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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Israel and the Creation of Hamas

Sukrit Sabhoolk, a reader of the Hawblog asked about Ron Paul's charge that Israel encrouraged the creation of Hamas as a counterweight to Yasser Arafat. Paul cited this as a classical example of "blockback" in foreign policy. Paul appears to be on firm ground in making the claim.

In lengthy article in 2002 for the UPI, Richard Sale discussed the history of the Israel/Hamas relationship. Here are some excerpts:

Israel "aided Hamas directly -- the Israelis wanted to use it as a counterbalance to the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization)," said Tony Cordesman, Middle East analyst for the Center for Strategic Studies.

Israel's support for Hamas "was a direct attempt to divide and dilute support for a strong, secular PLO by using a competing religious alternative," said a former senior CIA official.

According to documents United Press International obtained from the Israel-based Institute for Counter Terrorism, Hamas evolved from cells of the Muslim Brotherhood, founded in Egypt in 1928. Islamic movements in Israel and Palestine were "weak and dormant" until after the 1967 Six Day War in which Israel scored a stunning victory over its Arab enemies.


According to U.S. administration officials, funds for the movement came from the oil-producing states and directly and indirectly from Israel. The PLO was secular and leftist and promoted Palestinian nationalism. Hamas wanted to set up a transnational state under the rule of Islam, much like Khomeini's Iran.

What took Israeli leaders by surprise was the way the Islamic movements began to surge after the Iranian revolution, after armed resistance to Israel sprang up in southern Lebanon vis-�-vis the Hezbollah, backed by Iran, these sources said.

"Nothing provides the energy for imitation as much as success," commented one administration expert.....

But with the triumph of the Khomeini revolution in Iran, with the birth of Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorism in Lebanon, Hamas began to gain in strength in Gaza and then in the West Bank, relying on terror to resist the Israeli occupation.

Israel was certainly funding the group at that time. One U.S. intelligence source who asked not to be named said that not only was Hamas being funded as a "counterweight" to the PLO, Israeli aid had another purpose: "To help identify and channel towards Israeli agents Hamas members who were dangerous terrorists."

In addition, by infiltrating Hamas, Israeli informers could only listen to debates on policy and identify Hamas members who "were dangerous hard-liners," the official said.

In the end, as Hamas set up a very comprehensive counterintelligence system, many collaborators with Israel were weeded out and shot. Violent acts of terrorism became the central tenet, and Hamas, unlike the PLO, was unwilling to compromise in any way with Israel, refusing to acquiesce in its very existence.

But even then, some in Israel saw some benefits to be had in trying to continue to give Hamas support: "The thinking on the part of some of the right-wing Israeli establishment was that Hamas and the others, if they gained control, would refuse to have any part of the peace process and would torpedo any agreements put in place," said a U.S. government official who asked not to be named.

"Israel would still be the only democracy in the region for the United States to deal with," he said.

All of which disgusts some former U.S. intelligence officials.

"The thing wrong with so many Israeli operations is that they try to be too sexy," said former CIA official Vincent Cannestraro.

According to former State Department counter-terrorism official Larry Johnson, "the Israelis are their own worst enemies when it comes to fighting terrorism."

"The Israelis are like a guy who sets fire to his hair and then tries to put it out by hitting it with a hammer."

"They do more to incite and sustain terrorism than curb it," he said.

Aid to Hamas may have looked clever, "but it was hardly designed to help smooth the waters," he said. "An operation like that gives weight to President George Bush's remark about there being a crisis in education."

Cordesman said that a similar attempt by Egyptian intelligence to fund Egypt's fundamentalists had also come to grief because of "misreading of the complexities."

An Israeli defense official was asked if Israel had given aid to Hamas said, "I am not able to answer that question. I was in Lebanon commanding a unit at the time, besides it is not my field of interest."

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Bovard on the "Craven Response" of American Politicians on Gaza

Over at Antiwar.com, Jim Bovard condemns members of the American political class, including President Elect Obama, for their silence on the Gaza carnage:

The craven response by the American political class to the use of American planes and weapons to slaughter civilians is what any reasonable cynic should have expected. Obama is maintaining his silence - perhaps because there is little hay to be made from victims outside of Darfur.

This conflict may be even more ludicrous than the typical Mideast carnage. The New York Times, in a front page story headlined, “Israel Reminds Foe It Has Teeth,” noted, “Israel’s military operation in Gaza aims to expunge the ghost of its flawed 2006 war against Hezbollah in Lebanon and re-establish Israeli deterrence.”

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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Israel Attacks, Obama Says "No Comment"

As Israel attacks police stations throughout Gaza with our tax money, the President Elect has become uncharacteristically tongue tied.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Benjamin Netanyahu Praises Obama

First Max Boot, now this:

"President-elect Obama spoke to me about his view that Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons is unacceptable," Netanyahu told Reuters in a brief. "I say that what counts is the goal and the result that he envisions and the way that he achieves that goal is less important," said Netanyahu, a former prime minister.

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Friday, October 03, 2008

Palin/Biden Foreign Policy Positions.

Here is an excellent breakdown of the views of Palin and Biden on foreign policy from the indispensable antiwar.com

The first and only 2008 Vice President Debate is over, and between Governor Sarah Palin’s “shout out” to third-graders from a particular elementary school and imploring “Joe Six-packs” and “Hockey Moms” to band together or Senator Joe Biden’s quip about the “ultimate bridge to nowhere” and comments about how much time he spends at the Home Depot in Wilmington, Delaware the two actually spent quite a bit of time discussing their respective positions on foreign policy.

On Iraq

Republican nominee Sarah Palin insisted that “we have a good plan” in Iraq. She further declared that the success of the surge was “proven” and claimed incorrectly that American forces in Iraq were back down to pre-surge levels. She also praised General David Petraeus as a “great American hero,” and insisted that there was a plan in place for withdrawal.

