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The Race for Iran



Photo from TimeTurk

We were in Tehran on February 24—the day that Iranian authorities announced the capture of Abdol Malik Rigi, the head of Jundallah.  Jundallah (the name if Arabic for “soldiers of God”; the group is also known as the People’s Resistance Movement of Iran) is a Sunni Islamist group that claims to be fighting for the rights of Sunni Muslims in Iran.  Its activities are focused on Sistan-Baluchistan, which is the Islamic Republic’s only Sunni-majority province.  In recent years, the group has carried out a number of high-profile terrorist attacks in Iran.  These include a 2005 attack on President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s motorcade in Sistan-Baluchistan (one of Ahmadinejad’s bodyguards was killed); a 2006 attack on a bus in Sistan-Baluchistan that killed 18 members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC); the abduction and execution of 16 Iranian policemen in 2007; a car bomb attack on a security installation in Sistan-Baluchistan in 2008 that killed at least four people; a 2009 ambush in Sistan-Baluchistan that killed 12 Iranian policeman; and a 2009 bomb attack on a mosque in Sistan-Baluchistan that killed 25 people and injured 125. 

Most recently, on October 18, 2009, Jundallah carried out a suicide bomb attack in Sistan-Baluchistan that killed 42 people, including several senior IRGC officers.  We wrote on this attack at the time, as did Ben Katcher; we also published a guest post on the incident by Jasim Husain Ali.           

Two days after his capture was announced, Rigi appeared on Iranian television, where he said, among other things, that Jundallah receives financial and military support from the United States; U.S. Government officials have denied such support on the record (though they have not denied any relationship with Jundallah).  Some media reports claim that U.S. support for Jundallah is “indirect”, in that the support is channeled through Pakistan and Gulf Arab states allied to the United States.  Iranian officials have charged for several years that Jundallah receives support from the United States, as well as from Pakistan and Sunni Arab states allied to Washington. 

Our impression in Tehran last week was that the idea the United States has some sort of ties to Jundallah and other groups considered “terrorists” by most Iranians seems to be widely accepted in Tehran as a “social fact”, at least.  We observed a genuine, deep, and strongly positive popular reaction to the news of Rigi’s arrest that seemed to cut across class and political divides in Iranian society.  When news of Rigi’s capture broke, it was around midday in Tehran.  We were at the University of Tehran’s Faculty of World Studies, meeting with graduate students in a conference room that was equipped with a large-screen television.  We were interrupted by an incoming flow of students and faculty, who apologized for the intrusion but explained that there was an urgent news story which they wanted to see on television.  The television was turned on, and we watched the nationally-broadcast press conference at which the Islamic Republic’s Intelligence Minister recounted Rigi’s arrest.  As we went through subsequent meetings and conversations over the course of the afternoon, it seemed clear that the news of Rigi’s arrest was a source of considerable popular satisfaction.  That evening, in some residential neighborhoods, there were impromptu parties, with individuals distributing cake to their neighbors and other similar gestures of celebration.  We were told that one of the senior IRGC officers killed in the Jundallah attack last October was a widely known and admired hero of the Iran-Iraq war.     

Iranian officials are not the only sources claiming that U.S. intelligence is linked to groups carrying out terrorist operations inside the Islamic Republic.  Some Western media reports—citing former CIA case officers—say that there are links between Jundallah and U.S. intelligence; for example, see this widely noted story published by Seymour Hersh in The New Yorker in July 2008.  Some of these reports say that Jundallah is one of a number of ethnic separatist groups (including Arab, Azeri, Baluch, and Kurdish groups) receiving covert support from the United States, as part of a covert campaign authorized during the George W. Bush Administration to press Tehran over the nuclear issue and destabilize the Islamic Republic.  For a recent discussion of the issue by a retired CIA officer, see here.  As we ourselves have written, there is considerable evidence that President Obama inherited from his predecessor a number of overt programs for “democracy promotion” in Iran, as well as covert initiatives directed against Iranian interests. 

As we have noted, Obama has done nothing to scale back or stop these programs—a posture that has not gone unnoticed in Tehran.  We understand that, last year, the Obama Administration reviewed whether Jundallah should be designated a foreign terrorist organization, but decided not to do so.  Why was that?  And, even though the Muhahedin-e Khalq (MEK) retains its designation as a foreign terrorist organization, the Obama Administration continues to push the Iraqi government not to consider longstanding a longstanding Iranian request that MEK cadres in Iraq—which were granted special protective status by the George W. Bush Administration—be deported to Iran.  Why is the Obama Administration trying to protect members of a U.S. government-designated terrorist group?        

Could it be that at least some elements of the Obama Administration believe that U.S. connections to groups like Jundallah and the MEK are potentially useful policy instruments vis-à-vis the Islamic Republic?  Based on our conversations in Tehran, it seems clear that the perception of continuing U.S. involvement with and support for groups carrying out violent attacks inside Iran is having a corrosive effect on Iranian assessments of the Obama Administration’s seriousness about strategic engagement with Iran and its ultimate intentions toward the Islamic Republic.  When we wrote about Jundallah’s suicide bomb attack last October, we noted that

“the attack will exacerbate Iranian threat perceptions about its regional neighbors and the United States at a delicate point in the diplomatic process launched at the October 1 Geneva meeting between senior Iranian officials and representatives of the P-5+1.” 

At the time, Iran’s Parliament speaker Ali Larijani said publicly that “the terrorist attack is the result of U.S. efforts and a sign of U.S. hostility toward Iran”’ Larijani contrasted this hostility to President Obama’s offer of an extended hand to Iran, noting that the Iranian people rightly doubt America’s intentions. 

We return from Tehran persuaded that this analysis was even more correct than we appreciated when we wrote it, and that Jundallah’s suicide bomb attack on October 18, 2009—the day before technical discussions began in Vienna on the details of a “swap” arrangement to exchange Iranian low-enriched uranium (LEU) for new fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR)—has had a significant, negative impact on the course of multilateral diplomacy on Iran’s nuclear program.  On October 1, the P-5+1 political directors and the European Union’s then-foreign policy chief Javier Solana came together for discussions on nuclear issues with an Iranian delegation headed by Saeed Jalili, the secretary-general of the Islamic Republic’s Supreme National Security Council.  At this meeting, there was a “one-on-one” between Jalili and the head of the U.S. delegation, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns.  Coming out of this meeting, Western diplomats said that Jalili had agreed “in principle” to a “swap” of Iranian LEU for new fuel for the TRR.  The details of such a “swap” were to be negotiated 2-3 weeks later, in technical discussions at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna. 

