Thursday, October 8, 2015

Amira Hass: "We Israeli Jews are fighting for our privilege as a nation of masters"

    Ilene Cohen sent this article on Amira Hass's forceful piece about Israel as "a nation of masters."  It is hard, I think, for any decent person, not under the sway of ideology but with eyes and the compassion to see that every person counts equally, has human rights, to come to another conclusion...

    Ilene looks to the day when apartheid/ethnic cleansing will end.  That is in the interest of jews as well as Palestinians. As with the ghettos in Europe, of course, the freedom of Palestinians is the primary issue.  But going for bigger and bigger war, as Netanyahu does, one that will very likely  threaten the existence of nuclear-armed Israel - quite likely in a long war to use them - and has been headed off only by Obama's determined agreement with Iran, is not a recipe either for the survival of Israelis or the rest of us...


"October 7, 2015

Hass nails it. What is happening in Israel today and what happened last week, last month, last year, and for the past almost fifty years is about cementing sovereignty over land that the international community agrees does not belong to Israel and over a subject people, the Palestinians—all in contravention of international law. 

I'm in Israel now, taking a break from the inanity and horrors of American politics, and watching the situation in Israel/Palestine heating up. Frequent topic in the Israeli press: is this or isn't this the start of the third intifada? And, if it is, the discussion goes, how can Israel tweak the occupation so as to pacify the Palestinians? As for, how can Israel address the root cause—the very fact of the occupation—by decolonizing, well, that's not part of the discourse.

My reaction is always the same when Palestinian youth, in particular, reach a breaking point. In 1987, with the outbreak of the first intifada, in Gaza, my first thought was that it was so long in the coming—that is, it took twenty years from the outset of the 1967 occupation of the Palestinian territories and the start of Israel's illegal colonization of Palestine for the outrage to boil over.

And NB: in 1967, in the wake of the war, Theodor Merom, legal counsel for the Israeli Foreign Ministry, issued an unequivocal opinion for the government of Levi Eshkol, that moving Israeli civilians to settlements in the recently occupied territories would be a violation of international law, specifically, of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Further, Geneva IV is also explicit that military occupation as a result of war does not confer sovereignty over the territory for the occupier and that the occupation is by definition temporary. All of this was known to the Israelis in 1967. For all the protest to the contrary, including the (truly absurd) notion that the "deed" to Palestine was given to the Jews by god three thousand years ago (and therefore trumps Geneva IV?), the Israelis have not a leg to stand on. The Greater Israel project is illegal, full stop—a reality recognized by the international community. All of Israel's current (Golan Heights, East Jerusalem) and future annexations cannot change that fact.

So here we are, thirty years after the outbreak of the first intifada, watching as the apartheid regime of land theft, including its colonization and repression of the occupied, rightless, stateless people needed to sustain the settlement project, with its 550,000 colonists, only grows. I consider each of those colonists, in both occupied East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank, to be a stumbling block in the way of any possibility of peace.

The resulting Israeli routine for "managing" the conflict (that's the Israeli concept), rather than finding a fair resolution, is more murder of Palestinians by the IDF, the Israeli police, and settlers (with essentially no accountability for the perpetrators), house demolitions, imposition of additional draconian laws, more Jew-only bypass roads, more closures, more arrests of children, more people held under administrative detention (no legal rights at all; forget about habeas corpus), and more restrictions on travel both within the occupied territories, as well as abroad. That's only a partial list, of course.

Following is an important column by Amira Hass in today's Haaretz. She eloquently and accurately outlines the situation and interprets it.

The war did not start last Thursday, it does not start with the Jewish victims and does not end when no Jews are murdered. The Palestinians are fighting for their life, in the full sense of the word. We Israeli Jews are fighting for our privilege as a nation of masters, in the full ugliness of the term.  [emphasis added   —Ilene]

That we notice there’s a war on only when Jews are murdered does not cancel out the fact that Palestinians are being killed all the time, and that all the time we are doing everything in our power to make their lives unbearable. . . . When something in the war’s one-sidedness is disturbed, and Jews are murdered, then we pay attention. Young Palestinians do not go out to murder Jews because they are Jews, but because we are their occupiers, their torturers, their jailers, the thieves of their land and water, their exilers, the demolishers of their homes, the blockers of their horizon. . . . [T]he enemy they face proves every day that its malice has no limits. . . .
. . . Even the language is malicious. Jews are murdered, Palestinians are killed and die. Is that so?

This is the way of resistance to colonial regimes. Israel is simply another case study. Occupiers rule by the sword and expect the ruled to acquiesce quietly. The situation has played itself out historically around the world. Israeli colonization—both in the founding of the state itself and in the post-1967 Greater Israel project, the latter being the relevant point for most of the international discussion—was taking off just as the rest of the Western empires were reluctantly embarking on the business of decolonization. For its part, South Africa, with its apartheid regime, gave up (technically) in 1991, with the abolition of the apartheid laws, and then with the multiracial election of 1994. While it is true that, as Israelis never fail to remind, the Palestinian people are not led by a person of the stature of Nelson Mandela—who, it must be remembered, was imprisoned as a terrorist for twenty-seven years—more important, the Israeli people are not now, and have never been, led by a person of the stature of F. W. de Klerk (though granting that one cannot know where Rabin would have taken Oslo had he survived).

Netanyahu, a person of no stature (and admittedly only the latest in a long line of self-deluded ultranationalist Israeli leaders, including the leaders of the Labor Party), is bringing ruination on his country, alas, with the approval of most Israelis via his party and the other nationalist parties, regardless of what they call themselves (I include Herzog's Zionist Union in this description). I concede Netanyahu's "successes," however: he has achieved his goal—reelection.

Back to Hass, who writes of the travesty of the reportage in the Israeli media:

Our worldview is shaped by the consistent betrayal by Israeli media outlets of their duty to report events, or their lack of the technical and the emotional ability to contain all of the details of the world war that we are conducting in order to preserve our superiority in the land between the river and the sea.

Not even this newspaper has the economic resources to employ 10 reporters and fill 20 pages with reports on all the attacks in times of escalation and all the attacks of the occupation in times of calm, . . .  The random examples we do manage to report are but a drop in the ocean, and they have no impact on the comprehension of the situation for a large majority of Israelis.

And I will add that this problem of reportage, by which the aggressors are too often presented as victims, is a travesty duplicated in much of the Western media. The New York Times, the newspaper of record, is, tragically, a case in point, certainly in its daily language. When will the Times view Palestinian blood as being as red as Jewish blood in terms of coverage? When will it stop referring to occupied East Jerusalem as something that Palestinians "want" as their future capital when it is internationally understood that that is a just resolution and that Israeli settlement of East Jerusalem is a nonstarter? (Israeli sovereignty over West Jerusalem is, of course, not in question internationally.) And how many puff pieces by Jodi Rudoren must readers of the Times have to stomach? On reading her article about Ayelet Shaked, Netanyahu's latest justice minister (, I found myself thinking that there's no way a Times reporter covering a new neofascist minister in, say, today's Hungary, would have produced an article like that. [my italics] But Israel is different, and that's the rub. The mainstream reportage is changing, to be sure, but far too slowly to keep pace with changing realities.

