JINSA: Road to Peace Runs Through Tehran

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 BoltonDick 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.

Ali Gharib

Ali Gharib is a New York-based journalist on U.S. foreign policy with a focus on the Middle East and Central Asia. His work has appeared at Inter Press Service, where he was the Deputy Washington Bureau Chief; the Buffalo Beast; Huffington Post; Mondoweiss; Right Web; and Alternet. He holds a Master's degree in Philosophy and Public Policy from the London School of Economics and Political Science. A proud Iranian-American and fluent Farsi speaker, Ali was born in California and raised in D.C.



  1. We have. And therefore I think JINSA’s efforts will fail. Once bitten, twice shy, isn’t that the saying? Plus with 16.7% unemployment/underemployment rate, minimal economic growth, and enormous budget deficits, the last thing the U.S. needs is a war in the Persian Gulf.

  2. This is a VERY old story. I just transcribed Voltaire on King David. We see the same shifting of blame, attention; the same ruthlessness.

    “I am a little upset that David, the annointed of the Lord, the man after the heart of God, a rebel against Saul, another annointed of the Lord, goes off with 400 bandits to impose a levy on the land, goes off to rob honest Nabal; and immediately afterwards Nabal is found dead, David marries his widow without delay.” (1Kings 21:1o-11)

    “I have some scruples over his conduct with the great king Achis, lord, if I’m not mistaken, of five or six villages in the canton of Geth. David, then at the head of 600 bandits, made the rounds of his benefactor, Achis: he plundered everything, he killed everyone: Old men, women, children at their mother’s breast. And why did he massacre children at their mother’s breast? It was, said the divine Jewish author, “for fear lest the children bear witness to king Achis.” (1Kings 27:8-11)

    “The bandits rose up against him and wanted to stone him. What did this Mandarin Jew do? He consulted the Lord, and the Lord told him that he must go and attack the Amakalites, (compared by Bibi to Iran) that there the bandits will gain great booty and enrich themselves.” (1Kings 30)

    “Meanwhile, the annointed of the Lord, Saul lost a battle against the Philistines and killed himself. A Jew brought the news to David. David, who apparently had nothing to give the messenger for his good news, had him killed as a reward.” (2Kings 1:10)

    David took over the whole kingdom. He surprised the little town or village of Rabbath and had every inhabitant killed by rather extraordinary devices: they were sawed in two; they were torn to pieces by iron plows; they were burned in brick furnaces; an altogether noble and generous way to make war.” (2Kings 12)

    “After these fine expeditions there was a famine of three years in the land. I readily believe it, for with the manner in which good David made war, the ground must have been cultivated badly.”

    “The people consulted the Lord and asked him why there was a famine. The answer was really simple: it was clearly because, in a country which barely can produce wheat, when the workers have been baked in furnaces and sawed in two there are very few people left to till the soil; but the Lord answered that it was because Saul had killed some Gabaonites.”

    “What did good David do? He assembled the Gabaonites; he told them Saul was very wrong to make war on them; that Saul was in no way like himself, after God’s own heart; that it was just to punish Saul’s race; and he gave them seven of Saul’s grandchildren to hang, who were hanged because there had been a famine. (2Kings 21)”

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