When Israel/Neocons Favored Iran

Exclusive: The modern history of U.S.-Israeli-Iranian relations dates back 35 years to a time of political intrigue when Israel’s Likud leaders and the Reagan administration’s neocons secretly worked to arm Iran’s radical regime, an inconvenient truth given today’s anti-Iran hysteria, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

After the July 14 agreement between six world powers and Iran to tightly constrain its nuclear program, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the U.S. Congress to overturn the deal and ratchet up the confrontation with Iran, which he calls an “existential threat” to Israel.

As part of Israel’s campaign to derail the agreement, Iran is portrayed as a reckless “rogue” regime with the madness dating back to 1979 when the Iranian revolution ousted the Shah of Iran and the U.S. Embassy in Tehran was overrun with scores of diplomatic personnel taken hostage and 52 of them held for 444 days.

Former Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, a leading neocon and proponent of the Iraq War. (Defense Department photo)

Former Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, a leading neocon and proponent of the Iraq War. (Defense Department photo)

But the lost history from that era included the fact that Israel’s Likud government of Menachem Begin moved quickly to reestablish secret ties with the “rogue” regime of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and became an important source for covert arms supplies to Iran after Iraq invaded Iran in September 1980.

It was not until the early 1990s after the eight-year war with Iran-Iraq War was over and Iran’s budget for weapons purchases was depleted when Israel began transforming Iran into its principal regional enemy. Similarly, American neoconservatives inside the Reagan administration sought to put U.S. policy in sync with Israel’s pro-Iranian tilt in 1981, but the neocons shifted along with Israel to transform Iran into a psychotic enemy during the 1990s.

I discovered documents at the Reagan presidential library in Simi Valley, California, revealing that on July 21, 1981, just six months after Iran freed 52 Americans hostages at the same moment as President Reagan was being sworn in on Jan. 20, 1981, senior Reagan administration officials secretly endorsed third-party weapons sales to Iran.

By that point, the Israeli arms pipeline to Iran already was functioning. Three days earlier, on July 18, an Argentine plane strayed off course and crashed (or was shot down) inside the Soviet Union exposing Israel’s secret arms shipments to Iran, which apparently had been going on for months.

After the plane went down, Assistant Secretary of State for the Middle East Nicholas Veliotes tried to get to the bottom of the mysterious weapons flight. “According to the [flight] documents,” Veliotes said later in an interview with PBS Frontline, “this was chartered by Israel and it was carrying American military equipment to Iran.

“And it was clear to me after my conversations with people on high that indeed we had agreed that the Israelis could transship to Iran some American-origin military equipment. Now this was not a covert operation in the classic sense, for which probably you could get a legal justification for it. As it stood, I believe it was the initiative of a few people [who] gave the Israelis the go-ahead. The net result was a violation of American law.”

The reason that the Israeli weapons shipments violated U.S. law was that no formal notification had been given to Congress about the transshipment of U.S. military equipment as required by the Arms Export Control Act.

But the Reagan administration was in a bind about notifying Congress and thus the American people about approving arms shipments to Iran so soon after the hostage crisis. The news would have infuriated many Americans and stoked suspicions that the Republicans had cut a deal with Iran to hold the hostages until President Jimmy Carter was defeated.

In checking out the Israeli flight, Veliotes also came to believe that the arrangement between Ronald Reagan’s camp and Israel regarding Iran and weapons dated back to before the 1980 election.

“It seems to have started in earnest in the period probably prior to the election of 1980, as the Israelis had identified who would become the new players in the national security area in the Reagan administration,” Veliotes said. “And I understand some contacts were made at that time.”

Q: “Between?”

Veliotes: “Between Israelis and these new players.”

Rise of the Neocons

In subsequent interviews, Veliotes said he was referring to “new players” who came into government with President Reagan, now known as the neoconservatives, including Robert McFarlane, who was then counselor to Secretary of State Alexander Haig, and Paul Wolfowitz, the State Department’s director of policy planning.

Robert McFarlane, Ronald Reagan's third National Security Advisor. (Official portrait)

Robert McFarlane, Ronald Reagan’s third National Security Advisor. (Official portrait)

According to the documents at the Reagan library, McFarlane and Wolfowitz were collaborating with Israel through a clandestine channel of communication. One memo from Wolfowitz to McFarlane regarding the Israeli channel on Iran noted that “for this dialogue to be fruitful it must remain restricted to an extraordinarily small number of people.”

Though this secret conduit between the neocons and Israel about Iran may have originated before Election 1980, it continued, with some fits and starts, for years finally merging with what became known as the Iran-Contra Affair of 1985-86. In that scandal, Reagan secretly authorized the sale of U.S. anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles to Iran through Israel. The documents from the Reagan library suggest that the Iran-Contra machinations were an outgrowth of these earlier U.S. contacts with Israel regarding arms sales to Iran dating back to 1980-81.

McFarlane’s personal involvement in these activities threaded through the years of these clandestine operations, beginning with pre-election maneuverings with Iran in fall 1980 when its radical government was holding those 52 U.S. hostages and thus dooming President Carter’s reelection hopes.

McFarlane, then a retired Marine lieutenant colonel and a Senate Armed Services Committee aide to Sen. John Tower, R-Texas, participated in a mysterious meeting with an Iranian emissary at the L’Enfant Plaza Hotel in Washington. That contact has never been coherently explained by McFarlane or two other Republican participants, Richard V. Allen (who later became Reagan’s national security advisor) and Laurence Silberman (who was later appointed as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington). [For details, see Robert Parry’s Secrecy & Privilege.]

Seeking the Iran Portfolio

After Reagan was inaugurated in 1981, McFarlane popped up at the State Department working hand-in-glove with the Israelis on Iranian arms shipments. He subsequently moved to Reagan’s National Security Council where he played a central role in arranging a new security cooperation agreement with Israel in 1983 and initiating Reagan’s illicit Iran-Contra arms sales through Israel to Iran in 1985-86.

In 2013, when I asked Veliotes about the declassified 1981 documents describing the McFarlane/Wolfowitz arrangement for third-country arms sales to Iran, he responded by e-mail, saying: “My guess it was triggered by the issue of the provision of U.S.-origin defense items to Iran by Israel, which received a certain amount of publicity around this time [July 1981]. This was contrary to U.S. law.

“My further guess is that Israel would have been the channel for delivery of non-U.S.-origin arms. That Wolfowitz and McFarlane would push this is no surprise. The two were part of the neocon cabal that professed to see Soviets everywhere in the Middle East and Israel as a major anti-Soviet ally. Ergo, support for Israeli actions would be in the U.S. interest.”

On July 13, 1981, with the Israel-to-Iran shipments in full swing but still five days before the Argentine plane crashed, this State Department neocon group pushed a formal plan for allowing third-country weapons shipment to Iran. But the idea encountered strong resistance from an Interdepartmental Group (IG), according to a memo from L. Paul Bremer III, who was then the State Department’s executive secretary and considered one of the neocons.

Though many Americans were still livid toward Iran for the 444-day hostage crisis, Bremer’s memo described a secret tilt toward Iran by the Reagan administration, a strategy which included confirming “to American businessmen that it is in the U.S. interest to take advantage of commercial opportunities in Iran.” But the memo noted an inter-agency disagreement over whether the United States should oppose third-country shipments of non-U.S. weapons to Iran.

“State felt that transfers of non-U.S. origin arms to Iran by third countries should not be opposed,” the memo said. “However, other agency representatives at the IG DOD [the Department of Defense] and CIA felt that the supply of any arms to Iran would encourage Iran to resist efforts to bring an end to the war [with Iraq] and that all arms transfers to Iran should be actively discouraged.” (More than two decades later, Bremer would become famous or infamous as the American proconsul overseeing the disastrous occupation of Iraq.)

Because of the disagreement within the Interdepartmental Group, the Iran arms issue was bumped to the Senior Interdepartmental Group or SIG, where principals from the agencies met. Yet, before the SIG convened, the Israeli-chartered plane crashed inside the Soviet Union revealing the existence of the already-functioning secret arms pipeline.

But that incident was downplayed by the State Department in its press guidance and received little attention from the U.S. news media, which still accepted the conventional wisdom depicting President Reagan as a forceful leader who was standing up to the Iranians, surely not rewarding them with arms shipments and business deals.

