Drumbeats Of War: Israel’s Dangerous Brinkmanship – OpEd


By Horace Campbell

As the capitalist depression deepens, there are militarists in the United States who are now openly championing war so that the US government would embark on another massive investment for missile defense, rather than discussing reduced military spending. The drumbeat of war is so loud that it is becoming deafening. Accompanying this drumbeat is the unstated idea that there are too many non-white people in the world and that a limited nuclear war can be managed and won. Underlying the call for war is also the racist fear of a world where whites are in the minority and in such a war the racists can eradicate millions of non-whites and non-western people from the planet. The immediate plans for war are now concentrated in the Persian Gulf, with the escalating propaganda war about the nuclear capabilities of Iran. However, at the present moment Iran does not possess Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM) so the discussion is really about war with contingency planning for the escalation beyond Iran. This is because the strategic analysts know full well that war with Iran will escalate beyond the borders of Iran. Already Pakistan has warned that it will come to the defense of Iran if it is attacked.

Decent humans everywhere must pay attention, actively mobilise and raise their voices against the present mobilisation for warfare. There is a debate on Ballistic Missile Defense among specialists. This struggle is part of a larger context where every day there are reports of the preparations by Israel to strike Iran. Inside the United States, those sections of the financial-military complex that are gearing up for new wars are stepping up the military information operations (psychological warfare to implant fear) against citizens of the United States. In short, the plans for war can be seen as a major propaganda war against the citizens of the United States. There is desperation by sections of the financial oligarchy who are afraid of the November elections and that Barack Obama may win a second term. In this planning for war the interests of the militarists merge with the present political leadership in Israel.

Report after report continues to come out that the Israelis will attack to prevent Iran from developing nuclear capabilities. This is the same Israeli state that possesses between 200 and 300 nuclear weapons. Israel is already involved in electronic warfare, cyber war and other forms of low intensity war against Iran.

In our contribution this week we will underscore the point that this is a very dangerous situation. This is brinkmanship and is designed to intervene in the politics of the United States to push the society towards a global war in order to secure the regional military monopoly of Israel. This military monopoly perpetuates the status of Israeli military occupation and illegal settlements in the homeland of the Palestinian people. Next week the Prime Minister of Israel will visit the United States and through the lobbying organisation, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the Prime Minister will seek an advantage by manipulating the dangerous situation which can take humanity into nuclear war. The brinkmanship is so dangerous that even Cold Warriors such as Zbigniew Brzezinski (former National Security Advisor under President Jimmy Carter) have suggested that President Obama should make it clear to Israel that if they attempt to attack Iran’s nuclear weapons sites the US Air Force will stop them. It is not usual to read statements such as these in the US media, “Obama Administration Should Tell Israel U.S. Will Attack Israeli Jets if They Try to Attack Iran”.

Brzezinski had appealed to Obama three years ago, long before the propaganda war reached this precipitous stage. Brzezinski, who considers himself a strategic thinker, said today that if Israel attacked Iran, the state of Israel would not survive in its current form. In short, it is possible that we are entering a period of catastrophic warfare.


This week the western news agencies were full of reports that ‘Israeli officials won’t warn the US if they decide to launch a pre-emptive strike against Iranian nuclear facilities.’ These reports detailed the emissaries from the Obama administration to Israel and the posture of the Israeli leadership. According to the Associated Press,

‘Israeli officials said that if they eventually decide a strike is necessary, they would keep the Americans in the dark to decrease the likelihood that the US would be held responsible for failing to stop Israel’s potential attack. The US has been working with the Israelis for months to persuade them that an attack would be only a temporary setback to Iran’s nuclear program. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and defense minister Ehud Barak delivered the message to a series of top-level US visitors to the country, including the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the White House national security adviser and the director of national intelligence, and top US lawmakers, all trying to close the trust gap between Israel and the U.S. over how to deal with Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Netanyahu delivered the same message to all the Americans who have traveled to Israel for talks, the US official said.’

Next week the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu will address the annual convention of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), one of the most powerful political forces of the militarists in the United States. AIPAC describes itself as the most important organisation affecting the US relationship with Israel. Politicians in the United States remain in fear of this organisation and their influence has been documented in the book, ‘The Israeli Lobby’. Barack Obama has been very careful in his dealings with AIPAC and he will also be addressing this organ.