Can anyone say when the Israeli colonial project, dependent as it is on the suppression of a subject people in the name of the theft of their land, will reach its end? For sure not. Nor can we know exactly how it will end. But we can say that the realization abroad that Israel administers an apartheid regime is spreading, the proof being official Israeli panic over the matter. Eventually, the push from outside will be to replace the current apartheid system (entangled as it is with a massive web of settlements) with 1S/1P/1V—one state, one person, one vote—in all of Israel/Palestine. When that happens, the Jewish state, even in some benign cultural form that hypothetically could have evolved, will become history.

It may be hard for Israelis (and their best friends abroad) to digest the reality of the situation, but they fail to do so at their peril. The downfall of such regimes as colonial Israel often comes unforecast and without warning. Examples from recent decades should easily come to mind to those willing to pay attention.

The irony is that they are bringing that future on themselves.



Palestinians are fighting for their lives; Israel is fighting for the occupation

That we notice there’s a war on only when Jews are murdered does not cancel out the fact that Palestinians are being killed all the time, and that all the time we are doing everything in our power to make their lives unbearable. 

Oct. 7, 2015 | 2:12 AM | 

Yes, this is a war, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with his mandate from the people, has ordered its intensification. He does not listen to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ messages of conciliation and acceptance in calmer times, why should he listen to them now?

Netanyahu is intensifying the war mainly in East Jerusalem, with orgies of collective punishment. He thus further reveals Israel’s success in physically disconnecting Jerusalem from most of the Palestinian population, accenting the absence of Palestinian leadership in East Jerusalem and the weakness of the government in Ramallah — which is trying to stop the drift in the rest of the West Bank.

The war did not start last Thursday, it does not start with the Jewish victims and does not end when no Jews are murdered. The Palestinians are fighting for their life, in the full sense of the word. We Israeli Jews are fighting for our privilege as a nation of masters, in the full ugliness of the term.
That we notice there’s a war on only when Jews are murdered does not cancel out the fact that Palestinians are being killed all the time, and that all the time we are doing everything in our power to make their lives unbearable. Most of the time it is a unilateral war, waged by us, to get them to say “yes” to the master, thank you very much for keeping us alive in our reservations. When something in the war’s one-sidedness is disturbed, and Jews are murdered, then we pay attention.

Young Palestinians do not go out to murder Jews because they are Jews, but because we are their occupiers, their torturers, their jailers, the thieves of their land and water, their exilers, the demolishers of their homes, the blockers of their horizon. Young Palestinians, vengeful and desperate, are willing to lose their lives and cause their families great pain because the enemy they face proves every day that its malice has no limits.

Even the language is malicious. Jews are murdered, Palestinians are killed and die. Is that so? The problem doesn’t begin with our not being permitted to write that a soldier or police officer murdered Palestinians, at close range, when his life was not in danger, or by remote control or from a plane or a drone. But it is part of the problem. Our comprehension is captive to a retroactively censored language that distorts reality. In our language, Jews are murdered because they are Jews and Palestinians find their death and their distress, because presumably that’s what they’re looking for.
Our worldview is shaped by the consistent betrayal by Israeli media outlets of their duty to report events, or their lack of the technical and the emotional ability to contain all of the details of the world war that we are conducting in order to preserve our superiority in the land between the river and the sea. [my italics]

Not even this newspaper has the economic resources to employ 10 reporters and fill 20 pages with reports on all the attacks in times of escalation and all the attacks of the occupation in times of calm, from shooting through building a road that destroys a village to legalizing a settlement outpost and a million more assaults. Every day. The random examples we do manage to report are but a drop in the ocean, and they have no impact on the comprehension of the situation for a large majority of Israelis.
The goal of this unilateral war is to force the Palestinians to give up all their national demands in their homeland. Netanyahu wants escalation because experience so far has proved that the periods of calm after the bleeding return us not to the starting line, but rather to a new low in the Palestinian political system, and adds privileges to the Jews in Greater Israel.

Privileges are the chief factor that distorts our understanding of our reality, blinding us. Because of them, we fail to comprehend that even with weak, “present-absent” leadership, the Palestinian people — scattered in its Indian reservations — will not give up and will continue to find the strength necessary to resist our malicious mastership.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

For Stanley Hoffmann, 1928-2015

           Social Studies was an interdisciplinary major for 25 students, created by Stanley Hoffmann, talking with other intellectuals, like Alexander Gerschenkron, the economic historian, and Barrington Moore, the political scientist/historical sociologist at Harvard.  It was not social science because though Stanley kept up with it for a while, he thought it was mostly amusing.  IQ testing as a centerpiece, I would later discover, was central to the eugenics whose highest movement – the Nazis – he had retreated from, with his mother, as a child in France, moving from Paris to Nice, and though a Romanian friend had come home just as the Gestapo arrived and been sent to his death, been saved.  Vichy was not quite as exterminating as the Ukraine.  Social “science” resisted or suppressed the insights of Marx or Freud (or many others), and was – and is – pretty thin gruel…

        Stanley had been to graduate school in France - he also got a degree in intenrational law but found it boring  - and revered De Gaulle for saving him and other Jews. But Stanley also felt a deep loyalty to Harvard where he had studied, brought by McGeorge Bundy.  He was, however, less than any emigre I know merely loyal; he was not tolerant of the stupidities and dangers of power; he was frankly and ironically critical of all forms of pretence and puffery, and he would become a critic of "Gulliver's" wars, and often madness...

      About Harvard, however, the loyalty (over 58 years) as well as creativity ran deep...

      As a sophomore, I met Stanley at the first meeting of the program.  He gave, as usual, a deliciously ironic speech.  To justify the major, he conjured disciplinary insularity.  He stretched up his jacket with his left  arm, covered his face, and said: “now, speaking as a psychologist, I can say…,” then his right arm, “speaking as an economist…” and so forth.   That there are only the great problems of war and peace, and others, and that they must be studied deeply, and not through an ideological slant or prism (having studied Comte, he was never impressed by pretensions to science), was the founding principle of his intellectual life, as it should be – though perhaps rarely is – for any serious person.

      “Now you are at Harvard,” he said, “and you will see many of the stars, and discover that many of the stars are dead…”  That people make one discovery or contribution for which they become famous, and then repeat the thing they said, are hard of hearing toward others, is, unfortunately, a leading quality in academia.

    Stanley was a great lecturer  (John Rawls was deeper philosophically and at the end of his life, when I ran across him at meetings or in Cambridge, it was a pleasure to listen to every word; but Stanley was dazzlingly European…). He was so because of an immense and diverse learning, a deep understanding and sometime sympathy, especially if challenged, for views which came from a different place – he disliked the boredom of not listening – and, of course, his French sense of irony.  He did not dwell in Montesquieu, but I often thought, reading the Baron deeply, that some of that esprit of French life and thought was his in a magisterial degree.  His writing, while often very interesting, was less good than his speaking – he would take risks or reveal an erudition or cleverness in speaking which he was a little more cautious about in writing; his irony, like Raymond Aron’s perhaps sometimes prevented him from travelling fundamentally new paths  - and to hear Stanley talk was pleasure.  