Approving the Shipments

When the SIG met on July 21, 1981, the State Department’s view, giving Israel a green light on arms shipments to Iran, prevailed. The SIG reflecting the opinions of such top officials as Vice President George H.W. Bush, CIA Director William J. Casey, Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger and Secretary of State Alexander Haig sided with State’s neocons.

Though the SIG decision paper was not among the documents released to me by the archivists at the Reagan library, the policy shift was referenced in a Sept. 23, 1981, memo from Bremer to National Security Advisor Richard V. Allen. Bremer’s memo was reacting to a Sept. 3 complaint from the Joint Chiefs of Staff who wanted their dissent to the relaxed Iran arms policy noted.

In attaching a copy of the JCS dissent, Bremer revealed the outlines of the Iran policy shift. Lt. Gen. Paul F. Gorman noted in the dissent that “the moderate Arab states of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates are committed to a policy opposing arms transfers to Iran.

“If the United States drops its opposition to the transfer of arms not of US origin to Iran by third countries, the moderate Arabs would interpret that action as directly counter to their interests. The impact would be especially serious if Israel increased its arms deliveries to Iran in the wake of a US policy change.

“The Arab perspective tends to automatically link Israeli actions and US policy. The Iraqi Government recently informed the Chief of the US Interest Section in Baghdad that Iraq considers the United States ultimately responsible for arms already transferred to Iran by Israel since, in Iraq’s view, those transfers were possible only because US arms supplies to Israel are more than actually needed for Israel’s defense.

“If Israeli deliveries of arms to Iran increase after a change of US policy, the Iraqi argument may find a sympathetic audience among moderate Arab states. This would add to the momentum of growing discontent with US-to-Israel arms policy, which surfaced within some moderate Arab states after the Israeli air attacks in Iraq and Lebanon. This, in turn, would jeopardize US efforts to secure facility access and host-nation support in Arab states vital to US Southwest Asia strategy.”

The JCS also disputed Iran’s need for more weapons, saying: “Implicit in the argument for arms transfers to Iran is the idea that Iran needs arms to resist further Iraqi incursions. The Joint Chiefs of Staff believe, however, that the military capability of Iran is sufficient to meet the current Iraqi threat.

“Iraq has long called for negotiations to end the war [which began in September 1980] and on several occasions has announced its willingness to accept a ceasefire. Given this politico-military climate, deliberate US action to encourage an increase in arms supply to Iran is unwarranted at this time. Rather than adding to the prospects for peace, increased supplies of arms may encourage Iran to intensify its military actions and continue to reject the negotiated-settlement option. Based on the above rationale, the Joint Chiefs of Staff recommend that the United States continue to oppose all arms transfers to Iran at this time.”

Reacting to the JCS complaint, Bremer protested to National Security Advisor Allen that the policy shift was only a passive acceptance of third-country arms sales. “No participating agency at the SIG argued in favor of arms transfers,” Bremer wrote on Sept. 23, 1981, “nor did any agency argue in favor of ‘deliberate U.S. action to encourage an increase in arms supply to Iran.’”

But the policy shift did amount to an acceptance of Israeli shipments of weapons to Iran. Israeli and U.S. government sources involved in the operations have told me that those shipments coming from a wide range of arms suppliers continued unabated for years, totaling in the tens of billions of dollars, with some of the profits going to fund Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territories.

The JCS warnings proved prescient regarding the geopolitical impact of the Israeli arms flow to Iran. Through the latter half of 1981, Iraqi officials complained bitterly about what they viewed as U.S. complicity in Israel’s arms shipments to Iran and about Iran’s resulting capability to sustain its war effort. State Department officials responded to these complaints by dancing around what they knew to be true, i.e., that Israel had shipped U.S.-origin and third-country weapons to Iran with U.S. knowledge and, to some degree, U.S. approval.

In one cable to British authorities, Secretary of State Haig described U.S. policy disingenuously as “hands off” toward the Iran-Iraq War. The cable said, “We have been assured repeatedly by Israeli officials at the highest level that arms subject to U.S. controls would not be provided Iran. We have no concrete evidence to believe that Israel has violated its assurances.”

However, over the years, senior Israeli officials have claimed what Veliotes’s investigation also determined, that Israel’s early arms shipments to Iran had the quiet blessing of top Reagan administration officials.

In 1982, Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon told The Washington Post that U.S. officials had approved the Iranian arms transfers. “We said that notwithstanding the tyranny of Khomeini, which we all hate, we have to leave a small window open to this country, a tiny small bridge to this country,” Sharon said, although other evidence suggested that the bridge was more like an eight-lane highway.

On an Urgent Basis

By late summer 1981, the McFarlane-Wolfowitz tandem was making a bid to secure secret control over U.S. policy toward Iran. In a memo to Secretary Haig on Sept. 1, 1981, McFarlane and Wolfowitz urged Haig to put McFarlane in charge of that policy. “What we do recommend is that you give Bud (McFarlane) a charter to develop policy on these issues, both within the Department and interagency, on an urgent basis,” the memo said.

Later in the year, McFarlane and Wolfowitz saw a new opening to bind U.S. policies on Iran more closely to the interests of Israel. In a Dec. 8, 1981 memo, McFarlane told Wolfowitz about a planned meeting he was to have with Israeli foreign policy and intelligence official David Kimche on Dec. 20.

“At this meeting I would like to introduce two new topics to our agenda and for this purpose would appreciate your providing the necessary analysis and talking points,” McFarlane wrote to Wolfowitz. One of those topics was Iran, according to the document. However, the second item remained blacked out for national security reasons.

“Needless to say, this is a sensitive matter and you should not coordinate its development with any other office,” McFarlane wrote. “You should not coordinate it with any other Bureau.”

Wolfowitz delivered the “talking points” on Dec. 14 for what to tell Kimche. “There is intense concern about the future of Iran at a very high level in the U.S. government,” the talking points read. “If friends of the United States were able to suggest practical and prudent means of influencing events within Iran, it is possible that the U.S. government might eventually move to a more active policy. I am anxious to begin a dialogue with Israel on how to influence the evolution of events I feel that Israeli-U.S. cooperation could be important in dealing with these issues.”

Wolfowitz also suggested that McFarlane enlist Israel in efforts to draw Turkey into the Iran strategies. “I would be grateful for ideas on how Turkish cooperation could be effectively used,” the talking points stated. “We should consider first whether we can set in motion any methods of influencing internal developments in Iran. Since none of the existing exile movements have major support within Iran, we have to look primarily at other internal means for the present. Do you have any way of providing useful resources to the moderate clergy who are now out of politics?”

The talking points made clear that there was a military or “regime change” component to this new strategy, posing the question: “In a civil war situation, what are the crucial skills and equipment that the pro-Western elements are more likely to lack?”

The talking points for what McFarlane should tell Kimche added, “Finally, we believe it is important to ensure that the West has some counter to Soviet introduction of paramilitary or proxy forces, without necessarily having to turn to U.S. forces, so that the USSR does not have an option we cannot counter.”

The talking points also impressed upon Kimche the need for utmost secrecy: “Of course, for this dialogue to be fruitful it must remain restricted to an extraordinarily small number of people.”

In other words, McFarlane and Wolfowitz were looking to the Israelis as key partners in devising strategies for affecting the internal behavior of the Iranian government. And the Israelis’ principal currency for obtaining that influence was the shipment of weapons. McFarlane and Wolfowitz also planned to collaborate secretly with Israel in devising broader U.S. policies toward the Middle East and they intended to hide those policies from other U.S. government officials.

Moving on Up

In his 1994 memoir, Special Trust, McFarlane described the broad sweep of issues raised in his meetings with Kimche, who had served as a senior Mossad official but in 1981 was director-general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

McFarlane wrote: “In addition to sales of military hardware and substantial U.S. military and economic aid to Israel, we discussed the possibility of applying Israel’s experience and talent in the areas of police and security training in third world areas, particularly Central America, under contracts from the Agency for International Development.” [p. 186]

In 1982, Reagan moved McFarlane to the White House as Deputy National Security Advisor, giving him responsibility for integrating the administration’s foreign policies. But Wolfowitz’s Policy Planning office came under the control of more seasoned leadership, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Lawrence Eagleburger.