Netanyahu who has consistently shown complete disrespect for President Obama will be making his case for military support and will then draw in those sections of the media that are integrated into the propaganda efforts for the planned military attack. Last year when Netanyahu visited the United States he lectured President Obama on what he ‘expected’ President Obama to do. Netanyahu went on to address the joint houses of Congress and was given standing ovations 29 times in his bellicose message before the citizens of the United States. Many of the representatives who were applauding wanted to be sure that the cameras did not catch them not applauding.

Even the most pro-Israeli news outlets in the United States such as Atlantic had to comment on the disrespect, with Jeffrey Goldberg commenting: ‘Dear Mr. Netanyahu, Please Don’t Speak to My President That Way.’

As a politician who is more concerned with re-election that with world peace, Obama has attempted to handle Netanyahu with delicate skill despite the disrespect and open racism. Netanyahu was raised and educated in the United States .His training was always linked to the far right in Israeli politics, even while he lived in the United States. From the diplomatic relations between the US and Israel over the question of Iran, one would leave with the impression that it is the Israelis who are the financial supporters of the United States and not the other way around. Obama has bent over backwards to support the state of Israel and in December 2011, in an address to the conference of the Union for Reform Judaism, President Obama said that ‘My administration has done more than any other to support Israel.’

The entire political establishment in the United States has been complicit in the illegal occupation and expansionist position of Israel since 1956. There have been over nine wars since the war over the Suez in 1956 and the US has been suborned to support Israel in these wars. Israel’s rationale for attacking Iran is to protect its security, against a state that uses the rhetoric of ‘wiping Israel/Jews’ off the earth. The reality, however, is that Iran has thousands of Jewish citizens. Israel’s military and nuclear weapons capabilities are ‘beyond’ Iran’s. The true reason for attacking Iran is that Iran poses a challenge to Israel’s current military dominance in the region, not its security in the region.

When the Israelis launched their war against Hezbollah in July 2006, the limitations of the ‘superiority’ of the Israeli military was exposed. At the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009, the Israelis launched an unprecedented war against the people of Gaza. What was distinctive about the atrocities was the outrage in every part of the world. This outrage was especially significant in Egypt where the military led by Hosni Mubarak had been silenced with payments so that the people of Egypt did not come to the assistance of the Palestinians.

The Egyptian revolution has shifted the political balance and even though the military is in control, this military cannot survive a new war in the Middle East. This is probably the most decisive strategic shift in the Middle East and North Africa.


The Obama administration has been complicit in the support for the expansionist policies of Israel. In this current economic and financial crisis a war with Iran will not only be about Iran, it will have global implications. Humanity is now faced with a clear danger of global war. In an effort to establish early warning mechanisms with China, the Obama administration has been working to establish direct lines of communication between the People’s Liberation Army of China and the Pentagon. When the Vice President of China Xi Jinping visited the United States in February he visited the Pentagon. Xi Jinping was seeking to dampen the anti-China rhetoric in the USA.

Over the past four years many in the peace movement have grown tired of the discussions in the media about a possible attack on Iran. However, what is different now is the convergence of the military planning of Israel with the desperate forces of the financial barons. There are also some economists who believe in military Keynesianism.

Obama in an effort to stall entered into the propaganda war against Iran instead of calling on Israel to cease its expansionist policies and the building of new Jewish settlements. In efforts to appease the Israelis, Obama initiated the imposition of harsh sanctions on Iran. However, the militaristic wing in Israel is not waiting for these sanctions to take hold. Barack Obama and the top echelons of the US military are against this war. Army General Martin Dempsey, the Chairperson of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told CNN that such an Israeli strike would be ‘destabilizing’ and ‘not prudent.’

The current serving military are reeling from the massive opposition to the US occupation of Afghanistan. It is in the midst of this military debacle where those in the financial military information complex are pushing for a new war against Iran. These sections of US capitalism want to ensure that there is no reduction in US military spending and are linked to media houses that are invested in the outdated military industrial complex, including the failed strategic defense initiative. Today Glen Greenwald posted a detailed commentary on ‘Gen. McCaffrey Privately Briefs NBC Execs on War with Iran.’

From the contents of this commentary along with the power point presentation of General McCaffrey, the reader is exposed to the thinking of those ex-generals who are predicting a war with Iran in the next 90 days. These discussions of immediate war have also drawn in a wider debate about the ability of the United States to defend itself against missiles.


