Available Now! (click cover)

America's Counter-Revolution
The Constitution Revisited

From the back cover:

This book challenges the assumption that the Constitution was a landmark in the struggle for liberty. Instead, Sheldon Richman argues, it was the product of a counter-revolution, a setback for the radicalism represented by America’s break with the British empire. Drawing on careful, credible historical scholarship and contemporary political analysis, Richman suggests that this counter-revolution was the work of conservatives who sought a nation of “power, consequence, and grandeur.” America’s Counter-Revolution makes a persuasive case that the Constitution was a victory not for liberty but for the agendas and interests of a militaristic, aristocratic, privilege-seeking ruling class.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Wag the Tail

There is increasing evidence that Israel instigated a disastrous war on Lebanon largely at the behest of the United States. The Bush administration was set on crippling Hezbollah, the radical Shiite political movement that maintains a sizable block of seats in the Lebanese parliament. Taking advantage of the country's democratic opening after the forced departure of Syrian troops last year, Hezbollah defied U.S. efforts to democratize the region on American terms. The populist party's unwillingness to disarm its militia as required by UN resolution--and the inability of the pro-Western Lebanese government to force them to do so--led the Bush administration to push Israel to take military action.

In his May 23 summit with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, President George W. Bush offered full U.S. support for Israel to attack Lebanon as soon as possible. Seymour Hersh, in the August 21 New Yorker, quotes a Pentagon consultant on the Bush administration's longstanding desire to strike "a preemptive blow against Hezbollah." The consultant added, "It was our intent to have Hezbollah diminished, and now we have someone else doing it."
When it is reported that Israel manipulates the U.S. government, Israelists get offended. What do they say when it is reported that the U.S. government manipulates Israel? I recommend the rest of Stephen Zunes's column at Alternet.org.


Anonymous said...

On the one hand many antiwar commentator argue that the US government is doing the bidding of the Israelis, now an argument that the Israelis are doing the bidding of the US. You can't have it both ways!

Sheldon Richman said...

But this is like saying that one is trying to have it both ways when one points out that the husband picks which movie to see one night, and the wife the next. Where's the contradiction? The U.S.-Israeli relationship is like a marriage (that is bad for the children). Each is committed to the marriage although the spouses have their differences in particular situations. Sometimes one spouse defers to the other, and at other times, vice versa.

This presents no problem for critics of the relationship. But it does for supporters of the relationship.

Anonymous said...

well i was being partially sarcastic in my previous comment. we could argue that there are ruling coalitions in both countries with some overlapping membership ...and where outright dual membership doesn't exist, there is plenty of quid pro quo going on between them. and the nature of the deal changes over time.

this all seems pretty speculative however. a lot of the critique of neocon foreign policy over the last few years made more sense when the Likud ruled israel. the prominent Bush administration neocons are usually painted as a kind of overseas Likudnik ministry. The recent replacement of the Likud by Kadima has probably changed the script.

So maybe Kadima's approach is more crudely "opportunist" versus the neocon blessed and more straight forward "Greater Israel" imperialism of Likud??

Anonymous said...

John Mearsheimer has a comment in his recent CAIR address about which dog is wagging what tail. It would seem relevant to this discussion.
See source here (PDF file).

"The second alternative explanation which one sometimes hears is that the United States is in fact the driving force behind the war in Lebanon and Israel is merely its client state. Israel, in other words, is a loyal ally doing the Bush administration’s dirty work. There are two reasons to doubt this claim.
First, if this claim was true, Israel’s bombing offensive would have been confined to southern Lebanon and great care would have been taken to protect and strengthen the Lebanese government. After all, President Bush made it clear at the start of the crisis that he did not want to endanger the government in Beirut, which he had worked so hard to install. More generally, the United States almost certainly would not have sought to set Lebanon back 20 years, as called for by Israel’s chief of staff.
Second, there’s actually little evidence that the Bush administration planned the offensive and then pushed Israel to execute it. In fact, the available evidence suggests that Israel had planned the Lebanon campaign in the months before the events of July 12th, which it used as a pretext for launching it. Israel undoubtedly briefed the United States about the plan and got Bush’s endorsement. But giving Israel the green light is not the same as using Israel as a client state."

Sheldon Richman said...

This is a case in which the dog and tail wag each other at different times. Mearsheimer makes a good point. And I do think the Bush people became uncomfortable with the extent and the ferocity of the attack on civilians and infrastructure. But that doesn't mean the administration wasn't involved in the planning or that it didn't nod approval on the eve of the attack.

Anonymous said...

I think there was a Taki piece recently (that unfortunately I can't find) that argued more or less along these lines.

1. The US and Israel have agreed that an armed attack on Iran and it's nuke infrastructure has to come sooner or later.

2. It is anticipated that in retaliation for (1) Iran will "let Hezbollah" off the leash and this will create a northern security problem for Israel.

3. As (1) and (2) are in the works, it makes sense for a pre-emptive push against Hezbollah to reduce their ability to cause mayhem when (2) happens.

4. The US thus agrees with and green lights (3) and is indeed exploiting (3) as it provides weapons and tactical experience that may even be of benefit for (1).

I think we are talking about one dog with a couple of heads and tails at each end!!

Adem D. Kupi said...

"I think we are talking about one dog with a couple of heads and tails at each end!!"

This is an interesting discussion because that's kind of how I see most of the "conspiracies" actually operating. Unlike conspiracy theorists, I don't think that there's one or two big organizations that "run the world". Or even try to. They have to know enough basic economics to realize that's impossible.

But there may well be a "cloud of consent" in that many different elite groups will recognize where each others interests lie and work together where it suits them. A sort of tacit recognition of how the game is supposed to be played. This sort of arrangement would be relatively easy to enforce, and would explain more of the weirder events in foreign policy.