“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Sunday, May 31, 2015

The US Surveillance State: The Orwellian named Freedom and Patriot Acts have nothing to do with either



  1. .

    There is an absorbing real life 'Mr. Smith Goes to Washington' story playing out right now on the Senate Floor, Paul versus McConnell, with most of the Senate opposed to Senator Paul (not that all that many seem to agree with McConnell).

    Naturally, I find Mr. Paul's views more compelling than those of McConnell's.


    1. This is a great opportunity for Rand Paul to get more name recognition/familiarity and he is doing his best to take advantage of it.

  2. None of us like Uncle Sam snooping around.

    Neither can anyone seem to unambiguously point to a terrorist attack prevented by it.

    Nor can anyone seem to name anyone that has been harmed by it.

    The data mining of phone calls is constitutional under some ruling or other. Your phone records are not protected.

    But recording your phone calls without a court order definitely is.....and that does not seem to have been done.

    There is a special court that handles such requests.........and probably rubber stamps most of them.

    I would like to know about this.

    1. I would like to know more about this court and its workings.

  3. Was just listening to Carly Fiorina on Fox.

    She is definitely a bright woman.

    I hope she she makes the ten person debate cut.

    There is something wrong with this ten person thing the Republicans have pulled out of the air.

    Perhaps they should have two debates, so everyone is included.

    But I suppose a line has to be draw somewhere.

    Dr. Ben Carson will make the cut.

    I hope Carly Fiorina does too.

    1. Perhaps only serious people should run for President.
      You know, they had to have been elected and served the complete term of some type of political office.
      Like dog catcher or maybe mayor of a city with over a million residents.

    2. That would rule you out even considering the least requirement you listed, being serious, much less having a responsible position like dog catcher.

    3. I admit I was beginning to harbor hope that you had finally been arrested.

      I'll check in and out when you aren't around.

      It was a wonderful respite.......

      Cheers !!


  4. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has vowed to force the expiration of the so-called PATRIOT Act on Sunday. Paul is right that it is unconstitutional and in this regard he is a better constitutional scholar than Barack Obama, whose stance on this issue is, to say the least, disappointing.
    Obama is not interested in the Fourth Amendment. PBS Frontline says that the National Security Agency didn’t even bother to read him into its massive domestic surveillance program until 2010, two years into his first term, and that when they did, he just sat there and nodded approval. You have to wonder if they are blackmailing him in some way, though there isn’t any reason think that. This kind of surveillance is corrosive of democracy, because we can never trust elected politicians on whom the super-spies might have dirt.

    The so-called PATRIOT Act was pushed as an anti-terrorism measure after 9/11, but it was never about terrorism. The bureaucrats and the GOP had clearly had such an assault on civil liberties and the US Constitution prepared in the 1990s. Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) once told me the story of how this 1100 page bill was dropped on all the congressmen and women late one afternoon and then they were expected to vote on it the next day. He doubted that anyone even read it. But the point is that the bill was off the shelf and ready to go. It was a preexisting conspiracy.

    Warrantless and general searches through people’s papers without probable cause was one of the sparks that set off the American Revolution. The Fourth Amendment was enacted to ensure that the abuses that occurred under the crown would not continue in the Republic. In 2001 the PATRIOT Act abrogated the Fourth Amendment.

    It used to say: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

    Section 213 of the unconstitutional Patriot Act allowed “sneak and peak” searches, where law enforcement did not even tell the suspect that his or her premises were being searched. Only 0.5 % of searches conducted with these secret warrants involved terrorism. Mostly, they have been used in the “war on drugs.” That “war” is, in turn, likely an attempt by liquor companies and pharmaceuticals to make pot and other recreational drugs expensive and hard to get, so as to cut down on competition.

    All that is not to mention Section 215, which has a secret interpretation inside the FBI that differs from that of the congressmen who authored the act and passed it. (Sen. Ron Wyden found out about this but was prevented by the PATRIOT Act from revealing it to the public!) We know from the Snowden revelations that this law and some executive orders are used to authorize absolutely outrageous warrantless snooping into the affairs of millions of Americans. If you know who someone calls and for how long, and where they are when they do it, you can figure out all sorts of things about him or her. Does she call an abortion clinic? Does he call a venture capitalist? Do public officials have any vices as revealed by their calls? Of course, the National Security Agency goes way beyond just collecting and storing Americans’ call records. With British help, it scoops up the text of emails and phone audio files, i.e. it gets substance and not just metadata. But the metadata would tell them a lot.

    We also now know that the metadata is shared with the Drug Enforcement Agency, which uses it to prosecute drug dealers but routinely lies to judges about how the case developed. While it is hard to sympathize with drug dealers, whenever law enforcement acts unconstitutionally and illegally, it harms us all.

    Juan Cole

  5. Sen John Wyden is doing a hell of a good job in his participation.

  6. There is no evidence that the mass collection of data claiming 54 terrorist attacks were thwarted was correct . On the original 54 claims, none was verified. Zero.

    All the money; All the records for zero results.

    1. I agree.

      There hasn't been an unambiguous certain instance of a "thwart".

      A "Quart Thwart" is a prevention of a low level fraud scheme, by the way.

      The word arose somewhere out in the vast suburbs surrounding the Detroit, Michigan area, in the USA.