Last week the US television network C-SPAN showed a discussion that was held on 1 February at the University of California Berkeley on Ballistic Missile Defense. The most striking position was that of Professor Theodore A .Postol who was warning that the United States does not have the capability to defend itself against a missile attack. This debate caught my attention because Professor Postol, a scientist from M.I.T who has previously worked for the Naval Operations at the Department of Defense, was holding his own in his argument on the flawed and dangerous missile plans of the Pentagon. Behind this discussion was the contingency war planning for war against the people of Iran. Any serious scholar of previous wars knows that the planned Israeli attack on Iran will escalate beyond Iran, so these military experts on ballistic missiles were contending on the options without stating that they were discussing the possible consequences of an Israeli attack on Iran.

Participants in this discussion argued passionately about US ballistic missile defenses and the future of US foreign policy. Among the topics they addressed were the current nature of the nuclear threat, future deterrence strategies and non-proliferation efforts. When one stripped away the heat of the arguments it became clear that the experts were basically discussing the possible outcome of a nuclear war. Earlier Postol had written in response to a Pentagon report on the state of US preparedness for defense against Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles. In that argument relating to the Ballistic Missile Defense Review Report, he had warned that,

‘With regard to current missile defense technologies, there are no new material facts to support any of the claims in the report that suggest that the United States is now in a position to defend itself from limited ICBM attacks or that any of the fundamental unsolved problems associated with high-altitude ballistic missile defenses have been solved.’

Despite this warning, there are those sections of the military-industrial complex who believe that the United States can win a ‘limited’ nuclear war and that the mythical Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) can be real. Essentially Postol was spelling out the truth that the billions spent in the defense industry on the Reagan SDI had been a waste of money. Only this week we have been reminded by the Wikileaks of the privately run intelligence firm Stratfor and its connections specialised parts of the US Government, other countries and military organizations, as well as private companies like Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon. Stratfor perfectly mirrors the shadow government with military and financial connections and we are given clear information of how operators use intelligence information to make money in the financial markets.

The war plans are advanced with the Wall Street speculators in on the planning so that the futures markets are pushing up the price of petroleum. Every day in the US media there are commentators who are wondering why the price of oil is going up, but these commentators are there to ensure that there is no Congressional investigation into the banks and oil companies who are in the ‘futures market.’ These speculators have information on the advanced war plans.

The advanced preparation for the media spin on the need for the United States to ‘guarantee the security of Israel’ is now evident in the mainstream press. This corporate media condemn Iran’s alleged involvement in terrorist attacks against Israel around the world, yet are silent on the low intensity warfare by Israel against Iran, including assassinations. There is documented information that there are sections of the Israeli security and intelligence agencies that are involved with the Jundallah, an anti-regime terrorist organisation operating in Iran.

This military information operation against the citizens of the United States is, in my view, one component of the elections in the United States. The conservative Republicans have great difficulty in putting up a candidate who is credible for the forthcoming presidential elections. As the crisis in Europe deepens, there is the necessity to transfer more political power to the one per cent by bailing out financial initiations that are insolvent. Instead of supporting the prosecution of the speculators such as those of MF Global and Bank of America, the media is diverting the energies of the US citizens towards war. War in itself will provide the cover for more austerity and bailing out the banks. Such a bailout cannot be tabled at the present moment when the political initiative is in the hands of the mass of the population who are calling for an end to the bail out to the banks. It is the majority of citizens of the United States who will bear the costs of war in terms of higher prices for food and fuel and jobs. The Occupy Movement has inserted itself in the political process and is preventing the spin doctors to take the lead.

In desperation the forces who support the one per cent are seeking ways to divert the 99 per cent from the depression, and war is as good a diversion as any. It is here where the strategic planning of the Israeli conservatives converges with the most conservative capitalists in the United States. These two social forces share the belief that Obama can be pushed around and candidates such as Rick Sanatorum is willing and ready to mobilize the Christian soldiers who want to go to war to defend ’the holy land.’ Former President Jimmy Carter grasped the essential racism of this faction of the US political establishment when he said, ‘an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man.’


