Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Stupidity and Avarice:

Two Bases of American Foreign Policy*

Paul Eidelberg

American foreign policy has two bases: stupidity and avarice. Admittedly, this may be said of the foreign policy of most countries. In Israel, however, whereas stupidity is the pilot and avarice the co-pilot, the reverse is the case of America.

Let’s first examine the evidence of stupidity in American foreign policy, since much of it is applicable to Israel’s government. And if you prefer the more polite term “naiveté” to stupidity, that may be nothing more than a distinction without a difference—only bear in mind there are different kinds of stupidity just as there are different kinds of intelligence.

According to historian W. P. Grady, “in the early years of WW II, American ambassador William Standley actually attempted to befriend the Russians by distributing Walt Disney Films.” Apparently, this was the State Department’s or President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s version of “confidence building” measures. (Perhaps Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, instead of releasing Arab terrorists, which arouses Arab contempt, should distribute Teddy Bears or Hershey Bars to the Palestinians to befriend them.)

FDR very much personalized American foreign policy. He believed he had the personality to charm “Uncle Joe” just as he had charmed so many Americans with his “fireside chats.” This naiveté (or conceit) was reinforced by another ambassador to the Soviet Union, Averill Harriman, who wrote to Roosevelt: “As you know, I am a confirmed optimist in our relations with Russia because of my conviction that Stalin wants, if obtainable, a firm understanding with you and America.”

This seems to be what Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would like with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad—“a firm understanding between Iran and the USA.” It was with this in mind that she invited Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad to the November Annapolis Conference—Syria, a terrorist state. By the way, Condi was, for many years, a board member of Chevron, which merged with Texaco, a partner of Saudi Aramco.

Since her boss President George W. Bush regards Islam as a religion of peace, he is all the more anxious to have, for his legacy, the establishment of a Palestinian state. Ponder his fatuous affection for Mahmoud Abbas, a Holocaust denier. Foreign Minister Livni shares Mr. Bush’s puerile view of Islam and was therefore quite hurt when the Muslim delegates at Annapolis refused to shake hands with her. Yes, there are different degrees and different kinds of stupidity.

For example, Condi Rice and Tzipi Livni believe Israel must not retaliate against Gaza-based terrorists firing Kassam missiles every day on Sderot. They feel that putting an end to this terrorism, which has virtually destroyed a Jewish city, would hinder the peace process. How’s that for stupidity?—although, in the case of Livni, you may wish to call it cowardly stupidity. Shades of Ehud Olmert, who idiotically declared in New York that he was tired of being courageous.

Someone should write a history of stupidity. Shimon Peres once said that by yielding territory to the Arabs, Israel will have more Ph.D.s per square kilometer. Yes, Mr. Peres, and more idiots per square kilometer.

Turning to the avaricious basis of American foreign policy, can it be that Washington deliberately fosters conflict in the Middle East because such conflict enriches America’s defense industries, banks and the national economy?

Unknown to many observers, 74% of the $2.28 billion Israel receives in U.S. military aid must be spent in the United States. Moreover, military aid to Israel creates a demand for, and the purchase of, tens of billions of dollars worth of U.S. weaponry by Saudi Arabia and other Arab states. U.S. military aid to Israel actually enriches the American economy. American arms manufacturers know this. So do Congressmen who represent states in which military defense corporations are located.

Many Congressmen become lobbyists for Saudi Arabia when they leave office. They have the connections to facilitate the twenty-billion dollar two-way trade between the U.S, and that oil-rich desert kingdom. In Sleeping with the Devil, former CIA operative Robert Baer reveals how the avarice of former American officials trumps patriotism. This is evident in the operations of the Washington-based Carlyle Group.

Carlyle has made a fortune through buying up small defense contractors and flipping them to defense giants like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and TRW International, a major weapons provider of the Saudis. As the world’s largest consumer of U.S.-made armaments, Saudi Arabia virtually makes the secondary market for American fighter planes, missiles, tanks, armored vehicles, and other weaponry and supporting services.

As Baer points out, Washington’s franchise players—politicians, CIA and State Department officials—head straight for the Carlyle employment office as soon as they’re out of the government.

Carlyle’ most famous adviser is “Poppa” George Herbert Walker Bush, the forty-first president of the United States. Greatly admired among the moneyed classes in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait for their leadership in the Gulf War, Bush and former British Prime Minister John Major traveled frequently to both places on Carlyle’s behalf, opening the doors to some of the world’s most well-heeled investors.

When Poppa’s son George II was Governor of Texas, the state teachers’ pension fund invested $100 million with the Carlyle Group. Nor is this all.

Between his stints as Secretary of Defense and Vice-President, Dick Cheney served as CEO of Halliburton, a frequent beneficiary of Saudi construction projects both during and after his tenure. As Halliburton chairman, Cheney was instrumental in securing a $489 million in loan guarantees from the Export-Import Bank for the scandal-plagued Tyumen Oil Company, a Russian entity formed to exploit the oil reserves in the Caspian Sea region.

During the Clinton years, Donald Rumsfeld and Colin Powell joined former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger (Nixon and Ford) and George Shultz (Reagan) and other luminaries as company directors of Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation, the luxury jet manufacturer.

Baer concludes that almost every Washington figure worth mentioning has served on the board of at least one company that dealt with Saudi Arabia. Is it any wonder that the agenda at the Annapolis Conference was based on the Saudi “Peace Plan”? But this suggests that avarice on the part of the United States trumped ideology at that Conference, indeed, that avarice dominates American foreign policy. To avarice we must of course add crass hypocrisy and ideological stupidity. For while President Bush hobnobs with the Saudis and refers to Islam as a religion of peace, hundreds of Saudi-financed mosques in the United States preach jihad and hatred of America.

None of today’s presidential candidates—Democrat or Republican—dares touch on either basis of American foreign policy. How can these candidates speak of the avarice of American foreign policy when they are spending millions of dollars nurturing their lust for the presidency?

How can they speak of the stupidity of American diplomatic overtures to tyrannies like Iran and Syria when they engage in frivolous debates in which they have only a few minutes—sometimes only 30 seconds—to answer questions that may require very different answers more than a year from now, when the next president assumes office?

In any event, regardless of which party gains control of the presidency, Washington will be sleeping with the devil—as it has since1933, when FDR was first elected to that office.

As for Israel, although avarice infects the ruling elites, more significant are the words of the Prophet Isaiah, “I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them.”


*Edited version of the Eidelberg Report, Israel National Radio, December 17, 2007.



Sick of the Saudis (Sow-dis)? Well, So are we!

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