     Stanley would speak without notes.  He contrasted with many professors (especially many at conferences) who just read their writing.  For a long time, I thought that preparing, but just talking was something I got from radical politics.  Looking back. however, Stanley was a wonderful example.

       Stanley always took individuals as they were, listened to them, had  conversations – often witty and concerned, frequently not lengthy - with them.  He encouraged each person to go her own way.

     Thus, Social Studies 10, which he inspired, consisted of meetings of 7 students with two tutors in different disciplines. I had Fritz Ringer, a wonderful intellectual historian of Germany and aficiando of Max Weber, and Sandy Lakoff, an interesting political scientist who told me, as a sophomore, that  I should devote myself to the government of Pakistan – I had lived there – and corner the market  in political science (I could never figure out why Sandy was in Social Studies…).  It was harder, as I mentioned in writing about the racist self-destruction of Marty Peretz  at the 50th anniversary of Social Studies  - see here, here and here – for Susan Jaffe, “our little Miss Radcliffe” as Ringer, patriarchally, in his worst moment - the memory is cringeworthy - called her.  None of us stood up to this, even though it made us uncomfortable, knew fully, except Susan, that and why it was wrong.   In a seminar for sophomores, we spent two weeks on Marx, two weeks on Weber, two weeks on Freud (Totem and Taboo), a week on Adam Smith, a week on David Hume, a week on Comte, a week on Durkheim,  a week on Frazier, the founder of Anthropology, a week on Karl Mannheim, and so on.  It was a lively introduction (unsurprisingly superficial or dismissive of Marx, frogs in a pond sizing up an ocean – that was not Stanley - lionizing of Weber, particularly the essays on “Politics as a Vocation” (great, but the reading was uncritical) and the revealing “Science as a Vocation,” respectful if distant toward Freud, and sometimes, making a fighting try with others.  It made us stretch from the beginning.  In his junior seminar on war, Stanley, unforgettably, had us read War and Peace – inspired by my mother who grew up with Russian novels, I had read it growing up so I was not lost, learned a lot….

       But the whole sequence led into a choice of junior seminars.  I took ones with Hoffmann on war in the fall and Barrington Moore in the spring which led as a senior to my taking Moore's graduate course which became Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy and writing a thesis on why there was a peasant-based Communist Revolution in China but not a working class based Socialist Revolution in Germany.  It was characteristic of the program that theses reflected student interests, were bold, not reined in as in particular disciplines.

        Social Studies, like the later Center for European Studies, another great crossdisciplinary institution, was Stanley’s.  No one else had the breath of vision or learning or organizational driving force that made Social Studies or the Center possible.  I was saddened, though not surprised,  to discover, at the 50th anniversary, that Social Studies, after the sophomore year, has been made more practical, more narrow or disciplinary/pseudo-scientific (see my Democratic Individuality and Must Global Politics Constrain Democracy? for a specific account of what is pseudoscientific in an “empiricist,” overly bemused by statistics and unguided by theory or insight into competing theories (in physics, Einstein and Planck, in biology, Darwin and Mendel, in social “science,” ?) conception.  Still, Stanley’s spirit survives in its – potential – breadth, and in encouraging students, to some extent, to go their own way, to tromp across disciplines, to figure things out…

      But Stanley’s junior seminar did not work for me.  We read – and he criticized – some silly psychological approaches to war, among others, and read Lenin and Aron (somehow, not deeply), and I was looking for something more explanatory about social history, particularly the unbearable poverty in Pakistan, the odd role of the United States, the segregation and viciousness of the American South, the absence of integration at Harvard... Stanley had been saved by Corporal DeGaulle and Madame Michelin, the two members of the elite who famously joined the Resistance; Madame Michelin was praised, like Joan of Arc, not because France had become feminist but because decency and courage in the French elite were so rare.  Across the greatest fear (Nazis hunted in Europe and were a killing machine of Jews, Roma, Slavs especially in the East, as Timothy Snyder has recently - Black Earth -  rightly argued), De Gaulle had come through (so, of course, did the French Communists...).  In the turmoil of French student dissidence about Algeria (after Stanley had come to the US) and the police with capes loaded with lead (they would swing them at students and slash open their faces) or machine guns, De Gaulle had risen to negotiate independence.  Stanley identified with De Gaulle, and to some extent, sensible great power (but also imperial) politics.  Nonetheless, France, as it was, had outstandingly beaten Vichy and Nazi domination.

     But France, as it was, was also colonial (think of Humphrey Bogart and Claude Rains in “Casablanca,” the Arabs as background/props for European conflict…).  It was this that Stanley was aware of, but did not form his point of view (I was sickened by racist domination early on, and the thought that no decent regime for ordinary people - that means you and me... - let alone a  serious democracy, was consistent with the spectrum of opinion, even the most decent, in the “West”)

      I spoke at the first protests agains the Vietnam war in spring of 1965, and in May, debated McGeorge Bundy, who had had the wisdom to bring Stanley to Harvard, but had become  the National Security Advisor for Lyndon Johnson.  I asked him “how does the government expect to win a war against a successful peasant revolution by restoring the landlords?” and some 800 people in Sanders Theater applauded (it was what was on people’s minds, but ducked or talked around by the 5 other  panelists).  McGeorge replied, “I have knowledge about how the US is doing which is classified and I  cannot release to the public - we are winning.”  In conversation before, he had  spoken of possessing “esoteric” knowledge.  He didn't.   

     Instead, he had lies of American "intelligence" (the CIA's Operation Phoenix led to the assassination of some 20,000 village leaders) and the scraps assembled by “counterinsurgency” experts like Douglas Pike at MIT (that counterinsurgency has gone through a further iteration in the Middle East is a tragedy for ordinary people there and for Americans, and has led, despite Obama,  to a decline and the rather dreadful state - the disappearance of the middle classes, the endless predatoriness of the .0001% down to attempts to cut food stamps for children by a "Republican" Congress - of American imperialism). 

   Stanley did not discuss this debate with me, but he had a vision of keeping Harvard together, of engaging in conversation about the War and America - as well as  the Harvard elite - not just cooperating in the exertion of power or arrogance.  France, of course, despite vast American aid (80% of the French military budget in 1954), had been defeated by the Vietminh.  I had read the French historical accounts by Bernard Fall, Denis Warner and Jean Lacouture, and had a good idea about the vacuity of the American State Department, later revealed by Daniel Ellsburg, in which there was never a serious argument for American intervention to support French colonialism – FDR had been outspoken against this; Truman betrayed him - and no person in the government, when Johnson escalated, knew Vietnamese…

       Stanley knew this, was critical of American arrogance.  One evening in 1967, in a great campus event,  I listened to Stanley debate Daniel Ellsburg, then an under-Secretary at the Pentagon, who had gone to fight with the Special Forces (killed Vietnamese) and supported the war. Stanley maintained rightly that the war was a mistake (it was also something far worse), and his nuance was way too much for Ellsberg (no bureaucrat, Ellsburg took some pride in his Special Forces' work at the time, an unbecoming or macho monstrousness/foolishness).

