As noted in the September 2 Talking Points, the hard-line neoconservative Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) is pushing the old neocon meme that the ‘road to Middle East peace runs through’… well, anywhere but Jerusalem. This time, of course, it’s Tehran.
The latest JINSA Report, the organization’s policy e-newsletter, calls Iran the “elephant” in the room that went unmentioned in U.S. President Barack Obama’s Iraq address, as well as the “elephant” in Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The JINSA Report says that prospects for long-term success in Iraq will be “short-lived” unless the U.S. figures out what the elephant is and “how to tame it or remove it.” JINSA’s description of Iranian involvement in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories makes clear this prescription applies to those strategic challenges as well.
This theme is of course familiar to anyone who has followed JINSA since the run-up to the Iraq War. Just after September 11, 2001 — on September 14, to be exact — the top U.S. policy priority listed in the JINSA Report was the provision of “all necessary support to the Iraq National Congress, including direct American military support, to affect [sic] a regime change in Iraq.” (The Iraqi National Congress and its leader, the neocon darling Ahmad Chalabi, have since been revealed to have had extensive ties to Iran, with Chalabi even accused of spying for the Islamic Republic, making JINSA’s outrage at Iranian influence in Iraq somewhat ironic, to say the least.)
On March 19, 2002, just one year prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, JINSA made the exact same point about Iraq it is now making about Iran: in order to bring regional actors at odds with the U.S. to heel, the U.S. must remove their patron (in Iraq’s case, Saddam Hussein) from power. This 2002 JINSA Report warns:
…the Oslo process in the 1990s had shifted attention from the greater dangers posed by Iraq. We believed, then and now, that only after the regional situation was stabilized in America’s favor would the Palestinians be prepared to acquiesce to legitimate American and Israeli demands about security and legitimacy. It wouldn’t work the other way around.
This analysis should be of no surprise coming from JINSA, an organization funded by Irving Moskowitz, the bingo and gambling magnate who has had a close relationship with both the Likud party of Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu and the most radical settler movements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Unsurprisingly, Moskowitz has also funded leading neoconservative institutions here — notably AEI, Center for Security Policy and Hudson — which connects him to figures instrumental in implementing the invasion of Iraq. Co-founded by Michael Ledeen, Richard Perle, and Stephen Bryen, JINSA itself is advised by the likes of Anne Bayefsky (see Eli’s recent post), John Bolton, Dick Cheney, Douglas Feith, and Jim Woolsey.
Dyed-in-the-wool neoconservatives like the JINSA advisers have a known fondness for the policies of the Likud party. So it’s again no surprise to see that Netanyahu has long promoted the position that first solving the Iran problem will suddenly allow Israel some latitude in Arab-Israeli peacemaking. This notion, known as ‘reverse linkage’ rather than the militarily-accepted ‘linkage’ that says the opposite, was espoused by Netanyahu’s National Security Advisor, Uzi Arad, just they were coming into office. In March 2009, Arad told Reuters:
[T]he order of priority is: blunt Iran first, move vigorously on peace after, and based on that. Should you act in the wrong order…you will have a sterile, perhaps failed process with the Palestinians and at the same time you will end up with a nuclear Iran.
So now those same figures who brought us the Iraq war are using the same talking points — eerily echoing the Israeli right — to drum up support for escalating measures against Iran. We’ve seen this movie before.