Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Israel Lobby Campaigns for Americans to Attack Iran

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Israel Lobby Campaigns for Americans to Attack Iran

Article excerpt

In November 1990, during the lead-up to the first Gulf war, Douglas Feith was doing public relations work for Turkey in Washington. He and a third participant were on a C-SPAN cable television program with this writer, who said he thought U.S. aid to Israel was excessive and unwise. Several telephone calls came through-all agreeing that Israel was getting disproportionate U.S. foreign aid.

When the program was over, a furious Feith accused me of being very unfair to Israel. I replied that he should have attacked me "on air," where callers could have agreed or disagreed with him, but that he had not.

Thirteen years later Israel-Firster Feith is now number three at the Pentagon as under secretary of defense for policy. There, according to the May 9 Financial Times, he and his fellow Israel-Firsters "are working hard on the Bush agenda before he [Bush] focuses completely on the economy ahead of the [2004] presidential election."

When he addressed the National Press Club on Dec. 12, 2002, Reza Pahlavi, son of Iran's late Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, spoke up for human rights and democracy. Now, according to the Financial Times article, he and Feith are working closely together on Iran-Israel. Israel-Firster Michael Ledeen was quoted as saying that young Pahlavi was "widely admired" and would be a suitable leader to bring Iran from dictatorship to democracy.

Prior to 1978 Israel had private but lucrative contracts with Iran. Psychologically the alliance with populous Iran made Israel feel safer vis-a-vis the Arabs' huge population numbers.

The earlier Israeli-Iranian alliance worked well. The shah was anxious to play a bigger role in the region, while Israel sought a populous Middle Eastern ally that was Muslim but non-Arab. In sum, Iran got U.S. arms, and Israel got oil and contracts. All that ended, however, with the Iranian political cataclysm of 1978-79 which threw out the shah and brought in the Islamist regime of the ayatollahs.

Despite his protestations about democracy, the young Pahlavi is seeking backers in Washington. There the American Enterprise Institute, where Ledeen holds the "Freedom Chair," recently hosted a conference on Iran. AEI is home to several analysts who push the Pahlavi cause, as well as that of former Iraqi exile Ahmad Chalabi, a favorite of Israel-Firster Paul Wolfowitz, deputy secretary of defense. Wolfowitz, probably America's leading Israelist, has become better known by having a war named for him: the war on Iraq now is known as "Wolfowitz's War. …

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