According to the declassified records, Eagleburger was far from impressed by the McFarlane-Wolfowitz schemes for Iran. On April 1, 1982, Eagleburger responded to a memo from one of Wolfowitz’s assistants, James G. Roche. Eagleburger dryly noted that Roche’s memo, “A More Active Policy Toward Iran,” “contains a number of interesting ideas. I have serious doubts about nearly all of them, largely because of their effects on our relations with the Arabs.”

Eagleburger put question marks after several sections of Roche’s memo including one, “a more forthcoming policy toward third party arms transfers to both Iran and Iraq,” and another urging “exploration of possible U.S. and other Western economic cooperation with Iran.”

In the memo, Roche expressed frustration at the failure of the more Iran-focused strategy to carry the day. “Opportunities in this area have so far been allowed to slip away,” he wrote. “None of them got off the ground and Bud MacFarlane [sic] who presided over them has departed.”

After reading Eagleburger’s terse reaction to Roche’s memo, Wolfowitz wrote, “I perhaps should have made clearer from the outset that we recognize the immense danger Iran poses to our Arab friends in the [Persian] Gulf, and the need to contain it. We are by no means recommending a ‘tilt’ towards Iran at this moment.”

Instead, U.S. policy on the Iran-Iraq War would begin to move in the opposite direction as President Reagan grew worried that Iran was gaining the upper hand in the war and might actually defeat Iraq. To prevent that possibility, Reagan authorized a “tilt” toward Iraq in June 1982, according to a sworn affidavit filed in a 1995 criminal case by a Reagan NSC aide, Howard Teicher.

Teicher described a highly classified National Security Decision Directive that called for providing intelligence assistance to Iraq and directing the CIA to help Saddam Hussein’s army secure third-country military supplies, a project that fell largely to CIA Director William Casey and his deputy, Robert Gates.

Though the tilt toward Iraq represented a blow to the neocons, who shared the Israeli position of viewing Iraq as the greater of Israel’s two enemies, the Reagan administration’s favoritism toward Iraq didn’t put an end to the McFarlane-Wolfowitz initiatives.

The Israelis also never stopped scouring the world for weapons to sell to Iran. When McFarlane was promoted to become Reagan’s third National Security Advisor in October 1983, he was in even a stronger position to push the Israel-favored position regarding openings toward Iran. McFarlane finally succeeded in persuading Reagan to sign on to the strategic cooperation agreement that he had hammered out with Kimche.

“I was able to get the President to approve it in writing and to get it translated into a formal memorandum of understanding between the Pentagon and the Israeli defense ministry, which would form a joint political-military group to serve as the instrument for developing a broader agenda of cooperation,” McFarlane wrote in his memoir [p. 187].

In a now-declassified top-secret cable dated Dec. 20, 1983, McFarlane responded to a complaint from U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain Charles H. Price, who believed that the agreement was a last-minute scheme to “give the store” to Israel.

McFarlane insisted the strategic arrangement was the culmination of a thorough review process. McFarlane described the U.S.-Israeli security agreement as encouraging cooperation with third countries, “with special reference to Turkey,” as well as setting aside resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict in favor of pursuing other strategic collaboration with Israel.

“The President acknowledges that our ability to defend vital interests in Near East and South Asia would be enhanced by the resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict,” McFarlane said in the cable. “Nevertheless, in recognition of Israel’s strategic location, its developed base infrastructure and the quality and inter-operability of the Israeli military forces, it was decided to resume cooperative paramilitary planning with Israel, expanding on the work begun earlier.”

An International Arms Bazaar

Besides tapping into stockpiles of U.S.-made weaponry, the Israelis arranged shipments from third countries, including Poland, according to Israeli intelligence officer Ari Ben-Menashe, who described his work on the arms pipeline in his 1992 book, Profits of War.

Ex-Israeli intelligence officer Ari Ben-Menashe. (Photo from his memoir, Profits of War.)

Ex-Israeli intelligence officer Ari Ben-Menashe. (Photo from his memoir, Profits of War.)

Since representatives of Likud had initiated the arms-middleman role for Iran, the profits flowed into coffers that the right-wing party controlled, a situation that allowed Likud to invest in Jewish settlements in the West Bank and created envy inside the rival Labor Party especially after it gained a share of power in the 1984 elections, said Ben-Menashe, who worked with Likud.

According to this analysis, Labor’s desire to open its own arms channel to Iran laid the groundwork for the Iran-Contra scandal, as the government of Prime Minister Shimon Peres tapped into the emerging neoconservative network inside the Reagan administration on one hand and began making his own contacts to Iran’s leadership on the other.

Reagan’s National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane collaborated with Peres’s aide Amiram Nir and with neocon intellectual (and National Security Council consultant) Michael Ledeen in spring 1985 to make contact with the Iranians. Ledeen’s chief intermediary to Iran was a businessman named Manucher Ghorbanifar, who was held in disdain by the CIA as a fabricator but claimed he represented high-ranking Iranians who favored improved relations with the United States and were eager for American weapons.

Ghorbanifar’s chief contact, as identified in official Iran-Contra records, was Mohsen Kangarlu, who worked as an aide to Prime Minister Mir Hussein Mousavi, according to Israeli journalist Ronen Bergman in his 2008 book, The Secret War with Iran. However, Ghorbanifar’s real backer inside Iran appears to have been Mousavi himself. According to a Time magazine article from January 1987, Ghorbanifar “became a trusted friend and kitchen adviser to Mir Hussein Mousavi, Prime Minister in the Khomeini government.”

As Ben-Menashe described the maneuvering in Tehran, the basic split in the Iranian leadership put then-President Ali Khamenei on the ideologically purist side of rejecting U.S.-Israeli military help and senior political figures Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Mehdi Karoubi and Mousavi in favor of exploiting those openings in a pragmatic way to better fight the war with Iraq.

The key decider during this period was Ayatollah Khomeini, who agreed with the pragmatists on the need to get as much materiel from the Americans and the Israelis as possible, Ben-Menashe told me in a 2009 interview from his home in Canada.

The stage was set for the next phase of this tighter U.S.-Israeli collaboration, the Iran-Contra Affair. Again, McFarlane’s Israeli friend, David Kimche, was a chief collaborator. As McFarlane describes the Iran-Contra origins in Special Trust, Kimche visited him at the White House on July 3, 1985, to ask whether a National Security Council consultant (and neocon activist) Michael Ledeen was speaking for the administration when he approached Israeli officials with questions about internal Iranian divisions.

McFarlane confirmed that he had dispatched Ledeen, according to the book, and Kimche mentioned Iranian dissidents who were in contact with Israelis and who might be able to demonstrate their “bona fides” to the United States by gaining the release of American hostages then being held by pro-Iranian militants in Lebanon. [pp. 17-20]

Soon, McFarlane found himself at the center of a new round of secret arms sales to Iran via Israel, although these were authorized directly by President Reagan in what became an arms-for-hostage swap with a geopolitical veneer.

Even after stepping down as National Security Advisor in December 1985, McFarlane continued to participate in these Iranian arms sales, as the operation also evolved into a scheme for enriching some of the participants and generating profits that were diverted to the Nicaraguan Contra rebels.

According to one of the declassified documents, the Reagan administration’s expectation of Israeli cooperation in such paramilitary operations extended to a request from NSC aide Oliver North to Israeli Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin to supply hundreds of AK-47s to the Contras in September 1986.

“North told Rabin that the United States was out of funds to support the Contras,” according to a secret cable from U.S. Ambassador to Israel Thomas Pickering. “North said he was aware of the fact that Israel had in its possession some 400-600 AK-47 rifles which he, North, would like to see provided to the Contras. Rabin asked if North was thinking of a gift and North replied that he was.

“Later, it was decided in the affirmative and the weapons were made available for shipment. Rabin insisted, however, that he would only provide the weapons to the United States, not directly to any other recipient. What the United States then did with the weapons was its own business.

“In October, the weapons were loaded on a ship and the ship departed Israel. However, the story began to break and the ship was returned to Israel and the weapons unloaded here. Rabin wanted us to know that the conversation had taken place.”

