influence on Washington
In a note in his
diary, former President Carter disclosed how, in 1977, the Arab lobby pressured him while he was involved in the negotiations
between President Sadat and PM Begin. He wrote about Arab Americans "They have given all the staff, Brzezinski, Warren Christopher,
and others, a hard time.”
After the 1967 war,
the Arabian American Oil Company ARAMCO established a fund to present the Arab side of the conflict. In May 1970, ARAMCO representatives
warned Assistant Secretary of State Joseph Sisco that American military sales to Israel would hurt U.S.-Arab relations and
jeopardize U.S. oil supplies.
In 1973 Mobil published
an advertorial (an advertisement written in the form of an objective opinion editorial) in the New York Times, promoting Arab
interests. In July, the chairman of Standard Oil of California (SOCAL then, Chevron now) sent a letter to the company's 40,000
employees and 262,000 stockholders asking them to pressure Washington to support "the aspirations of the Arab people." The
chairman of Texaco called for a reassessment of U.S. Middle East policy.
When the October
1973 War broke out, the chairmen of the ARAMCO partners sent a memorandum to the White House warning against increasing military
aid to Israel. ARAMCO has maintained its public relations campaign since 1973, and has become involved in occasional legislative
fights, such as the AWACS sale,
So too, the professors
have ignored many prominent Arab lobbyists who have had and continue to have intimate access to US presidents.
On July 19, 2005 The Hill, a newspaper about the U.S. Congress, highlighted the activities of Fred Dutton, former
Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs and special assistant to President Kennedy. It reported that one of Dutton’s
chief chores since 1975 had been to serve as a lobbyist for Saudi Arabia. In that role, he sought to persuade Congress to
approve two major arms sales to the kingdom.
In an obituary to
Clark Clifford (October 11, 1998), the New York Times spoke of him not only as a key adviser to four presidents, but also
as a powerful lobbyist for Arab sources. In his memoir, "Counsel to the President" Clifford wrote that he advised clients
“What we can offer you is an extensive knowledge of how to deal with the government on your problems. We will be
able to give you advice on how best to present your position to the appropriate departments and agencies of the government."
Clifford, a paid
lobbyist, made about $6 million in profits from bank stock that he bought with an unsecured loan from Bank of Credit and Commerce
International (BCCI). In 1978, he helped BCCI acquire First American Bank. Clifford
as chairman, reassured the Federal Reserve Board that there would be no control by BCCI, which he also represented, but ten
years later, evidence disclosed that BCCI did indeed secretly control the parent company of Clifford's bank. BCCI had in the
meantime been accused of fraud, drug money laundering and bribing bank regulators and central bankers. It was reported to
have $20 billion in assets shortly before its shutdown, but liquidators were unable to find many of its assets.
And Analysis, (Aia), which specializes in information about Asia and Eastern Europe, rated Prince Bandar Bin Sultan as the
most influential foreigner in the USA. As head of the Saudi embassy in Washington in 1983, he was an important participant
in backstage intrigues, clandestine negotiations, and billion-dollar deals relating to US interests in the Middle East, with
broad links among high-ranking officials in the State Department, the Pentagon and the CIA. Bandar’s father, Sultan
Bin Abdul Aziz al Saud, was a leading figure in the ruling dynasty, which decides the extent of military cooperation with
the United States.
claim that US policy towards Israel contributes to America's terrorist problem also deserves critical examination. As far
back as November 2002, Alex Alexiev, in an article published by the United States Committee for a Free Lebanon (USCFL) pointed
out that, Riyadh, flush with oil money, became the paymaster of most of the militant Islamic movements, which advocated terror.
In its aggressive support for radical Islam, even the most violent of Islamic groups, like Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, receives
Saudi largesse. He claims that official Saudi sources indicate that between 1975 and 1987, Riyadh's "overseas development
aid" averaged $4 billion per year, of which at least $50 billion over two and a half decades financed "Islamic activities”
exclusively. The SAAR Foundation, alone, which has been closed down since 9/11, received $1.7 billion in donations in 1998.
