7th May 13:57
Love you neighbor?
Was this Christian-like charity toward Iraq planned or unplanned by the
Jewish neo-conservatives, Perle and Wolfowitz, when they were pushing so
vehemently for the Invasion of Iraq, supported by all their brainy brothers
in their think-tanks, which were financed by anonymous wealthy brothers?
Bremer: Billons needed for Iraq
Aug. 27 - Iraq will need "several tens of billions" of dollars from abroad
in the next year to rebuild its rickety infrastructure and revive its
moribund economy, and American taxpayers and foreign governments will be
asked to contribute substantial sums, U.S. occupation coordinator L. Paul
Bremer said yesterday. <snip>
US think-tanks give lessons in foreign policy
Brian Whitaker reports on the network of research institutes whose views
and TV appearances are supplanting all other experts on Middle Eastern
issues. Monday August 19, 2002
.... In real life too, Mr Perle is not fighting his battle single-handed.
Around him there is a cosy and cleverly-constructed network of Middle East
"experts" who share his neo-conservative outlook and who pop up as talking
heads on US television, in newspapers, books, testimonies to congressional
committees, and at lunchtime gatherings in Washington.
The network centres on research institutes - thinktanks that attempt to
influence government policy and are funded by tax-deductible gifts from
When he is not too busy at the Pentagon, or too busy running Hollinger
Digital - part of the group that publishes the Daily Telegraph in Britain -
or at board meetings of the Jerusalem Post, Mr Perle is "resident fellow"
at te of the thinktanks - the American Enterprise Institute (AEI).
Mr Perle's close friend and political ally at AEI is David Wurmser, head of
Defeat Saddam Hussein.
Mr Wurmser's wife, Meyrav, is co-founder, along with Colonel Yigal Carmon,
formerly of Israeli military intelligence - of the Middle East Media
Research Institute (Memri), which specialises in translating and
distributing articles that show Arabs in a bad light.
She also holds strong views on leftwing Israeli intellectuals, whom she
regards as a threat to Israel (see "Selective Memri", Guardian Unlimited,
August 12, 2002).
Ms Wurmser currently runs the Middle East section at another thinktank -
theHudson Institute, where Mr Perle recently joined the board of trustees.
In ddition, Ms Wurmser belongs to an organisation called the Middle East
Michael Rubin, a specialist on Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan, who recently
arrived from yet another thinktank, the Washington Institute for Near East
Policy, assists Mr Perle and Mr Wurmser at AEI. Mr Rubin also belongs to
the Middle East Forum.
Another Middle East scholar at AEI is Laurie Mylroie, author of Saddam
Hussein's Unfinished War Against America, which expounds a rather daft
theory that Iraq was behind the 1993 World Trade Centre bombing.
When the book was published by the AEI, Mr Perle hailed it as "splendid and
An earlier book on Iraq Saddam Hussein and the Crisis in the Gulf which Ms
Mylroie co-authored with Judith Miller, a New York Times journalist, became
the New York Times's No 1 bestseller.
Ms Mylroie and Ms Miller both have connections with the Middle East Forum.
Mr Perle, Mr Rubin, Ms Wurmser, Ms Mylroie and Ms Miller are all clients of
Eleana Benador, a Peruvian-born linguist who acts as a sort of theatrical
agent for experts on the Middle East and terrorism, organising their TV
appearances and speaking engagements.
Of the 28 clients on Ms Benador's books, at least nine are connected with
the AEI, the Washington Institute and the Middle East Forum.
Although these three privately-funded organisations promote views from only
one end of the political spectrum, the amount of exposure that they get
with their books, articles and TV appearances is extraordinary.
The Washington Institute, for example, takes the credit for placing up to
90 articles written by its members - mainly "op-ed" pieces -
in newspapers during the last year.
Four**** of those appeared in the Los Angeles Times, nine in New Republic,
eight in the Wall Street Journal, eight in the Jerusalem Post, seven in the
National Review Online, six in the Daily Telegraph, six in the Washington
Post, four in the New York Times and four in the Baltimore Sun. Of the
total, 50 were written by Michael Rubin.
Anyone who has tried offering op-ed articles to a major newspaper will
appreciate the scale of this achievement.
The media attention bestowed on these thinktanks is not for want of other
experts in the field. American universities have about 1,400 full-time
faculty members specialising in the Middle East.
Of those, an estimated 400-500 are experts on some aspect of contemporary
politics in the region, but their views are rarely sought or heard, either
by the media or government.
"I see a parade of people from these institutes coming through as talking
heads [on cable TV]. I very seldom see a professor from a university on
those shows," says Juan Cole, professor of history at Michigan University,
who is a critic of the private institutes.
"Academics [at universities] are involved in ****ysing what's going on but
they're not advocates, so they don't have the same impetus," he said.
"The expertise on the Middle East that exists in the universities is not
being utilised, even for basic information."
Of course, very few academics have agents like Eleana Benador to promote
their work and very few are based in Washington - which can make arranging
TV appearances , or rubbing shoulders with state department officials a bit
Those who work for US thinktanks are often given university-style titles
such as "senior fellow", or "adjunct scholar", but their research is very
different from that of universities - it is entirely directed towards
shaping government policy.
What nobody outside the thinktanks knows, however, is who pays for this
Under US law, large donations given to non-profit, "non-partisan"
organisations such as thinktanks must be itemised in their annual "form
990" returns to the tax authorities. But the identity of donors does not
need to be made public.
