The ‘Trust Gap’

The US-Israeli divide: it’s a chasm


I had to laugh when I read the Associated Press piece on Israeli defense  minister Ehud Barak’s message to a series of visiting US officials:

“Israeli officials say they won’t warn the U.S. if they decide to launch a  pre-emptive strike against Iranian nuclear facilities, according to one  U.S. intelligence official familiar with the discussions. The  pronouncement, delivered in a series of private, top-level  conversations, sets a tense tone ahead of meetings in the coming days at the White House and Capitol Hill.”

The traffic between Washington and Tel Aviv has been crowded lately: top US officials, including the chairman of the joint chiefs, are traipsing to Israel, “all trying to close the trust gap between Israel and the U.S.  over how to deal with Iran’s nuclear ambitions,” as the AP piece puts  it.

While diplomats speak a language made up almost entirely of euphemisms, the  reality is that the “trust gap” is a veritable chasm. For the Israelis  to tell us – their chief benefactors and defenders – they have no  intention of warning us before undertaking an action which will put US  troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the entire region in mortal danger, is  beyond outrageous. It is an overtly hostile act. In effect, what they  are threatening amounts to the Middle Eastern Pearl Harbor. The irony is that the means  to launch such an attack were given to them by us.

In the second paragraph, the AP puts a polite face on the Israeli threat:

“Israeli officials said that if they eventually decide a strike is necessary,  they would keep the Americans in the dark to decrease the likelihood  that the U.S. would be held responsible for failing to stop Israel’s  potential attack.”

One wonders if the Israelis managed to say this with a straight face. After all, how would anyone, including the Iranians, know what Washington  knew and when they knew it? The Israelis know perfectly well the US will be blamed no matter what. Indeed, this is precisely what they are  counting on to carry the day in favor of those arguing for a US strike:  for if the US is going to be blamed in any event, then we might as well  be the ones to take out Iran’s nuclear sites, a task the Israelis don’t  have the capacity to accomplish cleanly and neatly. If Israel is seen as the main aggressor, then getting overt support for regime change from  Iran’s Sunni neighbors is out of the question: indeed, an Israeli attack on Tehran will threaten those neighbors with serious destabilization and give impetus to Islamists already in the ascendant in Egypt, Libya,  and Syria. In order to avoid these outcomes, US policymakers could be  persuaded into attacking Iran in order to preempt an Israeli strike.

In short, the Israelis are pursing a policy that can only be described as  blackmail sui generis. Usually, the blackmailer operates in the  shadows, sneaking about delivering threatening missives to his victims,  all the while taking great pains to cover his tracks. Not the Israelis:  they’re doing it right out in the open.

If America were a normal country, this would provoke outrage in our lawmakers and in the media: they would want to know why a supposed “ally” would  knowingly put American soldiers at risk – and openly boast about keeping us in the dark.

When it comes to Washington’s relationship with Israel, however, the US is  very far from normality. The “special relationship” is one of the  hallowed canons of American politics, the one issue that brings together San Francisco Democrats and Red State Republicans. The Israel lobby is a unique phenomenon, wielding extraordinary clout not only in the  corridors of power but also in the newsrooms of the “mainstream” media,  where a pro-Israel spin on anything relating to the Jewish state is de rigueur. As Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer exhaustively document in their  book on the subject, the Israel lobby was instrumental in dragging us  into war with Iraq – and long ago began the drumbeat for war with Iran.

Tensions with the Israelis have been on the rise ever since the midpoint of  George W.  Bush’s second term, when the Washington headquarters of  AIPAC, the powerhouse organization at the Lobby’s core, was raided by  the FBI on no less than two occasions. At the same time, two AIPAC  officials, Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, were indicted on charges of  espionage in the infamous Larry Franklin case. Franklin, the Pentagon’s  top Iran analyst and an off-the-rails neocon, was convicted of handing  over top secret information to Rosen and Weissman, who promptly handed  it over to Israeli embassy officials. The case dragged on for years,  with the government insisting some portions of the trial had to be kept  off the public record due to the highly sensitive nature of the  evidence. The defense pursued a legal strategy of “greymail” all the way to the end: the case was eventually dropped, and yet the underlying  issues undermining the “special relationship” continued to worsen as it  became clear Bush wasn’t going to follow up his Iraq misadventure with “shock and awe” over Tehran.

