrot before Egypt’s generals--to encourage them to overthrow Mohammed Morsi?
Probably with the knowledge—and approval?--of the United States.
Here’s a very somber analysis of the current turmoil in Egypt by Sarah Carr, a blogger/journalist who has lived in Cairo for the past ten years, daughter of a British father and Egyptian mother:
“There is a visceral hatred of the Muslim Brotherhood and its Salafi associates amongst some Egyptians. This hatred spans all social classes and predates current events. It is born out of an arguably justified mistrust and fear of the group, which has lied, put its own interests first, excluded other groups, ram-rodded through an excuse for a constitution, attempted to give Morsi dictatorial powers, flirted with the military and dallied in sectarian politics in a frightening way.
“It failed to understand that it was running a country, and it missed the point that for public relations purposes, if you are an Arab president who desires to quash dissent through an organized group, you better make sure that that group is in uniform.
“Perhaps most importantly, they were feeble as hell at governing Egypt at a time when amateurs really just would not do.
“When Morsi supporters attempt to put their case forward, their arguments bounce back off a wall of hate, but — deep breath — in my opinion, these arguments were not without merit — up until June 30.
“Morsi’s intransigence and the behavior of his supporters after June 30 outweighs any legitimacy they once had. Mendacity, poor governance, self-interest and the sidelining of other political powers are pretty much the watchwords of all political groups and are not, in isolation, enough to justify a president’s removal by the military….
…….“So my position on events pre-June 30 has not been changed by events since: The Muslim Brotherhood should have been left to fail as they had not (yet) committed an act justifying Morsi’s removal by the military.
“The price Egypt has paid and will pay for the consequences of this decision are too high. It has created a generation of Islamists who genuinely believe that democracy does not include them. The post-June 30 fallout reaffirms this belief, especially with Islamist channels and newspapers closed down, as well as leaders detained and held incommunicado, apparently pursuant to an executive decision.
“For 30 years, Mubarak told them that due process is not for them, and a popular revolution is confirming that. It is Egyptian society that will pay the price of the grievances this causes, and the fact that, with a silenced media and no coverage from independent outlets, they have been left with virtually no channels to get their voice heard…..
“The real revolution will happen when army involvement in politics is a distant relic of history.
“….The only aspect of the wider argument that interests me is the notion that an elected president’s legitimacy dissolves when millions take to the streets. If this is a precedent, then it means shaky times ahead when the masses’ interests do not coincide with those of the army.
“Politically, Egypt finds itself once again in an almighty mess.
“As the euphoria fades, the opposition remembers that if they were asked to debate how many legs a cow before them had, one faction would question whether the animal was actually a cow, another would say four, and yet another would include the tail as a limb….
“If the army has any sense, it will see that the legitimacy of the June 30 regime (for want of a better term) need not be predicated on crushing Islamists, no matter what the public appetite is. They have to be included, because they are not going anywhere.
“The barely functioning political system born of January 25 has been replaced with something even more fragile: Fractious squabbling with no clear means of resolution, the military as arbiter and an incensed MB that feels it has been cheated. Fasten your seatbelts.”
ONE FINAL THING: Please like the Facebook page for my new novel, “The Watchman’s File”. And, if you feel it merit’s attention, please pass it on to your friends.
We are witnessing a stunning decline of liberal democracy around the globe—the hollowing out of the center, the rise of the radical fringes, of populism of authoritarian Trump-like leaders who feed on know-nothing views. We’re talking not just across Europe, but on every continent, from Turkey, to Russia, to India, Venezuela and Brazil.
Why is this phenomenon happening now? Some say it’s because of the growing gap between the rich and the poor, the market collapse of 2008, a universal disgust with traditional politics and politicians.
All those factors are at play. But I would argue that the principle cause for the collapse of traditional politics is the astonishing rise of the Internet and social media.
The media has been filled today with tributes to the late President George H.W. Bush. He is portrayed as a smart, pragmatic leader, who chose wise counsellors like James Baker—very different from his wilful son, George W. Bush, who led the U.S. into a disastrous attack on Iraq in 2013, the most fateful foreign policy blunder ever made by an American leader.
The fact, however, is that it was the blundering of George H. W. Bush and Baker in 1990 that set the stage for George W. Bush’s calamitous move thirteen years later.
We went to a very moving commemoration in London this week marking the 80th anniversary of Krystallnacht-- when thousands of German Jews were rounded up and sent to concentration camps. The opening salvo, as it were, of the Holocaust. But what I found most appalling–because of its relevance to today’s headlines --was not the description of those horrific events, but the motivation of a top Nazi official responsible for carrying out Hitler’s genocidal commands.
Reading the horrified reactions to the bloody attack on the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, one has the impression that the assault was carried out by a crazed individual operating from the most deranged fringe of America’s alt-right: a product of the brutal politics of Donald Trump and social media run amok. The fact is that, though America would dearly love to forget it, anti-Semitism has long been deeply embedded in the U.S.
