An Arms-Control Foundation’s Efforts to Buy Support for the Iran Deal

According to a recent report by the Associated Press, the Ploughshares Fund, a supposedly nonpartisan arms-control-advocacy organization, gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to various think tanks, journalists, lobbying groups (including the “pro-Israel, pro-peace” J Street), and media outlets as part of its efforts to promote the nuclear agreement with Iran. Lee Smith comments:

In [Ploughsares’] 2015 annual report, board chairwoman Mary Lloyd Estrin wrote of “the absolutely critical role that civil society played in tipping the scales toward this extraordinary policy victory [i.e., the Iran deal].” It’s perhaps not surprising that Ploughshares confuses the people and institutions it supports with the public sphere, but in this case at least precisely the opposite is the case.

Civil society is the assortment of institutions, like the media, the academy, non-governmental organizations, etc. that exist apart from and frequently in opposition to the government in order to express the will of the citizens of a free society. Its purpose is to inform those citizens so they are better equipped to make decisions about their lives and the life of the nation and thereby hold their government accountable.

But Ploughshares conscripted journalists, researchers, and NGOs to do the opposite. . . . What Ploughshares did was to pollute the public sphere with self-validated and self-validating noise for the purpose of deceiving the public on behalf of the state. . . .

[While] the White House threatened to punish Democrats tempted to challenge the deal, Ploughshares helped lawmakers feel better about caving in. They paid for think tanks to produce incomplete or erroneous factsheets, they paid for journalists to publish it, and they paid for lobbyists to carry it to Capitol Hill.

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More about: Barack Obama, Iran nuclear program, J Street, Journalism, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy

 

No, Israelis and Palestinians Can’t Simply Sit Down and Solve the “Israel-Palestinian Conflict”

Jan. 17 2019

By “zooming out” from the blinkered perspective with which most Westerners see the affairs of the Jewish state, argues Matti Friedman, one can begin to see things the way Israelis do:

Many [in Israel] believe that an agreement signed by a Western-backed Palestinian leader in the West Bank won’t end the conflict, because it will wind up creating not a state but a power vacuum destined to be filled by intra-Muslim chaos, or Iranian proxies, or some combination of both. That’s exactly what has happened . . . in Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq. One of Israel’s nightmares is that the fragile monarchy in Jordan could follow its neighbors . . . into dissolution and into Iran’s orbit, which would mean that if Israel doesn’t hold the West Bank, an Iranian tank will be able to drive directly from Tehran to the outskirts of Tel Aviv. . . .

In the “Israeli-Palestinian” framing, with all other regional components obscured, an Israeli withdrawal in the West Bank seems like a good idea—“like a real-estate deal,” in President Trump’s formulation—if not a moral imperative. And if the regional context were peace, as it was in Northern Ireland, for example, a power vacuum could indeed be filled by calm.

But anyone using a wider lens sees that the actual context here is a complex, multifaceted war, or a set of linked wars, devastating this part of the world. The scope of this conflict is hard to grasp in fragmented news reports but easy to see if you pull out a map and look at Israel’s surroundings, from Libya through Syria and Iraq to Yemen.

The fault lines have little to do with Israel. They run between dictators and the people they’ve been oppressing for generations; between progressives and medievalists; between Sunnis and Shiites; between majority populations and minorities. If [Israel’s] small sub-war were somehow resolved, or even if Israel vanished tonight, the Middle East would remain the same volatile place it is now.

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More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israel & Zionism, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Middle East