Powered by WebAds

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Israel to be pressured by Iraq Study Group recommendations

There's yet another article in the media today suggesting that Israel is to be sacrificed in a bid to 'engage' Syria and Iran if the Iraq Study Group's recommendations are to be adopted.
An expert adviser to the Baker-Hamilton commission expects the 10-person panel to recommend that the Bush administration pressure Israel to make concessions in a gambit to entice Syria and Iran to a regional conference on Iraq.

The assessment was shared in a confidential memorandum — obtained yesterday by The New York Sun — to expert advisers to the commission from a former CIA station chief for Saudi Arabia, Raymond Close. Mr. Close is a member of the expert group advising the commission and was a strong advocate throughout the panel's deliberations for renewed American diplomacy with Iran and Syria. In the memo, Mr. Close shares his "personal predictions and expectations" for what the Iraq Study Group will recommend in its final report next month.

Mr. Close writes that he expects the study group to urge President Bush to convene a regional conference "to enlist the support of neighboring states in establishing stability in Iraq." Among the participants in the regional conference should be "all principal states of the region," including Iran, Syria, and Israel. The inclusion of Israel, according to Mr. Close, is crucial because it will provide the only leverage by which Iran and Syria can be enticed to help stabilize Iraq.

"To have any realistic chance of success, I believe that the process would have to start with the announcement of a major initiative, promoted and vigorously supported by the United States, to reach a comprehensive resolution to the Israel-Arab crisis through a process of reasonable compromise and accommodation between Israel and its Arab neighbors," he writes.


Other members of the expert working groups yesterday, when asked about the memo, confirmed it was authentic. Mr. Close did not return an email seeking comment. But two members cautioned that the views of Mr. Close were his own and that in the last three weeks the commission and team of staffers at the U.S. Institute of Peace have not formally sought the opinions of the expert working groups. That said, some of the individual experts have provided private counsel and analysis to individual members.

Mr. Close believes a regional conference centering on Israel's conflict is so likely that "If the ISG suggests a regional conference to which would not be invited, that could only be because Israel and its supporters in the United States intervened to protect Israel from involvement in a process in which it would inevitably have to make significant concessions and compromises."
In other words, according to Mr. Close, if Israel does not come under pressure to make concessions commit national suicide, it will prove that Walt and Mearsheimer were correct.
Mr. Close does not specify what those compromises would be. He does however write that America and Israel will need to make "significant modifications" to their current positions. He also writes that America should not offer Syria an opportunity to restore its semi-sovereignty over Lebanon. But in lieu of that, "perhaps the US will have to put pressure on Israel to make territorial concessions in the Golan." The reference is to the Golan Heights, which Israel annexed after winning from Syria in the Six Day War of 1967.
Netanyahu was right. It's 1938 all over again, this is Munich, and Israel is cast in the role of Czechoslovakia. But not quite the way he expected. Or maybe not. You see, even Mr. Close agrees that George Bush is not going to be willing to play Neville Chamberlain:
The proposal to call a regional conference sounds good, but does not stand up very well to hard analysis. With George W. Bush in the White House, I cannot see a single prospective participant in a regional conference of this kind (particularly the United States and Israel) coming to the table prepared to make the compromises and concessions that will be essential to reaching a constructive outcome of US policy in Iraq. …

However …I believe that the ISG will nevertheless recommend the convocation of a regional conference. …Tragically, I think George W. Bush will not agree even to give it a sporting chance.
Maybe this won't be so bad after all.

Update 8:59 PM

Mr. Close is not exactly an unbiased academic. This is from Ed Lasky at The American Thinker (which has a brand new look on their website - worth checking out) (Hat Tip: Atlas Shrugs):
More worrisome than Baker's tete a tete with Iran's Ambassador is the apparent fact, also disclosed by the Washington Post, that Ray Close, a former CIA hand, has been one of the "experts' the ISG has relied upon in formulating its recommendations. Anyone familiar with the ways of Washington (as Baker surely must be) would be aware that Close has a very checkered past regarding his opinion of our ally Israel, and has made comments regarding American Jews that can be characterized as anti—Semitic. One does not even have to be an old Washington hand, as Baker is, to know of this. A simple internet search would have disclosed that Close is far from a neutral observer or expert regarding the Middle East. He seems, in fact, to be a proponent of the view that American Jews have been instrumental in leading us into the Iraq War and that support for Israel is not in our national interest.

In one article for the radical Counterpunch magazine, for example, he states that he was on the verge of having a bit of admiration for Richard Holbrooke, Kerry's foreign policy advisor, until it became clear (to him) that Holbrooke (who is of Jewish heritage) supported Israel. He wrote that Holbrooke's

"intellectual convictions (and ethnic prejudice) make it impossible for him to comprehend how Israeli occupation of Palestine and American occupation of Iraq"

are perceived in the Muslim world. "Ethnic prejudice"? So Holbrooke's Jewish heritage makes him prejudiced? Recall that Holbrooke is a man others lionized for saving Muslims during the Bosnian crisis a few years ago.

In another article, Close called Israel's actions in defending itself against Hezbollah "disproportionate and counterproductive." However, unlike some other critics (mostly found in Europe and the relentlessly anti—Israel United Nations) who felt compelled to limit their criticism to these acts, Close took the opportunity to condemn Israel for the entire history of actions it has taken to defend itself against enemies that have promised to destroy it.

He characterized such Israeli defensive actions as part of a national philosophy. This comes very close to the views of certain anti—Semites who have a penchant for broadly characterizing actions of Jews as somehow genetically—based. Read the following and make up your own mind.

"For more than half a century, the Israelis have been applying the tactic of massively disproportionate retaliation to every provocative act of resistance attempted by the Palestinians, expecting every time that this would bring peace and security to all the people of the Holy Land. Every single time they have done this this, it has backfired. Every single time. The national philosophy (it is really deeper and more significant that just a military tactic) that underlies this devotion to massive over—reaction, and particularly its corollary, collective punishment, is obviously and demonstrably foolish and futile. It does not intimidate or deter the Palestinians, and it never will. It hardens their determination to resist and to defy. I don't care whether you consider the Palestinians to be terrorists or common criminals or freedom fighters or national resistance heroes. If you are an intelligent and sensitive human being, you learn from your past mistakes and you make a rational decision to try something different. The Israeli leadership for all these many generations has been incapable of performing that really rather simple mental and moral exercise."

Close appears to be one of a long line of Arabists who have worked in the State Department and CIA who have links to Arabs that lead to an anti—Israel bias. He disclosed that his ancestors had established Christian mission schools over a hundred years ago in Lebanon. As analyzed in the outstanding book, The Arabists, by Robert Kaplan, Americans with such roots have historically been anti—Israel. Close follows this tradition.

There's a lot more. Read the whole thing.


Post a Comment

<< Home