- An address by Mark Weber, director of the Institute for
Historical Review, delivered at an IHR meeting in Irvine, Califronia, on
March 24, 2007. (A report on the meeting is posted here.)
- In the months leading up to the March 2003 attack on
Iraq, President Bush and other high-ranking US officials repeatedly warned
that the Baghdad regime posed a threat to the US and the world a
threat so grave and imminent that the United States had to act quickly
to bomb, invade and occupy that country.
- On Sept. 28, 2002, for example, Bush said: "The
danger to our country is grave and it is growing. The Iraqi regime possesses
biological and chemical weapons, is rebuilding the facilities to make more
and, according to the British government, could launch a biological or
chemical attack in as little as 45 minutes after the order is given...
This regime is seeking a nuclear bomb, and with fissile material could
build one within a year."
- Shortly before the invasion, on March 6, 2003, the President
declared: "Saddam Hussein and his weapons are a direct threat to this
country, to our people, and to all free people... I believe Saddam Hussein
is a threat to the American people. I believe he's a threat to the neighborhood
in which he lives. And I've got good evidence to believe that. He has weapons
of mass destruction... The American people know that Saddam Hussein has
weapons of mass destruction."
- These claims were untrue. As the world now knows, Iraq
had no such arsenal, and posed no threat to the US. Alarmist suggestions
that the Baghdad regime was working with the al-Qaeda terror network likewise
proved to be without foundation. The claims by President Bush and other
high-level American officials to justify the war, and their glib assurances
about how "regime change" in Iraq would usher in a new dawn of
democracy and freedom throughout the region have proven disastrously wrong.
- Now, four years later, something of the scale of the
calamity is clear. More than 3,000 American military personnel have lost
their lives, along with many tens of thousands of Iraqis. Many more have
been horribly wounded and maimed. The war and the occupation have cost
hundreds of billions of dollars. In Arab and Muslim countries, it has fueled
intense hatred of the US, and has brought many new recruits to the ranks
of anti-American terrorists. Around the world, it has generated unmatched
distrust and hostility toward the United States.
- A few months after the attack, President Bush denounced
as "revisionists" and "revisionist historians" the
skeptics who questioned his claims that the Baghdad regime had an arsenal
of weapons so vast and so dangerous that the US had to act quickly to attack
and occupy Iraq. On that occasion, Bush was unintentionally telling the
truth. Those who question government claims, particularly wartime claims,
are indeed "revisionists" that is, thinking men and women
who question dogma, propaganda and political orthodoxy.
- Today, virtually the entire world is "revisionist."
Regardless of what President Bush and his friends may snidely suggest,
the revisionists were and are right, and revisionism that is, thoughtful
skepticism of official claims is an honorable and essential feature
of any free society.
- In recent years, awareness of the Jewish-Zionist role
in the war, of the reality of Jewish-Zionist power, and of its hold on
US policy, has grown everywhere an awareness that, once grasped,
is obvious and confirmed anew each day with the unfolding of events.
- More prominent individuals have been willing publicly
to acknowledge this power. In Britain, a veteran member of the House of
Commons bluntly declared in May 2003 that Jews had taken control of America's
foreign policy, and had succeeded in pushing the US into war. Tam Dalyell,
a Labour party deputy and the longest-serving House member, said: "A
Jewish cabal have taken over the government in the United States and formed
an unholy alliance with fundamentalist Christians There is far too much
Jewish influence in the United States."
- In Malaysia, prime minister Mahathir Mohammed declared
in October 2003: "The Europeans killed six million Jews out of twelve
million. But today the Jews rule this world by proxy. They get others to
fight and die for them."
- Here in the United States, John Mearsheimer, a professor
of political science at the University of Chicago, and Stephen Walt, a
professor of international affairs at Harvard, issued in March of last
year a carefully written, judiciously worded and copiously referenced paper,
"The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy," which has generated
wide interest and spirited discussion.
- Quickly, and predictably, the paper and its authors came
under fierce attack from Zionist leaders and organizations a response
that underscored one of the paper's main points. But the critics have been
outnumbered by those who have welcomed this work as a landmark event and
as an important breakthrough.