In November 1986, the convoluted Iran-Contra scandal exploded into public view, forcing the dismissal of North and National Security Advisor John Poindexter and prompting both criminal and congressional investigations. Embarrassed by the catastrophe that he helped create, McFarlane attempted suicide by taking an overdose of valium on Feb. 9, 1987, but survived.

In 1988, McFarlane pleaded guilty to four misdemeanor counts of concealing information from Congress, but he was pardoned along with five other Iran-Contra defendants on Christmas Eve 1992 by President George H.W. Bush, who himself had come under investigation for his role in the secret operations and the cover-up.

Ultimately, the investigations into Iran-Contra and related scandals including the October Surprise allegations of a secret Reagan-Iran deal in 1980 to stop Carter from resolving that earlier hostage crisis, and Iraqgate, the secret arms sales to Iraq failed to get to the bottom of the secret policies. Republican cover-ups largely succeeded. [For the latest on these cover-ups, see Robert Parry’s America’s Stolen Narrative.]

Long-Term Consequences

The long-term consequences of the Reagan administration’s secret dealing with Israel, Iran and Iraq have resonated to the present day. During the Iran-Iraq War with both sides bolstered by outside arms deliveries the conflict continued until 1988 with a death toll estimated at about one million. Over the next several years, the alliance of convenience between Israel and Iran began to sour with the two countries drifting toward becoming the bitter enemies that they are today.

Meanwhile, Iraq strapped by its war debts invaded Kuwait in 1990 in a dispute over money and oil. President George H.W. Bush responded with the Persian Gulf War, driving Saddam Hussein’s army out of Kuwait and putting the Iraqi dictator in the top tier of U.S. “enemies.”

To carry out the assault on Iraqi forces in 1991, Bush arranged for the United States to secure military bases in Saudi Arabia, a move that infuriated Saudi jihadist Osama bin Laden. Though bin Laden had sided with the United States in the war to drive Soviet troops from Afghanistan in the 1980s, bin Laden soon became a sworn enemy of the Americans.

Further, the high-tech capabilities of the modern U.S. military, as displayed in the Persian Gulf War, were so extraordinary that the neocons came to believe that the new weapons systems had qualitatively changed the nature of warfare, enabling the United States to dictate policies across a “uni-polar world” by force or the threat of force, especially after the Soviet Union disintegrated in late 1991.

The new U.S. triumphalist attitude was reflected in a draft of the Defense Planning Guidance, dated Feb. 18, 1992, and authored by then-Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Paul Wolfowitz and his deputy. I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby. The policy draft envisioned a U.S.-dominated world in which “unilateral” and preemptive military actions were justified to prevent any potential threat from another nation or the prospect of any country rising to challenge American hegemony.

After the draft was leaked to The New York Times, the document came under criticism as “imperialist” and was subsequently watered down before being publicly released. However, its chief tenets remained central to the neocon vision of unrivaled American global power. No longer would there be annoying negotiations with troublesome countries. For such “rogue” states, “regime change” would be the prescription.

Though the policy paper was written by George H.W. Bush’s administration, many of its precepts were followed by President Bill Clinton and his administration, albeit without some of the more extreme bombast. Clinton also resisted neocon demands that he invade Iraq, but he still imposed a harsh embargo, ordered airstrikes and made Saddam Hussein’s ouster a goal of U.S. policy.

When five Republicans on the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the popular will in Election 2000 and put George W. Bush into the White House, Wolfowitz, Libby and other neocons returned to power, too. They were convinced that they could remake the Middle East through a strategy of “regime change,” starting with a grudge match against Saddam Hussein and then moving on to Iran and Syria.

The overriding goal favored by the new generation of Likud led by Benjamin Netanyahu was to create a new reality that would let Israel set its territorial boundaries with little regard for the Palestinians or other Arab neighbors.

This grand opportunity presented itself after bin Laden’s al-Qaeda terrorists struck at New York and Washington on Sept. 11, 2001. Though the fact that al-Qaeda was based in Afghanistan forced Bush to first attack that country, he quickly followed the neocon advice and pivoted toward Iraq and Saddam Hussein.

The neocons helped Bush concoct a case against Iraq, claiming that it was hiding stockpiles of WMD and was collaborating with al-Qaeda. Neither point was true, but the aggressive propaganda campaign unencumbered by much skepticism from the mainstream media rallied Congress and the American people behind the invasion of Iraq, which Bush announced on March 19, 2003.

The U.S.-led invasion force toppled Saddam Hussein’s government in three weeks but the neocon-organized occupation under Paul Bremer proved to be a disaster. An insurgency ensued and the country became virtually ungovernable. Nearly 4,500 American soldiers died along with hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. The total cost to the U.S. Treasury is estimated at about $1 trillion and the United States ended up with little to show for the war after U.S. troops were compelled to withdraw at the end of 2011.

Yet, despite the Iraq disaster, the neocons continued to press for additional military conflicts seeking “regime change” in Syria and Iran. But long forgotten was how Israel and the neocons of the Reagan administration secretly sustained Iran’s Islamic republic during the Iran-Iraq War.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). You also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

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33 comments for “When Israel/Neocons Favored Iran

  1. ltr
    July 28, 2015 at 4:41 pm

    Splendid historical essay.

    • Anonymous
      August 6, 2015 at 2:32 pm

      Ruined it with the bin Laden fairy tale.

  2. Abe
    July 28, 2015 at 6:01 pm

    Israel’s spy in Washington, Jonathan Pollard, was operating throughout McFarlane’s period as National Security Advisor. A month after Pollard was arrested, McFarlane resigned. Yet six months later he is leading a delegation on a secret mission to Teheran. Why didn’t National Security Adviser Poindexter go?

    McFarlane’s ties to Rafi Eitan, then the Prime Minister’s [Shimon Peres] Anti-Terrorism Advisor and who would later be named as the Israeli intelligence agent behind the masterminding of the Pollard affair, also need to be investigated.

    The Expose of the Iran-Contra Spymaster
    By Barry Chamish
    http://www.barrychamish.com/newsletters2012/Iran_Contra1.html
    http://www.barrychamish.com/newsletters2012/Iran_Contra1.html

    • Miriam
      July 28, 2015 at 10:10 pm

      Rafi Eitan was Pollard’s handler. Read superb history of Pollard scum’s traitorous history and collar written by Special Agent, NCIS officer (retired) Ronald Olive titled: “Capturing Jonathan Pollard: how one of the most notorious spies in American history was brought to justice.” Chamish has a spurious background in ‘journalism’.

    • Abe
      July 29, 2015 at 10:47 am

      Ronald Olive points out numerous U.S. counterintelligence and security system failures that gave Pollard top-secret clearance and unrestricted access.

      Despite the shortcomings, Chamish does highlight layers of U.S. and Israeli political intrigue.

      In 1992, Ben-Menashe published a book about his involvement in the Iran-Contra affair and intelligence operations on behalf of Israeli intelligence in Profits of War: Inside the Secret U.S.-Israeli Arms Network.

      Rafi Eitan told author Gordon Thomas, for Thomas’ book Gideon’s Spies, that he had worked with Ben-Menashe on setting up the US-Israeli network for covertly supplying arms to Iran, and had collaborated with Ben-Menashe on using PROMIS for espionage. Sent a copy of Ben-Menashe’s book, Eitan said he had no criticism of it, and added that Ben-Menashe “is telling the truth. … That’s why they squashed it.”

  3. Abe
    July 28, 2015 at 6:06 pm

    Eitan, 88, described the crucial moment when he learned that Pollard – abandoned by his Israeli handlers – had fled to the Israeli embassy in Washington DC, bringing his FBI tail to the gate.

    A call from the embassy’s encoded phone explained the predicament to Eitan. “What do you say to yourself then?” the interviewer asked Eitan.

    “I don’t say anything [to myself],” he recalled. “I said right away: throw him out.”

    He added: “I don’t regret it.”

    According to the report, Eitan knew about Pollard’s impending arrest three days before it occurred, and informed the prime minister and defense minister that Pollard would soon be detained.

    Peres, a 2012 recipient of the Medal of Freedom, the US’s highest civic award, is portrayed in Michael Bar-Zohar’s authorized biography as being “stricken by shock” upon Pollard’s capture, leaving the reader uncertain as to whether the cause for surprise was the capture or the espionage.