    But when Ellsburg released the Pentagon Papers, I could not help wondering if that evening – the intellectual overmatch - had not had some effect on him.  Ellsburg has now been arrested about a hundred times for civil disobedience against American militarism, so he is, “wild man” as a biographer called him, a determined and courageous resister; he has also called persistently for an Edward Snowden, a Chelsea Manning, to tell the truth about the current American empire/militarism/the war complex, even under Obama...

      To further conversation after the Dow sit-in in fall, 1967 (I was the five hundredth person there and put on probation), Stanley created the Student-Faculty Advisory Committee (SFAC).  At the time, President Pusey had imagined student protestors who “wanted to tear Harvard down stone by stone and dance up and down in the rubble.”  He could not see  that dropping napalm from the skies on innocent people  - Louis Fieser, a Harvard chemist had invented and profited from it for Dow Chemical Corporation - might make us outraged.  The Times had published a photograph of a 9 year old, running naked down a dirt road in flames (she ultimately survived and emigrated to Canada).

    President Pusey had a sublime stupidity or unwillingness to hear which drove the Harvard strike.  Pusey was famous as a "defender of free speech," but when Senator McCarthy had said "Harvard is a smelly mess of reds," "the Kremlin on the Charles," Pusey had responded "no, it isn't.  There isn't a single red on the Harvard faculty." He had called in Jerome  Bruner, the founder of cognitive psychology, and Wendell Furry, a physicist, both of whom had been communists during World War II when the US was allied with the Soviet Union, and told them to testify if called against their colleagues.  Similarly, Dean McGeorge Bundy had threatened Robert Bellah, then a graduate student, that he must testify if called before the House UnAmerican Actvities Committee, and rat out people he had known.  Bellah went to McGill, later was brought back to Harvard by Talcott Parsons, and eventually told the story to the Chronicle for Higher Education....

     Stanley looked for something different.  As with most things, Harvard would have been a far better place for relying on Stanley.

     I remember once speaking at SFAC frankly about Harvard’s involvement in the War, and beginning with the invocation of Rousseau’s Second Discourse (on inequality) that I chose not to speak as a slave in the presence of his masters.  Stnaley, of course, was unhappy – his purpose in creating SFAC was hardly to enforce such a thing - and bemused by the reference to Rousseau; he was more deeply unhappy that the University was riven by the depth of student insight/protest, and that much of it was true.

      As a graduate student at this time, I had taken a seminar with Stanley on French radicalism (he also gave a brilliant one on the French right the next year, which I went to some meetings of).  I had stayed in Paris with my friend Bob Leonhardt, gone to Althusser’s seminars at the Ecole Normale, knew something of French radicalism.  What was fun about Stanley was sheer inventiveness and that, when pressed, he could go anywhere you could go. A grad student at Harvard who has since become a corrupt campaigner for the Right (a "birther," inter alia)  was in that seminar, and gave a talk on Fourier that was sadly distinguished only for his not reading any Fourier beforehand - I think he whispered that he had looked at an Encyclopedia Brittanica entry.  Stanley was bored and the conversation was not lively.  Stanley could sometimes go with the flow of the conversation…

    But I worked quite hard on Blanqui as did some others on Leon Blum or Babeuf.  The result was that Stanley, who read a lot, engaged us in insightful and sometimes inspiring conversation about it.   It was this quality in Stanley I most admired, respected, learned from. I wrote a 70 page paper on Blanqui and Lenin  - how Lenin understood and relied on mass movements and contrary to a common invective in the West, was no Blanquiste.  Stanley would write brief, insightful comments on papers, often a sentence with four unusual and striking adjectives (and in recommendations for people; he was, rightly,  taken very seriously), praised mine briefly for its insight and style, and urged me to publish it.   That meant a lot. I asked him about this later, but he did not have specific advice as to where.  I would have had to cut it to 25 pages, and mainstream journals at the time had difficulty with intelligent papers on Marx, i.e. ones reflecting some reading of Marx; Lenin was and perhaps still is, wholly other…

      Most Harvard professors would have been unable to comment on such a paper or lapsed into hostility, and would have urged working on something else; Stanley made it a point to say that he had learned something, that it was - should be - publishable....

     During a large gathering during the Harvard strike, I ran into Stanley, who had agreed to serve on the punishments committee – “The Committee on Rights and Responsibilities.”  He had said to the Boston Globe, “some of our best students are in the building” (University Hall).  He was not for cutting people off, permitting no way back (he and I believe Marty Peretz, from the discussion at the later Social Studies meeting, also worked to provide a way back).   Stanley defended Harvard -  stood for a Harvard that could be, rather than as it was. Many who were thrown out - about 200 in total -  did not survive the trauma of the whole period (never finished, or among graduate students, did not go on as scholars).    He looked at me and said, “are we still friends?”  I said, “of course.”  I had many great professors and friends at Harvard (Hoffmann, William Alfred, Barrington Moore, Judith Shklar, Hilary Putnam, Dick Boyd, John Rawls, Michael Walzer among other) – sometimes people I agreed with more than Stanley  - but no one who had a deeper concern for what each student might do on her own and what an institution might be and yet knew, and could be explicit about, why the war was wrong and ironic about the silliness or pretence of Harvard (a condition for surviving the place...).  Also, Stanley later welcomed me back, was happy to write letters for me (some of my professors, whom I later made friends with again, grilled me, saying “how do we know you won’t do it again?”).  Stanley was humane…

     Stanley was the creator of a lively, multidisciplinary, conversational and humane environment at the University.  He made Harvard, to a considerable extent, that way (Wally Gilbert, my brother has helped make the Society of Fellows an engaged, interdisciplinary fostering of scholarship institution for the past 30 years, including Gregory Nagy, Amartya Sen, Bob Nozick and others, in a similar vein).

     Stanley was rightly critical both of the Vietnam war and, more deeply, Iraq. Gulliver Unbound,   though perhaps he should have called it Unhinged, and other short books have identified the frightening madness - the unilateralism, the antipathy toward working with others - of the Bush-Cheney period. He wrote a chilling, brief letter to the Times on the darkness descending on America before the aggression.   He would have liked the Iran agreement, been saddened by the belligerence of blind militarism, Democratic as well as Republican, in American politics.

   In 2003, Stanley agreed to be on an American Political Science Asociation panel about my Must Global Politics Constrain Democracy?  It criticizes many version of great power realism and neo-realism internally; shows why Morganthau and others became critical of American adventurism, and how they, to a degree, understood that democrats have common interests from below against the policies of their own states across national borders.  It meant a great deal to me that Stanley agreed to come and comment.  We talked about it; he liked the book, but I would have been very interested to learn more deeply, from a self-conscious and brilliant realist,  what he saw as its strengths and weaknesses.  Sadly, Stanley was ill that summer and could not attend.

