Petras: Big Oil or Israel Lobby
Source Ken Hanly
Date 07/07/08/23:38

Certainly Israel is influential in promoting the war
in Iraq and also one might add in the mission to
destroy Iran's nuclear capability. However, Big Oil
certainly is working behind the scenes to influence
policies such as the Oil Law benchmark and also
influenced the very language of the law. The US wants
control over Iraq's oil resources insofar as it can
achieve it. It needs the resources for its continued
hegemony and to fuel its economy and military. The
relationship between Israel and US policy is not
simply straightforward support by the US for Israeli
policy, Israel also gives support for imperialist US
policy that is the hallmark of US neo-conservatives in
general not just the Zionist neo-cons.
Neo-conservatism in turn is an ideology that supports
the hegemony of US based global capitalism with other
centers of global capital relying upon US leadership
in extending global capitalism.
Aside from the reasons Petras gives for the lack of
a stronger US anti-war movement I think there are
probably numerous other reasons as well. When
demonstrations are held they are not well covered by
the media and seem to achieve little so that people
are discouraged. No doubt many are discouraged by the
failure of the Democrats to adopt an antiwar program.
People may be too busy with their daily life and
private concerns to devote the time needed to mount an
effective anti-war movement.
I am not sure the US is unique in the failure of
its anti-war movement. THe UK anti-war movement did
not change Blair's policy.
Cheers, Ken Hanly

US Middle East Wars: Social Opposition and Political
Everywhere I visit from Copenhagen to Istanbul,
Patagonia to Mexico City, journalists and academics,
trade unionists and businesspeople, as well as
ordinary citizens, inevitably ask me why the US public
tolerates the killing of over a million Iraqis over
the last two decades, and thousands of Afghans since

By James Petras

“You cannot win the peace unless you know the enemy at
home and abroad”
US Marine Colonel from Tennessee.

07/08/07 --- Why, they ask, is a public, which
opinion polls reveal as over sixty percent in favor of
withdrawing US troops from Iraq, so politically
impotent? A journalist from a leading business journal
in India asked me what is preventing the US government
from ending its aggression against Iran, if almost all
of the world’s major oil companies, including US
multinationals are eager to strike oil deals with
Teheran? Anti-war advocates in Europe, Asia and Latin
America ask me at large public forums what has
happened to the US peace movement in the face of the
consensus between the Republican White House and the
Democratic Party-dominated Congress to continue
funding the slaughter of Iraqis, supporting Israeli
starvation, killing and occupation of Palestine and
destruction of Lebanon?

Absence of a Peace Movement?

Just prior to the US invasion of Iraq in March 2003
over one million US citizens demonstrated against the
war. Since then there have been few and smaller
protests even as the slaughter of Iraqis escalates, US
casualties mount and a new war with Iran looms on the
horizon. The demise of the peace movement is largely
the result of the major peace organizations’ decision
to shift from independent social mobilizations to
electoral politics, namely channeling activists into
working for the election of Democratic candidates –
most of whom have supported the war. The rationale
offered by these ‘peace leaders’ was that once elected
the Democrats would respond to the anti-war voters who
put them in office. Of course practical experience and
history should have taught the peace movement
otherwise: The Democrats in Congress voted every
military budget since the US invaded Iraq and
Afghanistan. The total capitulation of the newly
elected Democratic majority has had a major
demoralizing effect on the disoriented peace activists
and has discredited many of its leaders.

Absence of a National Movement

As David Brooks (La Jornada July 2, 2007) correctly
reported at the US Social forum there is no coherent
national social movement in the US. Instead we have a
collection of fragmented ‘identity groups’ each
embedded in narrow sets of (identity) interests, and
totally incapable of building a national movement
against the war. The proliferation of these sectarian
‘non-governmental’ ‘identity’ ‘groups’ is based on
their structure, financing and leadership. Many depend
on private foundations and public agencies for their
financing, which precludes them from taking political
positions. At best they operate as ‘lobbies’ simply
pressuring the elite politicians of both parties.
Their leaders depend on maintaining a separate
existence in order to justify their salaries and
secure future advances in government agencies.

The US trade unions are virtually non-existent in more
than half of the United States: They represent less
than 9% of the private sector and 12% of the total
labor force. Most national, regional and city-wide
trade union officials receive salaries comparable to
senior business executives: between $300,000 to
$500,000 dollars a year. Almost 90% of the top trade
union bureaucrats finance and support pro-war
Democrats and have supported Bush and the
Congressional war budgets, bought Israel Bonds ($25
billion dollars) and the slaughter of Palestinians and
the Israeli bombing of Lebanon.

The Unopposed War Lobby

The US is the only country in the world where the
peace movement is unwilling to recognize, publically
condemn or oppose the major influential political and
social institutions consistently supporting and
promoting the US wars in the Middle East. The
political power of the pro-Israel power configuration,
led by the American Israel Political Affairs Committee
(AIPAC), supported within the government by highly
placed pro-Israel Congressional leaders and White
House and Pentagon officials has been well documented
in books and articles by leading journalists, scholars
and former President Jimmy Carter. The Zionist Power
Configuration (ZPC) has over two thousand full-time
functionaries, more than 250,000 activists, over a
thousand billionaire and multi-millionaire political
donors who contribute funds both political parties.
The ZPC secures 20% of the US foreign military aid
budget for Israel, over 95% congressional support for
Israel’s boycott and armed incursions in Gaza,
invasion of Lebanon and preemptive military option
against Iran.