This worsening of relations accelerated with the election of Barack Obama,  who initially promised what seemed likely to be a more even-handed  approach to the Middle East region, particularly regarding the  Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Cairo speech, and the subsequent  pressure on Israel to cease building “settlements” on disputed West Bank real estate had the Israel lobby up in arms. In a tacit alliance with  the Obama-is-a-secret-Muslim loons and the Republican politicians who  cater to that crowd, the Israel-Firsters raised a hue and cry: Obama is “selling out Israel!

The way these people howled one would have thought the President was  committing treason against the United States. What’s important to  understand, however, is that the Israel lobby doesn’t distinguish  between American and Israeli interests. While this may seem like an  extreme position, it fairly represents a distillation of the Washington  consensus: the phrase “no daylight” is often heard when government  officials in both Washington and Tel Aviv discuss Israel’s relationship  with Uncle Sam.

Yet this official fiction is being stretched to the breaking point as the  US and Israel square off over Iran – and the truth is that it was never a very convincing fiction to begin with. Every nation has interests unique to itself, which are perceived through the eyes of its own political leaders. An  alliance, even a long-term strategic relationship, has limits. In  denying this, the pro-Israel crowd is denying the very nature of  nation-states, and indulging in a dangerous fantasy that can only end in disaster for the US.

A normal country would answer Israeli efforts to blackmail us into  attacking Iran with a message short and sweet. I would send Zbigniew  Brzezinski over there to tell them what he told the Daily Beast in an interview:

“How aggressive can Obama be in insisting to the Israelis that a military strike might be in America’s worst interest?

ZB: We are not exactly impotent little babies. They have to fly over our  airspace in Iraq. Are we just going to sit there and watch?

What if they fly over anyway?

ZB: Well, we have to be serious about denying them that right. That means a denial where you aren’t just saying it. If they fly over, you go up and confront them. They have the choice of turning back or not. No one  wishes for this but it could be a Liberty in reverse.”

That this scenario is not within the realm of the politically possible is our national  shame. Our politicians preen and pose as great “patriots,” and yet the  more “patriotic” they claim to be the more they seem to favor appeasing  the Israelis at America’s expense.

The Israelis have been  shielded by their nuclear monopoly since the early 1960s, when they   stole the technology from us to make their own bomb: now that the  Iranians are intent on pursuing the same policy of “nuclear ambiguity” the Israelis employed for many years, they are claiming Tehran poses an  intolerable “existential threat.”

This is nonsense, as anyone who remembers a little incident known as the  cold war will readily concede. For half a century we faced a Soviet  Union armed with thousands of nuclear weapons aimed straight at our  cities: on the other side of the Iron Curtain they confronted a  similarly sobering array. The prospect of mutual assured destruction  kept the threat of a nuclear conflagration at bay until the inner rot of the Soviet regime led to its downfall. That the mullahs of Tehran will  not last half as long is a pretty good bet – unless war with the West  fuses Persian nationalism with religiosity to give their sclerotic  worldview new life.

The “trust gap” between the US and Israel is getting wider and more  chasm-like by the minute. As we approach the climax to this  international drama, it will be interesting to see who in the US winds  up on which side of the growing divide.

  1. #1 by Adalberto Erazo on 02/29/2012 - 9:34

    “ZB: We are not exactly impotent little babies. They have to fly over our airspace in Iraq. Are we just going to sit there and watch?”

    Notice the arrogance in this line. It’s not America’s airspace! It belongs to Iraq!

    “That the mullahs of Tehran will not last half as long is a pretty good bet – unless war with the West fuses Persian nationalism with religiosity to give their sclerotic worldview new life.”

    Here’s more of that racist yankee arrogance on display with this line by Justin Raimondo. Fact of the matter is the people of Iran support their country and leaders.They also support having Islam in their lives and they don’t want the west interfering with their way of life. Ditto with the whole region. The west needs to butt out and mind it’s own damn business!

