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   Vol. 70/No. 17           May 1, 2006  
First shift in U.S. foreign policy since end of Cold War
The myth of the ‘neocon,’
‘Israel lobby’ conspiracy
(feature article/Last of three articles)
WASHINGTON—A highly publicized paper by Harvard University dean Stephen Walt and University of Chicago political science professor John Mearsheimer peddles the false and reactionary theory that U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East is manipulated by a pro-Israel lobby.

An article by prominent radical academic James Petras claims that the Israeli government controls U.S. foreign policy through an influential group of Jewish “Zioncons” and through hundreds of Israeli spies who have supposedly penetrated “the highest spheres of the U.S. government.”

The two recent articles present the argument of many liberal and middle-class critics of the Bush administration—also promoted by some rightists—that U.S. foreign policy has been hijacked by a group of “neocons,” described by some of these forces as a “Jewish cabal.”

This is the last in a series of articles on the first major shift in U.S. foreign policy since World War II. The first article explained the origins of the U.S. government’s policy of “containment” of the Soviet bloc and its allies during the last half of the 20th century (see “Why was Cold War perceived as ‘cold’?” in the April 17 issue). The second article described the end of the so-called “peace dividend” and Washington’s slowness in recognizing the new situation it faced resulting from the end of the Cold War (see “How the ‘peace dividend’ ended” in the April 24 issue).

As these previous articles have outlined, the U.S. government is carrying out the most far-reaching shift in military strategy and organization since the second world imperialist war. With the end of the Cold War, the U.S. rulers are compelled to take steps to confront sharper competition from their imperialist rivals and prepare to take on more directly the resistance by workers and farmers to the effects of the deepening world capitalist crisis. Under the banner of the “global war on terrorism,” they are transforming the U.S. armed forces into a lighter, more mobile military better suited to fight the kinds of wars U.S. imperialism will have to pursue around the world.

No wing of the Democrats or Republicans has offered an alternative to this bipartisan foreign policy course. The tone of bourgeois politics in the United States, however, has become more shrill and intense. This growing factionalism among capitalist politicians is a result of the frustration by the U.S. rulers about their vulnerability in face of a future of sharpening economic crises, wars, and uncontrollable forces set in motion by these changes.  
‘Neocons’ responsible for Iraq war?
In this context some liberal Democratic politicians and commentators, in attacking their Republican rivals, resort to the false and misleading charge that a secretive “neoconservative” group is shaping U.S. foreign policy and betraying “American interests.” These assertions obscure the fact that U.S. foreign policy is bipartisan, that the Bush administration is acting on behalf of the U.S. ruling class, and that this policy does serve their class interests.

In a typical commentary, Newark Star-Ledger columnist John Farmer decries “the neoconservatives around Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld who, with Vice President Dick Cheney as their enabler, authored the misadventure in Iraq.” He identifies former deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz, former undersecretary of defense Douglas Feith, and former Pentagon advisor Richard Perle as among these.

In their 83-page paper titled “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy,” Harvard dean Walt and University of Chicago professor Mearsheimer marshal their arguments to contend that “the overall thrust of U.S. policy in the [Mideast] region is due almost entirely to U.S. domestic politics, and especially to the activities of the ‘Israel Lobby.’” They add that “the unmatched power of the Israel Lobby” has made Washington pursue policies beneficial to the Israeli government but not to “the American national interest.”

They argue that “the core of the Lobby is comprised of American Jews” who seek “to bend U.S. foreign policy so that it advances Israel’s interests,” together with “neoconservative gentiles.” According to them, the so-called lobby not only includes Bush administration officials such as Wolfowitz and Feith, but that it controls the editorial boards of newspapers such as the New York Times and Wall Street Journal and has decisive influence in the Brookings Institution, American Enterprise Institute, and other major think tanks.

Walt and Mearsheimer claim the “Israel lobby” and “neoconservatives” were the driving force behind the 2003 U.S. invasion in Iraq. “The Bush administration’s ambitious strategy to transform the Middle East—beginning with the invasion of Iraq—is at least partly intended to improve Israel’s strategic situation,” they assert.  
Anti-Semitic arguments
The article by James Petras, entitled “The Tyranny of Israel Over America,” churns out the same argument and reeks with the same anti-Semitism and American nationalism. The only difference is that Petras has long portrayed himself as a socialist and anti-imperialist.

Petras quotes anonymous FBI “sources” to claim “large-scale deep penetration of American society and the government by Israeli spies and their collaborators” who fed “disinformation” to the U.S. government to persuade Washington to launch the war against Iraq. He too attributes U.S. foreign policy to the influence of “Feith, Wolfowitz, Perle, and other Zioncons closely identified with Israeli intelligence.”

Petras describes the invasion of Iraq as a war “in the service of Israel” that went against “U.S. good sense and national interest.”

Not surprisingly, Walt’s “research” paper won hearty applause from ultrarightist David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader. On his web site, he praised the Harvard dean for revealing “how these Jewish extremists have manipulated American policy against the clear interests of the American people.”  
Who sets U.S. foreign policy?
These assertions about “neoconservative” and even “Jewish” control over Washington’s policies in the Mideast are fraudulent and reactionary. First, the leading figures in the alleged “neocon conspiracy” such as Wolfowitz and Feith, are no longer in the Bush administration. Second, none of the central officials responsible for Washington’s policy in Iraq—Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld—are Jewish.

Last week’s article noted that, while William Kristol’s Weekly Standard and other so-called neoconservatives were among those who in 1997-98 began to campaign for taking steps to overthrow the Saddam Hussein government, this course toward “regime change” predominated among most in the ruling class and became official policy under the Clinton administration.

The conspiracy theories, including the Jew-hating varieties, let the U.S. capitalists off the hook while promoting American nationalism. U.S. imperialism’s foreign policy, far from being hijacked by some isolated group, is controlled by and represents the interests of a class: the wealthy billionaire families who rule the United States, including both their parties, the Democrats and Republicans.  
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