- In their paper, professors Walt and Mearsheimer wrote:
- "For the past several decades, and especially since
the Six-Day War in 1967, the centerpiece of US Middle Eastern policy has
been its relationship with Israel. The combination of unwavering support
for Israel and the related effort to spread 'democracy' throughout the
region has inflamed Arab and Islamic opinion and jeopardized not only US
security but that of much of the rest of the world. This situation has
no equal in American political history
- "The Israeli government and pro-Israel groups in
the United States have worked together to shape the administration's policy
towards Iraq, Syria and Iran, as well as its grand scheme for reordering
the Middle East. Pressure from Israel and the Lobby was not the only factor
behind the decision to attack Iraq in March 2003, but it was critical.
Some Americans believe that this was a war for oil, but there is hardly
any direct evidence to support this claim. Instead, the war was motivated
in good part by a desire to make Israel more secure."
- Almost nothing in the Walt-Mearsheimer paper is new or
original. Its main point about the dangerous role of what they call "The
Lobby" is understood around the world by informed men and women who
closely follow political affairs and history. The paper is significant
because it was written by two scholars of eminence and stature.
- Another important contribution to the growing public
awareness of the power and impact of the pro-Israel lobby has been the
new book by former president Jimmy Carter. In this book, entitled Palestine
Peace Not Apartheid, and in statements made in connection with the book's
appearance, Carter has spoken pointedly and critically about the pro-Israel
lobby and its role in shaping US policy to support Israeli oppression and
- Immediately following the book's publication, the former
president was predictably assailed with the usual smears, and by the usual
crowd. Jewish writer David Horowitz, for one, wrote a widely-circulated
essay entitled "Jimmy Carter: Jew-Hater, Genocide-Enabler, Liar,"
a vicious item that reflects his outlook and the attitude of many other
- As it happens, I had a run-in myself with David Horowitz
in December, when I appeared with him as a fellow "guest," if
that's the right word, on the nationally-broadcast radio show of Sean Hannity.
I won't go into details of that raucous appearance, except to mention that
both Horowitz and Hannity were as ignorant and as bigoted as they were
- In recent months the most pressing international issue
has been the question of a new war in the Middle East . The world is anxiously
following the so-called crisis over Iran, or as Israel-firsters prefer
to call it "The Iranian Threat."
- This crisis is artificial. It is every bit as phony as
the one manufactured to provide a pretext for war against Iraq.
- Once again our leaders prepare Americans for a new war.
- Once again we are told that another country that Israel
regards as an adversary is a grave threat to peace.
- Once again our politicians and a compliant media present
a barrage of sensational and frightening propaganda claims claims
remarkably similar to those we heard in 2002 and 2003, and from the same
- For more than a year now, Washington has been pressuring
Iran with economic sanctions and repeated threats of military attack to
back its demand that the Tehran government give up its nuclear development
- The announcement last year that Iran had enriched a minute
amount of uranium unleashed urgent calls for a preventive US military strike
against that country. Officials in Washington ominously declare that "all
options" are "on the table." Vice President Cheney has said
that Iran is "right at the top" of the world's so-called dangerous
countries, and he expressed the view that Israel "might well decide
to act first" to destroy Iran's nuclear program.
- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice declared: "The
pursuit by the Iranian regime of nuclear weapons represents a direct threat
to the entire international community, including to the United States and
to the Persian Gulf region."
- Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh reports that the
US is planning military action against Iran, and that President Bush is
already intent on "regime change" there. Hersh wrote that the
Bush administration is stepping up clandestine activities inside Iran,
and has intensified planning for a major air attack. Hersh also concluded
that the White House is considering the use of tactical nuclear weapons
- With regard to Iran, professors Walt and Mearsheimer
wrote in their paper:
- "Israelis tend to describe every threat in the starkest
terms, but Iran is widely seen as their most dangerous enemy because it
is the most likely to acquire nuclear weapons. Virtually all Israelis regard
an Islamic country in the Middle East with nuclear weapons as a threat
to their existence In late April 2003, [the Israeli daily] Ha'aretz reported
that the Israeli ambassador in Washington was calling for regime change
in Iran. The overthrow of Saddam, he noted, was 'not enough'. In his words,
America 'has to follow through. We still have great threats of that magnitude
coming from Syria, coming from Iran.' The neo-conservatives, too, lost
no time in making the case for regime change in Tehran As usual, a bevy
of articles by prominent neo-conservatives made the case for going after
- "The Bush administration has responded to the Lobby's
pressure by working overtime to shut down Iran's nuclear program. But Washington
has had little success, and Iran seems determined to create a nuclear arsenal.
