What Drives U.S. Foreign Policy Towards Israel? Interview with Andrew Levine on The Real News Network Sept 17, 2014 by Paul Jay

FACT: Cold War strategic thinking about the Middle East is no longer relevant

Click for Video and Text of Interview on The Real News Network

PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Andrew Levine, senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies, and also the author of many books, including Political Keywords. He was a professor of philosophy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He regularly writes for CounterPunch. Obama’s policy in Palestine and Israel — sent Kerry but it seemed so clear Netanyahu NEVER wanted any kind of peaceful resolution that gave any sense of dignity or justice to the Palestinians. So why go there?

ANDREW LEVINE, SENIOR SCHOLAR, INSTITUTE FOR POLICY STUDIES: Obama understands that the only way that the status quo or some reasonable improvement over the status quo will come to pass is if the United States forces Israel to accede to it. And he resolutely refuses to do that. The Israelis like it because the appearance of peace negotiations, gives them time to further weaken the Palestinian leadership. For well-meaning people, appearance of negotiations is doing something constructive, and if it fails, it fails, they can always say, its an age-old struggle that can never be resolved or some other nonsense that’s widely believed. And so it doesn’t hurt him to fail. I think a bigger question is why he puts up with the humiliation.

LEVINE: Netanyahu, even before any Republican, was the first to recognize that Obama had feet of clay. Obama gave hope that policies would change and that Obama had enough understanding and sympathy with the Palestinian situation that he would actually change things. But Netanyahu proved that right Wrong right away, that Obama wouldn’t dare change anything — very early on Netanyahu humiliated Joe Biden, on a visit to Israel, announcing that there would be yet more settlements, in his presence.

LEVINE: Biden is a leading defender of Israel, and yet Netanyahu figured he could get away with anything.

JAY: Netanyahu can walk into Congress and get 27 standing ovations from every member.

LEVINE: Netanyahu owns Congress. All it would take is for someone in USA Power to declare that the emperor has no clothes. But we’re not going to get that.

JAY: One of the other military leaders, when Israel rhetoric was flying about attacking Iran, said it’s easy for Israel to want to spend American lives in a war. — a tremendous recoil. Netanyahu realized he’d crossed a line and it wouldn’t take much actually to turn American public opinion against Israel.

LEVINE: It wouldn’t, but it would take some American political leader to not be cowed by AIPAC and Wall Street and Israel.

JAY: They’re cowed to a large extent because there’s so much money at stake in the Jewish vote. It’s the money of Sheldon Adelsons and so on.

LEVINE: Yeah, this geriatric sector of Billionaires–extremely virulent Zionists who will see to it that anyone who shows any sign of not holding the line will have opposition in primaries or in some way or other that it will cost them (VINDICTIVE). And there are enough historical cases–not very many examples–They just feel it is NOT worth the RISK to fight the ISRAELI LOBBY.

JAY: There’s a certain naïveté that you always have to have negotiations go on to distracting everybody and it’s kind of never-ending — part of the policy, and you get into office and they tell you, okay, now you start this set of negotiations. And it all becomes preparation for another attack on Gaza.

LEVINE: Historically it took a lot of struggle for USA to enter into negotiations — For example the Vietnamese. Negotiations used to be a slogan of the antiwar movement.

JAY: On Israel-Palestine, one of standard pillars of American policy is always look like (FAKE) you’re trying to get a negotiated resolution.

LEVINE: You have to look like you’re trying (FAKE IT) –the situation is so plainly detrimental to American interests. It’s not widely acknowledged that America suffers (with this charade). The MYTH is there has to be the appearance of making an effort.

LEVINE: USA can bring peace, an enduring peace in Israel and Palestine, by just withdrawing FINANCIAL support from Israel and not make it the case that Israel has carte blanche to do whatever it wants.

JAY: American interest is KEY so that’s obviously a big debate within American imperialist foreign policy sector. A section says it’s not in American interest to support Israel, but essentially Israel is an enormous American base, that, if needed, there’s a tremendous military force there to assert joint interests.

LEVINE: During the original Cold War there was the perceived threat to American interests coming from secular nationalist movements in the the Middle East. + Other pillars of American imperial interests like Turkey and Iran. And that situation no longer exists.

