War and Peace and Chickenhawks

I rarely write about foreign affairs, because it is a complex policy arena in which I have little or no expertise, but the current right-wing hysteria over the (not-yet-fully-fleshed-out) deal with Iran is incredibly troubling for a number of reasons.

Part of the push-back, of course, can be attributed to the Right’s pathological hatred of Obama. But a lot of it goes well beyond that and into the psyches of the GOP’s “Cheney wing”–those saber-rattling lawmakers who enjoyed multiple deferments or otherwise avoided military service themselves, but who sneer at diplomacy and seem bound and determined to send other people’s children into combat.

That “ready, shoot, aim” approach cost us dearly in Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention that it decimated and destabilized large portions of an already volatile region. You’d think we might have learned a lesson…

Of course, American Right-wingers aren’t the only paranoids participating in the debate. Netanyahu (Israel’s Dick Cheney) isn’t helping matters. To the contrary, he is inflicting significant damage on the American-Israeli partnership that is critical to Israel’s continued survival.

As Political Animal reports

As Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu continues to decry the landmark deal between the U.S. and Iran, more evidence is emerging that Israel’s current leadership is alienating Americans in droves:

The number of Americans who view Israel as an ally of the United States has sharply decreased, according to a new poll published Thursday. Only 54% of Americans polled said that Israel is their country’s ally, a decline from 68% in 2014 and 74% in 2012.

It isn’t just non-Jews who find Netanyahu’s positions counter-productive and ultimately dangerous to the Jewish state. J Street, a Jewish, pro-Israel lobbying group, is alarmed by his rhetoric, as are numerous Israelis in and out of that country’s defense forces. His unseemly and partisan alliance with Congressional Republican hawks is nothing new, nor is his track record of being wrong about pretty much everything.  His narrow re-election  has made rational debate much more difficult.

Early indications are that the deal struck by Kerry is better than most experts had hoped for. That doesn’t mean it should be uncritically endorsed; the details to be worked out are important, and the stakes are too high for an agreement based only upon “trust me.” That said, the current status is promising, and neither Bibi’s longstanding paranoid fantasies nor the wet dreams of American chickenhawks should derail continuing work on a comprehensive agreement.

As they said in the 60s, all we are asking is to give peace a chance.


  1. Sheila; thank you for this particular blog today. I have had a great deal of confusion regarding my understanding, feelings and support of the U.S./Israel relationship in recent years. Now I know it has not been my imagination that the situation is being questioned by many on both sides and deserves answers and resolutions. Now, seven Democrats have joined Republicans against a peaceful resolution in these vital negotiations with Secretary of State Kerry speaking on our behalf. He speaks for Republicans and Democrats along with Independents and those who have no political affiliation but do have sons and daughters to lose if these fools push us into another baseless war. Iran is using the unending partisan battle in this country to it’s advantage and will join Netanyahu and his American counterparts (I call them the Cheney faction) to use war to resolve our differences. And; it appears to me that the basic differences are war vs. peace in money making schemes based on oil and arms.

    Your term, “ready, shoot, aim” is on target – no pun intended, this is far too serious. Even Sarah Palin refered to keeping targets in her “crosshairs”. It is a sad state of affairs when I am lowered to using anything she has said for reference. My grandson D.J. is a paramedic in the U.S. Navy and will be on any battlefield saving lives – or losing his own – if Iran, Netanyahu and the American “Cheney faction” get their way. But I am also thinking of the thousands of other young Americans already in military service or who will be in the future; will we need another “Viet Nam Wall” erected in the name of those pushing for war rather than peace?

  2. It never changes. I was drafted in 1969 to serve in Viet Nam. After I was in country, it became apparent that the fight for freedom was contrasted against serious profiteering by a few companies, probably large political donors. Pacific Architects and Engineers was one company I remember. They had the contract to build the buildings soldiers lived and worked in, I’m sure at a premium price.
    The Lindsey Grahams of the world see nothing inconsistent about railing against government spending in one breath, then proposing some large scale military action in the next. The costs of a military action includes the manpower and weapons, but there are enormous costs for the support functions as well, and many opportunities for profiteering. Our success in our recent military outings have been limited at best. The chickenhawks make sure that our warriors are treated like royalty when they return from combat; then they turn around and suggest cuts to veterans benefits. It makes no sense and it never changes.