At these discussions in Vienna—which convened on October 19, one day after Jundallah’s suicide bomb attack—the Iranian delegation was reluctant to accept several of the provisions of the “swap” as proposed by the United States and some of its partners.  In the end, the IAEA’s then-director general, Mohammed ElBaradei, pulled together a proposal that the Iranian delegation took back to Tehran.  It soon became clear that the Islamic Republic’s leadership was not prepared to accept the terms of ElBaradei’s proposal without modification; we and our colleague Ben Katcher have laid out some of the specific ways in which Iran has proposed modifying the ElBaradei proposal; for more detailed discussions, see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here

It has become conventional wisdom in Western commentary that Iran “reneged” from its commitment to a “swap” arrangement for refueling the TRR and “rejected” the generous ElBaradei proposal because of internal political conflicts that have left the leadership too divided to take clear decisions about important foreign policy matters.  We have challenged this conventional wisdom, pointing out that, since the Vienna meeting in October, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has consistently stressed Iran’s “positive view regarding the essence and nature of the [ElBaradei] proposal”, but wanted to negotiate specific details of the “swap”, regarding timing—in particular, when Iranian LEU would need to be turned over to the IAEA and when new fuel for the TRR would be delivered, where Iranian LEU would be held pending delivery of new fuel for the TRR, and how much LEU Iran would need to swap for a given amount of finished fuel.  More strategically, we have argued that Iran’s reaction to the ElBaradei proposal was inevitably conditioned by the ongoing insistence of the United States and its British and French partners on “zero enrichment” as the only acceptable long-term outcome from nuclear negotiations with Tehran.   

Coming back from our visit to Tehran, we are even more convinced of the validity of these analyses.  But we also appreciate more acutely the extremely negative impact that the October 18, 2009 Jundallah attack had on the climate for negotiations over refueling the TRR.  More generally, our discussions and observations in Tehran have deepened our awareness of the profound damage that can be done to the prospects for putting U.S.-Iranian relations on a more positive and productive trajectory by Washington’s ongoing attachments to elements of what is, simply put, a “regime change” strategy vis-à-vis the Islamic Republic—whether or not the Obama Administration wants to acknowledge it as such.  It is worth recalling that, when Richard Nixon was inaugurated as President of the United States in January 1969, one of the first things he did to demonstrate his seriousness about realigning U.S.-China relations to the Chinese leadership in Beijing was to order the CIA to stand down from covert operations in Tibet.  Chinese leaders noticed this, and it helped prepare the way for a diplomatic opening between Washington and Beijing.  When will the Obama Administration show a similar measure of strategic seriousness toward the Islamic Republic of Iran?     

–Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett



  1. 99 says:

    “Zionists” is also a term used by NON-anti-Semites when trying to distinguish between the troublemakers and all Israelis or all Jews while discussing the despicable acts by people who ARE Zionists. The need to differentiate by use of this term has lessened lately, thankfully or regrettably, because there was near complete unanimity in Israel for the slaughter in Gaza last year AND for the Mossad hit in Dubai last month. So “Israel” or “Israeli” now works often where it didn’t seem to before. Still, there are the legions of Christian Zionists and Jews from around the world bringing pressures to bear in conjunction with Israel, so the term is still needed when you want to talk about that. Because people who hate Jews use words like “Jews”, “Zionists”, “Israelis”, among other terms, does not mean reasonable people abandon perfectly usable, in no way racist or anti-Semitic words to express ourselves.

  2. Nilsson says:

    I see James Petras cited here. The special value of his sociological work has been to document the immense reliance of the Democratic Party on Jewish activism and campaign contributions, which at time have been 80% of its income from 2-3% of the population.

    Latterly the neocons– dogmatically tribalist intelligentsia professing universalist values, who generally hailed from ‘red diaper’ backgrounds– broke with tribal Democratic allegiance (commonplace among Jewry since the great waves of immigration, c. 1870-1920). They did so because, apart from ‘national security Democrats’ such as Scoop Jackson, they reckoned liberal Dems were peacenik Boomers growing soft on Islam and Soviet communism, posing the much-trumpeted ‘existential threat’ to an Israel which had almost lost the Yom Kippur war in 1973.

    The neocons infiltrated the GOP in the 1980s, beginning a long march through the think tanks and foundations which turned it into another reliable dancer to their tunes by 911. Ike had pulled the plug on the Suez invasion; Nixon was anything but philosemitic; Reagan had taken the Marines out of Lebanon. But once the neocons teamed with RINOs and international globalist businessmen and financiers of the Nelson Rockefeller type, and once ther shekels began to flow into the dutiful coffers, both big parties were sewn up tight for the ‘My Israel, right or wrong’ headbanging which Congress has gone in for ever since.

    Not all Jews are fanatical Zionists, but most support and admire Israel, and do not want the weirdo settler relations who moved there to come back as refugees. They fear rocking the tribal boat by attacking US and Israeli policies too harshly or loudly, having been bred up to collective solidarity or muffled, private dissent. The loonier kind of dual loyalist holds the stage.

    Rich Zionist Jews now grease Republican as well as Democratic palms– Adelson, the casino king, for instance– but neoconnerie is almost entirely, and notoriously, a Beltway Jewish business. True, dubious alliances have been formed with Christian fundi preachers who want most Jews dead in a nuclear Armageddon so the rest can be Raptured for Jesus. There are strong links with the military industrial complex for which, after the collapse of the USSR, ‘Islamism’ is the only phoney enemy that can be devised to justify their vast government contracts. But the bedrock of Republican support, ordinary middle class white Americans in the burbs and sticks, is much less solid: polls show that most want the USA to maintain even-handedness and detachment in the Middle East, as the Founders counseled, rather than take sides so abjectly.

    Wish they may, but follow the money. So long as so much of it is from the donors Petras discovered, don’t expect too much ‘change you can believe in’ when it comes to Congress, in what Pat Buchanan called ‘Israeli-occupied territory’.

  3. Vic Anderson says:

    YES. With his knavy Seals of Approval!

  4. stevieb says:

    The reasons for the birth of Israel are ultimately irrelevant. But it should be noted that Israel was not conceived by a select group of Jews because of the Holocaust. It may have been a part of the reason the UN decided to grant them a state – but Zionist antagonists played at least as large a role in working the right people at the right time(and a fair bit of terrorism thrown in for good measure) The genocide happening in camps around Europe was cynically used by the Zionist movement to create their Jewish supremist state – but that’s another story. But even if Israel had been constructed for reasons beyond religious fanaticism and chauvanism – it wouldn’t make it’s construction any less a crime against the Palestinian peoples. Amadinejad’s question is probably the wrong one – but it does address the hypocrisy of western commentators and the rather simplistic notion of Israel as a just and rational response to the German massacre of European Jewry…

  5. Druthers says:

    Dan Cooper: “How can Obama go against the wishes of “Israel lobby and the Zionist in his administration”?
    Any suggestions?

    What suggests that he wants to go against these wishes?
    From every side Obama is now presented as somekind of “poor little match girl” who would to like to do all these lovely things but just can’t “get the votes.” That corporate control is tightening its grip on government is evident but to date this administration has made no effort to use the power of the presidency that is left to state its goals and change course.
    Are we on a rudderless ship or tacking in the wind?

  6. epppie says:

    Obama’s ‘engagement’ policy is perhaps the most cynical thing I’ve seen in US politics. Not for one moment did he dial down the hyper-rhetoric about the alleged ‘Iran threat’, a hype which as taken on dimensions of ludicrosity beyond what W mustered in his fallacious buildup to war with Iraq. The Swap was never intended to be a deal that Iran could actually accept. The idea of Iran giving up all its uranium to Russia and France, which it can pretty much be sure will at least play games about returning it…that was never intended as acceptable.

