When the CIA Worked Against Zionism

In the CIA’s early years, the agency’s Middle East policy focused on opposing both Communism and Zionism. The main architect of this policy was Kermit Roosevelt (grandson of Theodore), who, like many of the CIA’s founding figures, belonged to “a fading patrician class of American Protestants—with deep ties to elite universities like Harvard and Yale, and to missionaries with connections throughout the Middle East.” Asaf Romirowsky explains the strategy, and its latter-day legacy:

In 1948, Roosevelt and leading anti-Zionist Virginia Gildersleeve, a former dean of Barnard College, had formed the Committee for Justice and Peace in the Holy Land, which warned that “extreme Zionist pressure” was in “danger of disruption of our national unity and encouraging anti-Semitism.” The group worked in close coordination with the anti-Zionist American Council for Judaism, and with State Department officials. Roosevelt kept forming [other] anti-Israel groups, such as 1949’s Holy Land Christian Committee, ostensibly to assist Christians in Israel. . . .

[This history] helps explain how modern NGOs’ evergreen anti-Zionist views remain cornerstones today, along with the convenient core belief that all Middle East problems reside in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Characterizing the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and other Zionist groups as the center of a nefarious “Israel lobby” is also not new.

Read more at Middle East Forum

More about: Anti-Zionism, CIA, History & Ideas, NGO, State Department

An American Withdrawal from Iraq Would Hand Another Victory to Iran

Since October 7, the powerful network of Iran-backed militias in Iraq have carried out 120 attacks on U.S. forces stationed in the country. In the previous year, there were dozens of such attacks. The recent escalation has led some in the U.S. to press for the withdrawal of these forces, whose stated purpose in the country is to stamp out the remnants of Islamic State and to prevent the group’s resurgence. William Roberts explains why doing so would be a mistake:

American withdrawal from Iraq would cement Iran’s influence and jeopardize our substantial investment into the stabilization of Iraq and the wider region, threatening U.S. national security. Critics of the U.S. military presence argue that [it] risks a regional escalation in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Iran. However, in the long term, the U.S. military has provided critical assistance to Iraq’s security forces while preventing the escalation of other regional conflicts, such as clashes between Turkey and Kurdish groups in northern Iraq and Syria.

Ultimately, the only path forward to preserve a democratic, pluralistic, and sovereign Iraq is through engagement with the international community, especially the United States. Resisting Iran’s takeover will require the U.S. to draw international attention to the democratic backsliding in the country and to be present and engage continuously with Iraqi civil society in military and non-military matters. Surrendering Iraq to Iran’s agents would not only squander our substantial investment in Iraq’s stability; it would greatly increase Iran’s capability to threaten American interests in the Levant through its influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Read more at Providence

More about: Iran, Iraq, U.S. Foreign policy