  2. #2 by Gary on 02/29/2012 - 9:34

    The world’s problems go far beyond israel.I know that Justin can’t or rather won’t say what it really is-JEW POWER. Period. Enslavement of the world by the JEWS. I’m sooo sick of peoples fear of being labeled an antisemite.

  3. #3 by Amy Aremia on 02/29/2012 - 9:34

    Israel is for Israel, first, last, and always— seeing that it will not get the approval of Obama to strike Iran, and now claiming, if and when they do, they will not tell the U.S. This may sound childish, but also dangerous.
    Time for the U.S. to bring home ALL our military in the Middle East and leave Israel to do as it sees fit.
    Time to stop all the Billions going into the Middle East as “Foreign Aid.”
    Time to realize that all the unrest, riots, revolutions have been urged by Israel against those countries which are not favorable to Israel- whose intentions are to take over as much of the Middle East land as they possibly can.
    Time for the U.S. and the rest of civilized, western industrial nations to unite and in a concerted effort make known to Israel that its same old tactics used over the years will not longer work.
    Time for all the Bible readers to re-read their Bibles and come to the real conclusion that their God, in his final reprimand to the “Jews” to obey his commandments, and stop their evil ways, took away his promised land and told them that they and their future generations will wander the world without a land of their own–disowning them completely.
    Besides the original Israel, a northern kingdom ofd ten tribes, founded in 933 B.C., was destroyed by the Assyrians in 721 B.C.- long before the coming of Christ, who gave the world Christianity, a new covenant that brought man out of the dark ages of slavery and gave him human dignity, with freedom.
    There is no Judaism in Christianity—for their intentions are to destroy Christianity and the “goyim.” Their Talmud, having its spiritual and ethical primcipals clearly outlined to conform to its Judaic traditions shows wlhat they must do in order to destroy Christianity before it can Judaize the world and make themselves “the divine gods of the earth.”

  4. #4 by Adalberto Erazo on 02/29/2012 - 9:34

    @ Gary

    You said it man! It’s the bulls eye people refuse to hit. The jews have been at war with humanity for thousands of years.

  5. #5 by equalizer on 02/29/2012 - 9:34

    Amy, did you used to post at

  6. #6 by Jim on 03/01/2012 - 9:34

    The jews know that the American people are ignorant sheep. As long as that’s the case, this is a hopeless struggle. It’s a HUGE obstacle to overcome. They are addicted to the JMSM and take its word as gospel. All other sources are not given any creedence, if they’re even considered or known of. They’re more concerned with NASCAR, Football, and the absurd network programming that’s on every night. Pleasant distraction is their main desire, it seems. They fear to fret much less to confront.

    People who think they’re getting the real story by watching “Democracy Now” with Amy Goodman, and Keith Olberman and Rachel Maddow are fools, although Amy did criticize Israel for thei ’06 Lebanon agression and use of cluster bombs. However NO ONE even mentions the tiniest facet of 9-11! Not Noam Chomsky, not Norman Finkelstein, NO ONE, except Dandelion Books’ Carol Adler who is almost the only source of books like “Ben Gurion’s Scandals: How the Hagannah and MOSSAD eliminated Jews” by Naeim Giladi and the 9-11 Bible, “Stranger Than Fiction, an Independent Investigation of the True Culprits Behind 9-11”, by Albert D. Pastore, Ph.D to name a couple. Gilad Atzmon’s “The Wandering Who?” is another. Of course there’s MG and “The Ugly Truth” and Christopher Bollyn too. People who think I’m an idiot can’t begin to conceive what I know from over 10 years of researching the researchers. The difference in knowledge is like an Olympic swimming pool vs a thimble, yet I’M the fool! Ha! Arrogant Ignorance.

    I’ve alienated old friends, new friends and everyone in between. My own half brother cut off all communication with me after I started educating him about 9-11. He said the Truth Movement were “a bunch of psychos”, yet he knows absolutely NOTHING about 9-11, and this is a graduate of UC Berkeley with three degrees and a life-long left wing liberal guy. I was floored by his reaction; I though he would find it interesting and outrageous.