    Stanley was also away during the 50th anniversary of Social Studies.  He made a quite beautiful video in which he talked about its founding and the Harvard strike and heading off Gerschenkron, at one time a Menshevik, who wanted the police to beat the students heads in (memories often pervert otherwise sensible people; I took an economic history course and studied Gerschekron's views on Russian agriculture before the Revolution, once upon a time, but never worked closely with him).  Oddly, the Harvard Strike's echo so reverberates some 41 years later that some people – not Stanley – found the protest over Peretz’s racism, even in conversations, petitions  and letters - similar (when I got up to talk in the discussion at the first gathering, one of the new heads of social studies told me, only partly jokingly - a campus cop asked him, should I arrest him?).  Stanley did not cure Harvard of its fragility, its unwillingness to deal with honest questions, but he did his best…

   At the lunch, many teaching fellows turned their backs on Peretz and walked out (some 500  had signed a statement against his racism toward Palestinians, blacks and Chicanos…).

     I wondered, however, if Stanley had not come partly because it was distasteful, as a leader of Social Studies, to be in controversy about Marty (Peretz played a decent role at times in Social Studies as senior tutor, but he was, as it turns out, racist and never a scholar…).  And if so, that was sad, since what is good in Social Studies and more largely, in education at Harvard, was nurtured by Stanley for over half a century, and the celebration - it was fun to see so many people who had also graduated from the program - was incomplete without him...

     Stanley was brought to Harvard by McGeorge Bundy with whom he later disagreed at Vietnam.  He went to graduate school with Henry Kissinger, who was, aside from Cheney, the most bizarre war criminal in modern American politics (see Christopher Hitchens, The Trial of Henry Kissinger for his ordering, down to telegrams, of the hit on General Rene Schneider, the Chilean Commander-in-Chief, so that President Allende could be overthrown and tens of thousands “disappeared” – Kissinger was a mass murderer from Vietnam and Camboria to East Timor, and a local commander or Mafioso of hit men…) as well as Brzezinski, author with Carl Friedrich of Totalitarian Dictatorship and Autocracy, an amazingly silly, widely used in beginning courses, and for America, self-serving book - totalitarianisms have 6 characteristics in common, even though Nazi Germany tried to extinguish and enslave the Soviet Union and was defeated there; America, in contrast, is "the open society." The book is silent on - perhaps even ignorant about - what Nazism learned from American eugenics or genocide toward "redskins," the blueprint for Eastern Europe...Brzezinski was also National Security Advisor under Carter, and thus not so extensively criminal, though even the very admirable and lovely Jimmy – it is hard to be head of the Empire – praised the murderous Shah as “beloved of his people” on January 1, 1977…(a vehement supporter of the Vietnam war, however, Bzezinski came to speak, Stanley recalled, even of its colonialism, showing that many can come to understand...).

     Growing up in Nazi Europe, Stanley feared power and did not go into government.  He thus presents quite a contrast with these European colleagues.   Instead, he warned of its its harmful effects, sponsored the most broad and serious education, to head off the worst.  He wrote well, subtly and critically, stood up to bad wars, produced no ideology for the American empire. His career contrasts, night and day, with those of the others.  

      "It wasn't simply the discovery of the way in which public affairs take over private lives, in which individual fates are blown around like leaves in a storm once history strikes, that had marked me forever.  It was also a purely personal sense of solidarity with the other victims of history and Hitler with whom I shared this primal experience of free fall."

     And even more profoundly,

      "I study power so as to understand the enemy, not so as better to be able to exert it."

      Stanley was also graduate students and deep friends with the wonderful Judith Shklar who made a formidable and lasting impression on everyone who met her.  In addition to her brilliance as a political theorist, he also pointed to the fact that the Harvard Government faculty, segregating women, made them, at one time, enter different doors...

       Stanley worked diligently and creatively to make Harvard the place that it might be.  He touched many of us.  As in a way, a realist, shaped by the experiences and fears of World War II and looking from below, he did not foresee the transformation – the rooting out of colonialism, racism – that still must come, that still, to this moment, shackles humanity.  That the Confederate flags just came down, that Black Lives Matter is central, that in India, they have still not substituted at a park in Delhi, at British request, a statue of Gandhi for the removed Lord Montbatten....But Stanley gave a force and eloquence to the study of international politics, to assessing the American Gulliver, to speaking against reactionary wars, and to decency which is rare (among his colleagues/contemporaries, only Hans Morganthau was stronger politically). He admirably did not put himself forward, but helped make education and the world a better place.  Go well, Stanley…

Monday, October 5, 2015

The danger of renewed Cold War with Iran

   The 5+1 Treaty with Iran was a major victory - a step forward - for cooling down tensions in the Middle East and achieving world peace.  It was a break by Obama with past American belligerence and unilateralism toward Europe and others, a hope for less American carnage and destruction in the Middle East.  The agreement might also enable the US to work with Iran in fighting IS and in other matters of common interest, though Iran has allied with Russia in Syria.  Still the US and Russia have common interests against IS - but ones that will not be achieved by bombing.  Iran's ground forces, along with the courageous Kurds - currently being attacked by the Turkish government - are the only ones in a position to go after IS...


     This agreement would thus enable the US not to tie itself destructively, perhaps fatally to Saudi Arabia and Israel, the two most reactionary regimes in the region, belligerent aggressors, and the monstrous treatment of Palestinians by Israel.  It might encourage the US to move away from the Saudi aggression in Yemen which blew up 100 people at a wedding party last week (the US itself took out 19 people, including 3 children and 12 Doctors without Borders workers. in Northern Afghanistan two days ago...), and to begin to balance forces in the region diplomatically, to avoid further war.  It thus might also begin to limit US craziness with drones - murdering people, often children and bystanders in addition to "suspects" in countries the US is not at war with (along with making himself an accomplice to torturers, the worst - or most criminal - thing that Obama - as President of the Empire - has done).  The Treaty is thus  a great achievement in foreign policy weakening the intense threat of larger war in the Middle East and nuclear war likely to be spawned by the one nuclear power in the region, Israel...


    But the forces of American militarism as well as Israel seek to undermine the agreement. In tight relationship with what is worst in the US, Israel tests new weapons in Gaza and provides them as well as  "training" American police forces.  The cause of Black Lives Matter, the Palestinians, the Iranian dissidents/most Iranians (a US bombing, avoided by this agreement, would have strengthened the regime politically as a belligerent and reactionary force) is linked.  Further, democracy in America for all ordinary people is strengthened by international negotiation/cooperation and moving away from further war.


       The agreement is, in fact, harsh on Iran; nonetheless, it opens real possibilities of peaceful development.  Therefore the fight by AIPAC and Netanyahu, backed by those who want unending war in the Middle East - i.e. Republicans in the Senate and Republican Presidential candidates, baying, baying, baying (Scott Walker, Huckabee and Graham compete for who can say the stupidest thing, sock-puppets of Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas casino magnate/bankroller of Romney and Netanyahu, and more deeply, the war complex).  The US government officially spends nearly a trillion dollars a year on war  (Chris Hedges recently estimated $1.7 in real terms) which could go to medical care, reconstituting the impoverished South, canceling student debt and the like; it needs "enemies" and constant wars, and is a large instrument inside the United States of the strengthening of inequality...