Compared to these numbers, the miniscule Israeli PR budget of about $4million is laughable.
In addition, there
are of course several Arab American advocacy groups, of which the two most influential are the Arab American Institute and
the recently merged American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and National Association of Arab-Americans, not to speak of
the immense power behind the Arab oil wealth. The professors appear to mirror the message of this lobby, which argue that
aid to Israel is a waste of taxpayers' money.
There is a perplexing
ambiguity in the authors’ article. They write that they explicitly stated that by itself the Jewish lobby could not
convince either the Clinton or the Bush administration to invade Iraq, but that there is abundant evidence that the neo-conservatives
and other groups “within” the lobby played a central role in making the case for war. Does ”within”
imply that the neo-conservatives and unnamed other groups are components of an all-embracing Jewish lobby?
Later in the article
they claim that were it not for the Jewish lobby, the US would almost certainly not have gone to war against Iraq in March
2003. However, according to Aia, it was Bandar Bin Sultan who in 1990-91, pushed President Bush the elder, to start the military
campaign against Iraq. This crucial information throws an entirely different light on the conflicting influences under which
Washington operates. Or do the authors consider Bin Sultan part of the Jewish lobby?
Nor should one ignore
the influence of the many other non-Arab lobbies with which the Jewish lobby must compete. Though not specifically concerned
with Middle East politics they exert powerful influences on Washington, some of which may indirectly affect the Middle East.
The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) for example, has over 34 million members, whose $10 annual membership fees
create a mighty financial tool for promoting its causes in Congress.
The ACLU and The
National Rifle Association are also extremely powerful lobbies.
focus on the Jewish Lobby
A Google search for
the words “Mearsheimer and Walt + lobby” yielded 57,900 results all because of a paper, “The Israel lobby
and U.S. Foreign Policy” by Harvard professor Stephen Walt and University of Chicago professor John Mearsheimer. In
a response to critics, the authors admitted they knew their paper was likely to generate a strong reaction. Originally published
in March by the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government, an edited version in the London Review of Books (LRB),
rocketed the authors to instant fame.
the paper bears the prestigious imprimatur of Harvard, it departs seriously from the standards of scholarship expected of
the universities to which the authors are affiliated. In the 82 page working paper the authors evidently seek to build a case
to confirm their preconceived views, that an Israel lobby unduly influences US foreign policy against its interests.
No effort was made to substantiate their inaccurate accusations and they completely failed to present comparisons between
the relative influences of Israeli lobbyists and the many other lobbies which influence Washington.
But the most important
aspect of the document is the relevant information that was omitted. The authors’ obsessive focus on the Israel lobby
shifts attention from real dangers confronting the USA and the Western world by the powerful Arab Lobby and the Muslim extremism
manifested in the recent Danish cartoons furor. By this exclusion, the
professors’ vicious attack on the Israel lobby serves as a dangerous smokescreen, dulling the public’s awareness
of the serious dangers, which cry out for attention. If the professors are seriously concerned about undue influences on Washington,
there is no excuse for overlooking these real dangers.
It is a sine qua
non that scholarly integrity and intellectual honesty require a readiness to suppress one's biases and to follow the facts
wherever they lead, taking care not to avoid evidence which may contradict preconceived views. Yet the professors were unable
to conceal their collective bias as manifested, for example, in their refusal to acknowledge that the Israel government is
located in Jerusalem. They wrote about relations between "Tel Aviv and Washington”, rather than “Jerusalem and
Washington”, evidently fearing that the latter might be interpreted as recognizing Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.
It is incredible
that in their academic study the professors ignored for example, the dramatic stranglehold of OPEC, the blatantly monopolistic
cartel which threatens the world economy. This stranglehold began with OPEC’s decision to use oil as a political weapon
in 1973 when the price was $2.60 per barrel. After October 1973, when the Arab members of OPEC imposed their oil embargo against
the West, the price quadrupled to about $12 by January 1974 and is now soaring well above $60. All this, while, believe it
or not, production costs average about $6 per barrel for non-OPEC producers and $1.50 per barrel for OPEC producers (Bulletin
of Atomic Scientisis May/June 2005). Not surprising that Saudi Arabia's revenue rose from $5 billion in 1973 to a record high
of $93 billion in 1980.