    Arrogant ignorance is what I’ve encountered most commonly. Most people embrace their ignorance; they literally don’t want to know. Only a very few found my information truly interesting and wanted to know more. I’ve made converts, but the rate is maybe 10%, at best, and they stay quiet about it out of fear. I doubt very much that any of them forwarded ANY of my Emails and references, and unlike myself, none of them were enraged. Surprised, but not enraged. I’m sure they wouldn’t bring up Bldg #7 at a cocktail party! They fear being the brunt of ridicule.

    Not me! I’m a glutton for confrontation. If you really want to see the true person, start talking about the Jews and or 9-11. You will be surprised. An old friend of 30 years has also cut me off. He told me he marked my Emails as spam and refuses to read them. He always was a politically correct type of fake intellectual asshole. Where is the value of the TRUTH?

    FACTS are unwanted, and nothing pisses people off more than the truth! I suppose it’s the psychological condition known as the “Normalcy Bias”. Google that if you’re unfamiliar with it.

    But MG and the rest of us foot soldiers must carry on, never accepting defeat. I will shoot off my mouth at every opportunity ’till my last breath, for what it’s worth. I fear I may live long enough to shout “I TOLD YOU SO” !!!!!

  7. #7 by Ingrid B on 03/02/2012 - 9:34

    “They have to fly over our airspace in Iraq.” : sounds like a territorial statement..

    “now that the Iranians are intent on pursuing the same policy of “nuclear ambiguity”” : are they?

    “That the mullahs of Tehran will not last half as long is a pretty good bet – unless war with the West fuses Persian nationalism with religiosity to give their sclerotic worldview new life.” :

    I just watched scenes from the elections in Teheran, and I was so impressed, by the expressions on the faces of those present, when the Ayatollah cast his vote. These people were smiling, and respectful, with the light of kindness, emanating from them..

  8. #8 by Phillies on 04/19/2015 - 9:34

    IRAN UPDATE: The USA pressured France to cancel delivery of two big helicopter carrier ships to Russia in late 2014 despite it being a long term contract – over Ukrainian issue. Russia is mighty pissed & will sue the French anyway as paid for one already – the French have wrecked their contract credibility due to USA pressure & India already thinking of bailing out on Rafaele French fighters as direct result. Putin is not taking this idly, he has undercut French in return, with offer to India on Sukhoi fighters if they opt out of French deal – to teach French a lesson.

    But more importantly to discussion above, Putin has decided that if west will screw Russia over on arms deals, then it to can do the same back to west. Blowback. You may recall Russia halted delivery of S-300 SAM batteries to Iran as gesture of goodwill to USA and Israel around 5 years ago. Well guess what, Putin is going to resume delivery of S-300s to Iran. The Russians think a dozen batteries will cover all Iran quite effectively and will cargo lift them into Tehran this year. That means flying over Iran is going to be very, very, dangerous if you are not welcome.

    An S-300 battery has a long range radar vehicle that tracks anything in 100km radius, a command control vehicle, a dedicated fire control radar vehicle, and then six separate missile vehicles with 4 missiles each. The fire control vehicle can track dozens of multiple targets at once and assists the missiles track at the incoming objects. It takes 5 minutes to set up the firing vehicle. This is serious hardware and the Israeli air force has very few ways to access Iran – via Turkey with (vulnerable) refuelling required over Iraq or possibly from Saudi territory, but the Iranians can anticipate the entry lanes and position accordingly.

    The Israeli’s unilateral bombing of Iran option is essentially all but over with the S-300s. Their losses would be too high with high probability of capture of Israeli pilot or two. The Israeli government can’t afford that kind of loss in domestic politics or in regional politics as a sign of new weakness.

    Israel failed in attempt to pressure Obama into a war – the USA has a decade of mid east war fatigue for little perceived reward as per cost value. The unexpected resilience of the Syrian state due to Iranian support has been noted by US military planners, & the striking impact of Iranian trained Lebanese Hezbollah Shia militias in Syrian conflict indicates disciplined fighting corps that US planners have modelled into the Iranian combat scenario – in short they do not want to go there.

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