The US invasion and occupation policy in Iraq,
including the fabricated evidence justifying the
invasion, was deeply influenced by top officials with
long-standing loyalties and ties to Israel. Wolfowitz
and Feith, numbers 2 and 3 in the Pentagon, are
life-long Zionists, who lost security clearance early
in their careers for handing over documents to Israel.
Vice President Cheney’s chief foreign policy adviser
in the planning of the Iraq invasion is Irving Lewis
Liebowitz (‘Scooter Libby’). He is a protégé and
long-time collaborator of Wolfowitz and a convicted

Libby-Liebowitz committed perjury, defending the White
House’s complicity in punishing officials critical of
its Iraq war propaganda. Libby-Liebowitz received
powerful political and financial support from the
pro-Israel lobby during his trial. No sooner did he
lose his appeal on his conviction on five counts of
perjury, obstructing justice and lying, than the ZPC
convinced President Bush to ‘commute’ his prison
sentence, in effect freeing him from a 30 month prison
sentence before he had served a day. While Democratic
politicians and some peace leaders criticized
President Bush, none dared hold responsible the
pro-Israel lobby which pressured the White House.

The Presidents of the Major American Jewish
Organizations (PMAJO) – numbering 52 – and their
regional and local affiliates are the leading force
transmitting Israel’s war agenda against Iran. The
PMAJO, working closely with US-Israeli Congressman
Rahm Emmanuel and leading Zionist Senators Charles
Schumer and Joseph Lieberman, succeeded in eliminating
a clause in the budget appropriation setting a date
for the withdrawal for US troops from Iraq.

In contrast to the successful vast propaganda,
congressional and media campaigns, organized and
funded by the pro-Israel lobbies for the war policies,
there is no public record of the big oil companies
supporting the Iraq war, the Israeli invasion of
Lebanon or the military threats of preemptive attacks
on Iran. Interviews with investment bankers, oil
company executives and a thorough review of the major
Petroleum Institute publications over the past seven
years provide conclusive evidence that ‘Big Oil’ was
deeply interested in negotiating oil agreements with
Saddam Hussein and the Iranian Islamic government.
‘Big Oil’ perceives US Middle East wars as a threat to
their long-standing profitable relations with all the
conservative Arab oil states in the Gulf. Despite the
strategic position in the US economy and their great
wealth '‘Big Oil' was totally incapable of countering
their political power and organized influence of the
pro-Israel lobby. In fact Big Oil was totally
marginalized by the White House National Security
Advisor for the Middle East, Elliot Abrams, a
fanatical Zionist and militarist.

Despite the massive and sustained pro-war activity of
the leading Zionist organizations inside and outside
of the government and despite the absence of any overt
or covert pro-war campaign by ‘Big Oil’, the leaders
of the US peace movement have refused to attack the
pro-Israel war lobby and continue to mouth unfounded
clichés about the role of ‘Big Oil’ in the Middle East

The apparently ‘radical’ slogans against the oil
industry by some leading intellectual critics of the
war has served as a ‘cover’ to avoid the much more
challenging task of taking on the powerful, Zionist
lobby. There are several reasons for the failure of
the leaders of the peace movement to confront the
militant Zionist lobby. One is fear of the powerful
propaganda and smear campaign which the pro-Israel
lobby is expert at mounting, with its aggressive
accusations of ‘anti-Semitism’ and its capacity to
blacklist critics, leading to job loss, career
destruction, public abuse and death threats.

The second reason that peace leaders fail to criticize
the leading pro-war lobby is because of the influence
of pro-Israel ‘progressives’ in the movement. These
progressives condition their support of ‘peace in
Iraq’ only if the movement does not criticize the
pro-war Israel lobby in and outside the US government,
the role of Israel as a belligerent partner to the US
in Lebanon, Palestine and Kurdish Northern Iraq. A
movement claiming to be in favor of peace, which
refuses to attack the main proponents of war, is
pursuing irrelevance: it deflects attention from the
pro-Israel high officials in the government and the
lobbyists in Congress who back the war and set the
White House’s Middle East agenda. By focusing
attention exclusively on President Bush, the peace
leaders failed to confront the majority pro-Israel
Democratic congress people who fund Bush’s war, back
his escalation of troops and give unconditional
support to Israel’s military option for Iran.

The collapse of the US peace movement, the lack of
credibility of most of its leaders and the
demoralization of many activists can be traced to
strategic political failures: the unwillingness to
identify and confront the real pro-war movements and
the inability to create a political alternative to the
bellicose Democratic Party. The political failure of
the leaders of the peace movement is all the more
dramatic in the face of the large majority of passive
Americans who oppose the war, most of whom did not
display their flags this Fourth of July and are not
led in tow by either the pro-Israel lobby or their
intellectual apologists within progressive circles.

The word to anti-war critics of the world is that over
sixty percent of the US public opposes the war but our
streets are empty because our peace movement leaders
are spineless and politically impotent.

James Petras, a former Professor of Sociology at
Binghamton University, New York, owns a 50 year
membership in the class struggle, is an adviser to the
landless and jobless in Brazil and Argentina and is
co-author of Globalization Unmasked (Zed).

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