This piece was initially published at LobeLog. Please check it out, as it’s an indispensable source for foreign policy news and analysis. You won’t regret it!
The annual Israel-Congress orgy dubbed as the AIPAC Policy Conference kicked off today. It might just as well be called the War on Iran conference — that’s sure to be the
President Obama speaking at a previous AIPAC conference, He won’t be there this year.
issue that dominates the proceedings. The US-Israel relationship is taking the second spot. And the Palestinians? More than ever before, they will be invisible.
There are a few sessions at the conference that deal with Israel’s occupation of the West Bank in very general terms. But Iran will be the focus, as evidenced by related bills which AIPAC had some of its most loyal members of Congress introduce in advance of their lobbying day. Those bills work to give Israel a green light to attack Iran if it feels the need to and puts the “special relationship” between the US and Israel on paper.
Last week a Senate resolution was introduced by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ). The two senators are widely known as AIPAC favorites and have led bipartisan actions like this in the past, working with AIPAC quite closely to develop legislation favorable to the lobbying organization. The resolution states that if Israel decides to launch a pre-emptive strike on Iran to prevent Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapon, this would be considered an act of self-defense and that “…the United States Government should stand with Israel and provide diplomatic, military, and economic support to the Government of Israel…”
The bill is a “sense of Congress” resolution, so it is not binding; hence the word “should” rather than “will” is used. Still, it is a very clear expression that the Senate expects and desires that President Obama provide a full range of support to Israel in the event of an Israeli attack on Iran. It certainly sends a signal to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he will have Congress behind him if Obama tries to restrain Israel from taking such a step. While the bill’s wording clarifies that it should not be understood as a declaration of war in the event of an Israeli attack, a commitment to military support of Israel in the event of a purely Israeli decision to attack Iran could well amount to the same thing. Continue reading
This week at Souciant, I look at the Chuck Hagel fiasco. The unabashed GOP plan to obstruct the entire US government in order to prevent Obama from doing, well, much of anything reaches new heights this week. The “Party of NO” is holding up Hagel’s confirmation, which even they say is still going to happen, for ephemeral reasons (the request for more information on Benghazi which was already furnished to even John McCain’s stated satisfaction), petty political ones and larger political aims. And what’s the role of the Israel Lobby in all of this? Not what some think it is. Check it out.
I weigh in on the controversy over Barack Obama’s possible nomination of Chuck Hagel to the post of Secretary of Defense in a guest post at Muzzlewatch, Jewish Voice for
Senator Chuck Hagel
Peace’s blog. On the issue of Israel and the Middle East, rarely has there been a more important moment for US policy. This is a moment where the Israel Lobby could well suffer a significant defeat, and that matters.
This article originally appeared at LobeLog. Please check it out, it’s an outstanding site for analysis of US foreign policy.
The US government has swept into action in the aftermath of the Palestinians’ overwhelming victory at the United Nations on Thursday. No less than three amendments were brought in the Senate, to be attached to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) — a bill which has nothing to do with Israel and the Palestinians, but is a high-priority bill that the Senate must pass, and as such is a perfect target for frivolous amendments).
Two of the amendments are purely partisan and with a Republican minority in the Senate, they are unlikely to pass. The third, however, is bipartisan and the leading Democrat sponsoring it is Charles Schumer (D-NY) whose position as the Democrats’ lead fundraiser means he gets his senate colleagues’ attention. The partisan amendments are somewhat more draconian than the bipartisan one, which will make the bipartisan amendment look relatively moderate, thereby increasing the chances of its passage.
Along with Schumer, the amendment is sponsored by Lindsey Graham (R-SC), John Barrasso (R-WY) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ). It calls for the closure of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) office in the US unless the Palestinians return to talks with Israel. No timeframe is given for the return to talks, nor is there any mention of anything Israel must do to make that return politically feasible for the Palestinians. This amounts to an attempt to force the Palestinians back into talks on Bibi Netanyahu’s terms, which, as I explain here, would be political suicide for the Palestinian Authority (PA). Continue reading
Yep, three articles coming out today, the third being this one at Alternet, exploring what is really behind the crocodile tears neoconservatives and liberal hawks are shedding for innocent lives being lost in Syria.
This article originally appeared at LobeLog, a blog well worth following if you want up to date and incisive analysis of US foreign policy on the Mideast.
With the annual policy convention of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) coming up in just a few days, many observers are expecting this to be the time when Israel pushes its hardest on the United States to take a more aggressive stance in its ongoing confrontation with Iran over the latter’s nuclear program.
With four days to go, it seems that the Israeli push is picking up steam.
Ha’aretz reports today that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to “publicly harden his line against Iran” before he meets with US President Barack Obama on March 5. This is an important piece of timing, as Obama will be speaking at the AIPAC conference on the 4th, the day before Netanyahu meets with him.
To an extent, then, Netanyahu is already making it clear to the AIPAC audience what they should be looking for in the President’s speech, as well as communicating a warning to Obama about what Netanyahu expects from him.
This is only one piece of the gathering pressure. Obama will be walking into something of a lion’s den at AIPAC, much more so than last year, when the President spent weeks after the conference dealing with the political fallout from wide, and often intentional, misinterpretations of his speech and his testy scenes with the Israeli Prime Minister. Continue reading