  7. The post facto analysis of 911 data showed that the bulk data collection program of the NSA offered nothing unique that would have identified anything the government didn’t already have from other existing means.

  8. While we argue about spying on Americans, here is where our idiotic foreign policy is taking us:

    Iran has announced its readiness to cooperate with Russia, China and India on the issue of NATO’s missile shield and related threats from the military bloc, the head of its defense ministry said in Moscow.

    “I'd like to support the idea of developing multifaceted defense cooperation between China, Iran, India and Russia to counter NATO eastwards expansion and installing a missile shield in Europe,” Hossein Dehghan said on Thursday, at an international security conference in Moscow.

    Hours later Dehghan was cited by RIA Novosti as saying that Russia, China and Iran may hold tri-party defense talks.

    "We discussed certain aspects of regional security. It was proposed to hold a trilateral meeting of Russia, Iran and China," Dehghan said after meeting with Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu.

    Russia questions US, EU motives behind missile shield in Europe

    Despite a deal on Tehran’s nuclear program, the US is still going to site its missile defense installations in Europe. They are being deployed over a perceived threat from “nuclear Iran” – a pretext which Moscow called a “fairytale.”

    “The threat to NATO countries posed by the proliferation of ballistic missiles continues to increase… the framework [of the Iran nuclear program] agreement does not change that fact,” NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu told Sputnik.

    According to Russia, the controversial missile shield in Europe is staying because “the Missile Defense System was never about Iran.”

    “This serves as yet more proof that references to the ‘Iranian [missile] threat’ served as a smokescreen, whereas the genuine objective is the creation of an anti-missile program with quite a different purpose,” the Russian Foreign Ministry wrote.

    The US has for years insisted the missile defense system is needed for protection against potential missiles from rogue states, such as North Korea and Iran. Moscow strongly objected to new unilateral NATO military installations, citing national security threats. Russia proposed the creation of a joint system, but Washington rejected it.

  9. Instead of pretending Iran is a problem to the US, we should seize the opportunity to work with Iran to stop ISIS from getting a nuclear weapon. Isis will likely get one or two.

    They will use the possession to protect their ultimate territorial gains.

    Israel as always will be working against our real interests in Lebanon.

    1. That wasn't too long for you to bring up Israel..


    2. Was an extremely fast shuffle from Iran and ISIS over to Lebanon, to be sure.

      Not sure I followed it, but Hezbollah must be lovable fellows now too.

    3. Israel is impeding the fight against Isis. Its hatred against Iran and its past ability to twist the US gives it hope that Iran will somehow disappear. Israel has miscalculated and believes that stirring a war in Lebanon against Hezbollah will break any treaty between the US and Iran.

    4. I would choose detente with Iran over our toxic, no benefit, unlimited liability relationship with a far right wing Israel. I ask a simple question. Where is the tangible benefit of Israel to the US? It doesn’t exist.

    5. The Israeli Liability mounts:

      However, during the third and most intense period of the special relationship, the costs to the United States began to mount. The third stage was inaugurated by the Soviet Union’s collapse and withdrawal from active engagement in the region. Without Moscow to counter, America could act unilaterally in the region without fear of a larger confrontation. The collapse of Soviet power left both Israel and the United States relatively much stronger. More ambitious ideas of how to shape the region made their way from Israel to Washington. This proved to be a very mixed blessing.

      These new costs were hardly visible in the 1990s. A hint of what was to come arrived with a shock, in the form of the 9/11 terror attacks. Part of the bill for the Iraq war can be attributed to Israel, as can the cost still to be determined of a possible confrontation with Iran. Finally, there is the cost to America’s domestic tranquility, both the loss of freedom that is a consequence of becoming a terror target and the rise of bigotry associated with Islamophobia. Perhaps ironically, as the costs rose, American politicians became more fervent than ever in expressing their devotion to Israel and the special relationship.

      The initial post-Cold War test of Israel as a strategic asset came in 1991, during the first Iraq war. As a regional ally, Israel proved worse than useless. Washington had to beg Tel Aviv not to attack Iraq, because Israeli involvement would have torpedoed the coalition President George H. W. Bush was building against Saddam Hussein. The United States diverted Patriot missile batteries to Israel to keep it on the sidelines, leaving its own forces more vulnerable. Some of Israel’s closest friends acknowledged as much. Bernard Lewis, the prominent Middle East historian and Israel supporter, wrote, “Whatever value Israel might have had as a strategic asset, that value obviously ended when the Cold War came to a close.”10

    6. By the mid-nineties, however, Israel and its American boosters were seeking new rationales for the special relationship. Even in the first optimistic years of the Oslo peace process, Israeli Labor party politicians had begun to talk up “the clash of civilizations” and the threat Iran posed to the “equilibrium” between Islam and the West. The Clinton administration initiated a policy of “Dual Containment,” seeking to isolate Iran as well as Saddam’s Iraq, which was “influenced and stimulated” by Israeli thinking.11