  3. Perhaps the title should have been “War, Peace and Shitehawks”

    One of the age-old constants in the Arab World is the slight variation of Islam between the various factions. They war with each other and profess to be doing God’s work; the crisis in Yemen is a perfect example. However, as we have seen in the past. They all can be brought to the table if the right catalyst is inserted into the equation. During the First World War, that catalyst was Lawrence, who united the tribes against the Ottoman Empire.

    Today, 100 years later, they all share a common hatred of America.

  4. The troubles in the middle east are not completely unlike some of our own, in that they are caused by theocracy. It offers no solutions, only problems.

    So we have a structural problem with the Israeli theocracy (and so do they) but we have a personal problem with their Cheney, Netanyahu. We have a structural problem with Iran’s theocracy, but economic sanctions and diplomacy have forced a resolution that their theocracy and our democracy can live with but those Americans who believe that we should be a theocracy too are troubled.

    All of this is background music for the main event. Our upcoming elections where we choose between American theocracy/oligarchy and democracy.

    If we choose wisely we can then start working on our own problems rather than those of others.

    And start saving us from us.

  5. Wow Pete; some heavy-duty observations. Thanks for underscoring basics on both sides which isn’t comforting but puts today’s problems in easy to understand terms…even for this high school dropout with a GED.

  6. Sheila Kennedy is correct in so many ways. Her article is a good read regarding the U.S. – Iran agreement, which is a framework for working through and then establishing a multilateral agreement acceptable to the international community. This agreement could also establish a rarity: a nation actually pulling back from the brink of nuclear armament. If this happens then the world will also gain a viable model for doing the same elsewhere. As human beings we have grown too comfortable with the fact that multiple nations are armed with the deadliest of weapons, nuclear devices of mass destruction on a scale we truly cannot imagine and, if used, we would probably not survive. The longer we are plagued with the existence of these weapons the odds increase that they will be used. God help us if they are. We can only hope that the leaders of nations across the globe will do what the U.S. and Iran are now attempting. Sheila, please keep writing.

  7. I find the NEO-CONs forget and our simply do not want to face the facts that Iran has good reasons to be suspicious of US motivations. Back in 1953 the USA and the British over threw the elected government of Iran. The USA and British installed the Shah of Iran who lived large and was in effect a dictator, joining the club of Dictators in the Gulf States. The USA has always positioned as champion of freedom via the ballot box, but no elections were or are permitted under the Shah or the other Gulf States Dictatorships. If these states supported and permitted a Medieval Version of Religion that is OK for USA as long as control was maintained with the USA at the helm.

    As an Infantry Combat Veteran of Vietnam (Draftee Type) I am not surprised at the pundits and experts that sit safely in Air conditioned, sanitized, safe environments in the Studios of CNN, MSNBC, and FOX and push the USA toward War. These pundits and experts will never be on the ground in the front lines under hostile fire, I doubt if their children will be either. Their bravery is in direct proportion to their distance from the battlefield.

    Can we trust Iran? I do not know. I know that after the Gulf Tonkin incident and the lies of GWB for Gulf War 2, and the rosy statement of, “Mission Accomplished”, I do not trust our own Government. Lets try Peace for a change.