    But as Peter Beinart strikingly indicates below, Israel has already exacted a huge price in America for the agreement. AIPAC spent $40 million fighting the agreement, and Obama had to promise potentially belligerent Democrats to maintain restrictions on Iran in exchange for their vote.  He thus diminished the possibility of consolidating a move away from war in American politics, of pursuing joint purposes with Iran more explicitly (one may hope that he will do so, nonetheless).  In addition,  Obama's increased military "aid" to Israel, $4.5 billion per year, an increase from the already unparalleled $3 billion  (and Clinton's promise of even more) is even more dangerous.  It undermines the seriousness or straightforwardness  of the deal to Iranians and others.  Iran did not have to ally with Russia in Syria; the stupidity of the war complex instigated this.


    As Rob Prince underlines in the second article, Obama at least rightly opposes selling Israel bunker-buster nuclear weapons which the Bennett-Cardin bill (two Democratic Senatorial monsters - it is not just the Republican crew...) originally contained.  And he can resist it.   But as yet another price exerted by the war lobby, Obama  still crazily provides the Israeli government - upping the "aid", that is, sales by American weapons manufacturers subsidized with tax money taken from the American people  - with nearly everything else.  Bennett and Cardin are determined to douse any possibility of peace in the Middle East - and with Rand Paul having moved to the Right on Israel, Obama's new opening is under deep threat in the 2016 election.

"Dear Peter,

    Another terrific and sad article - the Jeremiah quote is beautiful and the points about Cold War (and hot wars) beautifully drawn.  It is grim that Obama had to lie about Iran; they are a nasty regime, but have not, lately invaded and occupied, for instance, Baja California and Canada whereas the United States has occupied Afghanistan and Iraq, its two neighbors.  However use of maps is not big in mainstream American politics/commentary.   And the Shia are but 7-10% of Muslims - again, never mentioned in the media - and thus, hardly likely to dominate the Sunnis in the Middle East.  I agree with your profound point that AIPAC/Netanyahu have undermined the possibility of a thaw between the US and Iran and seek a renewed Cold War in the interest of Israeli aggression/Occupation.  But despite "selling" more American weapons to Israel with taxpayer money  (the "aid" upped from 30 billion to 45 billion over the next 10 years...), I hope Obama's intent is still to develop things with Iran, at least with regard to continuing to fight IS.  And that this and other commonalities may lead, through openings for investment from others and US competition, to erosion of further sanctions and other openings over time.  Even Hillary was better than Rand Paul on this - hard work for Rand Paul to achieve... - but as you point out, if she is elected, she would work to kill this possibility; Bernie Sanders would be a lot better and possibly Biden - Bernie is a hope...But turning us from war will take a big movement from below...

          All the best,


From Peter Beinart

In the fight over the Iran nuclear deal, AIPAC has supposedly lost big. The organization will see “its power and reputation in Washington diminished,” declared The New York Times. In a column titled “The Iran Deal and the End of the Israel Lobby,” Jonathan Chait pronounced AIPAC’s lobbying efforts “almost completely ineffectual.” An article in The Nation suggests that in fighting the Iran agreement, AIPAC “may have destroyed itself.”

I disagree. For those of us who want America to spend less time fueling conflict in the Middle East, and more time resolving it, the harsh truth is this: If AIPAC lost, so did we.

The reason is that although AIPAC didn’t kill the nuclear deal, it has helped kill, at least for now, the prospect of a fundamentally different relationship between the United States and Iran. When the agreement was signed in July, top Obama administration officials suggested that it might not only curb Tehran’s nuclear program, but might also end America’s decades-long cold war with the Islamic Republic. “I know that a Middle East that is on fire is going to be more manageable with this [nuclear] deal, and opens more potential for us to be able to try to deal with those fires,” said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. U.S. President Barack Obama himself talked about a “foundation for continued progress.”

You don’t hear that anymore. In opposing the deal, AIPAC and its allies insisted that lifting sanctions would empower Iran to foment evil in the Middle East. The administration could have pushed back [!!]. After all, while Iran certainly supports bad actors in the region (Hezbollah and Hamas chief among them), so do U.S. allies like Saudi Arabia. In Syria, Iran’s ally President Bashar Assad is no worse than the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, or Jabhat al-Nusra (Nusra Front), the Salafi groups that get support from the Sunni Gulf (and in al-Nusra’s case, from Israel). In Yemen, Iran is aiding the Houthis and their ally, former dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh (a former client of the United States). But it’s Riyadh, not Tehran, that’s been accused of war crimes by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch for its “indiscriminate” bombing of civilian areas. In Iraq, Iran is America’s most militarily potent ally against ISIS [actually, in action, it's the Kurds whom the US has sold out to Erdogan, the would be Turkish dictator...].

Contrary to the narrative being peddled by AIPAC, the wars in Iraq, Yemen and Syria aren’t morality tales about Iranian aggression and “destabilization.” Iraq, Yemen and Syria are weak states, which have become battlegrounds in a battle for regional power that pits Iran against Saudi Arabia and its Sunni allies. The Sunni powers can’t win these wars on the battlefield, and we shouldn’t want them to. The best hope for ending the destruction is through a diplomatic process that includes Iran, the Gulf States and outside powers like the United States and Russia. And that’s more likely if Washington has a less hostile relationship with Tehran.

But neither the Saudis nor the Israelis want that. They’d rather see the civil wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen rage on than legitimize Iran's influence there. And they fear a better relationship between America and Iran because it reduces their leverage. After all, the more working relationships America has in the Middle East, the less reliant it is on its traditional allies.

That’s where AIPAC comes in. It may have lost the fight against the nuclear deal. But along with Saudi Arabia, it has won the fight to preserve the cold war between America and Iran. To win over Democrats being pressured by AIPAC to oppose the deal, the White House promised that even as it was lifting nuclear sanctions on Tehran, it would consider imposing new ones for Iran’s ties to terrorism and abuses of human rights (This despite the fact that Iran’s most prominent dissidents overwhelmingly oppose sanctions). The United States has reportedly provided Riyadh with some of the cluster bombs it is using in its brutal campaign against the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen. According to the Rand Corporation’s Alireza Nader, America remains officially opposed to any Iranian role in the negotiations to end Syria’s civil war. And Hillary Clinton is promising that she’ll be even more hostile to Tehran than Obama. “This is not the start of some larger diplomatic opening,” she promised last week. Instead, America will “confront” Iran and its allies “across the board.”

To be fair, there are also powerful forces in Tehran that want to keep the U.S.-Iranian relationship icy. Iran’s conservatives, who have long used the supposed American threat to legitimize their brutal rule, know a warming relationship with Washington could erode their power. But that’s precisely why Iran’s democratic dissidents want the nuclear deal to lead to something more. And it’s part of the reason Americans should too.

