The 1973 Arab-Israeli War and the 1974 Jackson-Vanik anti-Soviet sanctions tied to Jewish emigration were key landmark events in neocons successfully turning US Jews against detente with Soviet Union and hijacking US foreign policy for their global liberal-democrat crusade
- "At the time a majority of American Jews were not necessarily against better U.S.-Soviet relations. But with the forceful hammering of influential right-wing neoconservative pundits like Ben Wattenberg and Irving Kristol and the explosive manifestation of the Evangelical Christian Zionist movement, many of Israel’s liberal American supporters were persuaded to turn against détente for the first time."
Peter Steinfels’ 1979 classic The Neoconservatives: The men who are changing America’s politics begins with these fateful words. “THE PREMISES OF THIS BOOK are simple. First, that a distinct and powerful political outlook has recently emerged in the United States. Second, that this outlook, preoccupied with certain aspects of American life and blind or complacent towards others, justifies a politics which, should it prevail, threatens to attenuate and diminish the promise of American democracy.”
But long before Steinfels’ 1979 account, the neoconservative’s agenda of inserting their own interests ahead of America’s was well underway, attenuating U.S. democracy, undermining détente and angering America’s NATO partners that supported it. According to the distinguished State Department Soviet specialist Raymond Garthoff, détente had been under attack by right-wing and military-industrial forces (led by Senator “Scoop” Jackson) from its inception. But America’s ownership of that policy underwent a shift following U.S. intervention on behalf of Israel during the 1973 October war. Garthoff writes in his detailed volume on American-Soviet relations Détente and Confrontation, “To the allies the threat [to Israel] did not come from the Soviet Union, but from unwise actions by the United States, taken unilaterally and without consultation. The airlift [of arms] had been bad enough. The U.S. military alert of its forces in Europe was too much.”
In addition to the crippling Arab oil embargo that followed, the crisis of confidence in U.S. decision-making nearly produced a mutiny within NATO. Garthoff continues, “The United States had used the alert to convert an Arab-Israeli conflict, into which the United States had plunged, into a matter of East-West confrontation. Then it had used that tension as an excuse to demand that Europe subordinate its own policies to a manipulative American diplomatic gamble over which they had no control and to which they had not even been privy, all in the name of alliance unity.”
In the end the U.S. found common cause with its Cold War Soviet enemy by imposing a cease-fire accepted by both Egypt and Israel thereby confirming the usefulness of détente. But as related by Garthoff this success triggered an even greater effort by Israel’s “politically significant supporters” in the U.S. to begin opposing any cooperation with the Soviet Union, at all.
In the months and years following the Arab-Israeli war of October 1973, the issue of Israel and its security would become so enmeshed in American policy as to become one and the same. The lesson of October 1973 that détente had succeeded in securing American and Soviet interests, was anathema to the entire neoconservative agenda and revealed its true hand.
At the time a majority of American Jews were not necessarily against better U.S.-Soviet relations. But with the forceful hammering of influential right-wing neoconservative pundits like Ben Wattenberg and Irving Kristol and the explosive manifestation of the Evangelical Christian Zionist movement, many of Israel’s liberal American supporters were persuaded to turn against détente for the first time.
According to the distinguished State Department Soviet specialist Raymond Garthoff’s Détente and Confrontation; “Analytically and objectively the American-Soviet cooperation in defusing both the Israeli-Arab conflict, and their own involvement in a crisis confrontation, may be judged a successful application of crisis management under détente.” But as Garthoff acknowledges, this success threatened “Israel’s jealously guarded freedom of action to determine unilaterally its own security requirements,” and set off alarm bells in Tel Aviv and Washington.
With Richard Nixon on the ropes with Watergate and Vietnam dragging to a conclusion, American foreign policy was open to external pressure and within a year would fall permanently into the hands of a coalition of pro-Israel neoconservative and right-wing defense industry lobbying groups.
These groups such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), the American Security Council and Committee on the Present Danger would set about to make American interests and their own personal crusade to control the greater Middle East, interchangeable.
Theodor Herzl on the balcony of the Hotel Les Trois Rois in Basel in1897.