  8. There have been several recent articles these last few days about new fallout from Chernobyl due to ash from forest fires burning in that area. We have constant discussions about the leaks from the Fukushima reactors, now being detected within 100 miles of North American coastlines. And these are not even military applications.
    Senator Lugar had been and remains a driving force behind nuclear disarmament. He and President Obama were able to cross partisan barriers to work together on this issue when both were in the Senate.
    The effects of using any nuclear weapon at today’s strength would mean devastation not only in the war theaters but around the world. It is insanity to ignore these repercussions. Anything we can do to keep more bombs from being developed should be pursued with diligence. We should also continue to work at disarming our own arsenal. Those like Mr. Cheney who continuously beat the drums of war are doing irreparable harm not just to the US but to nations worldwide. The potential fallout from using one of those weapons would be a line from which no one could retreat.
    IMO, it is “when” not “if” a nuclear strike occurs if we don’t actively work to stop it.
    Mouthpieces for the Oligarchs, like Senator Tom Cotton (R, Arkansas), who are so bound and determined to keep building our reliance on the unholy alliance among the military industrial complex, have no other agenda but wealth accumulation. They owe no allegiance to any nation as their businesses/wealth are international in scope. Their only loyalty is to their self-interest. War generates wealth for those who supply and support it. It has nothing to do with patriotism and everything to do with greed and power. It is a very short-sighted view because nuclear fallout would not be confined to only the theaters of war. They, too, will reap the whirlwind.

  9. After WWII the Jewish people petitioned the world for a homeland. The world found a means to satisfy their wishes but left it up to them to defend their lands from a hostile neighborhood. Part of their strategy to accomplish that has been to become a nuclear power in order to be able to threaten the complete destruction of any neighbor who becomes a very serious contender for their lands.

    Their neighborhood, the one that they chose, has suffered for mellinia from instability caused by Muslim factions and theocracy. Their ability to raise Caine has been funded by America and Europe’s insatiable appetite for oil. Part of what we’re willing to pay to feed that addiction is in the form of “protection” paid to Israel to police the neighborhood.

    Israel’s enthusiasm for survival in their neighborhood has led them to insist that Palestinian’s be prevented from getting what the Jewish people were given 75 years ago, a homeland.

    So there is plenty of complicity to go around the whole world. But is there any hope?

    Republicans have tried the military approach and Democrats the negotiated approach. Probably the real goal has been only to contain the trouble to the area and get the oil out of the area. An awfully modest goal but it has been mostly achieved.

    A more ambitious goal would be to replace the culture and government of theocracy with democracy, but that’s not achievable by us directly.

    So the next big milestone will be when and as we declare independence from oil. As we back off from funding the military in the neighborhood the killing will be reduced to traditional tribal skirmishes and I imagine never ceasing local “family” arguments.

  10. This nation would greatly benefit from giving the likes of Dick Cheney
    a Psychiatric evaluation before allowing them to serve in public office.

  11. I’ll admit immediately that I know little about foreign affairs, especially foreign affairs in the Arab world. My sole exposure is strictly anecdotal and is derived from my former sister-in-law, Parisa, whose family fled Iran in the late 1970’s approximately the same time as the Shah was overthrown. She, her twin sister, and her older brother were children, elementary school aged children. Her parents and the children left the Tehran area in fear for their lives, left their house, their bank deposits, and their entire lives. Parisa’s family was decidedly Westernized with the girls attending school, with her mother and the girls never wearing a jihab or burqa, and with the freedom to dress in popular Westernized styles of the day.

    From old photographs she shared, Tehran was a beautiful, bustling city. By the way, she and her family always referred to themselves as Persian, even after settling in northern Virginia and establishing a rug import business, Persian rugs. Her father hosted a marvelous wedding reception in Westernized style with wonderful Persian music, dances, and to die for food. Such a shame what’s become of Iran today.

  12. Bibi and the neo cons deserve credit.They so scared the international community including incredibly the Russians and Chinese, that a deal with Iran was made and one that will place Obama on the “great Presidents list”.

    Thank you Bibi and Neo Cons .

  13. Pete, after watching 5 minutes of the video, I noted that I’d not observed one female who was not ‘wearing the veil’, followed by learning that all university classes are divided by gender. Males in one classroom and females in a separate classroom. Even the young girls were veiled and covered in pink body covering. Speaking for myself, that’s a huge, a massive difference from the Iran my former sister-in-law, her twin sister, and her mother experienced prior to the Shah’s overthrow and the take-over by the fundamentalist Muslim clerics.

    My sister-in-law and her family never would have considered leaving their home, their country, their entire culture unless their lives were threatened. Until this day, Parisa’s family is not allowed access to their financial holdings, their bank accounts. Personally, I consider that a major problem that lies beneath the slick video production posted on YouTube.

