Alastair Crooke On Escalation And It's Limits
I’ve done an edited transcript of the latest conversation between Judge Nap and Alastair Crooke. You can find the Youtube here:
Crooke, of course, is not only a former diplomat but also a former MI6 operative. This is the description that goes with the Youtube:
Join our thought-provoking conversation with Alastair Crooke that delves into the complex landscape of Israel's actions in the context of ethics and morality. We embark on a nuanced exploration, critically examining the historical, political, and social aspects that contribute to Israel's moral justifications.
You’ll see that my title differs from the “official title” and description. You’ll have to judge how far I was justified in changing it. The discussion does get into moral issues, but I believe my title comes a bit closer to the major thrust of the discussion. The big point that Crooke is making is that Israel and its Lobby is doing all it can to involve America in a Big War. Whatever. It’s still plenty interesting.
AN: So the IDF told the whole world that it would discover the headquarters of Hamas underneath a hospital in Gaza and that it would show on national television the Hamas leaders coming out of the the bowels of the hospital with their hands up. And it didn't happen. What went wrong?
AC: False intelligence. Again. I said a couple of weeks ago that Hamas were not under the hospital. I knew because they have these deep facilities underground and that the facilities includes their own hospital. I wrote in 2006 that Hezbollah was very clever. I know how they did it. There are a lot of Filipinos in Lebanon that work, and some of them work in the Hezbollah area of Beirut. These Filipinos had been recruited by the Israelis and so Hezbollah fed them false information of where Hassan Nasrallah and his Command Center was located. Israel bombed it, flat but there was no Hassan Nasrallah, there was no command center there. Obviously Hamas has learned from HB and is managing the intelligence very well.
My supposition is that Hezbollah has received training from Iran on how to run security and counterintelligence ops. They’re pros.
AN: What does this do for the regional and worldwide impression that the Netanyahu government continues to make?
AC: We see here a complete collapse of morality. The whole thing has become a a devastating blow to any form of morality, suggesting that it's okay for infants to die and children to die as part of this conflict. We used to have some values but they seem to have disappeared. The hatred now towards the West--Europe as well as--America is getting ice cold, and that means people are wanting action.
AN: Does prime minister Netanyahu not realize the effect that overt cruelty repeated over and over again on international television and streaming devices will have on the animosity of the region toward Israel?
AC: You have to be clear that this is not a a glitch in the system. In the 1970s, in an interview with an author who wrote a book about it, Netanyahu said: In the next war we will drive out all of these Arabs and we'll sort out the West Bank, we'll take the West Bank and we'll sort Jerusalem too. So this has been going on a long time. I've been following it now for 20, 23 years or so. One of the cabinet ministers laid out the alternatives for the Palestinians. He basically said, ‘You can become serfs and you submit to the great power of Israel's military might, or you leave, or you're exterminated. You can choose.’ We are moving into a very different psychological consciousness in Israel and increasingly around the world. There's obviously a reaction to that and that reaction suggests that we're going to see this war lengthening and widening.
Here we get to what we could term, escalation and it’s purposes. Israel is actively seeking escalation, even though it knows that it cannot deal with Hezbollah on its own—they know that from their defeat in 2006, and they know Hezbollah is now much stronger. The purpose is to draw the American Empire into what Israel hopes will be a much bigger and transformative war from which a Greater Israel will emerge. That war will begin by involving the American Empire against Hezbollah. Think about that.
AN: That can only mean a two or even a three front war if Hezbollah enters and if any of the other nation state militaries like Turkey decides to enter. Has Bibi bitten off more than he can chew?
AC: Netanyahu sees this as a sort of an epic play, a great metaphysical working out of history, and he sees it in these grand terms, which will turn him into a hero for his people. The point of this is, who's provoking whom? It is quite clearly Israel which is provoking Hezbollah. They are actually now attacking north of the Litani River--that's about 60 kilometers into Lebanon. This isn't the border area where Hezbollah has its forces. This is a provocation designed to make Hezbollah react. The intent, of course, and this is what I call the sting of the Scorpion, is to pull the United States slowly into a war against Hezbollah and--if Netanyahu's hope is materialized--against Iran, too.
Now we get to the limits of escalation.
But I don't think the latter will happen. I don't think Iran will be involved in it, but I do think the escalation is going to come. First of all against Hezbollah and, secondly, I think we will see American escalation in Iraq, because I see a whole series of articles now in The Hill and in the Washington Post telling Biden to get tough with these militias that are attacking US bases.
Yesterday we cited the same article, urging the Israeli concept of deterrence on America—massively non-proportional retaliation to intimidate the foe. Recently Doug Macgregor argued that this type of deterrence had worked for Israel in the past, but that he didn’t think it would work this time. I disagree in that I don’t believe that concept has worked for Israel since the first invasion of Lebanon in 1982.
There's a sort of crescendo of articles--not by accident--saying you have to get tough, the only thing these people understand is to have their nose bloodied.
The Jewish authors of these articles are very obviously trying to egg Zhou on into full involvement, casting fears of negative political consequences aside.
People say, Well, if this doesn't stop them then you have to send a message to Iran. This won't happen. Biden won't tell the American public this, but I do know this: If Iran is attacked by Israel or the United States, Israel will not exist beyond that. Iran has missiles hidden in their silos all around its very large territory. Each of them is a self-contained unit of forces and each of them can operate and still continue a war for two years even if there's no contact with the Central Command. Why do I say I know that? Well, some years ago I was asked by Iran--I was negotiating on the nuclear thing but I was asked by Iran to talk to Rumsfeld (he was a Secretary of State for defense at that time) and tell him what the Iranians would do in the case of an attack. I went to the Pentagon. I passed Rumsfeld in the corridor but I didn't speak directly with him. But I spoke to his office and I said to them, ‘Listen, this is what you will face if you attack Iran.’