      When Benjamin Netanyahu was chosen as Israel’s prime minister in 1996, a handful of prominent American neoconservatives prepared for him a policy document entitled, “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm.” The authors, several of whom would obtain influential posts in the George W. Bush administration, recommended an aggressive stance towards Syria, confrontation with Arafat, an effort to “wean” the Lebanese Shia away from Hezbollah, and the removal of Saddam Hussein from power. In his recent book Israel and the Clash of Civilizations, Jonathan Cook traces these recommendations to themes worked up by several right-wing Israeli strategists in the 1980s. The Israelis were proposing that Jerusalem cement its status as the Mideast’s dominant power by fomenting sectarian and ethnic strife in the surrounding states. As Oded Yinon, an Israeli journalist and former senior Foreign Ministry official, put it in a 1982 essay,

      The total disintegration of Lebanon into five regional localized governments is the precedent for the entire Arab world including Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and the Arab peninsula, in a similar fashion. The dissolution of Egypt and later Iraq into districts of ethnic and religious minorities following the example of Lebanon is the main long-range objective of Israel on the Eastern Front. . . [I]n the long run the strength of Iraq is the biggest danger to Israel. . . Iraq can be divided on regional and sectarian lines just like Syria in the Ottoman era. There will be three states in the three major cities.12
      Cook contends that strategists such as Yinon did not simply sell their vision to the neoconservatives and seek its implementation. The neocons interpreted these strategies as not only good for Israel, but good for America. Israel’s regional dominance and America’s control of oil could be assured through the same means, the fomenting of chaos in the Middle East and the break-up of its large states. Shortly after A Clean Break was published, its authors wrote another paper, predicting that, after Saddam Hussein was deposed, Iraq “would be ripped apart by the politics of warlords, thieves, clans, sects and key families.”13 Of the three authors who made this prediction, David Wurmser would four years later become Vice President Cheney’s top Middle East adviser, Douglas Feith would be Paul Wolfowitz’s chief deputy at the Pentagon, and Richard Perle would chair the president’s intelligence advisory board. Cook contends that these men understood full well that Saddam’s ouster would cause Iraq to collapse, and that chaos was not an accidental or unanticipated result of the invasion, but the intended one.

    7. Jonathan Cook’s argument is obviously not conclusive. However, as an examination of a public record, where ideas emerging from both Israeli and neoconservative discourse reflect and build on one another over time, it is extremely suggestive. It helps to explain the seemingly inexplicable: the American decision to allow Iraq to fall into chaos after the invasion.


      Counting in a more comprehensive manner, the price the United States pays for the special relationship with Israel has become one of across-the-board friction with much of the Muslim world, friction that would be greatly attenuated without the special relationship and might not exist at all. Whereas in the Soviet Union, the United States had one strategic enemy in a relatively stable contest for global dominance, it now faces opponents on many fronts. None possesses more than a fraction of America’s military strength, and none possesses nuclear weapons. But collectively, the conflict with Islam, now considered a given by Israel and Israel’s friends in America, exacts a substantial price in American blood, treasure and overall well-being.

      First, there is the price of terrorism. American backing of Israel has been a major, if not the sole, factor in making the United States a target of Muslim terrorists. This is invariably what such terrorists say, whether in custody or at liberty, and no one has explained plausibly why they would misrepresent their motivations. Ramzi Yousef, mastermind of the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, mailed a letter to several New York newspapers demanding that the United States cut off aid to Israel. After his arrest, he told agents that he felt guilt over American civilian deaths but his desire to stop the killing of Arabs by Israeli troops was stronger. Osama bin Laden began inserting references to Palestine into his public statements in 1994. The 9/11 Commission Report notes that Bin Laden tried to move up the date of the attack to tie it more directly to Ariel Sharon’s provocative visit to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem (site of the al-Aqsa mosque) accompanied by hundreds of heavily armed riot police. The commission also noted that Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, the principal architect of the 9/11 attack, was motivated primarily by U.S. support of Israel. He claimed the purpose of the attacks was to focus the “American people on the atrocities America is committing by supporting Israel against the Palestinian people.” Of course, the percentage of Muslims who have been moved to carry out terrorist attacks is miniscule. But America’s prestige in the Middle East is abysmally low, and Arabs and Muslims consistently hold America’s position on Palestine responsible. According to the University of Maryland’s Shibley Telhami, a long-time student of public opinion in the Muslim world, “No other issue resonates with the public in the Arab world, and many other parts of the Muslim world, more deeply than Palestine. No other issue shapes the regional perception of America more fundamentally than the issue of Palestine.”14

    9. Prominent commentators like Robert Satloff, director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, acknowledge such sentiments while dismissing their importance. In a recent debate with Chas W. Freeman, Jr., at the Nixon Center, Satloff scoffed at Arab “harangues,” which, he said, don’t match up to “Arab actions.” The oil flows freely. Arab governments will support U.S. policies in the region anyway. Satloff’s comments are a window into the dominant sensibility of contemporary Washington. They are voiced without fear of ridicule, the instant response that would have greeted a claim that the political feelings of Czechs or Poles or Chinese or anyone else living under politically unfree conditions could be discounted as inconsequential.15

      In its third stage, the Israel alliance has drawn the United States into the Middle East in a particularly violent way. Over the last decade, cities in Iraq, Lebanon and Gaza have been ripped apart by U.S. weaponry. While America’s freely elected leaders bear the ultimate responsibility for the decision to invade Iraq, it should not be forgotten that Israeli officials were pressing for the invasion every step of the way, giving speeches before Congress, writing op-eds, appearing on television.