    Visibly bemused, Eitan recalled that, “I said in advance, I take all of the responsibility on me. I gave the order. Only I gave the order. No one authorized me.”

    That arrangement, he added, “solved the problem for the people of Israel.”

    Peres, Rabin knew Pollard was planted in US armed forces, handler says
    By Mitch Ginsburg
    http://www.timesofisrael.com/peres-and-rabin-knew-pollard-was-planted-in-us-armed-forces/

    • Abbybwood
      July 28, 2015 at 9:58 pm

      What I find puzzling about the parole of Pollard is that one of the conditions is that he remain in the United States for five years!

      While in prison Pollard became an Israeli citizen and is considered a national hero in Israel even having a statue of his likeness there for Israeli citizens to visit and adore.

      Why oh why would the United States want a treasonous Israeli ex-con to remain in the United States for five years? So he can do some more spy work for Mossad? Take in some Broadway shows? Go to Disneyland??!

      I hope Mr. Parry or somebody will do some deep investigating into this embarrassment to the United States.

      I knew Israel had vast control over Congress and the media and the Executive and obviously to every single candidate for president (even the “smartest” man in the room, Trump, adores the ground Bibi walks on.

      But this whole Pollard release stinks to high Heaven!

      • tom hussey
        July 31, 2015 at 1:25 am

        This may seem a trivial point to some, but it incenses me to see a thuggish war criminal with a tsunami of Palestinian blood on his hands referred to by the cute nickname “Bibi.” “Bibi” is an appropriate nickname for a fun-loving college sophomore, not for a beetling, pasty-faced thug.

  4. isdivc
    July 28, 2015 at 8:10 pm

    This is an excellent although complex article. Ultimately it was fascinating. All the sound and fury of crises covered intensely by the media signify nothing. The real currents of history are hidden below the surface and are seldom exposed. This should be required reading in any school on government or foreign relations. Really good research and history. Kudos!

  5. John P
    July 28, 2015 at 8:52 pm

    To add a little more to the story, Ari Ben-Menashe had moved to Canada and his home was set ablaze by someone. Israel certainly wasn’t happy with him and all the info he had on the workings of Mossad.
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/fire-at-controversial-lobbyist-s-montreal-home-may-be-arson-1.1153613

    As with Pollard, I gather some of the information he had passed over to the Israelis ended up being further given to the Russians as payment for releasing Russian Jews to settle the occupied land. I have also read the Mossad was infiltrated by Russians who were the ones in fact transmitting US secrets Mossad had to Russia, a story I’m not too sure about.

    I think Israel now has a great internal problem with people not rooted from democratic states, and those with a very fundamentalist concept of the Torah and Jewish religion. This is exploited by Netanyahu and other avid Zionists.

  6. david t. krall
    July 28, 2015 at 9:14 pm

    This is all part of the dynamic of the October Surprise “enterprise” against President Carter.
    All part of the plot to remove him and the machinations of back-door “promises” before and after the 1980 election…part of that chain that led up to and was part of that whole “deal” to circumvent as sitting President…this time “politically” but still the same intent to cripple him and nullify his reelection ..This is a GREAT article…Bravo !!!

  7. Joe Tedesky
    July 29, 2015 at 1:15 am

    Allow me to play the role of Devil’s Advocate; could there be a connection between the release of Jonathan Pollard and the Iranian P5+1 agreement? If Pollards release were to have an Iranian NPT connection, would Pollard’s going free seem to be a correct decision? Would Pollard’s spying be on a level similar to the Israeli attack upon the USS Liberty? If Pollard’s US employment seems stupid and wrong, then how should we all feel about the US governments policy of having so many Israeli/American dual citizens serving in so many high positions of our US State and Executive levels be smart and right?

    Hats off to Robert Parry for all the information he is still providing us in regard to the Iran/Contra scandal. My one big wish is that someday America may gain a new mainstream media which may reveal more about this scandal, and enlighten our so badly ill informed citizenry, once and for all. If this ‘someday’ were to come about, I would only hope we all would revisit the JFK/MLK/RFK/Macolm X assassinations. I suggest these assassinations mostly since I believe that in this era was the implementation of ‘the American MIC Coup’. This article actually exemplifies our nations most very serious problem. That problem being, the Military Industrial Complex, along with our country’s most questionable alliance with Israel. Americans, along with Jews, need new leaders. America, in my opinion, should do business with other nations, instead of enforcing its business on those same very nations we seem to destroy. Israel, as it stands, should be dissolved, and replaced with a true representative democracy where all parties are equal.

  8. Curious
    July 29, 2015 at 3:16 am

    Thank you again Mr Parry for more information on this topic. When only a very few individuals are making decisions that will effect the entire nation, it does bring a renewed awareness of the darker side of the puppeteers.

    The following remark is a bit off topic in a way, but after my training in the precedence of international law after the Nürnberg trials I wonder how the neocons get away with sticking their finger in all these pies, or countries rather. Since those trials we have only abused all of those laws as a nation. I understand the concept of ‘the victor sets the rules’ but I am still baffled by how one can get around the rules of international law. So my ignorance is always helped by Mr Parry and the people on this site.

    I have often wondered how people like Wolfowitz and his ilk can just sit around and take over the world and put in their prescribed fantasy of regime change here and there. Can they really volunteer their changes make this world a better and more safer place to live?

    As much as I wanted the Hague to put many of these international law violators behind bars, starting with Cheney etc. I now feel a better punishment would be for these abusers of the law, regarding other nation states, would be to put all of their energy into fixing the many issues we have as a country, here in this land. I would suspect that this would be extreme punishment for them, far worse than incarceration. Have Wolfowitz solve the VA problem, and have Kagan and his wife solve the growing disconnect and hate in this country instead of having her mess around in the Ukraine and tear up that country simply out of spite for ex-soviet competition and fear between nations. I still don’t have a suggestion of what Cheney could do to better this country as a whole and not profit over hate.

    Another suggestion, after having lined up these people to dole out their punishment, would be to have Israel representatives stand before this nation on camera and explain if the attack on the USS Liberty was a way to goad the US into attacking Egypt, or for some other possible reason. Also have them talk definitively about the difference between Zionism and their older Jewish faith, since many here in the US don’t even know the difference. I think the honesty about their aggression would be far worse punishment for these individuals. And for a country which perpetually violates the very ethics, morals and laws that gave them a country to begin with, it would be very uncomfortable for them. And follow up with a question about their motivations for their Iran position since Israel already has nukes and won’t sign any international nuclear treaty which would hamstring their efforts, whatever those efforts may be.

    One can only dream.

    Would Iran really nuke Israel and take out all of the Palestinians, Hamas and Lebanon with them? And also knowing Israel has an undocumented nuclear deterrent of their own, would the Persians think that wise? I doubt it. Any aggressive action from Iran at that scale would only wipe them out in return, if not from Israel it would be from the US. So, many Unmenschen in control here and in Israel are full of hypocrisy and continue to lie to this country to further their own agenda. Their propaganda is most troubling and distasteful.

  9. Mahmood Delkhasteh
    July 29, 2015 at 8:18 am

    Superb analysis.

    I also might mention that, according to McFarlane’s memoir (Special Trust, p 20.21) Musad’s senior officer David Kimche revealed that the leaders of Iran suggested to Reagan’s government that, in return for US support, they would be willing to poison Khomeini.

    The only people who were in a position to carry out this act were the closest leaders to Khomeini, Rafsanjani and Khamenei (the current supreme leader).

    Parry’s article once again reminds us why the “reformists” (this is a deeply ambiguous term since after so many years they still have failed to specify what they want to reform) in Iran are insisting on the reformability of the regime, which has crushed any attempt to reform it. They are committed to reform the unreformable, in part because of the fear of exposure of their secret relationship with the US government.

    Their role in conducting a coup against Iran’s first president, A.H.Banisadr (the stolen narrative of Iran’s revolution) is another major reason for their insistence on reformability of the regime.

  10. Abe
    July 29, 2015 at 11:33 am

    An element of enormous influence in the 1980s Israel-U.S.-Iran political intrigue and the Pollard spy case was Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons.

    Israel is one of four nuclear-armed countries not recognized as a Nuclear Weapons State by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the others being India, Pakistan and North Korea.