I think some of them understood it but, of course, there were others who said, ‘Oh, doesn't Iran understand that they're dealing with the greatest military power on earth, whose military expenditure equals that of the entire rest of the world?’ So there were two reactions to it.
But just to make clear to people listening to this, Iran has divided itself into a whole series of of units with their own self-contained plan for if there's an attack. They have very advanced precision rockets which can cover the whole of Israel. To attack Iran is what I call the red pill, the poison pill option, because there would be no Israel after it. Iran has made that very clear.This has nothing to do with nuclear weapons. These are entirely conventional so, when everyone goes on and on about nuclear weapons in Iran, actually because of one particular strategic thinker in Iran they changed it all and stopped relying on nuclear weapons and developed a completely new deterrence of highly smart cruise missiles and swarm drones. We saw the effects of those in Saud Arabia a few years ago, and elsewhere. Iran has all of this and they're embedded in the Cliffs of Hormuz, so if anyone attacks Iran then Hormuz is shut. No more oil. 30% of the oil passes through this way, so it would be madness for America to do that. But, what I think Netanyahu is attempting to do is to get the United States to deliver messages to Hezbollah--military messages from the ships that are sitting off the coast, just as happened in '83 when an American warship fired its big [16"] guns into Lebanon.
That was the USS New Jersey:
The new ethos in Israel is, we want the Greater Israel. They say all our people who fled the Northern Territories that have fled the kibbutzim in the North and the settlements there, they're not going to go back with Hezbollah just sitting over the fence grinning at them--they'll be too frightened after what happened on 7th of October. We have to move Hezbollah right back from the border, beyond the Litani River. Why do I keep saying Litani? Litani has been a goal of Israel for a long time because, like the Golan, it is a source of water, which in the Middle East is always the most important strategic asset in the region. So they want to take the south of Lebanon up to the river Litani, at least.
Okay, now we shift from escalation to morality.
AN: Is the Netanyahu government Messianic? Do they believe that the Old Testament, or the prophets in the Old Testament, indicate that it's the will of God that Israel should occupy from the River to the Sea?
AC: Many Israelis, even though they they are secular--and Netanyahu, although he professes an Israel on the land of Israel, is basically deeply secular--but many Israelis do believe this, even secular Israelis. They do believe in these key principles: that Israel is the elect, they are God's chosen people. They do also believe that they're victims, the historic victims of the world. And they do believe that the combination of those two gives them the right to do things as they feel necessary. What we're talking about here is the sense that it is just not possible--and this is certainly the view of one of the cabinet members--to live together with the Palestinians. The Palestinian aspirations for a state and Zionist aspirations for "Israel on the land of Israel" are incompatible. Let's stop kidding ourselves and let's stop trying to pretend a reconciliation or two-state solution is possible. Now, this is put in sort of basic geopolitical terms, not in religious terms, but the two mesh together--the Messianic and this sort of political message. People just sent me a video of school children, young children singing songs about, ‘death to all the Arabs in Gaza’--it's really spreading. It's horrible to see children being brought into this sort of ideology but it is is widely accepted. I'm not saying that all Israelis accept that view, I'm certainly not saying people in the United States accept it, but it is a majority view, yes. And now we have 92% of Palestinians saying more or less the reciprocal.
AN: When Netanyahu says, when the war is over we will provide security for Gaza, he wants Gaza to become part of Israel and all the Gazans dead or gone--is that a fair conclusion?
From what the IDF has been doing, that's absolutely right. I mean, you can see it--it doesn't take me to confirm it, you just have to see what's going on in Gaza. They are not exterminating Hamas. Hamas is secure under the ground. They're killing children, they're attacking hospitals. This was laid out by the IDF early on. They said, ‘Already 1.7 million Palestinians living in Gaza have been made homeless, completely displaced; now we are destroying all of the civilian facilities, the hospitals, the schools.’ I mean, we only have to look at the videos to see this. This is the plan, ultimately, and it's very dangerous for all of us. For the United States, for Europe, for the whole world because, unless this is stopped in Gaza very soon, this is going to widen. It clearly has all the potential to destroy the West standing for anything--let alone a vision of morality or human rights.
AN: How much cruelty can the world possibly tolerate? They think that doesn't matter, because the fact that there are still Palestinians who won't submit to overwhelming Israeli military force is a threat to Israel, is an existential threat to the Jewish people, and therefore these have to be met with massive power and killed. Does that include children and women?
AC: Well Smotrich says it does--exactly that. And Netanyahu is not alone. He said in the '70s, ‘Yes, we're going to try and get rid of all the Arabs, clear the West Bank, and we're going to sort out Jerusalem.’ So he's a Believer, even if he's a believer in a sort of secular way rather than as a very strong religious side, but his cabinet stands with him. Even the opposition leaders justify this burning and killing by Israeli "settlers" that's taking place in the West Bank by saying, 'These are biblical lands, after all.' What I'm trying to say, which is important to get across in Washington is, you're not going to change the dynamics of this simply by doing regime change on Netanyahu. It's much deeper and more profound. You can get rid of Netanyahu, but it's not going to change things.
AN: But the US Congress will never allow international law [citing various resolutions] to be enforced, unfortunately, because that is just what the politics of the US Congress is.
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