Of course there is
a Jewish lobby, in fact there are several. Some even oppose each other. But it is plainly unscholarly to denounce any lobby
in a serious 82 page document, without critically evaluating its position relative to the many competing influences, which
are integral to the Washington scene.
What Others Say
Steven Emerson, the
internationally recognized expert on terrorism and national security and a leading world authority on Islamic terrorist networks
has provided detailed account of Arab influence in his book “The American House of Saud”. He analyzes in depth the power of Arab petrodollars amounting to $661 billion between 1973 and 1984. Emerson
is recognized as having specifically warned about the threat of Osama Bin Laden's network in Congressional testimony in 1998.
In a review of Emerson’s
book, Daniel Pipes writes that Emerson chronicles anti-Israeli activities undertaken in recent years by prominent Americans
who were receiving or prepared to receive Saudi money. They include J. William Fulbright, who wrote an article in Newsweek
about the Camp David Summit in 1978 advocating a position very similar to that of the Saudi government. Although at that time
he was a registered agent of the Saudi government and although he listed his Newsweek article with the Justice Department
as an activity on the Saudis' behalf, Mr. Fulbright identified himself in the article only as a former U.S. Senator practicing
law in Washington, D.C.
Other major figures
tagged by Mr. Emerson as having joined the chase for Saudi money include Spiro Agnew, Bert Lance and Jimmy Carter. Mr. Emerson
argues that Mr. Agnew - previously well disposed toward Israel - began fulminating against "Zionist influences in the United
States" as part of his successful effort to attract Saudi business. He shows that Bert Lance received a $3.5 million loan
from a Saudi financier, which he did not sign for. Subsequently, Mr. Lance spoke of "the great Jewish ownership of the press."
And Mr. Emerson juxtaposes Jimmy Carter's effusive praise of the Saudi government in 1983 with the willingness of a Saudi
financier to pick up the $50,000 tab for a Carter Presidential Library benefit.
A number of former
ambassadors to the Arab countries are also on the Saudi payroll. Mr. Emerson documents that one of them, Andrew I. Killgore,
said in public that his company did not do public relations work for Saudi Arabia when in fact it did. Offered a chance by
Pipes, to respond, Mr. Killgore did not deny the charge. Instead he accused Pipes of wishing to "silence" him.
The Israel lobby
pales by comparison
In a March 29, 2006
op-ed in the LA Times Max Boot, a Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations succinctly
summed up the issue. He wrote:
“It's true that the U.S. has paid a price for supporting Israel, but it has paid an even bigger
price for supporting other embattled allies. The U.S. has sent subsidies but never soldiers to protect Israel unless you believe, with Mearsheimer-Walt, Pat Buchanan and David Duke, that the invasion of Iraq was a
Zionist plot. We have sent troops to save, among others, Britain, France, South Korea, South Vietnam, Kuwait and Kosovo. Today
we risk war in defense of nations from Latvia to Taiwan, even though there is no good reason why their fate should matter
to us any more than that of Israel. Perhaps Mearsheimer and Walt will write another paper exposing the tentacles of the Latvian
lobby. Or are they only exercised about the power of the Hebrews?
their magnum opus, I was left with just one question: Why would the omnipotent Israel lobby (which, they claim, works so successfully
"to stifle criticism of Israel") allow such a scurrilous piece of pseudo-scholarship to be published? Then I noticed that
Walt occupies a professorship endowed by Robert and Renee Belfer, Jewish philanthropists who are also supporters of Israel.
The only explanation, I surmise, is that Walt must himself be an agent of those crafty Israelites, employed to make the anti-Israel
case so unconvincingly that he discredits it. "The Lobby" works in mysterious ways.”