Towards an Atlantic police state? (6) The Rise of the NeoCons

The connection of the US Far Right to the state of Israel, especially after 1967, would come to play a major role in the shaping of a global strategy that culminated in the War on Terror. After the Six-Day War of that year, Israel found itself occupying large tracts of Arab land, a situation confirmed after the 1973 Yom Kippur war. The United States at this juncture moved to underwrite the occupation and after 1976 Israel became the largest recipient of US foreign aid, most of it military. 

Today we can see that the Global War on Terror has evolved out of the US guarantee for the Israeli occupation and that country’s need to keep the Palestinians under control, not only in the occupied territories or the open-air prison camp of the Gaza strip, but also in the Palestinian refugee camps in countries like Lebanon. As in Nazi Europe and other cases, resistance to foreign occupation in Israel is called ‘terrorism’ and to get the West to subscribe to this definition became the goal of a new Far Right tendency in Israeli politics, the Likud Party. Their policies are based today on the data obtained by mass surveillance across the globe.

The development of the highly complex set of relationships between the US and Israel and the Arab OPEC countries, notably the Gulf monarchies led by Saudi Arabia (which were also important funders of the US deficit), passed a critical threshold when thanks to growing oil income, the Middle East became a major client of the US arms industry; along with its nominal enemy, Israel (through US aid) and the American military itself. Within the US, this set of interconnections became evident when the ‘Senator from Boeing’, Henry Jackson, jointly with investment banker and veteran Cold War diplomat Paul Nitze began a campaign for an Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) system and restore nuclear superiority over the USSR, in opposition to the détente and arms control policies of Nixon and Kissinger. After the abandoning of the gold cover of the US dollar in 1971, OPEC countries sought to cut their losses due to dollar inflation by raising the price of crude oil. The Jackson-Vanik amendment to the 1973 US trade legislation tied commercial relations with the USSR to its acceptance of Jewish emigration to Israel, mortgaging détente on the Zionist project. The Jackson team led the opposition to ongoing arms control negotiations, undermining the US position on SALT II, the draft treaty covering multiple-warhead ballistic missiles. As we can see today, this effectively created the US-Israeli NeoCon bloc that came to dictate Western geopolitical strategy and continues to do so, including the War on Terror.

In the United States the welding together of a new Cold War posture and support for the Israeli occupation received a boost when the influential New York Jewish intelligentsia, formerly left-liberal, threw their media weight behind the military-industrial, pro-Israel campaign (it was they who earned the label ‘Neo-Conservative’).

In 1977, the victory of the Likud in Israel constituted the first breakthrough of the transnational NeoCon bloc in regular elections. Led by former Zionist terrorist leaders Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir, ruthless military commanders such as Ariel Sharon, and the Netanyahu’s (father Benzion, the one-time secretary to the founder of Far Right Zionism, Zeev Jabotinsky, and son Benjamin), this party abandoned the notion of compromise with the Palestinians and opted for repression with Western support. In July 1979, an international conference on terrorism was organised in Jerusalem by the Jonathan Institute, named after Jonathan Netanyahu, who had been killed in a raid to capture a plane hijacked by Palestinian radicals. His brother Benjamin chaired the event, which was opened by Prime Minister Begin. The twin components of a War on Terror, counterattacking an alleged enemy (made up of terrorists and states supporting them) and rolling back democracy at home by mass surveillance and a politics of fear, both had a longer history, but they were now combined into a single programme, albeit still in the context of the struggle with Soviet state socialism.

Of course the idea that Moscow was the hub of a global terror network was a plain instance of what we now call ‘fake news’, but the mainstream media demonstrated that they were willing to go along nevertheless. Claire Sterling, one of the participants in the Jerusalem conference, argued the case for it in her 1981 book, The Terror Network, and Alexander Haig, Reagan’s first secretary of state promptly endorsed it. Sterling took the attempt on the life of Pope John Paul II by a Turkish fascist as evidence that the KGB used terrorism to knock out a pontiff championing the cause of the anti-communist trade union in his native Poland. Based on obviously fabricated evidence produced by the Italian secret service, SISMI, Sterling wrote a piece entitled ‘The Plot to Kill the Pope’ for the September 1982 issue of Reader’s Digest. NBC-TV followed up with a documentary, ‘The Man Who Shot the Pope—A Study in Terrorism’, and the mainstream press jumped in as well when the New York Times, Time, Newsweek, CBS News and others combined forces with the Reagan administration to mobilise public support for a new arms race and counterrevolutionary operations in Angola, Mozambique, Nicaragua and El Salvador.

Kees van der Pijl

For a complete text with full references see Surveillance Capitalism and Crisis

Artwork by Michiel Kassies

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