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Monday, August 30, 2004

Four I's

In the parade of nations at the Olympics opening ceremony two weeks ago, the 61st nation to appear was Iraq, and the 62nd was Iran. Sixty-eighth was Israel, and 69th was Italy. They alphabetized using the Greek alphabet; in English, only Ireland would have separated those four countries (I think).

The Pentagon-Israel spy scandal (it desperately needs to be a scandal), appears to be in large part a conspiracy of the last two of those "I" countries, Israel and Italy, to get the United States to go to war with the first two, Iraq and Iran. Obviously, the Israelis, assisted by the Italians, did not encounter any reluctance among the many pro-Israel neonuts in the administration (or in Congress). Lawrence Franklin was (is?) the Iran expert in the Pentagon who has been accused by the FBI of espionage. But Juan Cole suggests it's much more than that:
The FBI has evidence that Franklin passed a draft presidential directive on Iran to AIPAC, which then passed it to the Israelis. The FBI is construing these actions as espionage or something close to it. But that is like getting Al Capone on tax evasion. Franklin was not giving the directive to AIPAC in order to provide them with information. He was almost certainly seeking feedback from them on elements of it. He was asking, "Do you like this? Should it be changed in any way?" And, he might also have been prepping AIPAC for the lobbying campaign scheduled for early in 2005, when Congress will have to be convinced to authorize military action, or at least covert special operations, against Iran. AIPAC probably passed the directive over to Israel for the same reason--not to inform, but to seek input. That is, AIPAC and Israel were helping write US policy toward Iran, just as they had played a key role in fomenting the Iraq war.

With both Iraq and Iran in flames, the Likud Party could do as it pleased in the Middle East without fear of reprisal. This means it could expel the Palestinians from the West Bank to Jordan, and perhaps just give Gaza back to Egypt to keep Cairo quiet. Annexing southern Lebanon up to the Litani River, the waters of which Israel has long coveted, could also be undertaken with no consequences, they probably think, once Hizbullah in Lebanon could no longer count on Iranian support. The closed character of the economies of Iraq and Iran, moreover, would end, allowing American, Italian and British companies to make a killing after the wars (so they thought).

Franklin's movements reveal the contours of a rightwing conspiracy of warmongering and aggression, an orgy of destruction, for the benefit of the Likud Party, of Silvio Berlusconi's business in the Middle East, and of the Neoconservative Right in the United States. It isn't about spying. It is about conspiring to conscript the US government on behalf of a foreign power or powers.