Dangerous Liaison: The Inside Story of the U.S.-Israeli Covert Relationship.
by Andrew And Leslie Cockburn.
HarperCollins. 416 pp. $25.00.
This book is no less than a history of the world since 1948, with the United States of America cast as the chief evildoer, and Israel as the evil genie. As the Cockburns see it, Israel, playing Iago to America’s Othello, has brought out the worst in this stupid, great power. Israel’s leaders, unprincipled, cynical addicts to military force and dirty tricks, manipulate America through American Jews—“women with blue hair and pseudo-athletic men.” These Jews have so corrupted America’s politics with their money that U.S. Presidents, too, have been led to betray our national interests by joining in massive coverups of Israeli misdeeds, including the illegal transfer of U.S. military technology on a scale “much bigger than Pollard.”
The U.S. government, however, is only one of Israel’s many manipulees. According to this book, Stalin himself may have been goaded into the cold war by Israel’s use of Soviet and Czechoslovak Jews for espionage. In 1967, Israel plainly hoodwinked Nasser into words and deeds that lent cover to Israel’s own premeditated seizure of Arab lands. In 1990-91, Saddam Hussein started the Gulf War not out of any desire for Kuwait and Saudi Arabia but because of his belief in “a conspiracy between Israel and the U.S. to attack him”—a belief that this book says is “correct.” And then there is Israel’s culpability for Idi Amin, Mobutu, Noriega, the plight of the Kurds, the suffering of Guatemalans, and much, much more.
How do these inside dopesters account for so much evil committed by one tiny country? Mostly by fabricating quotations, twisting logic, and imputing guilt for nonexistent enormities. Take the case of the Kurds. During the 1970’s, the U.S. sent arms to the Kurds at the behest of the Shah of Iran, but without any intention of seeing the Kurds through to safety. Then the U.S. left the Kurds to the tender mercies of Saddam Hussein. What does this have to do with Israel? Well, during the 1960’s, Israel had helped the Kurdish resistance within Iraq and, write the Cockburns, “it seems unlikely that Israeli sentiments were any less cynical.” Period.
Israel’s “connection” with the Medellin drug cartel is made of similar stuff. According to Dangerous Liaison, there exists an Israeli company called “Spearhead,” composed of former commanders of anti-terrorist units who teach their craft to foreign “governments or official organizations.” In August 1989, the Colombian police are said to have seized from “one of Colombia’s most prominent drug lords” a “home movie” that showed Spearhead’s training exercises. There follow four pages built on the assumption that the Israelis were working for the cartel. But there is no explanation of this alleged relationship, let alone an explanation of how or by whom the film was made, or of how it got into the cartel’s hands. The authors mention only “an internal report” of the Colombian police that “links” the Colombian army and the cartel, and indicates that Israeli trainers were in Colombian army camps. Since A is “linked” with B and B is “linked” with C, A and C must be “linked” too. The conclusion? “Colombians called it ‘the labyrinth,’ and until their Hebrew commands were recorded on tape, the men from Spearhead navigated it well.” The implication is obvious: the Israelis were caught red-handed training drug lords to kill. Yet the careful reader notices that the book does not contain a single fact to support this implication.
Even flimsier is the Cockburns’ allegation that Israel helped Guatemala in “the cruel and systematic destruction of the Indian population there,” an allegation once again unbuttressed by the mention of anything that any Israeli actually did in Guatemala. (The average newspaper reader will also object that there has been no attempt by anyone to destroy the Indian population of Guatemala, and that, for better or worse, the Guatemalan army is composed of and led by Indians, while the leftist guerrillas there are largely white middle-class intellectuals.) For the source of their factoids on Guatemala, the authors cite . . . “the Monthly, Berkeley, Ca., 11/85.” Just so, for proof that the Israeli government, contrary to its stated policy, regularly recruits foreign Jews for espionage, they cite the thoroughly discredited former Mossad trainee, Victor Ostrovsky.1 To document Israeli complicity in South Africa’s policy of apartheid they refer us to the Congressional Black Caucus. And so forth.
The Cockburns are as loose with the references they actually reproduce as with those they merely cite. For example, they quote a passage from a CIA report concerning a mysterious flash off the coast of South Africa in 1979; according to the report, the flash might have been a nuclear explosion, South Africa might have been responsible, and in order to bring off such a thing South Africa might have benefited from scientific cooperation with Israel. From this the Cockburns conclude that the CIA knows that South Africa and Israel jointly tested a nuclear-tipped missile (no less!) and that the U.S. government “energetically covered [it] up.”
Why, in general, do Israel and the United States collude? Because, say the Cockburns, the military-industrial complexes of both countries need war, in order to maintain their privileged positions in society. That is why the leaders of both countries were so disturbed by the demise of the conflict with the Soviet Union. “It was not just the men from Israel Defense Industries who had seen the arrival of world peace as ‘apocalyptic.’ ” In the Pentagon, too, there ensued a desperate search for enemies. Hence, Iraq. “Desert Shield was more popularly referred to inside the Pentagon as ‘Budget Shield. . . .’ The threat of peace and consequent budget cuts had been dramatically staved off.” And in Israel, say the Cockburns, the Gulf War of 1991 brought with it the semi-serious prospect of selling Iraq “replacements for all the weapons that the Americans destroyed”—a prospect very much in the spirit of the U.S.-Israeli relationship as conceived in this book.
The problem with Dangerous Liaison is that, like Victor Ostrovsky’s By Way of Deception, it was published by a reputable house, was well received by the New York Times, and that American colleges are turning out people with the historical ignorance and lack of critical skills, and with the moral disorientation, to believe its message.
1 See my review of his book, By Way of Deception, in the December 1990 COMMENTARY.