Doug Macgregor's Pessimistic Assessment Of The Middle East
Recently I highly recommended a Youtube featuring Judge Nap talking with Doug Macgregor. It was particularly interesting because Judge Nap challenged Macgregor a bit regarding what the IDF is doing in Gaza. Judge Nap was calling Israeli actions outright war crimes, and Macgregor seemed to be soft pedaling the issue—saying the US wasn’t a signatory to a lot of the conventions and resolutions that are normally invoked with regard to war crimes. I’m not sure if Macgregor has been doing some rethinking, or whether someone got to him, or he got a briefing from contacts, but in his latest interview—with Danny Davis—he sounds different. Now, they don’t really go into the legal issue of war crimes and genocide—despite the title—but the tone just seems different to me. They do discuss is a pretty frank way the dynamics within the Middle East region as well as between the US and the region—especially with Israel. It’s a lively and stimulating—and scary—exchange. My partial transcript, below, starts a bit before the 10:00 mark.
DD: But the bigger question that we'd like to discuss today is: What is sustainable, what can Israel do, what should they do, and what do you think they are doing? Are they doing genocide and if not what should they be doing?
DM: Well, in 1914, when the first world war broke out, the president of France was asked, 'How long do you think this war will last?' and he said, 'Six months.' The journalist was puzzled by that. He said, 'How can you be so certain that the war will be over in six months?' The president said, 'Because that's when the money will be gone--there will be nothing left to finance the fighting with.' Had we closed our credit markets to the French and the British as we did against the Germans, Russians, and others, it's possible the war would have ended when he said it would, because they simply couldn't a afford to fight much longer. You have a somewhat similar situation in Israel, right now. The Israeli economy has, by any measure, tanked. You've got hundreds of thousands of men mobilized that otherwise would be at work within the framework of the Israeli economy. So I think Israel is being--has been--placed on life support by Washington. We're pumping billions of dollars into Israel at this point, not so much for military assistance and support--although some of it is--but to keep the economy afloat.
Everyone knows this. The implication is that the US is a party to the war on Gaza, because the US is financing the war. Thus, any fair assessment is that the US is complicit in the war crimes being committed there.
So the first question is, How much longer can we do that? Well, if you listen to Janet Yellen, we can do that in perpetuity. But anyone looking at our financial condition at this point and our own economy raises questions about just how long that can go on. If Yellen was right we would continue to send hundreds of billions of dollars to Ukraine--and I think it's pretty obvious that that period is over--we cannot afford it. So that's the first thing--we can't afford it for very long. The Israelis can't afford it right now.
Number two, you've got two implacable enemies. we could spend hours talking about who started what, but I think we should remember something that George Marshall said to Harry Truman, when Truman was president and he was being lobbied to support the creation of the Israeli State. He called in George Kennan and George Marshall and both of them, in so many words, said: If you support the founding of the Israeli State we are looking at probably a century of warfare ahead, because the Jewish state will never be accepted by the people that live in the region. Gosh, that turned out to be pretty accurate! The Israelis have coped with this very well--obviously, to a large extent because of our ability to provide them with superior military technology and support. But there are limits to this.
I disagree with Macgregor’s assessment that Israel has “coped with this very well.” He does acknowledge that Israel’s success has been built upon US aid. But Israeli access to US taxpayer money has been built upon Jewish American campaign contributions. That’s was the decisive factor that influenced Truman’s decision—against the advice of top advisers. That has been the decisive factor ever since. It was always known that support for Israel had no geopolitical basis, but that truth has been largely suppressed in public discussion by fear of the charge of anti-semitism. That’s not Israel coping. It’s something more complex. It’s US politicians being bought off. This point will be explicitly discussed below, and Macgregor basically concedes the point.
Now the third thing is, What's the end state? To go back to your original question. Well, the desired end state in Israel is for all the Arabs to be gone from Gaza. Let's be frank. That's what they would like to see. What you're watching in Northern Gaza is the systematic destruction of the infrastructure, buildings, and houses. That make it abundantly clear that if you lived here you can't come back, because there's nothing to come back to. Then you have to recall Mr. Netanyahu's remarks about who is going to secure Gaza after the war, and he made it very clear: 'Anybody who thinks others are going to come here and do this for us is crazy. We'll secure the place, we'll run it, we'll make sure nothing like Hamas ever comes back.'