      Let us note some of these urgings, which are but a fraction of those documented in Mearsheimer’s and Walt’s The Israel Lobby. Netanyahu warned Washington Post editors of Saddam’s supposed nuclear-weapons program in April 2002, and Sharon’s spokesman Raanan Gissen touted the Saddam nuclear threat a week later. The following month, Shimon Peres said on CNN that Saddam was as “dangerous as Bin Laden” and told Americans they “cannot sit and wait.” Later that spring, Ehud Barak warned Washington Post readers to remove Saddam “first of all,” and in August, Sharon told the Knesset that Saddam was “the greatest danger facing Israel.” When Vice President Cheney kicked off the go-to-war campaign in August of that year, many newspapers reported that Israel was urging America not to delay. Peres repeated the “don’t delay” message on CNN later that month.

      Meanwhile, American networks reported that “Israeli intelligence” was warning that Saddam was “speeding up” his WMD programs. In the run-up to the war, Prime Minister Sharon stated, “Strategic coordination between Israel and the U.S. has reached unprecedented dimensions.” In September, Barak told New York Times readers that the United States needed to hurry up with the war, adding, “I believe I speak for the overwhelming majority of Israelis in supporting a pre-emptive strike against Saddam’s regime.” In the winter of 2003, the press was full of reports of Israeli concern that diplomacy might delay the attacks. While mass antiwar protests broke out across Europe, there were none in Israel, where 77.5 percent of Israeli Jews said they wanted the United States to invade Iraq. The Israeli columnist Gideon Levy concluded, “Israel is the only country in the West whose leaders support the war unreservedly and where no alternative opinion is voiced.”16

    10. The Israeli support for the war would not, in itself, be decisive in pushing the president to order the attack, but deference to Israeli sensibilities is what is unique about the special relationship. When Israelis talk, Americans listen. When Israelis want to circulate their views, they have an access to the opinion pages of elite newspapers and slots on network news shows that leaders of no other foreign country can dream of. Several of America’s European and Arab allies objected cogently and clearly to the idea of attacking Iraq. If Israeli leaders had voiced similar sentiments, it is inconceivable the invasion would have taken place.

      Of course, there turned out to be no Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, and the invasion of Iraq is now widely considered the most costly foreign-policy blunder in America’s history. In its wake, Israelis and American friends of that country have worked overtime to rewrite history and absolve Israel of any responsibility for the disaster. Making an argument that would have hundreds of imitators in media platforms throughout the United States, the editor of The Jerusalem Post wrote about “the false notion that Israel encouraged the U.S. to fight the Iraq war.” Martin Kramer now claims that, time and again, Israel disagreed with the United States, always believing that Iran was the greater threat. It is now repeated incessantly that the connection of Israel to the Iraq war is a “canard” with no factual basis. But, even if it were likely that Israel preferred the United States to attack Iran, Israeli leaders lobbied energetically for a war against Iraq. The weak Saddam regime was low-hanging fruit, after all.

    11. Today Iran is Israel’s preferred target, and Americans are witnessing an energetic campaign on the part of Israeli officials and Israel’s American backers to instigate an attack on that country.

      This marks an interesting turnabout. A top selling point of the special relationship has long been that Israel did not need U.S. troops to fight on its behalf. Provided with America’s best weapons, Israel could take care of its own defense needs. Now that doctrine, implicitly abandoned with the Israeli campaign for an American war on Iraq, has been tossed out the window. While Israel rattles sabers at Iran, everyone understands that it doesn’t have the capacity to destroy Iran’s nuclear program by itself. Hence it is calling on its only real ally, the United States, to do the job.

      Polls indicate that Americans remain reluctant to fight Iran over any cause other than an Iranian attack on U.S. forces. Even fears of Iranian development of a nuclear weapon haven’t produced the desired war fervor. Nuclear deterrence, after all, worked with Mao’s China, once considered the archetype of an “irrational oriental” regime. Hence the campaign against Iran includes not only depiction of the Teheran government as noxious and repressive (which is indisputable) but an irrational “apocalyptic cult” or “martyr state” ready to pursue its foreign-policy goals with “messianic fervor.” Several of these articles contain seemingly scholarly references to a Shiite longing for the return of the “Hidden Imam,” an element of Muslim theology that allegedly renders its adherents impervious to reasonable cost-benefit calculation. The point is that if Iran managed to develop one or two nuclear weapons, they wouldn’t use them to deter an attack on themselves, but would immediately strike Israel. Their messianic ideology makes Iranian leaders ready to sacrifice one half of their population, Israeli “experts” are said to believe.


