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Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

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Hullabaloo


Thursday, December 04, 2003

 
Clean Break

TAPPED links to this interesting TAP article about the economic plans of Benjamin Netanyahu and the potential general strike in Israel.

...But Netanyahu has refused to fade from public view, using his new post to advocate sweeping economic reforms modeled on the initiatives of Ronald Reagan. His plans include proposals to privatize government-owned services (such as the Israeli electric, water and telephone companies), reduce the number of public-sector personnel, slash social-welfare programs, reform government pensions and cut tax rates for the wealthiest Israelis.


Actually, it is clear that while they may be political enemies of sorts, Netanyahu and Sharon (along with Perle, Wolfowitz, Feith et al) may just be working off of the same playlist --- the "Clean Break" document that some believe underlies the current US and Israeli "strategy" toward the middle east and which was prepared by those wacky neocons for Netanyahu in 1996 . Most people are aware of the security aspects of the document but I've not heard many people discuss the economic prescriptions contained therein:

As outlined in another Institute report, Israel can become self-reliant only by, in a bold stroke rather than in increments, liberalizing its economy, cutting taxes, relegislating a free-processing zone, and selling-off public lands and enterprises — moves which will electrify and find support from a broad bipartisan spectrum of key pro-Israeli Congressional leaders, including Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich.


That is just a mildly intriguing little sidenote but then I read this post by Ezra over on pandagon giving a high five to the Bush administration for allowing Powell to meet with the virtual peace planners. He notices this:

An aide to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (news - web sites) suggested earlier that Washington would be interfering in domestic politics by giving a Washington stage to the Geneva initiators, fanning a rare public row between Israel and its closest ally.



Ezra then says:

I guess they can stop accepting our aid or something, but other than that, a public row can only hurt Sharon. America's position is really far stronger than one would think, considering how little Bush pushes Sharon. The Europeans don't like him, Americans want to see their President push hard for peace, Israel is very dependent upon our aid, and they offer little in return. They're so controversial that we can't even launch many military operations from there, so really, we hold all the cards but Sharon's bluff somehow keeps winning. This time, it failed. Props to the President and the Geneva Accord authors, it's about time people started talking about peace again.


When I read that I was once more was reminded of the “Clean Break” document and who was making the break from whom:


Forging A New U.S.-Israeli Relationship

In recent years, Israel invited active U.S. intervention in Israel’s domestic and foreign policy for two reasons: to overcome domestic opposition to "land for peace" concessions the Israeli public could not digest, and to lure Arabs — through money, forgiveness of past sins, and access to U.S. weapons — to negotiate. This strategy, which required funneling American money to repressive and aggressive regimes, was risky, expensive, and very costly for both the U.S. and Israel, and placed the United States in roles is should neither have nor want.

Israel can make a clean break from the past and establish a new vision for the U.S.-Israeli partnership based on self-reliance, maturity and mutuality — not one focused narrowly on territorial disputes. Israel’s new strategy — based on a shared philosophy of peace through strength — reflects continuity with Western values by stressing that Israel is self-reliant, does not need U.S. troops in any capacity to defend it, including on the Golan Heights, and can manage its own affairs. Such self-reliance will grant Israel greater freedom of action and remove a significant lever of pressure used against it in the past.

To reinforce this point, the Prime Minister can use his forthcoming visit to announce that Israel is now mature enough to cut itself free immediately from at least U.S. economic aid and loan guarantees at least, which prevent economic reform. [Military aid is separated for the moment until adequate arrangements can be made to ensure that Israel will not encounter supply problems in the means to defend itself]. As outlined in another Institute report, Israel can become self-reliant only by, in a bold stroke rather than in increments, liberalizing its economy, cutting taxes, relegislating a free-processing zone, and selling-off public lands and enterprises — moves which will electrify and find support from a broad bipartisan spectrum of key pro-Israeli Congressional leaders, including Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich.

Israel can under these conditions better cooperate with the U.S. to counter real threats to the region and the West’s security. Mr. Netanyahu can highlight his desire to cooperate more closely with the United States on anti-missile defense in order to remove the threat of blackmail which even a weak and distant army can pose to either state. Not only would such cooperation on missile defense counter a tangible physical threat to Israel’s survival, but it would broaden Israel’s base of support among many in the United States Congress who may know little about Israel, but care very much about missile defense. Such broad support could be helpful in the effort to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.


I’d hate to think that our spectacularly failed neocon thinktank intellectuals still have the power to orchestrate the conditions that might bring their mideast strategy to fruition.

They can’t get away with that, can they?





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