As a result, the Lobby has intensified its pressure. Op-eds and other articles
now warn of imminent dangers from a nuclear Iran, caution against any appeasement
of a 'terrorist' regime, and hint darkly of preventive action should diplomacy
fail... Israeli officials also warn they may take pre-emptive action should
Iran continue down the nuclear road, threats partly intended to keep Washington's
attention on the issue.
- "One might argue that Israel and the Lobby have
not had much influence on policy towards Iran, because the US has its own
reasons for keeping Iran from going nuclear. There is some truth in this,
but Iran's nuclear ambitions do not pose a direct threat to the US. If
Washington could live with a nuclear Soviet Union, a nuclear China or even
a nuclear North Korea, it can live with a nuclear Iran. And that is why
the Lobby must keep up constant pressure on politicians to confront Tehran.
Iran and the US would hardly be allies if the Lobby did not exist, but
US policy would be more temperate and preventive war would not be a serious
- A good example of the "bevy of articles" referred
to here by Walt and Mearsheimer is a prominently featured piece in the
Los Angeles Times last November, entitled, "Force is the Only Answer."
Written by Joshua Muravchik, a prominent neocon associated with the pro-Israel
"American Enterprise Institute" think tank, the essay begins
with the sentence: "We must bomb Iran."
- In Israel, prime minister Ehud Olmert called Iran an
"existential threat," and in January the London Sunday Times
reported that the Israeli government is planning to attack Iran's uranium
enrichment facilities with tactical nuclear weapons.
- In December the former commander of the artillery units
of Israel's armed forces, Brigadier General Oded Tira, has been candid
in calling for a US attack against Iran on behalf of the Jewish state.
General Tira declared:
- "President Bush lacks the political power to attack
Iran. As an American strike in Iran is essential for our existence, we
must help him pave the way by lobbying the Democratic Party and US newspaper
editors. We need to do this in order to turn the Iranian issue to a bipartisan
one and unrelated to the Iraq failure. We must turn to Hillary Clinton
and other potential candidates in the Democratic Party so that they publicly
support immediate action by Bush against Iran."
- Scott Ritter, an American who served as a senior United
Nations weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991 to 1998, says in his new book,
Target Iran: "The Bush administration, with the able help of the Israeli
government and the pro-Israel lobby, has succeeded in exploiting the ignorance
of the American people about nuclear technology and nuclear weapons so
as to engender enough fear that the American public has more or less been
pre-programmed to accept the notion of the need to militarily confront
a nuclear armed Iran." Ritter also writes: "Let there be no doubt:
If there is an American war with Iran it is a war that was made in Israel
and nowhere else."
- An attack against Iran by the United States, or Israel,
would be, in the absence of an imminent threat, an illegal, unilateral
act of war. If undertaken by the US without a formal congressional declaration
of war, such an attack would be unconstitutional. A war against Iran would
serve only Israeli and Zionist interests. For everyone else, war against
Iran would be a catastrophe.
- For many years now, American political leaders of both
parties have declared themselves staunchly committed to Israel and its
security. This unparalleled devotion to Israel which is an expression
of the Jewish-Zionist grip on America's political and cultural life
seems to have reached an apex in the current administration.
- In an address to pro-Israel activists at a convention
of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), President Bush
said: "The United States is strongly committed, and I am strongly
committed, to the security of Israel as a vibrant Jewish state."
- President Bush's worldview is shared by Condoleezza Rice,
who served as his National Security Advisor, and is now US Secretary of
State. In a May 2003 interview Rice made the astounding statement that
the "security of Israel is the key to security of the world."
