[Marxism] AIPAC beats the drums of war

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Mar 6 07:00:59 MST 2012

(Noteworthy not for its opinion, but for its origin--a hawkish 


AIPAC beats the drums of war
By Dana Milbank, Published: March 5

A barbershop quartet performed for participants in the American 
Israel Public Affairs Committee as they took the convention center 
escalators to Monday’s meeting of the pro-Israel lobby. But once 
inside the hall, the AIPAC attendees heard the sound of war drums.

“Iran’s nuclear program continues to march forward,” Prime 
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the crowd of thousands Monday 
night. “My friends, Israel has waited and waited for the 
international community to resolve this issue. We’ve waited for 
diplomacy to work. We’ve waited for sanctions to work. None of us 
can afford to wait much longer. As prime minister of Israel, I 
will never let my people live in the shadow of annihilation.”

It’s beginning to feel a lot like 2003 in the capital. Nine years 
ago this month, there was a similar feeling of inevitability — 
that despite President George W. Bush’s frequent insistence that 
“war is my last choice,” war in Iraq was coming. Now Israel is 
moving toward a preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear program, and 
American leaders are coming before AIPAC this week to give their 

“The president has said he doesn’t bluff and neither can we in 
Congress,” said Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), a pro-Israel hawk 
serving his final year in the Senate. “The Iranian regime must 
hear a message from us and we must state it loud and clear: Either 
you peacefully negotiate an end to your illicit nuclear activities 
or they will be ended for you by military attack.”

The lights went up and thousands of conference attendees leapt to 
their feet.

As always, there are the ritual affirmations of solidarity with 
the Jewish state, and the usual shows of lobbying might (“largest 
gala ever!”). But there is little talk about the Palestinian 
conflict at the AIPAC gathering this year, and the usual domestic 
political chatter about which side is more pro-Israel has been 
eclipsed by a shared sense that war is coming — and probably soon. 
Howard Kohr, AIPAC’s executive director, told the crowd that “time 
is running out quickly.”

Obama, who used his address to warn Iran that he wasn’t bluffing 
about the possibility of a preemptive strike, repeated his threat 
while sitting in the Oval Office on Monday with Netanyahu. “My 
policy here is not going to be one of containment,” he said. “My 
policy is prevention of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons. And as I 
indicated yesterday in my speech, when I say all options are at 
the table, I mean it.” Obama spoke of the standoff with Iran 
entering “a series of difficult months, I suspect, in 2012.”

Whatever private misgivings Obama may have about a strike on Iran, 
his rhetoric this week could easily be considered a green light 
for Israeli action. And if Obama is flashing a green light, 
Israel’s advocates in Congress are waving a starter’s flag. Mitt 
Romney, in an op-ed written for Tuesday’s Washington Post, called 
for expanding aircraft carrier presence in the region.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told the AIPAC 
gathering on Monday night that Obama needs more of a “clear, 
declaratory policy” toward Iran. “If Iran at any time begins to 
enrich the uranium to weapons grade or decides to go forward with 
a weapons program, then the United States will use overwhelming 
force to end that program.”

That’s not a controversial statement at the AIPAC conference, 
where attendees admired an armored personnel carrier, a 
surface-to-air missile and a model of an Israeli drone. To those 
who oppose military action against Iran, Netanyahu offered a 1944 
exchange of letters between the World Jewish Congress, which 
pleaded with the United States to bomb Auschwitz but was rebuffed. 
“My friends, 2012 is not 1944,” the prime minister said. “Never 
again will the Jewish people be powerless.”

The question at AIPAC seemed to be less about whether a strike 
would occur than whether the United States would participate, and 
when it would happen. Lieberman, calling the Iranian threat “more 
serious than anything faced by the United States and Israel” 
during his time in office — a claim that would include al-Qaeda 
and Iraq — pressed for an “iron-clad” resolution: “The United 
States will prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear-weapons 
capability — by peaceful means if we can, but with military force 
if we absolutely must.” The AIPAC participants roared their approval.

Lieberman said that waiting until Iran gets the bomb would be too 
late: “The despotic regime that now rules Iran must be numbered.”

If the war talk this week is any indication, the days may be 
numbered in the double digits.

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