Finally, how do you ensure that Hamas never comes back? Well, you can't kill everybody in Hamas. I know that sounds like, 'Why not? There are only 25, 30,000 fighters left in Hamas, maybe a few thousand more. It's very simple.' Rooting them out in this environment, in this urban terrain, is an impossibility, frankly. You're not going to get them all. Secondly, Hamas is an idea. Remember, Hamas is sort of the armed arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, so you'll have to kill this idea. In fact, if anything, the idea that the Israelis and their state should be driven out of the region is probably stronger now than it's ever been in the last 75 years.
The significance of Macgregor’s reference to “the region” will become apparent later.
DD: That's the perverted part about this. Yeah, they wanted to try to make it safe, and that's one thing Netanyahu has said from the outset, but it's like Netanyahu's oblivious to the fact that, when you kill so many people, in the process all you do is create additional enemies and embed the idea that they hate Israel even deeper. So how's he think that's ever going to end up with peace. I don't really think he's thought that through.
DM: Well, that may or may not be true. He may see it a little differently from you and me because, right now, Netanyahu exerts a level of control and influence over Washington, over the Uniparty that governs our country, in the White House, that is absolutely undeniable. Let's be frank. The Israeli Lobby, its supporters, people who are Christian fundamentalists, there are all sorts of individuals involved in this, but you've got to also look at the influence in the media, the financial markets, and the government, the numbers of people who populate the government who are sympathetic to Israel. I think he [Netanyahu] has--not absolute power over us, but certainly he has power over us that we do not have over him. This is a case of the tail wagging the dog. We're the dog and we're being wagged.
DD: It does appear, though, that there's maybe a shift going on. There was initially just blanket support for Israel. Anyone who said anything different was immediately accused of being an anti-semite and shut down. No one wanted to talk about anything but, the more these images keep coming out--and especially, the other day, lots of these little premature babies that had to be evacuated because the hospital was shut down--people are now starting to go: 'Hang on, just a second!' So I perceive there's a shift coming which may lessen Netanyahu's ability to control us, to wag the dog. I'm curious to know what you think the impact that may have operationally.
DM: Well, that may be true. That's hard to gauge because there's a lot of money involved and you can affect it. Who was it, an Israeli military attache a few years ago who was overheard in a restaurant in Washington saying, 'Oh, we can deliver Congress on any issue.' I think they're still there. Now, as you say, can that change? I suppose so, but I think from Mr. Netanyahu's vantage point, this is the time to strike. He's got unparalleled power and influence over us that he probably also realizes will not endure forever. So what he's got to do is press ahead with the plan to remove the population from Gaza, and that's what you're seeing now.
As I like to say, Best government money can buy. I’m sure the Israeli military attache would agree with that assessment.
DM: What's driving this is the understanding that there are irreconcilable differences between the Arab population and the Jews who live in Israel. Period.
I think [Netanyahu's government] sees the complete removal of the population from Gaza as attainable. They really believe that. They think that it can be pushed into Egypt. Or, from their standpoint, they could care less what happens. In other words, he and his government want to present the world with a fait accompli. It's done, there's nothing left in Gaza, there's nothing left to return to. Whoever was there is gone. They're willing to sustain the public ridicule and condemnation to get this job done because, in their view, if they don't do this what happened in Gaza will happen again and again and again. And, by the way, no one's paying a lot of attention right now, but there's a lot of pressure being exerted on the Palestinians and the Palestinian Arabs on the West Bank. Thousands have been arrested and incarcerated. Remember, we think that when this thing began there were five or six thousand Palestinian Arabs being held, largely without trial, in Israeli prisons. ... I'm afraid that this is attainable--they can drive everyone out of Gaza--but then they will face something they have never faced before. Israel has always been able to manipulate various states and countries and peoples in the region against each other to play them off. That's not going to work this time. You now have a degree of awareness of what's happening that has never existed before.
Again, the reason “Israel” has been able to play off the various Middle Eastern countries has been owing to US influence and arm twisting. The exercise of US influence on behalf of Israel has always been conditioned on Jewish American campaign money, so the US has been totally involved in this. And duly resented by the Muslim countries. But what we’re seeing with the rise of BRICS and Russian and Chinese influence throughout the region, is that US influence is rapidly declining.