Donald Trump stands accused of “treason” after his outrageous summit with Vladimir Putin. Those startling charges are no longer coming from the political fringes, but from mainstream politicians, officials, and the press. Despite the gravity of the situation, craven Republican leaders still refuse to act. Is the only option to hope for the best in the November congressional elections, while leaving a treasonous leader in charge of the world’s most powerful nation?
There is another path, a harrowing one, but one that might ultimately be the only way out for America. I describe it in my novel “Deep Strike” –the tale of a corrupt, dysfunctional American president, Walter Stokes, elected with the help of Russian hacking. The book was published a year ago, but it could never be more relevant.
A deranged American president wins election with the aid of Russian hacking. Over the following months, he becomes increasingly brutish. His wild, rabid Tweets and tempestuous acts dismay even his closest supporters. He flirts with nuclear disaster. America’s basic democratic foundations are challenged. Yet Congressional leaders refuse to act. Difficult to believe this is real life.
A new chapter has been revealed in the fascinating saga of Israel’s invisible nuclear weapon’s program. According to documents recently released by the National Security Archives, in 1963-64 Argentina played a major role in providing Israel with 80-100 tons of uranium oxide (“yellowcake”) vital for Israel’s clandestine nuclear program.
(It’s not mentioned in the press release, but Argentina’s
aid may well have been tit-for-tat—since Israel was also an important supplier
of weapons to Argentina.)
Equally fascinating as the news of Argentina’s assistance to Israel, is the fact that those “secret” shipments were fairly quickly discovered by Canadian intelligence officials in 1964, who ultimately passed on the news to their British and American colleagues, who passed it on to their civilian leaders.
That news, of course, cast strong doubts on Israel’s claims that its nuclear program was completely peaceful.
So, what happened? According to the NSA release, “In response to U.S. diplomatic queries about the sale, the government of Israel was evasive in its replies and gave no answers to the U.S.'s questions about the transaction.”
Over the following months and years, the U.S. and its allies showed no appetite to seriously challenge Israel’s on-going evasions.
Indeed, the story of the Argentina yellowcake sale to Israel has remained largely unkown, not just because of Israel’s passion for secrecy, but because the U.S. government and its close allies kept secret for years what they knew at the time.
As I’ve previously blogged, that policy was nothing new, but the continuation of a refusal by the U.S. and its partners to refuse to publicly recognize Israel’s nuclear weapons program—that began under Dwight D. Eisenhower in the 1950’s---and continues to this day.
The official deception is chronicled by in
Seymour Hersh’s authoritative “The Samson Option,” written in 1991.
As Hersh wrote, it was impossible for the Israelis to to hide the massive new construction of their nuclear weapons facility from America’s high-flying U2 spy plane.
In late 1958 or early 1959, CIA photo intelligence experts, spotted what looked almost certainly to be a nuclear reactor being built at Dimona.
They rushed the raw images to the White House, expecting urgent demands from the Oval Office for more information. This was, after all, a development that could initiate a disastrous nuclear arms race in the Middle East.
But there was absolutely no follow-up from the White House. As one of the analysts later told Seymour Hersh “Nobody came back to me, ever, on Israel.” Though the analysts continued regular reporting on Dimona, there were no requests for high-level briefings. “ ‘Thank you,’ and ‘this isn’t going to be disseminated is it?’ It was that attitude.”
“By the end of 1959,” writes Hersh, “the two analysts had no doubts that Israel was going for the bomb. They also had no doubts that President Eisenhower and his advisers were determined to look the other way.”
The reason was evident: Eisenhower publicly was a strong advocate of the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT). If he was formally to “know” of Israel’s nuclear program, he would be obliged to react--against Israel. Which, in the U.S. could mean serious political consequences.
It was only in December 1960, that the Eisenhower administration, nearing its end, leaked word about Dimona and France’s involvement to the New York Times. The administration hoped that, without having to make any official accusations itself, it could oblige the Israeli government to sign the NPT.
But Ben Gurion flatly denied the Times report. He assured American officials –as well as the Israeli Knesset--that the Dimona reactor was completely benign. French officials guaranteed that any plutonium produced at Dimona would be returned to France for safekeeping (another lie).
The Eisenhower administration, however, had no stomach to take on Israel and its American lobby. Despite the reports of CIA analysts, Ben Gurion’s denials went unchallenged.
That hypocrisy would remain official America’s policy to this day--even as U.S. presidents decried the attempts of countries like Iran, North Korea, Syria, India, Pakistan, Libya and Iraq to themselves develop the bomb
One Final Thing:
Please like the Facebook page for my new novel, “The Watchman’s File”. And, if you feel it merit’s attention, please pass it on to your friends.