  7. Alan says:

    kooshy – there is no doubt that British and US foreign policy in the Middle East has been and continues to be appalling. But Israel cannot be seen as a strategic asset no matter which way you cut it. The fact that it is referred to as such is simply another victory for the Lobby. Next to the almighty deception that surrounds the birth of Israel and the Palestinian exodus, it is hard to think of a bigger deception than the concept of Israel’s importance to the West.

    Specifically on the point that you made, the Balfour Declaration certainly set a sequence of events in motion. That is undeniable. However, the British ditched their promotion of a Jewish state in Palestine with the McDonald White Paper of 1939, which enshrined a pro-Arab single state of Palestine by 1949 as their official policy.

    Perhaps the most effective strategy adopted by the Zionists since 1917 has been their capacity, when given an inch, to take a mile, creating facts on the ground that become a fait accompli when set before the international community. The 1947 Partition Plan was no exception, and they still do it today. The West has constantly had to react to, rather than shape, events on the ground.

    There was no sinister Western plan to create Israel in their own image to control the region. Israel created itself, and the West had to deal with the monster that emerged. The fact it was handled so badly has made it so much worse.

  8. Jon Harrison says:

    Kooshy, the only response I’ll make is to point to the relationaship US oil companies had established with Saudi Arabia as far back as 1939, not to mention the interesting meeting between President Roosevelt and Ibn Saud in 1945. The issue is both more simple and more complex than you are making it.

  9. kooshy says:

    Jon and Alan
    Balfour Declaration is what made the state of Israel possible, in the Middle East no one cares how and with what legality or technicality the state of Israel was created, what we are discussing
    Is if this was in strategic interest of the British, US or better known as Angelo Saxons and now obviously the west. I argue that even if you now think this was a blunder for US, the west never would have trusted the Arabs and that for historic reasons. Therefore, they were receptive to the declaration of the independence by like color and like minded people from Europe and still are, after all, if the west was against it before it was for it ( sounds like Kerry) why then they recognized it 11 minutes after the declaration.

  10. Persian Gulf says:

    I don’t think the greens or Balochistan’s episode were that significant in changing Iran’s mood. the internal greens, or ex-reformists, were sidestepped on the nuclear issue during the first term of Ahmadinejad. and they lost the ground almost totally since 2006 when Iran started the enrichment.I still think, as I wrote here before, that Iran was not interested in making that deal with the term proposed by IAEA. it could be also possible for an split in conservative factions. and probably the unwillingness of the office of supreme leader in making that deal. Ahmadinejad’s faction probably wanted to make a half deal, not the one proposed by IAEA, as the his legitimacy was shattered by the internal events. in overall, Iran has since benefited in not making the deal. 20% enrichment was unthinkable few months ago, the west seems to accept the new reality now!

    I am not sure, but I think, making the rods out of 20% enriched uranium is going to be the end of the story. cylindrical or other shapes should not need a totally different expertise (i am an engineer myself), nor for that matter a jump from 20% to 90%. any comment about it?

    I have no diplomatic experience, no do I have any nuclear related negotiation one. however, I am surprised of the job Iranian diplomats did for the nuclear deal. after the negotiation, Al-Baradei in the interview said we have reached an agreement and this deal is going to Tehran for final approval. how could those Iranian negotiators agree with 75% of the enriched uranium to be shipped out of the country? 1200 kg was definitely a big amount, and no politician in Tehran could fully endorse that.

  11. Jon Harrison says:

    Editorial correction to my previous post: final sentence of 1st paragraph should read “That’s THE story . . .” (not “a” story). [Note to self: Do not write before finishing first cup of coffee]

    Eric, by the way, I do indeed understand your point.

  12. Jon Harrison says:

    Well Kooshy, believe it. The ’48 election witnessed a three-way split in the Democratic Party — Strom Thurmand led a breakaway faction of segregationists (I believe he got 39 electoral votes) and Henry Wallace ran as a “progressive” candidate opposed to Truman’s foreign policy. (Wallace won no electoral votes, but took away popular votes that could have cost Truman several states). New York was crucial to Truman’s reelection, and the Jewish vote was crucial to Truman winning New York(Truman’s Republican opponent was an ex-governor of the state). That’s a story, and it’s the real stuff, not folklore.

    The point I made about turning our backs on the Arabs refers to access to oil. That access is the only true interest the American people have in the Middle East. Recognizing Israel and supporting her through thick and thin simply made difficulties that otherwise would never have arisen. Indeed, it was for this reason that Marshall and Forrestal opposed recognizing Israel.

  13. Alan says:

    rfjk – there is no Arab state that would have preferred the Soviet Union over the US. Egypt requested arms from the US first but were turned down, as did Syria. In fact, the US may best be described at the time as protecting Israel by not arming the Arabs, rather than arming Israel to any great degree. The US were simultaneously demanding to send weapons inspectors to Dimona, which the Israelis (Shimon Peres no less) eventually allowed once they had bricked off the sensitive areas and renamed it a desalination plant. The last thing the US wanted was a nuclear Israel. They much preferred a balance of power. The US didn’t really align themselves particularly closely to Israel strategically until the weapons bailout of 1973, and the role played by the Israeli threat to use nuclear weapons in that conflict cannot be underestimated.

    I cannot see any argument under which Israel can be described as a strategic asset for the US at any time in their history. The US knew from day one they had a strategic liability on their hands, and the history of Israel has proven that right while making the situation remorselessly worse.


    kooshy – nobody “created” anything. Israel created themselves out of war. The 1947 Partition Plan was dead in the water. the Plan was a UNGA construct, not a UNSC construct so was unenforceable. In March 1948, the US along with the Arabs were sponsoring a new plan at the UN to create a trusteeship, and the fear of that kicked off the Jewish Agency’s Plan Dalet and the expulsion of the Palestinians. There were already 250,000 Palestinian refugees before Israel’s declaration of independence in May 1948.


    Jon (& Eric) – Walid Khalidi is most certainly a “heavyweight”. It was his work in the 1950s and 1960s to meticulously document the truth of what happened in Palestine after 1947 that created the historical record that others have built upon. He founded the Institute for Palestine Studies, where he (and others) have built up the most extensive archives of the Palestinian people.

  14. Eric A. Brill says:


    “James Petras. … As to his supposed anti-semitism, I haven’t read enough of his stuff to speak wisely. … On the other hand, there is a segement of our society that attempts to stifle open debate by calling anyone who dares to question Israel or its supporters an anti-semite.”

    I couldn’t agree more with your last sentence. My only point – and I am confident you agree with it – is that there nonetheless are honest to goodness anti-Semites out there posing as those who “dare to question Israel or its supporters.” It doesn’t do members of the latter group any good to get confused with members of the former group. And it helps, every now and then, for members of the latter group to make clear that they understand the distinction. (I recognize there are also those out there who insist there is no distinction, but that’s too much to get into here.)


  15. kooshy says:


    “Kooshy, did you know that in 1948 the American Secretary of State (Marshall) and the Secretary of Defense (Forrestal) opposed recognition of Israel? Truman himself was hesitant. However, he desperately needed the Jewish vote in order to win the presidential election that year.”
    Jon I have read about the Marshal opposition to Israel vote in UNSC, but I could not imagine nor I believe in 1948 the Jewish vote was significant enough even in a close race for Truman that he oppose the recommendations of his own secretaries of state and defense and more importantly as you mention against the interest of this country, that simply would not pan out

    “Israel is probably the worst strategic blunder America has ever committed. There was no geostrategic advantage in turning our backs on the Arabs in 1948; and since then the advantages of friendship with Israel have been far outweighed by the drag that nation has placed on our policy in the region.”