You can't conceal the disaster that's unfolding. You have millions of Turks and millions of Iranians and hundreds of millions of Arabs, all of whom are absolutely enraged. And they're not just enraged at the Israelis--they're enraged at us because they know that we could stop this.
[Discusses dynamics within the Muslim Middle East. Erdogan lays claim to Sunni leadership--Arabs aren't necessarily crazy about the Turks, but they do feel a sense of pride in Turkey's status in the world as a Sunni Muslim power--including in NATO. Erdogan cannot retain that prestige and leadership if he sits out the war indefinitely. Iran and Turkey have historically been hostile states, and that's what makes the seeming rapprochement between the two countries in this situation so significant. Iran can't project power in the same way that Turkey can--despite the steady diet of Iran-hate that Americans have been fed. Iranians aren't crazy about Arabs, but they, like Turkey, have aspirations to regional influence, and they can't sit out the war indefinitely without jeopardizing their regional standing. What Iran does have is an arsenal of tactical and theater ballistic missiles and cruise missiles as well as unmanned systems that could devastate Israel. They will not do anything unless they are directly attacked by the Israelis or us.]
In Erdogan's most recent remarks he said several things. He said, first of all, 'No matter what number of nuclear weapons you think you have, there are not enough to prevent you from going under, Mr. Netanyahu. You will be gone. You will not survive this.' So he's made that very clear. Why? Because he knows that, if he needs those nuclear weapons, he can get them from Pakistan. The Pakistanis have made that very clear on numerous occasions. They've always had a good relationship with the Anatolian Turks. This goes all the way back to the post-war era. Turkey was seen as a model for the future for many Muslim states, not the least of which was Pakistan. So the Pakistanis have made that clear. It's not impossible that Mr. Erdogan would come out publicly and say, 'Just for everyone's information, we now have warheads that are weaponized on missiles--we have a nuclear capability.' I wouldn't be surprised if he did that, because he's also castigated the Israelis for not admitting that they have nuclear weapons, that they have violated the non-proliferation treaty. The Turks and the Iranians have both backed away from this [violating the non-proliferation treaty]. The Iranians in fact have shifted their emphasis to conventional warheads and conventional missiles--away from nuclear weapons--because they they saw very little advantage to having a nuclear weapon. But they now have the capability to deter the Israelis by simply saying, 'You you want to attack us with a nuke? You can watch Haifa, Tel Aviv, and most of the inhabited areas of Israel vanish.'
DD: Do their conventional weapons give them the ability to have that kind of accurate destruction. I'm not familiar with just how strong that is.
DM: This is the thing, and you and I have talked about this before. There's a failure to understand that many of the advantages that we enjoyed in 1990 and 91 no longer exist. That technology is proliferated and the technology of precision is in the hands of the Iranians and the Turks.
My point is that the Israelis have enjoyed two critical advantages. They've enjoyed support from us. In the past it was not unconditional--presidents set limits: you can go this far and no further; we will not allow you to do X Y and Z. That's gone. Support from us is now unconditional and Mr. Netanyahu knows that. That's what he wants to exploit. They've also had this nuclear capability, and everybody knows it. They have it aboard their submarines, they have it delivered from the air, they may have the ability to do it on the ground with some of their missiles. But the point is, that could go away very suddenly and very quickly and, ...
DD: Looking back at the Turkey issue, two things: What might cause an action from Erdogan to actually move against Israel--or would he actually go that far?--and second, whatever he might do what about all the US, like at Incirlik [huge USAF base in Turkey, near Syria], I mean how how would all that play out? Because that could really complicate everything for Washington.
DM: Absolutely. And I will say that I strongly recommended we get out of [Incirlik], in 2020, and everybody looked at me like I had something strange growing out of my forehead. I've never been comfortable with either nuclear weapons or heavy dependence on air bases there. You'll recall that in 2003 the Turkish government refused us access through Anatolia into Iraq. This is a long time coming. There's a lot of bitterness and resentment.
[Discussion of Turkish feeling that we haven't treated them as respected allies.]