Now the main problem comes from BIG OIL MONARCHS SUPPORT OF ISIS(L). Israel is not helpful in combating ISIS(L) especially when Israeli insights Hamas a major force in Palestinian. Israel is a continual, continuous irritation of conflict and growth of ISIS(L) groups that brings no good with it. If USA was doing something to diminish the level of injustice that Palestinians suffer, ISIS(L) growth would stop. If USA seriously stopped settlements and put pressure for retracting the settlements, I think it would have enormous POSITIVE consequences in the region.

JAY: Is there a deeper reason why Congress gives such almost unanimous support to Israel despite the brutal attacks all over the television and newspapers. — NYT repeatedly had big front-page photographs of some of the massive destruction in Gaza without the normal counterbalancing photo of some rocket that missed something in Israel. But even someone like Elizabeth Warren and the Black Congressional Caucus and progressives are militantly supporting Israel’s brutal attacks on Palestinians. It has to be deeper than just money, because not all these candidates get that much money from Pro-Israel sources. Is there some other deep thing in both parties that believe Israel is an outpost of Western civilization surrounded by crazy Islamists? A LAST STAND of some limited Democracy of some sort? From Truman to Kennedy to 2014 there seems to be this vision that Israel is this beacon for USA semi-democracy we have to defend it. It’s not just about money.

LEVINE: The United States + Canada + Australia + New Zealand are basically colonial settler states. And Israel is a settler state. But unlike Israel the others came along at a time when you could get away with that and you could openly decimate the native populations with the militarily and with disease.

LEVINE: So perhaps there’s some feeling of affinity with another society that does that. But another issue is Islamophobia (REALLY EXTREMIST SAUDI-WAHHABISM) has become central to our political discourse since 9ll. Its a form of racism that exists under the surface, but wasn’t stirred up until 9ll. Bush couldn’t say it was BIG OIL MONARCHS WAHHABISM THAT MURDERED INNOCENT AMERICANS on 9ll, and in fact he helped them get the Royal Families out of the USA in a RUSH.

JAY: For Israel, Hamas was a perfect EXCUSE for Americans to support Israel, as Hamas rose to power. There’s evidence that Israel and Mossad starting Hamas to try to counter the PA and Fatah.

LEVINE: Yes, because, at the time, the threat to the existing USA-ISRAEL order was seen to come from secular nationalist movements like Yasser Arafat.

JAY: So Israel pushed the opposition to RADICALISM (Islamicized them), so they could sell and use Islamophobia to gain USA Support for defending Israel.

LEVINE: You can use Islamophobia to gain support for Israel. But it’s a dangerous mix, with religion passions rise and things are Irrational and compromise is impossible. But if it is secular rationality opponents can arrive at a compromise.

JAY: This is the whole story of U.S. foreign policy that Carter and Brzezinski started by mobilizing the Saudi-WAHHABI jihadists against the Russians and suddenly financial and territorial interests doesn’t play much of a role. Same thing with the Taliban and on and on until we get the SAUDI-WAHHABISM of the ISIS(L). I mean, that’s exactly what you’re saying.

LEVINE: Right. The West has been doing this at least since the Carter years.

JAY: It all begins because the USA thinks they know how to work with these forces.

LEVINE: Yes and they don’t. Brzezinski seems to still think it was a good idea.

JAY: I interviewed Brzezinski a couple of years ago, and he still brags about it. He says if giving rise to al-Qaeda and the Taliban was the price one had to pay to bring down the Soviet Union, it’s a price worth paying.

LEVINE: He’s still saying that. But the jury is definitely out on that. And we’ll see how long. Not very many people continue to think that, because SAUDI-WAHHABISM INSPIRED AQ CONTRACT KILLERS and ISIS(L) CONTRACT MURDERERS now are scarier than the Soviet Union was, at least since the ’70s, when detente took place.

JAY: YES. With the Soviet Union there were clear interests and you knew who you were negotiating with. You could make deals, and it was rational and so on.

LEVINE: Yes deals were made, and they were abided by, and you had a stable partner, and there was a clear compass about what favored what. Even policies towards Third World governments made it possible for insurgencies and national liberation struggles to do fairly well.

Israel use of Islamophobia explains a lot about failed Palestinian politics to gain USA FUNDING. So we have this FAKED IRRATIONAL AND PASSIONATE ENVIRONMENT which dominates overwhelming and swamps RATIONALITY and clarity and promotes a kind of arrogant Israeli self-assertion that can only lead to trouble.

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