The AEI, which deals with many other issues besides the Middle East, had
assets of $35.8m (£23.2m) and an income of $24.5m in 2000, according to its
most recent tax return.
It received seven donations of $1m or above in cash or shares, the highest
The Washington Institute, which deals only with Middle East policy, had
assets of $11.2m and an income of $4.1m in 2000. The institute says its
donors are identifiable because they are also its trustees, but the list of
trustees contains 239 names which makes it impossible to distinguish large
benefactors from small ones.
The smaller Middle East Forum had an income of less than $1.5m in 2000,
the largest single donation amounting to $355,000.
In terms of their ability to influence policy, thinktanks have several
advantages over universities. To begin with they can hire staff without
committee procedures, which allows them to build up teams of researchers
that share a similar political orientation.
They can also publish books themselves without going through the academic
refereeing processes required by university publishers. And they usually
site themselves in Washington, close to government and the media.
Apart from influencing policy on the Middle East, the Washington Institute
and the Middle East Forum recently launched a campaign to discredit
university departments that specialise in the region.
After September 11, when various government agencies realised there was a
shortage of Americans who could speak Arabic, there were moves to beef up
the relevant university departments.
But Martin Kramer, of the Washington Institute, Middle East Forum and
former director of the Moshe Dayan Centre at Tel Aviv university, had
He produced a vitriolic book Ivory Towers on Sand, which criticised Middle
East departments of universities in the US.
His book was published by the Washington Institute and warmly reviewed in
the Weekly Standard, whose editor, William Kristol, was a member of the
Middle East Forum along with Mr Kramer.
"Kramer has performed a crucial service by exposing intellectual rot in a
scholarly field of capital importance to national wellbeing," the review
The Washington Institute is considered the most influential of the Middle
East thinktanks, and the one that the state department takes most
seriously. Its director is the former US diplomat, Dennis Ross.
Besides publishing books and placing newspaper articles, the institute has
a number of other activities that for legal purposes do not constitute
lobbying, since this would change its tax status.
It holds lunches and seminars, typically about three times a week, where
ideas are exchanged and political networking takes place. It has also given
testimony to congressional committees nine times in the last five years.
Every four years, it convenes a "bipartisan blue-ribbon commission" known
as the Presidential study group, which presents a blueprint for Middle East
policy to the newly-elected president.
The institute makes no secret of its extensive links with Israel, which
currently include the presence of two scholars from the Israeli armed
Israel is an ally and the connection is so well known that officials and
politicians take it into account when dealing with the institute. But it
would surely be a different matter if the ally concerned were a country
such as Egypt, Pakistan or Saudi Arabia.
Apart from occasional lapses, such as the publication of Mr Kramer's book,
the Washington Institute typically represents the considered, sober voice
of American-Israeli conservatism.
The Middle East Forum is its strident voice - two different tones, but
mostly the same people.
Three prominent figures from the Washington Institute - Robert Satloff
(director of policy), Patrick Clawson (director of research) and Mr Rubin
(prolific writer, currently at AEI) - also belong to the forum.
Daniel Pipes, the bearded $100,000-a-year head of the forum is listed as an
"associate" at the institute, while Mr Kramer, editor of the forum's
journal, is a "visiting fellow".
Mr Pipes became the bete noire of US Muslim organisations after writing an
article for the National Review in 1990 that referred to "massive
immigration of brown-skinned peoples cooking strange foods and not exactly
maintaining Germanic standards of hygiene".
Since he usually complains vigorously when the words are quoted outside
their original context, readers are invited to view the full article at
http://www.danielpipes.org. He is also noted for his combative performances on the
Fox News channel, where he has an interesting business relationship. Search
for his name on the Fox News website and, along with transcripts of his TV
interviews, an advert appears saying "Daniel Pipes is available thru Barber
& Associates, America's leading resource for business, international and
technology speakers since 1977".
The Middle East Forum issues two regular publications, the Middle East
Quarterly and the Middle East Intelligence Bulletin, the latter published
jointly with the United States Committee for a Free Lebanon.
The Middle East Quarterly describes itself as "a bold, insightful, and
Among the insights in its latest issue is an article on weapons of mass
destruction that says Syria "has more destructive capabilities" than Iraq,
The Middle East Intelligence Bulletin, which is sent out by email free of
charge - but can never-the-less afford to pay its contributors -
specialises in covering the seamy side of Lebanese and Syrian politics.
The ever-active Mr Rubin is on its editorial board.
The Middle East Forum also targets universities through its campus speakers
Bureau - that in adopting the line of Mr Kramer's book, seeks to correct
"inaccurate Middle Eastern curricula in American education", by addressing
"biases" and "basic errors" and providing "better information" than
students can get from the many "irresponsible" professors that it believes
lurk in US universities.
At a time when much of the world is confused by what it sees as an
increasingly bizarre set of policies on the Middle East coming from
Washington, to understand the neat little network outlined above may make
such policies a little more explicable.
Of course these people and organisations are not the only ones trying to
influence US policy on the Middle East. There are others who try to
influence it too - in different directions.
However, this particular network is operating in a political climate that
is currently especially receptive to its ideas.
It is also well funded by its anonymous benefactors and is well organised.
Ideas sown by one element are watered and nurtured by the others.
Whatever outsiders may think about this, worldly-wise Americans see no
cause for disquiet. It's just a coterie of like-minded chums going about
their normal business, and an everyday story of political life in