I think we've got a couple of problems here. We're not going to be able to provide the kind of support that guarantees Israel's survival, as we were in the past. We no longer have the military power. Now, somebody can say, 'Well, we have a nuclear deterrent.' Perhaps there are people in Israel who have convinced themselves that we will launch nuclear weapons if Iran or Turkey or Egypt or Saudi Arabia or anybody who dares threaten the existence of Israel. I don't think so. I'm someone that has never really believed in extended deterrence. I never believed that we were going to nuke Soviet forces if they tried to invade Germany, because everybody always knew what the outcome would be: total annihilation for everyone. That's why we built up this strong conventional force of NATO. So I think the Israelis are up against the clock. They've got to do what they want to do and get it over with, which is gonna be very tough.
[DD poses the hypothetical, what would you recommend to Netanyahu if he realized he's "out over his skis”; how to get out of this mess and how to avoid further escalation.]
DM: I'm not sure we can. At this stage I think escalation in the future is inevitable. If someone said to me, 'It looks like we'll have a ceasefire; maybe this war in Gaza will end and we'll come to some sort of new settlement.' I'm very skeptical of that, for the reasons that I've already outlined. I think the proverbial red line for the Muslim world has been crossed by Israel. Israel is now finding itself at war with the entire Islamic World. Israel is going to be isolated from a large part of the rest of the world. We are going to end up being Israel's only true friend. Period. How much can that work to sustain Israel is the question, and I'm not sure it can. I think we may see lulls in the fighting, temporary ceasefires, then I think it will erupt again and again until, ultimately, the entire region is involved and crushes Israel.
If Israel is at war with the entire Islamic World, then ipso facto so, too, is the American Empire. That’s how the US is perceived, and perception is what matters. And with the rapid decline of US influence in the region our freedom to act is being progressively restricted.
DD: That's what I fear right now. Looking at this as objectively as I can. I agree with you. I think that a Rubicon has been crossed, that the hatred now among Israelis for the Arabs and the Palestinians is now almost, I don't know that it can be healed. Certainly not in a generation. And vice versa, that the hatred is so great I don't think the two sides can live in peace anymore, certainly not in the foreseeable future.
[DD goes on to say he doesn't see a way for Israel to thread the needle. If they back out now, then the threat isn't ended, but if they decide to go ahead with the ethnic cleansing approach that will draw the entire region into the war.]
DM: I think the Israelis will press ahead and they will empty Gaza of most of its population, if not all of it. Gaza will be destroyed. Now at that point I think it's a full stop, because even though there are many who would like to press ahead in the West Bank I don't think that's going to happen. So I think the result will be this Regional Alliance that coalesces and all agree that this is the end--Israel must be eliminated, must be destroyed. Again, I don't know how you stop that other than calling an immediate halt, right now, and saying, 'We've gone as far as we can go, we want an end to this.' And even then it will be very difficult to return to some kind of normalcy. People say the Israelis are winning on the ground but they're losing the PR war. I don't see this as a win on the ground. I just don't.
DD: It's sowing the seeds for what's going to follow on next. It's not going to solve. They're tactically succeeding in their tactical objectives today, but it may be laying the groundwork for something much worse later. No one seems to be thinking that part through.
DM: If you're a strong supporter of Israel, as I am, you have an obligation to intervene and save these people from themselves. That hasn't happened. Nor do I expect it to happen, because I just don't think we're the ones in control in Washington.
It’s not clear who “we” are and who are “the ones in control in Washington.”
[DD interjects that the US doesn't have the leadership capacity to handle a crisis like this--the people in place grew up in an era of spin and PR.]
DM: Well, very few people are paying attention to what's happening in Iraq and Syria. Again, I strongly favored removing our forces from Iraq and Syria. Somebody said to me at the time, 'You can't do that!' I said, 'Why not?' He said, 'They have to be there!' I said, 'No they don't. There's no particular strategic reason why we should maintain the presence. Our presence has been the problem. We need to remove it.' And he said, 'Oh no, no! We're there for Israel! ... We're a tripwire!'
I think this age of trip wires is over. It's been over for some time.
DD: Yeah, I don't want our troops to tripwire us into conflicts--that's a bad use of our troops!
DM: And then in the background sits Erdogan, and Erdogan is nothing if not patient and thoughtful. We need to watch carefully what he does with the forces at his disposal, but it would be a serious mistake to assume that his rhetoric is not serious. He said, 'Eventually Turkish soldiers will fight in Gaza.' Think about that.
The bottom line is that the unenviable position the American Empire finds itself in is almost entirely of its own making. And there’s no easy off ramp from our folly.
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