Friday, August 25, 2006

Gangster Diplomacy

Elliot Abrams in Jerusalem

Counter Punch

"In marked contrast, there is little public debate in the United States about the Bush administration's role in supporting Israel's failed and criminal war in Lebanon. As recent press reports reveal, President Bush and his foreign policy team had given Israel a green light to take out Hezbollah at least two months before Hezbollah guerrillas kidnapped two Israeli soldiers.

As was the case in U.S. policy toward Iraq, the neoconservative camp-led by such institutes as the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Center for Security Policy, and the now defunct Project for the New American Century and by such neocon pundits and strategists as Max Boot, Charles Krauthammer, Michael Ledeen, and Elliott Abrams-has long promoted that the United States and Israel implement regime change and preemptive strategies against Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran.

Also like the Iraq War, the neoconservatives inside and outside the Bush administration have seen their own causes embraced, to various degrees, by Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and the president himself.

Outside the administration the neocons have vociferously pressed for the U.S. government to proceed "faster, please," as AEI's Freedom Scholar Michael Leeden often says, with its Middle East transformation strategy. During the recent hostilities, Ledeen and others, notably Krauthammer, Boot, and William Kristol, have advocated that the United States and Israel take the war to Syria and Iran.

Since he joined the Bush administration in 2002 as the chief Middle East adviser at the White House's National Security Council, Elliott Abrams has quietly pushed for a transformational Middle East policy with Israel at its center. If one U.S. official were to be blamed-aside from the president, vice president, and secretary of state-for the U.S. government's disastrous stance with Israel in the recent war, it would be Elliot Abrams. Perhaps more than any other member of Bush's foreign policy team, Abrams embodies the administration's zealous, ideological, and dangerously delusional vision of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.

Abrams, a neoconservative who has dedicated himself to reshaping U.S. foreign policy since the mid-1970s, is the Bush administration's point man for Middle East transformation. According to Seymour Hersh writing in the August 21 New Yorker, Cheney's foreign policy staff and Abrams in early summer had signed off on an Israeli plan to wipe out Hezbollah."

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