      The article is so correct, it will generate immediate hysteria from our two Israeli-firsters

    13. Andrew Grotto has examined some of the scholarship that underlies these claims as an analyst at the Center for American Progress. His findings are instructive. The articles claiming a religious basis for the Iranian desire for apocalyptic martyrdom frequently cite one another in a kind of circular footnoting that gives the impression of serious scholarship. One oft-cited source for the wilder claims about Iran as a “martyr state” is an essay by Shimon Shapira and Daniel Diker published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Grotto found that the two authors either misinterpreted or misrepresented the conclusions of the scholars they cite on Shiite theology and its role within the internal politics of Iran’s government in order to create a more menacing or “irrational” picture of Iran than their sources actually depicted. Another frequent source for the wilder claims about Iran is a work by an MEK member (an anti-Iranian-regime group labeled terrorist by the U.S. State Department) and an unnamed “Israeli Ministry of Defense analyst.”17

      There is more sophisticated Israeli scholarship about Iran, though perhaps less than one would expect from Israel’s robust university system. Columbia University Professor Richard Bulliet visited Israel for three weeks last spring, helping to evaluate the country’s Middle East Studies programs: “To my recollection,” Bulliet told a Columbia audience in October, “there were five professors who were specialists on Iran.” Bulliet named one, Ben Gurion University’s Haggai Ram, author of Iranophobia: The Logic of an Israeli Obsession. He added that none of the five believed Iran was an imminent threat: “Not a single one of them was a hawk on Iran.”18

      Nevertheless, that is not the view Americans are receiving. Instead, such prestigious publications as The Atlantic Monthly, The Washington Post and The New Republic are helping to disseminate a tendentious misrepresentation of Shiite theology shared by neither Israeli nor Western experts. The misrepresentations then bounce around the American media echo chamber, acquiring the status of received wisdom. Iran’s so-called “martyr complex” makes a preemptive attack seem almost prudent. Precisely as in the run-up to the Iraq War, an element of right-wing Israeli discourse has managed to carve for itself a privileged spot in the American political dialogue.

    14. What began as a struggle between Zionist settlers and Palestinian Arabs became in 1948 a conflict between Israel and the neighboring Arab states. It has now been transformed into a battle between Israel and the larger Muslim world. The surrounding Arab states now pose no serious military challenge to Israel. Iraq has been shattered and may not recover for a generation. Iran, long an ally of Israel, is now a foe. So, apparently, is Turkey. Turkish leaders, long allied with Israel and the United States, have expressed public solidarity with the Palestinians in Gaza. Almost instantly, Israel’s friends in the Congress have turned against Ankara, though they are not yet suggesting war. One important consequence of a “special relationship” with Israel is that Israel will work to ensure that its enemies become enemies of the United States. To the extent it succeeds, the United States will have fewer friends and more enemies.

      Finally, we must consider another cost, one not easily measured in terms of blood and treasure. It is hard to miss that anti-Muslim bigotry is becoming embedded in American political culture, and Israel and its supporters are playing a substantial role in generating it. Some rise in anti-Muslim sentiment may have been inevitable after 9/11, as U.S. troops became engaged in fighting two insurgencies in Muslim countries. But bigotry has not had a mainstream sanction in the United States since the civil-rights movement. There was relatively little domestic anti-Asian racism during the Vietnam War, and attacks against Muslims in the United States after 9/11 were few and invariably the work of marginal figures. That is no longer the case.

      The controversy over the Park 51 Islamic cultural center, the so-called “Ground Zero mosque,” signals that anti-Muslim bigotry has been mainstreamed. The American political environment now contains several well-funded institutions devoted to painting everything having to do with Islam in the worst possible light. As Matt Duss put it recently in Forward, “Groups like The Israel Project, the Middle East Media Research Institution, and Middle East Forum seem to exist for no other reason than to spotlight the very worst aspects of Muslim societies.” It is no longer surprising to see racist language in elite journals such as Martin Peretz’s The New Republic, or from Harvard’s Martin Kramer. It comes from conservatives like the prominent Republican Newt Gingrich, and from liberals like Alan Dershowitz. Much of it is purely Zionist in motivation: as Israel has come to be seen as less likeable to Americans, one response has been to blacken the reputation of the Palestinians and Arabs who challenge it. As Duss puts it, “Smearing Islam is seen as a legitimate expression of Zionism.”19

    15. It remains American conventional wisdom that Israel is a major ally and a strategic asset. This is quite different from seeing a moral justification for the creation of Israel or admiring the country’s considerable economic, scholarly, technological and artistic accomplishments, a view which I share. But unlike that idea, the notion that the United States benefits from Israel seems extraordinarily far-fetched. What is in the special relationship for Americans? It is obvious what is in it for Israel. First, large amounts of foreign aid, though Israel is by any standard a rich country. Second, privileged access to the arsenals of the most advanced armed forces in the world. Third, the support of American diplomacy, to spare Israel from the brunt of international condemnation or sanctions for its actions. In return, the United States receives, principally, the enmity of Israel’s seemingly ever-expanding circle of foes, a small percentage of whom resort to terrorism. And, as an added bargain, it gets a powerful domestic lobby that now pursues as its main activity the incitement of wars between the United States and Israel’s enemies.

      Some of the minor, but far from trivial, milestones of the relationship — the Lavon Affair, the sinking of the USS Liberty, the Jonathan Pollard case — make it evident that Israeli leaders do not regard the United States as an ally at all. The affection implicit in the special relationship flows in one direction only.

      The Washington Post reported recently on a poll of CIA officers. They ranked Israel dead last among allies for intelligence cooperation with the United States. The same story noted that American counterintelligence officials, pointing to aggressive Israeli spy operations on U.S soil, ranked only Russia and China as more serious intelligence threats.