    Israel has never officially admitted to having nuclear weapons, instead repeating over the years that it would not be the first country to “introduce” nuclear weapons to the Middle East, leaving ambiguity as to whether it means it will not create, will not disclose, will not make first use of the weapons or possibly some other interpretation of the phrase.

    After it became clear by 1970 that Israel possessed nuclear weapons as a policy that Avner Cohen defines as amimut, or “nuclear opacity”.

    Israel has refused to sign the NPT despite international pressure to do so, and has stated that signing the NPT would be contrary to its national security interests.

    Israel has used extensive diplomatic and military efforts as well as covert action to prevent other regional adversaries from acquiring nuclear weapons.

    The counter-proliferation, preventive strike Begin Doctrine added another dimension to Israel’s existing nuclear policy. Enunciated by Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin in June 1981, following Israel’s attack on Iraq’s nuclear reactor Osirak in Operation Opera, the doctrine remains a feature of Israeli security planning. The initial government statement on the incident stated: “On no account shall we permit an enemy to develop weapons of mass destruction against the people of Israel. We shall defend the citizens of Israel in good time and with all the means at our disposal.”

    wo days after the attack in a dramatic press conference in Tel Aviv, Prime Minister Begin took full responsibility for the operation, praised its execution as extraordinary, and justified it both on moral and legal grounds. Begin referred to the strike as an act of “anticipatory self-defense at its best.” The message Begin conveyed was that the raid on Osirak was not a one-time operation, but rather a long-term national commitment. He ended his press conference with these words:

    “We chose this moment: now, not later, because later may be too late, perhaps forever. And if we stood by idly, two, three years, at the most four years, and Saddam Hussein would have produced his three, four, five bombs. … Then, this country and this people would have been lost, after the Holocaust. Another Holocaust would have happened in the history of the Jewish people. Never again, never again! Tell so your friends, tell anyone you meet, we shall defend our people with all the means at our disposal. We shall not allow any enemy to develop weapons of mass destruction turned against us.”

    On June 15, in a television interview on Face the Nation, Begin reiterated this doctrinal point: “This attack will be a precedent for every future government in Israel. … Every future Israeli prime minister will act, in similar circumstances, in the same way.”

    Following the attack and Israeli government comments, many foreign powers opposed it and the United Nations Security Council unanimously passed United Nations Security Council Resolution 487 condemning the attacks.

    The Begin doctrine was followed in 2007 under Prime Minister Ehud Olmert with Operation Orchard against Syria’s nuclear facility. What was particularly notable about the attack on Syria was what occurred in its aftermath, the near total lack of international comment or criticism of Israel’s action. This lack of reaction contrasted starkly to the international outcry that followed Israel’s preventive strike in 1981 against Iraq’s reactor. Foreign governments may have reserved comment because of the lack of information after the attack, but the Israeli and U.S. governments imposed a virtually total news blackout immediately after the raid that lasted for seven months. Syria was initially silent on the matter and then subsequently denied that the bombed target was a nuclear facility. The international silence continued even after the CIA made information public in April 2008.

    The doctrine also has been used since 2009, under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with regard to Iran and its nuclear capability. During this time the Iranian nuclear issue openly turned into Israel’s number one security issue. Prime Minister Netanyahu, along with his key cabinet ministers, such as Minister of Defense Ehud Barak and Vice Premier Moshe Ya’alon, has repeatedly referred to a nuclear Iran, or even a nuclear-capable Iran, as unacceptable and a threat to the existence of Israel. With virtually all Israelis agreeing that Iran should be prevented from acquiring nuclear weapons, there is an ongoing bitter debate among policymakers on how best to achieve this goal.

  11. Mortimer
    July 29, 2015 at 12:00 pm

    “The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion […] but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact; non-Westerners never do.”
    ― Samuel P. Huntington
    ~-~-~-~-~-~-~~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-

    US/Israel secretly enact arms build-up to Iran — some months later the US instigates our ally in Iraq into war against Iran, even providing logistic information, bombing targets and, eventually, Chemical Weapons to Saddam’s army.

    This manipulated war crippled Iran and Iraq economically and destroyed untold millions of lives.

    In the aftermath of that enterprise, Saddam sought “permission” from GW Bush to rebuild his economy by forcing Kuwait to cease it’s SLANT DRILLING into Iraq oil fields. After conferring, Bush ambassador April Gillespie gave Saddam the OK. —— Hussein was led into a trap. Grossly falsified reports were issued accusing Saddam of “killing babies, stealing incubators, lining troops on the Saudi border, threatening war “on multiple fronts.”

    This was another manipulated war that opened the door to horrific sanctions against Iraq and placed the country in “lock down” as UN “inspectors” scoured the country, tasked to find and destroy Iraqi weapons. (It has since been verified that many of the inspectors were actually spies.)
    Another million Iraqi’s died by reason of the harsh sanctions including up to 500,000 children. (Google Madaline Albright + Iraqi child death by sanction — also find Holliday and Hans Blix denunciation of sanctions.)

    Let me mention two other war crimes committed by GHW Bush. (1) After the Iraq army surrendered and were retreating, with white flags flying, our military was ordered to bomb and straife the retreating convoy of trucks and tanks. 100,000 Iraqi soldiers were killed in that operation, their bodies bulldozed into mass graves. (2) Bush gave small arm weapons to Iraqi Shites and induced them into an attack on Saddam’s remaining forces. After days of gaining ground on loyal forces, Saddam asked Bush for permission to use helicopters against the advancing Shites. Bush approved and the internecine battle ended in more bloody, unnecessary deaths.

    Iraq, our former great ally, was decimated, destroyed and defenseless when GW Bush and the neocons attacked on May 19,2003. It was an historic act of bloody cowardice that absolutely proves SP Huntington’s remark. Remember, Huntington is the author of “The Clash of Civilizations” in which he forecast a war against the Middle East…

    • Mark
      August 2, 2015 at 1:40 am

      Mortimer, Somehow you failed to give Israel their due share of the credit for devising the 1996 war plan the US used to attack 2003 Iraq on behalf of Israel. Also not mentioned was all the false evidence they pushed on the American government and public to get us to go along with their illegal war.

      To see how the Bush administration was chalk full of Israel’s agents, and how they also replaced US Middle East experts in the defense department with pro-Israel propagandists, try this link or type in ((( The New Pentagon Papers ))) and get the straight dope from a truly patriotic career military professional who actually sacrificed by speaking up with the truth here: http://www.salon.com/2004/03/10/osp_moveon/

      • Mortimer
        August 5, 2015 at 10:16 am

        The straight malevolence of US – Israel instigating and arming both sides of that coerced war is obnoxiously vulgar.

        Israel was Iran’s ally under the Shah, and the alliance continued covertly during the first years of the Iran-Iraq War. By some accounts, Iran obtained 80% of its weapons imports from Israel at the onset of the war, and bought a total of $500 million in weapons from Israel between 1981 and 1983. Israeli technicians kept Iran’s Phantom F-4’s flying after America cut off spare parts. It did so with American sanction, to be sure. The Reagan administration wanted to forestall a decisive victory by either Iraq or Iran.

  12. Abe
    July 29, 2015 at 12:44 pm

    At the behest of AIPAC, critics of the Iran deal like Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) insist that the deal with Iran endangers U.S. security.

    Coryn and 57 other Senators co-sponsored the bill S. 1881: Nuclear Weapon Free Act of 2013, expressing the intent that if Israel takes military action in “self-defense” against Iran’s “nuclear weapons program” the United States should provide Israel with diplomatic, military, and economic support.

    55 of the 58 Senators who are co-sponsors of this pro-war bill have received money from AIPAC totaling $7.3 million (2007-2012). 39 non-sponsors have received AIPAC money too, their total being $5.4 million.

    Faithfully parroting the Israeli line, Coryn said the deal “jeopardizes American security and paves the way for a nuclear-armed Iran.”

    In reality, Israel has no concern for American security.

    Jonathan Pollard, a Jewish American, was as a civilian intelligence analyst for the US Navy. In 1981, Israel recruited Pollard as a spy to acquire American intelligence satellite photos.

    http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB407/

    Pollard stole massive amounts of intelligence information, including classified documents relating to the US Nuclear Deterrent relative to the USSR, and sent them to Israel.