I started out this commentary with reference to the disputes at the highest levels of the US government over the forthcoming war against Iran and the requirement to supply Israel with the military, political and logistical support for a strike against Iran. In this preparation for war additional resources are being channeled to the United States Central Command, that section of the US military that is currently trapped in the midst of a the people of Afghanistan. It is this Central Command which is now being beefed up for full scale war and the Pentagon has requested the re-allocation of some $100 million in military spending to speed up war preparations. While Israel would keep the US in the dark about an attack, US has also made ‘plans’ and devoted ‘resources and assets’ to react to an attack and counter attack contingencies The Wall Street Journal, in an article last Saturday, February 25, that ‘US Bulks up Iran defenses” was explicit that ‘the extent to which war planners are taking tangible steps to prepare for a possible conflict with Iran, even as top White House and defense leaders try to tamp down talk of war and emphasize other options.’

The Wall Street Journal is owned by Rupert Murdoch, who is himself facing possible prosecution under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) – legislation designed to stamp out international corruption. Rupert Murdoch and his extensive media enterprises have been integrated with psychological warfare fronts such as Bell Pottinger. It is the psychops planners that are in the forefront of the war planning. While serving members of the military and National Security establishment are against the supply of heavy bunker buster bombs to Israel, the mainstream press is championing the strike on Iran.

David Sanger of the New York Times, in an article on ‘Syria, Iran and the Obama doctrine’ promoted war explicitly when he wrote: ‘Arm the Syrian rebels! And, while we’re at it, give the Israelis the tools they need — bunker-busters, refueling aircraft — so that if they decide to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities, they’ll get it right the first time.’

In this way Sanger made it clear that the call to arm rebels in Syria is part of the wider war plans of Israel against Iran. It is in the midst of this massive cry for war where Zbigniew Brzezinski warned the hawks in the United States that if war comes, the state of Israel in its present form will cease to exist.


Benjamin Netanyahu is working against those forces in Israel who want peace. The president of Israel, Shimon Peres, is against a military strike against Iran. Members of the intelligence community in Israel are against this attack. Netanyahu, however, has been pumped up by his alliances with the most conservative factions in the United States. He is seeking a political advantage by creating the impression that he is willing and able to push a highly dangerous situation to the limit rather than concede. Many analysts have correctly grasped the reality that the question of the possibility of nuclear war is unwarranted because it is the Israelis who are in possession of nuclear weapons.

I have included the debates on Ballistic Missile Defense because it is known that once this war breaks out there will be a full scale war beyond the present electronic warfare, cyber wars, sanctions and low intensity assassinations. It will not be a one day affair. It will not be confined to the Persian Gulf and the Straits of Hormuz. Zbigniew Brzezinski, who has recently completed a book on ‘Strategic Vision: America and the Crisis of Global Power’ is seeking to stem the wave of militaristic talk. Brzezinski is calling on the United States to maintain open lines of communication with China. Meanwhile, Rick Sanatorum said plainly, he is ready for a war with China. Newt Gingrich, Rick Sanatorium and Mitt Romney all share the militaristic front of the financiers. It is not by accident that Sheldon Adelson, chairman of the Las Vegas Sands Corp., and the fifth wealthiest man in America as recently ranked by Forbes magazine is one who is willing to spend whatever it takes to put a Republican in the White House. Adelson joins the Koch brothers who are promoting the most conservative agenda against humans in the USA.

The peace movement cannot leave it up to Obama or up to Brzezinski to oppose the war against Iran. The Egyptian revolution has shifted the political calculus and while Brzezinski is looking to the east, the sober Israelis must be examining if the so called peace treaty with Egypt can hold when they start this war.

We are in a revolutionary moment and it will be more difficult to pay off a more “democratic Egypt,” to maintain a bogus peace treaty with Israel. This democratic opening in Egypt offers the peace movement new challenges and it is up to the forces of peace internationally to bring back the peace initiatives of Brazil and Turkey to demilitarize the issues of the potential nuclear capabilities of Iran. At the same time the peace movement must intensify its efforts to denuclearize the world because there are politicians and generals who believe that they can reduce the non-white population in the world by limited nuclear war.

Horace Campbell is Professor of African American Studies and Political Science at Syracuse University.

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One thought on “Drumbeats Of War: Israel’s Dangerous Brinkmanship – OpEd

  • March 4, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    Reagan and Thatcher both condemned Israel for bombing Iraq in ’81. Thatcher;“[The Osirak attack] represents a grave breach of international law,” she said in an interview with London’s Jewish Chronicle in 1981. Israel’s bombing of another country could lead to “international anarchy.”


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