    16. NO EXIT

      So why does the United States stay in the relationship? Surely domestic politics accounts for a good deal of the explanation. But there is another, strategic, reason that is seldom mentioned publicly. It was expounded clearly by Ariel Roth, a professor at Johns Hopkins University and an Israeli army veteran. In an essay in International Studies Perspectives, Roth argued that the key U.S. interest in the Middle East is stability and unfettered access to the region’s oil. This is indisputable; it is the point James Forrestal made to President Truman more than 60 years ago. And what is the greatest threat to stability? Well, says Roth, it is Israel itself. Because of its unique history and the heavy weight of the Holocaust in the consciousness of Israeli leaders, Israel is uniquely terrified of being “alone” in the international arena. As a result, any suspicion on the part of its leaders that the United States is backing away from it might incite Israel to behave more aggressively than it already does. Those who decry the special relationship “are blinded to how Israel’s sense of vulnerability causes. . . behaviors that have the potential to undermine American interests.” Israel needs constant “reassurance” that it “does not stand alone.” Supporting Israel through “constant affirmation” and generous arms shipments is the best way to pursue American interests “without the fear of a panicked and unrestrained Israel bringing a cataclysm to the Middle East.”20

      This claim is at once alarming and compelling. Roth is asserting that the principal ally of the United States in the twenty-first century — its main source of strategic advice, the nation whose leaders have an unequaled access to American political leadership — is not a rational actor. The United States is in the position of a wife whose spouse is acting erratically. A “panicked and unrestrained Israel,” armed with an estimated 200 nuclear weapons, could do an extraordinary amount of damage. The only conclusion one can draw is that the special relationship would now be very difficult to exit, even if Israel had no clout whatsoever within the American political system, even if the United States desired emphatically to pursue a more independent course.

    17. I submit that this argument has long been internalized by those U.S. officials who recognize that the special relationship brings the United States far more trouble than benefits.

      It is the principal reason no major American figure has ever advocated simply walking away from Israel. Even those who argue that America should make its aid conditional on a more forthcoming Israeli attitude towards peace with the Arabs invariably recommend that the necessary Israeli territorial withdrawals be rewarded by iron-clad American defense guarantees and other sweeteners. Most intelligent people understand there is something uniquely evil about the Holocaust and the circumstances under which Israel came into existence, even as they are uneasy with the current special relationship. For those who recommend a U.S. security guarantee following a peace settlement, the overture made by the Arab League — offering full recognition and normalized relations with an Israel that relinquished its 1967 conquests and allowed a viable Palestinian state — is a development of enormous promise. Regrettably Israel has ignored this opening.

      Can the costs of America’s special relationship with Israel be quantified? Is it, as A.F.K. Organski put it in his 1990 book, the “$36 billion dollar bargain?” That figure, derived from military and financial assistance to Israel form 1951 to 1983, led Organski to conclude, not surprisingly, that Israel’s net value as a Cold War ally is blindingly obvious. Or is the figure closer to $3 trillion, as economist Thomas Stauffer estimated after factoring in the rise in the price of oil, the financial assistance to neighboring states, the cost of the agreements to guarantee Israel’s oil supplies and myriad other factors?21 I believe the answer is nearer to Stauffer’s figures, but it is plainly a judgment call. The essence of the relationship is not its dollar cost, but the fact that the United States has come to perceive its interests in the Middle East through Israel’s eyes. This is what renders it special. One can debate how important Israel was in encouraging the United States to invade Iraq, but there is no doubt that, if Israel had opposed the invasion, no American politician would have supported it. The same can be said about the possibility of an attack on Iran.

    18. This is also the case with the outbreak of Islamophobia in the United States. The editor of a major liberal magazine — a high-profile intellectual — has written that he doesn’t feel First Amendment protections should apply to Muslims. Would Martin Peretz have arrived at this independently of his feelings for Israel?

      It would be hard to find a knowledgeable person who believes so. Peretz is hardly alone. Thus, one can likely chalk up a portion of America’s retreat from its own liberal principles to Israel.

      In the coming years, as the prospect of a two-state solution disappears, it is likely that Israel will continue its inexorable march toward becoming a state between the Jordan River and the sea, with one set of laws for Jews, who will have the rights of citizens, and another for Arabs, who will be denied full citizenship. What will it cost America’s broader relationship with the Muslim world to maintain a special bond with a state based on this kind of ethnic discrimination? That also would be difficult to quantify. And yet this scenario may be impossible to escape. The threat of Israel’s turning itself into a nuclear-armed desperado striking at will at the oil states in the Gulf cannot, alas, be entirely dismissed. That may be, as Ariel Roth argues, a compelling reason to maintain the special relationship pretty much unchanged.

      If this is what the future holds, it would make the “wise men” who advised Roosevelt and Truman in the post-war era — the top officials in the Pentagon, the State Department and the CIA who opposed American support for the Zionist project — seem not overly pessimistic so much as woefully limited in their imaginations.

    19. Dr. McConnell is a founding editor of The American Conservative. He is a former editorial page editor of The New York Post, and has written for Fortune, The New Criterion, National Review, Commentary and many other publications.