- It's difficult to imagine an American leader making a
similar statement about any other country. Imagine a US Secretary of State
saying, for example, that the "security of Nigeria is the key to security
of the world." Or, that the security of Russia, Taiwan, or Serbia,
is the key to security of the world. It's unthinkable.
- President Bush, in talking about the possibility of war
against Iran, has sometimes "slipped" by candidly citing Israel
as the sole or primary reason for taking military action against Iran.
- In an interview in February 2006, he was asked about
his reaction to anti-Israel remarks by Iran's president. Bush replied:
"We will rise to Israel's defense, if need be." And he added,
"You bet we'll defend Israel."
- In a speech in March 2006, Bush said: "Now that
I'm on Iran the threat from Iran is, of course, their stated objective
to destroy our strong ally Israel. It's a threat to world peace; it's a
threat, in essence, to a strong alliance. I made it clear, I'll make it
clear again, that we will use military might to protect our ally, Israel."
- Such remarks have worried Jewish leaders not because
they do not agree with them, or because they doubt Bush's sincerity, but
because they believe that the President has been too candid, too open,
in acknowledging Israel's importance in determining American war policy.
Jewish leaders are concerned that non-Jews might draw all-too-obvious conclusions
from such statements.
- In April 2006, the Jewish Week of New York reported:
"President Bush is risking a backlash that could injure the Jewish
community and his own cause by repeatedly citing Israel as
his top rationale for possible US military conflict with Iran, Jewish leaders
and Middle East analysts warned... Bush's repeated, sometimes exclusive,
focus on Israel could spark public fury against the Jewish state and Jews
if US military action is accompanied by skyrocketing gas prices, terrorism
at home or fallen GIs who might be seen as dying for Israel, some said."
- Another Jewish community paper, the influential Forward
of New York reported in May 2006: "Jewish community leaders have urged
the White House to refrain from publicly pledging to defend Israel against
possible Iranian hostilities, senior Jewish activists told the Forward
[Jewish] communal leaders say that although they deeply appreciate the
president's repeated promises to come to Israel's defense, public declarations
to that effect do more harm than good." Jewish leaders went on to
express concern that such statements "could lead to American Jews
being blamed for any negative consequences of an American strike against
- George W. Bush, and others in his administration, have
often lectured Iran about democracy. Well, that's pretty rich coming from
a man who became president after an election in which he received fewer
votes than his opponent.
- Contrary to the impression given by the Bush administration
and neocon propagandists, Iran was never allied with, or even friendly
to, the Al Qaeda organization or the Taliban regime in neighboring Afghanistan.
In fact, in 1999 Iran almost went to war against Taliban-ruled Afghanistan
after Taliban fighters kidnapped and murdered nine Iranian diplomats.
- In the barrage of alarmist anti-Iran and pro-war propaganda
of recent months, we've heard a lot about how Iran is a great danger to
Jews. To be sure, Jews do not have anything like the power and influence
in Iran that they do here in the US, but the insinuation that Iran's Jews
are somehow terrorized or oppressed is rubbish. Jews have far more freedom
in Iran than they do in several Middle East countries that are allied with
the United States, such as Saudi Arabia or Pakistan. Iran's Jewish community
of some 25,000 is represented in the nation's parliament by a Jewish representative.
There are 20 active synagogues in Tehran. The Jews of Iran, many of whom
own and run successful businesses, have a standard of living that is above
the country's average.
- To put this Iran "crisis" into some perspective,
it's worth noting that although Iran has not attacked another country in
200 years, it has itself repeatedly been a victim of aggression. A look
at the historical record shows that Iran has at least some valid reason
to be skeptical of Washington 's policies and intentions.
- In 1941, military forces of Britain and the Soviet Union,
with backing from the United States, invaded and occupied Iran in flagrant
violation of international law. The British and Soviet Russian occupation
forces removed the government in Tehran, which was considered too sympathetic
to Germany, and installed the youthful Mohammed Reza Pahlavi as the country's
Shah, or monarch.