    According to sources in the US State Department, Israel then turned around and traded those stolen nuclear secrets to the USSR in exchange for increased emigration quotas from the USSR to Israel.

    Other information that found its way from the US to Israel to the USSR resulted in the loss of American agents operating inside the USSR.

    Casper Weinberger, in his affidavit opposing a reduced sentence for Pollard, described the damage done to the United States thus, “[It is] difficult to conceive of a greater harm to national security than that caused by… Pollard’s treasonous behavior.”

    The United States’ nuclear deterrent cost an estimated five trillion taxpayer dollars during the 50s and 60s to build and maintain, and less than $100,000 for Pollard to undermine.

    Israel waited 13 years to admit Pollard had been spying for them, and lobbied intensively for his release, having granted him Israeli citizenship.

    In May 1998, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu finally admitted that Pollard was an Israeli agent, and that he had been handled by high-ranking officials of the Israeli Bureau for Scientific Relations (Lekem).

    The Israeli government paid for the services of at least two of Pollard’s trial attorneys – Richard A. Hibey and Hamilton Philip Fox III – and continued to petition for his release.

    During campaigning leading up to the 1999 Israeli general election, Netanyahu and his challenger Ehud Barak exchanged barbs in the media over which had been more supportive of Pollard.

    In 2002, Netanyahu personally visited Pollard at FCI Butner Medium at the Butner Federal Correction Complex in North Carolina. Accompanied by Pollard’s wife, Esther, he with Pollard for just over two hours.

    Pollard, 60, is the only American ever sentenced to life in prison for spying on behalf of a U.S. ally. He is to be released on November 21, 2015, exactly 30 years after his arrest.

    The White House insists that there was no link between Pollard’s release and the Iran deal or any other foreign policy matter.

  13. Abe
    July 29, 2015 at 1:02 pm

    According to United States journalist Seymour Hersh and Israeli historian Avner Cohen, Israeli leaders like David Ben-Gurion, Shimon Peres, Levi Eshkol and Moshe Dayan coined the phrase “the Samson Option” in the mid-1960s.

    The Samson Option is named after the biblical figure Samson, who pushed apart the pillars of a Philistine temple, bringing down the roof and killing himself and thousands of Philistines. They contrasted it with ancient siege of Masada where 936 Jewish Sicarii committed mass suicide rather than be defeated and enslaved by the Romans.

    In the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Arab forces were overwhelming Israeli forces and Prime Minister Golda Meir authorized a nuclear alert and ordered 13 atomic bombs be readied for use by missiles and aircraft. The Israeli Ambassador warned President Nixon of “very serious conclusions” if the United States did not airlift supplies. Nixon complied. This is seen by some commentators on the subject as the first threat of the use of the Samson Option.

    Seymour Hersh writes that the “surprising victory of Menachem Begin’s Likud Party in the May 1977 national elections… brought to power a government that was even more committed than Labor to the Samson Option and the necessity of an Israeli nuclear arsenal.”

    Louis René Beres, a professor of Political Science at Purdue University, chaired Project Daniel, a group advising Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. He argues in the Final Report of Project Daniel and elsewhere that the effective deterrence of the Samson Option would be increased by ending the policy of nuclear ambiguity.

    In a 2004 article, Beres recommends Israel use the Samson Option threat to “support conventional preemptions” against enemy nuclear and non-nuclear assets because “without such weapons, Israel, having to rely entirely upon non-nuclear forces, might not be able to deter enemy retaliations for the Israeli preemptive strike.”

    Ari Shavit writes of Israel’s nuclear strategy: “Concerning anything and everything nuclear, Israel would be much, much more cautious than the United States and NATO. Concerning anything and everything nuclear, Israel would be the responsible adult of the international community. It would well understand the formidable nature of the demon and keep it locked in the basement”.

    Some have written about the “Samson Option” as a retaliation strategy. In 2002, the Los Angeles Times published an opinion piece by Louisiana State University professor David Perlmutter which the American Jewish author Ron Rosenbaum writes “goes so far as to justify” a Samson Option approach:

    “Israel has been building nuclear weapons for 30 years. The Jews understand what passive and powerless acceptance of doom has meant for them in the past, and they have ensured against it. Masada was not an example to follow—it hurt the Romans not a whit, but Samson in Gaza? What would serve the Jew-hating world better in repayment for thousands of years of massacres but a Nuclear Winter. Or invite all those tut-tutting European statesmen and peace activists to join us in the ovens? For the first time in history, a people facing extermination while the world either cackles or looks away—unlike the Armenians, Tibetans, World War II European Jews or Rwandans—have the power to destroy the world. The ultimate justice?”

    Ron Rosenbaum writes in his 2012 book How the End Begins: The Road to a Nuclear World War III that, in his opinion, in the “aftermath of a second Holocaust”, Israel could “bring down the pillars of the world (attack Moscow and European capitals for instance)” as well as the “holy places of Islam.” He writes that “abandonment of proportionality is the essence” of the Samson Option

    In 2003, a military historian, Martin van Creveld, thought that the Al-Aqsa Intifada then in progress threatened Israel’s existence. Van Creveld was quoted in David Hirst’s The Gun and the Olive Branch (2003) as saying:

    “We possess several hundred atomic warheads and rockets and can launch them at targets in all directions, perhaps even at Rome. Most European capitals are targets for our air force. Let me quote General Moshe Dayan: ‘Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother.’ I consider it all hopeless at this point. We shall have to try to prevent things from coming to that, if at all possible. Our armed forces, however, are not the thirtieth strongest in the world, but rather the second or third. We have the capability to take the world down with us. And I can assure you that that will happen before Israel goes under.”

    In 2012, the late Günter Grass published the poem “Was gesagt werden muss” (“What Must Be Said”) which criticized Israel’s nuclear weapons program. denouncing Israel’s nuclear program and aggression toward Iran.

    Grass deplored the fact that Germany is furnishing Israel with a submarine capable of delivering nuclear bombs, and said no one in the West dares to mention Israel in connection with nuclear weaponry. He assessed that an attack on Iran would be a crime, to which Germany would become an accomplice.

    The poem was first published on 4 April 2012 by the Süddeutsche Zeitung, La Repubblica and El País, triggering four days later the declaration by Eli Yishai, the Israeli Minister for the Interior, that Grass, who had visited Israel in 1967 and 1971, was now persona non grata.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/04/gunter-grasss-controversial-poem-about-israel-iran-and-war-translated/255549/

    The poem, in which Grass says he has kept silent on the issue for fear of being labeled anti-Semitic, sparked controversy within Germany, where relations with Israel are often colored by a sense of national guilt for the Holocaust.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the poem’s assertion that Israel poses a greater threat to world peace than Iran a “shameful moral equivalence.” The poem also lamented Germany’s decision to sell submarines to Israel that are capable of launching nuclear weapons.

    In response to Grass’s poem, Israeli poet and Holocaust survivor Itamar Yaoz-Kest published a poem entitled “The Right to Exist: a Poem-Letter to the German Author” which addresses Grass by name. It contains the line: “If you force us yet again to descend from the face of the Earth to the depths of the Earth — let the Earth roll toward the Nothingness.” Jerusalem Post journalist Gil Ronen saw this poem as referring to the Samson Option, which he described as the strategy of using Israel’s nuclear weapons, “taking out Israel’s enemies with it, possibly causing irreparable damage to the entire world.”

    • Abe
      July 29, 2015 at 5:24 pm

      Israel is the only Jewish majority state. There are 6.4 million Jewish people currently living in Israel.

      Jewish population figures for the United States are contested, ranging between 5.7 and 6.8 million.

      Israel and the United States account for 83% of the Jewish population.

      The world’s core Jewish population in early 2014 was estimated at 14.2 million people (around 0.2% of the world population).

      Under the Samson Option, 0.1% of the world population (Israeli Jews) are willing to condemn the remaining 99.9 % of world population (including all Jews living in the United States and everywhere else in the world) to a slow death in a nuclear winter.

      Americans, especially Jewish Americans, should be asking the Israelis:

      Is New York City targeted by one of Israel’s German submarines?

      Are Los Angeles, Miami and Philadelphia targeted by Israel?