Although hawks sometimes romanticize America’s half-century long conflict with the USSR, cold wars are ugly things. They turn entire countries into battlegrounds (Vietnam, Angola and Nicaragua in the 1970s and 1980s. Syria, Iraq and Yemen today). And they make it easier for dictatorships (and even democracies) to stifle dissent at home. 

Yes, AIPAC failed to stop the Iran nuclear deal. But in its broader mission of preserving the U.S.-Iranian cold war, AIPAC, with its strange bedfellows in the Persian Gulf, are still winning. And as long as they do, the United States is unlikely to help end the terrible wars in Syria, Iraq and Yemen or to help the long-suffering Iranian people achieve freedom. In the words of Jeremiah, “Summer is gone. But we have not been saved.”


Rob Prince's blog:
The Iran Policy Oversight Act of 2015 – A Prescription for Fueling an Intensified Middle East Arms Race.
OCTOBER 1, 2015

       The Iran Deal: What the Obama Administration giveth, Congress (tries to) taketh away?

In the aftermath of Congress’s failure to sabotage the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – the agreement negotiated between six countries, the EU and Iran to limit the Iranian nuclear energy program in return for lifting sanctions – the Obama Administration, along with its partners in the agreement have pushed ahead to implement it. But is this a case of “What the Obama Administration giveth, the Congress taketh away? At the behest of neo-conservatives, AIPAC, Christians United For Israel, some in Congress, however, including some original Democratic supporters of JCPOA, are actively working to undermine the very same agreement.
Referred to as “AIPAC’s Plan B” by some, there are several threads to political sabotage effort.

• After endorsing the result of the P5+1 negotiations with Iran, Colorado’s Democratic Senator, Michael Bennet threw in his little caveat: along with Maryland’s U.S. Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland (who came out square against the Iran agreement) he, is sponsoring legislation that The Cardin-Bennet proposal adds weight to this two-track policy which might be entitled “Talking Peace While Still Planning For War” Still peddling the myth of the Iranian threat Cardin and Bennet called the “Iran Policy Oversight Act of 2015,” which Cardin insists is “consistent with the administration’s interpretation of the agreement,” to the contrary, it is meant to throw a major monkey wrench into implementing the Iran deal. In Iran’s eyes it amounts to negotiating for peace with Teheran while simultaneously strengthening Israel’s ability to unilaterally attack Iran. The bill exudes hostility towards both Iran and the Iranian leadership. As it is written, it comes through more as a something threatening war rather than an attempt towards the normalization of relations. As such, it will more than likely draw strong objections from the White House as well as its P5+1 partners and Iran.

• Within the same “Iran Policy Oversight Act, another line of attack against the Iran deal was announced, and quickly supported by two icons of U.S Middle East militarism and interventionism, both longtime supporters of Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu’s policies. Dennis Ross and David Petraeus published a joint oped in the Washington Post calling on the Obama Administration to add Massive Ordnance Penetrators (MOPs) to an already promised $1.9 billion high-tech arms sale to Israel which entails, even without the MOP sales, the Israeli purchase of some 32100 high tech bombs and missiles, not a bad little haul. Ross is a former high level State Department official with close ties to Israel. Petraeus, former C.I.A. director, head of the U.S. Central Command and one of Washington’s key military leaders involved in the Iraq War. Joining these two known neo-cons is Robert Satloff, currently executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, an AIPAC spin-off whose policy positions have a long history of a narrow pro-Likud-Israeli bent. All three, RossPetraeusSatloff opposed the Iran deal and did everything in their power to defeat it.

2. 30,000 pound bunker buster bombs – The new peace messenger?

An early draft of the Iran Policy Oversight Act of 2015 raised hackles both in Teheran and Washington. It called for offering Israel the MOP as well as the means for delivering it; later drafts do not insist on this, nor do they discourage such weapons’ transfers. Even if the demand was recently dropped in subsequent drafts, watch how, like the proverbial bad penny, AIPAC and Co. will renew the call for giving Israel the MOPs, and along with it the B-52s or B-2 bombers necessary to launch the missile. The entire bill should be opposed and voted down, with or without the MOP system inclusion.

Massive Ordnance Penetrators – superbombs, reminiscent of the worst days of the Cold War. In times past, it was a race to see who could build the biggest nuclear weapon, the U.S. or the Soviets, with each one outdoing the other triggering yet another round of nuclear weapons insanity. Fast forward to 2015, now it is a race to see who can build the most explosive “bunker buster” bomb, which country can build one that can penetrate deeper in the ground with more explosive power to take out underground military and nuclear facilities like those in Iran. The earlier generation of 5000 pound bunker busters didn’t have enough firepower to destroy Iran’s underground military production system, so that one 6,7 times in size and with much greater penetration and explosive power was engineered and tested by the U.S. military. It is, by any standard, a weapon of mass destruction and should be banned, outlawed for use, not sold or offered for free to the Israelis. These bombs are so powerful, that while technically conventional they reach the firepower of tactical nuclear weapons (which were also conceived, among other things, as possible bunker busters).

The earlier generation of 5000 pound bunker busters didn’t have enough firepower to destroy Iran’s underground military production system, so that one 6,7 times in size and with much greater penetration and explosive power was engineered and tested by the U.S. military. The MOP, by any standard, a weapon of mass destruction and should be banned, outlawed for use, not sold or offered for free to the Israelis

At 30,000 pounds, the MOP – or as it is formally known – the GBU-57 (GBU=guided bomb unit) – is the largest non-nuclear weapon in the U.S. missile arsenal. The 30,000 pound massive ordnance penetrator, or MOP for short, is a bunker buster missile developed jointly by Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin in 2002. It burrows some 200 feet under the ground before detonating.The research got renewed energy though, when during the U.S. led 2003 invasion of Iraq it was discovered that an analysis of sites targeted with the then-existing bunker buster bombs “revealed poor penetration and inadequate destruction.” After U.S. Special Forces scoured Afghan caves looking for Osama Bin Laden, the program was intensified. An initial successful test explosion of one such bomb took place as early as March, 2007 at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico where the first atomic bomb was tested, but the final product did not come off the production line until September, 2011 when the Air Force took delivery of 20 bombs. Shortly thereafter, in February 2012, Congress approved $81.6 million to further develop and improve the weapon
The research development of the MOP proceeded at the Air Force Research Laboratory, Munitions Directorate, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida with design and testing work performed by Boeing. With unprecedented explosive power, the MOP’s very size presents “delivery” problems. The bomb itself is so heavy that only the biggest bombers in the American fleet could even be considered – B-52s and B-2 bombers and they had to be retrofitted and strengthened to carry such a heavy workload.

