Posted 4 years ago on March 22, 2012, 2:53 p.m. EST by fiftyfourforty
from New York, NY
This content is user submitted and not an official statement
In what passes for Chomsky’s “refutation” of the power of the Lobby is a superficial historical review of US-Israel relations citing the occasional conflict of interests, in which, even more occasionally, the pro-Israel lobby failed to get its way. Chomsky’s historical arguments resemble a lawyer’s brief more than a comprehensive review of the power of the Lobby. For example, while in 1956 the US objected to the joint French-British-Israeli attack on Egypt, over the next 50 years the US financed and supplied the Israeli war machine to the tune of $70 billion dollars, thanks largely to the pressure of the Lobby. In 1968 Israeli air force bombed the US intelligence gathering ship the USS Liberty in international waters and strafed to US Naval personnel killing or wounding over 150 sailors and officers. The Johnson Administration in a historically unprecedented move refused to retaliate and silenced the survivors of the unprovoked attack with threats of ‘court-martial’. No subsequent administration has ever raised the issue, let alone conducted an official Congressional investigation, even as they escalated aid to Israel and prepared to use nuclear weapons to defend Israel when it seem to be losing the Yom Kippur War in 1972.
The US defense of Israel led to the very costly Arab oil boycott, which brought on a massive increase in the price of oil, the animosity of former Arab allies threatening global monetary stability. In other words, in this as in many other cases, the pro-Israel lobby was more influential than the US armed forces in shaping US response to an Israeli act of aggression against American service men operating in international waters. In recent years, the power of the Lobby has seriously inhibited the FBI’s prosecution of the scores of Israeli spies who entered the US in 2001. The most that was done was their quiet deportation. The recent arrest of two AIPAC officials for handing confidential government documents over to Israeli embassy officials has led the pro-Israel lobby to mobilize a massive media campaign in their defense, converting an act of espionage against the US into an ‘exercise of free speech’.
Editorials and op-ed articles in favor of dismissal of the charges have appeared in most of the leading newspapers in what must be the most unprecedented campaign in favor of agents of a foreign government in US history. The power of the propaganda reach of the Lobby far exceeds any countervailing power, even though the case against the AIPAC officials is very strong, including the testimony of the key Pentagon official convicted of handing them the documents.
Chomsky, a highly reputable critic of the bias of the mass media, attributes corporate ties to their anti-workers news reports. However when it comes to the overwhelming pro-Israel bias he has never analyzed the influence of the Israel lobby, the link between the pro-Israel media elite and the pro-Israel bias. Merely a blind spot or a case of ideologically driven intellectual amnesia...?
Chomsky cites Israel’s importance for US imperial strategy in weakening Arab nationalism, its role in providing military aid and military advisers to totalitarian terrorist regimes (Guatemala, Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Bolivia and so on) when the US Congress imposes restrictions to direct US involvement. There is little doubt that Israel serves US imperial purposes, especially in situations where bloody politics are involved. But Israel did so because it benefited from doing so – it increased military revenues, gained backers favoring Israel’s colonial policies, provided markets for Israeli arms dealers etc.
However a more comprehensive analysis of US interests demonstrates that the costs of supporting Israel far exceed the occasional benefit, whether we consider advantages to US imperial goals or even more so from the vantage point of a democratic foreign policy. With regard to the costly and destructive wars against Iraq, following Israel’s lead and its lobbies, the pro-Israel policy has severely undermined US military capacity to defend the empire, has led to a loss of prestige and discredited US claims to be a champion of freedom and democracy. From the viewpoint of democratic foreign policy it has strengthened the militarist wing of the government and undermined democratic freedoms at home. Israel benefits of course because the war destroyed a major secular adversary and allowed it to tighten its stranglehold on the Occupied territories.
The unconditional commitment to the Israeli colonial state has eroded US relations with the richest and most populous states in the Arab and Islamic world. In market terms the difference is between hundreds of billions of dollars in sales versus defending a receiver of massive US aid handouts. The economic losses far outweigh any small-scale questionable military benefits. The Arab states are net buyers of US military hardware. The Israeli arms industry is a stiff competitor.
US oil and gas companies are net losers in terms of investments, profits and markets because of the US ties to Israel which, because of its small market, has little to offer in each of the above categories.
Finally Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and the Lobby’s effective campaign to secure US vetoes against international resolutions puts the US on the side of widespread, legalized torture, legalized extrajudicial executions and illegal massive population displacement. The end result is the weakening of international law and increased volatility in an area of great strategic importance. Chomsky takes no account of the geo-strategic and energy costs, the losses in our domestic freedoms resulting directly from the Middle East wars for Israel and even less of the rise of a virulent form of Zionist Neo-McCarthyism spreading throughout our academic, artistic and other public and private institutions. If anything demonstrates the Zionists’ growing power and authoritarian reach, the brutal and successful campaign against Professors Mearsheimer and Walt confirm it, in spades....