by Philip Weiss
Mondoweiss October 12, 2011
Here is a crazy story no one is talking about that is evidence of theIsraellobby’s role in our politics. Last week, Mitt Romney announced a foreign policy team that includes Robert Kagan, a neocon who pushed for theIraqwar.
But Kagan is married to Victoria Nuland, who is a spokesperson for the State Department. Laurie Bennett notes the strangeness of this conjunction:
Victoria Nuland’s role as spokesperson for the State Department, deemed strange by some who remember her tenure as principal deputy national security adviser to then Vice President Dick Cheney, has become stranger yet.
Her husband, Robert Kagan, has joined Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign as a foreign policy adviser.
Kagan, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, also advised the McCain campaign in 2008.
Ordinarily this would cause a lot of strain. Nuland would be under pressure. Chris Matthews would be asking what the heck she’s doing in a political job at State when her husband is preparing the opposition.
But in fact, Nuland’s Cheney resume and her marriage to Kagan are actually credentials in the Democratic Party: they demonstrate Obama’s sensitivity to theIsraellobby. And party bosses are happy to have these playing cards now that Obama is under siege from his own party aboutIsrael.
Kagan pushed theIraqwar to George Bush as a battle to helpIsrael. He and his neocon friends wrote, “If we do not move against Saddam Hussein and his regime, the damage our Israeli friends and we have suffered until now may someday appear but a prelude to much greater horrors…Israel’s fight against terrorism is our fight.Israel’s victory is an important part of our victory.”
So Nuland’s presence is like Dennis Ross’s presence in the same building as Middle East adviser–a man the ADL calls an “advocate” forIsrael, who was lately chairman of the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute inJerusalem. Or Stuart Levey’s former role in Obama’s Treasury department in the same position he had under George Bush– and Levey is a man whose college dissertation, written under Martin Peretz, was about the importance of preserving the Zionist dream.
All these appointments allowIsraeladvocates to say to lobbyists and donors: Obama lovesIsrael, look who he has serving him in these big jobs.
At Salon, As’ad AbuKhalil gets at the same point in a piece on another Romney adviser, Walid Phares.
The appointment of Phares to a position in the Romney campaign is not surprising. In years past, such an appointment would have been considered extreme and cast doubt on the wisdom of the candidate– but no more. Middle East policymaking is now dominated by the Israel lobby and its affiliates. Advocacy of Israeli positions has replaced professional qualifications as the criteria for service.