- In 1953 the United States, operating through the Central
Intelligence Agency, and acting in concert with the British, organized
the overthrow of the popular government of prime minister Mohammed Mossadegh,
and brought back to power the Shah who had briefly fled the country.
- From 1953 until 1979, the United States generously supported
the Shah, a ruler who became increasingly out of touch with the interests
and aspirations of his people. In 1979 he was overthrown in a popular uprising,
and fled into exile. An Islamic Republic was proclaimed.
- In the aftermath of the Iranian revolution, Saddam Hussein
in neighboring Iraq ordered his armed forces to invade what he regarded
as a weakened and vulnerable Iran. The war started by Iraq in September
1980 lasted nearly eight years, and was one of the most destructive of
the twentieth century. Casualty figures are uncertain, though estimates
suggest more than one and a half million war and war-related casualties.
Iran acknowledged that nearly 300,000 people died in the war, and estimates
of the Iraqi dead range from 160,000 to 240,000.
- The US role in that conflict was a cynical one. While
publicly lamenting the bloodshed, the United States at the same time provided
aid and support to Iraq. To cement that support, Donald Rumsfeld, who later
served as Secretary of Defense during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, flew to
Baghdad in December 1983 as a special envoy of President Reagan, to meet
and shake hands with Saddam Hussein, and to reaffirm US backing in the
war against Iran.
- In the current US-Iran showdown, much of the world is
mindful of the blatant double standard of US policy. While Washington threatens
war against Iran for developing a nuclear program, it sanctions Israel
's vast arsenal of nuclear weapons, and seemingly has no problem with a
nuclear-armed China, Pakistan, Russia or India.
- In fact, given its geo-political position, Iran would
be foolish if it did not try to develop the most effective military force
possible. On its eastern border is Pakistan, which now has nuclear weapons,
and Afghanistan, which is currently under the control of the military forces
of a nuclear-armed United States. On Iran's western border is Iraq, which
likewise is occupied by the armed forces of a nuclear US.
- In the region, the only country that currently has a
nuclear weapons arsenal, that occupies territory of its neighbors, and
which is in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions
- In fact, if the United States held Israel to the same
standards that it has applied to Iraq and now Iran, American bombers and
missiles would be blasting Tel Aviv, and American troops would seize Israel's
leaders and punish them for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
- When a society is healthy, its leaders political,
social, cultural and intellectual speak to its citizens with honesty
and candor. A sound social-political system encourages truth. In a sick
and corrupt society, leaders resort to lies and deceit. And the more decayed
the society, the more its leaders lie and deceive.
- In our society, the official lies and deceptions are
so numerous and so brazen, it's difficult to enumerate them. I've already
referred to its lies about the Baghdad regime in the months before the
US invasion of Iraq. But it's much worse than that.
- In the aftermath of the 2001 Nine Eleven terrorist attack,
for example, President Bush on national television told the world that:
"America was targeted for attack because we're the brightest beacon
for freedom and opportunity in the world." The next day he said that
"freedom and democracy are under attack," and that the perpetrators
had struck against "all freedom-loving people everywhere in the world."
These are not just false statements. They are absurdly ignorant and deceptive
- The focus of the Walt-Mearsheimer paper, mentioned earlier,
is, appropriately, the role of the Israel lobby in determining US policy
in the Middle East. But this is no ordinary lobby. Its power and influence
is much greater, more insidious, and more dangerous, than that of any other
lobby. Far beyond determining US policy in the Middle East, it has a profound
impact on every aspect of American social, political and cultural life.
That's one reason why, instead of talking about the "Israel Lobby,"
I routinely speak instead of Jewish-Zionist power.
- The Walt-Mearsheimer paper is much more than a trenchant
analysis or persuasive critique of a particular lobby. It is implicitly
a damning indictment of the American social-political system. The Jewish-Zionist
grip on our nation is an expression of a profound and deeply rooted problem.
Such a lobby or power particularly one that represents the interests
of a self-absorbed community that makes up no more than three or four percent
of the population could only gain such a hold on the governmental
machinery of a society that is fundamentally sick and corrupt. No healthy
society would permit a small minority to gain and hold such power, and
wield it for its own particular interests.