    The Muslim Arabs were never considered reliable stable partners by any of the western powers especially after the WWII with the rise of the eastern blocks , I do respect your openion however this is not how people from the middle east see, feel, and understand

  16. Eric A. Brill says:


    My last comment was too cryptic to be useful, so I’ll add to it, for what it’s worth: “When I finished, I wished I’d read it earlier” really should have been followed by this: “I haven’t read anything by Khalidi since.” I suspect you’ll agree you can spend your limited reading time more profitably with other writers. Khalidi is not a lightweight, but he’s certainly no heavyweight. Again, only my opinion, but I came away firm enough about that opinion that I’ve never been tempted to reconsider it. Khalidi holds the Edward Said chair of something or other at Columbia, but with apologies to Lloyd Bentsen, he’s no Edward Said.

  17. Dan cooper says:


    Re: Professor “James Petras”

    Your reply does not explain why you accused him of anti-Semitism and attacked his credibility.

    You wrote and I quote;

    “For an example of the “motivated by anti-Semitism and … worthless from an intellectual point of view” stuff out there, consider the link to the James Petras website provided to you by someone else”.

    What you are saying to Mohammad is this; the link and the article by “James Petras” is motivated by anti-Semitism and worthless from an intelectual point of view.

    The phrase was not yours but you used it to accuse and insult an honourable man such as Professor “James Petras” without any explanations.

    For the sake of your own credibility, you ought to explain to other readers why you have done that.

    I am not upset at all; all I want to know is this:

    “On what basis and from which evidence do you put the label of “anti-Semitism” on Professor Petras and consider his writings worthless from an intellectual point of view?”

    Have you read any of his books?

  18. Eric A. Brill says:


    “Alan, is it fair to say that Khalidi is the foremost Palestinian intellectual alive today? I know little about him; what I do know I like. I see that he advocates a two-state solution.”

    If you haven’t read Khalidi’s Iron Cage book (2006), I recommend you do. I can’t claim to have read all, or even most, of his work (he turns out quite a bit), but I think that book illuminated the quality of his intellect very well. When I finished it, I wished I had read it earlier.

  19. Eric A. Brill says:

    Dan Cooper writes:

    “Your accusation that his writing is “motivated by anti-Semitism and worthless from an intellectual point of view” is totally unfounded and baseless.”


    The phrase “motivated by anti-Semitism and worthless from an intellectual point of view” was not mine — it’s just that when I read that phrase, the link to Petras’ work posted earlier on this board came to mind. I think it’s a waste of time (at best). You don’t, and you’ve made that clear to Mohammad. He sounds like a smart guy, so he can decide for himself. No need to get upset.

  20. Jon Harrison says:

    Alan, is it fair to say that Khalidi is the foremost Palestinian intellectual alive today? I know little about him; what I do know I like. I see that he advocates a two-state solution.

    Regarding Jimmy Carter, did you notice that a couple of months ago he “apologized” to the Jewish community for his book and his comments re “apartheid?” Apparently, a relation of his (a grandson, I think) is running for the Georgia state legislature, and in a district with a large Jewish population. So the man has repudiated what had appeared to be his sincere beliefs in order to help some family member attain a piddling political office. Seems pretty shameful to me.

    Kooshy, did you know that in 1948 the American Secretary of State (Marshall) and the Secretary of Defense (Forrestal) opposed recognition of Israel? Truman himself was hesitant. However, he desperately needed the Jewish vote in order to win the presidential election that year. Aligning with Israel is probably the worst strategic blunder America has ever committed. There was no geostrategic advantage in turning our backs on the Arabs in 1948; and since then the advantages of friendship with Israel have been far outweighed by the drag that nation has placed on our policy in the region.

    Interesting to see the strong division of opinion about James Petras. He’s very left wing and therefore not my cup of tea. As to his supposed anti-semitism, I haven’t read enough of his stuff to speak wisely. Some of his rhetoric seems at least borderline. On the other hand, there is a segement of our society that attempts to stifle open debate by calling anyone who dares to question Israel or its supporters an anti-semite.

  21. Dan cooper says:

    Eric A. Brill

    I am still waiting for your reply to my last post.

    Re: Professor “James Petras”


    James Petras is a retired Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University, SUNY, New York, U.S., and adjunct professor at Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who has published prolifically on Latin American and Middle Eastern political issues.

    Petras received his B.A. from Boston University and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley.

    His initial appointment at Binghamton was in 1972 at the Sociology Department and his field is listed as: Development, Latin America, the Caribbean, revolutionary movements, class analysis.

    During his life he received the Western Political Science Association’s the Best Dissertation award (1968), the Career of Distinguished Service Award from the American Sociological Association’s Marxist Sociology Section and the Robert Kenny Award for Best Book of 2002.

    Petras is the author of more than 62 books published in 29 languages, and over 600 articles in professional journals, including:

    the American Sociological Review, British Journal of Sociology, Social Research and Journal of Peasant Studies.

    He has published over 2000 articles in publications such as the New York Times, The Guardian, The Nation, Christian Science Monitor, Foreign Policy, New Left Review, Partisan Review and Le Monde Diplomatique.

    Currently he writes a monthly column for the Mexican newspaper, La Jornada, and previously, for the Spanish daily, El Mundo.

    Petras is currently a member of the editorial collective of Canadian Dimension and contributes to CounterPunch.

    Petras’ latest book, Rulers and Ruled in the U.S. Empire: Bankers, Zionists, Militants (2007) which is highly recommended ,deals with what he considers to be the malign influence of US-American-born Jews over U.S. foreign policy. According to its publisher, Clarity Press, the book exposes the global hegemony exercised by “the financial ruling class, the Zionist power configuration and their collaborator client rulers.

    In his book “The Power of Israel in the United States” which is also highly recommended, Petras puts forth the thesis that US-American Jews are less than 2% of the population, yet represent 25-30% of U.S.’s wealthiest families.


    In my opinion and the opinion of thousands of people who have read his books and articles, “James Petras” Professor of sociology, is one of the best writers of his generation..

    Your accusation that his writing is “motivated by anti-Semitism and worthless from an intellectual point of view” is totally unfounded and baseless.

    I am interested to know what suddenly motivated you to declare such nonsense about “Petras “and to mislead Mohammad.

  22. kooshy says:

    Alan with all due respect if you wouldn’t buy the argument for the creation of the state of Israel, can you answer the question raised by Ahmadinijad in an acceptable way?

  23. kooshy says:

    Arnold, I personally think the only value of the TRR deal for the Iranian side was if it would have made the entire Iranian enrichment program acceptable to the west by way of trade. It’s important to acknowledge that the agreement was made in “principle” with the details to be agreed on in Vienna, immediately after the Vienna conference the Iranian Rep. to IAEA made clear that he has to take the offer to Tehran for final approval.

