[News] AIPAC, the Religious Right, and American Foreign Policy

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Tue Aug 29 12:22:17 EDT 2006


http://www.aljazeerah.info/Opinion%20editorials/2006%20Opinion%20Editorials/August/29%20o/AIPAC,%20the%20Religious%20Right,%20and%20American%20Foreign%20Policy%20By%20Rodrigue%20Tremblay.htm

AIPAC, the Religious Right, and American Foreign Policy

By Rodrigue Tremblay

onlinejournal.com, August 29, 2006

"Most citizens are unaware of the startling fact that for years our 
U.S. Middle East policy has not been crafted by seasoned experts who 
are committed to America's basic national interests." -Paul Findley, 
U.S. Republican Congressman (1961-83)

"Thank God we have AIPAC, the greatest supporter and friend we have 
in the whole world." -Ehud Olmert, Israel's Prime Minister

"Either I make policy on the Middle East or AIPAC makes policy on the 
Middle East." -Zbigniew Brzezinski, Carter Administration National 
Security Adviser (1977-80)

Nobody can understand what's going on politically in the United 
States without being aware that a political coalition of major 
pro-Likud groups, pro-Israel neoconservative intellectuals and 
Christian Zionists is exerting a tremendously powerful influence on 
the American government and its policies. Over time, this large 
pro-Israel Lobby, spearheaded by the American Israel Public Affairs 
Committee (AIPAC) [1], has extended its comprehensive grasp over 
large segments of the U.S. government, including the Vice President's 
office, the Pentagon and the State Department, besides controlling 
the legislative apparatus of Congress. It is being assisted in this 
task by powerful allies in the two main political parties, in major 
corporate media and by some richly financed so-called "think-tanks", 
such as the American Enterprise Institute [2], the Heritage 
Foundation [3], or the Washington Institute for Near East Policy [4]. 
AIPAC is the centerpiece of this co-ordinated system. For example, it 
keeps voting statistics on each congressional representative and 
senator, which are then transmitted to political donors to act 
accordingly. AIPAC also organizes regular all-expense-paid trips to 
Israel and meetings with Israeli ministers and personalities for 
congressmen and their staffs, and for other state and local American 
politicians. Not receiving this imprimatur is a major handicap for 
any ambitious American politician, even if he can rely on a personal 
fortune. In Washington, in order to have a better access to decision 
makers, the Lobby even has developed the habit of recruiting 
personnel for Senators' and House members' offices. And, when 
elections come, the Lobby makes sure that lukewarm, 
independent-minded, or dissenting politicians are punished and 
defeated. It is a source of such political power, campaign financing 
and media propaganda that no U.S. politician can dare ignore its 
demands without fear of being destroyed. As veteran columnist Robert 
Novak recently pointed out [5], thanks to the influence of AIPAC and 
the Lobby, "Washington remains largely a bipartisan, criticism-free 
zone for Israel."

This is understandable. AIPAC's techniques [6] are so efficient that 
one can easily have the impression that it is a 'parallel government' 
in Washington D.C. In the words of its president, Howard Friedman, it 
relies on two techniques in particular:

1. "AIPAC meets with every candidate running for Congress. These 
candidates receive in-depth briefings to help them completely 
understand the complexities of Israel's predicament and that of the 
Middle East as a whole. We even ask each candidate to author a 
'position paper' on their views of the U.S.-Israel relationship, -so 
it's clear where they stand on the subject."

2. "Members of Congress, staffers and administration officials have 
come to rely on AIPACs memos. They are very busy people and they know 
that they can count on AIPAC for clear-eyed analysis. We present this 
information in concise form to elected officials. The information and 
analyses are impeccable, -after all our reputation is at stake. This 
results in policy and legislation that make up Israel's lifeline." I 
doubt that there is any other democratic country in the entire world 
where candidates have to pass an ideological litmus test, if they 
want to have a chance of being chosen candidates and being elected. 
Thus, who could blame AIPAC for being convinced that it has the U.S. 
Congress on a very short leash? If AIPAC were a company, it could be 
subject to a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) federal antitrust and 
anti-cartel investigation for cornering the market.

Therefore, it should be no surprise that, on Capitol Hill, 'The 
Lobby' seems to be in charge, so much so that its near complete 
control of U.S. foreign policy and other policies, such as defense, 
has become the equivalent of a joke. We are not witnessing consensus 
here, but rather a situation tantamount to unanimity in the desire to 
align American policies to Israeli policies, each time Israel's 
interests in the Middle East are on the line. A totalitarian country 
would not function differently. AIPAC has such a grip on Washington 
that sometimes one can be forgiven to confuse Tel Aviv and Washington 
D.C. A recent example: AIPAC penned a resolution of support for 
Israel in its savage and illegal bombings of Lebanon. On July 20, 
2006, the resolution was voted unanimously by the 100-member Senate 
and the vote in the House was 410 to 8. Case closed.