  14. Barb, it is said that one does not know one culture until exposed to two.

    You and I prefer western culture which when examined in the context of other cultures is a pretty bizarre one.

    I assume that we are not exceptional in that regard and everyone is most comfortable in the culture that they were raised in.

    Unfortunately cultures evolves as the environment does which explains generation gap.

    Functional government comes from rational regard for human rights and responsibilities and ideally should be thereby separated from culture but in practice it cannot be. Theocracy makes that even harder.

    I find middle eastern theocracy appalling but all cultures both interesting and a mix of functional and bizarre, just like ours.

    We very amply rewarded the Shah for marketing western culture in Iran. He had to resort to some pretty awful human rights practices to earn his keep and ultimately that always fails. He and we had as much to do with the creation of Iranian theocracy as anyone.

  15. Pete, I understand exactly what you’re saying. When the secular threatens the fundamentalist, whether Muslim, Jewish, or Christian, sooner or later there will be a fundamentalist backlash borne of fear. The fundamentalist for all purposes is the weaker brother who eventually with fight back with a vengeance and with the backing of his holy writ, whatever that may be.

  16. I think that we’re all born addicted to influence so that we can make the world conform to our wishes. Maturity is the realization and acceptance that not only are we not entitled to that, but we don’t need it. The world is pretty flexible accommodating a range of beliefs. Fundamentalists and extremists don’t reach that level of maturity. Consequently they live not in the real world but in their world. That discrepancy generally makes their influence temporary.

    So mankind muddles along making long term progress at the expense of short term messes. At least so far. Now that the stakes are higher than ever we’ll have to see if our luck holds out.

  17. Cotton was quoted on Facebook today as saying, “Forget Iraq, Iran can be bombed out in a few days.” Obviously a Cheney clone. This, after authoring the letter to Iran signed by 47 Senators telling them not to trust the word of President Obama because it can be overturned in two years. Boehner invites Netanyahu to speak before Congress where he receives standing ovations from Republican Congressmen and Congresswomen (25 I believe). Texas Rep Louie Gohmer decides not to run for president because he believes his lack of hair would be a major hindrance. The governor of Kentucky stating; “The Kentucky law against gay marriage is not discriminatory because it applies to straight marriage.” Maybe, Sheila, our “ready, shoot, aim” is pointing in the wrong direction. How can we possibly deal with foreign affairs as vital as nuclear negotiations with world leaders when elected officials such as these wielding great amounts of power are in the headlines? The inmates are truly running this asylum. How can we avoid war with any other nation when we are at war with one another in this country on a daily basis due to inept elected officials?

  18. All conversation pales in the fact that only one nation has directly attacked America since Dec 7th, 1941.

    I challenge the lot of you to identify that nation.

  19. Google gave me no answers; I wait with baited breath for the correct answer to Earl’s question. Could someone also tell me what “baited breath” is?

  20. The Imperial Japanese Navy launched a surprise attack against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, hereafter known as Pearl Harbor Day.

    Waiting with bated breath alludes to a condition of waiting for something to occur, usually meaning shallow breaths as in a state of hyper alertness. My chocolate lab waits with bated breath when she sees a Canada goose strutting around my backyard, just waiting to pounce.

  21. Barb, your English Definition passes the bar but your American History gets an F.

  22. Seemingly the Einsteins are muted so the answer is proffered: June 6, 1967. Clearly marked Israeli fighter bombers attacked the U.S. Liberty, a spy ship, killing 26 Americans and wounding many others. The Liberty was flying the stars and stripes during the entire attack.

    Reason? Possibly to preclude details of their battle plans to conquer middle east countries.

    And that is the only incident of attack against this nation since 1941. Our friends, the Israelis.

    I can’t wait to hear all the rationalizations.

  23. Plus some three Israeli torpedo boats joined in the attack, leaving a 39 foot hole in the ship. Six torpedoes were fired. It was this torpedo that killed most of the crew. The attack was well planned and coordinated. Reparation of some 12 million was paid but the message was well received: Do as we say in the Middle East.

    Google U.S. Liberty.