Democratic nominee Joe Biden claimed that the deal presently being negotiated by President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki was essentially Senator Barack Obama’s plan. He also insisted that there needs to be a timeline for withdrawal from Iraq, which Gov. Palin condemned as “a white flag of surrender.”

Sen. Biden promised “we will end this war,” while Gov. Palin insisted that the US military commanders would be the ones who will tell the President when the war is finished. Gov. Palin also claimed “deep respect” for her opponent’s family and their service in Iraq. Her respect for Sen. Obama, however, she said was a different matter. Sen. Biden retorted that Senator John McCain had been “dead wrong” on the war in Iraq.

Sen. Biden also insisted his vote in favor of the use of force in Iraq was not really a vote in favor of war, to which Gov. Palin quipped that the Senator “was for it before he was against it.”

Later, the two clashed on whether the war in Iraq was the center of the war on terrorism. Sen. Biden predicted that any future attack against the homeland would come from Afghanistan or Pakistan, while Gov. Palin maintained that both Gen. Petraeus and al-Qaeda agree that Iraq is the real center of the conflict.

On Iran

Both candidates agreed that Iran could not be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons. Gov. Palin went the extra mile, declaring Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “not sane” and insisting that Iran couldn’t even be allowed a civilian nuclear energy program. She also attacked Sen. Obama for saying he would meet with Ahmadinejad without preconditions.

Sen. Biden denied the charge, insisting that Sen. Obama would not meet with the Iranian President without certain preconditions being met. He also claimed that Iran was not close to getting a usable nuclear weapon, however in a later comment he claimed the nation was drawing “closer to a bomb.”

On Pakistan

Both candidates likewise agreed that stability in Pakistan was a major concern. Sen. Biden went further in this declaration however, warning that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal was a threat to Israel and that a stable government needs to be established there to win the hearts and minds of the tribal area residents.

On Afghanistan

The two candidates clashed bitterly regarding a quote by General David McKiernan regarding whether or not “surge principles” in Afghanistan would be successful. Sen. Biden maintained correctly that Gen. McKiernan cautioned that an Iraq-style surge would not be successful in Afghanistan, while Gov. Palin insisted that the quotes in no way meant that an adaptation of “surge principles” to Afghanistan might not work.

Sen. Biden called for “more money” and “more troops” in Afghanistan, while Gov. Palin attacked Sen. Obama as “reckless” for pointing out that US forces had killed Afghan civilians in air raids.

On Israel

Both candidates declared their love for Israel, with Sen. Biden claiming to be “Israel’s best friend” in the United States Senate. Biden also condemned the Bush Administration’s policy on Israel as an “abject failure” and bragged that he and Sen. Obama had opposed the elections in the West Bank which brought Hamas to power. He also supported a call to place NATO troops in Lebanon to protect Israel from Hezbollah, and said the failure to do so had led to Hezbollah gaining a legitimate role in Lebanon’s government.

Gov. Palin, meanwhile, said that the US must take steps to assure Israel that it will never allow a “Second Holocaust,” which she accused Iran of plotting. She also praised Israel as a “peace-seeking nation” and cited their relationships with Jordan and Egypt as a successful track record of making peace with their neighbors.

On Sudan

Sen. Biden expressed his support for military intervention in Darfur, responding to a question about whether Americans would support it with “the American public has a stomach for success” and saying that “we should rally the world” to halt the genocide in Darfur. Gov. Palin gave a slightly more reserved “all options are on the table” comment with respect to the situation in Darfur, while trumpeting her efforts to divest the Alaska Permanent Fund from Sudanese investments.

On Bosnia

Sen. Biden used his support for US military intervention in Bosnia during the 1990s as an example of a successful US war he helped to start. He called himself a “catalyst for change” and termed the situation “genocide,” insisting that the Bosnian strategy “worked.” He also claimed that Bosnia and Kosovo have “relatively stable” governments.

On Nuclear Arms Control

Gov. Palin insisted that dictatorships which hate America for its tolerance mustn’t be allowed to possess nuclear weapons. In particular she mentioned Iran and North Korea. She said a nuclear attack would be “the end all be all” of too many people, and claimed that America’s nuclear arsenal was simply for deterrent purposes, which she termed a “safe, stable way to use nuclear weapons.”

Sen. Biden attacked Sen. McCain for opposing American participation in the test ban treaty, saying that the world needs a “nuclear arms control regime.”

What Was Missing:

Conspicuously absent from the debate was any substantive mentioning of Russia, the expansion of NATO, the war in Georgia, or the prospect of a new Cold War. Also unmentioned were the US role in the conflict in Somalia, the role of AFRICOM, or any foreign policy with respect to Venezuela, Colombia, or any other nation in South America.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Adventures in Iraqi Democracy

The Iraqis just won't get with the program. I think it is safe to say that the McCain-Palin campaign, the Weekly Standard, and the National Review will pretend this never happened:

Iraqi legislators said Sunday that parliament had voted to lift the immunity of a Sunni Arab lawmaker who visited Israel.

Alusi at the funeral of his two sons who were killed in an assassination attempt in Baghdad in 2005.

The parliament has also banned Mithal al-Alusi from traveling outside Iraq or attending parliamentary sessions, they said.

Sunday's punishment was confirmed by Osama al-Nujeif, a Sunni Arab lawmaker, and Haider al-Ibadi, a Shi'ite lawmaker.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Obama's Hawkish Speech on Iran/Israel Before AIPAC

Obama's sabre-rattling claims in this clip are debunked by running commentary from George Galloway who, ironically, is an Obama supporter.

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