    Once the West started precipitating that this is a onetime deal and you have to give us in advance the majority of your enrichment, at the time and place of our choosing, the Iranian side correctly got suspicious of this deal which would have been based on western conditions only, I don’t believe internal conditions or Baluchistan had anything to do with Iranians not accepting the western countries condition.
    Regarding the Baluchistan every Iranian including the Greens believe that the US and its allies are behind the program and will not go away until the broader regional issues between Iran and US and its allies are resolved, Baluchistan is now more important geostrategic since China is making a port next door at Gwadar and also if Iran is to export its gas via pipelines to east it will need a secure Baluchistan

  24. rfjk says:


    During the 60’s and 70’s the aid to the M/E was principally going to the Israelis. And the US choose Israel as a military counter to the Arab regimes, which were being armed to the teeth by the Soviet Union. At that time the Israeli IDF was a competent and capable military force that demonstrated its prowess in the 1967 6 day war. Again, the origin of the US/Israeli special relationship resides in the conflict between the US and the Soviet Union during the cold war.

  25. Alan says:

    Arnold – it is not necessarily the Green movement that I’m talking about when I mention the split in the elite. The nuclear issue had conservatives up in arms as well. Too many important people were not happy about it. If it was merely the so-called Greens perhaps it would be a different story, but it wasn’t. The breadth of the opposition to it made it impossible to implement.

  26. Alan says:

    Sorry Kooshy, but I don’t buy any of that. The only times Israel has come anywhere near controlling Suez they have completely disrupted it. Bernard Montgomery considered Israel the biggest threat to Britain following WWII, and the British had originally vetoed partition in favour of a single state in 1936 with strict limits on Jewish immigration. Even the US, by March 1948, had moved away from supporting the creation of a Jewish state in favour of a single state trusteeship.

    Both the British and the US knew what they had on their hands from the outset and they didn’t fancy it. A postage stamp of land that destabilised everything around it was the last thing they needed.

  27. kooshy says:

    I also want to ad that this is where Ahmadinijad’s question that is usually phrased like this “If the reason for the creation of the state of Israel was because of the sense of guilt by the Europeans due to genocides and Holocaust of WWII then why they did not give them a part of Alaska and had them located in Palestine” obviously however you answer this question you are domed that’s why you don’t see anybody takes up to answer this question, if the answer is that the reason wasn’t the Holocaust then what was it? And if you answer is that the reason was the genocide in Europe to the people of Jewish fate, he will then asks why then the Palestinians have to pay reoperations for someone else genocide? Which is worst reply then the prior?

  28. kooshy says:

    “I agree in part that the Lobby isn’t the only issue at stake, but I don’t think the creation of Israel was of any great geostrategic importance to the US at the time, and nor do I think Israel is a strategic asset now.”

    Alan Israel wasn’t and isn’t of any great geostrategic importance , considering its location on eastern side of the Mediterranean sea that connects three continents and two oceans and close to one of only two entrances to this body of water and where the demography of the region historically is been hostile to the invading armies of the west , I can’t imagine who wouldn’t want to have a friendly like minded newly migrated population to be on control of this land like a fortress and provide security to this body of water.

    “There are also Christians who see the establishment of Israel as a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. And there are more secular-minded people who simply see Israel as “more like us” than the other countries in the Middle East. Most of these people have convinced themselves that Israel’s interests and our own are virtually identical.”

    Jon I agree on this point, and that is more reason, why I brought up the demography before and also on my reply to Alan above, I would add a 3rd reason and that is the internal bureaucracy for policy adjustments that usually lags behind in every country.

    So I don’t think all is just about love for the Jewish fate that facilitated the establishment of the state of Israel with mainly European migrated population, there must have been geostrategic reasons that since have not changed, and I don’t think they will likely change for the foreseeable future, even though we no longer have the eastern block on at least one corner of this body of water

    Sea trade routes are more important today then were 100 or even 60 years ago specially for the Atlantic countries that import most of their energies utilizing this shipping lanes
    Simply can’t only be some Jewish / Zionist sympathizers moved up here bought all the media, inserted their people in the government and now they force alignment of the daddy’s policy to protect their beloved beach head. As they say it takes to tango but the male leads.

  29. Arnold Evans says:

    I don’t know for sure if there was a deal that Iran perceived as just barely acceptable, that was thrown off by Balochistan – or if the deal was always unacceptable to Iran and would have been rejected Balochistan or no Balochistan.

    I expect that Iranians knew immediately that if the US was involved directly in the attack, it was factions hostile to the idea of a deal. But if factions of the US or US-aligned foreign policy apparatuses hostile to the idea of a deal are able to carry out spectacular attacks, can the US be trusted to carry out any deal it makes?

    Either way it would be a very prominent and undeniable indication that the United States is providing resources toward breaking up the country, as it claims to be holding out its hand for peace. Killing prominent members of Iran’s military could only weaken the voices of Iran that call for cooperation with the US and strengthen the voices calling for confrontation.

    People who believe that the elections were fair and reflect the intentions of Iran’s voters in June will believe that Mousavi and Rafsanjani were working against the interests of Iran in challenging those results and going along with a program that at least threatened more than the legitimacy of the poll results but questioned the legitimacy of the Iranian form of government itself. Polls say most Iranians believe the results were fair. One can only suppose Iranians in government believe the vote was fair more strongly than most.

    In the post election world, I do not see Mousavi having much impact on Iranian politics. Rafsanjani now seems to be working to rehabilitate his name which had been damaged. The idea that their faction derailed a deal that would otherwise have been accepted strikes me as far-fetched.

    Also, if there was a change, it was in October. Iran’s political system knew of the deal as it was being developed. The US would not present a deal that every Iranian would support, but if there were indications that the US would present a deal that could just barely get majority or consensus support in Iran, and that changed in October, I’d say Balochistan is a better candidate for what shifted the consensus than the Green movement.

    Any Iranian readers who can add to this, your observations are highly valued and appreciated. How much influence do you think Rafsanjani’s faction, or opposition factions to Ahmadinejad have in Iranian politics today or in October? How much of a factor was the Balochistan attack in October in changing Iranian positions about the United States?

  30. Dan cooper says:

    Eric A. Brill

    Re: Professor “James Petras”

    I recommended him to Mohammad.

    I am really surprised by your comments about Professor “James Petras”.

    He is one of the greatest professors of political science of our time with more than 60 books.

    Have you read his books?

    On what basis and from which evidence do you put the label of “anti-Semitism” on him and consider his writings worthless from an intellectual point of view?

  31. Alan says:

    rfjk – ok, but why choose Israel? What could Israel give the US? There were much more extensive US business interests elsewhere in the Middle East in the 1960s. And of course US support of Israel opened up certain Arab states to Soviet influence.

    After 1973 and the Oil Shock, it was worse. The US had to bribe some Arab dictatorships to control the oil, while bribing others to commit to peace deals with Israel. Added to the cost of aid to Israel, writing off their loans, and shipping them military hardware, it seems an extraordinarily expensive strategy.

    Yet I still can’t see what benefit Israel bestowed on the US at any time before or after 1967 in return for this vast investment. Of course, it was around 1967 that the US discovered the Israelis had nukes. Do you not think that had an influence over the decision making?