  24. What is amazing about these saber rattlers is that these people cannot or will not articulate any discernible end game. They just want to bomb Iran as if that is an end into itself. It is not. One of the cardinal rules in orchestrating any military operation is being able to articulate an easy to understand rationale for such an operation. It has to focus on the aims of such an operation, what is needed to accomplish them, how it furthers our position internationally, how it ends and what that ending will mean regarding the international situation it is meant to mitigate. None of the people that are doing all of this very loose talking have given any tangible insight into their thinking regarding these extremely crucial components of any military undertaking. Given their statements, some of which are truly bizarre, I cannot help but conclude that they have no answers to these questions. Until they do they should be quiet since a lot of these very same people led us into another war of choice without any discernible end game – the war in Iraq. We all know how that has turned out.

    Engaging Iran would immediately fracture the current negotiating “alliance” and very likely set in motion, once again, what we are supposedly trying to prevent. The Iranian people, unlike their repressive theocratic government, want better relations with this country and do not want to fight us. If we attack them, however, it will very logically and predictably drive them to support their leaders and cause them to lash back with all that they have against us and likely Israel as well. All of this will very likely create a veritable firestorm of instability and conflict throughout the region and possibly beyond the Persian Gulf and the Middle East. It would also adversely effect our relations with our international competitors and partners and quite probably damage our foreign policy and our national security in ways not yet contemplated. The fact that these people offer no credible information revealing any contemplation on their part along these crucial lines is also very disturbing.

    We need to think long and hard about any military operation against Iran. We need to take into consideration how war weary the American people are right now, despite snap polling data that indicates the contrary. We need to think about the wear and tear that has been inflicted on our military, on both its people and its equipment over 13 years of constant use. We also need to think about how much such an effort would cost, possibly dwarfing what we spent in Iraq both in terms of money and blood. Are the American people ready for that? That’s an intangible as well despite what the “warhawks” say. We, the American people, need to vigorously press for that end game in regard to any military operation against Iran and how it will play out. Unless we can get those answers we need to keep our sabers in their scabbards.

  25. “After WWII the Jewish people petitioned the world for a homeland. ”

    Well, kind of. 95% of Jews are Ashekenazi. The Ashkenazi are merely the descendants of the fallen Khazarian Empire that converted to Judaism in the 8th Century.

    The Ashkenazi are not Arabs and are not descended from the Line of David. Ashkenazi are Europeans. Smart, talented, Europeans.

    After WWII, Eastern Europe was cold, dreary, under Soviet control and bombed out. Palestine was sunny, warm, spared the devastation of WWII and unarmed. It was easy pickings.

    Who wouldn’t want the country right under Lebanon, basically for the asking?

    The Khazars were defeated by the Rus in about the 11th Century, and the Ashkenazi are still hopping mad about it, thus the U.S.-led saber rattling in the Ukraine and the Crimea. If the Ashkenazi had their way, they’d restore the Ukraine to Jewish control. That’s the real home of 95% of the world’s Jews.

    America needs to ensure it doesn’t get drawn into any fights in the Ukraine.

  26. “What is amazing about these saber rattlers is that these people cannot or will not articulate any discernible end game.”

    If you listen, they sure do. You must not hang out with them.

    The neocons want a permanent U.S. military presence in the Middle East to ensure Israel remains under Jewish control so Bible prophecies can come true. See Commentary, Weekly Standard, Fox News.

    And, because they hate Muslims, even though they knew nothing about Muslims until 2001.

  27. The GOP is full of lots of Evangelicals who believe that the “Jews” who moved to Palestine after WWII and overthrew the country are related to the Palestinian Jews of Jesus’ day.

    As that becomes an increasingly minority position based solely on desire, given that the scholarship is almost unanimous in holding that the Ashkenazi Jews are 8th Century European converts to Talmudic Judaism, the Republicans’ End Times positions look more and more like fairy tales. Serious people don’t accept fairy tales.

    It was a good run. The Israel gang got America in Middle East wars from 2003 until, well, have we even left? Don’t we still keep a carrier in both the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf?