3. The Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum of U.S. Middle East Wars: Petraeus and Ross?
The question of whether or not Israel should get the MOP bunker buster bombs was already on the table two years ago, in 2013, when the Obama Administration and Israel’s Netanyahu government were negotiating a major U.S. arms sale to Israel. Ross and Petraeus’ proposal is to “sweeten the deal” to include the MOP. That earlier weapons’ sale package, discussed below, included some of the most sophisticated weaponry in the American arsenal: aircraft for mid-air refueling and missiles that could cripple an adversary’s air defense system (and thus make the country more vulnerable to bombing).
As is often the case, the Israelis upped the ante and asked for more, specifically recently 2011 tested MOP bunker busters, the new giant bomb designed to penetrate earth and reinforced concrete to destroy deeply buried sites. But, alas the Obama Administration refused the Israeli request.
In May (2015), in part to soothe their stated concerns over the Iran nuclear deal, the Obama Administration authorized a $1.9 billion sale of highly sophisticated weaponry to Israel, much of it with “bunker buster” potential that can penetrate and destroy underground military sites such as Iran’s underground nuclear facilities. According to an article in the International Business Times, it included 3000 Hellfire missiles for Israeli Air Force Apache helicopters, as well as hundreds of laser guided bombs and missiles and two kinds of bunker buster bomb packages: 50 BLU-113 Super Penetrator and 700 BLU-109 Penetrator bunker buster missiles. (BLU= Bomb Live Unit).

The business newsletter, The Motley Foolprovides a more extensive list of what the $1.9 billion deal consists of. While some attention has focused on the possible sale of MOPs, very little discussion has centered on the rest. Being sold are:
       14,500 KMU-556C/B Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) tail kits, built by Boeing(NYSE:BA)and used to convert ordinary Mk-82, -83, and -84 “dumb” bombs into “smart bombs” guided by GPS
       4,500 actual 1,000-lb Mk-83 bombs
       3,500 500-lb Mk-82s
       (But apparently no 2,000-lb Mk-84s — which Israel is able to produce domestically)
       4,100 GBU-39 Small Diameter, precision GPS-guided glide-bombs (also from Boeing)
       50 BLU-113 5,000-lb “bunker buster” bombs from General Dynamics (NYSE:GD), each capable of penetrating through 20 feet of reinforced concrete
       1,500 Paveway laser-guidance kits from Raytheon (NYSE:RTN), which can be attached to the Mk-83 bomb
       700 similar Paveway kits for attachment to BLU-109 bunker busters (but no actual BLU-109s)
       3,000 AGM-114K/R Hellfire Missiles from Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT)
       250 AIM-120C Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles from Raytheon
       500 of Boeing’s DSU-38A/B Detector Laser Illuminated Target kits for guiding JDAM-modified smart bombs to their targets

The BLU-109 first came into service in 1985; it is still in use today and is a part of the military arsenals of Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Israel, the Netherlands, Norway, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom and United Arab Emirates.

The BLU-113 Super Penetrator, at 4400 pounds, was, until the development of the its 30,000 cousin, the largest bunker buster weapon in the U.S. arsenal. Produced by the National Forge Company, the weapon carries some 675 pounds of tritonal explosives. Tritonal mixes the traditional explosive TNT with aluminum powder to produce a greater explosive mix than TNT.

Like the stronger bunker busters, Hellfire missiles shot from helicopters are meant to penetrate hardened targets – such as tanks and underground bunkers. An earlier transfer of Hellfires was suspended in the summer of 2014 over concerns that Israel was using them against civilian targets during its attacks on Gaza.

In authorizing this sale, the U.S. Defense Department made a curious – and not particularly credible – statement:

“The United States is committed to the security of Israel, and it is vital to US national interests to assist Israel to develop and maintain a strong and ready self-defence capability…Israel, which already has these munitions in its inventory, will have no difficulty absorbing the additional munitions into its armed forces. The proposed sale of these munitions will not alter the basic military balance in the region.”

4.  Signaling Iran that despite the nuclear agreement, the US and Israel are still preparing for war against Iran?

The Petraeus-Ross proposal, as is the Iran Policy Oversight Act it supports, is reckless in the extreme and would go far in fueling an already hot Middle East arms race that much further.

As an April, 2014 NY Times article pointed out:

“The weapon, called a Massive Ordnance Penetrator, weighs about 30,000 pounds — so much that Israel does not have any aircraft capable of carrying it. To do so, Israel would need a B-2 bomber, the stealth aircraft that the United States flew nonstop recently from Missouri to the Korean Peninsula to underscore to North Korea that it could reach its nuclear sites.” Having spent a good deal of time and money to upgrade the MOP, military sources told the Wall Street Journal that several bombs, dropped one on top of each other had the explosive power necessary to destroy fortified Iranian nuclear facilities
At the time, the 2014 NY Times article continued “The Obama administration [was] reluctant to even discuss selling such capability to the Israelis.” Nor are they anxious to make such a concession to Israel today. As Ross and Petraeus know well, to make the GBU-57 operational, the United States would also have to throw either B-52 or B-2 heavy bombers into the mix, a move which Ross, reaching a step beyond the limits of sanity, supports.

First of all transferring B-52s or B-2 bombers is in violation of the 2010 START Treaty which prohibits it. It is fantasy to think that the Iranians or Russians would stand idly by. As Kingston Reif noted in an on-line article at War on the Rocks notes, even some Israeli military figures are less than enthusiastic about receiving MOP weaponry:

“Transfer of the MOP to Israel would also be highly provocative. For example, retired IAF Maj. Gen. Eitan Ben-Eliahu, a former commander of the IAF, has said that introduction of the B-52s would trigger a whole different level of conventional arms race in the region and prompt Russia to sell “10 times more” of the advanced S-300 air defense system to Iran. Moreover, What signal would Washington be sending to Iran if one of its first moves after agreeing to the JCPOA were to greatly strengthen the ability of Israel to unilaterally attack Iran? Such a move would not be particularly conducive to getting implementation of the deal off on the right foot.”

For example, retired IAF Maj. Gen. Eitan Ben-Eliahu, a former commander of the IAF, has said that introduction of the B-52s would trigger a whole different level of conventional arms race in the region and prompt Russia to sell “10 times more” of the advanced S-300 air defense system to Iran. Moreover, What signal would Washington be sending to Iran if one of its first moves after agreeing to the JCPOA were to greatly strengthen the ability of Israel to unilaterally attack Iran?

But all this was too much for even the Obama Administration which has lobbied against including MOP weapons in the Bennet-Cardin bill. Lately Cardin has backed off a bit stating that “it is premature to speak of specific weapons systems that may be part of an enhanced regional security strategy.” “An enhanced regional security strategy”…a typically strange way of calling what is essentially an enhanced regional arms race by another name.

Furthermore, while tempting to upgrade its arsenal with such a weapon, Israel is lukewarm to the proposal as the technical challenges for supporting it are many. It has only one air base, Nevatim, that could handle such a missile program and its runways would have to be upgraded to support the larger bombers. As a U.S. News and World Report article added,“Israeli experts also warn that the tiny country would have to invest a fortune in related infrastructure — simulators, training, facilities, mechanical systems and experts — to handle such weapons.” On the other hand, should such a deal be finalized it would permanently draw in the United States military in such a manner that the U.S. military presence in Israel, already considerable, would be permanent.