For many years, the influence of 'The Lobby' remained under the 
radar, being ignored or concealed by the media it controlled and by 
most commentators. On March 10, 2006, however, two respected American 
scholars, Professors Stephen Walt from Harvard University and John 
Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago, published a study in The 
London Review of Books, entitled 'The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign 
Policy' [7], about the disproportionate influence that this 
special-interest Lobby has on American foreign policy. It said that 
AIPAC was "the most powerful and best known" organization in a 
pro-Israel lobby that systematically distorts American foreign 
policy. The study concluded that Israel played a major role in 
pushing the Bush administration toward a war with Iraq, and it argued 
that the pro-Israel lobby's influence on U.S. foreign policy was bad 
both for Israel and for the U.S. Thereafter, nobody could feign 
ignoring the corrosive influence of this powerful lobby on U.S. 
foreign policy.

An other example of the type of power 'the Lobby' carries these days 
in Washington, D.C., is its success in establishing within the State 
Department, with taxpayers' money, a special interest agency, called 
the 'Office of Global Anti-Semitism' [8]. In a move reminiscent of 
what happened during past centuries under totalitarian regimes, this 
new 'agency' is totally devoted to monitoring around the world 
instances, among other things, of criticism of Israel or of American 
pro-Israel policies. The creation of this new department of 
Inquisition [9] was mandated by a law, H.R. 4230, that President 
George W. Bush signed On October 16, 2004. Who says that reality is 
not stranger than fiction!

So-called Christian Zionists [10] have also a significant influence 
on American foreign policy, especially as it relates to the Middle 
East. Their propaganda has been so successful that today, forty per 
cent of Americans believe that Israel was directly given to the 
Jewish people by 'God'. One third of Americans even believe that the 
creation of the state of Israel, in 1948, after a terrorist campaign 
against Great Britain, was a step towards the 'Second Coming of Jesus 
Christ' and the 'End the world'. For the most fanatical ones among 
them, the 'war on terrorism', whatever it means, is a war of religion 
[11] between Christianity and Islam. With such thinking, the world is 
thrown back four centuries, since the last war of religion was the 
1618-1648 Thirty Years' War [12] between European Protestants and Catholics.

These days, the American Religious Right has its own special interest 
office within the State Department. It is called the 'Office of 
International Religious Freedom' [13] whose principal mission is to 
meddle in the domestic affairs of other countries. Such a state 
agency would seem to run contrary to the "wall of separation" [14] 
between church and state that President Thomas Jefferson [15] thought 
he had erected with the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. 
Such governmental forays in religious matters are in addition to the 
state-financed 'Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives' [16] 
that the Bush administration created soon after it took office. Since 
the current occupant of the White House is a born-again Christian 
[17] who harbors ideas which are close to those advanced by the 
American Christian Right [18], it should not be too surprising if the 
Bush administration's policy in the Middle East has very strong 
religious overtones.

In any government, one has to look behind the curtains to see who is 
really pulling the strings and who is steering the policies. In the 
case of the Bush-Cheney administration, one has to know about 'The 
Lobby' and the 'Religious Right'. Without that knowledge, one is in 
the dark when it comes to understanding the direction taken by 
certain policies. -DR. RODRIGUE TREMBLAY

SOURCE: Published 8/24/06 by Online Journal (in English) and Tlaxcala 
(in French). ENGLISH: 
<http://onlinejournal.com/artman/publish/article_1135.shtml>http://onlinejournal.com/artman/publish/article_1135.shtml 
FRENCH: 
<http://www.tlaxcala.es/pp.asp?reference=999&lg=fr>http://www.tlaxcala.es/pp.asp?reference=999&lg=fr 


ENDNOTES:

[1] <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AIPAC>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AIPAC

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Enterprise_Institute

[3] 
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heritage_Foundation>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heritage_Foundation

[4] http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/templateI01.php

[5] 
<http://www.suntimes.com/output/novak/cst-edt-novak07.html>http://www.suntimes.com/output/novak/cst-edt-novak07.html

[6] John Walsh's 8/16/06 CounterPunch essay, "AIPAC Congratulates Itself On

The Slaughter In Lebanon": 
<http://www.counterpunch.com/walsh08162006.html>http://www.counterpunch.com/walsh08162006.html

[7] http://www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n06/print/mear01_.html

[8] 
<http://www.truthtellers.org/alerts/jewishheaddepartofantisemitsm.html>http://www.truthtellers.org/alerts/jewishheaddepartofantisemitsm.html

[9] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inquisition

[10] 
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_Zionism>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_Zionism

[11] Alec Russell's 8/5/06 Telegraph article, "US Evangelist Leads The

Millions Seeking A Battle With Islam": 
<http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/08/05/wmid105.xml>http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/08/05/wmid105.xml

[12] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thirty_Years'_War

[13] <http://www.state.gov/g/drl/irf/>http://www.state.gov/g/drl/irf/

[14] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wall_of_separation

[15] 
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Jefferson>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Jefferson

[16]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_House_Office_of_Faith-Based_and_Community_Initiatives

[17] 
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bush,_George_W>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bush,_George_W.

[18] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_right

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay is Emeritus Professor of Economics at the 
University of Montreal. He can be reached by e-mail at: 
<mailto:rodrigue.tremblay at yahoo.com>rodrigue.tremblay at yahoo.com  He 
is the author of the book "The New American Empire" (Infinity Publishing,

2004).

Visit his blog site at:

<http://www.thenewamericanempire.com/blog>http://www.thenewamericanempire.com/blog 


This article also appears on his blog site at:

<http://www.TheNewAmericanEmpire.com/tremblay=1033>http://www.TheNewAmericanEmpire.com/tremblay=1033


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