‘Guardian AIPAC theory’ regarding Hillary’s position on Iran is proven wrong

On Feb. 2nd we commented on a ‘Comment is Free’ essay by frequent Israel-lobby critic Stephen Kinzer which criticized Hilary Clinton’s alleged failure to take a position on a bill which would increase sanctions against Iran if negotiations with the six world powers failed.

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Guardian, Jan. 29 (Stephen Kinzer)

Kinzer wrote the following:

Here lies the dilemma. A strong statement by Clinton [against sanctions] would be a game-changer in Washington. She would be giving a centrist, establishment endorsement of her former boss’s most important foreign policy initiative. That would provide political cover for moderate Democrats terrified of antagonizing the Netanyahu government and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which is leading the anti-reconciliation campaign in Washington.

Such a statement, however, would risk outraging pro-Netanyahu groups and individuals who have been among Clinton’s key supporters since her days as a Senator from New York. Having spent years painstakingly laying the ground for a presidential campaign, she does not want to risk a misstep that would alienate major campaign contributors.

However, the entire assumption of Kinzer’s thesis was proven wrong, per a Guardian report by their national security editor Spencer Ackerman - a relatively moderate and sober voice by Guardian standards – on Feb. 2nd which included the following title: 

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Guardian, Feb. 2. (Spencer Ackerman)

Ackerman noted that Clinton sent a letter to the Senate on Jan. 26 – three days prior to Kinzer’s op-ed complaining of her alleged “silence” on the issue - urging her former Senate colleagues NOT to pass the new ‘Iran Sanctions’ bill

Clinton’s Jan. 26 letter included the following:

“[Sanctions] could rob us of the international high ground we worked so hard to reach, break the united international front we constructed, and in the long run, weaken the pressure on Iran by opening the door for other countries to chart a different course,”

…I have no doubt that this is the time to give our diplomacy the space to work…

Kinzer got it wrong.  

Ackerman’s report clearly indicates, contrary to Kinzer’s claim, that Clinton evidently was NOT afraid to “risk outraging pro-Netanyahu groups and individuals who have been among Clinton’s key supporters since her days as a Senator from New York”.

Of course, such evidence – undermining the ‘Israel-lobby root cause theory’ constantly promoted by Kinzer and his Guardian Left colleagues – will not make a dent in such ideologically inspired articles of faith.

Kinzer is a Guardian/’Comment is Free’ contributor after all, and so we can be assured that not the slightest cognitive dissonance will be felt.  No lessons will be learned.

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More wild Israel-lobby ‘trutherism’ at ‘Comment is Free’

Last year, ‘Comment is Free’ contributor Stephen Kinzer, much like fellow contributors Glenn Greenwald and Michael Cohen, was angry at the opponents of Chuck Hagel.  Hagel, you may recall, is the former (conservative Republicansenator from Nebraska who, despite being hostile to abortion rights, gay rights and civil rights, became a progressive cause celeb among the Guardian-style left upon being nominated for US Defense Secretary.

Kinzer, a former New York Times foreign correspondent, made the following argument in his Dec. 31, 2012 ‘CiF’ op-ed, adding to the chorus of voices from the Guardian Left who are convinced of the pro-Israel lobby’s sinister grip on politics, accusing the lobby and their supporters of agitating for a US war with Iran.

“What do Nebraska and Iran have in common? Not much – but enough to cause big trouble for former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel, whose possible nomination to be secretary of defense is being challenged by the powerful bomb-Iran-yesterday lobby.”

Militarists in Washington, taking their cue from pro-Israel lobbyists, are trying to derail the appointment because Hagel doubts the wisdom of starting another war in the Middle East.

More recently, in a ‘CiF’ op-ed (‘Are Hillary Clinton’s presidential ambitions clouding her morals?‘, Jan. 29) criticizing former U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s apparent failure to take a position on a bill which would increase sanctions against Iran in the event negotiations with the six world powers (P5+1) fail to produce an agreement, Kinzer wrote the following:

Here lies the dilemma. A strong statement by Clinton in favor of reconciliation would be a game-changer in Washington. She would be giving a centrist, establishment endorsement of her former boss’s most important foreign policy initiative. That would provide political cover for moderate Democrats terrified of antagonizing the Netanyahu government and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which is leading the anti-reconciliation campaign in Washington.

Such a statement, however, would risk outraging pro-Netanyahu groups and individuals who have been among Clinton’s key supporters since her days as a Senator from New York. Having spent years painstakingly laying the ground for a presidential campaign, she does not want to risk a misstep that would alienate major campaign contributors.

Whilst his fear mongering over the alleged toxic influence of the pro-Israel lobby (and money from “pro-Netanyahu groups and individuals”) is predictable, Kinzer takes his agitprop to the next level in suggesting that U.S. Senators are not only fearful of AIPAC, but in fact are “terrified” of the prime minister of the Jewish state. 

While it’s less than clear what form of retribution the prime minister of Israel can exact on American legislators, Kinzer and his band of Israel lobby truthers never seem interested in exploring a simpler and less conspiratorial explanation for why US politicians are disinclined to support recent US overtures toward Iran: most Americans dislike Iran and don’t believe that they can be trusted to abide by any nuclear agreement.

