Donate

Fecal Insults to Countries Are Objectionable—Unless the Country Is Israel

Jan. 18 2018

President Trump’s alleged vulgar remark last week about the homelands of certain immigrants to America has garnered much attention and generated much outrage. Very different, notes Tom Gross, were responses to the comment of the French ambassador to Britain in 2001 when he called Israel a “shy little country”:

When Ambassador Daniel Bernard told guests at a dinner hosted by the writer Barbara Amiel . . . that Israel was a “shy little country,” some journalists rushed to his defense or even praised him. For example, an article in the Independent by one of the paper’s most prominent columnists, Deborah Orr, described Israel as “shy” and “little” no fewer than four times. (At the time, the Independent was winning newspaper-of-the-year awards).

The French ambassador to London is not the American president, of course. But he is nonetheless the official representative of one of the world’s most important countries: a nuclear power, one of five permanent members of the UN Security Council, a G8 member, the land of égalité and fraternité and of a supposedly sophisticated ruling elite. And Bernard was not just any ambassador. He was one of then-French President Jacques Chirac’s closest confidantes, and had previously served as France’s UN ambassador. . . .

Yet when Bernard made his “shy” remark, the British and French press seemed to spend more time criticizing the messenger, Barbara Amiel, in whose home the remark was made, than the ambassador. Le Monde ran a front-page attack on Amiel for having had the temerity to reveal the ambassador’s comment. In the Guardian, Matt Wells denounced Amiel as “an arch-Zionist,” but had nothing but sympathy for Bernard who, he claimed “was struggling against a tide of anger from Israel.” In fact the Israeli government hadn’t made a single official comment on the matter at the time Wells’ article was published.

Read more at Mideast Dispatches

More about: anti-Semiti, Donald Trump, France, Israel & Zionism, United Kingdom

How the U.S. Can Strike at Iran without Risking War

In his testimony before Congress on Tuesday, Michael Doran urged the U.S. to pursue a policy of rolling back Iranian influence in the Middle East, and explained how this can be accomplished. (Video of the testimony, along with the full text, are available at the link below.)

The United States . . . has indirect ways of striking at Iran—ways that do not risk drawing the United States into a quagmire. The easiest of these is to support allies who are already in the fight. . . . In contrast to the United States, Israel is already engaged in military operations whose stated goal is to drive Iran from Syria. We should therefore ask ourselves what actions we might take to strengthen Israel’s hand. Militarily, these might include, on the passive end of the spectrum, positioning our forces so as to deter Russian counterattacks against Israel. On the [more active] end, they might include arming and training Syrian forces to engage in operations against Iran and its proxies—much as we armed the mujahedin in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Diplomatically, the United States might associate itself much more directly with the red lines that Israel has announced regarding the Iranian presence in Syria. Israel has, for example, called for pushing Iran and its proxies away from its border on the Golan Heights. Who is prepared to say that Washington has done all in its power to demonstrate to Moscow that it fully supports this goal? In short, a policy of greater coordination with Jerusalem is both possible and desirable.

In Yemen, too, greater coordination with Saudi Arabia is worth pursuing. . . . In Lebanon and Iraq, conditions will not support a hard rollback policy. In these countries the goal should be to shift the policy away from a modus vivendi [with Iran] and in the direction of containment. In Iraq, the priority, of course, is the dismantling of the militia infrastructure that the Iranians have built. In Lebanon, [it should be] using sanctions to force the Lebanese banking sector to choose between doing business with Hizballah and Iran and doing business with the United States and its financial institutions. . . .

Iran will not take a coercive American policy sitting down. It will strike back—and it will do so cleverly. . . . It almost goes without saying that the United States should begin working with its allies now to develop contingency plans for countering the tactics [Tehran is likely to use]. I say “almost” because I know from experience in the White House that contingency planning is something we extol much more than we conduct. As obvious as these tactics [against us] are, they have often taken Western decision makers by surprise, and they have proved effective in wearing down Western resolve.

Read more at Hudson

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, U.S. Foreign policy, Yemen