  32. Eric A. Brill says:


    Jon Harrison wrote: “In any case, the best single source is the book, “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy” by Mearsheimer and Walt (Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2007). There is a great of information available online, but a lot of it is motivated by anti-semitism and is worthless from an intellectual point of view.”

    For an example of the “motivated by anti-semitism and … worthless from an intellectual point of view” stuff out there, consider the link to the James Petras website provided to you by someone else.

  33. rfjk says:


    The USSR and oil were the main drivers.

    The beginning of the “special relationship” began after the 1967 Arab/Israeli war at the height of the cold war. The US realized it needed an effective satellite in the M/E to counterbalance USSR patronage, support and influence. The Israelis at that precise point in time fit the bill.

    The peaking of US oil production in 1972 got the ‘establishments’ attention too. Increasing importation of hydrocarbons also reinforced that ‘special relationship.’ But over time it became evident closer relations were important with Arabs also, because after all, they got all the oil. That was the genesis of the Saudi relationship and later Gulf-Arab states.

    Today the cold war is dead and gone along with the bipolar global order it operated within. So the fundamental policy rationale for Israel as a surrogate in the M/E serving US interests is also void, especially so since Israel practices a far more vicious form of apartheid on the W/B, and a policy of ghettoization of the Gaza that would make a Nazi, SS thug, soaking wet with Judite blood proud.

    The global order being multi-polar undermines the US/Israeli relationship. During the last decade of the 20th century the US had a free ride, because the whole global community had bamboozled and fooled themselves into believing the myth of US unipolarity and hegemony. Today, everyone and his brother are fully aware of the limits of American power, though having said that its a wise policy on the part of enemies to be somewhat cautious in pulling the tigers tail. The American tiger still retains a powerful bite. But knowledge of limits has adversely impacted US influence and leverage with other nations, causing the US to dialog and negotiate in ways unthinkable a mere few years ago.

    I don’t remember which Gulf state official said it, but one of the gulf states were negotiating an energy deal with the Chinese, which of course the Bush administration was decidedly opposed and in no uncertain language informed that Arab state. To their chagrin and astonishment the Arab official shot back they had national security interests too, and that the US best get used to it. Prior to the Bush administration that kind of response was unthinkable, besides the fact the deal went down. Today, the Chinese import 58% of their energy needs from the M/E, which is expected to increase to 70% by 2015.

  34. Alan says:

    Jon – fair comment. Have you ever read any Walid Khalidi? There was a quite superb letter exchange between him and various Zionists in The Spectator in 1961, in which he meticulously detailed evidence of the Lobby at work long before the concept of the Lobby had emerged as we know it today. Identification of “the multi-purpose half-truth” was one of the most memorable passages. Here’s a link:


    You’re right, Carter did seek a comprehensive solution in the early days of his peace initiative, but he was already dealing with Begin of course who never entertained a peace with the Palestinians. In fact his response to the very idea was to dramatically increase West Bank settlement expansion. As the whole thing started slipping to disaster the Palestinians were jettisoned by both Carter and Egypt to cement the deal they got.

    I would say though that, to his great credit, Carter has since worked very hard for the Palestinian cause.

  35. Mohammad says:

    I want to thank everyone who took the time to respond to my comments here. I think the discussion and the links have been useful, fairly descriptive and balanced and I’ll point people who want to know about the real extent and mechansims of Israel supporters influence in the US (which is a much misunderstood issue in Iran and other Muslim countries) to the comments section here.

    And to clarify about my background knowledge on the issue (which was put forward by Jon and rfjk), I am a graduate student in engineering and this is not my primary field of study. But I do have some familiarity with the issue and with the US system of governance in general (which I think is much more than Iranian average). My questions didn’t mean that I saw the issue as black or white, my primary intent was to stimulate a useful discussion. But given that Israel is a relatively small country (albeit in an important part of the world) and the Jews constitute less than 2% of US population, I still find it amazing that they have such a disproportionate influence (while many Americans seem to see it as harmful to US interests). I was looking for an explanation of that, which I think Juan Cole has described best as reflected at the beginning of Arnold’s post (http://mideastreality.blogspot.com/2009/04/do-jews-control-us-foreign-policy.html ). This is what I was looking for: “The strength of these lobbies comes from their passionate commitment to their cause, from excellent organizing skills, and from their ability to unify around it across religious and ideological boundaries, and above all from ability to leverage support serially on issues from likely allies.”
    Also, it is very interesting to me that as put by Jon, “those in control of major media outlets in the U.S. are, virtually every one of them, strong supporters of Israel”.

  36. Jon Harrison says:

    Alan, you make a very good point regarding Black September. But my point was that in this country, everything Arab (indeed, everything Muslim) tends to get lumped together. That’s been the basis for U.S. public opinion on the issue. Among those who know better, the vast majority are outright Zionists or pro-Zionist. Their efforts create a self-reinforcing attitude. Development of broader views in this country proceeds at a snail’s pace.

    While technically you are correct that the Palestinians were not generally recognized as a distinct people until quite late in the day, I remember Sadat in 1978-79 telling the Israelis that the West Bank had to be returned to (if I remember his words correctly) the “Palestinians.” I would maintain my conjecture that recognition of their plight and redress of their just grievances might have occured at that point had they been following a Gandhian course. Just conjecture on my part, as you recognized.

    This is a blog about Iran, so I don’t want to go on at length about the I/P problem in isolation, but I’ll state for the record that I believe the creation of Israel was a fundamental injustice, a last vestige of colonialism, and a heavy blow to US interests in the Middle East. I have never understood why the Palestinians should be made to suffer because the Jews of Europe were murdered by the Germans. In a world of perfect justice, the Jews would have been given Austria or Bavaria (cleared of the previous inhabitants) as a homeland. Assuming they would have rejected that, I would have offered them land in the US — part of Nevada perhaps, rather as the Mormons have Utah. The fact that the Jews once lived in Palestine is to me no reason to expropriate a people that had been resident there for over 1,000 years. The Romans threw the Jews out of Palestine almost 2,000 years ago. Any American who believes the Jews had a right to retake that land after twenty centuries should immediately hand over all of his or her property to the nearest Native American.

    Still, the Israelis are there, and we can’t simply wish them anyway. Nor do I want to see them removed by force — that would mean a bloodbath. As a policy matter, I would like the U.S. to cut the Israeli tie, because I think it hurts the American people. Morally, I hope for a spiritual awakening among all the peoples of Palestine, and the emergence of a united, deomcratic state in which Jew, Muslim, Christian and everybody in between can live on a basis equal citizenship. I do what I can (which isn’t much at all, unfortunately) to further those goals. Beyond that, I’m always hoping for a miracle.

    Thanks again for your pointed remarks. I will try to revisit this thread today; if not, then tomorrow.

  37. Alan says:

    I’m still not convinced about the significance of the Jundallah attack. There had been uproar over the proposed TRR deal amongst the elite in Iran after Geneva and before Vienna. I think a more likely scenario is that the Jundallah attack was used as cover to change the Iranian position.

    The Iranians, needing a deal, would have seen that US involvement in the attack would have been counterproductive from the US point of view, and I believe the Iranians would have been more likely to assume it was the act of a party seeking to derail the negotiations. If they really thought it was the US behind it, they didn’t make much of it internationally.