      1 Camille Mansour, Beyond Alliance: Israel and U.S. Foreign Policy (Columbia University Press, 1994), p. 82.

      2 Christopher Hitchens, Blood, Class and Empire: The Enduring Anglo-American Relationship (Nation Books, 2004), p. 5.

      3 Mansour, op. cit., p. 8.

      4 Peter Grose, Israel in the Mind of America (Alfred A Knopf, 1983), pp. 232-276 passim. CIA estimates in Thomas Lippman, “The CIA and the Partition of Palestine,” Middle East Journal, Winter 2007, Vol. 61.

      5 John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007), p. 54; for the Lavon affair, see Avi Shlaim, The Iron Wall (W.W. Norton, 2001), pp. 111-12.

      6 A.F. K. Organski, The 36 Billion Dollar Bargain: Strategy and Politics in U.S. Assistance to Israel (Columbia University Press, 1990), p. 27.

      7 Martin Kramer, “The American Interest,” Azure, Fall 2006.

      8 Mearsheimer and Walt, op. cit., p. 57.

      9 Mansour, op. cit., pp. 221-223.

      10 Mearsheimer and Walt, op. cit., p. 58.

      11 Trita Parsi, Treacherous Alliance, The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the United States (Yale University Press, 2007).

      12 Jonathan Cook, Israel and the Clash of Civilizations, (Pluto Press, 2008), pp. 109-10.

      13 Ibid, p. 133.

      14 Mearsheimer and Walt, op. cit., pp. 65-69; Khalid Mohammad quote from Ambassador Chas W. Freeman, Jr., “Israel: Asset or Liability?” Nixon Center debate, July 20, 2010, at

      15 Robert Satloff, “Israel: Asset or Liability?” Nixon Center debate, July 20, 2010, op. cit.

      16 Mearsheimer and Walt, op. cit. pp. 233-238.

      17 Andrew Grotto, “Is Iran a Martyr State?” Brown Journal of World Affairs, Fall/Winter 2009.

      18 Ali Gharib, “What Does Israel Know about Iran Anyway?”,

      19 Matt Duss, “Some Zionists Groups Stoke Fear of Islam for Political Profit,” Forward, October 1, 2010,

      20 Ariel Roth, “Reassurance: A Strategic Basis of U.S. Support for Israel,” International Studies Perspectives, Vol. 10, No. 4, November 2009.

      21 Thomas R. Stauffer, “The Cost of Conflict in the Middle East, 1956-2002: What the U.S. Has Spent,” Middle East Policy, Vol. 10, No. 1, Spring 2003.

    20. Israel is and will remain a terrible burden until the American people say, ENOUGH.

      Now, counter the points. Good Luck.

    21. The Most damning part of the argument is the one that I make:

      It remains American conventional wisdom that Israel is a major ally and a strategic asset. This is quite different from seeing a moral justification for the creation of Israel or admiring the country’s considerable economic, scholarly, technological and artistic accomplishments, a view which I share. But unlike that idea, the notion that the United States benefits from Israel seems extraordinarily far-fetched. What is in the special relationship for Americans? It is obvious what is in it for Israel. First, large amounts of foreign aid, though Israel is by any standard a rich country. Second, privileged access to the arsenals of the most advanced armed forces in the world. Third, the support of American diplomacy, to spare Israel from the brunt of international condemnation or sanctions for its actions. In return, the United States receives, principally, the enmity of Israel’s seemingly ever-expanding circle of foes, a small percentage of whom resort to terrorism. And, as an added bargain, it gets a powerful domestic lobby that now pursues as its main activity the incitement of wars between the United States and Israel’s enemies.

    22. One hell of a deal from the Israeli Firsters.

    23. We would not have ever needed a Patriot’s Act or Freedom Act except for the toxic political dump provided by our Congress and our Special Friend.

    24. It is odd, indeed.

      What I recall about that time with regard to Israel is an Israeli General warning us that 'you might look back and long for the days of Saddam' - other warnings were current at the time and the Israelis were divided on the issue.

      And thinking about it, why in the world would Israel favor an endeavor that might result finally in a "Greater Iran" ?

      Even I remember wondering about that, and I'm no geo-political genius. After Saddam, the Iraqi Shia rule, Iran is Shia, hence....

      I think this Cook guy is crazy like so many you quote.

      You are certainly pulling out all your cards - Pollard, Lavon Affair, USS Liberty, the dreadful Yinon Plan, Israeli spying and oh so much more !

      The New Greg Gutfeld Show is on - not a ripping success but not a failure either.

      But at least it is something new.

    25. You really eat drink sleep and dream this stuff, Deuce.

      Such monomania used to be called, back in the 60's, a 'hangup'.

      I don't know what the term is these days.

      We are having a ripping lightning and rain storm out this way. I love storms.

    26. Why not turn your attention to this, and provide the desires product -

      Wanted: A Theology of Atheism

      MAY 30, 2015

      Molly Worthen

      CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — ONE Sunday last month, I walked into an auditorium past greeters and a table loaded with coffee, fruit and cookies. Onstage two young men tuned their guitars. A blank screen hung down, a silent signal that not knowing the words would be no excuse for not singing along. But this was no typical church service.

      I’d come for Sunday Assembly, a godless alternative to church founded in London in 2013........

      You've got the required 'belief' system, the time, and the world is never short of Jew bashing.