Finally, an interesting fact about American public opinion routinely ignored by ideologically obtuse critics of Israel and the ‘Israeli lobby’ was revealed in a recent survey on U.S. attitudes toward American Jews commissioned by the Anti-Defamation League. When asked to identify which of five well-known lobby groups wields “the most influence on American government policy,” only 4% chose the pro-Israel lobby. Americans evidently consider the pro-Israel lobby to be far less powerful than the gun, oil and drug lobbies.

Here’s a chart of the data:

Screen-Shot-2013-10-31-at-4.00.50-PMWhat such dark anti-Israel conspiracists fail to acknowledge is that whatever influence the pro-Israel lobby in Washington does have is largely merely a reflection of the popularity of Israel among the American people.

But, as this blog continues to demonstrate, when it comes to Israel related commentary at the Guardian and ‘Comment is Free’, facts, logic and empirical evidence take a back seat to ideology almost every time.  

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CiF attacks anti-Hagel war agitators: Israel lobby, bond dealers & arms manufacturers

‘Comment is Free’ contributor Stephen Kinzer, much like fellow contributors Glenn Greenwald and Michael Cohen, is angry with the foes of Chuck Hagel.

Hagel, a far-right Republican hostile to abortion rights, gay rights and civil rights, and who has come under fire for his views on Israel, the Middle East and the Islamist regime in Tehran, has strangely become a progressive cause celeb among the Guardian-style left.

At the heart of the case against Senator Hagel’s nomination, according to Kinzer, is the Nebraska Senator’s opposition to the powerful pro-war movement. 

He writes:

“What do Nebraska and Iran have in common? Not much – but enough to cause big trouble for former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel, whose possible nomination to be secretary of defense is being challenged by the powerful bomb-Iran-yesterday lobby.”

Also troubling Kinzer are the “militarists” controlled by the pro-Israel lobby.

Militarists in Washington, taking their cue from pro-Israel lobbyists, are trying to derail the appointment because Hagel doubts the wisdom of starting another war in the Middle East.”

Kinzer helpfully contextualizes the political debate in Washington by evoking a political debate in the US which took place 95 years ago.

“Nebraska Senator George Norris, who voted against both United States entry into first world war and American membership in the League of Nations…told Americans that the push toward global engagement was the project of “munition manufacturers, stockbrokers, and bond dealers“; and he warned that it “brings no prosperity to the great mass of common and patriotic citizens.”

Hagel is in the great American tradition of the prairie populist. He has sought to speak a word or two of truth to power. Power is not amused. That is why his nomination is in trouble before it has even been announced.”

An isolationist who warns of the hidden hand of militarists, unpatriotic Zionists, the military industrial complex, and monied classes?

The fact that such hysterical, sophomoric agitprop – which manages to evoke the nativist fear-mongering of Charles Lindbergh and Henry Ford – has found its way onto the pages of ‘Comment is Free’ would only come as a surprise to those who still entertain the fanciful notion that the Guardian is a liberal institution. 

A corrosive, reactionary parochialism on the Guardian hard left

This is cross posted from the blog of Terry Glavin, and is a powerful response to Stephen Kinzer’s CiF piece on Dec. 31, titled, “End Human Rights Imperialism Now“.

The headline on Stephen Kinzer’s unintentionally self-incriminating display of the rot that has eaten away at the rich world’s “left” spoke sufficient volumes all by itself last week: End Human Rights Imperialism Now”.

Apart from being a classic study in deception masquerading as revelation and self-deception masquerading as reflection (and a workshop-worthy specimen of straw-man argument, besides), what was exceptionally useful about the spectacle Kinzer made of himself was the service he provided in presenting a textbook example of the madhouse delusion that will inevitably result from the muddles of moral, epistemic and cultural relativism.

There’s no point in resorting to empirically-derived evidence if you’re trying to talk sense to someone whose very arguments rest on the absence of such universal standards if not their wholesale rejection. The dialectic, as we used to say, is simply not going to move forward. There will be rot in both form and content. Some people are just numpties.

But today, also in the Guardian, in an essay well-titled Beware those who sneer at ‘human rights imperialism’, our friend Sohrab Ahmari does yeoman service in exposing the bankruptcy of the pseudo-left orthodoxy that Kinzer so helpfully distilled. Sohrab does so by simply raising this question:

“If the isolationist, provincial left manages to convince us that the blessing of liberty is to be allocated randomly – along geographic lines and according to the accident of birth – will the heart still beat on the left?”

It’s my own view that on the so-called “anti-imperialist” left, the truly progressive heart had already stopped beating at least a decade ago. True enough, the zombies have been stumbling around for much longer than that. Ahmari begins by citing Albert Camus’s observations of his erstwhile French comrades in the 1950s. In its response to the Hungarian Uprising, the “left” had betrayed itself as having fallen into useless decadence, “caught in its own vocabulary, capable of merely stereotyped replies, constantly at a loss when faced with the truth, from which it nevertheless claimed to derive its laws.”

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