      Other nations should be asking Israel:

      Are Paris, London, Toronto, Moscow and Berlin targeted under the Samson Option?

      Are Israeli submarines targeting Buenos Aires, Melbourne, Budapest and Johannesburg?

      The whole world should be asking:

      How long must we all live in fear of a belligerent, nuclear saber rattling Israel?

    • Abe
      July 30, 2015 at 12:58 am

      Israel’s Dolphin-class diesel-electric attack submarine is capable of carrying a combined total of up to 16 torpedoes and nuclear-armed submarine-launched cruise missiles.

      The SLCMs have a range of at least 1,500 km (930 mi)[8] and are widely believed to be equipped with a 200-kilogram (440 lb) nuclear warhead containing up to 6 kilograms (13 lb) of plutonium, providing Israel with offshore nuclear strike capability.

      The Dolphin diesel propulsion system provides a speed of 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph) submerged and a snorkeling speed of 11 knots (20 km/h; 13 mph). The hull is rated for dives up to 350 m (1,150 ft).

      The maximum unrefuelled range of the Dolphin is 8,000 nautical miles (15,000 km; 9,200 mi) traveling on the surface at 8 knots (15 km/h; 9.2 mph) and over 400 nautical miles (740 km; 460 mi) at 8 knots (15 km/h; 9.2 mph) submerged.

      The Dolphin is designed to remain unsupplied for up to 30 days on station. Submarine tenders can refuel the Dolphin at sea, when nearby friendly bases are unavailable.

      The distance to New York City from Israel’s naval base at Haifa is 4900 nautical miles, which can be traversed with access to pre-positioned supply ships.

      In February 2012, Ynet, the online version of the Israeli newspaper Yediot Achronot, reported that for security reasons applicants for the submarine service with dual citizenship or citizenship in addition to Israeli, which is common in Israel with a relatively high percentage of olim (immigrants), must officially renounce all other citizenships to be accepted into the training program.

      Israel National News and the Jerusalem Post both had articles on Sunday, July 14, 2013, which quote that day’s London Sunday Times saying that the July 5 Israeli missile strike against the Syrian port of Latakia, previously reported by CNN as an Israel Air Force strike, was made in coordination with the United States, and long range missiles were launched from a Dolphin-class submarine.

      Some military analysts view the Israeli arsenal of Dolphin submarines as “security theater”.

      However, viewed in the context of the Samson Option, the Dolphin provides Israel with long-range nuclear Vergeltungswaffen (vengeance weapons).

  14. Abe
    July 29, 2015 at 1:11 pm

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu […] vehemently denied a Wall Street Journal report, leaked by the Obama White House, that Israel spied on U.S. negotiations with Iran and then fed the intelligence to Congressional Republicans. His office’s denial was categorical and absolute, extending beyond this specific story to U.S.-targeted spying generally, claiming: “The state of Israel does not conduct espionage against the United States or Israel’s other allies.”

    Israel’s claim is not only incredible on its face. It is also squarely contradicted by top-secret NSA documents, which state that Israel targets the U.S. government for invasive electronic surveillance, and does so more aggressively and threateningly than almost any other country in the world. Indeed, so concerted and aggressive are Israeli efforts against the U.S. that some key U.S. government documents — including the top secret 2013 intelligence budget — list Israel among the U.S.’s most threatening cyber-adversaries and as a “hostile” foreign intelligence service.

    Netanyahu’s Spying Denials Contradicted by Secret NSA Documents
    By Glenn Greenwald and Andrew Fishman
    https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/03/25/netanyahus-spying-denial-directly-contradicted-secret-nsa-documents/

  15. Abe
    July 29, 2015 at 2:03 pm

    A new national survey of 1,000 American Jews, conducted by GBA Strategies for J Street, finds that a large majority of Jews support the agreement recently reached between the United States, world powers, and Iran. The 20-point margin (60 percent to 40 percent) in favor of the agreement is consistent with the 18-point margin found in the LA Jewish Journal’s survey released last week, as well as the 18-point margin in J Street’s survey conducted prior to the agreement. Multiple surveys have shown with resounding clarity that American Jews firmly back the agreement, and now want Congress to approve it.

    […] While the media has been paying a great deal of attention to Jewish Members of Congress and Jewish voters, it is important to recognize that Jews themselves are actually a base constituency of support for the agreement. And given the massive campaigns against the agreement that has been launched by AIPAC and the Republican Jewish Coalition, it is very clear that these high profile campaigns do not reflect the views of the majority of American Jews.

    NEW POLL: Majority of American Jews Support Iran Nuclear Deal (July 28, 2015)
    http://jstreet.org/blog/post/new-poll-majority-of-american-jews-support-iran-nuclear-deal_1

  16. Abe
    July 29, 2015 at 11:09 pm

    The li’l love note to the Secretary of State from Robert Kagan, Elliott Abrams and company is a nothing more than a public service announcement that Al Qaeda brand du jour will make Egypt its next port of call after Syria is a wrap.

    That should do wonders for U.S. military aid to Israel.

    Gangsterism at its most brazen.

  17. emLavern
    July 30, 2015 at 5:32 pm

    With all we see in the Middle East, it is hard not to imagine a Western policy of keeping the flames alive in any fire that breaks out there, until both sides are spent and depleted and no longer a threat to U.S. or Israeli interests. In the Iraq-Iran war, it is hard to imagine the West rooting for either side, just mutual annihilation, as in Syria now. It seems implied in this research, but not supported by anything in particular.

    • Mark
      August 3, 2015 at 1:52 pm

      That plan is no imagination. It’s called plan Yinon and can be searched and researched on the Internet.

  18. Hillary
    July 30, 2015 at 6:17 pm

    What excellent posts and information …. thank you Abe..

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYk_hgnsgo0

    BTW …The Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 as amended by the Symington Amendment of 1976 and the Glenn Amendment of 1977 prohibit US military assistance to countries that acquire or transfer nuclear reprocessing technology outside of international nonproliferation regimes

    Israel, unlike Iran, is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. If Congress wishes to provide US taxpayer funded foreign aid to Israel in compliance with US law, it may do so only under a special waiver from the office of the President as in the case for Pakistan.”

  19. Abe
    July 31, 2015 at 12:06 pm

    Now it’s time to DEMAND ZERO NUCLEAR WEAPONS from Israel.

    The Iran deal is a step in the direction of A Nuclear Weapons Free Zone in the Middle East..

    That’s why Israel wants to kill the deal.

    Don’t let Israel kill the deal.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nw9eV6K_yHg

    • Abe
      July 31, 2015 at 1:04 pm

      Of course, the Global Zero funded video presents another angle of propaganda.

      Of course, there’s no mention of Israel.

      Of course, Iran isn’t threatening the United States with a “fu***** bomb”

      Of course, Freeman advances the false argument that “the alternative is war”.

      Of course, the Iranians “love their children too”.

      Of course, Israel can’t kill the deal.

      More political comedy.

      Call Congress
      (877) 630-4032

    • Abe
      July 31, 2015 at 3:20 pm
  20. July 31, 2015 at 3:12 pm

    From where I sit the neocons replaced an Iranian
    foe with a friend. They might as well have
    been working for the Ayatollah. They
    certainly ran tackle for the oil drillers.

    The poppy supply for our poppy seed
    cake’s safe, though it may yet be supplied
    by people answering to the Ayatollah.

    Meanwhile, Iran’s starting to look moot.

    First was this.
    http://atimes.com/2015/04/india-stranded-as-region-readies-for-irans-surge/

    http://shadowproof.wpengine.com/2015/05/01/pakistan-police-open-criminal-investigation-into-cia-officials-involved-in-drone-strike-then-drop-case/

    Does someone WANT Pakistan to be the new
    raisin d’etre for control?

  21. johnnie nihau
    August 5, 2015 at 9:09 am

    related fact is that the so-called “carter rescue mission” was sabotaged deliberately and fatally by its supervisors – guess who – oliver north and richard secord. that’s right. north and secord ch ose the copters and dismantled the sand filters wh ile in germany before they were shipped to be used in the failed rescue attempt. they were in charge of the mission. yet the world press pretended that it was carter’s fault as though he piloted the unluckily starred choppers. north is a murderer and a traitor to the usa. secord is just as despicable.

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