- The failure of virtually the entire American political
and intellectual establishment to challenge this power is an expression
of deep-rooted cowardice and corruption. Cowardice and corruption on such
a scale is possible only in a society that is gravely ill one that
is beyond reform or redemption. This sickness is manifest not merely in
the hijacking of our foreign policy, or in the corruption of our political
system, but also in the squalor of our inner cities, in our nation's high
level of crime, in a culture that is ever more infantile and crass, and
in the spreading vulgarity of our social life.
- In every society, it is quite normal that most people
are concerned with little more than the happiness, interests and well-being
of themselves, their families, and their friends. In any society, only
a small number of men and women have the wit and awareness to understand
the social, political and cultural forces that shape the present and the
future. Only a small minority has the soul or temperament to care about,
and be seriously concerned for, the long-term health and well-being of
the world, or even of their country.
- Normally, and understandably, we expect and have
every right to expect that our political leaders are mindful of and
planning for the long-term interests of the nation. Tragically, our leaders
have proven themselves grossly derelict. With very few exceptions, our
political leaders Republican and Democrat, conservative and liberal
show far more concern for their own welfare and for the outcome of
the next election, than for the long-term interests of our people and the
- We seek to raise public awareness of the great issues
that confront us, that impact every aspect of our lives, and which have
the most profound consequences for the future. We realize, of course, that
our words will reach the minds and hearts of only a few. We know that we
cannot hope to match the financial resources, influence and outreach of
our adversaries. We cannot hope to compete, much less offset, the great
power and influence of the media giants who control most of what we read,
hear and view.
- Our great task is to reach those who, first, think about
the present and the past, and second, who care about our future. That is,
we work to reach men and women, especially younger men and women, of unusual
awareness and a higher sense of responsibility the men and women
who will be the leaders of the future, who can, and, if our children and
grand-children are to live in a decent world, must assume power, replacing
the failed leaders who have betrayed the people's trust.
- A few of those who are here this evening have come, perhaps,
out of simple curiosity, or to meet others who are attending. But most
of us are here this evening because we care. We care about what is right
and wrong. We care about what is true and not true.
- We care about the past and, more importantly, we care
about the future. We care about the world we live in. We feel a sense of
responsibility for the world we've inherited, and for the world of the
future. We want to make a difference to make this a better world
a world that, even beyond our own lifetimes, is more just and right.
- Some of us may feel a special concern for the cause of
peace, mindful of the destruction, suffering, and death of war. Some may
be moved by a strong concern for justice, perhaps especially for the people
who have lived for decades under Zionist occupation. Some may have an unusually
strong religious sensibility. Some may feel a special concern for the welfare
and future of his or her own culture, race or nation, while others may
feel a responsibility for the future of all mankind.
- Regardless of the particular causes or principles that
most move us, that are closest to our hearts, no issue is of greater urgency
than breaking the Jewish-Zionist grip on American political, social and
cultural life. As long as that power remains entrenched, there will be
no end to the systematic Jewish-Zionist distortion of history and current
affairs, the Jewish-Zionist corruption and domination of the US political
system, Zionist oppression of Palestinians, the bloody conflict between
Jews and non-Jews in the Middle East, and the Israeli threat to peace.
- We are engaged in a great, global struggle in which
two distinct and irreconcilable sides confront each other. A world struggle
that pits an arrogant and malevolent power that feels ordained to rule
over others, on one side, and all other nations and societies indeed,
humanity itself on the other.
- This struggle is not a new one. It is the latest enactment
of a great drama that has played itself out again and again, over centuries,
and in many different societies, cultures and historical eras. In the past
this drama played itself out on a local, national, regional, or, sometimes,
continental stage. Today this is a global drama, and a global clash.
- It is a struggle for the welfare and future not merely
of the Middle East, or of America, but a great historical battle for the
soul and future of humanity itself. A struggle that calls all of us
across the country and around the world who share a sense of responsibility
for the future of our nation, of the world, and of humankind.
- © 2007 Institute for Historical Review