    I support 95% of what the Leveretts say, but I think they continue to underestimate the significance of the split in the Iranian elite. It is certainly true that a revolution is not on the cards, but that is a different issue.

  38. Alan says:

    rfjk – what exactly is/was the reasoning behind adopting Israel rather than an oil-rich Arab state or states as a supposed strategic ally in the Cold War?

  39. Alan says:

    Jon – forgive me for going over this again, but you have demonstrated a perfect example of the impact of the Lobby. You have just defined Palestinians, despite possibly having a “just” cause, as violent terrorists undeserving of sympathy, on the basis of the Munich incident and “all we have seen since”.

    Yet the Munich incident was perpetrated by a fringe group of extremists, Black September, with no mandate from the Palestinian people, and was one of only a very small number of international acts that started and ended in the early 1970s. Yet it still serves to de-legitimise the Palestinian cause.

    What about the specific Munich reprisal action of the Israelis? That is to say, the action of the Israeli government and NOT a fringe group of extremists; an action endorsed wholeheartedly by the Israeli electorate? Did that action, which killed 500 people in bombing raids on Lebanon and Syria, de-legitimise Israel in your eyes or those of anybody in the West?

    The Lobby wins again.

    I know the rest of your comment about peace deals 30 years ago was conjecture, but there was no possibility whatsoever of a 2-state settlement after 1967 or in the 1970s, because the Palestinians as a people simply didn’t exist as far as Israel was concerned. They were not acknowledged as a people until the late 1980s, because to do so would have encouraged an examination of what took place in 1947-48 which Israel simply could not (and still cannot) allow. It wasn’t until the first Intifada that it finally became impossible for Israel to continue to deny their existence. ALL moves toward any kind of Palestinian state flowed from there.

  40. rfjk says:


    You ask a lot of questions that are probably impossible to answer. Personally, I don’t think you can begin to understand unless you first have a solid understanding of the US system of governance. That too may be impossible if you believe the US is a democracy, because in having that wrong right from the start, everything following after will be wrong or incomprehensible. The US of A is an egalitarian republic. The kind of governance practiced here is republicanism in architecture & structures (form), constitutionalism (creed) and politics (action), whereby all governance is a “public affair” in which all entities individual, public, private, religious, corporate, ideological, etc, foreign or domestic can participate and have access to the local, state(s) and federal realms.

    If you can’t grasp that basic fact, than your endeavor is pointless for the same reasons that would apply to an American who doesn’t have a basic working concept of Iranian governance. Its this system of American governance that allows the following.

    Firstly, Israel isn’t the only foreign interest lobby working its will on capitol hill to the disadvantage of America’s citizenry. There are scores of them. The Israeli Lobby just happens to be the most wealthy and influential of the lot, and are currently the focus of a lot of attention due to the geo-strategic blunders of the Bush administration. That’s far more media attention than what Zionists are comfortable with, since they are more effective pursuing their interests on capital hill privately and away from prying eyes.

    Nor is wealth the sole reason for Israeli influence. The major contributing factor was the cold war and the US need for an ally in the M/E. Another enabling factor was the merging of interests between Christian Zionists and Judite Zionists within the Republican party. A recent factor was the election of Bush Jr, the most pro-Israeli US president to ever occupy the W/H. I’m sure you know that later history very well.

    Another very important factor is that Zionists have a long lead time on Arab, Muslim and Palestinian foreign interest groups and lobbies. They didn’t begin organizing until the 1990’s. And legal and court discriminatory practices during the Bush era temporarily hampered their development. But these hyphenated Americans can no more be dissuaded or prevented than Jewish/Americans were in founding their lobbies and interest groups. As such develop, prosper and connect into the Washington ‘establishment,’ Zionist influence is challenged and progressively weakened by those other voices.

    To go further risks going beyond being objective and dealing solely with the facts. But I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to exterminate today’s version of the “opium of the people.” If a person believes their country is a democracy, he/she will believe anything no matter how preposterous, outlandish or illogical.

  41. Arnold Evans says:


    I’ve talked about Jewish influence on US foreign policy in my blog.

    Interesting that there is not much comment about Jundallah. A lot of what is in this article is not controversial, or at least not possible to reasonably argue against. The idea that the US does not support Iranian secessionist movements is ridiculous.

    The timing of the October attack was exactly perfect for breaking any movement towards resolving the Iranian nuclear issue. I do not believe the US would have approved an October attack if it had the ability to influence the execution of specific operations.

    On the other hand, Israel does not want a resolution of the nuclear issue if that will reduce hostility between the US and Israel’s primary regional adversary. The idea that Israel may have access to US relationships and resources and used them to sponsor an operation that goes against US interests is intriguing. I don’t have evidence that it happened, but it is possible.

    Maybe it was just a coincidence. But it was a coincidence that had a drastic effect on the nuclear issue – and in a direction the Obama administration would have disagreed with and that the Netanyahu administration would have supported.

  42. Jon Harrison says:

    Mohammad, I don’t say that “Zionists control the major media outlets” because “zionists” is a term used by anti-semites when they really mean Jews. I am not an anti-semite or a conspiracist. However, those in control of major media outlets in the U.S. are, virtually every one of them, strong supporters of Israel. Their motives are diverse. There are of course people of the Jewish faith who are strong Zionists. There are also Christians who see the establishment of Israel as a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. And there are more secular-minded people who simply see Israel as “more like us” than the other countries in the Middle East. Most of these people have convinced themselves that Israel’s interests and our own are virtually identical. We in the “opposition” see things rather differently, of course.

    I almost want to question your apparent lack of background on this — are you very young, or have you been living a very isolated existence? I don’t mean to be flip, but given the mass of information and opinion available out there, I’m surprised you haven’t encountered more of it. In any case, the best single source is the book, “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy” by Mearsheimer and Walt (Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2007). There is a great of information available online, but a lot of it is motivated by anti-semitism and is worthless from an intellectual point of view.

    Kooshy’s first paragraph is very well put and I agree with it. On the other hand, I would tend to disagree with the analysis he puts forward in his next three paragraphs.

    Alan, I believe a Gandhi-like approach by the Palestinians would have won over American opinion, leading (this is a counterfactual argument, and obviously I can’t prove it) to a Palestinian state incorporating the entire West Bank and Gaza. In my view Likud would never have come to power and the issue would have been settled on a two-state basis thirty or more years ago. No matter how just your cause may be, killing Olympic athletes and everything else we’ve seen since won’t get you sympathy in Western countries. You can certainly say in response: What about Israeli actions? But the Arabs in general were behind in public opinion to begin with, for reasons I think we all can comprehend. The Palestinians needed to hallow their cause with nonviolence to overcome the Israeli lead in public support. Again, just my opinion; can’t prove it.

  43. rfjk says:

    US support of Sunni terrorist groups inside Iran are in the same vein as Iranian support for Shiite anti occupation groups inside Iraq. Both are holding chits to barter and trade when they finally get around to talking.

  44. Alan says:

    Kooshy – I agree in part that the Lobby isn’t the only issue at stake, but I don’t think the creation of Israel was of any great geostrategic importance to the US at the time, and nor do I think Israel is a strategic asset now. In the Bush Jnr era, there was certainly an ideological synergy between him and Sharon, but that in reality was the only time.

