WATCH: Press Corps Hammers U.S. State Dept Spokesperson On U.S. Impotence In Middle East
This U.S. State Department press briefing exemplifies how the United States’ foreign policy in the Middle East is both nonsensical and indefensible.
State Dept. Spokesperson Victoria Nuland (the wife of Neocon Robert Kagan) could not give a sound and plausible answer to a single question she fielded. The press corp questions continued to come back to one central theme: Why is the U.S. impotent in its ability to influence Israel to stop its illegal settlement expansions, and to engage with the Palestinians for peace, when it gives this tiny country $3 billion per year in military aid — which could clearly be used to pressure them?
Two reporters asked her outright if the Israel Lobby’s influence, as it pertains to President Obama’s 2012 reelection prospects, has made it impossible for the United States to act as an honest broker in the ‘peace process.’
One reporter, when referring to U.S. legislation which automatically defunded UNESCO this week for accepting Palestine as a member, thus harming America’s own national security interests in the process, asked Nuland about the lobbying required to force Congress to change the two laws:
Does the Administration find it unpalatable that it has to go to another government [Israel], to other government officials, to lobby members of its own legislature?
Is AIPAC’s Iron Grip Over The US Congress Waning?
A new column by Josh Ruebner, who heads US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, gives a behind the scenes look at what actually transpired in the latest AIPAC-sponsored Congressional Resolution which condemns any unilateral measures to declare or recognize a Palestinian state.
AIPAC, of course, would have you believe (this message came via twitter) that everything was ‘business as usual’:
By voice vote, the House passed a resolution opposing a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state. No member claimed time in opposition.
Ruebner, however, reveals that “H.Res.1765 was pushed through quickly with the co-sponsorship of only 53 Representatives,” using a procedure called Suspension of the Rules. This procedure, “supposed to be reserved for non-controversial resolutions such as the naming of a post office, prohibits the resolution from being amended and limits debate on it. In exchange for these restrictions, the resolution must get at least a 2/3 vote to pass rather than a simple majority”.
Ruebner gives us a picture of what actually occurred on the House floor:
… the resolution was done in such a helter-skelter fashion that it was put on the calendar for a vote late Tuesday night while Rep. Howard Berman, Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was still drafting it. Most Congressional offices did not even see the text of the resolution until a few hours prior to the vote. Many Congressional offices were reportedly infuriated that such an important foreign policy declaration was being treated in such an inconsiderate manner. […]
Berman, who managed the debate on the House floor for the Democrats, appeared flustered and befuddled as he looked repeatedly and anxiously around the chamber for Representatives to appear magically to speak on behalf of the resolution. In the end, Berman mustered only himself and three other Jewish Representatives—Gary Ackerman, Eliot Engel, and Shelley Berkley—to offer full-throated support for the resolution. […]
These staunchly pro-Israel Representatives’ proceeded to take the podium and spew pure propaganda — the kinds of misrepresentations that are all but certain to please AIPAC and Israeli PM, Benjamin Netanyahu.
One bright note was Representative Lois Capps’s upbraiding of Berman for his shameless hawking of this AIPAC resolution:
After rising “in very reluctant support” of what she termed “yet another one-sided resolution,” Capps decried the resolution for failing to mention “Israel’s expansion of settlements.” She noted that “Resolutions, like the one we are considering today, are clearly done for domestic political consumption much more than for having any positive impact on the conflict. We should not be ignorant of the fact that this Chamber’s pattern of passing resolutions that are one-sided can, indeed, undermine our credibility to be serious brokers for peace.”
Having been put in his place by Capps, Berman called for a voice vote rather than a recorded vote. Fewer than ten Representatives then on the floor voted by “unanimous consent” to adopt the resolution, giving the illusion that the entire House gave its imprimatur to it.
Reubner’s entire post is worth reading, and can be found over at Mondoweiss.
MJ Rosenberg Sums Up Key Reasons For Mideast Peace Failure: AIPAC & Israeli Firsters
MJ Rosenberg, a Senior Fellow of Media Matters Action Network (and incidentally a former AIPAC official), writes in the Huffington Post why he believes subsequent U.S. Administrations continue to fail at bringing peace to the Middle East: namely, The Israel Lobby and well-positioned Israel Firsters.
He points out the key reason the Bush Administration failed miserably:
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell was the most popular political figure in the United States when he went to the region to kick-start negotiations during the George W. Bush administration.
He accomplished nothing largely because Israel-firsters back in Washington (Elliot Abrams played the leading role) let the Israelis know that they did not have to pay attention to Powell. He didn’t speak for the administration. Later Abrams said that he viewed his role in the administration as blocking any moves that the Israelis didn’t like.
Rosenberg goes on to say that the primary cause for lack of progress does not lie in the Middle East, but here in Washington:
The reason the United States continues to fail on the Israeli-Palestinian track is because of the power of the lobby in Washington. And by lobby I don’t only mean the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). I mean AIPAC plus its friends throughout Washington who, even without speaking directly to AIPAC or the Israelis, know instinctively what the Israelis want — preserving the status quo, i.e. the occupation.
I would add to Rosenberg’s list of AIPAC’s friends throughout Washington, many prominent voices in the main stream media — household names, like CNN’s Wolf Blitzer (before writing for The Jerusalem Post, Blizter worked for AIPAC where he wrote for their propaganda sheet, The Near East Report), William Kristol, Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic, Charles Krauthammer, just to name a few… The Lobby is a force that can inflict serious political damage not only by withholding political contributions, or by funding political opponents of those who won’t subjugate themselves to Israel’s interests, but also by determining the kinds of press coverage our politicians get in the main stream media. If you don’t believe me, ask Jimmy Carter, Charles Freeman, or any other public figure who has outwardly criticized Israeli policies.
Ironically, their actions have done nothing, but harm both Israeli and U.S. national security interests.
Ha’aretz Journalist, Gideon Levy: “Israel Is Addicted To The Occupation”
Israel’s most prominent journalist, Gideon Levy, follows up on his recent column — one where he blasted the U.S. for continuing to ‘suck up to Israel’ — with an interview on The Real News Network. Here he describes Israel as a country “addicted to the occupation.” He pleads with the U.S. to be a friend […]
Sec. of State Hillary Clinton’s Diplomatic Skills Rival Those Of John Bolton’s
Nice work Hillary! The fallout from her most recent world tour continues to materialize. First our nation’s chief diplomat completely offended the country of Pakistan. Here’s how the Pakistan Daily appraised her visit with their officials and press: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton went on the offensive during her three-day visit to Pakistan that […]
Hillary Clinton’s Pandering To Israel Destroys U.S. Credibility On Middle East Peace
U.S. Middle East policy has effectively come full-circle again, as it has done repeatedly for the past forty-plus years. Every blue moon we get a U.S. President who dares to challenge Israel on its ethnic cleansing — as demonstrated by continued Palestinian home demolitions and Jewish-ONLY settlement expansion within the occupied territories (all interconnected by […]