      A theology of atheism is desperately needed. Fame and fortune call.

    27. And here is your corresponding cosmology, ready to hand -

      >>>So if you are worried about paying back tuition loans or mortgages, take heart. You may try to negotiate pacing them out over the lifespan of the universe, and let your slow-thinking AI descendants try to figure out how to make the final payments. Just make sure that the interest rate doesn’t keep pace with cosmic growth.<<<

      Learning to Chill

      What would intelligent life look like in the frigid, final era of the Universe?

      Cursed be “entropy".

      Thankfully Robert Frost had happier thoughts in West Running Brook.


    28. West Running Brook
      by Robert Frost

      'Fred, where is north?'

      'North? North is there, my love.
      The brook runs west.'

      'West-running Brook then call it.'
      (West-Running Brook men call it to this day.)
      'What does it think k's doing running west
      When all the other country brooks flow east
      To reach the ocean? It must be the brook
      Can trust itself to go by contraries
      The way I can with you -- and you with me --
      Because we're -- we're -- I don't know what we are.
      What are we?'

      'Young or new?'

      'We must be something.
      We've said we two. Let's change that to we three.
      As you and I are married to each other,
      We'll both be married to the brook. We'll build
      Our bridge across it, and the bridge shall be
      Our arm thrown over it asleep beside it.
      Look, look, it's waving to us with a wave
      To let us know it hears me.'

      ' 'Why, my dear,
      That wave's been standing off this jut of shore --'
      (The black stream, catching a sunken rock,
      Flung backward on itself in one white wave,
      And the white water rode the black forever,
      Not gaining but not losing, like a bird
      White feathers from the struggle of whose breast
      Flecked the dark stream and flecked the darker pool
      Below the point, and were at last driven wrinkled
      In a white scarf against the far shore alders.)
      'That wave's been standing off this jut of shore
      Ever since rivers, I was going to say,'
      Were made in heaven. It wasn't waved to us.'

      'It wasn't, yet it was. If not to you
      It was to me -- in an annunciation.'

      'Oh, if you take it off to lady-land,
      As't were the country of the Amazons
      We men must see you to the confines of
      And leave you there, ourselves forbid to enter,-
      It is your brook! I have no more to say.'

      'Yes, you have, too. Go on. You thought of something.'

      'Speaking of contraries, see how the brook
      In that white wave runs counter to itself.
      It is from that in water we were from
      Long, long before we were from any creature.
      Here we, in our impatience of the steps,
      Get back to the beginning of beginnings,
      The stream of everything that runs away.
      Some say existence like a Pirouot
      And Pirouette, forever in one place,
      Stands still and dances, but it runs away,
      It seriously, sadly, runs away
      To fill the abyss' void with emptiness.
      It flows beside us in this water brook,
      But it flows over us. It flows between us
      To separate us for a panic moment.
      It flows between us, over us, and with us.
      And it is time, strength, tone, light, life and love-
      And even substance lapsing unsubstantial;
      The universal cataract of death
      That spends to nothingness -- and unresisted,
      Save by some strange resistance in itself,
      Not just a swerving, but a throwing back,
      As if regret were in it and were sacred.
      It has this throwing backward on itself
      So that the fall of most of it is always
      Raising a little, sending up a little.
      Our life runs down in sending up the clock.
      The brook runs down in sending up our life.
      The sun runs down in sending up the brook.
      And there is something sending up the sun.
      It is this backward motion toward the source,
      Against the stream, that most we see ourselves in,
      The tribute of the current to the source.
      It is from this in nature we are from.
      It is most us.'

      'To-day will be the day....You said so.'

      'No, to-day will be the day
      You said the brook was called West-running Brook.'
      'To-day will be the day of what we both said.

    29. We recall the early depictions of the Buddha with the swastika counter clock wise, meditating backwards against the flow, to the Source.

      This is all 'old hat' to someone like my Niece.

  10. Any missile defense system is a fraud. There is only one tried and true missile defense system and that is having a nuclear deterrent. No country is willing to take the nuclear risk by striking with a nuclear weapon at a foe also armed with nuclear weapons. There are too many other means to make a nuclear attack with something other than a missile.

  11. Has India dropped out of this devil's bargain, hence the 'tri-party' talks ?

    One fool proof way of making certain another country does not attack with nuclear weapons is making certain that country doesn't have nuclear weapons in the first place, but this ain't gonna happen now.

    So I hope Deuce's deterrence theory works with madmen as well as with the sane.

    If ISIS should get a nuke, don't count on it.

    Question of the Day:

    Which outlook is the more crazy, that of:

    A) Iran
    B) ISIS

  12. Under the Hood
    Only In Dreams: Racial And Sexist Prejudices Are Reversed During Sleep Using Counter-Bias Exercise

    I assume political prejudices are equally vulnerable.

    Study: Prejudice can be unlearned by hypnotic suggestion during sleep

    Calling all Hypnotists and Counter-Bias Experts !

    Calling all Hypnotists and Counter-Bias Experts ! !

    Quirk, Quirk, please respond. You are desperately needed. I remember your work at the Quirkian Counter-Bias Center.

    1. Formally known as:

      The Quirkian Hypnotic Suggestion and Counter-Bias Center, LLC, Detroit, Michigan