    Israel’s disproportionate influence arises from having nuclear weapons and a diabolically over-powerful military. When the US learned the Israelis had nukes they were incandescent. When they threatened to use them in 1973, the die was cast. The US was forever caught between appeasing Israel and bribing Arabs.

    The Lobby provides PR cover for all of this. If that didn’t work any more and the reality of the hopelessness of the situation was exposed, things might change.

    Jon – I disagree with you about the Palestinians taking up arms. What we saw after 1967 was the remarkable efficiency of the Lobby at work, much as they had done since 1947. Sure, there was the very occasional Black September spectacular, but they ended in 1972-73. What else was there? After 1967, Israel had forced over a million people from their homes along the Suez Canal, they forced 100,000 from their home along the Jordan, they forced 100,000 out of the Golan Heights. All AFTER the 1967 war. These were crimes of extreme violence, affecting huge numbers of people, yet as far as the Palestinians were concerned, all the West was aware of was a vague grouping of people defined solely by a fringe group of terrorists.

  45. kooshy says:

    Mohammad I personally don’t believe that the matter of Israel lobby’s influence over the foreign policy of US is as one sided as we think it is,
    I don’t believe any foreign lobby advocating the interest of to a foreign country can completely dictate the military and foreign policy of a hegemonic super power.

    To understand my argument, we will first need to understand what were the conditions and the geostrategic reasons for the creation of the state of Israel at the time.
    Then we will also need to know if this conditions and geostrategic reason have completely changed, to require a realignment of the regional and global US foreign policy that the US Israeli lobby is currently preventing this realignment.

    I argue that the broader US geostrategic regiments has not been effectively changed since the creation of the state of Israel, for at least three reasons, geography, demography of the region and the bureaucracy, therefore this existing conditions making it easy for the lobby to effect the US regional as well as global foreign policy.

    I can’t imagine for foreseeable future US middle eastern policy can or will change, as we all know this has not changed in last 60 years with all sorts of regional or global events, with one exception just when some ALLIES had plans for one of the two only entrances to the Mediterranean sea that was controlled by an enemy state at the time.

  46. Mohammad says:

    Also thanks to Dan for the link.

  47. Mohammad says:

    Jon, thanks for your detailed response.

    But I’m still puzzled about that seemingly mysterious Zionist influence. How is it exerted in practice? Are Zionists really in control of the major media outlets? Who exactly are they? (e.g. are major shareholders of media companies Zionists?)
    Why is that? I mean, how they have come to have such an extraordinary influence, given that [it seems that] the opportunity existed for other factions as well? Did the Zionists have a serious commitment, a very clever plan and historically a lot of resources to reach their vision of dominating the US politics and public opinion with regards to Middle East policy? Is their effort documented somewhere? Who were they? Also, what are the motives of the American Zionists who advocate strong support for Israel? Do they see it in line of US national interests? Are they religiously motivated or see the support as humanitarian? Or benefit from such support?

    Sorry if I’m going off-topic, and generating a lot of (maybe naive) questions; but this is a very interesting issue to me which I was looking for some reliable, well-informed and impartial people (who would be preferably American) to explain it to me. After all, it seems like a hard-to-believe conspiracy theory!

    P.S.: Before posting this comment, I went searching for answers to my questions on the web. I found some apparently reliable info, e.g. “How Important Is the Israel Lobby?” by David Verbeeten in The Middle East Quarterly (http://www.meforum.org/1004/how-important-is-the-israel-lobby). Now I feel I’m starting to understand the issue.

  48. Dan cooper says:


    Re: Israel lobby

    Jon Harrison has explained it eloquently however, if you are interested in knowing more about “the Zionist Power in American Politics” please click on the link below:


    By Professor “James Petras” which is very interesting.

    Petras has also written a few articles about Iran.

  49. Jon Harrison says:

    Programs to destabilize the Islamic Republic through covert operations began in the Bush administration, if not sooner. The record on this is quite clear. There’s been no stand-down or letup under Obama. Whether he has actually signed off on the program is uncertain. I’m not trying to make excuses for the man; most likely he has reaffirmed the Bush policy. However, it’s just possible the programs are running, as it were, on autopilot; to what extent Obama controls his national security bureaucracy remains unclear.

    Mohammad, the answer is YES. We’ve been undermining our national interests in the Middle East since 1948. Now, is there any possibility of a change that would allow the US to take decisions that go against Israeli interests? Well, we do occasionally do things that are “against Israeli interests,” at least as perceived by Israelis and their supporters in the US. If you are asking whether the US will ever do big things that would really change the status of the US-Israeli relationship and the nature of US policies in the Middle East, the answer is: maybe. But we would have to suffer a real disaster that could be plainly seen as caused by our relationship with Israel — something like being dragged into a disastrous war in defense of Israeli colonialism, with heavy US casualties and/or big economic consequences. Short of that I have my doubts. Hell, the Israelis murdered 34 US sailors on board the USS Liberty in 1967, and most Americans don’t even know about it. Zionist interests are so powerful in the formation of US public opinion, it’s hard to see how the spell gets broken. It’s very tragic that the Palestinians took up the gun after 1967. Had they adopted the tactics of Gandhi and Martin Luther Kings, I think they would have gotten world (including US) opinion overwhelmingly on their side. I believe that would have made a difference.

    Unless by some miracle we see a revolution in attitudes on both sides, leading to a united, democratic Palestine in which Arabs, Jews, Christians live together on a basis of equality, we will continue to witness a US-Israeli effort to dominate the region militarily, politically, and economically. Eventually, this will lead to the destruction of Israel — it will be submerged either militarily or demographically. And the US will pay a heavy price of its own.

  50. Mohammad says:

    As an Iranian, the issue put by Dan Cooper is also interesting to me. In Iran, it is somehow conventional wisdom that the Zionist lobby is very powerful in the US and is a major force influencing its foreign policy, which elected officials can’t effectively oppose them. I am not sure if this is an exaggeration or it is at least nearly true. It’s hard to believe or disbelieve people on this, since it seems that most people are talking based on their particular point of view.

    So if everyone can answer the question made by Dan and the more fundamental ones that “In an impartial view, do facts show that the Zionist lobby is indeed very influential in the United States? How much is that influence? Does it mean that the US can be tricked to undermine its own national interests by endorsing and helping Israel’s interests? If the answer is yes, is there any possibility of a change that can make US make decisions against the interests of Israel?” I’ll be grateful.

  51. Dan cooper says:


    The answer to the above question is a definite “yes”.

    Some of the most powerful people in the Obama Administration are staunch Zionist supporters who bitterly oppose any engagement with Iranian regime. They are using every trick in the book to brainwash the American and international public opinion in favour of “regime change” in Iran by any means, be it a covert operation or war (As they did in the case of Iraq)

    Leveretts are right,—-to put U.S.-Iranian relations on a more positive and productive trajectory, Obama must first order the CIA to stand down from covert operations inside Iran but the 64 million dollar question is this;

    How can Obama go against the wishes of “Israel lobby and the Zionist in his administration”?

    Any suggestions?