The issue of U.S. support for Israel, its neoconservative backers and its dedicated anti-Russian bias has a long and complicated history dating back long before Theodor Herzl’s19th century Zionist Project. Zionism was not instilled in American thinking by Jews, but by 16th and 17th century British Puritans whose sacred mission was to reestablish an ancient Kingdom of Israel and fulfill what they believed to be biblical prophecy based on the King James Version of the bible.
Add the 700 million strong worldwide Evangelical movement and its 70 million Christian Zionists in the United States, and American foreign policy towards the Middle East becomes an apocalyptic confluence of covert agendas, ethnic grudges and religious feuds locked in permanent crisis.
It has been argued that the neoconservative’s slavish adherence to Israel makes neoconservatism an exclusively Jewish creation. Numerous neoconservative writers like the New York Times’ David Brooks tar critics of Israel as anti-Semites by accusing them of substituting the term “neoconservative” for “Jew.” Others argue that “neoconservatism is indeed a Jewish intellectual and political movement” with “close ties to the most extreme nationalistic, aggressive, racialist and religiously fanatic elements within Israel.”
Although clearly acting as a political front for Israel’s interests and an engine for permanent war, neoconservatism would never have succeeded as a political movement without the support and cooperation of powerful non-Jewish elites.
New America Foundation co-founder Michael Lind writes in The Nation in 2004, “Along with other traditions that have emerged from the anti-Stalinist left, neoconservatism has appealed to many Jewish intellectuals and activists but it is not, for that reason, a Jewish movement. Like other schools on the left, neoconservatism recruited from diverse ‘farm teams’ including liberal Catholics… populists, socialists and New Deal liberals in the South and Southwest… With the exception of Middle East strategy… there is nothing particularly ‘Jewish’ about neoconservative views on foreign policy. While the example of Israel has inspired American neocons… the global strategy of today’s neocons is shaped chiefly by the heritage of cold war anti-Communism.”
Whether American democracy could have survived the stresses put upon it by the Great Depression, World War II, the Cold War and the ongoing frauds posed by neoconservatism now poses an answerable question. It couldn’t. Fletcher School international law professor Michael Glennon maintains that the creation of the national security state in 1947 as a second, double government effectively renders the question mute. He writes: “The public believes that the constitutionally-established institutions control national security policy, but that view is mistaken. Judicial review is negligible; congressional oversight is dysfunctional; and presidential control is nominal. Absent a more informed and engaged electorate, little possibility exists for restoring accountability in the formulation and execution of national security policy.”
The Reach of Jackson-Vanik
The motion to kill détente and hobble Henry Kissinger’s balance of power or “realist” foreign policy quickly followed the 1973 war in the form of the anti-Soviet amendment to the Trade Act known as Jackson-Vanik. Sponsored by SenatorHenry “Scoop” Jackson of Washington State and Representative Charles A. Vanik of Ohio, but engineered by Albert Wohlstetter acolyte Richard Perle, trade concessions and virtually anything regarding Moscow would be forever linked to the Zionist Project through Jewish emigration to Israel from the Soviet Union.
Supported by organized labor, traditional conservatives, liberals and neoconservatives, Jackson-Vanik hobbled efforts by the Nixon/Ford administration to slow the arms race and move towards a permanent easing of tensions with the Soviet Union. It removed control of American foreign policy from the President and Secretary of State, while delivering it permanently into the hands of the old anti-Stalinist/Trotskyist neoconservatives.
As Frances Stoner Saunder’s describes in her book The Cultural Cold War, it was simply about grabbing power and keeping it. “‘It’s so corrupt, it doesn’t even know it,’ said [legendary Random House editor] Jason Epstein, in an uncompromising mood. ‘When these people talk about a ‘counter-intelligentsia,’ what they do is to set up a false and corrupt value system to support whatever ideology they’re committed to at the time. The only thing they’re really committed to is power, and the introduction of Tzarist-Stalinist strategies in American politics. They’re so corrupt they probably don’t even know it. They’re little, lying apparatchiks. People who don’t believe in anything, who are only against something, shouldn’t go on crusades or start revolutions.”
Source: Consortium News