    Mark my words. If Israel cannot continue to use the United States to its advantage, Israel will cozy up to Russia.

    Look up Israeli Prime Ministers and note how many were from Eastern Europe. Israel’s home-grown leader Yitzhak Rabin was Russian, though born in Palestine. Both his parents were Russian. Meier, Russian. And so it goes. Israel is much more Russian than it is American.

    And, what do you know? Here’s a decent piece from a couple months ago:


    As Evangelicalism declines in America, so also does America’s support for Israel.

  28. You’re close, Earl.

    McNamara and Johnson put the Liberty where it was so it would be an easy target. The idea was to blame the attack on Egypt and get America into war on the side of Israel against Egypt.

    The USS America had already launched fighter wings against the Israeli planes (and that would have been a feast for the American pilots), but Johnson said “I want that goddamn ship going to the bottom. No help – recall the wings.” Imagine the shame the America fighter pilots had to live with over returning to deck when their shipmates were under attack.

    Look up Balfour, Brandeis and why we got in World War I, when nothing in that war concerned us.

    Very few people knew this History in 2001. Millions know it now, and that’s why support for Israel in America is plummeting. Who knows what even more secret truth about Israel Obama has access to?

  29. The Liberty was a spy ship. Bristling with antennae, it could monitor the entire electronic bands and garner all communications. She allowed the US to be in on every action or operation the Israelis mounted. Each time a woman or child was slain and the boots radioed it, the Liberty heard.

    Israel didn’t like that so they attacked the Liberty to insure secrecy. If the ruse was to trick the US into a war with Egypt, the French built jets would not have been so clearly marked. I don’t know how well the statement attributed to Johnson can be documented. I believe he was a bit smarter than that.

    In addition, how could that have triggered a war with the Arab world? Certainly the charge could so easily be refuted and discredited by a sky filled with EC 121s. They clearly heard the pilots speaking Yiddish. They were recorded and that is where Johnson and Ed entered the scene. The tapes ‘disappeared’. Theaters of war are extremely difficult to control.Think Nam and the many atrocities committed there. We knew and some protested. But the masses simply didn’t care.

  30. Use Caution – you excel at touting the Anti-Israel line, but you flunk genetics. Ashkenazi Jews are most closely related to Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews — also to the Palestinians. The great thing about science is that it is true regardless of your opinions.

  31. Use Caution – Of course, you’re right. I was looking at it from a purely strategic point of view as I did the Iraq War and just like that war what these people want to do would end up being a catastrophe, leaving us in a far worse position strategically, diplomatically, and in other ways we can’t even contemplate. We really don’t know how to fight wars anymore. The last one that we successfully fought, according to the traditional way the United States fights wars, ones that are declared, was World War II. Since then, in one way or another, we have failed to successfully obtain our strategic objectives, very likely since they have been so woefully defined to begin with. We have lost so much blood and treasure in the process that we have become gun shy and given how poorly things have been run all the way back to the Korean War it is only logical that we are. We keep dealing with serious blowback from our previous misadventures, like those that have involved Iran, as if we don’t have enough problems already.

    You can trace this all back to the introduction of nuclear weapons to our arsenals and the impact that the use or misuse of those weapons has had on the way we think strategically. Additionally, from reading the serious literature on these sorts of things out there, we have a hard time discerning what strategy really is. Without clearly defined and enunciated strategic objectives we will face another, make-it-up-as-we-go-along debacle and end up in worse shape than we are now. What we really need is a grand strategy, something which a lot of seasoned military planners are currently calling for, where nothing like what is being contemplated by the “war hawks” occurs in a vacuum. Instead we would have credible long range planning, something that we seem to struggle with, with clearly defined foreign policy objectives, ones where the use of military force is the last rung on the escalatory ladder, not the first. To think that we could launch air strikes, cruise missile attacks, even nuclear attacks on Iran as some of these fools have advocated, without our country and its people, i.e., us, incurring serious and damaging repercussions is sheer folly. We would very likely set in motion something that only a lunatic would want. Our mission has to be keeping that from happening regardless of who is advocating it; nut bars in this country or those that happen to reside in the neighborhood in question.

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